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noble lord concluded with expressing his conviction that the government would act the wiser part by forbearing to interfere in matters of trade, and leaving it to be regulated by the natural influence of its own operation.
The question on the third reading being called for, the house divided: Contents 44; Not-Contents 13; Majority 31.
that by the prohibition to export cottonwool, the value of that article will suffer a diminution to the amount at least of one million sterling. It is plain, therefore, that if his majesty can, by granting licences, supply the markets to which cotton-wool went before this unwarrantable interruption of the trade, as the commodity, with the restoration of demand, must resume its [PROTEST AGAINST THE COTTON BILL.] value, this immense sum may be corruptly "Dissentient; 1. Because, as this bill pro- distributed by the executive government, hibits the exportation of all cotton wool, by giving licences to persons whose poliand the Orders of Council of the 11th and tical conduct it may wish to influence.-25th of Nov. 1807, force into British ports 4. Because we think there is just reason to the whole of that commodity sent by believe, that this measure is adopted with America for the supply of foreign states, a view to create the undue influence with the quantity brought by these and other which it arms, the executive government; means into the British market must be so for the following clause, which tends to do great, in proportion to the demand, as to away the influence the bill confers, withreduce the value of that commodity to a out deranging the system it means to estrifle. When we consider, therefore, that tablish, was rejected by the house : the usual exportation of, cotton wool from Provided always, that when his majesty America, is 250,000 bags, amounting, at shall determine, by licence, to authorize 121. per bag, to the value of 3 millions the exportation of any given quantity of sterling, we conceive that this is not only cotton-wool, the board of trade shall ana gross violation of the law of nations, but nounce such determination in the Gazette, the most substantial injury ever inflicted together with the regulations, restrictions, on a friendly and independent state. 2. and securities, intended to be specified in Because this reduction of the value of cot- the licence; and the name of every person ton wool, will discourage the growth of it who, within a week, shall state in writing to a degree that, on the return of peace, to the secretary of the said board, his dewhen the demand for our cotton goods sire to export the quantity of cotton meant revives, must deeply injure this extensive to be exported under the conditions sti branch of our manufactures, by producing pulated, shall be put into a glass jar; and a deficiency in the supply, and consequent at 12 o'clock on the ninth day after the dearness, of the raw material. 3. Be- advertisement shall have been inserted in cause, much as we regret the unwarranta- the Gazette, the secretary of the board of ble provocation given to the U. States of trade shall, in the presence of such of the America, and the injury thus inflicted on persons desirous of exporting cotton-wool our manufactures, we feel with still deeper as may choose to attend, after mixing the affliction the evil with which this bill names in a manner to preclude all suspi- . threatens the constitution of our country.- cion of preference, draw out of the said Whilst it prohibits the exportation of cot- jar one of the names therein contained, ton-wool, it permits his majesty, by licence and his majesty's licence shall forthwith under his sign manual, to authorize any be granted to the person whose name is person to export from Great Britain any so drawn.'-5. Because, recollecting that quantity of cotton-wool, under such regu- within these few days the two houses of lations, restrictions, and securities, as may parliament have received an unanimous be specified in the licence; and thus con- petition of the common council of the city fers on the crown a legal right to arrange of London, declaring that the burdens and share out the trade in a most valuable borne by the people of this country have commodity; a principle which, if extend- been considerably augmented by gross ed to other articles, must create a new and abuses in the management and expendi alarming source of influence, almost bound-ture of the public money, and by a proless in the extent to which it may be carried. Even when confined to the present instance of cotton-wool, it appears to us a most dangerous extension of the patronage of the crown. We believe there is no intelligent merchant who must not think,
fusion of sinecure places and pensions, which have not only greatly added to their sufferings, but created a pernicious and dangerous influence, corrupting and undermining the pure and free principles of the British constitution,' we dread that
the passing of this bill must give rise to serious and alarming discontent, when it is known that it may eventually arm the crown with the power of distributing a sum equal in amount to the sum allowed for defraying the expenditure of his majesty's civil list, unaccompanied by any check to prevent its being used for the purposes of augmenting to an unparalleled degree that" pernicious and dangerous influence" which has so solemnly been stated to parliament by his majesty's faithful and loyal subjects, the corporation of London, as corrupting and undermining the pure and free principles of the British constitution.' (Signed,) Lauderdale, King, Albemarle.”
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Friday, April 8.
