HC Deb 08 May 1840 vol 53 cc1315-6

In reply to a question from Mr. Colquhoun,

Viscount Palmerston

said that the hon. Member must be aware there was no question about the acquiescence of one power in a blockade established by another, unless the Government of the other country meant to prevent the blockade by force. It was erroneous to suppose that when any foreign power imposed a blockade upon another, this country or any other was called upon to acknowledge or object to the blockade. The establishment of a blockade was a fact which arose out of the right of an independent Government, and all that the Government of this country or any other had to do was to warn its own subjects that the blockade was established, and to warn them not to incur any danger in consequence of its existence. Now as to Buenos Ayres, to which the question particularly referred, in June, 1838, the French admiral had notified to our ambassador there the fact of the blockade which had since been enforced. The French Admiral had declared the port of Buenos Ayres in a state of strict blockade. That was a fact which had been made the subject of frequent discussion between the French and English Governments, and although in the first instance the notification came from the French Admiral on the station, yet the discussions afterwards showed that it was either done in consequence of previous orders from the Government, or that the Government adopted the acts of the admiral. With regard to a declaration of war, he believed that there had been no formal declaration, but the fact was that the state of the two countries was one of war; there had been hostilities on both sides; but the very blockade established a state of war even if there had been none before, and the blockade could not be binding on other countries if it were not on the principle that it was a measure of war.

Mr. Colquhoun

reminded the noble Lord of his promise to render the blockade less severe, and asked whether he had not been informed that it had been made more stringent as to communications between British merchants und their agents at Buenos Ayres?

Viscount Palmerston

had heard that it had been made so, with respect to particular individuals. He was not sure whether there had been any relaxation with regard to them, but speaking generally, there had been no relaxation of the degree in which the blockade had been enforced. Hon. Members were aware that communications had passed between the French admiral and the authorities at Monte Video, with respect to impediments in the river navigation, but though these were executed by the French force, they were in fact done by the direction of the officials at Monte Video.