HL Deb 09 March 1876 vol 227 cc1660-1

My Lords, before your Lordships enter on the Orders of the Day, I wish to make an explanation with reference to a statement made by me in the course of the debate on Tuesday night. On that occasion I read an extract from a letter signed with the well-known signature "Historicus," and I founded an argument on the extract I read. The same extract had been read in "another place" by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War; and when my right hon. Friend had read it, Sir William Harcourt, who is supposed to take an interest in the letters signed "Historicus" made this observation, as reported— His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War had said he had derived his ideas of International Law from a letter in The Times newspaper. It so happened that Ms (Sir William Harcourt's) attention had also been called to that letter by a very remarkable circumstance—namely, that it appeared in The Times four-and-twenty hours before the Cabinet condemned the law of their own Law Officers. My Lords, I said that, no doubt from inadvertence, the statement of Sir William Harcourt was not quite accurate, because the letter bad appeared after the Circular was withdrawn. My Lords, that is the fact as regards the only letter I alluded to, and the only letter read in "another place." It is now stated that there was a previous letter, and it was to this previous letter Sir William Harcourt referred. As be states this, of course, it must be the fact; but it does not affect my argument founded on another letter. I may take this opportunity of mentioning that it would appear that I am supposed to have stated that the Treaties of Tunis and Tripoli were made during the present century. Such is not the fact. What I did say was that a great number of those Treaties ranged over the last century, from the beginning to the end.