HC Deb 27 July 1807 vol 9 cc929-31
Mr. Whitbread

rose and observed, that he had waited to the last moment in the hope of seeing the right hon. the foreign secretary, in his place, that he might put to him some questions. He could not however, let the present occasion pass by without submitting these questions to the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer. It would be in the recollection of the house that the right hon. gent., whose absence he had alluded to, had on a former night, in reply to a question put by him, respecting the treaties or engagements with foreign powers, noticed in the speech at the commencement of the session, stated, that he had reason to believe, that he should be authorised to lay those treaties before the house, either the week before last, or last week at farthest. He wished to know, then, when this communication would be made to the house. It was not his intention, however, to press for the communication, unless it could be made without inconvenience to the public service; but it was natural, in the present state of the session, that he should feel considerable anxiety to have the treaties laid before the house as expeditiously as possible.—He had also another question to ask the right hon. gent., concerning the very alarming event, of which intelligence had been received, respecting the capture of an American frigate by a British vessel. This event was felt by him, and would be felt by every sober, and reflecting person in the nation, to be in the highest degree alarming. What he wished to ask was, whether any communication had been received by his majesty's government of the circumstances that had led to this transaction? Whether the officer concerned had acted upon instructions furnished to him by the government at home, or upon his own feeling of duty or propriety? And whether it was the in ention of his majesty's ministers, to make any communication to the house upon the subject?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer ,

in the absence of his right hon. friend, would answer the questions of the hon. gent. He assured the hon. member, that it was the intention of his right hon. friend to make the communication, he promised, to-morrow. At the same time he must observe, that his right hon. friend had not intimated, that he would lay a treaty or treaties before the house. The hon. member and the house would recollect, that, in what passed on the former night, his right hon. friend had stated only that the treaty alluded to depended upon a contingency, which contingency, if it should not take place, would render it unnecessary to produce the treaty to the house. With respect to the other question of the hon. gent, he should hope that there would be no necessity to make any communication upon the subject. What he should state at present was, tha as a member of his majesty's government, he was not in possession of all the circumstances of the case, and could not therefore make any distinct communication upon the subject. All he should say was, that if, upon receiving the necessary information, it should appear that there was any thing improper or unjustifiable in the conduct of the officer concerned, there certainly would be every wish on the part of his majesty's minis- ters to make the fullest reparation that the nature of the case would admit of. He was convinced the house would feel, that it would not be just to impute blame in any quarter before a knowledge of all the circumstances of the transaction should afford the means of a fair and impartial judgment.

Mr. Whitbread

disclaimed any idea of imputing blame to any man, and was glad that he had asked the information, because the answer he had received from the right hon. gent. afforded him great consolation.