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Neutral Condition Of Luxembourg—Question

Volume 203: debated on Thursday 21 July 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the First Lord, of the Treasury, Whether he has received satisfactory assurances from the Governments of France and Prussia relative to their respecting the neutral condition of Luxembourg? He hoped he might be allowed to state, in explanation of his Question, that with respect to the conditions on which the neutrality of Belgium and the neutrality of Luxembourg reposed there was a certain difference. He could have no doubt as to the position in which we stood with respect to Belgium, because each Power had entered into a separate individual Treaty, binding itself to guarantee Belgium's neutrality, so that if one, two, three, or more Powers failed in their duty the other Powers would still be as imperatively bound in honour to do theirs. But that with respect to Luxembourg the Treaty entered into was a collective one. It bound all the parties who signed it; but Lord Stanley stated at the time that if any of these parties violated this joint obligation the question might then arise as to whether its full responsibility would fall on the remaining ones. He did not agree with this view; still it made it very important to know whether Prussia and France, in the present condition of affairs, had declared they would abide by their collective engagement.

I will answer the Question put to me by my right hon. Friend, but I think the House will agree with me that it is not desirable I should refer to the statement he has made. I should wish, deliberately and advisedly, not to make myself a party to any difference that may arise. But with respect to his Questions I hope the answer I have to give will be satisfactory. I will at the same time answer the Question of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Heygate). There is another country which, though not the subject of European guarantee like Belgium, must necessarily be the subject of very great interest—I mean Holland—and I may state that we have received assurances which are satisfactory in the fullest sense of the word with regard to Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland. Both the parties to the war have expressed their earnest desire and full intention to respect their neutrality—it being always understood, necessarily and justly, that a country like Belgium is disposed to assert and maintain its neutrality, and that it has not been violated by the other belligerent. It is but fair that I should state that, because I must not give the answer broader than it really is; but I am bound to say it is as broad, full, and satisfactory as could be expected.