§ MR. BOURKE
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether His Majesty the Sultan has shown any indisposition to take those measures which the Governments of England and France have suggested to him for the restoration of order in Egypt, and the maintenance of the authority of the present Khedive; whether he will state the reasons which have induced Her Majesty's Government to press upon the Sultan his assent to a Conference; and, whether Her Majesty's Government will join in any demand which the Powers may make upon the Sultan to act as their mandatory instead of as Sovereign of Egypt?
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
Before the Question is answered, I should like to 1419 ask when it is likely that the measures which the Governments of England and France have suggested for the restoration of law and order in Egypt will be before the House?
Sir, with respect to the last Question, I do not know quite what is the meaning of it. The measures that have been taken by the Governments of England and France, or by England or France, will appear, of course, in the Papers that are in preparation. If the noble Lord means to ask whether the measures which the Government will recommend to the Conference will be in possession of the House, it would be premature for me at the present time, when the date for the Conference has not even been fixed, to make a statement on the matter. With respect to the Question of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bourke), I thank him for calling my attention to the subject last evening. With respect to the first part of the Question, the Government has never at any time made a complaint of the indisposition of the Porte to take the measures which have been suggested to it by the Governments of England and France. I stated on Tuesday very emphatically, that at the present moment our relations with Turkey were very satisfactory, and that there was a strong spirit of co-operation between the Government and the Sultan. With respect to the second portion of the Question, I am sorry to say, Sir, that I cannot state the reasons which have influenced the Government in pressing upon the Sultan his assent to the Conference, because to do that at the present moment, although it would be a proper subject for future investigation, would be decidedly impolitic, beyond saying that they are reasons in which there has been, according to the latest advices in my possession, a general concurrence among the whole of the Powers of Europe. With regard to the third part of the Question, Her Majesty's Government had stated explicitly that, in their opinion, the Sultan has not parted with the Sovereignty of Egypt, and they believe that opinion to be shared by the rest of the Powers.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
Are we to have an opportunity of knowing the nature of the measures to be taken before the Conference meets; and will there not be any possibility of a discussion in this House upon those measures? I do not 1420 specify the measures, because I do not know what they are.
I do not think it would be possible for us—and it would not be wise if possible—to undertake to predict or speculate upon what the Conference may determine. When you enter into joint council, either among individuals or Powers, you reserve to a certain extent your final decision, whilst you may lay your first opinions before those with whom you are going to take counsel. Evidently that is the nature of the Conference; and nothing could more tend to defeat the purposes of the Conference than for the separate Powers, each of them individually, to make known the views with which they would commence the Conference.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
I should like to ask who is the de facto Governor of Egypt at the present moment? Considering the grave state of Egypt, not only at Alexandria, but at Cairo and elsewhere, and the danger in which the European subjects are placed, can the Government state whether Turkish troops are now on their way to Egypt; and, if so, what is their number? Yesterday the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs hardly gave us an answer to that question, I should also like to ask the Prime Minister if he will state whether a sufficient force is now ready to land, so as to ensure that protection, which is naturally looked for, considering our paramount interests in Egypt?
§ MR. O'KELLY
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can also state whether there is any truth in the statement that the French Government are preparing to send 20,000 men to Egypt?
With regard to the last Question, I have never heard of the statement, and have no reason to believe that it is true. With regard to the Questions of the hon. and gallant Baronet, it is extremely difficult, without Notice, to answer with accuracy a long series of Questions put across the Table. I am not, aware, Sir, whether Turkish troops are on their way to Egypt from Constantinople. As to whether a sufficient force was ready to land for the purpose of protecting British life and property, I do not think it would be expedient—considering the risks that are run, and that we know are run, by the prevalence of unauthorized rumours with respect to the landing of a foreign 1421 force in Egypt—I do not think it would be expedient in me to enter in any manner into that subject. We have committed to most competent hands the disposal of the means which we have placed at their command. With regard to the Question who is de facto Ruler of Egypt, Her Majesty's Government have no further information than that which has been made known to the House. The Khedive is the de facto Ruler of Egypt, and the Khedive has, under pressure, consented to receive back Arabi Pasha in the capacity of Minister of War. These facts are well known to the House, and I do not think there is anything that it is in our power to add.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
I wish to ask whether any news has been received as to the present state of affairs in Egypt?
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
Of course, the hon. Gentleman does not mean political news; but news with regard to the security of the people. The news received since yesterday is, on the whole, of a re-assuring nature. There has been no fresh outbreak or disturbance of any kind, and we have no reason to apprehend any.
§ MR. BOURKE
I beg to give Notice that on Monday, if it is convenient to the Prime Minister, I shall ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether, before the proposed Conference takes place, Parliament will be informed what the bases agreed upon are; and, what are the limits within which discussions are to be confined?
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
I beg to give Notice that on Monday I will ask the Prime Minister, Whether he will give an assurance to Parliament that, in the event of a Conference upon Egyptian Affairs, Her Majesty's Government will assent to the neutralization of the Suez Canal in time of war?
§ MR. O'DONNELL
gave Notice that on Monday he would ask the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he had seen the correspondence in the "Cologne Gazette" giving the views of the German colony in Egypt, and stating that the real and serious danger to peace arose from the anti-Mahomedan attitude of the English and French Governments; whether it was true that the Consuls for Germany, Austria, and Italy, in order to obviate the peril arising from such a policy, 1422 waited on Arabi Pasha and induced him to become responsible for peace and order; whether, in consequence of their representations, which Arabi received with much dignity and intelligence, he agreed with his comrades to preserve order?
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
I quite admit the difficulty of answering Questions not on the Paper; but these Questions arise day by day, so that it is impossible to put them down beforehand. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that Turkish troops are not being sent—
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
Well, the Question I wish to ask is— and I ask it because a satisfactory answer will go far to allay public feeling— Can the Government give us an assurance that they will not shrink from taking any stop which is necessary to protect European life and property in Egypt?
The Government are aware that they are responsible for using, to the best of their ability, all the means at their command for that purpose.
§ MR. ONSLOW
In consequence of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, might I be allowed to ask what are the means at their command which the Government are using at the present time at Cairo?
§ [No reply was given to the Question.]