HC Deb 16 March 1885 vol 295 cc1237-8

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he has been informed that the British steamship Glenroy has been detained by a French man of war at some distance from Shanghai, and subjected to search, in consequence of (as reported by Lloyd's) having on board a certain quantity of lead, which is, and always has been, a regular article of export from this Country to China; and, if any intimation has been received from the French Government declaring lead, or other ordinary merchandise, as contraband of war; and, if so, whether he will state, for the guidance of shipowners, the view adopted by Her Majesty's Government on this subject?


Her Majesty's Government have received a telegram from the Governor of Hong Kong to the effect that the British steamer Glenroy had been detained by a French man-of-war, on the 11th instant, between Hong Kong and Shanghai, in consequence of her having on board, as part of her cargo, a shipment of lead, which the French Commander treated as contraband of war. Information has since been received of the release of the Glenroy, the lead having been placed at the disposal of the French authorities. No intimation has been received from the French Government declaring lead or any other merchandise, except rice, contraband of war. Her Majesty's Government have protested against rice being treated generally as contraband of war; but the legality of seizures by belligerents of articles alleged to be contraband of war is a question to be decided, in the first instance, by the competent Prize Court. In the present case, Her Majesty's Government are informed that lead is one of the most common and necessary articles of commerce shipped to China at this season, and is used for making linings for boxes of tea. Having regard, therefore, to the assurances given by the French Government that their right of search would be exercised with forbearance and consideration for the commerce of neutrals, Her Majesty's Government trust that the representations which they propose to make respecting this seizure will result in the release of this shipment.