HC Deb 29 June 1882 vol 271 cc774-5

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether Mr. Cookson, on the 12th September 1881, called the attention of Her Majesty's Government, by telegraph, to the danger which then existed of anarchy and disturbance in Egypt, and suggested the solution of the difficulty by a Special Commission from the Porte; whether a Copy of this Despatch was transmitted direct to the Embassy in Paris; and, whether there is any objection to the text of this telegram being laid before Parliament?


Mr. Cookson's despatch of September 14, No. 10, in "Egypt No. 3" of this year, gives a narrative of events on that and the two preceding days, and contains, as will be seen by reference to it, the substance of his telegram of the 12th. The telegram was sent to Paris on the 13th for communication to the French Government.


asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether there is any truth in the statement, which has obtained currency among working men, that the Government are going to use force and incur expenditure in Egypt? The hon. Member pointed out that there was an omission from the Question on the Paper. What he wished to ask was whether the Government were going to use force "in order to secure the British bondholders from anticipated losses?"


No. I do not know whether the hon. Member wishes me to give any answer bearing on the case of the bondholders. They have, from all appearances, considerable means of taking care of themselves. With respect to the other part of the Question, I am only able to refer to a previous declaration made by Her Majesty's Government as to the principles and objects on which they had proceeded in regard to the Egyptian question; because it is impossible on general grounds, irrespective of present circumstances, for the Government to give further answers.


asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, before employ- ing the Naval and Military forces of this Country to maintain in Egypt the rights of the Sultan, of the Khedive, of the people of Egypt, and of the foreign bondholders, the Government will give this House an opportunity to consider whether it is desirable to employ our forces for these purposes?


This likewise is a Question in which my hon. Friend seeks to revive a subject that has often supplied matter of debate in this House; and, as my hon. Friend knows, he cannot expect any deviation from the course pursued, when I state that it has never been in the power of the Government to give a pledge of this kind to obtain the judgment of Parliament in cases where it may have been their duty to assume responsibility for their acts.


, who had given Notice of his intention to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary at the Conference will be instructed to advocate that, within the limits of International obligations, the people of Egypt shall have some Constitutional control over their own affairs? said, that perhaps it would be more convenient that he should postpone this Question for a week, on the understanding that, if it was not desirable that he should then put it, that he would again postpone it. He, however, begged to give Notice that, on the earliest occasion that the Business of the House permitted, he should move— That an humble Address tie presented to Her Majesty, praying that no agreement may be entered into for the permanent settlement of affairs in Egypt that will not provide for securing the free and uninterrupted navigation of the Suez Canal, whether in time of peace or in time of war; and, secondly, for the maintenance of the privileges of the Egyptian people and the recognition, under existing international obligations, of the sovereign authority of the Sultan and of the right of the Egyptian people to be controlled by their representatives in the management of their public affairs.