§ MR. BOURKE
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he can now give the House any further information with respect to the proposed Conference; and, whether, considering the Law of Liquidation came into force without the intervention of a European Conference, what necessity is there to invite such a Conference to consider its alteration?
There is no further information with respect to the Conference at present, no definitive answer having been received from Turkey. With respect to the latter part of the Question, it appears to me to be rather in the nature of an argument than of an inquiry as to a matter of fact; but, still, I may perhaps say this—that it is open to the right hon. Gentleman to question the proceedings if he thinks fit. But the necessity for this Conference having arisen mainly out of the calamities at Alexandria, in which all the Powers of Europe were interested, and the alteration of the Law of Liquidation being a different matter from the original framing of it, it appeared to Her Majesty's Government to be the most expedient course of proceeding to resort at once to the highest authority—namely, the assembled Powers of Europe.
§ MR. DIXON-HARTLAND (for Sir H. DRUMMOND WOLFF)
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is intended by Her Majesty's Government, in discussing the question of Egyptian 1699 finance at the proposed Conference, to introduce or admit the question of the administration of the Suez Canal, and the amount now paid by the Government of Egypt to Her Majesty's Government in respect of the shares purchased in 1876?
To that Question, Sir, I have to answer as follows:—Her Majesty's Government have no intention to introduce any other matter except that which is described in the invitation they have addressed to the Powers; and, as I have already said—this is also an answer to the following Question of the hon. Member for Eye—the introduction of any other matter would be the introduction of a new subject, and would be equivalent, in fact, to calling together a new Conference. That is an entirely distinct matter; but it might be embraced, of course, if it were the will of the Conference; but it is not included in the purview of the Conference.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
asked whether, in case the majority of the Conference endeavoured to introduce other important political matters in which British interests were paramount, Her Majesty's Government would distinctly decline to discuss them?
It would be highly inexpedient, against usage, and exceedingly disparaging to other Powers as well as to ourselves, to enter upon these matters.
§ MR. BOURKE
In consequence of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman I should like to ask this further Question. The right hon. Gentleman stated that Turkey had not at present accepted the invitation.
§ MR. BOURKE
Are we to understand that all the other Powers have sent final acceptances to the invitation?
I conceive so. I am not aware that their answer depends upon the answer of Turkey. At the same time, it is for them, of course, to construe their own answer.