asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether it is not a fact that, under the Merchant Shipping Act, prisons used for the imprisonment of British sailors sentenced by naval courts abroad must be approved by the senior naval officer and certified in writing as proper for the purpose; whether, knowing that the gaols of Callao and Lima, always very bad, were in an exceptionally bad and 251 dangerous condition during the Chilian occupation in February last, and without the necessary certification of their fitness, Mr. St. John, the British Minister at Lima, ordered the imprisonment in them of seven British seamen sentenced by a naval court for insubordination on board the merchant ship "Fort George;" whether Mr. St. John persisted in his attempts to have the men imprisoned in the gaols of Callao and Lima in spite of repeated remonstrances; and, whether he will lay upon the Table any Correspondence relating to the subject?
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
According to the 18th Paragraph of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1875, the senior Naval or Consular Officer present at the place where a Naval Court is held is to approve the prison in which men sentenced to imprisonment are to be confined. On the occasion referred to in the Question, no Consular Officer appears to have been at the Naval Court, and it is not known whether the Naval Officer approved the prison. Mr. Spenser St. John reports having found a portion of the Lima Prison in a proper condition; but it is not known why the sentenced men were not placed there. Further inquiries are being made into the question, and the Papers cannot, therefore, be laid before Parliament at present.
asked whether Mr. St. John made inquiries as to the fitness of the prison before these men were detained?