§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Niger Company is its own custom house and its own revenue collector, and itself imports and distributes spirits; whether there is any check on the published returns of the amount of liquor imported by the Company into its territories; whether since February, 1897, the decrease said to have taken place, up to 1896 inclusively, in the importation of spirits by the Niger Company has continued; and whether there is any truth in the statement that the Company shipped in 1898 from the Continent to one part of its territory 900,000 large square bottles of gin of the most fiery and injurious description, distilled immediately before being shipped, and known as "trade gin"?
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. ST. JOHN BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
The answer to the first Question is in the affirmative. The books of the Company are at all times open to the inspection of Her Majesty's Government, and there is no reason to believe that the Company issues false returns. The shipments of spirits by the Company for 1897 and 1898 were approximately equal to the average annual shipments since the Charter. The number of bottles shipped in 1898 was 900,000, containing a little over a pint each. The quality was normal "trade gin," about 20 per cent, under proof. Analysts state this spirit to be no more injurious than the spirits ordinarily sold in Great Britain.