§ Order for the Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
said, that he rose for the purpose of moving that this Bill be read a second time that day six 194 months. This was a Bill to enable the Crown to carry into effect in the British ports certain arrangements made with foreign Powers, for the reciprocal extradition of seamen deserting from the ships of such Powers. It would be in the recollection of the House that a few years ago considerable sensation was caused in this country by the circumstance of some Poles, who had been unwillingly pressed into the service, deserting from a ship belonging to the Czar of Russia, which was lying in Southampton water. An attempt was made by the officers of the ship to induce the English authorities to give up these men, but the law was too strong for them, and they were sheltered from pursuit. But it now appeared that arrangements had been made—for anything he knew with the Czar of Russia—which, if Parliament authorised them to be carried into effect, would for ever deprive such persons of protection on the like occasions. The purport of the Bill was, that upon any such contingency occurring again, as that to which he had just referred, every justice of the peace, under some Order in Council to be published on the subject, not only might, but should, aid in recovering foreign deserters, and in apprehending those persons and sending them on board; in other words, consign to what, he had no hesitation in saying, would be certain death. If any such "arrangement" had been made with any foreign Power, he could only say it was eminently disgraceful to those who had made it, and he trusted that Parliament would be careful not only to avoid the disgrace of sanctioning it, but to punish the authors. He wished to know who was the Minister that made it, and upon whose application it was made, and upon what inducement? He wished to know who were the "certain" Powers referred to? Did they include the autocrat of Russia, the tyrant of Austria, or the usurper of Prance? On these points Parliament were left quite in the dark, and all they were told was, that these Powers had bound themselves by similar stipulations to surrender deserters from our service. But there was no parity between the two cases. An English deserter was restored to a jurisdiction which was regulated by law; of that law he would have the benefit, and by it alone he would be punished. But, on the other hand, in the cases of these foreign Powers, there was no security that these unfortunate persons would have a fair trial in the countries from which they 195 had fled. What could we think of Austrian courts martial, when we were told by the Austrian Government itself that it was a point of honour in the Austrian army for an officer at the head of a regiment under arms to cut down an unarmed English gentleman in the face of day? It was such miscreants as these who would constitute the courts martial for the trial of those persons who would be declared culprits by this Bill. It could not he said that this Bill was only intended to extend to deserters from merchant ships, for it was only the second clause that referred to the laws now in force for the prevention of desertion from merchant ships. But the first clause armed magistrates with the same power over deserters from all ships belonging to a foreign Power as they had now in the case of British seamen deserting from British merchant ships. For the first clause provided that—Whenever it is made to appear to Her Majesty that due facilities are or will be given for recovering and apprehending seamen who desert from British ships in the territories of any foreign Power, Her Majesty may, by Order in Council stating that such facilities are or will he given, declare that seamen who desert from ships belonging to such Power, or to a subject of such Power, when within Her Majesty's dominions or the territories of the East India Company, shall be liable to be apprehended and carried on board their respective ships, and may limit the operations of such order, and may render the operation thereof subject to such conditions and qualifications, if any, as may be deemed expedient.If this was the fruit of any changes which had taken place in the Foreign department of the Government during the past month, or in the month of January last, he thought the country had cause to regret them. If England was to make herself the gaoler of the Holy Alliance, not to immure a Napoleon (he wished that we had him now in durance—the Little not the Great), but for the oppression of the unfortunate and the innocent, the day of England's dishonour was drawing nigh indeed, and the sooner we receded from the position we had hitherto occupied at the head of the first-rate Powers of Europe, the better for the happiness and liberty of the world. He was sorry that any extradition treaties had ever been concluded; their necessity had never been proved, and he was quite sure they were unconstitutional. But this Bill would go far beyond those treaties; for it was now proposed to punish not merely desertion of a scandalous character, but to mate desertion per se criminal, and then to punish it. An, arrangement had no doubt been made with 196 Portugal some time ago to prevent desertion from merchant ships and from vessels belonging to Portugal, not upon the British soil, but to the British service; and it was provided that if a foreign sailor deserted the service of the Power whose subject he was, and entered our service, our Government should be bound, on the fact being notified to them, to cause such deserter to be discharged from the service, but not to be given up. But that was all. It was no precedent for this Bill, nor could any precedent in fact be found to justify it. Upon all former occasions of a similar character to the present, it had been usual to specify the conditions and terms of the arrangements which had been entered into, and, above all, to specify with what foreign Powers they had been concluded, that we might know whether they were constitutional or absolutist, whether they were Powers whose performance of their stipulations might be relied upon, or Powers with whom it consisted with the dignity and independence of the country to treat upon such a matter. On the whole he asked the House to agree to his Amendment.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART,
