HC Deb 30 July 1875 vol 226 cc224-5

I wish, Sir, to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, If the Government will assent to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the allegations of the honourable junior Member for Derby regarding my conduct as a shipowner?


Sir, it is my wish and it is my duty whenever the conduct of a Member of this House, wherever he may sit, is impugned in a matter of personal honour, to assist in every way I possibly can, and to give him an opportunity to vindicate that conduct. I must confess myself I do not think that on the present occasion the Question of my hon. Friend was necessary. There was no doubt—though I refer with unaffected pain to recent occurrences—that a Member of this House, under circumstances of great excitement, committed a great and terrible indiscretion in charging Members of this House even criminally. But that Member has made to the House, which he offended, and to you, Sir, whose reprimand he appeared in his place, if necessary, to receive, what I consider, and the House and you considered, an ample and complete apology. I believe that the words of that Member, and the expression of contrition which he used with respect to having violated the Orders of this House, entirely and principally cover that outrage upon those Orders which was committed by referring by name to Members of this House as connected with circumstances so painful and disgraceful. My hon. Friend who has appealed to me by this Question had an opportunity of immediately vindicating himself in a full House; and I think he did it in a proper and dignified manner. He made this statement—that it was his great misfortune, in the course of three years, to have lost, I think he said, five ships. He stated to the House that they were ships of the highest quality; that they were registered as ships of the highest quality; that they were iron ships; and that they were very lightly insured. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend in making these statements said what he would have no difficulty whatever in proving; and certainly, so far as my own feelings are concerned, I think no reproach lies on my hon. Friend in connection with the unfortunate transactions which have so much interested the House during the last 10 days. Nevertheless, every man must be the judge of his own honour; and if my hon. Friend still feels it would be a satisfaction to him, as a Member of this House and the Representative of a large constituency, that there should be an investigation into this matter by a Committee of this House, I shall not only not oppose such a Motion, but shall give every facility to my hon. Friend in the formation of the Committee for such an inquiry.