HC Deb 13 March 1912 vol 35 cc1084-5

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can state how many deaths have taken place from sleeping sickness, how many deaths from trypanosomiasis in domestic animals, and how many trade routes have been closed in Nyasaland since the Colonial Office was first advised to relax the big game laws in the interest of humanity and commerce; and whether, if he is not yet satisfied with the evidence that game is a reservoir and Glossina morsitans a carrier of the germ of the disease, he will induce the big game hunters to submit to a temporary sacrifice by yielding to a relaxation of the game laws in the interest of human life and British trade by the promise that the restrictive laws will be reimposed if game and tse-tse are proved to be innocent?


The total number of cases of sleeping sickness recorded in Nyasaland up to the end of 1911 was fifty-seven, of which twenty-one are known to have died. I am not in possession of any statistics to show how many domestic animals have died from trypanosomiasis, and I am not aware that any trade routes have been closed. My hon. Friend assumes that a relaxation of the big game laws is in the interest of humanity and commerce, that is to say, that the presence of the large wild animals, and of these alone, is prejudicial to human life and to trade, presumably by their bringing the tse-tse fly with them. But it has not been shown that if these animals were to disappear the fly would disappear also; and in any case many animals would remain on which the fly could feed. In the Island of Principe, where the fly abounds, there is no big game. The Governor of Nyasaland is in communication with Sir David Bruce, who is at work in his laboratory in the sleeping sickness area in the Protectorate, and I have instructed him to furnish me with definite recommendations as to preventive measures of any kind as soon as Sir D. Bruce is in a position to make them. I shall not hesitate to take any steps, however drastic, so soon as their necessity is proved.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it will be possible to lay Papers on the subject on the Table of the House.


Yes, Sir.