HC Deb 10 February 1882 vol 266 cc383-4

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether there is any truth in the report which has appeared in several newspapers that Sir Garnet Wolseley has given an opinion that the formation of the proposed tunnel between the coasts of England and France would be attended with military danger to this Country; and, if so, whether Her Majesty's Government intend, on that account, to disapprove of a scheme so eminently calculated to promote peaceful relations between the two Nations?


Yes, Sir; it is true that military witnesses have been examined before a Committee appointed by the Board of Trade to make certain inquiries as to the Channel Tunnel Bills now before Parliament, and that Sir Garnet Wolseley has given to the Committee an opinion adverse to the construction of a tunnel between England and France; while Sir John Adye has given evidence in an opposite sense. The evidence taken by this Committee is now before the First Lord of the Admiralty and myself; and Her Majesty's Government will, in due time, consider what course to adopt on the subject. The Committee's proceedings will be laid before Parliament. I think that I ought, at the same time, to remind the House that in the Parliamentary Paper, "Correspondence about the proposed Channel Tunnel and Railway," No. 1,206 of 1875,"will be found declarations on the part of Her Majesty's late Government that they had '' no doubt of the utility of this work," and that they "would offer no opposition to it," reserving power to erect such works at the English mouth of the tunnel as they might deem expedient, and to stop the traffic should they apprehend danger of war. These views were communicated to the French Government, who were informed that Her Majesty's Government "approved the course which the French Government proposed to follow;" and these declarations were followed by the passing of the Channel Tunnel Company (Limited) Act of 1875, by the French Act of 1875, and by the appointment of the Joint English and French Commission, whose Report is to be found in Parliamentary Paper C 1,576 of 1876.


inquired, whether the Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred had reported, or had been dismissed without reporting; and, if so, would he give the reason?


Sir, the Committee was appointed by the Board of Trade, acting in concert with the First Lord of the Admiralty and myself. Evidence was taken before the Committee in order that Her Majesty's Government might be informed of all the facts of the case, and come to a decision upon it.