§ SIR MANCHERJEE BHOWNAGGREE (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
I beg to 1474 ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that, on the 22nd instant, ten Lascar seamen, forming part of the crew of the Orient Company's steamer "Ortona," were taken before a magistrate at Sydney, just as the vessel was on the point of leaving the port, on a charge of smuggling walking-canes valued at about sixpence each, which it was shown in evidence a Customs officer had induced them to sell him; that the magistrate, while obliged technically to convict them, imposed the minimum fine and denounced the charge as trivial; that the Orient Company, regarding the action as a malicious attempt on the part of the local authorities to compel it to desist from employing Lascar seamen on its vessels, paid the fine subject to appeal; and, if so, whether he will state what steps, if any, he intends taking in the matter.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I have no information as to the incident referred to by the hon. Member, but I will ask the Governor-General of Australia for a report on the subject.