§ MR. O'DONNELL
asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether his attention has been called to the terms of certain official notices offering for public auction the right of manufacturing and selling intoxicating drinks among the people of India, especially to that relating to the district of Malabar:—Notice is hereby given, that the exclusive privilege of manufacturing and vending arrack and toddy (fermented palm juice) in the several parts of the Malabar district for one year from 1st April 1884 to 31st March 1885, will be sold by public auction before the Collector of Malabar on the 22nd February 1884 at Calicut.Renters or sub-renters may obtain on application to the Divisional Officer as many licences for distillation by shopkeepers of arrack at 60° under proof, as they may require within a limit to he fixed by the Collector for each Taluk, which will he notified at the time of sale. For the manufacture of arrack at 30° under proof in localities where strong liquor is in favour, Central distilleries must be established by the renters or sub-renters themselves.Every shopkeeper licensed to vend arrack at 60° under proof will be required to hold a licence to distil at that strength also and to set up a still, the number of shops being increased to such an extent that each distiller will have a sufficient supply of toddy for distribution in his immediate neighbourhood without excessive cost on account of carriage to the still;whether notices to a similar effect have been published to the number of many thousands throughout the districts of India; whether protests have been made on the part of the Native population in all parts of India against these measures; whether a petition signed by all the 1030 leading inhabitants of Ahmedabad has been presented to the British Collector in that district, complaining that, through the action of the Government, the drink traffic has greatly increased during the past two or three years—Destroying the morality and happiness of the people, so that, where there were only twelve liquor shops, at present more than thirty-two are in existence, and that the consumption of drink has more than doubled;whether it is true that the successful bidders are authorized toOpen shops in the crowded parts of cities where a liquor shop had not existed for centuries, where numbers of the labouring classes collect together;whether his attention has been called to the report in The Bombay Gazette that, in Gujerat, where the working population had been trained to habits of extreme sobriety by the temperance sect of the Swaminarayen—The work of half a century has been upset by the activity of the Revenue Department since 1879;whether, in Nadiab, a rising and prosperous town on the Baroda Railway, the united protests of the municipality and leading citizens have been ignored by the British authorities, and the contractor under the drink traffic auction has been allowed to open a manufactory of arrack and other intoxicating drink in the centre of the Brahminical quarter; and, whether this policy, being in direct contradiction to the resolutions of the Court of Directors of the East India Company, particularly the resolution passed in 1843 laying it down thatNo officer should be allowed to believe that it forms part of his duty to throw temptations in the way of the people, with a view to increase the revenue of his district;and to that of the 22nd June 1844, which laid down that "every opportunity be taken to diminish the number of liquor shops," what steps will be taken to remedy the recent practice?
§ MR. J. K. CROSS
, in reply, said, it was impossible to answer, within ordinary limits, the series of Questions which the hon. Member asked, and which related to details of administration which were under the control of the Local Governments in India. In reply to the last, and really the important, part of the Question, he had to state that the policy declared in 1843 and 1844 was still strictly adhered to. The number of liquor shops in 1031 Bengal had been reduced from 9,155 in 1864 to 4,560 last year; and in the Bombay Presidency, they had been reduced from 2,976 in 1877 to 2,474 last year. In both Provinces, as generally throughout India, the excise of liquor had been very considerably enhanced during recent years.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India had not answered any of the allegations contained in the Question. Would the hon. Gentleman give him an opportunity of bringing before the House the subject of the promotion of drunkenness in India for Revenue purposes?
§ MR. J. K. CROSS
said, it was not in his power to give a day for a discussion of the subject, as the disposal of the time of the House was not within his jurisdiction. The hon. Member's Question would be sent to the Governors of the Presidencies referred to in it for any remarks they might wish to make upon the matters contained in it.