HC Deb 10 April 1891 vol 352 cc285-344
(9.0.) SIR J. PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

Although it has fallen to my lot on several occasions in years gone by to address this House upon the question of the Indian opium trade, I think I may honestly say that I never rose in my place for this purpose with so much feeling of responsibility on my shoulders as I do at the present moment. The House is well aware— individual Members are "well aware—of the very large and increased interest that has been taken in this subject during the last two years, especially by the Christian Churches of this country; and I felt—on finding my own table as well as the tables of my Friends who are supporting this Motion on both sides of the House, covered with letters and Petitions—how very little any poor ability I may have is worth in representing that which so many of the best people of this country have laid earnestly to heart. This question has never been a Party question. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcudbrightshire, on the other side of the House (Mr. Mark Stewart), was dealing with it before I dealt with it. My hon. Friend the Member for the Honiton Division of Devonshire (Sir John Kenna-way), who has just entered the House, took a considerable and leading part in the question before I did so. My hon. Friend and relative the Member for the City of London (Sir R. Fowler), who supports me, and who is moving an Amendment to my Resolution, before any of us, I believe, took a part in the discussion of this opium question. I am now about to attack the entire Indian opium question. I look upon India and this country as inseparable, though that doctrine is not popular with some of my friends. But I believe it is a doctrine we have to maintain. I hold that we have to look at the interests of India and the interests of this country as identical. We, practically, appoint the Government of India; we, practically, make the laws which govern the Government of India, and we are responsible for the fact that all things go on in India under the jurisdiction of this country. ' In the first Resolution that I placed on the Paper, I did not propose to deal with what is called the Malwa opium question — that is, the transit duty on the opium coming out of the independent States—but on looking further into the question I found that it was so intimately connected with the Indian opium question that although, if I drew degrees of morality, I should not think the Malwa question is as immoral as our Indian opium cultivation and trade. I felt it was so bound up with the whole matter that it was necessary to deal with the Transit Duty as well as the cultivation of the poppy in India by the Indian Government. I think I shall show that the Malwa Pass Duty is as open to attack as any portion of the Opium Revenue. I say we cannot separate the Government of India from our Government. I look upon our connection with the manufacture of this drug as most wretched and wicked. We cannot look upon the moral question with indifference. My object will be to show that opium is a drug, that it is to be treated and used as a drug if it is to be used, but that its abuse is universally the source of human misery, demoralisation and crime. We must admit that, as a nation, we have, for the sake of pecuniary gain, fostered, promoted and encouraged the growth of the poppy and the sale of the poppy. There is no similar case in the whole history of this country where this country has become a trader in the most obnoxious article you could imagine, a trader in an article which has done damage to mankind wherever it has been introduced. We not only license the land, but we pay subsistence to the planter; we manufacture the article, we sell it for consumption, we store it in the warehouses, we send it in such quantities into the market as we feel will keep up the market price and value, we advertise the article on the main line of railway from Bombay to Baroda. On our railroad placards are posted in three native languages, showing the native traveller where he can purchase this article, and we are traders in every respect in this article. I ask the House—suppose we had the entire whiskey trade under the management of this House, would there not be a great outcry in the country? Opium is far worse than whiskey. [" Oh ! "1 Some hon. Gentleman says " Oh! " but I will prove before I resume my seat that opium is far worse than whiskey. I merely take it as a parallel. If this House had all the whiskey distilleries of the country in its hands and advertised their whiskey—advertised it as the Indian Government do opium—what an outcry there would be amongst civilised people and amongst every one interested in the promotion of temperance and morality. I say, and I shall try to prove, that for this greed of gain we have sacrificed every principle of political economy—that we have sacrificed every principle of morality, and that we are sacrificing every principle of Christianity. Now, I lay down as the moral law that, whatever other nations may do, it ought to be no guide to us. It is no argument for us to do wrong. It is no argument for our supplying China with opium that the Chinese are growing opium themselves. It seems to me we have no alternative but to wash our hands of a traffic which is a disgrace to our Christianity and our morality. We ought to deal with this drug as a poison. In this country the seller of opium must be a registered chemist. If he dies his death has to be reported. Opium is scheduled as a poison in the 31st and 32nd Vict. c. 121. Every box, bottle, vessel, wrapper, or cover must be labelled " Opium— Poison," and be marked with the address of the seller. The Lancet, in a recent number, confirmed this view and said, " Opium is from first to last a drug and a poison." Perhaps there is no testimony more affecting than that of the unhappy Coleridge. He said— I used to think the text in St. James that ' he who offen deth in one point offends in all' very harsh, but now I feel the awful, the tre- mendous truth of it. In the one crime of opium what crimes have I not made myself guilty of? Ingratitude to my Maker; to my benefactor, injustice; and unnatural cruelty to my poor children; self contempt for my repeated promise—breach, nay, too often, actual falsehood. After my death I earnestly entreat that a full and unqualified narration of my wretchedness, and of its guilty cause, may be made public, that at least some little good may be effected by the dreadful example. Sir George Staunton, the representative of the East India Company at Canton, said many years ago— It is mere trifling to place the abuse of opium on the same level with the abuse of spirituous liquors. It is (i.e. the abuse) the main purpose in the former case, but in the latter it is only the exception. Sir Thomas Wade, who represented us for many years in China, gave evidence before a Select Committee of the House of Commons on the subject. The Committee in their Report said— The demoralising influences of the opium trade are incontestable and inseparable from its existence. Sir Thomas Wade said— It is to me vain to think otherwise of the use of the drug in China than as of a habit many times more pernicious, nationally speaking, than the gin and whiskey drinking we deplore at home. The late Rev. Dr. Williamson, an extensive traveller and experienced missionary, said— Its tendency to crime is most appalling. It loosens all sense of moral obligation. There is hardly an evil which I have not heard or seen perpetrated by these infatuated mortals. I put it to the House that opium is a most excellent medicine and drug, but it has to be used with the greatest possible caution. If any hon. Member feels any doubt as to the medical testimony on this subject, I would refer him to the wonderfully good speech delivered in this House by Lord Shaftesbury—then Lord Ashley—in 1844, in which he stated the opinions of all the greatest medical men of the day. It is a drug which cannot be used by any man with impunity for very long; it deteriorates the constitution, and unfits a man for all the duties of life. I intend to prove to-night from the history of China, Java, Burmah, California, and our own colonies in Australia, the evil that is done by this drug in which we traffic. I have received during the last few weeks appeals on this subject from the Chinese Christians of Hong Kong, from the Christian Churches at Shanghai, from the Christian Churches at Canton, from the Pekin Anti-Opium Society, and 1 yesterday presented a Petition, with 1,100 signatures, from Singapore deploring the trade, and imploring the Government to put a stop to the importation of Indian opium. During the last few years I have presented Petitions to this House from the Convocations of York and Canterbury, from the Wesleyan Conference, the Free Church Methodists, the Baptists, the Congregationalists, the Presbyterians of England, the Scotch Church, the Free Church of Scotland, Cardinal Manning, and all the Roman Catholic Bishops of the United Kingdom, the Unitarians, the Society of Friends, the missionaries in China, the Bishop of Bombay and 300 clergy of Bombay. In 1883 I presented a memorial to the then Prime Minister signed by 3 Archbishops, 12 Bishops, several Peers, 60 Members of Parliament, and 30 Mayors and Provosts. I think that shows how very strong the feeling in this country is. I have just received a telegram from Bombay stating that a meeting has been held there to-day, with the Bishop in the chair, which unanimously voted in favour of my Resolution. I presented to this House a Petition signed by a large number of the principal clergy in this great City of London. It was signed by the Dean of St. Paul's, the Archdeacon of London, Canons Newbolt, Russell, and Lang, the Archdeacon of Middlesex, Canon Furse, and the Rev. E. Carr Glynn. I presented to this House this afternoon a Petition signed by 4,100 inhabitants of India. I have looked carefully through the Petitions, and I have presented between 400 and 500 within the last few days to this House—and I never saw such Petitions in my life, in the long experience I have had in this House. They are signed by clergymen of all denominations, and by the leading inhabitants of towns. I have received them from Argyllshire in the North, to Devonshire and Cornwall in the South and West. Every Member of this House has been receiving Petitions from his constituents on this subject. I have never seen, since I have dealt with this subject, so much enthusiasm in the country, and I have never had so many prayers forwarded to me for the success of this Motion as I have had during the last few hours contained in letters and telegrams from all parts of the country. I will not go into the question of the opinions of statesmen, because there has never been a statesman on either side of the House who has ever dared to say a word in favour of the morality of this trade. We have had the pecuniary argument over and over again. With that pecuniary argument I will presently deal; but what I have to prove at the present moment is what are the effects of the opium trade when it has taken hold of a people. As regards China the history of the opium trade there is a very simple, but a very terrible one. Up to 1858, it was a contraband trade. It was one of the grounds for the impeachment of Warren Hastings. In 1820, opium smoking was almost unknown in China, and our trade with China in that year was 3,000 chests. In 1839, the date of the first war, it had reached 31,000 chests. In 1856, although it was contraband, it had reached 60,000 chests. The trade was legalised in 1858, and by 1862 it had reached 75,000 chests, and in 1879 it was 94,000 chests, and it continues at about 80,000 chests. But we have taught the Chinese to grow more of it for themselves. The Convention of Chefoo was made by Sir Thomas Wade in 1876 with the Chinese Government, under which it was proposed to leave the Likin opium duties in the hands of the Chinese Government themselves. Sir Louis Malet, in one of his very clear Memorandums, laid down the view that after careful reading of the Treaty of Tien-Tsin he was of opinion that the Chinese had a perfect right to impose any Likin duty they liked. The English Government refused to ratify Article 3 from 1876 to 1885. Hon. Members who took an interest in the question will recollect that some of us, year after year, from 1876 to 1885, never left the Governments alone on the question. It was contrary to the policy we pursued between India and China, and they resisted it. For nine years we held out, because, as Lord Salisbury said, we should neutralise all our policy with regard to this drug. We deprived the Chinese during these years of their power of unlimited pro- hibition; we drove them to cultivate their own opium. They raised the Imperial Tax of 30 taels to 110 taels by adding a fixed Likin duty of 80 taels per chest. After May 6th, 1890, either party may terminate the Chefoo Treaty, by 12 months' notice, but then we fall back to our old position under the Treaty of Tien-Tsiu. What has been the effect of this opium trade on China? Out of an enormous number of testimonies which I have collected I will give a very few, and I believe I have taken them honestly, selecting them by date over a considerable period. The late Dr. Med-hurst said— That, calculating the shortened lives, the frequent diseases, and the actual starvation which are the results of opium smoking in China, we may so venture to assert that this pernicious drug annually destroys myriads of individuals. Slavery is not productive of more misery and death, than is the opium traffic, nor were Britons more implicated in the former than in the latter. Those who grow and sell the drug, while they profit by the speculation, would do well to follow the consumer into the haunts of vice, and mark the wretchednesss, poverty, disease, and death which follow the indulgence, for did they but know the thousandth part of the evils resulting from it they would not, they could not continue to engage in the transaction. It has been told, and it shall be rung in the ears of the British public again and again, that opium is demoralising China, and become the greatest barrier to the introduction of Christianity which can be conceived of. Dr. Osgood, who in 1879 was chief Medical Missionary at the Shanghai Hospital, wrote— I hope I shall not be accused of egotism or cant when I write that in my opinion the use of opium is an unmitigated curse. I have never heard a heathen Chinaman defend the use or sale of opium, but on the contrary, they universally condemn them. The only apologists have been representatives of Christian lands. Many of the North countrymen in the House would know the name of David Hill, a well known Dissenting minister at York. His son gave me the following, and I asked him to write it down. He was a missionary in the centre of China— The effect of opium smoking among the Chinese has again and again been depicted to the British public in. strong and earnest language; never, I think, too strong, certainly never too earnest. No language could fully picture to others the deplorable consequences of opium smoking, which I myself have seen in China, even in the case of some of my own Chinese acquaintances." That gentleman told me that when he went into one of the interior provinces, the city walls were placarded with papers warning the people against his-coming, as it was the missionary who brought the opium trade, and who brought Christianity. The two things were coupled together, and if we are a Christian people, which I trust we are, 1 trust we may take away from ourselves the curse of preventing the-spread of what we believe to be the purest form of religion amongst these-poor heathens. I have several more quotations. Mr. Frederick Porter Smith founder and manager of the Hankow Medical Mission Hospital, Central China, said— I wish to place on record that after an intimate acquaintance with the people, the literature, the language and the commerce of one large province of central China, I am compelled to describe the infatuation, the miserable saturation of the country, the change of type of the character of the nation, and the miseries wrought upon individual habit, constitution, temper, and fortune, all exhibited in the course and consequences of the vice of opium smoking in China, as forming an unique instance of national lunacy and suicide. No epidemic possession of any people or sect reads with such terrible details as are afforded by the simple story of this horror. At the same time I protest against gratuitious exaggeration being imported into the question, now able to take care of itself. Dr. Pringle wrote to the Lord Mayor— If those who have spent, as I have spent, 30 years in India, came forward on behalf of poor China, I am certain a weight of practical evidence would he forthcoming which would swamp anything that can be opposed to-it, and would end in the Government of India washing its hands of what, without doubt, in these days of increased education in India is-viewed as a sad blot in the rule of a Christian Power. Some time ago a Petition was presented to this House signed by all the Protestant missionaries in China. I will only read one or two extracts:— The connection of the British Government with the trade in this pernicious drug creates prejudice against us as Christian missionaries, burdens our work. It strikes the people as an inconsistency that while the British nation offers them the beneficent teaching of the Gospel it should, at the same time, bring to their shores a drug which degrades and ruins them. They describe opium as— A great evil to China, and that the baneful effects of its use cannot be easily overstated. It enslaves its victim, squanders his substance, destroys his health, weakens his mental powers, lessens his self-esteem, deadens his conscience, unfits him for his duties, and leads to his steady descent morally, socially, and physically. That was the evidence of the missionaries—there was a stronger testimony even than that. It was a letter from Archdeacon Wolfe of the Chinese Mission. He says— The people are being ruined by it, and it is indeed a lamentable spectacle to see professing Christian men speaking and writing in -defence of the horrible crime. The pernicious results of this soul and body destroying vice are apparent all around. Cadaverous-looking faces meet one on every side, and the slovenly habits and the filthy appearance of the people generally testify too plainly to the evil it is working on this once industrious and energetic population. The rapid progress which opium smoking has made during the last 20 years among all classes of this population is a very serious matter for us missionaries. Humanly speaking opium smokers are beyond the reach of conversion, as the vice unfits them for the perception of any moral or spiritual truths. Can the Church of Christ in England do nothing to influence the nation to withdraw from the abominable traffic which is causing so much moral, spiritual, physical, ruin to this great people. It is a sad reflection on the Church of Christ in England that it seems powerless to influence the English people in so important a matter as the Indian traffic in opium. Almost the entire population in some places is abandoned to the use of this poisonous drug. The effects are witnessed in the extreme poverty of the people, in the broken down and dilapidated dwellings all through the village, and in the gross immorality which prevails amongst the inhabitants. Even openly and without shame they prostitute their wives in order to secure for themselves the means of indulging in opium smoking. Little children are sold as slaves and turned away from the embrace of their helpless mothers in order that their degraded fathers may have money to buy opium. And this and much more may be told of the effects of opium smoking on the miserable people; yet professed Christians in England see no harm in it, and openly advocate the abominable traffic which makes it possible, and comparatively easy, for the Chinese people to ruin themselves and their wives and children for time and for eternity. It may be said, on the other side, that this state of things in China does not entirely arise from our action with regard to the traffic in opium. Certainly not, and no one for a long time has said that it did; but, at any rate, we are participators in that trade. We are sending 80,000 chests of opium a year to China, and, therefore, are helping largely to produce that state of things. The Indian Government are trying to make a profit out of that trade, and although it is becoming smaller, we are keeping it up as much as possible. There is one argument which has been used in this House again and again, I will not attempt to go into it. I think I hear the voice of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). I remember that he said a few years ago that it was better that the people of China should be poisoned by our good opium than by the bad opium they produced themselves. That may be regarded as an argument by the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think it is one that will have the assent of the House. I will refer to a statement made by a well-known writer in a publication, the last edition of which I had the honour of publishing in conjunction with my late excellent friend who, I may say, was one of the greatest ornaments this House has ever had, the late Mr. John Bright. Mr. Dymond, in his Essays on Morality, says—

