HC Deb 16 January 1840 vol 51 cc101-22
The Speaker

stated, that the House had been to the House of Peers, where her Majesty had been pleased to deliver a Speech from her Throne, a copy of which he had procured, which he would read to the House.

The Speech having accordingly been read,

The hon. G. H. Cavendish

addressed the House as follows: In rising to move an address in answer to her Majesty's gracious Speech from the throne, I cannot but be convinced of my own incapacity for the adequate performance of the task which I have undertaken; but I trust that the House will, on this occasion, extend to me its indulgence. It will be my duty to call the attention of the House to the various important topics touched upon by her Majesty in the course of her Speech from her Throne; but, in doing so, I shall trespass as short a time as possible on the attention of the House, and in the observations that I shall make, I trust that no words will fall from me that will, in the slightest degree, tend to disturb that spirit of harmony and unanimity which it is so desirable should prevail on the present occasion. Indeed, I believe I am only stating, though most imperfectly, what must be passing within the mind of every hon. Member, when I declare my conviction that this House will, as of one accord, hail with the most lively joy and satisfaction the auspicious announcement which has been made to us this day, and that they will hasten, with that loyally and attachment which have ever characterised the people, whose representatives we are, to offer their sincere congratulations to her Majesty on this event, in language dictated by no forced or hollow feelings, but the free and spontaneous tribute of our hearts. God be praised, that in these days, and in this country, we do not need to sacrifice the happiness of our Queen to any ambitious views, or interested calculations of policy, but that, in the free unfettered exercise of her judgment, she has made such a choice as will, she thinks, under the Divine blessing, conduce to the happiness of her people and secure her own happiness. The Prince, the object of her choice, is indeed one of whose excellent qualities there seems to be but one opinion. Descended from an illustrious line of ancestors, kind and affable in his manners, winning in his demeanour, to many accomplishments adding the graceful embellishments of literary pursuits, loved and honoured in the bosom of his family, and endeared to the people among whom he has lived; he is one to whom I think, without using the language of panegyric, the country may look with the fondest expectation, as one likely to contribute to their interests, and to secure the happiness of her, who, amidst the manifold cares which sit so heavily on so young a brow, has chosen him to be the sharer of her joys and sorrows; and I am confident the House will, in its liberality and attachment to the Queen, make such fit and reasonable provision as will enable this prince to maintain the honour and dignity of the station he will have to fill. I turn with peculiar pride and satisfaction to the result of the arduous campaign in India—a campaign which, whether we view it on its important political beatings, or as one of the most brilliant and gallantly conducted military achievements on record, is one on which we may well congratulate her Majesty. If we view it in its important political bearing, as opening to us the course of the Indus, and securing our frontier on the side of Persia, we must admire the prudence and foresight of Lord Auckland in placing on the throne of Afghanistan a prince friendly to the British interests, instead of leaving it a prey to intestine divisions, and a cradle for intrigues against the British power. If we view it as a military achievement, we must all, I am sure, be proud of the valour and hardihood of the brave troops, and of the consummate skill of their gallant commander, which have brought the campaign to such a happy issue; whether we consider the distance traversed, the natural difficulties of the country overcome, or the rare and skilful combinations which must have existed to move three distinct