HC Deb 09 May 1879 vol 246 cc9-11

said, he had given Notice that he would ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, What modification has been introduced into the Treaty of Berlin in reference to paragraphs two and three of Article twenty-two of that Treaty, which, in the official English translation, stand as follows:— The period of the occupation of Eastern Roumelia and Bulgaria by the Imperial troops is fixed at nine months from the date of the exchange of the ratification of the present Treaty. The Imperial Russian Government undertakes that within nine months the passage of its troops across Roumania shall cease and the Principality shall be completely evacuated? Perhaps he might be allowed to state that these paragraphs were taken from the Copy of the Treaty of Berlin which was despatched by our Representatives at Berlin to the Principal Secretary of State at home, and the first to be laid upon the Table of the House and published in the country. The official version, however, showed that it contained a very remarkable mistranslation, and that it ought to run thus— The Imperial Russian Government undertakes that within the space of a further period of three months," &c. He did not propose, therefore, to put the first part of his Question, and only would ask, Whether, since the Treaty fixes a limit to the continued presence of Russian troops in Russian only, any date has been agreed upon as that before which Eastern Roumelia also shall be completely evacuated in case the Russian authorities decide to ultimately withdraw their troops from that Province otherwise than through Roumania?


said, he had also a Question to put, consequent upon that of the hon. Member for North Staffordshire. It was, Whether Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer can explain to the House why an incorrect translation of the 3rd paragraph of the 22nd Article of the Treaty of Berlin was laid upon the Table of this House by Her Majesty's Government on the 15th of July last, whereby the period accorded to Russia for the passage of troops across Roumania, and the complete evacuation of the Principality, was incorrectly stated to be nine months instead of twelve months; and, if he can explain to the House why, in the translation of the 4th Article of the Treaty above mentioned, the French word "avant" was translated "after" instead of "before."


Sir, I am glad that the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir Alexander Gordon) has asked his Question just after that of my hon. Friend behind me, because my hon. Friend has given the explanation which I was going to give in answer to the hon. and gallant Member's Question, and which, in fact, was given by me last year in this House. It will be in the recollection of the House that I took the opportunity, last year, in answer to a Question put by the hon. Member for Rochester (Sir Julian Goldsmid), of saying that there were certain inaccuracies in the translation of the Treaty which I had laid upon the Table of the House, and that those inaccuracies arose in consequence of the very great hurry that took place in the translation and the anxiety of the Government not to lose a moment in placing the Treaty before the House. That is the explanation I gave last year, which the House, having all the circumstances in its recollection, was good enough to accept. I then took occasion to express my regret that those inaccuracies should have taken place; but I stated that no substantial inconvenience, except that caused temporarily to Members of the House, would result, because a correct translation would be laid upon the Table when the ratification of the Treaty took place. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Hanbury) has just explained that another translation was laid upon the Table after the ratification. The hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire has not been kind enough to adopt that; but has quoted from the previous translation, which, as I said before, was inaccurate. But I do not think anybody will say that the subsequent translation was inaccurate. With regard to the last Question of my hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire, I have to state that the evacuation of Eastern Roumelia will take place with all reasonable despatch. I think I may also say that if my hon. Friend will refer to historical precedents upon subjects of this kind, he will find that this is as complete an answer as can be given by the Government.


said, he was not aware that an explanation had been made last Session, or he should not have put his Question.