HC Deb 10 May 1843 vol 69 cc102-3
Sir C. Napier

wished to know, as the right hon. Baronet had objected to laying on the Table a copy of the instructions sent to our cruisers on the African coast, what should be done in a supposed case: —For instance, an American and a British man-of-war are cruising in company on the coast of Africa; a very suspicious-looking sail heaves in sight and both vessels make towards her. It happens that the British man-of-war is a far better sailer than the American and comes up with the strange sail long before her; the stranger then hoists American colours. Now, he wished to know whether the British vessel would be bound to wait until the American came up?

Sir R. Peel:

Sir, the House I am sure will agree with me, that it is a matter of great difficulty, if not of impossibility, for me, or for any one else holding the office I have the honour to fill, to come down here daily and without notice to answer off-hand questions put to me on matters of minute detail, not only in my own but in other departments of the Government. I assure the hon. and gallant Member that I have every disposition to give information on all matters on which it is sought, and where it can be given without detriment to the public service. In the present instance, I am not able to answer his hypothetical case, but let me add that it would be inconvenient to the public service to have the instructions to our cruisers on the coast of Africa made generally known.