HC Deb 06 May 1881 vol 260 cc1966-7

begged to ask the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India a Question of which he had given him private Notice—namely, Whether it is true, as stated in the "Standard," that another Russian Mission has just been despatched from St. Petersburgh to Cabul; and, if so, whether the Government intend to take any steps in the matter?


On seeing the statement in the newspapers to which the hon. Gentleman refers, I telegraphed to the Governor General of India asking him whether there was any foundation for it. As the hon. Gentleman has only just given me Notice of the Question, I cannot give him a full reply; but from the answer which I have received from the Governor General of India, I gather that he has not received any information which confirms the statement. I think it is also stated that the Government of India have received several communications from the Ameer, Abdurrahman, with reference to communications that had taken place between them and the Russian authorities on the subject of the return of the Ameer's son from Russia to Cabul. The Ameer, so far as they were aware, had asked the advice of the Government of India in regard to all these communications. So far as I am aware, no Russians have accompanied the Ameer's son beyond Mazar-i-Sheriff, in Afghan Turkestan. Further inquiries will be made; but the House will see that the substance of the reply of the Governor General does not confirm the statement of the hon. Gentleman.


Can the noble Lord state whether there is there any British Agent now at Cabul, Native or otherwise?


There is no accredited Agent.


I may, perhaps, be allowed to supplement the statement of my noble Friend with some information which has been received at the Foreign Office from St. Petersburgh on the subject. On the 7th of February, Lord Dufferin was informed by the acting Minister for Foreign Affairs that General Kauffmann had given the ladies of the family of Abdurrahman an escort as far as the Russian Frontier, who had returned, by one of the Sirdars, an answer of simple compliment for the attention thus shown. That statement is inconsistent with what has since appeared in the newspapers, and, therefore, further inquiries will be made.