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Slave-Trade

Volume 50: debated on Tuesday 27 August 1839

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seeing the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in his place, begged to ask the noble Lord if any measure had been taken in pursuance of the discussions and address to the Crown of the last and present Session of Parliament, for the effectual suppression of the slave-trade, by adding to the strength of our naval force on the Brazils and coast of Africa. He believed our present naval force in these quarters quite inadequate for the purpose.

could assure the hon. Baronet that her Majesty's Government had adopted proper measures for reinforcing the squadron on both those stations; but the hon. Baronet must see that the most important point was the coast of Africa. We had acquired towards all flags the right of seizure and condemnation, on equipment alone; and the hon. Baronet would see that the great objects of humanity would be much better obtained by seizure before the slaves were placed on board, and when upon the coast of Africa, rather than when they had been carried over the Atlantic, and when it would be necessary, therefore, either to send them back to Sierra Leone, or to leave them in the Brazils, where, although they may have the name of liberty, they would be practically slaves. We had a power of seizing under the equipment article of the several treaties only in regard to all Powers with whom we have entered into those engagements; and the late Act, which had received the sanction of Parliament, had given the same powers to the Vice-Admiralty Courts with respect to vessels under the Portuguese flags, and as to those under no flags whatsoever. Her Majesty's Government were pursuing measures of negotiation with regard to those Powers who had not yet signed, and more especially with regard to America, which had also not yet signed the treaty with the equipment article, and he hoped at last to bring this matter to a satisfactory termination.

said, that was a point which was open to some difference of opinion. But he believed his noble Friend at the head of the Admiralty had a steamer of war ready to proceed to the coast of Africa.

Subject dropped.