HC Deb 08 July 1875 vol 225 cc1138-9

I may, Sir, perhaps be permitted, in explanation of the Question which I am about to put, to state that I put it in consequence of the rumours which have prevailed very much during the last two or three days—rumours which I trust will turn out to be exaggerated—as to our having suffered a diplomatic check, or something like a diplomatic check, in Burmah, that being a country in which we cannot afford to receive a diplomatic check. I beg, therefore, to ask the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether he is able to make any statement with reference to the recent negotiations with Burmah and the present state of our relations with that country?


Perhaps, Sir, I may remind the House that not very long ago I stated that certain disagreements had arisen between the Government of India and the King of Burmah, and that Sir Douglas Forsyth had been sent to Mandalay with the view, if possible, of accomplishing an amicable settlement of those differences, and I think that we have every reason to believe that as regards the earlier matters in dispute between the Indian Government and the King of Burmah a satisfactory settlement will be achieved. But the recent attack in Chinese Burmah upon the English Exploring Party, the murder of Mr. Margary, coupled with the very cordial reception accorded by the King of Burmah to the Chinese General Li-see-Tahi, whom we have reason to believe was not only implicated in, but was the author of, the attack, rendered it necessary that the Indian Government should insist that the King of Burmah should place no obstacles in our way in obtaining redress for that outrage. The King of Burmah has taken this opportunity of refusing the permission which has been given to previous expeditions—namely, to allow the passage of British soldiers through his territory. I hope and believe that the King of Burmah will yield to our just demands, and that no collision will take place; but the negotiations, as my hon. Friend is aware, are still in progress. Perhaps I may be permitted to reply to the two hon. Gentlemen who propose to put Questions to me on the matter—the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard). [Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: I was about to postpone my Question.] The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil asks when the Papers relating to the dispute with Burmah will be published; and, whether they will contain any information concerning the demand made by the Government of India for permission to send British troops through Burmese territory, and the reasons given by the King for his refusal to comply with that request? While the negotiations are pending it would be detrimental to the public service to make public Papers relating to those negotiations, and as Papers are on their way from India, and have not yet arrived at the India Office, I cannot state what those Papers contain. But of this I can assure the hon. Gentleman—that there is no wish on the part of the Government to withhold from the House any information; and that so soon as the Papers relating to these negotiations can, without detriment to the public interest, be made known they shall be laid before Parliament.