HC Deb 04 July 1867 vol 188 cc980-1

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether his attention has been drawn to a report of an interview between the Viceroy of Egypt and a deputation of the British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society in Paris, at which the Viceroy stated that "if he were free to act against European Slave Traders, the Slave trade would soon disappear" from, the Nile; and, if he is prepared to give the requisite authority to overhaul and detain Slave traders hoisting the British flag?


said, his attention had been called to the report in question, but only by the notice of the hon. Baronet, and he had not received information on the subject through any other channel. He had always been under the impression that the continued existence of the slave trade on the Upper Nile was due, less to the inherent difficulty of putting it down, than to the tolerance—or he might perhaps say the connivance — of the subordinate local officials. As to the hon. Baronet's second Question he would say that that was one which would require a great deal of care and consideration. Of course there could be no wish in this country to protect the slave traders, whether under British or any other flag; but there might be questions of treaty or international rights involved, and also a question whether large and somewhat arbitrary powers could be intrusted to subordinate officials in an Eastern country, and at a great distance from the central Government, without some risk that those powers would not be abused for the purpose of extortion, and would thereby interfere with the legitimate operations of trade. But as that question had never, so far as he knew, been brought before the Foreign Office, he hoped the hon. Baronet would not expect him to express an opinion upon it.