*MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.) rose to call attention to the growth, manufacture, and sale of opium in India for purposes of revenue, and to move—
That having regard to the opinion expressed by the Vote of this House on the 10th April, 1891, that the system by which the Indian Opium Revenue is raised is morally indefensible, and which urged the Indian Government to give practical effect to that opinion by ceasing to grant licences and by taking measures to arrest the transit of Malwa opium through British territory, and, recognising that the people of India ought not to be called upon to bear the cost involved in this change of policy, that oppressive taxation, and the stoppage of expenditure necessary for the welfare and progress of the Indian people must be avoided, this House is of opinion that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire, both in India and in this country, and to report as to (1) what retrenchments and reforms can be effected in the Military and Civil expenditure of India; (2) by what means Indian resources can be best developed: (3) and what, if any, temporary assistance from the British Exchequer would be required in order to meet any deficit of revenue which would be occasioned by the suppression of the opium traffic.
Sir, it is a source of satisfaction to me that the chances of the Ballot have brought me the privilege of opening a discussion and moving a Resolution upon the Opium Question. It is a question upon which I have long held a sincere and deep convictions; but my experience of the House of Commons has taught me that sincere and deep convictions count for little in Parliament unless accompanied by knowledge of one's subject. What I have to advance will not be of the same weight as that which will be advanced by those who will follow me, and I am glad to know that the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnard Castle will second this Motion, for he has studied the subject for many years, and will be able to supply the deficiencies of my statement of the case. There are few subjects which more engage the attention of thoughtful and philanthropic people outside the House of Commons than this does. Anyone who examines the newspapers will know the interest there is regarding it. We have only to notice the large number of Petitions that have been presented with regard to it to be also assured on the subject. We are, moreover, aware that there are several small periodicals published monthly, or at
greater intervals, entirely devoted to the question. There cannot be any doubt that the discussion and Division which took place here now over two years ago had a great deal to do with stimulating interest in the subject, and as the Motion then carried in this House by 160 votes against 130 was a very important turning point in the consideration of the question, I will take the liberty of reading it:—
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 for the sale of opium in British India except to supply the drug for medical purposes, and that they should at the same time take measures to arrest the transit of opium through British territory.
This Resolution was passed on the 10th April, 1891. The subject was then raised to a position which it had never before occupied, and it would be a great misfortune if this evening we went back on the opinion then expressed. Now, I know that, with regard to this and other questions, it is often urged that those who take them up are not thoroughly practical men—that instead of listening to the opinions of people in this country, enthusiasts as they are called, we should rather regard the opinions of those on the spot—officials and others who are supposed to have better opportunities of studying the question. I am glad, however, to know and believe, with regard to this opium question, that we have a large number of officials with us. At the same time, I am not at all inclined to admit that officials who may be most closely connected with a system are themselves best able to judge regarding the right or wrong of it. It is much to be regretted that those who have the best opportunities of judging have always combined to maintain systems which mankind have afterwards decided to be morally wrong, and worthy only to be swept away. It was so regarding slavery in America, regarding the Contagious Diseases Acts in this country, and the Cantonments Acts in India, which were supported almost to a man by those who had to do with their administration. I regret to have to believe that our experience may be similar on this question. But the fact that many who may be supposed to know more of the question take an
opposite view from us who are opposed to it, must not be taken as a strong argument. Our conceptions of duty as regards India and the other countries under our sway have much deepened of late years, partly owing to the closer connection between the Empire and the Dependencies, but more to the system by which appointments are now made by examination rather than favour, and to the conditions by which all classes of the community are now interested through officials, friends, and others in every portion of the Empire. I, for myself, would like to say, parenthetically—although it has not exactly to do with the subject—that one reason why I hold such very strong opinions regarding the desirability of a change of Government in my own country—Ireland—is that I believe that that change would bring about a deeper and truer feeling of responsibility in my country towards other parts of the Empire—that feeling of responsibility which I think we should all entertain and desire to cultivate. The tone of feeling in these days regarding our great Dependencies is more wholesome than it used to be. In my younger days many said that we had no business in India at all, and that, seeing that we had often extended our power by wrong means, the sooner we withdrew from this responsibility the better. I do not know that in any portion of society there is that feeling at present. The conviction is that, however we may have attained power, we are bound, where we possess it, to exercise it to the best of our ability, for the good of all, and especially not to use it for our own advantage, but for the advantage of the countries which we govern. We must be struck at the outset, in our examination of this Opium Question, with the great increase which has taken place in the life time of many of us, but especially of late years, in this trade in opium. It is said by Mr. M'Culloch that in the first 10 years of the present century the exports of opium from India—to China chiefly—only amounted to 2,500 chests, having a value of £250,000. By 1851 the trade had increased to 53,000 chests, value £5,459,000; by 1861 to 59,000 chests, value £10,184,000; and by 1871 to 89,000 chests, value £11,790,000. It appeared to reach its
fullest expansion between 1876–80, when it was about 102,000 chests, having a value of £12,640,000. Nearly all this export was to China. Since that period it has not tended to increase, in consequence of the greater cultivation of the poppy in China itself. At the outset of this question, we are also confronted with the statement that, after all, opium is not worse than alcoholic liquors, in fact that the evils are not so great from opium as from drink, and that we should rather direct attention to the restriction of the drink traffic than to the restriction of the opium traffic. On this point I would say that I think that those people who are paying the most attention to the evils of the opium traffic are the very people who are also already trying to restrict the evils of the drink traffic. There is, however, this great difference between the drink traffic and the opium traffic: that drink is believed by most people to be not an evil in itself. I do not know what the proportion is, but certainly I think that out of 100 people who drink there are 99 who do so in moderation and suffer no harm. The use of alcohol in one form or another is considered beneficial, if not necessary, by the overwhelming majority of civilised mankind. I do not myself assent to this. I am but stating the fact as to what the opinion is. With regard to opium it is entirely different; for, so far as my researches have gone, I think that we may reverse the proportions. The vast mass of those who take it are led on to indulge in it to too great an extent. In addition, there is this remarkable difference between the case of alcohol and that of opium: that whereas alcohol is consumed in this country, and the sale of it is arranged (or controllable) entirely by the people, who have the power to restrict it if they wish, opium is consumed in China and in India, where the people, however much they may wish to restrict the traffic by law, have not the power to do so. It is stated by others that, though opium is deleterious to Europeans, it is not to the natives. This was strongly urged in the Debate in 1891, when it was said—
'Opium is not deleterious if taken in reasonable moderation;' 'it is not the case that opium leads to crime;' '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 in Western India and in Eastern India,
and so forth, and so forth. This is entirely against the weight of medical missionary and native evidence. It was also, in the course of the Debate, asserted that opinion was necessary for guarding off malaria; but the curious fact stands undisputed that opium in India, and also in China, is most used in districts which are not malarious, and not in districts which are. I understand that in one of the most malarious districts of all—the delta of the Irawaddy—it is quite forbidden. These statements about opium not being deleterious are traversed by a cloud of witnesses, but it would be wasting your time if I were to bring forward all the extracts I have among my notes. I hope that those who have been kind enough to direct me to sources of information on this matter will not take it unkindly if I do not make reference to all of them. There are, however, two pieces of evidence on this subject which I would like to lay before the House. One is a remarkable declaration, signed by some of the most eminent British physicians, Sir Benjamin Brodie and several others—I am not sure of the date, but it was before 1858. They said—
However valuable opium may be when employed as an article of medicine it is impossible for anyone who is acquainted with the subject to doubt that the habitual use of it is productive of the most pernicious consequences, destroying the healthy action of the digestive organs, weakening the powers of the mind as well as those of the body, and rendering the individual who indulges himself in it a worse than useless member of society.
The other piece of evidence on this subject was published last year. It is a declaration signed by no fewer than 5,000 of the Medical Profession in Great Britain and Ireland regarding opium. It also received the approval of many of the profession in India.
We, the undersigned members of the Medical Profession, are of opinion, first, that the habit of opium-smoking or of opium-eating is morally and physically debasing; second, that the unrestrained sale of such a drug as opium is immediately associated with many and grave dangers to the well-being of the people of India; third, that the drug (opium), ought in India, as in England, to be classed and sold as a poison, and be purchaseable from chemists only; fourth, that the Government of India should prohibit the growth of the poppy and the manufacture and sale of opium, except as required for medical purposes.
I could give plenty more evidence to a similar effect, including a petition which was handed to me to-day signed by a number of Indian medical gentlemen who have taken their degrees in the United Kingdom. When it is urged by some that opium is not an evil, I think that the attitude of the Government concerning it should be enough to prove the contrary, for the Government does not directly support or advocate the use of opium, but always tries to show that within the limits of its powers it is always doing its best to curtail the use. Our Indian policy of making money out of the growth and sale of this drug has been bad enough, but it is nothing in comparison with the iniquity of our action in forcing it on the Chinese and introducing it into Burmah. I doubt whether a greater or more cowardly crime was ever committed by one nation against another than was committed by us in our wars with China to force this drug upon her. The demoralisation of a people is worse than their decimation. The dead are at least at rest. But a demoralising habit may be ever-increasing in its influence for evil. I was particularly struck with an expression of opinion on this subject by the First Lord of the Treasury.
The evil may be put down at last, but think of the human misery and sin that have been engendered in the interval caused by delay.
