HC Deb 02 May 1856 vol 141 cc1910-1

On the Motion that the House at its rising adjourn to Monday,


said, he wished to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, under the additional and transitory Article attached to the treaty of peace, the Russians would be allowed to raise the ships now sunk in the harbour of Sebastopol and bring them through the Dardanelles to any other part of the Russian dominions? He had received a letter, dated Sebastopol, March 21, 1856, in which it was stated:— What you may have read in the newspapers and what I have written to you may lead you to imagine that the ships sunk in this harbour would by this time be rendered worthless by the ravages of the worm. My expectations on that point are disappointed. After a good deal of bungling, we succeeded in blowing up the small brig I told you about. She was built of inferior wood—both oak and deal. I have paid anxious visits to her since she was broken up, and am disappointed to find no trace of worm or decay about her. If we had left her undisturbed she might have been raised uninjured, and I have not the least doubt all the sunken ships in this harbour are in the same state, and, if not destroyed by us, will be raised in triumph by the Russians on our leaving the place. Surely, in the event of peace being concluded, such an occurrence will be properly guarded against. Now, if those ships were raised and were brought through the British Channel, in sight of this country, the people of the country would not, he believed, consider that as regarded those ships the stipulations in the treaty of peace were satisfactory.


Sir, by the treaty of peace the Russian Government will no longer be permitted to have any fleet of line-of-battle ships in the Black Sea, but there is no restriction upon her naval force in the Baltic. If, therefore, the Russian Government prefer raising those ships, damaged as they necessarily must be by a lengthened immersion, and bringing them round to add them to her naval force in the Baltic, instead of increasing that force by the addition of new and more efficient ships, I do not think the people of this country will object. I may also state that in the course of the negotiations, a question having arisen as to whether the Russian Government should be allowed to bring round to the Baltic two line-of-battle ships which were at Nicholaieff, Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary, in accordance with his instructions, said that, as far as the British Government was concerned, there would be no objection to those ships being brought round to the Baltic.