HC Deb 16 March 1876 vol 228 c72

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether a Proclamation has been recently issued by the Sultan of Zanzibar prohibiting the transit of Slaves through his dominions; and whether, if so, Her Majesty's Government would consider the present a favourable opportunity for some relaxation of the exceptionally stringent provisions of Article 9 of the Commercial Treaty of 1839, by which the Sultan (who has surrendered a large Revenue from Customs Duties on Slaves) is precluded from levying any harbour dues on foreign shipping for the purposes of providing piers and lighthouses in the intricate waters of Zanzibar?


It is true that a Proclamation has recently been issued by the Sultan of Zanzibar prohibiting the passage of slave caravans through his territory on their way to the Somali Coast. With regard to a relaxation of the provisions of Article 9 of the Treaty of 1839, when Dr. Kirk was in this country in attendance upon the Sultan he was directed to report on his return to Zanzibar whether it would be possible to amend the article of the Treaty so as to enable the Sultan to revise the scale of duties now in force. Dr. Kirk is now engaged in this inquiry; but the difficulty lies in the fact that the Sultan has similar Treaty engagements with other Powers, and unless they all agree to a revision of the Zanzibar Tariff it would be impossible for this country to consent to allow such a revision of the tariff which would have the effect of placing the subjects of Her Majesty at a disadvantage compared with those of other Powers.