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Navy—Admiral Sir William Hope Johnstone—Question

Volume 203: debated on Monday 25 July 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether his attention has been called, to the letter published by Admiral Sir William Hope Johnstone concerning a conversation between the First Lord of the Admiralty and himself at the interview which took place between them at the Admiralty in reference to Sir William Hope Johnstone's retirement; and, whether he adheres to the version of his speech, which represents him as having said that Sir William Hope Johnstone stated at the said interview—"You have done me justice; you have retired me at the full value of the office; I have nothing to complain of, but I cease to hold the nominal office of Rear Admiral of England?"

Sir, some two months since, the hon. and gallant Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay), without any Notice on the Paper or private intimation to me, called the attention of the House in a somewhat long speech to language supposed by him to have been used by me two months before in conversation with a very gallant officer, Admiral Sir William Hope Johnstone, who had been recently retired in his 72nd year. In reply I said that his description of the conversation was far from accurate, and I pointed out the absurdity of the language he attributed to me. I added that, to the best of my recollection, the gallant Admiral had said that he had no complaint to make as to his treatment in a pecuniary point of view, but that he was anxious to retain the titular office of Rear Admiral of the United Kingdom, to which he had been recently appointed; and I explained in general terms the reasons which I had assigned why this was impossible. The hon. Baronet (Sir Graham Montgomery) now asks me whether on this occasion I used the ipsissima verba of one of the newspaper reports. My only answer is, that I spoke in the sense of that report, which as usual is accurate and careful; but that it is quite out of my power to pledge myself to the exact words of a long reply to a long question about a conversation four months ago, which I was not aware was to be the subject of debate.