HC Deb 25 April 1890 vol 343 cc1437-57

1. £400,000, Exchequer Bonds (Cape Railway).

2. Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £17,640, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891, for the Expenses of Various Services (other than Consular) in connection with the Suppression of the Slave Trade, and the Expenses of the Liberated African Department.

(4.59.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I am sorry that this Vote is to be taken at this hour, because there are several facts which have transpired on which some further explanations are requisite, and, indeed, important. I admit that the Government have only followed the usual precedent, but matters in regard to the Slave Trade have drifted into such an extraordinary position that we hardly know where we stand. I see that the contract for steamers between Aden and Zanzibar has been augmented by £9,000 this year. Now we are asked for another £16,000, and I should like to know if a new contract has been entered into with the company? What do we find? That this company is down for £16,000 to put down the Slave Trade, and they are actually employing slaves themselves. We find that these Chartered Companies, particularly the Lakes Company, employ slaves themselves. It is a montrous case of hypocrisy that we should pose before the world as paying a large sum of money for the suppression of the Slave Trade, while we are subsidising a company like this to the extent of £16,000 per annum, and that company is actually employing slaves. There is an Act which renders any English subject liable to penal servitude—I think it is for life—who owns a slave. Even assuming that these slaves are hired——


I am sure the hon. Gentleman will excuse me if I say he is in error. The company with whom the contract is made is not the company to which he is referring—the East African Company, who have nothing to do with it.


It was admitted the other night that these companies practically belong to the same persons.




Am I to understand the hon. Gentleman that in no case these companies employ slaves? From what source has the right hon. Gentleman got his information? Does he know that they do not employ slaves? In any case, whether it be so or not, this sum is used for commercial purposes by this East African Company, which does employ slaves.


It is quite irregular on this Vote of a subsidy to the Steamship Company to discuss the conduct of the East African Company.


I have merely raised this point that this money is used for commercial purposes, and it is put down under the Slave Trade Vote. It is used in no way, except the most indirect, for the suppression of the Slave Trade. Therefore, we shall have to discuss in some sort of way the action of this East African Company. We ought not to allow this increased subsidy to be granted at the present moment. The Secretary to the Treasury will tell me that the contract will be laid on the Table, but we ought not to vote the money until we see the contract. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the advisability of putting off this Vote until we see the contract. I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £9,130, because I assume that the old contract which was £6,000 has been increased by £9,130, leaving out the Supplementary Estimates.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £8,510, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)

(5.10.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I rise for the purpose of seconding the reduction of this Vote. We want to be informed what brings this sum into the Slave Trade Vote at all. I only wish to point out that we on this side did not introduce the East African Company. It was the Government who introduced the reference through the Member responsible for these Estimates, who had to inform the Committee as to the necessity for the increase of the subsidy. I was under the impression, having listened to the debate the other night, that the increase was made for the convenience of the East African Company. Of course, if the Secretary to the Treasury tells us that it is not so. I do not understand how the East African Company came to be mentioned at all. I think we are entitled, first of all, to ask why this subsidy to the Steamship Company appears in the Vote for the suppres- sion of the Slave Trade, and also whether it has any indirect connection with the East African Company?

(5.13.) DR. TANNER

I hold in my hand the Appropriation Account for the year 1888–9, and find the amount the Committee is called upon to pay at the present time is £16,000, which, in point of fact, is an excess over last year of £9,130. When we find that £7,850, which was not on account of Slave Trade services, is passed under cover of this Vote, we see that the sum is increasing by leaps and bounds, and is really doubling the amount originally intended to be granted. I simply rose for the purpose of calling the right hon. Gentleman's attention to this matter. He is acquainted with the proceedings of the Committee on Public Accounts, where these matters were sifted, and he will recollect that attention was called in that Committee to the way in which this Vote was increased.

(5.15.) MR. JACKSON

I think I can satisfy the hon. Member who has just sat down that the matter is clearly and perfectly in order. The Appropriation Account deals with 1888–9, the expenditure terminating on the 31st March, 1889. The amount there stated is the amount of the contract which was then in existence. Since that time there has been a new contract entered into. That contract has been laid on the Table and circulated among Members. It is for a larger sum.