bodies of troops over a distance of nearly 1,500 miles, or the courage and decision with which they crowned their enterprise by the assault and capture of Ghuznee; and these are the results of a campaign concerning which even those most conversant with Indian affairs predicted defeat, failure, and disgrace; and if I recollect aright there was no one more confident in his predictions of failure than the Duke of Wellington; but even he underrated that spirit of valour and patient endurance with which he, more than any man living, has infused the British army; and when he predicted failure he forgot that there was the recollection of his own gallant deeds in that quarter of the globe, to stimulate and excite the troops to achievements which should rival even his unparalleled exploits. I am sure that the House will concur with her Majesty in regretting that a disposition to violence should have shown itself in any part of this country, and that in one district hitherto remarkable for its tranquillity, a most serious outbreak should have taken place; but I think it is matter of congratulation for the House that wherever this disposition to violence has shown itself, it has instantly been, and successfully, repressed by the energy of the magistrates, the good conduct of the respectable part of the community, and the steadiness of the troops, and that this House will assure her Majesty that they join with her in relying upon the power of the law, and the good feeling of her Majesty's subjects to suppress those treasonable practices. Any person unacquainted with the state of the country might be led to suppose that these outbreaks originated with the severe depression of trade; but whatever may have been the proximate causes, I believe that the real one are to be traced to deeper, and I fear more dangerous sources. It is I think to the alarming state of moral and religious darkness in which these vast multitudes have grown up that this spirit of disaffection is to be traced; it is to the absence of all fixed principle, which makes them the dupe of every interested demagogue, and the ready listener to every advocate of wild and visionary schemes for bettering themselves; and I would seek the remedy, not in fresh penal legislative enactments, but in doing all that lies in our power to secure to every man the blessing of a sound religious education—an education which shall teach them better things, and which by showing them, and proving to them, that they are human beings, not to be used as mere machines, but felt and cared for by those placed above them by wealth and station, as men like themselves, and as beings having eternal interests at stake, an education which, in doing this, shall gradually wean them from the spirit of insubordination, and lead them to seek their own advancement and happiness as a class, in the happiness and advancement of the whole nation; and my prayer to God is, that if clouds are darkening the horizon, they may, through his providence be dispelled, and that, at this important juncture he will so order our deliberations, that in the faithful and zealous discharge of our duty we may apply our minds, unbiassed by private or partial affection, to the consideration of the momentous questions before us, and that, differing where we do differ, fairly and openly, we may lay aside the bitterness and rancour of party spirit, and devote ourselves to the real good of the country, so that the nation may have no cause to complain that we have betrayed the trust reposed in us by them; and that when the records of these days shall come to be traced, posterity may find it written in imperishable characters, in the spread of civilization and in the improved moral condition of the people, that from the days of Victoria and Albert commenced an era when the peace of love and order again influence the habit and character of the whole nation, and when, in the blessing of an united and unselfish people, her Majesty found the best security for her throne, and the brightest flower in the nuptial wreath. The hon. Member concluded with proposing an address, which was as usual, an echo of the speech.

