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*xecutive power had the full right of determining, in the first instance, on peace and war, was a doctrine which he by no means wished to controvert. But had not the house and the country a right to have it made out, that the conduct hitherto pursued by his majesty's ministers was not unwise and impolitic? that improper concessions had not been made 2 that the country was not unnecessarily again to be plunged in war? Till this expla– nation was given, he could not, consistently with his public duty, continue the same confidence he had formerly reposed. The chancellor of the exchequer, in reply, thought it his duty, on the present occasion, to follow, the same course which he thought it expedient to pursue when the motion for the address to his majesty was under consideration. He then stated, that, in the present circumstances, any explanation was what he conceived the house had no reason to expect; and to this opiniqn he still adhered. If prudential reasons existed, which rendered any explanation inexpedient on a former evening, he asked, whether, acting on the same principle, his majesty's ministers ought now to give that explanation. It was impossible for any gentleman to show that the same causes did not operate with equal force. The honourable gentleman, however, insisted on the right of the house to explanation. He (Mr. Addington) did not mean at all to dispute the ultimate right of the house to a full and fair explanation on this subject. The points, however, on which different members required explanation were various and discordant. One member says, Let us not hazard a war; and, therefore, let ministers show

us that their system is conciliatory. Another party are afraid of too much concession, and nothing would satisfy them but a full explanation, to prove that the national honour had not been compromised. What advantage then was to be derived from explanation amid such contrariety of opinion? while, on the other hand, the inconveniences of explanation, under the present circumstances, were obvious. It must be clear, said he, that when negotiations are pending which have given rise to considerable disputes, if they are brought to an amicable adjustment, this can only be actomplished by concessions on one side or the other. . He asked; then, would it be prudent that the nature of these concessions should, in the present stage of the business, be explained He believed that a great majority of the house thought with him, that such an explanation would be highly inexpedient. From what he then said, he begged, however, that no inference might be drawn to countenance the idea, that ministers had consented, or would consent, to any improper concessions. Mr. Addington concluded by saying, whether gentlemen should or should not be satisfied with the explanation which might ultimately be given, he was ready to hear every objection rather than violate that duty which prescribed to him the impropriety of affording any explanaticn of matters then in dispute betwixt the two governIneutS. - o

Mr. Dent observed, that, in the late war, we had upwards of 130,000 men engaged in our sea service, The peace establishment had reduced the number to 50,000. The righthonourable gentlemanopposite É. chancellor of the exchequer)

K 2 had

had proposed a vote of 10,000, leaving us an establishment of 60,000. Now he should propose, that instead of 10 we should have 25,000, which would give us a naval force of 75,000. This he supposed would be sufficient for any common exigency; and he would wish ministers and the country to be safe beyond all possibility of doubt. He concluded by moving his amendment. Mr. Fox was as ready as any member to vote for the proposed addition of seamen, on the principle that they were necessary for the public service; but he had, at present, no better ground for his vote, than if 25,000, 100,000, or any other number had been proposed. His objection rested on this plain constitutional ground, that, as representatives of the people, in the proper discharge of their duty, they had a right to have the causes of these increased preparations explained; not be called upon to vote on the unlimited confidence which they chose to repose for a time in ministers. He had always understood, that the prerogative of the crown to conclude peace was clear and undisputed; and he could have no difficulty in agreeing with the sentiments which his honourable friend (Mr. Francis) entertained on this point. He certainly did agree with him, that those who had counselled his majesty to conclude any peace were responsible for the merit of the terms of that peace, and were liable to censure if they appeared inconsistent with the national honour and safety. He could not however allow, that, after the peace had been concluded, and after its terms had been canvassed and approved, if circumstances occurred which rendered the continuance of peace impossi

