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and the final loss of Europe-a consequence | into two distinct parts: the right of the which he did not hesitate to impute to a crown, and the right as lord high admiral. measure from which he was always strongly If any complaint were made with respect averse, and which, had not the country to the mode in which the fund had been and the world sustained the calamitous loss appropriated by the crown, that might of a great statesman now no more, proba- form the ground of parliamentary enquiry bly might not have happened, namely, and reprehension; but with regard to the the last continental coalition of the powers fund itself, the right of the crown to the of Europe in 1805, stirred up by this coun- appropriation of it was unquestionable. A try to a renewal of the war against France, considerable proportion of this fund had at a time when they were actually unpre- been granted to captors under various cirpared for such a contest. The utter defeat cumstances; many grants had been made of Austria was one of the first fruits of for the public service; and, it being comthat conflict, which was commenced in pletely under his majesty's controul, grants direct opposition to the opinion and advice had also been occasionally made for the of the ablest authority in the German benefit of the younger branches of the empire, and that defeat had been followed royal family. None of these appropriaby the complete subjugation of the conti- tions could be characterized as misapplinent to the power of France. He concations. The hon. baronet had an uncluded by expressing his confidence, that doubted right to know what was the gross the house and the country were now satis- amount of that fund, and what part refied; and that he should never hear it mained undisposed. If, on the production urged again, that any thing done, or omit- of those accounts, the hon. baronet should ted to be done, by his majesty's late mi- require an account of the mode in which nisters, had any thing to do in the causes the fund had been appropriated, the house that led to the subjugation of Europe. would doubtless expect some strong allegations before they would consent to his request. For these reasons, and to facilitate the attainment of the hon. baronet's object, he submitted to him the propriety of confining his motion to the total amount of the captures from the period mentioned. by him, and of that part of the proceeds of those captures which remained undisposed of at the present time.
Lord Mulgrave replied briefly, and contended that a successful diversion might have been effected by a timely supply of troops from this country. The question was then put, and agreed to without a ` division.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Thursday, February 11. DROITS OF ADMIRALTY.] Sir Francis Burdett said he would not take up the time of the house by any prefatory remarks to the motion which he was about to submit; for that motion being the ground of a parliamentary proceeding, he conceived that it would be consented to without opposition. He should therefore content himself with simply moving, "That there be laid before the house an account of all captures made at sea by the naval forces of this country, which were claimed to remain, and which did remain, at the disposal of the Crown since the year 1792, specifying each capture and its amount, with the particular appropriation of the proceeds thereof."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer doubted whether the specification of every individual capture could be obtained. At any rate, such a specification would require considerable time to prepare. He entered into an explanation of the right of his majesty to these Droits, which resolved itself VOL. X.
Sir F. Burdett had no objection to follow the line chalked out by the right hon. gent.; for the great object he had in view at this time was to have the amount before the house. He had not, indeed, as yet stated any facts of misapplication; yet he apprehended the house would not endure that so large a sum should be at the disposal of the crown, without any inquiry, even although it should be admitted that the crown had the legal right, of which, however, considerable doubts were entertained.
Sir C. Pole expressed his approbation of the motion of the hon. baronet, for all his reflections on the subject convinced him that the admiralty court ought to be upon a new footing.
