HL Deb 15 May 1868 vol 192 cc330-2

, who had given Notice, To move for any Communications received at the Foreign Office during the past Year respecting Slave Markets at or near Cairo, particularly with reference to the Connection of European Subjects with the Egyptian Slave Trade, rose to draw the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the subject. The successive testimonies of explorers had placed it beyond doubt that the great difficulty to open out the interior of Africa and the impossibility of planting a healthful trade successfully there was owing mainly to the slave trade which the Egyptians carried on against the negro population. Such being the case, when the Viceroy was in Paris last summer, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society found the opportunity a good one to petition his Highness on the subject of the Egyptian slave trade. A memorial was influentially signed; the Pasha accorded an audience to the deputation which presented the memorial. This deputation was international and of considerable importance. He found this in his Egyptian Highness's reply, translated by Nubar Pasha, his Foreign Minister, as stated in The Times newspaper of July 5, 1867— The Viceroy felt gratified to receive the deputation, and much pleased this step had been taken, for he was most anxious to put down the slave trade. He had adopted the strongest measures for that purpose, and although he could act against his own people, he was defeated when he sought to do so against Europeans, who were the chief delinquents. …. Within the last thirty years European influence had transformed Egypt, and if he were free to act against European slave traders, the slave trade should soon disappear. The European Powers should give him the necessary authority to exercise the right of search as regards boats sailing under European colours. His Highness concluded by saying— The abolition of the British Consulate at Khartoum had certainly enabled him to act more efficiently against the slave traders; but the only really effective mode of dealing with the traffic was to arm him with power to prevent Europeans, from prosecuting it, The deputation doubtless retired well pleased with the result of their visit. This startling statement of the Viceroy, if true, pointed out an easy way to put a stop to the atrocious human traffic; but when the speech made in Paris was known in Egypt, the truth of the assertions was impugned by the European residents with indignation and irritation. They knew, and the Egyptian Government knew, that numerous slave markets existed, and that these were entirely in the hands of Arab subjects. It was known to Mr. Reade—a gentleman looked up to by those who live under his protection as a valuable public servant, and who was acting Consul General in Egypt last summer—who visited the different slave markets soon after, and personally satisfied himself of the inaccuracy of the Pasha's statement. He did not know whether Mr. Reade made a report of his visit to the Foreign Office. It was natural the Egyptian Ministers last year should wish to raise the popularity of the master they served; but this was not sufficient excuse for an unwarrantable imputation to be cast on foreigners living under the protection of their Government. His Highness said that slavery had existed in Egypt 1,283 years, and was mixed up with the religion of the country. It was doubtful, owing to the existence of forced labour, whether the condition of the imported negro was worse than the born Egyptian in "that land of bondage." The state of society in the East was not such as to satisfy a champion of women's rights, and the social requirements of the country were sought for in the slave markets. His Egyptian Highness hinted it would require time to soften such a violent change. The ruler of a wild and fanatical people should receive every consideration under such circumstances. Should it be as the Viceroy stated he thought such powers of search and every facility should be granted but if, as he feared, that was mere dust thrown into the eyes of Europe, he did not think any politic motive ought to be an objection to the production of such documents as would contradict the statement of the Viceroy that European subjects were engaged in the Egyptian slave trade.


said, the Government had no Correspondence on that subject except that which was attainable by the noble Duke whenever he pleased. The last Correspondence relating to it between the Foreign Secre- tary and Consul Reade was printed at the end of 1867, and would be found in class B, pages 41 and 47. If the noble Duke referred to it he would see that Her Majesty's Government had done what they could to prevent the slave trade to which he alluded, and that Consul Reade had had some success in stopping the sale of slaves. After that, Lord Stanley had repeated his instructions to the Consul to proceed in the same way. Her Majesty's Government had attended to the matter, and he thought nothing more could be done in it at present. The noble Duke, when he read the Correspondence, would find that to be so.