§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that a very large number of British merchant ships are lying at Rio unable to discharge their cargoes, to the serious loss of their owners; what instructions have been given to the Diplomatic Representatives of Great Britain, in regard to the protection of these vessels, and to facilitating the discharge of their cargoes; and whether Her Majesty's Government will confer upon the Diplomatic Representatives of this country at Rio, and upon the officer in command of the British Squadron there, powers to protect British merchant ships as effectively as foreign, and especially German ships, are protected by their ships of war, or will in any other manner take action to enable the British ships at Rio to safely discharge their cargoes and depart?
§ * THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir E. GREY,) Northumberland, Berwick
The answer to the first paragraph is in the affirmative. Her Majesty's Diplomatic and Naval Representatives have instructions to give such assistance as can properly be given under the present extraordinary conditions in which the town and harbour of Rio are placed. We are assured that British vessels receive the same protection that is given to other foreign ships, but, in consequence of a statement to the contrary recently received from a British firm, a fresh telegraphic inquiry has been made with 1473 special reference to the amount of protection given by German Naval Authorities.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
Are Her Majesty's Government aware of the great and, in the main, successful exertions made by Mr. Wyndham, Her Majesty's Minister at Rio de Janeiro, and Captain Lang, the senior British naval officer, in protecting the city from bombardment and merchant vessels under a neutral flag from avoidable damage or hindrance by the opposing forces?
§ * SIE E. GREY
I am very glad to have the testimony of the hon. Member to the merits of the conduct of the British Representatives at Rio. The service which they have had to perform has been of a peculiarly trying and anxious character, and we believe them to have done all that was possible under the circumstances.