§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)
asked the Under Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to a series of letters recently 567 published by the hon. Member for Barrow when travelling in India; whether he has examined the statements therein relative to the rapid increase of the consumption of intoxicants in India; whether he is aware that public opinion attributes this increase to the licensing policy adopted by the Indian Government for the sake of Revenue; whether the Government of India intends to alter their Abkari (licensing) system; whether his attention has been called to the description Mr. Caine gives of the opium dens in Lucknow; and, whether he will undertake that the Indian Government will inquire into the truth of these statements, and, if they are found to be accurate, will suppress these opium dens?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR INDIA (Sir J. GORST,) Chatham
The Secretary of State has reason to believe that the most friendly communications took place between the hon. Member for Barrow and the authorities in India during his recent travels in that country, and that the valuable observations and statements contained in the letters of the hon. Member have been brought to the notice of those authorities by the hon. Member himself. The excise law and the excise administration vary in the several Provinces of India, according to the diverse circumstances of each Province, and it would be unwise, in the judgment of the Secretary of State, to attempt the imposition on the local Governments of one rigid system for the whole of India. The policy, however, which is uniformly inculcated on the Governments both by the Secretary of State and the Government of India is to make the repression of intoxication and of the use of deleterious drugs the first object of their excise legislation and administration, and to treat the raising of revenue as a purely secondary object. To this policy the Secretary of State has reason to believe that all the local Governments in India are using their best efforts to give effect, and they will, no doubt, derive material assistance from the researches of the hon. Member.