§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I wish, Sir, to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether Her Majesty's Government have any objection to state the nature of the communications which have passed between the Sardinian and British Governments with respect to the Cession of a portion of the Sardinian Territory to France; and, also, whether Her Majesty's Government have had occasion to communicate to the French Government the opinion entertained by other Powers on this subject; and whether, in the event of the annexation of Savoy to France being effected, Her Majesty's Government are prepared to abandon the neutrality of Switzerland, as guaranteed by Great Britain, in common with other European Powers?
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, with regard to the nature of the communications which have passed between the Sardinian and British Governments, we have inquired of the, Sardinian Government whether there was any engagement or any intention to yield Savoy to France, and the answer has been generally that there was no engagement on the subject, and that Sardinia had no intention to cede Savoy to France. That is the general nature of the answer 1134 which has been given. We have not communicated to the French Government the opinion entertained by other Powers, because we have had no communications with other Powers to ascertain what their opinions may be. With regard to the last question of the hon. Baronet, "whether, in the event of the annexation of Savoy to France being effected, Her Majesty's Government are prepared to abandon the neutrality of Switzerland, as guaranteed by Great Britain, in common with other European Powers," I have to say that the Swiss Government have asked us whether, in case of such annexation, we are prepared to maintain the neutrality of Switzerland, and to provide in such a manner that the neutrality should in no way be injured, and we have always replied that we had determined to do so. It appears that the districts of Chablais and Faucigny more especially are guaranteed by the Treaty of Vienna in the same manner as Switzerland; that they are, in fact, part of the general arrangement for the guarantee of Switzerland. But it is stated, and with great truth, by the Sardinian Government, that it would hardly be an equivalent guarantee if those districts were to belong to France, instead of belonging to Sardinia, and accordingly their view is that in case of annexation those districts at least, if not further districts, should belong to Switzerland, and be guaranteed in the general guarantee of Switzerland. That appears to be a very fair proposal on the part of Sardinia. I was only afraid that with the prospect of aggrandizement Switzerland would favour annexation; at least, I was uneasy; but yesterday I received assurances from Berne that the Swiss Government wish things to remain as they are, and Savoy to remain part of the territory of Sardinia. As far as Switzerland and Sardinia are concerned, there is, I apprehend, no wish or intention that this annexation should take place.
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
Sir, as the noble Lord has replied to the question of the hon. Baronet, he will, perhaps, permit me to ask him a further question on the same important subject, without which the information possessed by the House will be very incomplete. The noble Lord has informed the House that he is assured from Turin that the cession of Savoy was not contemplated by the Government of Piedmont, and would not be assented to. So far the information given by the noble Lord is satisfactory. The 1135 further question I wish to ask is, whehetr the noble Lord has been informed from Turin that a communication has been addressed to the Government of Piedmont on the part of the Emperor of the French, to the effect that if Central Italy is annexed to the Sardinian Kingdom, France cannot permit the French slopes of the Alps to remain in the possession of a Power whose position in Europe will be so materially altered by such an extension of territory.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I have received no information in the terms stated by the hon. Gentleman; but it has certainly, to my knowledge, been communicated to the Government of Turin that if the Kingdom of Sardinia were aggrandized to any very considerable extent by the annexation of Central Italy, France would think that her frontier was not secure without the annexation of at least some part of Savoy.