If I were to sell a man arsenic or a pistol, knowing that the buyer wants to commit murder, should I not be a bad man? If I let a house, knowing that the renter wanted it for purposes of wickedness, am I an innocent man? Mr. Dymond treats the argument that if we did not do it some one else would, as follows:— Upon such reasoning you might rob a traveller on the road, if you knew that at the next turning a foot pad was waiting to plunder him. To sell property or goods for bad purposes because if you do not do it some one else will, is like selling slaves because you thought it criminal to keep them in bondage. Now, Sir, I have done with the case of China, which I have only used as an illustration of what the traffic in opium does. I have not said we could get the Chinese Government to alter their plans. I have not said we propose to try to get the Chinese Government to do so. My case is that we ought to put our house in order, that we ought to have clean hands in regard to this business, and it does not make the slightest difference to us as to what we ought to do when it is said that China now grows opium for herself. Let us, if we can, be moral and do what is right, independent of all other considerations. I now come to Burma. There can be no doubt that we introduced the opium trade into Burma. An official Report of the Government in 1870, states that " Opium eating is not a Burma habit: it is a new vice." The Report of the Burma Baptist Missionary Convention in 1866, states that— The Burmese, as a race, were remarkably free from the use of intoxicating drinks and drugs 50 years ago. The Rev. C. Bennett said— When I first arrived in the country in 1830, opium was rarely used, and almost entirely confined to Chinamen. There were, however, a few Burmese who used it, and they were looked upon by their countrymen as outcasts, and worse than thieves. It is said that we are trying to prevent the use of this drug in the opium houses, that we have ceased to licence a great number of them, but still the number of opium houses in Burma is almost kept up, and the smaller number of houses by selling to others vend almost as much opium as was formerly sold by the larger number. A late traveller in Burma states:— It is perfectly true that there is only one opium shop in the Akyab district dealing directly with the Government. But this opium shop distributes the Government opium to many hundreds of other shops. I myself saw yesterday at Akyab 50 of these dens in less than 45 minutes. The number of smokers in each den was from four to eight. The great majority of them were Burmese. These 50 dens lay all around one of the chief Police Stations of the district, and within a gun shot of the Custom House. Mr. Htoonkyawoo told me that his estimate of the number of dens in the Akyab district, the town included, was at least 1,000, all supplied by the one licensed shop which appears in the Government Re-port. If this rate is correct the 30 shops we have been told BO often are the only ones in Burma represent 30,000 others. Certainly I can scarcely imagine any town in China worse than the portion of Akyab that I visited. The shops lay three and four together, and entire streets seemed to consist to a large extent of these opium dens. I have always wondered how any Member of this House can get over the testimony which has been so often read of Sir C. Aitchison, although in my opinion his testimony is not so strong as that of some of his subordinate officers. He shows in the Report I hold in my hand, but which 1 will not read, that the land is in danger of going out of cultivation owing to this drug. That the people are emaciated by it, that it saps both physical and mental energies, that it predisposes them to disease, induces indolent and filthy habits, destroys self-respect, is one of the most fertile sources of misery, destitution, and crime, that it fills the gaols with men of relaxed frame predisposed to dysentry and cholera. This Report is more than confirmed by those of the subsidiary officers who furnish information on the same subject. But I may be told that the Burmese people are weaker people constitutionally than the Chinese; but surely difference of constitution cannot account for one people being benefited by the drug, and the other being materially reduced in their moral and physical being. I see that in the Government proposals with regard to the people of Upper Burma, there is a Report signed by Lord Dufferin, C. P. Ilbert, T, C. Hope, A. Colvin, G. Chestrey, and J. B. Peile. They say— No shops whatever will be licensed for the-sale of opium, inasmuch as all respectable classes of Burmese are against legalising the consumption of opium in the new province. Any one found selling opium to persons other than to Chinese, or transporting opium in quantities above three dollars, or keeping a saloon for consuming opium, will be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Rs 500 or three months rigorous imprisonment, or both. As traffic in opium was absolutely prohibited under the Burmese Government there will be no hardship in thus proscribing opium dealings. This Report is written and signed by the Governor General of India, the very country for which we are trying to keep up the opium revenue. I think I have proved that this traffic has done great damage both in Burma and in China; and I say the time has come when we ought to wash our hands of any participation in a traffic which produces so much moral and material injury. I do not propose to deal with the damage done to the people of India. That point will be taken up by my hon. Friend who is to follow me. We know the effects that have been produced, not only in those places but amongst those who have gone forth to our colonies in different parts of the world. Only the other day a very curious piece of fresh evidence came to my notice. In the month of March, meetings were held in the City of Amsterdam for the purpose of inducing the Dutch Government to put a stop to the opium trade in Java. Java, in 1815, had an English Governor, Sir Stamford Raffles, who put down the opium trade by decree. In 1816 it was opened again by protests from Bengal. The Dutch Government rule in Java over 22,000,000 of people, amongst whom are 250,000 Chinese. Services were held in Amsterdam at nearly every church, and meetings were held for the purpose of impressing upon the Dutch Government the necessity of stopping this iniquitous trade, which, as 1 have already shown, was re-opened in consequence of protests from the Bengal Government. In California there are, as we know, a large number of Chinese, and there was a municipal law for the suppression of the vice of opium smoking. That law afterwards became a Statute of the State of California. It enacted that— Every person who opens or maintains, to be resorted to by other persons, any place where opium or any of its preparations is sold or given away to be smoked at such place; and any person who at such place sells or gives away any opium or its said preparations to be there smoked or otherwise used; and every person who visits or resorts to any such place for the purpose of smoking opium or its said preparations is guilty of a misdemeanour, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 500 dollars, or by imprisonment in the county gaol not exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. These people have taken the bull by the horns and endeavoured to put an end by law to a vice which was deteriorating and demoralising their population. Having now dealt with Java and California, I come nearer home. The other day I had a call from a gentleman who was lately a member of the Victoria Government at Melbourne. He showed me this letter, addressed to him on leaving Australia.:— My Chinese friends, who are working with me to secure the removal of the opium curse, desire me to take this opportunity of wishing you 'fair wind and favourable tide' both on your voyage to the land of your fathers and on your return to this, the land of your adoption; and I thank you very cordially for the warm sympathy, wise counsels, and powerful assistance you have rendered the cause of our suffering countrymen ever since the commencement of the movement for the prohibition of the accursed traffic in this and the adjacent colonies. But much as we know you have done, we feel sure that you will be only too glad to do much more to forward the cause of the poor victims, wherever and whenever opportunity offer you; we thought, therefore, that as you are proceeding to the United Kingdom, which still holds the key to the whole situation, we would be failing in our duty if we do not entrust you with the prayers and tears of the thousands of victims, in this colony alone, who are held spell-bound by this fell-destroyer. You yourself have seen its terrible havoc in your midnight visits, and can therefore make far more forceful representations to the Powers that be, than any description of mine. That letter is signed by a Chinese gentleman, one of the leading Chinese Christian men in Australia. What is the history of the deputation to Mr. Deakin, who was then a Member of the Government in Victoria? These gentlemen who compose the deputation speak in exactly the same way as our missionaries in China speak. The Rev. Mr. Allen speaks similarly, and so does Canon Parker and another English gentleman. Then what does Mr. Deakin, speaking for the Government, say in reply to this deputation? I dare not read, what I should like to read, some extracts from the speeches on this occasion, as I feel I am occupying the time of the House. The Governor says— There was but one feeling amongst the Government on the subject. He did not think, however, that the sum of £20,000, or, to be correct, £18,000 a year was a sum to be depreciated, and he did not think that Parliament or the Government would be called upon to throw away that sum unless occasion justified it. In this case the moral weight which attached to the objections to the traffic, which had been properly termed infernal, made the point one about which there could not be the slightest difference of opinion. Thereupon the Government of Melbourne addressed a letter to the other colonies asking them to co-operate in their representations, in order to put an absolute prohibition upon the sale of opium in those colonies. Sir, I cannot understand how right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and hon. Gentlemen here, can come down to this House after all that testimony from China, and all that testimony from other parts of the world which I have read, and say that there can be any justification of this opium trade, except it is used for recognised and legitimate purposes. It would not be for me, for one moment, to depreciate the very distinguished Indian services of my hon. Friend the Member for the Evesham Division (Sir Richard Temple). His name will ever be associated with Indian history; and with regard to my hon. Friend behind me (Sir George Campbell), I must make a similar observation. But Sir Cecil Beadon, in his evidence before the Committee which dealt with this subject, says that the Indian Government looks for revenue, and he does not hesitate to say that the consequences of the opium trade do not come before the Indian Government. Indian officials in this House generally take that view. They tell us there are people who consume opium with great advantage to themselves. I do not believe it for a moment. But they tell us so, and they think they have seen it. The medical evidence is entirely on the other side; but, even if it be so, the proportion of those who receive benefit from the use of opium