The Advocate General observed, that the admiralty court had nothing to do with the subject of this motion. Before the house proceeded any further in it, it was proper that it should know what grounds could be made out for an inquiry. The captured property came to the king in a 2 G
double capacity. That which was seized | been allowed to act under the ordinary before the declaration of war, and the is- discretionary powers; and another to those suing of letters of marque and reprisals, who had suffered from the insolvency of belonged to him jure corona. That which captors. These had been the different was captured afterwards, was his as lord modes in which this property had been high admiral, whose rights accrued to the disposed of. But he did not by any means crown when the office was put into com- wish to keep out of view, that a very small mission. But it was the custom to give part of it had, out of his majesty's grace up what part belonged to him in this ca- and liberality, been conferred on the pacity, or, after the issuing of reprisals, to younger branches of his family. Was he the captors. Another species of property the only father in the kingdom who was was that which was captured in port, or not to be allowed to make grants out of by such as were not licensed captors. funds, appertaining to him by law, to his This was properly the Droits of Admi- own children? If any thought so, he was ralty, and belonging to the king in vir-not ashamed to say that he differed from tue of the office of high admiral. In them. The house would dispose of the 1795, when the French made an irruption motion as it pleased, but no instance of into Holland, encouragement was held out misapplication had been stated; no grounds to the inhabitants to remove to a neutral of inquiry had been laid. The house was country, and if they did this, the property competent, certainly, to go into such an detained here on that occasion was to be inquiry, but in his opinion no reason had restored to them. But as they had not been assigned for the exercise of its right done this, it was condemned to the crown on the present occasion. as taken before reprisals. The Spanish Mr. Lushington perfectly agreed with property seized before reprisals in 1796, the last speaker, that this motion had no was also condemned as the Droits of the reference to the Admiralty Court. He Admiralty. On the breaking out of the also agreed with him in the greater part war in May, 1803, hostilities were not of what he said relative to the right of the commenced against Holland till the 16th crown to this property; but differed from of June following; Dutch property, how-him materially as to the constant propriety ever, was detained in the mean time, and of the application. One instance of misafterwards condemned as prize to the crown. application he would state to the house. Spanish, Prussian, and Danish property An hon. baronet (sir H. Popham) whom was condemned under similar circum- he saw in his place, had, in the year 1787, stances, the captors having no claim; and obtained leave of absence on half pay from in case of a convention to restore it at the the naval service, in which he was then a end of the war, the crown would be bound lieutenant. He went to Ostend, and there to do so. But no convention of that sort procured a ship, the Etrusco, bearing the existed, and consequently the property re- Imperial flag, in which he freighted a mained at the disposal of the crown. Then cargo for the East Indies. He there exhow was it applied? A moiety, or perhaps changed his vessel for an American ship, two-thirds was granted as a reward to the and carried a cargo to Canton in China; captors a circumstance that must be having taken in a fresh cargo there, of pleasing to the hon. baronet (Pole) who which a French supercargo at Canton had was so anxious for the interests of the naval a share, he sailed first for Ireland, and service. Another part had been applied from that to Dungeness, where he landed to the relief of the public exigencies of goods, or, in plain English, smuggled the state, to the extent of two millions-them. Lieut. Bowen of the Brilliant frione having been granted some time ago, and another lately. Part had been applied to the relief of those who had suffered from the breaking out of the war. The Spanish government had sequestrated property belonging to this country, which, by a stipulation in the treaty of Amiens, they had engaged to restore. This was not done, and some of the captured property belonging to the crown, was applied to the relief of the sufferers. Another part had been granted to captors who had not
gate, capt. Robinson, seized the ship in Ostend Roads, after a person had escaped on shore with part of the goods. This vessel was brought to judgment in the Admiralty Court. During the proceedings, the hon. baronet claimed his share of the cargo and freight; but when it became necessary to serve a process of the court upon him, he was not to be found, and, in short, had absconded. The ship was condemned; but for all the trouble, the inconvenience, and loss of time occa
after the lapse of more than 20 years, he should thus be singled out for peculiar animadversion. He trusted he might be allowed to say, that his exertions in India must have been of a very extraordinary nature to induce the Governor-General in Council to recommend him at home as he had done. By the term extraordinary,' he meant only that those services had been of a description which were deemed deserving of marked approbation. He trusted also, that in no action of his, had he had any sort of connection with smugglers, as stated by the hon. gent. or that he had even violated the laws of the country, without having at the same time done something, which more than compensated for the injury sustained.
sioned in the prosecution of the business, capt. Robinson did not receive one shilling. Yet afterwards, in consequence of a treasury warrant, signed by the marquis of Blandford and Mr. Long, founded upon a report for that purpose, reluctantly signed, as he understood, by the right hon. gent. (the Advocate-General) 25,000l. was restored to the hon. baronet; being the amount of his claim, and that too without deducting from it any of the expences of the process. It was some time, indeed, before the right hon. gent. (the AdvocateGeneral) could be induced to give a recommendation to this effect, and his scruples were highly to his credit. These circumstances formed part of the Records of the Admiralty Court, but he had only seen the papers that morning. Here, then, Mr. Sheridan fully agreed with the hon. was an application of a large sum as a re- captain, that after the attack which had ward for a violation of the laws of the been made upon him, the matter ought country. He was glad, therefore, that a not to rest there. It was due both to the disposition appeared to examine this sub-house and himself, that the matter should ject, but he thought the business would be very imperfectly done unless the house attended to the application of the money, which was, perhaps, the most material point of the whole.
