§ MR. A. STAFFORD
asked the right hon. Baronet whether he had received any information respecting the expulsion of English artisans, tradespeople, and labourers in great numbers from France, and whether Government had taken, or purposed to take, any steps to forward those poor persons to their respective homes? To this question he would add another inquiry (which he made in compliance with a suggestion he had received from others, and in order to allay any possible feeling of excitement), namely, whether the Government had the least notion of retaliation?
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
would answer the last question first. He had no hesitation in stating that the Government did not entertain the slightest notion of retaliation. In answer to the original question of which notice had been given, he begged to state, that early last Sunday he received a letter from the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Foreign Department, enclosing for his perusal a communication received by the noble Lord, from the British Consul at Havre, which conveyed the information that the French workmen in some of the factories at Rouen had de- 337 manded the immediate dismissal of the Englishmen and women employed in those factories. This demand (the letter stated) had been complied with, and the English people in the factories had been compelled to leave Rouen so precipitately, and embark with such haste in a steamboat, that they were obliged to come away without an opportunity of obtaining payment of the wages that was due for their work; and in many instances they left with a very inadequate supply of clothes, in fact with no clothing but that which they wore in the factory, which was only partial. The Consul being informed of their arrival at Havre, made it his business to inquire into their case, and found them in a very distressed and destitute condition; and, acting on the general authority given to British Consuls to provide for British subjects in distress—an authority which he might take that opportunity of observing had been considerably extended in the French ports with reference to existing circumstances in France—he made such provision as was in his power to ensure their present comfort, and their ultimate transmission to their native places. Some of them arrived at Portsmouth on Saturday night; others had requested to be allowed to remain in Havre for some time, in order that they might have an opportunity to recover their property and procure payment of the arrears of wages due to them. On obtaining information of these facts, he wrote to the Mayor of Portsmouth, directing him to make such provision for these poor people as might appear necessary. The Mayor, in reply, wrote a letter, dated the 6th of March, which he then held in his hand, and which conveyed the information that two vessels, containing ninety-seven persons, all flax-workers, had arrived at Portsmouth. The Mayor had taken an accurate account of the names of all the passengers, their places of abode, their original trades, and the descriptions of employment in which they were engaged in Rouen. They were all to have been shipped that evening, and to leave Portsmouth to-morrow, in order to be transmitted to their respective destinations. Many of them had come from Dundee and Glasgow; but the majority from Dublin and Belfast. It was further stated, that they had expressed themselves very thankful for the attention shown them. It was also mentioned that the Consul had addressed a letter to the Commissary of Rouen, calling his attention to the fact, 338 and requesting he would take measures to obtain redress for those people, and prevent a repetition of this occurrence; and Lord Normanby had also, on being informed of what had taken place, called on M. de Lamartine, and stated the facts to him; and he at once promised, in the name of the Government, that the most liberal compensation would be made for the manner in which they had been expelled, and that an authority should be sent to Rouen to prevent a repetition of similar scenes.