HC Deb 08 December 1893 vol 19 cc832-3
MR. T. BAYLEY (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, when we took over the Protectorate of Zanzibar, the Government issued as Edict, dated 1st August, 1890, which would have at once improved the position of the slaves, and would have in course of time practically put an end to domestic slavery; whether this was superseded by a virtually secret Proclamation, dated 20 days later, which annulled some of its most important clauses; whether the Act has ever been put in force so that a single slave has gained his freedom in respect of this Act; whether, at the present time, slaves are employed to coal out men-of-war at Zanzibar (vessels engaged in the suppression of the Slave Trade); and whether the money paid by the Government to the masters of these slaves is spent by them in buying slaves to cultivate their plantations?


The Proclamation of August 1st, 1890, contained nine clauses. It confirmed old decrees, among which was that proclaiming the freedom of all children born on and after January 1st, 1890. It decreed the freedom of slaves of owners dying childless, and of those held by certain slaves. It declared the inability of certain persons to hold slaves, and made provision for liberation in cases of flagrant cruelty. It established severe penalties for traffic of any description in domestic and other slaves, and it enabled slaves to plead or prosecute before the Cadis. It also provided that slaves should have the right to buy their freedom at a price to be fixed by the Sultan and his Arab subjects. This last provision only was dealt with in the later decree of August 20th, which explained that the assent of the owner was necessary. We are informed that the issue of the second decree was due to the misapprehension of the purport of the clause among both owners and slaves. Many slaves have been freed under the Proclamation. Slaves are employed with free men in harbour work, and consequently in coaling men-of-war. Their wages are paid to them direct; not in any case to their owners. Owners could only purchase slaves at great risk of detection and punishment, especially as the machinery of the Slave Trade Bureau is now in operation.


asked if the 72nd Article of the Brussels Act did not bind us to establish a Liberation Office?


A Slave Trade Bureau has been established at Zanzibar, and if the right hon. Baronet wishes for details as to what has been done I will obtain them.