§ SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that there is a very general feeling in India that the high duty on salt should be reduced for this year at least, in view of the sufferings of the poorer classes from famine, the loss of revenue caused thereby being included in the cost of famine relief; whether he is aware that such reduction can be effected by an executive order of the Government of India; and, whether he will direct the Government of India to issue such an order?
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I am not aware that there is any general feeling in India that the salt duty should be reduced for one year. I may, on the contrary, point out that any such limitation of the period of reduction would be practically impossible, because, if an abatement for one year only were announced, enough salt for consumption during a very much longer period would undoubtedly be drawn out of bond or otherwise passed into stock within the year. The price of salt is now for the majority of the people of India lower than it was 20, 30, or 40 years ago, and the incidence of the duty is about 4½d. per head per annum. In these circumstances, although I feel most deeply for the sufferings which a large number of her Majesty's Indian subjects have been and are undergoing, I do not propose to issue any orders with regard to the salt duty.