HC Deb 28 January 1808 vol 10 cc163-4
Mr. Rose

moved the order of the day, for going into a committee on the Act of last session regulating the Trade between this country and the United States of America.

Mr. Eden

regarded this motion with pleasure, so far as it went to prove a disposition to conciliate and maintain good will and amity with the American States; and it gave him still farther satisfaction, inasmuch as it seemed to indicate a hope on the part of his majesty's ministers, that the existing differences would be reconciled and done away. He was however, surprised, under the circumstances now existing in America, to find the provisions of the act of 1797, made to carry into effect the Treaty of commerce and amity with the United States, now proposed for renewal, without any reserve or modification. If the right hon. gent. would look to the preamble of the act, he would find that it was framed on the principle of a reciprocal freedom of commerce between the two countries. But now, when the non-importation act was renewed by the American legislature in all its strictness, and when an embargo was laid in the American ports, was it a time for Great Britain to renew without reserve, all the indulgences of the periods of most amicable relation. The act now in existence had five weeks of its period still to run; was it not proper to pause, at least for a part of that time, in order to ascertain whether the arrival of our envoy extraordinary in America, and the arrival of the intelligence, that must have nearly at the same time been received, of the unjust proceedings of France, might not, on more mature consideration, have taught the American government to adopt a more wise and moderate system of conduct? If the embargo should be taken off, and the Non-importation act repealed, his objections would no longer exist. But if the American government should be so unreasonable as to overlook the outrages of France, and to require from us concessions beyond all reason, a very different course would become us. Another reason why he was averse to the renewal of the act, was the refusal of the American government to ratify the treaty concluded last year. Many of the provisions of the act were incorporated in that treaty, and when the American government refused to accept them in the shape of a national covenant, why should we grant them, without any reciprocal consideration, in the shape of an act of parliament?

Mr. Rose

said, the object of the mea- sure he proposed to renew, was to continue the provisions of the act of 1794, in consequence of the failure or omission of making an arrangement under the 12th article of the treaty of 1797, in the time stipulated. In consequence of that omission, it became necessary to pass the Intercourse act of last session, to prevent the trade with the United States from falling to the ground. That act would expire in about four weeks. It would take three weeks to pass a bill to renew it, and therefore no time was to be lost. If America had precipitately taken measures hostile to this country, it became us to show an example of the dignity and moderation, that became a great and upright nation. He hoped America would profit by so instructive an example, and if she should not, he should still find a satisfaction in thinking, that this country had erred rather on the side of forbearance and deliberation than of anger and precipitancy. His hon. friend should be aware, that under the provisions of the Navigation act no American vessel could enter the ports of this country, unless special provision were made by act of parliament to that effect. To make that provision was one of the objects of the measure now proposed. There was no reason why American ships should be excluded from bringing the produce of their country to our ports, any more than the ships of any other nation. As to giving a power to the king and council, why should that be done by the king and council, which could be done by the legislature, particularly at a time when parliament was sitting? He proposed to limit the duration of the bill to the period of the present session of parliament, with a power to repeal or alter it at any time that it might be thought necessary. Some regulation was indispensably necessary, and this measure was the most reasonable that he could think of.—The house then went into the committee. After which, leave was given to bring in a bill to continue the acts passed for carrying into effect the Treaty of Commerce and Amity between his majesty and the United States of America.