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CHAP. Extradition, commercial, and navigation treaties had
first to be laid before the Reichstag, and then to 1867.
receive the assent of the Council. The Federal
powers as the Admiralty Court does in England. CHAP. The Court consisted of many members, seven of
1867. whom formed a quorum, and who were, for the convenient and expeditious despatch of business, divided into several Committees, or, as they were called, Senates. The members were paid from the Federal Chest. The Federal Council exercised jurisdiction over the Consuls of the Confederation so far as to be able to suspend or dismiss them. The rules which governed such cases were borrowed from the Prussian disciplinary law. The civil courts of each State were bound to help each other in the detection and punishment of offenders. In criminal cases the court of the place where the crime was perpetrated could obtain the surrender of the criminal from any of the other courts. The forum delicti commissi governs in Germany. There were a few cases in which the surrender of the offender could not be demanded, such as when the crime was political, or when he had employed the Press as his instrument. The Federal Council had always the power of ordering an execution in a refractory State. In extraordinary cases, requiring sudden action, this power was entrusted to the King of Prussia, as head of the Confederation.
There were seven Committees in the Federal ComCouncil. Two of these Committees, that for the the Federal
1 It may be as well to mention here that there was a commercial navy for the Confederation, bearing the same flag (black, white,
CHAP. 'Army and the Fortresses, and that for the Navy,
were selected by the head of the Confederation from 1867.
the Council, but without any reference to that body. In a separate Treaty with Saxony, of February 7, 1867, Prussia engaged always to have a Saxon representative on the Committee for the Army. The other five Committees were for Customs and Taxes, Commerce and Trade, Railways, Posts and Telegraphs, Justice, and for Statistics (Rechnungswesen). The members of these five Committees were chosen by the Federal Council. Article VIII. of the Constitution laid down that the head of the Confederation must be represented in each of the Committees; that besides his representative, there must be representatives of at least two of the other States; and that no State could have more than one vote in the Committees, although they might have several representatives. New elections for the Committees were held every time the Federal Council commenced a new session, the old members being eligible for re-election. These Committees could sit when the Council was in recess. The functions of the Committees were deliberative and administrative. They discussed and gave advice upon the matters which were laid before them by the head of the Confederation or by the Federal Council, and they also exercised a supervision over the administration of the affairs of the several Departments.
In the session of the Reichstag in 1869, the question of forming responsible Ministries was made
a prominent subject of discussion. The chief objec- CHAP. tion, apparently, against the formation of responsible
1867. Ministries was, that they would either swamp the Federal Council, or that the Federal Council would render them useless. This was no doubt the dilemma ; and the question resolved itself into the simple one, which form of government would best suit the exigencies of the case—responsible Ministries, or the Committees of the Federal Council. Count Bismarck stoutly maintained that the latter were far preferable. Responsible Ministries, he argued, would destroy unity in administration, would impede the full development of the reorganisation of the Confederation, and would create mistrust and a feeling of uncertainty between the legislative and administrative bodies. In fact, he boldly announced his wish that there should be but one responsible Minister for Prussia. There is no doubt that at the time, North Germany could only be governed by a strong central Power; and in this respect the Federal Council with one responsible Chancellor met the case excellently. It would have been a misfortune to have relegated the Federal Council to the position of the English House of Lords. Count Bismarck was accused of grasping at too much power. But was this really so ? Did not the smaller States exercise more influence in the Federal Council than they could possibly have done were all administrative power to be taken out of the hands of that body? If they held together they
could prevent Prussia forcing any measure through
The Reichstag consisted of 297 members, elected by direct votes and by ballot. The number of representatives which each State sent was as follows: Prussia, 235; Saxony, 23; the part of Hesse north of the Main, 3; Mecklenburg-Schwerin, 6; Saxe Weimar, Oldenburg, Brunswick, and Hamburg, 3 each ; Saxe Meiningen and Coburg Gotha, 2 each ; and the remaining States, 1 each. The duration of each Parliament was for three years, and a session must be held every year. By the electoral law of