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Aden Protectorate

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will state approximately the number of persons in the Aden Protectorates who have benefited directly from the Abiyan and other irrigation schemes; whether the Protectorate Federal Government has considered the further expansion of irrigation; and to what extent the growing of cotton and food crops has resulted in increased production owing to improved irrigation.

Some 40,000 people benefit in the two major irrigation areas of Abyan and Lahej. Plans are in train to expand the Abyan scheme. The Lahej area has been surveyed with a view to increasing the area under flood irrigation. Under these schemes cotton has increased by some 35,000 acres and other crops by some 8,000 acres. Some 120 market gardens around Aden have been developed by pumped irrigation during the last six years. Further development is planned.

May I ask the Minister whether the Federal Government initiated these schemes or whether they have done anything to expand them? Does he not agree that one of the chief hopes of increasing the per capita production in the Protectorate areas is by still further extending irrigation?

Yes, I agree. Both the local Government and Her Majesty's Government, through C.D. and W., have had a share in this. In such a barren area as this, one of the main essentials which we are trying to carry out is aerial mapping and survey in order that, as far as possible, we can see which are the resources which can be used.



asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies approximately how many persons in the Aden Protectorate are under some form of slavery; in which States this now exists; whether these persons are aware of the opportunity to secure manumission; and why few persons during the last fifteen years have sought and secured manumission.

Slavery has almost ceased to exist in the Aden Protectorate. This explains the few recent instances of manumission, the facilities for which are well known.

Arising out of that reply, does not the fact that manumission has been granted imply that slavery exists? Should there not be some further inquiry to see to what extent slavery remains and in which form? What approaches have been made to the various States and their rulers to get this institution entirely abolished, especially in view of the splendid work initiated by Mr. Ingrams some years ago?

Manumission is a certificate given on request to a person certifying that he is no longer a slave but a free man. It is given by members of the British Advisory Service in the Protectorates. I do not think that such an inquiry would be of any help. No certificates were given last year. The only reason I cannot say that slavery does not exist at all is that there may well be one or two people of slave origin who are still with families in the Protectorates. I do not think that we should track that down profitably by an inquiry.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that from 1948 I served for five years in the Aden Government? There is no question of any slavery at all in the Protectorate or the Colony. The hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) is probably thinking of the odd case over the Saudi Arabian border.

There were no certificates last year and in 1959 there were only five. I cannot say absolutely that slavery does not exist, but I cannot think that an inquiry would enable us to be any better informed about the extent to which it exists.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that although the incidence may be diminishing, it is obvious from the statement which he has made that it exists, in spite of what was said by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison)? In those circumstances, could not some special representation be made to the various rulers in order to remove the last remnants of this hideous practice?

I shall be glad to consult those responsible in the two Protectorates. Perhaps hon. Members would like to look at the figures for the last year or two. There was none last year; there were five in 1959; the 1958 figure is a corrupt group in my telegram and I cannot read it; there were three in 1957; there was none in 1956; and there was one in 1955. It can hardly be said to be significant.

Are not they the numbers of those who have applied to secure manumission? Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that, in his original reply, he used the expression, presumably on advice, that slavery had virtually ceased to exist? Is not this an admission by the Government that there is still some slavery there, and is it not complacency to allow slavery to go on in any circumstances in any Protectorate for which Her Majesty's Government are responsible? Will he investigate the matter?

I should be glad to investigate it if I honestly thought that the slightest fruit would come from it.

Without question, not only in this country but in the Aden Protectorate the whole of public opinion is entirely opposed to slavery. All I am saying is that there may well be here and there one or two people of slave origin remaining with families. They know perfectly well that they can tomorrow, if they wish, have a certificate that they are free men. In view of what has been said in the House, I will take up the points which have been made, but I frankly say that I do not think that it will be a very fruitful investigation.