HL Deb 28 February 1812 vol 21 cc1041-74

The order of the day upon which their lordships were summoned, having been read,

The Marquis of Lansdowne

said he rose in pursuance of his notice to call the attention of their lordships to the Orders in Council, and to the system of policy which had resulted from those Orders so injurious to the manufacturing and commercial interests of the country, and to the welfare of the state. Had his only motives been to contradict statements made by noble lords, on the other side, of beneficial effects produced by these Orders, he should have delayed his motion until petitions (as they undoubtedly would) had flowed in from all the manufacturing districts of the country, proving in the strongest terms the injurious consequences of those Orders. He, however, did not wish to wait for these petitions, but rather to call their lordships' attention to the subject now, in the hope that they would see the necessity of most seriously considering the state of our commerce and manufactures under the operation of those Orders, while yet they could proceed with deliberate dignity, and ere the subject was forced on their attention in a way less congenial to their wishes, by the loud complaints and addresses of the unfortunate victims of such a system of measures. It was, perhaps, a vain hope, that any thing he could say would have the effect of inducing an abandonment of that pernicious system of policy involved in the operation of the Orders in Council. Yet he trusted their lordships would not refuse to take into consideration a subject involving so many points of the utmost importance to the country. Previous to entering upon the discussion, it would be of importance to state what the Orders in Council were, to which he referred, and first it would be worth while to observe, that with respect to the blockade in May, 1806 (from the Elbe to Brest), it was intended to be a real blockade, and a force was ordered for that purpose, but that was now at an end, being merged in the Orders in Council. With respect also to the Order in Council, in January, 1807, prohibiting the trade from enemy's port to enemy's port, the object of it was now at an end, in consequence of the annexation of Hamburgh and Holland to France. The Orders in Council, therefore, to which it was his object to call the attention of their lordships, were those issued in November, 1807, prohibiting the trade to France, and the countries dependent upon her, at the same time, insisting on American vessels coming first to our ports, and paying a tax there; and also the order of April, 1809, partly revoking the former Orders, by opening the trade with the north of Europe. It was his intention to consider these Orders, first with respect to their operation on the enemy, whose power and resources they were intended materially to injure, if not altogether to crush and destroy; secondly, their operation on the neutral, whose rights and advantages they were not designed directly to interfere with; thirdly, their effect on the commerce and internal resources of the country which they were intended to foster; and fourthly, their effect on the maritime policy of the country, which ministers had loudly proclaimed their resolution to adhere to with even more strictness than at any former period. With respect to the term maritime policy, he would first observe, that if he conceded the maritime rights as maritime rights, that it never had been, nor could be considered good policy to insist on the extreme of maritime right. On the contrary it had ever been held the soundest policy to relax those maritime rights upon occasions, and under circumstances, where the interests of the country called for it. Upon the effect of these Orders upon the enemy and the neutral it would not be necessary for him to say much. On the first branch he should touch but shortly, because he conceived it to be incumbent on those who had recommended the measure, and boasted of its efficacy in this respect, to shew that it had really made a strong impression on the political situation of the enemy: on the second branch he would touch but shortly, because, in the present state of the negociations with America, to go into that subject at any length might possibly be attended with inconvenience. As to the effect upon the enemy, it was for those who promulgated these Orders, and still continued to uphold them, to say what effect had been produced by them upon the political situation of the enemy. He was entitled to ask of those noble lords in what point the political situation of the enemy had been deteriorated by the operation of these Orders, in what instances his efforts had been diminished by their effect. Ministers themselves, indeed, not longer than eighteen months after issuing the original Orders by which the continent was to be coerced, appeared to be satisfied that they operated injuriously, by their partly revoking them, and by the Order of April 1809, opening the trade with the north of Europe. And it ought to be stedfastly kept in view, that the largest portion of what now remained of our commerce was actually carried on with the north of Europe. Thus it was seen that in the quarter where the Orders in Council did not operate, there was the greatest portion of our commerce, whilst in every other quarter our commerce was languishing and fast decaying. With respect to the operation of these Orders upon the neutral, he would ask where was the justice or the policy of prohibiting the trade of America with France under the circumstances in which these Orders were carried into effect? Whilst a vessel from Kniphausen or any other little dependent state, was allowed to carry on a trade with the enemy, an American vessel, in precisely the same situation, was captured by our cruizers. Could it be considered for a moment as consistent with any idea of justice, that our cruizers were to say to a Kniphausen vessel going to a French port, you may go in and continue to carry on your trade; but to an American, engaged in precisely the same trade, you must not enter a French port, and we must capture you for attempting it? Was it the object of those who promulgated and supported these Orders, for the sake of putting an end to the trade between America and France, which did not at the time of issuing the Orders, amount to more than 500,000l. to destroy the trade between America and this country, which took off our manufactures to the amount of 12,000,000l.? Was it a matter of triumph to those who had issued these Orders, that they had forced America to turn its attention from agriculture to manufacturing industry, and thereby to lessen more and more every day the prospect of advantage to our manufactures from a renewal of the intercourse? Yet such had been the fact, and the Americans were making a rapid progress in the manufactory of cotton and woollen articles, the very staples of our own manufactures. No less than 100,000 bales of cotton were imported in the last year into the eastern states of America, and they had made a large exportation of cotton twist to the Baltic; of the coarser articles of woollen they had also manufactured considerable quantities, and their manufactories promised a sufficient supply of articles of clothing. If, at the time of the revolution in America, any one could have foreseen that the whole commerce of continental Europe would have fallen under the iron grasp and dominion of France, they would have looked to the establishment of an independent state on the other side of the Atlantic, independent of French dominion, and out of the reach of her power, to become the carrier of our commerce, and by the profits arising from that, increasing our manufactures by the increased consumption of our increasing population; they would have looked to such an event as the greatest boon that could have been given to us.—Yet such an event had occurred, as if providentially. This independent state existed on the other side of the Atlantic, and would have carried our commerce, and taken our manufactures, every year; their profits, from that carrying trade, enabling them to purchase a still larger quantity of our manufactures, thereby increasing our own internal prosperity, and this great and inestimable advantage had been destroyed by the Orders in Council! The effect, therefore, of these Orders upon the neutral, and the injurious consequences upon this head to ourselves, were too apparent. What operation they had had in distressing the enemy, he was yet to learn. He did not ask what had been their effect in the prices or consumption of the coffee-houses at Paris, or on the medicines in the French hospitals, though these circumstances had been gravely urged in their support; but what effect they had had upon the political situation of the enemy, during upwards of four years in which they had been tried? Was it the object of the Orders to prevent the colonial produce of the enemy from reaching his ports? Where was now to be found the colonial produce of the enemy, or where were his colonies from whence that produce could come? Our own warehouses, unfortunately, were bursting with colonial produce, Which could not find a market; and thus, instead of distressing the enemy, we were distressing ourselves. The effect of the Orders upon our exports was apparent, from the papers on the table.