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Independence Of The Kingdom Of Belgium— Question

Volume 203: debated on Friday 5 August 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in view of the proposed Secret Treaty between France and Prussia, the existence of which has been substantially admitted by both those Powers, and considering that the independence of the Kingdom of Belgium has been guaranteed by Great Britain, in conjunction with other Powers, he will state for the information of this House whether, in the event of any attempt being made by either of the belligerent Powers to carry out the provisions of that proposed Secret Treaty, so as to interfere with the independence of the Kingdom of Belgium, Her Majesty's Government will take immediate and effectual stops to enforce the Treaty of 1831; and, whether they have taken any, and if so what stops, and with what result, to secure the co-operation of the other Powers who are parties with Great Britain to the Treaty of 1831, and especially as to the twenty-fifth Article of that Treaty?

said, that before the right hon. Gentleman answered the Question, perhaps he would allow him to ask another arising out of it, and of which he had given him private Notice. The Question was, Whether it is not true that the second Article of the Treaty of 1839 declares the Treaty of 1831 not to be obligatory upon the high contracting parties? This Treaty was signed by their Majesties, the Queen of the United Kingdom, the Emperor of Austria, the King of Hungary and Bohemia, the King of the French, the King of Prussia, the Emperor of all the Russias, and the King of the Belgians.

Sir, there is no doubt whatever that the Treaty of 1831, to which the hon. Baronet's Question relates, has passed entirely out of existence. The Treaty of 1839 is that under which the relations of the contracting Powers with Belgium are at present regulated. With respect to the Question of the hon. Gentleman, I think he must almost have anticipated that it is totally impossible for me to explain the acts or intentions of Her Majesty's Government in a matter of this very grave character in answer to a Question. I stated on a former evening, and the subject has been mentioned in the other House with somewhat more fulness, that the Government have taken into consideration the whole state of the case in relation to the projected Treaty as it is called, and they have adopted such steps as appeared to them best calculated to establish confidence and security. I am afraid I cannot now add anything to that statement. We wish to communicate every information to Parliament at the earliest moment, and I have the hope that we shall be able to communicate to the House in an authentic manner some further information on the subject.

said, Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will state whether the second Article of the Treaty of 1839 declares the Treaty of 1831 to be no longer obligatory upon the signataries.