HC Deb 21 March 1861 vol 162 cc157-8

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is true that the Reply to the Message of the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands to the Representative Chamber of the Legislature declared that the English Protectorate ought to be regarded as the only cause of the miseries of the Ionians; that a Deputy demanded that the question of Annexation to Greece should be put to the vote; and that, in consequence of these and similar manifestations of opinion, the Ionian Parliament, which had only just met, was prorogued for six months by the Lord High Commissioner; and whether he has any objection to lay upon the table any official information which the Government may have received with respect to such prorogation


said, it was true that the Lord High Commissioner had prorogued the Ionian Assembly, which met on the 1st of the present month, and he would briefly state the circumstances which led to that prorogation. The Address in answer to the Speech of the Lord High Commissioner was brought up by the Committee of the Assembly, and it stated various vague and unfounded charges in respect to the Protectorate, against which the Lord High Commissioner was prepared to protest when the Address should be presented, but which did not form the ground of the prorogation. In the meantime, however, two long documents were laid on the table, and stood among the Orders of the Day for discussion. These had been presented by two Members—one proposing that the Assembl3', acting without the other branches of the Legislature, should call on the Ionian people to declare, by universal suffrage, their desire for union with Greece; and the other proposing an Address to the peoples and Governments of Europe, invoking the aid of Christian Europe in favour of the emancipation of the Hellenic race and the removal of the Turkish Government from Europe. Upon this the Lord High Commissioner addressed a Message to the Assembly, warning it of the unconstitutional nature of the proposals, and appealing to its prudence and patriotism to remove those propositions from the Order of the Day and proceed to the business of legislation. That appeal did not succeed, the Assembly not complying with the advice given it, upon which the Lord High Commissioner reluctantly exercised his constitutional power and prorogued the Assembly for six months, a measure which the Lord High Commissioner stated was favourably received in Corfu and produced no sensation whatever. With respect to production of the information asked for, he assured the House that the correspondence would add little or nothing to the statement he had made, and to what had appeared in The Times of that morning, but if the hon. Member moved for copies of the correspondence the Government would have no objection to lay on the table the substance of the information.


then gave notice that, as early as possible after Easter, he would move for papers and correspondence relative to the mission of the right hon. William Ewart Gladstone to the Ionian Islands in November, 1858; also for Papers and Correspondence in continuation—namely, from the arrival of Sir Henry Storks in Corfu on the 16th of February, 1859, to the latest period, including those in relation to the prorogation of the Legislative Assembly in March, 1861.