HC Deb 12 February 1877 vol 232 cc177-8

had a Question on the Paper asking, Whether Sir Henry Elliott, after being ordered to leave Constantinople as a mark of the high dissatisfaction of Her Majesty's Government at the conduct of the Turkish Government, had received addresses from certain deputations, &c. The hon. Member explained that in adopting these words he had assumed as a fact what on referring to the Blue Book he found was not established, and he accordingly wished to put his Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this form, Whether in fact Her Majesty's Government did, like the other Powers, mark the high dissatisfaction of Her Majesty with the Porte by the withdrawal and non-replacement of Her Ambassador; whether Sir Henry Elliot was still in the service of Her Majesty; if so, whether there was any truth in the statements made in the public prints that he had received addresses from certain deputations and made replies of the character attributed to him; and particularly whether it was true that after Lord Salisbury had left Constantinople with a solemn warning that the conduct of the Porte involved "dangers near at hand which would threaten the very existence of Turkey," Sir Henry, on the contrary, expressed great confidence in the future of Turkey; and that he further expressed an expectation of seeing those who addressed him again in a few months, thereby conveying the impression that his absence was to be quite temporary.


It is very difficult to answer Questions of this kind, which really involve a good deal of controversial matter. I trust the House and the hon. Member will allow me, in answer, to confine myself to a statement of facts, without entering in any way into any argument such as this Question seems to point to. Sir Henry Elliot is still in the service of Her Majesty, and the circumstances under which he left Constantinople are to be found recorded in the Blue Book. I may mention, though it is a little beside the Question, that Sir Henry Elliot some short time ago requested permission to go on sick leave, his health being affected by the strain of his duties, but that he was requested to remain in consequence of the pressure of business, and especially with regard to the Conference. He was, therefore, still at his post when, on the 22nd December, Lord Derby addressed to Lord Salisbury a telegraphic despatch which will be found in the Blue Book. In that despatch these words were used— In the event of the Porto persisting in its refusal, and the Conference failing, your Excellency (that is Lord Salisbury) will, of course, come away, and it will be desirable in that case that Sir Henry Elliot should also come to England to report upon the situation, leaving a Secretary in charge of the Embassy. Nothing was said in those instructions as to dissatisfaction or non-replacement of the Ambassador or anything of that kind. The Conference, as is known, did fail, and Sir Henry Elliot, accordingly, did place the Embassy in charge of a Chargé d'Affaires and came to England. With regard to any deputation he may have received, we have had information that certain deputations did wait on him. But I am not sure whether a record has been kept of his replies. Certainly nothing which has reached the Foreign Office on this subject requires, in the opinion of my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), that any notice should be taken by him of anything that has been said by Sir Henry Elliot.