HC Deb 31 May 1866 vol 183 cc1551-2

said, he would now beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether Austria, by an Imperial Decree dated May 13th, and Prussia by a Decree dated May 19th, have agreed, in case of war, to confer on the enemy's merchant ships at sea the same immunities as have been granted to neutral vessels by the Declaration of Paris (1856); whether this principle is set forth in the Italian Maritime Code, and that, therefore, no declaration to this effect was required from Italy; and, whether Her Majesty's Government has received any recent communications from Foreign Powers upon this subject?


said, in calling attention to the wording of the hon. Gentleman's question, he seemed to confound two things which differed. The Declaration of Paris related to neutral goods on board enemy's vessels and enemy's goods on board neutral vessels. The decrees said to have been issued by Austria and Prussia announced the willingness of the Governments of those countries not to touch the enemy's property in enemy's vessels; that is to say, not to interfere with private property at sea, although belonging to the enemy, if they were assured of reciprocal treatment. He believed the decrees to that effect had been issued; but he did not know what reply Italy had made upon the subject. With respect to the second part of the question, he could find nothing in the Maritime Code of Italy declaring that the enemy's merchant vessels were not liable to capture. He would, however, have further inquiries made in reference to the matter. As to the last part of the question, he had to say that no communication had been received from Foreign Powers upon the subject.