HC Deb 07 July 1847 vol 94 cc6-8

On the Order of the Day for Committee on the Registration of Voters Bill,


said: I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Treasury whether he acknowledges a letter purporting to be signed by him, which I have seen published in a Scotch newspaper; and I think the question is particularly appropriate at this moment, since the first two Orders of the Pay are the Registration of Voters Bill, and the Parliamentary Electors Bill. The letter is as follows:— Treasury, Whitehall, June 27, 1847. My dear Melgund—Understanding that it has been denied that any Government influence was exercised to prevent you originally from standing for Greenock, I think it right that your opponents should know that in consequence of representations that were made to myself and others respecting the state of parties in the borough, and the feelings that were entertained on this subject in other quarters, I certainly authorized a strong remonstrance being made to you, and endeavoured by every means in my power to dissuade you from coming forward as a candidate.—I am, yours truly, (Signed) "H. TUFNELL. The questions I have to put are, first, does the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that letter as written by him in his official capacity of Secretary to the Treasury, it being dated, "Treasury, Whitehall?" secondly, what are the means in his power which he used to dissuade Lord Melgund from coining forward as a candidate? and, thirdly, did he write that letter with the authority of the First Lord of the Treasury, the author of the Reform Bill?


As far as my recollection enables me to say, I believe the letter just quoted is a correct copy of a private communication which I sent to Lord Melgund. As soon as I found that that letter had been published in a newspaper, I wrote to Lord Melgund, expressing my surprise that a private communication from one friend to another, should have found its way into a public journal. The means which I referred to were such arguments of discussion as one friend might properly use towards another; and of course it was written without consulting the noble Lord at the head of the Government.


I should like to ask, Sir, what explanation the hon. Gentleman gives of the words "the Government influence." I want to know of what that consists, and how it is used. I wish also to call the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that in this letter, which he represents to be private, he says, "I think it right your opponents should know." It would seem as if Lord Melgund's opponents should be made acquainted with the contents of "a private letter."


I really do interpose. I think to occupy the time of the House with private matters of this kind is most unfair. It may be the noble Lord's turn by and by. I really do not think it honourable to Lord Melgund or his friends that they should have published that letter.


I put the question because I saw the letter published in the public newspapers.

Question again put, that the Order of the Day be read for the commitment of