HC Deb 12 June 1879 vol 246 cc1700-1

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If the attention of Government has been called to the statement in the "Times" of June 3rd, on the authority of its correspondent at Colombo, by which it appears that there is the greatest scarcity of food, approaching even to famine, in certain districts of Ceylon; and, whether, under such circumstances, the Government will suspend the Import Duties on grain into Ceylon, as they have done into Cyprus, and also suspend the taxes on grain grown in the island, which tend to discourage its cultivation?


The statement in The Times referred to by the hon. Member appears to complain not so much of a scarcity of food in Ceylon as of a deficiency of means to purchase cotton goods. There has, however, been considerable temporary distress, in the earlier part of the present year, in some districts of Ceylon; but measures were at once taken by the Colonial Government to alleviate it: and there is every reason to anticipate that, owing to this action, and to the rains which fell towards the latter part of March, it will very soon have entirely passed away—if, indeed, it has not already done so. There is nothing in the circumstances which would warrant the suspension of the import duties on grain; and the hon. Member is already aware of the action which has been taken by the Government on the general ques- tion of the grain tax from my reply to a Question asked by him on April 3.