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VI.

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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
Council had to act as a kind of police over the
conduct of members of the Confederation, and to
watch over the Federal finances. The judicial
authority exercised by the Central Power was rather
limited, owing to the want of a civil and criminal
code for the whole Confederation at the time of the
introduction of the Constitution. Later, however, in
the spring of 1870, a penal code for the whole of the
Confederation was published. A civil code and a
general legal procedure are yet wanting. The
Upper Court of Appeal at Lübeck was selected by
the Federal Council to try cases of high treason
against the Confederation. Differences between
members of the Confederation were to be submitted
to the Federal Council. A committee, or, as it was
called, a Court of Arbitration was then elected by the
Council, to whom was entrusted the settlement of the
dispute; the Council, of course, being responsible for
the decisions of the Court. The interested parties
took part in the vote for the election of this Court,
as these settlements of difficulties were regarded
rather as legislative than judicial acts. The right of
each member of the Council to vote on any question
was further an inalienable right. In commercial
matters also a Federal Court of Appeal was insti-
tuted in June 1869 at Leipzig. Besides deciding in
commercial cases the Court exercised also the same

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VI.

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

mittees of

Council.

1 It may be as well to mention here that there was a commercial navy for the Confederation, bearing the same flag (black, white,

red).

H

VI.

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

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VI.

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

CHAP.

VI.

1867.

any other

could prevent Prussia forcing any measure through
the Council ; while in Ministries, the heads of which
would naturally be appointed by the King of Prussia,
a greater hold would have been obtained by this
country over the management of affairs. It was
no argument to compare the Constitutions of other
countries with that of North Germany. The cir-
cumstances in which North Germany was placed
were totally different from those of
country. Again, a trial at least should be given
to these Committees. Some of their members were
men well cognizant of their business, selected irre-
spective of their nationality, and fully competent
to deal with the matters they had to administrate.
The Constitution, though scarcely in the saddle,
deserved to receive the confidence of the nation
for this Constitution had not been hastily prepared,
but had been submitted to the careful consideration
of the statesmen and assemblies of every State com-
posing the Confederation.

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

The
Reichstag.

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