—He was aware of the difficulty of estimating our exports, because the value given to them here was to be compared with their value in the currency of the countries to which they were sent. With respect also to the official value, that was frequently a nominal value, given by those exporting on entering the goods, before they knew what the real value would be. The investigation of the first point would lead him into a discussion of too great a length to be allowed upon this question on an incidental part of it, and therefore he would not dwell upon it. It appeared, however, from the returns, that our exports of British and colonial produce, which in 1808 were 43,000,000l. were in 1809 36,000,000l. in 1810 35,000,000l. and in the three quarters ending the 10th of October, 1811, (the account to the 5th of January, 1812, not being yet made up) they were only 22,000,000l. Combining these exports with the export of foreign produce, it appeared that the defalcation in our commerce amounted to no less than 16,000,000l. Such were the effects of the Orders in Council. Upon the manufactures of the country their opera-was in the highest degree distressing. He was aware that it would not be proper, and that it was a very delicate subject, to go into a detail upon this point; but the general distress of our manufacturers was undoubted, and the increased number of bankruptcies fully proved the wretched state of our trade and manufactures. One of the greatest evils to which these Orders had given rise, had been the system of licences. Nothing, at the same time, could more clearly prove that those who issued these Orders found they could not be maintained, than their departing from them in the manner they bad done, by granting licences to carry on that very trade which their own Orders prohibited. Licences had increased to a most unparalleled extent, and with them a system of immorality, of fraud and perjury, which pervaded the whole trade of the country; and to which it was impossible for their lordships to shut their eyes. Under this system of licences the greatest abuses prevailed. He did not mean to charge the noble lord at the head of the Board of Trade, or any person at the board, with abuse in the discharge of his duties, but the abuse was inseparable from the extent of the system. He was aware that the power of granting commercial licences must be vested in government to a certain extent; but here a system had sprung up under which the number of licences had increased from 4,000 to 16,000. From such an extensive system, abuse was inseparable. An instance had recently occurred, and he was authorised to state it, where a merchant would have given 15,000l. for two licences for the importation of brandy. It turned out that the licences were so filled up by the mistake of a clerk. He did not mean to impute any blame to the noble lord at the head of the board, because it was quite impossible that that noble lord could look to the contents of 16,000 licences, but surely the system itself was wrong, when, by the mere mistake of a clerk, a difference could be made to a merchant of 15,000l. Such a power, which in its very nature was so liable to be abused, ought not to be entrusted to any government. It was a system besides, which led to an habitual disregard of morality and honour in the concerns of trade. It had been well observed by the learned judge who presided in the high court of Admiralty, that the whole system of the commerce of the country, was one of simulation and dissimulation, and that our commerce crept along the shores of the enemy in darkness and silence, waiting for an opportunity of carrying the simulative means by which it was endeavoured to be supported into effect. Most injurious was the effect which this conduct towards neutrals had upon our prize courts, whose decisions had once been so highly respected all over the civilized world. An eminent and rising civilian (Dr. Phillimore) had said in a late publication, that it was now as much the habit of our prize courts to restore enemy's property, as it was before to condemn it; and, that it was as much a matter of course to confiscate neutral property, as it was before to restore it. Such was the picture of our prize courts under the present system: such the effect of the Orders in Council on the neutral! Not merely was this system of licenced commerce carried on by means of simulated papers and every species of dissimulation, but it led to private violations of morality and honour of the most alarming description. He knew an instance in which a merchant made false entries in his books with respect to a cargo on board a vessel under licence; and this fraud, which formerly would have been the ruin of him and his connection, was treated by the learned judge who presided in the high Court of Admiralty as an instance of sub-simulation, forming a part of the system of simulation by which the whole commerce of the country was maintained. What a contrast was here to the old English method of carrying on trade! Such were the effects to which this baneful system led; not the least evil attendant upon which was the preference given to the merchants of London over those of the outports. The merchants at the outports were unable to follow the continual variations of the Board of Trade like those of London; and this was another proof of the badness of the system.—To whom, however, were these licences frequently granted? To foreigners, with foreign vessels, manned by foreign crews, to import the produce of the enemy. What then were we doing by this system? Contributing to the profit of the enemy, to the building of vessels for him, and to furnish seamen for him, to enable him at some future period to invade this country. Was it then the resumé of the policy of ministers to destroy the trade of America and benefit that of the enemy? Were we, instead of annihilating the navy of the enemy, to furnish him with seamen to man it? What was thus the effect of those Orders, but destroying the trade of America and alienating her disposition, although it was pretended that these Orders were to benefit the neutral, whilst they benefited the trade and aided the resources of the enemy, which it was pretended they would destroy and annihilate? Let the ministers pause long before they forced America to war. Was it any ground for triumph that a war would distress America? Undoubtedly it would, but should we not in the sequel be deeply distressed by the consequences of such a war? Suppose that by unexpected successes we should sweep the American commerce from the surface of the ocean, would not their 140,000 seamen man a predatory force of 2 millions of shipping tonnage against the commerce of this country? He trusted that means would yet be sought to avert the interminable evil of a war with America, although he admitted that if the great interests of the country were at stake, war could not be avoided. Had we, however, allowed their carrying trade, instead of attempting to destroy it by the Orders in Council, the profits of it would have been brought back to the parent stock, increasing and benefiting our manufactures and resources; and the harmony between the two countries would have led to the most beneficial results. He would not now contend that we had gone too far in our demands to America in asking her to require freedom for her trade in the ports of France, but he would say, that the best chance for the restoration of amity with that country, so highly to be desired, was the repeal of the Orders in Council. That the repeal of those Orders was now in every point of view called for, he trusted was rendered abundantly evident; every plea on which they had been founded was proved, after an experience of upwards of four years, to be erroneous. It had been stated that their object was to press upon the enemy, and to destroy his trade and resources; whereas it had been proved that they had benefited the enemy and added to his navigation. Instead of conciliating the neutral, they had exasperated and irritated her.—Instead of benefiting our commerce, manufactures, and resources, they had diminished our commerce, distressed our manufactures, and lessened our resources; and, instead of upholding our maritime superiority, they had added to the navigation of foreigners. National pride and national honour might be urged, but how were national pride and national honour, by the system of simulation, of fraud, and dissimulation, under which our commerce was carried on, to be upheld? Our maritime superiority, it was shewn, was not only not supported by these Orders, but they were proved to be operating directly contrary to the principles on which it must rest for support. His lordship then adverted to the account on the table, shewing the number of licences granted to British and foreign ships, by which it appeared that the number granted to foreign vessels had increased from 2,000 to 6,000, and observed, that this clearly proved the baneful effects of the Orders in Council, in operating against our own navigation, and maritime superiority. The noble marquis earnestly recommended the resumption of our ancient policy, and concluded by moving, "For the appointment of a Select Committee to take into consideration the present state of the Commerce and Manufactures of the country, particularly with reference to the effects of the Orders in Council and the Licence Trade."