Sir William Somerville

said, in rising to second the address which we have just heard read, in answer to her Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne, I shall, as far as possible, endeavour to follow the example that has been set me by the hon. Member who has preceded me, and abstain from any topic of an irritating nature, or which might have the effect of disturbing that Unanimity which I hope will exist on the present occasion, and which I feel it is so necessary should exist. I do not think it necessary to press at any length upon the House the consideration of the various topics of her Majesty's Speech, more particularly as I see in that Speech, embracing as it does the foreign, colonial, and domestic policy of the country, much cause for joy and congratulation, little for apprehension, and none, I hope, for serious alarm. I shall not allude to the foreign affairs of the country farther than to say, that we must all rejoice at the cessation of the civil war in Spain, and although rebellion may still lurk in a corner of that country, there is every reason to believe, that it will be speedily put down, and that Spain, when taking her station amongst the constitutional monarchies of Europe, will soon reassume that position to which the bravery and commercial enterprise of her inhabitants so justly entitle her. Her Majesty's allusion to the affairs of our colonies, leads us to hope that the affairs of Canada are likely soon to be settled, whilst the brilliant results of our Indian expedition, must cause us all to rejoice at the glories and achievements of the British arms. Her Majesty next alludes to the domestic affairs of this empire; and she recommends to the attention of Parliament the speedy settlement of the Irish corporations. This, Sir, is not the first time that a similar recommendation has proceeded from the Throne, but I fondly hope it will be the last. The corporations of Ireland are in a condition more peculiarly to create distrust, animosity, and ill will amongst the people of that country. The Roman Catholics are by law admissible to corporate privileges, but they are debarred a participation in those privileges by the corporate officers themselves. Had the law never interfered—had the Catholics been debarred from the enjoyment of these privileges by law, it would not have been so bad as it now is; and I need not state to the House how calculated this state of things is to increase animosity and ill-will; and I do trust it will be put an end to. It has been too much the habit, when the affairs of Ireland are being discussed, to consider, not how much we can give, but how little—not how to give generously and willingly, but how to give grudgingly and sparingly. I trust that this will no longer he the case, but that this question will be finally and satisfactorily set at rest. I am sure this House must feel grateful to her Majesty, for the promptitude with which she has carried into effect the intentions of Parliament with regard to Post-office reform: and I trust that this measure will prove of advantage to the public, and tend to the promotion of knowledge. I am sure this House must respond to her Majesty's sentiments of sorrow and regret, when she alludes to the commercial embarrassments of the country. I trust and hope these difficulties will be but temporary, and that the commercial prosperity of this kingdom will soon again be placed upon a sure and permanent basis. Deeply, too, must this House participate in the regret expressed by her Majesty, that disturbances should have taken place in some parts of this country; and whilst alluding to this topic I hope, without breaking the promise I made at the commencement of my address not to introduce any irritating topics, that I may congratulate this House and the country upon the tranquillity at present existing in Ireland. I know there are some who deny the existence of this tranquillity. I can only say to such, that the evidence of their senses differs from that which mine presents to me. Others there are, who, while they admit and rejoice in the existence of this tranquillity, still doubt its permanency, and believe that it is only skin deep— They hear a voice in every wind, And snatch a fearful joy. Such is not my opinion. My own opinion is, that this tranquillity is consequent upon the introduction of a fair, a just, and equitable system of government, which has conciliated the goodwill and affections of the people, and whilst I fervently pray that this tranquillity may be lasting, I as fervently hope that the outbreaks which have disturbed this country may be but temporary, and speedily give place to a better state of things. Sir, it must have been a source of sincere satisfaction to the ministry upon a late occasion, when a part of this country was disturbed, to have been able to withdraw troops from Ireland—thanks to the facility of communication with perfect ease, and thanks to the introduction of a wise system of government into the country with perfect safety. The first topic, Sir, introduced by her Majesty into her Speech, alluded to the interesting announcement of her intended marriage. The hon. mover of the Address has left me little to say upon this point; nevertheless, as a loyal subject of my Sovereign, I trust I may be allowed briefly to allude to it; and I feel convinced, that the illustrious birth, and the many shining qualities which adorn the Prince, the object of her Majesty's choice, will recommend this union less to the approbation of the people of England, than the knowledge of the fact, that it was determined on, less from motives of state policy, than as her Majesty's own unbiassed and spontaneous choice. The Crown of these realms, Sir, can receive no additional lustre from any alliance, however splendid. No alliance can give additional security to the Sovereign of these kingdoms—she reigns secure in the hearts, the loyalty, and affections of her people; and most fervently, I trust, will this House respond to the aspirations of her Majesty, that her approaching union may promote the happiness of her people, and that she may enjoy in her domestic circle, when wearied with the storms of state, some alleviation to those cares and anxieties to which she has been destined by Almighty Providence at so early an age, and which are inseparable from her exalted station—a station which, exalted as it is, her present Majesty both dignifies and adorns. I think it unnecessary to say any more upon the present occasion, and shall conclude by seconding the Address. The Address was then read by the Speaker.

