HC Deb 13 December 1900 vol 88 cc688-9
MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanarkshire, Partick)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that claims to land in the occupation of natives and of British subjects are being made by French subjects in the islands of Epi and Efate, in the New Hebrides, and that disturbance has resulted; and, in particular, that the Rev. R. M. Fraser, a British subject, has been dispossessed from land bought by him in the Island of Epi, and his schoolhouse burned by M. Beaulieu, a French subject; whether the dispute was investigated by a French warship without the presence of an English officer; whether the proper tribunal for investigating such a question is the Joint Naval Commission; and whether he will take steps to secure the impartial investigation of the matter.


Complaints of the nature indicated in the first and second paragraphs of the hon. Member's question have been brought to the notice of Her Majesty's Government, and steps have already been taken for their due investigation by one of Her Majesty's ships on the Australian station. I should, however, state in reply to Paragraph 3 that the Joint Naval Commission has no power to interfere in disputes concerning the title to land.