HC Deb 16 February 1899 vol 66 cc1118-9
MR. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Lord Cromer is correctly reported to have stated, in a speech delivered at Omdur-man on 5th January to a number of Mahomedan sheikhs and notables, that there would be no interference whatever with their religion, and, in reply to a question from a sheikh, added that this engagement included the application of the Mahomedan Sacred Law; whether this engagement is to be understood as recognising the institution of domestic slavery in the Soudan, and whether the Law Courts which it is proposed to set up are to be used for the purpose of enforcing the legal rights of slaveowners against slaves; and whether he is aware that the Mahomedan Sacred Law definitely recognises the right of Mahomedans to make slaves of non-Mahomedan captives, and the right of selling and buying them, and how the recognition of such rights is to be reconciled with the clause of the Convention of 19th January prohibiting the importation and exportation of slaves?


The actual words used by Lord Cromer were in Arabic, that "the Sacred Law will always be treated with the greatest respect." The Mahomedan Sacred Law is administered in Egypt proper, but it does not interfere with the Khedive's enactments prohibiting the importation and exportation of slaves. Lord Cromer intimated that a similar observance of the Mahomedan Sacred Law would prevail in the Soudan—but there is no intention of legalising slavery or using the tribunals to enforce the rights of slave owners.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state how it is intended to enforce the clause of the Convention of 19th January which prohibits the importation of slaves into the Soudan, as also their exportation; whether he he is aware that, in the opinion of the late General Gordon, no effectual steps can be taken against slave raiding and the slave trade in the Soudan except by pushing the frontier as far west as the frontier of the negro tribes, that is, as far as Lake Chad; and how far west of Khartoum it is intended that the frontier shall extend?


According to the 11th Article of the Soudan Agreement of the 19th of January provision is to be made by Proclamation for the enforcement of the prohibition against the importation or exportation of slaves. The frontier of the Soudan to the west of Khartoum has not yet been fixed, but the Governor-General of the Soudan will take effective measures for the prevention of slave raiding in the territories over which he has jurisdiction.