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being permitted to take effect; all treaties and conventions, the execution of which may directly or indirectly involve the payment of money, or the regulation of taxation, must depend for their complete performance upon the consent of Parliament. Of this class are commercial treaties, the very spirit and purpose of which depend upon a re-adjustment of custom dues, in conformity with stipulations of reciprocity agreed upon, and which can only be done by the authority of Parliament. But even in these cases, the authority of Parliament has been most unwill. ingly and ungraciously referred to by the wielders of prerogative; the policy of the treaty requiring such modifications of taxation being generally studiously withheld from its notice. Take, for instance, the famous Commercial Treaty with France of 1860, which the latter country by vote of the Chambers has recently denounced. The 20th Article of this treaty stipulated that it should “not be valid unless Her Britannic Majesty be authorized by her Parliament to execute the engagements contracted for by her in the several Articles of the Treaty.” To effect the necessary changes, a Bill to amend the Customs Act was introduced, the order for going into committee on which was fixed for the 20th February. On that occasion Mr. Disraeli objected to Parliament being called upon to sanction so large a change in the fiscal arrangements of the country, without an opportunity of considering and approving of the grounds upon which it was sought to justify its adoption, and moved an amendment that the House should not go further in the matter,

"until it shall have considered and assented to the engagements in the Treaty.” This amendment was lost by only 293 against 230 votes. On the same evening in the Upper House the Earl of Derby denounced the conduct of the Government in withholding the provisions of the Treaty, more especially as regarded the equivalents which were to be accorded to this country, and contrasted it with that of Mr. Pitt in reference to the commercial treaty with France of 1787, when that Minister laid upon the table, together with the Treaty, a memorandum of the scale of duties stipulated to be imposed by the French Government upon imports from England. The policy of the celebrated Cobden Treaty has always been more or less a matter of question, and it appears anomalous and unbecoming in the highest degree, that an act so deeply affecting the commercial interests of the country should have been capable of adoption without the sanction of Parliament to its principle and details.

The convention between Great Britain and France for guaranteeing the interest on the Turkish loan, the ratifications of which were exchanged at Constantinople on the 12th July, 1855, affords a still stronger illustration of the ridiculous dilemmas which inevitably attend the half-recognition, ex post facto, of the jurisdiction of Parliament in the appropriation of the public funds. The preamble of this convention recites that the Sultan of Turkey had applied to the Sovereigns of France and England in order to obtain facilities for raising a loan, to which request they had acceded; and the terms conditioned that

Her Britannic Majesty "undertook to recommend to her Parliament to enable her to guarantee conjointly with His Majesty the Emperor of the French," and that the Emperor of the French "engaged subject to ratification of the convention by the legislative body of France, to guarantee conjointly with Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain," interest at the rate of eight per cent. on a loan of five millions sterling to be made to the Sultan. The Legislative Body of France made no difficulty of ratifying this convention; which was thereupon, quasi convention between the two contracting sovereigns, complete. All that remained to be done was to induce the British Parliament “ to enable ” Her Majesty to carry out her guarantee. On the 20th July, accordingly, Lord Palmerston moved a vote to that purport in the House of Commons, and in answer to strong observations of dissent implored them for the honour of the faith of the country, which had been pledged, to consent to it. In the end his lordship's eloquence prevailed so far as to save the honour of the country by a narrow majority of three, 135 voting for and 132 against the resolution. Is it, we ask, seemly, is it safe, that the country should be pledged behind its back to pecuniary engagements by the “responsible Ministers of the Crown,” which it cannot afterwards repudiate or disengage itself from, without incurring, however vaguely and unreasonably, the odium of breach of faith, or shabbi.

ness, or both ?

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE QUESTION AS IT STOOD

AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE PRESENT CENTURY. REVIEWING all the above statements, which have been deduced from our Parliamentary history, from the period of the Stuarts down to within the present century, and which follow the still stronger records of earlier times, we, without at all wishing to press the matter too far, consider it fair to draw the conclusion that, whereas in the earlier periods of our history the consultative authority of Parliament in matters of state policy was distinctly recognised by the Sovereign, the contrary practice, introduced in later years, "

under an assumption of “prerogative;" has met with such steady and systematic resistance on the part of both Houses of the Legislature as practically to amount to a repudiation of the theory upon which this royal pretension is based. We have seen, at any rate, that even within the period of the exciting events which terminated an era of history in 1815, the discussion of the preliminaries of treaties in Parliament was permitted, and led to material modifications in the definitive acts; and that the consultative authority of Parliament was thereby to a considerable extent respected. What we would submit is that the same, or an analogous course, should again be resorted to, by which Parliament should have the opportunity of considering the terms of a treaty before its being definitively signed and ratified. But whilst insisting upon the expediency and propriety of this mode of procedure, upon principle, we by no means overlook an objection which may very reasonably be made to it

enures,

in practice, on the ground of the altered circumstances which attend the proceedings of Parliament in our days, from those in the days of the Plantagenets and Stuarts, or even those of the early Georges, namely, in the publicity given to debates, in violation of the rule of secrecy which still, in theory,

We can quite understand that to publicly discuss, item by item, the provisions of a treaty which is yet the subject of negociation, might be very inconvenient and attended by injurious results ; but we can anticipate no ill consequence from an open and ample consideration of the whole matter being had, when provisionally settled, and apart from the conflicts of purpose and opinion, which marked its progress to completion. Moreover, the knowledge that such an opportunity of investigating and approving a transaction of great national concern before its final adoption would be so far satisfactory to Parliament and to the country as to obviate all inducement to prying and inquiring into the matter in the interim, by the way of questions put across the House to an unwilling and reticent minister, which now frequently occur, with such unseemly effect and such unsatisfactory results. But in addition, and to crown the whole argument, the example of the Treaty of Vienna of March, 1814, as well as that of the Washington Treaty of 1871, shows the impossibility of maintaining the precincts of official reserve against the enterprising researches of those who cater for information in the interests of the public; and it would be well to provide against the repetition of scandals of this kind by the timely

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