HC Deb 16 May 1834 vol 23 cc1108-10

On Lord Althorp moving, that the House at its rising do adjourn till Wednesday,

Sir Richard Vyvyan

called the attention of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to reports which were in circulation relative to certain acts of diplomacy affecting our relation's with the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal. It was generally understood that a treaty had been entered into by the representatives of the Allied Powers of England, France, Spain, and Portugal for the settlement of the affairs of the Peninsula. By this treaty it was understood to be provided, that Spain was to be allowed to interfere in the affairs of Portugal, that France was to march an army into the Peninsula in case of necessity, and that England was to be also prepared with a fleet for the same purpose in case of need. And the object of this Treaty, it was further understood, was to oblige Don Carlos and Don Miguel to give up their respective claims to the crowns of Spain and Portugal in favour of the infant heiresses. Such being the reported substance of the stipulations of this treaty, it had been further stated, that the Spanish General Rodil had crossed the Spanish frontiers into Portugal, and that, in consequence some towns had ceased to pay allegiance to Don Miguel, and had gone over to Donna Maria. It was also further reported, that the treaty in question had not been agreed to with such celerity on the part of one or more of the contracting Powers as had been anticipated, and that it had been even returned by the British minister at Lisbon, unratified on the part of the government of Portugal. He did not wish at the present moment, to enter into any discussion on the course of policy which had recently been adopted by his Majesty's Government in reference to those matters, but would content himself with making three inquiries of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. First, whether such a Treaty as he had described had been entered into between France, Spain, Portugal, and this country, for the settlement of the affairs of the Peninsula? Secondly, whether any delay in the ratification of that Treaty had occurred at the Court of Lisbon, or whether any symptoms of dissent had been manifested at the Courts of any of the contracting Powers? And thirdly, whether the noble Lord had been officially in- formed of the fact of General Rodil having marched across the Spanish frontier into Portugal for the purpose and with the results he had stated?

Viscount Palmerston

said, that he would follow the example of the hon. Baronet, and not enter into any remarks upon the various reports which had been in circulation in respect to the occurrences he had alluded to. With regard to the three questions of the hon. Baronet, he begged to reply, first, that he had very great satisfaction in being able to state, that a Treaty had been entered into between the four great Powers the hon. Baronet had named, relative to the affairs of the Peninsula, and that it had been duly signed by the plenipotentiaries of the respective contracting Powers. In stating this to be the case, he spoke with very great satisfaction, and, as far as he himself had been concerned in forwarding the negotiations, with some degree of pride. He would not now enter into the details of the Treaty in question, because, as soon as it was duly ratified, it would, of course, be laid before the House. Secondly, as to whether there had been any undue delay in the ratification of this Treaty, he begged to state, that three of the contracting parties had already ratified it, and that the ratification on the part of Portugal had only been delayed by reason of the forms attending such matters at that Court. That it would be satisfied, however, had been officially announced to him, and he hoped that, in a very few days, the vessel which bore the document itself would be in port. With regard to the third inquiry of the hon. Baronet, it was very true, that General Rodil had passed the Spanish frontiers, as had been stated; but he had done so with the full consent of the Portuguese government, and certainly not with the disapprobation of the Government of the country. The operation of his forces was exclusively directed to dislodging Don Carlos and his adherents from the frontiers of Spain; but he had been perfectly neutral in respect to the civil contest in Portugal. The Spanish troops had not united in any way with the troops of Donna Maria against the party of Miguel, though many most important towns had taken advantage of their presence to declare for Donna Maria. He had again to repeat, that as soon as the Treaty was ratified, it would be laid on the Table of the House.

Mr. Baring

said, that, probably, on the meeting of Parliament after the holidays, the noble Lord would be prepared to lay before the House an authentic copy of the Treaty in question. Until that was done, further discussion on the subject would be a waste of time. He could not help remarking, however, that the neutrality said to have been observed by the Spanish troops in Portugal in the present instance was one of a most singular kind, considering that several fortified towns were taken from Don Miguel, and his adherents driven from them. He really thought, that the people of Portugal had had quite abundant opportunity of declaring for Donna Maria, if they felt inclined, without the presence of the Spanish general.

Viscount Palmerston

begged to explain what he meant by the term "neutrality," and in reference to the conduct of General Rodil. He did not wish to lay any stress upon the word, but merely meant to state that, up to that period, no union had taken place between the forces of the two young queens. Of course, he did not pretend to disguise the fact, that the presence of the Spanish General had been of great assistance to the cause of the Portuguese government.

Sir Richard Vyvyan

inquired whether the Spanish troops had entered Portugal before the above Treaty had been signed?

Lord Palmerston

Yes; but in consequence of an understanding between the respective governments.

The question of adjournment agreed to.

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