HC Deb 16 July 1868 vol 193 cc1280-1

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether there has been any recent Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States on the question of naturalization and expatriation; and, if so, whether he is willing to lay such Correspondence upon the Table of the House?


Sir, the House will probably Lave seen in some English newspapers the Despatch from, the United States' Government upon this subject, to which the Question of the hon. Member refers. That Despatch was placed in my hands a few days ago, and it appears to have been made public in America previous to its reaching this country. Before it came into my hands, I had written to the British Minister at Washington upon the subject—a Despatch which must have crossed that of Mr. Seward on its way to this country. In that Despatch I explained the views of Her Majesty's Government upon the question of naturalization as it now stands. In answer to the hon. Member's Question, I may say that I have no objection to lay that Despatch, as well as that of Mr. Seward, upon the table. I may also repeat what I have already stated in answer to a Question put to me in this House, that Her Majesty's Government are quite prepared to accept in principle the views of the naturalization question for which the United States' Government contend, and therefore I do not apprehend that any misunderstanding can arise out of it. We have declined, however, to enter into any treaty upon the subject just at present, for two reasons—firstly, because some legal details have to be arranged, and are now being considered by the Commission appointed for that purpose; and next because, even if we were to act irrespectively of the Report of that Commission, such a treaty would be perfectly useless until an Act of Parliament is passed to bring it into operation. I need not say that in the state of Business—not only as it is now but as it has been for the past month—it would have been useless to attempt to bring in so large and important a measure. If it should be my fortune to have any share in the Government next year, I shall be ready to introduce a Bill upon the subject in the new Parliament.