HC Deb 12 June 1879 vol 246 cc1698-9

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with regard to the cession of territory in Northern Borneo to a British trading Company, When Papers on the matter will be presented to Parliament; whether those Papers will contain information as to the difficulty which has arisen between the British and Spanish Governments on the subject; and, whether it is true, as stated in the "Standard" of the 6th of June, that the Governor and Commander in, Chief in Labuan has been to the North East coast of Borneo to protest against the hoisting of the Spanish flag, the "Standard" adding that His Excellency was supported by two ships of war?


In answer to the Question of the hon. Baronet, I have to say that the proposal to cede the territory alluded to is still under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. No decision has yet been arrived at. When the question is settled Papers will be submitted. I cannot say that any difficulty has arisen between the British and Spanish Governments on the subject. Certainly, a correspondence is going on between the two Governments; and when that correspondence is ripe for publication, there will be no objection to lay it on the Table. It is quite true that the Governor and Commander-in-Chief in Labuan has visited the North-East coast of Borneo for the purpose of protesting against the hoisting of the Spanish flag, and his visit was made in a gunboat, which is the only convenient means of locomotion in that part of the world.


I should like to know definitely, whether anything has yet been decided regarding the cession of territory, or whether any responsibility has been incurred by the British Government; and, also, whether, before any step is taken, full information will be given to the House?


That is another question altogether. As I have said, negotiations on the subject are going on. But whether the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs may think it desirable that they should be made public, is a question which I am not prepared to answer without Notice.