HC Deb 16 November 1882 vol 274 cc1551-2

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If his attention has been called to a letter published in the "Times" of the 14th, purporting to be written by Arabi Pasha, in which he states that his action was Consonant to a solemn decree of a Council under the Presidency of the Khedive and Dervish Pasha, the envoy of the Sultan; and, if this assertion is substantiated, whether Her Majesty's Government will use their influence to procure his immediate release?


The hon. Member calls my attention to a letter which was published in The Times of the 14th, which purported to come from Arabi Pasha, and in which a certain allegation on his part was contained. We are not able to say whether this is a genuine letter or not; and I am bound to say that I am particularly disposed to be cautious on this subject, after having referred on a previous occasion to a letter which came to me and purported to be from Arabi Pasha, but the authenticity of which was afterwards denied. I therefore could not undertake at the present moment to say that it was our duty to proceed on any matter contained in a letter of that description.


May I ask, whereas Arabi was at one time a prisoner in the hands of Her Majesty's Government, and was handed over to the persons now having him in custody, it would not be proper for Her Majesty's Government to enter into an inquiry?


It would be quite right that we should ascertain whether the letter is a genuine letter or not, and this is being investigated in the proper quarter.


asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If the safeguards obtained by Her Majesty's Government, in order to secure a fair and impartial trial for Arabi Pacha, have been or will be extended to the cases of all the other prisoners arrested on charges arising out of the late political and military events in Egypt; and, whether the punishment, if any, which may be accorded to each of these prisoners will be subject to the same friendly supervision as that mentioned by him in the case of Arabi Pacha?


No distinction is being made between the case of Arabi and that of the other prisoners.


asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If he can tell the House whether the Government, which, in arranging a Convention with the Khedive for the temporary occupation of Egypt, acted on the precedent afforded by the close of the war against Napoleon Buonaparte, took also into consideration the precedent supplied by the same period of history for the manner of dealing with the defeated military leader who surrenders himself to the clemency of England?


I wish to observe incidentally that the hon. Member is justified in using the words "a Convention with the Khedive," because I once used the expression myself. I should, however, have preferably used the term "arrangement" instead of "Convention." With regard to the substance of the Question, the hon. Member seems to think that the case of Napoleon Bonaparte affords a precedent which might be followed in the case of Arabi Pasha. Now, the case of Napoleon at the termination of the great war in 1815 was a very singular case, and has, I believe, been much considered as to its exact judicial character. But it is not for me to enter into a question of that kind, which, as the lawyers say, has been regarded as inter apices, and I shall avoid it. But I may state we are decidedly of opinion that the case of Arabi Pasha is not governed by the case of Napoleon Bonaparte, which, in our opinion, does not afford any precedent.