HC Deb 01 June 1820 vol 1 cc774-98
Lord Castlereagh

rose, pursuant to the notice he had given, to move for leave to bring in a Bill to continue the Alien act, and to abolish naturalization, arising from the purchase of stock in Scotland. The bill intended to continue the act for the same period during which it had been lately in force namely, two years. This was the fifth time which this question had been brought under the consideration of parliament. In calling the attention of the House to a subject with which it must be perfectly familiar, after the repeated discussions which it had undergone since the conclusion of peace, he did not consider it necessary to go into any wide extent of observation. He should confine himself within a narrow range, and, in truth; had intended to preface his motion with a few sentences only, till he understood that an hon. and gallant general, and some other hon. members near him, had intimated a determination to oppose at this early stage the measure which he had in contemplation. He did not mean to complain of this proceeding on their part; it was quite open to them to act in this manner with reference to a subject the nature and tenour of which they so thoroughly understood. The proposed measure was regarded on the other side of the House with a great deal of constitutional jealousy: it was imagined that it went to alter the established habits of the country as respected foreigners, and the avowed intention to oppose if on this principle made it his duty to state the grounds on which parliament was again called upon to renew it. It was not probable that it would be contended either that any disposition to abuse the powers which the Alien act vested in his majesty's government had been indicated, or that any actual abuses had been committed. He was confident that, when the returns were produced, the small number of persons sent out of the country would raise not the argument of abuse, but rather an argument that there was no adequate necessity for continuing the law. But the House would allow him to remark, that the paucity of such cases did not prove that the measure might be dispensed with, or that its existence was not conducive to the public safety. It was no evidence that great danger would not arise if the government had not this preventive power in its hands. Many foreigners might be tempted to come over here with improper views, were it not for their knowledge that government had the power to send them forth. The number at present in this country was 25,000, being a considerable increase on the number in 1818; and of these very few comparatively were here for commercial purposes. He was aware that foreign merchants were peculiarly favoured by Magna Charta, and some of our older statutes; but the practical question was, whether, in the present circumstances of Europe, and of this country, so large a number of foreigners ought to be left exempt from all control on the part of government. No one more than himself respected that free and generous spirit of the country, which afforded a sanctuary for distressed foreigners, which extended to them the protection of the laws, and did not hold them accountable for acts done in other countries. But they could not, in his opinion, safely carry the principle so far as to admit a multitude of foreigners who might come for purposes hostile to our own domestic peace, or in order to carry on their machinations against foreign states. The measure was to be justified, therefore, with reference to British objects and British security: its tendency was not to refuse protection, but to guard our internal repose, and to prevent any compromise of our amicable relations with other powers. As to the necessity of such a measure having ceased with the war, he begged leave to say that parliament had more than once overruled that proposition. There was also a material difference between the principle of the war Alien act, and the provisions of the measure now under consideration, and as it had been framed since the establishment of peace. 'During the continuance of the war, every foreigner who visited this country was presumed to come with inimical feelings, and he was placed under the inspection of the police. He was constrained to reside in a particular district, and treated in every point of view as a suspected person. He might be sent forth either for special reasons or on: violating the regulations which had been prescribed for his observance. The law underwent a material change on the arrival of peace. There was now no presumption against the foreigner: he was permitted to reside where, and to change his residence as often as, he pleased. All that was required of him was, to deliver; his name at the port where he landed, and to sign it before a peace-officer. Every facility of access was then granted, and he was at liberty to enjoy in its full latitude the hospitality of this country. It was only when supposed to be engaged in schemes dangerous to the state that a power was reserved of sending him forth as in time of war. If this policy were wise on the return of peace, he did not think that what had subsequently occurred afforded any reason for leaving the executive government more helpless than at that period. It was very true, indeed, that the foreign war had ceased, but it was equally true that a species of internal war might exist within the country—a species of war more dangerous to its peace, and more embarrassing for the executive government to contend with in support of the public safety, than that open and undisguised warfare which might be waged by a declared enemy. He thought that the events which had passed within their own country of late years, must convince gentlemen, that, as far as internal danger had existed, it was more malignant, it was of a more decided and extensive character, and aimed more directly at the subversion of the constitution, than any which could have been supposed likely to menace their safety at the time when the Alien law passed. The House might ask, "What have the treasons in this country, which have been proved to exist, in due course of law—what have they to do with the non-admission of aliens?" If gentlemen could persuade themselves that foreigners never did, and never could, and never would lend their assistance to the disaffected—if it could be supposed that, under all circumstances, no foreigners could be found to assist in combining the treason that might exist in this country with their own views against the state—if those treasons could never be used in furtherance of the hostile efforts of other states, then indeed the argument would have some weight. But this was by no means a fair presumption, and, if not, the argument was fallacious. Though they had receded from the French revolution, yet it could not be said that those "gentlemen" who now advocated the principles which were admired at that period had at all degenerated from the feelings or violence of their predecessors. He believed there were traitors in this day who were ready, in the accomplishment of their schemes, to set at defiance every principle