HL Deb 01 August 1839 vol 49 cc1058-74
The Earl of Minto

rose to move the second reading of the Slave Trade (Portugal) Bill. He believed he said, their Lordships were anxious to co-operate with the Government in suppressing the slave trade; the general voice of the country and of the civilized world demanded that some decisive steps should be taken to extinguish that abominable traffic. It was too much to be endured that the efforts of this country in the cause of humanity should be frustrated by either surreptitious or daring practices of a single nation. He would state as shortly as possible the present state of the law relative to the slave trade, and the treaties which existed between Great. Britain and Portugal in regard to this subject. The most important treaty was that of 1815. By that treaty the slave trade was declared illegal, and Portugal engaged to bring about its entire abolition, and in the mean time that she would not suffer the Portuguese flag to be employed in that traffic, except for the purpose of furnishing slaves for her own transatlantic possessions. In consideration of the concession thus made, Great Britain agreed to remit the balance of a debt due by Portugal to this country of the amount of 600,000l. That was the price paid by this country to Portugal for her consent to, and co-operation in, the abolition of the slave trade. In consequence of the engagements thus entered into by Portugal, Great Britain also engaged not to disturb vessels employed in supplying slaves to the transatlantic possessions of Portugal, and Portugal agreed that she would not allow her flag to be used for the purpose of continuing the slave traffic beyond supplying her own possessions. Such were the principal provisions of the treaty by which Great Britain bad a right to call on Portugal to aid in putting an end to the slave trade; but as yet England had got no more than the acknowledgment that that a trade was to be abolished. In 1817, an additional convention was entered into defining still more strictly the limits to which the slave trade to the Brazils was to be allowed. That convention also defined the form of the license and passport for the ships employed, without which the trade was declared by Portugal to be illegal; and the Portuguese Government further engaged within two months from the date of the treaty to pass a law declaring the traffic in slaves illegal, and subjecting persons who engaged in that traffic to punishment. It was further stipulated that Portugal should within a limited time treat with Great Britain for the final abolition of the slave trade, and assimilate its legislation on the subject to that of Great Britain. There was a separate article under which Portugal, on the ground of an expression contained in it, resisted the claims of Great Britain, but he could not admit that there was anything in the treaty justifying that resistance. When Portugal ceased to hold the Brazils in point of fact, by the terms of the engagements into which she had entered with this country, the slave trade ought to have been abolished in Portuguese vessels for she had no other transatlantic possessions to which the terms of the treaty would apply. There was no part of the world, when she ceased to hold possession of the Brazils, to which she could carry slaves without a manifest breach of faith. He had thus stated the nature of the treaties into which this country had entered with Portugal. Unfortunately, however, for a considerable time past, not- withstanding those engagements, the slave trade had been almost entirely carried on under the flags of Portugal and Spain, and more particularly under the flag of Spain. Spain, had indeed at length, he thought he might venture to say, extinguished the slave trade which had so long been carried on under the protection of the Spanish flag. The treaty which we had made with Spain gave us a very great advantage; it gave us the power of seizing vessels equipped for the slave-trade without waiting till they had taken on board their miserable cargo, and this would have the effect of thoroughly extinguishing it. It was therefore thought extremely desirable that we should obtain similar conditions from Portugal, and he was bound to say that it was not the Portuguese people who resisted the abolition of the slave trade, but the powerful and influential parties who were interested in the maintenance of a contraband and illegal traffic. He was sorry to say, that the violation of the treaty had been continually carried on with the sanction of the Portuguese Government. Complaints after complaints had been received from the officers of this country against the manner in which the Portuguese Government had favoured the slave trade, even after it 'had declared its total abolition. He would not trouble their Lordships by entering into details, but he thought that he ought not to make such a charge as this without referring to some particular instances of misconduct on the part of the Portuguese Government, He might mention the case of the Leveret, of which lieutenant Bosanquet was the commander, and which was stationed off the eastern coast of Africa. Shortly before his arrival, a British ship had been boarded, and its crew murdered, by a piratical vessel which was supposed, on pretty good grounds, to have taken refuge in Mozambique. The lieutenant accordingly went down to Mozambique, for the purpose of getting the pirates prosecuted and punished. On his way thither he fell in with a strange vessel which, his own ship being a bad sailer, outsailed him, and he was obliged to send his boats after her. The slaver, for such it was, resisted the boats, killed one