HC Deb 08 August 1876 vol 231 cc820-1

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been drawn to recent proceedings for the suppression of the use of the Polish language in the Civil and Criminal Courts of the Grand Duchy of Posen, contrary to the 2nd and 118th Articles of the Treaty of Vienna? To explain the Question, he said that Article 1 of the Treaty provided that "Polish subjects of Russia, Austria, and Prussia shall have such national institutions as are judged in accordance with the polity of each of three Powers." Article 2 recognized Posen as united to Prussia. Article 118 incorporated and confirmed a separate Treaty of the 3rd of May. By that Treaty Russia and Prussia assured such institutions to the Polish subjects of each as shall preserve their nationality; and the Proclamation of Frederick William III., dated Vienna, 15th May, 1815, declared to the inhabitants of the Grand Duchy, parted from that of Warsaw, and incorporated with the Kingdom of Prussia, that their language should be used concurrently with German in all public acts.


I do not know exactly to what my hon. Friend alludes, but conjecture that he refers to a debate which occurred in the Prussian Parliament in June last on the subject of the Official Language Bill. This debate called forth strong speeches from the Polish Deputies, and a résuméof the debate was sent to Her Majesty's Government in the usual way; but I fail to see in what way the 2nd and 118th Articles of the Treaty of Vienna affect the question, because the 2nd Article merely defines the limits of the Grand Duchy of Posen, and the 118th Article merely enumerates and confirms the various other Treaties which were made in 1815, and are declared part of the arrangements of the Congress. Neither of these Articles makes any allusion to the Polish language. It is true that by a Proclamation issued by the King of Prussia on the 15th of May, 1815, the inhabitants of the Grand Duchy of Posen were assured that their language would, be used conjointly with the German in all public Acts; but the Proclamation was no part or parcel of the Treaty.