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said thai, he begged to add, that neither the close argument, nor the eloquence of the noble Lord, nor his great authority, political or legal, had sufficed to wean him from his previous opinion. What he had before expressed it still remained; and accordingly, whatever weight thai private opinion might have in the affairs, which came under his direction, their Lordships knew in what way it would operate. If any difference of opinion existed on the subject between himself and the noble Viscount, or any other noble Lord, he might regret it; but he must still venture to think that his own construction of the treaty was correct.
Lord Brougham said, the noble Earl's pertinacity in adhering to his opinion did not lessen his conviction of the palpable error of that opinion, or that by acting upon that opinion the noble Earl would be guilty of putting in peril the honour i and reputation of this country, and the peace of Europe, by committing a most flagrant violation and outrage on one of the most solemn principles of international law. But if the noble Earl's perseverance in error had not increased his opinion of the noble Earl's wisdom, it had at least increased his opinion of the propriety of the division which he had pressed upon their Lordships the other night. For, notwithstanding that the First Lord of the Treasury entertained and expressed the sounder opinion, yet the First Lord of the Admiralty was the person who was to issue the orders, if any were to be issued at all, and the noble Earl now had stated, that in that erroneous opinion he still persisted. He would now only put a question to the noble Earl (Minto). There was no doubt that the argument which had been used the other night against the production of those orders was, that it might be very inconvenient to produce instructions that were of a contingent nature; but the argument could not always be used, and as the time must sooner or later arrive when no risk to the public service could be incurred, and when the contingency no longer existed, he hoped that then those instructions would be found to be in the ordinary official form, signed by two Lords of the Admiralty, and perhaps countersigned, so that then there might be no objection to their production.
The Duke of Wellington was understood to say, that there was no ground for the apprehensions which the noble and
learned Lord had seemed to entertain, in consequence of the erroneous opinion of the noble Earl; for, as he had stated on a former occasion, although the private opinion of the First Lord of the Admiralty might be of importance, with respect to the business of minor consequence connected with that office, such was not the case with regard to great questions of policy, for then it must be the opinion of the whole Cabinet which was to direct the proceedings of Government; and the opinion of the noble Earl, whatever respect might be due to it, would not be entirely conclusive on the subject. As to the particular papers which had been moved for on that occasion, he begged to say, that the inclination of his mind was always to avoid, as far as possible, calling on the Government to produce papers of that nature. He did not think it was the practice of the House to do so; and he knew that sometimes serious injury resulted to the public service from the production of documents of that description which depended upon some contingency. He knew nothing as to giving confidence, or not giving confidence to the Government; but he did not think it right to call on the Government to give papers which he knew, if he were sitting on the other side of the House, he should not be inclined to produce. Such was the principle on which he generally acted; but he must confess that at first, when he had heard this paper defended by so important a Member of the Government as the noble Earl (Minto), and the particular officer who had carried it into execution, be did feel that it was necessary that the House should see the paper, because it went much farther than could have been expected. But then, when the noble Viscount came forward and said, that he did not concur in that opinion, but his (the Duke of Wellington's) opinion on the subject, he did not feel it to be his duty to press for the paper; but he reverted to his original intention when he came down to the House, which was, to vote against the granting of the papers.
Lord Brougham admitted, that the general rule as laid down by the noble Duke was quite correct. But he considered that a case had been fully made out for an exception to that rule. The noble Earl had persisted in his error, and who knew whether it might not be now acted upon? Who knew that the noble Earl
ment for indemnity. The state of the case, was briefly this; in 1813 a convention had been entered into at Madrid, when Sir W. A'Court was British ambassador at that court, by which the Spanish government was bound to indemnify those persons who had suffered in the war in the South American colonies. That Convention was ratified by Ferdinand on his restoration, and a commission was appointed to carry i t into effect, but little hope was entertained, that the obligations under it could ever be fulfilled. He remembered, that Mr. Canning had spoken despondingly of the success of that commission, but claims were registered under it to the amount of two millions sterling on the part of British subjects, and Spanish claims to the amount of twelve hundred thousand. Subsequently, however, a compromise had been entered into, by which the British claimants compounded their claims, for 900,000;., and the Spanish for 200,000/ That compromise had been carried into effect; of the 900,000/., 600,000/. had been paid in specie at the time, and 300,000/. had been created in bonds, on which the interest had been paid regularly till within the last three years. Now, he having been the person who had negociated that treaty, the persons who held those bonds imagined, that he would probably take an interest in its fulfilment, and had, therefore, applied to him frequently to lay their case before Parliament; but he had dissuaded them from petitioning as he had thought, that they might safely rely on the honour and credit of the Government to see, that a treaty of that kind with such conditions should be carried into effect; but when he found, that the whole amount was only 30,000/. a-year, lie considered it impossible, whatever might be the state of the Spanish government, that that sum should not have been paid, if the Government here had used proper means to enforce its payment. Culpable as he thought the remissness of Government had been, he did not wish to indulge in any unnecessary reprobation of their conduct; he only wanted to stimulate them to exertion—to whet their almost blunted purpose, and to force upon them the necessity of exacting that act of justice, which, he was sure, there could be no difficulty in obtaining. He would just ask their Lordships—supposing, that this had been a claim on Don Carlos, and that he had been successful in the civil war—
would they not have heard long since of a threat of reprisals? And did they not believe, that if a threat of reprisals had been issued the money would have been produced before this time? If fraud and dishonesty were practised by a government, even though it were a liberal government, such ought to be the course pursued. These parties, then, had not merely a claim on the justice of the Spanish government, but they had also a claim on the honour and good faith of this country, which was bound to see that that treaty to which those persons had submitted on the faith of their own Government, was strictly fulfilled. Such, indeed, had been the confidence which that circumstance inspired, that at a time when Spanish funds of every other description were unsaleable in Europe, these bonds not merely kept their former standing in the market but actually rose in value. He did say, then, that if these bonds were found to be no better security for payment from the Spanish government than any others, the loss ought not to fall upon those holders, but that they were entitled to be indemnified by their own Government. He would now present the petition. He would not make a motion on this occasion ; but he thought, that these parties ought to receive some redress. If, however, nothing could be done, he thought, that the House ought to come to some resolution on the subject.
Viscount Melbourne said, that persons having claims had undoubtedly a right to call on the Government of this country to enforce those claims, and to see, that they were observed by the Spanish government. So far as this, he concurred with the noble Earl. The noble Earl also said, the Governmenthad not taken measures necessary to obtain that redress which the subjects of her Majesty had a right to ask. Undoubtedly the noble Earl could not expect, him to agree with him in that respect. He thought if the noble Earl had been acquainted with the statements made by our Minister at Madrid, and the manner in which he had pressed these claims, that the noble Earl would have been satisfied, that there had been no want of due diligence, or want of consideration towards the rights of her Majesty's subjects on the part of the Government. The noble Earl said, that whatever might be the state of the finances of Spain, that the Government ought to have enforced this payment. This was a subject upon which he was un