§ Earl Grey
moved the Order of the Day, for the third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill, and that the Bill be read a third time.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that, although he was aware of the inconvenience to which he might put their Lordships by calling their attention at this stage of the Bill to a subject which was closely connected with it, and although he was sorry that he had not been able to do so earlier in the Session, yet, late as it was, and inconvenient as it might be to their Lordships, he could not, considering the situation in which he had stood in connexion with the Councils of his Majesty, reconcile it to his sense of duty to allow their Lordships to separate without making some comments and remarks on the extraordinary state in which the finances of the country at present were. The present was the only opportunity upon which he could with propriety make any observations on the subject; and, therefore, he was convinced that their Lordships would allow him briefly to occupy their time. When he addressed their Lordships upon a former occasion upon this subject, he had the misfortune to differ in opinion with the 1363 noble Earl, at the head of his Majesty's Government, and from his Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer in another place. At that period, he stated the income of the country to be, 47,250,000l.; and the expenditure 47,239,000l., leaving a surplus of 11,000l. only. This was the whole surplus applicable to any exigency which might arise, as stated by him in October last. In the first Budget of 1831, in February, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated the revenue to be 47,250,000l., and estimated the charge, which had not then been voted, at 46,850,000l., leaving an apparent surplus of 300,000l. In the second Budget, for they had two Budgets that year, the noble Earl, and his noble colleague in the other House, estimated the revenue at 47,250,000l., and the expenditure at no more than 46,756,000l. They founded their estimate of the expenditure for the whole year, not upon the only legitimate ground, the Parliamentary Estimates, but upon the actual expenditure in the quarters which had already elapsed, and accordingly they got upon paper a surplus of 493,000l., taking the average payments to be the same for the quarters which were to follow as for those which had gone by. But the result, unfortunately, more than realized his anticipations. It turned out that there was not a surplus, either of 493,000l., or of 300,000l., or of 11,000l., but a very considerable deficiency. In three months after the noble Earl had indulged, in that House, the most flattering expectations, they were proved to the whole country to have been utterly unfunded. In January, 1832, the revenue received in the year, from January 1831, was 46,424,000l., and the actual charge in the same period was 47,123,000l., leaving a deficiency in the year ending in January 1832, of 699,000l. The deficiency of revenue as compared with the estimate made in October, was 825,556l. The excess of charge beyond the estimate of October, was 493,479l. So that the state of affairs in January was worse than it had been estimated in October by the sum of 1,319,035l. In such a state of things it was manifestly impossible that the public could have any confidence in the condition of the finances. On the 5th of April, 1832, it appeared by the public accounts, that the revenue from the 5th of April, 1831, had produced 46,618,015l. The actual charge in this year, from April to April, was 47,858,488l. The revenue at this period was worse than the produce of the year from January to 1364 January, by 194,000l.; and comparing it with the estimate of October, it was less by 510,000l., while the charge was greater than the same estimate by 730,000l. The actual deficiency of revenue to meet the actual charge at this period, was then shown to be 1,240,000l. In July again they had the statement of the year's accounts from July 183 to July 1832. The revenue at this period was 46,296,521l., and the actual charge 47,559,078l. The deficiency at this period was, therefore, 1,262,557l. Having stated the condition of the finances at the various periods which he had mentioned, he at length came to the Budget of 1832. According to the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the revenue of the present year was calculated at 46,470,000l., and the estimated charge was 45,696,000l., leaving a surplus, according to the statement, of 773,000l. It was fair to state that this surplus did appear upon the Estimates, and was not calculated upon the same erroneous principles as before. The Estimates were less for the year 1832 than for the year 1831, by the sum of 2,162,000l. Then with respect to this reduction, and to the comparison of the two years, as to their income and expenditure, he had some observations to make. The abolition of the coast blockade, heretofore provided for in the Navy Estimates, occasioned a reduction of 160,000l., but this must necessarily be attended by some expense to the Board of Customs for the means of preventing smuggling; and, as for this new expense, which could scarcely fall short of 80,000l., no provision had been made, he must consider the reductions fallacious to the extent, on this account, of 80,000l. There was likewise another omission in the Miscellaneous Estimates—that of the expense of building a new Custom House at Liverpool, which would be 50,000l., and which would be provided for out of the revenue of the Customs. Thus, in these two items alone, the apparent reduction was fallacious to the extent of 130,000l. He likewise considered that the Government had fallen into a great miscalculation as to the probable produce of the wine duties. It appeared with respect to the French wines, that, although there had been a great reduction of the duty, there had also been a great reduction of consumption. Nor was this all. There had been a still greater reduction of the consumption of other descriptions of wines, in consequence of the duty having been decreased. In the last year there was a comparative decrease 1365 under this head, of 154,000l. There could be no doubt but that this was the first instance of any Administration in this country leaving themselves without any provision for contingencies, or any unusual efforts which might become necessary, except that of drawing in advance upon the revenue of the succeeding quarter. No provision was made for any extraordinary emergency, but that of anticipating the growing produce of the quarter. He could not think, looking to the present posture of the Government, that this was a situation in which the country ought to be placed. He must give the noble Earl at the head of the Government credit for the intention to cover the essential expenditure of the year. But the fact was, that many of the reductions were applicable to the army and other essential services of the country, which, although not estimated this year, must be provided for in future