HC Deb 21 February 1862 vol 165 c546

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Upon what terms, if any, the Americans retain possession of a portion of the Island of St. Juan; whether there is any negotiation pending on the subject, and the nature thereof; and, whether there be any objection to produce the Papers and Correspondence referring thereto?


Sir, the occupation of the Island of St. Juan rests upon an arrangement made in 1859 between General Scott, who was sent for the purpose to Vancouver's Island, and Governor Douglas, who was at that time Governor of that island. The conditions of that arrangement were, that without prejudice to the claim of either party to the whole of the island, there should provisionally be a joint occupation, the occupying force on each side not to consist of a greater number than 100 men, either soldiers or marines, to be stationed in separate parts of the island, so as not to come into contact; each party to exercise control over the subjects of its own government, and to repel any attacks from Indians. From that time negotiations have been carried on between the "British Government and that of the United States with a view to the final settlement of the disputed question relative to the channel between Vancouver's Island and the main land, a dispute which, of course, involves the question of the Island of St. Juan. That negotiation had progressed to a certain extent when the civil war broke out, but in consequence of that war it has been suspended. That being the case, I do not think it would be useful, or conducive to the public interest, to enter into a detailed statement of the negotiation up to the point at which it was suspended, and, of course, I could not lay any Papers connected with that subject on the table of the House.