wished to be informed whether it was intended to make any communication to parliament respecting the state of our relations with America?
§ Earl Bathurst
said, the negociation being still pending, it was not intended to make any communication to parliament. The arrangement which had been entered into by his majesty's ministers, in America and the government of the United States was unauthorized, the former having made concessions without demanding any of those conditions, the compliance with which ought to have been made the basis of granting such concessions.
asked, if he was then to consider the arrangement made by his majesty's minister in America as wholly unauthorized?
§ Earl Grey
thought from the expression used by the noble earl, that some instructions had been given to Mr. Erskine to make certain concessions, which the latter might have misunderstood. From the arrangements as published in the newspapers, it seemed as if the measures adopted had been preconcerted, for every thing followed in such order and rule, that it was almost impossible to believe but what Mr. Erskine, of whose ability he had the highest opinion, conceived that he was acting strictly according to his instructions. It must be evident, that by the disavowal of this arrangement, the difficulties in the further negociation with America would be materially increased, and when known in America, it might give rise to some imputations against the character and good faith of this country, under the impression that a trick had been resorted to, for the sake of obtaining a little temporary advantage for ourselves. A fearful responsibility, therefore, rested upon ministers, and investigation must take place.
The Earl of Liverpool
agreed that the disavowal of this arrangement must necessarily increase the difficulties in the negociation with America; but that could not be imputed to ministers, as in making that arrangement, Mr. Erskine had not only acted unauthorised by his instruc- 694 tions, but in direct contradiction to his instructions; he thought it necessary to state this distinctly, as the noble earl appeared to have misunderstood his noble friend. Care would be taken in the Order, which would appear as soon as the course of business would allow, that those vessels which, in the mean time, had sailed in consequence of the confidence reposed in the arrangement made in America, should be excluded from the operation of that Order, and that these persons who had thus embarked their goods should not be losers. As to the discussion of the subject, ministers would be anxious, when the proper time arrived, that every possible information should be given to parliament.