Earl Bathurst

regretted that the noble marquis should have thought it necessary, in the latter part of his speech, to touch on our relations with America. It was not his intention to follow the noble marquis over that portion of his subject, for it was obvious that the discussion was unsuited to the time, that the subject could be cleared only by going into the whole statement of our transactions with America, and that this could not be done with propriety while the hope, little as it was, of conciliation remained. He had asked of the noble marquis, when he declared his intention of moving for the repeal of the Orders in Council, whether he was prepared to move for the repeal of all or one; and if one, which was that one. The noble marquis was not prepared at the time with any answer; but at this he did not feel peculiarly surprised. It was true, that if, on any other occasion, any noble lord were to rise, stigmatise a law as unfit to remain on the books, and declare his determination to move for its erasure, he should be a little surprised, that such noble lord was not prepared to say against what particular law he felt so much indignation. But in the present case there was much difference. The words Orders in Council had absolutely become a mere cant; they were used in general without a distinct idea; they were involved in a confusion from which he was not surprised that even the noble marquis had not been able to escape. (Hear.) He really meant this with all respect for that noble marquis, whose speech shewed his abilities; and whose temperance, moderation, and decency of language on a subject where youth, passion, and peculiar situation made temperance so uncommon and so praise-worthy, deserved a higher tribute than it was in his ability to give. He was at a loss, however, to know precisely which were the Orders that the noble lord was desirous to have repealed. The noble marquis had declared at length, that the Orders of 1807 were not the object of his animadversion, as a ground might have at the time existed for them, but that the nature of those Orders was now changed with the situation of things; for Holland, which was then separate, was now united to France. It was not easy to understand this reasoning: but the answer seemed plain. The principle of the Orders of 1807 was precisely that of those which were to be reprobated this night. They absolutely went to proscribe commerce with every port that was under French influence. The Orders of 1807 were not of that preposterous nature which had been so liberally ascribed to them. They proceeded upon the authorized principle of not suffering the neutral to enjoy that trade to an enemy's ports in war, which that enemy would not allow him in time of peace. But in those cases where the neutral was allowed to visit a port in peace, provision was made by those Orders for his enjoying success in war. Were this Order not to be repealed, not a step would the country advance towards conciliation with America. The United States demanded the repeal of that Order of January, 1807, just as loudly as of those which followed in November. The blockade under that Order was complained of by America in common with the other points. Without that repeal, the commerce of this country must remain under the system of American exclusion, and to the disabilities of the Non Importation act. However, it was a matter of serious consideration in what state the trade of Great Britain and of Ireland would, be placed, were both the Orders to be repealed. As to the licence system, to carry on any trade with an enemy's port, his Majesty's licence was necessary. Of course, if our trade with the enemy increased, the number of licences must increase. If the whole coast of Europe had been put into the situation of an enemy's coast, the whole trade with the continent must be a licence trade carried on through the neutral trader. It had been said, that those licences grew with the growth of the Orders in Council; but if this had been the case, the great bulk of the licences would have been for ports under blockade. The fact was the direct contrary: the few ports not under blockade were those for which the great majority of applications had been made. He would ask therefore how the Orders in Council could be said to have produced the increased number of those licences? Repeal the Orders in Council to-morrow, and the licenses would be scarcely diminished. As to the injury with which this system threatened our na- vigation, it was plain that if we traded with the enemy, our trade must be carried on with foreign ships, and in a great measure with foreign seamen: our own would be captured. Where the commerce went direct to a hostile port, there must be a diminution of British ships and sailors; but this was a consequence which was not to be avoided, except by relinquishing the trade. He differed from the noble marquis in his idea, that no adequate or satisfactory accounts were to be collected from the generality of commercial documents laid before parliament. The accounts presented that day afforded much satisfactory illustration. To the general diminution of our trade, the best answer would be a return which he held in his hand. This return, reckoning every voyage as a new ship and crew, gave us as the number of seamen that left our ports in 1806, at a time the North was open, the total of 183,476. But in 1810, when we were excluded from Denmark, and the ports of the Baltic were chiefly under what was called the continental system, the number of seamen was 210,600, an increase of more than 27,000, in the face of the continental system, and even of the Orders in Council. The noble marquis had dilated on the importance of employing American ships in the carrying trade to the Baltic, and seemed to think, that the licences were granted to other carriers in preference. But, in fact, many of those licences were given to Americans, though against them, the suspicion in a foreign port was unfortunately almost as strong as the hostility was against our own ships. In consequence of this suspicion, merchants preferred other foreign ships to American, as being more fitted for their purposes. Was the noble marquis prepared to say that we should refuse all licences to foreign trade, or that if we were not permitted to carry it on in American ships, we should refuse to carry it on at all? On this point, however, the present administration had the less chance of going astray, as they fortunately had the sanction of that which went before them. The present government could not be charged with an original partiality for the foreign merchant, when the liberal system was remembered which extended itself so widely to all denominations.—Olden-burghers, Hamburghers, Knyphauseners, and the whole tribe of neutrals. [Lord Bathurst then read a licence granted by the late administration for carrying on the neutral trade.] The ships that sailed under those licences were the property of foreigners, and, like the later ones on which the noble marquis had enlarged so much, manned by Dutchmen, equally with any others within the grasp of France.

