§ MR. B. OSBORNE
Sir, before the noble Lord rises to answer the questions which have been put to him I wish to say a single word. Perhaps he will have no objection to state to the House the precise position of the Persian mission at this moment. I believe from the year 1835 to about the year 1858 the conduct of Persian affairs was exclusively vested in the Foreign Office; but during the administration of the late Government, by an arrangement between the Earl of Malmesbury and the noble Lord presiding over the Board of Control, the administration of Persian affairs was left to the Board of Control. Perhaps the noble Lord will state whether he has again transferred the conduct of Persian affairs to the exclusive direction of the Foreign Office; because I have some idea that the resignation of Sir Henry Rawlinson is connected with some change of that nature. This is a more important question than the House may at first sight be disposed to consider; because I believe that a great deal of the cause of the Persian war may be ascribed to the conduct of our affairs with that country being exclusively under the conduct of the Foreign Office. I hope the noble Lord will have no objection to state what is the precise position of matters at the present moment, and whether he has re-transferred the administration of Persian affairs to the Foreign Office.