HC Deb 05 April 1894 vol 22 cc1461-87

Order for Second Reading read.


rose to move the Second Reading of this Rill. He said: I have now to ask the House to pass the Second Reading of what is shortly called the Behring Sea Award Bill, although that perhaps scarcely describes it, because the use of the Rill extends far beyond that. It might more properly be described as a Rill for carrying into effect the award of the Tribunal of Arbitration constituted under the Treaty between Her Majesty and the United States. Mr. Speaker, from indications made to me by hon. Members sitting in different parts of the House, I gather it is expected that I should—although I do not think it necessary to do so at any great length—recall to the attention of the House the circumstances which led to the Treaty upon which this Rill is founded, to the character of that Treaty, to the Award based upon it, and finally to the provisions in the Rill now submitted to give effect to that Award. In August, 1886, several seizures of vessels engaged in fur sealing were effected in the Behring Sea by cruisers of the United States, the vessels so seized belonging principally to British subjects, being Canadians. On the facts coming to the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government of the day, the late Lord Iddesleigh, who was then at the Foreign Office, addressed, on the 30th of October, 1886, an important Despatch to the then Representative of the Queen at Washington, in which he called attention to the fact that three schooners had been seized in that part of the North Pacific Ocean called the Behring Sea, and that the crews of two of these vessels had been detained. At that time, as it appeared when the full facts became known to the Foreign Office, one of the vessels had already been brought before a Court of the United States, and the Judge of that Court had condemned that vessel on the ground that she was pursuing the industry of pelagic sealing within the territorial limits of the United States, those territorial limits being claimed under the terms of the concession from Russia to the United States in 1867, which included Alaska and the islands in Behring Sea. The learned Judge who tried the ease decided that the ship was properly seized and properly condemned on the ground that she was violating the municipal legislation of the United States, and was so violating that municipal legislation within the United States territory. Lord Iddesleigh then proceeded to complain that in these circumstances the authorities of the United States had interfered with the lawful occupation of Canadian citizens on the high seas, and had taken possession of their ships, subjected their property to forfeiture, and visited upon their persons the indignity of imprisonment. That was the position assumed as early as October, 1886, by Lord Iddesleigh, and which has never since been departed from by those who represent the Government of the Queen. Following upon this expostulation of Lord Iddesleigh the vessels that had been seized were released and the proceedings stayed by the order of the then Secretary of State at Washington, Mr. Baird; accordingly, the vessels were released. At a later period further seizures followed. By March, 1889, there had been a change of Government in the United States, and the late Mr. Blaine had succeeded Mr. Baird in the position of Secretary of State, and there had followed a long diplomatic discussion between the Representatives of the Queen and the Secretary of State, the correspondence from Great Britain being conducted by Lord Salisbury, who had by that time succeeded to the Office of Foreign Secretary. On the part of the United States, in that correspondence it was sought to justify the action of their authorities in these seizures on the ground that the United States possessed territorial dominion in the Behring Sea under the cession of 1867 from Russia, and on the ground that their legislation applied to foreigners in the area where the seizures were effected, and finally, at a later development of the controversy, on the ground that the United States had property in the fur seal and in the industry founded on its pursuit, and in effect that their law was in the nature of properly protected Regulations for the safeguard of their property and interests. This position was combated—and I need not say ably combated—by Lord Salisbury in his correspondence. He maintained the position originally taken up by Lord Iddesleigh, and he complained that the rights of sovereignty of Great Britain had been violated by these seizures—that there had been a violation of International Treaty and the law thereby affected, but professed his willingness to submit the question to a properly-constituted Court of Arbitration. The questions of alleged property and of alleged jurisdic- tion set up by the United States Lord Salisbury also professed his readiness to submit to arbitration, and also the further question if and what Regulations were necessary for the preservation of the seal fishery in the Behring Sea. The answer to the latter question was one which was not exclusively of interest to the United States—although as the owner of the islands, that country had a special interest with regard to it—but was of common interest. I do not think that anyone can doubt the wisdom of the policy pursued by Lord Salisbury in advising that reference to arbitration. I think we must all agree that it would have been a deplorable thing if two great nations, sprung from the common stock, speaking the same language, living under systems of law largely alike, and having enormous interests in common bound up in the interests of peace, should have resorted to the rude arbitrament of force to settle the differences between them. Accordingly, on February 29, 1892, the Treaty from which this Bill took its origin was agreed to between the United States Government and the Government of the Queen, and that Treaty was ratified at a later date. It is necessary that I should call the attention of the House to some of the leading provisions of that Treaty. It recites that differences had arisen, and that both Governments were desirous of providing for an amicable settlement of those differences, concerning the jurisdiction and rights claimed by the United States in the waters of the Behring Sea, and also concerning the preservation of the fur seal fisheries in those waters and the rights of the subjects of either country as regards the taking of fur seals in and habitually resorting to those waters. The Court of Arbitration was thus constituted. Two arbitrators were to be named and were named by the President of the United States—namely, Mr. Justice Harlan, a distinguished Judge of the Supreme Court, and Mr. Senator Morgan, also a gentleman of high reputation; one was to be named and was named by the President of the French Republic, who nominated the Baron de Courcel, Senator and Am bassador of France; one was to be named and was named by the King of Italy, who named the Marquis Visconti Venosta, a distinguished Minister; and one was to be named and was named by the King of Sweden and Norway, who nominated Mr. Gram, a statesman and a distingnished lawyer. The Representatives of Great Britain were, as the House knows, that distinguished man who has lately passed away from amongst, us, Lord Hannen, and Sir John Thompson, the Prime Minister of Canada, I hope the House will allow me to say one word in reference to Lord Hannen. Great Britain owes a great debt to that very distinguished man. I do not propose to add one word to the eulogium upon him as a Judge which has been lately pronounced by more than one of his brethren on the Bench. But in relation to this arbitration I may perhaps be permitted to say that, in conjunction with his distinguished colleague he ably and with impressive dignity represented the interests of Great Britain. He discharged the weighty obligations cast upon him with unfailing zeal and with unflagging