HL Deb 25 March 1881 vol 259 cc1925-6

asked Her Majesty's Government, Whether, before entering into the new arrangements with the Boers, there had been a clear understanding as to the interpretation to be put on the word "suzerainty?" He found, on consulting M. Littré's dictionary, that it really meant less than "sovereignty;" but he did not think, from the despatch of Sir Evelyn Wood, that clearly appeared in the arrangements with the Boers, and unless there was a clear understanding as to the meaning of the word, there would be inextricable difficulties.


I have a high respect for M. Littré's dictionary, which I believe is the highest authority that exists on the French language; and as far as I am able to gather from what the noble Lord read, the opinion of that authority upon the word "suzeraineté" coincides very much with my own. He does not define "suzeraineté" to be sovereignty, nor do I. I imagine it is something less than sovereignty. The noble Lord has referred to the definition, or rather explanation, which Sir Evelyn Wood gave to the Boers when he stated he considered it to mean that the country should have entire self-government as regards it own internal affairs, and cannot take action against or with any outside Power without the permission of the Suzerain. My interpretation of the suzerainty which Her Majesty's Government is to assume, is that it refers to the regulation and the control of the relations of that State with foreign Powers, and any other rights which the Royal Commissioners may think it right, after full inquiry, to reserve to Her Majesty, which might derogate from the full sovereignty of the State.