§ The Earl of Aberdeen
moved the second reading of a bill for suspending the operation of an act of Parliament passed in the third year of her present Majesty, for the suppression of the slave-trade, so far as regarded Portuguese vessels. He proposed this bill in consequence of two treaties which had been entered into with the government of Portugal, one a treaty of commerce, and the other a treaty for the suppression of the slave-trade. Those treaties had been long in negotiation between the two countries, but for the last three years, in consequence of the unfortunate state of our communications with Portugal, all negotiations were suspended. As soon as he occupied the office which he had now the honour to hold he lost no time in overlooking and renewing those negotiations, and he was happy to say that both 936 treaties were now brought to a satisfactory conclusion. By the treaty relative to the slave-trade, Portugal undertook to punish her own delinquent vessels, and her Majesty's Government, in consequence, intended to propose to Parliament a repeal of that act which rendered Portuguese vessels liable to capture by British cruisers, and to condemnation in the British Vice-Admiralty Courts. The ratifications of these treaties were to be exchanged at Lisbon, whither her Majesty's ratification had already been sent, and no doubt in a few days it would be exchanged for that of her Portuguese Majesty. But as it was possible that the ratifications might be exchanged after the conclusion of the present Session of Parliament, he proposed to give to her Majesty the power of suspending the Act referred to, by an Order in Council, so far as related to Portuguese vessels, that act still continuing in force so far as regarded vessels not possessing a national character. He did not anticipate any objection, as he thought there was no one who, on a treaty being concluded, would not vote for the repeal of the act itself, inasmuch as it was an act very little consistent with the friendly relations that subsisted between England and Portugal; indeed, it was rather an act of hostility, and one which might have led to an interminable war, had it been directed against any power of greater weight, and better able to cope with us.
§ Bill read a second time.