§ MR. OTWAY
I have placed a Question upon the Paper in reference to Egypt to the following effect:—To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether Her Majesty's Government have received any information confirming the report that the French Consul General had waited on the Khedive to announce the intention of Franco to demand his abdication; and, whether such step, if taken, was taken with the concurrence of Her Majesty's Government;and, with the permission of the House, I wish to make an extension of it. In the first place, I do not propose, as represented in the Question, to put it to the Foreign Secretary, but to his Representative in this House—my hon. Friend the Under Secretary, to whom I have given private Notice of my intention. In doing so, I shall endeavour to confine myself strictly to the Rules of the House, for the extension I wish to make expresses no opinion, contains no argument, and states only facts. Intelligence has recently been received in this country of a very startling character. This intelligence has been given both in the English and in the French papers, and it varies somewhat in the accounts which are given. But suffice it generally to say that a statement in the English papers has been made to this effect—that the French Consul General in Egypt has waited in uniform upon the semi - independent Sovereign of that country and demanded his deposition, or, as it is afterwards qualified by another account, has demanded his abdication in favour of his son, Prince Tewfik, promising him, at the same 308 time, a Civil List, should he accede to the French demand. Now, I should say that another telegram states that the Sultan of Turkey has expressed his approbation of this step, and his opinion that Prince Halim, now resident in Paris, should succeed in the room of the present Khedive. The Questions I desire to ask my hon. Friend in consequence of this intelligence are—Firstly, has this step been taken at all by the official Representative of France in Egypt; and, if so, has it been taken with the cognizance and concurrence of the Representative of England in that country? Has the approbation and concurrence of the Sultan been obtained towards this step; and, are the views of the other Powers of Europe, who are connected with us in the present engagements with regard to Egypt—are those Powers of Europe also cognizant, and do they concur with the step? Then, Sir, has any promise whatever been made that, in the event of the Khedive abdicating and Prince Tewfik succeeding, the Civil List in its present extent, or, if not, to what extent, would be accorded to the present Khedive; and has Her Majesty's Government given its assent generally to these proceedings, if I have correctly stated them, and, especially, to this promise of a Civil List to be accorded to the Khedive in case of his abdication in favour of Prince Tewfik?
§ MR. BOURKE
I do not think any person can be surprised that my hon. Friend (Mr. Otway) is anxious to obtain official information of an authentic character with respect to the subjects he has just mentioned to the House, and which have been the subject of many statements in various newspapers within the last few days. But I have already informed the House that negotiations on all those very important subjects which he has mentioned are in progress between the Powers, and therefore it is impossible for me—or I would rather say that negotiations with respect to Egypt are in progress between the Powers—and therefore it is impossible for me, following the precedents of a similar character, and also acting in accordance with the public interests, to make any statement in regard to the inquiries which have been made.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I hope I may be allowed to follow up the Question of my 309 hon. Friend by an appeal to the Government on the points which have been raised, and by asking a further Question. [Cries of " Move !"] I am always reluctant to take that step; but if it is necessary, I will do so. For the present, however, I will not take the course of moving the adjournment of the House, and will confine my remarks to the Question I intend to ask. The Question I wish to ask is this—Whether, under the circumstances of our not having had any Papers on the affairs of Egypt during the last six months, when a Question is asked, not as to negotiations, but as to public acts going on in a country our relations with which are of so important a character as our relations with Egypt, that when my hon. Friend asks a plain question of fact—namely, whether the Consul General of France has made certain official communications to the Khedive of Egypt, we are to be put off with the answer that negotiations are going on, and that until those negotiations are completed the Government cannot make any statement? That may be a perfectly good rule generally, as regards anything tending to affect those negotiations; but I humbly submit to the House that it is not an answer to a plain question of fact, and I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will not give a more full answer?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I regret very much that we do not feel ourselves at the present moment in a position to make a full and complete statement to the House in regard to what has passed in reference to this matter. I feel, and the Government feels, that an imperfect statement might be both embarrassing, and might cause serious complications; and, therefore, though I say so with great regret, I feel it necessary for me to adhere to what my hon. Friend has already stated by direction of the Secretary of State—namely, that it is not in our power at the present moment to make any statement with regard to what has passed. It will be observed that the reports which have reached this country have reference distinctly to the action of the Minister of another Power. The Questions which have been put, of course, have to a certain extent reference to the action, or consent, or approval of Her Majesty's Government with regard to what has 310 been done; but the main Question relates to the supposed action of a Minister of another Power; and I think that will at once commend itself to the House as a reason why we should be particularly careful as to making any statement specifically on the subject, without the consent of and clear understanding with the Power to which reference is made. I can only say upon this subject that active negotiations are going on, and that we are perfectly in accord with the French Government and the other Powers.
§ MR. OTWAY
I wish to observe, that one of the telegrams states that an English Representative, Mr. Lascelles, accompanied the French Consul General, M. Tricou, on the occasion of his interview with the Khedive, and concurred in the demand which he made. I can quite understand the reasons which my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend, have put forward. Although I am much disappointed that he is not able to inform us as to the facts, I will not press my Question further to-day. I presume, however, that my hon. Friend will have no objection to place on the Table of the House—and it is most essential that we should see it soon—a copy of the Firman by which the Khedivial rank was conferred upon Ismail Pasha.