MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I beg to ask the Attorney General whether, under the Rules laid down by the Declaration of Paris, 1856, those Powers which have abstained from agreeing to and are not bound by it would, in the event of their being at war with Great Britain, retain their right, under the Law of Nations, to fit out and use privateers against British commerce, and also their right to capture British goods in neutral vessels, whether those goods were contraband of war or not; whether, in such an event, Great Britain, having agreed to the Declaration, and being bound to it as towards all the other Powers who have also agreed to it, would have the right to capture her enemy's goods in neutral vessels belonging to such other Powers; or whether she would be hound to refrain from exercising that right as against her enemy while submitting to its exercise as against herself; and whether he can state what Powers have up to this lime abstained from agreeing to the Declaration of Paris?
§ * THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. RUSSELL,) Hackney, S.
The first two inquiries of the hon. Member relate to certain legal questions with reference to hypothetical cases which the hon. Member puts and as to which my opinion is asked. I consider that I am not bound to answer these questions, which do not relate to any matter under the consideration of this House, nor is it for the public interest that I should do so. I therefore respectfully decline to answer them. As to the third question, which is one of fact, I have to state that the United States of America, Spain, and some of the South American States are the principal Powers which have not up to this time agreed to the Declaration of Paris.