HC Deb 04 June 1858 vol 150 cc1532-3

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government has received any intelligence from New York of the arrest of Captain Judkins, of the Royal mail steamer Persia; and, if so, whether the circumstances of the case warranted such a procedure on the part of the American authorities?


said, he would beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether there is any objection to lay upon the table copies of correspondence between the British Government and that of the United States upon the measures taken for the suppression of the slave trade; and, if not, when such papers could be produced?


said, he wished to be informed by the Government whether it is intended to detain Commissioner Yeh as a prisoner in India or to bring him to England?


said, that in reply to the question of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall), he begged to state that Her Majesty's Government had not received any official information as to the arrest of Captain Judkins. It was, therefore, impossible, for them to say whether the American authorities were warranted in the course they had taken. The Government, however, would give their immediate attention to the subject. With reference to the question of the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Wilson), he begged to assure him and the House that there certainly was not the slightest disinclination on the part of the Government to produce any correspondence that had passed between the American Government and our own Government respecting the subject to which he referred. Her Majesty's Government were of opinion that upon such a subject the most frank communication should pass between both Governments; and that the more especially as the American Government had published some of their communications with Her Majesty's Government, it was desirable that a similar publicity should be given by Her Majesty's Government to the communications between themselves and the Ame- rican Government; that, in fact, on the part of Her Majesty's Government there should be no reserve upon the subject. At the same time, the House was well aware that communications had been made within the last two or three days by the American Government to the British Government with reference to some occurrences which were represented to have taken place in the waters of Cuba. These communications involved grave charges against some of the British officers in command there. No official communication had reached the British Government of the circumstances alleged to have occurred there. The only reply, therefore, they had been able to make to the communication of the American Government was to give them an assurance that if any such occurrences had taken place they would be regarded with the greatest regret by Her Majesty's Government, and that an immediate and careful investigation should be made into them. He thought the House would there- fore see that, such being the condition of affairs—having only the ex parte statement of the American Government, to which Her Majesty's Government had been able to give no answer—it would not be desirable at the present tune to lay a correspondence so incomplete upon the table of the House. At the earliest period, however, and without a moment's unnecessary delay, the correspondence would be laid upon the table. Her Majesty's Government had sent out instructions to the British officers engaged in the waters of Cuba to exercise with the greatest caution the powers entrusted to them. In reply to the question of the hon. Gentleman behind him (Mr. Laurie), he could only say that it was thought necessary, in the present state of affairs in China, and partly for the preservation of Commissioner Yeh's life, that he should be removed from China. At present he was detained at a fort near Calcutta, and he was afraid the non. Gentleman would not have an opportunity of seeing Commissioner Yeh in England.