HC Deb 18 July 1881 vol 263 cc1115-6

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, If it is true that after Captain Coppin was refused the extension of time asked for the lifting of H.M.S. "Vanguard," that he then wrote to the Admiralty on the 3rd of December 1878, offering to purchase the ship as she lay for the sum of ten thousand pounds, and to give security therefor in the usual way as soon as the offer was accepted; and, if so, why was the offer so made refused which thereby entailed a loss of ten thousand pounds to the Country?


Sir, on the 19th of October, 1878, Captain Coppin offered to purchase the Vanguard for £10,000, and to pay for her in 90 days from date of acceptance of his offer, providing the "customary contract sureties." The usual practice in sales is to require cash, but Captain Coppin was requested to furnish the names, addresses, and callings of the gentlemen who would be willing to stand sureties for the payment of £10,000 in three months. On the 14th of November he declined to do so, on the ground that acceptance of his offer should precede the production of his sureties. The experience which the Admiralty had had in their previous relations with Captain Coppin—an experience which I related the other day—led them to consider his proposal unsatisfactory. I need not remind the House of the grave inconveniences that might arise if a Government Department was to give bargains out of which money might directly or indirectly be made to persons of whose financial position they were not assured.