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Prizes Of War—Question

Volume 203: debated on Friday 29 July 1870

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said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If the Decree, a Copy of which appears in "The Times" of the 28th July, and in which Prussia renounces her rights as a belligerent to capture or seize as prizes of war French merchant vessels, except under circumstances which would render neutral vessels liable to capture, is authentic; and, if the French Government have sent to Her Majesty's Government the Instructions to their Consuls regarding French and Prussian merchant vessels, as promised to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs previous to the 21st instant?

said, in reply, that he had not a copy of The Times by him at the moment; but he saw in The Times, either yesterday or the day before, an authentic copy of the Prussian Instructions, and he presumed it was to that publication that the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred. With respect to the second part of the Question, the Foreign Office had no specific communication of the Instructions sent to French Consuls by the French Government, and had already published everything received from the French Government relating to the subject. He found in page 72 of the Papers laid before Parliament a translation from the Journal Official, and it contained a statement of the intentions of the French Government on this subject. He wished to draw the attention of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to the following sentence:—

"As concerns merchant-vessels belonging to the enemy which may be actually in the Ports of the Empire, or which may enter these Ports in ignorance of the state of war, His Majesty has been pleased to order that they shall have a delay of 30 days for leaving these Ports. Safe-conducts shall be delivered to them to enable them to return freely to their Ports of despatch or to the Port of their destination."
In page 73 there was another communication from the French Ambassador in London to Lord Granville, which contained a repetition of the declaration of the Congress of Paris in April, 1856.