§ MR. R. SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)
On behalf of the hon. Member for Banffshire (Sir WILLIAM WEDDERBURN), I beg-to ask the Secretary of State for India whether, pending the receipt of the complete statistics of mortality which have been called for, he will give the House an approximate estimate (based upon the 704 reports of the local officials) of the number of deaths, up to the present date, believed to be due to famine in the various affected districts?
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON, (Manchester, N.E.)
asked whether the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India would consider the desirability of not disturbing officers in their beneficent labours in looking after distressed people by calling upon them to prepare returns of unnecessary statistics? [Cheers.]
§ *LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
As I stated in reply to a previous Question by the hon. Member for Banffshire, I shall include in the famine papers to be laid on the Table from time to time all the information received from India regarding mortality in the famine districts; and I have called for monthly mortality returns for all famine tracts in which the mortality was considerably above the normal. The second set of famine papers, which I hope to lay on the Table by Monday, will contain partial information on the matter. In reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Manchester, I must say that I do not think it right to present to the House conjectural estimates in anticipation of correct information, or to ask the Government of India, whoso time is more than filled up by urgent practical work, to transfer any portion of their attention from such work to the framing of speculative estimates of mortality.