Sir R. Inglis

did not wish to disturb the unanimity which the House must be disposed to exhibit on such an occasion, but he did not wish that the House should be held to adopt every word of the Address unguarded by any declaration of disapproval as to part of its contents. Under these circumstances, he felt it to be his duty, and he hoped he felt it to be a painful duty, to offer a few words to the House on the present occasion. He could have wished that her Majesty were surrounded by Ministers who would have felt it to be their duty most respectfully to have hinted to her Majesty the propriety of delivering this speech by royal commissioners. He must next proceed to state, that there was a remarkable omission in the Speech, and, as it now appeared, not an unintentional one. It was not by accident or inadvertence that the nation was not assured in the first declaration from the Throne of that which was most important for the security of the highest of all its interests at the earliest opportunity, and through the most authentic communication. He knew that it had been said that the precedent of the last royal announcement of a similar nature was scrupulously followed. It was not necessary for him to state in plainer language what that omission was. It must be alike alive to the imagination and understanding of all the persons of different religious persuasions by whom he was surrounded. When George 3rd announced the nuptials which he had contracted, a very different state of thing existed in this country, and his advisers did not think it necessary to make specific mention of the religion of the Princess with whom he had contracted marriage. But what was the conduct of the House of Commons even on that occasion? Was the Address a vague echo of the Speech from the Throne? No; when his Majesty had announced to both Houses that he had contracted nuptials with a princess eminently endowed with every virtue, the House, not content with general congratulation on so happy and auspicious an union, added in the description of it, the mention of the princess being descended from an "ancient and illustrious Protestant family." It was essential, not merely to the interest of the nation—not merely to that religion approved by the hearts and judgment of the great mass of the people, but to the security of the Throne itself, that the Sovereign when contracting marriage, should contract it with a Protestant. And though he thought there was no reason to doubt the fact, still it would have been better advised on the part of her Majesty's Ministers to have introduced into the Speech from the Throne the most explicit declaration on a point so vital. Having called the attention of the House to the most important omission, he wished to notice some other parts of the Speech. He unhappily heard very imperfectly the Mover of the Address but he regretted that the hon. Member should make one declaration as to the close of the contest in Spain, without the least reference to the mode in which that contest was brought to what he called a pacific termination, He would not enter into the question as to who had the right to the Spanish throne, but he had trusted that he should never hear an English gentleman congratulate an assembly on the progress of a cause, the success of which was owing to the most monstrous treachery. He protested, also, against being bound by an approval of the policy pursued with regard to China. They had not the papers, and, therefore, could not, legitimately, enter into a full disussion of the question. But everybody knew that we had endeavoured to introduce into China an article which the Chinese government had always prohibited. Now he asked the most zealous advocate of the corn-laws, whether, if Russia persisted in sending her coin into this country, in violation of our municipal laws, England would not have been justified in carrying on a war for its exclusion? In that case, the importation would have been of the most beneficial production of the earth; but we had persisted in forcing upon the Chinese pestilential poison, in opposition alike to the laws of God and man. There were many other subjects, such as the Irish corporation question and the ecclesiastical commission, which he felt disposed to dispute, but he felt it a duty to himself and his constituents to express his unqualified disapprobation of the points to which he had referred, lest his silence should be construed into an approval of them.

Viscount Palmerston

thought, that nothing was more clearly understood in Parliament than that an address of the present description did not pledge the opinion of any Member to the several points of general policy touched on in the Speech. He should have, therefore, concluded that a Member of so great experience as the hon. Baronet, ought not to have thought it necessary to guard himself against the expression of any opinion approving of the general policy of the Government. Nor should he have thought it necessary to rise, but that like the hon. Baronet, he was anxious that by his silence he should not be supposed to acquiesce in the inferences and conclusions drawn from some points adverted to in the Speech. Now, in the first place, as to the omission of the statement of the religion of the Prince to whom her Majesty was about to be united in marriage, he thought the House would at once see that it was wholly unnecessary for her Ma- jesty to declare to the House the fact, which, according to the law of the land, could not be different. It was wholly unnecessary for her Majesty to state that Prince Albert was a Protestant; because, not only was the fact notorious to all the world, but the marriage could not have been contracted if he were of a different religion. With regard to the termination of the war in the Basque provinces, the hon. Gentleman thought that no English gentleman could feel or express satisfaction at the termination of a civil war by such means as those by which he conceived the contest had been brought to a conclusion. Now, he stood there in his public or private capacity, ready to express unfeigned satisfaction at that event. He thought the termination of a civil war by the arrangement entered into was satisfactory, as by it subjects in rebellion against their sovereign returned to their lawful allegiance. And, on the other hand, the sovereign secured to them the continuance of privileges to which they attached great and well-merited value. Such a conclusion of the war was alike honourable to both parties and must be viewed by all friends of peace and order with sincere and unmixed satisfaction. They had heard in that House on former accasions great interest expressed for the suffering Basques, and the greatest anxiety that they should retain the enjoyment of their Fueros. The peace made between the Queen of Spain and the Basques rested on the preservation of their Fueros, and he certainly did not expect to hear from that side of the House expressions of dissatisfaction at an arrangement which led to such results. Gentlemen might call it treachery, if treachery consisted in a return to allegiance. That was not his view of treason. He did not expect that Gentlemen holding the opinions which those on the other side entertained should attach that opprobious epithet to the return of subjects to their allegiance. Now, with regard to the other point, he was sure that the House and the hon. Baronet would see, that it was unfitting for him on this occasion to enter into any detail or explanation on this subject, but this, at least, he felt bound to say, that her Majesty's Government, in advising her Majesty to state what was contained in this Speech with regard to the transactions in Asia, had no intention to dispute the right of every Government to prohibit the importation of any foreign commodities which their Government might choose or think it right to prohibit, or of enforcing that prohibition by means and authority of its own.