I know that there is an effort on the part of some writers to make out that our wars in China had nothing to do with opium. It is an extraordinary statement. It reminds me of a jeu d'esprit I read some time ago by Archbishop Whateley, to prove that Napoleon never lived. He argued that it was impossible that any man could have acted as Napoleon was said to have acted, and that, therefore, there could have been no Napoleon. The same might be said with regard to our wars with China—that it is so improbable that we should ever wage wars to force the sale of opium on a people that they could never have been waged at all. No one can read without a feeling of the deepest disgust and indignation the history of the inception of these proceedings in 1840. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), in his History of Our Own Times, says—
In the beginning and very origin of the quarrel we were distinctly in the wrong. We asserted, or at least acted on the assertion, of a claim so unreasonable and even monstrous that it never could have been made upon any nation strong enough to render its assertion a matter of serious responsibility. … All traffic in opium was strictly forbidden by the Government and laws of China, yet our English traders carried on a brisk and profitable trade in the forbidden article.
The morale of the question is clearly set forth in the following passage from a letter of the Chinese Commissioner Lin to her present Majesty in 1893—
How, then, can you benefit by means of an article injurious to man, and without compunction of conscience seek thus after gain? Let us suppose that individuals of another nation were to take opium to the English country to sell, and were to seduce your people to purchase and to smoke it. You, the Sovereign of your honourable Kingdom, would also be vastly incensed, and with painful anxiety would you also exterminate it. …Do these calamities end with the termination of a solitary life?
Regarding a later opium war, General Gordon wrote as follows:—
I also say that it is not fair to force anything on your neighbour; and, therefore, morally it is wrong, even if the thing were eggs. Further, I say that our thrusting this opium on China caused the wars with China which shook the prestige of the Pekin Government, and the outcome of these wars of 1842 was the Taeping Rebellion, with its death of 13,000,000.… China is the only nation in the world which is forced to take a thing which she does not want.
In Westminster Abbey there is a monument to Sir Herbert Edwards, placed there by the Indian Secretary of State in Council, and bearing testimony to the value of his services. He was the personal friend of Sir Henry Lawrence and other noble men to whom our Indian Empire owes so much. After the Indian Mutiny, in 1857, he wrote a paper in which he pointed out what he believed were the national sins which had drawn down that national chastisement. After naming several, he says—
I would name the connection of the Indian Government with the opium trade. … No theories can get rid of the following serious facts:—That India grows opium for China; that opium is ruining the Chinese people; that wherever grown in India Government is an interested party in it; that in Bengal it is actually grown for Government, and for no one else.
On 8th April, 1840, the present First Lord of the Treasury delivered a speech in this House upon the same question.
He is reported in Hansard to have said—
It was of importance to show that the Government of China, before it had resorted to violent measures to suppress the opium trade, had exhibited great moderation in the measures which it had adopted, and that by appeals to individuals and their agents, by serious warnings, by the constant confiscation of the opium found in the possession of natives, and, in a word, by every means that could be devised, it had attempted to prove the sincerity of its endeavours to put an end to that illegal traffic.
It would be impossible fully to picture the horrors of those shameful opium wars. Never was the British flag so disgraced. Mr. John Bright said with regard to them—
Looking back upon our transactions with China during the last few years, I believe nothing more vicious can be found in our history. No page in our annals is more full of humiliation, because full of crime, than that on which is recorded our transactions with China; and because I feel this—because I want the Government to live and prosper—because I wish this House to stand in honour before the country—because I wish the country to hold a position of repute and morality before the world, therefore it is I warn the Government and this House against proceeding with a policy which no man here can say in his conscience is not a policy conducted in defiance of the laws of Heaven and those principles of justice without which human society itself cannot be held together.
We know that the second Chinese War led to the retirement of Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden for a time from Parliament. But why, it may be asked, dwell on these events now and rake up old memories? A responsible Minister has declared that in these days this country would not expend £1 in powder and shot, or lose the life of a single soldier, in an attempt to force opium upon the Chinese. It is not, however, sufficient to be sentimental over the past. We must try to amend our evil-doing—repentance to be sincere must be practical. We have encouraged and fixed a terrible evil upon the Chinese people. We have even driven them to the cultivation of the poppy themselves. It is not now enough that we permit them to fix as heavy a duty upon the imported as upon the native-grown article. The Chinese, in making Treaties with other Powers—with the United States, with Brazil, and with Russia—have stipulated against the introduction of opium by the citizens of those countries, and they have in the words of one of their diplomatists
Recognised the arrangement as being in accordance with the precepts of the Christian religion.
We, who Lave done the Chinese such irreparable injury in the past, should be prepared to concur in a similar arrangement. The uselessness of the Chinese seriously setting about the suppression of the trade in native opium so long as the entry of foreign opium is permitted is strikingly set forth in the following extract from the current number of The Church Missionary Intelligence:—
The Rev. J. S. Collins, when calling on one of the Kien-Ning City Mandarins, carefully explained the plan of suppression by means of raising the tax on imported opium; but he smiled, and said that, no matter how high the tax was, if the people wanted it some way would be found of smuggling opium into China. No one who knew the bribery and corruption that existed at the local Customs could doubt this. He said most emphatically, 'England must move first, England must move first,' and then added, with a meaning smile, 'But your Queen would not be willing to allow so profitable a trade to be stopped;' neither would he believe a word in contradiction of that kind.…The Mandarin in question is a very active man, and neither smokes opium himself nor allows anyone among his retinue to smoke it.
The Mandarin informed Mr. Collins that no matter what the Chinese Authorities did to protect their people some way would be found to smuggle the opium into China unless the Indian Government co-operated with them. On this point I am reminded that, having encouraged and extended the use of opium in Burmah, we are now making efforts to restrict its use as far as possible to Chinese and other foreigners. But all experience proves that so long as the sale is at all permitted it will be impossible to restrict the use of the drug to any one section of the community. During a residence in Australia many years ago I witnessed the gradual destruction of the native population mainly through drink, although its direct sale to them was forbidden under heavy penalties. As regards the commercial aspect of this question, it must be remembered that the trade in opium has interfered with more legitimate articles of commerce. Our general trade with China has to a great extent stagnated, whilst that with Japan (where we are forbidden to introduce the drug) is of an expansive character. The acreage under the poppy in India implies the restriction of the growth of corn, and
consequently a greater liability to famine. Large economies are said to be possible in Indian finance; but under no circumstances must we salve our conscience at the expense of our Indian fellow-subjects, either by restricting grants for works and education or by imposing heavier burdens. If no other method of abating this evil is possible we must be prepared to put our hands in our pockets. It would be a fatal mistake to suppose that by dwelling on the virtues, heroism, and self-abnegation of others we thereby in some measure take to ourselves such characteristics.
Is it right.
Whilst our unnumbered brethren toiled and bled,
That we should dream away the entrusted hours
On rose-leaf beds, pampering the coward heart
With feelings all too delicate for use?
If other times made sacrifices we should make them now. The whole world has-been filled with admiration at the heroic death of a distinguished sailor—Admiral Tryon. But we forget that in the course of our lives we have just as great opportunities of showing heroism as those who are privileged to die such deaths. We are amply rich enough in this country to be able to make some sacrifice of money in this matter. No country ever before rolled up wealth as we have rolled it up. Even in these days of so-called depression the exports and imports of the United Kingdom have increased by £29,000,000 within the past four years. According to Mr. Mulhall, the average income per inhabitant of the United Kingdom has nearly doubled within the 50 years ending 1889, having risen from £19.2 in 1840 to £33.6 in 1889. Mr. Giffen estimates that the United Kingdom, in the 20 years between 1865 and 1885, saved £3,924,000,000, or £196,000,000 per annum. The Income Tax, which at its-first levy produced £700,000, now returns £2,245,000 per 1d. in the £1. In the words of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer—
There is a mighty trade going on, there is wealth being rolled up, wealth of which no public statistics exist, but which is, nevertheless, accumulating and adding to the capital of the country.
We are then, surely, rich enough to be honest. We may rest assured that if Her Majesty's Government will go boldly forward towards the suppression
of this baneful trade it will be gladly supported by the better feeling of the Empire at large. I have necessarily dwelt upon certain phases only of the question. I have no desire to minimise the efforts put forth by the Government of late years to diminish and circumscribe this great evil. I have already occupied too much of your time, and must now leave it to others to complete the case for the Resolution which I now move.
§ SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
I have great pleasure in seconding the Motion which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for West Waterford, with whom I have had the pleasure of working on this subject for many years. We attack to-day, as we have attacked before, the entire revenue derived by India from opium. We attacked it in all its three branches—in respect to the foreign trade with China, which is the most important branch, in respect to the home trade, which is comparatively insignificant, in respect, to the transit duty charge. We hold that this revenue cannot be defended; that it is earned by pandering to the lowest form of sensual indulgence; that it is earned in violation of all the principles of morality, and all the dictates of Christianity. I do not deny that there are men who take opium in larger or smaller quantities whose bodily constitution, whose food and other circumstances, enable them to take it with comparative impunity. But by far the largest portion of the trade is an immoral trade, because, as I have said, it panders to the lowest form of vice. Looking at the figures, I find the highest Revenue ever earned by India was in 1880–1, when it was 8,451,382 in tens of rupees. The Bengal Opium Revenue was in that year 5,926,924 in tens of rupees, and the transit duty was 2,524,458 in tens of rupees. The Estimate of 1892–3 shows that this Revenue has guadually gone away from the Indian Government. The total Revenue for 1892–93 is put down at 5,399,800 in tens of rupees. The amount for Bengal was 3,571,000 in tens of rupees, and the amount of transit duty 1,747,000 in tens of rupees. It will be seen that the total Revenue has been going lower and lower, being roughly 3,000,000 in tens of rupees less in 1892–3 than in 1880–81. The net Budget Estimate for 1893–4 is said to be 602 5,061,100 in tens of rupees. The probable amount for Bengal was 3,460,000 in tens of rupees, and Bombay 1,600,000 in tens of rupees. The whole Revenue will thus be, in pounds sterling, £3,374,000. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE was here understood to express dissent.] I do not think my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government will find these figures inaccurate. Then, the Indian Blue Book shows that nearly the whole sale of this opium is to China and the Straits Settlements. In 1879–80, when it was at the highest point, the Chinese trade was 94,835 chests; in 1886–7 it was 83,124 chests; and in 1889–90 it was 70,102 chests. As regards the Straits Settlements, it was at its highest point in 1890–1, when it was 20,328 chests; and at its lowest in 1883–4, when it was 10,733 chests. It is from the Chinese and the Straits Settlements opium trade mainly, that the Indian Revenue is derived. The home consumption was small in 1889–90, being 6,320 chests. The average cost price per chest was about 427 in tens of rupees. Here I may say that whilst, at one time, the Indian officers were endeavouring in every possible way to stimulate this trade, a change has come over the spirit of their dream, for they know the harm it does to the population. I find, from the Blue Book, in the Correspondence issued by Lord Cross, that there is hardly a single Representative of the Government in India but who is doing his best to keep the trade in bounds so far as India is concerned. We, therefore, attack the China trade as far the most important, though, of course, we are anxious to do away with the home trade as well. The battle has been a long one. In 1840 Lord Shaftesbury attacked the opium trade in the House of Commons. Had he proceeded further, and pressed the matter more, he might have saved India much disgrace and many of us to-day great trouble. Recently we fought for the ratification of the Convention of Chefoo. Unfortunately, the Article which would have given the Chinese complete control of the Li-kin duties was refused. Lord Salisbury stated in the House of Lords that if we accepted the Convention as arranged by Sir Thomas Wade we should reverse all our policy with regard to the drug. It was only after nine years' fighting in this House—from 1876 to 1885—that 603 Lord Granville arranged a compromise so as to allow China to levy Li-kin duties of 80 taels per chest. Then our India-China trade began to fall away from 8,451,000 in tens of rupees in 1880 to 5,060,000 in tens of rupees in 1893—a difference of 3,391,000. Now, the House knows very well that we want no new laws in India on this subject. The position of the Indian Government is a position which is terribly unique. The Indian Government licenses every poppy plant that is grown; the Indian Government subsidises the whole of the cultivators of the crop; they frequently have as much as £2,000,000 out in subsidies on the crop. The Indian Government are the people who were responsible for this. They are the people who license and who decree more or less growth according to the exigencies of the trade. It is a position which, as I have said, is perfectly unique. They subsidise the grower, they buy the crop, they manufacture the drug, and they sell it by auction at Calcutta. This is the position of a professing Christian nation. We do license public-houses, but we do not carry on a trade in public-houses. We are not the manufacturers of all the whisky used in this country; and, if we were, we should hesitate before trying to force our whisky crop according to the exigencies of the trade. As a moral and as a Christian nation, we have no right to trade in that which does others harm, and which is one of the greatest causes of misery to the human race. That is the simple point I endeavour to make. The hon. Member for the Kingston Division says if I convince him of the moral wrong of the traffic he will vote with me. I do not know whether I shall be able to succeed. [Mr. CURZON: No!] But I have convinced already a great many people that it is a moral wrong. It is a moral wrong, because the trade is merely a trade for money. No man can be found who says we are carrying it on for the good of the people of India. Except for the purposes of gain we should not carry it on, and we make that gain at the expense of our neighbours. We have not to ask the people of India whether they like it, but whether we are justified in making it and selling it to them, or in producing that which causes so much misery in the world. One of the Predecessors of the 604 Under Secretary of State for India declared that no man had got up on that Front Bench to defend this question on moral grounds. This has been a long and steady fight. It has been a soldier's battle against the authorities of India. No one but those engaged in the Indian opium trade have said a word in its favour. The Indian officials have been against us; but the moral and religious feeling of the world has been with us. The Churches are with us and the Bishops are with us, and we have won our battle by the force of the feeling of the people of the country. The last Parliament practically, by a majority of 30, declared this trade to be an immoral trade. Sir James Fergusson said not a soldier or a sovereign of English money should again be used to coerce China, and the late Mr. Smith told us that the policy of the Government had been greatly to reduce the acreage of the crop, and that that policy would be continued. My hon. Friend opposite, whose courtesy on these matters is well known, gave me a little while ago the figures relating to the opium crop, showing that that policy has been acted upon. The 500,000 acres under poppy cultivation has been reduced this year to 467,000 acres, or at the rate of 7½ per cent. on the year. The 57,000 chests offered for sale has also been reduced to 54,000, which is about the same ratio. This shows that the late Mr. Smith, the Government, and the authorities thought this an immoral trade, and that it ought to be discouraged. The Amendment my right hon. Friend proposes to move tonight does not so one whit further than that. Lord Cross, when Secretary of State for India, carried out certainly two important reforms. He advised that smoking opium should not be allowed on the premises where it was sold, and that the clause which levied a fine in the Bombay licence where the minimum quantity was not sold should be repealed. And this Government only the other day has put down its foot at last in Burmah, and declared that the use of opium should be abolished in both Lower and Upper Burmah, except to licensed smokers, and that there should be no new licences to the Burmese. The Government have thus said that the trade is immoral in Burmah, and can any hon. Member say that that which is immoral in Burmah is moral on 605 the other side of the Bay of Bengal? If the Government come to the conclusion that it is unnecessary for the people of Burmah they cannot but come to the conclusion that it is necessary for the people of India. This is a curious problem altogether, and the more one looks at it the more curious it becomes. In Burmah the Government has put down by a few sweeping sentences, the smoking of opium. What is the clause? The two opening sentences of the Government Proclamation, dated Rangoon, the 11th March, 1893, run as follows:—The Government has decided, after consultation with its officers, and with its priests and most respectable persons, to prohibit the possession or use of opium in any form by Burmans in Lower Burmah, just as in Upper Burmah. The use of opium is condemned by the Buddhist religion; and the Government, believing the condemnation to be right, intends that the use of opium by persons of the Burmese race shall for ever cease.Has it come to this—that we have to quote from the dictates of Buddha or any other heathen philosopher? Has Christianity nothing to do with the question? It seems to me it has a great deal to do with it, and whilst we are talking about Buddha and the Burmese religion, is it not well to ask how about Christianity? What does Scripture say? "Lead us not into temptation," and "If meat maketh thy brother to stumble, destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died." But now I come to another point of the question. In the Division on the Resolution which I moved in this House on the 10th April, 1891, I had the honour of the support of Mr. Acland, the Vice President of the Council, Mr. Asquith, the Home Secretary, Mr. Mundella, the President of the Board of Trade, Mr. J. Morley, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Mr. Arnold Morley, the Postmaster General, Mr. H. H. Fowler, the President of the Local Government Board, Mr. Asher, the Solicitor General for Scotland, Mr. Burt, the Vice President of the Board of Trade, Sir W. Foster, the Secretary to the Local Government Board, Sir E. Grey, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. M'Arthur, Junior Lord of the Treasury, Sir C. Russell, Attorney General, Mr. H. Gladstone, Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, Mr. Seale-Hayne, Paymaster General, Mr. Marjoribanks, 606 Patronage Secretary, Mr. R. C. Spencer, Vice Chamberlain; and Mr. H. Gardner, President of the Board of Agriculture, wrote that illness alone prevented his attending and voting in favour of the Resolution. I ask now these right hon. and hon. Gentlemen whether having voted for that Resolution they did not declare, in effect, that this trade was one which was morally indefensible—are they now prepared to vote for the Resolution of my hon. Friend? Are they going to say to-night that it is sufficient that this great question of the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of opium should be referred to a Commission; whether it is to be prohibited in British India? If they thought it immoral two years ago, surely it is not made moral by the lapse of time. If they were right in voting then, surely they will vote with me tonight. They