§ Sir A. S. Hamond
rose to give notice that he should move, to-morrow, for further papers respecting the eleventh Report of the Commissioners of Naval Enquiry.
§ Mr. Grey
rose to take notice, that the hon. comptroller of the navy had, on a day last week, given notice of a motion connected with the Eleventh Report of the Commissioners of Naval Enquiry. He wished to know what object the hon. baronet had in view, in requiring additional papers on the subject of that report. The hon. baronet had given a notice of a similar nature on a former night without stating his object, and on the next day he had come down to the house before the usual hour, and had moved for a letter from himself to the Commissioners of Naval Enquiry, together with certain inclosures. It was impossible to know what the hon. baronet proposed to himself by the production of such documents. What had the house to do with his letter to the commissioners? If he had any observations or comment to make upon it, as a member of parliament, it was open to him to avail himself of an opportunity of doing so. The proceeding was altogether so extraordinary and irregular, that he (Mr. Grey) was of opinion that the former notice and motion should be expunged, and that the hon. baronet should distinctly state what his object was.
§ Sir A. S. Hamond
said, that upon the occasion alluded to, he had taken no advantage of the house. It was near five o'clock when he made his motion, and he had given full notice of the purpose for which he made it. He had stated that the documents were respecting the evidence given on the eleventh report before the naval commissioners. The house was then as full as it was at present, and he was not aware of having been informal or out of order.
§ Mr. Tierney
observed, that on the day of the hon. baronet's motion, it was understood that a ballot for a select committee was to take place at four o'clock. He came down anxious to know the nature of the motion, as all he understood was, that 458 the notice referred to some papers relative to the eleventh report; in fact, that it was a general notice. He thought the hon. baronet should have stated what his object was.
§ The Speaker
remarked, that there was no question before the house on which it could come to any ultimate decision.
§ Mr. Tierney
said, the hon. baronet ought to apprize the house of the object of the motion he intended to bring forward. He supposed the documents he meant to move for, were intended as the medium of attacking a noble lord. If so, it was necessary that every thing connected with the immediate object of the motion should be before the house.
§ Sir A. S. Hamond
appealed to the house, that in their recollection, an hon. member opposite (Mr. Kinnaird) had brought forward a similar motion, under similar circumstances. On that hon. member's motion, papers of a nature parallel to those he had moved for, were ordered, and not a single objection was started.
§ Mr. Grey
professed his ignorance of the circumstance to which the hon. baronet alluded. As far as his own recollection extended, the motion of his hon. friend was not brought forward without a specific notice. Every member, indeed, knew to what end it was directed. Here, on the contrary, it was perfectly understood that no business of a public nature was to be done till after the ballot was formed, the hon. baronet introduced his motion in the absence of all those who might be supposed most anxious to defend the character of the noble lord, against any attack which might be brought against his public conduct. He himself had remained to a late hour in expectation of the motion being brought forward, and he was at last astonished to find, that the hon. baronet had brought forward the motion at a time when not one of the noble lord's friends were at all apprized of his intentions. They knew nothing at all of the nature of the papers to be moved for. They were obliged to be satisfied with the simple explanation, that they were papers connected with the Eleventh Report of the Naval Commissioners. In fairness to the character of his noble friend, some opportunity should have been given to move for the production of other papers, by which these allegations might have been disproved. All the information, however, which it was 459 judged necessary by the hon. baronet to convey to the house, was, that it was a collection of documents relative to the eleventh report. This, surely, was nothing short of sporting with the dignity of the house, as well as the character of his noble friend. Fortunate, indeed it was, that his character was far above all suspicion, so that even the partial production of these papers could not injure him in the estimation of the public. To move for papers, and not to explain to what object they were to be applied, was, he would ever contend, equally inexpedient and objectionable. A right hon. gent. opposite (Mr. Pitt) had attacked an hon. and learned friend of his for not bringing forward his motion on a former evening, on a sufficiently explicit notice—which on enquiry turned out not to be the fact. It was ascertained that the notice of his hon. and learned friend was sufficiently explicit; but surely no one member could now come forward and say that the motion of the hon. baronet had been intimated in terms at all so specific. The house besides had here to consider what was demanded. It was not a motion for the production of documents to establish the innocence of the hon. baronet, which would without difficulty be acceded to. It was a motion for the production of a letter containing comments on the report of the commissioners. If the hon. baronet thought these comments necessary, he, as a member of the house, had an opportunity of stating them in his place. It was not consistent with the dignity of parliament to receive them in any other form. It was one of the first instances of letters of individuals being thus attempted to be placed before parliament, and he trusted the practice would be effectually checked. The house, it appeared to him, were called on to expunge the motion for the production of the papers in question.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, it was his earnest wish that the hon. gent. (Mr. Grey) would give effect to his threat, and move to expunge the notice, if he thought it was wrong; but surely he ought first to recollect what it was. It was for a copy of the evidence of the comptroller of the navy before the commissioners relative to the eleventh report. Now, when it was known that the eleventh report contained comments on the conduct of the person who had made the motion, was it [...]ust that he should be shut out from mov- 460 ing for such papers as were necessary to his vindication? He believed it would turn out that the document which had been moved for was one which the hon. bart. had had no opportunity to bring forward. The hon. baronet had intimated to the commissioners that their report would convey to the world an erroneous statement. They declined receiving his statement. If then the 11th report reflected on the conduct of the hon. baronet, was his statement in explanation to be rejected, because it might convey an imputation against a noble lord, whom some persons thought fit to consider above all enquiry? He was not desirous of entering into a discussion of the motives by which gentlemen were actuated in their friendship for the noble lord. Whatever he had thought of the noble lord, or now thought of him, he was not disposed to consent that his name should be brought forward to prevent the production of a document necessary to the vindication of a member of the house. The motion was for papers materially affecting the character of the person who called for them. Similar papers had been produced by a vote of the house; he was, therefore, at a loss to conceive why in this instance they should be objected to.
