HC Deb 05 April 1805 vol 4 cc222-3
Mr. Barham

adverted to the alarm that prevailed on the state of our affairs in the West Indies. The right hon. gent. opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) knew the dismay in which the city was on this subject. It was conceived that great mischief had been done, and that the occasion of that mischief had arisen from the neglect of government. Whether that was, the case or not, he would not say, but he wished to put some questions, with a view, to ascertain whether proper measures had been taken for the security of our possessions and property in that quarter, that if such measures had been taken the knowledge of the fact might do away the alarm. If such measures had not been taken, it would be proper to enquire why they had not? He should if it were necessary, move for such papers as would give information of all the measures taken since the commencement of the war, for, the security of our West India Colonies; but he would content himself in the present instance, with inquiring what information government had with respect to the sailing of the Rochfort squadron, its, force, its destination, and at, what time this information had been received? He should wish also for the instructions given to Admiral Cochrane, and the dispatches received from that Admiral from off Lisbon. He wished to know, whether that Admiral sailed for the West Indies, and at what time, and what force he had with him? If these questions were satisfactorily, answered, any motion on the subject would be unnecessary, as the time was passed when the disclosure they led to, could be of importance to the enemy.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

felt himself under the necessity of objecting in the strongest manner, to the questions proposed by the hon. gent. The time was by no means passed, when the disclosure of the particulars required would be of importance to the enemy. On the contrary, it might be of the most material consequence to make these particulars known to them at present. He was certain, however, that when the proper time should come it would be evident that there was no neglect on the part of his majesty's government, and as he was sure the alarm that existed was beyond all proportion and almost altogether unfounded.

Mr. St John

said there were other papers to which his attention had been called, but if the disclosure of them was of any importance he would not press it. The papers he alluded to were, an account of our naval force in the West Indies in the last year; and a similar account for the ten years previous. The object was to shew, as he understood these accounts would, that the force in that quarter since the commencement of the war, was not greater than that which had been kept there during the peace. He gave notice, that he would move for these papers on the first open day.