No. 18
Downing Street
16 April 1860
I have had under my consideration the Proclamation issued by you for British Columbia on the 15th of May last for the naturalization of Aliens, of which a copy was transmitted to me with your despatch No. 218 of the 13th of September.
This Proclamation (which you appear to have framed after the model of the law of Canada) providesManuscript imageprovides that every alien who has resided in the Colony for three years may demand naturalization on producing a declaration of his residence and character from some British subject, on making himself a declaration of residence and on taking the oath of allegiance. The latter declaration must be made and oath taken before a Justice of the Peace who is to declare that he knows no reason why the applicant should not be naturalized. These conditions being fulfilled the Court of British Columbia is to record the proceedings and the alien is to beManuscript imagebe deemed a British subject for all purposes whatever "while within the Colony of British Columbia." The naturalization may be annulled if any party to either of the above declarations is convicted of perjury therein. But the court is not entitled as a matter of course to examine into the truth of the documents which it records.
The certificate from a British subject is thus merely nugatory since in every Community individuals will be found who will sign it without any knowledge of it's truth.
Although this Proclamation appearsManuscript imageappears to have been framed by you in full conformity with the instructions received from this Department, yet there are points on which a few observations, with a view to future guidance may not be superfluous.
Under this law it would apparently be in the power of a fugitive American felon by an easy fraud to obtain all the rights of a British subject, and to qualify himself, so far as nationality is concerned for any office in British Columbia or a place in the Legislature as soon as such a body shall exist.
I am desirous that every facilityManuscript imagefacility should be given for acquiring the character of a British subject but a certain amount of bonâ fide residence and respectability ought to be required as a condition of naturalization. It appears to me desirable, it if be practicable, that the Court of British Columbia or some special Officer designated for the purpose should be empowered to require proof satisfactory to such Court or officer of the required residence and of the respectable character of the applicant for naturalization, and that as a guide to the decision on this point persons having been convicted of Treason, FelonyManuscript imageFelony, Rape, Forgery or any other infamous crime should be disqualified from naturalization.
I am willing however to leave this question to your discretion and local knowledge and I do not propose to interfere with the operation of the Act in it's present form. I have accordingly submitted the Proclamation for the sanction of Her Majesty and it has been laid before Parliament with the other Proclamations issued by you.
As a matter of language the 4th clause should give the alien the rights of a British subject "within" (not while "within") theManuscript imagethe said colony of British Columbia. The effect of introducing the word "while" would be (if the provision were valid) (1) That the naturalized Persons "while" within British Columbia would have the rights of a British subject elsewhere (a privilege which the Colonial Legislature cannot confer) and (2) that while absent from the Colony his rights of holding property within it would be dormant (which is not intended). The word "while" therefore should be omitted.
I have the honor to be
Your Obedient Servant
People in this document

Douglas, James

Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes

Places in this document

British Columbia