HC Deb 02 July 1958 vol 590 cc1312-3
16. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further information he has concerning commerce in slaves in the Middle East; and what action the Royal Navy is taking in intercepting this.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Her Majesty's Government have no reason to believe that there has been any increase in the scope of the slave trade in the Middle East. As the hon. Member is aware, this trade has been abolished either by treaty or by law in all Middle Eastern territories for whose international relations Her Majesty's Government are responsible. With regard to action by the Royal Navy, Her Majesty's Ships passing through the Red Sea or stationed in the Persian Gulf have general instructions to search craft suspected of carrying slaves but there have been no incidents connected with slave trading for a number of years.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there is very strong suspicion that some kind of slave raiding or slave trading still takes place? Has he had any evidence of this in recent months?

Mr. Lloyd

I should like to have a specific Question on that subject. My impression is that we have no definite evidence. There is suspicion, but we have no definite evidence.

Mr. Younger

As I understand that no permanent supervisory machinery was set up under the recent Convention, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied that some machinery exists for giving the information, or is he relying upon chance to bring it to his notice?

Mr. Lloyd

The right hon. Gentleman will remember that we did not get our way with enforcement measures under the international convention. I admit that I do not think the machinery is satisfactory.