§ *MR. REES
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether British firms at Shanghai interested in the opium traffic have made any representations to the Foreign Office regarding the action taken or to be taken in connection with the anti-opium edict of the Chinese Government; and, if so, whether he will inform the House what reply such firms have received.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
An inquiry was some time ago addressed to His Majesty's Consul General at Shanghai by dealers in Indian opium at that port as to what action His Majesty's Government proposed to take in regard to the anti-opium proposals of the Chinese Government. Last month a reply was sent through His Majesty's Minister at Peking, that it was not possible at the present stage of the question to state the action which His Majesty's Government might eventually take on the proposals of the Chinese Government for restricting the importation of foreign opium; but that the request of the dealers to be made acquainted at the earliest possible date with the measures decided upon would be borne in mind. The memorialists were further informed that the summary of the 1640 Chinese Government's proposals, communicated to the Press from Peking, made it clear that a gradual restriction of the trade in the course of a term of years was contemplated.