HC Deb 16 June 1842 vol 63 cc1637-40
Captain Pechell

rose to move for certain returns of which he had given notice. He had to complain that vessels condemned by the courts of Sierra Leone, of from seventy to eighty tons, were only estimated at forty tons, and thus the captors lost much of what was strictly due to them. By an omission in the act of 1839 the proceeds of slave-vessels captured had never been distributed to the captors, and it was therefore desirable that the country should know in what department the mismanagement lay. The prizes were valued by the Admiralty at extraordinarily low prices, and a disproportionate amount of the proceeds was paid to the captors. He hoped the Government would not be scared by the treaty of Portugal, or by the apprehension of a rupture with the United States, or by discussions in the Chamber of French Deputies, but that it would cause some efficient alteration to be made in the existing law, and would take care that the proceeds of vessels captured should be disposed of in the manner originally intended by the act of 1839. The hon. and gallant Officer moved,— For a return of slave-vessels brought before the several courts of mixed commission or before the British Vice-Admiralty Courts for adjudication between the 1st day of January and the 31st day of December, 1840, with the name of the capturing ship and the commander thereof, describing the flag under which each vessel was seized; distinguishing those under the late treaty with Spain and under the act 2 and 3 Vic. c. 73; the registered tonnage of each vessel as well as that by British admeasurement; and if slaves on board, stating the number at the time of seizure, the date of the decretal part of the sentence, whether forfeiture or restitution, with the amount of proceeds of sale or of costs awarded, the expenses of condemnation and of breaking up of each vessel; the period when the proceeds for distribution were paid into the Registry of the High Court of Admiralty, and when the same were paid to the captors. Also, account of all claims for the several bounties or tonnage between the 1st day of January and the 31st day of December, 1841, and of all slave-vessels that have been taken into her Majesty's service under the provisions of the act 2 and 3 Vic, c. 73; stating the appraised or estimated value of the same, the registered tonnage as well as that by British admeasurement, and the sums which the commissioners of the Admiralty have deemed proper price for the same.

Sir G. Cockburn

not having received any intimation of the gallant Officer's intention, was not prepared to say how or where these vessels were valued. All he could say was, that he had never heard any complaint of the conduct of our navy on the coast of Africa, and that he believed the officers there exerted themselves to the best of their ability, and to great effect. He had reason to believe also that the slave-trade was rapidly decreasing, and that not a single slaver was fitting out at Havanna. If it were desired, he should be happy to afford any information that it might be in his power to give on a future occasion.

Motion agreed to,