of humanity, every sentiment that was worthy of man in civilized society, or that was consonant with the character of beings in a human shape. If a fanatical spirit were abroad, which induced men to think that they had a right to do acts even of murder, that they might advance their projects—if that fanaticism were to be found on the continent as well as here, might not the kindred feelings which inspired it, induce indivi- duals, labouring under its influence, to assist each other in attaining their objects, as far as their means and opportunity permitted them? He therefore conceived that he did not call on the House to adopt an indefensible measure when he asked them to agree to this bill. When bad principles disclosed themselves—principles which must operate more against the internal peace of the country, its character, and safety, than any others which could be imagined—and when those dangerous principles seemed to be in unison with others that were disseminated abroad, it was surely right to provide for the security of the state. Besides, he thought the measure was necessary in order to secure that peace which this country had conquered—to prevent our character being compromised with foreign states, which assuredly must be the case if we received and retained on our shores those who had been sent away from other countries, or who had fled from punishment. By doing so we might be looked upon as participating in their designs. Such was the nature of the necessity which, he conceived, demanded the present measure. With respect to the measure itself, although he admitted that a law of this description was but of modern introduction into the country, yet, as far as the principle was concerned, he could hardly imagine any state in which it was not found to exist. There was, he conceived, no country, in which it was not competent for the civil power to send away foreigners, who, abusing the confidence reposed in them, to the extent of shaking the peace and overturning the constitution of the state, were no longer fit to be sheltered within it. He thought it was too much to say, that foreigners should come into a state, and, if they could keep themselves within the law of that state, or the technicalities of the law, they should be safe, and the civil power should have no opportunity of removing them, however dangerous their presence might be to the safety of that state, in various points of view. If this power were allowed in every country—and he knew no state in which it was not incidental to the sovereign power—where, he would ask, could it be placed, under this constitution, but in the executive government, appointed by the Crown, by whom other great powers were also exercised? With respect to the question, whether or not was a power that really belonged to the executive authority of this country—as a power, not exercised under a law of this description, but as a portion of authority recognized by the present law, as existing in the sovereign the House was aware that on this question the highest Jaw authorities had given a distinct opinion. Blackstone stated that it was competent for the Crown to send all foreigners out of the country. The late chief-justice of the King's Bench, lord Ellenborough, laid down the same doctrine, distinctly, in the discussions that had taken place elsewhere on this subject. The present lord chancellor considered it a power, which, by the frame of the constitution, necessarily resided in the Crown, and which had been acted on in different periods of our history. No doubt the power, which by the constitution was vested in the Crown, would be very little applicable to the present time, if it were exercised as it had formerly been. If he understood the system properly, the alien, in former times, in case of his refusal when ordered to go forth, was subjected to the ordinary course of law, and was prosecuted for his disobedience. Therefore, this power of the Crown was of such a description, that if it were to be exercised in this manner in the days in which they lived, it would not be found sufficient for the accomplishment of its own object. The consequence was, that this defect gave rise to the course of legislation by which the present bill had been produced—which was a modification, a due application, and a proper regulation of that power which actually resided in the Crown, but which, until thus regulated, was slow and inconvenient in its operation. If they lived in times when there was a complete state of peace in the world—when there was an absence of any danger that might threaten to disturb the general tranquillity of all states—he should feel that it would be a very natural disposition for all ranks to entertain a desire that this country should be allowed to proceed on its ancient system of law, and that our shores should be left completely open to the ingress of foreigners. They might then be guided by the necessity of any case that should happen to arise, instead of having a specific law on the subject. But they did not live at such a period, and therefore the law became necessary. Having stated to the House, without exaggeration, what he conceived to be the character of the present moment, he would submit to gentlemen whether it would not be trifling with the peace of the country, exposing its best interests to danger, and, with its interests, the best interests of mankind, if they did not give to the Crown the effectual means of checking the evil he had described, if those means which formerly existed were insufficient for that purpose. He must again call on the House to say, whether there had been any disposition on the part of government to ask for those powers, connected with any other feeling but a desire for the public safety; and, having obtained them, whether they had been exercised in a way that savoured of oppression, or with a disposition that rendered the hospitality of this country less grateful to foreigners than it hitherto had been? If they had not been improperly asked for—and if, when granted, they had not been abused—he trusted the House would act on the side of public safety, and not deprive government of this engine of preservation, which, in his conscience, he believed, had only been put in operation against individuals who came to this country under improper circumstances, and whose conduct might have created a scene of faction dangerous to our tranquillity. He did not mean to place this measure on a permanent principle; although much of what he had stated, and much that could be advanced, with respect to the necessity of protecting the state against the acts of foreigners, would war ant a permanent arrangement. He would not, however, propose a measure of a general nature, or one that would permanently alter their system of police. He introduced this measure rather as an exception to the general rule, than as the rule itself; and he would therefore move;—"That leave be given to bring in a bill for further continuing the act of the 56th of Geo. 3rd, for establishing regulations respecting Aliens arriving in, or resident in, this kingdom, in certain cases."