be investigated. He also agreed, that his hon. friend behind him might have given some notice of his intention; but then it was to be observed, that he had only read the papers that morning, and had stated Sir Home Popham observed, that having the facts upon an occasion which had sudbeen thus personally attacked, he could denly arisen. But if it was necessary to not but offer a few observations in his own have this affair inquired into, upon the vindication. Although, if the hon. gent. statement of his hon. friend, it was much who had thrown out such aspersions as more so after the defence of the hon. caphad never been used in that house, had tain. The hon. captain stated, that he given him any previous intimation of his had done as many other officers had done, intention to bring forward circumstances sailed under a neutral flag, in a moment in which he was particularly concerned, of irritation, for the purpose of obtaining he would have been better prepared to professional knowledge and experience. meet his statement. He would, however, He had heard of other officers who had now advert to a plain and well known fact. done so, but then they had engaged in The house would recollect he went to the the wars of foreign powers; how the hon. East Indies at a period of profound peace, captain could increase his professional and had been there employed in the ser-knowledge by landing teas at Dungevice of the East India Company. If the hon. gent. would consult the records of the The Chancellor of the Exchequer called India House, he would find that lord the right hon. gent. to order; it was imCornwallis, the Governor General, and the possible for him to sit still and hear an Council, had recommended him strongly attack upon any member under such cirto the Court of Directors, and said that he cumstances; it was not consonant to the had deserved that the directors should rules of justice which ought to be observapply to the Admiralty to promote him.ed to every man, that a conversation arisHe had besides received acknowledgments and presents for his services. If, from his anxiety to be actively employed, and to gain experience in his profession, he had in a moment of irritation gone out to India under a neutral flag (which perhaps he now regretted), he had only followed the example of many other naval officers, and he could not help thinking it strange, that
ing collaterally should be brought forward, and carried on by remarks uttered in the tone and manner used by the right hon. gent. To what purpose was this done? Was there a motion before the house, the event of which would be to censure or acquit the hon. captain? He appealed to the right hon. gent.'s own candour on the subject; for he was sure that
he was the last man who, on cool reflection, would persevere in any unfair or illiberal line of conduct.
The Speaker expressed his opinion, that by abstaining from any further remarks on this part of the debate, the house would best consult its own dignity.
Mr. Sheridan, though he did not complain of the right hon. gent. for having interrupted him, must contend that he was strictly in order. The learned gent. opposite having asserted that there was not a single instance of misappropriation of the fund under discussion, his hon. friend who was in possession of a flagrant instance of misappropriation, and who knew that the hon. knight was in his place to defend himself, had stated that instance. Having heard the hon. captain's answer, in which he did not deny the accusation, an accusation founded not loosely, but on recorded facts, it appeared to him, and he was justified in arguing that the subject ought to be most narrowly investigated. With regard to the subject more immediately before the house, if the Droits were originally his majesty's undoubted right, still in progress of many wars, they might have amounted to such a sum, that it would be necessary to revise the right, and to say whether or not it was safe to trust the disposal of so much money out of the controul of parliament. He should add only a few words on that part of the question which related to the application of the money arising from these Droits. He had no hesitation in saying, that he not only did not censure, but he cordially concurred in, and approved of that part of the application this day avowed by his majesty's Judge Advocate, namely, his majesty's gracious gifts to the younger branches of his illustrious family. So far was he from objecting to these acts of his majesty's paternal generosity, that he lamented that his majesty's royal munificence had been confined to the younger branches of his august family. Had the heir apparent participated in it, he believed the house and the country would have not merely been satisfied, but gratified; for never must it be forgotten, that the prince had an unliquidated claim, which, greatly to his honour, feeling for the public burthen and the difficulty of the times, had been, by his royal highness's express desire, suspended, but not abandoned; he meant the arrears of the Duchy of Cornwall; that debt still remained indisputably due, either from the
sovereign or the public; and, towards the discharge of that debt, he could not conceive an application of the funds now under discussion, more grateful to the people, than in part directing them towards that object. His majesty's munificence towards the younger branches of his august family, was an act of bounty, in the latter case it would be an act, not of bounty merely, but of justice.
The Advocate General said, that this property was not property condemned to the crown, but came by a forfeiture, which on good grounds might justly be remitted. The ground on which he recommended the grant to the hon. captain, was this. He had gone to Ostend, and from that sailed under a foreign flag to India. he was restrained as a British subject from doing so by the law of his country, unquestionably this was a violation of it. But it was perfectly well known to the Indian government, that he was there, and it was the policy at that time to encourage exportation from India in foreign vessels. Whatever offence had been committed, was against the East India Company, and as they had by implication remitted it, he thought himself justified in recommending the remission of the forfeiture.
