HL Deb 03 August 1882 vol 273 cc577-8

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether there is any Return of the number of Europeans and the number of Egyptians who were killed in the massacre at Alexandria on the 11th of June; and, if so, whether it can be laid on the Table of the House? The noble Earl said, he was desirous of bringing the matter under their Lordships' notice, as statements had been made by Her Majesty's Government which would lead to the impression that the number of persons who were massacred was far below what recent inquiries had shown to be the probable truth. Moreover, Her Majesty's Government had informed the country that the origin of the massacre was not political; but if any outbreak with such fearful consequences ever originated from political causes, it was surely so in this case. There could not be a doubt that the population of Alexandria was highly irritated by the presence of the British and French Fleets, and to them there was every appearance that the affair of Tunis was about to be re-enacted in Egypt. It was impossible to release Her Majesty's Government from a large share of responsibility in this matter. It must be presumed there were reasons for the step which was taken; but he had never been able to understand why the British Fleet was sent at that time to Alexandria, especially after the repeated remonstrance of the Porte, who saw the consequences that would ensue. It had been said that it was done to protect British subjects; but it did not require a Fleet of iron-clads to do this. The presence of such a Fleet, under the circumstances, could only be regarded as a menace, which had produced consequences which could not but be deeply deplored. He trusted Her Majesty's Government would be able to give a detailed Return of the loss of life at Alexandria on the 11th of June.


In answer to the noble Earl, I may say, on behalf of the Government, that we have no Report upon the subject; but I am told that about 20 Europeans of different nationalities lost their lives. We have no precise information, nor any information as to the number of Egyptians killed. The noble Earl has reminded the House that I stated at the time that the massacre was of a non-political character. That was the fact upon the first occasion when it was mentioned, and it was the impression of the Admiral at first; but it was distinctly stated by Mr. Gladstone, in the other House of Parliament, that it was subsequently discovered that it had been encouraged by the Military Party in Egypt. I am entirely of a different opinion to the noble Earl as to the effect produced by the presence of the Fleet at Alexandria. A Member of Parliament, the other day, who is intimately acquainted with Egyptian affairs, brought forward some conclusive evidence to show why these things should not be connected at all.