Sir Robert Wilson

was aware that it was rather unusual to debate a question on the motion for leave to bringin a bill; but the present question was of such a nature as to justify him in coming forward thus early to resist its introduction, and he had the satisfaction to know that many members approved of the course he was about to pursue. An hon. friend of his had intended, in the course of last session, to move for the abolition of the existing act, and he was one of those who advised him against it, under a belief that the government could not think of proposing it to parliament for the fourth time in a period of profound peace. He denied that this measure was introduced to serve British interest and objects; and he believed, that 99 out of 100 of those who thought on the subject were of opinion that it was one of those arrangements made at Vienna, or during the proceedings of one of those ambulatory congresses of sovereigns at which the noble lord had attended, and from which he now found it impossible to recede. It was generally felt that this bill was one of the measures designed to promote an uniform system of police throughout Europe; so that any individual who happened to offend a member of that confederacy which had been denominated "Holy," but which he should always consider most "Unholy," would be unable to escape from prosecution by taking refuge in any other part of Europe.—The noble lord had talked of this as "a preventive measure." Laws, he conceived, were good, as preventives; but those laws never could be good that required them to suspend their constitution. What a contrast did England present, after passing a measure of this kind, when placed in opposition to her former situation and character ! It was formerly her glory that she was the asylum of the unfortunate, the refuge of the destitute. It was her boast that she administered the same law to the stranger and to the native. Their rights, and liberties, and interests, were identified with her own—those rights, and liberties, and interests, were recognized in the great, but he was sorry he could no longer say, respected, charter of this country. He knew that the opinion of judge Black-stone and lord Ellenborough supported the doctrine of the noble lord. But he would appeal to a much greater authority—that of lord Coke, who, speaking of that clause in the great charter, in which the rights of aliens were mentioned, where it was declared that they could not be removed "nisi publice prohibit sint," observed on this passage, "This does not imply that the king has not the prerogative, but that the right of making representation resides in the great council of the nation, the Parliament of England." Let the House look to the conduct of France at the present moment. Instead of enacting laws for driving foreigners from her territory, she had passed a law enabling them to become French citizens, and giving them a full participation in the rights, liberties, and immunities of the French people. As long as the Charter of France was respected, the power of sending aliens out of that country could not be exercised by the sovereign—a fact of which he was assured by the first French lawyers. The course pursued under the Alien act in this country was revolting to manly feeling. Did the House recollect the case of general Gourgaud? Did they remember with what illegality, with what violence, and with what brutal, he would say with what cowardly ferocity he was treated by a person of the name of Capper, on being seized and sent out of the country?—Did they not call to mind how his person was assaulted, and his papers detained, in defiance of law? It was said he made no appeal, but it was a well-known fact that he did make one. When this was stated, what was the answer of the hon. under secretary of state? "Oh," said he, "general Gourgaud demaned to be taken before a magistrate, not before the privy council." What a total perversion was here shown of the law under which that appeal was made He would now cite a case, which proved what a degree of reproach attached to this country in consequence of the way in which the law was carried into execution. A lady of high rank, of most amiable character, and of irreproachable conduct, devotedly attached to her husband, had followed: him to a foreign country, and employed herself in the performance of those duties which were most honourable to her sex. She was at length obliged to leave that country in consequence of the advice of two physicians, who, in their certificate, stated that it was expedient that she should proceed to Europe, and even to England, in order to take the benefit of the Cheltenham waters. This lady was the countess of Montholon. She embarked with her child, who was also in. an ill state of health; and arrived on the 5th of September off Margate, in a vessel named the Lady Campbell, commanded by captain Walsh. The ship had no sooner anchored than a galliot came alongside, and it was announced that she conveyed an order from the Alien Office, forbidding the countess to land. Captain Walsh remonstrated, and particularly adverted to the severe sickness of the countess's child. The countess was, however, obliged to proceed to Gravesend, and was ordered immediately on board an old gun-brig that had been given up to the Alien Office. She was ultimately placed on board the Flying Fish sloop, which proceeded to Ostend. Prior to this, Mr. Capper—that gentleman who made so conspicuous a figure in the Police Report—that gentleman who had committed an offence for which he ought to have been sent to prison, on a charge of felony—had been allowed to go to the countess Montholon, whom he also treated with much disrespect. It was a reproach to the Alien-office, after what had appeared in the police report, and after his cruel treatment of general Gourgaud, to allow this individual to remain in the department. The countess of Montholon proceeded in the Flying Fish to Ostend, where she was obliged to land, her child being in a dying state. What was her reception there? It was most kind and humane, as would appear from an extract of a letter, not indeed directed to him, but which mentioned the circumstance? "She was was immediately permitted," said the writer, "to land, and, by the direction of the king, was received with all the attention and regard due to her sex, and to the state in which she was." What a contrast did this present to her treatment here! He blushed for the opinion she must have formed of the character of England, when she compared the hospitable reception she had found on the continent with the cruelty which was exercised towards her here. Did the matter end here? No such thing. He wished it had. The child, which was not allowed to be landed here, died immediately after its arrival at Ostend. He would now quote another case, not as an instance of abuse, for the noble lord had acted with great kindness and humanity on the occasion, but to show what consequences might have resulted under a more rigorous enforcement of the law. A nobleman of high rank, who had held a conspicuous situation under the late government of France, and against whom sentence of death had been passed by the present government, for a political offence, quitted that country with his former sovereign. He was not, however suffered to remain with him, but was sent to Malta, and from thence he went to Smyrna. He afterwards came to this country, being properly provided with a passport. He was told, on his arrival, that he must depart immediately for the distant country whence he came. He happened to have a number of friends in this kingdom, to whom he stated his case. They mediated for him, and the noble lord procured leave for him to reside: here for a month. When that period had elapsed, farther term was allowed him; and thus the indulgence was granted for the space of three or four months, till he was enabled, with some premature hazard, to return to his own country, where he vindicated himself from the charges which had been brought against him, and obtained the reversion of that sentence by which he had been condemned to death.; But, if this individual had happened to be friendless, he would have been sent out of this country, subject to the greatest hazards as a miserable exile. In this case, too, Mr. Capper made his appearance. He went to the House where this individual resided—to the house of Mr. Wilkinson, one of the most respectable merchants in London, and insisted on going into his bedroom, and overlooking his papers, which he did in a manner the least conciliating or decorous. Such was the impropriety of his conduct, that Mr. Wilkinson sent to the office, declaring that, if it were repeated, he would take forcible steps on the subject. He would again ask, was: such a man as this fit to be kept in his situation? Persons were removed, under this act, who had committed no offence I against the constitution of England, and who could commit none. He believed there was a case in which foreign interference had caused an individual to be sent out of this country for a libel on a foreign prince. A law of this nature might find some excuse in the military government of Prussia, and still more so in that of Russia, but in England it could have no such apology. And how was it carried into effect? The form of notice when a foreigner arrived in this country was extraordinary. It ran thus:—"You are to present yourself at the Alien-office within a week, to answer certain questions, a neglect of which notice renders you liable to imprisonment for one month," This notice was given not only to men, but to ladies, and even to children of 15 years old so that a lady came to this country with the dangers of imprisonment before her eyes. The government of the Netherlands now refused to permit any Englishman to land without a pass from the British government; for that lie must go to the noble lord's office, where he paid 2l. 17s. 6d. for it. A friend of his, after he got his pass, complained to the Dutch consul; the answer was, that the Alien-laws were vexatious to foreigners by their regulations, which impeded and delayed mutual intercourse, and therefore similar impediments might be expected in return. The noble lord had stated that there were 25,000 foreigners in this country. This body was by the proposed bill to remain entirely subjected to an arbitrary power. He hoped that no Englishman would think, because they were foreigners, that the exertion of an arbitrary power over them did not signify any thing, because he was sure that those who looked lightly to the operation of an oppressive system with respect to others, would ultimately be sacrificed to a similar system themselves. The noble lord said, that the presence of those 25,000 individuals called for this bill; but the revocation of the edict of Nantes introduced a greater number, and yet there was no Alien-bill then. Indeed they never had such a measure until the late war, and until the present time they had not heard of what was called a peace Alien-bill. Foreigners looked upon it as a measure directed against the independent sentiments of a free people; but the victors to-day might be the vanquished tomorrow, and were they prepared to meet the exertions that might be made against our manufactures and commerce by those whose feelings were outraged by this measure? The people of the continent no longer looked on England as a place of refuge, but Spain had gloriously elevated herself by affording an asylum to the persecuted. Though he had no hope of succeeding, he would certainly take the sense of the House on the question. He did not care what the numbers might be, but he would do so with a view to show that he considered this not only as an unconstitutional and anti-British, but as an anti-European measure.

