HC Deb 15 November 1906 vol 165 cc93-4
MR. SMEATON (Stirlingshire)

I bog to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, seeing that two pounds of opium allowed to each Chinese coolie under the recent Transvaal Ordinance is enormously in excess of the maximum consumption and leaves a large surplus in the possession of each coolie, and seeing that elsewhere in the British dominions, as, for instance, in Burma, the Chinese are known to drive a flourishing trade by selling their surplus supplies of the drug to young people whom they have successfully tempted into the opium habit with disastrous results, and in view of the danger of their introducing the opium curse among the Kaffirs, the British Government will, in the best interests of the Kaffir population, disallow the Ordinance, and prohibit the importation of opium altogether except for medicinal purposes. † See (4) Debates, clxiv., 114, 1053.


I would point out that it is not correct to say that two pounds of opium are allowed to each Chinese coolie under the recent Ordinance. The coolie is not allowed any opium at all under the Ordinance unless he can obtain a permit signed by an Inspector of the Foreign Labour Department on the prescription of the medical officer of the mining company. The amount of two pounds is a maximum, but this limit is, I understand, far in excess of the limit of private possession in India, and the Secretary of State is communicating with Lord Selborne with a view to ascertaining whether means cannot be adopted for restricting the amount to the Indian level.


Are the Government aware that the opium habit not only stimulates unnatural vice, but also largely demoralises both the will and the power of the victim, as has been proved in other parts of the British Empire, and——


Order! order! The hon. Member is making a speech.