years. One of the objects in which a saving had been effected was the training of the militia. The saving under this head was 1,90,000l., and could not recur in future years. Another saving was in the freight of transports and the provision of troops, when it was necessary, to remove them from one part of the world to another. Circumstances might admit of this in the present year, because there were no garrisons to relieve, but it was not possible that it could occur in every future year. This saving, therefore, was applicable to this year only, and it was to the extent of 45,000l. Another item of reduction was in the purchase of timber for the navy, which amounted to the very considerable sum of 400,000l. It was evident that the magazines of this country must be kept up, and all that was really done by this apparent saving was to throw the burthen to this extent upon future years. With a view to secure an adequate supply, and to the proper seasoning of stores, and with a view to the probability that it might become necessary for his Majesty's service to make some great exertion, it was impossible that less than double the amount of the estimate of this year would suffice. He thought, therefore, that the reductions were not only temporary, but effected at the sacrifice of an important part of his Majesty's service. He contended that it was the duty of the Government to look to other objects of more importance than the mere balance of income and expenditure. It was necessary to look to what was likely or possible to happen in the circumstances of this country. Would any man say that the Government, with 1366 respect to its finances, was left in the situation in which it ought to be? The finances of the country were unprovided for, although his Majesty's Ministers knew that the Session would be of a Reformed Parliament, and no man could tell what the decision of such a Parliament might be on any question; more especially on a question of finance. It was the duty of the Ministers in all circumstances, at the same time that they avoided every unnecessary expenditure, to place the finances in a state in which they might be adequate to any emergency which might arise. In the present state of the foreign relations of the country, it was possible that an occasion might arrive, in which his Majesty might be compelled to make an extraordinary exertion, and to call forth all the resources of the empire. But in consequence of the state in which the finances of the country were now placed, his Majesty would, in such a case as he had supposed, be put to the greatest difficulty in the management of his financial resources, so long as the necessity for exertion might continue. Let his Majesty's Ministers look to the condition of Ireland. Could any man conjecture how embarrassing the affairs of that country might become? Let them look to his Majesty's foreign relations—let them look particularly to the Peninsula. They would sec that, in every one of these particulars, his Majesty might, much sooner than any of their Lordships perhaps expected, be called on to make exertions for which all the resources of the empire would be necessary. The present, therefore, was not a time to curtail the finances. He could not help assuring their Lordships that, in his opinion, the country was in a state which demanded their most serious attention. It was not his intention, at that period of the Session, to enter into any discussion which could give rise to an angry debate; and, although he had his own opinion on the subject to which he was about to advert, he would admit that, no doubt, his Majesty's Ministers had done what they believed to be their duty, when they allowed that to proceed which was now going on in Portugal. For his part, he thought it was their duty to prevent the collision of the two opinions which distracted every part of Europe. It was more especially their duty to prevent that collision in a country the interests of which were so nearly connected with those of England as Portugal. But he would admit, that his Majesty's Ministers thought that they were preventing the collision by what 1367 they had done. Let them look, however, to that country, and see what was doing there. Although a prince (Don Pedro) had invaded that country under the most favourable circumstances, and with a considerable force, still he had made no acquisitions beyond the town in which he landed. Neither armies, nor provinces, nor even a single town, as far as he had heard, or even so much as one man, had gone over to Don Pedro. His Majesty's Ministers might suppose that the prince's adversary was a usurper, and that his Government was so tyrannical and unjust, that the people were desirous to get rid of him; but, whatever the Ministers might suppose, he was sure that they would best consult the interest of England by putting an end to the conflict of opinions in Portugal. What was the actual state of things at present in that country? The military movements had been all in favour of the invader, and yet he had been unable to advance further than the town in which he landed. That did not show that the country was favourable to the enterprise; and, therefore, he (the Duke of Wellington) thought it would be right to put a stop to the revolutionary war. It was quite obvious, from the present state of things, that the invader could not succeed otherwise than by force of arms. Don Pedro had under his direction a band of brave and honourable and enterprising men, and as good soldiers as any in the world. He might say that he knew them to be as he described. That army was formed out of numbers of military adventurers: and plenty of them there were to be found in every part of the world; but, be the composition of Don Pedro's army what it might, they must hold Portugal against the people. It was, then, by means of these brave men, but, at the same time, military adventurers, that the prince was to succeed. By means of the aid of these persons he was to take possession of Portugal, contrary to the wishes of the people. With all his advantages, however, the invader had as yet made no advance; and, from that fact, he believed that Don Pedro could never govern Portugal without the continuance of foreign military support. And was it to be supposed, that such a military force would not spread revolutionary warfare into Spain? Perhaps there were associations in his mind, which made him feel more strongly on this subject than other men. Certainly he could not look without anxiety to the state of things which had lasted so long in Portugal, and to the 1368 prospects arising from that slate, especially to this country, which might find itself called on to interfere in the warfare. When he looked to these things, he could not help pressing upon his Majesty's Government to consider well the state of their financial resources. He had stated, that he should endeavour to avoid anything that could give rise to angry feelings; but he could not refrain from adverting to the position in which the British fleet stood at present