MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury when Her Majesty's Government propose to introduce a Bill to empower them to give effect to the Agreement with Russia made last month, that British subjects shall be prohibited from fishing on the high seas in the vicinity, but outside the territorial limits, of the Russian coasts and islands of the Behring Sea; whether, on the introduction of such a Bill, they will afford due facilities for its discussion; and whether Her Majesty's Government propose in the meantime to issue orders to English cruisers themselves to capture, or to permit Russian cruisers to capture, any British vessels on the high seas in this part of the world?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Such a Bill will be introduced, but with regard to procedure it is premature to enter upon the subject.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
May I direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the last part of the question, and ask whether Her Majesty's 334 Government intend to allow Russian vessels to capture English vessels?
§ SIR E. GREY
With regard to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I am desired to state that the object of the Agreement with Russia is to lay down certain prohibited zones, within which Her Majesty's Government will waive the right which they have outside territorial waters to object to the prohibition of British vessels sealing. It is, therefore, desirable that the Agreement should be arrived at as soon as possible.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Is the House to understand that before the Agreement has been confirmed by Parliament Her Majesty's Government propose to allow the Russian Government to seize English vessels on the high seas?
§ * SIR E. GREY
The right to object to seizure on the high seas is one which Her Majesty's Government are entitled to decide whether they will exercise or not. The object of this Agreement is to come to an understanding, as regards sealing vessels, that that right of objection shall not be raised within the limits of certain prohibited zones.