HC Deb 16 May 1881 vol 261 cc584-5

I wish to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, If the attention of the Admiralty has been called to a statement in the "Daily News" of Saturday last, to the effect that information received from the Pacific station had come to the knowledge of the Government that Fenians were likely to blow up the men-of-war on that station, and that precautions were taken shortly before the disaster to the "Doterel;" whether it is in the power of the hon. Gentleman to give any information to the House on the subject; and, whether there is any connection between this information and the destruction of the "Doterel?"


Sir, it is true that information, early in last winter, reached the Admiralty from abroad, which their Lordships thought it right to communicate to certain of the foreign stations. At the end of the letter in each case the following paragraph occurred:— My Lords do not wish to attach undue importance to the information in question; but they desire to notify it to you, with the view of such precautions being taken to secure the safety of Her Majesty's ships and vessels under your command as you may deem to be necessary. One of these stations communicated with was the Pacific, to which the Doterel belonged; and the Admiralty do not attach importance to what, with their present knowledge, they are inclined to regard as nothing more than a coincidence. With respect to the steps taken since the loss of the Doterel, I may say that the Garnet sailed for Sandy Point on the 6th from Montevideo; and on the 4th the sloop Penguin, with a complete equipment of divers and diving apparatus from Coquimbo. The Garnet must be before this at Sandy Point, and the Penguin should be there in a day or two. The Britannia, bringing the survivors, is expected at Liverpool on the 31st, where preparations have been made for their reception; and Commander Evans has been ordered to proceed at once to the Admiralty, while the others go on to Portsmouth, so that within a fortnight the questions as to the disaster will be cleared up as far as human testimony can clear them up beyond the point of theory and conjecture.