MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, whether his attention has been called to a Bill to amend The Excise Act, 1881, which has been introduced into the Legislative Council of India by Sir James Westland, purporting to give legislative effect to the recommendations of the Indian Hemp Drug Commission, appointed in consequence of a Motion of this House; whether he is aware that this Bill proposes to grant the power to license hemp drugs in Burmah, where it has hitherto been, prohibited; that Sir James Westland, in his speech introducing the Bill, stated that the Government did not propose, even if these powers were enacted, to make any alteration in the system of administration of hemp drugs in that province; that the Commissioners unanimously reported that there ought to be a five tola maximum limit of possession of the drug all over India, and that this provision is not included in the Bill; and, whether he will examine this Bill in connection with the Report and recommendations of the Commission?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
The Bill to amend the Excise Act, 1881, introduced into the Legislative Council of India by Sir James Westland, was introduced to give effect to the restrictive suggestions of the Hemp Drugs Commission, and that object will be kept in view. As regards Burmah, the existing law gives power as 1008 to granting licences for the growth, preparation, and possession of ganja, which are not now exercised. The amending Bill introduces no change in this respect, and it is not proposed to make any use at present of these powers. As regards the rest of India, I am advised that this Bill does not alter the existing law, under which five tolas is fixed as the limit for the retail sale of ganja; and it renews the provision that no unlicensed person may have in his possession more than that quantity of the drug.