wished to be informed whether any engagement had yet been entered into with Sweden, to give effect on their part to the Orders in Council. A noble friend of his (lord Grenville) had formerly given notice of a motion to address his majesty to revoke those Orders, but had been induced to withdraw it in consequence of the negociations that were pending. Although 1127 no motion to that effect had, on that account, since been made, he still retained his former opinion with respect to the impolicy and injustice of those Orders. As the case at present stood, the execution of them rested with his majesty's ministers, in whom he could have very little confidence. They had the power of suspending their execution in certain cases, by means of granting licences; and he was anxious to know what policy in this respect it was intended to adopt towards Spain. He did not wish to extort from ministers any answer that it might be improper to give; but he trusted that the narrow policy of selling licences would not be adopted upon the present occasion, but that a broad and liberal policy would mark the conduct of his majesty's ministers with respect to the Spanish nation; and in this view, it might be expedient to revoke the Orders in Council, so far as regarded the ports of that country. He could not help again adverting to the expediency of issuing a Declaration, stating in an open and manly manner our views with respect to Spain, and our determination to assist them, without intermixing any selfish objects in the recovery of their independence. He had heard that the Spanish prisoners had been released, and he applauded it as a wise and liberal act. He thought, however, that it ought to have been accompanied by a declaration of our motives for doing so, which would have had a much better effect in Spain than the mere act itself, or than what the released prisoners could be enabled to state on their return to Spain. He could not agree in the policy of waiting until a regular government was established in Spain; that must rather be the result of the present struggle for their independence, than precede it. In the case of the revolution in England, at the time of the landing of the prince of Orange, James H. having abdicated the throne, there was no regular government left; the establishment of a new government was the result of the discussions which then took place. Upon this subject he felt, in common with every man in the country, the greatest anxiety as to the result; and a great anxiety also to know, as far as it could with propriety be known, what line of policy ministers would adopt.
§ Lord Hawkesbury
said, with respect to Sweden, that the most satisfactory assurances had been received from the court of Stockholm, of the disposition of that 1128 court to give every effect to that system which had been adopted in our Orders in Council. He would not now argue the question respecting these Orders, as it had been argued over and over again; but he would merely state, that his opinion with respect to the policy and expediency of that measure, remained the same as he had repeatedly expressed in that house. The noble lord seemed to misapprehend the policy of the system adopted under the Orders; inasmuch as it was merely intended to extend it to powers at war with his majesty, and to countries occupied by their arms. With respect to Spain, the prisoners, as stated by the noble lord, had been released, and upon that subject he could assure the noble lord, that it was the wish of his majesty's ministers to give every assistance to the Spanish nation that was consistent with the utmost generosity and liberality, without intermixing any partial feelings or selfish objects; every assistance that could tend to insure to them success in the glorious struggle in which they were now engaged. It was the sentiment or every man in the country, whatever might be his opinions upon other subjects, that every possible assistance should be given to the Spaniards in the contest in which they were now engaged, and his majesty's ministers were disposed to render that assistance in the spirit of generosity and liberality, and with a hope that it might lead to that ultimate success which it was the wish of every man in the country should be the result. The present situation of Spain derived additional interest from that congeniality of sentiment which had for centuries existed between Spain and this country, and of which additional proofs had been derived from the recent communication with the Spanish nation. Their wars had no reference to any difference of sentiment, the congeniality which had so long existed still remained, and excited a strong additional interest in the event of the struggle.
The Earl of Lauderdale
adverted to a former statement of the noble secretary of state, with respect to the disposition of the court of Stockholm to give effect to the system adopted in the Orders in Council, and observed, that it might have been expected by this time that some engagement would have been entered into, or that some treaty would have been signed, which might have been laid on the table of the house, and which would have been a better proof of the dispositions of that court. 1129 With respect to the effect of those Orders, he complained that the returns which had been some time since moved for, of the exports and imports at different ports, had not yet been laid before the house, so that they were unable to judge of the effect of those Orders upon the trade of the country; but from those papers not being laid upon the table, they had at least a right to suspect, that they were not favourable to the conclusion which ministers wished to draw from the operation of those Orders.
observed, that the noble secretary of state appeared to have misconceived a part of what he had said with respect to the operation of the Orders in Council on our intercourse with Spain. Spain, in her present anomalous state, was not, it was true, an enemy; but still she could not be considered as a neutral, and thus, under the operations of the Orders in Council, her ports would be blockaded with respect to the rest of the world. What he was therefore anxious to learn from ministers was, whether they intended to deal, upon this occasion, in the sale of licences, which he considered a narrow and unwise policy; and whether they intended to revoke those Orders as far as they regarded the ports of Spain.
The Earl of Lauderdale
adverted to the document upon the table, containing a statement of the exports and imports at the port of London for the quarter ending the 5th of April 1808, to shew the decrease, compared with the corresponding quarters of 1807; the exports of British manufactures in the latter being 5,100,000l. and in the former 4,900,000l.; and the imports, and also the exports, of foreign produce, decreasing in proportion, to prove there by the injurious effects of the Orders in Council.
§ Lord Hawkesbury
observed, that the amount of the exports and imports was no criterion in itself; the question was, were they greater or less than they would have been if the measure of the Orders in Council had not been resorted to? With respect to what had been said by the noble lord (Holland), he now clearly understood the object of that noble lord to be to ascertain, whether it was the intention of ministers to revoke the Orders in Council so far as regarded the ports of Spain? He could only state, that if the noble lord would suspend his curiosity for a few days, he would find that ministers had not omitted the consideration of this part of 1130 the subject, and he had no hesitation in saying, that in this respect, as well as in others, it was their wish to act with the utmost generosity and liberality towards the Spanish nation.
The Earl of Darnley
expressed a hope that the narrow policy of taking possession of a few ships, would not be the only stimulus to induce ministers to afford assistance to Spain. He considered the cause of the Spaniards entitled to all the aid and protection this country could afford.
expressed himself satisfied with the explanation given by the noble secretary of state.