HL Deb 19 August 1833 vol 20 cc753-6

The Report of the West-India Slavery Abolition Bill was brought up.

The Duke of Wellington moved an Amendment, for the purpose of enabling the planters to move slaves from one estate to another in the same island.

Earl Grey

thought the Amendment was deserving of attention, and that its adoption would be an improvement. He would, therefore, not oppose it, with this proviso, that no such removal should take place without the consent of two Magistrates.

Amendment agreed to.

Lord Suffield

proposed a clause to prevent flogging females. His Lordship read a statement of several cases in which this punishment had been recently inflicted, and contended, that if their Lordships did not then forbid the practice of flogging, they would in fact sanction it. The noble Lord concluded, by moving a clause totally and peremptorily forbidding the flogging of females, under the penalty of being guilty of a misdemeanor. The House, the noble Lord said, would do credit to itself, and justice to the negroes, by adopting the clause.

The Earl of Belmore

was not an advocate for whipping females, but he did not know, nor did the planters know, nor had the noble Baron relieved them from the difficulty of not knowing, what other punishment could be adopted. It could not be said that the female slaves ought to go wholly unpunished.

The Earl of Ripon

regretted that his noble friend had brought forward this clause, as he was unwilling to oppose it. It should, however, be considered that this Bill actually abolished slavery. It contained, it was true, no clause prohibiting flogging, but their Lordships might rest assured, that such a clause was not omitted by negligence. They ought not to rip up old stories, or do anything to prevent the colonists from cordially concurring with the Legislature in carrying the Bill into effect. There was good ground to believe that such revolting instances as his noble friend had quoted, would never again be heard of. Already in the Crown Colonies, and in some of the Legislative Colonies, the whipping of females was forbidden. Considering, therefore, that the punishment would not be inflicted again frequently, he hoped his noble friend would not press his Amendment.

Lord Suffield

said, he must take the sense of the House upon the question in the usual way. As to other punishments, the stocks was a sufficient punishment, and might be had recourse to.

The Duke of Wellington

, though unwilling to oppose the clause, must do so, on the ground that it was most unwise to interfere with the internal regulations of the colonies. So delicate had the Parliament been on this subject, that it had never even passed a Resolution on it. There was some doubt whether the Colonial Legislatures would act, in carrying into effect this Bill, and yet the noble Lord came forward to propose a clause which would infallibly affront every Colonial Legislature, and prevent them all from co-operating to carry the Bill into effect.

Viscount St. Vincent

agreed with the noble Duke, that the clause would only add to the difficulties in the way of the Bill. He saw no means of enforcing the penalty proposed by the noble Lord. The whole Bill proceeded on a principle of mistrust in the Colonial Legislatures, and he could on no account consent to do that, by agreeing to the present clause.

The Clause negatived.

On arriving at the 61st Clause,

The Duke of Wellington

, for reasons which he had on two previous occasions given, and, therefore, would not then repeat, moved that it be omitted.

The House divided on the Amendment.—Contents 20; Not-contents 31: Majority 11.

Lord Wynford

proposed to add a Clause, that no sugar, coffee, or rum, the produce of any place where slavery existed, should be admitted into this country.

The Earl of Ripon

opposed the clause, as quite unnecessary. With the present high duty on sugar, it was impossible that it could be brought into this country, except from our own colonies.

Viscount St. Vincent

supported the clause. It would give security to our own planters, and therefore confer upon them an essential benefit. He believed, moreover, that unless the clause were adopted our merchants and capitalit would vest their capital in countries where the slave-trade was yet carried on.

The Lord Chancellor

, though anxious to abolish slavery throughout the whole world, objected to the Amendment, because it was in fact a substantive Motion, and extended beyond the objects of the present Bill. Such an addition to the Bill, would, he was sure, be rejected by the House of Commons. Besides, the operation of the clause as it was drawn would be much more extensive than was professed by his noble and learned friend. He would strenuously oppose the Motion.

Lord Ellenborough

did not look upon the proposition as a substantive one, but intimately connected with the Bill itself. The object of that Bill was to do away with slavery in our West-India colonies, and the object of this Amendment was to hold out every inducement to the Local Legislature to co-operate in attaining it. The Bill altered the whole state of the trade. As it would have the effect of making sugar dearer, they ought, at least, to give the planter security that the property in which his capital was invested should not be interfered with. He was convinced that such a pledge would do more to conciliate the colonies than the grant of 20,000,000l

Earl Grey

said, that it might be fit that the proposition of the noble and learned Lord should pass into law; but was it fit that it should pass in that manner? It was absolutely certain, that if the proposed clause were introduced into the Bill, it would be rejected in the House of Commons. He would even appeal to the noble Earl who presided so advantageously over their Committees, if he knew of any example of the introduction of such an Amendment into a Bill under such circumstances?

The Duke of Wellington

would support the Amendment of his noble and learned friend, which in his opinion was a measure of encouragement and hope to the West-India Planters. It was the assertion of a great principle to be carried into execution by future measures; and a pledge which would soothe the feelings of those for whose benefit it was intended.

The Earl of Shaftesbury

, in reply to the appeal of the noble Earl at the head of his Majesty's Government, said that, in his opinion, it was quite competent to their Lordships to introduce the proposed clause; for it should be recollected that it was not their own Bill, but sent up to them from the other House.

The House divided on the Motion: Contents 17; Not-contents 38—Majority 21.

Report agreed to with verbal Amendments.