DR. RUTHERFORD (Middlesex, Brentford)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Singhalese people grew the poppy in Ceylon or used opium under their native kings, or during the Portuguese or Dutch rule, or until the middle of last century, when the British Government established licensed shops for the sale of opium in towns and villages; and whether, seeing that the importation of opium has increased from 1,000 lbs. in 1850 to 20,000 lbs. in 1905, and that the 595 Buddhist High Priest, Sumangala, and the Singhalese representative on the Legislative Council, Mr. Obeyesekera, have appealed to the Government to close the licensed shops, His Majesty's Government will take steps to suppress the opium traffic in Ceylon.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
I cannot undertake at this moment to dispute nor to confirm the facts which the hon. Member has assembled; but the increase of the imports of opium into Ceylon under British rule has already formed the subject of official inquiry and correspondence, and is engaging the serious attention of the Secretary of State.