§ Mr. Grey
said, the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Pitt) had not advanced a word in vindication of the manner and time of the hon. baronet's bringing forward his motion, but simply that to deny it would be inconsistent with the justice due to an individual; and that, as the report reflected materially on the hon. baronet, he ought not to be precluded from moving for that which was necessary to his own defence. By no means. God forbid, that he should be denied any paper necessary to his justification. What he complained of was[...] that the hon. baronet moved for documents comprising letters, without stating for what they were intended. Had he moved for specific documents, the propriety of granting them might have been canvassed; but the hon. baronet had moved for a letter from himself to the admiralty, inclosing other documents, without any information which might enable those concerned to supply the deficiency of such papers, supposing they should be incomplete. He repeated that it was an unfair proceeding. In what situation would the public be, if any person could, by writing a letter to the admiralty, get the inclosures printed and laid before the house of com- 461 mons? Such a practice might lead to the circulation of he knew not what trash. If the letter was a justification of the hon. baronet, let it be produced in a fair and honourable mode. Public rumour had induced him to believe it related to an attack on a noble lord; if so, his friends ought to have an opportunity of supplying any defect in the papers it contained. A right hon. gent. had supposed that he (Mr. Grey) had intimated that the noble lord was above enquiry. He had never said so. He had said, that the noble lord was above attack, and if there was any imputation against him, he challenged it. He was so convinced of the noble lord's integrity, that he had no doubt any enquiry would redound to his honour.
§ Sir A. S. Hamond
maintained, that he had taken the most regular and orderly way in bringing forward his complaint. In the 11th report, the comptroller of the navy was particularly reflected upon. There was one part of the evidence which reflected on him in a way that no person of feeling could pass over. Either the noble lord or himself must stand in a situation in which no man of honour would wish to be placed. He had written a letter to the commissioners, to desire that he might be re-examined. After a lapse of seventeen days, he was told, that the report having been submitted to the three branches of the legislature, his request could not be complied with. He was at the head of an interior board, and it was material to him to prove that he was not the person alluded to in the eleventh report. He had written a letter to that effect to the commissioners of the admiralty, and had desired them to look over the documents, to convince themselves he had acted right. These were the papers he had moved for. The house was full at the time, and if he had done it five minutes too early, he had no intention to take the house by surprize.
Mr. W. Dickenson
presented at the bar "a copy of the letter of the comptroller of the navy to the commissioners of the admiralty, dated April 22, 1805, relative to the evidence contained in the eleventh report of the commissioners of naval enquiry, together with its inclosures." On the motion that the papers do lie on the table, it appearing that the inclosures had no titles,
§ Mr. Tierney
wished the papers to be laid on the table for two or three days before they were printed. If they were printed in their present state, they might create an impression which supplementary documents might not be able to remove. Both the hon. baronet and the noble lord were in a situation which no man of honour could submit to. The hon. baronet desired that he might not be condemned unheard. He (Mr. Tierney) was equally anxious that his noble friend should not be condemned unheard. He thought the better way would be to move for a committee to consider the eleventh report. All he was desirous of was, that a mutilated case should not be laid before the public.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said: there was an equal desire that justice should be done to both parties. The question was, whether the house would put the hon. baronet in a situation of having hostile evidence adduced against him, lest the documents in his vindication might possibly reflect on another person. No doubt, the comptroller of the navy ought to have the full benefit of these papers; they were calculated to elucidate points relative to the hon. baronet's justification. An hon. gent. had observed, that it was competent to move for a committee. Was it not also competent to any one to move for a vote of censure against the hon. baronet upon the report. It was not unusual in the course of debate for gentlemen to form different views of a subject, and even when notice had been given of a particular motion, it had been discovered in a few hours that the motion winch before was considered the best, would prove the worst that could be adopted. He concluded by moving that the papers should be read.
§ Mr. Fox
observed, that the case before the house was involved in intricacy. The whole seemed to have arisen from an irregularity the most strange and extraordinary that ever crept into the proceedings of that house of parliament. The hon. baronet thought, that his character being attacked by the eleventh report, it was his business to move for certain documents. 463 Nothing could be more right. But was it right to conceal any thing? Instead of referring to the documents A, B, or C, the hon. baronet referred them all to the inclosures of a certain letter. The house should consider the difference between evidence and comment. If the hon. baronet had not the documents necessary to his defence, certainly it would be unfair; but if his comment on them had been omitted, it would have been competent in him to have made it, as a member of parliament, in his place. If he had stated what the inclosures were, all this difficulty would have been avoided. Had he pointed them out by specific titles, it would have been competent to any gentleman to have this or that by itself, which may mislead the house, and therefore it will be necessary to move for some other papers. It had been stated, that the papers had been moved for at a certain time of the day—a very fit time, he granted, to move for such documents. No man could say that any observation in the hon. baronet's power to make personally, could be more availing in writing. It was important to have the whole of the documents before the public; but to have the comment without the text, was not that state of the business which the house of commons ought to be satisfied with. The right hon. gent. (Mr. Pitt) had observed, that the house had seen changes on a former day, with respect to certain motions of an hon. friend of his (Mr. Whitbread). The fact was, that his hon. friend, so far from having abandoned his notice, had been driven out of it by the majority of the house. He wished to know whether there was any thing deserving reproach, or that could reflect on the understanding or sedateness of his hon. friend, by the course he had adopted. Whoever witnessed the debate of that day, and saw the eagerness with which every one of the hon. gent.'s friends wished to screen the delinquents, could not but allow this was a sufficient reason for his hon. friend's abandoning his motion. He was of opinion it would be more dignified and consistent, not to have these papers printed till others connected with them could be also produced. Every one was aware that there was no man in the country above enquiry; but such was the character of lord St. Vincent, that if the letter accused him, the general and just opinion of mankind would be, that the imputation was unme- 464 rited. His character was not above enquiry, but it was above all suspicion that could be thrown upon it without enquiry. Now the inclosures were produced, the house did not know what they were; the clerk could not read them, because they had no titles. He wished to have the titles of these documents. He regretted that the house should have unnecessarily got into so difficult a state of proceeding.
Mr. W. Dickenson,
jun. did not conceive there was any impropriety or irregularity in the proceeding. One of the papers was a letter from sir A. S. Hamond; the other, a letter from Mr. Tucker: they were both under similar circumstances.
