HL Deb 01 June 1883 vol 279 cc1476-7

begged leave to inquire of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he could ex- plain the conduct of the Bulgarian Government in reference to the non-fulfilment by them of the 10th Article of the Treaty of Berlin, with regard to the taking over of the Rustchuk and Varna Railway? The Government of Bulgaria had not complied with the provisions of the Treaty, to pay 3,500,000 francs a-year for the Railway they now owed to the shareholders, whose line they had taken over from Turkey, a sum over £670,000. Mr. Lascelles had been instructed to obtain a payment upon account; but even that the Government of Bulgaria had neglected to do. He thought that more pressure should be exercised by Her Majesty's Government in this matter. He was aware a similar Question had been asked on Monday last in the other House; but he thought the Answer given by the Government on that occasion unsatisfactory, as the 10th Article of the Treaty had remained a dead letter for a space of five years. He (Earl Stanhope) had no personal interest in the matter; but the facts came to his notice last October, when he happened to travel over the Varna Railway.


My Lords, I can assure the noble Earl that the grievance suggested in the Question does not exist. I think the Answer given in the House of Commons was that Her Majesty's Government had been exercising pressure on this point. In the month of March of this year it was proposed that the Bulgarian Government should assent to the interpretation of the clause being referred to the signatory Powers to the Treaty of Berlin, and that the Representatives should decide upon that construction at Constantinople. In the meanwhile, they proposed that some instalment should be paid to the Railway. Now, I am afraid that that would be rather inconsistent with the contention of the noble Earl, for it would hardly be possible to recommend that that position should be taken up by the Ambassadors, and, at the same time, to urge that the whole question be settled at once. There is some excuse for delay in the fact of the changes of Ministry that have taken place; but I can assure the noble Earl that it is not a subject on which we have shown any negligence in pressing what I believe to be a just claim.

House adjourned at Seven o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.