HC Deb 28 November 1893 vol 18 cc1914-5
MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he can inform the House, authoritatively or otherwise, if the Russian Government have obtained or are negotiating for the purchase of a naval rendezvous in Mediterranean waters; if so, seeing that a Russian war cruiser, now with the Mediterranean Russian Squadron, passed from the Black Sea viâ the Dardanelles, is it the intention of the Government to endeavour to arrange by International agreement the right that ships of war shall have similar navigating privileges on the Bosphorus and Dardanelles highway to and from the Black Sea as ships of the Mercantile Marine?


I have to say that no information has been received by Her Majesty's Government of any proceedings for the acquiring by Russia of a port of rendezvous in the Mediterranean; therefore we have no reason to suppose that any such communications are going on. With regard to the second part of the question, nothing new has happened. It is true, I believe, that a Russian cruiser—of what precise tonnage I do not exactly know—has recently passed through the Dardanelles to replace another cruiser in the Russian squadron now in the Mediterranean; but this is a process that has repeatedly taken place, and there is no novel feature attending it. With regard, however, to the general question, it must be clearly understood that in the view of Her Majesty's Government the exclusion or the passage of foreign war ships through the Bosphorus affects all nations alike; and with regard to any privilege granted to any one nation, if such privilege were granted, it would be claimed by the British Government to be enjoyed by us also.