HC Deb 27 March 1905 vol 143 cc1188-9

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will give the latest figures as to the number of deaths from plague and smallpox in India; whether he will state the number of deaths from plague since January 1st, 1905; and whether he is in a position to make a statement as to what special steps the Government of India are taking to reduce the rate of mortality and to prevent the spread of the disease.


I am unable to give figures regarding deaths from smallpox, as they are not specially returned to me. For plague the latest received figures are for the month of February, namely, 126,041 deaths. The total number of deaths from plague since January 1st up to the end of February is 252,567. I have been in communication with the Viceroy as to whether more can be done to remedy the present deplorable loss of life. It has been decided to send out a scientific expedition to make a thorough investigation into the origin and causes of plague. The Royal Society and the Lister Institute have undertaken the direction of the inquiry, and arrangements for starting it at once have been made.

MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)

asked whether plague had not something to do with want of food owing to the enormous taxation placed upon the Indian people.


We have no evidence to that effect. It is almost impossible to trace any special cause for the increase in the number of deaths, but there is one satisfactory feature, which is that the number of infected areas has not increased.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

Will the right hon. Gentleman try the effect of abolishing the salt tax?


The present Indian Budget has made a considerable reduction in the salt duty.