Colonel Sibthorpe

agreed with the hon. Baronet that the Ministers would have better discharged their duty by inserting the word "Protestant."

Sir Robert Peel

Sir, I feel that there is a general indisposition on the part of Members of this House to choose the present occasion for commenting on general affairs; and I heartily join in the general desire that we should be enabled not only to concur in the Address which has been moved by the hon. Member opposite without amendment, but that we should also be able to do so without the introduction of those topics which might lead to acrimonious discussion. Sir, I fully participate in what I collect to be the general feeling of this House. Of late years the policy of Governments has been to avoid the introduction in the Speech of any topics compelling political opponents to propose amendments. The policy of opposition has also been of late years to discourage amendments. Sir, I should not, under ordinary circumstances, feel myself at all bound by that custom; but I do feel that the present are not ordinary circumstances. I feel that on an occasion in which the Speech from the Throne announces the approaching nuptials of the Sovereign I should not be justified in making any deviation from the usual practice; and I should, therefore, he extremely unwilling to disturb the unanimity of the House by proposing any amendment. I am bound also to say that the nature of the speeches we have heard delivered by the Mover and Seconder of the Address does, as far as possible, take away all necessity for amendment, and diminishes very much the temptation, which the excited state of public feeling affords to bring on a full discussion. At the same time I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that by now permitting the address to pass without amendment we are not only not concluded on the subjects introduced into the Speech from the Throne, but that we reserve to ourselves a full right to inquire into the conduct of the Queen's Government. I shall reserve to myself full power to express an opinion on the state of public affairs and the political acts of her Majesty's Ministers. Sir, I must now be allowed to say for myself, and for those with whom I have the honour to act, that we cordially participate in the congratulations which the Address offers. I do entirely enter into the aspirations for the happiness of her Majesty in her approaching nuptials. Her Majesty has been enabled to contract those nuptials under circumstances peculiarly auspicious. It frequently happens that political considerations interfere with such transactions, and that persons in exalted stations are obliged to sacrifice their private feelings to their sense of public duty. Her Majesty, however, has the singular good fortune to be able to gratify her private feelings while she performs her public duty, and to obtain the best guarantee for happiness by contracting an alliance founded on affection. I cordially hope that the union now contemplated will contribute to her Majesty's happiness, and enable her to furnish to her people an exalted example of connubial felicity. Sir, notwithstanding my wish to avoid discussion, I cannot help expressing my surprise at the omission of one topic in the Speech. Recollecting the protracted discussions of last Session on the affairs of Jamaica, and the result to which they led, I am surprised at the omission in the Speech from the Throne of any allusion to the affairs of that colony. There appears to be every reason to congratulate ourselves on the effect of the two measures then adopted by Parliament; and I presume that Ministers, although those measures passed without their concurrence, must participate in the general satisfaction at their results. It appears that by pursuing the course which I ventured to recommend you have been able to preserve the constitution of Jamaica, and at the same time to cause the subsidence of all intemperate feeling. I told you that if you ventured to trust the Assembly you would find them not unworthy of your confidence—not unwilling to perform their legislative duties. Of course I have no information on this subject except what I derive from the public papers; but, judging from them, I think that Ministers have ample reason to congratulate themselves that their opinions were overruled. One word only with respect to the late military operations in Caboul. It is impossible to withhold our admiration at the successful efforts of our brave troops. I cannot pay them a higher compliment than to say that they appear to have supported the ancient glory of their country. There cannot be a dissentient voice