HC Deb 17 July 1877 vol 235 cc1388-90

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he will ascertain from the Turkish Government whether or not they will permit neutral vessels with merchandise other than contraband to pass in and out of the Black Sea without being detained in their passage through the Bosphorus; and, if he can inform the House how far the Turkish authorities possess the right of detaining and overhauling at Constantinople neutral vessels carrying non-contraband goods, should they attempt to trade between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean?


In reply to the hon. Member for Sunderland I have to state that I am sure he is aware—as no doubt the House and the public are aware —that a decree relating to neutral commerce passing through the Bosphorus was published on the 1st May, and was published in The London Gazette of the 15th May, relating to the whole of the subject to which the Question of the hon. Member refers. By that notice it appears that the right of search would be exercised by the Turkish Government in regard to vessels going to Ottoman ports or to neutral ports. Subsequent to that there was a decree notifying the blockade of Russian ports, and at the same time it was also mentioned that the right of search with regard to vessels going to Turkish ports and to neutral ports would only be exercised in the case of suspected vessels. Therefore, it would be useless for Her Majesty's Government to do what is suggested, in the Question of the hon. Member—that is, to endeavour to exempt suspected vessels from search; because, of course, if a vessel is suspected by the Turkish Government it is not likely that they will exempt it from search. With regard to vessels going to a blockaded port, it is not likely that vessels going through Turkish waters would declare that they were going to a blockaded port; and, if they were to do so, it would not be rational to ask the Turkish Government to exempt them from search. There can be no doubt the Turkish Government has the right to search all neutrals, even although not carrying contraband, should they attempt to trade between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.


asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, What steps Her Majesty's Government intend to take to ascertain whether the Turkish blockade of the Russian coasts is or is not "effective?"


When doubts were thrown upon the efficiency of the Turkish blockade, representations were made immediately by Her Majesty's Government, through their Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Porte. The Ambassador at Constantinople reported that the Porte considered that the blockade was completely efficacious; and that was confirmed afterwards by a Report which our Ambassador received from Hobart Pasha. Subsequently, as was mentioned in this House, I think by the hon. Baronet, vessels were heard of as going between Odessa and Nicolaieff —and other representations were then made to Her Majesty's Government to the same effect. A few days ago Lord Derby received a deputation of gentlemen interested in this question, and he promised that after hearing from them he would refer what they said to Constantinople. Lord Derby has now heard from them, their representations have been referred to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, and Mr. Layard has been instructed to make further communications to the Porte on the subject.