HL Deb 14 June 1852 vol 122 cc561-2

rose to implore his noble Friend opposite, before the next stage of the Bill, to reconsider the propriety, which he would strongly urge upon them, of withdrawing the measure. They had the best possible opportunity of doing so, on account of the total change in the law of France which had taken place upon the very subject of extradition since the Convention was entered into.


It is not at all necessary that I should detain your Lordships before I give an answer to the request which the noble and learned Lord has addressed to me, because I have already made up my mind upon the subject. I had come down to the House intending to inform your Lordships at the proper time that Her Majesty's Government thought fit at present to withdraw this Bill. I think at this moment, after what the noble and learned Lord has said, that I need not exculpate myself for a mistake into which I fell on a previous evening, which originated in an error of the person who wrote the despatch to me, and which our Ambassador at Paris has desired me to explain in the manner I have now done. Before I leave this subject, I only wish to state that it would be extremely dangerous, I think, at the present moment, for Her Majesty's Government to continue this Act of Parliament under the new law which has been passed in France. In the first place, I cannot yet understand the full bearing of that law; but, as far as I do understand it, it would seem to give the French Government a power to reclaim any criminal from any part of the world wherever he committed the offence— though it was not committed on French ground, and though the party were not a Frenchman.


Yes; an Englishman in London.


I would beg to suggest to your Lordships that we should have no discussion at present upon this Bill. Suffice it that, on these grounds, I had intended at the proper moment to have told your Lordships that Her Majesty's Government had for the present suspended the further progress of the measure.


said, that nothing could be more satisfactory than this course, and nothing could be more complete than the justification of the noble Earl for so acting. He could do no other, after finding that he had been misinformed as to the actual state of the French law. The new law was, that an Englishman for an offence committed in London, or alleged to be so committed, might be brought to trial in France, and dealt with by the French authorities. It was not for the first time that a law of this sort was propounded in France; it was in a great measure the same under the Emperor Napoleon, in 1808, when France, England, and Europe were in totally different circumstances. Since then, owing to that diversity of circumstances, the law had been a dead letter; but it had been now revived, and with a very material extension, having reference to misdemeanours as well as other crimes.


said, that by the existing French law, supposing the Bill before the House to have been carried, an Englishman might have been apprehended here after he had been in Paris.

[Subsequently, Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Amendment, read, and discharged; and Bill (by leave of the House) withdrawn.]