HC Deb 11 May 1849 vol 105 cc327-9

asked the noble Lord at the head of the Government whether the Cabinet was aware that Admiral Parker had been sent for to Naples by the British Minister, when they stated to Parliament that he went there of his own accord. In answer to a question from himself in August last, and at the beginning of the Session, the noble Lord stated that Admiral Parker had taken the British fleet to Naples, not in reference to the transactions in Sicily, but in consequence of differences between Naples and England. But in the large blue book, just presented to Parliament, entituled, "Correspondence respecting the Affairs of Naples and Sicily," a statement the very reverse was made. It appeared, first, that there was no negotiation opened by Admiral Parker with the Government of Naples, and that Admiral Parker was sent by the British Minister at Naples, by a special vessel, to bring the squadron to Naples. Admiral Parker reported the receipt of the letter of Lord Napier—dated Naples, 9th of February—to the Admiralty on the 12th of February. He arrived at Naples with the squadron on the 21st, and from that time to the 11th of August, when he interfered in the affairs of Sicily, the squadron was continually engaged in transactions arising out of the insurrection. He, therefore, asked the noble Lord whether he was in possession of the real facts of the case when he stated that Admiral Parker went to Naples of his own accord?


apprehended that the hon. Member was confounding two different transactions. The questions asked of him (Lord J. Russell) in August were—speaking now from recollection—whether Admiral Parker was at Naples in consequence of orders from his Government at home, and with the purpose of interfering with the expedition then supposed to be about to leave Naples for Messina; and his answer was, that Admiral Parker had not been sent by Her Majesty's Government—that he had gone of his own accord, in consequence of questions arising relating to British interests; one in reference to a forced loan, one in reference to certain persons being captured in the waters of Corfu; and he (Lord J. Russell) stated that a settlement had been made with regard to two of those questions; and as to a third a negotiation was pending. That, it appeared to him, was a satisfactory answer to questions directed, as he understood, to the purpose of inquiring whether the Government had sent Admiral Parker to Naples for the purpose of preventing the departure of the Neapolitan squadron. The hon. Member now referred to a request of Lord Napier, that Admiral Parker would go to Naples in February. When he (Lord J. Russell) answered the question, he certainly had not in his mind what had occurred in February. Admiral Parker had been at Naples, had left it, and gone to Palermo, and again returned to Naples; and he (Lord J. Russell) naturally supposed it was in consequence of his last appearance there that those questions were asked. The hon. Member would find in the blue book the reasons why, on the 29th of July, Admiral Parker was at Naples, and his statement in his letter to Lord Napier completely confirmed what he (Lord J. Rus- sell) stated in August. With regard to any previous request of Lord Napier that Admiral Parker would go to Naples, he (Lord J. Russell) did not exactly recollect the circumstances that then occurred; but he well remembered that when the Earl of M into, who was at Rome, was informed that Admiral Parker had some intention of going to Naples, he asked the Neapolitan Minister whether it would be agreeable to the King of Naples that a British squadron should appear at Naples; and when the King of Naples said it was agreeable to him generally to see British ships at Naples, but that he did not think their appearance at that moment would be conducive to his interests, the Earl of Minto took care to inform Lord Napier that it was not desirable that the British squadron should go there at that time. The question put in August, he (Lord J. Russell) certainly understood to refer to transactions then recent, and not what occurred in February.


wished to ask the noble Lord if he was aware of that passage in Sir W. Parker's letter of the 11th February, which said— By a Neapolitan steam vessel just arrived, I have received a letter from Lord Napier, dated Naples, February 9, 1848, who informs me that the presence of the squadron there will probably add weight to the negotiation which Lord Minto and himself have in hand. No Other reason was assigned for the presence of the squadron at Naples, except that it would add weight to the negotiations that were going on.


I state again that, in August, I was referring to what had then recently occurred; and that Lord Napier had no power to direct Sir W. Parker to go to Naples at all. He might have stated it was desirable, but he had no power to direct the commander of the squadron to enter.