Mr. C. B. Wall

said, that in the year 1715 aliens were protected by a commercial treaty. It had been observed, that there had been no abuse of the powers conferred by this measure, and it had been replied from the other side that there had been abuses committed. But, conscientiously acting, he must vote on the merits of any question, not upon the character and conduct of an administration. Such a power must at all times have the effect of bringing odium and responsibility on ministers. Under such an act ministers must often interfere, when, perhaps, they would rather remain quiet. Perhaps their interference would often arise from the ever-zealous conduct of their own officers towards foreigners. He would not enter into any argument on the law of the question, nor would he discuss at length the general policy of it; but he would ask the House to consider what was the general opinion of foreigners respecting the Alien-act. He did not allude to opinions received from the diplomatic corps, or from attendants en foreign courts, but he appealed to all gentlemen travelling through foreign countries, whether foreigners ever mentioned the British government and the British constitution, without expressing astonishment, that such a measure as this could be proposed by a British ministry, and sanctioned by a British parliament. The noble lord had stated that there were 25,000 foreigners in this country. He begged the House to recollect the situation in which all those persons were placed by this bill; he begged them to recollect with what feelings they must look around them upon a nation, free, and jealous of freedom, yet subjecting them to such a law. In the land of liberty and law, they found that the people with whom they lived would not impart to them what they themselves enjoyed. He combatted the apprehension, that foreigners might become spies and informers, by the fact that Buonaparté had always employed disaffected natives, and that every government inclined to watch our movements, must have recourse to the same means. Ministers, in proposing this bill, introduced a principle unknown to the British constitution. It was absurd to establish such a power in a free country: in a despotic government it might be intelligible and useful; but in a free country, no sooner was any project started than it was discussed, and therefore such secret and summary steps were never necessary. If such a measure as this had been in any view called for at a former period, the year 1820 was favourable for discontinuing it, and for reverting to the just principles of our constitution.

