§ SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will state the number of deaths from famine officially recorded during the last great famine; whether he will explain according to what test a death was then recorded as caused by famine, and state how many deaths from famine, judged by the same test, have been reported to him during the present famine; and whether he will each week lay upon the Table of the House a statement showing the number of such deaths, if any, in each province?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
The estimated abnormal mortality and loss of population (including decrease of births) caused by the famine in 1877–78 was calculated by the Famine Commission to be about 5,850,000. I need not remind the House that any estimate of this kind must necessarily be regarded as approximate only. This particular estimate was arrived at partly by test censuses in typical areas, and partly by a comparison of the number of births and deaths which occurred in given areas during the famine with the normal number of births and deaths for the same areas and for similar periods. The Government of India have been asked to furnish periodical reports of any abnormal mortality which may occur in any part of the present famine area. These reports will be included in the further papers which I propose to lay on the Table at intervals of six weeks so long as the famine lasts. I am afraid that it is impossible for me to undertake more than this.