HC Deb 29 June 1863 vol 171 cc1673-5

said, he wished to put a Question with regard to the special mission to Greece; but as he had not given notice of it, he would, if necessary, repeat it tomorrow. The House would recollect that when Greece became independent, a treaty was entered into between England, France and Russia for the purpose of guaranteeing a loan which was then raised to meet the financial exigencies of the new State of Greece. That treaty was in the usual form of all treaties in which the responsibility of Parliament was involved in favour of a foreign State. Under that treaty England had from year to year been called upon to pay her share of that guarantee—that was to say, the interest and what was necessary for the sinking fund. They all knew that the financial condition of Greece was then, and contained to be, of a most deplorable character, and that no money had been contributed by Greece towards the payment of either interest or principal. But three years ago a Commission was appointed to inquire into the financial condition of Greece, and it reported that the time had arrived when Greece was able out of its resources to contribute annually 900,000 francs, which was equal to about £36,000, towards the principal and interest, He observed, however, from the papers laid on the table, that France, Russia, and England had agreed to a protocol containing a proposition that £12,000 a year should be appropriated out of the sum which Greece was to pay on account of that loan for the benefit of the future King of Greece. That was a protocol and not a treaty, and it was not in the language used when the Crown undertook to make a convention with a foreign Power dealing with funds under the control of Parliament. Upon this an important constitutional question arose, because the assumption of the protocol was, that if Parliament appropriated funds for the specific purpose of a foreign Power, and that foreign Power agreed to repay them, those funds should not necessarily come back to the Exchequer, but that the Crown could make a charge on them and grant out of them a pension to a foreign Prince. He apprehended that was an assumption which the Crown was not warranted in making, and that when an Act of Parliament confirmed a treaty and regulated the disposal of funds to arise under it, it was not competent for the Crown to enter into any treaty at all as to any change in the disposition of those funds. All that the Crown could do, using the language ordinarily employed in such cases, was to engage to recommend to Parliament that the funds should be appropriated to the object stated in the protocol. He therefore wished to know, whether the Government intended to obtain the sanction of Parliament to the grant of £4,000 a year from England to the King of Greece, and in what mode the sanction of Parliament was to be obtained?


said, he would have to answer a similar Question on the following day of which the hon. Member for Horsham had given him notice, and perhaps that would suit his hon. Friend Mr. Ayrton.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions read 2o, and agreed to.

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