§ MR. BERESFORD
said, he would now beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War, whether, during the present campaign in the East, rations had been supplied by the Commissariat to any of the correspondents of the daily press; and, if so, by what authority had the issue taken place, and had it continued up to the latest returns furnished?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT ,
in reply, stated, that it had been brought to the knowledge of the Government that rations had been given by the Commissariat to the correspondents of the daily press. This, however, had not been done by the authority of the Government, and he appre- 1120 hended that it had not been continued up to the present day, because the Board of Audit in examining the Commissariat accounts disallowed these expenses, as they did not find any sufficient authority, or indeed, any authority at all for them. He had been asked, in reference to a statement made elsewhere upon this subject, to read the following letter from Sir Charles Trevelyan, who wished to place before the public the truth of the matter so far as he was concerned. Sir Charles Trevelyan says—Observing that a question had been asked in the House of Commons relative to the issue of rations to any of the correspondents of the daily press during the present campaign in the East, I beg to state that in May last I requested Commissary General Filder to enable Mr. Russell, the correspondent of the Times, to provide himself with food for himself and his servants, on condition that he paid for it at the full contract rates, and that Mr. Filder had no reason to suppose that Lord Raglan would disapprove of the indulgence; and I observed to Mr. Filder, that the letters of the Times' correspondent did not appear to me to be open—as, indeed, they were not at that time—to the charge of giving information, or even of containing speculations upon the probable plans of operation, which would be objectionable in a military point of view. This was in the month of May last, when the army was at Constantinople under orders for Varna. The only application I received was on Mr. Russell's behalf, and I thought it very likely that if he were not allowed to purchase his food from the Commissariat stores he would be subjected to great privations: I did not submit the matter to any Member of the Government, because it did not at that time appear to me to be of sufficient importance.It appeared, however, that a few days after that permission was given—namely, on the 29th of May, Sir Charles Trevelyan wrote to Commissary General Filder to the following effect—It is said that Lord Raglan has refused to permit the correspondents of the newspapers to accompany the force into the field. Of course, anything I may write to you on such a subject must yield to his Lordship's expressed wishes and intentions.Commissary General Filder stated that—He gave directions that any of the reporters for the London daily press with the army, who might be so circumstanced that they could not purchase provisions, should be allowed to draw rations on paying their value.The result of what had occurred showed that, at any rate, in this instance the machinery of the Treasury was sufficient for the purpose, because the irregularity had ceased as soon as detected by the Audit Board, by whom the expenses were most properly disallowed.
§ MR. BERESFORD
said, he wished to inquire whether Sir Charles Trevelyan could issue such an order to the Commissariat in the East without its being sanctioned by the Treasury?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
replied, that he had already stated that the order was not sanctioned by the Treasury.
said, he wished to ask whether rations had been given to any other reporter but the reporter of the Times?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he had read an extract from Commissary General Filder's communication on the subject, which was all the information he possessed.
Does the right hon. Gentleman know that the correspondent of the Times got a free passage for himself and three horses from Varna to the Crimea, when only one horse was allowed to each field officer?