is infinitely small compared with the thousands upon thousands who are demoralised by it. China has made a Treaty with America prohibiting the importation of opium; England has made a Treaty with the Corea prohibiting opium. I am not going into the question of our Treaties or our commerce, as I see my time is limited; but it is a fact that our trade with China has not increased at all during many years past. It is less than it was in 1868. We have a trade with Japan; we have been prohibited by our Treaty to introduce opium into Japan. Our trade with Japan in 1868 was £1,200,000; our trade in 1889 was £4,000,000. I believe we are standing very much in our own light in regard to this traffic. If the £11,000,000 in silver which China pays us for opium were paid to us for goods from Manchester or Leeds the results would be very much more beneficent, and it would be very much better for this country. I shall now endeavour to touch on the Malwa question, and I will tell the House why I have incorporated the Malwa Duty in my resolution. I have done it for this purpose: I find, from the Report on the Moral and Material Progress of India in 1888-89, that the native States engaged in the cultivation and production of opium so arranged and managed it as to safeguard the British Revenue, and in exchange for this service they received compensation in money or in some other form. What has been the course of the Malwa Duty? The Malwa Duty was 650 rupees; it was raised to 700 rupees, again reduced to 650 rupees, and now is 600 rupees per chest. In 1880-81 there was a trade of 46,000 chests; in 1889-90 it got down to 30,000; and it is now down to 28,1,00 chests. By lowering the duty we get more transit duty on opium, to poison still more people, although we get less money for doing so. A late traveller in Rajpootana says— The condition of the people is deplorable. The Rajpoots were called a people fit to succeed the English. The poppy grows on their finest land. Instead of food being grown and stored in good years, the poppy is in possession. The last famine in Rajpootana was owing in great measure to this cause. Opium takes up the cotton and food lands. Lately cotton and food are turning out the poppy, and food has gone down 25 per cent in price. What do the Governors of Native States get out of the trade? The selling price in 1888 and 1889 was 1,120 rupees per chest. The Pass Duty was 650 rupees. The cost to the Indian Government over 10 years has been 390 rupees, or, latterly, 410 rupees the chest; but, taking it at 390 rupees, we walk off with about £1,320,000, and hand over to these natives for their opium about £180,000. I do not think we are doing them a very great kindness, so far as the Pass Duty is concerned, in promoting the cultivation. Of course, the native Princes get a higher rate out of the land which is devoted to the cultivation of the poppy than when it is devoted to other crops. But there is a Memorandum, I see, by Dr. Keegan, who says— The results of the depression of the opium trade in Malwa are far-reaching. The means of livelihood of a large body of cultivators who find themselves unable, with the low prices obtainable for the produce, to defray the expenses of cultivation and to pay the heavy State opium assessment are seriously affected, white the States whose revenues depend largely on their opium assessments are likely to find them considerably diminished. Even with regard to Malwa we do not seem to be doing the people a very great kindness by levying a duty of even 600 rupees. These people are starving on the opium land; they are in a very poor condition, and they are demoralised. Well, now, I come to that more difficult part of my subject, and I own it is the most difficult—the Indian Revenue. The largest revenue that ever was obtained from opium by the Indian Government was in the year 1880-1, when they received from both sources, the transit duty, and the other source of revenue, cultivation, Rx8,451,000, from Bengal cultivation and the Malwa Pass Duty. The largest value during that period of the rupee was 1s. 8d., so that our Indian Revenue was over £7,000,000. But that Revenue has fallen very steadily. In 1888 and 1889 the two revenues together made Rx5,900,000, instead of Rx8,400,000, or about £4,500,000. The Budget Estimate telegraphed the other day put the sum at Rx5,300,000, or £3,989,000; you may call it £4,000,000, and that is the figure with which my Motion practically has to deal. This is a very awkward item in Indian finance. At least £2,000,000 has been drawn out of Stock in the last three years in order to keep up these revenues to about £4,000,000. That is about £500,000 a year that has been drawn out of Stock, which reduces the figures of the factors we have to deal with to about £2,500,000. But the amount in advances for cultivation in India is, I believe, even upwards of £2,000,000. The amount of capital invested in Stock is above £1,000,000. If you deduct the interest on that Stock and advanced for cultivation and the capital value of the works, you further decrease the sum with which we have to deal. I do not believe a wise accountant would put the Indian revenue at the present moment at more than £3,500,000, at the very outside. And that is the figure with which we have to deal, and it is for that amount we are doing so much mischief to mankind. Now, with regard to the Indian Revenue, I am very glad to see a surplus in 1890-91 of about £2,000,000. In 1889-90 there was very nearly the same surplus. It is a large surplus, and I have no doubt there are many uses in India for that surplus. But I think the Indian Revenue from this source is a doomed revenue. A Consular Report from Wanchoo, circulated to-day, states that, though the consumption of opium has increased, the consumption of Indian opium has very much decreased. What do our own people say? In the Report on the Moral and Material Progress of India for 1881-82, they say the poppy is being slowly replaced by the potato and sugar-cane— The system of advances is reported to be the chief inducement to the cultivator to grow-so precarious and troublesome a crop as the poppy. The efforts of the sub-agent to extend the poppy cultivation in Agra, Muttra, and Aligarh were not attended with success. Sir Evelyn Baring in 1885 said a diminishing revenue might be expected. This was true, though the fact was not mentioned that it had sometimes been necessary to increase the number of cultivators in order to prevent a diminution of the area cultivated. The Indian Government has had to bear a reduction of the revenue from opium from £7,000,000 to £4,000,000, and I think it is reducible to about £3,500,000. The value of the drug has gone down considerably, and the quantity offered for sale has also gone down considerably. When I come to look at the finance of India there are several things which attract attention. One is the large amount which is constantly being placed annually on the revenue, which any Corporation, or other body, dealing with funds would place to capital and discharge over a series of years. The expense of the Army of India in 1881-82, after the Afghan War was 13,000,000 tens of rupees; in 1884-85 it was 16,000,000 tens of rupees; and in 1888-89 it was 20,000,000 tens of rupees. Therefore, the Indian Army alone has cost us £5,000,000 sterling more than it did after the Afghan War. Those who know anything about the Indian Army have always stated that very great economies could be effected and maintained without detriment, but with advantage to that force. There are points in connection with the Indian Army which, any man knows, ought to be attended to, and every man in India who has borne the name of a distinguished soldier has advocated economies and changes. My hon. Friend and relative, the Member for the City, (Sir R. N. Fowler), has placed on the Paper an addition to my Motion if it comes to be the substantive Question relative to subsidies from this country. I have always advocated that if we ask in this House the Indian Government to make a sacrifice on moral grounds, we ought to do as we did in connection with the slavery question—meet them by some subsidy. My hon. Friend has, however, drawn his Resolution a little too wide. If my Motion comes to be the substantive Motion, I think we should amend his by saying, " This House is of opinion that such annual grants should be made to the Government of India as the then probable amount of deficit and the then circumstances of Indian finance seem to require." I do not think the Indian Government can look, as I am sure they do not look, for a long continuation of this opium revenue; but the more I have looked into the question the more am I convinced, that India itself would be a great gainer by doing away with a trade which demoralises its population, and certainly adds very much in many ways to its expenses and its charges. I trust I have proved that this trade in which we are engaged is the curse of China, has been and is, I am afraid, still the curse of Burma. My hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Mark Stewart) will prove it is the curse of India. It is being rooted out because it has been a curse in Australia; the Dutch are anxious to root it out because it is a curse in Java; and it is a curse to the American population in California. I have shown, that every thinking man in whose opinion we place confidence—that certainly all the heads of our Christian churches—look upon this question as I look upon it— as a question of Christianity. I have also shown that the revenue for India is an uncertain one, that it is fading away, that the crop occupies good ground which ought to be devoted to more legitimate trade, and I trust I have shown it is a disgrace to Christianity. I am not advocating any breach of faith with those native Princes who have so often been loyal to the English Crown. I do not know what are the Treaties, or what may be the nature of the Agreements. I have not yet made use of the argument that there is a legitimate trade which would compensate us in some degree for the abandonment of the illegitimate trade. Surely we might do a legitimate trade to the extent of many hundreds of thousands of pounds by producing opium for medical use in India, to supply our legi timate trade at home and abroad! At the present moment medical requirements are supplied almost entirely by Turkey or Persian opium, the Indian opium being manufactured entirely for Chinese consumption. I appeal to Her Majesty's Government and to the House to do away with this horrible traffic, which is demoralising and destructive to mankind. I appeal on the ground of those laws which ought to regulate the dealings of mankind; and I appeal on still higher grounds. I appeal on a ground which is not often urged in this House, but a ground on which I believe I shall have the sympathy of a large number of Members in this House—the Christian ground. We call ourselves a Christian country, and I trust we shall long remain one. Many of my hon. Friends on the opposite side of the House maintain a State Church because they hold what I consider a beautiful ideal — that as a nation we acknowledge a Supreme Being and worship Him. In this House we have prayers read every day, and we pray that God's Kingdom will come upon earth. If we go on with this opium trade, we are not spreading God's Kingdom; we are spreading the kingdom of the devil. The evidence is strong in favour of the Motion which I have ventured to bring forward, and I pray that this House, in its wisdom, may see right to put an end to this traffic, which I have endeavoured to describe in language which I believe to be true.

