Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

oment of our foreign affairs depend peace or war, the • tranquil pursuits of industry, and the amount of taxsation which must be levied in this country. For • by a single blunder in the conduct of our foreign affairs, the most provident arrangement of finances

ever planned may in a moment be cancelled and • destroyed.

The most prominent form in which foreign affairs, as treated in Parliament, come before the public, is that of debates on matters such as current wars, pending treaties, treaties lately signed or ratified, negotiations brought to light by the Parliamentary papers laid on the tables of the Houses, and the supplies of funds to carry out a foreign policy to which the Government has more or less decisively committed the country. But, in all these cases, the practical initiative, either in action or discussion, begins with the Ministers of the Crown, and the functions of Parliament are rather exercised in controlling, directing, stimulating, or resisting the action of the Crown, than in originating a distinct course of action of its own. An exception to this practical limitation of the functions of Parliament was presented on the occasion of the discussion and vote which took place in 1873 on Mr. Richard's motion with respect to Arbitration. Mr. Richard endeavoured to commit Parliament and the Government to a distinct and novel course of policy, which was repudiated by one of the strongest Governments of modern times, that of Mr. Gladstone, but, as the division showed, repudiated without success. The House of Commons, in fact, affirmed a right, co-ordinate with that of the Crown, to initiate a foreign policy of its own. It was on the 8th of July, 1873, that Mr. Richard moved in the House of International Arbitration. .

181

016,

Commons that an humble address be presented to Her • Majesty, praying that she would be graciously pleased

to direct her principal Secretary of State for Foreign • Affairs to enter into communication with foreign • Powers with a view to the further improvement of • International Law, and the establishment of a general

and permanent system of International Arbitration.' The motion was opposed mainly on the ground that it was premature; and Mr. Gladstone, who saw great *value in the motion of his honourable friend,' said “he ' was convinced that this question, for a long time to * come, would only make practical progress by a steady adherence on the part of those Powers who are rightly

inclined, and convinced, and persuaded on the subject, 'to the principle,—first, of governing themselves by “justice and moderation, and next, of losing no oppor. “tunity of recommending the peaceful settlement of

disputes between nations. The motion was carried against the Government by a majority of ten.

It is thus in connection with the Prerogative of the Crown and its exercise that the Parliamentary attitude towards Foreign Affairs will be more properly treated of. But there is a certain kind of action due to the relations of this country with foreign countries, and of Englishmen with foreigners, which, from first to last, can only be carried out by Parliament itself. This action relates to, 1, foreigners in the British dominions, 2, British subjects in foreign dominions, 3, the giving of legal and statutory effect to the dictates of International Law.

1. (1.) It has always been doubted whether there is any right, independently of special Convention, to the extradition of criminals who have fled from the scene of their crime for refuge in a foreign country. The practice in this country for a long time back has been for the Crown to make special Conventions with one State and another for the purpose of extradition, specifying in every such Convention the crimes, according to their designation in each country, for which alone extradition would be granted, and also prescribing in general terms the formalities and safeguards of personal liberty which were to attend the act of extradition in every particular case. An Act of Parliament has then been obtained, on the solicitation of the Ministers of the Crown, for giving effect to the special Convention just concluded. A noticeable change in the policy and practice of extradition was made by a Statute passed in 1870 and amended in 1873.' This Act was to apply to all future treaties of extradition, which must consequently be made in contemplation of its provisions; and all need for further occasional legislation was superseded. Besides amending and much enlarging the list of offences which had been customarily included in treaties of extradition, the Statute provided some entirely new guarantees against abuses by the Executive, whether brought about by carelessness or by connivance with the despotical agents of a foreign Power. Henceforth, extradition could only be accorded when the evidence was of exactly the same quality and amount as would be needed to procure the issue of a warrant for the apprehension, or the committal for trial, of a person charged with the commission of the same crime in this country. The Police Magistrate, or Secretary of State, might refuse to surrender, if in the view of either of

| 33 and 34 Vict. c. 52; 36 and 37 Vict. c. 60.

[blocks in formation]

them it appeared that the real purpose of the requisition was to punish the fugitive for a political offence. A period of fifteen days was to intervene between the committal of the accused to prison and his surrender, in order to afford him a fair opportunity of having the grounds of his committal judicially investigated on the return to a writ of Habeas Corpus. The Secretary of State was empowered, at any time during the proceedings, to order the prisoner to be discharged from custody. It was also enacted that a fugitive criminal

shall not be surrendered to a foreign State unless pro'vision is made by the law of that State, or by arrangeóment, that the fugitive criminal shall not, until he 'has been restored, or had an opportunity of returning,

to Her Majesty's dominions, be detained or tried in " that foreign State for any offence committed prior to

his surrender other than the extradition crime proved * by the facts on which the surrender is grounded. A practical difficulty arose in the application of this Act in 1876, when the United States Government sought to obtain the surrender of a criminal (Winslow), to whose extradition they had an undoubted right under a subsisting treaty, named the Ashburton Treaty, which had been made in 1842, and was to continue in force till notice should be given to the contrary; but to whose extradition they would only be entitled, according to the Act of 1870, on the condition of their giving an assurance to the British Government that the prisoner should not be tried for any other offences than the one in respect of which extradition had been accorded. Apart from all treaty considerations, it might have been argued in favour of the United States' claim that by his flight the criminal could not obtain any immunity or indemnity for the consequences of acts done through the whole course of his life previous to it; and that the purpose of the formalities insisted on was not to cast a mantle of protection round real criminals, but to secure that no person dwelling under British protection be delivered up to a foreign Government on specious and unreal grounds. But the British Government was bound by the new Act of Parliament; and the only issue from the difficulty was found in concessions by the United States Government, and in the making of a new treaty embodying the provisions of the Act.

(2.) The well-established British doctrine that no person could ever divest himself of the character of British citizenship when once it had attached, had led, in the circumstances of modern colonisation, travel, foreign residence and service, and commercial intercourse, to ambiguities and perplexities, in respect both of rights and of duties, which urgently called for Parliamentary relief. On the recommendation of a Royal Commission, the Naturalisation Act of 1870 was passed,' which entirely revolutionised the older doctrines, and established the position of foreigners in this country, and of Englishmen abroad, on a basis conformable to the requirements of civilisation and free international intercourse. By this Act, for the first time, aliens were enabled to own and to convey all kinds of property, excepting British shipping, under no other restrictions than those which apply to British citizens. A British citizen who became voluntarily naturalised in a foreign State was henceforth to cease to be a British citizen,

33 and 34 Vict. c. 14.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »