HC Deb 10 August 1866 vol 184 cc2161-2

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he will allow the investigation which was agreed to be entered upon on the 6th of March, 1866, to be continued, so that the correctness of Mr. Seely's statements in the House relating to the management of Her Majesty's Dockyards, and the replies thereto, or reports thereon of the Admiralty, as contained in papers 465 and 465-I may be ascertained?


Sir, I am not aware to what agreement it is that the hon. Gentleman refers. I have looked into Hansard for the 6th of March, and can find there no trace of any such agreement. My answer, however, to the hon. Gentlemen is this:—That if he himself desires to go into the Accountant General's Office and investigate any part of the dockyard expenditure, I shall be willing to promote that investigation on his part, and he shall have every possible information laid before him. But I think—indeed, I feel assured—that the hon. Gentleman will conduct such an investigation in a fair spirit; and in the event of his coming to any entry or to any other information which he thinks is of a doubtful character I hope he will ask for an explanation on the spot from the officers of the department, and not come down to the House and make a complaint on any such subject, unless the answer he receives is unsatisfactory. I make this observation because I am sorry to say the investigations instituted by the hon. Gentleman's secretary were not conducted in that spirit. The consequence was that the hon. Gentleman came down to the House not very long ago, and, upon the authority of his secretary, made a statement which involved a series of errors, one of which was of the gravest kind—namely, that an extravagant sum, £5,600, had been expended upon the repair of boats. And when I pointed out this serious error to the hon. Member, the only excuse he made was that his secretary had read the wrong line. This was in a printed paper; and no man of business, looking at such a paper, would have made that mistake. Therefore I am obliged to say that, while I shall be glad to afford every facility to the hon. Member himself, I am not disposed to admit his secretary again into the office.


Sir, after what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, perhaps I may be allowed to offer one word in explanation.


intimated to the hon. Member that it would be irregular for him to proceed.