Amendment proposed,

To leave out from the word " That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House is of opinion that the system by which the Indian Opium Revenue is raised is morally indefensible, and would urge upon the Indian Government that they should cease to grant licences for the cultivation of the poppy and sale of opium in British India, except to supply the legitimate demand for medical purposes, and they should at the same time take measures to arrest the transit of Malwa opium through British territory,"—(Sir Joseph Pease,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, " That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

(10.8.) MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

After the very exhaustive speech of my hon. Friend. I need not trouble the House at greater length than I can possibly avoid. In 1875 I brought forward a Motion for the gradual diminution of this trade, and had that Resolution been carried we should hare been saved a great many heart-burnings and great difficulty in this question. To-night we approach a Resolution of a much more drastic character, and one which may possibly not commend itself to every Member in this House. I have submitted the Resolution which appears in my name on the Paper because I believe it to be a thoroughly practical one, and one which would have commended itself to the majority in the House. But having the honour to second the Motion, I wish to say a few words in its support. The point to which special attention is directed is this: That while the Government of India assert in this House that the opium revenue is diminishing, and that they are doing what they can to put down the opium traffic, we find a very much larger consumption of opium is taking place. If I take the instance of Lucknow I find that in the year 1883.84 there were only 12 shops licensed for opium smoking; in 1885-86 they were reduced to six, and in 1887-88 to three; but, on the other hand, the consumption in those shops very considerably increased, namely, from 36,000 toles in 1883-84 to 41,000 toles in 1885-86, and to 64,000 toles in 1887-88. This very large increase in the consumption of opium has nothing to do with China; and that statement must fill us with alarm and consternation. The only remedy for such a state of things is the suppression of the withdrawal of the manufactured goods. Opium smoking is considered a disgrace. It is said the only thing that saves the nation from utter extirpation at once is the virtue of their women, and if a woman smokes it is considered such an unrighteous and unholy thing that even opium smokers are dead against that view. I wish to direct attention to the case of Akyab, the capital of Arracan, in Lower Burma. They go about the country and establish centres, following the three great lines of railway. It was one of the strictest rules under the late King Theobald that no person should be allowed to smoke or chew opium, and that rule was rigidly enforced. Now we find that the consumption of opium in the district ruled by him had decreased largely, while in Burma it was rapidly on the increase. In Lower Burma the smoking of opium has increased since last year, and there is a very large increase in the amount consumed by the population over which this country bears rule. Now we are told by Government documents that opium is only sold to the Chinese, but that is not the case at all. I have seen numbers of Burmese go openly into the shops and buy opium. I have many cases on record where the consumption of opium is encouraged among persons who have not known its delights and pleasures before. These are at first given opium of much milder character and not so strong as other kinds, and after becoming accustomed and habituated to smoking this then they are given the opium of British India. There can be no doubt of the great facilities which are given now for the sale of opium among the native populations of India. Till recently there was little opium, comparatively speaking, used in India. There was a little used in the Punjab. But now it is calculated that something like 122,000 cases-are consumed annually by the native population. That shows the enormous increase that is going on in the manufacture of opium. To curtail the facilities at present existing for its manufacture would not be so hard on the people as some persons might be disposed to think. There is an enormous quantity of the best land under the cultivation of the poppy, and a great deal of labour is required. Now, that labour could be utilised in growing food and cotton. Many parts of India, we know, are extremely cold, and the people are in a bad way when they cannot obtain warm clothes. It would conduce to the health of the people to put down the cultivation of the poppy in favour of the cultivation of cotton. We have an enormous amount of testimony as to the condition of the people owing to the opium trade, and we cannot question the value of these authorities. These men know the habits of the people, and can get at the popular mind and the popular wishes in a far better manner than ever before. Their unanimous opinion is that so long as the opium trade continues great evils will exist, and they are most anxious to do away with the whole thing. They say that it is a very grave state of affairs that we who set up to be the most civilised nation in the world should set such a bad example to these people, and that we are fast losing our character in all parts of the East. It is absolutely impossible to remedy this state of affairs as long as this opium trade exists. We should not make the natives bad by bringing in opium amongst them, but should encourage them to higher aspirations founded on bettor principles, and should introduce trade not mixed up with opium, and bring the people to truer lights. Some people say, " Well, after all, we have the consumption of alcohol at home to consider and get rid of before we go to India about the opium." [" Hear, hear ! "] Bat the two things are quite different. The quantity of opium which would poison the whole population of London is 20 cases, whereas 20 cases of alcohol would only perhaps cause a few people to be locked up. Then, opium is despised among the people who employ it most. Again, the Government is not so mixed up with the sale of alcohol as it is with opium. If the Government were so much connected with the manufacture of distilled spirits in this country as they are with the manufacture of opium we should hear a great deal about it. But they do encourage the trade in opium. There are officials to examine the opium and pick out the good stuff. The bad lots are sold through India. The Chinese have a strange prejudice against us, and when I see that I say that something must be wrong. This is owing to the opium trade, and it is our duty to remove that prejudice. If we remove that prejudice they will enter more easily into commercial relations with this country. If we put a stop to the opium traffic we should have fewer people in our gaols and fewer people in our Lunatic Asylums. I think I might just mention another intoxicant—gamja —the manufacture of which has also increased, but I do not propose to go into that. Another point is this: It is often said the carriers in India are better for the use of opium; but the fact is, that those who have never had a dose of opium are better bearers than those men who are addicted to its use, and who without it would simply fall down and be unable to proceed another yard. Then with regard to fever, it is said by those experienced with the fever and malaria districts that those who do not eat or smoke opium are much safer than those who do. Just one word before I sit down upon our settlements and colonies, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. The Local Government derive a large revenue from the sale and manufacture of this drug in these places; but in Rajpootana, where no opium is allowed to be sold, the state of things is much healthier. In regard to these settlements, a very remarkable movement took place on the 17th July in last year. A great number of the merchants met together to forward Petitions to the House of Commons of the British Parliament praying for the prohibition of the growth, manufacture, and sale of opium. That Petition was signed by 1,000 persons in a few hours, and amongst them were many opium smokers. I would also like to say a word about the opium farms of Singapore, because we are told the Government are doing all they can to discountenance the further sale of opium. These opium farms are tenanted by Chinese, and, as they are very poor tenants, the Government have lowered the terms to enable them to carry on their farming operations, which does not look like discountenancing the sale of opium. From Hong Kong the people have petitioned the House of Commons to pass a stern law prohibiting the manufacture and sale of opium there. Another Petition was against the use of the Chinese contract system. One Chinaman takes a contract, in consequence of which we are told there is only one contract; but this man may give 500 sub-contracts or licences, and he does so. In many cases contracts have been given in order to set up this trade until it is now almost impossible to stop it. I beg to apologise for having detained the House so long on a subject somewhat old, but I am firmly persuaded that the growing feeling in this country is such that it will force the hand of the Government, and cause them to ponder before they allow this manufacture to go on. I am strongly satisfied the feeling is a ripening one, and that at the next election it will be made a test question in many a constituency. I do not say this for the purpose of catching votes to-night, but because I am representing what I believe to be the growing feeling and the demands of the country.

(10.38.) DR. FARQTJHARSON W.) (Aberdeenshire,W)

I am very unwilling to give a silent vote on this occasion, because, in the first place, on my own side I have a strong conviction, and, next, because I feel placed in a position of some delicacy in this matter. Before I go further I wish, in justice to my constituents, to absolve a certain influential section of them of any complicity in the action I am taking, because—and I say it with deep regret—I am going against the wishes of a certain influential and respectable section of my constituency. I have presented to this House a large number of Petitions in favour of the Motion before the House, and I have had many letters from highly respectable clergymen in my constituency urging me to vote for this Resolution. It is only a strong sense of duty that compels me on this occasion to say a few words in opposition to the wishes of my best friends and supporters. But I think it is the duty of anyone who thinks he can say a word in defence of the position we take up in this matter to get up, regardless of the consequences to himself, and to say that word, as I hope I shall, in a straightforward manner. If all the statements made to-night could be proved, I should have no hesitation in saying I would follow my hon. Friend who sits below me into the Division Lobby; but these statements are founded on misconceptions; and, therefore, I shall feel it a duty to vote the other way. We have not had trotted out to-night the statement that we force opium upon the Chinese. I suppose that old contention is now given up. [Cries of " No, no! "], Well, I am sorry I have started that hare, because I am afraid I shall have to give it a little run; but, as I have pointed out before, and as the officials in charge of the Government of India have pointed out also, it is impossible for anyone now to say we have forced opium on the Chinese. [A laugh.'] That laughter may be a convenient method of getting rid of an inconvenient question; but we can show upon eminent authority, adopted by Lord Ripon, that the opium war was a war of tariffs, and that the Chinese people had the opportunity if they liked of excluding opium from the 300 Articles; but they declined to give up the revenue, which they knew to be an important one, but one which, by giving 15 months notice, they can now put an end to. But we must look at this matter from a practical point of view, and see what the effect of giving up this revenue would have upon India. I prefer to take my views and form my conclusions upon the opinions and evidence given by the Governor Generals, and they tell us, and Lord Ripon, who is above all things a man of sober judgment, tells us in so many words that India would be bankrupt if we remove the opium revenue from it. There is nothing more taxable in India, and, therefore, the only way of getting rid of this opium revenue would be to tax the people of this country 2d. on the Income Tax [" Hear, hear !"] I am stating this as the only alternative. If England desires to do that they may, but I agree with the words of the late Mr. Fawcett, who said it would be in the highest degree absurd to spend money in stopping this traffic when we have at our very doors round the corner a traffic in alcohol, from which we derive an immense revenue, and which causes far more widespread misery than opium ever did or could do. There are only two alternatives in dealing with this matter. The one is to prohibit opium growing in India, and that would be impossible, for we know that there are many large estates in India where the growth of opium is obliged to be permitted; and to prohibit the growth of opium, and thus make India bankrupt, would not be any benefit to China, because it is a fact well-known that two-thirds of the opium used in China is grown' upon Chinese territory. We also know from the highest Chinese authorities that the issue of edicts against the growth of opium in China must be taken in a Pickwickian sense; they are issued for the delectation of the world, but not intended to be acted on, or, at all events, they have never been acted upon. If acted upon, I should like to know of any authentic case of a Chinaman being beheaded or put to?death for breaking the law. The second alternative is to allow free trade in opium, to allow it to be grown freely and unreservedly throughout the whole country, and that would mean the demoralisation of the whole of India, as the people would at once largely grow it for their own domestic consumption. We have heard a good deal about opium absorbing fine land that might otherwise be used to good purposes. The fact is, that this land is also used for other purposes, as a crop of rice is invariably taken off the land before the opium crop is gathered; therefore the land does grow other things as well as opium. I think that those who have argued this question have not sufficiently considered it. What is the opium grown in India according to population? Habitual consumers of opium might use ten-parts of an ounce a day, but there is not enough opium grown in the country to demoralise so vast a population. What is the case with China? Sir Robert Hart told us that only 1 per cent. of the population of China smoke opium; and even if India imports ten times as much as she grows, the total supply would only account for 10 per cent. of the population. I leave the political aspects of the case, because those I am not so qualified to discuss, but I think I am entitled to say a word about the medical aspects of opium, because my labours in medicine have been devoted to the consideration of, drugs and their properties, and I have taken the opportunity of getting the best assistance I could, and consulting the best authorities as to the effects of opium. One difficulty about the consideration of this question is, that I think many persons who talk about the use of Indian opium fancy they are getting the same thing as the Turkish drug from Smyrna. We know very well that the Indian drug is of such weak effect that it is never used in medicine in this country, there is no market for it. If you restrict the growth of the opium in India you would get no revenue at all, for the drug is too weak to be of any benefit in medicine, and when opium is used for smoking it is used as an extract. It is mixed with a number of other things which bear the same relation to opium that a glass of whisky toddy would bear to the spirit which was previously put into the glass. I do not know if any hon. Member has ever seen a person smoking opium. The quantity he uses is extremely small—a piece no larger than the tip of the finger is put into the pipe; the smoker takes one or two whiffs, enough to give him a pleasurable feeling and send him into a comfortable sleep. "Very often the smoker, having for a time forgotten his troubles, rouses up again very little the worse for his indulgence. Whisky and opium are very much alike in their double action. Small doses are stimulative and restorative, but large doses are narcotic. It is in small doses for its stimulating effect that opium is taken, and there is a great difference between eating opium and smoking it—just the difference there is between chewing and smoking tobacco. If you chew tobacco you get a greater amount of the narcotic injurious principle into the system than you do if you smoke it, and it is the same with opium. Medical authorities have held that morphia, which is the active principle of opium, is not volatilised by heat at all, so that the smoke when carried into the lungs does not carry with it any of the active principle. I am sure the hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division (Sir W. Foster)—who seems to have been deserted by his medical colleagues, and who, therefore, has not the benefit of their advice in this matter—will confirm me in what I say about the medical aspects of the case. He cannot help doing it. The political aspect of the case is a totally different thing. The physical vigour of people who eat opium has been disparaged. I know nothing about the Chinese, but I have travelled in Rajpootana, and I am bound to say a finer, more manly, vigorous, and splendid set of people I never met. We are also told of the terrible evils of opium eating in Burma, but a more charming people I never saw in my life than the Burmese. I go further, and am prepared to say that opium in small doses as a tonic or restorative is of considerable value in preventing ague. My hon. Friend who proposed this Motion said he could not believe that any persons could take opium with advantage. Let me mention a circumstance which came under my own observation. I was dining with a poor friend of mine, a man who was in consumption. He got through the early part of the dinner very well, but began to flag about the middle. He went out, and when he returned he said to me, " Do you know what I went away for? I went away to give myself a subcutaneous injection of morphia." When he came back he was cheerful, and was stimulated in a way I am sure no small dose of alcohol or a tonic could have stimulated him. I have not the least hesitation in saying that a moderate use of this stimulant preserved that poor man's life certainly for a year or two. I was very much surprised to hear from the hon. Baronet who introduced the Motion that opium was a worse evil than alcohol. I certainly admit with the hon. Baronet that the opium smoker, lying in a state of quiet, dreamy satisfaction, is quite useless, but he is not absolutely mischievous. He does not get up and beat his wife or kick her to death with his heavy boots. There is no crime that I am aware of specially connected with the use of opium. I should like to say most strongly that opium does not cause any of those destructions of tissue which alcohol does, and therefore, however much a man may suffer from the great evil of the excessive use of opium, there is still hope for him if he pulls up at last in his mischievous course. The same cannot be said of the alcohol drinker. If he amends he finds himself in a much worse physical condition than he was before he began to drink excessively. His liver and kidneys are crumpled and shrivelled, his heart is wrong, the tissue of his body has physically degenerated, and he dies a victim of the secondary results of that degeneration. I do not wish to detain the House any longer. I have shown the House that even the worst and most hopeless opium-eater may return to health. Some time ago I heard of the case of an old woman living in a low district who died at the age of 90, and who had been in the habit of taking some 200 or 300 ounces of opium per diem— [laughter]—of course I mean grains. Yet she carried on a laborious life, and died in the full odour of sanctity at the age of 90 years. And now I conclude. I have tried to prove that, as regards the Indian trade, the Chinese are practically in the position of local option—they can prohibit the introduction of the drug; that the evil effects of opium have been enormously exaggerated, and, thirdly, that the abandonment of the revenue derived from this source would make India bankrupt. Some part of the case, of course, depends on official evidence, and there are some people who think that official statements must necessarily be tainted. I have read statements to that effect; but I do not believe that an English gentleman drops all his veracity at his office door, and we are, in my opinion, bound to accept these statements from high-minded eminent officers who rule with honour and distinction various foreign lands under our sway. I think, too, that the Mover and Seconder of this Resolution may take some comfort from the belief that in 30 or 40 years matters will come round to the way they would wish, and the Chinese will grow all their own opium and want none from India, and thus there will come a natural end to a condition of things we deplore, but which, I think, is not so bad as has been represented.


