HC Deb 07 June 1905 vol 147 cc936-7

To ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that in India in 1901 the total deaths from plague were returned at 273,679, in 1902 the number rose to 577,427, in 1903 it reached 851,263, and in 1904 it was 1,022,299; and whether he can state what steps are being taken by the Government for the prevention of the spread of plague.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Brodrick.) I am aware of the lamentable mortality from plague indicated by the figures quoted by the hon. Member. The Government is endeavouring, while necessarily respecting the feelings and the prejudices of the people, to assist them by every possible means to help themselves, and to bring within their reach all material means to that end. It is promoting, in the matter of prevention, the more efficient sanitation and cleansing of towns and villages, the destruction of rats and mice, and the means of inoculation. It is enlisting and organising unofficial help by the formation of Health and Charitable Committees, and has defined the duties of municipalities and other similar bodies in respect of giving intelligence, of providing hospitals and free sites for camps, and of succouring homeless wayfarers. On the occasion of any outbreak of plague, it encourages and, through its medical and administrative officers, assists the residents to disinfect their houses and property, to isolate the sick, to destroy infected materials, and to evacuate plague-stricken dwellings and sites. It gives compensation for loss of property to the poor, and assists them to rehouse themselves. It maintains laboratories for the preparation of fluid for inoculation, and for the systematic study and diagnosis of the disease; and it has placed at the disposal of an Advisory Committee of the highest authority in this country a grant of money for meeting the expenses of a scientific expedition, which is now carrying out further plague investigations in India.