HC Deb 06 May 1931 vol 252 cc368-9
4. Colonel GRETTON

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has information of the seizure by the United States Government of the British vessel "Deauville," with a cargo of liquor, in December last, and the imprisonment of the crew for several weeks before release for want of evidence of smuggling; what has become of the vessel; and what action has been taken by the British Government?


According to my information, the British schooner "Deauville," loaded with a cargo of approximately 1,000 cases of liquor, was seized on 29th December last by the United States coastguard cutter "Dallas" when lying at anchor at a point variously estimated to be between 11–18 miles off the coast of Alabama. The schooner was escorted into Mobile where her master and crew were detained in the county gaol, bail being fixed at $7,500 for the master and $2,500 for each of his men. On 26th January the master and crew were released, criminal charges against them not having been substantiated. Proceedings have, however, been instituted for the forfeiture of the schooner and her cargo, which are now lying under attachment pending a decision of the Courts. The British Vice-Consul at Mobile has arranged with the United States authorities that no action will be taken for the deportation of the master and crew, who are allowed to live on board their vessel. So far as I am aware, no decision has yet been taken in this case by the Courts.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the liquor in question was Bass or Guinness?


Will the right hon. Gentleman and the Government consider taking steps to prevent our ships from seeking to break down the laws of a friendly Power?


Do the Government in such cases take care that no irregular or illegal steps are taken where British subjects are not liable to conviction, and that vessels are not confiscated unless there is full evidence that attempts at smuggling have been made?

Viscountess ASTOR

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that it was because they were trying to do something illegal that they were arrested?


The supplementary questions, put together, suggest that I should not add to the answer that I have already given.