HC Deb 17 May 1881 vol 261 cc690-1

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he was aware on March 14th that the consideration of a Motion involving the Whole question of Ministerial policy in Central Asia was fixed for the 24th of that month; if so, if he can explain the reason of the delay from March 14 to March 17 in requesting the assent of the Russian Government to the publication of the important papers contained in Parliamentary Paper (Central Asia, No. 3, 1881); if he can explain the delay between March 21st and 24th in communicating the Russian assent to such publication to the Under Secretary of State directly responsible to Parliament for the conduct of Foreign Affairs; and, if he can state to the House the reasons, if any, which precluded the communica- tion to Parliament of the intelligence conveyed in the last two Despatches of that Parliamentary Paper in time to place the House in possession of the information used by Her Majesty's Government in the discussion of the Motion relative to the retention of Candahar?


I gave very full information upon this subject yesterday to the House. My answer must be that there was no such delay as that with regard to which the hon. Member asks. I stated yesterday that the document reached the Foreign Office on the night of the 21st, and that it was seen and the immediate publication of the Paper ordered on the morning of the 22nd. It then, as I explained, had to start on its usual round before it came to me. When he asks me the reason which prevented communication to Parliament of the last two despatches, I must reply once more that no reason whatever prevented it, that every possible haste was shown, and that no haste would have produced the last despatch in time, as it was only written after the debate was over.