HC Deb 06 August 1888 vol 329 cc1687-8
MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether his attention has been drawn to the treatment of coolies described in a despatch issued at Calcutta on the 5th of May, 1888, from the Secretary to the Indian Association to the Secretary to the Government of India, wherein it is stated that— Since the passing of the now Emigration Act, in 1882, the mortality in the tea gardens has largely and steadily increased. The death-rate, which followed a downward course from 1878 to 1881, began to rise in 1882, when it was 37.8 per 1,000. In 1883 there was a further rise to 41.3; and in 1884 it arose to 43.2: In 1884 the death-rate among children in tea gardens had risen from 39.7 to 14 per 1,000. While the death-rate increased, the birth-rate gradually fell; in 1882 it was 39.7 per 1,000; in 1833 it was 34.3; and in 1884 it further decreased to 32.7 per 1,000; and, whether any steps are being taken by the Government of India to see that effect is given to the assurance made in 1883 by Mr. Elliot, then Chief Commissioner of Assam— That no exertions will be wanting on the part of the civil and medical staff of the Assam Commission to wipe out the blot on the administration, of which this terrible mortality is the cause?


(who replied) said: The Memorial of the Indian Association referred to has not been received at the India Office. In November, 1886, the Secretary of State requested the Government of India to watch narrowly the working of the Emigration Act of 1882. In 1885 the rate of mortality sank to 36.8 per 1,000, and in 1886, notwithstanding the prevalence of cholera, it was only 39.8. The Secretary of State is confident that the Government of India will take due notice of the representations made by the Indian Association; and will not hesitate to enforce, wherever necessary, the adoption of such measures as will lead to the greater health of the labourers in the Assam tea gardens.