In the Commons on Monday the administration of the Aliens
Act was the principal subject of discussion. Mr. Herbert Gladstone defended the action and bona-fides of the administrators in regard to several alleged cases of harshness, but admitted that the Act bristled with anomalies and was almost impossible to work properly. His own powers under the Act were extremely limited, being practically confined to giving an opinion, if asked, whether or not a particular act constituted a political offence. He proposed, however, to effect three changes in order to prevent the recurrence of painful cases,—viz., that notice of power of appeal should be printed in every language likely to be used by immigrants, that Advisory Committees should be appointed to assist the Immigration Boards, and that the sittings of the Immigration Boards should be open to the Press. In conclusion, he expressed his belief that the people of the country did not wish to reverse our ancient policy. Undoubtedly this is the wish of the people. They would far rather run the risk of letting in a thousand undesirable aliens than of sending back a single political refugee to death or to the torture of imprisonment. A shipwrecked man just manages to swim to a boat and catch hold of the side. Are we to argue with him while he clings there in helpless misery, and, if we do not like his answers, beat his hands with a boat-hook till he lets go and falls back into the water ?