HC Deb 13 July 1876 vol 230 cc1397-8

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, If he has made inquiry into the statement of Captain Sulivan that Mr. Penny was in private communication with a Lord of the Admiralty on the subject of the dispute with his Captain; if a communication on such a subject is not irregular sent otherwise than through his commanding officer, and if these letters were received previous to the decision being given; if it be true that Captain Sulivan's removal from his ship has entailed, in addition to other punishment, a loss of increased half-pay, as stated in "Broad Arrow" of 8th July; and, whether anything will now be done in deference to the large minority which supported the Motion of the honourable Member for Poole on Tuesday last? The hon. Member said he would not ask the right hon. Gentleman to commit himself on the last branch of the Question without consideration.


I have made inquiry, and find that two letters were addressed to Admiral Hornby by Mr. Penny. I saw them to-day for the first time, in consequence of the Question of the hon. Gentleman. The first was dated February 11, 1875, about five months before the Court of Inquiry. It had reference to the troubles prevailing on board the London, and contained, only very much shorter, pretty much the same statements as those in the official letter from Mr. Penny. It would have been better if Mr. Penny had not written that letter under the circumstances. But private letters are constantly passing between officers on service and members of the Board of Admiralty, and it is very desirable that that should be so. Therefore, it is difficult to draw exactly the line where letters should be written and where they should not. The other letter was written subsequently to his receiving notice that he was to be superseded. Admiral Hornby tells me that if the hon. Member wishes to see the two letters he will be most happy to show them to him if he will call at the Admiralty. With regard to the third part of the Question, if Captain Sulivan had remained his full time in command of the London he would, at the expiration of that time, have been entitled to a higher half-pay than that to which he is now entitled.