HL Deb 10 February 1859 vol 152 cc212-5

said, with the permission of the House he wished to put a question to his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs concerning the Convention signed in Paris in August last, relative to the organization of the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. He wished to ask his noble Friend whether the election of one person to the office of Hospodar of the two Principalities was not inconsistent with the letter as well as the spirit of that Convention? The third Article declared: The public powers shall be confided in each Principality to a Hospodar and an elective Assembly, acting in the cases provided for in the present convention, with the concurrence of a Central Commission common to both Principalities. The Article 22 said:— The budget of income and that of expenditure prepared annually by each Principality under the direction of the respective Hospodars, and submitted to the Assembly, which may amend the same, shall not be definitive until after having been voted by it. Again the 44th Article declared that:— The Commander in Chief shall be appointed alternately by each Hospodar when there shall be occasion to assemble the militias. He must be a Moldavian or Wallachian by birth. He may be superseded by the Hospodar who appointed him. In such case the new Commander in Chief shall be appointed by the other Hospodar. There were various other Articles, from which it was quite clear that it was intended by the framers of the Convention that there should be two Hospodars, one for each Principality. It was well known that there was a difference of opinion among the Powers parties to the Treaty of Paris in 1856, some of them desiring that the two Principalities should be united, others that they should be kept separate. The recent convention at Paris, he apprehended, was the result of a compromise agreed upon by all the Powers; and he trusted those Powers would enforce the bonâ fide fulfilment of the conditions on which they guaranteed the political existence of those newly constituted States, and would not permit them to alter by any subterfuge the relations in which the Principalities stood towards each other under the Convention. That Convention was signed not more than six months ago, and therefore could not be considered as either old or obsolete. It was not many days since Her Majesty informed Parliament, in the Speech from the Throne, that the Rouman Provinces, as the Principalities were now called, were proceeding to establish, under the Convention of August last, their new form of government: but this statement had, it appeared to him, been falsified, by the Assembly of Wallachia electing the same person as Hospodar who had been already elected for Moldavia. He could not doubt that the Powers would take the measures requisite for carrying into effect the spirit of the Convention; but it would be satisfactory to the House to be made acquainted with the view which his noble Friend (the Earl of Malmesbury) took of the matter to which he had pointed his attention. He did not wish to enter into any discussion of the provisions of the Convention, or of their adaptation to the condition of the people of Moldavia and Wallachia, but he nevertheless wanted to ask the meaning of one of its Articles, the forty-sixth, which declared that— All Moldavians and Wallachians shall be equal in the eye of the law, and with regard to taxation, and shall be equally admissible to public employments in both Principalities. It then proceeded to qualify that declaration, by stating that,— Moldavians and Wallachians of all Christian confessions shall equally enjoy political rights. The enjoyment of those rights may be extended to other religions by legislative arrangements. Now, it might be that the Jews, of whom there was a large number in the Principalities, would be deprived of all political rights under that Article of the Convention. And this, notwithstanding the provision that these rights might be extended to other classes, by legislative enactment, for he apprehended the Jewish inhabitants there must be prepared to encounter a somewhat strenuous opposition, when they asked for a participation in political rights enjoyed by all the rest of the people in the country, inasmuch as the metropolitan was president, and the diocesan Bishops ex-officio members of the Elective Assembly in both Provinces. He could hardly suppose that his noble Friend, who not long ago joined in advising Her Majesty to assent to a Bill enabling Her Majesty's Jewish subjects to sit in Parliament, had recommended Her Plenipotentiary to agree to a clause in the Convention which went to exclude the Jewish inhabitants of Moldavia and Wallachia from the enjoyment of political rights in those Principalities. He hoped his noble Friend would give some explanation of the meaning of that clause, and be able to say that there had been no intentional violation in it of the principle of religious liberty.


said, that a few nights ago his noble Friend crossed the House, and had with great politeness informed him that it was his wish, unless it should be attended with inconvenience to the public service, to put a question to him (the Earl of Malmesbury) with respect to the Convention signed at Paris in the month of August last, in reference to the future government of the Danubian Principalities—whether it was not inconsistent with the spirit and letter of that Convention that one person should be elected Hospodar of the two Provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia? He, in reply, told his noble Friend, and, as he hoped, with equal politeness, that it would be inconvenient for the public service that he should answer the question; and he was somewhat surprised to find that his noble Friend, after having received that answer, should still persevere in putting his question in the presence of their Lordships, inasmuch as he had naturally supposed that he would not put it after he had learnt that it would not conduce to the promotion of the public interest that it should, under present circumstances, receive an answer. He was sorry to have again to inform his noble Friend that it would not be convenient for the public service that he should give any opinion with respect to that particular clause of the Convention which related to the election of Hospodars for the Principalities. Looking at the events which had taken place, it was more than probable—he might even say that it was nearly certain—that the Conference would again assemble, or, at all events, that the Powers who had signed the Convention would have to consult together again and to determine the meaning of that and some other of its clauses. Under these circumstances, he was sure his noble Friend would see that it would not be desirable for him (the Earl of Malmesbury) to anticipate, by any specific declaration of opinion in their Lordships' House, the discussion which would probably take place elsewhere. The same observation would apply to the question his noble Friend had put to him with respect to the eligibility of Jews to political offices in these Provinces.