asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether information has been received at the Foreign Office as to the seizure in March last of the British ship "Octavia" by a Spanish steamer, and of the detention of the vessel and crew at Porto Rico; whether the captain and some of the crew have been imprisoned; and, what steps will be taken by the Government in the matter?
From the time when the capture of the Octavia about six weeks ago, became known, prompt steps were taken with respect to it by the British Consul at Porto Rico, and by the naval authorities on the spot. When the circumstances were communicated to Her Majesty's Government they immediately put themselves in communication with the Spanish Government through Her Majesty's Minister at Madrid. The result has so far been that all the British subjects have been released, and orders have been sent to release the captain, who is a German, and his family; but the vessel and her cargo and three persons alleged to be Cubans are still detained for adjudication before what is called a "Prize Court." Representations have been made upon the subject, and negotiations are still going on. We have no reason to believe that the captain was put in irons, or that the crew were ill-treated.
Parliament—Commencement Of Public Business—Observation
I may as well, Sir, state now at what hour we think it may be expedient that the House should meet for the despatch of Business. As I have not heard from any hon. Members any objection to the suggestion that was made last week, I will conclude, in the absence of anything to the contrary, that it will be convenient that the House should meet for the despatch of Public Business in future at a quarter-past 4 o'clock instead of commencing at half-past 4. I may also state that in the event of the Merchant Shipping Bill not getting through Committee to-night we propose to have a Morning Sitting to-morrow. I make that statement in the hope that in consequence of the Morning Sitting we may conclude the Committee on the Merchant Shipping Bill, so as to enable us on Thursday to take the Prisons Bill and the Education Bill. I propose that the change as to the hour of meeting for Public Business should commence on Monday.