on this subject, and I trust that Government will give an early opportunity for an expression of gratitude by this House. A motion for that purpose would, I am sure, meet with universal approbation, and 1 must express my surprise that no notice of moving a vote of thanks has been given. But, Sir, I must not be considered to imply perfect approbation of the political measure because I give unlimited praise to the military operation. The hon. Member who moved the Address seemed to labour under the impression that the Duke of Wellington had predicted the military failure of this enterprise. The hon. Gentleman is mistaken. If I recollect aright, the Duke of Wellington, knowing the skill of the commander, predicted that the military operations would succceed, but at the same time expressed his conviction that our difficulties would begin after our military operations had been completed. His grace contended that the engagements we contracted would be very onerous, and from this he predicted a want of success, and not from any doubt of the valour of our soldiers. For my own part I must confess that my apprehensions for the consequences have not been allayed by the temporary success of our troops. Sir, there now remains but one more subject to which I feel it absolutely necessary to allude, less for the purpose of provoking discussion than for seeking explanation. The point to which I allude has reference to the slave trade as carried on by Portugal. I think it necessary for the credit of the country to seek from the Noble Lord opposite some explanation on this subject. The House will recollect that in the course of last session measures of an extraordinary character—justified, I believe, by the necessity—were called for by Government to compel Portugal to fulfil her treaties, and in case of refusal to take their fulfilment into our own hands. The House of Commons, after some discussion with the other House of Parliament, passed at length a Bill giving effect to the proposal of Government. A correspondence was then laid on the table of the House explanatory of our relations with Portugal on this matter; and one of the vindications of the measures which the Noble Lord opposite was compelled to resort to was that Portugal had absolutely refused to make the slave trade an act of piracy. In that correspondence I find that the representative of this country at the Court of Lisbon was instructed to require from the Minister of Portugal his signature to a treaty making slave trading a piracy. It would also appear that by a paper in the des- patch-office, signed by Lord Howard de Walden, and dated May the 28th, the total abolition of the slave trade was made a condition sine qua non with the Portuguese Government. That despatch distinctly led to the inference that the signature by the Portuguese Government making a continuance of the slave trade piracy was exacted as a condition sine qua non. But there has recently been published by the Portuguese Government a correspondence which I wish the Noble Lord opposite to reconcile with the correspondence laid before this House. In it there appears a letter from Lord Howard de Walden, marked, "most private and confidential." It is addressed, My Dear Viscount—Here is a note on which to hang your declaration as to piracy. You will briefly first state your objection to the demand as unwarrantable: secondly, propose a penal law inflicting secondary punishment on slave traders; thirdly, remark that no European Power, except England, has declared the trade piracy; and, fourthly, declare the readiness of Portugal to act in concert with the other Powers, although unwilling to take the initiative. This strikes me as the best case you can make out, wording your conclusion strongly against the slave trade. Now, Sir, the question is, whether that letter formed part of the transaction on which was founded the application of Government. Here we have a public despatch making the designation of piracy a sine qua non, and a private note consenting that it should not be styled piracy. This is to me a mystery requiring some explanation. I make no comment on the matter at present; all I mean to do is to give the Noble Lord an opportunity of stating whether the letter is genuine, and, if genuine, an opportunity of reconciling it with his public despatch. With these exceptions I shall adhere to what I perceive to be the general feeling of the House, and abstain from topics which might increase the asperity of debate, briefly reserving to myself, at this time of general alarm and excitement, a power of inquiring how far the conduct of Government has contributed to this alarm.

