Sir HERBERT ROBERTS
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to the recent speech of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab on the intemperance prevalent in the Central Punjab, especially amongst the Sikhs; whether he is aware that in the four Sikh districts 194 liquor shops were licensed by the Government in 1909–10; whether this figure represents any reduction of the number licensed in the previous year; and whether any steps will now be taken to reduce substantially the existing facilities for obtaining intoxicating liquors?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)
The matter has long engaged the attenton of the Local Government. Inquiries made some years ago showed the existence of a widespread habit of illicit distillation in the homes of the people. The number of shops mentioned by my hon. Friend is the number licensed in the rural parts of the four Sikh districts. During the last five years the number of shops and the consumption of illicitly distilled liquor have decreased. In the four districts as a whole the number of shops in 1905–6 was 319, and in 1909–10 269; and the consumption in gallons was 2245 197,322 in 1905–6, and 154,905 in 1909–10. If further inquiries should show that the present number of licensed shops is excessive, the Local Government will no doubt take steps to reduce them.