§ Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move "That the Bill be now read a second time."
This is another small Bill which I would commend to the House. It is a Bill to extend the system of extradition of fugitive offenders from British protected States. The Fugitive Offenders Act of 1881 can be applied by Order in Council to British Protectorates but not to protected States where the King of this country does not possess jurisdiction. At present a protected State cannot provide for the legal custody of fugitive offenders on the high seas after they have left the territory of their States. It is desirable to extend our system of extradition to the Federated Malay States and other States, such as Johore, Borneo, and Sarawak. But the Federated Malay States are Sovereign States. We cannot legislate for them but we can enable them, if they so desire, to take advantage of our fugitive offenders' system. This Bill will not be made effective by Order in Council in respect of any State until the ruler of it has entered into a formal agreement for the purpose of giving his consent nor till he has made appropriate legislation according to his own local law; but in anticipation of the passing of this Bill the rulers of the four Federated Malay States have already made the necessary formal agreements and have ready draft enactments which they wish to pass as soon as the Imperial Bill becomes law. Steps would then be taken to make the necessary arrangements and agreements with the rulers of the other protected States which are outside the federation of the four Malay States. If any ruler wishes to stand outside this arrangement it is competent for him to do so. The Order in Council under the Bill will extend the Fugitive Offenders Act only to those States which have consented and legislated accordingly. It is extremely desirable that, in a state of war, our facilities for dealing with fugitive offenders throughout the world should be as comprehensive as possible, and I can commend this Bill to the House as a useful, necessary, and uncontentious measure.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I am not quite clear that a case has been made out for this measure. I think my right hon. Friend's argument is just as strained as on the British Museum Bill. The Federated Malay 1340 States have been there for some considerable time. I know there is trouble. I have visited it myself, and can remember complaints being made of people taking fugitives across the shallow waters. But if there is some additional reason why it should be passed now or should not be delayed, I think my right hon. Friend should be more specific. I did not quite catch one sentence that he uttered, but I should like to ask whether it meant that there was some additional reason because we were at war. If so, I should have thought that other places would have been contemplated besides Johore and the Malay States. Will it apply to the Sudan or to German Africa when we enter into possession of it? That is what I took it to be when I read the Bill, that they wished to be prepared for changes arising out of the War. I was rather dismayed when I heard the chief case based upon the Malay States. I think my right hon. Friend should have been more specific.
The Political Offenders Act of 1881 confers power on the King here by Order in Council to apply the Fugitive Offenders Act to all Protectorates, and if German Africa ultimately become a Protectorate no amendment of the existing law would be necessary. Egypt being a Protectorate, the existing law is sufficient for the Sudan. But there are a few protected States which are not British Protectorates because the King has not the right to exercise authority over them. But these States are willing to avail themselves of our extradition law and to facilitate the transfer of offenders; but it is necessary for that purpose that this Bill should be passed. It may be true that it should have been done before, but for some reason or other, which I am not in a position to explain, it was not done before. It is still more desirable that it should be done now, since we are at war, in order that fugitive offenders may not find that they have a place of escape either in the four federated Malay States or in the other States which I have mentioned.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."
§ Bill accordingly be considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."1341
§ Mr. BOOTH
May I ask whether this would apply in case a German enemy escaped over the border and a German ship came into Penang on the opposite coast from the Malay States with a dummy funnel and flying the wrong kind of flag? My own impression, from information I have, is that there were some confederates in Penang. Do I understand that if anyone who had been guilty of giving assistance to the enemy were to escape across, this Bill affords an opportunity of dealing with him which does not now exist?
It creates no new offence. It merely enables operations to take place in the Federated Malay States such as can now take place in any Colony or Protectorate; but it does not create any new class of crime, or enable us to deal with any criminals who cannot be dealt with under the principal Act of 1881.
If a German spy could have been dealt with under the Act of 1881, he can be dealt with in the Federated Malay States.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill Reported, without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.