Viscount Palmerston

felt no hesitation in giving the explanation which was required. In the first place, the negociations with Portugal for the purpose of obtaining an adequate treaty, were continued during more than four years, and were divided into several stages. The private note to which the right hon. Baronet referred was written at an earlier stage of the negociations than the failure on which the measure of last year had been proposed. About a year and a half ago the public and private notes had been written. He had sent a draft of a treaty to be proposed to the government of Portugal, in which it was required that the slave-trade should be declared an act of piracy. The Portuguese minister stated it was impossible to comply—the Portuguese government refused to make the slave-trade piracy, alleging the state of public feeling in that country, and the difficulty of obtaining legislative sanction to such a measure. The result was that the British Government felt that they could not obtain that concession, and that it must be abandoned. At that time Lord Howard de Walden had received leave of absence; (he was now stating the outline of the transaction,) and Lord Howard de Walden said, that he would agree to certain conditions to which the Portuguese minister attached importance, but to which he was not authorized by his instructions to consent. The Portuguese minister said, "If you will agree to these, I will agree to the other parts you propose, and a treaty can then be signed between us." The conditions which he insisted upon were that Great Britain should guarantee the Portuguese colonies. Lord Howard de Walden said, "I will take upon myself to do this," upon certain terms well understood by persons conversant with these matters; "but if you will agree to all the other points we require, I will sign a treaty which shall contain the conditions you insist upon. I am going home, and will submit it to my Government. If they agree, well and good, if they do not, here is a memorandum to be drawn up between us, to the effect that the whole thing shall be as if it never had existed, and our signatures shall be of no avail." One point upon which Portugal took her stand was, that she would not agree to make the slave-trade piracy. The note read by the right hon. Gentleman, was a note suggesting to Portugal the least objectionable mode of making that communication to us. Lord Howard de Walden in that note, did what every body engaged in negotiations of this kind does—namely, in friendly terms he suggested to the Portuguese minister the least objectionable manner of stating his refusal, and he mentioned the arrangement which in his opinion would come nearest to the point we desired to attain on the subject of piracy. "State," said he, "and place upon record that you have awarded the severest secondary punishment to it —state that you will declare the slave-trade to be piratical, and that you will agree to declare it decidedly piracy whenever the other powers of Europe shall do the same thing." This conduct was far from being inconsistent with the professions in Parliament of the Government, or with Lord Howard de Walden's instructions; but, on the contrary it was calculated to bring Portugal, as far as they would go, towards the object which we had in view. The end, however, of the negotiation was a failure; for though Lord Howard de Walden said, "I will agree to your conditions, provided you will agree to mine," he said, "You must agree before a given day." Before that time fresh objections were made by the Portuguese government to other points and Lord Howard de Walden was consequently unable to sign the treaty, and he came home without having concluded anything. This, however, was not the transaction upon which he (Lord Palmerston) had called upon the House last year to agree to the measure alluded to by the right hon. Baronet. He sent out another draft of a treaty to meet the objections of the Portuguese government, but securing in his opinion the powers and facilities we wanted to obtain. If the right hon. Baronet would look a little further into the papers he had been reading from, he would find another draft of a treaty, in which he (Lord Palmerston) expressed that he would be satisfied with the declaration that the slave trade was a piratical offence, and a great moral offence. The right hon. Baronet would also see in the progress of that correspondence that the Portuguese government not only refused to make the slave-trade piracy, but even objected to the epithet "piratical," which he had proposed to apply to that trade. But the grounds upon which he had come to Parliament last year to ask for the powers and authorities which Parliament afterwards granted, were not that part of the negotiations to which the papers read by the right hon. Baronet referred, but a subsequent stage of the proceedings, when the Portuguese government refused to agree to the modified draft in which the slave-trade was not required to be made piracy, but only denounced as a piratical offence, but, in which, also, the universal right of search was demanded, and the power of condemning all vessels under equipment, but without slaves on board; and in which draft likewise he distinctly refused insert that guarantee upon which the Portuguese government had laid so much stress, namely, that for a given time we would secure to the Portuguese government the possession of those parts of Africa which they demand to be considered as the colonies of Portugal, which would have required us to conquer large tracts of country not now possessed but claimed by Portugal. The second demand on their part was, that the treaty should be only temporary instead of being like all others, permanent. Those were the demands we refused to accede to—those on our part were the right of condemning ships equipped, but without slaves on board, and the extension of that power to all parts of the globe, instead of its being confined to the quarters north of the line.

