HL Deb 16 March 1809 vol 13 cc642-4
The Earl of Buckinghamshire

adverted to what had been said on a former evening respecting the Regency in Portugal, and observed, that it appeared by the narrative of sir Hew Dalrymple that he had received a dispatch on the 3rd of September, dated the 19th of August, containing Instructions for the formation of the Regency. He thought it of considerable importance that this Letter should be produced, in order that the house might be aware of the nature of those Instructions, and of the motives which influenced them. It had been said by the noble Secretary of State on a former evening, that Portugal must follow the fate of the Peninsula, but surely much might have been done in Portugal to influence the fate of Spain, if measures had been adopted in that country satisfactory to the people, and calculated to rouse their patriotism and military ardour in defence of the common cause. He also wished to have produced the Correspondence with the Portuguese minister, and that it might be ascertained whether the measures adopted in Portugal were with his consent, or contrary to his wish? His lordship concluded by moving for the Letter to sir Hew Dalrymple, containing Instructions for forming the Regency.

The Earl of Liverpool

admitted that such Instructions were sent to sir H. Dalrymple: there must of course, in the execution of such a measure be something left to his discretion, but ministers were responsible for the measure. He could not, however, consent to the production of the dispatch alluded to. There were necessarily in it, allusions to the conduct of individuals, and particular instructions founded upon those comments which it would be improper to make public: upon another ground also he objected to it. Having reconquered Portugal for our ancient ally, it was the object of his majesty's government to reestablish, as far as possible, the government which had been established there by the legitimate authority of the sovereign. The Regency had therefore been formed as a provisionary government, until the decision of the Prince Regent of Portugal should be known upon the subject, information of what had been done having been sent to Rio Janeiro. No determination respecting it had yet been received from the Portugese government at the Brazils; and he, therefore, upon this and the other ground which he had stated, objected to the production of the paper, which, at the same time there was no necessity to produce.

The Earl of Rosslyn

thought, that ministers very ill supported the wish they had expressed, that the fullest information upon this subject should be laid before the house, when they refused the document now moved for, and which it was of great importance should be in the possession of their lordships.

Viscount Sidmouth

protested against the principle set up by the noble Secretary of State, that an admission of the fact stated, should serve instead of the document wished for, which contained the motives and circumstances of the transaction. If the patriotism and ardour of the Portuguese was less displayed than it had been in an earlier period of the contest, was it not of importance the house should have the means of ascertaining, if this was to be attributed to any measure of our own government, which had been unsatisfactory to the people?

Lord Harrowby

contended, that no sufficient: ground had been laid for the production of the paper, and that the admission of his noble friend, would answer every purpose that could be answered by the production of such extract of the document, as it might be deemed advisable to produce, and which would probably amount to nothing more than to what his noble friend had stated.

Earl Grey

urged the necessity of having the paper before the house. It would indeed be making short work of their proceedings, if they were to accept the admission of a Minister instead of the papers elucidating the facts. They say we admit the act, but that was not enough, we must know the motives that led to the act, and the grounds on which it rested, and thus be enabled to judge of the proceeding, which it was impossible they could do from the mere admission of the noble Secretary of State.

Lord Mulgrave

opposed the production of the paper, observing, that it would be an extraordinary proceeding to doubt the veracity of his noble friend; and that there might be considerable aukwardness if the house of lords should disapprove of the Regency which the government of Portugal should afterwards approve.

Lord Erskine

denied that there was any attempt to doubt the veracity of the noble Secretary of State; the unfitness of the paper to be produced, from its containing matter that ought not to be made public, was a matter of opinion, and not a matter of fact. He was decidedly of opinion, that the Paper ought to be produced for the information of the house.

The Earl of Buckinghamshire

was willing to admit the force of the objection that the paper contained matter that ought not to be made public, but could not admit that which rested upon the sufficiency of the admission of the fact by the noble earl.—The question was then put and the motion negatived.