§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether Her Majesty's Government have taken or intends to take any, and if so, what measures to obtain from the Government of the Republic of Venezuela the restitution of moneys arbitrarily abstracted by that Government from the agents of British subjects; and to urge on the Government of Venezuela the due performance of its contracts with British subjects for the appropriation of certain portions of Customs Duties towards the payment of its engagements made in 1862 and 1864?
Sir, since I have had anything to do with the Foreign Office, and I believe for a considerable time before that, correspondence has been going on between the Government of this country and that of Venezuela with reference to the claims of British subjects on account of Venezuelan bonds. I regret to say that up to this time that correspondence has been eminently unsatisfactory. Remonstrances have been addressed again and again to the Venezuelan authorities, and those remonstrances have been met either with 397 silence, with evasive replies, or with vague and general promises, which promises have not been fulfilled. I cannot say, looking back to the past, that I have much hope of redress being obtained as a consequence of such representations. But whether any steps of a different character should be taken is a question of extreme gravity, and one in which I am not willing at present to pledge Her Majesty's Government. I will only say that such steps ought not to be taken, except after the fullest consideration, in the very last resort, and when all other means of obtaining justice have failed.