HC Deb 03 March 1908 vol 185 cc519-20
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether the revenue derived from the consumption of opium in India rose from £662,222 in 1895–6 to £910,295 in 1905–6; whether he can state what was the amount of such revenue in 1906–7, and what is the estimated amount for the current year; and whether, in view of the instructions issued that the area licensed for poppy cultivation should be diminished, he is in a position to state that there will be a material reduction in the revenue derived from the opium trade in India in the immediate future, and that any further necessary steps will be taken to check the spread of the opium habit amongst the people of India.


The revenue from opium consumed in British India has been £676,185 in 1895–6; £911,402 in 1905–6; £931,054 in 1906–7; £1,031,450 estimated in 1907–8. These increases are not wholly due to increased consumption, but to a considerable extent are the effect of higher duties and greater success in combating contraband trade. If Burma, where illicit consumption has notoriously prevailed in the past, and Berar, which was not included in British India in 1895, be excluded, the figures for 1895–6 and 1905–6 respectively would be £554,860 and £595,147, the increase being only £40,287. With regard to the latter part of the Question, I shall continue to insist upon the adoption of all practicable measures for preventing the spread of the opium habit among the peoples of India, but it does not follow that these will necessarily result in a material reduction of revenue. There is much evidence that in parts of the country illicit consumption is by no means extinct.