Quite so. In fact, it includes the Sea Service, and a quicker service, with calls at more places. The contract will have to obtain the approval of the House before it becomes legally binding, and I hope to lay it before the House in the course of a day or two. As regards the position of the Vote in the Estimates, it was a question when the Estimates were under consideration, whether the amount should be put under the Packet Service connected with the Post Office; but really the sum is paid much more for the suppression of the Slave Trade than for the purposes of the Mail Service. It is quite true that the mails are carried by these steamers, but I think I am justified in saying that it is intended much more for services connected with the Slave Trade. It is generally admitted that these vessels passing to and fro do exercise a beneficial influence in checking the Slave Trade. I suppose by multiplying the vessels that influence is increased. It was felt, further, in view of the general condition of things which prevails in the Red Sea, and the difficulties which have arisen during the past two years, that it would have been an extremely inopportune time to do anything which would weaken the means of communication with the fleet and the East Coast of Africa. The Government felt it desirable to enter into a contract for an improved service, and such contract has been entered into. Though it does appear an anomaly that a contract with a Steamship Company should appear in the Vote for the Slave Trade Service, yet there is much more connection between the two than at first sight appears. Reference has been made to the fact that the gentleman who is Chairman of the Steamship Company is also Chairman of the East African Company; but that does not necessarily imply that there is any connection between the two companies, except so far as concerns the action of that particular individual. I venture to say that there is no connection between this company and the East African Company, and perhaps it would have saved discussion had this explanation been made earlier.

(5.20.) SIR G. CAMPBELL () Kirkcaldy, &c.

I think it better to leave to the discussion on another Vote this discussion of the connection between the two companies, and to confine ourselves to the contract itself. I suppose we will be afforded opportunity of discussing the contract some time after midnight; but I think we had better utilise the present chance and daylight to examine this contract rather than trust to the tender mercies of the Secretary to the Treasury. On looking into the contract of the Steam Navigation Company I find that it was made without competition.


That is not so, if the hon. Gentleman means that competition was not invited.


That is not what I mean. No doubt competition was invited; but there was no competition, inasmuch as there is only one company running vessels in this part. The Chairman of that company is at the same time Chairman of the East African Company, and the contract is made not for a high rate of speed, only 10 knots an hour. The old contract was from Aden to Zanzibar, but the present contract is larger. The vessels are to touch at four places, all the stations of the East African Company. Another extraordinary point of the contract is that £7,000 is to be paid for carrying mails between London and Zanzibar. We have already abundance of mail contracts between London and Aden, the Indian mail contracts, and the China and Australian contracts. There is no need, so far as I can see, for a Mail Service between London and Zanzibar. The service between Aden and Zanzibar would have been ample for all purposes. Notwithstanding, the Steam Navigation Company, whose Chairman and many of the influential Directors, are also Chairman and Directors or the East African Company, are to have a largely increased subsidy. I cannot conceive what influence these mail contracts will have on the Slave Trade. The mail steamers do not stop to pursue slaves; they have no active part in the suppression of the Slave Trade; they simply carry letters to the Fleet, and I confess it does seem to mo that this contract is tinctured with something in the nature of a job.

*(5.20.) SIR L. PELLY (Hackney, N.)

Sir, I confine myself to the question of the British India Company plying along the East Coast of Africa, and to considering this question politically and commercially. It has been said that the commercial side of the subject has no relation to the Slave Trade. I venture to hold an entirely different opinion. I speak not without experience. I was actively engaged in the suppression of the Slave Trade 30 years ago on the East Coast of Africa, in the Persian Gulf, and in the principal Slave Groups. I was also a member of the anti-Slavery Mission in 1872–73. I venture to say that the running of mercantile steamers in the Persian Gulf and on the East Coast of Africa has a very close and direct connection with the Slave Trade, and in this way. Before the introduction of steamers trade is carried on by means of dhows. These ship a so-called crew from the East Coast, and proceed whether to Arabia, Persia, or other points in Asia. Most of the men thus shipped are slaves, and many of them are sold as slaves on the dhows reaching their Asiatic ports. This traffic went on year after year. It was going on in 1860, and continued during the 12 years I was in serving' on the Persian Gulf and on the East Coast of Africa. But when we got steamers into the gulf, and now that we are placing them on the East Coast of Africa, these steamers carry goods cheaper than they could be carried by the dhows, which in that way we cut out the dhow trade. The effect is to reduce the Slave Trade. In my belief, such a means of reducing that traffic is more effective than the employment of men-of-war. But, Sir, the argument would apply equally to the land. The more you introduce railways and civilised means of communication between the coast and the Upper Lake regions, the more will you tend to suppress the Slave Trade and prevent the ivory and other produce being brought down by slaves. With regard to the commercial aspect of the subject, I ventured to ask the British India Company what was the outcome of it? Their service began in November last. Since that time they have completed five voyages, and the average loss upon each voyage to the British India Company has been £1,500. If you compare what England does with what is done by other countries, you find that the German subsidy for steam communication on the East Coast is £45,000. Surely, if we want to develop our commerce, and indirectly, as I have shown by that very commerce tend to suppress the Slave Trade, surely, if we wish to maintain our Imperial position, and not be content with our insular position, we ought to be prepared to meet the sacrifices necessary. If we desire to stand before the world as intent upon the maintenance of our Empire, and as the antagonist of the Slave Trade, then we must pay for it. To pretend that we are anxious to develop Imperially, to pretend that we are a great and philanthropic people, anxious to put down slavery, and then to stickle over £16,000 is, to my mind, illogical and contemptible.

