HL Deb 07 March 1861 vol 161 cc1526-7

said, that he had a few days ago received a letter from the colony of British Guiana stating that the Attorney General of that colony had, by the direction of the Secretary of State, introduced into the Legislative Council of that colony a Bill sanctioning the extradition of prisoners escaping from the French colony of Cayenne. From all previous extradition treaties or bills political offenders had been excluded. The peculiar character of the French settlement of Cayenne made it necessary that there should be no doubt as to whether, in this instance, the precedents were to be followed; and he, therefore, wished to ask the noble Duke, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether such a Bill as he had mentioned had been introduced by the direction of Her Majesty's Government, and if so, whether there was any objection to the production of copies of or extracts from any despatches which had passed upon the subject?


said, that if the slightest apprehension, either here or in the colony, existed in the public mind that political offenders were included in the Bill, he felt obliged to his noble Friend for giving him an opportunity of answering his questions. He had not received any official information that such a Bill had been introduced, but if the noble Earl had been so informed he had no doubt that such was the case, as instructions were sent out in September last to the Governor of Guiana to introduce such a Bill, the draft having been previously framed in this country by the Queen's Advocate as a draft ordinance. He would distinctly state that political offenders were excluded from the measure, which in fact was confined to three offences, namely, those of murder, forgery, and fraudulent bankruptcy. As regarded the third Question, he would observe that some important despatches passed during his absence in Canada and America which he had not had time to peruse. He should, therefore, like to look over them before promising to produce them.