of his men, wounded one or two others, and beat them off. The lieutenant, thus bathed, went down to Mozambique to execute his first errand, but he found the Portuguese authorities there perfectly deaf to his remonstrances, and he went away. Some time after, when he returned to Mozambique, he found the vessel there which had attacked his boats, and he took possession of her, it was admitted, irregularly. His excuse was, that he knew that Mozambique was practically in the possession of the slavers; and if he had given notice of his intention to the Portuguese authorities, the papers and crew would have been removed. However, they fired on the ship, and, after some negotiations, he was compelled at last to give up the vessel, and to leave the port. The Portuguese Government had remonstrated with this country upon the seizure made by lieutenant Bosanquet, and, while it was admitted, that the seizure was irregular, and that thus far an apology was due to the Portuguese Government, this country had strongly protested against the protection given by the authorities at Mozambique to the slave dealers. Lieutenant Bosanquet was still left on that station, and, as he knew that there were a good many vessels in the harbour, be kept with his own ship four or five miles off the coast, and as fast as the vessels came out, he boarded them, and took good care that they were disabled from pursuing their iniquitous traffic. Would it be believed that the authorities at Mozambique protested against his lying in front of their port, against his blockading it, as they said, in order to interrupt the trade of Portugal vessels? It was impossible to commit a more barefaced violation of the treaty than this. Here was a complaint against an officer who had strictly kept within the line of his duty, because he interfered for the purpose of putting a stop to a trade which they were bound by their own engagements and their own laws to put down of their own accord. Again, the Portuguese government determined to send out a new governor to the island of St. Thomas; and how did their Lordships think he was sent out? Why, in a ship equipped as a slaver. On another occasion a slaver was seized by one of our cruisers, and carried to Rio Janeiro, but the courts refused to condemn the vessel, on the ground that the ship and crew were both Portuguese. The British Minister accordingly applied to the Portuguese consul to punish the men for their violation of the laws of Portugal, but this the consul refused to do. The ship was accordingly taken to Sierra Leone, where she was condemned by the mixed commission court. Against this proceeding the Portuguese Government also protested. He would remind their Lordships, as this was one of the objects for which the bill would provide, that a mixed commission court could only adjudicate in those cases in which the national charac- ter of the vessel was clearly established and it was proved to belong to one of the parties of which the commission court was constituted. We had been now nearly four years endeavouring to negotiate the accomplishment of that which had been contracted for and engaged for between the two countries. Portugal had made use of all sorts of evasive demands. In the first place, she had required from England a guarantee of her African possessions, on the ground that the execution of her engagements would necessarily endanger those possessions. This demand was refused, but we had declared that in the case of disturbances arising we were ready to offer her any reasonable aid and assistance, anything, in fact, short of a guarantee. Portugal then further demanded, that she should have the disposal of the negroes who were captured. This demand was also refused on the part of the Government. The third condition was, that this treaty should have a very brief existence, say eight or ten years. This also was refused. He had stated as clearly as he could what the state of the law was, what were our engagements relative to Portugal, the manner in which they had been violated, by that country, and the total impossibility there was of putting an end to the slave-trade as long as the Portuguese flag was suffered to cover it. It was true a considerable number of slavers had been taken carrying the flag of the United States, and under the colours of Russia. But in the United States we were sure of a true and honest administration of the law. It was true, however, that in spite of all the discountenance of the United States, and of all the exertions of this country, the flag of the United States would afford an inconvenient degree of facility to the slave trade. He believed that the United States were in as great a haste as could be desired to relieve themselves from the reproach of having their flag used as a cover for the slave trade; and the Russian Government had always said, "do what you please with any ship using the Russian flag for the purpose of carrying on this traffic." Some little matters remained yet to be arranged between the Russian and the British Government; but it was well known that in a short time a satisfactory treaty would be concluded with the former power. It was said, that other measures, besides those provided in this bill, would be required to be taken on the continent of Africa. Such might be the case, but, still he thought the present bill a necessary preliminary to any greater undertaking of the sort. He therefore hoped that their Lordships would pass the bill, which had been introduced in redemption of the pledge given by the Government last session, and which was absolutely necessary for the extinction of the slave trade. He moved the second reading of the bill.

