HC Deb 04 June 1891 vol 353 cc1606-8

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that when asked on 22nd February, 1888, to lay upon the Table of the House any correspondence that had taken place during the previous year between Her Majesty's Government and Foreign Powers with respect to the position of this country in regard to the Triple Alliance that was entered into in 1887 between Austria, Germany, and Italy, and particularly in regard to any declarations made to Italy, which may have induced her to enter into that alliance, he replied (Hansard,) Third Series, vol. 322, p. 1186) that "the time had not come when there should be any publication of such correspondence," and in view of the fact that assertions are being made by Deputies in the Italian Chamber, and have been uncontradicted by the Italian Ministers, with a view to lead that Chamber to conclude that special undertakings exists between England and Italy, for the defence of Italian interests, of such a nature that they render the position of Italy secure by sea and land against all Foreign attack, in order that a majority may be secured in the Chamber in favour of a renewal of the Triple Alliance next year, he will now lay upon the Table of the House all communications that took place in 1887 between this country and Italy in regard to the Triple Alliance, to the adhesion of Italy to that alliance, and to the special undertakings (if any) of this country towards Italy which have been referred to in the Italian Chamber?


On the occasion referred to I pointed out that such correspondence as would naturally pass between Her Majesty's Government and Foreign Governments at a time when the affairs of Europe were in a somewhat critical condition, in the interests of peace and in reference to the existing and possible elements of danger, was not of a character that could be published without depriving this country of its beneficial influence in the maintenance of peace. I say so still; but I repeat, as I then stated, that Her Majesty's Government have entered into no engagements pledging the employment of the Naval and Military Forces of the Crown in any contingency, and that Her Majesty's Government retained their full liberty of judgment as to what action we should take and as to what means we should employ in any conceivable circumstances. At the same time, Italian statesmen are well aware that Her Majesty's Government are at one with them in desiring that there shall be no disturbance of the existing order in the Mediterranean and adjacent seas, and that the sympathies of this country would be on the side of those who would maintain a policy so important for the British interests involved. We have in no degree changed our attitude since the hon. Member last questioned me on the subject.


I beg to give notice that on the Foreign Office Vote I shall move the reduction of the salary of the Foreign Secretary by £100, in order to call attention to this matter.