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Imperial Parliament

The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1246, p. 206.

February 27, 1864

...HOUSE OF COMMONS.--Friday, Feb. 19.

...Mr. Haliburton asked whether the Government had heard of the capture of a vessel bearing the Confederate flag by a Federal cruiser in the harbour of Pankbar, Nova Scotia, and under the guns of the fort; and whether her Majesty's Government had entered into a correspondence with the United States on the subject of this outrage.--Mr. Layard said the subject was still under inquiry, and therefore he could not give any definite reply to the question. He might say, however, that the facts had been brought under the notice of the American Government, and Mr. Seward had made an ample apology...


...Earl De Grey and Ripon, in answer to Lord Stratheden, stated that it was not intended to send military commissioners to report on the operations of the Federal or Confederate armies; but an engineer, an artillery and a naval officer, had been sent to report on improvements in artillery and iron-clad ships in the Federal States, but not to the Confederate States...


...Mr. Layard, in reply to Sir R. Clifton, said the Government had given its consent to the removal from Richmond of tobacco purchased by France and Austria, provided such a course was not taken as a precedent. Cotton was in another category. It belonged to private individuals, while the tobacco was the property of the two Governments he had named...

The Steam-Rams In The Mersey.

Mr. S. Fitzgerald moved for papers relating to the seizure of the steam rams at Liverpool. He did not want those relating to the judicial proceedings as to the rams, but only those before the seizure. Reviewing the documents which had been laid before Congress on the subject, he said it seemed to him that the Government had no good grounds for the seizure; and he asked for the papers in order that the House might see whether the law had or had not been overstepped by the Executive.

The Attorney-General said the papers asked for were only a fragmentary part of the case, and would not give to the House the means of forming a correct opinion on the subject. He vindicated the conduct of the Government, and said they had made inquiries which proved that the vessels were not, as had been represented, for Egypt or France. That they were intended for the Confederates was shown by a paragraph which he quoted from the report of the Secretary of the Confederate Navy. The trial as to the vessels would take place in May next. The Government had only vindicated the law, and done what they would expect other countries under similar circumstances to do.

Mr. Horsfall declared the proceedings of the Government in the case of the Alexandra, and against Messrs. Laird, to be cruelly unjust, and a profligate expenditure of public money.

Lord R. Cecil also attacked the Government for its conduct in the matter.

Mr. W. E. Forster supported them, and argued that English interests were sustained by the course which had been pursued in the seizure of the vessels.

Sir H. Cairns at great length criticised the proceedings in respect to the steam-rams, and strongly condemned them.

The Solicitor-General replied to him; and, after some observations from Mr. Walpole and Mr. T. Baring, the House divided, and rejected Mr. Fitzgerald's motion by 178 votes to 153...

HOUSE OF LORDS.--Thursday.

...The Steam-Rams In The Mersey.--The Earl of Derby again referred to the question he had asked Earl Russell on two occasions before--whether her Majesty's Government would give to Parliament copies of the correspondence that had taken place with reference to the detention of the rams in the Mersey? In doing so the noble Earl referred to the reply he last received and to the discussion that had taken place upon the question in the House of Commons.--Earl Russell said the noble Earl had somewhat misrepresented his reply. The answer he had given was, that the law officers of the Crown considered the production of these papers would result in an incomplete discussion of the legal point at issue in the Houses of Parliament, and so prejudice the result of the cause now being discussed in the courts of law. With regard to the other papers for which the noble Earl asked, he had replied that he would look over the correspondence that had taken place, and produce any further papers to the production of which there could be no objection. The noble Earl then laid such papers upon the table.--After some further discussion, which was joined in by Earl Russell, the Earl of Derby, Lord Granvllle, Lord Chelmsford, and the Earl of Carnarvon, the subject dropped...

Page 207


The Tuscaloosa.--Lord Palmerston, in reply to Mr. Peacocke, said the Tuscaloosa had been seized by orders sent out to the Cape. The Government, however, had ascertained that there was no sufficient reason for the seizure, and had ordered her release.

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