, in presenting a Petition against the monopoly of the East-India Company, took the opportunity to inquire whether the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies was aware what portion of the 673 Sugar imported into this country as Mauritius Sugar, was, in fact, Java Sugar, imported from that island into the Mauritius, and then exported to England as the produce of the Mauritius. He had heard this was the case, an assertion that was borne out by the great increase in the quantity of Sugar imported from the Mauritius, which in 1828 was only 48,000,000 lbs., and last year was 90,000,000 lbs.
§ Sir George Murray
replied, that if Java Sugar were so imported into the Mauritius, and re-exported to England, it was done contrary to law, and it could not be done unless there were connivance and criminality on the part of the Custom-house officers at the Mauritius. He was not however aware that any such thing had occurred. A limited quantity of foreign Sugar might he occasionally introduced there by a vessel having sustained damage at sea, when she might be allowed to land part of her cargo, and dispose of it to pay the expenses of her repairs; but if more than that were introduced, it must be effected by fraud. The increased quantity of Sugar imported into this country was to be accounted for by the increased cultivation of sugar-cane in the island. The Mauritius having been placed on the same footing in our markets as the West-India islands, the planters had given up the cultivation of Coffee for the cultivation of Sugar. The great advantages also accruing from that cultivation had at one period led to the importation into the Mauritius of persons who were then Slaves, or were afterwards enslaved, in violation of the law, and that importation had extended the cultivation of Sugar.
§ Mr. W. Smith
thought the admission of the right hon. Secretary, relative to the importation of Slaves into the Mauritius, of great importance, as that fact had formerly been strenuously denied, and the statements of his hon. friend, the member for Weymouth, were declared to be entirely destitute of foundation.
wished that the right hon. the member for Liverpool had been present, because he was interested both in the quantity of Sugar imported from the Mauritius, and in the fact of Slaves having been imported into that island. He certainly did not calculate on such a large quantity of Sugar being brought from that country, and as it was alleged to be partly Java Sugar, the subject was worthy of the consideration of the Government.
§ Sir G. Murray
concurred in the opinion that this subject was of importance, and the attention of the Custom-house officers ought to be directed to it. With respect to the illegal importation of Slaves, to which he had alluded, he begged leave to add, that it took place in 1819 and 1821.
§ Mr. Fowell Buxton
was deeply interested in the admission of the right hon. Secretary, for he had been exposed to much obloquy for making a similar assertion, and his statement had been flatly contradicted.
§ Mr. Irving
stated, that the late governor of the Mauritius, when the investigation took place, admitted that there had been an importation of Slaves, but he proved, to the satisfaction of all candid men, that the practice was suppressed as soon as he had the power to suppress it. The charge made against him was groundless, and if the committee had continued its labours, he had no doubt that his hon. friend would himself have admitted that.
§ Petition to be printed.