*(5.30.) MR. BRADLAUGH

Sir, I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the inclusion of this sum in the Vote is to be defended on the ground that it will tend to the suppression of the Slave Trade.


I gave the mails as a subsidiary matter.


Why is it that in the contract there is not a word directly or indirectly about giving anyone facilities for the suppression of the Slave Trade? If the mails are a subsidiary matter, why is it that all mention of the principal matter is omitted from the items stated? It is true that in the Treasury Minute, put in as a preface to this contract, there is a reference—almost as vague as that which came from the Secretary to the Treasury—to the British Mail Service to Zanzibar established in 1873 as a useful auxiliary to the suppression of the Slave Trade. I agree with the hon. Member who last spoke, that general civilisation does gradually bring about the suppression of slavery; but these subventions have nothing to do with that. The singling out of these Companies for the purpose of carrying letters from London to Zanzibar has nothing to do with that. You do not provide that, if a British Indian steamer comes across a dhow in the Red Sea or anywhere else, it has to go after it. I had not intended to take part in this discussion; but I do think that the Secretary to the Treasury should not presume so much on the general credulity of the House and the country as to offer in defence of the inclusion of an item in a Vote in which it should not appear that though it has nothing to do with the question of the suppression of slavery, generally speaking, the carrying of correspondence between civilised people tends in that direction. I defy the hon. Member to read one clause in the contract in which the Slave Trade is mentioned, or a single line which says that the company is to give any kind of assistance to anybody pursuing slave dhows. I defy him to read a word in it which says that there is to be any information given, directly or indirectly, to anybody as to the transport of slaves in consideration of this Vote. I hope the Financial Secretary to the Treasury—to whom we are often indebted for very agreeable explanations of financial policy—will add frankly to the information he has given us by saying that he does not defend the insertion of the item, and will leave it out next year.


There is, no doubt, a great deal in what the hon. Member has said; but I would ask the Committee to recognise that, after all, this is a criticism as to form. It is objected that this contract, being for other purposes than the suppression of the Slave Trade, ought not to appear under the Suppression of the Slave Trade Vote. I suppose the subsidy was originally given to the Steamship Company for carrying mails on this coast with the special object of aiding in the suppression of the Slave Trade, and that it has been allowed to continue in that form. In whatever form it appears, it is necessary. It is of the greatest importance that there should be speedy communication by mail steamer along this coast in order that Her Majesty's ships employed on the stations in that part of the world may communicate with the officers engaged in the suppression of the Slave Trade. I myself know of cases where information as to the probable movements of Slave Trading vessels has been carried by these mail steamers so as to lead to most important results. If such steamers were not employed I know of no way in which despatches from one station to another along this coast could be carried, except by a man-of-war. Undoubtedly, this country derives other advantages from this Mail Service than those connected with the suppression of the Slave Trade. I would, for instance, remind the Committee of the great and growing interests which this country has on the East Coast of Africa, and how much more important it is now than it was in times past that we should have a regular and speedy service. This line conveys mails as far as Zanzibar, and there it connects with another Mail Service to the Cape of Good Hope, furnishing a regular communication all down the East Coast of Africa. Surely hon. Members would not wish that this service should fall into the hands of foreign mail steamers—and the House has been told that the German Government pay a much larger subsidy to their mail line going' down this coast than we pay ours. I venture to think that the House would not acquiesce in any proposal to hand over our communications in this direction to foreign mail steamers or to do anything which would render our Mail Service less speedy and efficient than that of any foreign country and less able to successfully compete with the foreigner than we are in other parts of the world. It is because this mail contract is for the benefit of our commerce, and because I believe that the reasons which originally led to the establishment of the service on the East Coast of Africa continue to exist at the present day, that I hope the Committee will assent to the Vote.

