HL Deb 07 April 1864 vol 174 cc533-4

said, he wished to ask the noble Earl, with reference to the notice which had been given by a noble Lord not now in his place (Lord Campbell) of his intention to bring on the question of Denmark on Monday evening, Whether his noble Friend would make an objection to any discussion on the subject, just as he had done before the Easter holydays; and in the event of his doing so, whether that objection would apply as well to the transactions which preceded the invasion of Schleswig by the Prussians and Austrians as to the present state of affairs? He asked the question upon this ground—that as the papers containing an account of those transactions had been laid upon the table by command of Her Majesty, if they were allowed to remain without any notice being taken of them, it might virtually imply that their Lordships approved the course taken by Her Majesty's Government. Now, as he for one was of opinion that the policy of Her Majesty's Government in this matter was not entitled to approval, he thought it would not be right that the House should be debarred of the opportunity of expressing its views upon the subject.


In answer to the Question of my noble Friend, I beg to say that when it was proposed to bring on the discussion before Easter, I took upon myself the responsibility of asking that it should not at that time take place, for two reasons — one was that I was about to present by command of Her Majesty further papers, containing part of the Correspondence which had taken place on the subject of the war; and the other was, that very delicate negotiations were going on with various Powers on the subject of a Conference. He could not say that either of those reasons now existed, because the papers presented were complete, and there were now no negotiations going on with respect to the Conference. All the parties to the Treaty of London had already accepted the proposal of a Conference, and the only question that remained was with regard to the Diet of Frankfort, which body had received a communication on the subject on the 27th of March, inviting them to send a representative, but had not yet had time to reply. He did not wish, therefore, to take upon himself the responsibility of saying that the subject should not be discussed. But it was another question whether the House, seeing that the Conference was about to meet, would wish to enter upon a protracted discussion on those affairs. That was a matter for the consideration of the House. But he did not think it possible to separate the early part of the Correspondence from that which had afterwards taken place.