I believe the House will expect from Her Majesty's Government some statement in answer to the strong appeals addressed to the Government by hon. Members, although I very much regret that the task has fallen to me instead of to my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India (Sir J. Gorst) to make that reply. Still, I think I shall be able to satisfy the House that the Government of India is not bent upon demoralising the people of India and China by carrying on the opium trade, that all possible efforts are made to control and curtail this traffic with a view to restrain the consumption of the drug among their own subjects in India, and towards a gradual reduction of the export to China. The hon. Baronet the Member for the Barnard Castle Division does not now for the first or second time raise this question, and no one can doubt the entire earnestness and sincerity with which he has taken up this question. His sole wish is to remove what he thinks is a blot upon our national character, and to stop what he considers is a source of great mischief to all the people concerned. I entirely recognise his honourable object and bis disinterested efforts to accomplish it; and if I demur at all to his statements of fact and point out the impracticability of the changes he proposes to introduce, I can assure him that in doing so I in no way depreciate his motives or doubt the nobility of the object he has at heart. It is quite true, as he has said, that there is among the public a growing interest in this question. I know that the public mind is more stirred in relation to this matter than I ever remember it to have been in former years; but I also think that, to a large extent, an artificial interest has been created, and the public mind has been influenced by many impassioned appeals that are not quite consistent with the real facts of the case. I judge this from many statements I have read and from a great many letters which have appeared in the public Press. Into these I will not enter at any length, but the House will remember that there is one allegation constantly made that we force our Indian opium on the Chinese. Now, that is not the fact, and the statement has been disproved over and over again. In former Debates it has been shown that in negotiating the Treaty of Tien-Tsin Lord Elgin expressly disclaimed to his secretary, who conducted the negotiations, any intention of requiring the Chinese to insert the article of Indian opium. It was entirely because the Chinese Ministers considered that they could not dispense with it that opium was an article included in the tariff. [" No, no ! "] If that is doubted I can prove my statement from the Despatch from the Government of India, presented to Parliament in 1882. In this Daspatch to the Secretary of State there is included a statement from Mr. Lay, the Chinese Secretary to Lord Elgin's Mission. He says— All the negotiations at Tien-Tsin passed through me. Not one word upon either side was ever said about opium from first to last. The revision of the tariff and the adjustment of all questions affecting our trade were designedly left for after deliberation and arrangement, and it was agreed that for that purpose the Chinese High Commissioner should meet Lord Elgin at Shanghai in the following winter. In the meantime," Mr. Lay continues, "the preparation of the tariff devolved upon me at the desire of the Chinese no less than Lord Elgin. When I came to opium' I inquired what course they proposed to take in respect to it. The answer was, ' We have resolved to put it into the tariff as yang yoh' (foreign medicine). I urged a moderate duty in view of the cost of collection, which was agreed to. This represents with strict accuracy the amount of ' extortion' resorted to. From that time to this it has rested on that footing. The Chinese at any time may terminate the Treaty on giving 12 months' notice, and to protect themselves they may increase the duty to any extent they please, or they may exclude it altogether. This, I think I may say: that if the Chinese Government thought proper to raise the duty to a prohibitive extent, or shut out the article altogether, this country would not expend £1 in powder and shot or lose the life of a soldier in an attempt to force the opinion upon the Chinese. I deny that our wars with China were on account of opium; our quarrels with the Chinese were on account of trade generally. Opium was only one item, and war was carried on in order to open China to trade generally, not for the trade in opium. The hon. Baronet condemns the practice of the Indian Government in respect to opium entirely, and in this he differs from the line taken on former occasions, by which he regarded the system provided in Western India in respect to the levying of duty on opium as comparatively unobjectionable. I am not concerned to weigh the difference in degrees of morality of the two systems. The cultivation is limited in Bengal to certain areas, the poppy is grown under licence, the produce is taken at fixed rate, paid for handsomely and sold at public auction. In Western India the poppy is grown in independent States, and by Treaty opium is sent through the Custom House, with a heavy tax upon it. What we have to consider is this: Whichever way we deal with this business it is in the same spirit, on the same principle that the Indian Government deals with opium and spirits as the Government deals with the Spirit Duty in this country. There are three ways of dealing with the trade in intoxicants and narcotics—things which may be harmless or even beneficial when taken in small quantities, but extremely injurious to human health and life if taken in excess. You can either forbid the trade altogether, you can tolerate it and not interfere with it, or you can regulate it. The course taken alike in this country and in India is to regulate the trade, to place upon these things the highest duty possible for them to bear without offering too great a temptation to smuggling. There is practically no difference between the system pursued in this country and in India, nor in principle any difference in the method pursued in dealing with opium in Bengal and in Bombay. I wish to point out, further, for the matter might be mistaken from what has been said in speeches by the hon. Baronet and my hon. Friend behind me, that in some States, such as the Great Mahratta States, by Treaty sufficient opium is grown for homo consumption and none for export. My hon. Friend is mistaken when he talks of the amount grown in Rajpootana. In a great part the poppy is not grown at all, and in other States under Treaty they suppress the poppy on condition of being supplied with Malwa opium free of duty for their own consumption. But there were one or two things said by the hon. Baronet in his speech to which I must refer out of respect to him, for the serious nature of his speech requires that I should give attention to it. " Suppose," said the hon. Baronet, " the Government of this country had the whisky trade in its hands: " that would be the Gothenburg system, which some people advocate. I should not like the State either here or in India to undertake the sale and distribution of an article of the kind. It would have some considerations to recommend it, but there would be, I think, greater objections—forone thing, it would tend to demoralise the Public Service. The hon. Baronet has referred to an opinion expressed by Sir Thomas Wade; and I must admit that, in relation to matters connected with Chinese trade, this is an authority of the highest importance . If Sir Thomas Wade unreservedly condemned our position towards China that opinion is deserving of every consideration and respect. But let me remind the hon. Baronet of a passage in these Papers laid before Parliament in 1882, quoted from a Despatch from Sir Thomas Wade to the Secretary of State in 1881. Sir Thomas Wade gives an account of a conversation he held with the Chinese Ministers. He says— I went to the Yamen to speak of various matters. Four Ministers received me. Adverting to opium, I observed that the authorities in some places were taxing opium, native and foreign; in others were trying to increase the sale and consumption of both. Without at all denying the right of the Chinese Government to do as it chose, I should wish to know what course the Government approved? They said the question was embarrassing. The Chinese Government would be glad to stop opium smoking altogether, but the habit was too confirmed to be stopped by official intervention. No idea of abolishing the trade at present was in the mind of the Government. Alluding to the desire of well-disposed people at home to see England withdraw from the trade, I asked if it would be of any use to diminish yearly the export from India. The Indian Government might be thus enabled to provide otherwise for loss of income. They said so long as the habit exists, opium will be procured either from India or elsewhere. Any serious attempt to check the evil must originate with the people themselves. The measure I suggest would affect Chinese 'Revenue, but would not reach the root of the mischief. Now, it has been said by the hon. Baronet to-night, as it has been said before, that we introduced opium into China. No greater mistake was ever made. We did not introduce it.


The right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say that I never said so in my life.


I beg pardon; the hon. Baronet said, I think, that we had set the Chinese to grow opium.




