§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to an article in the Christian Herald of 26th March, wherein it is stated that there are 46,000 ether drinkers in the North .of Ireland, imbibing annually 18,000 gallons of this liquid; whether he is aware that ether is sold by chemists, publicans, grocers, and hawkers or ragmen who go through the country districts; and whether the Government can see their way to put down the sale of this drug by re-imposing the tax upon it, or otherwise?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member has been good enough to send me the article from the Christian Herald to which the question refers. The Local Constabulary Authorities report that from close inquiry and observation they are satisfied that the numbers given in the article in question 929 are wholly exaggerated. The improper sale of ether as an intoxicant had been promoted through the agencies indicated in the second paragraph; but the matter having come under the notice of the Government they took prompt steps in November last to suppress it. Ether was thereupon scheduled as a poison, and can now only be sold by authorised chemists, and by them only as a poison. Inquiries show that since that time the sale has largely diminished.