§ MR. BUXTON
said, he rose to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, What steps the Government have taken towards the punishment of the parties privy to the fitting out for the slave trade, in Liverpool, in November, 1860, of the slaver Nightingale; what has been the result of the application which Earl Russell instructed Sir Arthur Magenis to make to the Portuguese Minister for the Colonies, on the 14th of August last, relative to the practice of sending slaves, as domestic servants, by the Portuguese Mail Steamers and other conveyances, from the province of Angola to the neighbouring island of St. Thomas, under the representation of their being the property of passengers going there; what answer has been returned to the recommendation made to Senor Collantes at Madrid, by Sir John Crampton, on the 10th December last, at the request of Earl Russell in his despatch to Sir J. Crampton of the 12th November preceding, that, with a view to suppress the slave trade to Cuba, the slave trade should be declared piracy, and the masters, crew, and all concerned in the navigation of slavers, be subjected to martial law, a recommendation made by the present Captain General of Cuba; what reply has the French Government returned to the representation Earl Russell instructed Earl Cowley to make to it on the 19th of December last, relative to the continued shipment, as engagés, of slaves from the Comoro Islands to Réunion and other French possessions, "contrary to the orders of the French Government, and 1745 also in violation of the engagements contracted by that Government towards the Government of Her Majesty on the subject;" and what explanations has Mr. Consul Sunley, at Johanna, tendered on the subject of his employment of large numbers of slaves on his sugar plantations, in reply to Earl Russell's communication on that matter of the 5th of November last, and in consequence of M. Thouvenel's complaint, that while Mr. Sunley opposes the prosecution of the French immigration system from the Comoro Isles, he does not scruple to collect slaves at Anjounn, with the consent of the chiefs, and to employ them on his own account.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, the questions of, his hon. Friend related to a great variety of points. His hon. Friend wished to know, in the first place, what steps the Government had taken towards the punishment of the parties privy to the fitting out in Liverpool of the slaver Nightingale; and, in reply to that question, he (Mr, Layard) had to state that the slaver to which his hon. Friend referred was a vessel sailing under American colours. During the time she was being fitted out at Liverpool no circumstance transpired to; give rise to suspicions which could warrant; the interference of Her Majesty's Government, and it was only after she had sailed that the authorities had learned that she was intended for a slaver. But he was; happy to say that by the information which they had transmitted to the African coast they had caused her to be seized, with a full cargo of five hundred slaves. His hon. Friend wished to know, in the next place, what was the result of the application which Earl Russell had ordered to be made by Sir Arthur Magenis to the Portuguese Minister for the Colonies, relative to the practice of sending slaves, under the pretence of their being domestic servants, by the Portuguese mail steamers from the province of Angola to the neighbouring island of St. Thomas in answer to that question he regretted to have to state that a considerable slave trade had sprung up between the Portuguese settlements and the island of St. Thomas. It was carried on under the protence that the people wore free labourers, but he feared there could be no doubt that they were slaves. Her Majesty's Government had thought it right to address very strong remonstrances to the Government of Portugal upon that point: and he trust- 1746 ed that when the King of Portugal was made aware of the gross infringement of the law which was taking place—and taking place, he (Mr. Layard) was sorry to say under the sanction of the Portuguese authorities—means would be taken to put a stop to it. The third question of his hon. Friend related to the efforts which were being made to suppress the slave trade in the island of Cuba. In that case, again, he regretted to have to say that the Spanish authorities still countenanced that detestable traffic. He trusted, however, that the Spanish Government gave no support to the acts of their officers in the island of Cuba. Her Majesty's Government had addressed fresh remonstrances to the Spanish Government upon the subject, and he hoped that in consequence some decided steps would be taken for the suppression of the evil. The fourth question of his hon. Friend referred to the slave trade which was carried on in the islands and French possessions along the coast of Africa. On the 19th of December last Earl Cowley was instructed, as his hon. Friend had stated in his question, to make a representation to the French Government in reference to that matter, and the consequence was, that the French Government had sent out to make inquiries on the spot; but the distance was so great, that no answer to those inquiries had as yet been received. But, considering the treaty into which this country had entered with France for the suppression of the slave trade, and the desire which the Emperor personally expressed to put an end to that traffic, he had no doubt that when the French Government had obtained information as to what was going on in the Comoro Islands, they would take energetic steps to put an end to that branch of the slave trade. The last question of his hon. Friend related to the conduct of Mr. Consul Sunley at Johanna. That gentleman was charged with employing a number of slaves on his sugar plantations. Her Majesty's Government had written to Mr. Consul Sunley, asking for an explanation, which had been at once given by that officer. The Consul was a gentleman of great activity and energy, of great humanity, and had done a great deal towards improving the condition of the inhabitants of the island of Johanna. He (Mr. Layard) thought it only due to that gentleman to read the reply to the despatch, which was printed in the slave-trade papers. In that 1747 document Mr. Consul Sunley stated three hundred men and two hundred women were employed on his estate. The majority of these people were slaves belonging to the inhabitants of the island, thirty of them being free people, but the whole of them in their relations with him (Mr. Consul Sunley) were perfectly free, and he made no distinction between them. They received their own wages, and were free to come and go as they liked. That was the effect of Mr. Consul Sunley's explanation. The fact appeared to be, that although these labourers were slaves belonging to inhabitants of the island, they were allowed to work as free labourers, and were employed by Mr. Sunley without any reference to their state of servitude. At the same time, it was a question as to how far he was justified in even employing persons in a state of slavery, though he himself was not supposed to know they were slaves, as they came to him as free labourers and received wages. Under these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government had under their consideration how far they ought to disapprove of the conduct of Consul Sunley in this matter.