HC Deb 05 November 1906 vol 164 cc115-6

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if, in view of the fact that the Order in Council carrying into effect the modus vivendi with France of 1890, respecting the Newfoundland lobster fishery, was not issued till the 23rd June, 1891, and contained a declaration that it was so promulgated under powers vested in Her Majesty by an Act passed by the Legislature of that Colony, he will explain why His Majesty's Government have not followed a similar course in the case of the modus vivendi with the United States Government respecting the Newfoundland fisheries.


The hon. Member appears to assume that effect was not given to the modus vivendi concluded with France in 1890 until June, 1891. The modus vivendi was made only for the season of 1890 and expired at the end of that season. Her late Majesty was bound by it from the date of its conclusion and gave effect to it throughout the season of 1890. Lord Salisbury, however, renewed it for another year in March, 1891. The Colonial Act under which the Order in Council referred to was issued was not passed until it had been made clear to the Colony that in the absence of Colonial legislation an Imperial Act would be passed. Lord Salisbury's Government actually introduced a Bill into Parliament, and it was only withdrawn when the Colony undertook to legislate. The modus vivendi was renewed by Lord Salisbury before that undertaking was given. The modus vivendi which has been concluded with the United States Government applies only to the present winter herring fishery, which will end about Christmas; the Colonial Legislature will not meet again until after it is over. Without at this moment entering upon legal considerations I would point out that there would have been no object in concluding the modus vivendi at all if effect was not to be given to it until after the end of the fishery to which it was to apply.


As a matter of fact did not the Colonial Government in the period of Lord Salisbury's Administration consent to the modus vivendi in view of the fact that Lord Knutsford on 13th February, 1890, said—


The hon. Member is not now seeking information.

MR. LYTTELTON (St. George's Hanover Square)

asked when Papers would be laid.


I am making inquiries at the Foreign Office, but I do not think Papers can be laid before the beginning, or perhaps the middle of next week.


inquired whether the modus vivendi was to be submitted to the Colonial Legislature after the herring fishery season was over. Did it only apply to this season?


said that he could not undertake to answer Questions on this matter of great constitutional complexity without proper notice, which would enable him to consult the noble Lord the Secretary of State.


asked whether the arrangement with the United States would terminate at Christmas, and thus leave the Colony complete freedom of action.


The arrangement is a provisional arrangement, which it was necessary to make because of the imminence of this year's fishery, and pending the general discussion of the question which is still proceeding. The arrangement terminates when the decision on the general discussion has been reached.