HC Deb 15 July 1856 vol 143 cc939-41

Order for Third Reading read.

Bill read 3°.


said, he wished to ask whether the correspondence with foreign Governments relating to the slave trade, in continuation of former correspondence on the same subject, would be laid upon the table? The services in which the navy had recently been engaged in the Black Sea and the Baltic had naturally diverted attention from the measures adopted by Her Majesty's Government for repressing the slave trade on the coasts of Cuba, Brazil, and Africa. He would take that opportunity, however, to express his acknowledgments to the noble Lord at the head of the Government for the exertions he had made to obtain valuable treaties on this subject, and also for having carried those treaties into effect by maintaining an efficient naval force on the coasts of Africa and Brazil. Strong hopes had been entertained, after the engagements entered into by Spain for the repression of the slave trade, that those engagements would be faithfully fulfilled; but it had been shown before the Committee that had been moved for by the late Mr. Hume, that, notwithstanding the promises of the Spanish Government and of the Captain General of Cuba, slavers were actually fitted out under the guns of the Spanish ships of war at the Havannah. It was notorious, also, that the Government of Brazil had favoured the introduction of slaves into that country. The British cruisers on the coast of Cuba were entirely unsuited to the service on which they were employed, and they ought to be replaced by vessels of much lighter draught of water. He would therefore beg to suggest to the First Lord of the Admiralty that some of the new gunboats, which were peculiarly adapted for that service, should be stationed at Nassau, in the Bahamas, and they would be well able to follow slavers into the shallow waters of the adjacent seas.


said, he was sure the House was aware that nobody had shown more zeal for the suppression of the slave trade than his hon. and gallant Friend who had just addressed them, and ho felt certain that his hon. and gallant Friend must feel a just and commendable pride in the reflection that such eminent success had attended the exertions in which he had taken part. He thought the slave trade might be regarded as extinct in Brazil, for though attempts had been made to revive it, those attempts had not been attended with much success. He thought we might depend upon the Government of Brazil to enforce those laws which had been enacted for the suppression of that trade. Those who formerly invested their money in this traffic now employed it for purposes of internal improvement, and there was generally evinced throughout that country a spirit of hostility to the revival of the trade. There had, however, been a great mortality among the slave population, and speculators from the United States had endeavoured to take advantage of the circumstance by importing negroes, but he believed that very little success had attended their efforts. With regard to Cuba, he was sorry to say that the Spanish Government, though profuse in their assurances and liberal in their orders, had not always been so active in carrying those orders into effect as might be desired. The Captains General who went there usually did very well for the first year or two, but their virtue soon yielded to the temptations to which they were exposed, and their vigilance relaxed so far as to give the slave dealers considerable advantage. During the late war the Admiralty had withdrawn from the station certain vessels employed in the suppression of the slave trade; but there were now in the navy vessels well calculated for that service; and he could assure his hon. and gallant Friend that the First Lord of the Admiralty was anxious to employ such as would be best adapted for watching the coast of Cuba. He was afraid that we must rely more on our own vigilance than on the orders issued by Spain. Though a few cargoes might now and then be landed in Cuba, he did not think the numbers bore any proportion to what was formerly imported into that country; and he would only say, in conclusion, that if we succeeded in thoroughly putting down that horrid traffic, it would be one of the proudest triumphs ever achieved by any country.

Bill passed.