HL Deb 19 July 1878 vol 241 cc1948-50

I beg to ask the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a Question, of which I have given him private Notice. At once, let me tender the noble Marquess my acknowledgment for the suggestion he gave me when I spoke on this Question. I am sorry to say, however, that in none of the geographical authorities to which he referred me was I able to obtain the desired information. I can quite understand the Government not knowing much about the Island of Cyprus. I find, on referring to the Encyclopœdia Britannica, that there are only 15 lines which refer to the state of the Island, and there is no information with regard to the particular Question which I have asked the noble Marquess to answer—Whether he can give a more detailed answer than that which was given by the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon), in the absence of the noble Marquess, with respect to the very important question of slavery, as to what extent it prevails in the Island, and what arrangements Her Majesty's Government have agreed to make in the matter?


I regret that in this matter I have no official information to tender to the noble Earl. Sir Garnet Wolseley, the newly-appointed Governor, has not yet arrived in the Island; and has, therefore, not had any opportunity of studying the condition and institutions of the Island. As soon as we receive the information, we shall be happy to communicate it. Of course, when we hear from Sir Garnet Wolseley, we shall take such decision as may appear to us proper. Considering the result of the noble Earl's researches, I shall not refer him to any other authorities. My noble Friend the late Viceroy of India (the Earl of Northbrook) has offered us advice upon which, I own, I think it will be wise to act in this instance; and that is, that we should, before acting in any manner with reference to a distant part of our administration, consult the authorities upon the spot. That is a doctrine which my noble Friend maintains, and wisely maintains, and it is certainly one to which Her Majesty's Government will adhere in all matters connected with the Island which has lately come under their administration.


understood that the Island of Cyprus was now not a protected territory, but a Crown Colony, that the flag of England was flying there, and that a Governor had been appointed by the Crown. Now, he apprehended that the noble Marquess did not mean to say that, as that was the case, slavery could possibly exist within the territory?


asked for their Lordships' indulgence, while he made a few remarks upon the condition of Cyprus, where he had spent some time. It appeared to him that there was a vast amount of misconception and misunderstanding abroad upon the subject. He was in the Island during the months of April and May, 1875, his object being principally scientific. He had no lack of facilities for inquiring into the real condition of things. The main objection, so far as he knew, to the Island of Cyprus, in a commercial and military point of view, was that it had no harbours; and then it was stated that the insalubrity of its climate was very great. As to the first of these considerations, it was certainly true that, with the exception of Famagousta, which was very fairly protected, there was no harbour, or, rather, roadstead, of importance in the Island. Another of the best known and most used was Larnaka, which, however, was an open roadstead exposed to the Southeast winds. The was another point on the same coast of the same character, but rather better, perhaps, which might be made into a fairly convenient harbour, if a breakwater were erected. But there, again, they were met by the same objection—it was exposed to South-easterly winds. In his opinion, the place that ought to be made into a harbour, and that at once, was Famagousta, which was on the East coast of the Island. There was a harbour there already, though largely filled up, which was amply protected from the most troublesome winds. The silting could be removed, and the harbour made very practicable. In order to protect it, a mole, now ruined, had been erected. The anchorage was very good for small vessels, in from three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half fathoms of water, and troops could be easily landed with the aid of steam launches. A fair anchorage was easily found for large vessels. He had considerable opportunity of forming a judgment upon the point of insalubrity, and he, and those who accompanied him. formed one by no means unfavourable. His pursuit in the Island led him to seek the marshes, of which, with very few exceptions, there was nothing worthy of the name. As to the insalubrity of the climate, he wished to refer their Lordships to a Report by Mr. Consul Laing, who said—"The Island is not unhealthy, but demands simplicity in diet, and temperance in habits." Could anything more be said for any place in the world? He (Lord Lilford) had visited almost all the large Islands in the Mediterranean, and he had found none of them more agreeable than Cyprus—an opinion in which he believed he was borne out by such statistics as existed upon the subject. Cyprus was, at least, more healthy than Sardinia or Corsica, and certainly than Sicily. The want of water in Cyprus was much spoken of; but there was really not want of water, though there was certainly a great absence of means of utilizing it. Wells existed there in great abundance. It was only money and enterprize that were required in Cyprus; and, in his opinion, its acquisition, putting aside political and military considerations altogether, was one of the wisest and best acts done by any Minister in this country for a good while.