in seconding the Amendment, said, that the Bill appeared to him open to very grave objections, although, he confessed, it was plausible enough, and might recommend itself on the first blush to many hon. Members; because this being a nation which depended in a great degree on commerce, and whose ships went to all parts of the world, it was desirable that the sailors belonging to them should not he allowed to violate their contracts, and desert from the service of their employers, and it was convenient that there should be ready means of forcing them to return to their engagements, or to be punished if they did not. If the Bill simply referred to sailors in the merchant service, he did not know that there would be any objection to it. But he concurred with his hon. and learned Friend (M. C. Anstey), that we ought to look with jealousy at all treaties which were in the nature of treaties for the purpose of extradition. This Bill sanctioned a proceeding similar to extradition. Nor thing could be more proper than that criminals should be given up by different countries in whose territories they took refuge, provided that their laws were all the same, and as just as the laws of this country, and if there was no greater danger of injustice and abuse than here. But inasmuch as this was not the case, 197 and there was a great danger of injustice, and greater probability that lives would be taken away in other countries than in this, we ought to look with jealousy at all treaties of that description, and if they were agreed to, it should only be in a case of the greatest necessity. He distinctly said he did not see such a necessity in the present instance, and he did see the danger that if this Bill became law in its present shape, great injustice might be perpetrated, and that House and the Government would, in point of fact, be made the tools of foreign despotism. Did they mean to do that? and were the sympathies of the present Government with the despotic Powers of Europe? Such was the general supposition, which he hoped was an untruth and a calumny; but the introduction of a Bill of this kind was very likely to confirm that impression. In the case of merchant ships there was no great objection to a measure of this nature; but there was the greatest possible objection in applying it to ships of war, although if the navies of other countries were manned as ours now were—and he was sure always would be—by voluntary enlistment, the Bill might be less objectionable. But were hon. Gentlemen aware of the mode in which the navies of some countries were manned? In despotic countries men were compelled to enter the service, whether they would or no, and were forced to become sailors by way of punishment. In Russia it happened that, when persons were obnoxious to the Government, they were compelled to perform military service, into which they were entered by force, and not voluntarily; and they were frequently compelled to serve in the navy, because the duties were more severe, and because it was more disagreeable and the hardships greater. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. C. Anstey) had referred to the case of some persons in the service of Russia which had occurred some years ago. He (Lord D. Stuart) was familiar with the case, which he would describe. In 1842 a Russian man-of-war, bound from the Baltic to Kamschatka, was driven by stress of weather into Portsmouth. There happened to be on board of her a certain number of Poles, who had taken part in the war in Poland, and, being obnoxious to the Russian Government, had been compelled to enter the navy. When the ship's company came on shore, they came too; and meeting some Polish refugees who were located at Portsmouth, 198 heard for the first time that they were not, as in their ignorance they supposed, at Kamschatka, but in England, a free country; and they were told there was no reason why they should go on board again, and were advised not to do so. On their refusal to return, the Russian officers demanded them, and wished to force them on hoard; but, according to our laws, no such thing could be done, and if they had been seized, a "habeas corpus" would have been moved for. The Russians, therefore, abandoned the attempt to get the poor men into their clutches, they did not go back into the Russian service, but had remained in this country ever since, and were now employed in some factories in Birmingham. If such a Bill as this had been then in existence, these men would have been claimed, and the magistrates would have been compelled to assist in their apprehension, and they would have been given up. Let not that House or the Government make themselves the tools of despotic Powers, or lend them the assistance of our laws to enforce their tyrannical measures. If this Bill was passed, the Government would do that, and although they would conciliate their friends (if they were so) the despots, they would not conciliate the opinion of the people of this country, or raise themselves in public estimation. It was said by the Government, which had confessed itself to be in a minority in that House, over and over again, that there was an understanding that they would not insist on carrying measures which were not necessary to the business of the country. He did not think this could be called such a necessary measure. Things had gone on for many years without the Government requiring such powers; and was it necessary, just before a dissolution, to occupy the time of the House with a measure of this kind? Surely it could wait. They might be told that this was not exactly the measure of the present Government, and that the plan was prepared by their predecessors. If they were told that, he should take leave to doubt whether the late Government did intend to bring forward precisely such a Bill as this, although they might have contemplated a Bill something like it. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. C. Anstey) had adverted to a measure which had a similar object, which was a treaty with Portugal, sanctioned by that House, with regard to the delivering up of deserters. He had that treaty now before 199 him, but it was not like the Bill before the House. It was not a question with regard to giving powers to the Queen in Council, but it was a special treaty for a particular purpose. He believed it had been felt by former Governments to be inconvenient to come down to the House to sanction a special treaty in every case, and they thought it best to have a Bill giving power to effect the required object by the Queen in Council. The treaty in question referred entirely to sailors in the merchant service, and not to those employed in men of war. It could not be construed otherwise, because it contained two sections, one of which applied to ships of war, and stipulated that this country and Portugal should neither of them receive into their service sailors from the men-of-war of each country. Then, with regard to sailors in the merchant service, there was a stipulation that, in the case of apprentices or sailors who should desert from their ships, being subjects of either of the contrating parties, while on the territory of either, the magistrates of that country should render every assistance in their apprehension, on application being made by the consul. This only applied to the sailors of merchant ships; and he had hoped that this course would have been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and that it was not the intention of the Government to make any stipulation with regard to the apprehension of sailors on board a man-of-war; and he (Lord D. Stuart) yet trusted that they would take them out of the operation of the Bill. He was sure that there would be many cases if this Bill was agreed to, in which great cruelty would be practised, and that House would be a party to it. He had adverted to the case of the Poles in the Russian service, because what had there happened might happen again. But that was not the only case. Even so lately as last year a sailor from on board a Turkish man-of-war took refuge in Haslar Hospital, and was claimed by his officers; but, as he (Lord D. Stuart) was informed, he was not given up, as if he had he would have been put to death. If this Bill had then existed without any alteration as it now stood, that man must have been given up. If this Bill passed the House, the Government would be only making themselves the humble servants of foreign Powers—and doing their dirty work. He hoped that would never be, and that he should hear from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, that 200 it would not be. If not, he should by every means in his power support the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he had no intention of following the example set by the noble Lord and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. C. Anstey) in deprecating delay, and charging Gentlemen on his side of the House with delaying the public business, and yet making speeches which brought in every subject, from Kamschatka to Poland, and which had nothing whatever to do with the question before the House. It was his duty to tell the noble Lord, and the hon. and learned Gentleman, that this Bill was prepared by the late Government. There had been a general complaint from the owners of merchant ships of the inconvenience attendant on the desertion of seamen in foreign ports. There had been constant communications made by the shipping office of the Board of Trade on the subject. There was no power or means by which seamen in foreign ports could be got back to their ships, and this country could not ask foreign countries to give their assistance in the matter unless similar aid was afforded to them in this country. All that had been said by the noble Lord of the inconvenience and injustice of compelling men, who had once set their foot on the shores of this country, to go back to their own ships, seemed to apply as much to merchant seamen as to those on board of men of war. If the House, however, thought it advisable, the Bill might be made applicable to merchant seamen only, although he thought that the ships in Her Majesty's service would thereby lose a great advantage. [Lord D. STUART: In the one case there is no bargain.] There was no bargain, but still it was desirable to assimilate the two cases. If hon. Gentlemen opposite thought it desirable to deprive Her Majesty of the advantage of getting back seamen who had deserted from Queen's ships, let them pursue their object. The Board over which he had the honour to preside, had only to take care of the merchant seamen; but the officers of Her Majesty's service had made great complaints of the difficulties of reclaiming those men who had deserted in foreign 201 ports; and as our ships, which visited foreign ports, were about one hundred to one as compared with those which came here from other countries, the balance of inconvenience would not be against us. As far as he was concerned, he had no objection to make to the alteration proposed. The only addition he had made to the Bill, was a provision by which he took care that the men were not apprehended, except on information or oath, and not, as was provided by the Portuguese treaty, merely on the request of the Consul. If the House, when in Committee on the Bill, chose to make its provisions particular and not general, he should not object; but he thought it would be better to give Her Majesty's ships the same advantage as that which would be enjoyed by merchant vessels. As to the declarations about liberty which had been made use of, he thought they might just as well have been spared on the present occasion, and he believed that often those who were loudest in such protestations were not always the most sincere.