The Solicitor General

said, he should rot have risen upon the present occasion were ft not for some observations that had fallen from the gallant general, and the statement made by him with respect to the abuse of the law. Had it been abused, as the gallant general said, there would certainly be a strong ground for opposing the motion; but the charges brought forward had not the slightest foundation in truth. With respect to the case of general Gourgaud, it was, on a former occasion, brought before the House in the shape of a petition. All the statements now made by the gallant officer were then advanced, and they were every one contradicted. No answer was given to that contradiction. If the charges could have been made out, it was the duty of those who brought them forward to appoint a day for taking the allegations of the petition into consideration. That not being done, was sufficient evidence that those allegations could not be supported by proof. The gallant officer himself, took great pains to ascertain the truth. He wrote to a person at Harwich, and put various questions a3 to the treatment of general Gourgaud. These questions were all answered, but the answers were never brought under the consideration of the House. General Gourgaud was allowed to go before a magistrate at Harwich. Gentlemen were permitted to visit him while there; and if he had any ground for complaint, he had full opportunity of proving it.—It was not true that he paid the expenses of the officers who attended him: he paid his own expenses, but he insisted on doing so; and he had instituted no complaint of improper conduct on the part of the officers. Yet, when the case was before the House, the gallant general had not had the candour to state what he had done, or what had resulted from his inquiries. Had the charges in the petition been brought forward, they could have been most triumphantly refuted. He would undertake to say, that every statement in the petition was a falsehood. When Mr. Capper, with his assistants, entered the general's lodgings, and was proceeding to the performance of his duty with propriety, he perceived him endeavouring, to get hold of a case of pitols on his chimney-piece. Some force then became necessary. He insisted upon having his papers. They were given to him, and he put his seal on them. He then refused to go with the officers, and threw up the window, calling out "Murder, thieves!" Under such circumstances, some force, of course, became necessary, but no more was used than was indispensable for securing his person and preventing mischief. All this would have been proved if the allegations of the petition had been gone into. Was the House now to believe them on the mere assertion of the gallant general? As to the other cases alluded to, they were never before the House in any shape, but he would take upon him to say, whatever reports might have gone abroad, that the countess Montholon was treated kindly, and that if the case were brought forward, every charge made by the gallant general could be satisfactorily answered. The gallant general had insinuated that the present bill was proposed as part of the measures agreed upon by the Holy Alliance. He would beg of the House to mark the inconsistency of his reasoning. England was mo party to the Holy Alliance, and yet, according to him, this bill was to be attributed to it, while France, which was a party to that alliance, adopted no such measure. He would contend that such was the natural inference from the gallant general's reasoning, and such the contradiction that necessarily arose from it. He denied that this question was not to be considered with reference to law. He must contend, and he would now assert without fear of contradiction, that the power of sending foreigners oat of the country was the undoubted right of the Crown. If such was the case this could not be called a new law, but mere matter of regulation. How was this assertion to be supported? He was not prepared to go fully into the proof, as he did not expect the discussion would so soon take place, but he recollected sufficient to know that for 200 years back this power was exercised by, and admitted to reside in the Crown. It was acted upon in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and also in that for King William, a time of profound peace. He heard it said, indeed, that they were now too much in the habit of recurring to ancient precedents for the present law. This he would contend was a legitimate course of argument; but were there no novel authorities upon this subject? What did that great lawyer sir William Blackstone say? He laid it down in the broadest and most unequivocal terms, that the king had the power of sending foreigners out of the country in time of peace. How then did the case stand? He (the solicitor general), had ancient usage, law, and authority on his side. He had the authority of that distinguished person sir William Black-stone, the authority also of lord Ellen-borough. The gallant general argued this question a lawyer; and said, that he had the authority of Magna Charta. The passage, however, alluded to, was not properly stated. It had no reference to such aliens as those contemplated by the present bill. In the time that Magna Charta was drawn up, foreign merchants were allowed to remain only a short time in the country. With respect to ingress and egress, they were treated in a most arbitrary way, and subject to heavy exactions. Their case alone was that referred to in the passage quoted, and it was intended for their protection. He did not assert this rashly. The question was not new. It had been argued over and over again. In the very same page where sir William Blackstone set out this passage from Magna Charta, he asserted also the power of the Crown to send foreigners out of the country. This showed to demonstration that he did not interpret it in the same sense as the gallant general. So far as to the law of England. Now, what was the general law of all countries with respect to this point? Puffendorf, Vatel, and every other writer on the law of nations, that be had looked into, admitted that, in every state, a right of sending foreigners out of the country resided in the sovereign power; and on that part of the subject he appealed with confidence to his hon. and learned friend opposite, who was eminently acquainted with questions of this nature. Every one of those writers vested this right in the sovereign power. That power in this country was in the legislature. But it was vested, for the sake of convenience, propriety, and necessity, in the executive; otherwise the power would be inoperative for six months every year. He would take an analogous case. Who granted letters of licence or safe conduct? The sovereign power of the state. If such was the case in every country, it was a matter of course, that in this, such powers should be vested in the executive. The present bill was only a provisional regulation and he would ask, if the authority to be conferred under it, could be 'more mildly exercised than it had been? It was objected that such measures tended to injure our character with foreigners. In opposition to this, he would venture to say, if the cases were all examined, that out of the 25,000 aliens now in this country at least two-thirds of them—he was told all—came here under the operation and faith of this bill. Only nine had been sent away since the passing of the 3ct now proposed to be revived. It might be said, that this proved the measure not to be now necessary. In that conclusion he could not acquiesce, even though the number had been smaller. If those nine cases were fully stated to the House, he felt confident that there was not one, to the propriety of which they would not immediately assent.—There never was a period, in the history of this country, when foreigners were treated with more generous and attentive benevolence, or with more enlarged humanity; never a period when their rights were held more sacred, or when they enjoyed more liberty than since the passing of the Alien bill. He would conclude by again asserting, that it was the ancient prerogative of the Crown to send aliens out of the country. He would not now trespass further on the House, but he had no doubt that he should on a future day be able to bring precedents to justify the opinions he had advanced.

