HC Deb 27 May 1880 vol 252 cc518-9

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he can inform the House of the result of the recent negotiations between Her Majesty and the King of Spain concerning the claims advanced by Spain to the northern portion of Borneo; whether he has considered the geographical importance of the territory in question, and especially of the harbour of Gaya, and how inconvenient it would be for us if they were occupied by any other Power; and, whether he is prepared in consequence to favour the projects of certain British subjects for founding a settlement in that country, and to grant them a charter for the purpose; and, if he can lay upon the Table the Correspondence and Papers on these questions?


Sir, Her Majesty's Minister at Madrid, under instructions from Her Majesty's Government, has, on more than one occasion, protested in the most explicit terms against the claim of the Spanish Government to exercise sovereignty over the Sulu Archipelago or any part of the Island of Borneo; but the negotiations on the subject have not yet been brought to a conclusion. Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the importance of the territory in question, and especially of the harbour of Gaya, to which the hon. Member has referred, and they will continue to give the whole subject their most attentive consideration. The question of the grant of a Charter for founding a settlement in the country was under the consideration of the late Government for a very long period; but they were unable to come to any conclusion before leaving Office. My noble Friend Lord Granville is, however, engaged in examining the Correspondence, which is of a very voluminous character, and I hope shortly to be able to announce his decision on the subject. But the question has hardly reached a stage at which it would be convenient to lay any of the Correspondence before Parliament.