[PAPERS RELATING TO RUSSIA.] Whitbread rose, pursuant to notice, to move for certain papers which had been alluded to by the noble lord (G. L. Gower), in a debate which took place on the 29th of March, upon a motion of an hon. friend of his (Mr. Sharp). The house had heard a great deal of discussion respecting the propriety of quoting from any documents not before the house. He should not now go into a question which had been so often and so fully discussed; but he apprehended, that the right hon. gent. would agree with him in thinking, that communications, in whatever form they were made, should be made by his majesty's confidential ministers, and by no one else, under any pretence whatever. The noble lord, therefore, after communicating the information to which he alluded in debate, whether in a more official or less official shape, to his government at home, had put it beyond his own controul, and ought not publicly to have disclosed it. The motion which he meant now to propose, pointed to two objects; the first of which was, the production of a paper which accompanied the treaty of alliance between this country and Russia, in 1805; the other was connected with a communication made by the noble lord to his majesty's secretary of state, in the course of his last mission in 1807. After the overthrow of the confederacy of 1805, and the conclusion of the peace of Presburgh, a large mass of papers relative to that confederacy had been thrown upon the table, by lord Mulgrave, then foreign secretary of state, perfectly unsolicited, but quite as voluntary
as without selection, and certainly without discretion; for, not only were some dispatches published which never ought to have been published, but it would have been difficult to have found any thing in the course of the correspondence more unfit for publication than some of the papers which had been submitted to parliament, uncalled for and unexpected. These papers certainly furnished abundant matter of inculpation against the ministers of the day; but the man who was at the head of that administration, of as splendid talents as this or perhaps any other country had ever produced, died. After his death, his colleagues in office resigned the reins of government, in conséquence of his decease, and no discussion ever took place upon the subject of that treaty. He did think that the noble lord ought to have been one of the last persons to have called the attention of the house to the events of that time, considering that he was the sole manager in the formation of that confederacy, and considering how fatally it terminated for the interests of all the parties connected with it. The noble lord had at that time conducted the negociations with so much secrecy, that they were wholly unknown at Vienna till the treaty was concluded, so that he was deprived of the advice of sir A. Paget, and of the information which he might have derived from him respecting the state of the Austrian army, and of the heart-burnings and party spirit which were at that time felt in the court of Vienna. But, though the noble lord had kept secret not only from our ally, but from a minister of his own court, the articles of the treaty which he was then concluding at St. Petersburg, he had on his late mission held out the refusal on the part of Russia, to communicate the secret articles of the treaty which that power had concluded with France, as a sufficient ground for refusing its mediation between Great Britain and France, even though the emperor had assured lord Hutchinson, that it was his opinion that we ought to enter into negociation with France, not, as that noble lord had represented, because it was proper that we should make peace with France on any terms, but because he (the emperor of Russia) knew that the terms of peace which the emperor of the French was ready to offer were such as he believed lord Hutchinson would be of opinion that this country ought to ac cept. At the time of negociating the treaty of 1805, the noble lord had also
consented, by his own confession, to an article by which it was stipulated that the powers of Europe should go into a congress, in which the law of nations should be formally discussed, and in which the maritime pretensions of this country would, of course, as forming a part of that law, have come under discussion. [Lord G. L. Gower, from the other side of the house, said he had never done any such thing.] The noble lord, Mr. Whitbread said, denied the allegation; but as the maritime law of this country was not positively excluded from the operation of this provisional article of the treaty, he contended, that it was virtually included in it. But if such was not the interpretation which the noble lord put upon this article of the treaty, how, he asked, did Russia understand it? Had not the noble lord himself stated, in a former debate, that a notification was made to him, before the Russian ministers were permitted to sign the treaty, that his majesty, the emperor of Russia, would instruct his minister to use his endeavours at the general congress, which it was then in contemplation to assemble, to endeavour to procure a modification of such regulations of our maritime code, as might be found to be inconsistent with justice? The question of maritime rights was supposed to have been settled in the treaty concluded between this country and the northern powers in 1801; but was it not evident from this Declaration, that there was still subsisting a rankling in the mind of the Russian government upon the very question? Mr. Whitbread contended, that this was the fair interpretation to be put upon the declaration; and that, at present, when the contest with these powers might be said to be but beginning, it was desirable that the British house of commons should be put in possession of any document which tended to throw light upon the pretensions which they set forth. Of the substance of the communication the house was already in possession; but he insisted upon the propriety of their being put in possession of the communication, not merely incidentally, but formally, and officially. The other paper for which he meant to move, was the communication made by the ambassador of this country to his majesty's secretary of state, which had been also alluded to in debate, and in which it had been stated by the noble lord, that a person high in authority had made use of the expression, il faut mena
