§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to a pamphlet by Mr. Maurice Gregory, describing the ravages of opium smoking in Burma, wherein he states that there are 1,000 opium dens in the Akyab district instead of a single one, as officially reported; that he has seen large numbers of Burmese smoking, and that, in fact, the great bulk of the opium was consumed by them, although it is stated in Government documents that opium is not sold to the Burmese, but only to the Chinese and natives of India resident at Burma; whether he is aware that opium smoking is forbidden by the ancient Burmese laws and by the Buddhist religion; and that whereas, in the time of the late King of Upper Burma, Chinese opium vendors when caught were flogged and imprisoned, they now travel in first-class railway carriages, and are on terms of friendship with the highest English officials; and whether the Government will ask for information from Burma about the truth of these charges?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir J. GORST,) Chatham
The attention of the Secretary of State has been called to the pamphlet. There is but one licensed opium shop in Akyab; and if information were given to the police of the others, they would be suppressed. Opium smoking was forbidden by former Burmese rulers, but the prohibition was much disregarded. Many of the statements in the pamphlet are, so far as the Secretary of State can test them, incorrect; but inquiry as to the facts alleged will be made from the Government of India.