HC Deb 10 March 1881 vol 259 cc713-4

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been called to the following passage in President Garfield's Address on the subject of inter-oceanic communications:— The subject, however, is one which will immediately engage the attention of the Government, with the view to the thorough protection of American interests. We will urge no narrow policy, nor seek peculiar or exclusive privileges in any commercial route; but, in the language of my predecessor, I believe it to be the right and duty of the United States to assert and maintain such supervision and authority over an inter-oceanic canal across the isthmus that connects North and South America as will protect our National interests. whether, by Article VIII. of the Treaty of April 19th 1850, between this Country and the United States, commonly called the "Clayton-Bulwer Treaty," it is not stipulated that the two countries agree, as "a general principle," to extend their protection by treaty stipulations to any "practical communications, whether by canal or railway, across the isthmus which connects North and South America," in granting which joint protection "it is always understood by Great Britain and the United States that the parties constructing or owning the same shall impose no other charges or conditions of traffic thereupon than the aforesaid Governments shall approve of as just and equitable;" whether Her Majesty's Government and that of the United States have or will come to an understanding as to the execution of this Treaty in respect of the canal now in contemplation; and, whether any correspondence on the subject can be laid upon the Table?


Sir, the Article of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty referred to must be read in connection with the Treaties concluded with Honduras on the 27th of August, 1856, and with Nicaragua on the 11th of February, 1860; and also the Treaties between the United States and those countries with Honduras of July 4, 1864, and with Nicaragua of June 21, 1867. The French Government have also Treaties with Nicaragua for the encouragement of inter-oceanic communication. Her Majesty's Government have not had any correspondence with the United States or any other country respecting the canal now in contemplation. The matter has occupied their careful attention; but they think it would be premature at this moment to take any action.