HC Deb 06 February 1844 vol 72 cc275-6
Sir C. Napier

wished to know whether the right hon. Baronet were prepared to lay upon the table the instructions which the Government had given to the commanders of cruisers on the coast of Africa?

Sir Robert Peel

said, that the whole question of the instructions to be given to the commanders of cruisers respecting vessels under the French flag, in the performance of their duty in the detection of slave ships, had been referred to a commission composed of Dr. Lushington and a distinguished officer, who had seen a good deal of service on the coast of Africa, he meant Captain Bayne. He hoped that in the course of a few days he should have an opportunity of laying them on the table. With regard to instructions occasioned by negotiations with the United States, he could not say that they were consistent with the instructions formerly given, but he did not think a due regard to the public service would allow him to give a more explicit answer.

Viscount Palmerston

wished to ask whether the Government had come to any understanding, or made any arrangements as to the power which the commanders of our vessels should have of visiting ships for the purpose of ascertaining their nationality? Although it might be unwise to lay on the Table such information as would afford information to slavers, still he thought that it was essential that Par- liament should know so much of the nature of the instructions as to be enabled to form an opinion as to their being in conformity with the expressed intentions of Parliament. Although the Government might be satisfied with this, he also thought that the House should be satisfied.

Sir R. Peel

trusted that the noble Lord would not press him too much on the subject at present. The United States had not published the instructions it had issued to the commanders of its cruisers on the coast of Africa. He, however, could say generally, that, in the instructions that had been issued during the present year, they had maintained the principles for which this country had always contended, and that they were in substance the same as those which had been issued to the officers of Her Majesty's navy in former years.