HL Deb 11 July 1882 vol 272 cc1-4

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he has received any information of public interest which he thinks it desirable to communicate to the House?


My Lords, I have received the following telegrams, which I will read to the House. The first is dated July 11, 7.10 A.M. It states— Ships have opened fire on the forts. Ships in following positions:—Alexandra, Sultan, Superb under weigh on a north-east by-east line from l,500 to 1,900 yards W. ½ N. Eunostos Lighthouse. Inflexible in Corvette Pass, 3,700 yards N. by W. of Mexs Fort; Téméraire in Central Pass, 3,500 N.N.W. Mexs; Penelope, Invincible (flag), Monarch, 1,000 to 1,300 yards W. by N Mexs. Unarmoured ships under weigh working guns to best advantage annoying Mexs. Return fire from forts weak and ineffective. Hecla has arrived. The next telegram is dated 8 A.M.— Bombardment continues. Heavy explosion in Fort Marsa-el-Kanat. Return fire from forts slackening. French squadron sailed last evening, leaving Bison and Hirondelle off the port. A telegram dated 11 A.M. states— Forts on Isthmus comparatively silenced. Moncrieff near Lighthouse and one gun, Fort Ada replying about 10 rounds an hour. Alex- andra, Sultan, and Superb at anchor returning fire. Unarmoured ships warmly engaged inside Fort Marabout, Egyptian practice apparently very indifferent. The last telegram we have received is dated 1.30 P.M.— Magazine Fort Ada Mown up. I have, however, seen a later private telegram received a short time ago. It is as follows:— 5 P.M. Outside forts still resisting. Forts between Alexandria and Ramleh opening fire. These would be the forts to the eastward of the new port. From this last telegram I gather that the ships, having silenced the forts to the north, proceeded eastwards and were engaging Fort Pharos to the west of the new port; but that is merely my own conjecture. Those are all the telegrams we have received.


My Lords, it will be very satisfactory to your Lordships, I think, if the noble Earl has it in his power to add any assurance as to the safety of the Khedive. I observe that in one of the telegrams which have appeared in the newspapers, it is stated that a very large number of people were seen making their way to the Khedive's palace. Has the noble Earl received any information on the subject?


We have received no information on the subject. The telegrams we have received have come from the Admiral's secretary, who is either on board or close to the ship to which the cable is attached, now lying four miles from Alexandria. None of the telegrams have come from the Admiral himself.


My Lords, the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty has just informed your Lordships that forts have been bombarded by British ships in a country with which we are at peace, and to which we are bound by Treaties in close alliance. I wish to ask the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether there has been any formal declaration of war; and, if so, whether he can state for what reasons?


My Lords, I do not think it will be convenient at this moment to enter upon the discussion of a question of International Law, especially as no Notice of the Question has been given to Her Majesty's Government by the noble Earl. With regard to the fact itself, I beg to deny that we are in alliance with the military despotism which is at this moment the de facto Government of Egypt.


was understood to remark that Egypt was a part of the dominions of the Sultan of Turkey.

In reply to another noble LORD,


said, the Government had no knowledge of the destination of the French Squadron. They had no further information than what had come in the telegrams he had read.



Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to interfere for one moment to read a further telegram from Alexandria. It is dated 4.50 P.M., and it says— Mexs, as well as all forts on sea front of peninsula, silenced. Action between unarmoured ships and Marabout ceased 11.40. Monarch and Penelope now engaged with batteries inside harbour. Invincible unengaged, lying off Mexs.