§ MR. HUME
thought that very much of what had been said might have been avoided, if the course had been followed in this instance which was usual in all cases where a Bill was founded upon arrangements made with foreign Governments. The preamble of the Bill distinctly set forth certain arrangements concluded with foreign Powers and this country; and the proper course was to have laid these arrangements on the table of the House. He understood that neither the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. C. Anstey), nor the noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart), objected to powers compelling seamen to go back and fulfil the contract which they had entered into, and therefore the Bill was very properly made applicable to the mercantile marine. But if words were put into it which would apply to Russian ships of war, for instance, on board of which the men were put by compulsion, he did not see how, in case a vessel from Martinique were to put into a British port with a cargo of slaves on board, if these should escape, the British Government could avoid sending them back again into slavery. He warned them against the effect this measure might produce upon the character of this country, upon which Earl Granville when in office had so ably taken his stand, and of which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) boasted as affording security and protection and 202 hospitality to all who sought an asylum on our shores. He was quite satisfied the object of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade could be secured without the objectionable words referred to, and hoped he would give his attention to making the necessary change when the Bill went into Committee. He would not on that ground oppose the second reading.
could not agree with the last speaker that this Bill would be harmless if confined to merchant seamen. He believed there was not so unprotected an animal as a merchant seamen on the face of the earth, or of the waters under the earth. He might be cut in pieces by the captain, and have his remedy afterwards; and if the captain was not in the way, he might be cut in pieces by the mate. Hon. Members knew he was referring to distinct cases, proved before the courts. A merchant seaman did not desert in a foreign port, except under the pressure of ill treament; because he left his wages. The pith of the objection to the measure lay in the fact that it related to merchant seamen. He had great doubts whether the third clause of the Bill, imposing penalties on those who harboured deserters from foreign ships of war, would be obeyed in England. Suppose the occurrence of any of the cases which had been put by the noble seconder. He was sure he would not obey it himself; he would pay the 10l. fine over and over till somebody was tired of exacting it. History would show, it was a fearful spirit that was evoked, when laws were made which put obedience into opposition with the private honour and sense of duty of individuals. Things wore going badly with us when an extradition treaty was proposed to this country, as if we were Switzerland, or Belgium, or Piedmont. He feared the Government was in league with the proposers; and the people of England would only have themselves to blame, if at the approaching period when they would have the power in their own hands, they did not take order for amending it.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he should be sorry if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose should labour under any mistake on the subject of this Bill. The present stage was the second reading, and the point which had been pressed could not be considered till another stage of the Bill. He feared the hon. Gentleman had misconceived what 203 had been stated by his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. All that the Government could do would be to consider the point. The alteration proposed would throw difficulties in the way of the object which the Bill was intended to accomplish. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, and the other Gentlemen who had taken part in the discussion, had mistaken the origin of the Bill. It originated not in the wish or from the dictation of any foreign Power, but from a necessity which had been felt by the Government, by the English Government, with regard to the accomplishment of English purposes; and in order to that accomplishment it was necessary to offer such terms to foreign Powers as would enable them to effect the desired object. There had been no treaties of this description except that with Portugal; and, as regarded all other countries, the Government must act by means of legislation; and if the Bill was limited to merchant seamen, great difficulties would be thrown in the way of the object they wished to attain. He wished it to be understood that the Government were very ready to consider the point, but he did not pledge himself to adopt the alteration. This was not the stage for making any alteration in the Bill, and the question must be considered more widely than it had hitherto been, for, by limiting the Bill, the object of the Government would be defeated.