HC Deb 14 June 1906 vol 158 cc1137-8
MR. CAIRNS (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the British steamer "Briardale" is still detained at Genoa, that the total period of detention is now fifteen months, and that the Italian courts still refuse to release the vessel upon the provision of adequate bail; and whether His Majesty's Government will make strong representations to the Italian Government with a view to procuring the acceptance of bail as customary in all other countries and so effecting the release of the vessel without in any way prejudicing the rights of the Italian claimants.


As my hon. friend is aware, His Majesty's Government have made urgent representations to the Italian Government in regard to the general principle involved in the treatment of this case by the Italian courts, but they cannot undertake to endeavour to influence these courts on a purely legal issue such as that of the conditions to be attached to the acceptance of bail.


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that in a recent judgment of the court of appeal at Genoa, in the case of the British steamship "Briardale," the principle has been laid down that an Italian subject, having a private claim against one shareholder in a British vessel, can arrest the entire ship, and thus inflict heavy loss upon the other shareholders; and what steps His Majesty's Government propose to take, having regard to the effect the admission of this principle will have upon British shipping.


The Answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. His Majesty's Government have represented to the Italian Government that the maintenance of this principle will be most prejudicial to the commercial relations between the two countries.