HL Deb 09 February 1852 vol 119 cc244-6

said, he held in his hand some very important documents, which had been laid on the table of their Lordships' House, relating to the proceedings of certain foreign refugees in this country. [Parliamentary Papers, No. [1433] Session 1852.] These documents contained a series of remonstrances from the Ministers of Foreign Powers, protesting against the practices and designs of certain persons who had been driven from their own countries, and were alleged to be abusing the hospitality and protection of this country. The first of these documents was a remonstrance from the French Ambassador, which bore date so far back as the 29th of October last; and the noble Lord the late Foreign Secretary had not left office until the 22nd of December last. He wished, therefore, to know whether, during the long period that had elapsed since the receipt of the protest in question, any answer had been returned to the French Ambassador; next, if such answer had been given, what was its nature and tendency; and, thirdly, why such answer, if sent, had been omitted from the papers that had been laid before Parliament? If no answer had yet been returned by Her Majesty's Government, all he could say, was, that he would most heartily rejoice if it should fall to the lot of the noble Earl the present Foreign Secretary to have to return it.


said, he hoped their Lordships would not consider him wanting in courtesy to the noble Viscount if he refrained from alluding to the introductory remarks with which he had prefaced his questions, especially with regard to his predecessor in office. With regard to the question, whether Lord Palmerston gave any answer to the remonstrances which these despatches contained, he had to state to the House that no answers were sent by that noble Lord. But he (Earl Granville) had every reason to believe that if the noble Viscount had remained in office, his answer would not have been discordant with that which he had himself given.


asked if any conversations had taken place? By the statement that no answer had been given, he presumed the noble Earl meant that no "official" answer had been sent—that was, none in writing; but he could hardly think it possible that there had not been some personal communication between the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Foreign Ministers in this country, by which the sentiments of the noble Viscount were conveyed to those Ministers.


replied, that such a conversation as that referred to by the noble Earl might not have occurred, he was not now in a position to state; but the noble Viscount, according to the usage in going out of office, had given him a long interview, in the course of which he explained to him, in that remarkably clear and lucid manner for which he was more distinguished than any public man he had ever met, the state of our relations with all foreign countries. The noble Viscount alluded to this question as a point which he (Earl Granville) would have to consider and give an answer upon; but he gave him no information of any conversation between himself and the Minister of any Foreign Court on the subject.


inquired whether any despatch had been subsequently received from our Ambassador at Vienna on the subject of the refugees?


said, that all the despatches which Her Majesty's Govern- ment had received on this subject were contained in the papers that had been laid before the House.