*(5.42.) MR. BRADLAUGH

Is there a word about this service in connection with the suppression of the Slave Trade in the contract?


I do not think that that affects the matter. The assistance of the steamers in that direction, though subsidiary, is extremely valuable.

*MR. J. MACLEAN (Oldham)

I must say that I think the argument of the right hon. Gentleman rather tends to show that this subsidy should not have been included under the head of the suppression of the Slave Trade. We have heard a great deal about the value of the Mail Service on the East Coast of Africa, and one can readily understand that a Mail Service of that kind must be of great importance to us for the purpose of helping us to maintain our power in that part of the world as against our rivals. But it is quite apparent from the speech of the hon. Member for North Hackney (Sir L. Pelly)—who has a right to speak with some knowledge on this question—that this service is really established for Imperial and commercial purposes in the first instance, and only in a subsidiary degree for the suppression of the Slave Trade. My hon. Friend quoted to the House figures to show that the British India Company is actually now carrying on the service at a loss. It has lost at least £1,500 on each of the last five voyages. Does anyone believe the company is going to carry on the service at a loss for the purpose of suppressing the Slave Trade? The object of the company is to serve its own interest and the interest of the allied companies with whom it is working out there. It is plain that this service is intended to serve the commercial interests of the British East African Company. The steamers run to Mombassa and other ports, and it must, therefore, be to the interest of the East African Company to encourage the service. I think this subsidy was regularly included in the Suppression of Slavery Vote by what I may call a pious fraud on the part of Sir Bartle Frere. Having been out in this quarter of the globe, he declared that by the establishment of a line of steamers we should be indirectly going some way towards suppressing the Slave Trade. I have not yet heard anything from the Treasury Bench as to the way in which the Slave Trade has been suppressed by the establishment of this service. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs says that these steamers often carry information which enables British officers to intercept slave dhows; but I would ask him if he can point to a single instance where one of these steamers has deviated from her course for the purpose of rendering service to Her Majesty's Government in that way? No doubt the letters they carry give information. I am one of those who do not condemn what we are doing in East Africa; but I say the House ought to have information as to what is being done, and there ought to be no attempt to smuggle through a subsidy for a Mail Service under the head of the Suppression of the Slave Trade.

(5.45.) MR. WADDY

We seem by degrees to be getting a little light thrown on this Vote. I do not think there is one of us who doubts that this item, instead of being an attack on the Slave Trade, is really a subsidy to a commercial company which appears to have two heads, one of which we are not allowed to deal with to - night, the defence of which is mainly conducted with great ability and perfect fairnesss by the hon. and gallant Member, who is, I believe, a Director of the company.


Which company?


The Imperial British East African Company.




We are asked to grant a subsidy to a company which is a sister company to that I refer to on the plea that it is for the suppression of slavery, and it seems that the only connection it has with slavery is to be found in the argument that the more we cover the ocean with our own civilised vessels the less room there will be for others that are uncivilised, and the more information as to the doings of Slave Traders we shall obtain. According to that argument you should subsidise lines of steamers right round the coast of Africa, off the coast of Guinea, and in many other parts of the world. And it is said in support of the Vote, "Where would our Indian Empire have been if it had not been for these subsides to steamships, and where would our Australian Colonies have been? Well, what has all this to do with the suppression of the Slave Trade? No one doubts that, in regard to the general spread of information, you can screw the question of the Slave Trade in or twist it in; but the same thing might be done in the case of Samoa, and almost all other wild and uncultivated parts of the world. I protest against this item going under the head of the Suppression of the Slave Trade when it really has nothing to do with it. There is nothing more deceptive than to put down the Estimates in this way, and I strongly object to this sum of £16,000 being put under the head of the Slave Trade Suppression Services.

(5.50.) MR. JACKSON

May I make an offer to Gentlemen opposite? I will undertake that when the Estimates are framed next year the Mail Service Vote shall be removed from this heading and put with the general subsidies for these Services. I am sorry I cannot depart from what I have previously said as regards the original provision made on this subject. The Vote has occupied its present position for a good many years, but I am just as anxious as any Member of the Committee to improve as far as possible the form of the Estimates, and I will undertake that next year the Votes shall be separated.