ger l'Angleterre pour le moment.' The noble lord had alluded to this communication in debate, for the purpose of shewing that Russia was determined to go to war with this country before the expedition was undertaken against Copenhagen; but before the house could judge whether the fact was relevant to the argument which he grounded upon it, it was important to know who was the person who made use of this expression, and whether it was used in conversation with the noble lord, or with a third person; because, if it was dropped in conversation with a third person, it must be evident to every one, that it might have no effect whatever in supporting the proposition or opinion which the noble lord meant to establish. It was alleged, that this communication was made in a private letter to the secretary of state, and very probably it was so; nor did he mean to question the propriety of a secretary of state keeping up a correspondence with ministers employed abroad; but the noble lord ought not to have made use of the communication for the purpose of influencing the decision of the house, if it was of such a nature, or if it was made in such a way, that it could not be laid before the house. He did not wish that the whole of the letter or dispatch which contained the communication should be made public; all that he desired was, that the house should be put in possession of that part of the dispatch which related to this particular communication. He concluded with moving, That an address be presented to his majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to order that there be laid before the house a copy of the Declaration delivered to his majesty's ambassador at the court of Petersburg, notifying that his imperial majesty would instruct his plenipotentiary at a general congress, to endeavour to procure a modification of such regulations in our maritime code as might be found to be inconsistent with justice; and likewise of a copy or abstract of a letter or dispatch, transmitted by his majesty's ambassador to his majesty's foreign secretary of state, between the months of June and Nov. 1807, as far as such letter or dispatch may refer to an expression, il faut menager l'Angleterre pour le moment.'
Lord G. L. Gower said, that the house could not be surprised at the anxiety which he felt to express his sentiments upon the present motion, after the representations which had been given of what had fallen
from him in a debate of a former evening, both by the hon. gent. who had just sat down, and in the public prints. He was most anxious to convince the house that he never had, in his official situation, done any thing to countenance the imputation of his having assented to any proposition, which had for its object to attack, either directly or indirectly, those principles of maritime law upon which this country had always acted, and upon which, he trusted, that it would ever continue to act. With this impression, he felt himself extremely obliged to the hon. gent. for having brought forward the motion which he had on this evening submitted to the house; and in that motion he should most heartily concur, as far as it related to the production of the Declaration which accompanied the treaty of 1805. He hoped also, that his right honourable friend the secretary of state would agree to this part of the motion, not only in justice to him, but in justice also to the character of an illustrious statesman, now no more (Mr. Pitt). It would be but an act of justice to the memory of that great man, who had spent his life in upholding the character and maintaining the rights of the country, to shew that in his latter days he did not desert that cause which it had been the great object of his life to support. With this view, he trusted that his right hon. friend would consent, not only to the production of the Declaration, but that the whole correspondence relative to this Declaration would be produced; from which it would appear, how little foundation there was for the accusation which had been brought against him, of having left any question relative to the maritime rights of the country open either to cavil or to discussion. His lordship did not wish now to enter into a discussion of all the questions connected with the treaty of 1805, and if this was the wish of the hon. gent. he thought that he had not dealt fairly with the house in not giving a notice to that effect. With the other part of the hon. gent's motion, he could not concur, because the communication to which he referred was contained in a private letter; and even supposing that the house were to agree to an address for the production of this paper, he really did not know what answer the erown could make to it; because the crown had as little power to compel the production of a private letter which was in the hands of the secretary of state,
as it had over any private letter which might be in the hands of any other individual in the country. If the hon. gent. was of opinion that he had been deficient in his duty in transmitting such a communication in the shape of a private letter, it would be better at once to move a vote of censure upon him for having done so. He begged the house, however, to recollect, that he had mentioned neither letter nor dispatch in the former debate. He had simply mentioned the circumstance of a certain expression having been used by a person high in authority in Russia, leaving the house to give what credit they might think fit to this assertion, and to deduce whatever inference from it they might be of opinion that it warranted. Neither did it follow, that, because he had communicated this expression to his government at home, he had mentioned the name of the person who used it. It so happened in the present instance, that his right hon. friend was in possession of the name of the person who had made use of the expression, but it was for his right hon. friend to judge of the prudence and expediency of disclosing who that person was. He must observe, however, that if every communication made by a foreign minister to his government were to be made public, as a matter of course, the inevitable effect of such a system would be, to destroy all confidence betwen diplomatic agents and the courts to which they were accredited. He should therefore give his decided negative to the last motion of the hon. gent.; and the first part of the address he should propose to amend, by moving for the production, not only of the Declaration accompanying the treaty of 1805, but of the correspondence which passed relative to that Declaration.