The Duke of Wellington

was well convinced of the evils of the slave-trade; and he agreed with the noble Earl in the description of the horrors perpetrated on board the slave-ships. He had seen several accounts stating that recently there had been a great increase in this trade, and he believed that there could be no doubt of this. He believed, however, that the evils of that trade had been greatly exaggerated, in consequence of the course taken by this country; and he, therefore, thought that it was incumbent on England to do all in her power to put a stop to it. Up to the period when he was last in her Majesty's service, Portugal had done nothing towards effectually putting an end to the slave-trade carried on under the Portuguese flag. On the contrary, every one who had at all attended to this subject, must admit that Portugal must be held to be fully and fairly under an engagement to take measures effectually to put down that trade. That he asserted broadly: whether by the treaty of 1810, or of 1815, or of 1817, or by engagements contracted by all these treaties, it was certain that the object of all those treaties was to arrive at the total suppression of that trade, and this country had a full right to call upon Portugal to carry the engagement she had entered into effectually into execution. The noble Earl had adverted to the many difficulties that had stood in the way of the fulfilment of that engagement, and he had observed that it was not so much that the people of Portugal were not disposed to fulfil the treaties, as that persons in a higher station stood in the way. He was sorry to say that this had probably been the case in other countries a little more advanced in civilisation; there was indeed no subject on which it was so difficult to negotiate as this. But it should be remembered on behalf of Portugal that from the year 1817 up to a very recent period that country had been, as regarded its government, nearly in a constant state of revolution. There had even been another of these revolutions since he was last in office in 1834. For upwards of twenty years, therefore, and in fact until within the last eighteen months, Portugal had not had a Government so situated as to have the necessary power to put down the slave-trade carried on under the flag of that country. The noble Earl had adverted to a variety of considerations with regard to the treaties on this subject between this country and Portugal, and among others he had referred to the mixed commission at Sierra Leone. It appeared, however, that there was no Portuguese commissioner on that mixed commission. [The Earl of Minto: Portugal might have had a commissioner there if she had thought fit.] The effect of all that had fallen from the 'noble Earl was to show that this country had the right to insist upon Portugal performing the treaty entered into by her with this country—that she was bound to take effectual measures for putting down the slave-trade—and also to satisfy this country that those measures had been really and bona fide taken, and that every means had been used to carry them into execution. But the measures necessary to be resorted to by this country for the purpose of so enforcing the provisions of the various treaties were measures for the executive to take—they were measures which ought to emanate from her Majesty's Government; they ought not to be brought about by an act of the Parliament. They were measures, to enforce compliance with which by the Portuguese Government her Majesty might if she pleased proceed to extremities; and, without its being necessary for him to enter into the question whether she would be justified in adopting such measures, he had no hesitation in declaring his opinion that the constitutional course would be much more fair, more just, and more consistent—more in accordance with the invariable practice of the country, and would tend much more certainly to moderation and a pacific conclusion, than the course now proposed—that of proceeding under an act of Parliament. This was his opinion, and he would state the reasons why he entertained it. If, in reference to the present question, her Majesty had adopted the course pointed out by the constitution and sanctioned by the constant practice of former years, there would of course have been previous negotiations—a projet of arrangement—an answer to that projet—or some other communications in a diplomatic form; and upon the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the demands on the one hand, or the refusals on the other, her Majesty's Government might fairly and justly decide and proceed to extremities, should their policy and their views lead them so to do. But what would be the result of those proceedings? Why, that the world would have the whole case before them, and every man would be able to judge whether her Majesty's Government or the Portuguese Government were in the right, and her Majesty's Government might be justified in proceeding to extremities upon those statements. At the same time his country, the Portuguese Government, and the world, would know by what amount of concession on either side an end might be put to the existing state of things, and either party could, by that concession, put an end to the dispute. Such was the advantage that would result from adhering to the old constitutional mode—of the Government taking on itself to enforce treaties mad with foreign powers, with out coming to Parliament for such a measure as this? What would be the consequence to passing the bill? By it this country must either stand or fall. We could not recede from out law: the Portuguese, on the other hand, would not submit to our law. The inevitable consequence must be a