§ MR. MACLEAN
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether, since the closing of the Indian mints in 1894, continuous shipments of silver have 27 been imported into India, amounting on the average to seven crores of rupees annually, or nearly as large an amount as was imported when the mints were open; whether these imports were maintained in 1896–7, notwithstanding the ravages of plague and famine and the reduction of Indian exports of merchandise by nine crores of rupees; whether his attention has been called to the report that large consignments of the imported silver have been taken into Native States under a rebate of duty, and after being coined have been brought back into British India and sold at a profit; whether, in consequence of the competition of silver imports, the fluctuations in exchange are as great as ever; and will he explain why, in these circumstances, the mints are still kept closed?
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
The Indian mints were closed on 26th June 1893. For the five years previous to that date the net imports of silver into India averaged Rx.11,249,000. For the three years since 1893–94 they have averaged Rx.6,256,000, showing a reduction of Rx.4,993,000, or about 44½ per cent. The net imports in 1896–97 were the smallest on record since 1881-82. I have seen the statement as to the importation of silver into Native States in order that it may be re-imported into British India at a profit; but I doubt it, as there is no provision in the law for a rebate of duty on the import of silver into Native States. Imports of silver are not the only factors affecting exchange; and I know no reasons for thinking that the fluctuations in exchange (which, I may add, have of late been very much less than those of of previous years) are attributable to them. In these circumstances, there is no intention of altering the policy adopted in 1893.