The EARL of WALDEGRAVE,
asked the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether the reduction of the naval force on the coast of Africa was temporary or not?
§ The EARL of CLARENDON,
in answer to the inquiry of the noble Earl—a most legitimate one, after the information he must have received—wished to say, that if there were any impression abroad, either that the Government were less anxious about the suppression of the slave trade than heretofore, or that the number of the fleet was reduced, or its efficiency diminished, he felt much obliged to his noble Friend for making the inquiry, because it gave him an opportunity of saying that there was not the least intention on the part of the Government to reduce the number of the fleet, or to render it less efficient. In consequence of the notice given him by his noble Friend, he had put himself in com- 884 munication with his right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty (Sir J. Graham), who had informed him that no ship had been withdrawn from the fleet of Admiral Bruce on the coast of Africa but those which accidentally required repairs, and were not fit for actual service. Since his right hon. Friend had been at the head of the Admiralty, only one ship had been withdrawn from the Admiral's fleet, and he was informed that his right hon. Friend had commissioned two ships of war in its place, and that another, and possibly a fourth, would be also sent out within the next week or ten days. He was sure the noble Earl would admit that his right hon. Friend was fully alive to the propriety and necessity of keeping up the African squadron. The noble Earl would also not fail to remember that his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, with only a peace establishment at his disposal, had brought together the fleet now assembled at Spithead, the fleet now at the entrance of the Dardanelles, the large naval force necessary for the defence of the British fisheries in North America, and for guarding the coast of Cuba and Brazil, besides that which was required in China and at Rangoon. He could appeal to the noble Earl's professional knowledge and experience whether his right hon. Friend had not made a judicious distribution of the force at his command for the different exigencies of the service, and the protection of British interests in every quarter of the world.
The BISHOP of OXFORD
said, the statement just made by his noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon) must give great satisfaction to the many persons in this country who were watching the subject with the greatest possible anxiety; and he must express the gratification he had received from that statement. Their Lordships would see the exceeding importance of this great experiment, and of carrying out thoroughly whatever they undertook to do. It was like undertaking to stamp out a fire; if they intermitted their exertions before the last spark was extinguished, the flame would rekindle, and the whole work would be to do over again. It was only within a short time that a trade had grown up which was becoming the staple riches of the dwellers of those parts of the earth, and which he hoped would eventually enable us to withdraw our squadron altogether. Let their Lordships, therefore, do thoroughly the work which they had undertaken to do, while they did it. He rejoiced to hear the 885 answer which had been given by his noble Friend to this question, because it assured him (the Bishop of Oxford) that this work was being done with that vigour and efficiency which so eminently marked his right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.