HC Deb 10 August 1866 vol 184 cc2163-4

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he has received any fresh Despatch relating to the Abyssinian prisoners; and, if so, whether he is prepared to lay it upon the table of the House?


said, in reply, that he had not received any despatch which would affect the statements already made upon the subject in the House. Such papers as he had received in relation to the matter were of no importance. He might repeat, however, what he had stated previously, that the Government were preparing to send back Mr. Flad, a gentleman who had already been received by the Emperor of Abyssinia, under such circumstances as he hoped would result in the release of the prisoners at present detained in that country?


said, he wished to know whether something more than the sending of Mr. Flad back to Abyssinia was not necessary for the removal of the disgrace which had accrued to the country in the matter of having two persons acting as unsuccessful envoys at the capital of a barbarous chief?


said, that the question asked by the hon. Gentleman was not so much an interrogation upon a matter of fact as intended to induce the Government to enter upon a defence of the course which had been adopted. He should be prepared to defend the action of the Government at the proper moment, but it would be inconvenient at the present time; and with respect to a question asked without previous notice, he should decline to enter into a discussion upon the subject. The Government had, he believed, adopted the measures which were best calculated to procure the release of the unfortunate captives. If the hon. Gentleman, however, after he had made himself fully acquainted with the facts relating to the matter, should be of a different opinion, it would be perfectly competent for him to argue the question out on a fitting occasion.


said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether, in his opinion, the release of the Abyssinian captives could not be better effected by the present to the king of a few barrels of gunpowder and a few hundred rifles than by any other means?

[No answer was returned to this question.]