HC Deb 03 June 1819 vol 40 cc858-60
Mr. Denison

, on presenting a petition from the Merchants and Ship-owners of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, against the Foreign Enlistment bill, took occasion to animadvert in strong, terms upon the character and tendency of that measure, not only from its probable operation against the commercial interest of this country, but from its direct design to impede the efforts of the gallant inhabitants of South America to emancipate themselves from the horrible tyranny of the Spanish government.

Mr. Wilson

, on presenting a petition to the same effect, from the merchants, manufacturers, and ship-owners of London, expressed the most decisive objection to the measure referred to by the petitioners. The hon. member read an abstract from the petition, which forcibly stated the reasons upon which, for the sake of our commerce, manufactures, and shipping interest, the proposed bill should not be allowed to pass into a law. This petition was, he said, subscribed by 1,700 of the most respectable individuals connected with the trade of London. The opinions of such men were entitled to, and would, he hoped, experience the particular attention of the House. But as to the professed object of the bill, it seemed surprising that in the nineteenth century, it should be deemed necessary to legislate for the purpose of explaining the principles of neutrality. The Spanish government was known to have made use of the shipping of England for the purpose of conveying her troops, ammunition, &c. to South America, and of bringing home to her ports the wealth of those territories. That government had now a supply of British transports to forward more troops to that quarter; and after it had received such signal accommodation, not only in shipping, but in men, and all the sinews of war from this country, he could not see upon what ground of fairness or impartiality a similar accommodation or advantage was to be refused to the South American patriots. Such a refusal could not, in his judgment, be maintained, without a violation of all the principles of just neutrality. But, looking at the proposed measure in a mercantile view, it could not be too decisively deprecated; for the patriots had heretofore notoriously afforded every facility to our trade, while they were among our best purchasers; but if the measure referred to were enacted into a law, the consequence must be to throw the trade of the patriots into the hands of the United States, who would be ready, for their own benefit, to cultivate the connexion by all the means in their power. Under these considerations, with so many petitions from the manufacturing towns upon this subject, with such universal complaints of the stagnation of trade, and of the distress of the people, it behoved both the parliament and the government to pause, before it gave its sanction to any measure likely to exclude us from any market whatever, but especially from such a market as that of South America.

Ordered to lie on the table.