HC Deb 09 August 1876 vol 231 cc877-8

I wish to take the opportunity of making a personal statement. I sent word to the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) that I would do so, but I am afraid he may not have received my communication. It will be in the recollection of the House that last evening the hon. Member for Burnley made a statement to the effect that on a certain Friday night I communicated to the House a telegram from Cairo, stating that the Khedive no longer objected to the publication of Mr. Cave's Report—an announcement which he said caused a rise next morning in Egyptian stocks, but which had been known and been made the object of speculative purchases at Paris on the Friday morning. Answering on the spur of the moment I could merely state to the House what my part in the business had been, and that I had received the communication late on Friday evening and had immediately communicated it to the House. But I have this morning received from Mr. Rivers Wilson, who was at Cairo at the time, an important statement which I would ask the permission of the House to read. He says—

"16, Wilton Street, Belgrave Square,

"August 8, 1876.

"Dear Sir Stafford Northcote,—The telegram was sent at my instigation under the circumstances shortly described in the following extract from my diary;—

" 'Friday, March 31, 1876.—Stanton lent me Cave's Report, which impressed me so favourably that (Stanton concurring and, indeed, suggesting) I asked Barrot Bey to procure me an interview with the Khedive, although it is Friday. The Khedive sent to say he would see me at 4. I went and took him draft of a statement to be sent through Stanton. He accepted it hardly with any hesitation, made some alterations which were improvements, wrote a note to Stanton, adding a postscript at my suggestion, asking for the announcement in the House of Commons that evening, if possible, that he agreed to the publication of the Report. I took the papers to Stanton, and he telegraphed at once.'

"You will observe that I did not see the Khedive until 4 o'clock. I was with him between one and two hours, and no previous intimation had been made to any one on the subject of my interview.

"My suggestion as to the announcement being made on Friday night was, as I explained to the Khedive, because it could not otherwise be communicated until the following Monday, and it was desirable that no time should be lost in removing the unfavourable impression that the refusal to sanction the publication of the Report had created.

"You will see by the above statement that the receipt of the intelligence in Paris on Friday morning was impossible.

"I am, &c.,

"C. Rivers Wilson.

"I hope you will make any use of this letter that you may think desirable."