*MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether he can state on what grounds Her Majesty's Government have selected two Professors of Natural History to proceed to the Behring Sea to study fur seal life; whether this step has been taken at the invitation of Canada or of the United States; whether the recommendations of the British Commission, which at great cost visited Behring Sea in 1891–2, have been carried into effect; and, if so, whether they have been found inadequate; and, from what funds the expenses will be paid of the two Professors now appointed?
This step has been taken in co-operation with the Canadian Government, in conseqnence of the repeated representations of the United States Government as to the inadequacy of the present regulations for the proper protection and preservation of the seals. The recommendations of the British Commission were not adopted by the Arbitration Tribunal which framed the regulations which are now in force, and the object of the mission is to inquire into the complaints made of their inadequacy. The expense of their mission will be borne by Her Majesty's Government.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
asked how it could be ascertained that the recommendations were inadequate if they had never been carried into effect?
§ MR. H. SETON-KARR) (St. Helen's
asked what other Members would the present Commission consist of besides the two Professors of Natural History?
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would give the names of the two Professors?
§ MR. SETON-KARR
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether the regulations now in force of the Fur Seal Fishery in British Columbia are, in their main points, directly contrary to the recommendations of the recent British Commission; whether, so far as this is the case, Her Majesty's Government will take steps to revise the existing regulations in accordance with the said recommendations and with the express wishes of the sealers themselves; and whether, generally, the Government contemplate any further, and what, action for the proper and equitable protection of this important maritime industry in British Columbia?
The regulations of the Fur Seal Fishery in British Columbia in force are, in some respects, contrary to the recommendations of the British Commissioners, but they were enacted by the Award of the Arbitration Tribunal, by which Her Majesty's Government are bound. The regulations can only be revised by the joint consent of Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States. Steps are being taken to inquire into the working and adequacy of the regulations.