§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions. The first is whether he can inform the House as to the position of affairs in Venezuela; as to the presence of His Majesty's ships of war in that neighbourhood; and whether he can lay Papers on the Table explaining the situation.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
For the past two years His Majesty's Government have had grave cause of complaint on various occasions of the unjustifiable interference by the Venezuelan Government with the liberty and the property of British subjects. No efforts have been 238 spared to obtain amicable settlement of these cases. In none of them has a satisfactory explanation been forth coming, and latterly the representations of His Majesty's Minister have been practically unnoticed. There are also cases in which British subjects and companies have large claims against the Venezuelan Government. We have been acting in conjunction with the German Government, who have also large claims against Venezuela, and a final communication has now been made to the Venezuelan Government by His Majesty's Minister and by the German Charge d'Affaires. If no satisfactory reply is received from the Venezuelan Government the two Governments have decided to take such measures as may be necessary to enforce their demands. As regards the laying of Papers, none are ready for presentation; but I will consult my noble friend at the Foreign Office as to what steps can be taken in the matter.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
May I ask whether the communication sent to the Venezuelan Government by the Governments of Great Britain and Germany was a joint communication or a separate and identic communication.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think that notice should be given of these supplementary Questions. But I believe I am right in saying it was neither a joint communication nor an identic communication.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
Is this action being taken to enforce the claims of private individuals against the Venezuelan Government?
Order, order ! The right hon. Gentleman has said he must have notice of further Questions.