HC Deb 08 June 1847 vol 93 cc244-6

said, the House would recollect a very remarkable statement which was made in the House last night, as to two gentlemen holding high stations in Her Majesty's service. It was stated that these parties had made a statement to the Colonial Office regarding the absent Governor of Van Diemen's Land, on which statement he was suspended from public employment. It had been since discovered and admitted by all parties, that that statement was utterly unfounded. Now, it was mentioned on very high authority—the authority of a right hon. Gentleman, representing, he believed, his absent Colleague, who was formerly at the head of the Colonial Office—that two of the parties who made the statement held at this moment high official appointments in Van Diemen's Land, and that the other was in a position of the highest respectability. Now, he wished to ask the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, whether, the statement having been made not merely upon rumours, but in such a manner as to make it appear authentic and semiofficial, Her Majesty's Government had ascertained the names of the public servants by whom the statement was made? Second, whether they had called for any explanation of their conduct? And third, whether, on the result of that explanation, if such was asked, would depend their continuance in the public service?


could only state, in answer, what he had stated to the House last night—that in the Colonial Office there was no official record whatever of any such statement as that which had been referred to, as bearing on the case of Sir E. Wilmot, and that it was not therefore in his power to institute any proceeding upon that statement. He had not the means of ascertaining what had occurred, as he was in entire ignorance of any official record on the subject.


wished to ask a question of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, on the reply to which would depend whether or not he put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester. His question was, whether the Colonial Office was, in fact, in possession of the names of the three persons who gave the information on which the late Secretary for the Colonies had thought fit to act in his despatch of the 30th of April, 1846? If the hon. Gentleman did not answer this question, then he would put it to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham).


could state no more than he had already done, that the Colonial Office had no official record whatever of the information which was given, or of the names of the parties who gave that information. He was, therefore, utterly unable to give the hon. Gentleman any other answer.

MR. B. ESCOTT, seeing the hon. Gentleman had not given him an answer to his question, would ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Graham) whether, after the statement he made last night, he thought it consistent with his duty to state to the House who those persons were who, holding high official situations in Her Majesty's service, gave the information to Mr. Gladstone, on which he acted in his secret despatch of the 30th of April, 1836; and if the right hon. Gentleman did not think it proper to give the names of those persons, perhaps he would state his reason for withholding them?


would have been most happy to satisfy the laudable desire of his hon. Friend to have this information; hut he was not in a position to give him the semi-official information which had already been alluded to by another hon. Gentleman. He was in that House only as a private Member of Parliament. Last night he stated to the House that Mr. Gladstone received the information on which he wrote the private letter to Sir E. Wilmot from three gentlemen—that one of them had been in the service of the Crown, but was not now in that service; and that on application to him he refused to allow any use of his name in the matter. He had further stated that the letters of Mr. Gladstone rested on the information of two gentlemen, one of them now occupying a high station in the colony, and the other a public servant. He was not prepared to give the names of either of those gentlemen; but he might state that the names of both of them had been communicated to the present Sir Eardley Wilmot. He did not think it consistent with his duty in these circumstances to mention the names of either of the parties. The hon. Gentleman had asked him, in the event of his declining to mention their names, to give his reasons for so doing. He did not consider that he was called upon to do so; but still he would comply with the request that had been made to him. He must say to the hon. Gentleman and the House, that he thought it would be most unjust towards these gentlemen, from whom perhaps Sir E. Wilmot asked an explanation, to leave them exposed for twelve months to the obloquy under which they would lie, on the presumption that they had given false information; when, though perhaps they might be able to give the information now required, they could not do so for a period of twelve months. That was the reason why he had come to the fixed determination that, being no longer charged with the official information connected with the subject, he could not make an announcement which might greatly prejudice those two gentlemen.