Mr. Tierney called the right hon. gent. to order, as he was entering upon a defence of the hon. captain, instead of confining himself to the facts for his own justification.-Some discussion arose here about the question under discussion, whether it was the original motion or the amendment suggested by the chancellor of the exchequer, and in some measure assented to,
Lord Folkestone said, he thought the debate should proceed on the original motion; for he was sure the hon. baronet who made it, wished to have a full and complete account of those Droits, and also of the application of the money arising from them. The original motion would, in his opinion, effect this; but he did not think the amendment would, and therefore he thought the original motion should be persisted in.
Sir F. Burdett said, that in making the motion, he certainly wished for the fullest discovery as to the Droits, and also the application of the money arising from them: it was matter of very great importance, and which he, as a member of parliament, thought he had a right to demand. From the candid and liberal manner in which the the right hon, the
chancellor of the exchequer had expressed himself, in introducing his amendment, he felt extremely inclined to accede to it; but from the unexpected turn which the debate had taken, and the disclosure of so extravagant and flagrant a misapplication of a certain part of the money arising from the proceeds, his opinion was greatly altered, and he thought his duty required that he should persist in his motion as it had been originally introduced.
should be the only father of a family in this country who was not at liberty to shew pecuniary favours to his offspring. There might be those who thought otherwise; but he was not ashamed to say, that he differed entirely with them on that head. He begged pardon for so long a trespass on the time of the house; but thought it necessary to state these circumstances, as it had been said, that he felt a reluctance to sign the warrant of remission.
The Advocate General proceeded to state, that the hon. captain, when in India, Mr. Lushington,in explanation, said, that was known to persons in the highest offices he had heard it was with reluctance that the there to be a British subject; that he was right hon. gent. who spoke last had signed very much countenanced by them, and in the warrant for the restitution of the proconsequence of the services he had renperty of the hon. captain, and he had dered the East India Company, by taking stated it as a fact which he thought highly the soundings of Prince of Wales's Island, honourable to the character of the right and other parts in those seas, he had re- hon. and learned gent. With respect to ceived such recommendations to the Court what had been said by the hon. captain, as of Directors, as had procured him some to his having brought forward this subject very valuable presents from them. From thus suddenly, without having given him India he had, however, sailed to China, any intimation of it, the fact was, that he and at Canton had taken in a cargo of tea had heard of this transaction some time without any licence from the India Com- ago, and finding the motion which had pany, which rendered the transaction a been made was to come on that evening, breach of the law, and as such the cargo he had purposely gone to the Admiralty was liable to forfeiture; but it was not a to look into the records of this transaction; Droit of the Admiralty; it was not what that this had taken up so much time, had fallen to the king as a capture in time he was not able to get down to the house of war, but was merely what became vest- till the motion was made, and then, not ed in his majesty as a forfeiture, in conse- knowing the hon. capt. by sight, he had quence of the cargo being illegal, for want even asked one or two of his friends if he of a licence from the East India Company. was in the house, who told him that he With this cargo of tea, the hon. baronet was. Had the hon. captain been absent, was proceeding to Ostend, in the ship it was his intention to have stated the transEtrusco, when she was met with and action without mentioning names, and have seized by his majesty's ship the Brilliant; left that to some future occasion. As the and the ship and part of the cargo were right hon. and learned gent. had however condemned, for the benefit of the captors; expressly stated, that no misapplication of but this part of the cargo, which was the the money arising from this fund had taken property of the hon. captain, became vest-place, he thought it his duty to mention it ed in the king as a forfeit; and under all the circumstances of the case, it became a question whether it was a fit forfeiture for the crown to take advantage of. On a mature and deliberate consideration of the case, he was of opinion that it was not; and therefore he advised the remission of it, which accordingly took place. As he had before stated, this fund was given to the king for his sole use; and he had out of it made several grants for public and national purposes. He had also granted several sums out of it for the use and benefit of the younger branches of the royal family; and he thought his majesty had most undoubted right to do this, unless it should be expected that he
in the way he had done, as he thought it a most glaring and flagrant misapplication, and what ought to be more particularly enquired into.
Mr. Brand said, he thought this motion was intended to come at a very important fact, viz. the amount of the proceeds arising from these Droits; and, as such, he would vote in favour of it: the amendment being, in his opinion, a colourable pretence for weakening and curtailing the effect of it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer rose for the purpose of proposing his amendment; but
The Speaker told him he could not speak to the whole motion, having spoken be