§ On the Motion of Lord Althorp, the House resolved itself into Committee upon the Russian-Dutch Loan.
§ On the question that "It is the opinion of this Committee, that his Majesty be empowered to continue the payments under the Act of the 55th year of George 3rd, agreed to by the treaty of the 19th of May, 1815, between England, Russia, and Holland," being put from the Chair,
said, he had heard nothing either from the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or any Member of his 562 Majesty's Government, which he thought would justify him in voting for the continuance of the payments to Russia, and therefore he rose to express his dissent from the Resolution, and to move an Amendment with a view of taking the sense of the House upon it. On the late division upon the question then under consideration, the House would recollect he had voted with his Majesty's Ministers. That course he had adopted, because he thought the proposition of the right hon. member for Harwich (Mr. Herries), if carried, would have implied a direct vote of censure upon Ministers, and as he did not think the payment made in January last, at which period it was a matter of doubt whether the actual separation had taken place or not, deserved such an expression of opinion, he withheld his assent from it, and gave his vote to Ministers. Now, however, the case was altered. Holland and Belgium were, he maintained, distinct States; and, as the express agreement in the treaty of 1815 was, that the payments by England should terminate on the "passing away," words which admitted of no doubtful construction, of Belgium from Holland, he thought England was, without the slightest breach either of honour or public faith, bona fide exempt from further payments. His Majesty's Ministers, and their supporters, who, by the way, he thought had most unjustifiably impugned the motives of their opponents on the late discussions—meeting, in fact, every argument by unworthy insinuations—had urged that, although by the letter of the treaty the payments might have ceased, yet, in accordance with its spirit, England was bound to continue them. For his part he could not discover any difference between the letter and the spirit of a treaty. If the letter of the treaty was against the continuance of its engagements, it was to all intents and purposes null and void, and ought not to be acted upon. Hon. Members had said much of the necessity of preserving unsullied the national honour of England. That was all very proper, but he (Mr. Mills) had his own individual honour to preserve. And, as he had pledged himself to his constituents that no power on earth should induce him to consent to the expenditure of the public money, if he did not believe it to be due, he could not maintain that pledge by voting for a continuance of the payments to Russia. He thought it not unlikely that his determination to oppose the Resolution 563 would call down upon him the attacks of a certain portion of the public Press. Day after day did some of the public journals attempt to hold up to public indignation the man who, having on some occasions supported Ministers, ventured on others to judge for himself. But he cared not for their attacks, and would console himself under such circumstances with the conviction of having given an honest and conscientious vote. The hon. Member concluded by moving, as an Amendment, that the Chairman do leave the chair.
said, that it was impossible for him to refuse his sanction to the vote proposed by the noble Chancellor of the Exchequer. The consideration for which we originally agreed to pay this sum of money to Russia still existed—namely, the past services of Russia. It appeared to him that the opposition to the measure was urged with the view of exciting the passions of the constituent body throughout the country. He would never believe that the hon. Members who objected to the payment of the money were sincere, until they openly declared, that if they were in office they would not adopt precisely the same course as the present Ministry had pursued. But even if Ministers had on a nice point of law been wrong, he did not think that the House ought, under the circumstances, to censure them. He could not conceive that we were not bound to pay the money, and he had not heard one person of high station say we were not. He would vote, therefore, for Ministers; and he thought he should be able to justify his conduct to his constituents.
§ Mr. John Hope
said, he would not consent to vote the money, because the House ought to be put in possession of the documents which had induced the Attorney-General to change his opinion on the question, before they were called upon to vote the money. If the construction put upon the treaty of 1815 by the Ministers were correct, he saw no use whatever in a new Convention, and by entering into a new Convention Ministers had admitted that the Treaty of 1815 was not binding, The origin of the matter was, that Holland and England agreed conjointly to pay a certain sum to Russia, as long as a certain condition was fulfilled, that was no longer fulfilled—Holland had refused to pay, and why should England continue the payment? That condition was, that Belgium should remain united 564 to Holland, and the words Soustraire a la dominalion were as emphatic and explicit as the French language could supply. Belgium had subtracted herself from the domination of Holland. The words obviously did not imply being rent away by a foreign force, but a separation by the will of the Belgians, such as had now taken place. He could find, therefore, in the treaty none of the assumptions on which the Ministers rested their case; It was said, however, that Russia was willing to prevent the separation by force, but the seventh protocol acknowledging the separation was signed by Russia, who was, therefore, as much a party to the separation as England. Holland he conceived had not had fair play, and he, therefore, would vote against the payment of the money till every species of information was laid before the House.
§ Mr. Patrick Stewart
expressed his surprise that this question should be again brought forward after it had been so frequently discussed, and although Ministers had on each occasion obtained a proportionally increasing majority. He had no doubt but the result of the debate would be to continue the progression, and to prove that the oftener the subject was discussed, the better it would be understood—and the more complete be the justification of the Government. Whatever might have been the character of the past discussions on this subject, they were then called upon to determine the main question of our continued liability as a contracting party—thus involving the principles of our good faith and national honour. That the House should hesitate on a liability so evident, was matter equally of astonishment and alarm; and that a point so plain should have been encumbered by legal disquisitions, and rendered perplexed by applying to it the principles and arguments of the Jesuits, was an insult to common sense, and a slur upon their honesty. If the mere letter of the fifth article of the Treaty of 1815 were to be followed, we should perhaps be freed from our obligation to Russia; but if other parts of that treaty were taken, and the spirit which pervaded it Were taken into consideration, then we were bound to make good the payments it stipulated. What did Russia undertake from which she had swerved, so as to exonerate England from her obligations? She was to identify her policy with that of Great Britain, as regarded Belgium 565 and Holland, and she had done so in the most uneqnivocal manner. The right hon. Baronet asked what proof had we of this being the sprit of the agreement? He answered, the best possible proof. Not a diplomatic document, perhaps, which was generally a doubtful, and a debateable proof, we had that which could not be misunderstood—Russia's conduct. After acceding to the request of Holland, to send troops to replace Belgium under her dominion, Russia altered her course, solely because, to a similar application, England had given a very different answer. and resolved to act in a different manner, Instead of marching sixty or seventy regiments into the Netherlands, to reduce them to subjection, Russia signed sixty or seventy documents, and ratified the treaty which sprouted forth from that hot bed of protocols, and confirmed the separation desired by England. Was Russia for this attention to the interests of Europe, and this compliance with the expressed wishes of England, to forfeit the advantages of a treaty framed expressly for these objects. If Russia had refused to aid England when applied to for the purpose of settling the dispute betwixt Belgium and Holland, then England would have been fairly exonerated from further payments. When Russia asked for her money, and urged her literal compliance with our wishes, and her departure from the mere letter of the treaty, at our request were we to cast a Shylock glance over the deed, and answer "I cannot find it; 'tis not in the bond"? If the secret history of the debate could be known, it might, perhaps, appear to have originated in a Dutch suggestion. At all events, when Holland lost territory, and asked in vain for its restoration, she had some right to adopt a different interpretation of the clause, but Holland must be suffered to take her own course and protect herself. Our course, as regarded Russia, was the present question, and most assuredly we could not get clear of the payments stipulated for, without incurring a stain which the Baltic itself could not wash away. There was something alarming in the repeated discussions of this important and delicate point, because to doubt in such a matter was to hesitate under temptation, and to hesitate was to be lost. Hon. Members might smile, but credit, like chastity, ought to be unsuspected. With nations, as with individuals, dissensions might arise from yielding to the unworthy and 566 degrading influence of mercenary considerations; and it was not, perhaps, going too far, to say that these payments were the price of peace; of peace for Europe and for the world at large. There was a dangerous temptation connected with this subject, to which some hon. Members had unconsciously yielded. The treaty in question was, undoubtedly, a very inexpedient measure, a sad memorial of those spendthrift days, when, in the words of the hon. member for Thetford, "tens and twenties of millions were thrown away in profusion."* But it was as binding as if graced by wiser and more provident characteristics. The circumstances in which we were placed, our own burdened condition, and our feelings of indignation towards the party claiming our money, ought only to make us doubly anxious to act under a high and liberal interpretation of our bond; and, if there were a doubt, rather to give it against England, preferring honour to a full purse. He could not get up a difficulty on the occasion, or he would willingly do so. Even if he felt a doubt of our liability he should, under the circumstances, give his vote to pay the money, in order to silence for ever the suspicion that might otherwise rest upon our character.
§ Mr. Best
said, that the payment of the money was controlled by the treaty of 1815, by which it was made dependent on the union of Holland and Belgium. It was impolitic to agree to the dismemberment of the kingdom of the Netherlands, and he was sure that no British Minister could have promoted such a step. That kingdom had been constituted for the purpose of forming an effectual barrier against French aggression; and unless England promoted the separation whenever it took place, her obligation to pay the money ceased. The payment was now equally condemned by equity and economy.
§ Mr. Trevor
would support the motion of the hon. member for Rochester, and contended that England was fully exonorated by the Treaties from paying the money. Ministers ought at least not to withhold further information on the subject, for as the case at present stood all that Ministers said to the House in their justification was, "that if you knew all that we know, you would do exactly what we have done." He had no such confidence in Ministers, and he called upon them to* Hansard, (third series) vol. ix. p. 922.567 produce papers to justify their conduct before he would consent to vote away the public money.
§ Sir John Brydges
would not hesitate to support the proposition of the hon. member for Rochester, unless his Majesty's Ministers would lay documents before the House of a nature to enable him to form an opinion upon the case different from that which he at present entertained. He trusted that at the ensuing elections every candidate would be able to produce a list of those Members who had assented to this waste of the public money.