Very well. Now, as bearing upon that, I may be allowed to say that Sir Thomas Wade told me to-day there is good reason to suppose that opium has been grown in China from time immemorial. In 1840, when the first Treaty was made, opium was grown 1,000 miles from the sea-board in the most remote parts of China, and equal to that grown in India. Clearly, then, we did not introduce the drug into China, and that statement has been made, though not by the hon. Baronet. It was an article of trade in the days of Queen Elizabeth, from what are now known as the Straits Settlements. The use of opium, like the use of spirits, has been the habit of people in parts of India from time immemorial. In the very early history of our occupation our officers seriously contemplated the cutting down of palm trees to prevent the distillation of ardent spirits. No one could respect more than I do the expression of opinion by Christian and Benevolent Societies on this subject. They no doubt feel strongly that we should not, by our policy, inflict injury on the people of India or China. But while there is the strong demand—the settled habit of people—for this drug, it is impossible to prevent its use without an exercise of force amounting to downright tyranny. As has been said by the hon. Member opposite (Dr. Farquharson) the moderate use of the drug is very common, and I am reminded of my own experience in India. Among the Rajpoots it is the universal practice to offer a drink of a solution of opium as a mark of hospitality. It is used as a sort of stirrup cup, a bowl being specially kept for the purpose of dissolving the opium in water. No one can say that it has had a demoralising and degrading effect upon the Rajpoots; there is no finer race of men in India. A warlike, manly, energetic race they are, and yet they are in the habit of taking this as a drink in the morning just as a man in England may smoke his pipe. It is quite true that one of the articles of impeachment against Warren Hastings was the sending of opium into China, but that is by no means any proof that Warren Hastings was among the first to send opium from India to China. It may be that the work of the missionaries is prejudiced by Europeans taking part in the opium trade, but if there was not a single chest of opium sent from India to China there would be a great falling off of Indian revenue, but there would be little diminution in the quantity used in China, because year by year the native grown opium is increasing, displacing the Indian opium, which under a high import duty is an expensive luxury. There is evidence that the Chinese grown opium will displace the Indian imports the low excise duty put upon, it by the Chinese Government gives it a ready sale and promises at no distant period to displace the Indian opium. The fact is, there is in China, as elsewhere, several phases of opinion. There are those "who disapprove of its use altogether, but there is also a large class interested in the cultivation, and think it ought to be promoted rather than discouraged. Burma has been mentioned to-night, and there is some confusion between the regulations in British or Lower Burma and the recently-annexed province of Upper Burma. In Lower Burma the sale of opium is strictly regulated. There are only 20 licensed shops; and that the regulations are enforced is proved by the fact that last year 300 persons were prosecuted in Akyab alone for the illicit sale of opium. The shops are not kept by Bengalese, but by Chinese, for there is a large Chinese population, and the sale could not be prohibited without causing great excitement. In Upper Burma, on the other hand, the sale and use of opium was prohibited by former Kings through the influence of the priests; but, as a matter of fact, the drug was commonly sold and used. According to the Reports of officers, with which at this late hour I will not trouble the House, the Government have set about checking this illicit sale, but allowing a limited number of shops for the natives of China and India, "who are accustomed to the use of the drug; but neither opium or spirits are to be sold to native Burmese. And yet it is made a reproach against the Government of India. You cannot govern a country upon abstract principles. You must deal with the country as it is. People have a certain habit, which you may discourage to some extent, and to some extent you may restrain it by making indulgence in the habit expensive. Finally, I come to the position the Government take on this question. It has been often before the House, and whatever Party has been in office the Government have recognised the evils that do attend on an excessive use of opium. The difficulties in regard to India have been often urged. The hon. Member opposite said just now that India would be bankrupt if an end were put to the opium revenue. That is an extravagant statement. The gross receipts from opium estimated for the present year, were about Rx.8,300,000, and the net revenue Rx.5,300,000. There is not only to be considered the revenue which India derives and which she will have to make up, but there is also the profit of the cultivator, as well as of the native States who grow, or who receive it from us and make a profit upon it, and the interests of all concerned cannot be disregarded in' a proposal to sweep away the trade. You may withdraw a source of revenue, you may gradually wean the people to other industries, but you cannot with a high hand take away the means by which they live, and which they have been pursuing with perfect obedience to law for years past. In comparison with our own Revenue the amount which India derives from the opium trade may not seem a very large sum; but I would ask the House to remember that it is a fifth part of the gross Revenue of India received from taxation, and that surely is no small amount. In the next place, I would ask the House how they could propose to replace such an item in the receipts of the Government of India. It is well known it is very difficult to find a new item of taxation in India without seriously hurting the prosperity and comfort of the people. We have in recent years made many efforts for the defence of India; we are frequently called upon to do more in the way of work for developing the means of communication. The other day we were asked to reduce the Salt Tax. How can you hope to reduce the Salt Tax, which is so profitable, if you are constantly depriving the Government of more than £5,000,000? It is manifest that the postponement of the reduction of this tax on one of the necessaries of life must be for an indefinite time. The hon. Baronet spoke of the sum as £3,500,000 sterling; but the rupee goes as far in India as ever, notwithstanding the difference in exchange. You have to provide for the item in the Indian currency, and not in the British. How are you going to deal with the native States, to whom you have granted this revenue, because they will not be content to go without the profits they derived from the trade? It is evident it would disturb your relations with them, and that the amount that would ' have to be made up would not be confined to the loss of revenues in India, or even to the compensation of those who obtained a livelihood from the trade. These are very serious considerations. I freely admit that the Government of India have never denied that it would be very desirable that this source of revenue should be altered. They have taken means to reduce it. They have diminished the number of licences, and they diminished the area on which the poppy was grown. One million acres less are now under poppy in Bengal than ten years ago. I read to the House yesterday some statistics in regard to opium in the last ten years, which show that from 1881 to the present time the diminution in the total consumption in British India has been from 5,606 chests to 4,500 chests, a diminution of about 20 per cent., which I think shows that the measures of the Government have not been without effect. The change cannot be made suddenly; but it is being already made by degrees. The revenue of India, I am glad to say, has increased in the last five years by £7,000,000. I hope the work of development going on will cause it to increase still more. So that little by little this revenue which is objectionable in many ways, because it is the result of indulgence, no doubt will gradually be diminished. Before I sit down I will notice what was said by the hon. Member for Kirkcudbright as to the system in the Eastern provinces, particularly in Singapore and Hong Kong, where opium licences are farmed out, which probably furnishes too great an inducement and encouragement for the sale of the drug. The Secretary of State for the Colonies has, I know, expressed his dislike to the farming system, and he will call upon Colonial Governments to consider the practicability of substituting another system, and by fixing the price of the licences as highly as possible, thereby reduce the number. I think I have shown the House that the Government do desire to limit, and restrict, and regulate this traffic. It is impossible to abolish it straight away without great hardship to the Indian people unless, indeed, this House shall make good the loss. I remember, not many years ago, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian expressed an opinion to that effect. Not only would you take away from India this profitable revenue derived from a common source, but you impose upon India the necessity of making up that revenue by taxing still more highly those people which some hon. Gentlemen opposite say are now overtaxed. Therefore, I think I may say this Motion should not be pressed as a Vote of Consure on the Government of India, seeing that their policy was tending in the direction which hon. Members desire to go, though it is impossible at one stroke to accomplish the object they have at heart.

(11.35.) MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire

I think the House will agree with me that the speech to which we have just listened is a very fair one coming from a Government official, representing on this occasion the Government of India. I have to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the tone of his speech, for the courtesy with which he has treated our views, and for certain important concessions he has made. For instance, he made a concession that never has been publicly made in Parliament before, and which will be fruitful of very important consequences. He has told us, speaking on behalf of the Government, that we will never again fire a shot in China in order to insist upon their receiving opium. I wish to fix the Government to this most important concession, and I hope it will be made known throughout China and throughout all Asia tomorrow, that the British Government has practically repented of the policy pursued towards China for the last 100 years. I am bound now to ask the House to permit me, for a few moments, to criticise some of the statements of my right hon. Friend. I am sorry that we who are moving in this matter have to join issue absolutely with him, as to some statements which he puts forth officially on this occasion. The main statement which he made, which is always made officially in these opium Debates, is that this country has never forced opium upon China. I think that is a very startling statement to make in face of all the evidence that we have upon the subject. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the opinions of Sir Thomas Wade, the British Ambassador at Pekin whom we have heard justly described as a man of great eminence, and whose opinion is entitled to the greatest weight. I am willing to leave the decision of this question entirely to the reported opinions of Sir Thomas Wade, and I hope the House will give me their attention for two or three minutes while I lay before them the opinions of our late highly respected Ambassador in China. We were told we used no compulsion under the Treaty of Tientsin. I think Sir Thomas was in China when that Treaty was agreed to. Here is what he wrote in 1868, in a Despatch to the British Government— We are generally prone to forget that the footing we have in China has been obtained by force, and by force alone, and that unwarlike and unenergetic as we hold the Chinese, to be, it is in reality to the fear of force alone that we are indebted for the safety we enjoy at certain points accessible to our force. Yet nothing that has been gained, it must be remembered, was received from the free will of the Chinese; now the concessions made to us from time to time have been from first to last extorted against the conscience of the nation in defiance, that is to say of the moral convictions of its educated men, not merely of the office-holders, whom we call Mandarins, and who are numerically bat a small proportion of the educated class, but of the millions who are saturated with a knowledge of the history and philosophy of their country. To these, as a rule, the very extension of oar trade must appear politically, or which is in China, the same thing, morally, wrong, and the story of foreign intercouse during the last 30 years can have no effect but to confirm them in their opinion.'' Does the Under Secretary agree with that opinion, that we have extorted every thing from China by force, that our action in China has always been contrary to the moral convictions of the country?


No doubt the introduction of Free Trade was unacceptable to the Chinese. What I said was that in no sense was opium forced upon them.


Very well, I will try again. Here is what Sir Thomas Wade stated in 1869. He reported to the Government that he had been complaining to the Chinese Government of their hostility to the trade, and here is the reply which he passed on to the British Government— The Chinese Minister said how irreparable and continuous was the injury which they saw inflicted upon the whole Empire by the foreign importation of opium. If England would consent to interdict this case, either to grow it in India or to allow their ships to bring it to China, there might be some hope of more friendly feelings. They believed the extension of this pernicious habit was mainly due to the alacrity with which foreigners supplied the poison for their own profit, perfectly regardless of the irreparable injury inflicted, and naturally they felt hostile to all concerned in such a traffic. That was the reason which the Chinese Government gave, and rightly gave, for their hostility. It is too late in the day now to be told that this country did not force opium upon China. The judgment of history has been passed upon it, and no historian of repute now would deny that our first war was entirely an opium war brought on by smuggling opium into China for 50 years, by defying the Chinese edicts constantly issued against it; and by forcing this opium upon them by traders, we at last brought on that deplorable war. The second war was at bottom and substantially another opium war, brought on by continuing this smuggling trade in defiance of all the edicts of the Chinese Government. I say we gained entrance into China for opium purely by force, contrary to the convictions of the people. Until we obtained entrance for it, opium was prohibited in China, the Chinese Government used its whole power to suppress the growth of opium at home, but at last it found it could not resist our pressure to legalise it, and it was vain to attempt to suppress it at home. Now I will pass to one or two other statements which the right hon. Gentleman has made to us regarding India. He tells us that the policy of the Government of India has been to regulate and to control the traffic in opium, and that if they had endeavoured to do more than that it would be considered an intolerable hardship by the people. Now, I deny that. I say the best proof of what the Indian people think of it is to leave them to decide it by local option. Leave to any town in India to decide by the voice of the people whether they wish opium shops open or not, and I do not believe you will find a single place in India that will not, by a practically unanimous vote, decide to close the opium shops. I do not believe there is one State in India that will not agree to the closing of these shops if put to the popular vote. Most Asiatic States that are free and independent have prohibited opium. The Burmese Government made it a capital offence to sell opium or to smoke it; but as soon as we got possession of Burma, what did we do? We spread the taste by the free distribution of opium cakes among the young people. We gradually developed this habit, that was almost unknown before, in an abominable manner; and over large tracts of that country we have brought misery and ruin in our steps. I consider our dealing with Burma in this whole question of opium disgraceful in the last degree. We have published false statistics on the subject, we have deluded the people of this country by putting forth the statement that we have only licensed 34 opium shops in Burma, whereas, the fact is, that these opium shops are distributing centres to a vast number of small dens. One gentleman in the single town of Akyab counted 50 opium dens in three quarters of an hour. Yet our Government declares there is only one licensed shop there. It is believed there are a thousand shops. And so all over Burma. I say we are thoroughly humbugged and deceived by official statistics put forward regarding opium in India and China. Now, we have been told there is a great decrease in the consumption in India. I am sorry to say I do not believe it. All the information accessible to me points in the opposite direction, and I must give the House some figures taken from the last Excise Reports of the Government of India. I ask the House whether they agree with the statement that the consumption of opium is declining in India? In the Presidency of Bombay the number of opium shops licensed was 652, and here are the Revenue Returns. For the five years ending 1882, the revenue was 51,000 rupees; for the five years ending 1887, 97,000 rupees. In 1888, 118,000 rupees; in 1889, 120,000 rupees; for 1890, 121,000 rupees; and the estimate for 1891 is 129,000 rupees, showing in the Bombay Presidency alone an increase of just 150 per cent. in ten years. I commend that fact to the attention of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Well, take Bengal. Here are the figures for 1887 and 1888, the latest years we have got. They were 4,137,000 in 1887, and 4,399,000 in 1888, an increase of 262,000 rupees. The increase for five years was 842,000 rupees. That does not look like a decrease. Here are the last figures I shall trouble the House with: They are for Lower Burma. In 1888, 17 lakhs of rupees; in 1889 they were 18 lakhs of rupees. That is an increase of 8 1/2 per cent. In Arakan the revenue from opium in 1886 was 71,000 rupees; in 1887, 119,000 rupees; in 1888, 176,000; in 1889,188,000; and last year 158,000. I am very much afraid that we are being deceived or misled by the Government statistics. It was my duty some years ago to analyse the Abkari statistics with regard to the liquor traffic, and I came to the conclusion that they were very untrustworthy, and I am very much afraid it is the same with the opium traffic. The fact is, that the demand in India for revenue is so constant and pressing that it leads to evasions; it leads to official colouring whenever desirable rather than allow the real facts to transpire. It is virtually impossible to get thoroughly straightforward Returns in a question of this kind. I think everyone who has had experience of Indian statistics will justify what I am saying. I freely admit that India is a very poor country, and that it is quite impossible for us to throw extra taxation upon India to the extent of £4,000,000 sterling. What we have to face is this: India will lose £4,000,000 sterling in our money by the abolition of the opium traffic. It is clear to me that if this country is to insist, as it ought to do, on the abolition of this traffic, this country must come to its assistance. I am quite sure that if the case were put straight and plain before the people of this country, if it was made clear that a great national sin had to be expiated, and that the cost was to be £4,000,000, there would be no difficulty in finding the money. The amount is a trifle in comparison with the amount of the wealth of this country. Our annual income is about £1,250,000,000 a year. Mr. Giffen puts the capital-value at £10,000,000,000 sterling. I therefore ask, would there be any difficulty in getting £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 a year? It is absurd to say that there would be any difficulty. If the conscience of this country were roused it would be looked upon as a fleabite, and it would be far easier for us to do this work now than it was to pay £20,000,000 for the abolition of the Slave Trade in 1830, England was then very poor, but she is very rich now, Her income is three or four times as large, and her taxation is very much lighter. There would be no difficulty whatever, out of the surpluses we have year after year in the Budget, to find the amount required to tide India over her difficulties in the few years for which it would be requisite. Of this I feel perfectly certain, that any sacrifice this country would make would ennoble her and raise her in the esteem of every nation on the earth. The advantages that would come back to us would repay us ten-fold for all the little sacrifice we would make. We would have an immense development of the trade with China, as an hon. Friend observes. Our trade with China has been starved, and that by this wretched policy. It has remained absolutely stationary for many years. I believe that Lancashire alone has paid in the loss of trade more than the whole amount that would be required to extinguish the opium traffic. However we look at this matter—whether we look at it from the point of view of political economy, from the point of view of Christianity, from the point of view of public ethics—I believe our bounden duty is to take measures for the early extinc- tion of the trade. I believe the country will soon demand it. I do not think the Government know how strong the feeling is in the country, and they may yet discover that in a surprising manner. At the next General Election any candidate who comes before an audience and says we should make a little sacrifice to put an end to the iniquity will carry his audience with him. I do not believe a single constituency will return a Member who would avowedly support the present system, and no candidate will make a speech such as that made to-night by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire without receiving manifest tokens of disapprobation. The only point I can compliment the hon. Member upon is his courage. A more extraordinary speech was never listened to in this House; and I venture to say that no man will at the next General Election face an audience with such a speech and be returned, holding such views. I hope the House will do itself honour to-night. It has a great chance. I hope we shall have a Division to-night that shall do honour to this House, and that shall raise this country in the estimation of foreign countries, and save us from that national judgment which will certainly come upon us some day if we persist in this national sin.

