HC Deb 10 March 1892 vol 2 cc507-8
MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether the attention of the Secretary of State for India has been directed to an article in the Whitehall Review of the 5th March, 1892, which alleges that 94,229 deaths above the normal death rate have occurred in the famine areas in the Madras Presidency during the period of seven months from August, 1891, to February, 1892; whether the Secretary of State for India can give any explanation of the causes of this mortality; and whether any steps have been taken to obtain prompt statistics of the progress of mortality over the entire famine area in India, and to lay these statistics upon the Table of the House?


The Secretary of State has, seen the article. The total of deaths which it, gives is admittedly conjecture, being, calculated, on the assumption, that the death rate for August, 1891, given in my answer to the hon. Member last week, would remain the same in the affected districts till February, 1892, But while the Returns for the subsequent months—down to December which were the last received—exhibit a rise in five of the affected districts, there is a marked improvement in the other five. The cases of increased mortality are: Chingleput, 52 deaths in December per 1,000 of population against 35, in August. North Arcot, 39 against 30; South Arcot, 59 against 34; Salem, 38 against 23; Coimbatore, 41 against 27. On the other hand, the cases of decrease are: Bellary, 21 deaths in December per 1,000 against 49 in August; Kurnool, 22 against 59; Nellore, 19 against 27; Amantapur, 15 against 52; Cuddapah, 25 against 40. As regards the districts in which there has been an increase in the death rate, the Madras Government have explained that this is mainly due to cholera resulting from the low water supply and to other indirect results of the drought. It should also be remembered that there is a normal increase of mortality in September, November, and December of each year in India. The Secretary of State will lay on the Table a despatch just received from the Viceroy, which contains a review of the situation throughout India, and a forecast of the operations which will be necessary till the end of June when the rainy season sets in. The Secretary of State has asked for detailed monthly Reports in addition to the weekly telegrams, regarding the progress of relief and distress and also the statistics of mortality in the affected districts.


I beg to give notice that I shall take an early opportunity to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of calling attention to this subject.