THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE
desired to call attention to the circumstances connected with the detention of two vessels at the port of Liverpool. He understood that these vessels had 1640 been built on the Clyde, that they were not armed, that they were built under a contract to be delivered at Havannah at a certain day; and that they were to be taken there by British subjects under the British flag. If they had been detained by Her Majesty's Government, he supposed it was on suspicion that they were about to commit an illegal act; and although the Government might have so detained them, it was very probable that they would not be able to make out a sufficient case for their condemnation. If they had been released he concluded that they would proceed to Havannah. As he understood, they had been built for speed, and if they got into the hands of the insurgents, and the Spanish Government should not have men-of-war at their disposal equal in speed, these vessels might in the course of a fortnight do millions of damage. Under the present version of International Law, or what he might call the Washington Treaty version, it was very doubtful whether the Spanish Government would not be entitled to come on this country with a claim for damages. Many of the claims in the Blue Book now on their Lordships' Table were more far-fetched than a claim of this sort would be. Take the case of the Alabama. That vessel was not taken out of this country by British subjects, and did not sail under the British flag, but was stolen from this country by the very parties who were now claiming damages. If the Government did not consider the present law sufficiently comprehensive to prevent such vessels leaving the country, the sooner they established a more efficient law the better. If we departed from the well-understood system of International Law we should lay ourselves open to no end of difficulties, for it was now very difficult to distinguish between a vessel intended for a man-of-war and a merchant vessel. The Question he desired to ask was, Whether the two steamers "Midland" and "Great Northern," which were detained by the Government some time ago at Liverpool, have been released; and, if so, whether the owners have given in a claim for detention?
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he would not go into the Alabama case, but confine himself to the Question which had been put by the noble Earl. Their Lordships would remember that the Fo- 1641 reign Enlistment Act was, at the instance of the Government, passed two years ago, and the Government, acting upon its provisions, and also under the advice of the Law Officers of the Crown, did place these ships under supervision, and acting under the same advice had released them. He was sorry to be obliged to add that the owners had given notice of a claim against the Government for the detention of the vessels; and that being the case, he was sure the noble Earl and their Lordships would excuse him from not expressing any opinion upon the matter at present.