§ Mr. George Ponsonby
was of opinion that the papers ought not to be read, as they could not be read in the ordinary way, having no titles. The hon. baronet had not specified what any one of the papers was, but had stated that they would show the house he was at issue with lord St. Vincent, and that one or the other must stand in a situation in which no man of honour would wish to stand. The letter, therefore, did not contain a defence of the hon. baronet, but a new and distinct crimination of lord St. Vincent. He was bound then to state the nature of the documents, that lord St. Vincent's friends might move for other papers, necessary.
The Attorney General
observed, that if any other person but lord St. Vincent were the object of the motion, no objection would be made to laying the documents on the table. But was there not a report on the table charging the hon. baronet with having omitted to have informed the first lord of the admiralty of certain important transactions? He had looked into the introductory letter since the commencement of the discussion, by which it appeared that the hon. baronet, when he found that his conduct had been reflected on by the 11th report, had tendered to be re-examined, which the commissioners had, no doubt on sufficient grounds, refused. The hon. bart. had then addressed himself to the admiralty, inclosing the documents. In consequence of which they were no longer in his possession, and that had been the cause of his moving for the letter and its inclosures. As to the observation of the learned gent. that this was a fresh and distinct charge against the noble lord, was not there already upon the table a charge against the hon. baronet? Was there no hardship in that? 465 A learned serjeant (Best) had given notice of a motion on the subject of the eleventh report next week, and in adverting to the charge of notices that had taken place, his right hon. friend had only said, that it was impossible for the house to know whether the motion would be made for a committee or not.
§ Mr. Grey
felt it impossible to suffer the house to be led away by false impressions. He was sure the statement from the other side was not correct relative to the order of the motions (on Thursday). He had himself suggested to move for the committee first and for the prosecution after. But he observed a uniform endeavour to mislead the house, that they who supported him opposed the production of documents. God forbid! It was to the manner of moving for the documents they objected. He was happy to find that no gentleman attempted to justify the manner in which the hon. bart. had brought forward his motion. The report bad been printed on the 11th of March, and it was not till the 22d of April that the hon. bart. wrote the letter to the admiralty; on the 25th he gave his notice, and on the 26th he moved for its production. What was to be concluded, but that he had written the letter for the purpose of having it produced to parliament?
§ Sir A. S. Hamond
said, he had lost no time. It was extremely late in March when the report had been printed, and the next day he wrote to the commissioners of enquiry. As he held a high office, it was no slight matter that he should stand right with his superior board. He had written his letter on the 1st of April, and delivered it with his own hand to the commissioners. On the 17th he received the answer, and on the 22d he wrote to the admiralty. The documents were in the regular form of documents from one board to another, and numbered from 1 to 10, being letters from the secretary of state, and from the earl St. Vincent, and if the secretary of the admiralty did not produce them with the proper titles, it was not his fault. The reading the papers would not take up ten minutes, he should therefore vote for the motion.
§ Mr. Kinnaird
should not have risen, if it had not been for a personal allusion to himself. Previous to the motion which had teen observed upon, he had presented a petition from Mr, Tucker explaining the natured his grievance and the motion. 466 The papers were then read by the clerk, and are as follows:
"Copy of a letter from the comptroller of the navy to the lords commissioners of the admiralty, dated the 22d of April 1805, on the subject of the evidence printed in the eleventh report of the Commissioners of Naval Enquiry:—together with copies of sundry papers therein referred to. Navy office, 22d April 1805.—My lords, having read the eleventh report of the commissioners of naval enquiry; and thinking the evidence given by the earl of St. Vincent as stated in the appendix to that report, was incorrect, and likely to lead the public into an opinion prejudicial to my official character, that I kept his lordship in ignorance of material transactions in my office. I was desirous of being again examined, and for that purpose I wrote to the commissioners the following letter on the 1st April; "gentlemen, having read your eleventh report to the house of commons, and observing from the concluding part of the appendix to that report, that the earl St. Vincent declared before you, that he had no knowledge of the transaction therein alluded to, in respect to which, the sums of money therein mentioned were severally issued; I beg leave to be again examined before you upon that subject, in order that the testimony I propose to give, may be made a supplementary report. I have in my possession such proofs as will convince that his lordship was acquainted with those transactions; these proofs in justice to myself, I desire that I may be allowed to lay before you."—I attended with the letter myself on the day it bears date, and having delivered it, I retired into the next room to wait their pleasure upon the subject of it; after waiting a short time, I was informed that they would send me an answer, and I received in consequence, the following answer, dated the 17th instant. "Sir, we have received your letter of the 1st instant, respecting the evidence given by the earl of St. Vincent, entered in the appendix to our eleventh report; and proposing to us to re-examine the matters to which that evidence relates. We have very lately had occasion to decline resuming an enquiry after having submitted our report upon the subject of it to the three branches of the legislature; and we do not any thing in the circumstances commu- 467 nicated by you, which requires us to adopt a different line of conduct."—Feeling much disappointed at not having the opportunity of giving the explanation which I wished to the commissioners, and being desirous that your lordships should not remain in ignorance on this subject, I take the liberty of submitting to your lordships the following statement and declaration, which I should at any time be ready to verify upon my oath before the commissioners, or in any other manner in which it might be thought desirable that I should swear to it. I have the honour to be, my lords, &c. &c. (Signed) A. S. Hamond."
