HC Deb 19 February 1872 vol 209 cc646-7

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If his attention has been drawn to the following statement from "The Friend of India," of November, 1871, as to slave girls imported into Malta in a British steamer:— 'The Malta Times,' writing again with reference to the Levant slave trade, mentions that 'The Abeasis,' a British steamer which arrived at Malta from Tripoli on the 8th of September, brought over nine black girls shipped as indigent ship passengers by a man named Haggi, and guarded by a military personage in uniform, carrying a long regulation sword. These poor creatures were carried to the same lodging-house in Strada Sant Ursola, where they were huddled up together in a back room during their stay, and fed on dry bread and melons. They were removed from this dungeon on the 11th of September for re-shipment on board a vessel bound to Constantinople. On the same day 'The Trabulus Garl,' Ottoman steamer brought two or three more from the same port. It is believed that the fact of these frequent importations of large 'families,' in spite of the vaunted laws against the traffic in slaves, has been brought under the official notice of Mr. Frank Drummond Hay, British Consul at Tripoli; and, whether any inquiry has been instituted and any steps taken to prevent a recurrence of this violation of British Law?


Sir, the attention of the authorities at Malta was called to the case mentioned in the papers quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) by the Colonial Office. They were, it appears, aware of the circumstances at the time, and the slaves were urged, as is the custom, to take the opportunity of being on British soil to recover their liberty. This they positively refused to do, preferring to proceed to their destination. Slaves discovered in this manner have, on other occasions, availed themselves of the offer of the Maltese authorities, and have been maintained at the public expense until they could find work for themselves. In justice to our Consuls, I ought to add that their supervision over this slave trade is generally most vigilant, and that their representations have been instrumental in procuring the release of several hundreds of slaves.