Do I understand that the hon. Gentleman agrees to reduce the item to its old amount?


That is impossible. I daresay my right hon. Friend the Postmaster General will raise an objection to what I have already undertaken.


I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs that this is merely a question of form. An attempt is clearly being made in this case to smuggle through the Committee a large increase in a subsidy to a Steamship Company, under the pretext of suppressing the Slave Trade, when it has been made manifest that the real object of the increase is to facilitate the expansion of the East African Company's trade. The course of the debate has shown clearly what an inconvenient and improper proceeding this is. We have been cut off from discussing the true purpose for which the money is required. We are asked to vote money for a contract which the House has not yet approved; and when we look at the terms of the contract we see plainly that the main motive for the increase of the subsidy is not at all the suppression of the Slave Trade, but is in reality a political motive connected with the present position of Germany and England in Eastern Africa, and also with the development of the trade of the East African Company. We are asked to believe that every subsidy having for its object to increase commerce and communication along the coast must necessarily tend to the suppression of the Slave Trade. I utterly deny that general statement. Before we can judge of the effect of a trade, we must know what the nature of that trade is. Suppose we heard to-morrow that the goods that are shipped by the Company are brought down to the coast on the backs of slaves. I would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite whether none of these goods are brought down on the backs of slaves?


As the question is put to me, I beg to say I believe that nearly all the goods are brought down on the backs of slaves. I hope the Government may see fit to give some sort of subsidy or guarantee to a railway in view to assisting the Company in constructing one, thus tending to supplant this use of slaves.


To use an American expression, I have struck oil. I am exceedingly grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for the frank and manly way in which he has answered the question. It is admitted by a Director of the company that the steamers of the company we are asked to subsidise are engaged in shipping goods that are carried on the backs of slaves; and this is the way in which, according to Members of the Government, we are discouraging the Slave Trade. I protest againt subsidising a company whoso profits depend upon this infamous traffic. The attitude of the Government reminds me of the time when a good many Members of this House did not see any harm in the slavery of the Southern States. To put this item vaguely before the Committee as one for the encouragement of commerce on the East Coast of Africa is a preposterous attempt to deceive the public. The hon. and gallant Member hopes the Government will see their way to subsidise a railway. But the nonexistence of the railway does not justify English merchants in getting goods carried down on the backs of slaves.


The East African Company carry down nothing.


We all know, Mr. Courtney, that the receivers of stolen goods do not steal them.


If there are receivers of these goods they are the English community in London and elsewhere who purchase them.


Yes, but the English community in London and elsewhere do not know who brought down these goods.


Well, now I tell them.


Let the hon. and gallant Gentleman set up a store in London and placard it "for the sale of goods brought down from the interior of Africa on the backs of slaves," and see how many Englishmen will buy of him. If he will do it I will undertake to boycott the store. I say it is useless to talk of discouraging the Slave Trade when you are deriving a profit from the trade. This discussion has served a most useful purpose. It has shown us that, so far from being a mere matter of form, the introduction of this increased subsidy into the Slave Vote is an attempt to deceive the Committee. Under cover of a Vote for the Suppression of the Slave Trade, we are asked to grant an increased subsidy to a company for the purpose of enabling them to develop the trade of the East African Company, which is a trade based entirely on slave labour. Under these circumstances, I think I am justified in appealing to hon. Members to oppose the subsidy. The Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) has offered to alter the Vote next year. I accept no such proposal. This Vote, in my opinion, ought not to be passed on its merits, and the least we can demand is that the Vote shall be postponed until the whole question can be discussed.

MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)

I should like to take your ruling, Mr. Courtney, as to whether I shall be in order in making some reply to the many serious allegations which have been made against the East African Company with regard to the Slave Trade, as I am more or less in a position to answer them.


The conduct of the East African Company is not in question. As I am speaking, I may be allowed to make a statement from my knowledge of past transactions respecting the point which has been raised. When I was at the Treasury, long before the establishment of the East African Company, the question of the subsidy came up for consideration. It was then thought it ought to go under the Post Office Vote. The Postmaster General objected very strongly, as it was not an enterprise with which the Post Office had anything to do. The argument was used—whether it was good or bad I do not say—that legitimate commerce was the best way to destroy the Slave Trade.

