HC Deb 17 July 1884 vol 290 cc1405-7

asked the Secretary of State for War, It he can state to the House the total number of Her Majesty's troops now serving in Egypt; whether Her Majesty's Government have recently had under their consideration the making of any addition to those forces; and, whether Government have any intention, having regard to the increasingly grave position of affairs in that country, of sending any reinforcements to Egypt? He wished to supplement the Question by two other points, of which he had given private Notice. In the first place, he wished to know whether it was true that Her Majesty's Government had received any communication on the subject of the forces from the military authorities at Cairo; and, secondly, whether the Government had come to any decision as to the sending of an expedition to the Soudan in the autumn for the relief of General Gordon; and, if so, had they made, or were they making, preparations for that purpose?


The answer I have to give to the Question of which the hon. Gentleman gave Notice will include the first supplementary Question he has put to me. As to the second supplementary Question, I do not think it possible for me to add anything to the answer I gave in reply to the Question put to me the other day by the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett). In reply to the Question on the Paper, I have to say that I do not think it would be desirable to publish the exact number of the Forces now in Egypt. I may, however, state that at present there are in Egypt one regiment of Cavalry, one of Horse and one of Field Artillery, three garrison batteries of Artillery, two companies of Engineers, eight and a-half battalions of Infantry, and the necessary proportion of the administrative corps. With reference to the remainder of the hon. Gentleman's Question, and also to the Questions which stand in the names of the noble Lord the Member for West Essex (Lord Eustace Cecil) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigtonshire (Sir Herbert Maxwell), I have to say that Sir Frederick Stephenson has asked for a reinforcement of one battalion; but he makes the demand more as a matter of precaution than of actual urgency. The Government, having given full consideration to the matter, have decided to send a battalion of Infantry, now at Malta, on to Egypt. Another battalion in the Mediterranean will also be held in readiness to proceed immediately if its services should be required. With regard to a Supplementary Estimate or Vote of Credit, I stated the other day, in reply to the right hon. and gallant Member for Wigtown (Sir John Hay), that I am obtaining information as the extraordinary expenditure which has been or is likely to be incurred in Egypt; and when I have obtained it I will, in consultation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, consider whether a Supplementary Estimate will be required.


I shall repeat the Question in a week's time.


Will the whole expenditure of these troops be borne by this country or by Egypt?


So far as I am aware, the arrangement formerly concluded with the Egyptian Government will hold good, by which a capitation grant is given.


Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to move a Supplementary Estimate in the present Session?


Some extraordinary expenditure has been incurred, and some more will have to be incurred, and as soon as I ascertain what the amount is likely to be, I will communicate with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and see whether it will be necessary to present a Supplementary Estimate in the present Session.


What measures does the right hon. Gentleman intend to take in consequence of the mutiny of the Turkish troops at Assiout?


I do not see how that Question arises out of the one before the House. I am not responsible for the Egyptian Army; and such a Question should, be addressed to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, or Notice of it should be given.