HC Deb 23 February 1866 vol 181 cc959-60

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If any communications have taken place between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States regarding the propriety of sending a joint Squadron to the Coast of Cuba, for the purpose of preventing the importation of Slaves into that Island?


Sir, I must answer the Question of my hon. Friend in the negative. There have been no communications between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States with respect to sending any squadron to the coast of Cuba. There were communications some time ago—I think in the year 1864—between the two Governments with respect to the expediency of sending a small American squadron to the West African coast. With regard to the desirability of attaining the object in view, both parties were entirely at one; but the desire of the Government of the United States was that the vessels of the United States appointed to that duty should be released from the restrictions placed upon the cruisers of the United States in British ports generally under the Neutrality Proclamation. The opinion of Her Majesty's Government was that it was perfectly fair that they should be released, but that all vessels so released should be employed exclusively in operations for the suppression of the slave trade. To that condition the United States Government, on its part very naturally, did not feel itself able to accede. On the other hand, Her Majesty's Government, quite as naturally, felt that if they were to exempt ships from the operation of the Neutrality Proclamation on any other ground, and allow it to be made the means of rendering British ports available for warlike operations, they would be departing from its spirit. With the best intentions on both sides, it was found impossible to agree on any practicable measure.