§ MR. BOURKE
I wish to ask a Question of the Government, which is of some urgency, and of which I gave private Notice to the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs about two hours ago. It is with regard to the following notice which appeared in the newspapers this morning:—The following Official Note, drawn up and signed by the Secretary of the Suez Canal Company, was yesterday posted up in their offices at 610 Paris. It was previously submitted to the English Delegates for their approval:—' The bases of the accord between the Suez Canal Company and the English Government being established, M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, in compliance with the express desire of Her Majesty's Ministers, leaves for London with his son, M. Charles Aimé de Lesseps, for the consecration of that accord.—MAHIUS FONTANE, Secretary General.'The Question I wish to ask is, whether it is true that Her Majesty's Government have come to an agreement with the Suez Canal Company as to the point mentioned in the notice I have just read?
The information that I have to give on the part of the Government is as follows. In the first place, M. Charles de Lesseps has actually arrived in London, and M. Ferdinand de Lesseps is expected in London this afternoon, and their arrival here is on the express invitation of Her Majesty's Government—Her Majesty's Government having thought that matters have reached a stage at which personal communication between the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Company and themselves will be conducive to a satisfactory settlement. The stage is this—that bases have been provisionally agreed upon, which gives, as we think, reasonable ground—I do not wish to go any further—for hope of arriving at a conclusion that may be satisfactory to all parties; but, of course, the engagement I previously gave of the arriving at no final conclusion without publicity still holds good.
No advantage would arise from entering into that. We have not arrived at the point when that information could be given.