HC Deb 14 June 1836 vol 34 cc510-1
Lord Mahon

wished to ask a question of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, relative to a subject which he had questioned him about last year—he meant the negotiations that were going on between Spain and the South American States respecting the recognition of the independence of the latter Powers by the former. When he put the question to the noble Viscount, on a former occasion, his reply was, that Senor Mendizabal had dissolved the Cortes, and the consequence was, that it had led to an interruption of the negotiations. The noble Lord might now make him the same answer, for the present Prime Minister of Spain had dissolved the Cortes in a similar manner. He understood, however, that Senor Isturitz, when a Deputy, said, in his place in the Chamber of Procuradores, that he did not think that the determination of the question rested with the Cortes, but that it was part of the prerogative of the Crown, and therefore the Crown should direct the proceedings; in short, that the Crown should settle the matter without the intervention of the Cortes. If this was the present opinion of Senor Isturitz, which he had given as a Deputy, he hoped the noble Lord would be able to say, that it was probable that the parties would come to a satisfactory settlement of the question. He hoped the noble Lord would be able to give the House some assurance that the negotiations were likely to be soon terminated. He did not complain of the noble Lord or of the Government; but when he recollected that it was a year and a quarter ago since the late Administration sent over General O'Leary and General Soublette, as deputies from the South American States, to Madrid, he thought that he was justified in again putting a question on the subject to the noble Lord, and in expressing his hopes that there was a reasonable prospect of bringing the matter to a conclusion. It was a subject deeply interesting to this country; and he was sure that the mercantile classes would hear with satisfaction that it was probable that the parties would soon arrive at a satisfactory result.

Viscount Palmerston

did not think that the slowness of the negotiations could in any way be attributed to his Majesty's Government. The noble Lord must be aware that his Majesty's Government had nothing to do with the negotiations, for they had not been invited by either party to intervene in the matter. If, therefore, the negotiations were brought to an early termination, they could claim no merit for it, and if they did not succeed, his Majesty's Government could not be blamed. He could, however, assure his noble Friend, that his colleagues and himself were extremely anxious to see the differences between Spain and her South American colonies at an end; and as far as Great Britain could interfere between independent states, without being called upon, the Government would exert its influence to promote this object. He had not heard any thing on the subject since the change in the Government of Spain. That change, however, was so recent, that it was hardly possible that the negotiations could have been carried to such an extent that a result had been arrived at. He, however, could state, that he knew that Generals Soublette and O'Leary were still at Madrid; and whilst they were there, he hoped there was every probability that the negotiations would be brought to a satisfactory termination.