HC Deb 19 March 1877 vol 233 cc115-8

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether his attention has been drawn to a statement in the "Times" of Friday, March 16th, dated Pera, March 6, to the effect that outrages are daily being perpetrated by the inhabitants of Turkish villages near Adrianople against the people, and especially the women, of the Bulgarian villages of Gul-Bounar, of Souroute, and of Koumkeui, in the same neighbourhood; whether the British Consul at Adrianople has been instructed to communicate by telegraph to the Foreign Office all flagrant cases of Turkish oppression that come to his knowledge; and, whether he does so; on what date, if at all, and from whom, tidings arrived at the Foreign Office of the above - mentioned outrages; and, whether Her Majesty's Government have made any fresh remonstrances to the Ottoman Porte in consequence of them?


Sir, with regard to the first part of the Question, we have received no intelligence whatever of the outrages described by the hon. Member, but as Reports have appeared in the public prints we have telegraphed to Constantinople instructing Mr. Jocelyn to find out whether the reports have any foundation, and directing him if has heard nothing of them to communicate with the Vice Consul at Adrianople. As to the second part, I have already answered it. It is the duty of all Consuls, without any special instruction whatever, to report anything of this kind to the Ambassador at Constantinople, and we have no reason to believe that that has not been done in this matter. The third part I have already answered, and the fourth does not arise.


asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he will state what Consular or other agents the Government have at present in the European provinces of Turkey; and whether those agents have orders to report on the present condition of those provinces as regards safety of life, property, and honour of the inhabitants; the administration of justice; the collection of the taxes; and the prevalence or absence of brigandage and outrages; also how far the different measures of reform announced by the Turkish Government within the last two years have been carried into effect; and, whether any such Reports have lately been received?


in reply, said, that the names of our Consular Agents in the Provinces of European Turkey were to be found in the Foreign Office List. He would read them if it were the wish of the House to hear them, or he would put the names into the hands of the hon. Member. Our Consuls had general instructions to send reports as regarded the safety of the lives, property, and honour of the inhabitants of these Provinces, and many Reports on this subject and also some respecting the administration of justice and collection of taxes appeared in the Blue Book. With regard to the carrying out of measures of reform, he did not think there were any special Reports on the subject; but the Papers were being prepared.


wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a Question arising out of his Answer to the Question of the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. H. B. Samuelson), and if the hon. Gentleman would prefer to answer to-morrow, he would put the Question to-morrow. The account of the outrages alleged to have been committed near Adrianople had been given in a letter dated the 6th of March. He understood I the Under Secretary to say that, in case of emergency, the Consuls were instructed to telegraph to the Foreign Office. As these outrages were described in a letter dated Pera, March 6, he wanted to know whether the Foreign Office had received any information from Pera with respect to the statements contained in that letter; whether that information made any reference to those outrages; and if no information had been received, what was the cause of the delay?


in reply, said, they had received telegrams from Pera since March 6, and he certainly would have mentioned the fact if any of the telegrams related to the alleged outrages. What he stated was that they had received at the Foreign Office no communication whatever with respect to the accounts referred to. In consequence of these accounts his noble Friend the Earl of Derby had telegraphed to Mr. Jocelyn to know whether he had heard anything on the subject, and, if he had not, he was instructed to send to Adrianople to make inquiries.


asked, Whether, as the Foreign Office had communicated with Mr. Jocelyn by telegraph, they had directed him to reply by telegraph if he had any information to give about the outrages; and when such answer might be expected to arrive?


in reply, said, he might state as a general rule that when Mr. Jocelyn, or any other of Her Majesty's servants, received a message of that kind by telegraph, his own common sense would be sufficient to show him what he ought to do.


gave Notice that on Thursday next he would ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he would communicate to the House the result of the telegrams?


gave Notice that he would to-morrow ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether it was probable that any further Papers relating to Turkey would be laid on the Table in time to be considered by the House before Easter?


gave Notice that he would to-morrow ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he has reason to believe that the Turkish Consuls in this country transmitted to Constantinople news of all brutal outrages committed in England; and that such outrages were chronicled in the journals of Constantinople to prove the lawless state of England and as a fair specimen of the social manners of this country?