quarrel to the death with our ancient ally, because Ministers chose to proceed by this irregular mode instead of by the old constitutional mode. Not only was the course he recommended the most proper, but it was also most likely to lead to the result desired by this country, without incurring the scandal of a war with our ancient ally; and it was in reality the most just. The recitals of treaties in the preamble of the bill gave merely one side of the case. Before they could take the preamble as presenting a true statement of the whole case, and one on which they could rely in coming to their judgment, they ought to hear what could be said on the other side. They were called upon to condemn Portugal for a criminal breach of treaties, by agreeing to a bill the preamble of which recited the accusation only. If they agreed to do so, they would be refusing to one of the powers of Europe what was invariably afforded to every subject of this realm. They should surely be as cautious with one of the European powers as they would be with one of her Majesty's subjects. The additional article of the treaty of 1817 itself, to which the noble Earl had referred, showed that there was something more in the treaty than was stated in the preamble of this bill; for it states, that if the trade were abolished then, that affairs between the two nations were to remain on the footing laid down by the treaty of 1817 for fifteen years after such abolition. He repeated that the House ought not to proceed to legislate upon the mere statements contained in the preamble to the bill. There had lately been, it appeared, a negotiation between our Government and that of Portugal on this subject. There had been a projet, and a contre-projet, an offer on the part of Portugal to put down this trade altogether, provided she were protected from certain contingencies specified. With the fact of such a negotiation having been going on known to them, would their Lordships proceed to pass this bill without having first taken cognizance of that projet on the part of Portugal? Would it be fair in the Parliament of this country to pass this bill without being a acquainted with every tittle of what had passed between the two Governments on the subject? If the old constitutional course were adopted—if her Majesty were to send a message down to Parliament, that she thought it proper that hostilities should be commenced against Portugal because Portugal had neglected to carry into execution her engagements, the whole of the matters in question—every part of the negotiation—would be laid before the House, and well considered before they were called upon for any decision, they would in that case know how matters stood—they would have before them the whole policy of the measure about to be adopted for effectually putting down the slave trade. With these opinions as to the principle of the bill he would not enter into the details, because it appeared to him that they meant but one thing—war with Portugal to attain a particular object. War was all very well when directed by the executive, not by the Legislature. When, a few evenings since, a noble Friend of his stated the inconveniences, the evils, the irregularities of another power making war, and establishing blockades, commencing a partial war, in fact, for the purpose of obtaining commercial advantages, he was very sorry to hear, that this country had afforded and example of that kind in the case of the port of Nova Cartagena—an aggression upon what was called the republic of Central America. He was satisfied that this bill would, if passed give rise to another instance of that mode of proceeding, but with this addition, that it would be adopted by the Legislature, instead of its being, as in the case referred to, an act on the part of the Sovereign alone, by means of the naval force of the country. That the Legislature should sanction such a course would naturally give rise to jealousy and dismay. But was the House aware of the extent to which this bill went? There was one of its provisions which the noble Earl had not dwelt upon, but it was one of very great importance, and one which he believed went much further than the noble Earl desired. By the provision in question, it was rendered lawful to stop any vessel whatever on the high seas, on suspicion of being engaged in the slave traffic. It was true that the vessel could not be condemned; but all vessels might be stopped and detained, and inquiries might be made of them whether they had regular papers. It further appeared that the persons who might so stop such vessel were to be indemnified against the consequences. Was it intended by this to be enacted that the vessels of any or all the powers of Europe might be detained and searched, and afterwards allowed to proceed on their voyage, whether we had slave-trade treaties with those powers or not? Such a law would be quite a novelty in the legislation of this country, and he earnestly recommended their Lordships to consider well before they adopted it. He would recommend the noble Viscount opposite to take into his consideration whether he would not rather bring down a message from the Crown to Parliament, in order to put the question on its real and true footing—that of their having been a breach of treaty on the Part of Portugal, with regard to which her Majesty felt called upon to proceed to extremities. Let them proceed upon that ground, in accordance with the old constitutional practice; but let them not pass such a measure as this, which, while it was a departure from that practice, was at the same time, fairly open to all the objections which he had raised against it. He earnestly recommended their Lordships not to pass this bill.

