HC Deb 30 November 1893 vol 19 cc91-3
MR. J. PEASE (Nothumberland, Tyneside)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been called to the alleged recent issue by the Sultan of Zanzibar of a Proclamation providing that slaves in the British Protectorate lying between the Rivers Tana and Juba, including the territory of Witu, might be inherited by the lawful children of the present owners, whereas by an Agreement made between the British Government, the Imperial British East Africa Company, and the notables of Witu, all the inhabitants of Witu were declared to be free, the status of slavery abolished, and the judicial administration to be in accordance with the Indian Civil and Criminal Code; whether the Indian Code punishes with imprisonment or fine those who detain against his will any person as a slave; whether Her Majesty's Government are taking steps for the immediate abolition of the status of slavery in Zanzibar, Pemba, and all other British Protectorates; and whether there will be laid upon the Table of the House all Correspondence relating to this matter?


We are aware of the Proclamation; but experience has shown that the execution of the Agreement is at present impracticable. In the opinion of Her Majesty's Representative, the armed resistance which has been opposed by the natives to the British administration of Witu has been in a great measure due to it. Consequently, it has been provisionally modified. The effect of the Indian Code is correctly stated; but natives of Witu, not being British subjects, are not affected by that Code, under which the Company, according to the Agreement, was to administer justice as regards persons legally justifiable. No steps are being taken for immediate abolition of the status of slavery in the dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar, and recent experience has shown that an attempt to insist upon the emancipation of domestic slaves in Zanzibar would be attended with great disturbance and bloodshed. It is, therefore, advisable for the present to concentrate all effort upon the effectual prohibition of the Slave Trade, and this is being done. In answer to the last paragraph of the question, I have to say that Papers will be laid.


I should like to ask whether, in the opinion of the Government, the Proclamation does not practically revoke the Agreement previously entered into between Her Majesty's Government, the East Africa Company, and the representatives of Witu?


The Proclamation does not really revoke the Agreement, but it modifies it. It should be borne in mind that the Agreement has never been enforced.

SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

May I ask whether, in his recent book, Captain Lugard has not said that, in his opinion and that of Sir John Kirk, the highest authority on the subject, the time has come when the Indian Code might be introduced at Zanzibar, and that its non-introduction there was the cause of the continuance of the Slave Trade?


I have been told that that statement is in Captain Lugard's book, but I have not yet seen it. In all those questions the abolition of the status of slavery must depend on the development of the country. At Zanzibar there has been a Proclamation that all children born after a certain date will be free. Therefore, before not very many years slavery there must come to an end.