cannot possibly vote for the Amendment, which proposes to leave a question of morality to a Royal Commission. If the Amendment is amended and the ultimate disestablishment of the poppy in India was agreed upon, I will gladly give such time as is reasonable for the carrying of it into effect, looking to the finances of India and the somewhat difficult position the Government of India are in owing to the great poverty of the people. You cannot tax the people of India more than they are taxed now. Thanks to right hon. Gentlemen opposite and the policy stated by the late Mr. Smith, the acreage of the poppy cultivation has decreased; smoking is prohibited in the places of sale; the quantity sold is reduced; the clause which levied a fine in the Bombay licence where the minimum quantity was not sold has been repealed; the prohibition in Burmah is absolute. This House many years ago, in 1847, declared thatThe demoralising influences of the opium trade are incontestable and inseparable from its existence.If then, and in 1891, the House approved the substantive question that the system by which the opium revenue is raised is morally indefensible, where, then, is the defence? Are the Burmese so different to the Chinese, or to the natives of Northern India, that that which is a curse in one part of our Indian Empire is a blessing in another? Can that which is to be decreased be a blessing? These are the reasons why I cannot accept, and 607 why my friends cannot accept, the Amendment which is proposed. Now. Sir, I want to give the House the opinion of Indian officials as collected from Lord Cross's Blue Book of 1892, and from the Indian Authorities. On the previous occasion I quoted authorities of a more or less religious and philanthropic character; but to-night, in respect to the Indian trade, I will give a few quotations entirely from the mouths of Indian officials themselves. As far back as 1817 the Directors of the East India Company, in a Despatch to Lord Cornwallis, said—The sentiment expressed in our Despatch of the 18th September, 1816, will have prepared you to expect our approbation of the measures adopted by you for the purpose of supplying from the Government Stores a quantity of opium for the internal consumption of the country. We wish it, at the same time, to be clearly understood that our sanction is given to these measures not with a view to the revenue they may yield, but in the hope that they will tend to restrain the use of this pernicious drug, and that the regulations for the internal sale of it will be so framed as to prevent its introduction into districts where it is not used, and to limit its consumption in other places as nearly as possible to what may be absolutely necessary. Were it possible to prevent the use of the drug altogether, except for the purposes of medicine, we would gladly do it in compassion to mankind.Again, when a proposal was made by the Board of Revenue that the cultivation of the poppy should be introduced into the Bombay Presidency, it was resisted by the Government of Bombay in the following strong language:—The Government consider there are very strong objections to the introduction of an industry so demoralising in its tendency as opium cultivation and manufacture into a Province where at present it is unknown, and, so far as His Excellency in Council is aware, not asked for by the people. If opium cultivation were allowed in Scinde it could not with consistency be prohibited in the rest of the Presidency. It has already been tried at Guzarat, and the result was widespread corruption and demoralisation. At present the consumption of opium in this Presidency is very limited; but if the cultivation of opium and manufacture of opium were permitted, every village might have its opium shop, and every cultivator might contract the habit of eating a drug which is said to degrade and demoralise those who become addicted to it. On the ground of public morality, therefore, His Excellency, the Governor in Council, would strongly, deprecate the grant of permission to cultivate the poppy in Scinde or in any other part of this Presidency.Now, Sir, let us look at some of the authorities whose opinions are stated 608 in Lord Cross's Blue Book. What did these gentlemen say. In Assam, Mr. F. C. Dankes stated—In regard to licences for the sale of narcotic drugs, I am to point out that while it is true that the number of shops for the sale of narcotic drugs rose between the years 1879–80 and 1888–9, yet the numbers for the first four years have been almost constant, and that the number of such shops was reduced to 279 for the year 1890–91.Mr. J. J. S. Briberg, also speaking in regard to Assam, said—These shops must be kept down to the smallest number consistent with the absence of inducements to smuggle, and must be still further reduced as opportunity offers.Mr. C. A. Galton, of Madras, says—A perusal of the Appendix attached to the Board's proceedings, forwarded herewith, will show that this Government has been endeavouring to reduce the consumption of opium in these tracts as much as possible.I have got a great many of these extracts, but I cannot detain the House by reading all of them. Colonel Trevor, of Ajmere Merwara, says—A man who frequents a liquor shop is not so likely to become a confirmed drunkard as one who pays even a few visits to an opium den is likely to develop into a confirmed opium eater or smoker; it is to the interests of the vintner not to let him get intoxicated on the premises for fear the licence should be revoked, and for the same reason not to encourage drinking that makes men disorderly. The liquor having issued from a Government distillery, its quality has been tested, and, as a rule, it does not pay the vintner to change the quality, except by dilution, which is common enough. These conditions do not, I believe, apply to the case of the opium den, at any rate, in equal degree. There, no attempt is made, or, if made, it is more difficult to check excess; and though excess may not lead to crime in the same way as liquor does, it produces a more lasting effect upon the individual, and through him or her on future generations.Mr. R. M. Dane (Punjab) says—Opium smoking is another matter. Unlike opium eating, the practice appears to have been of comparatively recent growth in this Province, and its evils have already been recognised, and all licences for the sale of chandu and madak withdrawn.I could go on with these witnesses indefinitely. The Collector at Satara, says—The vice of opium smoking evidently possesses a fearful fascination when once it is acquired, and its effects are deadly, depriving the victim of all moral resolution. With these facts made palpable, it is a serious thing for the Government to offer any facility for acquiring the vice, where any one is at liberty to make a trial.609 Mr. Campbell (Bombay) says—Though the description under review maybe overdrawn and misleading, the practice of opium smoking is evil and wasteful. It would be well if it did not exist.Now, Sir, there is another aspect of this question. Out of the same Blue Book I find Colonel Clarke says—These shops are the resort of the most worthless and depraved characters in every town, and such gatherings might well be interdicted by law.Mr. H. E. M. James, of the Southern Division of Bombay, says—Some respectable persons might continue to smoke privately by themselves, while the lowest and most degraded would, as now, frequent the shops.Rao Bahadur Munsukram Mulji, an Inspector of Police of Ahmedabad, says—The persons who have got this habit generally belong to the lower classes of the community, and most of them live upon gambling and other offences, such as petty thefts, cheating, &c.Sir, here is a most extraordinary case, where the vice of opium smoking is to be carried forward, so says the Inspector of Police, as suggested in another Despatch, in order that he may catch his victims most easily in the opium den. Colonel Clarke again says—The District Magistrate, whom I have consulted, considers that 'The use of opium and ganja does not exhibit any abnormal signs of increase, alcoholic drinks, the consumption of which is increasing, being a counter attraction.' But he is in favour of reducing the number of opium and ganja shops, as the evil effects of the indulgence in these drugs are perceptible in the large towns.One more and I shall finish. A Memorandum of the Government of Madras is to the following effect:—The Government is aware that the opium traffic is carefully watched by the agents and their assistants, and that, so far from teaching the people to rely on opium as a febrifuge, we are doing all we can to gradually wean them from their hereditary habit of using it on all occasions.Now, Sir, I do not think I will trouble the House further with these. I have had a telegram to-day from Bombay which I am told upwards of 1,000 missionaries have signed as a protest against the opium traffic. Who are these missionaries? They are men paid by Christian Churches, principally of the United Kingdom, in order that they may 610 preach and teach the Gospel of Christ. There are one or two other points with which I will conclude. There are the medical arguments against the use of opium which have been dealt with to some extent by my hon. Friend. The Lancet, after the Debate in this House, has declared that opium is a drug, and nothing but a drug, and that it has ever been treated as a drug. I have several authorities here which show that even in malarial districts opium is no safeguard whatever against malarial fever. As a febrifuge, quinine is more effective, and the use of opium finds a man more ready for malarial fever than without. There are one or two extracts I should like to read to the House in passing. The Rev. C. S. Valentine, principal of the Medical Missionary Training Institution at Agra, says—I have been as nearly as possible for 31 years a medical practitioner in India. I can read both Hindi and Urdu, and converse freely in these languages and in several of their patois. As a missionary I have for months at a time moved about among the towns and villages of Rajputana. I have visited the people in their houses and preached to them under the spreading branches of the village tree. I have entered into conversation with them, and made myself conversant with their ideas and opinions about most subjects that interested them. I have held the appointment of surgeon to a native regiment, and for years have been connected with gaols, and have come in contact with thousands of opium-eating prisoners. For 14 years I was private physician to H.H. the late Earn Singh, Maharajah of Jeypur. In that position I mixed with the nobles of the State, lived in their forts, their castles, and palaces, and know their manners, customs, and opinions in a way that has rarely fallen to the lot of any European. In the course of my medical practice I can truthfully say that I have been called upon to treat hundreds, if not thousands, of cases of confirmed opium eating. With all this experience, it was with perfect amazement that I read a recent paper by Sir William Moore, a retired Indian official, in support of the opium traffic. I declare that anything more ludicrously and recklessly false in statement and reasoning I have never seen. Indeed, had I not been certain of the respectability of the journal that reported this paper, and had I not been previously and personally acquainted with Sir W. Moore, I would have come to the conclusion that someone copying his style had put words in his mouth which he could never have uttered. From my experience in Rajputana, I can testify to the following facts:—(1) That a large percentage of the mortality among children is due to opium; (2) a large percentage of crime is committed through the influence of opium: (3) a large percentage of murder is due to