The immortality of the licence trade was another topic which had been much insisted on; and great indignation had been expressed at some of the terms which were to be found in all licences, especially that part of them which secured to a vessel the privilege of going to such and such ports, notwithstanding all documents accompanying her, which might testify a contrary destination. These expressions, it had been stated, were the source of all those frauds, of all that system of deliberate delusion which was now so extensively practised in our mercantile concerns. We allowed British merchants to avail themselves of false clearances, and the right of pretending to go to a port whither it was not their intention to go. These charges might be briefly answered. When the Berlin and Milan decrees were issued, an alarm seized the merchants, applications on the subject were made to the Board of Trade, and it was determined by the board, taking into consideration the stale of the commerce of the country and the apprehensions then entertained that the decrees would be rigidly followed up, to allow foreign produce to be protected, provided it was finally to find its way into an English port. For this protection it was formerly necessary that the property should be neutral or British; but by an Order in Council issued on the subject, foreign property was allowed the privilege. The board also looked to the embarrassment of our export trade, in consequence of the French decrees; and here, too, determined, that whatever was British property might be secure, no matter what kind of papers the vessel carried. But by whom was this done? By whom was this alarming inlet to immorality opened? By the late administration. If the noble lords opposite wished to know the authors of this guilty system,—if the noble baron (Grenville), who had been at the head of the Treasury,—if the noble earl (Grey), who had been Secretary for Foreign Affairs,—if the noble marquis, the mover of the present question, who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer, desired particularly to know the inventor of the system, he believed he could have the honour of giving them the intelligence. And when was it adopted? When the continental system was not yet enforced in the North, nor in Spain: the ministry of the day, in their alarm, had originated the individual measure which they now thought so degrading and dangerous to the morals of the nation. Was it extraordinary, that under increased difficulties, the present ministry should have recourse to the same means? The system upon which they acted was to reduce France to this extremity, either that she should injure herself by a rigid adherence to her decrees, or benefit us by any relaxation in the course she had marked out for her commercial policy. The evils of the Non-Intercourse Act had been charged with equal justice on the Orders in Council of November, 1807, or rather of 1809: but what was the language of those Orders? France by her decrees had resolved to abolish all trade with England. England said in return, that France should then have no trade but with England. The object in those Orders was distinctly to force France to feel the injury of her own policy by the ruin of her manufactures and trade, compelling her by this means to relax her ordinances, and putting ourselves in a position to benefit by the relaxation. What inconsistency was there then in granting licences for the trade with France? We had gained, in consequence, all that we should have lost, but for those Orders in Council, and we had gained all that France would have gained but for them. The effect of those Orders was to impoverish their manufactures, to restrain their commerce, to depress their resources, to diminish their revenue. (Hear, hear, from the marquis of Lansdowne!) Yes, to diminish their revenue, and notwithstanding some accidental augmentations of their revenue, the ultimate effect had been considerably to diminish it. The truth of this statement might be ascertained by inspecting accounts that were accessible. The noble marquis spoke as if France had been no sufferer: but it was certain that she had Suffered, and largely suffered. On this subject he would quote from an authority not likely to exaggerate the evils of French finance. From the statements in the Moniteur, it appeared that the customs, which previously to the Orders of 1809 were seventy millions of livres, fell in that year to sixteen. In 1810, they amounted to 26, from the peculiar circumstances of the seizures and captures in the Baltic, which, when brought into France, paid heavy duties, and thus incidentally swelled the customs of the year. The cotton manufactures in France were in the lowest state: we had cut off the chief transit of the material; and they could not now get any except from Turkey, a coarse and rude material. Let the Orders of 1809 be repealed, and they might have cotton from America in any quantity they pleased. Let the Orders in Council of 1809 be repealed, the ports of France would be at once opened to the whole trade of America, those ports from which every article of British produce was excluded. France was dependant upon America for raw materials, which she was now forced to receive circuitously by this country or by Turkey, but which she could receive direct if this Order in Council was repealed, while we should lose part of that trade we were now carrying on. If the Order in Council of 1807 was to be repealed, and it must be repealed to conciliate America, France would then be permitted to carry on a trade with every part of the world. With regard to those Orders in Council, however, the noble lord said, that every one must acknowledge they had failed. And how did he prove it? He took a paper, lying on their table, and from that he proved, that in the last three quarters there had been a deficiency, inferred that there would of course be the same deficiency in the next quarter, and then told us that all these deficiencies were to be attributed to the Orders in Council. One thing was certain, the Orders in Council were not a matter of yesterday; they had been for several years at work; and in the last three years, the average excess of the trade above that of any preceding year was eight millions; a sum, according to the treatise of a noble lord (Lauderdale) greater than all the trade of Flanders and Germany in time of peace. It should be remembered also, that when in 1810 the state of the country was considered in that House, the noble marquis affirmed, that our whole prosperity was to be attributed to the Order in Council of 1807, which he considered as a virtual repeal of that of 1805, and now he had told us that all our distresses, all our commercial embarrassments, were to be ascribed to the same Orders in Council. But the trade to the Baltic was said to be prosperous, because the Orders were not applied to that trade. It was true that by the Orders of 1809, the trade to that quarter was considerably opened; but it was erroneous to say, that the Orders did not in a certain degree extend to that as well as others. In fact, the Orders did prohibit the trade from Denmark, from Germany, from Italy, from all countries where the British flag was not allowed. But was it to be a principle, that if you could not entirely restrain the trade of an enemy, you were to take off all retraint; or that, if you could only relieve yourself in part, you were not to relieve yourself at all? But the system of licences came under the heavier charge of introducing-a spirit of immorality into the trading part of the nation.—Were they to put restraints on the freedom of British commerce, for the simple purpose of giving the trade of Europe to the Americans? Or, if they were, what was to be the saving? Instead of increasing this spirit of perjury, the effect of the licence system was precisely the reverse. Was it the intention of those who opposed that measure, that we should abandon the whole trade of the continent? This they surely could not mean. But it had been said, why not employ America? What! A trade which was described as not fit for a British merchant to be concerned in, to be transferred to a neutral, as if that neutral were only in its proper vocation when carrying it on! This was the inference that might be drawn; but the whole matter simply amounted to the question, whether the trade should be allowed, or whether it should be wholly abolished. If we refused to grant a licence to a British subject, he would carry it on under the cover of an alien, and, in fact, therefore, we only permitted him to do that openly, which he would surely do clandestinely, and necessarily with aggravated circumstances of fraud and dissimulation: we only allowed him to do that legally, which he would be under the necessity of doing illegally, adding perjury to deception, and multiplying every species of trick and artifice to escape detection. It was formerly asserted by the opponents of the Orders, that we must lose the whole export that went to America. It was replied, that America did not import the entire for her own consumption; and that when she ceased to carry, we might send direct. The case turned out so. In the year 1805, the exports were, perhaps, highest; and the goods supplied to North America were afterwards re-shipped by them for South America. If, therefore, we were prevented from transmitting them by that circuitous route, we had it in our power, in case of a Non-Intercourse act being passed, to send them direct to South America ourselves. Although it might be urged that the markets of that vast continent had been glutted, yet by comparing the exports of the three last years with the exports of the three years preceding, it would be found that there were ten millions in favour of the former; and the exports to Canada had been nearly doubled during the latter period. (In estimating these increases he took the official value as being the fixed one; not the real value, which was constantly fluctuating.) He begged the House to recollect, that between the 1st of March, 1809, and the 1st of May, 1810, with the interruption of only two months, the embargo in the ports of the United States was in force; and yet, in that space, the trade of the country was carried on with greater success than at any other that could be pointed out. In the succeeding year, the embargo was removed; and it was then that the greatest commercial embarrassment was experienced. For this distress, of which so much use had been made, two causes might be assigned, totally distinct from the operation of the Orders in Council.—I. The disappointment experienced in the Baltic trade, during the year 1810, when immense shipments were improvidently made, in consequence of great success during the year preceding. In 1809 it happened that the trade with the northern powers was very profitable; but few had adopted the continental system, and by those few it was too negligently enforced to offer much impediment to trade. Our merchants in 1810 embarked largely in the traffic. Unfortunately, the convoy was stopped in Wingo Sound by contrary winds until the middle of June; the French in the mean time seized on Stralsund, and enforced the continental system in the chief Baltic ports. The trade, amounting by that time to above six hundred vessels, though fully warned of the change of affairs, ventured into the Baltic, and was for the greater part seized and condemned in the ports where it had gone for a market. The value of this convoy could not have been much less than eight or nine millions, which would have escaped but for the circumstance of the wind. The second cause of the embarrassment, was the immense speculations sent to South America, the markets of which had been so much overstocked, that the shippers in England were disap- pointed of their remittances, and thereby many most opulent merchants were ruined. Although, however, this last cause had created a severe blow, he was happy to say that its effects were but temporary: the trade in South America was fast reviving—remittances long withheld were now pouring in—and the effect was the revival of many of our manufactures. In consequence of the judicious issue of Exchequer Bills in the spring of 1811 for the support of commercial credit, manufacturers in the country were enabled to keep goods on hand, which they must otherwise have sold at a great loss, and to retain workmen which they could otherwise have had no means of paying. Although it had been predicted that those very bills would be fatal to the country; the benefits arising from this politic measure were now fully experienced and acknowledged; and the manufacturers were now disposing of their stock to considerable advantage. Such being the favourable prospect which had opened upon us after the gloomy clouds of disappointment had been dispelled, he could not concede to the proposition submitted to the House. The noble earl concluded his speech by regretting the time which he had been obliged to occupy, and deprecating any thing like putting his own powers in competition with the abilities of the noble marquis whom he had thought it his duty to answer.