in that part of the world; for it was a subject of the greatest anxiety to all those who regarded the honour of this country, and who felt that the fleet was placed there in a very doubtful neutrality, if not of actual hostility. The fleet was placed there for the purpose of protecting his Majesty's subjects in the first instance; and, in the second, to prevent other persons from interfering in the war. Now, on all former occasions, when this country was placed in a similar condition in respect to Portugal, it had been usual to take measures to enable British subjects to quit the country, if they thought proper, when it was likely to be the seat of war, and if they did not choose to avail themselves of the proposed security, they were told, that they must incur all the risks arising out of the disturbed state of the country. In the present case, however, the fleet was left there for the protection of those who chose to stay. At the head of that fleet was an Admiral, in whom he (the Duke of Wellington) could say the Government might safely place every confidence, as no man would discharge with more propriety the arduous duties of the station in which he was placed. Novi, the situation of an Englishman resident in Portugal was this:—if he felt himself aggrieved by any of the authorities, and could not obtain redress, he could call upon his Conservador; and, if that person could not obtain redress for him, then the Admiral could only do so by an act of hostility. Was it possible, then, that the fleet should not be looked upon as an enemy by the Portuguese government? Was it possible, then, that the presence of the fleet should not have an effect upon the war, prejudicial to the actual government? But what was more—there was a blockade of the port of Lisbon, by the fleet of the invader, and also by the British fleet; and the fleet of Don Pedro, with British colours flying, had pursued and taken a Portuguese vessel. What was the situation of the British Admiral when that was done? Was he not bound to protect the fleet which carried British 1369 colours in his presence, or chastise those who, without any such right, dared to wage war under them in his presence? And how was that Admiral placed, by these circumstances, in respect to the government of Portugal? Was he any longer neutral? There was another point to which he wished to bring the attention of the House. There was at present, on a diplomatic mission to Portugal, an English nobleman, having the rank of a Brigadier-general in Portugal. Now, what were the functions of that officer? To command any brigade to which he might be ordered. See, then, the consequence of our sending to Portugal, as the representative of the British Government, an officer who was a Brigadier-general in that country. He was liable to be appointed to the command of a Portuguese brigade. But he was the representative of this Government, and he was, moreover, intrusted with the question of peace or war, in the event of a particular contingency. Never before had there been an instance of an officer being sent, intrusted with the prerogative of the Crown on the great question of peace or war, to the Government under which he held such a commission, and at a time when a revolutionary war was going on. He was quite sure that this nobleman would discharge the duties of his important trust faithfully, and with the greatest discretion, and neither he nor the Admiral would involve the country in an unnecessary war. But he would say, that such was not the condition in which this country ought to stand with Portugal in reference to war; and especially to such a war as would arise—if there should be any. He believed that the topics to which he had adverted were closely connected with the question before the House, which was one of finance; and he had thought it his duty to bring them, on that occasion, under the consideration of the House.
§ Earl Grey
said, that he had not expected that the noble Duke would have availed himself of the present occasion, the last stage of the Consolidated Fund Bill, in which it was not usual to take any discussion, and almost at the last hour of the Session, to raise an extensive discussion on the financial state, and on the foreign policy, of the country. He must say, that the course pursued by the noble Duke was attended with some inconvenience. It was inconvenient on this particular occasion, upon which it was not expected to arise; and was inconvenient generally, because, as the statement of his noble friend (the 1370 Chancellor of the Exchequer) had given general satisfaction in the other House, and had been but little excepted to by those who were the most disposed to canvass his arrangement—it was not expected to be discussed anew. He (Earl Grey) had discharged the details of the question from his mind, and had put aside the papers which were necessary to enable him to meet the present discussion. To prepare himself he had had but the last two days of the Session, during which he had a great many other things to think of, which could not be postponed. He came, therefore, with some disadvantage to the discussion—as one who, moreover, was not very conversant with financial statements, and who had to contend with those who placed all the details of the calculation in points of comparison, on which he (Earl Grey) had not before examined them. Certainly, too, he had not expected that a long discussion upon foreign affairs would have been mixed up with the question upon the Bill. The noble Duke had argued, that the finances of the country were embarrassed, and that an occasion might shortly arise for great financial exertion, and that, consequently, his Majesty might be placed in circumstances of the greatest difficulty. The noble Duke had complained that there was a great deficiency in the revenue, as compared with the expenditure for the current year; and he had referred to what occurred in the List year, to show that the calculations and expectations of his Majesty's Ministers had failed then, and were not to be expected to succeed in this year. He admitted, that he had last year anticipated a surplus of between 300,000l. and 400,000l., and in that expectation he had been disappointed. He lamented, as much as the noble Duke could lament, that there did now exist a large deficiency. In the anxiety of the Government to relieve the industrious classes, they had taken off' taxes which were supposed to press heavily on those least able to bear them, and they had hoped that the revenue would derive increase from other sources, which would make up for the reductions. Now the cause of the disappointment was, that they had calculated upon meeting with no opposition respecting the taxes which they proposed to substitute for those that were reduced; and every one who remembered what took place respecting the timber duties would see that they had reason to expect that they would not have been opposed. When they found the deficiency, of which 1371 the noble Duke had said so much, they had to consider the means by which it