HL Deb 12 August 1875 vol 226 cc871-2

asked, Whether Her Majesty's Government would object during the autumn to consider some proper mode of giving their support to the construction of a railway between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, in accordance with the views of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, 1872? The noble Lord said, he should not dwell on the advantages of the project to British interests, as they had been frequently explained and were well-known to the Government, whose Chancellor of the Exchequer had presided over the Committee of 1872. The object of the Question was to neutralize or modify by what the Government might say in the House of Lords, the unintentional effect of what the Prime Minister had lately said in the House of Commons on the subject. The effect, which he considered unintentional, was to prevent capital from being attracted to the project. In point of fact, however, the scheme which the Prime Minister apparently disparaged, was not the scheme which the Ottoman Govern- ment were now inclined to favour. He (Lord Campbell) would only add that a rare union of favourable circumstances encouraged the attempt now to act on the Report of the Select Committee of 1872. The Government had a majority in both Houses. Opposition was more a name than a reality. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in matters of this kind, so often the Cerberus at the Gate—unless his mind had wholly changed—would, on the contrary, become the pioneer and leader of the enter prize. The public mind was now awakened upon Eastern topics. Last of all, they had a First Lord of the Treasury who, in memorable language, had declared that Great Britain ought to be considered an Asiatic even more distinctly than an European Power. Was such a moment likely to recur, and ought it to be sacrificed?


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government would view with very great satisfaction the construction of a railroad opening up communication between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf if the construction of such a railroad could be achieved. But the noble Lord asks whether the Government are inclined to consider the question of giving their support to the construction of such a railway? I presume that that means support to be given either in the shape of a contribution to the funds for making the railway, or in that of a guarantee of those funds. Now, Her Majesty's Government entertain the opinion that it would not be right for them to recommend to Parliament, and that it would not be a policy they could recommend to Parliament, either to provide money or to guarantee the money for the construction of a railway on foreign soil.

House adjourned at half past Twelve o'clock, till To-morrow, Twelve o'clock.