HC Deb 02 August 1889 vol 339 cc176-7

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, under the Treaty of 1713, permission was given to the French to occupy the Islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland, for the purpose of giving them a harbour of refuge for their fishing vessels, it being provided that they should not erect permanent buildings or fortifications thereon; whether St. Pierre et Miquelon has ever been ceded to France; and, if so, when; whether the Government are aware that a battery of six guns has been erected by the French to command the entrance to the harbour, and houses have been erected for a permanent population of 4,000 or 5,000 persons; whether the French Government has recently appointed a French Resident and Council at St. Pierre, and whether the right to make such appointments is given under any Treaty; and whether the French Government has the right to let on lease or otherwise dispose of any portion of the so-called French shore of Newfoundland?


In reply to Paragraph 1 and 2 of the hon. Member's question the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon were ceded to France in 1763 in full right, but on the conditions stated, and further in 1783 without those conditions being mentioned, but with the declared purpose of affording harbours of refuge for fishermen. We have heard that some guns are mounted at St. Pierre, and no doubt there is a considerable population. We do not know what is the constitution of the Local Authority; but as these islands are undoubtedly French Territory there must be some such Authority. The only rights ceded to France on the coast of Newfoundland are those of erecting scaffolds and huts for the purpose of catching and drying fish.

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