HC Deb 19 July 1923 vol 166 cc2502-3

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that it has been the practice of previous Governments to publish from the Foreign Office reports from our consular staffs and others upon conditions of labour akin to slavery amongst native races in the territories of Sovereign States with whom we are in friendly relationship; whether his attention has been drawn to the appeal issued by the League of Nations for such information in order that this may be laid before the next Assembly; whether he is aware that the French and other Governments have either forwarded, or intimated an intention to forward, to the League very full and detailed information upon slave systems alleged to involve not less than 2,000,000 human beings; and whether he is able to assure Parliament that when the Assembly of the League meets in September next His Majesty's Government will have taken such action in response to the appeal of the League as will place Great Britain in the same position in this matter as the French Government?


His Majesty's Government have recently laid before Parliament their latest reports about the slave trade, and all papers published by His Majesty's Government are available to the League of Nations in the ordinary course. The description by the French Government of the conditions of slavery formerly existing in French Colonies and the measures taken for their suppression have been read with much interest. His Majesty's Government have, however, confined themselves strictly to compliance with the request of the League for information about the existing situation in regard to slavery. Their reply is consequently shorter than that of the French Government, because, as stated by the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in reply to a question on the 9th inst., slavery does not exist in any part of the British Empire.