HC Deb 24 March 1885 vol 296 cc384-5

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Are the instructions to the British representatives on the proposed Commission to draw up the Agreement relative to the Suez Canal yet prepared; when will those instructions be laid before Parliament; how soon will the Commission begin its work; and, will the Report of the Commission be directly or indirectly communicated to Parliament before a final decision is arrived at upon it by the Government?


It would be unusual and inconvenient to publish the instructions to our representatives before the meeting of the Commission; but I may mention that, as stated in the despatch of February 3, 1885, from Lord Granville to Lord Lyons, which is included in the Papers I laid on the Table yesterday (Egypt, No. 7), all that is required is to draw up a formal Article for the purpose of carrying into effect the principles set forth in the Circular of two years ago with the addition of a provision regarding the equipment of ships of war in the Canal. This is stated at page 9 of the Papers presented last night, in the section marked B. The Commission will meet on March 30. In reply to the last part of the right hon. and learned Member's Question, it is not intended to depart from the usual practice, which, in these matters, places the responsibility of negotiation on the Executive Government.


Will the noble Lord have any objection to reprint the extract from Lord Granville's despatch of January, 1883, in regard to the Suez Canal? Such a course would be very convenient.


I shall be very glad to mention the matter to the Secretary of State. I may, however, remind the right hon. Baronet that the Blue Book containing the despatch is a very recent one; it is the last Blue Book of 1882, although the despatch is dated 3rd January, 1883.


If the decision of the Commission affects the value of the Suez Canal shares, and if that decision is not submitted to Parliament before the Government act upon it, what remedy will Parliament have against the Government for deteriorating the value of public property?


The hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth will hardly expect me to answer a Question of that kind without Notice.