HC Deb 08 November 1830 vol 1 cc297-9
Lord Althorp

suggested, as it was most important that the country should be made acquainted with the plan of the Government with regard to the Civil List, that Mr. Hobhouse should postpone his motion for an Address relative to the interference of this country in the affairs of Belgium.

Mr. Hobhouse

was most willing to take any suggestion from such a quarter, but the question was one of extreme importance; indeed with the exception of parliamentary reform, there was no question with regard to which the country was so desirous that the Parliament should at once come to a decision, and that they should pledge themselves in no manner whatever, to interfere in the affairs of foreign governments.

Mr. Brougham

recommended the postponement to the Friday following.

Mr. Hobhouse

declared it was his determination not to vote as a Member of Parliament a shilling to the Crown, if it was to be employed in interfering in the concerns of foreign States. He should probably fix his motion for Friday-week. He wished to take that opportunity to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, whether he had seen what had been stated in the newspapers, and, of course, correctly stated, as to conferences that were going on at the Foreign Office, to which the Austrian, Prussian, Russian, French, and English Ministers (the Dutch Ambassador had been invited, but was not able to go) were parties? If that were the case, he wished to know from the right hon. Baronet whether his Majesty's Ministers had assured themselves of the concurrence of the Provisional Government, established de facto in Belgium, in any arrangement to which those Powers in conference in Downing-street might come? He believed that he might assert, as a positive matter of fact, that the provisional government, which now held possession of the whole of Belgium, with the exception of the citadel of Antwerp and the fortress of Maestricht, would not permit any foreign Power to interfere by force or dictate to the Belgians what form of government they should select. He knew that to be the determination both of the government and the people, and he would recommend the right hon. Baronet to inquire from the parties themselves on the subject, and not to trust too much on such a point to the representations of any Ambassador. He did not wish to say any thing disrespectful of the French Ambassador, but there were circumstances connected with the history of Prince Talleyrand, which should make Government cautious in adopting any of the statements of that extraordinary man. He could assure the House that the Belgians would not submit to any dictation— French, Austrian, English or any other— with regard to the choice of their government. He was quite certain that those conferences in London, to which no Belgian envoy had been invited, so far from allaying the excitement in Belgium, would have the contrary effect. The Congress of Deputies which was to settle the form of constitution that Belgium was to adopt were to meet to-morrow for the first time; and after verifying their powers, they would proceed to the business of arranging their constitution and deciding the form of their government. Why, then, did not the Ministers wait until the decision of that Congress was known? He threw out that hint for the adoption of his Majesty's Government. The conferences in London would occasion the greatest excitement in Belgium, and the Belgians would not submit to be dictated to, as to their form of govern- ment. They would not submit to be told that they should not have a republic, or that they should have this or that Prince of the House of Nassau. It was possible that they would not come to the resolution of having a Republic, but, judging from what he had heard from some of the deputies, it was more than probable that they would choose a republican form of government; and the very insisting on their not doing so would confirm them in that determination.

Sir R. Peel

said, the hon. Member in postponing his Motion, had taken occasion to make a considerable portion of his speech. He wondered why the hon. Member had assumed that it was intended, on the part of the Ministers parties to the conference, to dictate to the Belgians as to what form of government they should select, or out of what family they should choose a sovereign. The first step which had been taken on the part of the conference, and which he was confident would meet with the approbation of the House and the country, was to endeavour, but not by dictation, to procure on both sides a cessation of hostilities. With respect to Prince Talleyrand, he did not know the motives which the hon. Member had for cautioning Government against him. He was accredited here by the King of the French, as the representative of his government; as such he had been received, and he (Sir Robert Peel) must say, in reference to that eminent individual, that there was not the slightest want of confidence in, or attention towards him, on the part of his Majesty's Government.

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