No. 96.]

My Lord: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your lordship’s dispatch circular of the 16th instant, instructing me to furnish you with a report on the disabilities, if any, to which aliens residing in Belgium are subjected by Belgian law.

The disabilities under which aliens labor in this country are so various that I found it necessary to apply to the government for more details than I felt myself competent to afford, but as your lordship desires that information on the subject should be supplied with as little delay as possible I herewith transmit copies of two laws which bear directly upon the residence of foreigners in Belgium, and which may be considered as embodying the material features of Belgian practice toward aliens.

The first is a law which is renewed from time to time, the last renewal being on the [Page 1383] 7th of July, 1865, for a period of three years, investing the government with the control over the residence of foreigners. The government exercises the power of sending aliens out of the country in cases, 1st, of vagrancy, or when the resources for subsistence are not proved when required to be declared.

2d. Of scandalous, immoral, or turbulent conduct offensive to the public.

3d. Of political proceedings by agitation, writing, or conspiracy against the tranquility of a friendly state in abuse of the hospitality here afforded them.

The second1 law in question passed this year extends the power hitherto in force for the extradition of foreigners accused or guilty of crimes committed in their own countries, and constitutes the basis of the extradition treaties of which copies were forwarded in my dispatch of January 20.

Until April, 1865, British subjects were not entitled to hold or inherit freehold property situate in Belgium. At present all foreigners in that respect are placed upon the same footing as Belgians. Further, distinctions between foreigners and natives are made in regard to judicial processes; for instance, in civil actions, a foreigner cannot obtain an order of provisional arrest either against a Belgian or another foreigner; in commercial actions he is under the same disability. But the Belgian can obtain an order of provisional arrest against a foreigner upon a simple petition through his “avoué” to the President of the Tribunal of Premiere Instance. In all tribunals except the Tribunal of Commerce he can be called upon at a stage of proceedings to give security for costs, unless he has letters of domicile from the King. For a foreigner to acquire the same civil position as a Belgian he requires a letter of domicile from the King. To acquire a position political as well as civil he requires an act of legislature. The letter of domicile confers on the foreigner the right of provisional arrest in all cases where a Belgian would have such rights. He cannot be called upon as plaintiff in any action to give security for costs; he is also exempt from provisional arrest except in such cases where a Belgian would not be exempt, for instance, in criminal or correctional proceedings.

The foreigner is not liable to the conscription for the army, nor is active service required of him in the Civic Guard, though, for the latter, he is called upon to contribute a pecuniary amount.

I have, &c.,


The Lord Stanley, M. P., &c., &c., &c.

  1. Not printed for the Commission.