HL Deb 20 March 1860 vol 157 cc930-1

said, it had been his intention to give notice today of certain Resolutions which he intended to move that day week relative to Savoy and Nice. Some doubt had existed as to a fact which was now well established, that certain important communications respecting the probable annexation of Savoy and Nice to France had taken place during the last autumn between the Government of the Emperor of the French and the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It would be in the recollection of their Lordships that on one of the very first discussions on this subject he made an inquiry touching this very matter. To that question he received an evasive answer; but the papers now presented placed the matter beyond all dispute. If now he meant merely to place his Resolutions on the notice-paper, without fixing a specific day for moving them, it was in consequence of the earnest appeal which he understood had been made by the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office in "another place," who spoke of the danger to the public service which would arise from introducing general or incidental discussions on the subject while negotiations were pending. Under the circumstances he thought he would be able, in moving his Resolutions, which he intended sooner or later to recommend their Lordships to adopt, to be able to steer entirely clear of any special matters and lay down certain general rules which, in his opinion, ought to guide them in matters of diplomatic negotiation; but he would not press the subject forward whilst there was a chance of its being imputed to him that he had thereby done mischief. He wished merely to lay down certain rules and principles respecting private and official communications, which he felt sure their Lordships would be of opinion were incontrovertible; and he thought a good effect would be produced thereby, not only in this country, but throughout the continent of Europe. His object was that diplomatic services should be conducted here as they were conducted elsewhere. The noble Marquess then gave notice of the Resolutions to which he had referred.


rose briefly to say one word in respect to an absent friend. His noble Friend made use of an expression which he was sure, upon reconsideration, he would see was not fair to the noble Lord (Earl Granville) even though he were present, but still less so in his absence. The noble Marquess said his noble Friend had given an evasive answer. He (the Duke of Newcastle) must say he considered such a charge to amount to a personal imputation. He did not consider that any Member of their Lordships' House could give an evasive answer, consistently with personal honour. The member of the Government referred to, could only be his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, who was now absent in consequence of a domestic calamity; but whatever the noble Marquess thought of the answer which had been given, it was certainly not an answer which evaded the question. His noble Friend had given the most direct answer in his power, consistently with his duty as a Minister of the Crown, and had no desire to evade the question in any, way.


explained that nothing but a sense of public duty had led him to make the remarks he had troubled their Lordships with; but he had no hesitation in stating that he did not intend any personal imputation on the noble Earl the President of the Council.

House adjourned at a quarter-before Six o'clock, till To-morrow, Half past Ten o'clock.