MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State fop the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the apprehension which exists in Australia, especially in the Colony of Queensland, in consequence of the announcement that the Supreme Colonial Council at Paris has recommended to the French Government that "colonising and trading companies in the Pacific shall be allowed to employ convicts;" whether he is aware that convicts are continually escaping from the French penal settlement at New Caledonia and finding their way to the Queensland coast, to the great annoyance and alarm of the residents in the coastal towns, and that some of such convicts are still at large in Queensland; and whether Her Majesty's Government intends to take any, and, if so, what steps to prevent a further influx of French convicts into Her Majesty's colonial possessions?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron H. de WORMS, Liverpool, East Toxteth)
The attention of the Secretary of State has not been called to any such announcement as is quoted by the hon. Member. His attention was, however, called last year to the allegation that no less than 60 convicts had escaped lately from New Caledonia, but, on inquiries being instituted through Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris, M. Ribot was able to give the assurance that though 25 convicts had recently suc- 8 ceeded in escaping from New Caledonia, all but five of these had been recaptured. It is hoped that, under existing arrangements, such escapes will be effectually checked; but Her Majesty's Government will at once call the attention of the French Government to any new facts that may be brought to their knowledge.