HL Deb 14 July 1807 vol 9 cc806-8

On the motion that this bill be read a second time,

Lord Holland

rose. He expected that some noble lord in administration would have stated the grounds on which the bill ought to proceed. However, as that had not been done, he should briefly state the reasons which induced him to approve of the measure. These were chiefly the obvious interests of the united states of America and this country to cultivate a good understanding and friendship; they had more interests in common than any two countries in the world. In every friendly intercourse between two countries, there was, in his opinion, always a mutual advantage: but this reciprocity of interest was most remarkable, as it existed between the united states of America and Great Britain. In the present eventful crisis, a good understanding between the two countries must be important, not only to themselves, but to all independent nations, and this the enlightened government of the United States could not but perceive. In different parts of Europe, in which it had been his lot to travel, he had often heard it asserted, that it was not likely the United States could preserve their present independent government. He was of a very different opinion. The republican institutions of America, like those of every government in which a true spirit of freedom prevailed, contained energies which were capable of being called forth to meet any difficult crisis that might occur, and all that he had heard urged on this subject, appeared to him to result from the prejudices of persons educated under arbitrary monarchies. Nothing therefore could appear to him worse policy than to wish to see any thing like disunion among the people of the United States. Indeed, the more powerful and the more wealthy they became, the better would it be for this country. As they become more populous, the customers for our manufactures would become more numerous, and increase of riches would only give them increased means of consumption. Entertaining these views, he was extremely happy to find that the present administration had, in their policy towards America, thought proper to follow the steps of their predecessors, though a different conduct was to have been expected from them, in consequence of the language they had held when in opposition.

Earl Bathurst

had not thought it necessary to address their lordships in support of this bill, as it was precisely the same as the act which had passed last year and the year before. He contended, that administration acted with no inconsistency in taking up measures as they had been left by the preceding government, though their view of the subject might have been different before they came in[...]o office. With regard to the policy to be pursued towards America, he and his colleagues had, from the moment they took upon themselves the charge of the government, resolved to pursue the system which had devolved to them from their predecessors, unless new circumstances should arise to induce them to depart from it.

Lord Harrowby

argued on the same side, in support of the consistency of the present ministers in this respect, and contrasted their conduct, when in opposition, with that of the noble lords now in opposition to his majesty's government.

The Earl of Lauderdule

contended, that nothing could be more widely different than the conduct of his friends, when in opposition, from that of the noble lords opposite to him, when they opposed the late administration. With smooth and gentle tongues they professed a readiness to support that government, but with these professions on their lips, they resorted to every illiberal, underhand, unmanly means, to subvert the power of those whom they were pretending to support. The very opposite was the character of the opposition to which he was ambitious to belong; an open, fair, liberal, and principled opposition; and he trusted he never should expose himself to the disgrace of belonging to such as the last, who were now in power; but whose possession of power ought to be contended against by every man who understood and cherished the spirit of the constitution.

Lord Mulgrave

recollected that the noble lord had attached himself to a variety of persons both in and out of place; but had distinguished himself most by a disciplined opposition to his majesty's government. For his own part, he had but one political attachment, and to that he gloried to adhere. If it was a disgrace to have belonged to any opposition, It was not for him exactly to say to what opposition the term of disgrace belonged; that must depend upon the sense and opinion of the country at large, and not of any individual: but late events had pretty clearly shewn what was the true feeling and opinion of the country.

The Earl of Lauderdale

said, he did not mean any thing personal to the noble earl: for he could not indeed charge his memory with any thing the noble earl had ever said or done to distinguish his political conduct.

The Lord Chancellor

observed, that there never was an administration which had less occasion to complain of a factious and harassing opposition than the last. There was, in fact, nothing like a systematic plan to oppose their measures, among any of those with whom he had the honour to act. "All the Talents," as they were called, were absolutely without any opponents in that house, or any where else he believed, until they began to oppose themselves.—The bill was then read a second time.