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not unnaturally, as he was newly in office, had misconceived the circumstances out of which the Bill had arisen. The right hon. Gentleman inferred that the Bill only carried out the intentions of the late Government, and which were entertained when he (Lord Palmerston) was in office. The circumstances were these: The late Government received an application in November from the Swedish Government, asking them to conclude a treaty containing several provisions with regard to the surrender of seamen, and with the same stipulations as those of the treaty with Portugal of 1842. The treaty with Portugal provided that each of the two contracting parties should agree not to retain in the service of the State deserters from the ships of war of the other party, but that they should be discharged. There was, however, no engagement to surrender them. The treaty further stipulated that the magistrates and 204 consuls of either country should give every facility to the apprehension of deserters from merchant vessels who were subjects of either Power. This was the sort of engagement that the Swedish Government wished to enter into with regard to Sweden. His right hon. Friend the late President of the Board of Trade thought, and he concurred with him, that it would be better, instead of entering into formal treaties which involved matters Of delay; to ascertain if similar engagements would be convenient to other Powers as well as Sweden, and if it was found to be convenient to them, that it would be better to propose to Parliament a Bill giving power to the Crown, or rather to the Queen in Council, to enter into the same kind of treaties with other Powers as had been contracted with Portugal. He (Viscount Palmerston) acquiesced in that view, and it was the intention of the late Government to prepare a Bill to that effect, and he presumed that this was the Bill which had been prepared by the late President of the Board of Trade in conformity with that intention. To that extent a legislative enactment would be expedient. The addition seemed to be an inadvertence, and undoubtedly this Bill went beyond the intentions to which he at least was a party, and he would, therefore, venture to submit to Her Majesty's Government that it would be advisable, when the House was in Committee on this Bill, so to alter the provisions of the Bill as to make it identical with the stipulations in the treaty with Portugal. That would not be an arrangement for the mutual surrender of deserters from ships of war, but simply an engagement not to retain them in the service of either State; and in regard to deserters from merchant vessels, it would be simply, not a surrender of them, because that would be difficult in point of execution, but an arrangement that the magistrates should give every facility to the Consuls of other countries for the purpose of apprehending them. A case had happened last summer in regard to a deserter from a foreign ship of war, which, had this Bill been the law, and had we been under an engagement, founded upon this Bill, with the State to which that ship of war belonged, would have placed us in a very disagreeable and embarrassing position. A Turkish frigate came into Portsmouth, and remained there for some time. One of the persons attached to that frigate, in consequence of a dispute with the captain 205 and other officers, and being liable to severe punishment, escaped from the ship and got into the streets of Portsmouth. He made good his escape, but afterwards, in consequence of illness, he was sent to Haslar Hospital. It would have been exceedingly unpleasant to us in that case, had we been obliged to deliver up that person to the Turkish frigate; for that individual did not conceal his apprehension, that if delivered up, he would be taken to Constantinople, and that in fact his life would be sacrificed. It would therefore be painful to be under the necessity of delivering up such persons to other States; and he thought the commercial purposes would be sufficiently accomplished by the stipulations contained in the treaty of 1842 with Portugal, and therefore he recommended the Government to reconsider this Bill, and to adopt the alterations suggested in Committee. But there were no reasons why the second reading should be postponed. The second reading was necessary in order to get into Committee, and he hoped that the House would adopt the second reading without a division.
§ MR. P. HOWARD
thought the discussion ought to have been conducted without launching those harsh and severe invectives against foreign and friendly Powers which had characterised some speeches that night. Such language did not strengthen us with Foreign Powers; and the silence with which it had been received showed that it obtained no approbation in that House. He should be ready to support the real interests of liberty as stanchly as any one else; but it was derogatory to Parliament to suffer such unnecessary invectives against rulers in amity with this country. With regard to the Bill, if the Government had gone beyond the point required, it was probably from the instructions not having been sufficiently defined; he trusted that with the assistance of the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston), the commercial interests of the country, and the cause of freedom, and the maritime police of the country, would be sufficiently guarded.