opium poisoning; (4) a large percent- 611 age of the diseases a medical man is called upon to treat in dispensary, hospital, and private practice is due to the habitual eating of opium; (5) I have never, so far as I can remember, found an opium eater who defended the practice. He would apologise for its use by stating that it had been prescribed to him for a disease from which he was suffering years before, and begged and prayed for some medicine that would cure him of the evil habit; (6) I have never known of a single instance in which a confirmed opium eater or opium smoker was able of himself to leave off the habit. Medical men, such as Dr. Maxwell, of Chinese experience, and Drs. Partridge and Pringle, of Indian experience, have been accused of exaggerating the evil effects of this pernicious habit. From my own experience I can affirm that so far from this being the case, I believe they have understated them.There is another point raised against us, and it is one dealing with the question of compensation to the ryots. Why, Sir, the difficulty which the Indian Government has had to deal with for a long time past is that the ryots can hardly be got to cultivate the poppy owing to the greater attractions of cultivating other crops, the subsidy of money offered for the cultivation of other crops being better than that offered for the cultivation of the poppy. Did the ryots receive compensation when the acreage under opium cultivation was reduced from 500,000 to 463,000. The ryots require very little compensation, and I have in the papers beside me facts showing that they are trying to cultivate crops much more profitable to themselves and more useful to the State. Then as to the question of smuggling, the argument that smuggling would prevail falls to the ground as soon as the Government cease to depend upon opium cultivation for revenue. The extracts that I have here from the Blue Book show that they do not fear smuggling half as much as they fear the effect of the opium drug. I desire now to call attention to the Amendment that has been put down upon the Paper. We say that the Indian people cannot bear any fresh taxation, but we also believe that if the finances of the Indian Government are properly investigated it will be seen that India is perfectly well able to pay for everything she requires and to ask for nothing from this country in regard to the opium question. What are the facts? The Indian Revenue has gone up by leaps and bounds. The gross Revenue of India in 1880–1 was 612 Rx.74,290,112, whilst the Estimate for 1892–93 is Rx.88,368,000. In 10 years the Revenue has gone up Rx. 14,000,000. Where has the money all gone to? There is the Famine Fund, Rx.11,500,000 a year, which a good many men say would be little required if other crops were cultivated instead of the crop we so much complain of. In 1881–8 the Army charges in India, exclusive of the Afghan War, were Rx.13,745,000, whilst the Estimates for 1892–93 were Rx.21,159,500 and for 1893–4 are Rx.22,242,300, a rise of Rx.8,500,000 in 13 years. The Indian Revenue from opium has gone down Rx.3,500,000, whilst the general Revenue has gone up, as I have said, Rx.l4,000,000. In 1883–4 there were 63,000 British soldiers in India, and on the 1st of April 1891, 71,000. In 1883–4 the number of native soldiers was 126,019, whilst on the 1st of April, 1891, the number stood at 149,129. The Army has been increased since 1884 by 31,000 men, and the Army expenditure Rx.8,500,000. Now, Sir, some of these are Home charges, and should be borne at home. No wonder, with such an expenditure, you run the risk of deficits. India, it seems to me, has to pay more in military charges, like many other countries, and I should like the House to be in a position to judge whether all these soldiers are required, and what the policy of the Indian Government is with regard to constant annexation, fortifications, and military railways. This House at the present moment has no more control over the Indian finances than the man in the street. The Indian Debate comes on generally in the month of August, and hardly any of us have found much more than a quorum of the House sitting when the whole of this vast system of finance has to be looked at. We ask that this moral iniquity, the opium traffic, shall be put an end to, and we think the question is a very proper one for the House to decide. There are three courses open to us to enable that to be done—economy, development, and subscription from the English Exchequer. Sir, I thank the House for having heard me so patiently on a subject in which for many years I have taken a deep interest. Now, I appeal to my hon. and right hon. Friends, who will not support us on this occasion. We have all the Christian Churches with us; we have the two Convocations of York and Canterbury; we have the 613 Wesleyans; the Methodist Free Church; the Baptists; the Congregationalists; the Presbyterians of England; the Scotch Church; the Free Kirk; the Society of Friends, and the Unitarians. All the missionaries in China, some 1,500, and almost all the missionaries in India are with us, and the Bishop of Bombay telegraphs that he and 300 clergy are with us. The late Cardinal Manning and all the Roman Catholic Bishops forwarded a Petition in favour of the Bill for the suppression of the opium traffic; the clergy of London did the same; and a Memorial handed in by the Prime Minister was signed by two Archbishops and 12 Bishops, the Archbishop of Dublin, and 30 Mayors and Provosts on this question. California has passed an Act of Parliament against the use of this drug. Australia has Acts of Parliament before her now, and China has Treaties with other Powers prohibiting the importation of opium. We still hold on our way manufacturing it and sending it to China, debauching the people there as well as in India. I have hardly touched upon the China question to-night. Let me read two extracts. ["Oh!"] I shall not trouble the House much more. I have to prove that this is an immoral trade. Dr. Maxwell says—There are 1,500 missionaries in China They are absolutely unanimous that the bondage in which the vice holds its victims, in the degrading and evil influences which surround and are everywhere associated with the opium habit, and in the particular relation in which, rightly or wrongly, we stand in the minds of the Chinese toward the spread of the vice over China, we have created a great and grievous obstacle to the progress of the Gospel. They tell us from all parts of the Empire that it is quite impossible for them to look upon the habit of opium smoking as otherwise than immoral, that there can be no compromise on the question on the part of the Church, and that having regard to the universal judgment of the native Christians, as well as to public opinion in China outside the Church, the opium smoker must be excluded from fellowship in the Church of Christ. The Roman Catholic Church has by its missionaries taken up the same position.My hon. Friend opposite the Member for Kingston (Sir R. Temple) says that China will find opium for herself. I have nothing whatever to do with what China does. I have to look to what we are doing as a nation. Are we going to continue to send opium to China when all the missionaries give us this testimony 614 that it is debauching. I can only say in conclusion, whatever may be the result of to-night's Division, the question is one that has to be solved. I and my friends around me have worked for a long time for it, believing that we are trying to do some work for the benefit of mankind, and trying to wipe from the national escutcheon that which all civilised nations have pointed at as a disgrace to us—the traffic in opium. I beg to second the Resolution.
To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "having regard to the opinion expressed by the Vote of this House on the 10th April, 1891, that the system by which the Indian Opium Revenue is raised is morally indefensible, and which urged the Indian Government to give practical effect to that opinion by ceasing to grant licences, and by taking measures to arrest the transit of Malwa Opium through British territory, and, recognising that the people of India ought not to be called upon to bear the cost involved in this change of policy, that oppressive taxation and the stoppage of expenditure necessary for the welfare and progress of the Indian people must be avoided, this House is of opinion that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire, both in India and in this country, and to report as to (1) what retrenchments and reforms can be effected in the Military and civil expenditure of India; (2) by what means Indian resources can be best developed; and (3) what, if any, temporary assistance from the British Exchequer would be required in order to meet any deficit of revenue which would be occasioned by the suppression of the Opium traffic,"—(Mr. Webb,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE, Edinburgh, Midlothian)
I wish to commence the remarks I have to make by a proposal in the interest of all parties. There are only two suggestions before the House; both of them agree up to a certain point, and both of them includes the appointment of a Committee for the purposes of very important and comprehensive inquiry. I think the House will feel it is for the advantage of all persons interested in this important question that these two methods of application should be into close connection, so that the House may have the merits before them as a direct issue. That, at present, is not the case. The Motion has been made that the Speaker do leave the Chair for Supply, 615 and the Motion of the hon. Member is moved as an Amendment upon that proposal. Now, Sir, what I would suggest is this, that before we proceed further, or when I have concluded what I have to say to the House—though I think the present moment might be more expedient—we should withdraw the Motion for Supply, or allow it to be negatived if that be necessary, but at any rate get rid of it, and then allow the Motion of the hon. Gentleman to become the Main Question, and the Motion of my hon. Friend near me, the Under Secretary of State for India (Mr. G. Russell), could be subsequently moved as an Amendment. We should then have the issue before us in a satisfactory form. I gather that is agreed to by the promoters of the Motion, and if so I would sit down and propose that that form of proceeding should be followed and the Original Motion either withdrawn or negatived.