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entered into the ports of this kingdom, no power exists in it of preventing their going out of port again, but an act of parliament. In the present measures, the privy council had first done an act which nothing but parliament could do, and then by licence, they had given a power to dispense with that which their own order was meant to effect. In the event of any such cases, it was allowed, that it could only be suffered, in particular points, such as the importation of provisions, and similar acts of great necessity; but by no means did the law even countenance, much less tolerate, the receiving of money for the obtaining of licences. How could ministers expect their conduct to be sanctioned, by referring their acts to a committee of ways and means, when those acts were in opposition to the law of nations and the law of the land, to good policy, and the express stipulations of treaties, to the express rules of the prize courts, and the courts of admiralty? It was extremely improper, to bring forward a motion of the nature of that now before the house, till his majesty's ministers had obtained a Bill of Indemnity, and till the Orders in Council had themselves been sanctioned. Sir James Marriott, who had so long presided in the Admiralty Court, had declared, that the justice of that court was to be adminis
seas, or compelled to come to England, without the consent of the master of the ship or cargo. He would ask, then, if all these statutes, with many of a later date, had been repealed, or if they had not been infringed upon by the Orders in Council now before the house? There was another circumstance which he could not allow to pass unnoticed; viz. the time at which these Orders were issued. It would surely have been prudent, while a delicate and important negociation was pending with America, to have abstained from any proceedings which might tend to frustrate its object. It would have been prudent to have seen what effect might be produced by the reparation offered for the affair of the Chesapeake, before they excited fresh animosity by an act, inconsistent, not only with the law of nations, but with an existing treaty between this country and America. The treaty lately negociated in this country, and which had not been ratified by the president of the United States, was not before the house, and therefore he should not quote it. He would only remark, in passing, that the refusal of the president to ratify it, was no proof that it had not been ratified, because this depended, by the forms of the American Constitution, upon the Senate, and not upon the President. But without entering upon that subject now, he asserted that the Orders in Council were a positive in-tered like all others, without reference to fraction of the treaty concluded between any orders or instructions from the crown, lord Grenville and Mr. Jay, in which it or to any limitations, except those imposed was expressly stipulated, that from the cir- by act of parliament. Upon these estabcumstances of American ships not being lished principles of public law, acknowsupposed to know what ports were block-ledged as the standard of the conduct of aded, and what not, they were to be allowed to proceed on their voyage, and were not to be brought into English ports; whereas by the Orders in Council they were to be detained and brought in. There was only one more high legal authority with which he would at present trouble the house by referring to, and that was the opinion of lord chief justice Hale, who was allowed to be one of the most learned and enlightened judges that ever graced the annals of this country. On this subject, that learned judge observed, that several acts of parliament having provided for and made it not only lawful, but advantageous, for foreigners to bring their ships and goods into the ports of this kingdom, unless an act of parliament should afterwards be made to shut them out, no other power in the country can do it; and having under such sanction and authority
the British courts of public administration, upon the acts and statutes, and authorities he had cited, he felt it his duty, leaving the policy of the measure out of the question, and reserving it for the committee, where it might be more conveniently brought forward, to declare against the Orders in Council. He considered it highly derogatory to the character of the country to see such things with indifference; things contrary to all law, and not to be justified by any principle of retaliation upon enemies. Till the right hon. gent. should convince the house of the propriety of these acts, by reference to books of public law and the statute book, till he and his colleagues should have submitted reasons to justify a Bill of Indemnity, and till such a bill should have been passed, the motion now offered was highly improper.
