HC Deb 08 April 1869 vol 195 cc362-3

Sir, I am desirous, if the House will kindly permit me, to make an appeal to the hon. Member for Penryn (Mr. Eastwick), who has a Motion on the Paper for to-morrow; and I could not well postpone making it till to-morrow or the House would be taken by surprise. The hon. Member has a Motion which stands for to-morrow to call the attention of the House to the state of affairs in Central Asia, and to move for Papers in relation to it. Her Majesty's Government, having considered the terms of that Motion, are of opinion that, although it might in some respects be inconvenient to have some parts of that subject discussed, there are others which might with advantage be discussed; yet, on the whole, it would not be for the interest of the public service that a discussion should be raised in this House in regard to it. Some misapprehensions have undoubtedly gone abroad with reference to the nature of the transactions in Affghanistan, which might be cleared up. The chief misapprehension is as to an annual subsidy to be paid by the Indian Government to the Ameer of Affghanistan. That is an entire misapprehension. But the Central Asian is a much larger question. There have been communications, I am happy to say, of a very friendly and favourable character between Her Majesty's Government and that of the Emperor of the Russias, but those communications have not reached a conclusion, and it would not be, in our opinion, advantageous or conducive to the satisfactory progress of the subject if the matter were prematurely discussed. When the conclusion has been reached I shall be very happy to make it known to the hon. Gentleman and the House, and I trust to his kindness and prudence that he will accede to the request I now make, that he will postpone his Motion, reserving, of course, an unfettered discretion for its renewal at any future time he may think fit.


said, he was most anxious, as he believed other Members were on both sides of the House, that the Motion of which he had given notice for to-morrow should be discussed. He had given a previous Notice on the subject, but at the intervention of the Government he had postponed it. He was quite aware that there might be a critical point at which, when negotiations were pending, public discussion might be disadvantageous; but if postponement of discussion were to become a system it must be detrimental to the public interests, as tending to stifle all discussion on foreign policy. But after the appeal made to him by the right hon. Gentleman he felt bound to give way on this occasion, trusting, however, that on an early day he should be enabled to proceed with his Motion.