HC Deb 05 December 1837 vol 39 cc600-1
Mr. Maclean

, seeing the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affaire in his place, took leave to ask a question relative to a petition which he had handed over to the noble Lord some time since, on the part of certain persons who had been imprisoned in Portugal. By the 4th article of the treaty, or rather the capitulation between the Portuguese, Spanish, and British Governments, when Don Carlos left Portugal, the Spanish refugees then in that country were to be guaranteed their liberty and sent to a dépôt to be provided for them, until it was found convenient to send them to some other country they might prefer. Eight hundred and thirty of those persons having surrendered themselves, they were placed in the depot, and by the severities they had suffered during their imprisonment, they were now reduced to 230. He wished to know, whether the noble Lord considered that, by the capitulation, the British Government were bound to protect those individuals, and whether he was prepared, supposing their case had been fairly stated, to interfere in their behalf.

Viscount Palmerston

was not prepared to admit that those parties were, under the fair and proper construction of those articles, entitled to be set free. It was the duty of the Portuguese Government to detain them as prisoners until they were exchanged for prisoners taken by the Carlists. At the same time, it was the duty of Go- vernment to see that, while in safe custody, they were well treated. He believed they were well treated. There was a letter from the commandant of the depot, which clearly stated as much. He would, however, send the petition itself to Lisbon, in order that a fresh inquiry might take place; and if they had anything to complain of, he had no doubt steps would be taken to obtain for them redress.