HL Deb 16 March 1809 vol 13 cc640-2
The Earl of Liverpool

adverted to what had been said on a former day by a noble lord (Moira), respecting a letter referred to in a dispatch from lord Castlereagh to sir Arthur Wellesley, dated the 15th of July, which purported to be an Instruction to sir Hew Dalrymple, to pledge the British government to assist the Junta of Seville with 10,000 men, and observed, that there appeared to have been a mistake in the date referred to as the date of the letter to sir Hew Dalrymple, namely, the 6th of July; but he had found the paper, which he conceived was referred to, and therefore laid it on the table.

The Earl of Moira

was satisfied that the paper produced was that which was meant. —The paper was ordered to be printed.

Earl Grey

gave notice, that he should move to-morrow se'nnight for the production of the Letters from Mr. Frere to sir John Moore, which he conceived to be of considerable importance, with a view to that full information which it was necessary the house should have before them. He should therefore move that the lords be summoned for that day. There was another subject which demanded the most serious consideration of their lordships, and which involved one of the greatest calamities that had ever befallen the country: he alluded to the advance and retreat of the British army in Spain. He could not, at present, ascertain whether the information on the table was sufficiently full, or whether it might be necessary to call for further papers; he could not therefore give notice of any day for the discussion of this subject, nor did he think the discussion could lake place before the Easter holidays, but he hoped no long period would elapse before the attention of their lordships was called to its consideration. He wished, however, now to put a question or two to the noble Secretary of State, and first; Whether there were included in the Papers on the table the Communications which took place between the British government and the temporary government of Spain, respecting the sending of troops there from this country? These communications were, he thought, peculiarly necessary for the purposes of explanation, and particularly to explain the causes of the delay which took place in the disembarking of our troops, after their arrival at Corunna? He also wished to be informed, whether any agreement had been entered into with the government of Spain respecting the landing of troops sent from this country at any other port than that of Corunna? as if there were that might serve to account, in some measure, for the delay in the landing at Corunna.

The Earl of Liverpool,

with respect to the Letters of Mr. Frere, repeated, that they were private letters to sir John Moore, and were not transmitted home by that officer, nor referred to in any of his dispatches, public or private; neither had they any operation with respect to the march of the army. For these and other reasons, which he should state when the motion was made, he should resist the production of the Letters. With respect to Communications with the Spanish government, relative to the landing of troops from this country, it would be found, on reference to the dispatches from the Officers employed, that very full information was given upon that point, and with respect to any supposed agreement with that government to land troops at any other port, he could state, that no such agreement was made; there had been under other circumstances an agreement to send troops to another part of Spain; but this did not apply to the troops sent to Corunna, for whose landing no other port was appointed.

Earl Grey

could not conceive that Letters sent by his majesty's accredited minister at Madrid, to the officer commanding the British army in Spain, could, in any sense, be considered as private letters, at it could scarcely be imagined that they must not, in some measure, influence the operations of that army.

The Earl of Darnley

urged the necessity of-producing the Letters alluded to.

The Lords were accordingly ordered to be summoned for to-morrow se'nnight.