HL Deb 09 May 1809 vol 14 cc432-5

Upon the order of the day being read for taking his majesty's Message into consideration;

The Earl of Liverpool

rose for the purpose of moving an humble Address, expressing the thanks of that house to his majesty for the communication of his most gracious Message. There was no necessity for his taking up much of their lordships' time in shewing the propriety of granting a loan of 600,000l. to his royal highness the prince Regent of Portugal. He would call to their lordships' recollection, that when the unfortunate change of affairs obliged the prince Regent to quit his hereditary dominions, and seek an asylum on the continent of America, his majesty's government thought it wise and prudent to give every encouragement to so magnanimous an undertaking. His royal highness had to convey the whole of his family, and a great part of those who formed the court of Lisbon, and for this purpose it was thought expedient to grant from this country the sum of 80,000l. It had been certainly granted without a direct application to parliament, because there was no session at the time, and had been afterwards considered among the Army Extraordinaries. The result of the Portuguese court emigrating to a distant country, naturally induced many others to follow them to their new residence; and for still further aiding this loyal spirit of the Portuguese, another sum was at that time advanced of about 80,000l. making in the whole 160,000l. It was for the purpose of enabling his royal highness to repay those sums which had been expended in his behalf, and of enabling him to meet those difficulties which attended him in the Brazils, that his majesty had been induced to agree, that the loan should be granted. The Prince Regent on all occasions had most signally manifested himself the faithful ally of Great Britain. He would not detain the time of the house by any further observation, but should move, "That an humble Address be presented to his majesty, thanking him for his most gracious communication, and assuring his majesty this house will readily comply with the request his majesty had condescended to communicate for the purpose of being better enabled to perform any stipulation which his majesty had thought proper to make with his royal highness the Prince Regent of Portugal."

The Duke of Norfolk

said, he did not rise with the intention of proposing any objection in the way of this loan being granted to the Prince Regent of Portugal. A prince who on all occasions had shewn himself a true friend and faithful ally to this country, was deserving of every assistance, when dire necessity enforced him to quit his hereditary dominions, and seek refuge in another quarter of the globe. Had the loan been greater than 600,000l. no opposition would have proceeded from him, after he had heard the explanation given by the noble secretary. But on this occasion he was induced to express his opinion as an individual, of those loans which rumour informed him were in contemplation. He had not authority for saying, but there was little doubt further assistance would be extended to the efforts of the inhabitants of the peninsula against the unjust aggression of the French emperor. With respect to the Portuguese government now on the continent of America; he trusted their dynasty would never again return to the Tagus, and that the governments of the peninsula would never regain their American dominions, because the government of Portugal, in its present situation, might become independent of the over-ruling power of Europe, and would produce solid advantage to ourselves, by increasing the trade and commerce of Great Britain. If the power of France should succeed in her present schemes of aggrandisement, the destruction of Austria, and the subjugation of the peninsula, still it would be in our power to carry on the war with her, till a satisfactory peace could be obtained. It would be highly requisite to guard our possessions in the East. That expeditions were about to be sent out was certain, and it was not regular for him to put any question to his majesty's ministers, as to their destination; but if it were in contemplation to give further assistance to the Spaniards, and the Portuguese, he could not, although the noble secretary might rank him with one of the most extraordinary men in the kingdom, approve of such a disposal of our blood and treasure. No man more than himself lamented the fate of the peninsula; no man more admired the courage and exertion of every Spaniard who tried to regain the independence of his king and his country. But it would be recollected the king, for whom they fought, was now in the custody of the French emperor; and their own power was weak, while that of their enemy was mighty and formidable. The assistance which could be granted by this country was so inconsiderable in the scale, that it could produce no ultimate good to the cause of those we assisted; and he was apprehensive, in sending out generals and armies to that part of Europe, they would be in danger of sharing the fate of those who preceded them. The cause of Spain and of Portugal was that of an injured people, but it was that of a people comparatively weak fighting against a power of the greatest strength; and, however we might lament the contest on their side must eventually be unsuccessful, we ought not, in these times, to send out our men and money in the cause of other nations, where all our efforts must be in vain. We ought rather to guard ourselves against the overbearing power of the continent. No doubt could exist of a disposition on the part of the ruler of France to destroy this country, and after he had accomplished his designs on the continent, and could then find means, with thousands of his army, to invade our shores, and should be successful, he would not deal with this country as he had done with others, he would lay waste every thing before him, and scarcely leave one stone upon another; because he would be well aware he could not long keep this country under his subjection. The noble duke concluded by observing, that, as an individual, he had taken this opportunity of expressing his sentiments upon the subject of our giving assistance to the cause of Spain and Portugal.

The Earl of Buckinghamshire

had no intention of opposing the proposed Address, but he thought that on the late occasions when questions of such considerable importance had been brought under the consideration of the house, there was not sufficient elucidation given, as to the propriety of the measure. He did not concur with those sentiments expressed by the noble duke, and which breathed so much despondency as to the cause of Spain and Portugal; he trusted he could perceive grounds for entertaining better hopes. The noble Secretary had mentioned the former grant of 80,000l. and he should wish to enquire if that sum had been granted by lord Strangford? He also wished to be informed as to the nature of the convention mentioned in his majesty's Message.

The Earl of Liverpool

said, that at the time of the Portuguese emigration an advance of money had been made by lord Strangford, and the convention alluded to was one which had been agreed upon in this country, between his majesty's Secretary and the ambassador of his royal highness.

The Address was then agreed to unanimously.