HC Deb 05 May 1905 vol 145 cc1025-6

To ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the proposed importation of six Pigmies from the Congo Forest for public exhibition in this country; whether such importation has the sanction of the Foreign Office; whether care will be taken to ensure the proper treatment of these aliens, and also to prevent the possibility of the cost of their maintenance and repatriation becoming a charge on public funds, as has not unfrequently occurred in similar cases; whether the Foreign Office have ascertained that the Pigmies consented to leave their home entirely of their own free will, and whether they understand the purpose for which they are to be brought to this country; and whether such undesirable aliens would be excluded under the provisions of the Aliens Bill, should that measure become law before their arrival.

(Answered by Earl Percy.) The attention of the Secretary of State has been called to the proposed importation of Pigmies. His Majesty's Government have no legal power to prevent the introduction of the Pigmies into this country in the absence of proof that compulsion has been used, but Colonel Harrison, who is bringing them over, was informed that their importation for purposes of exhibition was very undesirable, and must be entirely on his own responsibility, and at his own risk. Colonel Harrison has undertaken that they will be well cared for, and eventually returned to their own country. He states that they have come entirely of their own free will, and wish to continue their journey to England.