HC Deb 10 March 1851 vol 114 cc1182-3

wished to ask a question of the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies, with regard to Ceylon. It concerned the privileges of this House, because, when he moved that copies of the report and of the evidence taken by the Royal Commissioners at Ceylon should be laid on the table, his hon. Friend told him that there would be no oppesition to his Motion; and he wished now to know if it was possible that this House could have a copy of the evidence that had been taken by the Royal Commissioners?


had stated the reasons before, and he would state them again, why the evidence which was taken by the Commissioners in Ceylon could not now be presented to the House. In the course of last autumn, the Colonial Office received the report of the Commissioners, together with the evidence taken by them. On Captain Watson demanding that he should be tried by court-martial, it was thought necessary to send to the Horse Guards the report and evidence taken by the Commissioners. The report and evidence were sent out by the military authorities here to the military authorities in Ceylon, to enable them to conduct the prosecution. A duplicate of the Commissioners' report was returned to the Colonial Office by means of which he was enabled to comply with the Order of the House, as far as it related to the report; but no duplicate was taken of the vast mass of evidence, and therefore he could not lay a copy of the evidence upon the table. When his hon. Friend made the Motion, he (Mr. Hawes) was under the belief that a copy had been retained; but he found on inquiry that there had been only one copy, which was given in justice to Captain Watson. As soon as he found that there was no copy in the Colonial Office, he wrote out to the Ceylon Commissioners, directing them to send home a copy immediately.


begged to ask the right hon. the Secretary at War by whose authority the documents were sent to the colony, and whether it was the practice to send away documents without taking a copy?


said, in the first place the prosecution against Captain Watson did not lie in his department at all; it rested with the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and the Commander-in-Chief alone. With regard to this particular document, it was not in his department, and he knew nothing about it.

Subject dropped.