§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, a public statement has been made to-day of the utmost importance, and perhaps the noble Lord at the head of the Government will allow me to ask him a question relative to it, without having given him previous notice, which, however, under the circumstances would, perhaps, scarcely be necessary. It has been stated publicly that the preliminaries of peace have been signed at Paris, and it would be satisfactory, I am sure, to the House, if the noble Lord would assure us of that fact; and, if he cannot, it would still be of advantage if we could have some information from the noble Lord as to what is the real state of affairs in that respect.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, the House and the public are aware that certain conditions or articles were proposed some time ago by Austria to Russia, with the previous consent of England and France, as conditions which were to serve as the foundation of a treaty of peace between the belligerents. Those terms were at first accepted by Russia, with a reservation. Afterwards, that reservation not being agreed to by Austria, they were accepted unconditionally by Russia—they were accepted, in what is called in diplomatic language, pur et simple. Those articles were afterwards recorded in a protocol, at Vienna, signed by the plenipotentiaries of England, France, Austria, and Russia. I rather think that the Turkish Plenipotentiary did not receive his instructions in time. When the Conference met at Paris, it was agreed that, in a protocol at the first meeting, this previous preliminary protocol of Vienna, simply recording those articles, should be inserted in the proceedings of that day's Conference, and that it should be declared that that protocol of Vienna and the articles accepted by Russia should have the force and virtue of a preliminary treaty of peace, and that, without going through the ordinary form 1726 of a separate preliminary treaty, the plenipotentiaries should at once proceed to discuss the other questions on which the definitive treaty would turn. That is the precise state of the matter. In one sense the preliminaries of a treaty have been signed; that is, those articles have been recorded as having the force, value, and virtue of a preliminary treaty. No treaty in the ordinary form, signed by the plenipotentiaries, and ratified by the Sovereigns, has been signed; but substantially the preliminaries of peace have been signed.
§ Motion agreed to.