HC Deb 03 May 1864 vol 174 c2051

said, he would beg to inquire of the Home Secretary, in the absence of the noble Lord the First Minister, Whether an Austrian Squadron has not arrived in the Downs and other of our harbours; and whether the Channel Fleet has not been ordered round to the Downs; and, if so, whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to allow the Austrian ships of war to proceed to the Baltic or the North Sea without being accompanied by the Channel Fleet?


It is true, Sir, that three or four Austrian ships have arrived in the Downs, and we have reason to believe that a few others are on their passage from the Mediterranean to join them; but the Austrian Government have given the most distinct assurances to Her Majesty's Government that for the present the only orders given to the commander of that squadron are to protect German commerce in the North Sea, and to prevent a blockade of the Elbe and the Weser. The Channel Fleet is in the Downs, and the Admiral commanding will be fully informed of the movements of the Austrian squadron. Her Majesty's Government must decline to say what orders may be given to the commander of the Channel Fleet in the event of different instructions being given to the Austrian commander, but they have reason to entertain a confident expectation that the Austrian squadron will not enter the Baltic.