HC Deb 30 May 1843 vol 69 cc1096-8
Sir R. Peel

expressed a hope that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cochrane) would withdraw his motion for papers relating to the diplomatic intercourse with the kingdom of Greece, as it interfered with the adjourned debate.

Viscount Palmerston

said, to judge from the notice, the motion of the hon. Member was one of very great importance, because by the fact of the Greek government not having fulfilled the treaty, by which it was bound to pay the interest of the English loan out of the first proceeds of the revenue of Greece, the burthen was thrown on this country of paying a year or half-year's interest out of the consolidated fund, and he was anxious to hear from her Majesty's Government what reasons had led to the violation of the treaty on the part of Greece. He did not believe there was any just cause for that violation.

Sir R. Peel

said, the failure of Greece to fulfil the obligation she had contracted did place this House in a new relation with respect to that country, and gave the House a right to ask for financial information from the Greek government which they would not have a right to require from a country fulfilling its own obligations. In reply to the question the other night, he had stated that the three powers who were parties to this obligation had met together, and had adopted a joint course, the consequence of which was, that a communication had been made to the Greek government, requiring it to make provision for the future payment of the loan out of its own resources, and to indemnify this country and the other powers for the temporary advance they had made under the treaty. There had been no opportunity yet of receiving an answer from the Greek government. They had wished to give the Greek government a short interval, to take the course which should be most consistent with the dignity of that monarchy. As soon as an answer could be received to that communication, and it was known what course the government of Greece intended to pursue, he should deem it to be his duty to submit to the House all the information he could obtain on the financial affairs of that country. He was sure the House would feel, that after the course taken by the contracting powers, France, Russia, and England, acting in the most cordial concert, the result of that communication ought to be known before he laid these papers before the House. But while he stated this, he perfectly recognised the right of the House to have information relative to financial matters submitted to it at the earliest possible period. With respect to the protocols from 1833, he had not the slightest objection to present at once any protocols which had been signed by the powers connected with the affairs of Greece since that period, with the exception of those relating to the finances of Greece, which he was desirous of suspending only until some definite result was arrived at.

Mr, B. Cochrane

would not go against the sense of the House on such an important question as that which formed the subject of the adjourned debate. He would therefore postpone his motion.

Viscount Palmerston,

on the Order of the Day being read, made the following explanation which he was before precluded from making, by a point of form. The right hon. Baronet, he said, stated that the loan to Greece was the act of the late Government. Now the right hon. Gentleman ought to have recollected that the engagement on the part of the three powers, of which England was one, to guarantee that loan to Greece, was an engagement contracted by the Government of 1830, of which the right hon. Baronet himself was a Member; and that Lord Grey's Government, in fulfilling that engagement, fulfilled towards Greece, under King Otho, that which the former Government promised to do towards Greece under King Leopold. The only difference was this, that whereas they made no specific stipulation as to the payment of the interest on the part of Greece, Lord Grey's Government did make a stipulation, which, if observed, would have been sufficient -namely, that the first proceeds of the revenue of Greece should be regularly applied towards the interest of the loan. So that, if that stipulation had been fulfilled by Greece, no burthen could possibly have been thrown on the revenues of this country.