HC Deb 08 August 1842 vol 65 cc1146-7
Viscount Palmerston

wished to ask a question of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), which he had postponed from Friday at his request. The question related to a matter which appeared to him to be of the deepest importance, as it involved not only the honour and credit of this country, but also the safety of a large portion of British dominions near the Indus. The last mail from India brought conflicting reports of the orders said to have been issued by the Governor-general of India, with respect to the British troops west of the Indus. One account stated that orders had been sent by the Governor-general for the immediate return of these troops. Another account stated that there had been sonic misunderstanding as to these orders, and that this had been corrected by the mode in which Sir Jasper Nicholls had interpreted those orders. The question he wished to ask was, whether orders to withdraw the British troops from the country west of the Indus Thad or had not been issued by the Governor-general, and he sincerely hoped that the right hon. Baronet would be able to state that there was not the slightest foundation for the report.

Sir R. Peel

always wished to give as much information to the House, as well with respect to diplomatic acts, as to military operations, as was consistent with his public duty, but at the same time he had ever withheld information, the communication of which was likely to be prejudicial to the public interest. The House was sure that any information which he might give would be conveyed to India in six or seven weeks, and it was therefore necessary to use some reserve to prevent prejudice to the public interests. At this moment the neighbourhoods of Candahar and Jellalabad might be the scenes of military operations. The death of Shah Soojah had placed this country in a new position to what it was under their treaty of Lord Auckland, and our position with respect to the court of Lahore was at this moment the subject of consideration with the Indian Government. He would, therefore, only state the fact that, at the present moment, the British force occupied Candahar; at the present moment, he believed, too, that it also occupied Jellalabad; and he did not apprehend an immediate withdrawal from the occupation of either situation. This was all the information which he thought it consistent with his public duty to give, and he was sure the House would not press him for anything more, but wait and see the accounts which the next mail might bring over.