HC Deb 26 July 1883 vol 282 cc515-7

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether the Lords of the Admiralty have had under consideration the sentence upon Louis Price, a boy on board H.M.S. "Triumph," who, for striking a superior officer, was sentenced to three years' penal servitude; whether, because he pled guilty and threw himself upon the mercy of the Court, the statement by the prosecution that he was sober at the time of the offence was not open to question or disproval; whether his character was "good;" whether, in addition, his Captain, to whom he had acted as messenger, stated that he was one of the most promising young seamen of the ship; and, whether, in consideration of Price's youth and good character, there is any hope of the remainder of his sentence being remitted?


Sir, the case of the seaman, Louis Price, to which the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Herbert Maxwell) refers, was discussed at some length in Committee of Supply on the Navy Estimates 10 days ago. In answer to the particular points contained in the Question now put to me, I have to say that Price was charged with an unprovoked assault on his superior officer, while drilling on the quarter-deck of the Triumph, was tried by court martial, and was sentenced to five years' penal servitude. The Board of Admiralty, on account of his youth, remitted two years of the sentence. The circumstantial letter from Captain Markham, the captain of the ship, stated that he had investigated the case, and was satisfied that Price was sober when he committed the offence; and the prisoner at the trial, on being questioned, said that he had received and read a copy of the circumstantial letter. He was, therefore, aware of Captain Mark-ham's statement, but did not impugn it, nor use the plea of drunkenness. Price's character was entered as "good." He did not call his captain as a witness to character; but he called Commander Dyke Acland, who stated that the prisoner— Had clone his work very well, but that he had, as far as he could see, a very bad temper, and was very inclined to be pugnacious. I think I have now answered all the points in the hon. Member's Question. I would, however, add that, the day before yesterday, a statement was received at the Admiralty, purporting to be evidence from some of Price's shipmates, to the effect that he was under the influence of liquor at the time, and that is now under the consideration of the Board.


said, he should like to ask the hon. Gentleman if it were not the case that Price was cook of the mess; and, whether it was not the practice for the cook to receive the extra and unclaimed rations of rum?


, in reply, said, that the hon. Baronet had not asked him this Question before. The statement that Price was cook of the mess was contained in the Paper received at the Admiralty to which he had referred; but he (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) did not know whether it was true or not.


Will the hon. Gentleman say whether the boy had counsel, or whether he had to defend himself?


Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will give Notice if he wishes for further information.


You ought to know.


I will give Notice, unless the hon. Gentleman can answer the Question now, that I will ask on this subject, whether Price, during his term of penal servitude, considering he has only been sentenced for an act of high temper, will be prevented from being contaminated by the company of ordinary ruffians and criminals?