(12.0.) SIR R. TEMPLE

(Worcester, Evesham): At this late hour, before we divide, owing to my official experience of all parts of this great question, I may perhaps crave permission of the House to summarise, in a very few, moments, the practical morality of this matter. Sir, with all respect to the hon. Baronet the Mover of this Resolution, and the striking, perhaps stirring, array of testimony which he produced against opium in China, the House will recollect that the hon. Baronet belongs to a very honourable party, the Temperance Party, and we know that precisely the same testimony, only stronger and larger, could be adduced by any temperance speaker regarding the use of alcoholic spirits in England. Now, Sir, the hon. Baronet says that the opium system of India and China is morally indefensible. I say it is defensible. If it were morally indefensible I would not undertake to defend it. If it be morally justifiable, then, and then only, would I undertake its defence. I make no ad misericordiam appeal. If the thing be wrong, then I do not claim the money; I would let it go, be the consequences what they may, be the embarrassment to the Government of India, be the consequent taxation to the people of India, what they may. But, Sir, I undertake to show that upon moral grounds, upon arguments of practical morality, the system is just as defensible as the Excise system of England, or of any civilised country in Europe. May I ask the House for a moment to consider the case of China? Of the opium supplied to the people of China three-fourths are produced in that country. That is of inferior quality and is increasing, and is subject to only one kind of taxation, namely, the local one. That taxation goes to the Chinese Government. One-fourth of the opium comes from India. That is of a superior kind, is fast decreasing, is subject to double taxation —first, that by the Government of China, an import duty; and, secondly, the export duty levied by the Government of India. So that, on the whole, the Indian opium in China is to the Chinese grown opium what the champagne of France is to the rest of the wines of that country. It decreases, because the Chinese grown article increases in quantity and quality, driving the Indian article more and more out of the market. Then China is perfectly free. I will not go into those questions of ancient history, which have, to the undue occupation of the time of this House, been adduced by the hon. Member who has just sat down. But how is the case at this moment? There has been a Convention lasting for a few years only, according to which Indian opium was admitted to China upon the condition that the Chinese Government were to levy only a limited amount of taxation. The term of that Convention has expired, and the Chinese Government might put prohibitory duties upon, or might stop, the Indian opium importation altogether. Indian opium lies at their mercy. Therefore, China is entirely a free agent. Now, the House will see that if China is poisoned by opium, she poisons herself. But then, firstly, comes the question whether this opium is really a poison. The House has just heard the important medical testimony given by the hon. Member for Aberdeen. But there is still more important evidence, namely, that of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, perhaps the first living authority medically on this subject. I only hope that time will permit of his giving us his opinion during this Debate. To the best of my knowledge and judgment opium is not deleterious in reasonable moderation, and is, under all circumstances, far less deleterious than alcoholic drink. Either taken to excess is harmful, but the former less than the latter—that is, the narcotic drug less than the alcoholic spirit. It is not the case that opium leads to crime. Of course, excessive use of it will directly lead to various social mischiefs which may amount to crime; but leading to crime in the same sense as when spirits are taken to excess is not a direct consequence of the indulgence in opium. Spirits, indeed, lead to violence; but opium induces quiescence, and that is the reverse of leading to crime. The hon.. Baronet spoke of opium being labelled in England as a poison. Why, certainly; that is the concentrated distillation, amounting to a tincture. That is poison. But that is a wholly different thing to the substance sold in the Eastern bazaars under the name of opium. That opium is perfectly harmless if taken in moderation, and it is taken by many classes in Western India without any mischief whatever, or without anybody being acquainted with the fact that it is taken at all. We have heard evidence to-night that it is taken by the most stalwart and enduring races of Western India. And in Eastern India the inhabitants of Assam and Orissa, being consumers of opium and not of spirits, as in other parts of India, are about the most quiet of all sections of the population. It is not really the fact that opium is a poison in the true sense of the word. Like spirits, it may be taken in excess, but, unlike spirits, when taken in excess, it does not conduce to dangerous conduct. Then, secondly, the question arises, are the Chinese the victims of the poison if it really existed? To what extent do the people of China consume opium? Only to the most limited. Why, Sir, it has been shown upon calculations by the very highest authority in China(in a Blue Book which I have in my hand), that not more than one man out of 150 obtains access to opium at all. Now, the hon. Baronet spoke of the thousands and myriads of people who are being poisoned. What becomes of that allegation in the face of these calculations. The people of, China are not being drugged, nor are they intemperate. On the contrary, they are, as a nation, temp3rate. Are the people of China in a degraded state? Quite the contrary. Their numbers are increasing, their trade is expanding, their industry is thriving. So much are they over-populating the vast and magnificent area with which Providence has endowed them that they are obliged to emigrate to foreign places. They people Lower Burma, the Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo; and if it had not been for the action of our white countrymen they would have obtained a large share in the Australian Continent. If it were not for the Americans they would hold the Eastern Coast of the Pacific. These are not the sort of people who are being poisoned and demoralised. I charge the hon. Baronet and those who think with him with unintentional, nevertheless monstrous, exaggeration in respect to opium in China. Then I ask the House to consider what is really our position in India. What do we do with this opium produced in India? We put a very heavy tax, indeed, upon it—three or four times ad valorem the cost of production. I say that we have a right to do so, just as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a right to tax whisky in Scotland and Ireland. If it be righteous to draw taxes from a gin-palace, it is equally righteous to do the same from an opium den. There is no wrong morally in taxing a spirit or in taxing a drug. Either is harmless when used in moderation, or may even be beneficial. Either it is dangerous only when used to excess, though the drug is less dangerous than the spirit. But the possibility of its being used to excess has never been treated as an argument against the morality of taxation either in England or in any civilised country of Europe. You say that we not only act as taxers of it, but that we trade in it. But with regard to the opium trade of Calcutta and Bombay, there are Jews, Armenians, Greeks, and merchants of other nationalities, men of wealth, energy, and enterprise, conducting this business who would be very much astonished to hear that their steamers, wharves, and various apparatus of trade are part of a Government concern. It is said, Why raise revenue from an unholy product? Does not the House perceive that the same thing might be said of spirits, from which we annually derive a vast revenue? Why, this argument as regards the taxation of opium runs on all fours from top to bottom pari passu, and is in every respect similar to the argument with regard to the taxation of alcoholic liquors in every civilised country of Europe. Upon this point I listened with great interest to the confession of Coleridge which the hon. Baronet read. Does he not see that if Coleridge had taken spirits instead of opium, and had suffered from delirium tremens, instead of the narcotic effects of opium. his confession would have been ten times graver than that which has been read? It was, indeed, a lucky thing he took to opium and not to spirits. The hon. Baronet, my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. M. Stewart), and the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith), have attempted to set up for China and for India a standard which they cannot and dare not set up in England. I claim for India and China the same measure which is meted out in England, neither more nor less. I appeal to those hon. Members to take the beam out of our own national eye be~-fore looking to the mote in the eye of our fellow-creatures in India and China. Before I conclude, just a few words regarding our own system in India itself. The House, doubtless, remembers that this is twofold—that for Malwa, native States, that for Bengal our own territory. With regard to Malwa, we levy a heavy export duty, as the drug passes through our territory en route to China. But in Bengal there is a different system. No man can cultivate the poppy without a licence. He must take the produce to the Excise officers. It must be manufactured on the spot under their eye. It must be by them sent to Calcutta, and there made over to the trade for export only. No man can engage in the production of this drug without a licence. Everything has to be done on the spot, where it can be under the inspection of the Government officers. And why is this? It is because we wish to make sure that the traffic in this article does not spread amongst our own people, and to see that it goes to Calcutta, from which place it is exported to China. [Ironical cheers.] Yes, but the people have spirits, and that is thought quite sufficient for them without opium; and therefore it is that we make sure that the opium goes out of India. It is for these good purposes that this system of severe Excise, and of licensing cultivation and of manufacture under Government inspection, is adopted in Bengal. It may be liable to misunderstanding; but once the facts are realised, then the moral advantage of the system is patent. Nothing would be easier if you wished it than to adopt in Bengal the same system which prevails in Malwa and Western India, so that the drug might be manufactured privately, as spirits now are, and subjected to an Excise system, with a view to exportation from Calcutta for China. But then the people of Bengal would illicitly get hold of the drug, which they cannot do now. Thus certain evils which are now absent from our Indian population would spring up. We are anxious that the people there should not consume this drug, in addition to the spirits they already have; and it is because of this anxiety for the moral welfare of our Indian people that the system I have described to the House is carried out. A great deal of misapprehension exists in the minds of those who denounce this system, and misrepresentation has been put forth, although, no doubt, unintentionally. Therefore, it is necessary that this point should be cleared up. Let me ask the House to consider what would be the consequence of attempting to abolish altogether the traffic in this drug? We should stop the transit of the Malwa Native States opium through British territory for exportation to China. But the production inside those Native States, being profitable, would continue. The result would be that all along the whole course of our frontier there would be a vast increase in the illicit traffic in opium and in the consumption of that article by our people. That would be one of the first results of our carrying the Motion of the hon. Baronet to-night. Next, if you were to abolish the Bengal system and stop the poppy culture in our own territories, fresh legislation would be required. You cannot prohibit a profitable cultivation, lawfully carried on for generations, without a new law. But I do not think you would get the Legislature of India to agree to the passing of such a law, unless you are prepared to send out a request that the Members are to vote to order. Opium is a thing which can be grown in every man's back garden, and if, owing to prohibition, this cultivation cannot be conducted openly and honestly, would not the people cultivate illicitly? Then would not the prohibition lead to fresh evil, involving executive difficulties and the setting up of an inquisitorial system? Besides, when you have prohibited and stopped its cultivation in Bengal, and stopped its regular transit from Malwa through British territory, what will you have done? You will have destroyed £5,500,000 of British revenue, and by enabling the people of China to obtain opium untaxed, and therefore cheaper, you will have stimulated the consumption of the drug instead of checking it by taxation. In this way you will have created the very opposite effect to that which is intended. Such would be the result of the ill-advised proposal now before the House. I am thankful to the House for the kind attention with which it has listened to me to-night, and I will not attempt to detain it much longer; but I have offered a mere summary of what might have been said on this complex question; because every one of the propositions I have put before the House would require at least a quarter of an hour to properly vindicate it I should, however, wish to add a few words with regard to what has been said about Burma. It is quite absurd to speak about opium as being prohibited practically in Burma before we took over the country. There may have been prohibitory edicts, but these were not attended to. Why, Sir, consumption of opium has existed in Burma for a long period. It went on in that country merrily, and it is only since the extent of this consumption has been brought to our notice after the annexation that the system had been brought under strict Excise supervision. Again, the Burmese are not being demoralised. Not 3 per cent. obtain either drugs or spirits. They are a temperate people. With regard to the Excise on spirits in India, I do not propose to enter into any statistical discussion with my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Mark Stewart). I may say, however, that in this respect India may be regarded as a model country. The consumption of alcohol among the Indian people is so small that it does not apply to more than 7 per cent. of the population in Southern India; while in other parts of that Empire it is much less. I think I am within the mark when I say that not more than 4 per cent. of the whole of that large population of 260,000,000 ever consume alcoholic or narcotic substances. As to opium, it is taxed 10 times ad valorem, and not one person in 500 or more ever touches it. This, I think, is a result of which we may well be proud; and, considering the magnificence of such administrative facts, I can bear with equanimity all the detailed criticism which, with the best possible intentions, has been poured upon India by my hon. Friend (Mr. M. Stewart). I would remind the House, in conclusion, that we are asked to sacrifice £5,500,000 of our revenue by adopting the Motion of the hon. Baronet, Revenue that is now being spent on frontier defence, on the saving of life from famine, on the development of physical resources, on countless things pertaining to the welfare of the people. And for what? Practically for no moral advantage, for the vindication of no moral principle whatever. We should be only putting that big sum into the pockets of the opium consumers of China, without any commensurate result, either moral or physical. Indeed, the real result would be that for them the drug generally would be cheapened by so much remission of taxation. If there were a gap caused by suppression of Indian opium China would fill it up. Being cheapened, the consumption would be stimulated. What moral good, then, would the hon. Baronet have attained? Absolutely none. The very reverse, indeed: he would be augmenting the very evils which he vainly hopes to cure. I trust the House will reject a Motion, prompted by lofty and philanthropic motives no doubt, but sustained by misrepresentation, sincere and unconscious, because it springs from a misapprehension of the facts.


