HL Deb 30 April 1863 vol 170 cc980-1

—My Lords, as the question of the seizure of the Peterhoff the detention of Her Majesty's mails has been recently the subject of discussion in this House, it may be convenient to your Lordships that I should state the substance of the information 1 have received this day from Lord Lyons. In his despatches Lord Lyons states, that in answer to his application with respect to the Peterhoff and the mail-bags, Mr. Seward informed him, that with respect to the ship and cargo, the Executive Committee of America had decided not to release the vessel, but to send her before the prize court. As for the mails, the American Government had determined, in conformity with the letter of the 31st of October, to send them to their destination; and the same procedure is to be adopted in all similar cases. Mr. Seward also expressed the hope that some satisfactory arrangement might be arrived at between the two Governments. The law of nations, he said, did not lay down any precise or clear rule with respect to the practice, which is somewhat novel, of sending mail-bags by private ships, and therefore he wished to make a communication to Her Majesty's Government on the subject. He did not state what the nature of that communication would be, and. of course, it will be matter for subsequent consideration.


—Did I understand the noble Earl to intimate that in future the American Government will forward the mails to their destination without breaking the seals? I hope the communications which have passed on the subject, will be laid on the table as soon as possible.


said, the noble Lord had understood rightly. As to the production of the communications which had been received from America, Her Majesty's Government must first consider what answer they would give, and what proceedings they would take.