HC Deb 04 April 1873 vol 215 cc603-4

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with reference to a statement which appeared in "The Times" newspaper, in a letter from Zanzibar of February 18th last, to the effect that many Arab slave dhows carry the French flag, not because the dhows or their cargoes are French, but because the French flag prevents their being searched by British cruisers, Whether any official Communications have been received from Sir Bartle Frere on the subject; and, if so, whether any representations have been made to the French Government?


Sir, it is quite true that many Arab dhows carry the French flag, neither the owners, vessels, nor cargoes being French, and Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris has on several occasions been instructed to make representations to the French Government on the subject of the facilities thus afforded to native vessels for procuring French papers, which facilities are abused for Slave Trade purposes. British cruisers have no right to search French vessels; all they can do is to verify their nationality by demanding to see their papers. I believe that the new Commander of the French Naval Forces on the East African station received special instructions not to allow native vessels to obtain French papers or assume the French flag for the purposes of the Slave Trade. No special representation on this subject has been received from Sir Bartle Frere.