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Egypt—Withdrawal Of Army Of Occupation

Volume 282: debated on Thursday 2 August 1883

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asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in view of the fact that the period of six months mentioned by the Secretary of State for War at the commencement of the present Session as that within which our troops would probably be withdrawn from Egypt has nearly expired, and of the anarchy which still prevails in that country, as exemplified by the telegrams in the newspapers describing the utter incapacity of the Egyptian officials to deal with the cholera epidemic, and also in view of possible difficulties arising from M. de Lessees' declaration, in his Letter of the 20th July, that he would at once proceed to make a second Suez Canal, he will give an assurance to the House that, before any action is taken as to the contemplated withdrawal of our troops from Egypt, the House will have an opportunity of expressing its opinion thereon?

I need not reply to the preamble of the Question, which constitutes the greater portion of it as printed. But as to the Question itself, whether—

"Before any action is taken as to the contemplated withdrawal of our troops from Egypt, the House will have an opportunity of expressing its opinion thereon,"
I have to say that if an engagement of that kind were given this might happen—a period might arise when, in the view and conviction of the Government on its own responsibility, the presence of our troops was no longer required, and yet they would have to stay on in order that the House might express an opinion on the subject. We cannot give an engagement to that effect. It would be totally contrary to the principle of the responsibility of the Government.

Do the Government at present contemplate an early withdrawal of the troops?

That is a question which would take much discussion. There will be an opportunity for remarks on the subject in a few days.