(Wick, &c.): I cannot but thank the hon. Baronet behind me for the manner in which he has brought this Resolution before the House, although I very much regret that the data on which we have to consider this matter are not so complete as they might have been. I may say that I had put down an Amendment, which I submitted to you, Sir, for your consideration, but which you felt it necessary to rule was out of Orders That Amendment had for its object the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole system of the opium traffic, in order that the House might have authentic data on which to found something like sound legislation. A good deal of sentiment—in fact, a great deal too much sentiment—has entered into some of the legislation passed by this House. We have had a recent example in the case of the Contagious Diseases Acts. We now know very well that they have not achieved the results anticipated from them by those who were parties to that legislation, and I am afraid that if this Motion be carried" the same result may possibly follow. 1 have recently come from the East, where I have entered into this question of the opium traffic; and, as far as I have been able to acquaint myself of the facts, I can substantiate all that has fallen from the hon. Member who has just spoken. There is one point that I should like to bring before the House. Whenever this House, out of mistaken notions of goodness or of conferring benefit on the people of India or of our Crown Colonies, has attempted to interfere without a thorough knowledge of the conditions under which the people live, it has generally made a mistake. Take the question of the labour laws in the Straits Settlements. The labour employed in the Straits Settlements has been almost entirely procured from China. It is the Chinese who perform almost the whole of the labour there is, and it is a fact that in the labour agreements which are made in that part of the world the labourers will not engage to do the work required of them, on the plantations or elsewhere, unless they are certain that they can procure opium; just in the same way as among our large centres of population men will not engage to do work unless they can get tobacco and other things that they require. If you were to abolish this traffic, I feel sure the result would be that at the best you would only bring about a modification of the evil. It is a mistake to think that you can change the character of an eel simply by passing an Act of Parliament. There is too much of this sort of feeling entering into all the desire to pass this kind of legislation. There is a Commission at this moment sitting in the Straits Settlements on the labour question. They do not know how to meet the difficulty there. It has been said by the hon. Baronet who has brought forward this Motion that the Dutch are endeavouring to get rid of this traffic in Java. I do not know where the hon. Baronet has obtained his information, but I do not. think it is entirely accurate. There may be a few officials or other persons in Java who have the same views on this subject as the hon. Baronet, and who, therefore, desire to abolish this traffic. Many people in this country, no doubt, wish to see a check put upon the opium traffic; but let me point out that the tobacco plantations at Java and Sumatra are entirely worked by Chinese, who would not labour there unless they were sure of a supply of opium. Is it likely, then, the Dutch Government will put a stop to this profitable industry simply to give effect to philanthropic views? I confess I do not like the opium traffic myself. I think that something should be done to regulate it. In deference to public opinion in this country an effort should be made to bring it more under control. But I do object to legislation being undertaken without a sufficient knowledge of the subject. If a Royal Commission investigated it, then hon. Members would have before them details which would enable them to arrive at a just and right conclusion; they would have before them data of a practical character. I shall vote for this Motion, not because I expect it will be carried, but because I am unable to bring forward that of which I have given notice. I should very much prefer that the Government could see their way to adopt my proposal, and have a Royal Commission to inquire into the traffic, which, it must be remembered, is a legal traffic. At any rate, some effort should be made to meet in this matter the wishes of a large section of the people of this country.


(Mr. W. H. SMITH, Strand, Westminster): I have listened with very great interest to the Debate which has been going on for the last 3½ hours, and with great interest also to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I was a little surprised at the conclusion at which he arrived. He spoke with considerable force against the Motion of the hon. Baronet opposite, but wound up with an intimation of his intention to vote for the Motion on the ground that he could not move an Amendment of his own for the appointment of a Royal Commission. Now, I can assure the hon. Member that there is every disposition on the part of the Government to take means to satisfy the people of the country and public opinion on this question by making any inquiry which it is possible to institute. If the hon. Gentleman desires that every information shall be obtained the Government are perfectly ready to communicate with the Government of India with a view to an inquiry being conducted in the manner suggested by the hon. Member, or in any other form by which information can be satisfactorily obtained for the people of this country. This is a very grave question indeed. The hon. Baronet opposite introduced it in a speech of great moderation, but I cannot help recalling to the recollection of the House some of the statements which he made upon this question. He said, " Let us be moral and right without any regard to pecuniary considerations." That is a sentiment which does the hon. Baronet great credit, and it is one in which we are all prepared to join with limitations. I would venture to suggest, Sir, that we should have no regard whatever for pecuniary considerations in matters where we ourselves alone are concerned should those considerations interfere with a discharge of a moral duty; but, at the same time, I hold it to be both moral and right that we should have regard to pecuniary considerations when we arrive at a resolution which affects other persons. I occasionally take refuge when I have to consider questions of administration in that storehouse of moral axioms which is constituted by Hansard; and occasionally I find it possible to borrow axioms from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. Now, that right hon. Gentleman, speaking on this question only a few years ago, said— There is a kind of morality which, in my opinion, is the lowest of all, and it is the morality of a Government which makes promises without knowing that it has the means of fulfilling them. Now, the hon. Baronet asks this House and this Government practically to make a promise without knowing that it has the means of fulfilling it. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that if the House desired to effect a reform it should be prepared at once to assure the Government of India that it would provide it with that revenue of which it would be deprived if this traffic were suppressed. The hon. Baronet, dealing with the same point, said there could be no doubt that the money would be forthcoming, and that the revenue would be found by this country, or, at any rate, there might be a postponement of the charge for expenditure actually incurred, and its payment extended over a period of years. It appears to me that a recommendation to postpone the payment of debt by the Government of India is not a kind of morality which we ought to enforce upon that Government. Is the hon. Baronet prepared to move an Address to the Crown setting forth that the Imperial Government is prepared to make good to the Government of India such a deficit as may arise from the suppression of the opium traffic? I know that my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London does propose to give effect to that principle, and desires that the House should agree to a financial Resolution of that kind; but I would suggest to the hon. Baronet that such an Address to the Crown ought to be a Resolution preliminary to one condemning the traffic in opium.


When I concluded my speech I stated that if the langaage was carefully guarded that I was prepared to assure the people of India of an annual grant from the Imperial Parliament for the purpose of meeting any deficit which might be occasioned by the suppression of the traffic.


Then I would suggest to the hon. Baronet that he should make that Resolution antecedent to the one condemning the traffic in opium.


I am quite prepared to add it to my Resolution.


There is a good deal to be said in favour of such a Resolution; and if the hon. Baronet desires to withdraw the Resolution now before the House, and add a clause to that effect, then we shall be in a position to consider the whole question. What I wish to point out to the hon. Baronet, who I believe is thoroughly in earnest in what he is advocating, is that we are asked to agree to an abstract Resolution without any indication on his part; that if that abstract Resolution is carried, and if the consequences thereof is a loss to the Revenues of India, a grant will be made from the Exchequer of Great Britain to make up that deficit. No doubt the hon. Baronet would be prepared to advocate such a grant, but I think the House will agree with me that that would hardly be a satisfactory mode of discharging our duty to the inhabitants of India. We should deprive them of certain revenues, and at the same time there would be by no means a certainty that this House or the country would be prepared to make good the revenues thus taken from them. The course which this Government has taken, and which all Governments have taken, during the last few years — for the present Government take no credit for greater care and consideration for the morality of the people of India than has been shown by preceding Governments—has been to diminish the area of cultivation in India to ah extent, in the last five years, at any rate of 20 per cent. The production and sale of opium has been decreased considerably in each year, and that must be taken as an indication of the policy of the Government. But we are not prepared, and we are not able, to accept a Resolution which would terminate the production of opium in India, and at once deprive the Revenue of India of a large sum. If we were to attempt to do that illicit sale and production would be the result, and the consequence would be far more serious than those arising under the present system. Our policy has greatly diminished the cultivation and consumption of the drug, and that policy which has been carried on -with marked success during the last five years would be persevered in, but we cannot accept the Resolution couched in the language of the hon. Baronet unless this House is prepared to precede it by a positive engagement on the part of this country to make good to the Revenues of India the enormous sum of which it would suddenly be deprived by a desire—a very proper and humane desire—on the part of the people of this country to protect the people of India from the consequences of this traffic. I think the House will agree that the course which I am suggesting is a very proper one, and would meet all practical purposes. I say again that this House must, in the first instance, pledge itself to make good to the Revenues of India any loss of which it might be deprived by the suppression of the opium trade, and until that is done the Government cannot assent to the course suggested by the hon. Baronet.

(12.40.) The House divided:—Ayes 130; Noes 160.—(Div. List, No. 127.)

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, proposed.

(12.56.) Amendment proposed, To add, at the end of the Question, the words " And this House, feeling the pressure of taxation on the people of India, will take steps to reimburse the deficiency so caused to the Indian Government."—[Sir Robert Fowler.) Question proposed, " That those words be there added."

(12.59.) MR. T. M. HEALY

(Long ford, N.): I should like to hear the views of the Government. It is surprising to me that a gentleman of the great experience of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London should have delivered himself in such a brief space on so important a question. I have known him to make long speeches on matters of far less importance. I can hardly think he limited his speech solely by reference to the state of the clock. Now, Sir, it seems to me very unfortunate indeed if by reason of the limited period—

It being One of the clock, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put.

House adjourned at One o'clock till Monday next.

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