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struggle had been, that in the kingdonr of Mexico, no less than one million of human beings had been destroyed in 1813 and 1814. From the Oroonoko to Cumana the country was a perfect waste. To give an idea of the horrible nature of the war, he should state, that when the city of Valencia surrendered to the royalists, the capitulation was sworn to on the altar, and high mass was performed in presence of the parties; when the old Spaniards entered the town, within twelve hours they gave it up to pillage, and executed the unhappy patriots who remained in it. Had any offer of mediation been made on the part of this country? He knew that offers had been made to, and rejected by the Cortes; but there was a difference between a Cortes under the influence of the monopolists of Cadiz, and Ferdinand the 7th. From the cruelty and ferocity of Ferdinand, perhaps they had as little to expect, but some attempts at least should be made. A man had been sent as viceroy to the new world, who, after having betrayed an army to the French in his own country, had gone to America, where, without taking active steps to suppress the rebellion, he issued such orders as deluged that continent in blood. An expedition had since been sent out to South America, commanded, to his disgrace, by a British officer. That expedition he prayed to God might perish on the shores of the New World! This country had to choose between eighteen million of free people, and nine million of slaves-between a people who had opened their ports to us, and a despotic Court who had persecuted our merchants, insulted our trade, and oppressed our subjects. It had been said, that Great Britain had remained neutral in the contest. This, he believed, was not true. During the war in the Peninsula, under the very eye of sir Henry Wellesley, an expedition had been sent to the New World, fitted out by British money, the troops appointed with British arms and clothing. The conduct of the governors of Curaçoa was of the same description. They received the fugitives of the royalist party, provided them with arms and ammunition, to renew their attempts. But when the patriots were driven out in their turn, they excluded them from the islands, and forced them to seek and find protection from Petion, a black -the excellent man who governed a part of St. Domingo. The patriots of America had to complain of us for a breach
gagement towards them; the Cortes and people of Spain had also to complain of us, for having suffered their constitution to be destroyed, and themselves to be delivered over to an usurper-for such was Ferdinand the 7th. The hon. member expressed a wish to know by what minister the Regent had been advised to send the Order of the Garter to Ferdinand, and to accept the Order of the Golden Fleece? and he also desired to learn, whether the British Government had entered into any treaty or engagement whatever, guaranteeing the South American colonies to Spain?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer trusted the committee would see the propriety of his declining on this occasion to enter into details of such delicacy as were referred to by the hon. member, and the more so as the hon. member's observations were not properly relevant to the subject before the committee. He bad, however, no difficulty in stating, that upon the offer of mediation which had been made on our part between Spain and its colonies, his Majesty's ministers were always ready to act. In our endeavours, indeed, to procure independence and liberty for Old Spain, we had ever been equally anxious to obtain the liberty of its colonies. Upon the commercial advantage likely to accrue to this country from the establishment of a complete freedom of trade in South America, he should at present abstain from delivering any opinion; but, however interesting or important that freedom might be, neutrality, in the present contest between South America and the mother country, was the duty and the resolution of Great Britain; which never could attempt to seek any object, however beneficial, from a connexion with the former, that should be tainted with any thing like treachery towards the latter.
