HC Deb 29 July 1907 vol 179 cc457-8
MR. H.J. WILSON (Yorkshire, W.R., Holmfirth)

To ask the Secretary of State for India if he will state the purport of the communications made to the Chinese Government with regard to the proposed restriction of the importation of Indian opium into China; and if he will say what measures have been taken in India to carry out the policy of restriction.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Morley.) After consulting the Government of India, His Majesty's Government have inform d the Chinese Government that (1) they accept in principle the proposal that the import of Indian opium into China shall be diminished by one-tenth annually,pari passu, with an equal decrease in oho production of the native drug, up to the year 1910, and they will continue to reduce at the same rate the export in 1911 and subsequent years, on proof that China has carried out its share of the arrangement; (2) they have no objection to a Chinese official being stationed at Calcutta, provided that he has no powers of interference; (3) they are prepared to assent to such enhancement of the Customs and likin duty on foreign opium as will make its taxation in China equivalent to the taxation actually levied on native opium, differences in relative value and quality being taken into consideration. Steps have been taken to reduce the area under poppy in Bengal, which in the five years preceding 1906–7 averaged 615,000 acres, and in 1907–8 is not to exceed 562,000 acres. In 1907 the number of chests of Bengal opium fixed for sale was originally 4,400 a month. This has now been reduced to 4,000 a mouth, while for 1908 it has been fixed at 3,900 a month. Further reductions will be made in succeeding years if the proposed arrangement with the Chinese Government becomes operative.