Lord Holland

said, that he did not mean to follow the noble earl into the long details which he had so clearly and perspicuously explained to their lordships, and for which he had no occasion whatever to make any apology to the House. If he were even disposed to enter into those details, he should be prevented by the want of that accurate official knowledge upon such subjects, which the noble earl, from the situation which he held, must in a very eminent degree possess. Whilst, however, he declined expatiating upon the numerous points embraced in the speech of the noble earl, he felt it would be doing an acceptable thing to their lordships to bring back their attention to the actual motion under consideration, for the appointment of a committee, namely, to inquire into the state of the trade of the country, with reference to the Orders in Council, and to the system of Licences which bad grown out of them. The arguments used by the noble earl, in opposition to this motion, appeared to him to be found- ed in fallacy and involved in contradictions. The noble earl had thought proper to state, that when his noble friend and relative near him had given notice of this motion, he did not know to which of the Orders in Council it applied; but when their lordships considered the obscurity and complexity of the whole system, which consisted of not less than twenty-four Orders in Council, they must feel sensible of the propriety of instituting an inquiry into the whole subject. His noble friend, in an address, which displayed his usual eloquence and ability, had called upon the House to enter into an examination of the grounds of the whole system; he had cautiously, judiciously, temperately, and wisely dismissed from the discussion, every consideration of a personal nature—every view of the subject which might have the effect of giving his motion the appearance of establishing any contrast between the measures of this administration and the preceding. He was induced to adopt this course, not because he was prepared to shrink from the comparison, but because the trade of the country had been reduced to a situation which called for the inquiry which his noble friend proposed. This condition of our trade, in his opinion, had been produced by the Orders in Council solely; no matter by what administration they had been issued; and as the object of his noble friend was to remedy the evil that existed, he did not feel it necessary to examine minutely which of the Orders in Council had particularly produced the mischief. Upon the case made out, their lordships were bound to inquire. The noble earl had stated, that on this occasion he should not think it right to go into any inquiry respecting the state of our relations with America. He had fortunately, perhaps not strictly kept his promise, for although undoubtedly while important negociations were pending with that power, it would not be advisable to enter very minutely into a discussion of the circumstances of that negociation; yet surely, though such a particular consideration of the question might not be expedient, it was impossible to discuss a subject which might have the effect of embroiling this country with the united states of America, without touching upon some of the circumstances of their existing relations. The noble earl had contended, that the Order of the 7th of January, 1807, was as much complained of by the Americans as any of the other Orders in Council, and enquired whether his noble friend wished that Order to be repealed. His wish was, to inquire into the effect of that Order in Council as well as of the others, and the bent of his mind was, that it ought to be repealed; but whether it affected the trade of this country or not, would be ascertained in the event of the adoption of the motion of his noble friend to appoint a committee to inquire into its operation. If it were found injurious, whether affecting the morality or the interests of trade, let it be rescinded. "But," said the noble earl, "it is rather singular that that Order which involves the principle of all the others, should have been obtained by the administration with which the noble mover was connected." Why did we see this constant attempt to resolve matters affecting the existence of the country into questions of personal responsibility? At the time when that order had been issued, it had been the subject of motions in that House, and of protests, strong protests against its inefficacy, entered upon their lordships' Journals, and signed by members of their lordships' House. The truth was, that the Order of 1807 was a vigorous measure, and would have been followed up with vigour; but that it involved the principle of the subsequent Orders in Council, was disproved by the fact, that Mr. Perceval had moved in another place for the paper, objecting to it that it was only a common war measure, and was not founded, as it ought to be, upon a system of retaliation.—He entered into these topics with pain and reluctance, but as the noble earl had thought proper to introduce them, he felt it impossible to pass them over without observation. It was degrading to their lordships—it was disgusting to the public at large—it was disgraceful to the legislature, that measures which affected the best interests of the country should be discussed, not upon their own grounds or merits, but as questions of consistency or inconsistency on the part of this or of that administration. The noble earl had likewise argued that his noble friends, in resorting to that Order of January 1807, had not foreseen the consequences that would follow from its operation. That might be. The dreadful effects which his noble friend had displayed with so much force, might have been produced by that Order in Council—and if they were, he was confident that his friends with whom it had originated, would be the first to recommend and support its repeal. If they had foreseen any detriment that would result from it, much less if they could have imagined that a war between Great Britain and the United States (or rather a condition of amicable hostility, a state between peace and war, but worse than actual aggression,) would have been produced by it, motives of policy would have induced them not to have recommended it then, and the same motives would actuate them to support its abrogation now. (Hear, hear!) The state of the commercial community was, at the period at which the Order of 1807 was issued, a state of alarm and apprehension, and it was not to be supposed that those who were consulted and who advised that measure could at once see all the consequences it might possibly lead to. It would have been impossible for the authors of the measure to have issued that Order in Council, if they had foreseen that it would have involved all the effects which had since been produced by the Orders in Council. Still, however, the noble earl contended that the Americans viewed this Order as a matter directly affecting their rights. That might be very true, but it was not possible that they could feel equally with respect to the Order in Council of 1807 and to the Orders of 1809. The Americans were a wise people, and this country might take a lesson of sound policy and prudence from them. They would be satisfied to remonstrate upon a mere question of right, which did not immediately or materially affect their interests, and he verily believed they would still be satisfied with a bare remonstrance against this Order, if the other Orders in Council were to be repealed. That people knew how wisely to regulate their concerns and interests; they would rather submit to an inoffensive infringement of a bare right, than drive a national difference to extremity.—As to the immorality of the trade by Licences, he would freely confess that he was not prepared to go the length of the opinions which had been held in other places upon that subject: yet, whilst he would admit that it might be expedient, by licences in certain cases, to obviate the effects of a sudden unexpected pressure upon commerce, he could not approve of the extent to which the system of licences had been carried. Was there not a most material difference between the grant of licences in particular cases, such as he had alluded to, and the attempt to force the whole trade of the country into a channel, in which, to use the words of a learned judge, it must be carried on by "simulation and dissimulation." "But," said the noble earl, "if the English merchants were not to carry on this trade, the Americans would," as if the Americans had no honour, and were prepared for any immorality in the pursuit of commercial profit. In discussing the value of the trade with America, the noble earl had stated that much the greater part of the exports from this country to the United States was not for consumption in that country, but for transmission by a circuitous route to France.—[No! to South America, observed earl Bathurst.]—Well, that would not alter the argument, as the greater part was to be carried by this circuitous route to some place external to the United States; and as the supply of South America had now devolved upon this country, the noble earl argued that we had lost nothing by the operation of the Orders in Council, or by the state of our relations with America, which was the consequence of them. The fact was—as had been incautiously admitted—that the South American exports had been before sent by a circuitous route through the United States, and ought not to be separated.—Next the noble earl renewed his recriminations, and asserted that during lord Grenville's administration, in particular instances, licences were granted even to French vessels, thus giving trade to an enemy, rather than confining it to a neutral. Such assertions were completely ridiculous, because they were not denied, and were known to all the world; but was that to be compared with a trade which existed only by licences, and those in every instance bestowed upon the enemy? When he recollected the manner in which the Orders in Council, suggested by the present government, were supported, both in doors and out of doors, what unwearied pains were taken to make them popular, what false impressions were produced by ministers addressing themselves to the worst passions of men; by telling them that the people of America were pusillanimous and degraded, and that they would bear any insults, and any outrages, he could not help expressing his surprise that the same persons who then, in so glaring a manner, shewed their jealousy of the trade of America, should, as it were, be dead to every impression of the same kind as applied to the trade of France, and should be ready to throw that commerce they refused to the United States, into the hands of the enemy. When the former administration granted, perhaps, fifty or sixty licences, where the present issue fifteen or sixteen thousand, or took any step which was deemed advisable for the salvation of the West Indies, what volumes upon volumes of papers were moved for by the opposition, what anxiety was expressed, what pamphlets after pamphlets were written to awake the slumbering attention of the country to the threatened destruction of the British shipping, by placing it in the hands of a neutral. But now it had been transferred almost in toto to France, or the countries dependent on her, the warning voice was silent, as if under some magical influence possessed by the noble lords opposite.