HL Deb 07 March 1889 vol 333 cc1106-7

My Lords, as I see my noble Friend the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary in his place, I would ask permission to put to him a question on a matter of considerable public interest, and of which I have given him private notice. We have been startled within the last twenty-four hours by the news of what has occurred in Servia—a very strange and dramatic proceeding. I think that probably my noble Friend will not really be in a position to give this House any very detailed information on the subject, looking to the very recent character of the events. At the same time, it is a case where, both as Foreign Secretary and as Prime Minister, he may be in a position to tell us something which will be of advantage. I look upon this matter as one of importance, not that Servia in herself is an important country, and not that the past career of the Sovereign of that country has been a very distinguished one, but, as my noble Friend knows well, she is the centre, we may say, of Eastern Europe; she is the country which is a nucleus of political ambition and intrigue; and it is hardly possible that anything that occurs there will not, at a moment like this, react, and possibly react upon the stability of the whole European fabric. For these reasons I think it would be very satisfactory that my noble Friend should give us any information, however slight, on this serious and important question.


I understand the desire of my noble Friend, and I should be very glad to give him any information if I had any. But the only knowledge I have is that which is possessed by all your Lordships. It is not a subject upon which, in the absence of facts, I could allow myself to satisfy my noble Friend by speculation, and I can give him very little explanation of what has occurred. I can only say that, as far as I can judge, it belongs rather to the domain of domestic character than to that of political change.