HC Deb 26 February 1891 vol 350 cc1684-5

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to a letter in the Daily Graphic of February 11th, wherein a contrast is drawn between British rule in West Africa and French rule at Senegal, stating that the native population in Gambia and Sierra Leone is degraded through intemperance, and that since falling under British rule the people have sunk to such a depth of depravity that with many of them marriage rites have been given up; whether the prison is 43 times greater than that belonging to the French territory in St. Louis, which has a greater population than Freetown; and whether he will direct inquiry to be made as to the state of affairs?

SIR J. GORST (for Baron H. de WORMS)

The letter referred to contains serious misrepresentations, and is not worthy of credit. There has been a great decrease of crime at the Gambia and Sierra Leone during the past six years, and Her Majesty's Government have received no information indicating that there has been an abandonment of marriage rights. At the Gambia about one quarter, and at Sierra Leone about two-fifths only, of the population are Christians. As regards the second paragraph of the question, in a tropical climate the provision of a large amount of cubic space for each prisoner is not a defect in a gaol. As regards the last paragraph, Her Majesty's Government do not perceive any necessity for a special inquiry into these matters at the present time. The Local Government looks carefully after the welfare and order of the people.