HC Deb 07 June 1861 vol 163 c759

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the proposal made by Her Majesty's Government to the United States, and the so styled Confederate States of America, to interdict the armed ships and also the privateers of both parties from carrying prizes made by them into the ports of the United Kingdom, or of any of Her Majesty's Colonies or possessions abroad, is or is not at variance with former practice; and also whether it is true that the Government of the United States have agreed to act towards the ships of this country on the principles laid down in the declaration of Paris?


With regard, Sir, to the last question of the hon. Gentleman, that forms a part of the subject which the hon. Member for Galway county (Mr. Gregory) has intimated his intention of bringing forward to-night, and it is, therefore, better that I should defer any remarks upon it. We have made no proposal to the Government of the United States or to the Confederated States with regard to bringing in prizes to any of Her Majesty's ports; what we have done is to give orders to the authorities in the ports of the United Kingdom and to Her Majesty's Governors in the Colonies to interdict the entrance of ships of war or privateers with prizes into any of our ports. With regard to the usage it is difficult to say what the usage has been, because there is hardly any instance of a considerable maritime war, being carried on in which many prizes were made where this country has been neutral. There is no doubt, according to the opinion of the Queen's Advocate, supported by the authorities on the Law of Nations, that every Power has a right to interdict the entrance of prizes into their ports. Mr. Wheaten in his well known treatise lays it down that it is entirely within the discretion of any Power so to interdict the entrance of ships of war or privateers with prizes.