HC Deb 16 February 1894 vol 21 cc597-8
MR. HOPWOOD (Lancashire, S.E., Middleton)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will inform the House as to the reasons for the expedition against the Sofas, sent from Sierra Leone last December, and reported to have pursued the Sofas beyond the sphere of British influence with great loss of life to them; whether a report in The Sierra Leone. Times of 2nd December, 1893, of a statement by the Governor of the Colony in his address to the Legislative Council on 28th November, to the effect that it behoved the Government not to have recourse to hostile measures without sufficient cause, and that, for his own part, he should like to feel better satisfied as to what the actual state of the country was, and what the Sofas were really doing, before such measures were taken, is correct; whether the Governor of Sierra Leone, as reported in The Sierra Leone Weekly News of 9th December, informed the Legislative Council that he had, in November, despatched a pacific Mission to obtain information as to where the Sofas really were, what injury they had committed, and what was the real state of affairs, but that he had recalled this Mission, as Her Majesty's Government had decided that a military expedition was to start forthwith: and who is responsible for the expedition?


The expedition against the Sofas was rendered necessary by the atrocities of those marauders, who, when pursued by the French, made their way southwards into the British sphere, devastating the country, killing the inhabitants or carry- ing them off as slaves. Her Majesty's Government could not allow such proceedings to continue, or to permit British territory to become the base of raids and attacks conducted by the Sofas against the French. Moreover, it was undesirable that the Sofas, by rising British territory, should attract pursuit into that territory. As regards the second and third questions, I have no reason to doubt the substantial accuracy of the reports in question. But after full consideration of the information that has been received as to the proceedings of the Sofas, and taking into account the time of the year, it was necessary, in the opinion of the Government, to immediately despatch the expedition, which, it is satisfactory to learn, has been brought to a successful conclusion.