HC Deb 24 February 1854 vol 130 cc1251-2

said, he wished to call the attention of the hon. Secretary to the Treasury to the following paragraph which appeared in that day's Times:The public will rejoice to hear that, under the operation of the order which recently appeared, a quantity of gunpowder, intended for exportation and for delivery to the enemies of England, has been seized. Two large operations of this kind have been happily disconcerted, and it is hoped that many others will meet with the same fate. This result has been obtained by an anonymous communication made to the authorities, and, although we are no friends to anonymous communications in most instances, still, when the lives of our gallant soldiers and sailors are at stake, we cannot afford to be over sensitive. He wished to know whether there would be any objection to state to the House the names of those traders whose gunpowder and munitions of war had been seized under the recent proclamation?


said, in answer to the question, he must inform the hon. Gentleman that that was a matter which came entirely under the supervision of the Treasury; and he had to state to the House all that he knew of the steps which they had taken to carry out the present Order in Council. The fact was, that the day after the proclamation appeared the authorities at the Treasury had an intimation from certain persons that led them to suppose that a large quantity of gunpowder was about to be shipped to Syra, for the use of the Greek insurgents, and that a portion of it was intended for employment by Russia. The gunpowder was stopped, as well as other munitions which had also been prepared for the same market. He should not feel justified in stating the names of the persons who had been engaged in these transactions, because it did not at all follow that the persons who were engaged in shipping the gunpowder for Syra were informed of the quarter for which it was destined; and as the Treasury proceeded on information which was in a great measure confidential, he did not think he should be justified in stating more than the general circumstance. The authorities at the Treasury were quite aware of the great difficulty with which they were surrounded in attempting to stop this illicit trade. The means to which they had resorted, and which might prove of some importance, was, that they had caused an account to be made out of the quantity of gunpowder that each market had been usually supplied with, monthly, for the last two or three years; and whenever they now found that an unusual supply was about to be shipped to any country, they should probably feel themselves justified, unless the circumstance was fully and satisfactorily explained, in stopping the shipment of such unusual quantity. Of course, the authorities at the Treasury were very much in the hands of the public. They had received very considerable assistance by confidential communications made to the several departments, and they should be much obliged to any person who would aid them in carrying out the object they had in view.