HC Deb 05 July 1888 vol 328 cc409-10
MR. W. A. M'ARTHUR (Cornwall, Mid, St. Austell)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he has received accounts of the forcible seizure, by an armed French force on March 15, of the Leeward Islands; whether the Convention of 1847 between England and France included an agreement to recognize the independence of these Islands, and an undertaking that neither Power should endeavour to obtain possession of them in any way whatever; whether the Native Chiefs entered a solemn protest against the French action, and declared that, until they received news from England that the Convention of 1847 was abrogated, they should still consider it binding upon all parties; whether the Rev. Mr. Richards wrote to the English Consul, imploring him to use his influence to prevent collisions between the French and the Natives, and asking for information as to the abrogation of the Convention of 1847; whether the reply of the English Consul was to the effect that he had received no information from the Foreign Office as to whether the Convention was abrogated or not; whether the Convention is still in force; if not, when was it agreed to terminate it; and, when was notice of such termination sent to the British Consul?


The French took formal possession of the Islands to the leeward of Tahiti on March 15. The Declaration of 1847 for mutual abstention from the annexation of those Islands ceased to have effect on March 15, according to the retrospective Declaration signed on May 30, 1888, which has been laid before Parliament. The Native Chiefs were averse to the French annexation. The Rev. Mr. Richards appealed to the British Consul to obviate a collision; whereupon the British Consul informed the Chiefs that the Declaration of 1847 was "to all intents and purposes abrogated," and advised them against resistance. The Consul was informed on November 26, 1887, of the conclusion of the Convention of November 16; but on March 26 he had not, of course, become aware of the signature of the Declaration which actually put an end to the former arrangement.