HC Deb 14 July 1887 vol 317 cc765-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, If it is a fact that towards the close of last year the Governor of British Guiana, Sir Henry Irving, publicly stated that Her Majesty's Government had made such arrangements with regard to the disputed territory be- tween British Guiana and Venezuela that the Government of British Guiana was empowered to grant licences to anyone wishing to commence the gold mining industry within the disputed ground, and that on the strength of Sir Henry Irving's statement a number of Colonists and others took licences; if any such arrangement has been made; and, if not, what compensation will be given to those who acted in the belief that it had; and, what authority had Sir Henry Irving for making the statement?


The Governor of British Guiana, in June, 1886, having received authority from Earl Granville, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, to issue licences for gold mining in a portion of the territory in dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela, made a statement to that effect in the Court of Policy; but nothing was said about any arrangements having been made with Venezuela, and it was well known that no such arrangements had been made. Licences have been granted for periods not exceeding 12 months. No arrangement has been made with Venezuela. Her Majesty's Government, in order to guard the Colonial Government against any claim for compensation, have instructed the Governor to caution all persons interested in such licences, or otherwise acquiring an interest in the disputed territory, that all licences, concessions, or grants applying to any portion of the disputed territory will be issued and must be accepted subject to the possibility that, in the event of a settlement of the disputed boundary line, the land to which such licence, concession, or grant applies may become part of Venezuela, in which case no claim for compensation from the Colony or from Her Majesty's Government can be recognized; but Her Majesty's Government would, in that case, do whatever might be right and practicable to secure from the Government of Venezuela the recognition of the licences.