§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN (Hythe)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Returns of "vital statistics," in Ceylon, formerly published as a supplement to the Gazette, were stopped in 1887; whether it is the case that the deaths recorded in these Returns under the item of "deaths by starvation," were mainly produced by the eviction of the cultivators from ancestral holdings for nonpayment of rent or tax; whether these evictions have been and are now carried on by thousands in a year, and invariably followed by starvation and death; and, will he grant a Return of the number of evictions and deaths from starvation for each year, 1869 to 1889, inclusive?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron H. de Worms,) Liverpool, East Toxteth
It is not known why the statistics alluded to in the first paragraph of the question, which were printed in 1887, were not again printed last year in the Gazette. They are, no doubt, published in the Administrative Reports. As regards the second paragraph, it is not known here that the deaths from starvation, which were three in 1886 and nine in 1887, were the result of evictions. As regards the third paragraph, the Governor ascertained that the author of this grave statement could adduce no proofs in support of it, and it is believed to be at least a very gross exaggeration. The Governor is causing a searching inquiry to be made into the circumstances and results of the evictions, and will be requested to cause the 1795 Return mentioned in the last paragraph of the question to be added to the Report.