HC Deb 21 July 1881 vol 263 cc1457-8

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether there are any Reports or Papers from the Joint (Anglo-French) Commission which sat in 1876 upon the Newfoundland question which can be laid upon the Table of the House; whether it is now open to the Governor of Newfoundland to issue grants of land to British subjects on the west coast of that island; and, is there any prohibition to the working of mines on that coast by British subjects?


Sir, Captain—now Admiral—Miller was appointed in November, 1874, to meet Captain de Boissoudy, of the French Navy, to discuss informally the questions connected with the Newfoundland fisheries, on which differences of opinion existed between the two Governments. Their meetings were held in Paris from time to time, but did not result in any arrangement being come to. These gentlemen were not constituted a Joint Commission with powers to settle any of the points in question, but reported confidentially each to his own Government, from whom they received instructions from time to time. There are, consequently, no Reports or Papers which could be presented. In 1866 the Earl of Carnarvon, in the hope of an early settlement of the questions at issue with regard to the French fishery rights, instructed the Governor of Newfoundland "for the present not to make any grants of land" on that part of the coast where those rights exist; and this instruction has been maintained in force up to the present time, with the same object of postponing any fresh action during the negotiations, which have been again and again renewed.