HL Deb 21 April 1853 vol 126 cc142-5

In a reply to a question from the Earl of SANDWICH,


said, that he could not at the present moment pronounce a decided opinion as to what were the exact intentions of the Government regarding the mode in which the question of the mutual surrender of criminals would be dealt with. Their Lordships, however, were perfectly aware, from what had passed during the last Session of Parliament, that the subject was surrounded with a great deal of difficulty, technical as well as practical; and although he quite agreed with the noble Earl opposite that it was most important to come to a settlement upon the question, tending as that adjustment should do to promote a more friendly feeling between this country and France—and though he was quite sure that when any measure that ought to receive the sanction of Parliament was brought forward that it would be discussed in their Lordships' House without any exhibition of party feeling—yet he was so sensible of the importance of preparing a measure likely to receive that sanction, that he was not then in a position to announce any intention on the part of the Government to bring forward such a measure. He could, however, assure the noble Earl that the subject was under consideration.


said, that as he was the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who signed the Convention with France, to which the noble Earl (the Earl of Sandwich) had alluded, he might perhaps be permitted to remark, that although he coincided in the opinion of the noble Earl opposite, that there were a great many technical difficulties standing in the way of the improvement of the Convention laws on this subject, still he must declare that those difficulties would be very considerably lightened and lessened if noble Lords on his (the Earl of Malmesbury's) side of the House abstained from imitating the conduct pursued by noble Lords opposite on this subject when he held the position now occupied by the noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon). And if their Lordships would but bear in mind that the Convention which had been so signed by him was neither his invention nor his act—notwithstanding all the misrepresentations which had been made, not only in their Lordships' House but by the public press—and misrepresentations which he must say could only have originated in party feeling, and which derived from thence their only palliation—in the face, then, of all these false accusations, and the fact that the Convention was the act of the Administration which preceded that of Lord Derby—and considering also that the only addition and alteration which he made in it was one which would defend refugees from being kidnapped back to France upon false accusations—he felt bound to protest against the way in which his name had been coupled with this Convention, as in fact being its author.


felt bound on the part of every noble Lord who had opposed the Bill of the noble Earl who had just sat down, to disclaim the idea that party feeling had in the lest degree dictated that opposition. There had been no intention on his side the House to thwart the progress of the measure through Parliament; on the contrary, care had been taken to point out that the responsibility of the error originally committed rested with the Administration which preceded that of the noble Earl. But it had occurred to him, and the feeling was shared in by his noble Friend the Lord Chief Justice, that there were difficulties standing in the way of the Bill of the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) which were actually insurmountable; and he could not help feeling that that opinion was participated in by the noble and learned Lord who, being his predecessor on the woolsack (Lord St. Leonards) would, if he had not thought so, have pointed out the way to surmount them. And, indeed, if he was not greatly mistaken, the noble Earl withdrew the Bill, influenced by a similar idea that there were insuperable obstacles to its progress. To suppose, however, that on the discussion of how best criminals might be brought to justice, opportunity was taken of making a display of party feeling, was, he must say, a supposition not very creditable to their Lordships' House. He could only say then, for himself and others, that the Bill of the noble Earl had been opposed simply because in its then state it was felt that it could never be productive of any good.


could also testify that on the occasion alluded to by the noble Earl, the earnest wish and anxiety of noble Lords sitting on his (Lord Campbell's) side of the House had been, optimâ fide, to assist him in his endeavours. He certainly never remembered any blame being imputed to the noble Earl; and the object of those who agreed with him (Lord Campbell) was to induce the noble Earl to amend the Convention, rather than to introduce a new measure. And advice was given, over and over again, that he should rather try to amend the existing Convention in such a manner as would meet the wishes of France and England. The noble Earl's motives were most excellent; and had that been done, the noble Earl would have received the cordial support of noble Lords on his side of the House, in framing a Bill according to the amended Convention.


, as a Member of the Government which had originally framed the Convention Act, was anxious to say that though he had opposed the Bill of the noble Earl, nevertheless he had never joined in any misrepresentation made in his regard. He must, however, emphatically deny that that Government, under the circumstances in which it was placed, had decided upon submitting to Parliament any measure in the shape of that brought forward by the noble Earl, though he was at the same time aware that the draft of a Bill had been prepared for submission to the Cabinet. He was bound, however, to add, that in producing the measure which he did, the noble Earl was actuated by the best possible intentions, and that his motives were excellent, while he felt called upon to oppose his Bill, believing that it was one which ought not to receive the sanction of Parliament.


contended that there had been no misrepresentation of the noble Earl's conduct and motives in that House. The noble Earl had made the same imputation against that side of the House once before; and on that occasion he (Earl Granville) had given a statement of what had taken place. He had stated, as fully as was in his power, what was the share which the Government of which he was a member had had in this Convention. After that explanation, he thought that nothing could justify the noble Earl in accusing that side of the House of want of candour, or in making the charges against it which he had made that evening.


concurred in much of the spirit of the speeches now made by the noble Earl (Earl Granville) and by the noble Marquess. There was, however, an essential difference both in the spirit and in the matter of what both the noble Earl and the noble Marquess said in the discussion referred to.

Back to