HC Deb 26 July 1855 vol 139 cc1398-400

said, he wished to call attention to the fact that on a previous evening the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) had stated that they were paying a subsidy in disguise to Turkey in the shape of an exorbitant royalty of 10s. a ton for the coal obtained from the Turkish coal mines; and he (Mr. Layard) wished to ask if such were the case. He understood, also, that considerable embarrassment was experienced in the East for the want of money in the Commissariat Treasury. He understood that a large number of bills had been dishonoured, and that considerable inconvenience had been occasioned on account of the refusal to pay those bills for the want of money. He held in his hand a letter to that effect, and he desired to know if such want of money were really felt, if such a state of things was likely to continue, and if any remedy had been provided.


said, that, in reference to the first question, he begged to say that papers had been laid on the table on the Motion of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. W. Ewart), which contained the correspondence and negotiations with regard to the Turkish coal mines. From that correspondence it would be found that those mines were in full operation in two workings; and, therefore, his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) was mistaken in thinking that the answer which he (Mr. Wilson) had given some time ago referred to a royalty. His answer was, that 10s. a ton were paid to the Turkish Government for the mines, that there was a further expenditure of 15s. a ton, making the entire cost 25s. a ton when they were delivered on board of ship. That arrangement was adopted as the most favourable of several alternatives, and the French Government had since made a similar offer to Turkey. But he must point out that the 10s. a ton was not paid by way of royalty; a royalty was paid where the ground taken was totally unexplored; but in the present case the coal was taken out of mines already explored and in full operation, and where they had the advantage of capital already expended, and the machinery of the Turkish Government belonging to the mines. As to the second question of the hon. Gentleman, he was sorry to say that there was some truth in the observation he had made; however, the circumstances had been very much exaggerated. The truth was, that in the month of May the monthly expenditure from the Commissariat chest in coin at Constantinople was from 150,000l. to 200,000l., but it suddenly increased to about 300,000l., in consequence of the payments for the Turkish Contingent and other purposes. A sum of 100,000l. was despatched in the British Queen on the 29th of May, but her engines broke down in the Mediterranean, and she was detained three or four weeks in Malta for repairs. The non-arrival of that 100,000l. certainly had created great embarrassment, but two other sums of 250,000l. had been despatched and arrived in the interim, and accounts had been received that day from which he had reason to think that the 100,000l. despatched in the British Queen had also arrived. And, besides the 250,000l. despatched after the 29th of May, there was sent on the 1st of July 100,000l., on the 3rd of July 100,000l., and on the 8th of July 100,000l. So that, since the date of the letter received by his hon. Friend, there had arrived no less a sum than 400,000l., which was far more than was required to meet any embarrassment that might have existed. On the 12th of July there was sent out 100,000l., and 240,000l. had been since despatched, and shipments were still being made to meet all probable demands.


said, as he did not gather from the statement of his hon. Friend what it was for which we paid 10s. a ton to the Turkish Government, perhaps his hon. Friend would undertake to lay upon the table the papers which contained the agreement with the Turkish Government, in order that the House might see what consideration we received for that payment.


said, he would suggest that the papers should also contain an account of the sum which had been paid to the Turkish Government, not as royalty, but as profit.


said, the information sought for was contained in a paper already upon the table.