§ In reply to Mr. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT,
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. BRYCE) (Aberdeen, S.)
Her Majesty's Government have heard from Sydney of the reported departure of two French vessels, a man-of-war and a transport, from Noumea for the New Hebrides. The French Ambassador yesterday informed the Secretary of State that he knew nothing of the report, which he did not believe, that those vessels had gone to land troops in the New Hebrides, and possibly to establish a station there. All that His Excellency had heard from his Government was that, in consequence of the murder of a French citizen or citizens, two small vessels had been sent to the New Hebrides. Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris was directed by telegraph to call the attention of the French Government to the report as being calculated to cause great excitement in England and Australia. Her Majesty's Government cannot doubt that the en- 1301 gagement entered into in 1878, and confirmed in 1883 by the two countries to respect the independence of the New Hebrides, will be loyally observed by the French Government.