§ Mr. Pigott
had no hesitation in opposing the payment, and he considered that the present proposition was nothing more nor less than a vote of confidence in his Majesty's Government. He believed that the money was paid merely to induce Russia to join with France and England in opposing Holland, by severing from her the Netherlands. Let them look to the origin of the engagement. The Dutch, though they had, according to their ability, contributed as zealously as any other power to destroy Napoleon, had for their object to recover their independence and the rank which they had held amongst nations before they fell under the yoke of France. They had no claim on Europe, nor had Europe any on them. It was thought, however, advisable by those who had at that time the destinies of Europe in their hands, to establish a substantial barrier between France and the Rhine. It was thought that this object might be best obtained by the annexation of the Austrian Netherlands to Holland—not for the advantage of Holland, but for the general security of Europe. This annexation, however, was no gratuitous gift to Holland; she purchased it at its full price. Independently of the four valuable colonies added to Great Britain, the Dutch were obliged to expend 2,000,000l. for the defence of the Netherlands—an expense rendered necessary in consequence of the destruction of the barrier-fortresses by the emperor Joseph, and without which the new kingdom would have been entirely at the mercy of France. She had paid, moreover, already 1,500,000l. sterling, on account of the Russian debt: nor was that all; for the Conference disposed of Luxemburgh as arbitrarily as the rest. The House should bear in mind, that King William held this duchy by an entirely different title from that by which he was king of Holland. He received it 568 in exchange for the hereditary possessions of his family—the younger branch of the house of Nassau, which were given to Prussia. The half of Luxemburgh, by the Treaty of October, was arbitrarily disposed of, and the king of Holland was saddled with considerable payments. Our obligation to Holland appeared to be simply this: for a certain equivalent, we engaged to secure her the dominion of the Austrian Netherlands. After a union of fifteen years, these provinces revolt; negotiations are commenced under the mediation of the five Great Powers to effect an accommodation, and fail. Holland endeavours, by force, to recover her lost ground; France and England interfere by force to prevent her; they insist on separation—not content with simple separation, they impose on Holland conditions which she declares intolerable, and which must prove destructive of her commercial prosperity, if not of her independence; and yet hon. Gentlemen indulged in exaggerated sentiments about our pledges in honour to Russia, whilst they were content to blink the whole question of compensation to Holland, and retain the equivalent which she gave us for the Netherlands. The good sense of the people of England would not be duped by such miserable sophistry. Hon. Members might, with the hon. Member for Middlesex, vote that black was white, but they could not blind the people of England to the real merits of the case. Our national honour was in nowise concerned in this payment; which was only a penalty for the endless blunders of sixty-eight protocols. It was a bribe to induce Russia to consent to the perpetration of gross injustice on Holland, but which the firmness of her brave and free people—whose freedom was not of mushroom growth would, he hoped yet frustrate.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
took it for granted, from the silence observed by the Gentlemen opposite, that the Government considered the question already disposed of, and that they did not mean to favour the House with further arguments upon the policy or justice of the measure. That was the fourth time a debate upon the question had taken place, but it was the first when they had entered distinctly into the propriety of empowering the Crown to pay the sum demanded under new circumstances. Hitherto the question had not been one of policy, but fact and evidence. In January, his right hon. friend, the 569 member for Harwich, mooted the legal point, and contended, that Ministers had acted against the express provisions of an Act of Parliament; a small majority decided, however, that the transaction was legal. After the Convention had been laid before the House, in which it was declared to be necessary that the King should apply to Parliament to enable him to make the payment, his right hon. friend again deemed it advisable to bring the matter forward; and his Majesty's Ministers again threw themselves upon the fealty of their friends, who affirmed that which the treaty denied in explicit terms. In the course of last week they had to deliberate upon a very narrow and secondary question, but one which naturally introduced a renewed debate upon the entire subject; they had to decide, since evidence was assumed to be in existence, which had determined his Majesty's Government to propose the project of a new loan, whether that evidence was to be produced for the satisfaction of the Members of this House; and up to this moment, so reasonable did this proposition appear, and so extraordinary was the conduct of the Government, in refusing to furnish the necessary documents, that it might be suspected no such papers were in being. Much was then said about national honour, with the view, perhaps, of hindering the House from forming a distinct judgment upon the subject immediately before it. The delusion succeeded; the evidence was refused; and since they had to remain in the dark, their vote of that night could only be based upon such documents as were already before the House. Under these circumstances he should vote against the grant, and he had made up his mind that neither the House nor the country were bound, directly or indirectly, to pay the money in question to Russia. The records he had seen demonstrated, that the payment ought not to be made, that the conditions under which it might have been demanded had passed away, and that, however England might be bound in honour to pay the money somewhere, since she still held possession of those colonies which were considered the equivalent, she was neither compelled in equity, nor according to the clear explanation of the words of an Act of Parliament, or of any treaty furnished to the House, to advance a farthing to Russia. If, hereafter, evidence should be adduced of a nature similar to that which seemed to have made so decided an impression on the feelings of the 570 law-advisers of the Crown, and it should appear that we had promised Russia, under any circumstances, to pay this sum, he would support the grant. Did that Treaty between Great Britain and Holland, which had been so frequently alluded to, still exist, or was it cancelled? He considered himself justified in calling upon the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department to state what he had done or proposed to do with that Convention. Holland had a right to ask either for the restitution of the colonies, or for the payment to herself of the equivalent: she was the immediate party, and as she had declined sending her quota towards the interest of the loan sanctioned by Parliament, we must suppose that she had considered the separation of Belgium from the old United Provinces, as a justifiable ground for her refusal to advance the moiety of a payment, the other half of which was defrayed by Great Britain, not on account of Great Britain herself, but on account of a third party to whom Great Britain owed the money. He asked the noble Lord, was this treaty cancelled? The House of Commons were treated with little ceremony about conventions; for they had that night heard the noble Lord decline to present the Greek Treaty, until he was enabled to lay the accompanying protocols on the Table, while he had evinced the greatest eagerness to communicate the general Belgian Treaty to the world, not only without protocols, but without ratifications. He should look most anxiously into the Belgian Treaty, for the manner in which this original Convention between Great Britain and Holland was disposed of; but, whatever the noble Lord might think of its importance, Holland refused to pay the money. She refused, because Belgium had been taken from her—she refused to pay, because the conditions specified in the Act of Parliament which bound the British Government to pay, had not been attended to. If Holland refused to pay, and we did not hear of Russia having made an attack upon Holland for such a refusal, surely England was as much justified in declining to accede to the payment. It was admitted by the hon. member for Stafford on Monday last, that, although Great Britain could in no case be absolved from the payment, Holland was justly entitled to put in her claim; but he added, that, in his opinion, the Dutch had forfeited on account of misgovernment. Who were to be the judges about the good government or misgovernment 571 of independent states or sovereigns? Why were new doctrines, with regard to the right of insurrection, as opposed to that of established government, to be acted upon by those who, at this very moment, were inflicting the most dire calamities that could be imagined by despotic conquerors upon some of their subjects, for an attempt to obtain freedom? Was it impossible, when great and general principles with regard to rights of sovereignty, were simultaneously abandoned in one case, and supported in another, that the determination of those who acted such an inconsistent part, could be respected or admired. It was monstrous that Russia should pretend to arbitrate in this case, after what had lately occurred in Poland. It was glaringly inconsistent in the British Government to admit of any claim on the part of Russia, founded upon an express or implied obligation which was acknowledged at the Congress of Vienna, when, in defiance of treaties then formed, they winked at the destruction of the nationality of Poland. On Monday night one Gentleman said, that England was the cause of the separation between Holland and Belgium, and that Russia was really against it; but as Russia, against her own opinion, had acquiesced, it would be a most dishonest act on the part of England, were she to attempt to free herself from an obligation, by bringing about a separation which would, ipso facto, void the obligation. Very just reasoning, no doubt; but was it the fact? Or if it were the fact, was it not necessary that this House should make stricter inquiry into the large question of the separation of Holland from Belgium, which, it now appeared, was brought about by England, and was the object of her own peculiar policy? Another Gentleman stated, that during the progress of the negotiations, Russia had offered to send troops against the French when in Belgium, and that a general war would have been the result of accepting such an offer, but that she desisted at the suggestion of England. Then, it appeared, that the peace of Europe was to be purchased at the expense of this country. If that were the case, we should have paid for a truce, or a short suspension of hostilities. Lasting peace was never so secured. The Treaty of indemnity for colonies given up by Holland was a case entirely between England and Holland. Then, by the tripartite treaty between England, Holland, and Russia, certain sums of money, or a certain sum equally divided, were stated as owing 572 by Holland and England to Russia, during the existence of a certain state of things; and it was distinctly specified in the treaty, and afterwards recapitulated in the Act of Parliament, that in the event of a separation taking place between the two countries then united, the payment was to cease and determine. This was the first documentary evidence clearly demonstrating that England was freed from her obligation. In the course of this evening, a noble Lord, the member for Liverpool, had referred to the tripartite Convention, and told the House that he looked to the preamble of the treaty for an explanation of its spirit. He (Sir Richard Vyvyan) had done the same; and it was distinctly laid down in that preamble, that the Convention was entered into on "the final re-union of Holland and Belgium;" and that the services rendered by the Allies alluded to the liberation of the "said territories." If that hon. Member gave the most liberal interpretation to these words, he must allow that the said territories were Holland and Belgium. But the Allies did not free Holland. The Dutch drove the French out of the open country and the unfortified towns, before the Allies assisted them, and only left the strong places in the hands of the enemy, many of which were not surrendered until long afterwards: Antwerp held out until the surrender of Paris. But the Dutch acted with a patriotic spirit, and were less directly obliged to the Russians than any other country on the Continent. This being the case, how could the noble Lord maintain, that the said territories alluded to in the treaty meant the Seven United Provinces, which were now to be charged with the remunerating debt, indirectly through the equivalent paid by England for their old colonies, and partly, but more immediately, in the moiety defrayed by the king of the Netherlands himself. When the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, brought forward the scheme for a fresh law, to enable him to issue money for these payments, he said, he considered that the separation in question only meant a separation by force; and the noble Lord had adhered to that opinion. An hon. Gentleman, who supported him in this course, referred to the position of Belgium with respect to France, and improved upon the noble Lord's argument by supposing, that, not only did it allude to a separation by force from Holland, but to an annexation to France, declaring that the great object of the Treaty of the Allied Powers at that time was to hinder Belgium 573 from becoming a part of France. Was there one word of that in the treaty? Was there a syllable about it in the Act of Parliament which was based upon the treaty? It must refer to some secret article or treaty drawn up and signed at a distance of above fifteen years. Could there be any danger in producing the article, if such an article existed? Did the noble Lord fear to give umbrage to France by its production, when his friends had so frequently and openly declared, during the course of these debates, that it was against France the whole transaction was marshalled. There was a secret article upon the subject, which had been lately published and referred to frequently—the additional article to the Convention between Great Britain, Russia, and the Netherlands. He would defy the most astute reasoner, the most experienced sophist, to discover in that additional article any doubtful construction which would authorise him to draw the inference, that it was only in the event of a separation by force, and, still more, that it was only in the event of annexation to France, that the payment of that money was to cease and determine. In the first paragraph in the secret article, it was said. 'That, in order to prevent any doubts that might hereafter arise with respect to its meaning and operation, it is expressly stated, that, in the event of a part of the Belgian provinces being, at any time hereafter, severed from the dominions of his Belgian Majesty, a proportionate deduction from the charge should be calculated according to the population of the several districts, and that the residue only should be paid.' What a singular reasoner must that man be, who was compelled, by the production of this secret article, to admit that, in the event of the separation of a portion of the dominions of Belgium, a portion of the debt only was to be paid, whilst he maintained, that, if the whole was to be separated from Holland, the whole sum was to be paid. A more manifest contradiction in terms was never submitted to a legislative assembly. The second paragraph of the article said, 'That it is further understood that the invasion and complete possession of the said provinces by an enemy shall not be considered as determining any portion of the said payment, unless continued beyond the period of a year.' Could there be no enemy but an external enemy? Were the Belgians, who revolted against the King of Holland, to be looked upon in any other light than as enemies? But even, supposing that the ar- 574 guments of the noble Lord opposite were just with regard to the separation by force and foreign invasion, he (Sir Richard Vyvyan) would assert that the separation had been by force, nay, that up to this moment, it was not legally effected, but anticipated through force. Was no force thought of when the French troops entered Belgium last year? Was no force thought of when a British fleet was in the Downs ready, on the first orders from the Admiralty, to blockade the Scheldt, or to act in any other manner against Holland. The very arguments advanced by an hon. and learned Gentleman about Russia having suspended marching her troops, or interfering in behalf of Holland against France during that invasion, was an avowal that, had force not been resorted to, a general war would have been the result. He denied, then, in the first instance, that the separation, whether it took place by force, or without force, at all events, if it took place in consequence of any other cause than the free and spontaneous wish of the Sovereign power, could do otherwise than avoid the engagement of paying the money. But, even supposing that the exception contended for by the noble Lord were correct, and that force was necessary in order to avoid the payment, he would then contend, that force had been used, and that the threats of the Conference, the march of the French army, and the preparation of the British fleet, were all indications of force, which, had the king of Holland agreed to the separation, would have been as effective, probably, as if the French had been at Amsterdam and the British at the Texel. He was ready to meet the noble Lord on either ground. If force was necessary, force had been used; if we believed the literal construction of the treaty to be the true one, we were equally bound not to pay. As to the argument of annexation, what mattered it whether Belgium were annexed to France or not, if the Belgian army be officered by the subjects of the French monarch, if the Minister of War at Brussels be a Frenchman, and the new king be allied to France by marriage. By the arrangements now made, and for which England was still to pay, the original objects of the treaty would not be obtained, for French influence would be paramount at Brussels both in the cabinet and in the camp. If there were any such engagements to pay this money to Russia, when a separation had taken place, not by force as was now implied, the Ministers of 1815 must have held one language to Parliament 575 and another to Russia. If there were such an engagement, and we were honourably bound, he would willingly accede to the noble Lord's proposal, but, in the absence of all information on the subject, he must vote against the grant as uncalled for and unsanctioned by either the circumstances of the case or anything known to the House. When he (Sir Richard Vyvyan) had wished to have certain papers relative to this question laid on the Table, the noble Lord had objected to the proposal on the ground that the production of the documents would be inconvenient, as one of the parties interested, Holland, had not acceded to the separation. He, therefore, could only look to the documents before the House for the information which he could get at, and in the absence of further information, he should vote against the Resolution.
§ Lord Althorp
reminded the Committee that his Majesty's Ministers had placed the case on the general information of which the House was in possession, and not on the treaty of 1815, or the recent Convention, taken separately. The House was bound to come to a vote upon a consideration of all the circumstances, and not in reference to any particular article of the treaty. His hon. friend who brought forward the Amendment, had said that he would not press his Amendment, if he (Lord Althorp) would state on his honour that there was any secret article binding this country more than it appeared she was bound by the papers on the Table. He certainly was not prepared, however, to say that Gentlemen who were not convinced by the documents already on the Table, and by a consideration of the general circumstances, would have their opinion altered by a perusal of any further documents which it would be possible for the Government to produce. The hon. Baronet (Sir R. Vyvyan) who had just sat down stated that the only ground on which he (Lord Althorp) defended the payment to Russia, was that the separation of Belgium from Holland had not been a severance by a foreign enemy. If he recollected accurately what he had said on a former occasion, the ground that there had not been a severance by a foreign enemy was not the only ground he took. His argument was, that the separation had taken place, not only not against the wish of England, but with the entire sanction and consent of England, and that under such circumstances it would be dishonourable of this country to turn round and say to Russia, "We shall take advantage of the 576 separation which we sanctioned by discontinuing the payments we undertook to make." Though he had been charged with making short speeches on this subject, as this was the fourth night of the debate on the question, he really thought he should best consult his duty, as well as the convenience of the Committee, by refraining from entering at length into the circumstances of the case. Every one who heard him knew the circumstances under which the separation had taken place between Holland and Belgium. The Government of this country had no other way of preventing that separation, but by involving Europe in a general war, and, even had that been done, the separation would probably have taken place ultimately, under circumstances much more disadvantageous to the interests of this country. Looking to all the circumstances of the separation, he thought it was impossible to say that this country was absolved in honour from the payment of this money; and, much as the Government had been censured by hon. Gentlemen opposite, considering the whole transaction as a question not between two countries, but as between men of honour, he did not believe there was a Gentleman in the House who would come to the conclusion that the payment should have been refused.
