HL Deb 16 March 1885 vol 295 cc1204-5

My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will answer a Question, of which I have given him private Notice, with respect to the very remarkable statement made in "another place" by the Prime Minister as to the state of the negotiations with Russia. It was stated that an agreement had been entered into of which the effect was that neither party should advance their outposts from the positions which they occupy at present—that is to say, that the Russians should not advance beyond where they are now, nor the Afghans advance on their side. There was great doubt in the language used as to the time when that agreement was contracted, and I wish to clear up that doubt, and to ask the noble Lord whether it is an entirely recent agreement, contracted during the last week, or whether it was contracted before that time; and whether he can give us the date of it? There is another and much more important Question—what the duration of that agreement is; how long this undertaking on both sides is to last? The third Question which I put to the noble Earl appears to me the most important of all, and that is, whether the Afghan Government is a party to this agreement entered into with Russia?


My Lords, in answer to the noble Marquess, I believe Mr. Gladstone stated that— It has teen agreed between Russia and England that no further advance should be made by the Russian or Afghan forces respectively to points within the debateable or debated ground. Mr. Gladstone spoke on the strength of telegrams from the British Ambassador at St. Petersburg, the latest of which was dated March 5. On Saturday, to obviate any possibility of misapprehension, I telegraphed this passage to St. Petersburg, and asked Sir Edward Thornton to ascertain whether M. de Giers agrees that the assurances contained in the telegrams referred to constitute an agreement to the effect stated by Mr. Gladstone. Under these circumstances, I abstain from going further at present into the question.


I beg to give Notice that I shall renew the Question to-morrow.