"Statement and Declaration.—On reading the eleventh report of the commissioners of naval enquiry, and particularly the evidence given by the earl of St, Vincent, as stated in the appendix to that report, which appears to me not to be correct;I have judged it proper to make the following declaration. I declare, 1st, That I have written documents in my possession (copies of which are hereunto annexed) which appear to me to prove that his lordship had a thorough knowledge of one of the transactions; all knowledge of which he has denied:—And, 2dly, I declare, that although I have no written testimony to prove that his lordship was actually acquainted with the other transaction set north in that report; and also stated in the appendix by his lordship to have been unknown to him; yet that his lordship was not unacquainted with its having taken place; and the fact of his having denied the one, which is capable of distinct proof, may tend to confirm my declaration upon the other, as the same degree of forgetfulness which occasioned his denial of the one might occasion a similar mistake in his denial of the other. I therefore declare, that feeling it to be my duty to take care that the first lord of the admiralty should be informed generally of the transactions of my office, and particularly, of such as were out of the ordinary course of proceeding; I took occasion not long after the earl of St. Vincent came into office as first lord of the admiralty, to ask his lordship if his predecessor lord Spencer had acquainted him with any service going on under the authority of his probation or order, that still remained unexecuted, and to which I might have occasion hereafter to call upon his lordship 468 for his sanction; and his answer was, that lord Spencer had not mentioned any circumstance of the kind to him, or left any memorandum, having emptied his drawers previous to his (lord St. Vincent) taking possession of his office room. I then told his lordship, that it became my duty to inform him of various particulars that I considered absolutely necessary he should he acquainted with. I mentioned to him the circumstances under which the merchant builders were then going on with the 74-gun ships contracted for in 1800; that instead of having complied with their request to increase the price they had engaged for, I had been authorized by lord Spencer to give them assurances, that if they went on and built the ships according to contract, their case should be fully considered, and a compensation made them for their losses, if the same should be made appear to the satisfaction of the navy board; this, lord St. Vincent fully approved of at that time. I also informed his lordship, that Mr. Lindegren was employed as an agent to procure hemp for the navy through the neutral merchants, (the Russian ports being then shut against this country); which his lordship also approved of, and continued.—I stated likewise to his lordship, all the circumstances that had occurred in the change of the mode of paying the navy bill; sheaving what an immense saving it had been to the public; and the difficulties which arose in 1797 in first getting the ninety-day bills into circulation; and informed him of the expedient the treasury had been obliged to resort to for keeping up their credit, when there did not happen to be money in the exchequer to discharge them.—And I do as confidently assert, upon the same principle, and either at the same time, or shortly afterwards, I informed his lordship of all the circumstances of the transaction relative to the issue of the 100,000l. stated in page 491 of the commissioners report, and which is described by me to he of a nature not fit as yet to be made. the subject of a public report: and I add now, that I not only am ready to give to your lordships the most complete explanation of the transaction; but I subjoin to this statement and declaration a copy of a letter, which, though subsequent to my examination, vet previous to their making their report, I sent to the commissioners of naval enquiry, tender- 469 ing to give them also every information upon that point, provided they would not make it the subject of a public report; and which letter, if they had added to their appendix would have shewn that it was not a transaction which I had any wish to keep secret, except so far as the disclosure of it would be detrimental to the public service; and I do declare, that I believe, if the commissioners had entered into this examination, which I tendered in that letter, that they would have had no difficulty in staring, that the reasons upon which I was desirous to observe this secrecy, were perfectly satisfactory and sufficient. And I do declare, that with respect to the last issue of 30,000l the order for which is dated from the treasury on the 14th March 1801, it was considered as forming a part of the above transaction, and took place before Mr. Pitt quitted office, although the bills were not actually passed until the 9th April, and therefore this particular issue was not distinguished by me, when I related the circumstance to lord St. Vincent. (Signed) A. S. Hamond. Navy Office, 22d April 1805."
"No. 1. Copy of a letter from Sir A.S. Hamond to Earl St. Vincent, dated Navy Office, 9th March 1804.—My Lord, As I had not the honour of seeing your lordship this morning when I waited upon you at the admiralty, I beg to inclose, for your information, an order I received the 9th of last month from lord Hobart; and to acquaint your lordship, that in consequence thereof I have forwarded the service therein mentioned as far as it was in my power, and that three ships fitted for the purpose have now sailed down the river to join lord Keith.—I beg further to acquaint your lordship, that I have avoided as much as possible taking any people or stores from his majesty's dock yards for this service; but, from the want of exertion of the parties whom I was directed to control, and from the necessity which existed for extraordinary dispatch, I have been obliged to have recourse both to Woolwich and Chatham yards, the particulars of which shall soon he laid before the admiralty. I have the honour to be, my lord, &c.&c. (Signed) A. S. Hamond."
"No. 2. Copy of an Order inclosed in Sir Andrew Snape Hamod's letter of the 9th March 1804, to the earl of St. Vincent. Downing-street, 9th Feb. 1804 (Most secret)— Sir, It being thought ad- 470 visable, under the present circumstances of the war, that an attempt should be made for carrying into execution the project suggested in the inclosed paper for choaking up the entrance into the harbour of Boulogne; and the success of such an enter-prize depending in a great measure upon the secrecy and dispatch with which the preparations may be made; I have king's commands to signify to you his majesty's pleasure that you do take these preparations under your immediate control, and that you do communicate confidentially with Mr.— supplying him with such funds, and giving him such orders for the purchase of vessels, and providing the stone and other materials which you may judge necessary to be embarked, as shall be requisite for accomplishing the object in view. The advances you may have occasion to make for this service will hereafter be replaced by the treasury. As soon as the vessels shall be sufficiently laden, you will give directions that they should proceed with all possible expedition to the Downs, where all further orders will proceed from lord Keith. I am, sir, &c. (Signed) Hobart. Sir A. S. Hzmond, baronet, comptroller of the navy."
"No. 3. Sir, I have received your letter of yesterday, inclosing an instruction which you had received from lord Hobart for the execution of a secret service, and which I have no doubt will be performed; but as the whole expense is to be defrayed by the treasury, I do not see occasion for any part of the detail being submitted to the admiralty board. I return herewith lord Hobart's letter, and have the honour to be, sir, &c. (Signed) St. Vincent. Admiralty, 10 March 1804. Sir A. S. Hamond, baronet, comptroller of the navy."
"No. 4. My dear sir, I hope you can report progress. I have not seen or heard from Mr. — since I saw you; lord St. Vincent approves much of the direction being with you, and will himself write to lord Keith when the preparations are sufficiently forward. Yours faithfully,J. Sullivan. Downing Street, 18 Feb. 1804, Sir A. S. Hamond."
"No. 5. My dear sir, LordHobart begs the to say, that he hopes the vessel's having taking the ground, is not an indication of draught of water being too great for the proposed service. He is going to settle with lord St. Vincent about the protections; and I am going to arrange with 471 the treasury about the instructions to the Custom House. I am, my dear sir, faithfully yours, J. Sullivan. Downing Street, 21 Feb. 1804. Sir A. S. Hamond."
