§ THE EARL OF POWIS
rose to ask, If the Letter from the Captain of Her Majesty's ship Caledonia to the Editor of The Times, which appeared in that paper on Friday, and detailed the proceedings 818 of the ship is approved of by the Admiralty. The letter in question, he said, gave an account of Her Majesty's ship Caledonia having been sent on a special service to the Channel in pursuit of a vessel called the Greatham Hall, the officers of which it was believed had been infringing the Foreign Enlistment Act. He had always understood that it was contrary to the usages and traditions of the naval service that information of any special duty that the ship might be engaged in should be communicated by officers in Her Majesty's navy to a public journal. In the present case no inconvenience had arisen; but it was obvious that in times of emergency such communications might be very detrimental to the service. He had, therefore, thought it right to ask, Whether the conduct of the Captain in this matter had received the approval of the Admiralty?
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I had not seen the letter to which my noble Friend adverts when I received notice of the Question he has now put. I find that the letter was addressed to The Times of Friday, and that it details the whole course of a pursuit of a vessel which it was supposed had been engaged in illegal practices. I do not, however, understand that my noble Friend desires me to enter into the question of the facts of the case, which at the present moment are undergoing investigation; he only asks the opinion of the Admiralty in regard to the conduct of the captain in publishing the letter to The Times. I can only say that it does surprise me that an officer of the experience and standing of Captain Foley should have committed so great a violation of his duty as to make a communication to The Times newspaper, and make no communication at the same time to the Admiralty. My right hon. Friend who has recently assumed the head of the Admiralty has expressed his regret at having, on the first occasion on which the Board should be summoned, to express his disapproval of the conduct of an officer of the experience and standing of Captain Foley.
§ THE EARL OF HARDWICKE
said, that although the letter itself was not of much importance, yet it was of the greatest importance that their Lordships should express their opinion that officers employed in the army or navy, or in any department of the State, should not communicate their opinions to the public journals, but should make their reports to the proper officers or to the chiefs at home. He dif- 819 fered from his noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) when he said that the occurrence would have contained less ground for complaint had the captain reported to the Admiralty before he caused his letter to be published.
§ LORD FOLEY
said, that he agreed in the observations made as to the impropriety of any officer writing to the public papers, and therefore he could not defend his brother from the remarks which had been made. His brother himself very much regretted what he had done; but the reason he gave for writing the letter was that he saw a statement in the paper in question to the effect that his ship had been out only ten days, and he wrote the letter to contradict that statement, and to show what operations his ship had performed, and not with any desire to publish information in an irregular manner. However, his brother very much regretted having written the letter.