HC Deb 10 May 1877 vol 234 cc613-5

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been drawn to the inaccuracy of the information conveyed to the Foreign Office by a letter of Mr. Erskine to Lord Derby, dated 28th August 1876, and ordered to be printed by the House on April 7th, 1877, in which he refers to the language of the Report of the Committee of the Municipality at Stockholm as stating that "intemperance (at Gothenburg), with all its bad consequences, has not diminished;" whether he is aware that Mr. Erskine has written to the Foreign Office, since the 13th March 1877, explaining that the figures in Annex B, inclosed in a letter from Consul Duff, dated February 22nd, 1877, and quoted by the Under Secretary in the Debate of the 13th of March 1877, are inaccurate, and not to be relied on without explanation; whether he is aware of the great discrepancy between the statement in Inclosure No. 1 of Mr. Erskine's letter, and that of Consul Duff in Annex B, regarding the amount of spirits sold in the year ending 1st October 1875; and, whether he would object to lay upon the Table of the House any further correspondence that has been received from Sweden upon this subject, including a translation of the Report of the Committee of the Municipality of Stockholm?


My attention has been called to the inaccuracy in the letter of Mr. Erskine to Lord Derby, in which, from carelessness, the words "at Gothenburg" seem to have been inserted instead of "at Stockholm." I see by the First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance, in which the letter is quoted, the error has been corrected in a marginal note. And I will have the Papers before this House reprinted with a similar correction. I am aware that a letter dated March 24, which I have only seen since I had notice of the Question, has been received from Mr. Erskine, inclosing a letter from Mr. Rubenson, in which the inaccuracy of the figures in Mr. Duff's letter which I quoted to the House is pointed out, the correction being that while that letter seemed to imply a steady increase in consumption and profits from 1866 to 1875, the important fact had been omitted that the company only gradually came into possession of the trade, and that in the earlier years the private establishments, whose returns were not included, had sold very largely. There is certainly great discrepancy between Mr. Erskine's letter and Consul Duff's as to the amount of spirits sold in 1875; but the calculations of the Committee of the Municipality of Stockholm give figures differing from either, and I am quite unable to reconcile these conflicting statements. I will, when reprinting the former Papers corrected, lay upon the Table of the House the further correspondence and the translation asked for by the hon. Baronet of the Report of the Committee of the Municipality of Stockholm.