HC Deb 20 May 1830 vol 24 cc871-2
Sir R. Wilson

said, he would take that opportunity to ask a question of the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department. It was understood that a frigate had been sometime since despatched to Algiers, with a view of removing from that city the British Consul and all other British subjects resident there. When, however, the frigate arrived off the coast, the commander of the French blockading squadron, it was said, prevented the vessel from approaching Algiers, and she was obliged to proceed to Malta Now, he asked if any mode had beer adopted to carry the original intention of Government into effect, or whether the French Admiral, having sent the frigate away, had taken any measure to secure the safety of those persons.

Sir R. Peel

said, he could give the hon. and gallant Member a very satisfactory answer. It was well known that a blockade of Algiers had for some time been undertaken by a French squadron: and, when it became notorious that France was fitting out a very considerable expedition against that place, the British Government thought it right to despatch a frigate to remove the wives and children of British subjects from Algiers, in order that they might not be present during the siege. The British frigate arrived there, and took on board all the women and children, except the wife of the Consul, who was unable to leave the place in consequence of illness, and could not therefore, take advantage of the opportunity. On leaving Algiers a communication took place between the captain of the British ship of war, and the officer who had the chief command of the French blockade flotilla. That individual intimated a doubt to the commander of the British frigate, whether he could, consistently with his instructions, permit him to return to take away the wife of the British consul; but he said that he would state the circumstance to his Admiral, and ask his orders. The instructions, in all cases of blockade, were, he believed, the same; but it was customary to admit exceptions in the case of packets, and certain ships of friendly nations. Previously, however, to the French Admiral giving his opinion on the subject, the French government itself heard of the circumstance, and immediately interfered. There was no necessity for making any further application, as the French government stated at once that the officer had misconstrued his instructions, and that there was not the least intention of interrupting the usual system which prevailed between friendly nations. Even before the British Government had sent the ship of war to remove the women and children to this country, the French government had taken measures to secure the safety of all Europeans in Algiers.

Sir R. Wilson

said, he was perfectly gratified and delighted with the statement of the right hon. Secretary.