HC Deb 16 March 1894 vol 22 cc447-9
MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Chilian Council of State has approved the ratification of the Convention between Great Britain and Chili for the constitution of a tribunal for settling the claims of British subjects arising out of the Civil War of 1891; if so, will this extend to the claims of British subjects serving on board American or other vessels; is he aware that, on the ground that certain Irishmen were British subjects, the Chilian Government rejected their claims when put forward by the United States; has the attention of the Foreign Office has been called to the case of Patrick Shields, a seaman on the American steamer Keweenaw, and what is the position of his claim; is he aware that he was so brutally beaten by the police of Valparaiso that he is a hopeless invalid for life, and is unable to earn a living; and that the case of Andrew McKinistry, another seaman on the steamer Keweenaw was dismissed by the Commission on the ground that neither were American citizens; does the Treaty lately negotiated between Chili and Great Britain and Ireland provide for the settlement of British claims under a Joint Commission, which will sit for one year, with an extension of six months if the year should prove too short; and will the Government insist on reparation in these cases? Before putting the question I should like to state that when I handed it in at the Table it contained portions of the Message of President Harrison to Congress on the treatment of the British subjects referred to. Is it out of Order to quote such an expression of opinion on the Paper of the House?


Quotations are ruled out of Order, because hon. Members who make them are giving information instead of asking for it.


The ratification of the Convention between Great, Britain and Chili has been approved by both Chambers of Congress, but we have not yet heard of its ratification by the Council of State, which only met on the 10th instant. It will deal with all claims for which the Government of Chili may be held responsible in view of the acts and operations executed by land and sea forces of the Republic during the recent Civil War, and such claims as are presented must, in order to be entertained, be supported by Her Majesty's Legation at Santiago. We have at present no knowledge of the cases of Patrick Shields and Andrew McKinistry, and their claims should be at once sent in to the Foreign Office for consideration. The answer to the penultimate paragraph is in the affirmative. In the event of these claims being submitted to the Commission, its decision as to the reparation which is to be given must, under the terms of the Convention, be accepted as final by Her Majesty's Government.


Up to what day will the Foreign Office receive claims?


I cannot give the date, and I am not aware that any day has been fixed. Certain formalities have to be gone through before the Commission meets.