Viscount Melbourne

understood the noble Duke to have acquiesced in the statement which had been made of the circumstances in which the country was placed, and the necessity there was for the immediate adoption of some measures fur the purpose of enforcing the performance of the obligations imposed by treaty upon Portugal. The noble Duke admitted that the Portuguese had entered into the engagements in question—that they had failed to make good their engagements, and that it was the duty of this country to take measures to ensure the fulfilment of those engagements. The noble Duke, therefore, took no objection to the object which the framers of this bill had in view, but admitted that they were, in the present instance, not merely fulfilling the duty imposed upon them, as Members of the Government, but also fulfilling the pledge given by them to both Houses of Parliament—a pledge which, if he rightly understood the debate that had taken place on a former occasion, had been called for on all sides, and that upon a subject as to which he certainly had not conceived there could be, or was the slightest difference of opinion. The noble Duke admitted that the Government were right in point of fact, and moreover, were bound in point of duty and in point of honour, to compel Portugal to fulfil the engagements entered into upon the solemn faith of treaties—engagements in return for which she had already received the full price and concession. But the noble Duke objected to the course taken on this occasion, and to the bill that had been introduced, and maintained that what they had done ought to have been done by the prerogative of the Crown, and that the Government ought not to have called on the House to act without a full statement of case, and of the reasons which induced them to take the course proposed with regard to Portugal. Why the case was already before the House. The whole of the papers were before the House. The noble Duke called for statements and diplomatic notes and explanations. There were on the table statements upon statements, notes of our Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and notes of the Portuguese Secretary for Foreign Affairs; and the Government thought, that the case and the reasons for the course they recommended, were so irrefragable as to afford grounds for assenting to this measure. During four years, they had been engaged in this negotiation with Portugal. The whole result of it was before House. The statement of the case, on the part of Portugal, was before the House also, and the objections she had taken to the fulfilment of the treaties. In the first place, Portugal demanded, that if any difficulty arose in her colonies in consequence of her taking steps to enforce the suppression of the slave-trade, we should guarantee to her the possession of those colonies—secure her, in fact, from the consequences of any discontent on the part of her own subjects. That was a proposition so unlimited in its character, and likely to lead to results so widely different from any that appeared on the face of it, that it was impossible for this country to endure it. The next stipulation on the part of Portugal was, that she should be allowed to introduce into her colonies, on the abolition of the slave-trade, certain regulations which were considered to be tanta mount to ensuring a perpetuity of slavery in those colonies. The last proposition on the part of Portugal was, that a certain period should be fixed during which the slave-trade should be suppressed. This proposition, it was considered, would inevitably lead to a revival of the traffic after that time had elapsed; and as the engagement with Portugal was absolute, and large payments had been made upon the strength of it, it was at once stated, that nothing less than the entire abolition of the slave-trade now carried on under the Portuguese flag, was expected at her hands. In speaking upon a measure, which unquestionably was harsh towards Portugal—though, in his opinion, very much called for—he was unwilling to say anything unnecessarily severe; yet it was impossible for him to say, that this country could be any other than dissatisfied at the conduct of Portugal with regard to this question; and he felt bound to declare that the Government of this country could not believe, that Portugal felt anxiety to carry into effect the stipulations of the treaties. Ministers could not help thinking that she had attempted to evade the performance of the engagements by which she was bound. Therefore, it was, that they had thought it necessary to call upon their Lordships, and the other House of Parliament to carry into effect this measure, which would unquestionably give them powers which they did not at present possess. But then the noble Duke maintained, that Ministers ought to have availed themselves of the prerogative of the Crown, and have at once declared war against Portugal. Why it was to avoid that necessity that they had taken the present course. The noble Duke maintained that it was a worse course than a declaration of war, because the British Government could not recede front the law passed by the British Legislature, and the Portuguese could not be expected to put up with our law without going to war. But the noble Duke seemed to have misconceived the effect of this bill. The object of it was only to empower her Majesty to take certain steps if she thought fit. She was not by the bill bound to take those steps. Therefore, after the passing of this act, she would be as well able to proportion her measures to the necessities of the case as if she had had merely to act as a belligerent by her prerogative. Every mode of treaty would be open to her under this bill, just as much as in the other case, except, that the decided and irrevocable step would not have been taken—no declaration of war would have been made. And when the noble Duke exclaimed against the injustice to Portugal of such a war, he was not aware, perhaps, that Portugal had had due notice of the intention of her Majesty's Government; she had a complete knowledge of what was intended to be done, and it was impossible for her, with any justice, to complain of the course pursued. The Government had felt themselves called upon to take this step by the general voice of Parliament and the opinion of the country, and he must say, that he was very much surprised to find that there was any difference of opinion on the subject. He felt assured, that if this bill were pressed, the mere possession of the powers which it would give them would be sufficient to produce the result which was so much desired. If their Lordships rejected the bill, if they allowed themselves to be led to withhold their support from the Crown and the Government on this occasion, what could they expect to result from it, but greater obstinacy and resistance on the part of Portugal? Would not Portugal derive the greatest encouragement from such an event? Was it likely that she would carry into effect those stipulations which it was confessed she was bound to adhere to, if she saw that the British Parliament had deserted the Crown and the Government by withholding their support from this bill? Could any other idea arise, except that she was supported here in her resistance to the calls of humanity, and her neglect to perform the stipulations of treaties? Could there be any other impression produced? And could it be otherwise than a most dangerous course in a measure of this kind, relating to foreign Powers and to public treaties, even though they did not think the course which had been pursued was the best, to take the line of conduct which the noble Duke had recommended. He felt strongly that none of the objections stated by the noble Duke were well founded, and that the House would inflict a very serious injury on the weight and influence of this country, and on the cause of the abolition of the slave trade, which the noble Duke was most anxious to promote, if they refused this bill to the Government.

