HC Deb 10 March 1891 vol 351 cc581-2

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether, in the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay, the price of salt has risen from nine annas and eight annas per maund in 1800 to R2.11 and R2.8 in 1890, respectively; (2) whether he can state the facts as to increase or otherwise in the price of salt for the other Presidencies during the same period; (3) whether in India the average consumption of salt per head for all purposes is only 101b., while in the United Kingdom it is 721b.; (4) whether it is a fact that leprosy has also increased during the same period; and (5) whether the Government will direct the especial attention of the Medical Commission on Leprosy now in India to an investigation of the apparent connection between the want of cheap salt and the spread of leprosy?


The answer to the first question is in the affirmative as regards Madras, but the Secretary of State cannot stats the price of salt in Bombay at the beginning of the century. The Secretary of State cannot give the information asked for in the second question for the earlier years of the century; but if the hon. Member wishes it, the Secretary of State can place at his disposal statistics going back to 1841. The answer to the third question is that the average consumption of salt in India varies from 81bs. to 181bs. in the various Provinces. For all India it is 111bs. The reply to the fourth question is that there is no certain information as to the increase of leprosy. Lepers were counted at the Census of 1881, but the results of the Census taken last year are not known. As to the last question, I have to say that the Medical Commission, now sitting, will doubtless consider the question of the connection which has been said to exist between insufficient salt and the prevalence of leprosy.

MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

May I ask the right hon. Baronet if the increase in leprosy is not owing to the increase in the taxation of salt? Was not the taxation of salt reduced in Lord Ripon's time?


I have just explained that there is no certain information as to the increase of leprosy. Lord Ripon's Government did reduce the duty on salt.


Is the right hon. Baronet aware that two native gentlemen, members of the Viceroy's Council, have protested in the strongest terms against this taxation of salt?


I am afraid that I cannot answer that question.