HC Deb 02 March 1927 vol 203 cc353-5
4. Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the civil war in Nicaragua, he has taken any steps to protect British interests which have been endangered in the fighting?

7. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will explain the circumstances under which a British cruiser has been sent to Nicaragua; and whether there has been any danger or threat of danger to British subjects in the Nicaraguan Republic?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, seeing that one of His Majesty's ships of wax has been ordered to Nicaragua, it is intended to land any armed forces for the protection of British nationals; and how many British nationals, whose lives may be endangered, are resident in that country?


I will answer these questions together.

On 3rd January, Mr. Patteson, His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Managua, requested the United States Minister to extend to British subjects the benefit of any measures taken by the United States Government to protect United States citizens in Nicaragua. Similar protection had been forthcoming on the last occasion of disturbances in Nicaragua. On 28th January, on the inquiry of the United States Government, His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington confirmed this request. On 17th February, Mr. Patteson telegraphed that conditions were very menacing, and that the United States Minister could give no guarantee for the safety of British life and property in three of the principal towns. In these circumstances, His Majesty's Government judged it their duty to order His Majesty's ship "Colombo" to proceed at once to Corinth, to serve as a base of refuge for British refugees if need arose. Should no such need arise, it is not intended that the vessel should remain for any length of time. There will be no landing, and it is, therefore, obvious that the matter of protection inland remains unaffected.

I have not the exact figures of the number of British nationals in Nicaragua, but I have seen the number estimated at 200. I am disposed to regard this as a conservative figure.

Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is to the Nicaraguan Government, as a member of the League of Nations, or to the United States Government, which is establishing a Protectorate, that it will be necessary in the future to apply for the protection of British subjects?


My hon. and gallant Friend must allow me to deprecate questions like that.


That is a hypothetical question.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the last part of Question 7; as to whether there is any actual danger to British subjects? Have any of our nationals been threatened?


Yes, Sir. My answer was that, on the 17th February. Mr. Patteson telegraphed that conditions were very menacing.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Might not that apply to Americans? Is there any threat to British people in Nicaragua?


There were conditions of disorder and fighting, which were menacing to strangers as well as to the native inhabitants of the towns.


Is it not the fact that the British action has received the general approval of the United States?


The right hon. Gentleman has not answered Question 4, which asks whether any attempt will be made to back up the sending of this vessel to Nicaragua by landing troops?


I have answered that.

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