HC Deb 19 June 1884 vol 289 cc804-5

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether, when the Foreign Office proposed to Venezuela the cession of the Island of Patos, they had been informed by the Colonial Office that that Island was the property of the Crown; whether recent Despatches have shown that it belongs to the Borough Council of Port of Spain; and, whether, irrespective of that question, Her Majesty's Government will now drop their negotiations for the cession of the Island, and inform the Government of Venezuela that it must either fulfil its Treaty obligations and grant redress for all wrongs already inflicted on British subjects, or it must submit all the questions in dispute to the arbitration of a neutral Power?


I do not understand my hon. Friend to raise any doubt as to the territorial Sovereignty of the Island of Patos being vested in Her Majesty. The recent despatches contain no new information as to the ownership. There never was any doubt at the Colonial Office as to the ownership of the Island being vested in the Council of Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad, and not in the Crown. The Island is known to have been granted by the former Rulers of Trinidad to the Borough Council; but this cannot affect the question of territoriality. In regard to the negotiations, I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave on April 29 last; and I then stated that in regard to the Island of Patos, Her Majesty's Government had confined themselves to informing the Venezuelan Government that, should the other questions in dispute be satisfactorily settled, the wishes of the Venezuelan Government in regard to the Island would receive a favourable consideration.