HC Deb 21 February 1871 vol 204 cc585-6

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in consequence of the statement made by him "that Lord Lyons, in leaving Paris on the 17th September, acted under the direct injunctions of the Government at home," and as the Despatch containing these injunctions does not appear in the Blue Book which has been laid before Parliament, the Government have any objection to lay upon the Table of the House the Despatch of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Lord Lyons containing these injunctions to quit Paris?


Sir, I rather think my right hon. Friend has put on my words a construction somewhat broader than they would naturally appear to carry, if he supposes that we had indicated to Lord Lyons the day on which he was to quit Paris. My intention was to convey to the House that Lord Lyons had acted principally on his own responsibility, but that we were strictly and entirely responsible for what he had done, and that we had supplied him with the rules and the considerations which were to govern him as to remaining in Paris. A reference to those rules is to be found in the Blue Book that has been laid on the Table, in Despatch No. 86, as well as in subsequent Despatches, Nos. 112, 113, and 150. In the first despatch I have mentioned — namely, No. 86, to be found, I think, at page 52, the instruction is given to Lord Lyons as follows:— Lord Granville approves of his having hesitated to leave Paris, as he stated in his despatch of the 7th of September, under the circumstances which then existed, and he instructs him in the name of Her Majesty's Government, to concert as much as possible with his Colleagues, but also to remain in Paris as long as possible with the French Government, except in the case of an immediate bombardment. The case of an immediate bombardment did not arise, but Lord Lyons did concert with his Colleagues and with the French Government. His Colleagues, or the Representatives of the chief States of Europe, left Paris as he did, I think much about the same time. He was in full communication with M. Jules Favre, and I think he left Paris entirely in accordance with the consent of M. Jules Favre himself; and when he found that there would be a centre of communication with the French Government out of Paris he judged rightly in acting on the instructions of Lord Granville, that he had better repair thither, and there act on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, rather than remain in Paris subject to all the difficulties which an investment by a hostile army would cause. I do not know that I need enter into further detail; but if there be any other explanation that I can give the right hon. Baronet I shall be glad to do so.


In consequence of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, I shall bring before the House on an early opportunity the question of Lord Lyons leaving Paris.