said the noble Lord (Althorp) had completely lost sight of the great constitutional principle which was involved in this question—a principle which, he contended, had been violated by the payment of this money without the sanction of Parliament. If he recalled the attention of the Committee to this important part of the question, he trusted it would not be supposed that he did so for party purposes, or with a view of harassing Ministers. He certainly should give no more votes on the subject, though the Bill must yet go through many stages, and if he were disposed to act factiously, the present Bill gave him many opportunities. He denied that the discussion on this subject had been carried on in the harassing manner described, and in which it might have been if the Opposition had proceeded upon different principles, particularly with such divisions as had already taken place on it. With respect to the motion for further information, how had it been met? The noble Lord said, that the House was bound to come to a division on the question, not merely with reference to the original treaty and the late Convention, but by a reference to all the circumstances 577 of the case; and yet he objected to the production of those documents from which all the circumstances could be known. He (Mr. Baring) did not deny, that if all the facts were produced, a strong case might be made out to justify the course adopted by Government. All he said was, that in the absence of those facts, no case was made out to justify the payment which had been made. They were now left to decide the question, not upon all the facts, but upon a partial knowledge of facts; and, after a review of the circumstances, he asserted, that, upon the separation of Holland and Belgium, the obligation of this country had ceased by the words of the treaty. England had incurred no obligation to Russia which Holland had not also incurred; and the obligation of Holland having ceased by the severance, there was no obligation remaining on the part of England. The altered circumstances of Belgium prevented the operation of the motives which had originally induced this country to assent to the arrangement. When Belgium was united to Holland, it was contemplated that the former country would stand as a barrier against France; but he denied that Belgium was now to be looked upon as an independent state, forming any thing like a barrier against France. Why, when a question arose, of approaching war with Holland, France was through the Belgian territory, and on the frontier of Holland, almost before the other Powers were aware of it. Under these circumstances, he wished to express his opinion on this subject (he sincerely hoped for the last time), and to enter his protest against the payment made by Government. They might have waited, at all events, until the negotiations for the separation had been concluded. As to the Amendment now before the Committee, he would ask the law officers of the Crown whether they could state, on their honour, that, when they were called upon by Ministers for an opinion as to the legality of the payment, they were furnished with no other information but the articles of the treaty? If it was thought necessary that the hon. and learned Gentlemen should have further information to enable them to form a correct opinion as to the legality of the payment, he asked how it was possible the House should form an opinion in the absence of such additional information? The House should have the same information afforded to it which had been laid before the law officers of the Crown. Without full and satisfactory information, 578 he submitted, that it would be impossible for that House, without a violation of duty, to vote the payment of so large a sum of money. If it was a question of national faith, or that the preservation of national honour depended on it, he admitted that the amount should not be taken into consideration, but that, if it had been five times as great as it actually was, the Government would be bound to call upon Parliament to provide for the payment. He believed, however, that the present state of our finances was not such as would admit of any large payments, not justified by necessity, or by considerations of national honour. In the present state of our finances, the Government ought to be cautious what pecuniary engagements were entered upon. These were not times for money-scattering, though he was afraid from the course of our foreign policy, that the Government was getting into wasteful habits. He was induced particularly to make this observation in reference to what he understood had been done with respect to Greece. An arrangement had been reluctantly agreed to, on a former occasion, to place a prince nearly connected with this country on the throne of Greece. Prince Leopold, however, had since accepted the throne of Belgium, and the Government of this country had now guaranteed the payment of 800,000l. to place a young gentleman not out of his teens on the throne of Greece, in which situation he would have to govern (perhaps putting aside our own fellow-subjects of the sister country) the most unmanageable people in the world. It was the bounden duty of that House to have a parliamentary justification of the course which had been pursued, and he contended that such parliamentary justification had not hitherto been made out. He was not influenced by any factious motive or any desire to embarrass the Government, but he should heartily support the Motion of the hon. member for Rochester.
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had, in stating his view of the Committee, displayed all the ingenuity, and, at the same time, all the inconsistency of argument, for which he was usually distinguished. At the first outset, the hon. Gentleman, the member for Thetford, spoke of this question as one in which the Committee was not to be governed by mere pecuniary consideration, and in voting upon which hon. Members ought not to be influenced by party feeling, or by 579 a regard for popularity: and yet the beginning, the middle, and, he might almost say, the end of the hon. Gentleman's speech was an argument founded upon this, that the pecuniary consideration, involved in this question, would have great weight with the constituents of hon. Gentlemen, on the hustings, at the next election. Now, that hon. Gentleman, who was so earnest and disinterested an opponent of a money-scattering administration, who had such a holy horror of all jobbing in loans, that hon. Gentleman himself, the member for Thetford, was well aware that there was not one of those money-squandering loans, not even that in which England was to become the guarantee for Greece, but had been entered into by the money-squandering Gentlemen around the hon. member for Thetford. The hon. Gentleman, who looked with such a holy horror upon the acts of what he called a money-scattering Government, had omitted to state that there was not one of those acts which was not done in pursuance of the engagements entered into by the money-scattering Government which preceded the present Ministers, which engagements were as deliberately and as solemnly objected to upon principle at the time, by the noble Lord now at the head of his Majesty's Government, as they were conscientiously fulfilled by him, now that he found himself no longer the organ of his own independent opinion, but placed at the head of the policy of this great country, and bound to ratify the engagements which he had objected to at the time of their formation. He stood now pledged to the honour of the country. He stood by the ratification and confirmation of the principle established by others. It was not for those who had entered into the treaty—who had bound the country to the payment of those sums to Russia—now to cavil at the Government—now to contend against the ratification of their own engagements, by the Gentlemen who have succeeded them in office, and to whom they have left the embarrassments necessarily arising from such treaties. The hon. member for Thetford declared, that he was not actuated by factious motives in his opposition to the Government upon this question. Surely no one suspected the hon. Member of being a party to a factions opposition. If such a suspicion could by possibility enter into the mind of any man, would it not be at once removed by a perusal of the speech which the hon. member for Thetford made in January last. 580 The hon. Gentleman now told the House, that there were various ways of looking at this question—first, the pecuniary consideration, which God forbid he should permit to occupy his mind, and then the great constitutional principle, which alone was deserving of attention. On the 26th of January the hon. Gentleman, who, it seemed, was gifted with prophecy, but whose prophecies sometimes failed, told the House, that he should be ashamed of himself if he allowed his opinions on such a case as this to be biassed by any feelings of party. He assured hon. Gentlemen that 'he had no such feeling on this occasion. He looked upon the question—first, as a question of good faith upon our part, and if any case were made out to show that, in good faith, we were bound to pay this sum, or that, in point of honour, though not in law, we ought to continue what we had stipulated, he could not support the Motion*.' The hon. Member further told the House, he could make no distinction between the pecuniary and the constitutional question, but, that, if it sanctioned the interpretation put by his Majesty's Government upon the treaty, and afterwards fell into the inconsistency of refusing to ratify it, the effect would be to render it unsafe for any other power in Europe to deal with this country. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that such a course of policy would render it unsafe for any other power to deal with us. But, as the House then sanctioned the fulfilment of the treaty by a division, and as it had since, by three divisions, testified its approbation of the fulfilment of the treaty, could the hon. Gentleman, who had no wish to embarrass the Government, call upon the House to turn round and to declare by its vote, that it would hereafter be unsafe for any foreign government to deal with England? But, the hon. Gentleman said, that in the former vote the House acted under a misapprehension, that the Government felt a doubt themselves as to the obligations of the treaty, and referred it to the law officers; and that their opinion was, that the treaty itself was against the conclusion adopted by his Majesty's Government. It was so; but on looking over the documents connected with the Treaty of 1815, they changed their opinion, and stated, that, which all who had well considered the question must admit, as far as a nation could be bound by the spirit of any treaty, we* Hansard (third series) vol. ix. p. 926–927.581 were bound to make good our engagement to Russia. It was perfectly true, and no man could doubt, that, by the bare letter of the Treaty of 1815, the separation of Belgium from Holland would release this country from its obligation to pay that which it had guaranteed; but then the object of the treaty, and the negotiations connected with it, would show, beyond any doubt, that in honour and equity, as between nation and nation, our obligation to pay still continued after the severance of the two countries; reference being also had to the circumstances under which that severance took place. The hon. Member had asked for the other documents on which the decision of the law officers was made. His noble friend (Lord Althorp) had already said, that there was no secret treaty, that there were no documents which could enable the House to form any other opinion than might be come to from those already before the House. The Ministers rested upon those documents—upon that general knowledge of the subject which was in the possession of every Member, and which was now matter of history. The hon. Member had asked, whether his hon. and learned friend, the Attorney General, would pledge his honour, that the documents submitted to him were sufficient to make a case to justify the payment? The answer he (Mr. Stanley) made was, that there were no other documents but those before the House. But as it seemed the fashion to put questions in that way, let him put it to the honour of the hon. Gentleman, whether, on the papers which were before the House, he was prepared to say that this country was not bound to fulfil the treaty. If they who knew the engagements that subsisted when the present Government came into office, were prepared to say, as men of honour, that there was no obligation upon this country to pay the money, then, he admitted, they would be entitled to call upon the Government for further explanations of the grounds upon which they proceeded; but if they felt, as he was sure they must feel, that the country was bound hand and foot by an honourable engagement, out of which this country could not go, without rendering it unsafe for other countries to deal with her, then let them disembarrass themselves of the pecuniary part of the question—for such was really the ground upon which they were proceeding—and meet the question upon the broad constitutional principle—namely, that the faith of England was pledged, 582 and that we were bound to redeem it. The right hon. Baronet had stated, on a former evening, that this was a sort of mixed engagement, arising out of a former engagement. It was true, that it was a mixed engagement, and it arose out of the impossibility of reconciling the letter and the spirit of the former engagement. To clear up any doubt on the wording of the former treaty, the latter was entered into, and on that Ministers felt it necessary to come to the House. Hon. Gentlemen said that this was an engagement entered into with Holland, and ought to be construed alone with reference to that country. Good God! could any man who looked at the great struggle of 1815—that struggle in which England, and her whole resources, were involved—that struggle in which all Europe ultimately joined—that glorious struggle which terminated in the overthrow of a power that threatened the destruction of every vestige of freedom in the civilized world—would any man tell him that it was carried on for the purpose of annexing a few provinces to Holland? Would any man tell him that its object was not to quench the ambition of France, whose energies were directed by such a conqueror as the world never saw before—a conqueror who threatened the safety of every state throughout the civilized globe? Would any man tell him that the object of the vital struggle was merely the attaching of the Netherlands to Holland? What were the terms of the treaty? That the payment should cease when Belgium was separated from Holland. But what species of severance was meant? Evidently a severance contrary to the will of Russia and of England. Looking to the preamble of the treaty, and looking to the declaration of Lord Castlereagh in Parliament, who said, that even in the case of those countries being severed, still the payment should be made to Russia, it was clear that such was the meaning of the contracting parties. Lord Liverpool also expressed the same opinion, in a long and laboured statement.* He did not look, he said, to a mere narrow view of the question; but, considering what Russia had suffered—considering the exhaustion of her finances—considering the destruction of Moscow—he would appeal, not to the strict justice of England, but to her high-minded liberality, to act with a beneficent feeling towards Russia. It was not on account of colonies* Hansard, vol. xxxi. p. 718–743.583 which this country held by the right of conquest, that such a stipulation was entered into. No; it was in consequence of the strenuous exertions made by Russia at a period of extremity and danger, when this country was threatened with war and invasion. England was then rescued, (as Lord Liverpool said) by these exertions, from a knowledge, except an historical knowledge, of war, and London, perhaps, from pillage.* It was on these grounds that Lord Liverpool supported a treaty which the present Government were so much blamed for upholding. Yes, they were denounced as a money-scattering Government, because they adhered to the spirit of that treaty. But Gentlemen said, "this question does not depend on the statements of those who made the treaty; no, we must be guided by documents, and by documents alone." Why, it was quite evident from those documents, that the great object of the treaty was, to afford a suitable return to Russia for the heavy expense incurred by that Power in recovering those provinces from the enemy. Holland had a distinct interest in their recovery—England had a distinct interest in their recovery. And who was the enemy there designated? There could be no enemy but France. If this were not so, why expend 2,000,000l. on the erection of frontier fortresses to protect those provinces against the incursion of France? What was the language of Earl Grey on that occasion? That language he was proud to quote, because it fully sustained the policy which the Government was now acting on. That noble Earl said, 'he considered the money employed in the repairs of fortresses on the frontiers as entirely thrown away. As a measure of defence or for any other good purpose it was perfectly nugatory.'† 'It would have been better, the noble Earl added, 'to have left the sovereign of Holland his colonies, and to have given the Netherlands to some third power capable of defending them.'‡ And what had now been done? Surely it was better to secure the guarantee of the five great Powers against the invasion of Belgium, which this treaty did secure, than, for that purpose, to force a monarch on an unwilling people, and to expend money for the erection of fortresses which could not be maintained. Holland felt the uselessness of the* Hansard, vol. xxxi. p. 721.† Ibid, p. 721.‡ Ibid. p. 723.584 barrier, but did she or did Europe feel the uselessness of the other guarantee? The hon. Gentleman, to whose arguments he was now replying, was a great prophet, and, on a former occasion, he prophesied that it would be a miracle if the Government could preserve the peace of Europe for a twelvemonth. Two years nearly had passed since that prediction, and yet the peace of Europe remained undisturbed. He prophesied that the French fleet would never leave the Tagus, nor the French army leave Belgium. But the French fleet had left the Tagus, and the French army had left Belgium, leaving it to the Congress to confirm the independence of the newly-created kingdom; and this at a time when barriers were of no use, and Holland could not employ them in her defence. With what did the hon. Gentleman now find fault? He censured the Government because it had interfered to settle the differences between two contending powers, whose quarrel, if not amicably settled, was likely to engender war all over the continent. The slightest reflection must convince every man, he contended, that the barrier-fortresses of 1815 could not prevent the occupation of Belgium, when France had such powerful allies, in the national antipathies which existed on the part of Belgium towards the dominion of Holland. What, then, was the intention of his Majesty's present Ministers? Why, it was to accomplish that—the independence of Belgium—which their predecessors had attempted. Let not the odium be thrown on the present Government, of severing Holland from Belgium. That had taken place before the hon. Gentlemen opposite had left office. They had acknowledged that no power could reunite these jarring elements, which they had endeavoured to unite by strong fortresses, but which the strong power of national antipathy had torn asunder in such a manner as never to be rejoined. Not on the present Government could be thrown the responsibility of endeavouring to separate Holland and Belgium. The present Ministers would gladly have consolidated the union, but they found it severed in such a way, that it only remained for them to adjust the terms of the separation. Nothing but war could have forced them again into union, and such a war, involving all Europe, would have cost a sum, to which the sum now in discussion was ridiculous and contemptible. Were the Ministers, therefore, to go to Russia, and call on it to interfere and enforce the union, or lose the money we 585 had agreed to pay? Were they thus to have called upon Russia to make that war, which would have been so expensive, and which it was the great object of all the powers of Europe to avoid? Russia having fulfilled her engagements to the letter, were they now to say, to that Power, "we will not grant you this 1,800,000l., instrumental as you have been in preserving the peace of Europe?" The Ministers were taunted with bad faith, because they did not state that they had entered into a new treaty with Russia; but that country did not like to ratify the Convention, till it was also able to ratify the treaty which separated Belgium and Holland; and on that account the incomplete treaty could not be mentioned. But was that a breach of faith, or were they to be called a money-scattering Government, and charged with improvidence, because they wished to carry into effect that which (if Gentlemen chose so to denominate them) their "improvident" predecessors had countenanced and recommended? Were they to be censured, if they endeavoured to keep up the good faith of the country, which, God forbid, should ever, in their hands, be tarnished or broken? "Why," it was asked, "should you enter into new engagements?" The answer was obvious. Those who advised this course were of opinion that if doubt existed, Russia should, through the authority of Parliament, receive that security which she fairly deserved. They had entered into a new treaty because the letter of the old treaty did not coincide with the spirit. Russia did not ask for a new treaty till it had fulfilled, to the letter, the treaty for the separation of Belgium. But, then, it was said, "the treaty guaranteed the payment, though Russia was at war with us," and it was asked, "would you subsidize an enemy?" In this case we had only to look to one point—was that enemy an enemy to Belgium? This country would not be freed from her engagement, unless Russia showed herself hostile to our policy with respect to Belgium. In the first instance, the policy of this country was to promote a union between Holland and Belgium; subsequently circumstances rendered separation necessary. In neither case had Russia dissented from our policy, and, therefore, she had a right to call for the fulfilment of our engagement. It was, however, said, that if the situation of Holland was changed, England was no longer bound by the contract; he denied this. And then came the question, were the 586 views of Holland the same as those of England? They manifestly were not. Holland was anxious for an extension of her territory, but that was not the wish or desire of England. Her object was to secure the independence of Belgium against the ambition of France, and thereby to prevent a general war throughout Europe. He had not meant to trouble the House so long, on a question which had been placed in so much better hands than his, but he could not help calling the attention of the House to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, which contained many things entirely contrary to his former declarations. The hon. Gentleman had said, that he did not wish to embarrass Ministers—that he had no desire of appealing through that House to the hustings—yet the whole tenor of his speech had evidently a tendency to both the one and the other. He (Mr. Stanley) had felt it to be his duty to point out the fallacies which the hon. Gentleman had advanced, and to express a hope, that, as his former predictions had not been fulfilled, either in the letter or the spirit, those of the present evening would turn out to be equally unfortunate. He hoped that this engagement with Russia would still continue to be fulfilled, and that England, by an inviolable adherence to the real, and honest, and frank, and open interpretation of her treaties, would ever continue to uphold her national faith throughout the world.