patience, and while he guarded the interests of Great Britain he never for one moment forgot the fact that he was present in a judicial character, and that he was, as it were, still clothed with the ermine of a, Judge. The tribunal met in Paris, and I think it right that I should publicly acknowledge the remarkable courtesy and hospitality that were displayed by the great Republic of France on that occasion. We have to thank the President of the French Republic in two respects—first, for naming as one of the arbitrators on behalf of Franco a most accomplished and courteous gentleman, the Baron de Courcel, to whose judgment, tact, and courtesy the result arrived at was largely due. As the House is aware, after a protracted hearing, the Award of the majority of the arbitrators was finally delivered on August 15, 1893. What was the effect of that Award? I will state its effect in general language and in few words. Two groups of questions were submitted to the arbitrators which wore essentially different in their character and having different considerations applicable to each of them. One set of questions related to territorial jurisdiction and the rights of property, and of protection in regard to that property, and the second set of questions related entirely to what were the proper Regulations which should be recognised to give effect to that which was one of the objects of the Treaty— namely, the preservation of the fur seal. As regards the first group of questions—those which touched territorial sovereignty, jurisdiction and rights of property—the position taken up by Lord Iddesleigh and Lord Salisbury was thoroughly and completely vindicated, and each one of these questions was decided in favour of the views advanced by those who represented the interests of Great Britain before that Tribunal. One result of the decision on this group of questions was that it stamped the seizures that had been effected as not justified by International Law, and therefore illegal and unjustifiable, thereby establishing the claim of British subjects injured to legitimate redress. I am glad to say, as one would expect from the Government of a great Power like the United States, that the President has not been slow to recognise these claims for redress, and when the legislation necessary to carry out this Award shall have been completed, it is arranged that a Convention shall be signed for the examination and adjustment of those claims with a, view to the just redress of those concerned. I must now call the attention of the House a little more in detail to one part of the Award—namely, that relating to Regulations. I have already stated with sufficient fulness the effect of the Award as regards questions of territorial jurisdiction and of property. But, after determining these questions, the Award proceeds to say that the determination of these questions has left the subject in such a position that the concurrence of Great Britain is necessary to the establishment of Regulations for the proper protection and preservation of fur seals in or resorting to the Behring Sea, and Articles 1 to 9 inclusive all lay down these Regulations. The first is that the Governments of the two Powers shall forbid their citizens and subjects to kill, capture, or pursue fur seals within a zone of 60 miles around the Pribyloff Islands, including the territorial waters. That is a permanent zone, and is unquestionably for the purpose of this Award an extension of the protected zone, as to which, apart from this Award, the Power in whose favour it is given would have no International rights. In the next Article the Award creates a close season from May 1 to July 31, that close season extending over the space included within the 35th degree of north latitude and eastward of the 180th degree of longitude from Greenwich till it strikes the water boundary described in Article 1 of the Treaty of 1867 between the United States and Russia, and following that line up to the Behring Straits. There are then some minor provisions as to the character of the vessels and their equipments, and it requires special licences and distinctive flags to be prescribed by each Government. These are broadly the provisions of the Award. I have to say further in this regard, that there is an addendum to the Award, which is to this effect— The Arbitrators declare, moreover, that, in their opinion, the carrying out of the Regulations determined upon by the Tribunal of Arbitration should be assured by a system of stipulations and measures to be enacted by the two Powers, and that the Tribunal must, in consequence, leave it to the two Powers to decide upon the means for giving effect to the Regulations determined upon by it. Mr. Speaker, we are here to present this Bill as an attempt to discharge the obligation, which every one in this House I am sure will recognise, to loyally and thoroughly give effect to the provisions of that Award. Had the Award been less favourable to us we should equally, having agreed to abide by the decision of the Tribunal, have been bound and equally have been ready to give loyal and complete effect to it. I have road the Award at sufficient length to render it unnecessary to state the provisions of the Bill in detail. Not only have the Government had the advantage of the assistance of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight before the Arbitration, but he has also been good enough to give his assistance in framing the outline of the provisions of the Bill to give effect to the Award. The provisions of the Bill are shortly these: The measure is practically upon the lines of the modus vivendi Act of 1893, but the area over which it extends is, as I have said, wider. It sets out the mandatory provisions of the Award, and it constitutes the violation of these provisions a legal offence punishable by seizure or fine, or in some cases by imprisonment. It is in its operation, I wish the House to understand, a Bill which applies only to British subjects. It does not affect to bind, nor could it properly bind, American subjects any more than a Bill of the United States could properly affect to bind British subjects. But power is taken under it to authorise the officers of the American Navy to seize British ships under conditions conformable to the provisions of the Award, providing reciprocal power is given by the United States to British naval officers in regard to American ships. I may inform the House that the Senate of the United States have already passed their Bill for giving effect to the Award, and in that Bill similar powers are taken in order to give reciprocal advantages. I have had an opportunity of seeing a somewhat detailed statement of the United States Bill, and I am able to say that, although in form it is somewhat different, it in no substantial respect that I am aware of differs from the Bill now submitted to the House. Further, the House will desire to know what are the Courts by which the seizure of American vessels or British vessels is to be dealt with. In each case it is by the Courts of the country to which the ship belongs. If a British cruiser seizes an American vessel it will be our duty to hand over that vessel to the American authorities to be dealt with in the American Courts. If, on the other hand, a United States cruiser seizes British vessels they will be under a corresponding obligation to hand them over to the British Authorities to be dealt with in British Courts. I hope the provisions are ample to give loyal and thorough effect to the Award. It would be a thing greatly to be regretted if one single utterance by any Member of the House should for a moment lead to the possibility of the suggestion that we were not all most anxious with despatch and with thoroughness to discharge the obligations which undoubtedly internationally rest upon us to abide by the Award which has been made, and to give loyal effect to it.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Attorney General.')


