HC Deb 04 May 1885 vol 297 cc1506-8

The Question of the right hon. Gentleman gives me the opportunity of making a statement both in respect of that Question and with respect to another question in which an interest has been felt—namely, the incident of The Bosphore Egyptien. I will mention the latter first—it being, as I may say, now completed, and the Papers being now ready to be laid upon the Table. They will be in the hands of Members as soon as they can be got through the press. In the case of that paper the facts are as follows:—The Bosphore Egyptien was suppressed by a lawful decree of the Egyptian Government, and the British Government gave its distinct sanction to the act of suppressing that newspaper upon the grounds that were laid before it. The French Government made strong repre- sentations upon the subject. They have declared that they wholly refrain from raising any question as to the suppression of the newspaper; but with regard to the manner of the suppression, they raised important questions, and made demands in connection with it. They declared that the seizure and the closure of the printing office, where the newspaper was carried on, and in which other business was carried on as well, was, in their judgment, illegal, and they complained of the forcible removal of the French Consul, who had attended personally and officially to protest, as he conceived himself entitled to do, against this illegal closure of the office, as they described it. The French Government thereupon founded two demands—first of all, the re-opening of the office; and second, the punishment of the persons concerned in the proceedings. In the meanwhile Her Majesty's Government had obtained a full Report from Sir Evelyn Baring as to all the circumstances of the case, and they had likewise taken advice upon the legal aspect of it. The conclusion to which they found it their duty to come was that the closure of the office was not warranted by law, and that the technical force used against the French Consular authority was upon that ground not justifiable. We therefore took note of the declaration of the French Government that there was no desire to shield Tim Bosphore Egyptien, and that they wholly refrained from raising any question with regard to the act of suppressing the newspaper. Further, they expressed their readiness to withdraw their demands for the punishment of those who had simply obeyed the superior orders that were given for the seizure of the office, and for what was consequent upon that seizure of the office, and who had acted simply under the orders of the Egyptian Government. Accordingly, taking into view the illegality in the method of this proceeding, which practically we cannot deny, we stated that Her Majesty's Government would by no means disclaim their responsibility for the suppression of the newspaper itself, but were ready to associate themselves with the regret which they advised the Government of the Khedive to express as to the incidents which had attended the suppression of the paper. They accordingly advised Nubar Pasha to give effect, without scruple, to what they believed to be the law upon the subject, and to remove the bar to the re-opening of the office. They also recommended that His Excellency the Khedive should visit the French Consul, and should, upon that visit, convey an expression of regret for the irregularities which had been committed in the course of the proceedings.


Will the paper be re-issued as before?


Oh, no. A question of law, I believe, may arise as to the method of suppressing the newspaper, but the re-issue of the paper is not included in this arrangement.