could be made up. He would go the whole length with the noble Duke, in admitting that it was not enough to secure a bare surplus, much less to be exposed to the possibility of a deficiency. He agreed with the noble Duke, that if an occasion of great exertion should occur, it ought not to be met by the imposition of new taxes, but that a surplus should previously have been secured to provide for the emergency. When the deficiency was found, then his Majesty's Ministers had to meet it in one of two ways—to impose new taxes, or to reduce the expenditure. Having given the alternative their best consideration, they thought it was their duty to reduce the expenditure, and in this way overcome the difficulty. In that course they were encouraged by circumstances which had arisen, giving reason to hope that there would be, in the revenue itself, an improvement to compensate for the deficiency, without having recourse to the imposition of new burthens upon the country. Reductions were accordingly effected to the amount mentioned by the noble Duke, namely, upwards of 2,000,000l., encouraged as Ministers were by the expectation that the revenue would increase in other ways. That reduction the noble Duke thought would not prove so satisfactory to the people as some imagined. He (Earl Grey) believed the country was satisfied with it. The general result of the expenditure for the year—without at that moment going into details—was, 46,470,000l., whilst the revenue only amounted to 45,660,000l., thus leaving a deficiency on the year of 814,000l. Now, if that sum of 814,000l. were deducted from the general deficiency of the two years united, which amounted to 1,240,400l., it would leave 426,400l. In order to supply this, which was the best course to adopt, to have recourse to taxation, or diminish the expenditure? He thought that there could be but one answer to that question. It had been generally allowed, in the view which his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken in his financial statement, even by those who were opposed to his propositions, or who were not disposed to look upon them favourably, that he had not been sanguine. It had been generally admitted, that he had rather underrated than overrated the probable effects which would flow from the course recommended. All admitted that his noble friend had acted with great candour. He concealed nothing, but brought 1372 forward the whole financial question fairly, in order that it might be seen what the expectations were with respect to the revenue, and the grounds upon which these expectations were founded. In that statement his noble friend had calculated the loss to the revenue on corn as likely to amount to, 500,000l., for the prospect there was of an abundant harvest would render it probable that no importation would take place, and consequently there would be no duty paid. He rejoiced, in common with every one, at the prospect which now existed of a most abundant harvest; he was, however, of opinion that some importation would take place, notwithstanding. But supposing there should be no importation of corn because of the harvest being so abundant, there would, necessarily, be an increase of the comforts of the people, and other articles would be consumed, by which the revenue would he increased. In making this estimate, his noble friend could not be accused of erring. Supposing it should turn out that he was wrong in that calculation—on the sanguine side, and thus making the revenue appear larger than it would otherwise be—from the improvement which had taken place in the revenue, he thought that, by the end of the year, nearly the whole of the present deficiency would be made up. He had the satisfaction of stating to the House, and he was sure it would be so received by their Lordships, that there was a general increase in the revenue now, and the deficiency which had arisen from particular circumstances, to which he would advert presently, was diminished, and would continue to diminish. He had in his hand an account of the revenue of the last two years, from which it appeared that the decrease was considerable in the last year compared with the former period. In 1831, the amount of the revenue was 48,573,049l., and the revenue of 1832, was 46,189,574l., being a decrease of 2,383,475l. Now, by the last half-year's account, ending 5th July, 1832, the state of the revenue was 21,084,856l; and for the half-year ending July 5th, 1831, the revenue was 21,188,929l., so that there was only a difference between those two periods of 104,073l., whilst the difference between the whole year amounted to the sum he had stated, namely, 2,383,475l. He, therefore, did feel justified in what he had asserted, as to the improvement in the revenue, and he looked with confidence to that view being realised. He thought that their Lordships would also concur with him 1373 in that opinion. He did not take that gloomy view of the state of the country which many persons did. He believed that the country had means in it, which would overcome all the difficulties which had been pressing upon it; but, at the same time, if the deficiency of the revenue should continue, it would be their Lordships' duty to provide for it. Their Lordships were well aware that, within the last three years, and that period embraced a portion of the administration of the noble Duke, a large yearly deduction in taxes had been made. Deduction in taxation, to the extent of 4,780,000l. had been carried into execution, which had furnished relief to the country. He looked with confidence to the deficiency being got over in another year, without the imposition of any fresh burthens. Feeling, however, as he did, that it was necessary to support the power of the country, and to provide against every contingency, and being convinced that the people were of the same opinion, he would admit, that if his Majesty's Ministers should be disappointed of their just expectations, then it would be necessary to provide for the deficiency by applying to some means of increasing the revenue. But he could not take the desponding view of the finances of the country which the noble Duke had taken; nor could he think with him, that we were not in a situation to make any exertion which the honour of the nation might require. In the last year, the prevalence of a pestilential disease had had a most serious effect upon the trade and commerce of the country. The unsettled state of Europe, also, had contributed much to the interruption of foreign trade; and we had not yet recovered from the agitation which the delay and uncertainty of the Reform Bill had occasioned; an uncertainty by which all the commercial transactions of the country had been, to a great extent, interrupted and deranged. All those impediments to prosperity were now in a fair way of removal, and he had, consequently, the best hopes for the revenue of the current year. There was, however, a deficiency at present, and the question was, what were the best means of making up for it? Great reductions had taken place in