I rise not for the purpose of contributing to the Debate more than to say that the course which the Government have pursued seems to me to be a wise one. They have lost not one single moment in bringing in a Bill to carry out the obligations of this country; and in doing that piece of International justice they shall have the hearty support of all of us on this Bench and of all our friends.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,

* SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

said, that those of them who were present had listened with pleasure and satisfaction to the extremely lucid and able speech made by the Attorney General; but he did think that many hon. Members would regret with him that that speech was not one of greater length. The Debate on the (Second Reading of this Bill was an historic occasion in this House. It was the first time in history that certain rights and claims to the harvest of the sea were put to International agreement by means of arbitration. Although the remarks of the Attorney General had a great deal to do with, and did describe, the Behring Sea Arbitration, he (Sir G. Baden-Powell) ventured very humbly to submit that the speech the hon. and learned Gentleman delivered did not refer to the real principle and matter of the present Bill, which was altogether outside the main Award. It was a Bill connected with certain technicalities, but all reference to technicalities were conspicuous by their absence from the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. He (Sir G. Baden-Powell) did not for one moment speak in any sense against, or stand in the way of, this Parliament, or this country loyally adhering to the carrying out of the decision come to by arbitration; but they had now before the House a Bill which did not—although its title said it did—in any way legalise or authorise the main awards of that arbitration. He wished, in reference to the Bill and dealing with its principles, to criticise them in the light of certain knowledge he happened to possess and which he did not think any other Member of the House possessed or could possess. He was about to make certain statements, and he was confident that both the Attorney General and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Wight would agree with the truth of the statement he advanced and with the deductions to be made from that statement. But he regretted to say that in making that statement—which he would presently do—the House would see that this particular Bill was certainly not all that it should be he did not wish that anyone should imagine that he was going against the decision of the arbitrators. Before he sat down he thought he should have shown that this. Bill as it stood did not carry out the results of the arbitration. It was difficult for him in his position to avoid mentioning the theories and even the facts that had come to his knowledge officially, but at the same time he thought it was his duty, in the interest of a maritime industry connected with the Canadian Dominion, which he believed in the future as in the present would be of inestimable value to them in the Pacific, and to the seafaring populations on the western shores of Canada, to draw attention to certain faults in the Bill. First, in addition to the acknowledgment made by the Attorney General to the French nation, be would on behalf of himself and those with him cordially thank the United States for the great and liberal hospitality extended to them while they were there so many months. This hospitality took place not only at Washington, but up in the wilds of the Behring Sea, and was heartily appreciated by those who received it. This Bill, in dealing with principles, he must first of all point out—in addition to what the Attorney General had said—bore an incorrect title. The title "The Behring Sea Award Bill," as the Attorney General stated, was wrong in the matter of geographical area, because the particular portion of the award it dealt with was not confined to the Behring Sea. The matters referred to arbitration were five in number, and the award of the arbitrator was given on those five points. A Bill called "The Behring Sea Award Bill" necessarily should be a Hill dealing somehow or other with those awards, but this measure did not touch any one of them. And perhaps he might here say that no one appreciated more than he did the splendid work done by the Attorney General and his colleague, the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight, in Paris, where they had to fight America on those five points. The victory won there was no doubt due partly to the brilliant work these gentlemen did, but greatly to the correct and careful and elaborate manner in which the case was prepared. But, as he said, the Bill did not in any way refer to any one of the five points of the Award. The Award was given with regard to exclusive jurisdiction, and right of property in fur seals. The Bill did not touch one of these points of the Award. It merely sought to carry out a contingent decision of the arbitrators, who were requested in the terms of the Treaty under certain conditions to propose "Regulations for the proper protection and preservation of the fur seal." But a very cursory glance at the first Schedule of the Bill, in which was contained the principle of the measure—for the clauses were to enact that first Schedule—or a glance at any one of the clauses of the Bill, would show that the Bill was the very reverse of one for the proper protection and preservation of fur seals. The facts he should adduce in evidence would not be many. They were well-known both to the Attorney General and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Wight. In the first place, on the Preamble, he would call attention to the fact that it had been stated distinctly that the Regulations which followed were the Regulations approved by only four out of the seven arbitrators, and the three arbitrators who disagreed were gentlemen who had personal and national knowledge of the subject—that was to say, the gentlemen representing the United States and Canada. It would not be right, on his part, to go into detail in regard to the Articles of the Award; but he would briefly, on each of them, point out how it was that they would not result in a proper protection of the fur seal. The first Article spoke of a 60-milc zone around the Pribyloff Islands inclusive of the territorial waters; but every naval man knew that a zone at sea could only be effectually defined by lines of latitude and longitude. In Article 2—and here came the gravamen of his charge—they were told that the close season in which seals were not to be taken was to be from the 1st of May to the 31st of July. All the evidence that had been accumulated—and here he would remind hon. Gentlemen who took any interest in the financial affairs of the country that large sums of money were spent in collecting evidence on behalf of this country—proved conclusively that the only damage done and the only gratuitous destruction done at sea to fur seals was done at that period of the year when, owing to the necessities of the case—owing to the natural history of the case, so to speak—the greater portion of the seals taken at sea were females heavy with young. That—from all considerations of humanity as well as economy—if they wished to protect the animals at all, was a period at which they certainly ought to protect the fur seal. What did they find in the Regulations? They found, according to the statistics in the Blue Book, that the period at which this slaughter of females heavy with pups took place was early in the year, ceasing in the beginning of May, but they found under the Regulations that sealers were not only allowed but stimulated, encouraged, to take seals at that particular period—the only period when it was known that they did damage to the seal herd. He knew that this point—that of taking female seals in that condition—was a point which the sealers themselves—those excellent seamen who pursued the seal at sea—were anxious to avoid. It was recorded in the Blue Book that the sealers themselves, in considering a close time, urged that it should be earlier, covering this most destructive period. Yet they were insisting, right in the face of this evidence, that the close time should be such as to compel the men to go to sea and kill seals when they ought not to be killed. This was a matter which would attract the sympathy and attention