Lord John Russell

by no means wished to disturb that harmony of feeling which seemed to pervade the House on the subject of the Address, but there were one or two points suggested by the right hon. Baronet to which he wished slightly to refer. The right hon. Gentleman had asked, whether it was the intention of her Majesty's Government to propose a vote with relation to those persons who were engaged in the late expedition in India? To this his reply was, his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Controul would give a notice on the subject. He differed from the right hon Baronet in the remarks he had made on the subject of Jamaica, inasmuch as he considered, that the happiness of that colony would have been far better secured by the former bill than it was by the present state of affairs. He was far from being satisfied with the administration of justice in Jamaica—he did not think, that justice had been fairly and impartially administered by certain parties there. Let the Assembly of Jamaica provide an adequate remedy for that evil—let them take measures to secure the fair and impartial administration of justice, and he would be then ready to accede to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, that benefits had accrued from the course pursued last year; but he did not think the colony ought to be satisfied with a state in which justice was not properly dispensed, Till that should be the case, he could not express his entire satisfaction with the conduct of the Legislature. There was another colony to the state of which allusion had been briefly made in the Speech, and to which he would now only very shortly refer. He alluded to Canada. In the first place, he thought it was due to the government of the United States to say, that although he had formerly great reason to complain of outrages on the frontier, measures had been recently taken by the Government of America which were of a far more efficient character than they had formerly been. The military department had been superintended by officers, who had acted with the utmost good faith towards her Majesty's subjects, and even in the courts of Law in the United States there had been convictions of some of the brigands and robbers of the frontier. With respect to another part of the same subject, namely, the internal state of Canada, he was happy to say, that up to the present moment no accounts had been received of the breaking out of fresh disturbances, and the aspect of affairs was satisfactory in the opinion of persons who had been there, including that distinguished commander Lord Seaton (lately Sir J. Colborne) and that there was a more likely prospect of an agreement between the inhabitants of the two Canadas, than we had formerly reason to expect. It appeared, that the new Governor had convened the Special Council, and that they had passed several resolutions approving the union of the two provinces; and the Assembly of Lower Canada had expressed its willingness to bear a portion of the expenses incurred by the works in Upper Canada. The Assembly of Upper Canada had likewise agreed to the resolutions, and the Governor-general had expressed his hope of being able to transmit shortly to England the alterations to be made in the bill of last year. There was one other subject on which, if the House would permit him, he wished to state the intentions of her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Baronet had put a question to the Ministers with respect to the slave trade. Now, connected with that subject was the melancholy fact, that, notwithstanding all their exertions—notwithstanding the repeated addresses of both Houses of Parliamant—notwithstanding the treaties we had formed, and notwithstanding the vigilant attention of her Majesty's Ministers, and of the different Governments which had preceded them—notwithstanding the efforts that had been made to carry out the stipulations of the treaty, and put an end to the slave trade—notwithstanding all this, he said, the slave trade was still in a flourishing state, and hundreds and thousands of human beings were yearly sacrificed to this barbarous traffic. It was the intention of the Government to propose a vote to Parliament for the building of steam-vessels, with a view to extend and improve commercial relations up the river Niger, and in the hope of inducing people to believe, that in the cultivation of the rich productions of Africa, and in the peaceful and innocent occupation of agriculture, they would derive more pleasure, and become more happy, than they could hope to be by pursuing their present unhappy and mistaken line of policy.

Mr. Wallace

said, there were two questions in relation to the Speech to which be wished to advert. One was the state of the currency of the country; and the other was the Corn-law. One of these was attributable to the right hon. Baronet opposite, and the other to the Duke of Wellington. These were the main causes of the commercial distress alluded to by her Majesty's Speech, and he hoped they would receive due attention soon after the Address had been agreed to.

Address referred to a committee.