HL Deb 26 March 1886 vol 304 cc11-2

, in rising to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether he has received any communications from the Australian Colonies on the subject of the apprehended occupation by France of the New Hebrides; and whether he could state what course Her Majesty's Government propose to take respecting this important matter? said, he hoped that the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Earl Granville) would be able to allay some of the anxiety that was felt on that important question. The future of the New Hebrides was a matter of no small concern to our Australian Colonies and New Zealand, and the subject required to be treated with very great delicacy and care. What he wished to impress on the noble Earl was that many of their Lordships felt an intense desire that the question as to the New Hebrides should be looked at principally from an Australian point of view. These Island were not of the small importance to the Colonies of Australia and New Zealand anyone would think, viewing them from a map. Of course, as it was mixed up with the subject of the possible increase of French convicts in those seas, it assumed an aspect of very great and peculiar gravity. He therefore hoped that Her Majesty's Government would approach that matter with an earnest desire to look at it not only from a British point of view, but, if possible, primarily from the point of view of their Australian fellow-subjects.


said, he would endeavour to answer the Question in the same spirit in which the noble Earl (the Earl of Harrowby) had asked it. He (Earl Granville) fully recognized the appreciation shown by the noble Earl of the delicacy of some of the matters connected with that question. Their Lordships were aware that an agreement had been come to with regard to the Hebrides, and the Govern- ment most fully adhered to that agreement. A pledge had been given on the part of Her Majesty's Government to the Australian Colonies that no agreement should be entered into or considered with reference to those Islands without consultation with the Colonies interested in the matter; and at this moment they were in communication with all the Colonies on a suggestion that had been thrown out by the French Government which they thought might possibly be agreeable to the Colonies. Under those circumstances, he did not consider that it would be convenient in the interests of the Public Service that he should make any further statement at present on the matter.