(6.6.) MR. HANBURY (Preston)

I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the mischief we are doing in dealing with the Slave Trade at all. There is no doubt whatever that by the way we have pottered with this question, and by the inefficient manner in which we have endeavoured to suppress the Slave Trade, we have done more harm than good. The miseries of these unfortunate slaves have been enormously increased by the vacillating and halfhearted way in which we have acted. While making preparations for suppresing the Slave Trade, we have done everything to increase it and to add to its horrors. We are now asked to repeat exactly the same error. This line of steamers is carrying the goods brought down to the coast by slaves, and the result of increasing this subsidy will be that the quantity of goods carried by slaves will be increased and we shall have in the future an enormous additional amount of slavery. If we are going to subsidise anything let it be a line into the interior.

*(6.7.) SIR J. SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has made a strong point about the immense utility of rapid communication along this coast. When, however, we come to work it out, we find that these steamers are to crawl along the coast at the enormous rate of 10 knots an hour. Yet we are told that they will be of immense assistance in the suppression of the Slave Trade. In reality, all the intelligence will be carried by the swifter German vessels.

(6.9.) MR. CAINE (Barrow-in-Furness)

I wish to ask you, Mr. Courtney, as a point of order, whether, as two or three hon. Members have shown they are interested in this Vote, it will be competent for them to record their votes?


That is a matter for them to determine.

MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

As I protested a good many years ago against British lives being placed in jeopardy by attempting to deal with the Slave Trade in so ineffectual a manner, I cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing concurrence with what has fallen from my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury). I do not wish to raise any objection to the granting of legitimate facilities for communication in these regions; but any grant in that direction ought, I think, to come under the Post Office Vote. I wish to protest once more against the ineffectual manner in which this subject of the suppression of the Slave Trade is dealt with, and against the lives of British sailors being risked in these enterprises.

(6.10.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 145; Noes 213.—(Div. List, No. 59.)

Original Question again proposed.


I suppose it is competent for us, under this Vote, to discuss the conduct of any of Her Majesty's subjects, who may be said to have infringed the spirit of the action which has been taken against slavery. I wish to draw attention to the abases which are said to have occurred on the East Coast of Africa in connection with compulsory labour.


That is quite irrelevant to the subject of the Vote.


I submit that this is a Vote for the suppression of the Slave Trade.


There is no provision in the Vote for payment of money on the subject to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

(6.29.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

I wish to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs what steps the Government intend to take to see that the clause in the East African Company's charter respecting discouragement of slavery is carried out?


That is not relevant.


I would point out that in the discussion which has taken place we have had statements bearing on the subject.


The question ought not to have been introduced into the debate at all.

(6.30.) DR. TANNER

We find in the Vot3 an item of £10,000 for the Church Missionary Society; and when we come to examine it we find that it means an allowance of £5 a head to this Society for the maintenance of liberated slaves handed over to the Society by Her Majesty's Consul at Zanzibar. Now, I do not see why the Church Missionary Society in particular should receive this grant any more than the Gospel Propagation Society or any other Philanthropic Association. I do not think we should make any invidious distinction in matters of this kind. My purpose in referring to the subject now is to endeavour to extract some information, and I hope the answer will be a satisfactory assurance that there is no intention to endow with State-aid any one Society more than another engaged in such work. Failing such an assurance, it may be my duty to move a reduction of the Vote.

(6.33.) MR. JACKSON

I think I may relieve the hon. Gentleman from any necessity of moving a reduction on these grounds. No distinction whatever is made between Religious Bodies engaged in Missionary work. The Church Missionary Society have a station at this place, and they are willing to undertake the care of liberated slaves, and to provide for them until some means of livelihood is found. This is found to be the cheapest and readiest means of proceeding, and this grant is for the re-imbursement of the Society for the expense of carrying out its charitable work. This is as regards Zanzibar; but I believe a similar course is pursued in other parts of the world. No distinction is made between Religious Denominations.

(6.34.) DR. TANNER

Then I may take it that these liberated slaves may be apportioned among several Societies, who may share in the grant?


That involves a question of whether they would be willing to enter into an arrangement. We, in the present case, have an arrangement.

