HC Deb 21 February 1856 vol 140 cc1050-2

COLONEL NORTH rose to repeat a question which he had put on Tuesday, but to which he then received a very unsatisfactory answer. He begged to ask the Under Secretary for War whether the entire Report and evidence of Sir J. M'Neill and Colonel Tulloch had been laid upon the table of the House; and, if not, whether the whole of the Report would be printed?


replied, that the entire Report of the Commissioners, as agreed to and signed by them, was identical with that laid on the table of the House. He did not believe that the two differed in a single word. He had, however, no objection to state that certain returns relating to the nature and severity of diseases in the Crimea were prepared by one of the Commissioners, with a view to their forming part of the Report; but that these returns, and certain remarks made upon them, were not included in the Report, because the other Commissioner, considering that they did not come within the scope of a Commission, objected to their introduction.


said, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Peel) had on a former occasion stated, that there was on the part of the Government no desire to withhold this Report from the Commander in Chief, but he at the same time admitted that, although containing grave charges against certain officers, it had been printed and circulated without having been submitted to him. He (Lord W. Graham) now wished to ask whether that Report had ever been officially communicated to the Commander in chief?


did not know what the noble Lord meant by "officially communicated." He presumed that the document had been supplied to Lord Hardinge as a Member of the House of Peers.


asked the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when the papers relating to the fall of Kars would be laid upon the table?


Part of these papers are in the hands of the printer; the remainder will be in his hands to-morrow, and I hope that they will be laid upon the table in a few days. As I am upon my legs, I may take this opportunity of stating to the House what are the intentions of Her Majesty's Government as to certain matters contained in the Report of Sir John M'Neill and Colonel Tulloch, with respect to which some officers have considered that it is due to them that they should have an opportunity of giving explanations on their own behalf. Her Majesty is about to appoint a Board of general officers to receive such explanations as any of these officers may desire to give, and to report to Her thereupon.


May I ask the noble Lord when the Board will sit, and when it will present its Report?


It will sit as soon as the warrant constituting it a Board has been prepared—within a very few days.


Is it the intention of Her Majesty's Government that the proposed Board shall consist exclusively of officers of the army, or that it shall include some civilians?


The functions of the Board will be to receive explanations from officers in the army touching their military conduct in the service; and it has been deemed right and proper that the Board appointed for that purpose should consist exclusively of military men.


wished to put a question as to the instructions to be given to the Board. As this would be the third attempt made to investigate the state of affairs in the Crimea, it was highly important that the instructions which the noble Lord might give to this Board should be of so precise and accurate a nature that the House might at last come to some conclusion as to who were the parties really to blame. He wished to ask the noble Lord, whether he would have any objection to lay on the table of the House the instructions which he proposed to issue for the guidance of this Board?


It is not usual to lay before Parliament the instructions of a Board which has not assembled, and which has not yet been charged with its functions. If at a future time it should be thought right to lay before Parliament the proceedings of the Board, of course the instructions under which it has acted will also be laid upon the table.


asked whether the proceedings of the Board would be open to the public?


The proceedings of military Boards are not open.


inquired, whether there would be upon the Board any general officers who had served with the army in the Crimea?


As the duty of the Board will be to inquire into transactions which occurred in the Crimea, it is thought fitting that no officer who has served in that country should be a Member of this Board.