"No. 6. Downing Street, 23d Feb. 1804. My dear sir, Lord Hobart proposes to send a messenger to-night to lord Keith, and hopes you will send your paquet to go by him. Lord St. Vincent's letter will accompany it. Mr. Frewin of the Custom House, assures me that surveyors are not sent on board ships unless notice is given that a drawback will be claimed for any part of the cargo, or unless some suspicion is entertained of fraudulent practice. He will be in the chair of the Custom House all next week, and will see Mr.— and act upon any communication from him, if it should appear absolutely necessary; but until the necessity shall occur, he is decidedly of opinion that it would not be advisable to give an order, because it would inevitably give publicity to the business. Mr. Frewin has been fully informed on the subject. I beg of you to send me the original paper of Mr. —or a copy of it. I am my dear sir, &c. J. Sullivan. Sir A. S. Hamond."
No. 7. Downing Street, 26th March 1804. My dear sir, Though the accompanying are rather rejective, I have had some comfort from the report of — who arrived about an hour ago, He says, positively, that the other pilots agree in opinion with—that the project is practicable, and that if the ships should be placed in the proper births, they will produce all the effect we have been given to expect.—and — will call on you. I have sent them to lord St. Vincent. Yours truly, (Signed) J. Sullivan. Sir A. S. Hamond, baronet."
"No. 8. Downing Street, 12th April 1804. My dear sir, When you have looked over the accompanying papers, have the goodness to return them to me. If you think yourself at liberty to give me a Copy of captain Owen's letter, for the purpose of my sheaving it to the first lord, I will thank you for it; I have sheen him in confidence the papers I now send you. Truly yours, (Signed) J. Sullivan. Sir A. S. Hamond, baronet."
"No. 9. Navy Office, 1st April 1805. My lord, As I find, upon reading the eleventh report of the commissioners of naval enquiry, that lord St. Vincent does not appear to recollect the secret service your lordship placed under my control 472 in February 1804, namely, the project for blocking up the harbour of Boulogne; and as I understood both from your lordship and Mr. Sullivan, that the plan had been first submitted to lord St. Vincent, whose opinion was, that if executed by the smugglers themselves, there was reasonable ground to expect success, but not so, if put into the hands of the officers of the navy; that it was in consequence of this opinion, that your lordship determined to employ Mr. — to carry the project into immediate execution, to direct me to take the preparation under my control, and to provide naval funds for the expence thereof, as the more effectual means of keeping the exdedition secret, and which was to he repaid by the treasury when the amount was ascertained.—As I find a considerable impression is made on the public mind, that a transaction of this nature should be carried on by the comptroller of the navy, without the knowledge of the first lord of the admiralty, I feel myself under the necessity of requesting your lordship will have the goodness to furnish me with some document that will fully shew I was not guilty of that breach of shew duty, which I cannot but think is intended to be imputed to me by lord St. Vincent. I have the honour to be, my lord, &c. &c. (Signed), A. S. Hamond. The earl of Buckinghamshire, &c. &c. &c. late lord Hobart."
"No. 10. Grosvenor Place, 3d April, 1805.—Sir, I avail myself of the earliest opportunity of acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 1st instant, which did not reach me until yesterday. In order to intimate for your satisfaction, that you had fell authority from me to understand, that previous to any determination being taken, the project for blocking up the harbour of Boulogne had been submitted to the consideration of earl St. Vincent, and that he had approved of my suggestion to place the necessary arrangements for that service under your direction and control. I have further to add, that I signified to you I the king's commands for supplying such funds, and giving such orders as might appear to you requisite, with a view to the ultimate success of the undertaking. Informing you at the same time that the advances which you might have occasion to make for the service in question, would be hereafter replaced by the treasury. I have the honour to be, &c. &c. (Signed) Bucking hamshire. P. S, If it be intended that 473 your communication to me, should be made a public document, I must request, for very obvious reasons, that the name of the individual principally employed in the business may be omitted. B. Sir A. S. Hamond, Bt."
"No. 11. Navy Office, 30th Nov. 18O4. Gentlemen, Since any return to town, your precept to the navy hoard has been put into my hands. I find the hoard has already signified to you, that the navy ninety-day bills, mentioned in your said precept, on the days and for the sums particularized, were issued, by my written directions, to the committee of accounts, in consequence of secret orders I had received from government for specific purposes, and which were kept in my possession.— I have now the honour to acquaint you, that the first sum stated in your precept, was issued by directions from the lords commissioners of the treasury, dated 4th October 1792, and marked most secret. The subsequent issues, viz. 22d November 1799, and 9th April 1801, were made by similar orders. The service for which these naval payments were made, was communicated to me in confidence, and I consider it to be of so delicate a nature, that although the late treasury board signified in a secret letter to me from Mr. Vansittart, dated 1st May 1804, "That the individual in question had performed the service for which the navy bills had been issued, to their lordship's satisfaction, and therefore directed the navy board to make out a clearing bill to discharge Mr. — and his partners from the responsibility of the debt to government;" yet I am decidedly of opinion, that even mentioning the name of the parties, with the sums issued to them at the particular periods before-mentioned, in any report to be laid before the public, would not only endanger the loss of a great part of the money to government, but would subject the party who had been employed to very great inconvenience.—I therefore submit these circumstances to your consideration, as I find it impracticable to give you a copy of the orders tinder which I acted, "omitting the secret instructions respecting the services to be "performed," as they are contained in almost every line of the authority: I am, nevertheless, ready to lay before you, privately, all the papers relative to the transaction, provided I am assured that it is not to be publicly reported upon, as in 474 that case I should consider myself not at liberty to make the communication without first consulting the government. With respect to the 2d issue of navy bills to Messrs. Hammersley and Co., I beg leave to acquaint, you that lord Hobart, one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state, signified to me the king's pleasure, that I should take under my control, and provide funds for the preparation of a project intended to be carried into execution on the enemy's coast (a copy of which I have the honour to inclose in obedience to your precept); and considering it more for the interest of the public, that the funds should be in the hands of a banker, rather than in those of a person unknown to me, and over whom, whilst money was at his command, I could expect to have but little control; I judged it most advisable to have the money imprested to Messrs. Hammersley, and Co. who have no other concern in the transaction than paying such bills as had my approval. I have the honour to be, &c. (Signed) A. S. Hamond."
