HC Deb 17 June 1878 vol 240 c1614

Sir, I wish to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he is now able to confirm, or to deny, the authenticity of the document which appeared in ''The Globe" newspaper last week, purporting to be the copy of a preliminary arrangement come to between England and Russia with reference to the modification of the Treaty of San Stefano; and I beg further to ask him, whether, in the event of that document being authentic, he expects to be able shortly—or, at all events, before the conclusion of the Congress—to lay Papers upon the Table of the House, or to make any statement explanatory of that paragraph which referred to the special duty which would henceforth rest upon England of protecting the Ottoman Empire in Asia from the danger of the extension of Russian conquests in that direction?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the Question of the noble Lord, I may, perhaps, ask him another Question, of which I have given him private Notice—namely, Whether any other agreement has been signed between England and any other Power, or between Russia and any other Power, relating to the Conference; and, if so, whether he can state the nature of such agreements?


Sir, I hope the House will not believe that it is from any indisposition to give a frank and plain answer, that I am compelled to give one of a restricted nature. The Paper, to which reference has been made, has evidently been obtained by some person who has had access to confidential communications; and, as far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, is not only unauthorized, but surreptitious, and, as a statement of their policy, it is incomplete, and, therefore, inaccurate. With reference to the Question of the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu), I can only say that, at the earliest proper moment, the Government will be prepared to give the fullest information to Parliament; but they must, in the meantime, appeal to Parliament to support them in not answering particular Questions on the subject unnecessarily.