of all those who, like himself, were supporters of the wholesale movement which had been so great during the present century against cruelty to animals. Article 3 was a useful Regulation in providing that only sailing vessels should be employed, but it did not cover other vessels—whalers, traders, and cod-fishers. The same remark applied to Article 4. As to Article 5, it had been proved over and over again that it was difficult to discriminate between the sexes of seals, and yet the Regulation required that the sex should be entered in the log book. Article 6 was a remarkable Regulation. It said shot guns might be used outside, but not inside, the Behring Sea, which was a ridiculous stipulation. If the use of shot guns was had outside the Behring Sea, it was had inside; and to say, therefore, that they might be used outside but not inside was to bring ridicule on the Regulation. As to Article 7, it was provided that the two Governments were to take measures to control the fitness of the men engaged in the fishery. He did not know what "to control the fitness" meant. The Regulation went on to say— These men shall have been proved fit to handle with sufficient skill the weapons by means of which this fishing may be carried on. In other words, these men were not to be allowed to go into the water until they had learned to swim. They must be proved to be efficient in the management of boats and in the handling of weapons, results which could only come by actual experience. Article 8 was one which he hoped would receive the careful attention of all those who were interested in the rights of aboriginal races. Certain Indian races were to be left, within defined limits, to hunt the fur seals, but numerous other natives who had from time immemorial earned their livelihood by catching fur seals on the shores of Alaska wore to be prevented from hunting in future. Article 9 was one for which he was not aware of any precedent. It said that these concurrent Regulations should remain in force until they had been modified by common agreement between the two Governments, so that neither Government could change or denounce the Regulations without the consent of the other. He know of no precedent in any Treaty for such an arrangement. The concluding clause said that these Regulations should be submitted every five years for examination by the two Governments, but there was no provision to refer any dispute to arbitration. So that this first Schedule, as drawn, was distinctly and clearly unworkable, and would, he believed, prove destructive to the industry it sought to preserve. As he had said before, he did not wish to interfere with the decision of the Arbitrators, but he thought he had said enough to show there were great objections to these Regulations formulated in the Bill. So much for the acts of commission of the Government in the Bill. He would now, very briefly, deal with their acts of omission which still further militated against the particular value of these proposals. The first point he would urge was this: The Arbitrators had gone outside their instructions under the Treaty by interfering with the jurisdictional rights of the United States in territorial waters, and yet they omitted to recognise that no Regulations for the preservation of the fur seal could be effectual unless they covered all modes of slaughter, especially those on shore. There was no case in the world where the fur seal had been destroyed to an extent approaching to extermination except by slaughter on shore, and yet these Regulations did not refer to the necessity for any limits on shore. That he considered to be a grave act of omission if they had genuinely at heart the preservation of the fur seal. Then, there were two other grave omissions. There was no provision in the Act to control sealers of other nations or sealers of these nations flying other flags, and rendering entirely nugatory even the miserable provisions of the Bill. That, he was sure, was a matter which the Arbitrators would have taken up had it been pointed out to them. Then, there was no clause providing that the contracting parties should agree to cooperate in securing the adhesion of other Powers to the Regulations. The Solicitor General said that they could not do that in an Act of Parliament; but, at the same time, there were clauses in innumerable Acts of Parliament to the effect that the Act is subject to the adhesion of other Powers." Another point of omission was this: He had asked that day whether the United States Bill was identical with the one now before the House, but the only answer he received was that the Attorney General had seen the United States proposals in a somewhat detailed form, and there were no substantial differences. He considered it was a grave omission that the present Bill did not contain a provision that it should take effect only on the passing by the United States of a measure identical in its terms with the present Bill. These were his objections to the Bill; but, as he had said, he did not wish to stand in the way of or do anything which would militate against the success of the Award. It might be said that the defects which he had pointed out were the fault of the wording of the Treaty, which made it impossible for the Arbitrators to lay down any other Regulations. This evil could have been easily obviated had proper steps been taken to bring the Arbitrators to see that their deliberations could not, under the clause, issue in proper Re- gulations for the protection of the seals. He asserted that occasions did arise before, during, and after the Arbitration, when negotiations might have been opened which would have obviated the difficulty in which they now found themselves. If they examined the Blue Books they would see that the Foreign Minister of the United States, as long ago as June 21, 1891, suggested that if the Arbitrators found the duty cast upon them of issuing Regulations, they should consult experts before issuing them; but that point was neglected, so far as he could make out, in all recent negotiations. If experts who were acquainted with seal life and the conditions of seal hunting had been consulted, a Code would have been devised which would have had the result of really protecting the fur seals. He hoped he had not troubled the House at too great length. He thought it necessary to stand up and explain what a somewhat close personal acquaintance and sympathy with the men who conducted the fisheries had resulted in in his mind. He was speaking not only of the desire of our Canadian fellow-countrymen, but of the men in the United States who controlled the fisheries in the Pribyloff Islands; and they, one and all, wished to see the fur seal race protected and the industry continued. He thought, when they passed a measure of this kind, that they ought to have Regulations which would practically effect that object. Before he sat down he wished to bring one other argument before the House, and it was one of great importance. This Bill differentiated between two portions of the North Pacific Ocean. The fur seal fed and bred in all portions of that ocean. They were legislating for half of that ocean and leaving out the other half—namely, the feeding and breeding places which belonged partly to Russia and partly to Japan. In any measure of this kind, the object of which was to secure an industry and an interesting tribe of natural history from extermination, this consideration ought to have been taken into account. Immediately on the cessation of the arbitration in Paris negotiations ought to to have been not only opened but carried through to bring the other Powers into conference for the settlement of a Code of Regulations, which could have been perfectly easily devised, and which wôuld once for all have secured the preservation of the industry. In some respects the Regulations that had been made were almost inhuman, and they were certainly defective and inadequate. He was told that a Bill similar to this was being adopted in the United States, and that the great Canadian Dominion had no objection in principle to this Behring Sea Bill. If he found that this were the case he would raise no objection to the passing of the Bill, but he intended as soon as it was passed to do his best in the interest of the sealing industry, and he might also say in the interest of the fur seal, so to modify and improve the Regulations that they would secure the real protection and preservation of the fur seal.

* MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)

said, that in many respects hon. Members were in an inadequate position to discuss this Bill. In the first place, they did not know what corresponding Bill the United States had introduced into their Legislature. The Attorney General (Sir C. Russsell) had stated that the United States Bill broadly corresponded with ours, but of course the matter was one of highly technical and complicated detail. In the next place, hon. Members were entirely unaware of the view that Canada took in the matter. Canada was far more directly and immediately interested in it than any of the inhabitants of these islands. It was the hardships suffered by and the illegalities put upon the inhabitants of Canada that first led to the raising of the question, and he thought it unfortunate that the House should be called upon to read the second time a Bill affecting mainly and principally the inhabitants of Canada without knowing in the least, beyond what appeared from the general statement of the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. S. Buxton) whether the Canadian people took the same view of the Bill as they took of the modus vivendi of 1891. No Member of the House would be un-desirous of doing what in him lay to arrive at the conclusion of a proper agreement with the United States. Again, Members found themselves under a great disability, because many of them did not feel themselves at liberty to enter very fully into the Regulations laid down by the Arbitration Tribunal. Power was given to the Arbitrators to make Regulations, and, that being so, Members were almost entirely estopped from criticising their real merits. The Bill, however, could not be passed without some remarks being made on the events which had led to its introduction. He warned the House last year that the arbitration was certain to go against England. It was said, forsooth, that it had been entirely in favour of England, so it had as regarded the shadow, but not as regarded the substance. The first important point decided by the Arbitrators was that the United States had no exclusive jurisdiction outside the territorial limits of the United States. It required no tribunal to decide that question. It was of the commonplaces of the Law of Nations. The Solicitor General would have settled the question in five minutes. It was also decided as a natural consequence that they also had no properly in or right of protection for the fur seal outside those limits. That was the end of the question, because if the United States had no jurisdiction and no rights all the claims that had been advanced on behalf of the Canadian sailors were justified. Having, however, settled that there was no jurisdiction and that there were no rights, the Commissioners proceeded to create a new jurisdiction and new rights, and to make the United States and Great Britain joint guardians of them. Having given to England the whole of the abstract right, they took away from her the whole of the concrete seal. Having given us the shadow, they handed over the substance to the United States. He found no fault with the Arbitrators; the fault lay in the terms of the Reference to them. The questions proposed to them were the questions proposed by Mr. Blaine, haggled over by Lord Salisbury, and finally accepted in their entirety on behalf of England. They were questions which could not but lead to the result that had been achieved. There seemed to be a fatality about all these arbitrations. The San Juan boundary question was an instance in point. The Treaty said that the frontier should pass through the middle of the Channel, but the right channel was excluded from the purview of the arbitrator, for he was called on to decide which of two wrong channels was the right one. There were other cases in which the wrong question had been submitted to the arbitrator. He was not going to apportion the blame; the errors were due to the way in which our foreign affairs were considered and administered, and the absence of proper management. There seemed to be an unvarying fatality in all references by Great Britain to International arbitration. He hoped hon. Members opposite would see that that was largely due to the want of a permanent Committee on Foreign Relations, which was the great security for the protection of foreign interests and the continuity of policy in relation to foreign affairs in the United States. There was one point which he was not able to understand in regard to the Bill, and that was the delay which had taken place in its introduction, which necessitated the consequent hurry in which they had to pass it. The Award of the arbitrators was made on the 10th August of last year. They know that last year the House was sitting long after the 10th of August, and he was unable to understand why, in a matter of this kind, and when the Government knew it was necessary to come to a conclusion at an early date, there should have been this delay. This Bill deprived the subjects of Her Majesty of certain rights on the high seas, and disposed of—and some people said it destroyed—the rights and interests of some of Her Majesty's Canadian subjects as well. Were the Canadians going to agree to this destruction of their interests, or were they going to claim compensation from this country? It appeared to him that they would be called upon to vote something on account of this monopoly which was being created, and so be really subsidising the Alaska Company. This Bill did not only absolutely abolish the liberty of the Queen's subjects on the high seas; but it did worse, and enacted that by the euphemism of the "Queen in Council," which simply meant a clerk in the Foreign Office, or an official at the Board of Trade, these Regulations could be repealed, and an end put to the Act; and practically, therefore, when they had passed the Second Reading of this Bill, it would be one that could be put an end to by some person outside that House. For what reason was this to be done? They were told that the so-called Regulations were being made in the interests of humanity, and for the protection of the seals. A great deal of false sentiment had been expended upon the killing of seals in these seas. Where was the sentiment with regard to the monstrous cruelties, the horrible cruelties, perpetrated day by day upon thousands of seals on the Pribyloff Islands, which were left entirely outside the protection supposed to be enforced by this Act, and where the over-driving of seals was customarily practised. It was not in the interests of humanity that this Act was to be passed, nor was it in the interests of the American citizen, but merely in the interests of the Commercial Company, formerly the Alaska Company, which had the exclusive right of sealing on the islands—one of the most monstrous monopolies that every disgraced the face of the earth, and against which American citizens themselves protested. If they were to pay yearly compensation in the form of Votes by the House to Canadian fishermen, it would be in order to repay them for what the Alaska Company had taken from them. They would, therefore, practically be putting this money into the pockets of the Alaska Company, and taxing the English people for the benefit of this Company. After all that was done, what had we achived? We were to be taxed in order that the Government might subsidise the monstrous Alaska Company, and this country and the United States were to prohibit British and American subjects from sealing between latitude 358, which was about the latitude of Mexico, and the North Pole. But what about other nations? As was pointed out by Mr. Blaine himself, the two countries had absolutely no control over them. Hon. Members who did not appreciate the importance of the subject might smile; those who did would not. He would read an extract from the Correspondence. The Company respectfully submits that it is not competent for Great Britain and the United States alone to declare what subjects shall be permitted to navigate those waters or fish in the high seas. Lord Salisbury pointed out, and Mr. Blaine himself admitted, that one of the objections to the arbitration arrangement was that whatever might be agreed to we had no power to bind other nations. True, Mr. Blaine also said he did not expect the other nations would go there to seal, but perhaps they would think it worth their while, when they found that the Canadians and Americans were prohibited from doing so, to take a voyage, kill seals, and come back with them round Cape Horn. British and American subjects having been prohibited, the seal-fishing was left open to the rest of the civilised world. Then the Regulations were so loosely drawn that it was difficult to understand them. The first forbade the killing, capturing, or pursuing of seals within a zone of 60 miles of the Pribyloff Islands; but was the distance to be measured from a central point or from some extremity? Were the Islands themselves within the zone? Was it intended to forbid the clubbing of seals on the Islands? What was a zone? What were the limits? Take the Torrid Zone; there you have two limits.


said, the hon. Member was hardly treating the subject in a proper manner.


was only showing how loosely these Regulations were drawn. He supposed the Americans intended to retain the right of killing seals on the Islands, yet the loose language rather implied the contrary. Those were reasons sufficient for asking the House to reject the Bill; but since the matter had been submitted to arbitration under unfortunate conditions, and the word of England was pledged, the House had no choice but to pass the Bill; and there was no people for whom he would more cheerfully make a sacrifice than for our kith and kin across the Atlantic. Although subjects of difference might arise from time to time between the two countries, the people of our own race would always be found by our side, and should any peril ever menace the old country he believed that the voice of blood would not be heard in vain in the new. For that reason, though a considerable sacrifice had been made by England, he was willing it should be made in favour of our kinsmen beyond the sea.