On the motion for their being printed,
§ Mr. Tierney
called the attention of the house to the papers. It was a direct and wilful perversion to call them papers that corrected the evidence of lord St. Vincent. That evidence stood unimpeached. The house had an interest in the character of lord St. Vincent, and his private friends had an interest. The charge here was no less than one of direct perjury. It was the general fate of all men in high situations to subject themselves to calumny, if they touched the work of corruption. He would aver, and that without fear of contradiction, that with regard to the secret expedition, lord St. Vincent never did give his sanction to it. Lord St. Vincent uniformly protested against the appropriation of naval money to any but naval services, or to other purposes than those for which it was voted by parliament. His lordship uniformly took care that not one farthing of the public money of his department should be misapplied. Lord St. Vincent never made any appointment of a single naval officer to the expedition, although he night have desired lord Keith to give it a convoy. The whole was left to the persons appointed by the treasury. The papers which were just read, had nothing to do with the charges against lord St. Vincent. By lord Hobart's letter, it appeared that the whole expense was to he defrayed by the treasury. Lord St. Vincent washed 475 his hands of it When he returned to sir A. Hamond the letter of lord Hobart. To be sure, it was impossible for lord St. Vincent, as a member of the cabinet, not to have known of the expedition, but he had no participation in lodging navy money in the hands of the hon. baronet. Here then ends, in the face of the house, the first charge against lord St. Vincent, and the remarkable phrase that either the situation of lord St. Vincent or sir Andrew Hamond would appear from the papers, one in which no man of honour would wish to stand. As a seaman, lord St. Vincent gave his opinion respecting the project for choaking up the harbours of the enemy; but, as a servant of the public, he had never departed from his resolution not to use the public money against the votes of parliament. I have but one more observation to add, which is, that the worthy baronet has my warmest thanks for the production of his papers.
§ Mr. Canning
observed, that the impression made upon his mind was, that the hon. baronet had moved for the production of these papers for the purpose of repelling a charge, the substance of which was to be decided by the answer to be given to a question, whether the comptroller of the navy had employed money entrusted to his charge in other services than those of the admiralty? That was the charge, and which charge it was not for him to say had been repelled; that was with the house. But how it might appear to be conformable to, or contrasted with, what might have been said or sworn elsewhere, he left to the consideration of the public.
§ Mr. Fox
observed, that what had just been said by the right hon. gent. was fair, if indeed it was not something more than fair. But he had a right to expect that the point should be put on the true ground, and perhaps it would have been fair if the rt. hon. gent. had put forward the charge against lord St. Vincent. The ground of bringing forward these documents was, that my lord St. Vincent's evidence, as delivered to the commissioners of enquiry, was incorrect, as was indeed stated in one of the documents themselves. Now, it was so far from being so, that there was no incorrectness whatever in that evidence; on the contrary, lord St. Vincent understood the matter at the time, as be and every body else understands it now, and he should be glad to have the incorrectness pointed out. It was another matter to say that the hon. 476 baronet was to blame in what he did on the subject of that expedition; that was a point which was not now before the house. The question at present was, whether the evidence of lord St. Vincent was, or was not correct, and it really appeared to him perfectly correct.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said that whatever might be doubtful, thus much indisputably appeared on the face of these papers; that the transaction which occasioned the expence, the expedition which had been so frequently repented, was a measure perfectly well known to lord St. Vincent; that to the expence being incurred, he had no objection; that he objected afterwards only to its being defrayed out of naval money—(a cry of hear! hear!)
§ Mr. Grey
said, that lord St. Vincent knew of the transaction of some secret service was a fact; but that lord St. Vincent disapproved of and protested against the application of naval money for that purpose, was equally indisputable; no naval money was, either directly or indirectly, issued for that purpose under the authority of that noble earl. His answer was given to the commissioners of naval enquiry with reference to his assent to the naval money being employed to the purpose of that Secret service, which assent he most indisputably never gave. Lord St. Vincent was, therefore, perfectly right in that sense, when he said he knew nothing of the transaction.
§ Mr. Wallace
said, that as far as his recollection went, it did appear to him that the noble earl was quite incorrect in the statement he made before the commissioners; for it appeared from the communications of sir A. S. Hamond, that the noble earl not only knew of and approved the secret service, but that he also assented to providing the funds for it. Most certainly the impression on his mind was directly the reverse of that felt by the hon. gent. (Mr. Grey) opposite to him.
§ Mr. Grey. —I say the representation of the hon. gent. who has just spoken, is directly the contrary of the transaction to which he refers. If he means an epithet to apply to the evidence of the noble earl.
§ Sir A. S. Hamond
said it would appear, that his lordship directed that the comptroller of the navy should have funds for defraying the expenses of the expedition, and he would beg to know whether these funds. were to come from his own pocket, 477 or from the money of the navy. This letter was written by lord St. Vincent, in which he told sir A. Hamond that his lordship was satisfied the service (that was, the secret, or stone expedition) would be properly performed. Here the hon. baronet alluded to the letter of lord Hobart, of the 7th of March 1804, and of earl St. Vincent on the 9th, wherein his lordship said, "It as thought advisable under the present circumstances of the war, that an attempt should be made for the prosecution of a project for choaking up the harbour of Boulogne, the success of which will depend on secrecy and dispatch. I have the king's commands to inform you it is his majesty's pleasure that you take this under your immediate control, and communicate in confidence with Mr.———supplying him with such funds, and giving him such orders for the purposes of protecting the vessels, and supplying stones and other materials, which may be judged necessary to be embarked, as shall be requisite for accomplishing the object in view. The advance you may have occasion to make for this service shall be hereafter repaid from the treasury. The vessels will proceed to the Downs, and you will receive orders from lord Keith." Another letter on the following day from the noble earl to sir A. S. Hamond stated, "I received your letter of yesterday inclosing instructions from lord Hobart for an expedition on the naval service, and which I have no doubt will be well performed; but as the whole expence is to be defrayed by the treasury, I do not see any occasion for any part of the detail being transmitted to the navy board."