Sir James Mackintosh

said, that at so late an hour of the night, and so much exhausted as he felt himself, he should have been unwilling to say any thing on a subject on which at former times, and at great length, he had felt it necessary to trespass on the indulgence of the House, had not his opinion been specially called for by his hon. and learned friend in a manner for which he was certainly very grateful. As that had been done, he should now on the first stage trouble the House with a few words on a measure, to every stage of which he should offer his most decided opposition, reserving for a future occasion a more detailed statement of his reasons. In making these observations it was not his intention to enter into a controversy as, to particular facts, arising from the. cases which had been mentioned by his gallant friend; in the first place, because he was not acquainted-with the circumstances of those cases, and must, therefore, leave it to those who were; and in the next place, because the discussion of particular instances of abuse might tend in some degree, to weaken the argument against the measure. In his opinion, the mischief and malignity of this measure was, that it necessarily was the instrument of injustice in the hands even of those who least intended to abuse it. The most conscientious ministers of such a power must necessarily, at times, be made the dupes of misinformation, and the tools of private malice. It is thus put in the power of accident or individual hostility to inflict the utmost injury and oppression. He had viewed the measure since the peace not merely with jealousy;—he had viewed it with abhorrence. He had viewed it as one of the most odious deviations from the ancient and liberal system of our laws that formed a part of our under legislation. It was (as had been well expressed by an hon. gentleman who had spoken that night for the first time with such credit to himself—who had shown the force of principle getting the better of political partiality on a particular subject, while be retained his general attachment to the persons with whom he had been accustomed to act) a measure for reducing to slavery 25,000 of the inhabitants of this island—a measure for depriving 25,000 persons of all the benefits of our free constitution. This, with the noble lord, was an argument in its favour. He stated the number of the persons to be outlawed as an argument in favour of the outlawry—he stated the number of the victims as an argument for the oppression; but as to this numerical argument, this argument, in which the feelings of our ancestors, who would have gloried in the number of fugitives which our laws and manners had attracted, were reversed and made reasons for oppression,—was the noble lord aware what the average number of aliens in this country during the last 80 years had been? Not less than 23 or 24,000. It was then the accidental presence of two or 3,000 foreigners beyond the average in one half year, to be diminished again after the passing of this bill, that was to justify the measure. His learned and hon. friend had said that the power of expelling alien friends must belong to the supreme power of a state. He (sir J. M.) most fully admitted that the power of expelling foreigners must belong to the supreme power of every state, savage or civilized. Nay, he would go farther, and admit that it was impossible to conceive a sovereign power which had not the power of banishing even its own subjects. His hon. and learned friend therefore seeded not to have made all his parade of jurists to prove that a supreme power must be supreme over foreigners in its dominions. His hon. and learned friend had quoted; from sir. Blackstone the only part of the valuable work of that learned person, into two of three lines of which falsehood; and absurdity were crowded. Blackstone in that passage began with quoting Paffendorff—a German jurist—a writher under a despotic government—as an authority as to the prerogative of the Crown of England and his Hon; and learned friend had not been ashamed to adduce that, for the twentieth time, exposed and exploded passage. But his horn and learned friend had forgotten to state, that in the passage in question, sir W, Blackstone asserted not only that the king had a power to send aliens out of the kingdom, but to send them back to their respective countries. Was there a general right of this kind? Was there any authority or pretext of an authority for stating that there was any right, not only to eject aliens from our own country but to prolong the exercise of sovereignty over them when they were out of this country, to send them back to any country, however distant, and to throw them into the jaws of the persecutors from whom they had sought refuge i His hon. and learned friend had also talked of the great authorities of the present day. Those great authorities, however, were all parties to the system of the Alien laws, and they certainly had rested on so rotten a foundation, in part, at least, that a great portion of their superstructure must necessarily fall to the ground. The only precedents which could be found by those great authorities were in the reign of queen Elizabeth, and they were dug out of the Paper Office so late as 1816. The bill bad gone through the Commons before those precedents were thought of, and in the other House the question was argued with as much learning and eloquence as had ever been displayed on any subject; so that towards the end of its stages these great authorities found it necessary to set their agents at work, and these precedents were found. They were two proclamations; issued in the reign of queen Elizabeth, commanding Scotsmen, who were then aliens, to quit the realm. If Scotsmen were still in the same condition, and were liable to exile, the House might be content to accept the bill, in consideration of the persons on whom it was to be exercised; but that at least could not now be done, and whatever measures they might take as to aliens, they must be content lo endure the presence of Scotsmen. Two years after 1818, these proclamations were quoted in that House, and he (sir J. M.) had given what he conceived a sufficient answers But since that period lie had found one still more decisive. There was a certain statute of the 7th of Henry 7th, authorizing the Crown to expel Scotsmen by proclamation, and imposing on those who did not obey the proclamation, in forty days, forfeiture of their goods; a penalty which would not be thought a heavy one in the case of Scotsmen, though it might be too, after they had sojourned