HC Deb 01 July 1844 vol 76 cc135-6
Viscount Palmerston

wished to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, of which he had given notice. It was with respect to the state of affairs on the coast of Morocco. It was well known that events were taking place in that part of the world which might be in their results of serious consequence, as bearing on very important interests in this country. That this was their character, was not only his opinion, but also the opinion, it was presumed, of Her Majesty's Government, because Her Majesty's Government had already stated that they had had communications with the Government of France on this matter, and that they had received from that Government explanations and assurances which they considered satisfactory. Of course those assurances were to be so considered, as well from the diplomatic form in which they were given, as in their substance and nature. But it was usual, when matters were taking place in any part of the world in which Great Britain had important interests at stake, that the Government of Great Britain took the means, by officers of its own, to secure for itself accurate information as to what was passing. Therefore he wished to know whether, in the present instance, they had employed, or were about to employ, any military commissioners with regard to the transactions that were taking place on the frontiers of Morocco; and whether they had any naval officers or ships on the coast of Morocco, for the purpose of keeping up a regular and authentic report of the course of events as they were passing, or whether they simply trusted to the accounts which might be received from the naval and military authorities of the French Government?

Sir Robert Peel

, in answer to the question which had been put to him by the noble Lord, and of which he had been so good as to give him notice, had to state, that Her Majesty's Government had felt it to be their duty not to be dependent upon French sources of information of the events which might take place on the frontier of Morocco. Her Majesty's Government had given such directions as they had deemed requisite, for the purpose of having correct information from sources over which they had control, and also had adopted those measures which they deemed requisite for the protection of British interests, in case British interests should be affected.

Colonel Fox

had not, he said, time to give notice to the right hon. Baronet of the question he meant to ask. It was with respect to the accuracy of the statement of a paragraph which he had seen in a morning paper. It was to this effect:— The Governor of Gibraltar proceeded to Ceuta on the 12th ult., in the Locust steamer, and repaired forthwith to the Moorish camp. The next morning he sent the British Vice Consul to Tangiers, doubtless with a view to some accommodation; but the Governor of Ceuta and the Spanish Consul General at Tangiers, do not seem to have appreciated his good intentions. He wished to know, if this were done under the sanction of Her Majesty's Government, and whether any information had been given thereupon?

Sir Robert Peel

stated, that apparently the question the hon. and gallant Gentleman ought to have asked was, whether a paragraph in a newspaper were correct? It would be difficult for him to answer such questions. He had to say that Sir Robert Wilson had been to Ceuta, but not with any authority from Her Majesty's Government.