§ MR. E. STANHOPE
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If he can now hold out any hope of a day being fixed for the commencement of the work of the Afghan Frontier Commission, or if it is to be understood that, in accordance with the request of the Russian Government, the negotiations for the settlement of the Frontier are to take place in London?
There are two Questions here, and I am not able to answer them at the present moment. I think I ought to say, however, in justice to the Russian Government, that we do not think the time has come when we can fairly make it a matter of complaint that there has not been received an answer to an important communication by Lord Granville, which was but recently made—on the 16th of March. That has been transmitted to St. Petersburg; but we could scarcely expect an answer to have reached us by this date. We do not believe that the answer will be long delayed. The effect of that answer will be to bring to an issue the question whether negotiations shall take place in London, or whether there is to be a preliminary inquiry on the spot, and consideration by a Commission, which we desire.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
Perhaps the noble Lord the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs can answer this Question now; if not, I will put it on the Paper. I wish to ask, as a Question connected with this matter, are we to understand that the state of local tension on this question as to the disputed boundary will prevent our Commission from continuing and completing their survey so as to ascertain the physical facts, or, notwithstanding the occupation of those parts of the country in dispute, that our boundary officers are still at work completing the survey?
§ MR. ONSLOW
Was it not, as a matter of fact, arranged last Autumn between the Governments of England and Russia that the boundary should be fixed in Afghanistan and not in London?
I must request the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) to put his Question on the Paper. With respect to the other 390 Question, I do not think it would be convenient to enter into a discussion of the matter now. The Russian Government had made this proposal to us—a proposal which we were bound to consider, and we have not yet received a reply to our answer.
I do not wish, to go back to that—[Opposition laughter]—and I decline to go back, notwithstanding the method of receiving Ministerial answers in very grave circumstances, and which seems to be greatly gaining ground in this House—I decline to go back and give partial replies to partial questions on partial transactions, from which partial answers inferences may be drawn that may be injurious to the public welfare.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
Will Her Majesty's Government, before the House breaks up for the Easter holidays, be prepared to make a statement as to the state of the relations between this country and Russia?
I may answer that Question by saying that I have not the least reason to suppose that it would be in the least degree advantageous to the Public Service that we should make any such statement at any time whatever.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to a proposal made by the Russian Government. Will he be so good as to say to what proposal he refers?