HC Deb 30 July 1875 vol 226 cc216-7

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the crew of the steamship "Talisman," shipped in Glasgow in May 1874, and arrested in November last by the Peruvian authorities at Quintereas for alleged complicity in the illegal landing of arms, have been tried and convicted of that offence, or whether they are still detained in prison unconvicted; whether the statement purporting to be written by the second officer of the "Talisman," and published in "The Times" of the 26th instant, to the effect that the crew were all confined without other clothes than they brought with them when arrested, in a large underground cell, damp, badly ventilated, full of vermin, and devoid of the common requirements of decency and cleanliness, and in company with sixty of "the lowest class ruffians of the country," is justified by fact; and, whether it is true, as stated by the officer referred to, that the British Consul had taken no notice of three letters addressed to him by the imprisoned crew?


Sir, down to our latest advices from Peru, June 10, the crew of the Talisman, who have been in prison since November last, had not been tried. That, we are told, is owing to the fact that the crew could not be put on their trial until the Courts had disposed of the case of the vessel. She had been condemned as a good prize, but as appeal had been made against the sentence the crew could not be tried pending the result of this appeal. "With regard to the place of their confinement, the treatment they receive, and the position of their fellow-prisoners, our Consul at Lima has reported that he has several times visited the crew. The master was confined in a room apart from the rest of the prison with three other political prisoners, two of whom are of the rank of colonel. The crew were in the common prison, but as to their being in "company with sixty of the lowest class ruffians of the country," as stated in the Question, it appeared that they were confined with other unconvicted Peruvian prisoners, among whom are some captains and lieutenants in the army. At the request of the Consul some more mattresses had been ordered to be sent to the crew from the Talisman, and their food, for prison diet, appeared good and sufficient. The Consul was doing all he could to press on the trial of the crew, and seeing that they were receiving fair treatment in prison, and we have received no complaint from any quarter of his neglect of their interests, I am not aware that he took no notice of three letters addressed to him by them.