Mr. Whitbread most willingly concurred in the amendment proposed by the noble lord in the first part of the motion, for it was his wish, that all the correspondence relative to the Russian Declaration in question, should be made public. But he could not assent to the amendment so far as it went to negative the production of the private letter, or an extract from it. What would be the consequence of refusing to communicate such letters, when previously made public in order to influence the vote of the house, and serve the purpose of ministers? Because the noble lord was the ambassador, and the right hon. gent. secretary of state, the correspondence was to be carried on by private letters, so
Sir T. Turton deprecated severely this perpetual recurrence to subjects undertaken for the purposes of party spirit and personal enmity.
Mr. Whitbread here called the hon. bart. to order; disclaiming at the same time the unworthy motives which were so ungenerously imputed to him.
The Speaker having intimated to the hon. baronet the impropriety of such language,
Sir T. Turton felt extremely sorry that any thing which fell from him should have given the hon. gent. offence, for whom he felt the sincerest and most cordial esteem: when he said personal enmity, he meant only political enmity; and was unfortunate in his mode of expressing himself. He supported the amendment on the ground of the confidential nature of diplomacy. He would ask, if the state of Europe was again restored, what credit ambassadors would gain at foreign courts, who made it their practice to divulge secret communications. He thought the hon. gent was condemned by his own argument, for if the papers laid before parliament by lord Mulgrave excited throughout Europe such lively indignation, why endeavour, by the same cause, to excite the same sensation now?
as to avoid the cognizance of parliament! | he should therefore persist in that part of The noble lord had said, that he had never his original motion. stated that he communicated this information to ministers. Perhaps, he had not: but the right hon. secretary had publicly stated the fact, and yet the house was to be precluded from information about a communication under the impression of which they had been called upon to vote. He did not know upon what authority the expressions adverted to by the noble lord rested; whether they were directly mentioned to him by any person upon whom much reliance could be placed, or whether he had the information from a third perFor his part, he rather thought that the expressions did not come from any quarter upon which much dependance could be placed. But this was the point respecting which it was most important for the house to be well informed. He could not understand the doctrine, that private letters between ambassadors and secretaries of state, were, under all circumstances, to be suppressed. The information contained in the letter had been voluntarily offered on the part of ministers, with a view to influence the vote of the house. This naturally laid a ground for calling for the information in an explicit and tangible shape, that it might be seen whether it was of a kind to bear out the arguments which have been founded upon it. But immediately, when it was called for, he answered, No, it is a private letter, and cannot be produced.' If they meant to stand upon this objection, why did they communicate the information at all? They themselves had urged that lord Hutchinson's information was private, when they had not only connived at his conferences with the emperor of Russia, but had desired him to communicate his sentiments, and asserted, that he had been bamboozled, for that had been the expression; and that the information which had been obtained, was not such as to deserve much consideration. Yet these very men stated expressions, of nobody knew whom, to influence the vote of the house, and refused all explicit information on the subject, on the ground of the intelligence having been conveyed in a private letter! The majority of the house might perhaps be against him on this occasion, but he trusted that he should be supported by a minority of no little weight and importance. The communication in question, though originally private, had been made public from the manner in which it had been used, and
Mr. Herbert thought it most important that the motion should be agreed to. He was one of those on whom the speech of the noble lord, and the expression alluded to, il faut menager l'Angleterre pour le moment,' had made a strong impression, and if he had thought the authority on which they rested incontrovertible, he should not have voted as he had done upon the question of the Danish expedition. He once thought, that ministers were ready to prove their allegations in the declaration, in answer to Russia; but the right hon. secretary, whose speeches were more remarkable for their brilliancy than their solidity, had waved these, and resorted to other matters of a more indeterminate sort; however, the subject was brought back again to its former state, by the information communicated by the noble lord. It was therefore of the greatest moment to have it clearly known, upon what authority it rested; what was its precise import, and what credit ought to be attached to it.
Mr. Windham observed, that the subject of discussion lay within a very narrow compass, being limited to the point, whe