beyond the bounds of mere internal regulation. If this was the sentiment of the late ministers, then what had happened since to make them think differently? Was it the late decree? It was hard, in
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was ready to admit, that in the view the noble lord had taken, and conceiving as the noble lord did, that the law of nations and the municipal law of the land had been violated, the noble lord was right in re-deed, that having the authority of those quiring explanation on these heads, before who professed mildness in justification of he agreed to the Speaker's leaving the this rigour, those who had avowed the nechair. The noble lord wished now to ar- cessity of more active measures, should gue the legality of these Orders in Coun- now be condemned for having followed cil, and to reserve the question of policy up what that authority sanctioned. to another stage of the business. But as referred to former times thus far, only to the legality was so far from being decisive shew that the policy now enforced had as to the policy, in the noble lord's opi- been recognised and acted upon by the nion, the policy might as well be discussed late ministers. The decree of Buonaparte first, and the legality after. The objec-declared the British islands in a state of tions in point of law would not be found so strong as the noble lord had stated them. With respect to the principle that the law of nations did not admit of any variation, not by the privy council, as the noble lord had by mistake stated, but by the king in council, he was ready to allow that the prerogative was in that case limited and regulated by the same rules of public law as in every other. It was the exercise of the king's prerogative of war. He was free to admit, that neither the prerogative of the king in council, nor yet an act of parliament, nor any other act of any individual nation, could change the general law of nations, established and acted upon by general consent. Thus, if the thing could be legally done at all, it was as legally done now as it could be with the consent of parliament. Whatever right there was, might be as fairly exercised by the prerogative of the crown, the nation being at war, as enforced by the legislative authority. The measures that were now in force were suggested by the propriety of retaliating the aggressions of the enemy. It was extraordinary, after the example set by the late administration, that the noble lord condemned in opposition what he had as a minister sanctioned and approved. The noble lord said, that what was done by the French Decree of Nov. was mere matter of regulation, affecting only the internal regulations with respect to British merchandize. If the noble lord thought really so, he was right in maintaining and defending his opinion. But, what was to be lamented was, that the noble lord was not of the same opinion now and when in office. The Order in Council, restricting the coasting trade of France by means of neutrals, was a proof that the late ministers conceived the Order to be executed VOL. X.
blockade, and subjected British property to confiscation. This was certainly, as far as regarded the blockade, a vain and empty boast. The noble lord stated, on the misconceived authority of his learned friend (sir Wm. Scott), that a declaration of blockade, if not followed up by an actual blockade, was of no force in law. That might be the case with respect to a single port; but when a whole country was declared in a state of blockade, the inability to enforce that blockade in its full extent, proved that the declaration was intended to lay a ground for the infliction of the consequent penalties. The French decrees alledged as the ground on which they proceeded, the fact of our declaring and considering as blockaded, ports before which there was not a single Birtish ship of war, and on the extension of that principle they declared our whole empire to be blockaded. Not a step was taken on our part to counteract this principle, till it was acted upon and enforced by the enemy. The noble lord had no authority to bear him out. If the noble lord was prepared to contend, that the enemy's decree did not admit the meaning his majesty's ministers affixed to it, what did it mean? But when they saw how it was worded and executed, it was too much to contend, that unless the decree for blockading the British islands was supported by a blockading force, encircling these islands, so as to make the approach to any port of them hazardous, it was not to be regarded as of force. France asserting, that we put ports in a state of blockade without a blockading force, and assuming the right of opposing an enemy with every art and every weapon he used, published the blockade of the whole British islands. What was to be inferred from this, but that, without ships to render Y
the approach to our coasts hazardous, the enemy would assume the right to detain vessels approaching them, whenever he could catch them. All trade in English goods was prohibited, and all such goods, wherever found, were declared lawful prize. But the noble lord said, this was of no moment, as the internal execution of the Decree in France, was all that was intend ed. It was rather singular, however, that the first news of the publication of the Decree at Berlin, reached this country with an account of its having been rigorously enforced at Hamburgh-Hamburgh then, as the noble lord hinted across the table, under the power of France, but reduced under that power for the express purpose of enforcing the extreme rigour of this Decree against British commerce and British goods. The sanctity of every neutral flag was, forsooth, to be most ceremoniously respected at sea; and every right and every principle of neutral territory was to be invaded and violated by land. The distinction of the noble lord was the more extraordinary, as the rigour of the terms of the Decree seemed to apply more to property at sea; and the execution was so rigorously enforced on land, where it might have been supposed not intended to be enforced at all. Let the house recollect the French minister Bourienne's declaration at Hamburgh, that all who carried on trade with England supported England; that it was on that account the French were compelled, however reluctantly, to take possession of Hamburgh; that all English goods must be produced by the Hamburghers for the purpose of being confiscated, and that in 48 hours, domiciliary visits would be paid, and military punishments inflicted on the disobedient. Was this confining the operations of the Decree to French territory? In what manner did Buonaparte himself explain the Decree in answer to the remonstrance from the merchants of Hamburgh, who stated, that a great part of the goods seized, actually belonged to them, and that the measures he was pursuing were pregnant with greater ruin to himself than to his enemy? "To destroy the commerce of the vile English," said he, " in every possible way, is my object. I have it in my power; I wish to ruin Hamburgh; for that would promote the destruction of English commerce." The construction put upon this Decree by other countries, by Spain for instance, in the manner in which she adopted the pro