every department of the public service. Some of those, the noble Duke contended, were only temporary. He had said, for instance, that the suspension of the training of the militia had afforded no real saving—that the training must be resumed—and that an expense would be thereby occasioned, which would more than 1374 counterbalance the saving at first apparently effected. But that would depend altogether upon circumstances; and he (Earl Grey) trusted, that the apprehensions of the noble Duke, on that score, were groundless. He (the Duke of Wellington) had also argued, that the diminution of expenditure in the transport of troops for the present year would only throw the expense of two years upon the next. But he was not aware that the usual relief of troops upon the various stations had not taken place, with the single exception of the 9th regiment, which was continued in Ireland on account of circumstances which had occurred there, to render necessary the detention of that regiment beyond the period at which it ought to have been removed. The saving in the navy amounted to 9,94,300l. The noble Duke Considered that saving, also, to be not only temporary, but injudicious. But the fact was, that in every article there was, at present, a considerable increase of quantity in the naval stores, as compared with what was upon hands at any corresponding period of the noble Duke's Administration. There was, therefore, no reason for supposing, that the saving of this year would fall upon the next. However, to return to the subject, a deficiency was found, and to meet it, the Government had determined upon a considerable reduction; and in the three great heads of expenditure, namely, army, navy, and ordnance departments, considerable reductions had been made. The expense of the army, for 1831, was 7,551,024l.; that of the present year, the estimate was 7,087,682l., being a decrease of 463,342l. This, the noble Duke had stated, was only a temporary or ephemeral saving, arising from the militia not having been called out for training, and that the expenditure must be increased in another year. That would, of course, depend upon circumstances, and he (Earl Grey) entertained hopes, that such a course would be unnecessary in the ensuing year. It had also been said, that part of this saving had arisen from the not providing and transporting troops for foreign service, and that this must necessarily be done in another year. Now, he was not aware, that the ordinary reliefs to troops on foreign service had this year been withheld, for, with the exception of the 9th regiment, which had been retained in Ireland under peculiar circumstances, he believed the reliefs had taken place, as usual. In the navy, also, a saving had been effected. The Navy Estimates for the last year had been 5,882,835l., while those for 1375 the present year were 4,848,635l., showing a saving of 934,200l. The noble Duke had stated, that this saving had been effected, but would only be temporary, and was, in some degree, an inexpedient measure. The noble Duke had, also, alluded to the grant for the new Custom-house at Liverpool, and to a point connected with the abolition of the coast blockade. With regard to the two last points, he (Earl Grey) was not enabled distinctly to state the circumstances connected with them; but, with regard to the first point, namely, that the saving had been effected by a diminution of the stores, he was prepared to say, that there was in the dock-yards a considerable increase now upon the stock in December, 1830. A reduction had also been made in the Ordnance department, which, added to the reduction in the navy, made a reduction of 1,511,798l. At the same time, he must also observe, that though, in addition to this, a reduction in the Army Estimates had been made, to the amount he had mentioned, yet there had been made an addition of 7,000 men to the numbers that were serving in that force at the time the noble Duke left office. In the miscellaneous service for the year 1832, there was also a saving of 991,000l.; and in the three pension lists for England, Ireland, and Scotland, there was now a saving of 2,000l. per annum, exclusive of about 6,000l. per annum from cases that had fallen off; and, eventually, these pension lists, which had amounted to 140,000l. per annum, would be reduced to 75,000l. per annum, leaving an eventual saving of 65,000l. per annum. He believed, therefore, there was no reason to apprehend what the noble Duke so much feared; and he felt assured that no inconvenience would arise from leaving a deficiency of 300,000l. unprovided for. The prospects of the country gave every hope of an improvement in the revenue. Taking, as he had done, this most unfavourable view of the prospects as to the revenue, he confidently now left himself in the hands of their Lordships and the country. He thought it was not necessary for him to to make any further statement on the finances of the country, and he should have rejoiced if his task had here terminated. But, although inconvenient as it might be, and unprepared, as he was, from the limited notice which the noble Duke had given on Monday, compared with the subject upon which he had entered at such length in his speech, yet he could not allow those observations, which the noble Duke had urged, as 1376 to the policy adopted by Ministers respecting Portugal, to go entirely without answer. No one felt more than he did, the interest which this country had in the prosperity of Portugal. No one more than he desired that the differences which distracted that country should be speedily and satisfactorily terminated. But, in the first place, he should call upon their Lordships, in justice, to acquit the present Government of any share in bringing about the present state of things there. When the Ministers came into office, they found upon the throne of Portugal a prince, who had been characterized by the late Government as an usurper; and, in a speech of the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, had been accused of things, perhaps, worse than usurpation. It was not in their time that he was allowed—even with the British army in the country—to usurp that sovereignty which, by the recognition of the English Government, was the right of another. That was the moment, in his humble judgment, when both justice and policy required the interference of Great Britain. In this state of things the late Government withdrew their Ambassador from Portugal, not having acknowledged Don Miguel, but, on the contrary, having repeatedly recognised the title of his niece. A noble Lord opposite seemed to dissent; but when the present Ministers came into office, they found several documents, in which Donna Maria was entitled "Her Most Faithful Majesty," by the late Secretary of State. When Ministers came into office, they found some negotiations going on respecting Don Miguel, and, on the fulfilment of certain conditions, it would seem that it was the intention of the Ministry of the noble Duke to recognise him, upon certain conditions.
