HL Deb 01 August 1893 vol 15 cc981-3

My Lords, I venture to ask the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, as I intimated yesterday, whether he can state to the House the precise terms which Siam has accepted from France?


My Lords, Siam has accepted two different sets of terms at two different times. There was the first ultimatum, which was accepted by Siam at about half-past 10 o'clock on Saturday morning, and then there was an acceptance of the terms which, in the opinion of the French Government, were ancillary to the ultimatum already presented. Those terms I have this afternoon received information are also accepted. The first ultimatum runs as follows:— (1) Recognition of the rights of Cambodia and Annam to left bank of River Mekong and the Islands; (2) the Siamese shall evacuate, within one month's time, any posts which are there held by them; (3) satisfaction for the various acts of aggression against French ships and sailors in the River Menam and against French subjects in Siam; (1) pecuniary indemnities to the families of the victims and punishment of the culprits; (5) for various damages inflicted on French subjects indemnities of 2,000,000f.; (6) as a guarantee for the claims under Clauses 4 and 5, the sum of 3,000,000f, in dollars shall be at once deposited, or, in default, the farming of the taxes of Siemreap and Battambong shad be assigned to the French. The terms of the second ultimatum accepted to-day were these— (1) French to occupy Port and River of Chantaboon pending evacuation of left bank of Mekong by Siam; (2) no Siamese troops to be allowed within 25 kilometres of Mekong; (3) Siam not to have armed vessels on Tonlesap Lake; (4) French reserve right to establish Consulates at Nan and Korat.


Has the noble Earl any knowledge of the precise definition of the left bank of the Mekong?


I cannot give any information as to the left bank of the Mekong further than that con- tained in the ultimatum, and that is sufficiently broad. It may relieve the noble Marquess's anxiety to know that we have signed an agreement in Paris which provides for the establishment of a neutral zone, or buffer territory, between our territory in the Indo-Chinese Peninsula and that recently taken by France.


I beg to ask the noble Earl whether the Island of Samit, occupied by the French, is the Island of that name situated about the 103rd degree of longitude East, or that lying about the 101st degree? There are two Islands of the same name, and it makes a great difference, as in the former case the Island would be lying in what are distinctly Siamese, while the other is in Cambodian, waters. Further, I desire to ask whether there is any International precedent for prohibiting the Siamese from erecting forts anywhere on the right bank of the Mekong; whether this prohibition does not, ipso facto, give the French powers of interference over territory strictly belonging to Siam; and whether, in view of the State of Luang Prabang being situated on either bank of the Mekong, and of the total lack of evidence that Annam has ever had jurisdiction over the country, the Government will not endeavour to prevent its cession to France, and what the Government propose to do with regard to the portion lying on the right, or western, bank of the Mekong River?


My noble Friend puts a question to me as he would put a penny in the slot, and he evidently expects equally satisfactory results. I must ask him to give notice of his question.


asked the noble Earl whether there was any information at the Foreign Office which corresponded at all with the startling statements by telegraph published in The Daily News of that morning; if so, how far; and whether it was true that the French Admiral had ordered Her Majesty's cruiser Pallas and Her Majesty's gunboat Swift to proceed outside the limits of the blockade as newly defined?


There is no truth in the rumour to which the noble Earl has referred. As regards the general scope of the information in The Daily News, I have many responsibilities upon me, and I am not willing to incur any more. I think the responsibility for all the news that appears in even so generally well-informed a paper is more than I can bear. I notice that in the paragraph in The Daily News to which the noble Earl has referred the last item states that "the attitude of Captain Jones, the British Minister, remains Sphinx-like." Obviously, I cannot either corroborate or deny that.