HC Deb 26 June 1896 vol 42 cc138-9
*SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether Mr. Haliburton's store at Port-au-Port, in Newfoundland, has been pulled down at the direction of the Commodore on the station, marines being landed for the purpose of enforcing the order, on the ground of a French complaint that the building was in the way of French fishermen, no French fishermen having fished within 15 miles of the spot for the last 14 years; whether recently, at Long Point, near Port-au-Port, the French have driven off the Newfoundland fishermen, who had always exercised there the concurrent right of fishing recognised as legal in the Foreign Office statements of the British case; and whether the British naval officers upon the station have driven away the Newfoundland fishermen from one of their fishing-places in the Bay of Islands?


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to renew negotiations with the French Government with a view to putting a stop to the cause of these grave acts, which might tend to bring about trouble between England and France?


The Question of the hon. Member for Southampton is one which should have been put on the Paper, and one of which I have had no proper notice. In reply to the Question of the right hon. Baronet, I have to say that the removal of Mr. Haliburton's store took place so long ago as 1893. The French Admiral objected to the store as a "sedentary establishment," which, by the declaration annexed to the Treaty of Versailles, Her Majesty's Government are bound to remove, and the British Commodore, in order to prove its "un-sedentary character," had it moved bodily 10 feet. The French fishermen in 1894 did attempt to prevent certain British subjects from fishing at Long Point, and the British Naval Officer at once protested against their action. With regard to the third incident, it is presumed that the hon. Member refers to an incident which took place at Little Port, near Bay of Islands, last season, when some British fishermen who wished to fish at a place already occupied by a French brigantine were not allowed to remain.


asked if it was not the fact that they had always maintained the right of "concurrent" fishing, though not the right of interfering with the persons who were on a given spot.


Yes, that is so, but I understand that in the present case the claim of the French was considered to be justified by those on the station.


asked if this did not point to the necessity of some negotiations to alter that state of things?


Order, order!