Front Page Titles (by Subject) 81.: The Extradition Treaties Act  6 AUGUST, 1867 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
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81.: The Extradition Treaties Act  6 AUGUST, 1867 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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The Extradition Treaties Act 
PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 189, cols. 983–6, 991. Reported in The Times, 7 August, p. 3, from which the variant and response are taken. During the debate on going into Committee on “A Bill to Continue Various Expiring Laws,” 30 & 31 Victoria (26 July, 1867), PP, 1867, II, 733–6, discussion had turned to the Extradition Treaties Act (see No. 36). Mill spoke after Edward William Watkin (1819–1901), M.P. for Stockport, had asserted (cols. 982–3) the importance to society of malefactors receiving their proper punishment, even if a few might be given up under cover of criminal accusations when they really were political dissidents.
mr. j. stuart mill said, that the argument of his honourable Friend (Mr. Watkin) carried out to its logical conclusion would carry him much farther than to giving up mere criminals; it would induce the House to connive at the most tyrannical exercise of power on the part of a Government. It was very important, no doubt, that malefactors should be given up, and that peaceably disposed persons should be able to walk about in security; but he did not think that anybody in that House would be found to agree in such an argument as that made use of by the honourable Member for Stockport, which was an argument that had always been made use of in defence of tyranny. If they restrained tyranny, if they restricted the abuse of power, if they did anything which had a tendency to weaken the hands of those who conducted the administration of the country, it did not follow that they were disposed to throw aside all the advantages which society derived from the existence of law and government. That argument, therefore, might be put out of the question. No doubt it was very important that malefactors should not be able to fly from one country to another. Other countries as well as this felt the importance of delivering up ordinary malefactors. But every country did not think it right to surrender persons who were only charged as criminals, because they were deemed to be political offenders; and to make such a concession would stamp any free country with disgrace. Was the House prepared to entertain the doctrine that we ought to have such unbounded confidence in every Government with which we had diplomatic relations that we ought to rely upon the honour of that Government that it would not demand the extradition of political offenders, instead of taking proper precautions against the abuse of the treaty by foreign Governments? The honourable Member had referred to the circumstances of the Lamirande case.1 Everyone was aware that the extradition of that person had been obtained by a fraudulent proceeding, but at the same time everyone was aware that Lamirande was a scoundrel, and probably the consciousness of that fact went far to prevent any prolonged discussion upon the subject of the treaty, such as would have taken place had it been the case of the extradition of a political offender. The honourable Member for Southwark (Mr. Layard) had alluded to the difference between the French and English procedure in criminal cases, stating that here we always presumed a man to be innocent till he was proved guilty, whereas in France a man was presumed to be guilty till he had proved himself to be innocent.2 No doubt this did not necessarily imply a failure of justice in foreign countries; because the tribunals were bound to act precisely on the same abstract principles of truth and justice as were presumed to be acted upon by our Courts of Justice. It was true, however, that in this country the tribunals considered themselves simply bound to hear the case, and if justice was defeated the fault was with the parties, the Judge being impartial; while abroad—in France for instance—the Judge acted to a certain extent as an officer of police as well as of justice; he thought it his business to hold an inquisition—not, of course, of the nature of the Spanish Inquisition—into the case, and felt bound to discover by whom the offence had been committed. He was as little disposed as any Member of the House to flatter his countrymen at the expense of other nations; but in this respect the feelings and opinions of our Courts were much better than those of most foreign countries, and in his opinion we ought not to give up any portion of the advantage which we derived from that difference. With their feelings in this respect, it was exceedingly natural that the French tribunals, and still more the subordinates of the French tribunals, should take very much the same view as the honourable Member for Stockport, and should think that everything was fair by means of which a person accused of a crime could be brought before a tribunal. This it was that was so strikingly illustrated by the case of Lamirande, which placed in a very strong light indeed the impolicy and injustice of that confidence which his honourable and learned Friend the Member for Oxford was willing to place in the Governments and officers of foreign countries.3 It showed that it would not do for us to abandon the right that we had always exercised, of examining, before we delivered up an alleged criminal, whether there was such evidence as appeared to our tribunals to be sufficient to justify his being placed upon his trial. When, last year, the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), ayielding to their arguments and not to their numbers, consented to limit the duration of this measure tilla the 1st of September,4 the general expectation was that the interval would be employed in placing the matter upon a more satisfactory footing, either by means of negotiation, or, as he (Mr. Mill) should prefer, by laying down some principle which should apply to all extradition treaties. They left the matter willingly in the hands of the noble Lord. He hoped that the noble Lord would be able to say that something of the sort had been done. Unless the noble Lord could make out some very strong case as to the extreme difficulty of dealing with this subject, he did not see how he could ask for a longer prolongation of the statute than that which was granted last year. The demand indeed reminded him of the story of Hiero and Simonides.5 Hiero asked Simonides to define the Godhead. Simonides asked for a day; at the expiration of that time he asked for two, and at the expiration of the two he asked for four, explaining that the more he considered the subject the more difficult he found it. The Government first asked them for a year and now, having had it, for what amounted to two years. An honourable and learned Friend of his,6 who was not in his place, contemplated proposing that, instead of prolonging the Act until the end of the Session of 1869, the endurance of the measure should be limited till the 15th July next, in order that the question might be thoroughly discussed in a full House. If the noble Lord was not prepared to assent to that Amendment he hoped that the noble Lord, when he rose to reply, would be able to assure the House that the time that had elapsed had been usefully employed, and that some plan had been drawn up, or that negotiations had been entered into with foreign Governments that would lead to a satisfactory result being arrived at with reference to this important question. (Hear, hear.)
[Following Mill, Stanley said, inter alia, that Mill had mistaken him if he thought a specific pledge had been given that a general inquiry should be made following passage of the Extradition Treaties Act; the Government would not object if someone wanted to move a Committee on the matter (cols. 986–9). He then reiterated the latter statement.]
Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, he had never intended to say that the noble Lord had broken any pledge. If the noble Lord had given any pledge, doubtless he would have kept it. He had only said that there had been an expectation and a hope in the House that the question would be discussed.
[Stanley again indicated the Government’s willingness to have a Committee (col. 991).]
[1 ]Sureau Lamirande, a cashier of the Bank of France, accused of forgery, had been committed to jail in Montreal in August 1866, and then handed over to a French inspector of police, and taken back to France. In fact a judge, believing the transaction was contrary to law, issued a writ of habeas corpus on 25 August, but the prisoner had already sailed. (See “Extraordinary Case of Extradition,” The Times, 17 Sept., 1866, p. 10.)
[2 ]Austen Henry Layard (1817–94), col. 978.
[3 ]Charles Neate, cols. 978–80.
[a-a]TT , as he understood, last year to the voice of the majority of the House, had only asked for the extension of the Bill until
[4 ]Edward Henry Stanley, Speech on the Extradition Treaties Act Amendment Bill (6 Aug., 1866), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, col. 2124.
[5 ]Cicero, De natura deorum (I, xxii), in De natura deorum, Academica (Latin and English), trans. H. Rackham (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1933), p. 58. The story concerns Heiron I, tyrant of Syracuse 478–467/6 , and Simonides of Ceos (ca. 557–468/7 ), poet and man of learning.
[6 ]Not identified.