visions of it, sufficiently proved that no doubt was entertained by them on the subject. But it was contended that the whole of the reasoning deduced from these facts was done away by the representation made by the French minister of Marine, Decres, to general Armstrong. This was the revocation with which neutrals ought to have been satisfied; which should have induced this country to refrain from any measure of retaliation! Decres stated it as his opinion (his opinion merely, not his knowledge), that the Decree did not alter the practise of neutral navigation ; that it did not affect the American convention with France, nor alter the existing mode of maritime capture. After having stated this as his opinion, his unauthorized opinion, he proceeded to explain some of the secondary articles of the Decree, but on the most material point referred gen. Armstrong to the minister of external relations! It being evident, therefore, that the tendency of this French Decree was such as he had stated it, he maintained that we had a complete right to retaliate upon the enemy their own measures; that if the enemy declared we should have no trade; we had a right to declare that they should have no trade; that if the enemy proclaimed British manufactures good prize, we had a right to declare French manufactures and produce good prize. Who were interested in this subject and capable of appreciating it? In the first place, the enemy; secondly, the gentlemen opposite who formed the last administration; thirdly, the country at large, as existing in their represen tatives in that house; and fourthly, neutral nations. The opinion of the first was the least material, but still when it was considered how large a portion of the continent of Europe was under the dominion of the enemy, it became of some consequence to know what he had professed to be a principle of the law of nations. He had professed that by the law of nations a country had a right to oppose its enemy with his own weapons. As far, therefore, as Buonaparte was concerned, his majesty's government were warranted in their proceedings on the principles which he himself had professed; unless he founded his argument on the assertion that we had first infringed the law, by imposing a blockade. What he meant by that was not very evident; probably the blockade of unexampled extent, formed, and meritoriously formed, by the administration in
from a neutral country; and suppose that the besiegers entered the neutral country, and diverted the channel of one of these streams, would it be advisable retaliation for the besieged to enter the neutral country, and divert the channel of the other stream? The French had declared England should have no trade with them; we declared that then they should have no trade at all.-With regard to neutrals, it was an unfounded assertion, that though we had a right to injure the enemy, we had no right to injure the enemy by means that would be prejudicial to neutral pow
which the noble lord opposite bore so dis- | with water by two streams proceeding tinguished a part, from the Elbe to Brest. He came now to the second opinion, that of the last administration. He was desirous to shew the house, that if there was meaning in words, or consistency in men, unless the Order of the 7th of Jan. could be interpreted away, as it had been attempted to interpret away the French Deeree, his majesty's present government, in issuing the Orders under discussion, had a right to be perfectly satisfied, that however the policy of them might be questioned by those who were parties to the former Order, to the principle they could have no objection. He could also adduce the authority of that house in confirmation of his opinion. On his own motion for the formal production of the Order of the 7th of Jan. a long discussion had taken place. Not one word did he or any other member urge against the justice or the legality of that Order. It was distinctly argued as a question of policy; and it was contended by the gentlemen opposite, that the principle on which it proceeded was not further extended, because at that time a further extension was unnecessary, but that nothing would prevent such an extension should it become requisite. He read the preamble of the Order, which asserted precisely the right which his majesty's present ministers now asserted, the right of retaliation. Indeed, what else could it be? For all that recital could never have been made, merely for the purpose of asserting a right, which the ordinary usage of war enabled us to exercise. The arguments, therefore, of the noble lord, bore as strongly against the Order of the late administration as against the Orders of the present. Adverting to the noble lord's reference to the order of 1756, he contended, that he was completely mistaken in that reference. The coasting trade of France was prohibited in 1756, on this distinct ground, that neutrals had no right to carry on that coasting trade for France in war, which France would have carried on herself in peace. With respect to the nature of the retaliation, was it to be confined exactly to the course pursued by the enemy? If the principle of right to retaliate were admitted, it must also be admitted that we had a right to chuse our mode of retaliation; otherwise, in many instances, retaliation would only enforce the destruction of the power retaliating. Suppose a fortress was besieged, this fortress supplied