(6.35.) DR. TANNER

If a modus propaganda has to be adopted, what is the position of Her Majesty's Government? Will the Government undertake to form the religious opinions of a number of people practically spreading the Gospel in a peculiar way, setting up a number of sects in Africa all cordially hating each other, for the love of God? I think it would be better to abolish this Vote to the Church Missionary Society; and if the Society is to carry on its work in foreign lands, as I am sure I hope it will, let that work be supported by voluntary subscriptions. It is a great mistake, I think, to include in a Vote like this an item which may be interpreted in a manner that may give rise to differences of opinion it is well to avoid. I offer no opposition to any Missionary Society, but I do not think there should be even an appearance of invidious distinction in a grant of this kind. Accordingly, I hope that in the future this item may disappear from the Estimates, and that the Church Missionary work will be promoted in the only proper way by private subscriptions, which, considering the wealth of members of the Church, will no doubt be largely provided.

(6.37.) MR. WADDY

I understand that this is not a grant to a Church Society at all; but it is to meet the expenses of the feeding, clothing, and taking care of a number of released African slaves, taking charge of and maintaining them for a length of time until they can be otherwise provided for. Whether the amount of £5 a head is a proper amount is a point we might question: but to the object of the Vote—the maintenance of these poor creatures—I do not think any of us will take exception. "Making them Christians," says an hon. Friend near me. Well, that is not the worst thing that can befal them, and certainly I will not accept that covert sneer. At the same time, I would suggest that there should be thorough impartiality in this respect. Other Societies, I understand, have acted as this Society has; for instance, for many years a Society at Sierra Leone has been so engaged. I hope the grant may be extended to other Societies carrying on elsewhere the same Christian work.

(6.39.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)

What is the meaning of maintenance? I imagine these people may be put in the way of earning a living in some way. I can understand the word maintenance as applied to children, or the old blind liberated Africans at Demerara, but I suppose for ordinary adults the maintenance is only temporary?


That is so. Payment is made until they get something to do.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £128,920 (including an additional sum of £30,000), be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1891, for sundry Colonial Services, including Expenses incurred under 'The Pacific Islanders' Protection Act, 1875,' and certain Charges connected with South Africa.


May I be allowed to submit to you, Sir, as a point of order, whether it is competent for Her Majesty's Government to depart from precedent, and submit in these Estimates any number of Votes lumped together under one amount, and whether it is open to any Member to move that the Votes should be divided as they formerly were divided? In regard to these Colonial Votes, the practice of combining items has been carried to an excessive extreme, and so in regard also to the Diplomatic and Consular Votes.


The hon. Member would not be entitled to make such a Motion now. The question is one for a Motion in the House, but not in Committee.


Can I not move that parts of the Vote be considered separately?


The hon. Member can go through the various items, but a Motion for dividing the Votes should be moved on going into Committee.


I do not know whether the Government intend to proceed with the discussion of a new subject now within a few minutes of the time for suspension of business. If the Government desire we should go on, I will proceed with the Motion of which I have given notice, to move a reduction of the Vote by £5,000, under Sub-head B, for the cost of a New Guinea steamer.


I rise to order. I wish to ask whether if the hon. Member now proceeds to discuss this item for the New Guinea steamer, that cuts us off from raising questions upon preceding items; for instance, in reference to the steamer at Sierra Leone?


If we proceed item by item, the discussion of a subsequent item will preclude returning to a previous item.


Then I would now ask for information in respect to the steamer at Sierra Leone.


There is nothing new arising on the Vote in respect to a steamer at Sierra Leone. It is maintained for the purposes of the Governor of Sierra Leone, and I can afford the hon. and learned Gentleman no other information. It is required for the service of the colony and for purposes for which such a vessel is naturally and properly used.


Then it is used for carrying passengers and goods and for purposes to which the Governor may put it?


It is not a passenger steamer; it is for the use of the Governor. It is necessary he should have a steamer on the coast, where there are numerous inlets and mouths of rivers, which, in the discharge of his duties to the colony, the Governor may desire to visit.

COMMANDER BETHELL (Yorkshire, E.R., Holderness)

As a point of order merely, I would ask you, Sir, whether when you put the Vote just now (which you state that we should be at liberty to go through item by item) if I should have chanced to catch your eye, I should have been entitled to proceed with the South African part of the subject straight away?


Yes; but when an hon. Member has given notice of an Amendment to a particular item, it is convenient, I think, to call on him first.


Now that we have arrived so near the time for closing discussion, I think I can hardly be expected to open a new subject.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.—(Mr. Jackson.)


May I ask what takes place at 9 o'clock?


It is intended to proceed with this Vote in Committee of Supply.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next.

Committee also report Progress; to sit again this day.