HC Deb 08 June 1858 vol 150 cc1727-32

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the recently appointed Minister to Tuscany had permission to leave his post, and under what peculiar circumstances that gentleman left Florence without presenting his credentials; also, whether there is any prospect of the recommendation of the Select Committee of 1850 to discontinue this Mission being carried into effect.


said, the terms of the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question were scarcely applicable to the circumstances of the case. Lord Normanby, in fact, had never presented his letters of recall, nor had Mr. Howard actually taken possession of his appointment, and it was, therefore, scarcely correct to use the words "left his post," which implied a breach of discipline, as it were, and conveyed the idea that he had quitted a position of which he had been in actual occupation. With reference to the peculiar circumstances under which Mr. Howard had left Florence, all he (Mr. S. FitzGerald) had to say was, that Mr. Howard had made his health the ground of his sudden resignation, and he had forwarded to Lord Malmesbury medical certificates in reference to his health to show that he had not advanced that as a reason without good grounds. As to the last part of the question, he had to inform the hon. Gentleman that it was not in the contemplation of the present Government to make any change in that respect. The Report of the Select Committee was very carefully considered by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), who was in office at the time, and he did not think it advisable to make that reduction. He did make many important reductions in the Diplomatic Service, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Radnor (Sir G. Lewis) who was then at the Treasury, expressed the entire satisfaction of the Treasury with what he had done.


said, he wished to ask the hon. Gentleman whether what had appeared in some of the newspapers was true, that Mr. Howard had asked an audience for the purpose of presenting his letters; that the Court of the Grand Duchy being out of town, made arrangements immediately to come to town, and he was told did come to town; that the Court was thereby put to inconvenience that Mr. Howard might deliver his letters; that the day before that on which he was to have an audience he went off, so that all the inconvenience to which the Court of the Grand Duchy had been put was fruitless and thrown away? Now he wished to know if that were true, or if the material facts were true; then he had to ask further what apology or reparation had been made, or was to be made, to that Court for the great discourtesy which had thus been put upon it by Her Majesty's Representative?


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman had given no notice of his question. If he thought it necessary to put it again, which he scarcely thought he would, he would endeavour to give him an answer. At that moment he, in fact, had no knowledge of the circumstances to which the hon. and learned Gentleman alluded.