HC Deb 01 May 1906 vol 156 cc402-3
MR. C. E. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to the resolution passed at the second All India Temperance Conference at Benares, on December 26th last, complaining of the rapid increase of the Government revenue from intoxicating liquors and drugs, which has arisen from £1,250,000 in 1870 to £4,076,681 in 1901–2, i.e., had, quadrupled within thirty years; and whether he will do all in his power to gradually substitute other forms of revenue, and cause the Government of India to seriously contemplate the gradual abandonment of the actual system of farming out the sale of such commodities by the Government, and the more immediate reduction of such revenue by restricting the number of liquor and opium shops and dens, and by discountenancing the licensing of such places near factories and schools and at religious and civil fairs, and by giving weight to the memorials and protests of the inhabitants of localities in India, averse to the drinking and drug-taking habits amongst its people of nearly every race and religion. The lion. Member further asked if the revenue had not now gone up to £5,500,000?


The revenue from the excise of liquors and drugs was £2,374,000 in 1870–1 and £4,076,000 in 1901–2 in sterling at the exchange rate of each date. As no accurate statistics of consumption exist, it is impossible to say to what extent the increase in revenue represents increased consumption. The population of British India has increased by 25 per cent., the duties on liquors and drugs have been frequently increased and the excise administration has boon made much more efficient against smuggling. The settled policy of the Government of India, as stated by them, is to minimise temptation, and in that policy they are pledged to subordinate all considerations of revenue. A committee is now sitting in India to consider the administration of excise in respect of intoxicating liquors and to promote reforms. Opium and other drugs have been similarly examined, and I understand that various measures have been taken to suppress abuses.