Slavery (Supplementary Convention)

Oral Answers to Questions — United Nations – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th October 1956.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell 12:00 am, 24th October 1956

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the Conference on the proposed United Nations Anti-Slavery Convention.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester North West

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why, at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries held at Geneva to draw up a Supplementary Convention on Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices similar to Slavery, the United Kingdom delegate eventually voted for a compromise clause preventing the search of ships suspected of carrying slaves.

Photo of Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker , Banbury

A copy of the Supplementary Convention, which has been adopted by 33 members of the Conference, was published as a White Paper yesterday (Cmd. 9870). While the Convention is not in every respect in the form we should have desired, Her Majesty's Government regard it as generally satisfactory. It will be seen from the text that no Article was adopted which prevents the search of ships suspected of carrying slaves.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester North West

Is it not a fact that the British delegate did withdraw a clause or an article which insisted upon the possibility of searching ships which had slaves in them, and is it not a fact that the Convention as it now stands without that article is worse than the Convention of 1926? Should we not expose those peoples who are still dealing in slaves and who are refusing any investigation?

Photo of Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker , Banbury

No, certain changes were made, of course, when the Convention was negotiated, but Article 3 does not, in our view, affect the existing rights of the Government, as a party to the Brussels Pact of 1890, to take measures for the prevention of the slave trade, including visit and search on the high seas.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester North West

In view of the unsatisfactory reply, I beg to give notice that I propose to raise this matter on the earliest possible occasion.