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ble, ministers were necessarily to be accused of having, by their conduct, produced these circumstances. With respect to his majesty's right of declaring war, there was little doubt in theory; but, in practice, a very important distinction existed. In this declaration might be involved every principle of a free constitution; every thing connected with the property, nay the very existence, .."the subject. The sovereign might be ill advised; and experience had fully proved that this was not merely a possible case. The country might be plunged into a war, of which it was impossible to see either the equity or the necessity. It might be continued against the will of the parliament, or the people ; and the whole or part of every man's property might be wrested from him, if, in practice, this prerogative of the crown were carried to all the extent which theory supposed. But such a construction of the prerogative struck every one, in a moment, as monstrous; and while, in theory, said he, we admit the power of the sovereign to declare war, in practice and in substance we possess the privilege by which alone that declaration can be carried into effect. This privilege was founded in the neans of giving or withholding the necessary supplies. That house must, therefore, be necessarily parties to every war. How was this to be done? Why, the mode of their becoming parties was simple. His majesty, in all cases, stated to them the grounds on which he had thought a declaration of war necessary; and he called upon them to grant the supplies necessary for the prosecution of such contest. They all knew, that instances were not wanting, in which the sove


reign had been compelled to relinquish a war, because parliament, convinced of its injustice and ruinous effects, no longer afforded the supplies. He would not here determine how far the American war was put an end to by the voice of parliament; but there was one striking instance, in which a war was put an end to by the exercise of this constitutional power; and that was the instance in which the parliament of Charles II. compelled that prince to relinquish the Dutch war. Now, how did the case stand at present 2 and here he would rest his argument. We knew that, in practice, armaments preceded any official communication from the throne, or any vote of supply; and he trusted that, if danger really existed, armaments

were ão, going on with a rapidity correspondent to the emergency on which they were founded. The certain effect of the vote was only to make the house direct parties to any war to which these armaments might be applied. What he objected to, then, was simply, that he had heard no grounds stated to justify any extraordinary preparation; and therefore he must, on constitutional principles, enter his protest against the mode of proceeding which had been adopted. He hoped he mightbe allowed to reason hypothetically respecting the independence of parliament in granting supplies for carrying on the war. He trusted that they were not necessarily to be constantly guided by a spirit of humble docility, though their independence might appear more clearly in theory, than in any cases of modern or recent experience. If, unfortunately, they should be doomed to a renewal of hostilities, he hoped that the object of the war would be clearly and

distinctly understood. What were the subjects that might eventually lead to such an unfortunate result, he professed to be totally ignorant. Whether they referred to the possession of Malta, the evacuation of Alexandria, or whatever other point of discussion they involved, he had no means of forming an opinion. He should just say generally, that if our national rights were involved, if attempts had been made to lower that rank which we had been accustomed to hold among the states of Europe, and all attempts at amicable adjustment had failed, then he had no difficulty in saying that a war, undertaken under such circumstances, would be just. Of the necessity and policy of such a war, no man could for a moment doubt. Mr. Fox concluded by declaring that he should not vote against the mo

tion. Mr. Burroughs, after some prefatory remarks, observed, as to the call upon ministers for explanation, that he concurred in the position that they were bound to withhold supplies for carrying on war until they knew the grounds and causes of the rupture. But he begged leave to remind the committee, that we were not at war (a cry of Heart hear ! from the treasurybench); we were engaged in discussions, which might end in war, or might end in peace; and deeply as he should deplore the renewal of hostilities, it was to him matter of much consolation, that the present proposition of voting 10,000 seamen only, was so limited as to show that it was really for the cautionary purpose stated by the king's message. If ministers had applied for as great a force as that proposed by the honourable gentleman near him (Mr. Dent); if they K 3. had had desired to add 25,000 seamen to our present establishment, or had proposed its being raised to the amount at which it stood in any year of the war lately waged with France, he should have felt much greater fears for the peace that they had made. The present ministers had merited the gratitude of their country for that peace; and he knew not” that there could be any higher claim to confidence than their vigilant attention to the discharge of the first and highest duty that they owed us, that of preventing our being taken by surprise. This he took as the object of their vote at present; and that it was the real object, no man, he thought, could doubt. Hitherto no actual aggression had taken place, no hostilities had been comImenced, no declaration of war had been made. If, indeed, we were actually involved in war, he should concur in calling for the disclosures urged by the honourable gentleman: but as that was not the case, and a short time must determine what was to be the issue of our discussions, it was premature to call on his majesty’s ministers for such disclosures; and if they were then to comply with the desire of the honourable gentleman on the floor (Mr. Fox), and of the honourable gentleman near him (Mr. Francis), they would, in his cpinion, betray their duty to their sovereign and their country. Lord Hawkesbury acquiesced with Mr. Fox on the general constitutional principle on which he seemed disposed to ground his observations; and differed with him only respecting the application he had made of it. In cases like the present, where the objects in view were not brought to a conclusion, and where measures simply of

