asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the Ayes Island is or was one of the possessions of the British Crown; and, if so, for what reason the claim of Messrs. Hayman and Co. was not referred to the Arbitration Commissioners?
Sir, the right of Great Britain to the possession of Aves Island was disputed by Venezuela, and the question was allowed to drop after 1856, without this country having abandoned its claim. Messrs. Hayman's claim was against the Government of Venezuela, who interfered to prevent them from exporting guano from the island. It amounted to £21,000, for which they received about £1,950. A similar claim of some United States' citizens was afterwards settled more advantageously, whereupon Messrs. Hayman transferred their claim from the Government of Venezuela to that of the United States; but Her Majesty's Government were advised that there were no grounds for such a proceeding, and refused to present it to the Commissioners at Washington. They were supported in their opinion by Mr. Carlisle, our counsel to the Claims Commission, and by the Law Officers of the Crown.