HL Deb 19 March 1860 vol 157 cc816-8

said, he asked a Question on Friday of his noble Friend opposite (the Duke of Newcastle) concerning the papers which had been produced relative to the annexation of Savoy and Nice to France, as to a very marked discrepancy between the despatches and certain telegrams which appeared in the morning papers; and he had also asked him respecting a Circular Despatch of M. Thouvenel explaining the views of the French Government, and whether that despatch would be laid upon the table. He would not have troubled their Lordships relative to the circular of M. Thouvenel but for certain observations which fell from, or rather escaped from, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the House of Commons. His noble Friend opposite took him to task, he thought rather severely, for having overstepped the limits of discretion in putting his question; but if he were disposed to retaliate, he could point out, not only discrepancies between despatches and telegrams, but between Ministers, colleagues in the same Cabinet; for while the noble Duke was speaking in that House, in the other the noble Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs thought the despatch of so much consequence that, without communicating with his own colleagues, unasked and unsolicited, and while speaking on a wholly different point, he stated the substance of that communication to the House of Commons. He assured his noble Friend opposite that he would not press for information on this or any other matter with a view to embarrassing the Government, or in cases where the production of such information might be prejudicial to the interests of the public service; but he thought their Lordships would agree that if the noble Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was right in communicating to one House the contents of the despatch, he (the Earl of Carnarvon) could not be very wrong in asking a question concerning it in the other. The result, however, had been to show the country the exact position of affairs with regard to the annexation of Savoy; and he thought that the discussion, so far from weakening, had strengthened the hands of Her Majesty's Government, because it had elicited a feeling in Parliament and in the country as to this question which could not be mistaken. It was not yet, it would appear, perfectly certain that Savoy was annexed; it was not yet quite clear that the annexation was complete, though he feared they were at the verge of it. The noble Duke did not attempt to contradict the facts disclosed by the telegrams; and in other sources of information it was stated that two regiments of French soldiers were ordered into the country for the purpose of securing, he supposed, the freedom of election there. It might be impossible to arrest this proceeding for the annexation of Savoy, but it was of great consequence that it should not proceed further; and whether the annexation was to be limited to the Alps, and not to move in the direction of other countries and other frontiers, or not, it was most important that their Lordships should be in possession of all the information with which Her Majesty's Government could with safety to the public interest furnish them, so that the House might have the opportunity of discussing the subject and expressing an opinion upon it. He hoped that the promise which the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had given in the other House, to produce the latest despatches for the information of Parliament would be carried out in their Lordships' House also, and that the noble Duke would lay upon the table of their Lordships' House as soon as possible the despatch of M. Thouvenel and the answer thereto of the Foreign Secretary.


was sure that their Lordships would excuse him for not renewing the conversation which had taken place a few evenings since on this subject. His noble Friend bad asked a question, and had a right to an answer; but he must observe that his noble Friend had misquoted the observations of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office. The promise which had been given by the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, as he understood it, was not that the despatch would be produced immediately, but that as soon as the sanction of Her Majesty had been given to the answer to M. Thouvenel, and as soon as that answer had been forwarded, the despatch and reply would be laid before both Houses.