HL Deb 10 July 1882 vol 271 c1881

My Lords, on Thursday last, in answer to Questions from several noble Lords, I informed your Lordships' House of the state of affairs then existing in Alexandria, and I stated that Her Majesty's Government were not aware that preparations of a hostile character were going on at Alexandria. Since then the British Admiral has reported that last week guns were being mounted on a fort five miles from the harbour. He was told that was beyond the range of the prescribed fortresses. Yesterday we were informed by the Admiral that it was certain that preparations were going on for action, and that guns were being mounted, and he proposed to send an ultimatum to the local authorities this morning. I have, in fact, no doubt that the Admiral has already this morning notified to the local authorities that unless there is a temporary surrender of the forts, for the purpose of disarming them, he will open fire upon them at daybreak to-morrow morning. My Lords, it is a painful thing for a powerful military nation like England to be obliged to exercise force against those who are weaker; but I believe in this case there is no alternative. These hostile preparations have been going on in defiance of the wishes of the Khedive, in defiance of the orders of the Sultan, and despite the assurances given by the local authorities themselves. Our act is simply an act of legitimate self-defence.