HC Deb 14 February 1851 vol 114 cc626-7

begged to ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies why the letter of the Rev. Mr. Glenny to Sir Emerson Tennent, dated 13th of June, had not been printed with the correspondence respecting Ceylon, lately delivered to Members; whether it was still in the possession of the Colonial Office; and if he had any objection to lay it or its contents on the table of the House?


said, he was afraid that his answer would be hardly intelligible unless he went into some explanation with respect to the facts of the case. During the inquiry of the Ceylon Committee, there was a confidential letter produced and read to them by Sir Emerson Tennent, with which he had been furnished by the Archdeacon of Colombo. It was doubted whether Sir Emerson Tennent had a proper authority to make use of that letter. It appeared that he had been permitted to make use of it "in Downing-street" (that was the phrase), but no further authority was given. Some reproach having been cast upon Sir Emerson Tennent in a public journal or periodical, for having produced and read the letter tinder these circumstances, he thought it necessary to write a letter to the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies, vindicating his use of that letter; and this letter was accompanied by one from the Rev. Mr. Glenny, stating that he thought that Sir Emerson Tennent was justified in having made the use which he had of the letter of the Archdeacon of Colombo. That was the correspondence to which his hon. Friend referred, and that correspondence Earl Grey declined to receive and publish on this ground, that until the Archdeacon of Colombo, the party really interested, had had an opportunity of making his own explanations, it would not be just and right to continue a controversy about a private letter; and therefore, when the letter of Mr. Glenny was sent to Earl Grey, his Lordship directed him (Mr. Hawes) to return an answer to Sir Emerson Tennent to the following effect:— I am to acquaint you in reply that Earl Grey cannot consent to receive a statement of this kind, as to what passed between Mr. Glenny and the Archdeacon relative to a private letter written by the latter, when the Archdeacon has not had an opportunity of being previously acquainted with that statement. Under these circumstances the letter was not in the possession of the Colonial Office, and could not be produced. And he thought that it would be very unfair to carry on a controversy about the production of a private letter, when its author had not had an opportunity of making an explanation with reference to the facts of the case.

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