§ Sir George Murray
said, this was the first time he had attempted to address the House upon this question, and he should not have risen upon the present occasion were it not for the taunts so often thrown out by the hon. Gentleman opposite, that no Member privately, and as a man of honour, could say he differed from Ministers upon this question. He rose to state shortly the reasons why he thought that no person, either as a man of honour or in fulfilment of a Treaty, was bound to vote for the payment of the money. He might be wrong, but this was the opinion he conscientiously entertained. It could not be his object to make an appeal to the hustings, for he was ignorant of the sentiments of his constituents upon this subject. It could not be supposed, therefore, that he was making an appeal to the next election. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) began his speech by accusing his (Sir G. Murray's) hon. friend (Mr. Baring) of inconsistency in argument. Nowhere, however, was so much inconsistency to be 587 discovered as in the course of the varied arguments adopted by the Government throughout the whole consideration of this question. In January, when the legality of the payments was questioned, it was said, that they were not strictly due under the treaty. The House was told by the law officers of the Crown that they would be illegal according to the strict letter of the treaty, but other documents submitted to them rendered the legality of the payments indisputable. Now they were told, however, by the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) that these documents did not exist, although it was repeatedly stated, in the very last discussion on the subject, by the Attorney General, that he had seen documents which had satisfied his mind as to the obligation which was imposed upon the country of continuing these payments. The noble Lord now said, that he founded his opinion on no other documents than those on the Table of the House, and on that general knowledge which all Gentlemen might be supposed to have of the subject. Could anything be more inconsistent, or opposite than these two statements? Some Gentlemen had made it matter of reproach that this was the fourth night of this discussion, and that it was merely an adjourned debate. That man, he was of opinion, could have little discrimination who could confound together the four different debates on this subject. The first debate in January turned upon the question, whether it was legal or illegal to make the payments, without a further sanction from Parliament; and in what manner was the legality of the payments defended? Not by the terms of the treaty, but by those documents which the law officers stated that they had seen, acknowledging that the law did not, without these documents, authorize those payments which the Government had taken upon themselves to make, without coming to Parliament. Subsequently to that debate, they took another view of the case, and suspended the payments, even after the vote of the House of Commons in January. The debate of the other night, raised by his hon. friend (Mr. Baring), sprung from a motion for the production of those papers on which the former question had entirely hinged. He asked to see those documents and was refused; yet he was now told, that they were violating the faith and tarnishing the honour of the country, unless they supported a treaty which, when taken by itself, had been considered by the law 588 officers, as not authorizing the payments. The right hon. Gentleman had also accused his opponents of seeking to make this a mere pecuniary discussion, and of endeavouring, for the sake of popular favour, to cast upon Ministers the imputation of being a "money-scattering" Government. But what course did the right hon. Gentleman himself take? Why, he wished to take the very course himself, which he accused his opponents of taking, and sought to cast upon Gentlemen on this side, the imputation of being a money-scattering Government. The right hon. Gentleman was not, however, successful, for not one Gentleman near him had been a Member of the Cabinet, which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, scattered the public money in these treaties having reference to the Netherlands. If there were any individuals in the House more immediately connected with that money-scattering Government than others, they were the colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman, the noble Lord on his left (Lord Palmerston) who although not actually in the Cabinet, was a Member of that Government, and the right hon. member for Inverness-shire. Upon these individuals and others, the imputation must recoil which the right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured in vain to cast upon his opponents. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to the case of Greece as an instance of the money-scattering disposition of the late Government; but when the proper opportunity arrived he should be able to show, that if there had been any money improvidently scattered in that quarter, the imputation must rest upon that Government which first interfered with Greece, and upon the present more than on the late Administration, Among the several topics touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman, all wide of the present question; no one appeared more unconnected with the subject before the House, than the question he put with respect to the late war with France, a subject into which he travelled a considerable way. The right hon. Gentleman asked the House, whether the sole object of that war had been to annex a few paltry provinces to Holland? Certainly, there were other objects of far greater importance to be attained—the invasion of this country was contemplated, and on the point of being attempted by the enemy; and the great objects of the war were, to provide for our own security, and to check, effect- 589 tually, the overweening and grasping ambition of France, and we succeeded. But how did matters stand now? What was this bridle which the right hon. Gentleman said had been put into the mouth of France by the present Ministers? What was the obstacle that had been thrown in her way, and the barrier which had been raised against her reviving ambition? Why a little dependent state, more like the sovereignty of one of the petty Rajahs in the East Indies, subject to the control of the East-India Company, than to an independent kingdom—a state immediately in the dependence, and almost under the dominion of France, and every day connecting itself more and more closely with her—a mere nominal power in Europe, whose armies were officered by Frenchmen, almost in the same way that those of the Rajahs, to whom he had alluded, were officered by Englishmen; and yet this was the barrier which the right hon. Gentleman had told the House was to be opposed to the ambition of France, and to be our security against the renewal of attempts such as those of the greatest conqueror that the world had ever seen. The right hon. Gentleman had further stated, that Holland had, in point of fact, nothing to do with the treaty now under discussion. This country and Holland were the only parties to the Treaty of 1814; which, be it remembered, was the source and origin of all the other treaties connected with the present question. We became bound by that treaty for the payment of 1,000,000l., with reference to a claim on the part of Sweden for giving up Guadaloupe; for the payment of 2,000,000l., with reference to the construction of fortresses in the Netherlands; and also for a further sum of 3,000,000l., to bear, equally with Holland, 'such further charges as may be agreed upon by the said parties and their allies, towards the final and satisfactory arrangement of the Low Countries, on condition that the payment shall not exceed, in the whole, the sum of three millions of money, to be defrayed by Great Britain. In consideration of the above claim, as stated by his Britannic Majesty, the King of the Netherlands agrees to give the Cape of Good Hope, &c. upon condition nevertheless,' and so on. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the Treaty of 1815 affected merely Russia and Great Britain, and that Holland had no concern whatever with 590 it. This was, however, a mere assertion of the right hon. Gentleman; for it was expressly stated in that treaty, that the obligations of it should cease and determine, if the sovereignty of Belgium shall pass away from Holland. They were not, it was said, to interpret this treaty by the letter, but by the spirit. Where was that spirit to be found? Where was the evidence that the letter and the spirit did not agree? The law officers of the Crown said, that the spirit was to be found in the documents submitted to them. Then let the House see those papers, and examine whether the spirit contended for by his Majesty's Ministers really was there. The noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) on a former occasion said, that the spirit of the treaty was to be inferred from the speeches of noble Lords who were members of the Administration at the time it was formed; but his interpretation of these speeches was one which they were never intended to bear by those who spoke them. Was that spirit, differing from the letter of the treaty, to be found in the speeches of Lord Castlereagh? He had looked over those speeches, but could not discover that they sanctioned such an interpretation of the treaty as that which was contended for by his Majesty's Ministers. If Lord Liverpool's, and Lord Castlereagh's speeches were taken together, and read throughout, they would not enable the noble Lord to construe the treaty, in that sense which his Majesty's Ministers contended for. Lord Castlereagh, after having stated that nothing could be so little congenial to British feelings as to apply the rights of war rigidly to Holland, and retain possession of the Dutch colonies without giving an equivalent, alluded to this Russian loan, and said, that our payments would be suspended if, by any circumstance, the Netherlands should be separated from Holland. The noble Lord afterwards added, these payments, 'as he had before stated, would only be continued so long as the Netherlands were separated from France, and would cease if the Orange family should unfortunately be displaced.*' Could there be in any part of my Lord Castlereagh's speeches, an opinion so diametrically opposite to that which was here distinctly expressed, as to favour that spirit which the right hon. Gentleman, and the noble Lord sought to find in these speeches of the Ministers of the day, at variance* Hansard, xxx, p. 746. 747.591 with the letter of the treaty? There was no possibility of misapprehending the intention of that treaty. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the opinion of Lord Grey upon the policy of this treaty, and to his Lordship's declaration, that he would have been better satisfied if he had seen the Belgic Provinces connected with some one of the great Powers of Europe. But were not hon. Gentlemen aware, that Austria was extremely glad to cast off her connexion with these provinces, because the cost of protecting them against the continual attacks of France, was greater than their real value to Austria? Did the right hon. Gentleman, then, or Lord Grey suppose, that Prussia was so little acquainted with her own interests, and so little warned by the example of Austria, as to be anxious to obtain the possession of this burthensome and expensive country? The right hon. Gentleman could not think that Belgium ought to have been given to Russia, or that it would have been accepted by Russia, for it was absurd to imagine that that Power could maintain a possession at such a distance, which, though Austria was nearer, she found it convenient to relinquish. In short, it would be quite impossible to find, amongst the Great Powers, any one which would accept the possession of these provinces, unless it altogether neglected and lost sight of its own interests. No Englishman could wish to connect them with Britain. No blame rested, therefore, with the Allied Powers for uniting these provinces with Holland; while they took good care to bind Russia to assist in preserving that connexion. The right hon. Gentleman had asked, was it argued that we ought to have called upon Russia to go to war after Belgium had been separated from Holland? Certainly not; but was there no other mode of connecting the interests of these provinces with the interests of Holland—no means of satisfying the conditions of the treaty, than by the present arrangement, which was one of the most dangerous possible? His Majesty's Ministers said, that the spirit of the Treaty of 1815 was this—that Russia should bind herself at all times to the policy of England with reference to the Netherlands. Was it possible to suppose that, in a treaty in which there were three parties—Holland, Russia, and England—the real but hidden spirit of the treaty could be, that Great Britain and Russia should have the power to turn round upon Holland and strip her 592 of these provinces, whenever it suited their caprice or their interest. That would imply a complete abandonment of everything like national faith and individual honour. The ostensible object was, to unite Belgium to Holland in the closest manner; and yet Ministers would have the House believe that there was a private arrangement between Russia and Great Britain to the prejudice of Holland, and to combine against her whenever they pleased. If the statements of Ministers were correct, Russia would appear to have the most convenient system of policy in the world. According to the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston), in 1815, the policy of Russia was, to keep Belgium and Holland disunited, and the policy of Great Britain was to join them; and we purchased the assent of Russia to our policy by the obligations which had originated the payments now under discussion. But when, in 1831, Great Britain changed her policy, and adopted that of disuniting these two portions of the Low Countries, then Russia turned round and said,—"Oh! I have also changed my policy now, and you must purchase my assent over again, or I must march troops, according