§ Mr. Wallace.
—I beg to know whether I have stated the direct contrary of the true representation on these letters? I have not dune so, as far at least as my understanding goes. I say, it was stated originally in my lord Hobart's letter, that the funds were, in the first instance, to be supplied from the navy, but that they were ultimately to come from the treasury, and that my lord St. Vincent was aware of this. I should he glad to know what he has to say against that?
§ Mr. Grey.
—My lord St. Vincent states, that the whole expenditure is to be defrayed by the treasury. He protests against the application of any naval motley for that purpose. I have my lord St. Vincent's authority to state, that he would have quitted altogether; or to use 478 his own emphatical expression, put his hand in the fire, rather than he would have consented to the issue of any naval money for that purpose.
§ Mr. Wallace.
—I did not mean to say any thing in contradiction to what the noble earl has thought fit to communicate to the hon. member as to what he would have assented to: I am stating only what appears on the face of the papers.
lamented that he had had the misfortune not to be in the house when this discussion had commenced, and that, therefore, he could but imperfectly reply to all that had been said. But he was clear that the expedition was perfectly known to lord St. Vincent, and he thought it but justice to all parties to say, that he was perfectly acquainted with the whole transaction. Lord St. Vincent resided at that time chiefly in the country, and, therefore, the communications with him were entirely by notes. His (Mr. Sullivan's) letter to sir Andrew Snape Hamond was dated 9th Feb. On the 10th, lord Hobart wrote to lord St. Vincent, that for security, and expedition sir A. Hamond was to take charge of the whole of the preparations, and to advance the funds which were to be afterwards replaced. Sir A. Hamond proposed to raise the money by an issue of navy bills, which were to be paid off when the money for the expedition was issued from the treasury. The funds thus created were paid into Messrs. Hammersley's bank. He did believe in the beginning, that lord St. Vincent was acquainted with the whole of this arrangement. But he acceded to the declaration of partial knowledge, because he was sure that the noble lord would not say that which was hot true. But till he knew that his lordship had declared himself so entirely ignorant of those particulars, he did believe that he was perfectly aware of them. He did believe the hon. gent. opposite, when he stated that lord St. Vincent declared he would have sooner put his hand in the fire than have countenanced this application of the navy money. But certainly lord St. Vincent did not shew any,such aversion to it at the time, he supposed from what had been said, because his lordship did not know it was to be done.
thought he could throw some light on this transaction, by statics 479 what he knew of it from his official situation at the time. Great difficulty arose from the unwillingness of lord St. Vincent to apply the navy money to this expedition; and there being at that time no vote of credit, the only resource that remained was, that the comptroller of the navy should provide the funds in the first instance, and that they should be replaced from the treasury as soon as the vote of credit passed. He was glad his right hon. friend, who was then treasurer of the navy, had explained the matter in the manner he had done. He Was sure lord St. Vincent was a man of honour, but without that explanation he should have found it difficult to reconcile the evidence with what he knew of the facts, though he could not suppose any improper design in lord St. Vincent. At the same time, it was obvious, that the hon. baronet stood fully acquitted by the documents on the table, so far as any charge may have been made against him of having acted in this business without being fully authorized.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
supposed the house must now be satisfied from the reading of the papers, that there was no intention to take the house by surprise, nor to advance any other unfair object, and that any surmise of that kind was absolutely unfounded. Whatever construction may now he put on the words of the evidence, the obvious impression they were calculated to make was, contrary to the intention of the noble lord, he did suppose, that sir A. Hamond had issued navy money for services, of which the first lord of the admiralty knew nothing. This was the impression they had made on his hon. and learned friend (the attorney-general), till the matter had been explained. He asked, under these circumstances, what would have been the counsequence if the enquiry had been stifled in the manner that had been proposed? What injury would not have been done to sir A. Hamond, if it had been only known that he had advanced the money to be replaced,but without the first lord of the admiralty having any acquaintance with the transaction for which it was advanced? Now it appeared that-it was advanced for a service known and approved of by the first lord of the admiralty; that there was an arrangement that it should be advanced by the comptroller of the navy, to be replaced by the treasury. It now appeared, and it was a point much relied on, that in [...] 480 transaction which was purely naval, and which was approved of by the first lord of the admiralty, there was no objection on the part of that noble lord to the plan going forward, provided the expense was not defrayed out of the funds for the naval service. This was a new light, in which the transaction would not have been placed, if this discussion had not been instituted; what the effect of it was, he should not say.
§ Mr. Fox
was astonished to hear from the right hon. gent. (Mr. Pitt) that the natural construction was, that lord St. Vincent meant to say he knew nothing of the Stone expedition. Could any man suppose that was what his lordship designed to represent? Was not the most indolent observer in the kingdom informed of it? Then, as to the money, true it was there was no attack upon the integrity of the noble lord. Whether lord St. Vincent, in the high situation he held, did wright or wrong, in suffering the expedition to proceed, was a question on which at present he was called upon to give no opinion, but as a pecuniary transaction it was perfectly obvious he would not suffer the funds of the navy to be applied to it. The right hon. gent. said the design was to stifle the information contained in the papers. Did requiring them to he publicly read indicate any such indisposition? Then why talk of surmises, when those hon. members to whom the surmises were attributed, could not have the most remote idea of their contents. With regard to the innocence or culpability of sir A.Hamond, that was also a question foreign to the present enquiry, and would, no doubt, be a subject of future discussion. If there existed any feeling on the mind of a single individual in that house, which attached the smallest suspicion to the character of the noble earl who had been so often named in this debate, he hoped the matter would be investigated with the utmost industry, and he (Mr. Fox) was fully convinced the enquiry would terminate in a way most honourable to his lordship.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
was surprised to hear hon. gentlemen disavow that there was a design to stifle information when a motion was proposed to expunge the order for the perusal of the paper. With regard to the assertion that what lord St. Vincent said implied he knew nothing of the transaction, in this he must persevere. He did not say what his lordship's intention was, but he (Mr. Pitt) would 481 repeat, that the natural impression from the papers was, that the noble earl knew nothing of the affair. But in order to remove any doubt on a matter that appeared to him so plain, he would read the question and answer from the report:—Q. "It appearing that 1400l. was advanced by Messrs. Hammersley and Co. between the 18th of Feb. and the 21st of April, 1804, for a secret service, was the comptroller of the navy authorised by you to perform a secret service, or have you any knowledge of the transaction?" —A. "He was not; nor have I any knowledge of the transaction." —His lordship might mean that he was not officially apprized of it, but the common impression would be, that he had no knowledge of the transaction regarding that secret service. This was the conclusion he drew, and he believed most persons had deduced on the perusal of the report.