Mr. Whitbread thought, that as the subject before the committee referred to the opening of a free trade with South America, the opportunity had been very properly chosen by his hon. friend to bring forward the questions to which he had adverted. The proposition being to open the South American ports, his hon. friend very naturally submitted some inquiries with regard to that country. His hon. friend had therefore asked, whether, in the contest in which (he would not say the colonies, but) New Spain was engaged en- with Old Spain, the government of the
country had observed neutrality? That New Spain had experienced the most atrocious treatment, as well from the late as from the present government of Spain, was an undeniable fact; and it was desirable for the credit and the interest of this country, to know whether the right hon. gentleman was able to deny that any money, arms, or equipment, had been furnished by our Government, for the purpose of suppressing the patriots of New Spain, in their laudable rebellion against the tyranny of the mother country. It was also desirable to know whether, as his hon. friend's question imported, any of our colonial governors had refused that hospitality to the patriots which had been granted to their oppressors; for such partiality would be obviously inconsistent with those principles of neutrality which the right hon. gentleman professed. If, indeed, the right hon. gentleman were not able to deny such partiality and that it had been actually evinced, the patriots of New Spain would have the best founded reason to complain of our conduct, nay, that our offer of impartial mediation was by no means sincere. If, then, under such circumstances, the people of New Spain should succeed in their gallant efforts to shake off the yoke of their persecutors, and to raise their country to that independent station to which it was entitled, the best interests of this country were but too likely to suffer, for it was the best interest of Great Britain to cultivate an amicable connexion with New Spain. On these grounds, therefore, he lamented that the right hon. gentleman had declined to afford any explanation respecting the points referred to by his hon. friend. It was, he presumed, a mere omission on the part of the right hon. gentleman, not to have noticed his hon. friend's allusion to the grant of the Order of the Garter to Ferdinand, and the acceptance of that of the Golden Fleece by the Prince Regent; for such marks of esteem towards such a person as Ferdinand did certainly not seem very compatible with the feelings likely to belong to any prince reigning over a free people. The minister who had advised such proceedings ought to be made known; and he hoped this, with the other questions so properly submitted by his hon. friend, respecting our conduct towards the usurper, Ferdinand, would be satisfactorily answered by the right hon. gentleman. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated (VOL. XXX.)
that no money or assistance whatever had been supplied by this country to enable the Spanish government to subdue New Spain. As to the Order of the Garter and the Golden Fleece, he could not think that such interchange of ceremonies formed an object worthy to call for the attention of that House. With respect to the recogni tion of Ferdinand, that prince having been recognised as the sovereign of Spain, by the government with which we had originally treated for the deliverance of that country, and by the Cortes also, he should have thought it very extraordinary indeed, if this country had declined to acknowledge his authority.
Mr. Ponsonby considered the subject of South America as one of the greatest importance and delicacy. He was far from recommending one step on either side inconsistent with the good faith of Government, or in violation of our neutrality. At the same time he was free to say, that there was no foreign country whatever in the fate of which Great Britain was so much interested as with South America. For he had no doubt that the establishment of the independence of that country, and the detaching of it from Old Spain, was to us an object of the highest importance; but he was equally positive that that object, however desirable, should not be pursued by any means whatever incompatible with our public faith. It was the duty of our Government to attend strictly to its engagements, but at the same time he should hold it imperiously bound in no degree to assist the projects of Old Spain against the liberties of South America.
Mr. Wynn concurred with his right hon.. friend as to the propriety of observing a strict neutrality in the present contest between Old Spain and South America, but he could not conceive it compatible with that neutrality to refuse that hospitality to the people of South America; which ws afforded to their opponents. This proceeding did certainly not manifest good faith, and he was surprised at the silence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon the subject. But he was equally surprised at the undue levity with which the right hon. gentleman had spoken of the grant of the Order of the Garter to Ferdinand. How was it possible that the right hon. gentleman could so undervalue an honour which had been so highly estimated among the first monarchs in Europe? This distinction had,
indeed, been often anxiously looked for, | lions, which the proposed amount of ways and always gratefully received by the and means would considerably exceed. most eminent princes. It was notorious He would be glad to hear upon what that the favour had been refused to the ground the right hon. gentleman could present, and also to the last king of Swe- justify such a course of proceeding. Under den. He believed, indeed, that the pre- the Act brought forward by the right hon. sent king of Spain was the first sovereign gentleman before Christmas, which Act of that country who had been favoured differed materially from any that preceded with this honour since Philip 2. On these it, he observed, that the Treasury were ingrounds he was astonished at the levity vested with the power of issuing Exchewith which the right hon. gentleman had quer-bills without limit. Indeed, accordthought proper to express himself with ing to this Act, the Treasury might issue regard to what he had denominated the 50 millions in Exchequer-bills in addition ceremony.' to the 8 millions which it was authorized to borrow from the Bank. Would the House, then, he would ask, go on in voting the ways and means proposed, without knowing the amount of Exchequer-bills issued in consequence of this extraordinary, Act?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that he perfectly agreed with the right hon. gentleman in the general parliamentary principle which he had laid down, that the ways and means should not exceed the supplies voted; and he hoped he should be able to satisfy that right hon. gentleman and the House, that on the present occasion he had not infringed upon that principle. The right hon. gentleman would himself be convinced, when he re-, minded him that he had omitted two or three considerable sums which had been voted by Parliament. Among these sums was one of twelve millions and a half, for the repayment of Exchequer-bills, and another of fifteen millions. It should be recollected that they had voted supplies to the amount of fifty-one millions, and the ways and means only for thirty-one millions, leaving a deficiency of twenty millions to be made good. With regard to the act empowering the Treasury to issue Exchequer-bills, he did not consider that it gave any authority to anticipate the aids which had not yet been granted by Parliament. There certainly had been an issue of Exchequer-bills, but they were not issued upon taxes which Parliament had not yet granted, but upon the aid of fifteen millions which had been voted last year.