SIR R. WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)

I had hoped that my task would have been confined to expressing my concurrence with the admirable statement of the Attorney General; but it is absolutely impossible for me to permit the two speeches made on this side of the House to pass without comment. I trust that the House will not regard their criticisms and expressions of opinion as representing those of the Party with which they are associated. Before proceeding further I desire to join in the tribute paid by the Attorney General to the late Lord Hannen. Only those who, like myself, were present from day to day during the arbitration can have any proper appreciation of the ability and dignity displayed by Lord Hannen, one of the most distinguished Judges and jurists, from the beginning to the end, as a Member of that great International Tribunal. As to the criticisms of my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkdale, who possesses very extensive technical knowledge on this subject, I cannot but think that, upon consideration, my hon. Friend will feel that he has not made a very wise use of that knowledge. What is our position? It is that we are bound to carry out the undertaking of our country to a friendly nation. We agree that we ought to abide by the decision of the arbitrators and pass whatever legislation is necessary to give effect to the decision of the arbitrators. It does not, then, seem the time or place to criticise the wisdom of the arbitrators. It is our duty, both in law and honour, to see that legislation is passed which will give effect to that decision.


I hope there is no desire to misrepresent me, but those are the very words I have used.


It is because I think that my hon. Friend does not quite appreciate his criticisms that I say he will acknowledge on reflection that his criticisms are slightly out of place. The questions raised are questions of International Law. There is no provision which the mind of man can suggest which will enable these declarations to be embodied into an Act of Parliament.


That is what I said.


