HC Deb 01 April 1887 vol 313 cc217-8
MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the decision of the Egyptian Government to repay the Coupon. Tax was arrived at without consultation with the British Government; whether any Representatives of the British Government assented to this arrangement; and, whether, before this arrangement is finally carried out, the House of Commons will be afforded an opportunity of expressing its opinion on the financial condition of Egypt?


The Questions of the hon. Member appear to be founded on a misapprehension. The repayment of the 5 per cent deducted in 1885 for two years from the interest of the Unified Debt of Egypt in order to relieve her finances, did not require consultation with the British Government, or the assent of its Representatives; nor should the House of Commons, by any expression of its opinion, or by any vote, interfere with that transaction. As there is still such misapprehension, notwithstanding repeated explanations, perhaps the House will allow me to state what are the facts. The repayment of the tax on the coupons is not optional, but the fulfilment of an international arrangement, to which Great Britain is a party. By the Declaration of March 17, 1885, the Governments of Great Britain and the other Great Powers, with the sanction of the Porte, declared that they accepted the provisions of a Draft Decree annexed to the Declaration. That Decree was subsequently also accepted by all the other Powers, and was issued by the Khedive on the 27th of July, 1885. Article 21 provides that the surplus revenues of the years 1885 and 1886 shall remain in the hands of the Caisse till the 15th of April, 1887, and shall then be applied, in the first instance, to the repayment of the deductions from the coupons of the Debt. The amount of the surplus being known to be more than sufficient for the purpose, the Egyptian Government have simply given the necessary directions for carrying into effect the arrangement made two years ago. The existence of a surplus available for the repayment of the coupons affords one part of the existing evidence of the financial, economic, and material improvement of Egypt during the last two years.