§ Mr. Gladstone
had a question to put to the Under-Secretary for the Home Department with respect to the accuracy of a statement which appeared in the morning papers. It was stated that certain English seamen had, in July last, been tried and sentenced by Captain Elliot, at Canton, to a certain term of imprisonment in England, on account of having been engaged in a riot which terminated in the death of a native Chinese. It further stated that the opinion of the law officers of the Crown was taken by order of the Home Office, as to whether these persons could be lawfully detained in custody or not. That opinion was in the negative, and an order was sent from the Home Office for their discharge. He wished to know whether that statement was correct in all its parts.
§ Mr. F. Maule
said, the statement to which the hon. Member referred was not 1134 correct in all its parts. It was true that these five men were tried in China by a court constituted by Captain Elliot, and sentenced to a certain period of imprisonment in England. On that being reported to the Secretary of State, the opinion of the law officers of the Crown was taken, and they gave it as their opinion that, as the matter was not quite clear as to whether Captain Elliot could sentence these persons to imprisonment in England, on the whole, they recommended that on the arrival of these individuals in England they should be liberated. The seamen arrived in the Leander two days ago, and they were accordingly liberated.