HC Deb 08 July 1880 vol 253 cc1907-8

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether any communications have taken place between Her Majesty's Government and other Governments as to the employment of coercive measures towards Turkey in the event of that Power refusing to accept the recommendations of the Conference of Berlin; and, if so, whether such communications can be laid before Parliament; and, whether Her Majesty's Government, before entering into any engagements will, in the event of such measures being considered necessary, give due notice thereof to Parliament, if sitting at the time, or, in case of their being adopted during the recess, will summon Parliament to consider them?


I think I need hardly remind the House that, setting apart exceptional cases, it is not usual to make announcements respecting events which are future and contingent, nor to enter into engagements with respect to such events, nor to determine, in concert with foreign Powers, beforehand, what course should be taken with regard to them. I have, therefore, no direct information to give to the hon. Member at this time on the three Questions he has put to me. I have only to say, Sir, that our policy continues to be to prosecute to the best of our ability the faithful execution and fulfilment of the conditions of the Treaty of Berlin, and to prosecute that policy in concert with the united Powers of Europe; that with respect to the gravest of the pressing questions now pending the Powers of Europe, as represented in Conference at Berlin, have in entire union arrived at a conclusion; that that conclusion, however, has not yet been formally presented to the Porte; that we have usually found that when there has been a real union between the Powers of Europe the Porte has wisely deferred to their judgment and adopted their conclusions; and that I do not think it would be just or respectful to the Porte that we should, under the existing circumstances, anticipate that that will not be the case, in answer to a Question which assumes that in the face of the conclusion unanimously arrived at by the Powers the Porte will be disposed to resist that con- clusion. I do not think it would be consistent with deference or with justice to the Porte to foreshadow such an event. With reference to giving information to Parliament and obtaining its sanction, I am sure the hon. Gentleman will see that these are questions which do not admit of a determinate answer. We shall endeavour to be guided by the best precedents and the best understood rules of other times, and by a strict observance of public faith and a due regard to the sound and well-considered judgment of Europe.