HC Deb 13 March 1865 vol 177 cc1537-9

Sir, I wish to put a Question to the Vice President of the Board of Trade which may have the effect of rescuing the character of an honourable and distinguished man from an unfounded imputation. I believe I shall do this best by reading two extracts taken from The Times newspaper, the first a letter dated February 24, and signed "G. Hutt, Major General." It is as follows:— Sir, my attention has just been called to a paragraph in your paper of yesterday headed 'Owl's Light,' stating that the right hon. William Hutt had appointed me to be Secretary of Chelsea Hospital. This statement is incorrect for two simple reasons:—l, it would be a direct violation of Her Gracious Majesty's Warrant; and 2, having been an Indian officer all my life, I can know nothing about the arrangements of the British army, and must therefore be obviously disqualified for an appointment requiring an intimate knowledge of the Pension Warrant. I must beg the favour of an immediate contradiction to a statement so greatly reflecting on my brother's integrity, and likely to do me injury. The second extract is as follows:— Whitehall, March 6—The Queen has been pleased to constitute and appoint Major General George Hutt, C B.,to be Secretary and Registrar to the Commissioners for the Government of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, in the room of Alexander James Moorhead, Esq., resigned. The Question I would ask of my right hon. Friend is, Whether he can, as I believe he can, give any explanation of this extraordinary juxtaposition.


Sir, I will endeavour to answer the Question of my hon. and learned Friend; but first I would ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments while making that explanation, and I only regret the absence of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North), because I know he takes a great interest in this matter. The letter to which my hon. and learned Friend has referred is a fraud, and the signature of General Hutt, ostensibly attached to it, is a forgery. This is the work of some persons—I must not, I suppose, call them scoundrels, because it is possible that they may be employed in the public service. No doubt, therefore, they are gentlemen; but I may say this—I think that they pursue a most dishonest purpose by means most disloyal and dishonest. The original letter to which my hon. and learned Friend refers is now in my possession, by the courtesy of the Editor of The Times newspaper. I am not without some expectation that I shall be able to trace the authors, though, whoever they may turn out to be, I think they are hardly persons with whom any one would wish to be associated. And now the House will perhaps allow me to allude for a moment to the appointment itself. The Queen's Warrant most wisely points out that the Secretary to Chelsea Hospital shall be chosen for his experience in the duties of his office. Well, General Hutt possesses that qualification. He has had a large and long experience of duties appertaining to military pensions and to the distribution of military prize money. He is, therefore, technically and in every other sense well qualified to fill the office. I do not Bay this upon my own authority; I say it upon the authority of a gentleman who must be better able to judge than perhaps any other man in England—a gentleman who must have sincerely at heart the interests of Chelsea Hospital, because it is by his exertions that this Department has been raised to its present state of efficiency —I mean Mr. Moorhead, the retiring secretary. Mr. Moorhead was cognizant of all the steps of this transaction; I laid all the facts before him, and he assured me that General Hutt was technically and in every other sense well qualified to fill the duties of this office. I have his letter now in my hand. I say, therefore, that not merely technically, but in every point of view in which it can be regarded this is a proper appointment. General Hutt is an officer in the Indian Artillery, and there is nothing in the circumstances of his life of which any soldier need be ashamed. He has been named not once, ut many times, in the Gazette for distinguished conduct in the field. The late Sir Charles Napier—a general, I presume, sufficiently qualified to judge of military merits—in a public despatch spoke of him as one of the best officers in India; and the late Duke of Wellington, when Commander-in-Chief, went singularly out of his way to pay him a public compliment when recommending him to the Crown for the Order of the Bath for his distinguished gallantry in the fields of Meanee and Hyderabad. I will not say another word, but I am quite sure that the House appreciates my position in this matter.

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