MR. ALDERMAN THOMPSON
would give no opinion as to whether or not it was expedient to apply this Bill to ships of War; but he could positively assure the House that some such measure was absolutely necessary to the mercantile marine of this country. We had gone on long enough, certainly, without this Bill; and it might be said that we could get on still 206 very well without it. But of late years new circumstances had arisen rendering such a measure indispensable. For instance, British ships going to San Francisco might lose their crews, and could have no means of regaining them; and might, therefore, be laid up for months, while foreign ships would take their cargoes for China and the East Indies, and continue their trade. Then the new mercantile marine laws required that on a ship sailing the captain should sign an agreement with each seaman, which agreement could be anywhere enforced. Why was there not to be a mutuality in such agreements? This Bill was to give to the shipowner the protection already granted to seamen.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
considered that the Bill ought to be read a second time, but he thought there was a good ground of objection to the form of the Bill as stated by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume). The preamble ought to have set forth the nature of the arrangements on which the Bill was founded. He would have first stated the treaty with Portugal on which that Bill was founded, then he would have inserted an enactment to enable Her Majesty to carry that treaty into effect, and then another enactment giving power to enter into treaties of a similar nature with other Powers. He thought that ought to have been the form of the Bill, and then they would have seen how it was to be carried out. The measure, he admitted, was of great importance to our mercantile marine, and he hoped it would be read a second time, reserving the details for the Committee.
§ MR. TENNYSON D'EYNCOURT
would have had no difficulty in voting for the second reading, if it had not been for the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had thrown some doubt on what was the real intention of the Government. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would tell them that he meant to withdraw the clause relating to ships of war.
§ MR. THORNELY
would like to know whether, if this Bill passed in its present shape, and a Brazilian vessel came here with slaves on board, some of whom got on shore, we should not, in accordance with this Bill, be bound to put them on board again?
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, he should vote for the second reading, believing that the Government would not object to that por- 207 tion of the Bill which applied to ships of war being struck out in Committee, or at all events, reserving till then, according to the practice of the House, the objections to that part of the Bill.
would vote for the second reading, and suggest that an endeavour should be made in Committee to assimilate the provisions of the Bill to the Portuguese treaty.
§ MR. FORSTER
did not think the Government were agreed amongst themselves on the question. As they had not declared their opinion, he considered it was only fair to postpone the second reading.
§ MR. GOULBURN
thought the rational mode to take was to read the Bill a second time, and consider the objections in Committee. He considered it was unreasonable to oppose the second reading because Government would not pledge themselves to make certain alterations.
§ MR. WALPOLE
was understood to say, that the object of the Bill was simply to carry out certain arrangements made with foreign Powers, in reference to deserting seamen. Whatever those arrangements were, it was desirable that they should be fully understood. There was the treaty with Portugal; and there were other arrangements made with Sweden—both being nearly alike. The documents detailing those arrangements might be laid on the table of the House; the treaty being known, need not be produced; and the House would then be in a situation to go into Committee, and to see how far those arrangements could be carried out. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Thornely) appeared to think that in the case of Brazilian slaves deserting from Brazilian ships, and taking refuge on English soil, such persons, under this Bill, would have to be delivered up by the English authorities. But there really was nothing in the Bill applying to such a case. The Bill applied solely to "seamen."
§ MR. THORNELY
did not see that that was an answer. Slaves sometimes were used to man Brazilian vessels, and such slaves would be "seamen." Now, he wanted this, that when a slave touched British ground he should be free for ever.
§ MR. JACOB BELL
thought that there was a distinction. A slave, being a slave, could make no agreement, and was, therefore, not a "seaman" in the sense of being a party to a bargain—the only case to which the Bill applied.
§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
would, 208 of course, vote for the second reading. But he suggested whether it would not be expedient to increase the powers of magistrates under the Bill. It proposed to give them no alternative: they could only deal with a case in one way, by delivering up the deserter. But he thought the magistrate should be empowered to inquire into the causes of desertion—ill treatment sometimes justifying desertion; and in such instances the magistrate might usefully have a discretionary power.
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
had heard the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) very indistinctly. Had he said that the Bill, in Committee, would be made consonant as with the Portugal treaty; and that the distinction would be made between ships of war and mercantile ships?
§ MR. WALPOLE
was understood to say, that Her Majesty's Government did not wish to do more than carry out the principles of the treaty with Portugal.
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
said, that, having received that intimation, he would not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2°.