Mr. Alderman Atkins inquired, whether it was intended to abolish the South Sea Company altogether?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied in the negative; but the intention was to take the monopoly out of its hands.
Mr. Whitbread asked, whether any farther steps had been taken for the liberation from Ceuta of M. Correa, and the gentlemen surrendered by general Camp
The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied, that no opportunity would be lost to produce the effect alluded to.
Here a conversation arose upon the pro. position of a tax of 2 per cent. upon all goods exported from Great Britain or Ireland, to South America, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Finlay, and Mr. Alderman Atkins took part. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated, that the produce of this tax was to be applied in aid of a fund to indemnify the South Sea Company, and that it was to cease when that indemnity was discharged. The two latter objected to it as inconsistent with our commercial policy, by imposing a tax upon our exported manufactures. Mr. Finlay deprecated, and sir J. Newport vindicated the policy of the tax upon foreign linens, with a view to benefit the linen of Ireland and England. The several Resolutions were then agreed to.
COMMITTEE OF WAYS AND MEANSNEW TAXES.] On the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the House resolved itself into a Committee of Ways and Means.
Mr. Tierney repeated and enforced his objections to the proposition of the right hon. gentleman, to grant the ways and means before the supply was voted, conceiving such a course inconsistent with the established practice of Parliament. The only supply yet voted was 24 mil
Mr. Tierney said, that by the plan which the right hon. gentleman adopted, he might issue Exchequer-bills to an unlimited extent. There was the great evil, and that we were now, though in a state of peace, pursuing the same plan as during the war. He certainly thought that the whole was irregular.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer read the words of the Act, and repeated, that he did not consider the Treasury empowered by it to issue Exchequer-bills to an unlimited extent, because Parliament might afterwards grant supplies to cover them. The accounts of those Exchequer-bills which had been issued would be forthcoming when any member should choose to move for them.
Mr. Ponsonby said, he objected to receiving the report, because the minister of finance had come down to that House, and asked for enormous supplies without condescending to state for what purposes they were required. Such a practice was perfectly new to that House. The right hon. gentleman had told them they were to have a peace establishment of nineteen millions; but he had not imparted a single tittle of information as to the items and heads of that expenditure. If the House of Commons sanctioned such a proceeding, they would at once surrender their control over the public purse and the ministers of the Crown. On that ground, therefore, he should certainly take the sense of the House upon receiving the report.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer observed, that it would be most satisfactory to every member of that House, and to no one more so than to himself, if, when they entered into the discussion of what should be the peace establishment of the country, any means could be devised for reducing it below what had been proposed. That question, however, was not now before them; and the grounds upon which the House was then called upon to agree to the report, was that the grants had already been voted by Parliament. Nor would they be at all pledged, by agreeing to the report, as to their future proceedings with respect to the proposed plan of finance. They merely provided for sums which had been already voted. When the time came for considering the various estimates for the service of the present year, he should call upon the House for its most patient and deliberate attention to the subject, and should thank any honourable gentleman who could lighten his heavy labours by shewing how the peace establishment might be made less.
Mr. Tierney denied that the five millions of new taxes were to be considered as a part of the ordinary aids of the year.. If they voted for receiving the report, surely they would be recognizing the plan of the right hon. gentleman.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer contended, that the inference of the right hon. gentleman was not a correct one. By agreeing to the report, they would only agree to provide a certain sum by way of taxes; but they would not therefore agree to the taxes themselves. As to the amount of the sum, every one would feel that what was proposed to be raised by those taxes could not be regarded as unneces sary, even if the expenses of the country were cut down to what they were before the French Revolution. He really thought, indeed, that he was much more liable to objection for not bringing forward taxes to a greater extent, than for proposing what he had.
