HC Deb 26 July 1866 vol 184 cc1535-6

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs two Questions of which he had given the noble Lord private notice—namely. Whether the Government have received any official communication relative to a demand made by the Prussian authorities for a contribution of £2,000,000 in addition to £500,000 already paid from the free city of Frankfort; and, whether the noble Lord can give the House any idea whether there is a prospect of the cessation of hostilities between Prussia and Austria?


In answer, Sir, to the right hon. Gentleman's first Question, I have to say that I apprehend there is no doubt that a demand to the amount named by him has been made upon the free city of Frankfort. I do not know that the right hon. Gentleman desires me to go into further details on the subject. As to the second Question, I understand that the Grand Duke of Baden, with the sanction of the allied Governments, is occupied in negotiating an armistice between the Federal armies and the Prussians; but I am not yet aware of the result of that proceeding.


said, that as it had been stated in one of the papers that an application had been made to the British Government by the Senate of Frankfort for its arbitration on that subject, he wished to ask the noble Lord whether that was the fact, and whether Her Majesty's Government have undertaken any such arbitration?


No demand or request has been made to Her Majesty's Government that they should arbitrate in this matter, and as long as the question was one between a German Government and a German population we should have no locus standi. I ought, perhaps, to say that it has been reported to us that threats have been used by military officers commanding in Frankfort of a very violent character. One of those reports was that it had been threatened, in case payment was not made, to bombard the town and give it up to pillage. I am bound to say that the Prussian Government have strongly disclaimed any such conduct. The accounts are very contradictory, yet it certainly does appear that some language of that kind was employed, but employed, it would seem, without the sanction of high authority. I may add, with reference to the protection to be afforded to British subjects in case of any strong measures being taken against the town, that communications have taken place with the Prussian Government, and the assurances which we have obtained on that head are satisfactory. But the Government of Prussia, I may repeat, deny having ever used or sanctioned any threat of bombardment.