HC Deb 05 May 1863 vol 170 cc1152-3

said, he rose to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, What steps have been taken to obtain redress for the cruelties inflicted by the Peruvian Government on Captain Melville White, a British Subject?


said, in reply, that the case of Captain Melville White was one of the worst he had ever heard of. That gentleman was arrested on a frivolous and, as it proved afterwards, unfounded charge; he was thrown into prison and treated with the greatest brutality, and the course adopted towards him by the Peruvian Courts of Justice was disgraceful to those Courts. After an imprisonment of some time, he was released upon the earnest remonstrances of the British Government; but he had been banished from the country, and no reason had as yet been assigned for his imprisonment. The British Government referred to the Law Officers of the Crown the statement made by Captain Melville White, and the circumstances under which he had been so maltreated, and requested them to suggest an amount which should be claimed from the Peruvian Government as an adequate compensation for the ill-treatment he had received. The Law Officers recommended a sum of £4,500, to be demanded of the Peruvian Government as a payment to be made by way of reparation. It appeared, however, that Captain Melville White was not satisfied with that sum, and had sent in a claim for £292,174. That sum was made up of various items, among which were "four heavy blows from butt ends of muskets, £3,200; a knockdown blow from a soldier, £1,000; several bayonet prods, £4,000; kicks in his aching side, £2,000; five days' alleged bad diet in prison, £5,000; and loss of health, £20,000." The Government had not thought it right to make that demand upon the Peruvian Government, but were willing to leave the question to arbitration; and as the Peruvian Government were willing to do the same, he hoped that some decision would be come to that would meet the justice of the case, and be satisfactory to the friends of Captain Melville White.