HC Deb 22 July 1898 vol 62 c842

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether his attention has been called to the frequent visits paid by French men-of-war to the Channel Islands for the purpose of making soundings and surveys and taking ranges within British territorial waters; and whether British men-of-war, in the exercise of a similar privilege, are permitted to take soundings and make surveys within the limits of the ports of Brest, Cherbourg, Bizerta, and other French naval stations and harbours?


We have no information to the effect that surveys or ranges have been taken in the waters of the Channel Islands. A broad distinction must be drawn between soundings for the purposes of navigation, which may be taken in the neighbourhood of rocky and unfrequented islands, and those of another character, which may be attempted off naval ports and frequented harbours. In the case of the French ports mentioned by the honourable Gentleman the real analogy would be the taking of soundings by foreign men-of-war off Portsmouth or Plymouth.