—The principle advanced by his noble friend, was the true and wise and politic basis of the conduct that should be pursued by this country, namely, that all the trade which could not be carried on by English shipping, should be put into the hands of the Americans. To that principle, not an argument had been applied in his speech by the noble earl.—With respect to the system of licences, he must say that he entertained strong doubts of its legality. He was aware that licences were at all times legally within the prerogatives of the crown to grant; but when the intention of licences was to do away the effect of the Orders in Council, they appeared to him to stand on quite different grounds. What was the operation of the licences as granted at present, but to counteract the Orders in Council, which were resorted to for the interest of the state, and which were only to be justified by the necessity of the case? He was convinced that the learned judge of the Admiralty Court would look upon Orders of Blockade as instruments null and void, if their object was not to annoy the enemy, but to procure for this country the exclusive monopoly of the commerce of the world. The learned judge had often and solemnly declared himself to that effect. How, then, could the system of licences be considered legal, if the effect of it was to procure for this country a monopoly of trader?—He should not enter further into this question at present; but supposing that upon a principle of retaliation we should be justified in adopting measures to destroy the trade of the enemy, that would give us no right to dole out, to distribute, and even to sell parts and parcels of that trade to other nations. The power of granting licences belonged to the crown, but not eo intuitu, not that it might be employed for such a purpose. No man could maintain that the system of licences might not lead to gross and enormous abuses. He did not mean to charge the Board of Trade, or its officers, with any mal-practices, for if he did, as was usual on any attack, the whole ministerial bench would rise to insist that the individual objected to, was the most honest man that ever existed. The management of the system might be impartial in the intention, as no doubt it was, but it was impossible that it could be impartial in the practical execution of it. To be impartial, it would be necessary to persuade all those upon whom it was to operate, that it was so. It was not enough to say that the noble earl would not sully or contaminate his fingers by the grant of any licences from favour or partiality. The influence, however, of feelings must operate insensibly and unconsciously in many instances. It was not always easy to decide how far the possession of a vote, or of interest in a particular borough, corporation, or district, might affect the decision in the grant of a licence. Upon every ground, therefore, it was clear, that the system was liable to enormous abuses, and this was a strong reason for going into the enquiry, which was the more necessary, in order that their lordships might take care that the practice did not trench upon the constitutional power of the crown to grant licences.—The real ground of the motion of his noble friend, was the situation of the trade of this country, of which the noble earl, indeed, had given a favourable picture; but this he must say, with respect to such representations as their lordships had heard upon this subject, that he never knew any administration, or any set of men in office, who did not contrive so to produce comparative accounts of exports and imports as to make the balance favourable. It was not from that comparison, but from the state of the country, that they were to form their judgment of the trade of the country. If the statement of the noble earl were really correct, why had he not sent it to Nottingham to allay the ferments of the distressed manufacturers, and to tranquillize the disturbed districts of that populous and suffering county? Why had he not sent it to Liverpool, where the annihilation of commerce had added so largely to the numbers of the paupers, and driven so many of its Indus- trious inhabitants, hitherto supported by the produce of their own labour, to seek relief from their respective parishes? Why had he not sent it to Sheffield? Why, in short, had not the noble lord circulated this evidence of national prosperity throughout all the manufacturing districts, to prove to the suffering working classes, that however they might be affected, their country was flourishing, and their distresses must be temporary and not real? Why did he not get it inserted at the tail of the London Gazette, to prove to the bankrupts in the city, that they were not, in fact, bankrupts, but men abounding in wealth?—With respect to that extensive and endless question concerning the repeal of the Berlin and Milan Decrees, it was not his intention, on that occasion, to go into any examination of the circumstances, in order to ascertain whether they were repealed or not. He was perfectly ready to admit that there was no official evidence of the repeal which would authorize a court of Admiralty to pass a judgment founded upon such repeal; but in the concerns between states, the same precision was never to be looked for which was required in courts of law. It was beneath the gravity of statesmen, and unworthy of the dignity of nations, to regulate their conduct according to the nice distinctions of logic, and for a liberal and enlightened system of policy to substitute a rigid adherence to all the rules and principles of the doctrine of dialectics. The true way in which to consider all questions between sovereign states was, to examine whether the situation of things was really such as to be material either in its beneficial or injurious effects to one or both. The government of France was perfectly versed in this doctrine, and always prepared to act upon it. Buonaparté had well calculated all the grounds upon which he had to expect the consequence that had resulted, and had taken his measures so as best to promote the interests of his empire. It might easily be supposed that an intelligent minister in France would be able to form a very accurate and just estimate of the character of the people of England, and of the people of America, as well as of the people of France. No doubt could be entertained, that this estimate would not, perhaps, be very favourable either to the Americans or the English; but there were prominent features in the characters of both which could not fail to be correctly seized and dexterously taken advantage of in regulating the policy of the French government towards the two nations. It was most likely that in forming an estimate of the character of the English, such a minister would consider them a high minded, independent people, but he would also regard them as proud, haughty, supercilious, and overbearing, though possessing, in an eminent degree, a spirit of national pride and national honour, and every other characteristic of a great nation. Forming his calculation, therefore, upon a people possessing such a character, such a minister would conclude, that they would not be satisfied with a virtual repeal of the obnoxious decrees, that they would make a point of their formal repeal, and glory even in compelling that repeal. Of the American people, on the other band, he would conclude, that they were a cunning, craving, selfish race, that they would not insist upon the actual renunciation of the decrees, but would be satisfied with a declaration to that effect; and that so long as in operation the decrees did not touch their pockets, in principle they would not care whether they were formally revoked, or nominally only. The contrast between these two characters, that would readily suggest itself to the mind of an intelligent French minister, would as infallibly point out to him the nominal repeal of the decrees as an effectual way to conciliate America, the best mode of rendering the English nation incredulous, and consequently as the certain course to excite differences between Great Britain and America, the final result of which would be, to throw America into the arms of France. With regard to the state of the public mind in the United States, he had only to observe that there were generally two parties in every state, differing materially as to their views of policy, and the measures that, in their minds, would best promote the interest of the state, though neither could be suspected of any wish or design to betray the interests of its country. In the United States, one party was disposed to an alliance with Great Britain, and another was eager to draw closer the bonds of union and amity with France. By the policy which had been adopted by this country, the whole power of the state in America had been thrown into the hands of those, who, by habit, partiality, and inclination, were well disposed' towards France. If for no other ground than that it would inevitably lead to peace with America, he would be an advocate for the repeal of the Orders in Council. For as to the horrible idea of going to war with that country, he could not for one moment entertain it, or suppose that their lordships would consent to continue the Orders in Council, if they should be proved to lead to that unfortunate consequence.—While he was on this topic, he should take the opportunity to state, that if there was any one point on which he had the honour to agree with the noble lords opposite (an honour he could scarcely call it) that point was the maintenance of the war in the peninsula. He besought their lordships, and particularly the noble lords opposite, therefore, not to put to hazard the cause in the peninsula for any trumpery objects of nominal rights. A war with America, if that should unfortunately take place, would infallibly be the ruin of that cause, because it would effectually destroy the sinews and resources of the war in the peninsula. He begged their lordships to consider what effect a war with North America might have upon South America. He believed that it was in politics, as in war, the wisest course to sacrifice all subordinate objects to the attainment of one great purpose. Nothing could be so strong a proof of weakness and a pusillanimous spirit, as to fritter away the powers of the state in the prosecution of minor objects, and thereby to render the attainment of great national ends more difficult and precarious. Upon all these grounds, therefore, he conjured the House to accede to the present motion, that the Western world might see that England exhibited a temper, the continuance of which would assuredly lead to the prosperity of both.