some time in England. This statute was repealed on the accession of James 1st, together with all the statutes hostile to Scotland. In the reign of Elizabeth, however, it was in full force and observance, so that those proclamations, instead of being a proof that the Crown could exercise such a power without, the authority of an act of parliament, were a proof of directly the contrary fact. This doctrine then, of the power of the Crown over aliens, which was now brought forward amidst the light and liberality of the 18th century, was not breathed under the most despotic of the Tudors, and the subservient lawyers and statesmen of Henry 7th had not ventured to assert what the lawyers and statesmen of George 4th now asserted. It was sometimes made a matter of complaint that we did not look with sufficient reverence to our ancestors; he wished modern politicians, by the contrast of their propositions, would not force them so often to look back to the acts of our ancestors with regret. In this act, even of the time of Henry 7th, was contained not only a recognition that the Crown possessed no such power, but 4th days were allowed to the foreigners to leave the kingdom. What would be said now in favour of the summary power of the present bill, by which a woman was dragged from her bed, by which foreigners were forbidden to land, when even the statesmen of Henry 7th allowed so long a time? He conceived no answer could possibly be given to the citation of this statute. If the royal proclamations were issued, the Scotsmen who remained in defiance of the proclamation were punishable under that statute, but not otherwise; so that there was not an idea that the king at common law had the right to issue the proclamation, or that it was a common law offence to disobey it. It was stated, that the reason for the present law was, that the king's proclamation might not be disobeyed. What was that but an admission that we were to legislate more sternly, more severely, and more suspiciously than Henry 7th, the Tiberius of our history, yet whose politics never made it necessary to have recourse to such summary proceedings? His hon. and learned friend had argued that the doctrine advanced against the bill was inconsistent with itself. He would retort a challenge on the challenger. If the king had the power by proclamation to expel aliens from the country in time of peace, the disobedience of that proclamation would necessarily be at common law indictable. Where, he asked, in 500 years, from the first volume of the year books to the present time, was there an instance of any indictment for such an offence? This was the touchstone of the assumed power, and by this criterion it would be found wanting. He denied that the supreme power of this state was in the King alone, but in the King, Lords, and Commons. In them was the general exercise of the sovereign power; the king only possessed such branches of it as by immemorial usage had been proved and allowed to be vested in him. The king in parliament was the sovereign power. This was a proposition which he was almost ashamed of stating, for it was only as much as saying, that we lived under a free government, under a limited monarchy. His hon. and learned friend had, however, maintained that by the constitution it was left to the king to conduct all matters with respect to foreigners. This proposition was incorrectly stated. It was left to the king to conduct all the relations of the country with foreign states. But individual foreigners while in this country had a definite right. They were entitled to trial by jury. The law, till this accursed system of alien acts was introduced, regulated the conduct of the country towards resident foreigners. Alien friends were temporarily subjects of the king; they owed temporary allegiance, and were entitled to temporary protection. Although it was true that the right of making peace and war, and entering into other regulations with foreign states, rested in the Crown; the same right did not extend to its relation with foreigners residing in England. The analogy entirely failed; the whole argument founded upon it consisted of a play upon the word "foreigner," arid the conclusion attempted to be drawn was one decidedly hostile to the best principles of our constitution. As to those aliens who had come into this country during the war alien acts, who were thus said to have a clear foresight of the laws to which they were subjecting themselves, he wished to ask whether any one in 1814 would not have considered as a libel upon the country, a prophecy that those laws would be continued in time of peace? They had been declared to be laws justified by extreme danger, and intended to cease with that danger. His hon. and learned friend had borrowed from an eloquent speech of a right hon. friend of his, in 1818, an eulogium on the liberality and generosity of the nation towards foreigners. He (sir J. M.) was happy to say that the new-fashioned principles of the government had not tainted the generosity of the people, that they were liberal and hospitable in spite of the bad example which had been set them. In this it might be said that the people were more wise than the laws—he would, however, say only a part of those laws—for the general system was as good as a nation could possibly enjoy. The people, however, certainiy now showed themselves to possess more liberality than their rulers, and more of the spirit of humanity of the age than was to be found in the measures of parliament. How little value soever his hon. and learned friend might set on the character of this country among the other nations of Europe, or how much soever he might deride their distrust of our policy, repugnance to this measure was undoubtedly universal among the disinterested nations of Europe, and distrust of our policy existed and was spreading to a mischievous extent. For the reasons he had urged, he never gave a vote with the more hearty approbation of his conscience, or a more perfect concurrence of all the feelings of his nature, than he should now give his vote against the proposition of the noble lord in this the very first stage of a bill, which, lie agreed with his gallant friend, if now passed, would be continued for ever; for, he put it to the House, whether, if they consented to the bill as now proposed, it would not be continued from time to time, until the arrival of that period of general and profound peace which existed only in the dreams of poets, and which had been well ridiculed by a German philosopher, who placed the motto "Pax perpetua" on a tomb-stone.