§ The Duke of Wellington
was here understood to express his dissent to this statement. There were no conditions whatever stipulated.
§ Earl Grey,
the condition he understood was, if any amnesty was granted. That was stated in the speech delivered from the Throne in November 2nd, 1830, in which he found this passage. "I have not yet accredited my Ambassador to the Court of Lisbon; but the Portuguese government having determined to perform a great act of justice and humanity by the grant of a general amnesty, I think that the time may shortly arrive when the interests of my subjects will demand a renewal of those relations which had so long existed between 1377 the two countries."* It was obvious, continued the noble Earl, from that paragraph in the King's Speech, that if the amnesty (lid not take place then, recognition would not follow. This he considered a condition, in the fair and usual meaning of that word. But the amnesty was not granted, and the prisons were crowded with victims of as cruel acts of tyranny as ever were committed. He regretted, as much as the noble Duke could, the civil war which now existed in Portugal; but, under all the circumstances of the case, neither sound policy nor necessity made it the duty of the Government to send an army to prevent Donna Maria, whom England had recognized, from taking possession of the throne, and displacing the prince whom the British Government had designated a usurper. As to the probable success of Don Pedro, he could not pretend to say but that the noble Duke was correct in his conjectures; for he could not pretend to as correct a judgment respecting the event of military movements. If the military means of the duke of Braganza were not sufficient—if the people were attached to the present Government—if the king de facto really had an army to repel the invasion, and to maintain himself upon the throne—there could not be a question as to the line of conduct which the British Government ought to pursue. Still, as he (Earl Grey) knew the system of terror which prevailed in Portugal under the present Government, he was not surprised that there had not been a greater manifestation than there had been in favour of Don Pedro. Under those circumstances, a more strict neutrality could not by possibility have been maintained than the present Government had invariably observed. The noble Duke had said, however, that their neutrality approached to actual hostility; and why? "They had sent ships into the Tagus to protect the property of the English residents in Lisbon; and when representations were made, that the continuance of the troops sent to Portugal by the late Government would be considered a declaration of war against the government de facto, those troops were withdrawn. But the treatment of British subjects which followed, rendered it necessary to increase the force in the Tagus. But the fleet had another object, besides the protection of British subjects, which was, to enforce the neutrality of other Powers. The British Government felt that it was* Hansard, (third series') vol. i, p, 9,1378 bound to be neutral, but to be neutral no longer than other Powers observed the same neutrality; and he would say, that if Spain had advanced an army to the assistance of Don Miguel, the neutrality of Great Britain would have been at an end. The noble Duke did no more than justice to the commander of the fleet in the commendations which he had bestowed on him. No man could have acted with more perfect discretion and propriety than the gallant Admiral since his appointment to that station. But he (Earl Grey) could not admit, that because Admiral Parker commanded a fleet in the Tagus for the protection of British subjects, and to prevent the interference of other Power's in the internal connexions of Portugal, he was therefore bound to the protection of any vessels which might improperly assume the British flag. Nothing had been done by the British fleet which could be construed into a departure from strict neutrality. But the noble Duke had found a still stronger objection to the appointment of an English nobleman as Envoy to the Portuguese government, he being a Brigadier-general in Portugal. Whatever technical objection the noble Duke, in the exorcise of his ingenuity and experience, might make to the appointment, he (Earl Grey) could sec nothing in it that could appear to be hostile to the Portuguese government. Lord William Russell had no military duty to perform in Portugal for the British Government. He was sent there to watch the passing events—not to take any part in them. He was in constant correspondence with the Government at home, and the most perfect understanding subsisted between him and the Spanish Ambassador. But the noble Duke complained that Lord William Russell was intrusted with the power of peace and war. He (Earl Grey) was not aware that his power was so extensive. He had been intrusted with but one power, with which the noble Duke himself had been at one time invested; and that was to do a certain thing under a certain contingency. But it appeared that the noble Duke apprehended serious consequences, from the fact that Admiral Sartorius and other officers of the fleet of Don Pedro had ventured to raise British colours, from which the noble Duke inferred that the honour of the British flag required the interference of Admiral Parker to protect those vessels from the ships of war of Don Miguel.
