Sir HERBERT ROBERTS
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the quantity of opium consumed in the Assam districts of the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam rose from 1,299 maunds in 1904–5 to 1,417 maunds in 1906–7, or an increase of about 9 per cent. in three years; whether the revenue derived by the Government from the sale of opium in these districts in 1906–7 represented 62 per cent. of the total Excise revenue; whether he can give the corresponding figures (consumption and revenue) for the years 1907–8 and 1908–9; and whether he can state what steps the Government intended taking for the protection of the people of these districts from the spread of the opium habit?
The MASTER of ELIBANK
The Secretary of State is aware that the consumption of opium in the Assam Valley districts has increased of recent years. The figures in maunds are: 1,825 in 1904–5, 1,330 in 1905–6, 1,431 in 1906–7, 1,560 in 1907–8. Later figures are not available. In 1906–7 71 per cent. of the gross Excise revenue in these districts was derived from opium, and in 1907–8 70 per cent. With a view to restrict consumption the number of shops has been reduced from 690 in 1904–5 to 445 in 1908–9, and the price of opium has been raised from 1st April, 1909.
§ Sir H. COTTON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the preceding six years, when I had the honour of administering the Province, there was practically no increase in consumption at all?