HC Deb 27 June 1898 vol 60 cc219-20
SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it is under orders from the Admiralty that Commander Lyon, of H.M.S. Pelican, issued at Bay St. George, in Newfoundland, on. the 16th May, a notice informing the inhabitants of Bay St. George that they are forbidden to fish for herrings between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., of which the Fifth Article declares that no bait is to be sold to vessels other than French for less than one dollar per barrel; and the Sixth Article, that no bait is to be sold outside the limit of the harbour, taking a line from the lighthouse?


My right honourable Friend has asked me to reply to this Question. The naval officers on the coast of Newfoundland act under orders from Her Majesty in Council issued under the Newfoundland French Treaties Act. Her Majesty's Government have not received any information of such a notice having been issued, but if it is in practice observed it is because the alternative under the Treaty would be to allow the French an unrestricted right of fishing for bait, which would be worse for the Newfoundland fishermen than such an arrangement as is implied in the Question.


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether there is any legal authority for forcing the Newfoundland Colonial fishermen of St. George's Bay to sell bait to the French at 60 cents per barrel, and not sell to vessels other than French for less than one dollar per barrel; (2) whether the erection by the French upon the shore of the Colony of houses and stores is now held to come within the Treaty right to erect stages for the drying of fish; and (3) whether there has been a recent erection of such houses and stores by the French at Flat Bay and other places on the coast?


(1) As to the first part of the Question, I have nothing to add to the answer returned to a similar Question by the right honourable Baronet on the 5th of April last. The practice does not rest on law, but is a matter of mutual arrangement and convenience. (2) Her Majesty's Government do not admit that the French have a right to erect any buildings on the Treaty shore except those specified in the Thirteenth Article of the Treaty of Utrecht. (3) The commodore has reported that, some small wooden huts have been erected by the French at Flat Bay; he has protested against their erection as contrary to the Treaties, and requested the French commodore to have them removed, but has not received a final answer.