HC Deb 30 July 1844 vol 76 cc1568-71
Mr. Borthwick

rose to move That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of all Correspondence which has passed between Don Carlos (or on behalf of his Royal Highness) and Her Majesty's Government, relating to certain propositions which have been made by that Prince, having for their object the tranquillization of Spain: as also, Copies of all Correspondence which has passed between Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of France and Spain respectively relative to the same propositions. He should occupy the time of the House very briefly. At an early period of the Session a noble Lord directed the attention of the House to the state of Spain with reference to the position of Don Carlos. Shortly after that discussion, he (Mr. Borthwick) had put a question to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government on the subject of certain propositions which had been submitted to the Government on the part of Don Carlos, with respect to the pacification of Spain. In reply, it was stated by the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) that certain propositions had been submitted to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; that those propositions had not been distinctly comprehended; but notwithstanding this, they had been laid before the Courts of Madrid and France. Subsequently to this a noble Lord in another place had thought proper to make the interests of a mighty people, and the captivity of Don Carlos the subject of merriment.

The Speaker

The hon. Member must make no allusion to the other House of Parliament.

Mr. Borthwick

did not allude to the other House of Parliament, but to some "other place," to which the forms of the House would not allow him more particularly to refer. He maintained that he was perfectly in order. In another place, in a speech made by Lord Clarendon,—

The Speaker

The hon. Member is out of order.

Mr. Borthwick

Well, he saw by the public journals that a noble Lord had asserted that this question was only taken up by a party in the House of Commons—by a party which had very strange notions of regenerating society at home, and whose foreign policy was confined to the promotion of the cause of Don Carlos in Spain. He understood the right hon. Baronet to say, that the propositions which had been submitted to the Government on the part of Don Carlos were non-official and informal; and, although the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government did not clearly understand the nature of those propositions, he had nevertheless submitted them to the Courts of France and Madrid, for their opinion. The right hon. Baronet had not pressed upon the Court of Madrid for a specific answer to the proposition, but had left that court to decide as to what they thought best for the interest of Spain. An objection had been taken on the ground of the informality of the propositions. Now, the meaning of this he apprehended to be that they were submitted to Her Majesty's Government by a subject of this country, and not by a Spanish ambassador; but he could not think that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government was the man to take advantage of a technical difficulty, when that, difficulty arose from the circumstances. Don Carlos could not send an ambassador to this court, inasmuch as since the recognition of Isabella, the Foreign Secretary could not have received him. Don Carlos being a prisoner—unjustly a prisoner, as he thought—propositions sent for the pacification of his country by the only means which he had at his disposal, and he could not think that the right hon. Baronet would so far forget himself or the high station he occupied as to refuse to consider a message from a person so situated with any less attention than if that message came from a monarch on his throne. So much for the manner in which the proposition had been conveyed. The right hon. Baronet said on a former occasion that the propositions were not distinctly made out, but that as far as he understood them he took it that Don Carlos did not waive his personal claims, but simply insisted on the marriage of his son with Isabella. He contended that that was not the proposition of Don Carlos, but directly the reverse of that proposition; and he did ask, first on grounds of general policy, and next on grounds of individual justice, for the production of the propositions mentioned in his notice of Motion, that the House might see and the people might know what were the propositions submitted by Don Carlos to Her Majesty's Government, and what were the grounds on which those propositions had been treated so cavalierly. The right hon. Baronet now said that. Isabella was the representative of constitutional liberty, and Don Carlos the representative of despotic rule. As matters stood in Spain, constitutional liberty seemed to him (Mr. Borthwick) to mean that one-fourth of that country should always be in a state of siege. From the 1st of February to the 1st of June in this year, 127 persons, many of them of high distinction, had been mercilessly butchered, without a trial, under the name of constitutional liberty, of which the Foreign Secretary of this country said the people of Spain were so fond, that they cared not whether Isabella or Don Carlos were on the throne, but liberty they must have. Where did Don Carlos refuse constitutional liberty to Spain, either by word or act? let them show him (Mr. Borthwick; this, and he would be satisfied. It was said the people of Spain loved constitutional liberty. Was there ever a better representative of constitutional liberty than Espartero? Could a more straightforward man be found? yet the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) admitted to the House that never did public man sink from his place as Espartero had done with so little sympathy from the people. He (Mr. Borthwick) asked the right hon. Baronet, as a Minister of the British Crown, that he should not do the injustice to a captive prince of making his propositions appear to be what they were not, and that he would not shelter himself under a mere matter of form from producing on the Table those papers which would have the effect of presenting Don Carlos before Europe in the true light, when international law and the precepts of justice alike called for their production.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

considered the Motion rather calculated to express his hon. Friend (Mr. Borthwick's) own opinions than made with any view of obtaining the papers. After the allusions which had been made to what fell from his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government on a former night, and from the noble Earl in another place, in reference to this subject, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could explain nothing to his hon. Friend but what had been already slated as to the course the Government meant to take. His right hon. Friend had stated, on the former occasion, that the representation which had been received from Don Carlos was indistinct in character, but that nevertheless he had thought it right to submit it to the Spanish Government, not expressing any opinion himself, but leaving the matter to their unbiassed consideration; that he had submitted the papers to the Government of France also; and that he objected to the production of the correspondence moved for by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman had deprecated taking a technical advantage, but no technical advantage was taken with respect to that part of the papers that was sent to the Spanish and French Governments. In the House of Commons, however, it was the practice in some degree to adhere to official forms, and he thought that there could not be a worse precedent than that unofficial authorized documents of this kind should be laid on the Table. He believed that the correspondence referred to by his hon. Friend (Mr. Borthwick) was in part the correspondence of a noble Lord, who, having spent some time in Spain as an adherent of Don Carlos, addressed some letters to the Foreign Office; but it would be impossible for the House to order the production of all such letters as every gentleman who travelled in foreign countries might think fit to address to the Foreign Office. The House were in possession already of all the facts of the case; they had been stated by his right hon. Friend on the former occasion. No information had been received since. Under these circumstances, he thought it was not necessary for him to say more, or give further reasons for disagreeing from the Motion.

The Marquess of Granby

, having been in Spain, felt an interest in the question, and wished to say that, in his opinion, the proposition of a marriage between the two parties who had been named seemed to afford the best chance of settling the disputes in that country; and he should regret that any papers which might conduce to that desirable object should be refused by the Government.

Mr. Borthwick

briefly replied.

The House divided:—Ayes 2; Noes 33: Majority 31.

List of the AYES.
Bernal, Capt. Borthwick, P.
Sheil, rt. hn. R. L. Manners, Lord J.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Gibson, T. M.
Archbold, R. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Boldero, H. G. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Bowles, Adm. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Bowring, Dr. Greene, T.
Bright, J. Hume, J.
Brotherton, J. Humphery, Ald.
Clerk, Sir G. Jones, Capt.
Cripps, W. Masterman, J.
Darby, G. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Duncan, G. Ogle, S. C. H.
Eliot, Lord Smith, rt. hn. T. B.
Escott, B. Sutton, hon. H. M. C.
Esmonde, Sir T. Trotter, J.
Forman, T. S. Wyse, T.
Forster, M. TELLERS.
Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T. Young, J.
Gaskell, J. Miles Pringle, A.
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