wished to call the attention of their lordships to a subject which he considered of great importance. He alluded to the case of those Danish ships which had been detained in or brought into the ports of this country, previous to the commencement of hostilities with Denmark. He had heard, that in consequence of a rumour of the destination of the armament subsequently sent against Denmark, a representation had been made to government on behalf of the Danish vessels then in our ports, for the purpose of ascertaining, whether they were safe in completing their cargoes. The nature of this representation, or the answer to it, he did not know, but afterwards, in consequence of its being intimated by the Chamber of Commerce at Copenhagen, that there was no expectation of hostilities with this country, those vessels proceeded to complete their cargoes, Previous, however, to the sailing of the expedition, an order was issued, under which all these vessels were detained, and others brought in, the whole of which he had heard, were since condemned, and had become Droits of Admiralty. The produce of these vessels and cargoes, he had also heard, amounted to nearly two million. If these statements were true, he could not help thinking the circumstances unexampled in the annals of the country. Unless he had further information, he must even believe, that our expedition to Copenhagen caused the war with Denmark, and therefore that the vessels previously detained, ought to have been considered in a different, situation from vessels detained in consequence of the previous hostile conduct of the power to which they belonged. He wished to ask the noble secretary of state whether it was true, that the vessels he had alluded to had been condemned in the manner stated, and also, whether the crews were detained as prisoners of war?
§ Lord Hawkesbury
stated, that the same course had been adopted with respect to the Danish vessels which were detained on receiving information of the hostile intentions of Denmark, as had been adopted with respect to the vessels of other Bowers detained under similar circumstances. He thought it necessary also to state, that no assurance of protection was 921 given either directly or indirectly by government to the Danish vessels in our ports, at the period mentioned by the noble viscount.
The Earl of Lauderdale
observed, that some of these vessels had been previously brought into our ports, having been detained as neutrals under different pretences; and that, in several instances, there were decrees of the court of admiralty in their favour; but, by the Order alluded to by the noble viscount and the subsequent proceedings, all these were also condemned, which formed a peculiar case of hardship upon the individuals whose property was thus taken from them.
was not satisfied with the explanation given by the,noble secretary, contending, as he did, that the Danish vessels were in a different situation to those of any other power detained previous to hostilities. His noble friend had omitted to answer one of his questions, whether the crews of these vessels were detained as prisoners of war?
§ Lord Hawkesbury
contended, that the case of the Danish vessels was the same as those of other vessels detained previous to hostilities. As to the crews, they were, as in other cases, detained prisoners of war, with the exception of some individuals, who had been, under particular circumstances, released. A cartel had been proposed to the Danish government, but had been hitherto declined.
The Earl of Suffolk
wished to be informed how the money produced by the sale of these vessels and cargoes was to be applied? and whether any account of its application would be made known?
§ Lord Hawkesbury
said, the amount had been greatly exaggerated, but whatever it was it would be known.