to our former agreement, to keep these countries together; for, although your present policy was mine originally, I have since changed my foreign policy alogether." Some importance had been attached to the separate article of the Treaty of 1815, which, it was said justified the interpretation of the treaty given by his Majesty's Ministers. On looking to that article, he could find no such justification. The article began by saying, that it was drawn up in order to prevent any mistakes with respect to the meaning and the operation of the 5th article of the treaty itself; and, therefore, one would naturally suppose that, if there existed any possibility of disagreement between the letter and the spirit of the treaty, it would be pointed out and reconciled by this separate article. The very words of the separate article, however, as he read them, confirmed the letter of the original treaty; for the first part of it stated that, in case any portion of the Belgian territory shall be severed or pass away from Holland, then there shall be a proportionate reduction in the amount of the payments. The material inference, therefore, was, that if the whole of the Belgian territory passed away, the whole of the payment should in future cease. The other part of the separate article con- 593 tained a provision that, in the event of the separation taking place by violence, (whic clearly showed that the Allied Powers contemplated other causes of separation), the payment should not cease until a year after the separation; and if, at the end of that time, the provinces separated should be in part restored, then the payment should he resumed and continued in proportion to the value of the territory in which the king of the Netherlands shall have been re-established. The whole of this article then went to show that there was no hidden meaning, and that there was no discrepancy whatsoever between the letter and the spirit of the treaty, but that both exactly and entirely accorded with one another. But, although he was of opinion that the old Convention was at an end, that need not prevent its being shown by his Majesty's Ministers, that we were still under such obligations to Russia, as made it necessary, if we wished to act honourably, to make a new Convention with her. They were, however, bound to show to Parliament on what grounds the claim of Russia was now founded. Lord Liverpool stated, in 1815, that there was, even then, no right on the part of Russia, but that she had a claim on the liberality of the people of this country. What claim had she now upon our liberality? There were two points which ought to be established by his Majesty's Government:—first, that Russia had a just claim to such an exercise of liberality on the part of Great Britain; and next, that the finances of Great Britain were in a condition to admit of our exercising that liberality. In addition to this, his Majesty's Ministers were bound to show, also that their policy with regard to our relations with foreign powers was of that nature, that the House could give approbation to it. On all these grounds he meant to resist the Motion of the noble Lord, and to vote in favour of the Amendment of the hon. member for Rochester. There was no obligation imposed upon this country by the old treaty; nor any one act, on the part of Russia, had been stated satisfactorily to the House, which entitled her to a new claim on the liberality of this country. He was satisfied that our finances were in such a condition, as made it incumbent upon every Gentleman to look very closely into a claim of this nature, on whatsoever grounds it might be founded. The right hon. Gentleman was pleased to accuse Gentlemen on the opposi- 594 tion side of the House of bringing forward this question upon party grounds, and with a view to supersede the present Government in office. Surely the right hon. Gentleman must be under a strange delusion to believe that any one could wish to take the reins of Government at the present moment, pledged to carry on the policy of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. What statesman would like to succeed to the tithe plan for Ireland as laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. After encouraging the people to believe that tithes were to be extinguished, the right hon. Gentleman turned round upon them and declared that the word extinction was never used to signify that the tithes were to be abolished. The people, however, had taken him at his word, and the expression of the right hon. Gentleman had been literally fulfilled in that unfortunate country. Who would wish to become responsible for the management of the colonies, already in rebellion, brought on by the indiscreet Order in Council issued by the present Government, the only object of which seemed to be, to overstep the former Administration? And did the right hon. Gentleman suppose there was any Gentleman on his side of the House, or, indeed, on any side, solicitous of relieving the existing Administration from their financial embarrassment? Was the memorable Budget of the Government yet forgotten? Could the fructifying scheme of the right hon. Gentleman opposite ever pass from the recollection of the House? Perhaps it might be imagined that some Gentleman might wish to supplant the present First Lord of the Admiralty in managing the naval affairs of the kingdom. He knew of no higher object of ambition than the attainment of such a post; but what would be the fate of him who should follow the right hon. Baronet in that office? Perhaps he might find orders issued for a fleet to be got in readiness to sail, in conjunction with a French fleet, to attack our old and most faithful ally. If there was one country with which Great Britain should wish pre-eminently to be in alliance it was Holland. Between the people of the two countries there would always be one strong tie, their common attachment to rational freedom. He hoped that this attachment would always continue in the breasts of both people, and that it would be the guiding policy of this country before the world. He called upon the Government to give them documents to satisfy their minds as to the true spirit of the treaty, if they called 595 upon them to vote in a sense directly contrary to what was expressed upon the face of the instrument. Even those hon. Gentlemen who voted with Ministers were not satisfied of the propriety of their conduct, as was apparent by the declaration of the hon. member for Middlesex, who had frankly told them he would vote for any thing, however wrong, rather than vote against the Government. This was an obligation which the hon. Gentleman might impose upon himself, but others might not feel themselves at liberty to do so, and it certainly was not a good compliment to the Government. He had spoken his opinions from no other motive than a desire to do his duty fairly and conscientiously to his constituents and to the country, and he was determined to vote as he felt on this question.
thought it scarcely necessary for him to reply to that statement of the right hon. Baronet with respect to the declaration that tithes were to be extinguished. That statement he had over and over again refuted—refuted to the satisfaction of the House. He should not have trespassed again on their attention, but for the allusions of the right hon. Baronet to that part of the empire with which he was more particularly connected. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of the state of Ireland. He would tell that right hon. Baronet, and he defied him to gainsay it, that Ireland was in an infinitely better state than when he came into office. Aye, he repeated that it was in every respect in a more peaceable and prosperous state than when the present Ministry took on themselves the Government. He said it, and the right hon. Gentleman who had been at the head of affairs in that country (Sir H. Hardinge) was present to hear it, that there was less danger to be apprehended from the people of Ireland at the present moment than when the Government of that country was handed over to him. At that time the Bank of Ireland was fortified, the towns were garrisoned, the fortresses were provisioned, and even the troops stationed on the coast had their instructions with respect to the places on which they were to fall back in the event of commotion. He did not say, that the right hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Hardinge) had not done his duty as a good Governor and a skilful soldier for the preservation of the public peace; but he maintained that the state of Ireland was such, that the Government must have been glad of the opportunity to give it up to their 596 opponents. He would not enter into the other questions touched on by the right hon. Baronet, for they did not belong to his department; but this he might say, that the Navy never had been in a more effective state than at present, although the expenses had been reduced upwards of a million in eighteen months; and as to the colonies, he apprehended, from the papers left in the Colonial Office, that measures were in contemplation by the former Government not very different from those attempted by their successors. The Government need not be taunted by the right hon. Baronet with the present state of public affairs, for he apprehended that if the right hon. Baronet's party were to succeed them now, they would succeed to infinitely less difficulty and embarrassment in every department than the right hon. Baronet and his colleagues had left to them, whether they looked to the policy pursued at home or abroad, to Ireland or the Colonies, to trade or to finance.
§ Sir George Murray
defied the right hon. Gentleman to point out any document left in the Colonial Office during the time he was at the head of the department, which either sanctioned anything like the discriminating scale of duties, or proposed to impose on the colonists absurd and impracticable regulations on the subject of the quantity of razors, and shoes, and hats, to be given to the negroes.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, that having been so pointedly alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite on this occasion, he could not avoid addressing a few words to the Committee, in reference to the statement of that hon. Gentleman with respect to Ireland. He would venture to assert, that the present state of Ireland would not admit of a comparison with the state of Ireland in the latter part of the year 1830, when he had the honour to be connected with the Government of that country. It was quite true, that, during the three months he had filled the office of Chief Secretary there, he had in consequence of the events which had then recently occurred in Paris and Brussels, taken precautions to preserve the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, and that he had, with that view placed the military forces there in a proper and effective state; but he would defy the right hon. Gentleman to say, that, while he remained in that office, there were any such illegal meetings going on then as they now witnessed in Ireland. He would venture to assert, that there had been more turbu- 597 lence and disturbances in Ireland, indirectly encouraged, as such things had been, by the measures adopted by the Government for the purpose of carrying Reform, and that more blood had been spilt in civil commotions there during the last six months, than there had been during the fifteen years preceding. Indeed, whether they looked at Ireland or England, they would find that more blood had been spilt during that period (of which Bristol and Nottingham furnished instances) than during the fifteen antecedent years. When assemblages of 50,000 and 60,000 men, for illegal purposes, were allowed totake place in Ireland, and were allowed to take place until lately with impunity, it was impossible for any man intending to make an honest admission on the subject, not to allow that Ireland was now in a worse condition than it ever had been before. It was not his fault that reference had been made to this subject: he had been driven to it by the assertions of the right hon. Gentleman. He begged to say, in conclusion, that he would vote for the Amendment of the hon. member for Rochester, as he thought that Ministers ought to produce to the House those papers on which the opinions given by the law officers of the Crown had been founded.
§ The Solicitor General
said, that it was the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir George Murray), and not his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley), who had first introduced the question of the state of Ireland into this discussion. He (the Solicitor General) had not before this occasion opened his lips in that House on this question, and as to what had fallen from his hon. and learned colleague (the Attorney General) on a former occasion, in reference to it, he only begged to observe, that the statement then made by his hon. colleague was considered by a majority of that House as a triumphant answer to the objections of hon Gentlemen opposite. He would only add that the treaty made in November, 1831, referred to the treaty made in 1815, and that they could not do justice to the policy of it, or to the case made with regard to it, without going back to that treaty. It was plain on the face of that treaty, that Russia had a clear claim to this money; and it was equally plain that the circumstances connected with the separation of Belgium from Holland, did not in any way release us from the obligation of its payment. He maintained, in conclusion, that the good faith and the honour of the country required us to pay this money; and he was sure, he said, 598 that, under such circumstances, the House would support his Majesty's Ministers in discharging such a national obligation.
said, that as the hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of the negotiations which had taken place with Russia on this subject, he wished to know, whether it was on such documents the hon. and learned Gentleman had given his opinion as a law adviser of the Crown?
§ The Solicitor General
said, that when he gave the legal opinion alluded to, it was founded on the treaty itself, and on no additional documents whatever.
