HC Deb 25 March 1824 vol 10 cc1393-5
Sir J. Mackintosh,

in rising to dispose of a notice of a motion which he had caused to be placed on the order-book respecting the States of South America, hoped that the House would allow him to premise a very few sentences. Since he had given notice of his motion, he had heard two important declarations made by the ministers of the Crown. It would be unparliamentary to mention the occasion upon which those declarations were made, the places in which they were made, or the parties from whom they proceeded; and he must therefore be excused for not being more explicit on those points. According, however, to the best of his recollection and understanding, the second of those declarations did expressly state (he did not affect to give the precise words) that any considerable armament from the ports of Spain, during the occupation of that country by the French army, against the South American States would be regarded as not being a Spanish expedition, and consequently as coming within the principle laid down in the closing despatch of the right hon. secretary for foreign affairs to sir Charles Stuart last year. He had no difficulty in stating, that after having well considered that declaration, it had made a great impression on his mind; it had supplied what he had considered an omission; and had explained what bad appeared to him to be ambiguous in the papers which had been laid before the House. That declaration had so much narrowed the ground on which any immediate and practical measure could rest, as to render it, in his opinion, very unadvisable at the present moment, to persevere in a motion, which might be understood in Europe, and in America, to imply that the intentions of the British government were mistrusted. Another circumstance had also influenced him, with regard to the determination to which he had come. He had heard, from a quarter which he Considered as trustworthy, but which, being of a private nature, did not carry with it the weight of the official character which was attached to the declarations to which he had just alluded, that a great power of the continent had declined to be a party to the threatened congress on the subject of the South American States. He could not say that he had been influenced by the ambiguous language which the ministers of-France had thought fit to put into the mouth of their monarch in his late speech; nor, indeed, if the language of that document had been much more explicit, would he have placed the least reliance upon it, when he recollected the striking contrast which existed between the public professions and the secret policy of the French government in the year 1822 and 1823. On account of the circumstances he had mentioned, all of which had occurred since he had given his notice of motion, he now begged leave to withdraw it. He might have postponed it to a future day; but he considered it the fairer and more manly course to withdraw it altogether; still, however, holding ministers responsible for every moment of unnecessary delay in acknowledging the independence of the South American States, and reserving to himself the right of bringing the question forward, if he should see cause hereafter.

Mr. Canning

hoped he might be allowed to say a few words upon the present occasion, though such a proceeding might not be strictly regular. His hon. and learned friend was, of course, at liberty to make, or to postpone, or to withdraw his motion, as should appear to himself most convenient. If his hon. and learned friend had pressed his motion, he would have extorted from him (Mr. C) some remarks; and in withdrawing it his hon. and learned friend had afforded him some temptation for entering into discussion. But, he thought he should best consult his duty by abstaining from making any remarks on what his hon. and learned friend had stated. He only wished the House to bear this in mind, that he neither affirmed nor denied the declarations which his hon. friend had stated to have been made elsewhere.