HC Deb 25 June 1877 vol 235 cc192-3

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If, seeing that the Russian Government has answered the intimation of Lord Derby relative to non-interference with the navigation of the Suez Canal in accordance with the wishes of Her Majesty's Government, he would be good enough to state if he can yet inform the House of the nature of the replies or communications received from the Porte and the Khedive of Egypt; and, if it be correct that the Government of the Porte objects to, and declines to entertain, the intimation of Her Majesty's Government forbidding the exercise of belligerent rights in the Canal, what measures he intends adopting for the proper protection of the Canal and its approaches?


Sir, the answer of the Porte to the communication of Her Majesty's Government respecting the Suez Canal was received by Mr. Layard on the 21st. Therefore, we have not yet received it in full. The substance of it, as reported by telegraph, is as follows:— The Porte assents to the view of Her Majesty's Government relating to the free passage of the Canal for all neutral vessels. As regards hostilities in the Canal and its approaches, the Porte states that as the Canal is part of the Ottoman Empire, and has never been declared neutral, they cannot permit the access to it of enemies' ships. They state that they have taken measures to protect the two entrances from the approach of enemies' ships, hut that they reserve the rights of Turkey and her prerogatives as the territorial Power. It will have been seen from the Papers laid before Parliament that the Russian Government have declared that they will not "bring Egypt within the radius of their military operations," and that they will "neither blockade nor interrupt, nor in any way menace the navigation of the Suez Canal." Under these circumstances Her Majesty's Government do not feel it necessary to take any measures for the protection of the Canal, inasmuch as they rely upon the undertaking of the Russian Government that it will not be endangered.