HC Deb 04 May 1883 vol 278 cc1863-4

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been called to the action of the Quarantine Board of British Guiana, in suddenly altering their regulations so as to enable them entirely to exclude from the Colony a cargo of rice, the staple food of the Indian immigrant population; whether such action was approved by the Secretary of State; and, whether for the guidance of shipowners and importers, he can lay upon the Table any Correspondence showing under what circumstances, and especially on what medical evidence and advice, the cargo was condemned?


Sir, the cargo of rice was brought in a vessel called the Sheila, which had conveyed Coolies from Calcutta to Surinam. In the course of the voyage a serious outbreak of cholera had taken place on board. The Quarantine Board was advised by their medical officer that the cargo was infected and dangerous. They had no power, under their existing laws, to forbid it being landed, or to keep the ship more than 14 days in quarantine; so they, in concert with the Court of Policy, passed a Regulation empowering them to impose and renew periods of quarantine indefinitely. The Secretary of State has expressed the opinion that it would have been better to have taken power to prohibit the landing of the cargo, and to have notified to the owners what they had to expect, and not left thorn in doubt whether the landing would ultimately be allowed or not. The Governor has been requested to forward the medical evidence on which the Board acted; and when this is received the Correspondence will be laid upon the Table.