Mr. Lambton

did not intend to occupy much of the time of the House. He only rose for the purpose of remarking on some observations which had fallen from the hon. and learned solicitor-general. He did not remember whether that hon. and learned gentleman was in the House at the period of his (Mr. Lambton's) presenting a petition to which he had alluded. If he were he must have grossly misunderstood what he had said on the occasion; or if he had not, he must have received a most erroneous account of what had occurred. At the time when he presented the petition from general Gourgaud, in 1818, he had asked the noble lord to consent to a committee, in which he would pledge himself to bring proof of the facts stated. The noble lord refused that committee; and he (Mr. Lambton) did not attempt to bring the matter again forward, because he knew it would be of no avail without the committee, and, aware of the manner in which the House was constituted, he well knew that it was hopeless to expect that when the noble lord had refused his consent. As to the statements now made, they rested on the credit of the petition, or on that of the hon. and learned gentlemen—which of them the House might believe, he would not pretend to say, but he thought the one entitled to as much respect as the other. The hon. and learned gentleman had stated, that general Gourgaud had seized his pistols when the officers approached to arrest him;—that might be true—but was it not natural for a man of his rank, to attempt to defend himself when he had been so intruded upon by strangers? It was also true that the general was allowed to seal his paper—but it was likewise a fact, which had been ascertained on the authority of the consul at Hamburgh, that that seal had been broken, and the portfolio returned the general opened. As to the questions of which the hon. and learned gentleman had talked so much, he believed that some questions were put concerning the treatment of general Gourgaud, but he did not think to the extent that had been described. It was true, notwithstanding the boasted indulgence which had been shown to the general, that he had not been allowed to see his friends. He stated thus much to show his reason for not having followed up the subject after its first introduction, and he trusted that it would not be imagined that he was one who would withdraw from any object connected with his duty in that House, while he could follow it up with effect. As to the question now before the House, he maintained that it was a departure from the principles of the constitution—that it was one of the results of that holy alliance—and that the government considered itself bound by it to surrender up to foreign governments those of its subjects who might have taken refuge amongst us, as the instance of a gentleman who had been sent out of the country at the request of the government of the Netherlands, respecting whose case he had moved for papers which had been refused. Even the despotic James 2nd afforded protection to aliens, but the noble lord acted in this way to secure for himself a high character in foreign countries. He should certainly vote against the motion, as he conceived the bill incompatible with the dignity of this country.

The Solicitor General

begged leave to say, that Mr. Capper apprized general Gourgaud of the nature of his business before he arrested him.

Lord Castlereagh,

in reply, said, that he did not recollect the case with the government of the Netherlands to which the hon. member for Durham alluded. When Las Casas was sent out of this country, it was not with any view that he was to be taken into custody on his arrival in the Netherlands. As to the Holy Alliance, he denied that this country was a party to it in any diplomatic sense of the word. There was no understanding connected with it by which we were to send obnoxious foreigners out of the country. On the contrary, he thought that other countries had a right to complain of the indulgence shown to foreigners, considering the powers which this law placed in our hands. He never heard any government complain of the act, or adopt any measures hostile to the passages of Englishmen through their kingdom in consequence of it. Cer- tain regulations had been made as to the passports of Englishmen by the government of Sweden and the Netherlands; but it arose from the internal situation of this country at the time; and on the earliest representation which he had made of the inconvenience which was thus occasioned to English travellers, it was done away with in Sweden, and was not now acted upon by the government of the Netherlands. He could assure the House that this did not arise from a spirit of retaliation, for any measure which we had adopted.

Mr. Lambton

stated, that he had, in 1818, moved for the papers respecting an alien sent out of the country at the request of the government of the Netherlands.

The House divided: Ayes, 149; Noes, 63.

List of the Minority.
Althorp, viscount Maberly, John.
Baring, Alex. Maberly,W. L.
Barnard, viscount Mackintosh, sir J.
Barrett, S. M. Milton, viscount
Beaumont, T. W. Monck, J. B.
Becher, W. W. Newport, sir J.
Baillie, colonel Osborne, lord F.
Calcraft, John Ossulston, lord
Caulfield, hon. H. O'Grady, S.
Creevey, Thomas Palmer, C. F.
Clifton, viscount Pares, Thos.
Colburne, N.R. Parnell, Wm.
Denison, Wm. Philips, George
Denman, Thos. Price, Rt.
Dundas, Thos. Ramsden, J. C.
Duncannon, vise. Ricardo, David
Ebrington, viscount Robinson, sir G.
Fergusson, sir R. C. Robarts, George
Fitzgerald, lord W. Russell, lord John
Fitzroy, lord C. Scarlett, James
Folkestone, visce Scott, John
Graham, J. R. G. Sefton, earl of
Graham, Sandford Smith Robert
Harbord, hon. E. Stuart, lord J.
Heron, sir R. Sykes, D.
Hughes, W, L. Spurrier, C.
Hughes, col. Tierney, G.
Hume, J. Wall, T. B.
Hutchinson, hon. C. H. Ward, hon. J.W.
Jervoise, G. P. TELLERS.
Lamb hon. W. Lambton, J. G.
Lloyd, sir Ed. Wilson, sir Robt.
Lushington, Dr.