HC Deb 30 March 1885 vol 296 cc983-5

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether Her Majesty's Government propose that Parliament should separate without receiving any explanations on the subject of the great military preparations now being made both in this Country and throughout Her Majesty's Indian Empire?


Before the noble Lord answers this Question, I beg to give Notice to the noble Lord, as I have already given it privately to the Prime Minister, who is not now present, that it is my intention tomorrow, on the Motion for the Adjournment over the holidays, to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he can give the House any information as to the present state of the negotiations respecting the frontier of Afghanistan? It may be convenient, as I cannot put the Question on the Paper, that I should give Notice of it in this form.


In reply to the Question of my hon. Friend I have to say that it has been repeatedly stated recently in this House that, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, it is not desirable, in the interests of the Public Service, to give at present full explanations respecting the questions which are the subject of negotiations between Her Majesty's Government and the Russian Government. I do not know if that will meet the Question of the right hon. Baronet opposite, if I say that the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will, in reply to the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), give such information as is possible respecting the present aspect of these negotiations. They are proceeding, and the latest intelligence from St. Petersburg is of such a nature as to strengthen our hopes of arriving at a satisfactory result. As to the military preparations, respecting which the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) inquires, I can say no more than that, as the House is aware, we are under certain engagements, on certain conditions, to the Ameer of Afghanistan; and, looking to the distance which separates our Military Forces from the regions to which those engagements relate, we are of opinion that it is desirable to make some preparations which would enable us, if the occasion should arise, to fulfil those engagements.


asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether he can state what force has been ordered to concentrate in the Pishin Valley; who is to command the army there assembled; and, whether any reinforcements are being sent to Sir Peter Lumsden at Herat?


After the reply which, the Secretary of State for War has just given to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, I hope that the hon. Member for Eye will not press for an answer to the first paragraph of his Question. In reply to the second paragraph I may remark that, as Sir Peter Lumsden's Mission is diplomatic and not military, the question of reinforcements does not arise.