HC Deb 09 May 1871 vol 206 cc468-70

said, before putting the Question which was on the Paper, he must complain of its having been altered from its original shape, and he would ask Mr. Speaker under what rule such alterations were made, and whether the Notice of a Question should not be printed in the form in which it has been submitted to the House? The alteration made in it was the more remarkable, inasmuch as the Notice of it was received with general approval by the House, and no objection at the time had been made by the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair as to its form.


replied that the hon. Member had not given him an opportunity of seeing his Question as originally framed. If he had done so he might have been able to give him a more satisfactory answer than he was now able to do. The House was aware that when Questions were brought to the Table it was sometimes necessary to revise them, inasmuch as they often contained argumentative matter, and, in other ways, transgressed the Rules of the House. It was, therefore, his opinion, and he believed the opinion of the House, often expressed in reference to those Questions, that it was desirable, when it was thought necessary to introduce any amendment into them, to communicate, if possible, with the hon. Members who had given Notice of them; and, if it were found impossible to make such communication, the Officers of the House undertook to make Questions as conformable as possible to the Rules of the House. He believed that the manner in which this office was conducted had hitherto been considered satisfactory by the House.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether his attention has been drawn to the explanation given of the demand of £400 to £500 made on Mrs. Burgoyne for certain expenses incurred by Captain Burgoyne in his official capacity; whether the statement is correct that the sum of £210 was offered to Mrs. Burgoyne in part payment of these demands, this sum, in fact, being already due to her in payment in full of the sum of £350 allowed to Captain Burgoyne for outfit, he having only drawn £140 on account; and, whether, considering that the country has subscribed more than £50,000 for the families of those who were lost in the "Captain," the Admiralty could not find means to settle the demands aforesaid?


said, before the right hon. Gentleman answered the Question, he thought it necessary for him to state to the House that the case of this lady, Mrs. Burgoyne, would, in his opinion, be much prejudiced if her statements of the facts of the case were not placed before the House. ["Order, order!"] This was a matter of such importance he was anxious that the Government should not commit itself to any decision respecting it until it had obtained a full knowledge of the facts. ["Order, order!"] He would put himself in Order by ending with a Motion.


said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman was out of Order, inasmuch as there was already a Question before the House.


I am asked, Sir, first, whether my attention has been drawn to the explanation given of the demand of £400 to £500 made on Mrs. Burgoyne for certain expenses incurred by the late Captain Burgoyne in his official capacity. My attention has been drawn to the various statements which have appeared in the public papers on the subject, and also to an explanation which has been given in regard to it. As a matter of fact, claims to the amount of £400 have been sent in to the Admiralty. These claims have not been made by or on behalf of Mrs. Burgoyne, nor have they been referred by the Admiralty to Mrs. Burgoyne. As far as I can make out, there is but a small portion of those claims which relate to Mrs. Burgoyne at all. A portion of them relates to the engineers' mess and to the messes of other officers, with regard to which no tradesman ever thought that Mrs. Burgoyne was responsible, nor am I aware that any demands have been made upon her respecting them. As regards the second paragraph of the hon. Member's inquiry, it is incorrect to state that the sum of £210 has been offered to Mrs. Burgoyne in part payment of these demands; but the payment was made to her, and accepted by her, of £210, not in payment of these demands, but in consideration of the heavy loss she had incurred—the Admiralty being anxious to stretch every point, in order to be as liberal as the regulations allowed. A very incorrect impression was likely to be conveyed by the form in which the Questions of the hon. Member were framed. The case was as follows:—An officer is not entitled to draw his money except for stores or furniture. Captain Burgoyne had only drawn £140; but the Admiralty did not feel bound on that account to make up the deficiency. But the Admiralty found in these circumstances a means of giving this £210 to Mrs. Burgoyne—not as a matter of right, but from a desire to assist her as far as possible in the deplorable position in which she was placed. The Admiralty are anxious that those officers who leave their debts unpaid on going to sea should not be placed in a better position than those officers who had settled all claims on them. If the debts of an officer were recognized and paid by the Admiralty, it would be necessary to give a gratuity to the representatives of other officers who had paid all their debts before they started. If it be necessary to extend the bounty of Parliament to Mrs. Burgoyne, it would be equally necessary to include in it all other widows who were similarly circumstanced.

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