HC Deb 28 August 1833 vol 20 cc899-901
Mr. Thomas Attwood

rose for the purpose of asking some questions respecting the foreign policy of the country, which he was anxious to have answered, as far as the noble Lord could consistently with his public duty, develope the plans of his Majesty's Government. He was rejoiced at the course which Government had at last adopted towards Donna Maria: but, in other respects, he must say that he was much dissatisfied with the general policy pursued by Government for many years past, in relation to Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Poland. With regard to Portugal, however, he was satisfied with what had now taken place; and he could not but express a hope, that, with regard to Poland and Turkey, Government would soon pursue such measures as the honour and interests of this country imperatively demanded. With regard to Turkey, he would merely remark, that it was generally believed that Russia had gone so far as to threaten England if she interfered and granted assistance to Turkey. His first question was, whether the noble Lord was aware of the existence of a treaty lately entered into between Holland and the United States of America, which he understood was very ominous to the interests of England? Secondly, he wished to know what were the reasons which induced Government, in August last year, to refuse assistance to Turkey, when asked by the Porte? Thirdly, whether the noble Lord was really aware of the offers made to England on that occasion by the Pacha of Egypt, which he understood were really of a very extraordinary character? Fourthly, what was the object of Lord Durham's late mission to Prussia, and with what success it had been attended? And lastly, as Count Orloff was soon afterwards sent over to England, what reception he had met with at his Majesty's Court.

Viscount Palmerston

hoped, that the hon. Gentleman would not consider it any want of courtesy or of respect to him personally if he (Viscount Palmerston) should be obliged from public duty to decline answering in detail some of the questions proposed. With regard to the first question, he had no official knowledge of any treaty lately concluded between Holland and the United States, so that he could give no information upon that subject. With respect to the second point, the reasons which induced Government not to comply with the request made by the Porte for naval assistance, he was happy to correct an error as to dates. He was reported to have said on a late occasion, that that request had been made in the month of August last year—he said, however, in autumn last year. In fact, it was in the month of October that the application was made. Without giving any very detailed explanation of the matter, he would only remind the House, that when we were embarking in naval operations in the North Sea, and on the coast of Holland, and were under the necessity of keeping up another naval force on the coast of Portugal, it would have been impossible to have sent to the Mediterranean such a squadron as would have served the purpose of the Porte, and at the same time have comported with the naval dignity of this country; and as Parliament was not then sitting, Government could not acquiesce in the request made by the Sultan. He could assure the hon. Member, that if any person imagined, that, among other motives which influenced the conduct of his Majesty's Government, there was anything like a threat on the part of Russia, they were entirely mistaken. On the contrary, it was but justice that he should state, that so far from Russia having expressed any jealousy as to Government granting that assistance, the Russian ambassador officially communicated to him (Viscount Palmerston) while the request was still under consideration, that he had learned that such an application had been made, and that, from the interest taken by Russia in the maintenance and preservation of the Turkish Empire, it would afford satisfaction if Ministers could find themselves able to comply with the request. With regard to there having been any communication with the Pacha of Egypt, the hon. Gentleman had not explained to what he alluded, therefore the House would excuse him from saying more than that as it was a war against a Sovereign by a subject, and as that sovereign was in alliance with the King of England, it would have been inconsistent with good faith to have had any communication with the Pacha. With respect to the mission of Lord Durham, great misapprehension had prevailed on that subject. The person who was ambassador at the Court of St. Petersburgh left in consequence of ill health, and it was before another was appointed, that his Lordship went out. He did not go with any specific instructions—he was charged with the general business of England at that Court, and his instructions embraced all points. The manner in which the noble Lord had conducted that mission had obtained for him the unqualified approbation of his colleagues and his Sovereign. His mission was perfectly successful. Count Orloff had not been in this country on a mission—he had been sent to the Hague on one: but to this country he came only in the character of a distinguished traveller.

Subject dropped.