HC Deb 03 April 1818 vol 37 cc1185-6

The House having resolved itself into a committee on the Slave Trade Acts,

Mr. Holmes

observed, that doubts had arisen whether the acts allowing the transfer of slaves from one of our colonies to another, extended to Demerara and Berbice; and with a view to remove those doubts, he proposed that the chairman be instructed to move "for leave to bring in a bill to explain three acts passed in the 46th, 47th, and 51st years of his majesty's reign respectively, for the abolition of the Slave Trade;" to which motion he understood the hon. member for Bramber did not mean to object.

Mr. Wilberforce

said, he should not object to the motion, but he was persuaded that when the object of the bill came to be considered, it would be found to menace the worst effects to the interests of Great Britain, as well as to those of the colonies. Yet he would not oppose the introduction of this bill, because it was his wish to have the subject fully discussed.

Mr. Marryat

strongly deprecated the object of this bill, being convinced that if the transfer of slaves to Demerara and Berbice were allowed, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prevent them from being smuggled into other parts of the continent over which we had no dominion, and especially to Surinam. But on the score of that humanity which had produced the abolition of the slave trade, he would resist a measure which proposed to transport slaves from the scene of their early connexions to distant and unhealthy regions. Such transportation, it should be recollected, was but too likely to benefit foreigners, to the prejudice of our own colonies; for there could be little doubt that if the transportation to Demerara and Berbice were tolerated, the slaves would be seduced, and clandestinely taken away to Surinam, where, from the peculiar fertility of the soil, great temptation was held out to capitalists.—Leave was given to bring in the bill, which was brought in accordingly, and read a first time.