presented a petition from Chelmsford, praying for a repeal of the Corn-laws. The noble Lord said, he should take this opportunity of troubling their Lordships with a word or two on a subject of considerable importance, both in reference to himself and others. Their Lordships might remember that on the late occasion considerable doubt was expressed by a noble Earl, not now in his place, as to the accuracy of certain returns which he had occasion to submit to the House, in reply to some observations of that noble Earl's. Their Lordships would not be surprised to be informed that some of the officers, and officers high in rank, had felt exceedingly hurt by the statements that proceeded from the noble Earl; and he (Lord Minto) was authorized by them, and particularly by Admiral Sir Philip Durham entirely to confirm the accuracy of the returns which he had made, and which he received of them. There were two points chiefly upon which that noble Earl seemed to suggest that there might be some error. The first was as to the fitness of some of the ships for a state of 1144 operation, and which he had represented as favourable. The noble Earl mentioned the Revenge in particular, and stated that the masts of that ship were not in a state of preparation. He had requested the Admiral Superintendent to inform him in what state the masts of that ship were when that noble Lord visited her. The reply was, that there were five sets of third-rates masts ready. Three were unappropriated, and there were other masts fit to be put into her, if her own should not be found quite ready. Another statement was, that there was no sufficient supply of sails for the ships of the line at Plymouth. He had also desired an application to be made to the Admiral Superintendent at Plymouth, and the reply to that application showed that that noble Earl must have been greatly deceived in the information he had received. The reply stated, that so far from there being no topsails for the ships of the line, there were seven complete suits of sails for ships of the line, besides a great number of imperfect suits, amounting to no less than sixty-six topsails for ships of the line. He did not doubt but that the noble Lord believed the information which he had received to have been accurate. But that noble Lord did not visit all the sail-rooms, and he had to trust to others for his information. He thought it was due to the officers concerned, to state what he had stated. He was perfectly satisfied with the accuracy of their reports, and he thought it was of importance that no unnecessary discredit should be thrown upon the returns of public officers.
§ Subject dropped.