Mr. Tierney replied, that the great object was to have the whole matter before them at once. If, for example, they knew how much would be wanted for the present year, they would then be able to say what portion should be raised by taxes, and what by loan. For himself, he really had no conception what would be the extent of supply required for the present year; and the whole subject demanded more explanation than the right hon. gentleman was yet in a condition to give them. All he wanted was, that they might not be called upon to vote in the dark; and he wished the right hon. gentleman would take the five millions, intended to be raised by the new taxes, in some other way for the present, and leave the other to future discussion, when he would be able to tell how much he required.
Mr. Ponsonby said, he would repeat the grounds of his objection. The right hon. gentleman having stated a certain motion, and told the House that 19 millions were necessary for a peace establishment, then desired them to adopt his plan, without entering into particulars, and shewing how the money was to be applied. This mode of voting supplies at different times was what he most particularly objected to; and he protested against it as an innovation upon former practice, and altogether unconstitutional.
Sir Robert Heron observed, that the plan of the right hon. gentleman was in direct opposition to the interests of the nation. For what purpose were we to threaten the countries around us with a fear of war? He must protest against voting supplies to such an amount, without insisting on one resource, he meant that of the most strict economy, which ought to pervade every
Mini-He decidedly objected to voting the ways and means, before the House was circumstentially apprized of the purposes to which those ways and means were to be applied.
Mr. Bankes declared, that if he thought the proposed votes were to cover any insidious machinations-that under the pretence of one object, the House was called upon to vote means which were to be ap plied to another, he would not only oppose the motion himself, but would use all the little influence which he possessed to induce the House to reject it. But this could by no possibility be the case. The sums now demanded, and much more, must be voted, to make good the supplies to which Parliament had already agreed. As to the explanation demanded of his right hon. friend, with respect to the peace establishment, it was evident that his right hon. friend only waited until he might be able to speak decidedly on the subject. Who could yet tell what might be our ultimate relations with America? Who could tell to what expense for the next twelvemonth this country might be put by the extraordinary occurrence of which we had been informed only within the last two or three days? He could assure the noble lord who had just spoken, that as far as his humble endeavours could go, they should be directed-not to cut down the peace establishment below what was necessary, but to bring it down as low as was consistent with the safety of the country; and above all, to take care that what remained of expense should be employed not in external show, but in real and solid strength. The measures proposed by his right hon. friend appeared to him to be much preferable to raising a larger loan, or to any encroachment on the Sinking Fund. Certainly, unpopular as was the sentiment, he did conceive that a conti nuation of the property-tax, under some modification, would have been a still wiser plan; and he sincerely believed, that when the good sense of the country returned upon this subject, his opinion would become pretty general. Did he therefore reproach ministers for having abandoned it? By no means. The strong hostility exhibited towards the tax at the present moment, and the consideration, that its conservation would have been a kind of breach of parliamentary faith, were sufficient grounds for inducing his right hon. friend to relinquish a tax, the good qualities of which his comprehensive mind must have suffi
department of the government.
Mr. Bennet observed, that ministers had not told the House a syllable as to the his situation of the country. It was not real intention at that time to make any comment on the taxes; but when they came before the House, it would be his duty to oppose them, for he objected to them all. He considered it proper to abolish situations where there was pay without services; and, indeed, to put Government itself upon short allowance.
Mr. J. P. Grant objected to going into the committee, until the Chancellor of the Exchequer had laid before the House a distinct and comprehensive statement of the whole of our financial relations. He was at a loss to conjecture of what votes the supply which the right hon, gentleman asserted had been agreed to by the House, was made up; and expressed himself particularly unable to understand how the two sums of 15 millions and 12 millions and a half, to make good the issue of Exchequer-bills on the aids of the year 1814, were to be considered.
Lord Milton declared himself to be in a similar difficulty, arising either from his own misapprehension of the subject, or from the mystery in which it appeared to be purposely involved. If he was right in his supposition, they were, as far as the five millions were concerned, about to vote an establishment for four years to come.