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I think now we have the question before us, and my hon. Friend will be able to move this Amendment, so I shall proceed to the general subject. So far as I have been able to hear the speech of the Mover—I am sorry to say it was very imperfectly, owing to my own defects—I sympathise wholly with the general tone of his remarks, which, I think, tended to elevate and purify the atmosphere of this House. I must make an admission. I do not think that in this matter we ought to be guided exclusively—perhaps, even principally—by those who may consider themselves experts. It is a very sad thing to say, but unquestionably it happens not infrequently in human affairs that those who ought, from their situation, to know the most and the best, yet from prejudice and prepossessions know the least and worst. Eminently it was the case in the great question of the West Indian slavery, when this House and the country for a long time were discouraged and abashed by the assurance that those who were in favour of that great and radical change were in favour of it only because they did not understand the negro character. There may be something of that element in 616 this case. I certainly, for my part, do not propose to abide finally and decisively by official opinion. Independent opinion—independent, but responsible—is what the House wants, in my opinion, in order to enable it to proceed safely in the career upon which, I admit, that it has definitively entered. My hon. Friend who has just sat down says that the course proposed by the Government through the Amendment of my hon. Friend near me, which has been read, no doubt, by other hon. Members, is simply the adoption of the words used by Mr. Smith on the part of the late Government. Mr. Smith used words implying a pledge which I believe that he and those for whom he spoke fulfilled. It appears to be admitted that that is the case. But I think, Sir, it is entirely erroneous to say that the Amendment of my hon. Friend stops at the same point as the words of Mr. Smith. The words of Mr. Smith contemplated a reduction in the cultivation of opium; the words of my hon. Friend near me contemplate a comprehensive, searching inquiry into all the points directly associated with the practicability and with the method of acting against the traffic as a whole; and our contention will be that you cannot safely or wisely or with a hope of substantial results pledge yourselves further as to that contraction of the traffic without including in your proceedings operative means for going to the very root of the question. It must be admitted that has not yet been done. My hon. Friend the Seconder of the Motion has referred to the case of Burmah, and I hope the case of Burmah may be taken as an indication of the intention and desire of the Indian Government in respect to this question. But the case of Burmah is not necessarily the case of India. In the case of Burmah, it is admitted on all hands that there was conclusive evidence of the mischievous, and the almost entirely mischievous, operation of the use of opium in Burmah. There was no doubt in the minds of those who were in authority as to the character of the practice. But there was another important point, as was truly said by my hon. Friend. Burmah is a country that we have just conquered—a country held by the undisguised and unquestioned might of the sword, and in a country 617 where you so stand you have it in your power—quite irrespective of the difference between a population of 7,000,000 and a population of 200,000,000—to do many things which are beyond your power in a country where your relations with the masses of the population have become thoroughly peaceful, where local public feeling has begun to form itself, and where you are bound to pay a certain amount of respect to the conditions that exist. My hon. Friend justly affirms that there is much of a moral character in this question. Sir, I am the last to deny, and I am also ready to allow and affirm that where a moral character attaches we should be very jealous of the intrusion of secondary motives which are to prevent our giving effect to the moral considerations. But I observed that even the rigid virtue of my hon. Friend relaxed a little when he said that, notwithstanding the exclusively moral character of this matter, yet if we once admitted that the thing was to be done he was ready to look at the financial difficulties with regard to intervening circumstances. That appears to me to be perfectly reasonable. Now, Sir, I go to the points directly connected with it, and I will tell the House why we are unable to affirm the Motion of my hon. Friend with the purport of which we have a great deal of active sympathy. I cannot subscribe to the recital contained in this Motion of what has already taken place, because we are called upon in the first line of the Motion to assert that an opinion has been expressed by the House upon the subject. Far be it from me, Sir, to deny for a moment that there had been most important indications of opinion and a tendency given by the House upon this question. But I cannot admit—on the contrary, I contest the assertion that an opinion has been expressed by the House which can safely be recited in a Resolution. I am very far from founding that statement in a mere difficulty of form. We are all aware that the first step that was taken when this matter was discussed, was that a majority of the House—not an enormous majority, but a moderate majority, which, however, proved perfectly effectual—did substitute for the original Question that night a Motion which in principle entirely condemned the opium traffic. Yes, Sir; 618 but then the proceedings were interrupted before those words, which had become the Motion, were put from the Chair. I should be very sorry indeed to take my stand upon the simple fact that they were not so put from the Chair, but there was a much more important element, and it was this: that the discussion was recognised as an incomplete discussion; that the late Sir Robert Fowler, the respected Member for the City of London, gave notice of an Amendment, which showed that he, while agreeing with the Motion, had regard to financial difficulties, and proposed to make an addition to that Motion, which might vitally have affected its character. That addition has never been discussed, nor that trial brought to issue. So that, though it was recognised that there ought to be further discussion, it never happened to be in the power of the Government of the day to assign a period for it. I am bound, therefore, to confess that that proceeding appears to me essentially incomplete, and one to which I cannot refer as a complete proceeding, which is what the Motion calls upon me to do if I were to vote for that Motion. I hope to make clear to the House what is the difficulty I feel. I am not standing upon a question of form, but upon this, that as regarded the substance of the matter, it had not been brought to a completion when it was allowed to drop. Well, Sir, the Motion moved and seconded to-night commits the House to the abolition of the growth and traffic in opium before we have considered the obstacles in the way and the mode in which they are to be surmounted. I remember, with shame and contrition, the condition in which the House stood in respect to the opium traffic 50, 40, or perhaps only 30 years ago. At that time we not only grew the drug and made money by it, but forced the consumption of it upon the Chinese people; and because the Chinese rallied themselves in a manner which, though not wholly diplomatical, yet was human, and in its basis legitimate, against the opium traffic we were forcing upon them, we in the year 1840 made war upon them, and it is rather to me a pleasing reflection, among the reflections less pleasing in that Debate in 1840, that I took what I thought the best part in my power. We have ceased that operation 619 of forcing the trade upon China. We have left that matter to China herself, except that undoubtedly, as I admit, the opium which we allow to be exported, and from which we derive a large revenue, is sent to that country to be received by China if she chooses to receive it. But a great progress has been made in that respect—that at least we do not do anything in relation to any foreign country for the supply of opium, except that which the free will of that country admits and desires, and it is also true that as regards the domestic growth of opium my hon. Friend has gladly recognised that important steps have been made towards its restriction. Notwithstanding the testimonies that we read on the one side, notwithstanding the forces of intelligent official opinion on the other, I cannot find myself competent to form a conclusive judgment, and to deem myself authorised to say exactly what is the character of this opium traffic, nor to say what is its character in one country in one district with one race and then in other countries with different races. My impression is that it is very different; but, at the same time, I call for no sanction to it whatever. We lay open everything that bears upon it by the Motion which my hon. Friend will make on behalf of the Government. We have no prepossessions at all in its favour. It may be that my hon. Friend who has moved this Resolution is absolutely right in thinking this case of opium is far worse than that of alcohol, which God knows, under our laws, is bad enough. It may be he is perfectly right in that, and I do not ask him to abate one syllable in any assertion he has made with regard to it. What I do say is that, viewing the absolute necessity and duty of performing our great function of governing 200,000,000 people in India, it is our first duty, before we commit ourselves by absolute declaration of a binding character, to learn to the best of our power the mode in which we can carry it into effect. That is my proposition, and that is the proposition which I intend to press upon the House. The Motion before the House binds us absolutely to the extinction of the traffic. I do not say it ought not to be extinguished. The Government wish to reserve a perfectly free mind on the 620 subject; but I cannot consent to be a party to promising extinction till I know it can be done. The Motion of my hon. Friend says that India is to pay nothing. That is a very chivalrous, high-sounding, magnificent declaration. It may be just and true—
§ SIR J. PEASE (interposing)
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. The Motion does not say that the cost will not fall upon India if Indian resources can pay for it. I say that the development of India ought to be made to pay for it, and I ask for a Commission to examine and ascertain how best that development can be carried out.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My hon. Friend's Motion recognises that the people of India ought not to be called upon to bear the cost.
§ SIR J. PEASE
That means the whole cost. The Motion is quite clear—What retrenchments and reforms can be effected in the Military and Civil expenditure of India; by what means Indian resources can be best developed; and what, if any, temporary assistance from the British Exchequer would be required in order to meet any deficit of revenue which would be occasioned by the suppression of the opium traffic.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My hon. Friend has joined together portions of the Motion which are totally apart from one another.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
