HC Deb 18 March 1878 vol 238 cc1488-9

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether, having regard to the stipulations of the Treaties of London of 1841, of Paris 1856, and of London 1871, relating to the Straits of the Dardanelles, in these words— Treaty of 1841.—The Sultan on the one part declares that he is firmly resolved to maintain in future the principle invariahly established as the ancient rule of his Empire, and in virtue of which it has at all times been prohibited for ships of war of Foreign Powers to enter the Straits of the Dardanelles and of the Bosphorus, and that so long as the Porte is at peace His Highness will admit no foreign ship of war in the said Straits. And their Majesties the Queen, &c. on the other part engage to respect the determination of the Sultan, and to conform themselves to the principle above declared. Treaty of 1871.—The principle of closing the Straits is maintained, with power to the Sultan to open the Straits in time of peace to the vessels of war of friendly and allied Powers in case the Sublime Porte should judge it necessary in order to secure the execution of the stipulations of the Treaty of Paris 1856; and, whether, having regard to these stipulations, the continued presence of the British Fleet under existing circumstances in the neighbourhood of Constantinople is not at variance with the Treaties, or whether anything has taken place that prevents such presence constituting an infraction of the Treaties?


I cannot think, Sir, that it would be convenient at the present moment, and in answer to a Question, to discuss the point raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I can only say that Her Majesty's Government consider that they are perfectly justified, under the circumstances, in retaining the British Fleet where it is.