HC Deb 09 March 1882 vol 267 cc456-7

asked the Secretary of State for India, If he is aware that the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab has announced that the Excise Report of the Punjab for the year 1880 shows that The Excise Revenue for the year 1888–1 is the largest income yet collected in one year, notwithstanding an enhancement of the rates of still head duty; and whether he will lay upon the Table of the House the letter of the Reverend Mr. Evans, Baptist missionary at Monghyr, to Lord Ripon, deploring the enormous increase of drunkenness among hitherto sober populations in India, in consequence of the multiplication of facilities for the sale of intoxicating drinks in connection with the Excise Department of the Revenue?


Sir, it is correct that the Excise Revenue of the Punjab for 1880–81 is the largest yet collected, the gross receipts having been Rs.11,09,000, against Rs.10,49,000 in 1876, the causes of the increase are—recovery of the Province from agricultural depression, and return of the troops and camp followers from Afghanistan. The Punjab rates of taxation on country liquor are very high, and the Excise Revenue lower per head of population than in any other Province. The reason of this is that the consumption of country liquor is small, a large part of the population using opium instead of liquor. The hon. Member is, of course, aware, though the House may not have noticed, that Mr. Evans's letter has nothing to do with the Punjab Excise Revenue. It relates to the drinking habits of the population at Monghyr, in Bengal, nearly 900 miles distant from the capital of the Punjab; and it assigns as the cause of an increase of drunkenness at Monghyr, the substitution of the "out-still" for the "sudder distillery" system of raising a revenue from country liquor, the "sudder distillery" system alone being in force in the Punjab. The letter, with the Report of the Government of Bengal, and the Orders of the Government of India, can be laid on the Table, if the hon. Member likes to move for them.