HC Deb 16 July 1869 vol 198 cc19-20

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether any steps are at present being taken by the Turkish Government to secure to the Christians in Crete those civil and religious rights, the enjoyment of which has been so frequently promised by the Turkish Government to its Christian subjects since the Crimean War?


replied, that the Porte had taken steps to secure those rights to the Christians of Crete by the introduction into the island, since the termination of the insurrection, of the Vilazet system of administration. Under that system a General Assembly was elected, whose duty it was to apportion between the governments into which the island was divided the amount of direct taxes to be raised; to regulate the collection of indirect taxes, to control the general revenue and expenditure, and to discuss measures of administration. The first Session of that body had just been held. Her Majesty's Consul reported that the elections had been conducted with perfect order and fairness, not a single complaint of interference on the part of the authorities having been made; but that it would only be by experience that any correct opinion as to the working of that system of administration could be formed. Local Councils, with functions of a corresponding character, were elected for each of the governments into which the island was divided. The composition of the General Assembly and of the Local Councils was as follows:—Delegates in equal numbers, Christians and Mussulmans, were elected by the inhabitants professing the two religions in mixed districts; and Christians alone were elected in districts only inhabited by Christians. All measures of a repressive nature adopted during the insurrection seemed to have been withdrawn; the refugees had continued to return in large numbers; a general disarmament had been quietly effected; and the Porte had granted the same sum that was formerly given towards the maintenance of Christian schools. A general measure of education would probably be adopted as soon as duly qualified teachers could be obtained.