HC Deb 30 June 1879 vol 247 cc956-7

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether by a Turkish Law of the 18th June 1867, to which several Foreign Governments gave their adhesion by Protocols dated the 9th of June 1868, the 10th of May 1869, &c. Foreigners acquired the right to purchase land in Turkey; and, if so, whether such right is now a Treaty right which cannot be taken away by local ordinances; and, if the foregoing inquiries are answered in the affirmative, whether Her Majesty's Government have considered the effect of the above Law and Protocols on the Ordinance recently promulgated in Cyprus forbidding the sale of lands to other persons than subjects of Great Britain or Turkey, the Island of Cyprus being still a part of the dominions of His Majesty the Sultan?


I apprehend that the way the matter stands is this. Under the law of Turkey of 1867 foreigners were permitted to have the privilege of acquiring and holding land in Turkey, with certain reservations, which reservations were expressed in a Protocol that was drawn up at that time between Her Majesty's Government and the Turkish Government; and both the law of Turkey and that Protocol are already a Parliamentary Paper by themselves. Certain other Powers—Austria, Denmark, and one or two others—joined in the Protocol afterwards with Turkey; and I believe that the Protocol entered into with Turkey was similar to the one entered into at the time with Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, strictly speaking, I should not say that there was any Treaty right; but, whether that be so or no, we do not apprehend there will be any difficulty arising out of the Ordinance to which the hon. Baronet alludes: because if any foreigner does apply to purchase and hold land in Cyprus, certainly any right which he has, either under Turkish law or under the Protocol which may have been entered into by the Power to which that foreigner belongs, would have due consideration when application is being made to the Commissioners for licence to hold land.