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Export Of Coal To Belligerents

Volume 203: debated on Thursday 28 July 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, If the export of English Coal in British or other neutral Vessels by British Subjects to either France or Prussia will be a violation of Her Majesty's Proclamation against the export of articles contraband of war; and, to what Prize Courts exporters of Steam Coal, and Owners of Ships carrying the same, will be amenable when trading to non-blockaded ports?

said, he had been requested by the Prime Minister to answer this Question, and what he had to say was this—Her Majesty's Government had not undertaken to prohibit the export of coal to the ports of France or Prussia. Under certain circumstances coal would be considered as contraband of war; but the Government found it was impossible, as previous Governments also had, to define beforehand the circumstances under which coal would or would not be contraband. Those circumstances must be left to be defined by the tribunals before which the vessels were carried. He might further say, that in every case the tribunal would be the tribunal of the country into which the captured ship was carried, whether she was seeking to enter a blockaded or a non-blockaded port.

said, he wished to ask if the Government were prepared to prevent ships from carrying contraband of war?

said, the Government was not prepared to seize any ships, unless there was clear proof that they were store ships in the service of either of the belligerents.

said, he wished to ask, whether the Government were aware of the views of Foreign Governments upon this subject?

said, he did not know whether the House would think that was a question he ought to answer. He thought it might be assumed that Foreign Governments would take that view of the case which was in consonance with the principles of International Law. But it was not convenient to enter into discussions of this kind. If they received any definite information they would take care to communicate it to the House.