precaution were proposed, ministers might think it their duty not to afford more information than what might justify the measure they brought forward. After the circumstances which called for that measure were brought to issue— then, if the degree of information that had been afforded to the house appeared insufficient, was it not in the power of the house to move an address to his majesty for the production of additional and more satisfactory information ? His lordship adverted to an expression which dropped from the honourable gentleman (Mr. Fox); namely, . that in the vote given on the question then before the house, the house would be committed to approve a war. He replied, that the house should not give its countenance to any war, unless it were in complete possession of the grounds on which that war was to be entered on, and thereby be enabled to judge whether it were just and necessary, or otherwise. But neither by the vote of that night, nor by that given on a former night, on the question of the address, was the house by any means committed to support a war. Ministers called merely for the means of taking such precautions as prudence might suggest while negotiations were subsisting, and while preparations were making on the part of one of the powers, which, on a contrary issue from that which was earnestly looked for, might be converted into means of hostile aggression. The same information was, therefore, not to be expected in case of an armament proposed under such circumstances, as if it was definitively intended for the resumption of hostilities.—In the conclusion of his speech, his lordship objected to the proposed amendment of Mr. *::: T,

Mr. Fox in explanation said, that he was happy to have the noble lord's concurrence in the constitutional principle he had advanced. When he said that the vote of this night would make them parties to the war, he perhaps might have expressed himself more accurately, by saying that it would make them parties to the armament: and, should the armament produce a war, then would not the house be, indirectly at least, parties to it? It was notorious that armaments were preparing in the ports of France and Holland; but their destination was not positively known; yet it might be proper to arm in consequence: but the house was not merely told of the existence of those armaments; they were also informed that important negotiations were subsisting between the two countries. When, therefore, the discussion was coupled with the armament, the house was made a party, not only to the armament, but was also called upon to sanction the importance of the negotiation with which it was connected. Lord Hawkesbury explained, and said, that if, on the mere ground of an armament on the part of a rival power, it was right to propose a proportionate armament on the side of this country, surely such a measure of precantion must be doubly necessary when the armament was connected with a negotiation which possibly might terminate in a rupture. Mr. Canning, in a speech of some Tength, insisted with Mr. Fox upon the right of the house to further information. He did not mean at the instant—that was matter of discretion—but they were entitled to a romise, at least, of information ereafter, when the discussions thall have been terminated, and

when the objects of them could be disclosed without danger. He voted for 10,000 seamen, or any other number that ministers pleased to ask; not only to enable government to be prepared against any sudden invasion, or any hostile agression which might be committed § the armaments of France and Holland, in any part of the world, against the rights and interests of this country; but, further, to enable them to bring, at length, to a point all the discussions which were at that moment pending between them and the first consul of France. He inquired not, he had no wish to know, on what subjects those discussions turned; in the confidence that, when they surrendered up au account of the trust which they (the house) were then committing to them, they would show what they had done with it, and satisfy the house that they had employed it to the best advantage: but he warned them, that, if the contrary should be the case [here Mr. Canning gave way to a declamato strain at some length], he should then accuse ministers of having disappointed the vote of that night, and abused the trust j in them,-of having deceived parliament, and betrayed and undone the nation. After several other members had spoken, Mr.Canning advised his honourable friend (Mr. Dent) to withdraw his amendment; observing, that, if he persisted in it, it might endanger that unanimity which was so very desirable on the present occasion.— Mr. Dent acquiesced, with the consent of the house. The question was then put on the resolution, and agreed to, nem. con. .. On the 10th cf March another message was received by the house, which stated, “that, in consequence

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