HC Deb 28 July 1893 vol 15 cc763-4
SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

I desire to ask whether, although the Government stated in both Houses yesterday that they hoped that the blockade in Siam would be averted, that blockade had, as a fact, been declared on the spot on Wednesday; whether they have yet received notification of the blockade so declared, and of its nature, or have been left to hear of it from Bangkok; what is the nature of the blockade declared; and whether Her Majesty's Government support the principles with regard to blockade and its effect on neutral ships, and also with regard to the trade in rice, laid down by Lord Granville on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in the Formosa Correspondence of the Autumn of 1884?


The right hon. Baronet's reference to the statement made yesterday does not give the words used quite correctly. The exact words were— It is not yet formally notified, and perhaps it is not too much to hope that the necessity for it may yet be averted. In reply to his questions, I desire to give him all the evidence at my disposal. It is as follows: Yesterday afternoon a telegram was received from the Embassy at Paris to say that M. Develle had stated that the blockade would begin on the 31st. Late in the evening a second telegram was received from Her Majesty's Minister at Bangkok saying the blockade had been declared as having begun on the 26th. A third telegram was received almost simultaneously from the senior naval officer at Singapore to say that the blockade had been notified on the 27th as beginning on the 28th. There is apparently no doubt that the blockade is intended to extend across the Gulf of Siam from Cape Chulai to Lem Krabang, and that three days have been allowed to neutral vessels to load cargoes and leave Bangkok. In consequence of the telegrams from Bangkok and Singapore, Her Majesty's Government have telegraphed to Paris for prompt explanations. In reply to the last part of the question, I have to say that the nature of the blockade and its effect on neutral ships are being considered by Her Majesty's Government in consultation with the Law Officers of the Crown.


When is there any probability of a decision being arrived at as to whether England is going to allow her merchant trade to be interfered with?


It is obvious that an answer cannot possibly be given to that question until the Law Officers have had an opportunity of considering the blockade and the effect of it.


But will our vessels in the meantime be allowed to be captured and taken into Prize Courts on account of breaches of an alleged blockade while the Government are making up their minds?


; The hon. Member must see his question is one the answer to which depends upon grave points of International Law which may involve the gravest consequences; and I cannot possibly make any further statement.