HC Deb 22 December 1854 vol 136 cc793-4

said, he begged to ask the noble Lord the President of the Council if any information had been received that the new Government in Spain had given effect to those decrees relative to the abolition of the slave trade and the registration of slaves in the Island of Cuba which were issued about the month of June last? Also, whether the number of our cruisers on the coasts of Cuba had been increased, as was promised last Session, and in conformity with the Report of the Select Committee on slave-trade treaties.


In answer to the question of my hon. and gallant Friend, I have to say that the late Governor of Cuba did certainly put in execution these decrees with great zeal. With regard to the new governor, General Concha, we have not hitherto received at the Foreign Office any account of his proceedings so as to enable us to give information to the House on the subject; but on quitting Madrid in August last he gave assurances to Lord Howden, our ambassador there, that in everything relating to the fraudulent admission of negroes, the British Government would find in him a vigorous and uncompromising enemy to the slave-trader, and one determined to enforce the slave treaties which had been entered into between Spain and this country. I trust that General Concha, who holds a very high character, will maintain that promise, and so execute those treaties. With regard to the number of cruisers I am not able to give a particular reply to the question, but I have no doubt my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) can.


With respect to that part of the question of the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton I have to state that since the end of the Session the squadron under the command of Admiral Fanshawe has been greatly augmented, and his attention has been particularly called to the importance of using every exertion for the suppression of the slave trade on the coast of Cuba. What the present distribution of the force may be I cannot say, as the largest discretion is left to the admiral on the station. But I am sure that if General Concha's co-operation which my noble Friend trusted would be brought into play, it would be infinitely more effectual for the suppression of the slave trade than any augmentation of cruisers which we could command.