HC Deb 17 February 1857 vol 144 cc744-5

asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether it was true that the case of the lorcha Arrow was not the only one in which the authorities of Canton had recently seized or entered upon boats sailing under British colours or furnished with a British register; and, if so, whether he would lay upon the Table of the House any Papers relating to such proceedings? And also, whether he would have any objection to lay before the House any instructions which might have been sent by the Home Government to Sir John Bowring on his appointment as Governor of Hong Kong, or at any subsequent period previous to October last, on the subject of the exclusion of the British authorities and merchants from the city of Canton?


said, I believe, if my noble Friend will refer to the papers which have already been presented to the House, he will find from them that upon two former occasions lorchas had been molested by the Chinese authorities; and those papers also detail the steps taken by Sir John Bowring in consequence of these transactions. With regard to the instructions to which my noble Friend alludes, I have to state that I have no objection to lay them before the House; and I will undertake that they shall be produced.


said, he wished to ask the noble Lord whether it was true, as stated in the newspapers, that Canton had been bombarded by the British authorities with red-hot shot; and, if so, whether the noble Lord had any objection to lay before the House any papers he might have received in reference to that subject?


said, the only foundation for the report to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded is this—The Chinese set fire to some of the hongs, and a number of the Chinese were congregated on the space near those buildings. It became desirable to disperse them in order to prevent any further mischief they might have done, and some shells were thrown into that space for the purpose of driving them off. The space was thereby cleared, but there was no bombardment of the town. [Sir CHARLES WOOD: And no red-hot shot was fired.] The result was that the English admiral still retained his position in the Canton river, but for the present no further steps had been taken.


wished to know whether the noble Lord would have any objection to lay before the House a copy of the colonial ordinance with respect to the registration of vessels?


said, it had been laid on the table yesterday.