HC Deb 03 August 1888 vol 329 cc1398-9
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the attention of the Prime Minister, in his capacity of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has been directed to the proceedings of a meeting of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, held in London yesterday, and presided over by Earl Granville, at which His Eminence Cardinal Lavigerie confirmed by personal experience the testimony of recent travellers as to the increase of the Slave Trade in the centre and east of Africa, and detailed the horrors with which that traffic is accompanied; and, whether, having regard to the dissatisfaction and suspicion occasioned by the withdrawal of H.M.S. London from Zanzibar, and the increase of the Slave Trade in East Africa, Her Majesty's Government will take any, and what, steps for the suppression of this evil?


The Secretary of State is aware of the proceedings referred to in the hon. Gentleman's Question. No doubt, the Slave Trade is active in the interior of Africa, and attended with immense suffering; but, probably, it is not more prevalent than formerly, while its chief seats have been shifted, and we are better informed of it through the settlers upon the Lakes. The withdrawal of Her Majesty's ship London from Zanzibar is not a recent event, but took place more than four years ago. She was not a sea-going ship, but was stationed at Zanzibar for the purpose of suppressing the export trade in slaves from the mainland. She could thus only operate by means of her boats, and her maintenance was very costly. The economy effected by her withdrawal has enabled us to increase our efforts at suppression by enlarged Consular supervision on the mainland, while the slavers are dealt with more conveniently by cruisers. The Slave Trade should be more completely checked when the British and German East African Companies administer the coast under their con- cessions from the Sultan. It is obviously impossible for Her Majesty's Government to follow the Arab slave traders into the interior of the Continent; but good results may be anticipated from the opening of trade routes by powerful Companies, and from the increasing difficulties of exporting the slaves. These have been the means by which the Slave Trade became a thing of the past on the West Coast, even before slavery was abolished in the countries which formed its inducement. Legitimate trade is the only true antidote for the terrible mischief of the Slave Trade, and its encouragement has been the object of all our recent policy. At the same time, we must carry on repression and punishment. We are acting in connection with other civilized Powers; we are neglecting no means; and I am glad to say that the new Sultan of Zanzibar is lending all the assistance in his power.