Sir Robert Inglis
said, as the storm which had raged for the last hour had subsided, he would take the liberty of addressing the Committee upon the question before it. He did not mean to follow his right hon. friend opposite through the various topics of domestic and foreign policy, not immediately bearing on the question under discussion, which were introduced, not, indeed, by him, though noticed by him in the course of his last address. His right hon. friend had left himself unguarded upon two or three points, a fact of which at the time, indeed, he appeared to be conscious. The foundation of his right hon. friend's argument was, that he and his colleagues were carrying into effect the stipulations of a treaty. This was begging the whole question; the question was not whether we, on this side of the House, or hon. Members on the other side, were most willing to carry into effect obligations which this country had incurred, but whether any obligation existed at all in the present case. Then his right hon. friend asked, and here again he answered himself, whether the object for which England had expended so much blood and treasure in the war which the treaties of 1815 closed, was the attaching "a few paltry provinces to Holland?" This was a point upon which he dwelt with considerable force, being encouraged by the notes of triumph which cheered him on. He would tell his right hon. friend, that it was on account of these very provinces that the best blood of Europe had, during two centuries, been expended. The proper disposition of these provinces had always been considered a point of the utmost importance with reference to the establishment of the balance of power in Europe. Did his right hon. friend mean to recommend himself and his colleagues to our ally, the king of the Belgians, by describing the country which they had given to him as a paltry province? Again, he said, that this Government found 599 Holland and Belgium separated; but he (Sir Robert Inglis) would contend that the separation had been effected by the present policy of England. Could any man doubt, that if England had not interfered in the quarrel, the Dutch army, when purged from the infusion of the Belgic soldiers, who turned their backs on the enemy when they came in sight of them, would have been able to recover possession of the Belgic provinces? His right hon. friend alleged as a proof of the successful policy of the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that this country was now at peace at the end of nearly two years during which he had been in office. On what day was this declaration made? On the 20th of July—the critical day when, according to a late declaration, war might have broken out between Holland and Belgium—a war in which, if begun, England must, too, have probably joined. True, this question was not one of pounds, shillings and pence—it was not a money question, the only question for the House to consider was, whether the national character was at all pledged? It was now admitted, on all hands, that there was no obligation on us to pay this money, according to the letter of the treaty; and all they (the Opposition) required was, to be allowed to see the documents which would connect the spirit of the treaty with the obligation which his right hon. friend said existed. The noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs said, that we had urged the separation of Belgium from Holland, and ought not, therefore, to take advantage of our own act to relieve ourselves from the payment of the money to Russia. The Solicitor General stated, in express terms, that we had ourselves broken the condition. The noble Lord at the head of the Government in this House declared, that the severance of Belgium from Holland took place in compliance with the wish of England, and, therefore, we could not take advantage of the circumstance to relieve ourselves from the obligation. Out of this statement of facts, a question arose which had not yet been answered—namely, if England cannot take advantage of the severance to withhold the payment of the money, can Russia, who was also a party to the severance, take advantage of it to claim payment? But, said the hon. member for Stafford, taking a totally new ground, the king of Holland has governed Belgium in such a way as to render it impossible for us to fulfil the conditions of the Treaty of 600 1815—we could not maintain the union of the two branches of his kingdom. Without entering into detail with respect to the character and conduct of the king of Holland, he would observe, that there prevailed in that House, and throughout the country, the greatest misconception as to the policy of that prince. He well understood why the bigots and infidels in every part of Europe should be united against the king of Holland; but he was at a loss to conceive how indifference could prevail in that House to the efforts which that great man our Protestant ally, now made to defend his country against the united attack of bigots and infidels. He (Sir R. Inglis) felt desirous of supporting the king of Holland as a Protestant prince, and his wishes in this respect were in accordance with the policy pursued by this country for the first 150 years after the frame of European society was first established. Since that period our policy had been changed, but we had gained nothing by the alteration. The perfect union which existed at the present moment between the king of Holland and his people was unparalleled in the history of modem times. Never did a monarch reign over a people so united with each other, and with him. The people of Holland were prepared to make any sacrifices in support of the cause in which they were engaged. He was sorry that these discussions had proceeded so far, without eliciting from the House an expression of sympathy for the fortunes of such a people and such a king. True, this question was not altogether one of national character; if it were, he would avail himself of the opportunity of showing how little claim Belgium had ever possessed, since the time of Julius Cæsar, to any distinct national existence, and, consequently, character. How different was this in respect to Holland. It had been well observed by a late illustrious ornament of our country, that Holland had always been found our bravest enemy in war, and our firmest friend in peace. It was against this people that Ministers were directing all the efforts of their policy. They were endeavouring in every way to humble and depress a country which was, at the present moment, the great support of Protestant freedom in Continental Europe. Perhaps, on this very day the fate of Holland would be decided. He grieved to think that it was possible that our country might be engaged in a war in which he could hardly wish for her success. If his views of the character and conduct 601 of the king of Holland and his people were correct, no advantage would result to those who might endeavour to crush such a monarch and such a people. It was his opinion, that Ministers ought to produce such information as was necessary to enable the House to come to a satisfactory decision on the subject. He entirely concurred in the vote censuring the conduct of Ministers in January for having violated an express Act of Parliament embodying the treaty in question. He as readily concurred in the vote last week, requiring the production of papers which might have shown that the spirit of that treaty was different from its letter, and justified and required the conduct of Ministers. He was ready to repeat those votes; but when he felt that, practically, the question now before the Committee was, whether, by their votes that night, they should affirm that the amount of the loan was not due to Russia, he was not prepared to give such a vote, or to deny that, under all the circumstances of the case with the new Convention on the Table, the money was due; and, therefore, though without evidence, he would not affirm it, yet he would not on the other hand deny it, and should, therefore, reserve his vote for another occasion.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, that he, looking upon the present question as a party question, and though, if he had the casting vote, he should certainly give it against this grant of the public money of this country, yet, if he thought that his so voting would be to turn out the present Government in order to restore the hon. Gentlemen who sat near him to place, he should pause in giving that vote against the present Government. Therefore it was, that, thinking as he did, that this was a question between two conflicting parties in this House, he would not swell the ranks of either. An hon. Member near him had said, this was à la Hume. Now he (Mr. Hunt) would not say that black was white, as the hon. member for Middlesex had said, nor would be vote, as the hon. member for Middlesex had done, against his conscience?
, in explanation, begged to say, that in voting he had always acted consistently, and had ever given a reason for giving his vote on any particular question, and he only hoped every hon. Member would do the same. He should be glad to know, what would be said by the constituency if hon. Gentlemen were all to adopt the course of the hon. member for Preston, and leave the House without voting.
Sir Robert Peel
did not rise for the purpose of arbitrating between the two hon. Members. Indeed, he should have great difficulty in deciding which of the two was taking the most unparliamentary course. The hon. member for Preston had, however, relieved him from considerable apprehension, by stating, that he would not vote on the same side with himself (Sir R. Peel) and his hon. friends; for, after the avowal of the hon. Gentleman on the subject of national faith, he began to entertain some fear lest he should be found in the division on the same side with the hon. member for Preston. With respect to the question immediately before the Committee, very little remained to be said; the subject was completely exhausted, and he had already stated, in his former speeches, the impression on his mind. He must, however, allude to one of the extraneous topics introduced by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, connected with foreign policy. The right, hon. Gentleman, in contending that there was no occasion for the production of papers in the present instance, and that the House ought to be content with the declaration of Ministers, referred to a particular case in a manner which shewed that his recollection of the subject was imperfect. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that the present Government had found themselves bound hand and foot by the engagements of their predecessors, who consented to guarantee a loan of 800,000l. in aid of Prince Leopold, on his election to the throne of Greece. The right hon. Gentleman had no right to say, that the hands of himself and coadjutors were tied by the last Ministers. They were no parties to the original Treaty of 1827; but when they came into office, they found themselves compelled to fulfil the treaties made by their predecessors. The Duke of Wellington, in 1830, three years after the treaty had been made, and not very long after he came into power, was engaged in the consideration of the Greek question. Prince Otho of Bavaria was then proposed as the sovereign of Greece, and the Duke of Wellington objected to the appointment of that prince on account of his youth, he being then not more than fourteen. After con- 603 siderable discussion, the Powers parties to the treaty agreed to the nomination of Prince Leopold, and the question of pecuniary aid was proposed. The Duke of Wellington said, the Government of England had never given pecuniary aid in such a case, and refused to accede to the proposition. Prince Leopold then applied to the three Sovereigns, and declared he would not accept the throne of Greece, unless the money was advanced. The Government of the Duke of Wellington being anxious to establish a sovereign on the throne of Greece, did, at last, reluctantly concur with Russia and France, rather than, by withholding their consent from the proposed arrangement, deprive Greece of the services of Prince Leopold, and separate the policy of this country from that of France and Russia. The right hon. Secretary might have contended, that the present Government found themselves bound to guarantee a loan to Prince Leopold; but he was not warranted in saying, that they were pledged by the acts of a former Government to guarantee a loan to any other prince. To come to the question immediately before the Committee, he admitted that it was a case involved in considerable difficulty. He could conceive, that circumstances might be established, which would compel him to acquiesce in the payment of the money to Russia. He had some doubts as to whom the money was payable, and as to the justice of the arrangements into which this country was about to enter. These doubts might, however, be removed by explanation; and he must say, that, while England retained possession of the colonies wrested from Holland, she ought not to be very astute in finding reasons for excepting herself from the terms of her contract. With the information at present before the House, he was not prepared to state, whether the payments were due to Holland or to Russia, but to one or other they were, in his opinion, due. If his vote were to imply a decided opinion that the money was not due to Russia, he would not give it. The right hon. Gentleman assented—and it was an important admission—to the opinion he had formerly expressed, that the obligation of this country arose out of mixed considerations. His impression was, that there was a doubtful claim on this country, arising out of the Convention of 1815; but he had admitted that there might be other considerations, independently of the Convention, which 604 would justify Ministers in promising to pay the money to Russia; that if they could show him that the payment of this money would enable them to maintain the peace of Europe, and to bring the pending negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion, he was prepared to give them his support. But why did the Ministers press a vote, when they were unable to give the House satisfaction upon these points? It was clear from the right hon. Gentleman's admission, that this question depended on mixed considerations; but he objected to being called upon to confirm the arrangement until he was satisfied by the production of documents of the extent of each of these mixed considerations. The negotiations were not complete, and they were, perhaps, the most important for the honour of England, for the independence of small states, and for the general tranquillity of Europe, in which this country was ever engaged. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the Government which preceded the present determined on the separation of Belgium from Holland. Here again he was incorrect. The former Ministers were called upon to interfere as mediators. In compliance with the treaty of 1815, the king of Holland applied to the great Powers for counsel. England at once told him, that she was not prepared to assist him in re-establishing by force his authority over Belgium; but when the late Ministers left office, it had never been decided that Belgium must, of necessity, be transferred from the dominion of the house of Nassau. He had even some recollection that the present Prime Minister had been taunted in the Belgic Chamber of Deputies for having expressed a hope which pervaded almost every British mind, that Belgium might be established as a separate kingdom under the authority of a prince of that illustrious family. That alone was sufficient to prove, that the complete independence of Belgium of the house of Orange, was not decided upon when the present Ministers entered office. But further, at the very time when he and his colleagues resigned office, an hon. Gentleman (Sir J. C. Hobhouse) had a notice of a motion in the Book, the object of which was, to compel the Government to explain their supposed conduct, in favouring, not the separation of Belgium from Holland, but the king of Holland against his revolted subjects. But to return to the ground on which he objected to being pledged to the arrangement now proposed—namely, that he 605 was in possession of no information respecting the negotiations which were now being carried on. What course had the Government pursued with respect to Greece? The loan to Prince Otho had been guaranteed for a considerable time, and yet the House had not been called upon to ratify the treaty; and the reason assigned by the noble Lord for this delay was, that Government wished first to lay upon the Table of the House every protocol connected with the negotiations. If Ministers pursued this conduct with respect to the Greek loan, why did they call upon the House to sanction the proposed arrangement with respect to Russia, without information. It might be said, that the money was now due, but it had been due in July, and was not then paid. No further payment would be due until January; by which time, in all probability, pending negotiations would be brought to a close. why, then, force the House now to express an opinion? He could not conceive what answer could be made to this question, in a parliamentary point of view. Was there ever an instance in which Parliament had been called upon to vote public money, arising out of negotiations, whilst they were yet pending? During the time these negotiations had been carried on, he and his friends had abstained from expressing any opinion concerning them, and had brought forward no motion calculated to embarrass the Government. And yet, before the negotiations were concluded, the Government called upon the House to vote the money. He made no objection to the amount. He did not deny that his impression was, that there might be good and sufficient reason for the payment of this money, although it was not to be found on the face of the treaty; but he contended that it was contrary to all parliamentary custom, to call upon the House to pronounce an opinion on the subject before it was put into possession of any information. The object of the arrangement professedly was, to induce Russia to unite her policy with ours, to preserve the balance of power and the peace of Europe. He asked, whether the measures which Ministers were pursuing were likely to preserve the peace of Europe? In the second article of the treaty, now upon the table, Russia engaged, if the arrangements at present agreed upon should be endangered, not to enter into other arrangements without the concurrence of England. The arrangements were in danger at the present moment. Negotiations, it might 606 be said, were yet pending; but, if that were a complete answer against the giving of information, it was also complete against calling upon the House to vote the money. Had the ratifications of the Treaties of 1831 been accompanied by any reserve? If so, ought this important point to be concealed? In the whole of Europe, the English House of Commons was the only place where no information was to be obtained on these points. Communications had been made to the Chambers of Holland and Belgium; every foreign newspaper had contained authentic copies of documents, which were most important in explaining the policy pursued at different periods of the negotiations: the House of Commons, however, possessed not a tittle of information on the subject. This course was according to precedent, because the negotiations were pending; but it was equally in conformity with precedent that, under these circumstances, the House ought not to be called upon to pledge itself to the payment of the money. It had been stated in an official newspaper, published in Holland, that Russia accompanied the ratification with an important reserve. The treaty before the House contained twenty-four articles, the execution of which was guaranteed by the contracting parties; but those articles, as far as the distribution of territory was concerned, could not be acted upon until Holland and Belgium should sign and ratify another treaty. The first question, then, was, had Belgium and Holland signed the treaty, on which the execution of the other depends? The answer was, no; they had not. Under these circumstances, it was practising a delusion on Parliament to talk of the treaty being ratified. It was well known that Holland insisted on the modification of three articles contained in this treaty. She insisted on not being compelled to abandon Luxembourg—on not being compelled to permit the free access of Belgic navigation to artificial canals—and on not being compelled to permit the Belgians to make the military roads through the new territories assigned to them. It was premature to enter into the question, whether Holland was right or wrong in insisting on these points; but it was a notorious fact, that Russia had accompanied her ratification of the treaty with this reserve—that Holland shall not be compelled to consent to the articles which she objected to. This, he might remark, was a proof that the policy of 607 Russia was not concurrent with ours. It was evident that, if this reservation of Russia were insisted upon, it would be fatal to the treaty, and, therefore, it was not treating the House fairly to make the dry statement, that Russia had ratified the treaty, without informing it whether her ratification was accompanied with such a reservation. The House ought, also, to be made acquainted with the reasons why the treaty was not ratified at the appointed time. It was stipulated that the ratifications should be exchanged within six weeks after the signing of the Convention. The signatures were affixed to the Convention on the 16th of November, but, from a paper signed by Mr. Pemberton, by order of the Lords of the Treasury, it appeared that the ratifications were not received on the 4th of June. That was an additional proof that the policy of Russia was not concurrent with our own. Was it so, when Russia ratified with a reservation? Did that reservation still exist? If so, was it consistent with our policy? It was a mere mockery of the functions of the House of Commons to require it to fulfil the conditions of this Convention, whilst Ministers were unable to explain the state in which the negotiations stood at the present moment. It had been justly observed by his hon. friend, the member for the University of Oxford, that this was a critical day. The 20th of July was the day, by which it had been intimated to Holland by France and England, that the treaty must be signed. This, at least, was understood to be the case. Documents had been published, which contained a threat, that force would be applied to compel Holland to give her consent to the treaty. Holland said, that she would ratify the treaty, provided the articles to which she objected were altered. The Conference replied, "You shall ratify first, and try to get the articles altered afterwards." Holland very naturally objected to this arrangement, because she thought, that when she applied to Belgium to alter the objectionable articles, Belgium would reply, that the treaty had been ratified, and Holland must be bound by it. This was the state of the case; and the House of Commons ought to have been consulted before any naval armament was undertaken, or any demonstration of a warlike nature made. The House of Commons had a right to know the causes of war, if war were intended: and he considered a hostile attack upon Holland, by whatever name qualified, substantially 608 the same as war. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland had taken a rather sanguine view of our domestic affairs, and plumed himself particularly on the improved condition of Ireland at present, as compared with that of 1830. He should not envy him the merit of any success which might have attended his efforts to ameliorate the condition of that country, if he could bring himself to believe that it had taken place; but, from all the information which he had the means of procuring with regard to the state of Ireland, he was induced to think, that that country was never in a situation calculated to excite greater alarm, than at the present moment. But with respect to foreign affairs, with respect to those countries which were the immediate subject of consideration, we could not long be kept in suspense. Peace or war had arrived, which must, within a very short time, terminate, either in peace, or in an interruption of peace. Again, then, he said, let them consider well the ground of war; if war they were about to have with Holland—war to compel her, against her will, to do something inconsistent with her honour, or with her independence. Beware of that. England had before been in alliance with France against Holland. Remember the relation in which she had stood towards that country—remember the period—that disgraceful period—in the reign of Charles 2nd, from the year 1670 to the peace of Nimeguen in 1678, look to the alliance between England and France at that disgraceful period; remember the terms of that alliance, and the relations in which we had stood towards France, and towards the House of Nassau. He remembered the indignant terms in which Mr. Fox spoke of the disgraceful and unnatural alliances which this country entered into with France at that period. He said, that his blood boiled at the contemplation of the disgraceful policy which was pursued by this country. He conjured the Ministers to satisfy the House, if they were about to enter into alliance with any power, to coerce a third, of the justice of that alliance. Let them bear in mind what could be done by a gallant people attached to freedom, who now seemed to rally round their sovereign with the unanimous determination to encounter every extremity, rather than submit to injustice or disgrace. Remember the siege of Haarlem—remember the exploits that had been achieved on that and numberless other occasions by the same gallant na- 609 tion. Before Ministers asked the House to sanction a new crusade against Holland, implying approbation of their policy, let them accede, at least, to this reasonable request, that, they would either afford the House information respecting the nature of our foreign relations, or postpone this vote. These were the grounds upon which he protested against being made a judge in the question at present before the House. He had not the necessary information to enable him to give a vote upon it. The present agony and crisis of Holland was not the time for calling upon the House for a ratification of this treaty. Let it be remembered, that this vote was for the postponement of the question, and not for its rejection. The course which he, for one, should pursue, should the House determine to ratify this treaty, would be, to vote a negative, and leave the responsibility of the transaction upon those who proposed it; but with a solemn protest, on his part, against the unfairness and injustice of the proceeding.
