HC Deb 01 March 1853 vol 124 cc804-5

said, he would now put the question of which he had given notice, and though the noble Lord the Member for London was not present, he trusted he should have an answer from some other member of the Government. It had been very currently rumoured that demands had been addressed by certain Foreign Powers to the Government of this country for the removal or expulsion of certain political refugees who had come here for an asylum. He would wish to ask of the Government whether there was any foundation for the rumour, and what was the course it was intended to pursue should such an application have been made?


Sir, in answer to the question of the noble Lord as to whether an application has been made by Foreign Powers to the Government of this country for the expulsion of foreign refugees now living in the United Kingdom, I have to state that no such application has been made. In reply to the other question of the noble Lord, as to what course would be pursued in the event of such an application being made, I can only repeat that which I think has been stated on former occasions in this House, that any such application would be met with a firm and decided refusal. It is, indeed, obvious that it must be so, because no such measure could be taken by the Government of this country without fresh powers by Act of Parliament; and I apprehend that no Government could, even if they were so inclined—and the present Government are not so inclined—apply for such a power with any chance of success, inasmuch as no Alien Bill, I believe, either in former periods or within the course of this century has been passed ever giving to the Government the power of expelling foreigners, except with reference to considerations connected with the internal safety of this country. The British Government has never undertaken to provide for the internal security of other countries; it is sufficient for them to have the power to provide for the internal security of their own. But I cannot confine my answer simply to that statement. I will ask to be allowed to add, that while, on the one hand, the British laws and the spirit of the British constitution give to foreigners, of all political opinions and of all categories, a secure and peaceful shelter within this country, I think that those foreigners who avail themselves of the hospitality of England are bound by every principle of honour, as well as by every regard, not only to international law, but to the law of this land—are bound to abstain from entering into any intrigues, or from pursuing any courses, intended for the purpose of giving umbrage to foreign Governments, and of disturbing the internal tranquillity of any foreign country.