HC Deb 28 April 1937 vol 323 cc324-5
32. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether British missionaries are free to settle in all parts of British Somaliland; whether he is aware that recently certain missionaries and their adherents have reached that territory from Abyssinia and are now engaged in succouring Abyssinian refugees who have fled before the invading Italian troops; and whether the Somaliland administration has been, or will be, instructed to do all in its power to assist the humane and Christian endeavour of the missionaries?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

For many years past the Government of British Somaliland, to its regret, has been obliged, owing to the specially difficult conditions obtaining in the Protectorate inhabitated almost entirely by nomadic Mohammedan tribes, to exclude all missionaries. At the present time two European members of the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society are assisting the Government in the organisation of the camp in which Abyssinian refugees are being sheltered. I desire to take this opportunity of expressing warm appreciation of the services which are being rendered by these gentlemen. The Somaliland Government will certainly give them all possible assistance in their present work.

Mr. Noel-Baker

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his answer, may I ask him whether he will give an assurance that Abyssinian refugees will not be sent back to Abyssinia?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I should like to see that question on paper.

41. Mr. Riley

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the number of Abyssinian refugees now in British Somaliland; whether they are being provided for by the British authorities; and what is the intention of the Government as to their future disposition?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

As regards the first two parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday to the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). The question of the future disposition of these refugees will receive careful consideration, but I am not yet in a position to indicate what arrangements are likely to be made.