HL Deb 19 February 1836 vol 31 cc611-3
The Marquess of Londonderry

rose to submit a Motion to the House for an Address to the Crown. He felt it necessary to call the attention of the noble Viscount at the head of his Majesty's Government to the circumstances which induced him still to press for the production of the papers; and he could not help thinking, notwithstanding what the noble Viscount had asserted to the contrary, that those twenty-seven Spanish prisoners had been taken in violation of all the principles of national warfare. Upon that subject the noble Viscount had contradicted him; but it was not for him to enlarge upon the topic of what the law of nations was, but this he must be permitted to state, that according to one of the highest legal authorities in the country, the conduct of the individual commanding the English steam vessel the Royal Tar, in taking those Spaniards prisoners, could not be justified, and indeed it was an act of piracy. Their Lordships might, perhaps, do him the favour to recollect, that on his pressing those questions, which he did last July, he had reason to believe, that certain communications were made on the part of his Majesty's Government to the Spanish Government, for the liberation of those prisoners. He considered himself perfectly justified in seeking to obtain the information for which he was about to more, especially as he believed, in consequence of the House having urged last Session that measures ought to be taken to procure the release of the twenty-seven prisoners, or rather he ought to have called them passengers on board a vessel, for they were nothing more.—He was fully persuaded if there were any bonâ Fide intention on the part of Ministers to press for the release or exchange of those prisoners, the Government of the Queen of Spain must listen to the application; and Ministers might accomplish much also towards mitigating those horrible atrocities and barbarities which so disgraced the present system of warfare in that country. Under the quadripartite treaty his Majesty's Government might withhold supplies, and thus produce a favourable effect on the Queen's Government, by requiring an abandonment, or softening down of the atrocities and cruelties to which he had alluded. It was the more necessary now, because the state of the parties engaged in the war had changed, for there were at the present moment 10,000 or 12,000 British subjects in that country, and the species of barbarity and atrocity which they witnessed, must have a demoralising effect upon their minds; it therefore behoved Ministers to interfere, for when these men returned to England, their conduct would be influenced by such frightful scenes. He did hope, therefore, that Government would adopt some steps to put an end to such a species of warfare, and press the necessity of doing so upon the Government of the Queen of Spain. If justice did not call upon them to interfere, humanity did. The noble Marquess then concluded with moving, "That a humble address be presented to his Majesty, praying that his Majesty would be pleased to direct that there be laid before this House a copy of the letter despatched by his Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in or about the month of September last, to the Spanish Government, interceding for the liberation or exchange of the twenty-seven passengers taken on board the Isabella Anne, in the month of February, 1835, together with the answer to the same."

Viscount Melbourne

had no objection to the production of the papers particularized in the motion; and when those papers were produced, it would be for the noble Marquess to judge whether or not he should found any further motion upon the subject.

Motion agreed to.

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