HC Deb 09 June 1864 vol 175 cc1456-7

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been called to the disastrous condition of the Colony of Lagos, and to the circumstance that the policy adopted by the Governor has destroyed the trade with Abbeokouta, and compelled its inhabitants to defend themselves against the recent attack of the King of Dahomey with ammunition purchased in exchange for slaves from French merchants at Porto Novo; and that thus the Colony of Lagos, founded for the alleged purpose of suppressing the Slave Trade, has been the direct means of stimulating it; whether the Governor of Lagos has been or will be recalled; and whether, in order to avert the recurrence of such costly disasters as have recently taken place, both at Lagos and on the Gold Coast, Her Majesty's Government has considered the expediency of relinquishing all territorial Protectorates on the West Coast of Africa?


, in reply, said, the Governor of Lagos had written to him by the last mail stating that he was about to proceed upon a mission to Abbeokouta in the hope of restoring, by pacific measures, the peaceful relations between the people of that district and the King of Dahomey, the war between whom was the chief cause of the depression of trade to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, and also to obtain redress for the long standing claims of British subjects. The answer which he had returned to the communication of the Governor was that he should confine himself to pacific measures in the prosecution of his mission. In reply to the last part of the Question he was not prepared to say that there was any change in the policy hitherto pursued by the Government. He conceived that our object was to promote legitimate commerce, and to discourage human sacrifices by all legitimate means; and he should be always ready to use his best efforts to promote those objects, with the smallest possible expenditure of blood and treasure on the part of this country. It would be satisfactory to the House to know that the Slave Trade was now almost unknown in Lagos; and he wished to add that he must not be regarded as concurring in the assumption that it was the policy of the Governor which was the principal cause of the difficulties in that quarter. The chief cause, on the contrary, he believed to be the war between the Abbeokoutas and the King of Dahomey, which the Governor was endeavouring by pacific measures to put down. He could not, he might add, countenance the imputation conveyed in the question, that the French merchants at Porto Novo had been concerned in the Slave Trade. The Government had not determined to recall the Governor of Lagos, nor was it his wish to say a single word in that House to discredit a public officer who was engaged in the discharge of such arduous duties as that gentleman had to perform.