HC Deb 23 February 1888 vol 322 cc1231-2
MR. J. WILLIAMSON (Lancashire, Lancaster)

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether he has knowledge of the system of licensing prostitutes in Military Stations in India by the public and Military Authorities; whether his attention has been called to the last Official Report, wherein it is stated with satisfaction, with respect to Sitapur, "that the houses of these registered women are well kept;" whether he is aware that at Sitapur there is one licensed woman to every 11 soldiers, and that on a recent march to Lucknow a number of these women were sent by the Commanding Officer as an escort to the men en route to the exercise camp there, who pitched their tents near to those of the English soldiers night after night; whether the tents of these women are placed in prominent positions, and that soldiers are put over them on patrol duty; whether Chaplains of Scotch regiments, such as the Seaforth Highlanders, are obliged to move with the regiments which are accompanied by these registered women; and, whether he will promise to take immediate steps with the view of cancelling this system of registering women in India?

MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

wished to ask the hon. Gentleman, before he answered the Question, Whether he was aware that Miss Florence Nightingale, on the 21st of November, 1862, had written a remarkable letter in the sense of the Question, which was published in a Report on the sanitary state of the East Indies in 1863; and whether he was aware that, after the existence of this system had been brought before the Army and Sanitary Commission, they had reported that the system had failed in India to protect the troops—


Order, order! The hon. Member is rather exceeding the bounds of a Question, or anything that can fairly be said to grow out of the Question.


I must ask the hon. Member to give Notice of the last Question. With re- gard to the Question on the Paper, in July, 1887, the Secretary of State, in accordance with a promise made to the Bishop of Lichfield in another place, addressed a despatch to the Government of India on this subject. Communications have sinced passed which are not yet complete. The official information, however, which is so far in the possession of the Secretary of State is at variance with the statements upon which the Question appears to be founded. The statements are contained in a Report which has been published and circulated in this country, dated Umballa, January 14, 1888, and signed Alfred S. Dyer. The Secretary of State will send this document to the Government of India and request a detailed Report on the various allegations therein contained. If anything like the practices alleged by Mr. Dyer prevails in India, measures will be taken to secure that any such practices shall be stopped forthwith.