HC Deb 31 January 1860 vol 156 cc330-1

said, he wished to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if it is true that the British Consul at Cadiz allowed Martin Escalante, a British subject, to remain upwards of seven months in prison untried, and also delayed or declined to take him under his protection, although (at the instigation of the Spanish Judge) an application was made to the Consul to do so? He believed that Martin Escalante had been sentenced to nine years' penal servitude for circulating Roman Catholic Bibles in the Spanish language. He should also be glad to know whether any remission of the punishment has been asked for and is likely to be obtained?


Sir, the British Minister at Madrid was informed that Martin Escalante had been arrested on the ground that he had circulated Bibles in the Spanish language, that being an offence by the Spanish law. Mr. Buchanan, the British Minister at Madrid, wrote to our Consul at Cadiz, to know what he had done, and was informed that he had inquired into the case, that he found that Martin Escalante was in prison according to the law of the country, but that he had legal advice, and that he would be defended by his legal adviser. We have no information to induce us to think that the British Consul at Cadiz could have released Martin Escalante from prison or obtained his trial in a shorter time. He repeatedly applied to the Spanish Minister at Madrid, who always replied that Martin Escalante was suffering in the due course of justice. He certainly, however, was not tried until after he had been in prison for seven months, and at the end of that time was sentenced to nine years' penal servitude. The British Minister has ap- plied to the Spanish Government for the liberation of Martin Escalante, and there is every reason to think that he will very soon be released entirely from the term of his servitude.