§ Viscount Palmerston
was disposed to notice, in addressing himself to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, first, that part of it which related to a topic incidentally introduced into this discussion—the subject of Greece and of the Greek loan, because not only that which had fallen from him, but that which had been stated by others, rendered it absolutely necessary that he should make some observations upon the subject. The right hon. Baronet misunderstood his right hon. friend when he said, that the present Government was bound, hand and foot, by the acts of their predecessors; for his right hon. friend applied that observation to Belgium rather than to Greece; but, nevertheless, he was disposed to adopt that observation with respect to Greece also, because if any one would look at the papers and other documents of the late Government, he would find, that that Government did take upon itself to say that it would guarantee a loan to Greece. It would be seen, in one of the protocols, that the three Powers did guarantee a loan to be advanced to Greece, the amount of which, however, was not specified by that protocol. But that protocol was communicated to the provisional government of Greece, by the three Powers engaging to guarantee to that state a loan; and, he conceived, upon an examination of this document, that the present Government succeeded to the obligation 610 thus contracted by the last Government; and that it was not in its power fairly and honourably to shrink from that obligation. But if it was necessary to show to the House, that, in the opinion of the last Government, a pecuniary advance was requisite for the purpose of supporting the independence of Greece, it was equally necessary to refer to those facts which would demonstrate, that, in the opinion of the late Government, it was not a personal advance to Prince Leopold but to the Greek state; for, upon the resignation of prince Leopold, when, strictly speaking, the loan would have ceased, the late Government did, in October, 1830, sanction an advance of money to Greece. The sum of 20,000l. was advanced on that occasion by each of the three Powers, which it was agreed should be repaid out of the loan when contracted, or, in the event of a loan not being contracted, then it was to be repaid out of any other resources of which Greece might be possessed. He said, therefore, that it was an engagement on the part of the three Powers to make an advance to the Greek state, and not simply to the person of prince Leopold. When Ministers had been so much taken to task, for making advances of money without coming to Parliament for its sanction, he could not help remarking that the instance which he had just mentioned was a precedent set by those who now took them to task, for though the sum was not a very large one, yet the principle involved in its advance was the same, But, then, it was said prince Leopold was a good choice, having the qualifications of age and experience; but that now we had got a young gentleman not out of his teens. All he could say was, that prince Otho of Bavaria was within one year of the age when he might be sovereign of Bavaria—that he was a member of a royal family, of one of the most considerable of the minor states in Germany—and connected with a country in which a constitutional form of government exists, which was, in his opinion, a great consideration for Greece. He was able to say, that the choice had been very acceptable to Greece, and had been received with satisfaction by all parties in that country. But they were asked why pursue one course with respect to the Greek treaty, and another course with respect to the Russian-Dutch loan? With regard to the Greek treaty, Ministers did not come to Parliament: while, with respect 611 to the Russian-Dutch loan, they had submitted the whole matter to Parliament. The reason was obvious. It was impossible to explain the grounds of a new engagement, by merely showing Parliament the continuation of those papers which the late Government had produced to this House, up to a certain period; but with respect to the Russian-Dutch loan, that had received the sanction of Parliament in 1815, and the papers already laid before Parliament contained reasons sufficient to justify it. He could not admits that this was a question which turned upon mixed considerations, though it did appear, that it had received very mixed consideration on the other side of the House; for his honourable friend who had proposed the adjournment, agreed to the payment of this money in January, but objected to our payment in July; whilst others had condemned the payment in January, and would sanction it in July. There were others, again, still opposed to both these modes of proceeding; therefore, it certainly was a question most mixed. With respect to the question itself, it rested upon the terms of the documents, which were entirely in the possession of the House, and upon which the question must, and ought to be, decided. In the Convention of 1815, might be seen the terms upon which this loan was contracted. It was there stated, as clearly as language could express, that it was for the past services performed by Russia in the course of the war. Those services were to be paid for by Holland. The Allies had equal claims; but those claims having been deferred to Russia, Holland paid to Russia that which otherwise would have been paid to Austria, Russia, and Prussia. She took upon herself to pay Russia 50,000,000 of florins. It was true that the way in which we became concerned in that transaction was, that we had some colonies in our possession which had been captured from Holland during the Mar. We had a right to retain those colonies, and it was an act of generosity on our part to make any compensation for them to Holland; and we should only have been induced to do so, because that compensation was to be applied to purposes, not merely for the advantage of Holland, but for the advantage of England too, and for the preservation of peace, and the maintenance of the balance of power. This must not be considered as simply a question of bargain and sale between Holland and 612 England, under which we bought certain colonies from Holland, because we agreed to lay out 2,000,000l. on the erection of frontier fortresses, and to pay 3,000,000l. to Russia. It was not a mere transaction between this country and Holland for the purchase of her colonies, but we were pursuing British objects, and seeking to secure British interests. Then came the question as to the condition upon which this money was to be paid to Russia, which had been already so fully discussed, and in which discussion, it was proved that the condition had reference not to the separation of Belgium from Holland, in the way in which it had been separated, but to a separation to be affected by hostile force. The very words of the Treaty—separated and passed away, proved this, the words of the original were seraient soustraits; so that the expressions bore not that they should be withdrawn merely, but that it was contemplated that they should be withdrawn by some other agency, and not by themselves. That treaty was made in 1815—Buonaparte having not long before landed in France from Elba, and every body believing that we were again upon the eve of general war, which would be undertaken upon principles of ambition and conquest similar to those upon which Belgium had before been called upon by France to ally herself with that power. It was, therefore perfectly obvious by whom the separation was to be effected; that it was to be effected by the invasion of the arms of France, under Buonaparte, against whom the powers of Europe had confederated together, because it was incompatible with the peace of those States that Belgium should be united with France. But it was said that, although it might be no longer a question whether this money was to be paid, still it was a doubt to whom it was really due. Gentlemen on the other side stated "We want to know whether this money is not due to Holland." But he (Lord Palraerston) should like to know upon what pretence it was due to Holland? Our transaction was with Russia—we bound ourselves to Russia to pay the money which was to be paid in Holland itself. What, then, was it proposed to do? Was it that we were to make a Dutch payment to the Dutch themselves? But upon what principle was Holland for the first time, to look for the payment to her? He was quite at a loss to conceive the logical connexion 613 by which Gentlemen arrived at this conclusion from the premises from which they; started. Did they mean to say, that this money ought to be paid to Holland, in consideration of our retaining her colonies? Holland had not the shadow of a right to hare her colonies restored, or the money paid to her, even if that money had been agreed to be paid by England on account merely of her having retained those colonies. For had the two parties made such a bargain, they must have abided by it as it stood; for there was no possible pretence, fifteen years after a bargain had been made, if that which had been received, and which was at the time a full equivalent for what was given up, had since been taken away, for reclaiming that which had been given up. Suppose that we had lost one of these colonies by the invasion of a foreign enemy, or by internal rebellion, should we have gone to Holland, and have said, "You must return us a portion of the 5,000,000l. we have paid to Russia, because of the colony we have lost? She would have laughed us to scorn. Neither was there any ground for the converse of that proposition; because she had lost Belgium, in consequence of her unfortunate mode of governing that country, she had no right, at the end of fifteen years, to come and claim at our hands the money which we had paid already, and therefore there could be no question as to whom this money was due. Either it was due to Russia, or to nobody at all; and, therefore, as the right hon. Baronet admitted that a debt really existed, he had a right to claim the vote of the right hon. Baronet; or if he only entertained a doubt upon the subject, he ought to resolve that doubt in a manner most consistent with the good faith and honour of this country. However, the right hon. Baronet stated that this question was prematurely brought under the consideration of the House, and that it ought to be postponed until we received the result of those negotiations which were still pending. But the two transactions were essentially distinct. The question here was, whether there had taken place such a separation of Belgium from Holland, as entitled Great Britain to continue the payment of this money? Either it had taken place, or it had not; if not, then the former treaty was in existance, and the payment must continue; but if it had taken place, then Ministers were entitled to come to Parliament to require their sanction to a new treaty for the 614 purpose of removing any doubts upon the subject? But was the separation consummated? Why, it was contended, on a former occasion, that not only did the separation exist, but that that separation had existed even in the early part of the last year. But no man could now doubt that separation, since it had been recognized, not only by this country, but also by Russia, and the other parties to the treaty of separation. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether there was no reservation as to the ratification of the treaty? No reservations existed as to the question of erecting Belgium into an independent state—an Act which the twenty-four articles had done; therefore, as far as this question turned upon the point—whether a separation had taken place or not—that question was decided in the affirmative, and that separation was warranted and recognized by Russia and by her guarantee. But, then, it was said, "We should like to know whether Russia has performed her part of the engagement, by making her policy, in this matter, conform to the policy of England." The best proof of that was, that Russia had adopted and ratified that treaty; because if any body attended to the existing relations of Russia with the House of Nassau, it must be obvious to him that it could not be agreeable to Russia to become a party to an arrangement by which that Power had suffered so much. Therefore, he would say Russia had fulfilled her engagement with this country. As to the cause of the separation of Belgium from Holland, he had never asserted, either that his Majesty's present Government were the cause of it, or that the last Government were the cause. Both Governments had found the separation effected by the force of circumstances; and they acted wisely in not having recourse to means for reestablishing a union, which, owing to the discord existing between the two nations, and the repugnance of the two nations, could not have been long maintained. The peace of Europe would have been infallibly interrupted if any attempt had been made to reunite Belgium with Holland. But Ministers were asked whether they did not, in the first place, say that the Prince of Nassau should continue Sovereign of Belgium. Most unquestionably they did; and it was not till after the lapse of a considerable time, that the British Government gave up the attempt to bring about that object, not by the dictation of the 615 British Government, or of the Allied Powers, but by the people of Belgium themselves, who were supposed, at one time, to be disposed to elect the Prince of Orange. That election was prevented by the same cause that still prevented the settlement of the question, by the disinclination, on the part of that personage, without whose consent the Prince of Orange could not have accepted the Crown, and which personage would not consent that the Prince of Orange should wear the Crown of Belgium separate from that of Holland. But the separation which had been effected, and which had been sanctioned, though not created, by the British Government, was an arrangement the best calculated to carry into effect those great principles of European security which were attempted to be established in 1815. His Majesty's Government had tried to create a barrier in the Netherlands by uniting the Dutch nation with Belgium; but it had been found that the difference of feeling existing between the two people had prevented that nominal union from becoming a real union. And it was obvious to everybody, that a kingdom consisting of two nations, having between themselves the principles of repulsion instead of attraction, existed not for strength, but weakness. It was a mistake to suppose that there was not in Belgium a high national feeling; it was a mistake to suppose that Belgium was not satisfied with