asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether, as the Law Officers of the Crown (Lord Coleridge and Sir G. Jessel) under the late Government, gave it as their opinion by letter to the Treasury, dated 24th June 1872, that retired pay could not be withheld from Naval Officers holding civil appointments, and as the Admiralty have by letter of the 15th February 1873 unreservedly authorized the Accountant General of the Navy to take the necessary steps for the payment of the same to all Naval and Marine Officers holding civil appointments, it is legal for the Admiralty to withhold payment of retired pay to Officers holding civil appointments when no special agreement exists?
in reply, said, that the hon. Gentleman asked his Question upon the assumption that a certain opinion had been given and a certain letter had been written. He had not seen either opinion or letter; but he learnt that the hon. Gentleman not long ago moved for them, and that his Motion was not acceded to. As he had not had the facts before him he was unable to say whether the course adopted by the Government was legal or not; but if he had formed an opinion upon the subject he would not have been entitled to disclose it to the House.