The Earl of Westmoreland

allowed that it was the interest of Great Britain to avoid a war with America, and maintained that she had uniformly acted with the utmost forbearance towards that country. The quarrel, such as it was, had originated with the late ministry; and his Majesty's present ministers were not answerable for any evils resulting from the commercial system. The noble earl took a summary view of the proceedings of the late administration on this subject, and expressed a hope that if any noble lord thought that these measures needed defence, he would call on some noble lord on the other side of the House for such a defence. His lordship then expatiated on the flourishing state of the exports and imports. He contended, that in a commercial point of view it would be most injurious to repeal the Orders in Council, under which he maintained that the trade of the country had risen more than one fourth above what it was in that year when the great financial ministers opposite were complimented on the extent of our commerce. Notwithstanding all that had been said about petitions against the Orders in Council, he had never been able to see one of them, although he had taken a great deal of trouble upon the subject. As to the petition from Hull, it stated distress generally; it was not a petition against the Orders in Council, but against those measures which were adopted as a relaxation of those Orders. It appeared to him that the repeal of those Orders would be the destruction instead of the salvation of our commerce. Independent of commercial considerations, he thought that they ought to be maintained on the ground of our national rights, and our national honour.

Lord Holland

explained, that those who supported the motion objected both to the Orders in Council and the mode in which they were relaxed; so that whether the Petition from Hull was against the Orders or their effects, was of no consequence.

The Earl of Westmoreland

in explanation insisted that it was very material.

The Earl of Lauderdale

observed, that the noble earl (Bathurst) had begun in a manner peculiarly hard towards his noble friend the mover of the present question, for His not being able to state the precise Order in Council which he wished to have withdrawn. The nature of the Orders in Council was certainly a subject of no small embarrassment, and nothing could be a stronger argument against their continuance than that such men as his noble friend could not accurately discover their tendency. But really such was the uncertainty with respect to them, that the most experienced traders knew not how to conduct their trade. Whether they were to attend to a notification, to Orders in Council, or to instructions to this or that officer, became a matter of infinite perplexity to them, and of very serious study. The continual changes, however, to which they were subject, gave the merchants of London, who were on the spot from which they issued, a great advantage over the merchants of the outports. The noble earl asked which of the Orders he wished to sec repealed. He would tell the noble earl, which of the Orders he wished not to see repealed—it was the Order in Council of the 7th January, 1807. The noble earl appeared to consider the Order of January, 1807, as the only subject of complaint, as if the Orders in Council of 1 809 were only founded on the same principle, and were part of the same system. The noble lords seemed to think they had a triumph in this sort of argument; for, as the Order of the 7th of January, 1807, originated with his noble friend (lord Grenville,) and those who sat near him, they supposed that they were bound at all times and under all circumstances, to adhere to them. But what right had the noble lords to maintain that opinion? Were they, who were changing their own Orders in Council every month, justified in presuming that his noble friend would not have abandoned or changed his Order in Council of the 7th January, 1807, if he had seen any evil resulting from the continuance of it? From his knowledge of his noble friends, he was convinced, that they would have altered that Order in Council if circumstances had required such alteration.—In neither of the speeches of the noble earls opposite, was there a single sentence addressed to the proposition that there be a committee appointed. The prosperity of the commerce of the country had been talked of. Prosperity! It was a prosperity accompanied by numberless phenomena. It was accompanied by an unprecedented list of bankrupts. It was accompanied by an unprecedented distress among the manufacturers. It was accompanied by an unprecedented change in the wages of the lower orders. Into these phenomena, attendant on the alleged prosperity of commerce, it was fitting, in his opinion, that a committee should enquire. Had the noble earl read the Memorial from the merchants of Hull, stating with truth the great increase of foreign shipping, and the increasing nursery for foreign seamen produced by the present system? If he had, he was astonished that the noble earl could reject the motion of his noble friend. With respect to the returns on the table, of exports and imports, they were in no wise to be depended upon. Circumstances of a peculiar, and indeed of a contradictory, nature, had conspired to swell them. In the exports, for instance, all goods exported without duty, might be entered to any amount. Thus, an export of only 50l. in value, might be entered as worth 5,000l. Added to this, commercial speculation had proceeded to such an extent, that it was a well known fact, that goods to a considerable amount had been exported from this country, particularly to Heligoland, at which place no market being found for them, they were actually returned—(thus fruitless swelling the list of exports and imports,) and sold by auction for half the original price at which they had been purchased from the manufacturers. This was far from that legitimate prosperity of commerce which resulted from actual consumption. A prossperous commerce was that where the wants and desires of the purchaser kept pace with the sales of the exporter. There was not a feature in the commerce of 1809, which did not bespeak an unfavourable state; and no country bad ever experienced commercial distress without exhibiting the phenomena which had been witnessed in this country. He did not doubt, but that we should see another year of similar prosperity. He thought, that after some stagnation in our trade, it would be likely, that some other scheme might send forth a new set of adventurers and speculators, and there might be another year of great export, which some would mistake for commercial prosperity. What was the professed object of the Orders in Council, but to make Buonaparté feel the consequences of his own acts? The noble lord had said that France had been deeply injured by being deprived of the customs on colonial produce. But had not we suffered in the same degree, though in a different mode? In his opinion, the loss suffered by the state of trade, produced by this new order of things, was infinitely greater on our part than on that of the enemy. When he saw, however, that there had been a falling off of twelve millions and a half in the customs in three years, and combined with this consideration the encreasing number of bankruptcies, and a knowledge of the excess of our exports above the real demands of our foreign trade, he saw not only sufficient but abundant evidence for going into the committee proposed by his noble friend.

