HC Deb 12 May 1904 vol 134 cc1166-9
MR. FLYNN (Cork County, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the fact that a telegraphic despatch was sent from the India Office to the Viceroy on 20th September, 1903, stating that a proposal to advance far into the interior of Tibet was regarded with grave misgiving by the Government, he will state what explanation can be given for the advance so far on the route to Lhasa, and for the continuance of military operations involving loss of the lives of British soldiers and Tibetan natives.


The Viceroy was informed by telegram of 1st October that His Majesty's Government were prepared to authorise the advance of the Mission to Gyangtse if a complete rupture of the negotiations at Khambajong proved inevitable. On the 6th November, the negotiations having broken down and an overt act of hostility having been committed by the Tibetans, the advance of the Mission was sanctioned, subject to the restrictions imposed by the telegram of that date. The explanation of this advance is fully given in the Blue-book, but His Majesty's Government adhere to the limitations imposed by their telegram of 6th November last.


Is it the fact that on Monday or Tuesday the Amban said he had no orders from Chinese officials to assist the English troops in any way. Is it to be understood that this expedition is being proceeded with without the assent of the suzerain Power, China?


No, Sir; as I have explained, the sanction of the suzerain Power was first obtained to conduct the negotiations in Tibet, and the suzerain Power is co-operating with us in endeavouring to bring these negotiations to a completion, but the advance of the Amban to Gyangtse has been obstructed by the Tibetan people.


Has the Chinese Government sanctioned this aggressive expedition so far into the interior of the country?


The Chinese Government have sanctioned the conduct of negotiations in Tibet, and the exact place where the negotiations will be carried out must be a question for His Majesty's Government.


Do the Government still intend to prohibit the advance of the Mission as far as Lhasa?


There is a Question on the Paper as to that. I will answer the two together.

MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if he can state what is the present position of the expedition in Tibet; whether negotiations have further progressed since the expedition started; and whether it is proposed it shall advance or remain at Gyangtse; also, what precautions have been taken to guard the lines of communication.


His Majesty's Government have arrived at the conclusion that recent events in Tibet make it inevitable that, unless the Tibetans consent to negotiate at Gyangtse, the Mission must advance to Lhasa. The Government of India have been authorised to give the Chinese Amban notice that if no competent Tibetan negotiator appears in conjunction with him at Gyangtse within a period to be fixed by the Government of India, we shall take steps to negotiate at Lhasa itself. The Government of India have at the same time been informed that His Majesty's Government do not intend in any way to depart from the policy laid down in the telegram to the Viceroy of the 6th November last. As to the lines of communication, the necessary measures are being taken by the Government of India.


What precautions are being taken, if the Tibetans cut across the lines of communication, to secure the safety of the expedition itself?


I hardly think the hon. Member will expect me to answer that Question, but the attention of the Government of India has been most carefully directed to preserving the lines of communication.

MR. TREVELYAN (Elland) Yorkshire, W.R.,

Who is going to be the judge of what a competent envoy from the Lhasa authorities will be?

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

May I ask how at Lhasa or any other place they will make a Power negotiate if they do not wish to do so?


As regards the question of a competent negotiator, a negotiator will be competent who is of sufficient rank and is empowered by the Tibetan authorities. No one has yet been deputed by the Tibetan authorities to accompany the Amban.

MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)

What increase in the number of troops will be necessary?

[No answer was returned.]