HC Deb 06 May 1886 vol 305 cc377-8
MR. BOURKE (Lynn Regis)

In the absence of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), and at his request, I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he can inform the House of any negotiations which are going on between the Powers and Greece; and whether the Powers adhere to the Collective Note which was presented to Greece a few days ago?

THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

Bearing in mind the Notice given by the right hon. Gentleman the other day, I have put myself in a position to give the latest information in my power to the House, though I cannot make a final statement, nor is the statement which I have to make altogether of a satisfactory nature. What has happened with respect to what is known as the Greek difficulty is this. A Note was presented which required the disarmament of Greece with a view of putting an end to the state of uncertainty and expectation, attended with hazard and also with vast expense, which prevails in the East. To that Note there was returned an answer which was in the opinion of the Powers inadequate, and in its particulars not satisfactory. A further Note has been presented to the Greek Government to-day, which points out to the Greek Government that, in the opinion of the Powers, the assurances given in their reply with respect to disarmament are insufficient to meet the case; and to the question whether they are sufficient or not we apply a very simple test. Are they assurances on the ground of which we can expect, in point of propriety, that Turkey would be called upon, or on grounds of prudence she could venture herself, to discontinue the costly preparations which she has been obliged to make in consequence of the action of Greece? We do not think that the reply of Greece is a reply on which we could found an application to Turkey to that effect, and on which Turkey could be expected voluntarily to adopt that course. Therefore, Sir, as I have said, a fresh Note has to-day been presented by the Powers to the Greek Government, which I think will bring the matter to some issue within a very short time. Should the answer of the Greek Government to that Note presented to-day not be a sufficient answer, steps will at once be taken of a nature which will, in the judgment of the Powers, tend to secure the great object we all have in view.