The last administration by their own Order acknowledged this assertion to be unfounded; that order was prejudicial to neutrals, but were they culpable for that? Certainly not. The question in a case of this kind was, is the injury to neutral Powers only consequential on measures directed against the enemy, or is the measure originally directed against neutral powers? The conduct of the last administration, in blocking up a whole river, one side of which was occupied by neutral powers, proved that they admitted the justice of this doctrine.-It had been contended, that we should have waited to see the effect of the French Decree on neutral powers; or whether France intended to put it in force. The last administration had not done so. Denmark had remonstrated against the Order of the 7th of Jan. as injurious to her trade, and went so far as to say she would resist it. In the speech of the president of the United States, it was described as a gross violation of the law of nations. If, therefore, the gentlemen opposite did not abandon their own principles, or say that they did not mean to put in force the measure which they had promulgated, they had no right to accuse his majesty's present ministers of precipitation. He trusted he had satisfied the house, that the principle of these Orders in Council was completely justified by the law of nations, and that, as measures of war, they were also constitutionally justifiable, having been taken by the head of the executive government in the due exercise of his royal prerogative. -But the noble lord also contended, that these Orders were illegal, and a violation of Magna Charta, and the statutes of Edward III. His answer rested on the same grounds as to the former objections; they were measures of war which the king was entitled by prerogative to take, and
ing of Orders in Council, France enjoyed, by the assistance of neutrals, as great advantages of trade as we possessed with our triumphant navy. Our navy, indeed, as belligerent, was neutralized, and rendered useless by neutral ships carrying to France all that it was important for France to obtain. This had been the case for so long a period, that even prior to the Decree of the 21st of Nov. it might have been matter of delicate inquiry, whether this country ought not to have resorted to the measure of 1756. But surely the noble lord must see, that after the issuing of the Decree of the 21st of Nov. a much stronger measure was necessary. Otherwise French property conveyed in neutral bottoms, would have been safe; British property in danger.-It had been declared, that the French Decree was a dead letter, and that it was easily evaded. He was well aware, that the certificates of origin gave opportunities, by the assistance of forgery and perjury, for the introduction of our goods on the continent. Such practices, however, were not to be encouraged; and so far from its being a dead letter, France was, from time to time, supplied by new provisions for the deficiencies of the Decree. The different coasts had been lined with troops, and other means of improvement from time to time recurred to.-Among the arguments which had been urged against the Orders in Council, it had been contended, that they were the cause of the distress which our manu
with which it was never intended that | imitation of the noble lord, he would say a those statutes should interfere. The king few words, at present, on the policy of the would not be justifiable in taking such Orders: What was the state of the two measures for financial, for commercial, or countries of G. Britain and France with for political expediency only. This inter-respect to trade? Previous to the issuference with neutral property, had necessarily been the practice of all former wars, or how could any blockade have been effected? By every blockade we had interfered with neutral powers, since we had threatened the ships of neutral nations in the port blockaded with confiscation, if they attempted to quit it. If his Majesty's present ministers had violated the statutes of Edw. III. and particularly the 28th of Edw. III. to which the noble lord called his attention with so much emphasis, no less had they been violated by the noble lord and his friends. But, the fact was, by neither party had they been violated; for they related to a state of peace and not of war. With respect to the steps taken in consequence of the French Certificates of Origin, signed by a French consul, and given to neutral vessels, for the purpose of preventing their seizure by French cruisers; if by accepting these certificates neutrals gave effect to the measures of France, we had undoubtedly a right to retaliate. As to any interference which the Orders in Council might have with the navigation laws, he wished that subject to be distinctly argued; but not on that night. Considering the extent of those laws, it was not impossible but some part of them might have been infringed. But if they were interfered with, it was only, as they frequently had been before, in instances in which parliament sometimes thought indemnity necessary for the measures that had been adopted, and sometimes recog-facturers experienced. It had been said, nized the legality of those measures. Even had he been aware, when those Orders were originally issued, that they violated some of the provisions of the navigation laws, that would not have withheld him from their adoption.-Another topic on which the noble lord had declaimed was, that by these Orders we had violated our Treaty with America. Was that to be called a treaty which was not ratified which was returned to this country, with a declaration that, unless additional concessions on our part were introduced into it, it would not be ratified? Were we bound to adhere to the stipulations of this Treaty ere it was concluded, and while it was sailing backwards and forwards, from one quarter of the globe to the other?-In
that France had shut the door against our commerce, and that we had bolted it. But every one who was at all acquainted with the subject, must know that the pressure which our manufactures sustained, was antecedent to the promulgation of the Orders, and that it originated in the French Decree. If we entertained a hope,⚫ that the great inconvenience sustained by the continent for want of British manufactures, might produce a resistance to those measures of the French government, by which they were excluded, our policy evidently was by increasing that inconvenience, to endeavour to force a market. It was impossible to say to what extent the arbitrary power of France might compel the countries under her dominion to