The Duke of Wellington

had not stated that the treaties were inaccurately disclosed in the bill, nor did he deliver any opinion as to the necessity of proceeding in this or in any other way in order to enforce the execution of the treaty. What he had said was, that Portugal was bound to perform her treaty; and that the Government would be justified in proceeding to enforce its execution in the usual constitutional manner; and he had said, also, that their Lordships should have had an opportunity of examining all the documents. Whether there were other modes of proceeding than that which had been adopted was a question for the decision of the Government, and was one upon which he should give no opinion; but he would say, that it was not his intention to dictate to the Government any more than to desert them when he thought that they were adopting a course which was constitutional, honourable, just, and fair towards an adversary, and which was likely to secure the reputation of this country both here and with the world.

The Earl of Devon

said, that the noble Viscount had not grappled with the real question before the House. That question was, whether the bill before them was the means by which they ought to proceed—that was, to act against the subjects of a state because the government of that state had neglected to fulfil its treaties with us. He objected to the bill that it gave to her Majesty's ships the right of search, not alone of vessels sailing under the Portuguese flag, but of vessels of all nations. Whether that right should be exercised towards the vessels of other nations, was another matter. The noble Viscount had complained that the Government was deserted on this occasion. He denied that statement: it was the Government which had deserted itself, the Sovereign, and the country, by not taking those steps which the treaties in existence justified it in doing. It was stated, that if their Lordships did not pass this bill they would be supporting Portugal in carrying on the slave trade; but neither the noble Earl nor the noble Viscount had not given any grounds for that statement; in fact, there was no ground for the bill, and he therefore felt justified in rejecting it.