§ Earl Grey
If the noble Duke did not 1379 say so, what did he say? There could be no apprehension that the British Admiral would be placed in such difficulty, or in any difficulty, by the improper conduct of the Terceira Admiral. It was quite true that some vessels under Admiral Sartorius did, on one occasion, hoist the British flag; but Admiral Parker sent word to the Commander of Don Pedro's fleet, that he would not permit any of those ships to make use of British colours. He had detained the House longer than he intended, upon a discussion into which he had been drawn unexpectedly, and at great inconvenience to himself. At another time he might be disposed to say more upon the subject, but in the present circumstances, he felt that it would be to overstep the strict line of his duty to go further into the subject. But thus much he must say, that on coming into office, his Majesty's Ministers found the state of Portugal and the relations of Great Britain with that country to be such, that on the one hand they could not pledge themselves to support the princess whose rights their predecessors had acknowledged, and on the other hand, they could do nothing that might cause the enterprise of her friends to miscarry.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that after what had fallen from the noble Earl opposite, he could not refrain from making a few observations in reply. He could not but take notice of the haste with which the Bill had been hurried through the House, and that was the reason why he had not been able to give a longer notice of his intention to introduce this discussion. This Bill had been read only a first time on Friday last, and had not given him time for delay. He did not think that he had introduced this subject irregularly, because, as it seemed to him, the finances of the country were most properly discussed in a debate on a Bill of this kind. The noble Earl had himself thought soon a former occasion, and had introduced a discussion not only on the public finances, but on other topics not so closely connected with the Bill. The noble Earl had told them that the Government did not consider themselves called on to lay on fresh taxes in order to make up the present deficiency in the public revenue. He did not want the Government to lay on fresh taxes. All he had said was, that there was a deficiency of 1,263,000l., and that that deficiency ought to be made up by some means, by the issue of Exchequer Bills, or by some other measure that would prevent any ill effect from the 1380 deficiency. A Finance Minister ought certainly to provide some remedy for such a deficiency. With respect to the question of Portugal, he had only wished to state his opinions in a manner which should create the least possible irritation, for he wished to create none, nor did he wish his observations to give rise to any untimely discussion. He was sorry that he had produced any irritation whatever in the mind of the noble Earl, and he certainly should not have made any further observations, but that the noble Earl had thrown reflections on the Government to which he had had the honour to belong: so that he trusted their Lordships would pardon him for detaining them a few moments, while he made some answer to those reflections. The noble Earl had stated, that that Government had been the cause of the usurpation of Don Miguel. Now that was a mistake in point of time; for it would be found that Don Miguel had been in Portugal when the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Goderich) was at the head of the Government. It was true that he (the Duke of Wellington) was in office, when Don Miguel assumed the government of Portugal. The noble Earl said, that at that time the British army was there, and might have prevented the usurpation. That was a mistake; the British army had been withdrawn before the usurpation. It was true that, before the army was withdrawn, Miguel had dissolved the chambers, and had given indications that it was not his intention to carry into effect the Constitution of the country; but he had given no indications of a resolution to usurp the Sovereign power; and when he did, what he did was done by a Decree of the Cortes; so that we should have had no right to interfere, even had we been able to do so; but he denied that we were able, for the army was withdrawn; and even if it had not been withdrawn, what was its force? Why it only amounted to 5,000 men, which would not have been enough to control Don Miguel. He denied, therefore, that the late Government had been the cause of the usurpation. When Don Miguel did usurp the sovereign authority, the late Government did all they could; they discontinued all diplomatic relations with Portugal, and ordered the Minister there to return home. The noble Earl had said that the state of things just mentioned existed when he came into office; and that the late Government had been willing to recognise Don Miguel provided he would 1381 grant a general amnesty. It would have been fair had the noble Earl stated what had previously occurred. The first thing the late Government did was to advise a reconciliation between the two branches of the House of Braganza, and they referred the matter to Brazil. The Emperor of Brazil was willing enough that they should go to war for him, but he would not go to war, because in fact, he had no resources of his own to do so. What, then, became their duty; Their duty was, if possible, to place Portugal in the society of nations if they could, and to endeavour to induce Don Miguel to do that which would have the effect of attaining that object. For that purpose they called on Don Miguel to reconcile the country to him by some act of grace towards those who had been connected with the former Government of the country. But it was not true that they had wanted to impose any condition with respect to that act of grace. The principle on which they acted was, to induce Don Miguel to give an act of amnesty without any condition whatever, because it was their wish not to interfere in any manner whatever with the government of Portugal; and it would have been interfering, had they made any condition. If Don Miguel had granted the amnesty, undoubtedly he would have been recognised; and when that paragraph was inserted in his Majesty's Speech on the subject, they had every reason to expect that that would be the case. From what had happened since, he had no hesitation in saying that he did wish to recognize that Prince, in order to remove Portugal from the unfortunate situation in which she stood—not because he was averse to the claim of right of the Princess, nor because he wished by any act of his to decide upon that claim; but because he wanted to establish a relation with the King de facto, so as to enable him to carry on the Government of the country with advantage to