HC Deb 12 July 1877 vol 235 cc1171-2

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If it is true that, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the British Ambassador, the amnesty which has been proclaimed, and the promise of the Sultan, the Bulgarian prisoners, or at all events the Christian portion of them, have not yet been released?


Sir, I regret to say that the promise of the Sultan with regard to the amnesty of these prisoners has not yet been carried into effect. It has been respresented to His Majesty that in the present state of affairs it will be dangerous to allow persons who were leaders of the insurrection to return to their homes; and it was settled that the prisoners alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman, as well as all others, should be classified. One class would include those who would be pardoned immediately; another class would include those who would be released, but, at the same time, placed under police supervision; a third class would include those who would be allowed to return to their homes at the end of the war, but would be released immediately; and the fourth would include those who had been sentenced to death, and who would be kept in prison for life. Mr. Layard had arranged with Mr. Blunt, in concert with the Porte—Mr. Blunt being now Consul at Adriannople—that he should arrange the details of the release of these prisoners; and he has reported that the classes and the names of all the prisoners have been received from Sofia and Philippopolis, and that the classification has been completed; but the prisoners have not yet been released. About a fortnight ago my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in a despatch to Mr. Layard, instructed him to represent to the Porte that the promise of the Sultan ought to be immediately carried out. I may also mention that Mr. Layard has been unceasing in his endeavours to obtain the release of these prisoners, and his efforts have been entirely approved by Her Majesty's Government. There will be no objection whatever to lay the despatches of Mr. Layard upon the subject before Parliament.