HL Deb 20 April 1860 vol 157 cc2044-5

said, he wished for a moment to call the attention of the House to a personal explanation which he had to make in reference to a letter which he had only yesterday received from General Decavero, who lately held the office of Minister for War in Tuscany, in answer to a communication which he had addressed to the gallant General six weeks ago. In that communication he had stated to General Decavero that great complaints had been made with respect to his conduct as War Minister, in several letters which had reached him (the Marquess of Normanby) from correspondents in Florence in whose statements he placed the utmost reliance; remarking at the same time that, if the General would send him every authentic information showing that he had no knowledge of the irregularities of which complaint was made, and which were said to have taken place during the last autumn, he would take the earliest opportunity of offering an explanation on the subject in public. Now, in the letter which he had received from General Decavero a most distinct disclaimer of the charges which had been advanced against him was contained; while a further statement, it appeared, was made, on the authority of the present Minister for War, to the effect that the contracts for the Commissariat did not come under the direct control of the person who occupied the position which he filled. He, under these circumstances, felt bound, while declining in the present agitated circumstances of their country to give up the names of his correspondents, to express the regret which he felt at having stated anything which could have caused pain to General Decavero, and to say that he most frankly accepted his distinct disclaimer of the truth of the reports to which he alluded. In justification of his correspondents, however, he must add that their statement as to the dilapidated condition into which the finances of Tuscany had fallen was based not upon their own authority, but rested on the official report of the Minister of Finance. It could be shown by the Acts of the Finance Deparment to what an awful extent the Tuscan finances had been burdened by unprofitable expenditure. The expenditure of the War department alone had been 17,000,000 Tuscan lire—more than half of the entire revenue under the Grand Duke.

House adjourned at Six o'clock, to Monday next, Eleven o'clock.