that country and to the security and friendship of the nations around her. If he had continued in office, he should, he believed, have effected that object; but it was not effected before he left office because the amnesty was not given. The noble Earl had said, that the way in which the present contest must end would be decided by the question whether the prince now on the throne, should be able to maintain himself. He did not see how any prince should be able to maintain himself against such a pressure as an invading army on his frontier and a fleet in the 1382 Tagus. The noble Earl had said that the late Government had left the affair of Portugal in a difficult and delicate state, and that the present Ministers had so found it when they came into office. That was true; but since then he, and his noble friends who acted with him, had often pressed the noble Earl to recognize Don Miguel. The emperor of Brazil had it not in his power to make war for the benefit of his daughter; he did not possess the means. She could then only hope to be restored by revolutionary means, which could be employed by those bands of adventurers that were paid by God knows whom, and that were ready to act at the desire of any one against a prince who had been placed on the throne by the Cortes, and who was maintained there, as he believed, by the good will and affection of his subjects. He had a great deal to say on the question of the neutrality of this Government, but he should not do so now, as he did not wish to create any additional irritation. He should only observe, that he could not concur with what the noble Earl had stated as to the neutrality that had been observed in this contest. He should not, however, enter into the question at the present moment. The noble Earl had misunderstood him, in supposing that he feared Admiral Parker would interfere for the assistance of Sartorius. He did not fear any such thing. What he complained of was, that Sartorius had used British colours, when engaged in the service of Don Pedro, blockading the Tagus. The noble Earl had removed the impression he had had on that subject, by stating the remonstrance made by Admiral Parker, and with that part of the explanation given by the noble Earl he was perfectly satisfied. All the imputations which he had feared could be cast upon the Government or the Admiral were gone; but it seemed that he was correct in the fact that British colours had been improperly hoisted. All that was probably owing to the unfortunate situation in which we were placed, in being there with a fleet at the time that war was carrying on. Another point on which he had been misunderstood was on the fact, that the transports and the steam-boats attached to Don Pedro's expedition were all English. He had put the case, that Don Miguel's ships should take one of these transports or steam-boats, which all bore English colours; and he wished to know whether the noble Earl considered it the duty of Admiral Parker to interpose to protect these ships? 1383 If the noble Earl so considered it, then he must ask whether that was not such an interference as put an end to all neutrality? And supposing that question to be answered in the affirmative, he would then put the question, whether such things would be done in a case where France or America were the belligerents? Another point to which he wished to call the noble Earl's attention was that of the blockade. The strangest thing of all was that this blockade was not a complete blockade, but that there was a daily communication between the Admiral outside and the General within. Why the moment that such a communication took place it vitiated the blockade; for the noble Earl must know, that if anybody violated the blockade there was an end of it altogether. Now he understood that it had been violated, and it appeared that American vessels had gone in. With regard to the appointment of brigadier-general Russell, he must say that he did not recollect any other instance of such an appointment where the person appointed held military rank in the country.
§ Earl Grey
observed that he was not aware he had shown any degree of irritation whatever. He certainly felt none; and the noble Duke, he believed, was mistaken in thinking that he had exhibited any. He himself had been mistaken by the noble Duke. He had not said that the late Government had been the cause of the usurpation; he had only said, that on entering office the present Government had found things in a very difficult state, and that in what they had done they had acted on the principles he had stated. He must, however, differ from the noble Duke as to the right possessed by this country to interfere at the time of the usurpation He thought that the Government of this country had, at that time, a right to interfere, after the invitation given to Don Miguel to come here—after his visit here—and after he had been sent over on an understanding of a most positive kind, that he should not usurp the power of his niece; his direct violation of that understanding did give to the Government of this country a right to interfere. It was another question whether such an interference was required by policy. The noble Duke then said that the British army was withdrawn at the time that the usurpation took place. But it was there when the conduct of Don Miguel had been such that the British Minister in Portugal thought himself called on to prevent the payment of that money 1384 which had been raised in this country as a loan, under the sanction of the British Government. Surely the "indications" of his intentions must have been pretty clear, when a British Minister felt compelled to resort to such a measure. He was glad to find that the noble Duke was perfectly satisfied with the explanation as to Admiral Parker's conduct upon the hoisting of the British flag by Admiral Sartorius. As to the statement that it was used by the rest of the vessels attached to Don Pedro's expedition, he believed that the noble Duke was mistaken on that point, for that statement was positively denied. Supposing, however, for the purpose of the question put by the noble Duke, that the statement was correct, his answer was this: if he knew anything of the principles of the law of nations, there could be no doubt on the matter. If British ships engaged in the service of any foreign prince, they forfeited all claim to the protection of this country. So that, if any of the sailors, soldiers, or others of the forces of Don Pedro, were captured while in his service, they would have no right to expect the power of this country to be employed for their protection. He stated this, as the principle of neutrality which this Government recognised—as that which had hitherto been adopted—and as that which he wished every one to be fully aware would be strictly observed.
§ Bill read a third time.