§ Mr. Grey
said, the right hon. gent. had been guilty of wilful misrepresentation —[a cry of order!]. The chancellor of the exchequer rose with much warmth. The speaker felt it his duty to inform the honourable gentleman, that the expression he had made use of was not justifiable. Mr. Grey said, he was sorry that any improper expression should have escaped him in the warmth of the moment. He contended that there was no evidence of any disposition to stifle enquiry; on the contrary, he had expressly declared his desire that every document that could aid the defence of the hon. baronet, or any attack to be made on lord St. Vincent, should be produced, only wishing to regulate the manner in which such documents' should be allowed to go forth. He contended, that the questions put to earl St. Vincent were only relative to the application of the money.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
stated, that what he had said, was, that there had been an attempt to stifle these papers, and he said so still.
§ Sir Charles Pole
was now called upon from all sides. He stated, that the object of the questions put to earl St. Vincent related solely to the apparent irregularity in the application of the money. When his lordship answered that he knew nothing of it, his lordship was then asked whether it might not have been applied to the stone expedition? He answered, it could not, because there was no authority for such an application, the money for the stone expedition being to come from the treasury.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
thought it extraordinary that this explanatory question and the answer to it were omitted in the report.
§ Sir Charles Pole
said, the question was asked for the purpose of assisting his lordship's memory. The same general negative being given, it was thought unnecessary to insert the question in the report.
§ Mr. Hobhouse
said, that the question had been for so long a time quite out of sight, that, without consulting his recollection, he should not have known what was the immediate object of discussion. He had witnessed a great deal of clamour and irritation, of crimination and recrimination, and of every thing, in short, but argument. The motion before the house was, whether the papers which had been presented by the worthy baronet (sir A. S. Hamond), and read at the table by the clerk, should be printed for the use of the members? Had any objection been offered to its adoption? What possible mischief could result from the publication of these papers? He had heard none assigned; he could conceive none; and therefore he should cordially assent to the motion. With respect to the testimony given by lord St. Vincent before the naval commissioners, and annexed to the eleventh report, his (Mr. Hobhouse's) impression upon reading it agreed with the statements of his right hon. friend below him (Mr. Vansittart), and of his right hon. friend near bun (Mr. Sullivan); both of whom, from the public situations they at that time filled, were well acquainted with the whole proceeding, and most capable of forming a correct judgment. The question put to his lordship was, "whether the comptroller of the navy was authorized by him to perform any secret service, for which a certain sum was advanced, and whether he had any knowledge of the transaction?" The answer was— "he (the comptroller of the navy) was not, nor had he (lord St. Vincent) any knowledge of the transaction." What other inference could be deduced from this reply, except that his lordship did not know the secret service alluded to, and had not authorized it? This from the letters which had now been read, was certainly not conformable to the fact. It appeared, however, from the same documents, that his lordship looked to the treasury for the payment of the. expence, and therefore he was not guilty Of warrant- 483 ing the application of naval money to secret services. By the explanation now given by lord St. Vincent's friends, it was clear, also, that to this point his lordship intended to direct his answer to the commissioners. The evidence, thus construed, left not the least shadow of blame upon his lordship. He (Mr. Hobhouse)entertained the highest opinion of lord St. Vincent's integrity and honour; he admired his professional talents, and completely approved his administration of the admiralty during the time that he presided at that board. Mr. Hobhouse concluded with repeating his wish, that a debate so totally irrelevant to the question under consideration, might no longer be protracted.
§ Admiral Markham.
—Lord St. Vincent certainly knew it; I knew it; sir Thomas Troubridge knew it. With regard to approving it, I never did. I can mention a circumstance which will skew lord St. Vincent's acquaintance with the affair. I remarked to his lordship at the time the business was carrying on, with so little secrecy it was conducted, that it was the common talk from one end of the river to the other, that the comptroller of the navy was fitting out these stone ships. Lord St. Vincent replied to me, "You and I have nothing at all to do with it, the treasury is to pay for it."
thought it strange that the explanation given to lord St. Vincent's mind by a particular reference to the stone expedition, was not inserted in the report. If the question was put, why was it not in the minutes; if it was in the minutes, why was it not in the report?
§ Sir C. Pole
said, it was not put down, because it had been directed merely to assist lord St. Vincent's memory, and because it had not produced any knowledge of the matter in his lordship's evidence.
said, the misapprehension arose from the unhappy circumstance that the witness did not understand the question, which required sonic explanation for the direction of his mind. The question was put down without explanation, and the answer was recorded without qualification. Thus the misapprehension was in the report, without that which had some tendency to correct it.
§ Mr. Robert Ward
contended, from the time, that lord St. Vincent must have been perfectly aware that the expedition was going forward, and that the letters sheaved it. The noble lord must besides have 484 been aware that the money was to be advanced by the comptroller of the navy, to he replaced by the treasury.
§ General Gascoyne,
from what had been stated by the hon. baronet, who was at the head of the commission, thought it clear that the commissioners conceived the noble lord's memory wanted assistance and direction. They knew his lordship well; and if they conceived his memory was deficient, he could not imagine they thought so without reason. He was the more ready to admit the propriety of this proceeding, as he himself had been a member of a court martial on a very meritorious general officer, before which the noble lord had been a witness, and the noble lord's memory failed him so much that he forgot precise orders given by himself. He could therefore conceive very easily, why persons so well acquainted with his lordship as the commissioners, should have thought it right to assist his memory on the occasion now alluded to.—The question was now put, and the papers were ordered to be printed.