§ Lord H. Petty rose
to put a question to the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer. That right hon. gent. had fixed a day for referring the Orders in Council presented yesterday to the committee of ways and means, but he had not stated on what day he proposed to move for leave to bring in the bill of Indemnity, which he had stated his intention to bring forward for certain acts done by ministers under these Orders in Council. It was desirable that the house should be apprised of the day on which this question would be brought forward, because, whenever it should be under discussion, the house would have to consider it in two points of view; first, whether the immediate necessity was such as to intitle his majesty's ministers to the indemnity they claimed, and, in the event of its being so considered, whether that necessity was sufficient to cover all the violations of law committed by them, in and under the Orders in. Council?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
did 155 not know what answer to give to the noble lord, because he could not collect what was the object of his inquiry. He had undoubtedly given notice, that he should, on Wednesday, move to refer the Orders in Council to a committee of ways and means; he had certainly declared, that it was not his intention to propose any bill of Indemnity for issuing the Orders in Council, because he was persuaded there was no illegality in the transaction. But there had been some measures resorted to in consequence of these Orders in Council, which required indemnity from parliament for those who had been concerned in advising and acting upon them. It was not an unusual proceeding to issue Orders in Council concerning matters, and he would beg of the noble lord to restrain his judgment till he should know more fully the nature of those proceedings for which it was proposed to apply for a bill of Indemnity. One of those was a measure adopted respecting goods imported on the occasion from Portugal. From the hurry in which British subjects had brought themselves and their goods away from Portugal, it was found impossible to provide native shipping. They took advantage of neutrals to convey themselves and their property to Great Britain. It was thought but just to issue orders to the officers of the customs to permit those goods to be landed, and, as by the navigation laws they could not be legally imported, except in British ships or Portuguese vessels, it became therefore necessary to get an indemnity for the transaction. This was one of the measures which required that an act of indemnity should be applied for, and he trusted the house would be of opinion, that it was a case which intitled the persons concerned to protection. Again he had to repeat, that the Orders in Council were not contrary to law, and did not consequently require any bill of Indemnity.
§ Lord H. Petty
apologized to the, right hon. gent. for not having more distinctly put his question. He however did learn from the explanation given by that right hon. gent. that it was not his intention to move for an act of Indemnity to cover the illegality of any of the Orders in Council.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
again repeated, that he had never stated any intention to bring in a bill of Indemnity for the Orders in Council, because they 156 involved no violation of law, and could not consequently require any indemnification for the parties who had advised them. What he had stated was, that certain measures had been adopted under these Orders in Council which required indemnity, and it was for those measures that the bill he- proposed to bring in was to indemnify the persons who had any share in them.