§ MR. ONSLOW
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he could not now, without detriment to the public service, lay Papers upon the Table on the subject of the Afghan Boundary Commission up to the date of the departure of Sir Peter Lumsden?
§ MR. EDWARD CLARKE
had also a Question on the Paper on this subject—namely, Whether he will at once lay upon the Table the Correspondence which has passed between the British and Russian Governments with respect to the appointment and duties of the Commission for the delimitation of the Afghan frontier, and the instructions given to Sir Peter Lumsden?
With respect to the Question of the hon. Member for Guildford, and likewise that put on the Paper by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, I have to say that I have communicated with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and we are of opinion that we could not with any advantage to the public lay this information before the House at the present moment.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
I wish to ask the Prime Minister a Question on a point of fact. A few days ago the right hon. Gentleman was not able to answer my inquiry as to whether the Russian officers in Central Asia adhere to the statement made to Captain Yate, that they were not in possession of the arrangement entered into between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Russia. Can the right hon. Gentleman now say whether the Russian Government have since offered any explanation why their officers had not received that information?
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he can now communicate to the House the tenour of the Despatches, received from the Russian Government since 31st March, relating to the Boundary Commission; whether the report of a further Russian advance towards Herat has been received from Sir Peter Lumsden, or other reliable source; and, whether Her Majesty's Government 1634 have fixed a limit beyond which the advance of the Russian forces will not be tolerated?
There are three paragraphs in the Question of the hon. Member for Eye. On the first and the third I have nothing to add to what has been said before. As to the second paragraph, I have received information that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) wishes to put a Question to me, and I will reserve my answer.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
The Question which I desire to put is of a general character. I was anxious to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is now in a position to give the House any fuller or further information in regard to the state of affairs on the frontier of Afghanistan, and especially in respect to the report of the further advance of the Russians?
Sir, I have nothing to communicate to the House today of a very important character, for nothing further has reached the Government in the course of to-day with respect to past events—a very important chapter of the whole matter that is before us. A telegram has been received from St. Petersburg to-day—not bearing upon past events—upon which communications are proceeding. I may say, in regard to the point raised in the Question of the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett), that no confirmation has been received from Sir Peter Lumsden of the report mentioned by him con-corning an advance by the Russians. I may say that the evidence before us today—the question arises only incidentally—certainly amounts to a renewal of an assurance that no such advance will take place, according to the intentions and orders of the Russian Government.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the third part of my Question—namely, whether Her Majesty's Government have fixed a limit beyond which the advance of the Russians will not be tolerated? I bog to point out that no Question of this sort has been asked before. Do I understand that he declines to answer it?
I ask the hon. Member's pardon. The state of the case is this. As he said, and as I made known to the House at the outset, what seemed to me a very important statement was received from Sir Peter Lumsden respecting a conversation between Captain Yate and the Chief of the Russian Staff. The effect of that statement was immediately referred to St. Petersburg; but we have not yet received the answer, which, no doubt, the Russian Government will seek from its own officers, to that statement. Nor do I know that the time has yet elapsed that gives us any reasonable hope of obtaining that reply. When we have obtained that reply it will be for us, if we deem it of a character to convey a clear knowledge to the House, to communicate it to the House.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
wished, as bearing on the bona fides of the Russian Government, to ask whether the Russian Government had stated on what date the arrangement made between them and Her Majesty's Government was forwarded to the Russian officers on the frontier?
No, Sir; nor have I least idea that the Russian Government would state anything on the subject until they have received the Report from their own officers as to the grave allegation made against them. It is, I think, to be assumed without the smallest doubt—I do not question it for a moment—that it was the duty of the Russian Government, and I must presume that the Russian Government fulfilled that duty, to transmit to their own officers a knowledge of that arrangement at the very first moment after it had been made.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
asked whether the report of the further advance of the Russians referred to yesterday had now reached the Government from Sir Peter Lumsden?
It was mentioned by Sir Peter Lumsden as a rumour; but without any attestation or confirmation of his own.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
No positive information has been received at the Foreign Office on the subject; but from the time in which tele- 1636 grams now arrive I have no doubt that the wire has been restored.