This declaration I have made is a separate member of the sentence, and there is a distinct recognition that the people of India ought not to bear the cost. I do not affirm it is right India should bear the cost. I think that is one of the questions which must be examined to the very bottom; but I say that, in our present state of knowledge with regard to Indian opinion, with regard to Indian resources, and with regard to British willingness to do what may be found requisite to be done, it would be premature for us, for this great branch of the Legislature, to recognise it as demonstrated, and to adopt it. My next difficulty is this: There is a promise of temporary assistance from the British Exchequer. Well, Sir, "temporary assistance" is a most ambiguous phrase. 621 Temporary assistance sometimes means a loan for which we take interest, and which on the expiry of a term we repay. Is that the temporary assistance meant? Other assistance there may be which is temporary inasmuch as it ceases after a certain time to be provided, but which, while it continues, is absolutely final. The subsidy which was paid to almost every Continental Power in the great war of the Revolution was temporary assistance, not one farthing of which ever came back again. Which kind of temporary assistance are you going to prefer? In my opinion we ought to know. We ought to have some determination, some one definite course in regard to making this country liable for the assumption of the pecuniary burdens which this important change may possibly require; therefore, Sir, I am obliged to object to that part of the Motion as being tainted with the modern sin of ambiguity, and such ambiguity that under it may be contained either the slightest and most shadowy measure, or the most enormous and most important. Those are points which, in my opinion, we are bound carefully to examine. I am prepared, Sir, to place, side by side, our Commission and the Commission proposed by my hon. Friend, and to say that our Commission will and must go to the root of this great subject—will and must, if proper persons be appointed, and the appointment of these proper persons will be the most solemn and responsible duty of the Government—will and must go to the root of everything that bears upon our further progress in the matter of the opium traffic. I am sorry to say I have not at all the same confidence with regard to the Commission proposed by my hon. Friend. There is no use in laying on the shoulders of a single set of men an amount of inquiry which it is impossible for them satisfactorily to discharge. In my opinion the examination of the opium question, if it is to be done thoroughly, will give ample work to a Commission, and necessitate the expenditure of an amount of time, though not enormously extended, which may not be inconsiderable. But my hon. Friend has the advantage that his Commission does not contemplate any examination of the opium question. All these questions as to the state of 622 opinion and the practice in India, and as to the means that may be provided for dealing with them, as to the amount of pecuniary burdens that would be entailed by the abolition of this present system—all these, I grant, have been passed by in his instruction. This instruction of my hon. Friend holds out vast promises of retrenchment and reform, but of retrenchment and reform which do not form proper objects of this Motion, which are introduced collaterally and incidentally as a means of getting over the difficulty for which no other means have been found by my hon. Friend. This Commission of my hon. Friend is proposed, in the main, as a Commission which is to do three things. It is to inquire, both in India and in this country, and to report as to what retrenchments and reforms can be effected in the Military and Civil Expenditure of India; secondly, by what means Indian resources may be best developed; and, in the third place, what, if any, temporary aid from the British Exchequer is to be afforded, though no instruction is to be given to the Committee to examine or report upon the amount of temporary aid that may be required. How can a Commission be supposed or expected to inquire in India and in this country into the mode of developing the resources of India, and into the whole question of retrenchment in the Military and Civil Expenditure? Let it not be supposed for one moment that I want to discourage my hon. Friend, or other patriotic and able men, from examining into these questions. They are of the extremest gravity. The Expenditure of India, and especially the Military Expenditure, is alarming. The nature of the demands made upon her by this country is of itself a most serious question; but I must tell the House that the nature of the burdens imposed upon the military system of this country by the necessity of keeping a military bank to be drawn upon to any extent whatever for the purposes of India is also a question of not less importance. To do all these things, and at the same time to examine into all the questions directly connected with the opium trade, is what my hon. Friend has set forth in his Amendment. There are, in my opinion, serious obstacles in our way. If you remove them, then the 623 putting down of the traffic might be made the subject of some arrangement. That is clearly the question fully opened up by the Amendment of my hon. Friend, though my hon. Friend near me says that, even if that be so, still you must measure, and measure beforehand, the obstacles you have to surmount. The pressing question of these obstacles is cost. What will be the cost? Do not let us hold out retrenchment, not yet ascertained to be practicable, as a ground for incurring deficiencies which you are immediately to bring upon yourselves. If you are to plead retrenchment—and I hope the day will come when you may plead it—as a reason for undertaking very large pecuniary liabilities, you must first ascertain if your retrenchment be possible. I recollect very well a most worthy Member of this House, Mr. Rylands, who was an economist. He was also a patriot, and being a patriot he desired a large extension of the Navy. He said—You have not got nearly enough ships, you must build more, and build them out of money saved by economies in the Government.To place the country under vast liabilities, and so disable her for the performance of important duties, on the strength of economies in a very distant perspective, is a practice which would ultimately be found to be very demoralising. I remember that in the case of the abolition of slavery the first idea of the Government of the day was that they could get rid of the pecuniary difficulty by advancing in the way of "temporary assistance" to the planters a sum of £15,000,000. But before they had advanced very far in their bold, philanthropic, and most wise career, they found it necessary to convert the loan of £15,000,000 into a gift of £20,000,000. I hope that the present generation are not below the wisdom and courage of those days; but it is necessary to form some idea of the way in which, if a revenue of £4,000,000 a year is to be abandoned, and liabilities for compensation estimated at £2,000,000 are to be incurred, the vacuum is to filled. This obligation of strictness in financial proceedings belongs to a very high morality; and political morals cannot be upheld if financial laxity be allowed to come in and obscure the relations between liabilities 624 undertaken and the means possessed for meeting them. My own impression is that this would be a heavy affair. The figures supplied to me from the Indian Department put the revenue derived last year from opium at £3,800,000, and, on an average of some years, at about £4,500,000. This is almost the only revenue in the world derived not from the native population, but from a foreign nation; and, by the destruction of it, the means of the Indian population for meeting the demands upon them are not increased. The abolition of that revenue would be a most serious affair, in which the country could not go forward without some light thrown on the path in which it is to tread. My next point is that it is an absolute duty to examine into the state of the case in India. I have the greatest respect for the motives and conduct of Christian missionaries; but I am not sure that they are the men most remarkable for calmness combined with comprehensiveness of view. What is the state of public opinion in India, and is the Government bound to regard it? I think so. I observe that strong promoters of the anti-opium movement are not very apt to give any weight at all to the public feeling of India. I am of opinion that, considering whom the country has to govern in India, it is impossible to overlook the public opinion of India. There is a large portion of the population of India which is very nearly, even to this hour, passive in the hands of the Imperial Government; but there is a large portion of the population which is not at all so passive. There is a large portion of the population composed of warlike races, of fine physical development, of considerable independence of character, capable of forming for themselves their own habits of life. I cannot go full galop over the heads of these populations without knowing what they wish, and why they wish it. But there is a good deal of opium used among the lowest parts of the Indian population, and in some cases they use it as a febrifuge; but whether this is so or not, I ask whether the House is competent to decide the question? In the Punjab and other Provinces opium is consumed by the flower of the population. Few look upon it as degrading, and many of the races in those Provinces 625 say that they cannot do without it. It is necessary, also, to notice the case of the Native States, and it appears to me that this is one portion of the case which needs a thorough examination to the very bottom, even more absolutely than the financial matter. Here the Native States are not limited partners in this concern. Out of 75,000 chests of opium they supply no fewer than 30,000. It is easy to say, "Prohibit the transit"; but what is to be done with respect to the subsistence of the population concerned in raising those 30,000 chests? They are not our subjects at all, but the subjects of Powers with respect to whom we have a heavy responsibility, and whose tranquillity we are bound to consider, and with regard to whom every step ought to be taken with the utmost deliberation and most careful circumspection. The Rulers of those States might listen readily enough as to decreeing the abolition of opium if we went to them with handsome subsidies in our hands; but, even so, where are we to find within those Native States the Executive means for insuring the permanent enforcement of the prohibition? Surely the House cannot say by a Motion this evening that the Government ought to overlook a question such as this. It is an enormous one, involving the peace of the Native States, the question who is to be responsible for their Executive, and our relations with persons to whom this country is under the most solemn obligations. The question of smuggling is not a question of Revenue at all. Here is an extremely valuable drug which has to be counted in shillings per pound. Anything sold in shillings per pound is a promising subject for the smuggler; and in the Native States there is no police sufficient to prevent the cultivation and the production of the drug. If, therefore, on the borders of a Native State there is a population who love the drug and want to buy it for consumption, who is to prevent the smuggling of the drug? It is our duty to inquire on all these points, and, above all, to take care that a deliberative Assembly like this shall not make promises, hold out hopes for wild expectations, or preach philanthropic doctrines without any knowledge of the way in which it is to bring up its 626 conduct to the standard which has been laid down.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment,
To leave out from the words "having regard to the," to the end of the proposed Amendment, in order to add the words," strong objections urged on moral grounds to the system by which the Indian opium revenue is raised, this House presses on the Government of India to continue their policy of greatly diminishing the cultivation of the poppy and the production and sale of opium, and desires that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to appoint a Royal Commission to report as to—
1. Whether the growth of the poppy and manufacture and sale of opium in British India should be prohibited except for medical purposes, and whether such prohibition could be extended to the Native States.
2. The nature of the existing arrangements with the Native States in respect of the transit of opium through British territory, and on what terms, if any, these arrangements could be with justice terminated.
3. The effect on the finances of India of the prohibition of the sale and export of opium, taking into consideration (a) the amount of compensation payable; (b) the cost of the necessary preventive measures; (c) the loss of revenue.
4. Whether any change short of total prohibition should be made in the system at present followed for regulating and restricting the opium traffic and for raising a revenue therefrom.
5. The consumption of opium by the different races and in the different districts of India, and the effect of such consumption on the moral and physical condition of the people.