I understood my hon. Friend to say that the Bill is not satisfactory because it does not carry out the Award and because there is no reference to the five questions. How-is it possible to put into a Bill a declaration that the United States have no claim to Behring Sea? It would be not only unnecessary, but extremely unwise, and I must conscientiously say that it is very inconvenient such observations should be made in the House of Commons about this decision before it has been put upon its trial. No one can deny that this is a question which is surrounded by difficulties. It is said that the Canadians have cause to complain of these Regulations. What is the position in which Great Britain is placed? Both nations are anxious for the preservation of the fur seal, and to prevent seal hunting, which would be disastrous. There are no people to whom that is of more importance than to the sealers of Canada. My hon. Friends are very severe because the arbitrators did not provide for interfering with the United States action upon the Pribyloff Islands themselves. But that is absolutely impossible. No nation would submit to the arbitration of foreign nations with regard to the laws they make within their own territory. It has escaped the hon. Members for Kirkdale and King's Lynn that, inasmuch as the decision can only be applicable to the high seas, the arbitrators are expressly of opinion that it should be supplemented by Regulations operating within the sovereignty of the two Powers who are parties to the agreement. Any suggestion, therefore, that the Regulations should be so framed as to enable the Canadians to carry on the sealing would be disastrous indeed, and one which could not for a moment enter into the mind of a person who has the real object of the arbitration in view, so far as the preparation of Regulations is concerned. Both my hon. Friend on this side of the House and hon. and learned Friends of mine in the Press have been exceedingly severe upon me because the Regulations of the arbitrators have not provided for interfering with the United States action in the matter. It is absolutely impossible that any nation can submit to the arbitration of foreign nations as to what laws they should make in their own territories. We can only appeal to the good sense and the good feeling of the United States. Neither with regard to the United States nor British territorial waters can it enter into the contemplation of anybody in the course of these negotiations that the arbitrators should have power to prescribe any laws which should be enforced either by Great Britain or the United States in their own territory. So thoroughly did the arbitrators themselves appreciate this that they pointed out that the Regulations could only be applicable to the high seas. They expressed the opinion that the Regula- tions should be supplemented by others applicable within the limits of the sovereignty of each of the two Powers, and that these should be settled by agreement. My hon. Friend has said that the 60 miles zone is an absurdity, because, in the first place, it includes territorial waters. Does my hon. Friend remember that British subjects have no right to kill seals within territorial waters, and, therefore, by excluding British subjects from killing seals within territorial waters they have only re-declared the law? The real fact is that the Regulations are concerned with sealing on the seas, and accordingly the distance within which pelagic sealing will have to be restricted is 60 miles. It has been proved beyond all doubt or question that from 90 to 95 per cent. of pelagic sealing is done at a distance of 100 to 150 miles from the Islands. That is a zone to which there can be no reasonable objection. It would be a most unfortunate thing if people outside this House, or our Canadian brethren, thought that the Regulations were likely to be worked unjustly to them. I believe that when the Regulations have been fairly tried and tested it will be found that they offer a reasonable solution of what is admittedly a most difficult question. In saying this, I do not in any way wish it to be understood that I regard them as perfect, or that they will not require amendment or modification. I have said publicly—and I am prepared to stand by what I have said—that this settlement boars the mark of the great thought and consideration that have been given to every section of it. I feel most confident that it will to a very large extent meet the evil of the wanton destruction of seals which now exist, and which both nations are most desirous to put an end to. The United States at first insisted on far more stringent Regulations than the settlement as it is now drawn up contained. But they admitted that the tribunals were satisfied that less stringent Regulations than those they had laid down at first would attain the object desired by both nations. It has been stated that the shadow has been given to Great Britain and the substance to the United States. That is unquestionably an utter misrepresentation of the result of the Award, having regard to primary claims which the United States made and what had really been decided. In the first place, there was a most substantial claim put forward by the United States to seize British vessels, and to confiscate their cargo and imprison their crews. My hon. Friend has said that everybody who knew the least little bit about International Law knew perfectly well what was the proper position of each nation. The Rules that govern the case are clearly set out by Grotius and every writer on International Law since his day, and, of course, everybody knows the works of that distinguished writer and historian perfectly. No one would doubt the great ability of Mr. Justice Hartmann, of the Supreme Court of the United States. Both he and the other American representative, a lawyer of great eminence, entirely concurred in the finding of the two arbitrators in favour of Great Britain and Canada. The statements which hon. Members have made in the House of Commons, that there is nothing in the finding in favour of Great Britain, would not be, I do not hesitate to say, endorsed hereafter when this decision comes to be referred to. The hon. Member for King's Lynn said