The Earl of Minto,

in reply, agreed with the noble Duke in thinking that negociations should have preceded this measure. But there had been long negociations on the subject, as the papers before the House would prove, and those papers would enable noble Lords to judge for themselves how the negociations had been carried on. It was not the fact, that the authority of Parliament was by this bill substituted for the prerogative of the Crown. All that the Government asked from Parliament was, to confer on it the power necessary to exercise the prerogative of the Crown in a particular way. The noble Duke had dwelt much on constitutional power. He had often heard of constitutional power, but he professed he did not understand the sense in which it was now used by the noble Duke. The House of Commons was a tolerably good judge of constitutional power, and it had, in responding to the wishes of the Government and of the country, passed the bill unanimously. The rejection of this bill would have the effect of throwing a shield over the faith less government of Portugal in carrying on the most iniquitous traffic in slaves. It was true, that the commanders of any of her Majesty's cruisers might get orders to seize any Portuguese vessels; but if they did so before a declaration of war, the officer seizing the Portuguese ship would be liable to an action in our courts. This hill, then, was necessary to protect the subjects of her Majesty, not against any foreign States, but against the powers of our own courts, in which actions might be brought against them for enforcing the treaties with Portugal, Now, what was the intent and object of the 4th clause, which was the principal part of the measure? It went to describe what it is which constitutes a slave vessel, and when such vessel should be liable to seizure. Was not this necessary? The 5th clause, enacting the breaking up of such vessels, was almost equally necessary. But now when, year after year, the Government had been trying to prevail with the Portuguese Government—when the Commons had cried out for the destruction of this nefarious trade—and when the country was united in demanding that some stop should be put to the trade—when they came to the House of Lords to ask, not that their Lordships should invest the Crown with new or unheard-of powers, but with just the same powers of carrying the treaty with Portugal into effect which they had given in the case of other treaties with foreign powers, then their Lordships objected. Without this measure, or something like it, no attempt, short of a declaration of war with Portugal, could be made by means of the exercise of the prerogative to enforce the objects of our treaties, or to take any measures which might be necessary to terminate the traffic. An Act of Parliament was absolutely necessary to effect the object. The rejection of this bill would lead to one of two things—either to compel this country to go to war with Portugal, or to leave the slave trade to go on unrestrained under the flag of Portugal, and fostered and encouraged by their Lordships.

The House divided:—Contents 32; Not-Contents 38: Majority 6.

List of the CONTENTS.
DUKE Duncannon
Somerset BISHOPS
Lansdowne Chichester
Normanby LORDS
Headfort Cottenham
Conyngham Holland
EARLS. Sudeley
Fingall Methuen
Clarendon Stanley
Gosford Stuart de Decies
Leitrim Lurgan
Charlemont Gardner
Effingham Mostyn
Minto Byron
Melbourne De Freyne
Lismore Colborne
Falkland Calthorpe
List of the NOT-CONTENTS.
Wellington. Devon
Shaftesbury Gort
Abingdon Canning
Haddington Oxford
Galloway LORDS.
Hopetoun Saltoun
Tankerville Sinclair
Aylesford Sondes
Warwick Montagu
Roden Dunsany
Wicklow Redesdale
Rosslyn Ellenborough
Charleville Sandys
Glengall Ravensworth
Falmouth Rayleigh
Ripon. Bexley
VISCOUNTS Fitzgerald
Strangford Lyndhurst
Gage Stuart de Rothsay
Paired off.
Armagh Ilchester
Thomond Morley
Londonderry Hill
Westmeath Segrave
Bathurst Dinorben
Wilton Wrottesley
Brownlow Carrington
Munster Torrington
Hereford Say and Sele
St. Vincent Seaford
Dynevor Lilford
Carbery Barham
Forester Argyll
Cowley Foley

Bill thrown out.