independence, and anxious to maintain it. The hon. member for Thetford had uttered his prophecies. He (Lord Palmerston) would also prophesy. He would venture to predict that the present independence of Belgium, founded, as it was upon national feeling, resting upon national interests, supported by the people, and by a sovereign whom the people had chosen—that sovereign sanctioned and guranteed by the European Powers, and by France among the others; he would venture to predict that that would be found an arrangement more stable and more effectual to its purpose than the arrangement made in 1815. Ministers had accomplished British objects, and consulted and secured British interests by this arrangement; these being precisely the same objects for which we, in 1815, engaged to pay the Russian-Dutch loan, in the payment of which the maintenance of the good faith and national policy of this country consisted. It was said, that Holland would never agree to some of the arrangements proposed. The right hon. Baronet seemed 616 not to have read the protocols which were lying on his table, with his usual attention, when he conceived that Holland had those grounds of objection which he had described, or that we claimed for Belgium a right to make a military road through Holland, or to navigate artificial canals. The right hon. Gentleman was mistaken in a most essential respect as to the articles of the proposed treaty. The object of the treaty, first of all, was to secure to Holland the territoral extent which she possessed in 1770; but it was also to place Holland, in point of territory, in a better situation than that in which she stood before. For that purpose it was arranged, that, by exchange, a part of the Belgian provinces should go to the King of Holland, who either as King of Holland, or as Grand Duke of Luxemburgh, would have a right, by the possession of that conceded territory, to cut off Belgium from all communication with Germany, which had hitherto been her great land outlet. In order to prevent that, a stipulation was made, that Holland should grant to Belgium, not the right to construct military roads, but the right of commercial communications, through a portion of that territory which was conceded by Belgium to Holland. This made the greatest difference in the world in the mode of stating the case. All over Germany the several states had reciprocal rights of passing through one another's territories for the purposes of commerce. There was a material difference between a military and a commercial road. Then with regard to the canals, the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken as to these being artificial canals. There were some artificial canals, which though not used in common with other nations, it would be perfectly for the interests of these two equally to navigate; and this had been stipulated for without the slightest objection being made by either party. But there was a common island which formed a natural channel, about seven or eight miles in length; and it was the right of passing through that channel, which the Dutch, at the present moment, objected to. But that was not an artificial channel, but a natural river; and, like the Scheldt and the Rhine, discharged itself into the sea. But it was said, was it not hard to impose upon Holland these conditions, whether they be of importance or not? In answer to that he would state that these conditions were of the utmost importance for Belgium; and were as much for the advantage of 617 Holland herself; for if Holland could have Belgium still entirely united to herself, that would undoubtedly be the best connexion for the interests of both; but if that were impossible—and every Dutchman repudiated the connexion quite as much as the Belgians themselves—what was the next best thing? Was it that Belgium should be partitioned; what would be the advantage to Holland? She would get one or two dissatisfied provinces, and France would get all the rest. Could that constitute a sufficient frontier between France and Holland? No; it would be bad policy to act upon such a system. It was well for Holland that there should be interposed an entirely independent kingdom; and the independence of Belgium, guaranteed by France, would be a more effectual barrier than could be formed by any other arrangement; and her interest would rather be promoted by it than any hurt could be sustained by the right of the Belgians to enter their privileged canals. This ought to be acceded to, in order to afford Belgium means of existence; and those means were entirely dependent on her commerce. The Dutch would be a commercial nation, and they would wish to exclude Belgium from the German markets, looking upon her in the character of a commercial rival. They thought also, that they would be consulting their own interests by excluding Belgium from any communication by sea; and thus, if Belgium were hermetically sealed, both by land and by sea, they imagined the interests of Holland would be, in proportion, promoted. They wished Belgium to be separated from Holland, and also from the rest of the world. But there was commerce enough for all. Unless Belgium had these roads by land, and also the power of using these waters, she would be placed in a situation in which it would be absolutely impossible for her to maintain her independence, or to pay that portion of the Dutch debt which it had been stipulated she should bear. It was also in consideration of these very points, and the facilities of obtaining these land and water communications, that a larger portion of the joint debt had been thrown upon Belgium than she would have been otherwise bound to support; therefore, the good sense upon which the transaction was founded, and the interests of Holland herself, equally justified the arrangement which, in that respect, had been made. He was not going to refer to the dissertation which had been 618 held upon the unnatural union between this country and France, against our ancient ally the Dutch. This country had intimate relations with France, not for the purpose (as had been stated by hon. Members) of subjugating Europe, but for the purpose of maintaining the peace of Europe—of causing to be respected the independence of States—and of effecting this arrangement about Belgium; which was as much for the interests of England as it was for the security and repose of Europe. It had been asked, who would be ambitious to undertake the government after the present Ministers, and to take up the thread of those complicated negotiations in which they had been engaged? If it should be his lot to cease the conducting of these negotiations, he should look back with great satisfaction and pride to the part he had borne in conducting that very difficult and complicated transaction. When they had succeeded to the Government of this country, no man acquainted with its affairs would have ventured to predict that three months could elapse without our being involved in a general war; a year and a half had elapsed, however, since that event, and that war had not happened. Whenever the general character of our foreign policy should be made the subject of discussion, he should feel no difficulty in going, point by point, into our foreign relations; and when that House and the country should be appealed to, neither the one nor the other would be disposed to think that the principles upon which that policy had been conducted, had been less suited to the interests of the country, or less congenial to that spirit of liberty which characterized this nation, than those which their predecessors had pursued. But they had been asked, who would undertake the foreign department—where would you find an individual who would run the risk of governing Ireland—where find a man bold enough to take upon himself the guidance of the colonies—who would be the ambitious individual to assume the command of the British navy? Who was he who would take charge of the finances? Why, he would undertake to answer every one of these questions, and give an answer which the hon. Gentlemen opposite would consider highly satisfactory, if they, in return, would only answer one question: that question was—when they had got all these various persons, who would undertake to manage the House of Commons? Because he (Lord Palmerston) 619 had a strange suspicion, that if an individual could have been met with to take upon him that task, there would have been found individuals possessed of sufficient confidence in their own powers, and who would have thought themselves sufficiently able to encounter all the intricate and complicated difficulties of the present times—men who would have taken up the Belgian question, and the question of our other foreign relations, whether with France, or with Portugal, with perfect facility—who would have found leisure for issuing orders for the colonies—who would have managed the arrangement of the question of tithes for Ireland—who would have commanded that excellent navy, which his right hon. friend had placed in a better situation than ever navy was before—and they might have discovered, too, persons who would have been prepared to bring in new Bills for sugar duties and spirit duties, and have offered to manage all the finances of this country. He would not dwell longer upon this subject. He could not admit that this question was one which the vote proposed by the hon. Gentleman went merely to delay; because he should like to know, if hon. Gentlemen really wished to negative the vote, what other course than the present could they have adopted? He believed it to be their object to throw this vote out altogether. Let not hon. Gentlemen, therefore, run away with a notion, that the effect of this Motion was only to postpone the consideration of the question. It would be childish not to understand, by the speech of the hon. Gentleman himself (who said he made this Motion because he thought we ought not to continue the payment of this money), that it was merely for delay. Its object really was to dispose of the proposition of the Government upon this question—that proposition now submitted to our consideration being, whether this payment was, in future, to be sanctioned, or whether it was to be negatived by Parliament?
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes 112; Noes 191—Majority 79.
|List of the NOES.|
|ENGLAND.||Blake, Sir F.|
|Althorp, Viscount||Blamire, W.|
|Anson, Hon. G.||Blount, E.|
|Atherley, A.||Bouverie, Hon. D. P.|
|Baring, F. T.||Beuverie, Hon. P. P.|
|Barnet, C. J.||Briscoe, J.|
|Benett, J.||Brougham, J.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Brougham, W.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. W.||Lawley, F.|
|Buller, J. W.||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Bulwer, E. L.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Bunbury, Sir H. E.||Lester, B. L.|
|Byng, Sir J.||Littleton, E. J.|
|Byng, G.||Loch, J.|
|Calcraft, G. H.||Lumley, J. S.|
|Calvert, C.||Lushington, Dr. S.|
|Calvert, N.||Maberly, Colonel|
|Campbell, J.||Macaulay, T. B.|
|Carter, J. B.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Cavendish, Lord||Marshall, W.|
|Cavendish, Hon. C.||Milbank, M.|
|Cavendish, Hon. H.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Chichester, J. P. B.||Mostyn, E. M. L.|
|Clive, E. B.||Newark, Viscount|
|Cockerell, Sir C.||Nugent, Lord|
|Coke, T. W.||Paget, T.|
|Colborne, N. W. R.||Palmer, General C.|
|Creevy, T.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Currie, J.||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Denison, W. J.||Payne, Sir P.|
|Denman, Sir T.||Penleaze, J. S.|
|Duncombe, T. S.||Penrhyn, E.|
|Dundas, Sir R. L.||Ponsonby, Hon. W. S.|
|Easthope, J.||Pepys, C. C.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Petit, L. H.|
|Ellice, E.||Petre, Hon. E.|
|Ellis, W.||Phillips, G. R.|
|Etwall, R., jun.||Price, Sir R.|
|Evans, Col. de Lacy||Pryse, P.|
|Evans, W.||Rider, T.|
|Ewart, W.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Fellowes, H. A. W.||Robarts, A. W.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||Rooper, J. B.|
|Fitzroy, Lieut.-col. C.||Russell, Lieut.-col.|
|Forbes, Sir C.||Sandon, Viscount|
|Gordon, R.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Graham, Rt. Hn. Sir J.||Sebright, Sir J.|
|Graham, Sir S.||Skipwith, Sir G.|
|Grant, Rt. Hn. R.||Smith, Hon. R.|
|Greene, T.||Smith, J.|
|Greene, T. G.||Smith, J. A.|
|Grey, Colonel||Smith, M. T.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Smith, R. V.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Stanhope, Capt. R. H.|
|Gurney, H.||Stanley, Rt. Hn. E. G. S.|
|Handley, W. F.||Stephenson, H. F.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Stewart, P. M.|
|Hey wood, B.||Strutt, E.|
|Hobhouse, Sir J. C.||Stuart, Lord P. J.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Thicknesse, R.|
|Hodgson, J.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. C. P.|
|Horne, Sir W.||Townley, R. G.|
|Hoskins, K.||Townshend, Lord C.|
|Howard, P. H.||Tracy, C. H.|
|Howick, Viscount||Tyrell, C.|
|Hudson, T.||Venables, Alderman|
|Hughes, H.||Vernon, Hon. G.|
|Hume, J.||Villiers, T. H.|
|Jerningham, Hon. V. S.||Vincent, Sir F.|
|Johnstone, Sir J. B.||Warburton, H.|
|Knight, H. G.||Waterpark, Lord|
|Knight, R.||Watson, Hon. R.|
|Labouchere, H.||Wellesley, W. T. L.|
|Langsten, J. H.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Wilde, T.||Brabazon, Viscount|
|Williams, W. A.||Brown, J.|
|Willoughby, Sir H.||Browne, D.|
|Wood, C.||Bourke, Sir J.|
|Wood, J.||Callaghan, D.|
|Wood, Alderman||Hill, Lord G. A.|
|Wrightson, W. B.||Hort, Sir W.|
|Adam, Admiral||Jephson, C. D. O.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Killeen, Lord|
|Dixon, J.||King, Hon. R.|
|Ferguson, R.||Lamb, Hon. G.|
|Fergusson, R. C.||Macnamara, W.|
|Grant, Right Hon. C.||Mullins, F.|
|Haliburton, Hn. D. G.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Jeffrey, Right Hon. F.||Ponsonby, Hon. G.|
|Johnstone, A.||Power, R.|
|Johnstone, J.||Rice, T. S.|
|Kennedy, T. F.||Russell, J.|
|Mackenzie, S.||Sheil, R. L.|
|M'Leod, R.||Walker, C. A.|
|Morison, J.||White, Colonel H.|
|Sinclair, G.||White, S.|
|Stewart, Sir M. S.||Wyse, T.|
|Boyle, Hon. J.||Duncannon, Viscount|
|Paired off against the Amendment.|
|Anson, Sir G.||Kemp, T. R.|
|Barham, J.||Noel, Sir G.|
|Burrell, Sir C.||O'Connor, O.|
|Chapman, M. L.||Ord, W.|
|Crampton, P. C.||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Doyle, Sir J. M.||Russell, Sir R. G.|
|Dundas, Hon., J.||Scott, Sir E. D.|
|Dundas, Hon. J. C.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Fox, Lieut.-col.||Western, C. C.|
|Gisborne, Colonel||Williamson, Sir H.|
§ The original Resolution put and carried.
§ The House resumed; Resolution reported.