6. The disposition of the people of India in regard to (a) the use of opium for non-medical purposes; (b) their willingness to bear in whole or in part the cost of prohibitive measures."—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
MR. CURZON (Lancashire, Southport)
said, he could not refrain from congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on being able, after a week of tremendous labour, to come to the House that night and deliver such a powerful speech as that which he had just concluded—a speech full of force and argument, and showing a wide grasp of this enormous question. That speech had the great advantage of bringing a direct and practical issue before the House through the Amendment of the Under Secretary of State for India, in 627 whose behalf the right hon. Gentleman had moved it, and upon which hon. Members could give a direct vote. It was extremely useful, also, to observe the effective manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had examined, dissected, and pulverised the Motion of the hon. Member for West Waterford, and the manner in which he had pointed out the difficulties and obstacles in the path of some of those who desired to advance so hastily in the path of reform. As to the proposed Royal Commission on the subject, the terms of Reference moved by the right hon. Gentleman were studiously wide and statesmanlike, and since, further, they had his assurance that the inquiry must and would go to the root of this great subject, and that one of the principal topics to be submitted to the Commission would be native opinion on the question in India as well as opinion in this country, he hoped the House would accept the Amendment. The main question had been so well covered by the Prime Minister that he would say little upon it, though, as a student of the subject, he should like to refer to one or two remarks that had fallen from the hon. Members who had moved and seconded the first Motion. Before doing so, however, he would take that opportunity of publicly protesting against the literature which was circulated on the question by those who opposed the opium traffic. That literature was a scandal. It was wholly sensational, and much of it was false; yet week by week, and year by year, the constituencies were flooded with it, and it was not surprising that it had some effect upon ignorant and innocent minds. Appeals were constantly being sent to Members of that House urging them to vote against "this great national sin." So far as he was personally concerned, he had always given a clear and consistent answer to those appeals, for he had said boldly that he would vote, and, if he had the chance, he would speak, in favour of this so-called national sin. They had had repeated to-night the old, exploded fiction—to which he was sorry to say that the right hon. Gentleman had lent the sanction of his authority—that we had forced opium upon China. There was not a single 628 historian of any repute, or a single diplomat who knew anything of the matter, who would support that proposition. It was an equally grotesque and untrue statement that we forced opium upon China now. Under a clause of the Cheefoo Convention of 1886 it was possible for the Chinese Government, upon giving 12 months' notice, to abrogate the Treaty, or to put an Import Tax on the article, or even, like Japan, to prohibit its introduction altogether into any of its ports. To say that we forced opium upon China was monstrously untrue. One would imagine from what had fallen from some hon. Gentlemen that opium smoking was a common habit—or vice if they liked—in India. But, though 80,000 chests were turned out by the Indian Government, by far the larger proportion was intended solely for consumption in China. The consumption in India was only 6,700 chests per annum, and out of a population of 220,000,000 in British India there were calculated to be only 400,000 confirmed opium smokers, or a proportion of 1 in 550. He wished he could say the same of the analogous liquor traffic of this country. One might imagine from what hon. Members said that opium was a deleterious article of consumption which poisoned the body, impaired the mind, and destroyed the soul of any man who used it. Well, everyone who had been, as he had, in the East—and there were many in the House who had a far greater knowledge of that part of the world than be had—knew very well that opium was nothing of the kind. It had been used from time immemorial as an article of every-day diet and stimulant in tropical countries just as alcohol was used in other countries and by many Members of the House. Not only that, but it was a stimulant less likely to produce serious and aggravated consequences than alcohol. No doubt, taken to excess, opium was dangerous and deleterious to the constitution, just as excessive smoking or drinking were dangerous; but if taken in moderation opium, in the opinion of all Eastern peoples, was harmless and agreeable, and sometimes a necessary article of sustenance. He had expected to-night that they would hear from the hon. Baronet some of the usual stories and evidence from doctors and surgeons of Eastern 629 gaols in regard to the use of opium. In his travels he (Mr. Curzon) had always looked up the surgeons of gaols, and had inquired as to the truth of this matter. The surgeon of a gaol in the Punjab had written him a letter in which he declared that the moderate use of opium was not injurious, and that to stop its use entirely to the old opium-eater would mean death. The surgeon to the Hong Kong Gaol, which was almost entirely filled with Chinese, reported that he had been 16 years in the gaol, and during that period over 1,000 prisoners addicted to the use of opium had passed through, and there had been only one death amongst them, which in no way had any relation to the opium habit. In one case a man had been in the habit of consuming 8 oz. of the drug a day for 19 years, and was a stout, strongly-built, and healthy person. He had mentioned these things to show that if it were a matter of medical testimony quotations quite as strong as those used by the hon. Baronet could be given on his side. The hon. Baronet had held up India to odium, because he said that the Government of that country manufactured, distributed, and sold opium, and he gave the House the idea that the Indian Government was an immoral huckster, which did so to put money in its pocket, and had no consideration for the people under its sway. But the system adopted by the Indian Government was the only way by which they could keep a check upon the amount of opium sold, by which they could raise the price and restrict the consumption, and it was the only way by which they could prevent the wide distribution and the dangerous consumption of bad opium and the smuggling of the drug into India. Every licensed vendor was himself a party interested in checking and preventing the distribution of contraband opium, and in that way a great preventive force was obtained. If they had any other system similar to those mentioned by the hon. Baronet they would have to supply an enormously greater and more expensive protective force. He hoped the House would find, when it had to choose between the alternative of voting for the Amendment of the Prime Minister and the Motion which stood first on the Paper, that it had no difficulty in making up its mind on the subject. If the Motion were carried in the form in 630 which it stood, he could tell the House what it would not do. It would not prevent the consumption of a single grain of opium in India. It would not prevent a single pound of opium from being consumed in China, because not only did China grow four-fifths of the opium she consumed within her own border, but she could get the remaining one-fifth from Persia or other parts of the East. If the Motion were carried he did not believe it would do an atom of moral good to a single soul. But if those were the things which it would not do, let him broadly state what it would do. If the consumption of opium in India were prohibited, the distribution and use of more dangerous stimulants would soon become common; an economic loss would be inflicted on the agricultural population interested in the growth of the poppy; friction and trouble would arise between the English Government and Native States with whom we had entered into Treaty obligations; great dissatisfaction would be felt by the civil population, and the sympathies of many of the best soldiers of our Indian Army would be alienated; and, lastly, the Government of India-would be deprived of a revenue of between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, the value of which had been estimated by the present Secretary of State at £15,000,000. That being the present state of the case, he hoped that when they proceeded to vote both sides of the House would see their way to support the Amendment moved by the Prime Minister, and would not lend any further encouragement to the Motion of the hon. Baronet, which, however honourable and pure the motives with which it had been moved, was, in the opinion of many who sat on both sides of the House, really a mischievous and delusive fad.
§ SIR G. CHESNEY (Oxford)
said, the hon. Baronet had suggested that with a view of recouping the Indian Government for the loss of revenue on opium inquiries should be made with a view to recouping the Indian Government for the loss of the revenue on opium by effecting a reduction in the Military and Civil expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had effectually disposed of that part of the case. The hon. Baronet did not seem to be aware that the question 631 of the Civil and Military Expenditure in India had already undergone inquiry after inquiry during the last quarter of a century. That field had been already thoroughly reaped, and the assumption that any considerable saving could be effected was a thoroughly delusive one. Moreover, the question of saving Military and Civil Expenditure was really one of policy which lay far beyond the ken of a Commission. The amount of our Military Expenditure in India depended on the policy of Her Majesty's Government and of Foreign Powers, and no Commission could usefully deal with that great subject. Next, he would observe that, even supposing that economies were possible in India, the benefit of reductions in taxation ought to go to the taxpayers, and not to the carrying out of the policy of a certain Party, or even of this House. If saving was to be effected, then the Indian taxpayer was the first person who ought to be relieved. The money saved could not be applied to the carrying out of speculative views. He was glad to observe that the Prime Minister drew attention to one most important point which was wholly passed over by the Mover and Seconder of the Resolution, and that was that in our legislation for India the first consideration was the feelings and wishes of the people of India themselves. The very circumstances that the people of India had no Representative Institutions ought to make us especially careful and to practise even an extra delicacy in regard to forcing measures upon them about which they were not consulted, and which possibly might be opposed to their own wishes. His hon. Friend who had just sat down had pointed out the extreme danger of rash legislation. Well, he hoped that by the instrumentality of the Commission proposed by the Prime Minister the House and the country would learn for the first time the actual facts of the case. Every fair-minded man wished to know the truth about the opium traffic, for at present they were far from having complete knowledge on this subject. The pamphlets published by the opponents of the traffic left one side of the case entirely out of view, and dwelt upon the other side in a very exaggerated way. It was possible, also, that those who opposed the anti-opium policy to a certain 632 extent overstated their case. But those who had heard both sides must be perfectly aware that there was an answer to almost every allegation that had ever been made against the traffic.
§ MR. NAOROJI (Finsbury, Central)
said, he was not speaking on this question now for the first time. He had been studying it for years, and as far back as 40 years ago he had edited a pamphlet against it. He had studied it from all points of view, and he had come to the conclusion that the opium traffic was a curse both for England and India. In this country opium was declared to be a poison by Act of Parliament, and its sale was under very stringent restrictions. How could that which was a poison here be harmless in other portions of the Empire? As far as he was concerned, he could not believe in the sincerity of those who said that opium used in moderation was not injurious. The question of opium, however, was nothing. It was the mere fringe of the great question of Indian administration under the present system. The pity was not only that time would not allow, but that the subject would not permit, of their entering into the great question which caused all the mischiefs and evils from which India was suffering. These problems—the opium question, the Salt Tax question, and kindred matters—were constantly cropping up, but this House was never able thoroughly to grapple with them. And they never would be properly grappled with until the advice of John Bright was adopted, that statesman having said—That if a country be found possessing a most fertile soil, and capable of bearing every variety of production, and that, notwithstanding, the people are in a state of extreme destitution and suffering, the chances are that there is some fundamental error in the government of that country.He (Mr. Naoroji) maintained that so long as the House did not set itself to find out this fundamental error and endeavour to remove it, all these minor questions, which must be regarded as the fringe of the great problem, could never be dealt with satisfactorily. To bring the matter to a practical issue, why could not the Commission be instructed to go into the 633 whole question somewhat in the way in which inquiries took place every 20 years under the rule of the East India Company? for then, and then only, would this House understand the mischiefs under which India was suffering; then, and then only, would they know how it was that, after 100 years of the rule of the best administrators, and the most highly-paid administrators, India should be the poorest country in the world. He could adduce testimony from the beginning of the century down to the present time to show that there was nothing but poverty in India. That could not be satisfactory to England, who desired that India should appreciate British rule, though how that could be expected he could not understand, seeing that an income of £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 a year was made by poisoning another great people, and that taxes—the most cruel that had ever been conceived in the whole history of mankind, such as the heavy Salt Tax—were imposed. Such should not be the method of British administration, and such should not be the result of British rule. There was no reason why it should be so. If the existing errors and evils were discovered and grappled with, he had no doubt that India would bless the name of British rule. He would ask the Prime Minister, therefore, to enlarge his Amendment, and to declare in it that the Royal Commission should inquire into the whole condition of India.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
said, he would not have intervened, but he felt that there had been one omission in the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. This Commission which was to inquire into a subject quite large enough, without going into the wide field described by the hon. Member who had just sat down, he ventured to think ought to inquire in India and not in this country. It was only on the spot it could be satisfactorily carried out. It must be remembered that some of the most necessary works for the development of India were being delayed on account of shortness of Revenue. He referred to the light railways and feeder loads. If they were to have £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 off the existing revenue, 634 how on earth would it be possible to carry on these works?
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 105; Noes 184.—(Division List, No. 185.)
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That, having regard to the strong objections urged on moral grounds to the system by which the Indian opium revenue is raised, this House presses on the Government of India to continue their policy of greatly diminishing the cultivation of the poppy and the production and sale of opium, and desires that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to appoint a Royal Commission to report as to—
§ SUPPLY,—Committee upon Monday next.