HC Deb 13 March 1896 vol 38 cc890-1

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, (1) will he explain how it is that on pages 14 and 15 of the preliminary statement of the Blue-book, containing the British case in the Venezuelan boundary dispute, quotations marked by inverted commas are given from documents embodied in Appendix I. of the Blue-book, and (2) that these supposed quotations do not correspond with the words of the documents referred to; and (3) further that in more than one case the sense of the original passages has been widely departed from.


My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this Question. The five quotations which are referred to in the hon. Member's Question are in all material parts correct. The first is a free but substantially accurate, rendering of a passage, not in Centurion's covering Dispatch, which is the document printed in the Appendix, but in the accompanying "judicial report" certified and signed by him. The copy of this document is not set out in the Appendix, but it is directly confirmed by a passage in Centurion's report at page 115 of the Appendix, line 45. There are a great many other Spanish documents supporting the British case which have not at present been printed. The second extract is to be found in a Spanish document set out on page 116 of the Blue-book, beginning the "murder of the guard," and ending "by the enclosed map." The difference in language is due to a difference of translation. The third paragraph is also to be found at page 116 of the Blue-book, the difference again being due to a different translation. The fourth and fifth quotations are taken verbatim from Spanish documents, but these have not at present been printed in the Appendix, as page 15 of the statement will show. All the quotations and facts contained in the statement are to be found in original documents, only portions of which have at present been published; but it is proposed shortly to issue a second collection. The slight verbal discrepancies in certain of the quotations are owing to the fact that revised translations were procured of some of the papers, and that these were not completed in time to make the corresponding corrections in the statement; but the sense of the passage will be found to be the same. The only exception is that of a quotation on page 5, where a note giving the general purport of a document has by inadvertence been included in a textual quotation.


I wish to ask the Attorney-General whether these mistranslations were made by the Foreign Office?


They are not mistranslations. I do not know where they were made.