The Earl of Rosse

could not bring himself to consider this question merely in a commercial point of view, but should consider the repeal of the Orders in Council at the present moment, as an abandonment of all the principles on which the country had acted in the assertion of her maritime rights. He should also consider it a part of that system of humiliation which ap- peared to him to be recommended to the country by the noble lords on the other side. At one time they called on the country to prostrate itself at the feet of the Catholic convention; at another time to give up the Orders in Council, at the requisition of America; and at another time to withdraw their armies from the peninsula, and leave it to the power of France. Now, on account of the losses of a few merchants and manufacturers, we were called upon to revoke our decrees, while the decrees of France remained in full force. Every one must regret that our merchants and manufacturers had suffered losses, but losses of this nature were inseparable from a state of war; and he believed nobody would say that an honourable peace was in our power. True it was that our merchants suffered under the circumstances of the times; but though excluded in a great measure from the continent of Europe, still three parts of the world were open to their commerce. It was impossible to deny that the trade of the country had sustained same depression; but as reasonably might it be expected to fight a battle without having any men slain, as to carry on a war without occasioning some injury to commerce. To destroy our commerce appeared to be the fixed determination of Buonaparté, and as fixed ought to be our determination to counteract him. Buonaparté had declared to his maritime towns, that England must be humbled at any expence. To accede to the motion of the noble lord would indeed be going a great way towards humbling her. To accede to the motion of the noble lord would be still more to depress the manufactures of Great Britain, and to give to the manufactures of France, by the repeal of the British Orders in Council, that stimulus which the exchange of colonial produce (through the medium of America) for the manufactures of France must inevitably occasion. Were government to repeal the Orders in Council, all the advantages would be on the side of France, and she would cease to sustain those privations under which she at present laboured. Every kind of colonial produce would be poured into France by the Americans, who would obtain every colonial article, from Cuba and other Spanish settlements. The same American ships that brought West India produce, would export the manufactures of France, which might triumph over ours in the markets of America; and thus France would gain every advantage, both in her revenue and industry, while no relief would be extended to our commerce. On these grounds, he should oppose the motion, as it seemed to imply that the Orders in Council ought to be revoked.

Viscount Sidmouth

said, he had listened with the greatest pleasure to the able and argumentative speech of the noble marquis, who brought this question before the House; but it had failed to produce conviction in his mind of the propriety of an enquiry at the present moment. He declared, that a full share of the responsibility of issuing the Order in Council of January 1807, belonged to himself. He had been strenuous, as some of his noble friends near him knew, in recommending the adoption of that measure. He considered it as founded on that principle laid down in the rule commonly called the rule of 1756, which prohibited to a neutral the advantages of any trade in time of war, which by the law of nations he was not entitled to in time of peace. His objection to the subsequent Order was, that it carried the principle of blockade to too great an extent, and imposed upon the neutral as the price of a continental trade, the necessity of paying a previous tribute to ourselves. He had another and a serious objection also to urge against it, on the ground that it continued to sanction that pernicious indulgence of suffering the neutral to be the carrier of the enemy's colonial trade. Their lordships had seen that Mr. Erskine had made a merit of this indulgence, in his representations to the American government. He was happy to say that, by the Order of April, 1809, part of these objections had been removed. That Order limited the blockade to the coasts of France, Holland, and the northern parts of Italy. In his opinion the system of blockade would proceed much more successfully were the system of trade licences abandoned. There were great abuses in that latter system. Undoubtedly it was expedient to obtain articles of the first necessity, such as grain and naval stores; but, generally speaking, the licence system was injurious, and in no way more so than in the offence which it gave to morals. Besides, it was adverse to, and completely inconsistent with, the principles on which the Orders were founded, namely, to inflict privation on the enemy.—There was one consideration which had great weight is inducing him to vote against the proposition of the noble lord. He would not assert the general doctrine that there should be no parliamentary interference while a negociation was pending with another power; but under the circumstances of the pending negociations with America, he was decidedly hostile to any parliamentary interference. To accede to the motion of the noble lord, would be to recommend to the Crown to repeal those Orders in Council which were the actual subject of the disputes between the two countries. He, for one, would not be a party, under the existing circumstances, to the transfer of that discretion which ought to belong to the executive government, to either of the other branches of the legislature. No one attached more importance than he did to the maintenance of a good understanding between Great Britain and America; but he should deeply regret if parliament were rashly to recommend those concessions to America which the executive government had, for such a length of time, thought it wise to resist. For all these reasons he should dissent from the motion.

The Marquis of Lansdowne

shortly replied. It was not his intention to consume the time of the House in observing on all that had fallen from noble lords on the other side. For he really thought all they had said had been already satisfactorily answered. The noble viscount had objected to his motion for going into a committee, because as the noble viscount conceived it, licences did not necessarily belong to or form a part of the Orders in Council. This might be so in point of form; but when, to oppose this he shewed that, in point of fact, the two systems were incorporated in one, had he not a right to ask of the noble viscount to go with him into a committee on that subject? By what, he wished to know, could the fact be more effectually proved or disproved than by going into that committee? It had been said, that by entertaining a subject of this kind, the House would give encouragement to that discontent which was supposed to prevail out of that House. Of the force of such an argument he was not aware. Were not noble lords sensible that the more obstinately they shut their doors against complaints, the more would discontent prevail? Were they to hold out, that to the discontented they would never listen, and that it was only when people had nothing to cemplain of that that House would hear them? He, for one, did not comprehend such reasoning. It was only, as he understood it, in proportion to the seriousness of the complaint that the interposition of their lordships could be rendered necessary.

Earl Fitzwilliam

adverted to the petition lately presented to the Prince Regent by the manufacturers of Sheffield, praying the repeal of the Orders in Council. He could state, from his own knowledge, that the manufacturers of that part of the country were suffering under the severest distresses, to which they saw no period. Their lordships, he believed, would soon see on their table numerous petitions to a similar effect to that presented to the Prince Regent; and he would implore them at least to give these people the satisfaction of enquiring into the causes of their sufferings, which were almost beyond endurance. It was the opinion of the petitioners, that the Orders in Council were the causes of their distress; and let them not, from a refusal of enquiry, have any ground to say, that their sufferings were inflicted, not by the enemy, but by the hands of their own government. He could assure their lordships that the distresses of the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire, and particularly the clothing districts, were extreme. What had happened in Nottingham was but too well known, and it ought not to excite surprise if similar disturbances were to take place in Yorkshire.

Lord Grenville

did not rise to add a single word to the arguments which had been so ably urged in support of the motion, but merely to say, that whatever might be the decision of their lordships upon the present question, he was. persuaded that when the petitions which his noble friend stated to be in preparation were laid on their table, not a man would be found to oppose a deliberate inquiry into the nature and effect of those measures in which the evils so justly complained of by the petitioners, were by them alleged to originate. Whatever might have been said, he could scarcely think it possible that the full consideration of this subject would be then opposed on the grounds of the prosperous state of the manufactures of the country.

The House then divided—

For the motion 34
Proxies 37–71
Against it 66
Proxies 69–135
Majority —64

List of the Minority.
DUKES. Charlemoat
Glocester Rosslyn
Devonshire Grey
Lansdowne Say and Sele
Stafford St. John
EARLS. Clifton (Darnley)
Suffolk Dutton (M. Douglas)
Essex King
Jersey Bulkeley
Oxford Holland
Bristol Byron
Cowper Grenville
Fitzwilliam Dundas
Hardwicke Hutchinson
Hillsborough (Downshire) Erskine
Ailsa (Cassilis)
Grosvenor Ponsonby
Carnarvon Bishop of Kildare
St. Albans Hereford
Somerset Duncan
Bedford LORDS.
Grafton Ashburton
Bute Ducie
Buckingham Carrington
EARLS. Glastonbury
Tankerville Mendip
Stanhope Braybrooke
Donoughmor Spencer, (Blandford)
Waldegrave Lilford
Breadalbane Sundridge (Argyll)
Thanet Ponsonby (Besboro')
Guildford Foley
Spencer Cawdor
Carysfort Somers
Ilchester Yarborough
Carlisle Crewe
Derby Gwydir

PAIRED OFF.—Earl of Lauderdale, with two Proxies, viz. Earl of Albemarle and viscount Anson.

Present 34
proxies 37