asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether seven of the crew of the merchant ship "Fort George," were, on the 22nd February last, sentenced by a naval court at Cerro Auzul to various terms of imprisonment for mutiny; whether they were taken on board a man-of-war to Callao to undergo that imprisonment; whether it was not the duty of the senior naval officer, under the Merchant Shipping Act, to inspect the prison to which it was proposed to commit them, and whether he ever did so; who interfered to protect these men from imprisonment in the noisome prisons of Lima or Callao; what finally became of the men; and, whether he has any objection to lay upon the Table of the House any correspondence relating to the subject?
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN,
in reply, said, it appeared that seven of the crew of the merchant ship Fort George were, on the 22nd February last, sentenced by a Naval Court at Cerro Auzul to terms of imprisonment varying from seven to 12 months for combining to disobey orders. They were taken on board a man-of-war in order to be brought to Callao to undergo imprisonment in the prison there. But upon arrival at Callao, Her Majesty's Consul reported that the prison was quite unfit for the reception of British prisoners. The Minister at Lima accordingly authorized the Consul to deal with the prisoners in accordance with the Regulations that had been issued by the Board of Trade. The Consul found that he had no alternative but to discharge the men, and they were accordingly set free. The Merchant Shipping Act did not make it absolutely, or in precise terms, the duty of the senior naval officer to inspect the prison to which he had committed prisoners, but required that the Court should be satisfied, either by personal inspection or some other way, that the prison was one in which British prisoners could he properly incarcerated. As to the Correspondence, he thought if his hon. Friend would communicate with him it would be hardly necessary to lay it on the Table.