HC Deb 15 July 1884 vol 290 cc1128-9

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether, in a Despatch dated 6th March 1883, and addressed to the Chief Secretary, Government of Madras, Mr. Mackenzie, Secretary to the Government of India, Home Department (Sanitary) reprimanded the Sanitary Commissioner of Madras for having, in his Report, published in December 1882, stated facts which seemed to prove that an epidemic of cholera in Southern India had been due to the importation of the disease from Tirupati and its dissemination by infected pilgrims; whether the rebuke proceeded on the ground that the publication of facts suggestive of such a theory was likely to prove embarrassing in view of the acceptance of a similar theory by the International Sanitary Boards at Constantinople and Alexandria; whether the Sanitary Commissioner of Madras, when called on for a reply, answered that the theory of the conveyance of cholera, suggested by the facts reported by him, was that, suggested by previous outbreaks in his Presidency, and adopted by standard authorities on cholera; whether the Secretary to the Government of India Home Department (Sanitary) thereupon replied repeating the censure contained in his previous Despatch, and stating that the Government of India had for years insisted that its sanitary officers Instead of wasting their time in tracing out doubtful connections of cholera contagion, should direct themselves to improving the health conditions under which the people live; whether he will lay upon the Table of the House Mr. Mackenzie's Despatches, and the reply of the Sanitary Commissioner of Madras; and, whether, at a time when the Governments of France and Germany are strenuously encouraging investigations into the causation of cholera, Her Majesty's Government will give orders that work so obviously for the interest of mankind shall not be thwarted by any official attempt to suppress in Indian Sanitary Reports facts materially bearing on the subject?


I have no objection to lay on the Table a Copy of the Correspondence referred to in my hon. Friend's Question. But I must state that the view which has for a long time past been pressed upon the local sanitary officers by the Government of India, in the Sanitary Department, and by the Army Sanitary Commission, is that, in their annual Reports, the sanitary officers should refrain from stating theories as to the propagation of cholera, and should state facts bearing upon the question only after careful authentication. The sentence quoted in the Question is unfinished. It ends thus— In order that cholera, when it does appear, whether coming from without or evolved locally, may fail to find those congenial surroundings in which experience shows that it is most likely to develop and spread.

Forward to