HC Deb 26 June 1862 vol 167 cc1104-5

said, he rose to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether, on the 28th day of April last, or on any other day, the Tartar Government officials were supplied with arms, ammunition, and military stores from the Arsenal at Hong Kong; whether these munitions of war were sold to the Tartar Government or were a gift; whether, on the evacuation of Canton by the Allies, many hundreds of prisoners in the gaols, amongst whom were the mother and some relatives of the Taeping Emperor, were handed over to the Tartar Governor; and whether any guarantee was obtained that the lives of the mother of the Taeping Emperor and of his relations should not be sacrificed?


said, that Her Majesty's Government had not received any information from China up to the date referred to, the 28th of April; and therefore he could not tell his hon. and gallant Friend if any arms, ammunition, or military stores had been given to the "Chinese" Government, for he did not know what the phrase "the Tartar Government" meant; but he might state that her Majesty's Government had determined that arms, ammunition, and military stores not required for the service of Her Majesty might be sold to the Chinese Government at cost price. With regard to the other part of the Question, he begged to state that the hon. and gallant Gentleman must have been misinformed upon the subject to which it referred. When the allies took possession of Canton, they instituted a supervision of the gaols, and all persons imprisoned on account of any connection with the allies were immediately released. Criminals were detained in the gaols, and the administration of criminal justice was left as far as possible to the Chinese authorities, the British authorities watching over those who were condemned, to see that they were not tortured or subjected to undue punishment. He had been informed by Sir Harry Parkes, that during the time the allies occupied Canton, between thirty and forty persons were executed, and these were well-known criminals. Sir Harry Parkes had also informed him that he had made inquiries as to the mother of the Taeping chief, and had ascertained that she was left in charge of a large establishment of some 3,000 ladies, which it appeared he kept up. His mother was placed over them, to keep the ladies in order, and she appeared to be quite safe at Nankin. There were no Taeping women confined in the gaols of Canton. There were some women belonging to the Taepings, who were kept within the precincts of the gaol because there was no other place where they could be lodged, but they were not actually prisoners; they were well fed and clothed; and if they had been turned out, the probability was that they would have starved. They had been treated with the greatest humanity, and it was altogether untrue (hat they had been handed over to the Chinese authorities.