that in the matter of Regulations the substance was also given to the United States, and that the whole of this legislation was for the purpose of bolstering up the monopoly of the Alaska Company. When I heard the paragraph read from the Blue Book by the hon. Member I interrupted and asked for the date, and the reply was March, 1887. This was seven years ago, and five years before the Treaty, when, as is known, there were parties in the United States who were hostile to the interests of the Alaska Company. The importance, however, of the position is this—that the United States has concurred with Great Britain in agreeing that the Regulations decided by the tribunal should be binding on the citizens of the United States just in the same way as Great Britain had agreed that these Regulations should be binding on the subjects of the Queen. The consequence is that it is not in accordance with a fair judgment of this matter to contend that these Regulations, which were less than the United States asked for, and not as liberal as I and my hon. Friend contended for on behalf of Great Britain, and which went in the direction to a large extent of securing seal life, would not achieve the object which Great Britain and the United States contemplated when the Treaty was first entered into. My hon. Friends are anxious that the United States should be induced to curtail the killing of seals on the Pribyloff Islands. It is obvious that the framers of the Regulations saw that the two nations ought to be left in a position wherein they would have something to deal with and to make a bargain with, so that in the event of further concessions made by Great Britain in the interests of the protection of the seals the United States may also have inducements by such concessions to impose Regulations which would get rid of those practices followed on the Pribyloff Islands tending largely to the reduction of the number of seals. The hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool asked, "What do we know what has been done in the United States?" It appears to me to be somewhat strange that this observation should be made without a question having been addressed to Ministers. It is no part of my duty to defend Her Majesty's Government, but I am permitted, however, by the courtesy of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, to say that the Bill of the United States has passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate, and is now law. The House has the assurance of the Attorney General that, having regard to the differences which must exist, substantially the legislation of the United States is based on the same lines as our own. It does not appear to me, therefore, to be right that the House should hesitate to pass this Bill, seeing that it is no more than this country is bound to do in order to implement the Award. I invite the hon. Member for King's Lynn, who appears to regard the carrying out of this statute as a perfunctory act of some official in a Department—such as a Board of Trade clerk—and not a matter of high policy, to look at the clauses of the Bill, and he will see that power is reserved to the Executive Government for the purpose of placing Great Britain in a better position if it should be necessary. The maximum penalty or restrictions that can be imposed on British subjects are a part of the Bill, but the Executive Government will advise Her Majesty to suspend or modify the Regulations to which objection has been taken in favour of British subjects. I think I have now noticed most of the points mentioned by my hon. Friends, and, in thanking the House for the attention they have paid to me, I would say that I believe, apart from any indirect or direct benefit, the gain, so far as the seals themselves are concerned, are great; and that the Treaty and the Act of Parliament making the provisions of the Treaty law are a distinct advance in the settlement of International disputes. The conclusion of the speech of the Attorney General in addressing the Paris tribunal was specially worthy of perusal. My hon. and learned Friend pointed out that the questions involved were not merely questions as to the conduct of sealing, but as to whether the nations should more and more feel pledged to settle their disputes by agreement if possible, and, if not, by arbitration, instead of resorting to those dreadful methods which after all never settle anything, and only leave heartburning on one side or the other. I am sorry that the speeches of some hon. Members should have made it necessary for someone to point out to the House and to the country the true position of affairs. I hope that to a large extent I have satisfied their misgivings. But I am certain that this Award will be regarded as a monument of what can be done by fair argument towards settling International disputes, and there is nothing in the whole course of my career on which I shall look back with greater pride than the fact that I have been associated with the Attorney General in this great event.

* MR. STAVELEY HILL (Staffordshire, Kingswinford)

said that, as the person who brought the matter prominently before the public in 1888, he wished to congratulate this country and the United States on having been able to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. The whole matter had been thoroughly discussed on behalf of all concerned. While he congratulated those who were engaged in the case upon the spirit in which it had been conducted there was one matter to which he must call attention. It was with the greatest regret that he found that the zone round the Pribyloff Islands had been extended to 60 miles. A zone of 12 miles would have been quite suffi- cient to protect the nursing seal. Owing to the difficulty of obtaining observations in the Behring Sea sometimes for a week together, it was often impossible for a vessel to know whether she was 20 or 60 miles from any particular point; and this would be the cause of interminable disputes. There were some other Regulations which pressed hardly on the sealers, who were a most deserving body of men; but, with these exceptions, he endorsed what had been said by his hon. and learned Friend.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.