HC Deb 20 June 1878 vol 240 cc1883-4

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, What progress has been made with the claims against the Spanish Government arising out of the seizure of the "Lark" in 1872,andofthe"Octavia" in 1875; whether any, and what, particular sum by way of compensation has been named, or is under consideration, in either case; and, whether there is any prospect of an early settlement of these long standing claims?


Sir, to the demand of Her Majesty's Government for compensation to the sufferers in the case of the Octavia, the Spanish Government have replied that, considering the suspicious character of the vessel at the time of capture, they do not think that they can justly be called upon to pay any compensation whatever for her capture and subsequent detention. They acknowledge that the Octavia was illegally seized on the high seas; but they consider when they handed the vessel over to Her Majesty's Government that all claim upon them ceased. This decision has been referred to the Law Officers of the Crown. The proper amount of compensation in this case can only be ascertained on further inquiry; and, therefore, for the present, no fixed sum has been demanded as indemnity. As to the Lark, Her Majesty's Chargé de Affaires at Madrid was instructed last July to press on the Spanish Government a re-consideration of their decision not to grant any compensation to the persons who suffered from her unjust detention and the ill-treatment to which they were exposed. The Spanish Government have returned no reply to this communication, but Her Majesty's Chargé de Affaires has again been instructed to press the matter upon their consideration.