HC Deb 07 May 1956 vol 552 cc818-9
31. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reports he has received of a recrudescence of the slave trade in the region of the Red Sea or elsewhere

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker)

I have received no reports to indicate that there has been any recrudescence of this trade

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Has not my hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the report made on 17th April by Mr. Greenidge, Director of the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines' Protection Society, saying that the slave trade has been revived between Africa and Arabia and between Saudi Arabia and other parts of Asia? In view of that report, would my hon. Friend look into the matter, having regard to the great tradition of this country in connection with the repression of the slave trade?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I have seen that report and there has certainly been a revival of interest in this matter, but we have no evidence that the trade itself has increased

Mr. Hobson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Saudi Arabia there are no laws as such, and does he not think it is about time the whole problem of Saudi Arabia should be drawn to the attention of the United Nations?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

That is a matter of internal jurisdiction, in which I have no responsibility

Mr. Dodds

The hon. Gentleman said just now that there did not seem to have been an increase in the slave trade. Is he, therefore, saying that there is slavery going on in those parts, and that, unless it increases, the Government are not interested?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

No. I did not say that. I said there was no evidence that the trade was going on at the moment but that interest had increased. There is no sign that there has been a recrudescence of the trade