HL Deb 23 June 1873 vol 216 cc1245-7

inquired whether it is true that, by the decision of the Court at Cadiz, the Spanish steamship "Murillo" has been pronounced free of condemnation, the crew released, and the master deprived of his certificate for only twelve months? and moved for Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Spanish Authorities on the subject. The noble Earl said, that he did not propose to go fully into the matter, since he understood from the Foreign Office that there would be no objection to produce the Papers asked for. He would detain their Lordships only for a few moments, to remind them of the principal facts of the case. During last winter the emigrant ship Northfleet was riding at anchor off Dungeness, in a perfectly still and calm night, when she was run down by a steam ship, which whilst she was sinking steamed away and left her to sink with 300 lives on board. Enquiries ensued and shortly afterwards a vessel named the Murillo arrived at Cadiz, with all the evidence of guilt which under such circumstances could be reasonably expected upon her. She was put under embargo, and now after nearly four months of idle formalities it was reported that the master and ship were virtually absolved, and immunity accorded to a most barbarous and disgraceful act. Some time since he had called the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the circumstances, and he now asked if it was true that the vessel had been released, the crew set free, and the master punished with a years suspension of his certificate? In all the annals of maritime disaster he knew no parallel to it in the case of a ship, fulfilling all the conditions required of her, being run into by another ship, which then escaped with the obvious intention of evading the payment of damages, and if that vessel was the Murillo the decision was one of the most monstrous ever pronounced. He moved for Correspondence between the Government and the Spanish authorities on the subject.

Moved that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for, Copy of Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Spanish Authorities with respect to the Spanish steamship "Murillo."—(The Earl of Carnarvon.)


said, the Government had received a telegram from Mr. Reade, the British Consul at Cadiz, to the effect that it was reported the Court of Inquiry had come to a decision, though the authorities had not officially communicated it to him, on the ground that the judgment had not yet been confirmed. The report was that the Court held that there was not sufficient evidence that the Murillo came in contact with the Northfleet, and that the ship had been since freed and the crew liberated, the master's certificate being suspended for his not having paid sufficient attention to the ship with which the Murillo had come into collision. It was, of course, not for him to explain or defend this verdict. He had no objection to produce the Correspondence as far as it had yet gone; and was glad to know that neither Mr. Layard nor Mr. Reade was respon- sible for anything unsatisfactory that had occurred.


hoped that the Correspondence would be laid upon the Table so that it might be properly considered before the close of the Session.

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter past Six o'clock, 'till to-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.