HL Deb 24 June 1824 vol 11 cc1479-82
The Marquis of Lansdown,

before the order of the day was gone into, would take the opportunity of this last sitting of the House, to ask some information from the noble earl opposite on a very important object. Having, early in the present session, called their lordships' attention to the situation in which this country stood with respect to South America, and having heard the declaration made by his majesty's ministers on that subject, he had reason to expect, that that declaration would before now have been followed up by some public measure. But, after that declaration, four months had elapsed without any step having been taken towards the establishment of those relations with the states of South America which it was the general wish of parliament and the country to see formed. In the motion he had then made he did not rely on any other principles than those which were maintained on the question by his majesty's ministers; it was to be expected, that, in consistency with those principles, and with the declaration which ministers had made in January last, that no long time would have elapsed without a recognition of the independence of some of the states of South America. An opening had been left for Spain to take the priority in the recognition; but if Spain did not avail herself of that opening, it was understood that this country was relieved from the necessity of any longer delaying the taking of that step herself. It was a course which ought, above all, to be adopted, in consistency with those principles which in this country ought to make it desirable to establish intimate relations with those states which enjoy a system of liberty in every part of the world. Such had heretofore been the conduct of the government of this country with respect to the free states of Europe, and he thought it ought to be extended to America. He therefore now called on the noble earl opposite to explain what were the intentions of his majesty's government on this important matter. After all that had been said and done on the subject, it perhaps, might be advanced that the recognition of the independence of South America was but a form: it was, however, a form which the law of nations required, and there could not be one law for one part of the world, and another for another. Besides, the relations of countries often turned on matters of etiquette, which could not be dispensed with with-out great inconvenience: and their lordships must bear in mind the opinion which this country entertained of the importance of establishing relations with South America, If there were no objection to the principle on which relations of political intercourse were to be established, why was the recognition so long delayed after the independence had, in fact, been so fully asserted? He did not mean to say that every part of South America had fully established its independence; but he should not be contradicted when he confined himself to two of the states, namely, Colombia and Buenos Ayres. Few if any of the states of the continent of Europe had a better claim to be regarded as independent. The independence of Colombia and Buenos Ayres stood on a more firm foundation than that of the state, respect to which had caused, whether properly or pot he should not now discuss, delay in doing that act which the interests and the policy of this country so obviously seemed to call for. He must express his confident hope that, previous to the next meeting of parliament, full effect would be given to the declaration which his majesty's ministers made, by the recognition of such of the states of South America as might be in a condition to maintain their independence.

The Earl of Liverpool

felt it necessary to say something on what had fallen from the noble marquis; and what he had to state would be perfectly plain, explicit, and distinct, as to the course which the king's government had pursued on this subject. When the noble marquis formerly brought this matter under the consideration of their lordships, he reduced the question to three points—1. Whether there was any connexion between this, country and any states of Europe (Spain excepted) which rendered it necessary to withhold the recognition of the South American states, At that time, he took upon himself to state to the noble marquis that this country was under no engagement, expressed or implied, which could prevent this country from acknowledging the independence of the states of South America, whensoever such a measure should be thought proper; that the government were completely free to exercise their own judgment, and that whatever the result of that exercise might be, the subject would be treated purely as a British question, determined upon British interests. The next point was, how matters stood with regard to Spain. In answer to that, he had stated, that it was very desirable, if it possibly could be accomplished, to induce Spain to be the first to make the recognition: and every thing which had since passed had only tended to confirm him in the propriety of this view. The recognition of a colony could only emanate de jure from the mother country; and until that event did happen, there would always be some degree of inconvenience in the relations which other countries might establish with a new state. This was obvious: he had never stated that this inconvenience was a reason for refusing the recognition, but that it was one which made it desirable to induce the mother country to take the first step. He had hoped from what had passed that that would have been done; but every effort to induce the government of Spain to take that step having failed, the government of this country did not consider itself precluded, whenever the proper time should arrive for recognizing the independence of South America, by any obligation or engagement, moral or other. His majesty's ministers considered themselves! perfectly free on this question, as well with respect to the government of Spain as with every other. The third point was, whether measures had been taken, by sending out commissioners, to form a judgment whether the governments of those states were in such a condition of reasonable perniauency as to render it advisable to carry into effect a recognition of the independence of those states. This last was the only question that now remained to be answered. Their lordships knew that commissioners had been sent out; and when he stated, that no information on the subject of their mission had yet reached this country, he was sure he said enough to account for a recognition not having taken place. He had only to repeat that his majesty's government was under no obligation whatever which could prevent the recognition of the states of South America, whenever it should appear to be consistent with the interests and character of the country to make such recognition; and that his majesty's ministers had taken means to obtain the necessary information respecting those states, and would act upon that information as soon as they recaived it.