HC Deb 23 August 1886 vol 308 cc256-7

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether, considering the grave charges brought against the Ordnance Department by Lieutenant Colonel Hope, V.C., and others, and considering the failures which have occurred in the supply of War Material to the Army and Navy, he proposes to appoint a Royal Commission or a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry, or what other course he proposes to adopt to satisfy the public mind?


asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to institute any judicial inquiry, by means of a Royal Commission or otherwise, into the charges brought by Colonel Hope and others against the Ordnance Department?


asked the Secretary of State for War, What course the Government intends to take with reference to the charges made against the Ordnance Department by Lieutenant Colonel Hope and others?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

In answer to the Question of the hon. Baronet, and also in answer to the Questions of the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, who were kind enough to postpone their Questions until today, I have to say that I have carefully considered the charges that have been made; and, so far as I know, none of them have yet taken the form of a specific charge of corruption, of malversation, or of disgraceful conduct on the part of any particular officer or officers; and I have therefore only to invite that which Colonel Hope himself invited in a letter which appeared in The Daily News of Saturday—confidential communications to me of any facts imputing corruption against any individual officer of the Ordnance Department, or in other Departments of the War Office. If any such facts are communicated to me confidentially, I will undertake to consult with the Lord Chancellor and the Law Officers of the Crown; and if these facts constitute, in their judgment and mine, a primâ facie case for submission to any tribunal competent to take judicial cognizance of such charges, they shall be submitted to such tribunal; and if no tribunal exists that is competent to take cognizance of such charges I will undertake, on the part of the Government, that a judicial tribunal shall be found to deal with them.