40. Sir HERBERT ROBERTS
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the issue of the "Ceylon Government Gazette "for 30th August, 1912, contained a list of eighty-seven toddy licences offered for resale, the original purchasers having failed to keep up their payments; and whether such licences will in future be discontinued and not offered for resale?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)
I have observed that a large number of toddy licences were offered for resale by a notice in the issue of the" Ceylon Government 1361 Gazette" referred to. I understand that the district in question was formerly a centre of illicit consumption. If there is found by experience to be no real demand for toddy in the district the licences will not be renewed.
41. Sir H. ROBERTS
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Governor of Ceylon issued on 9th December, 1912, instructions to the provincial Government agents to the effect that the arrack and toddy rents for the year 1913–14 must be sold not later than the end of February; whether he is aware that the existing licences were sold in May and June in 1912 and continue until 30th June next; whether he will state the reason for this proposed early sale; and whether, in view of the promised establishment of advisory committees, he will issue instructions that licences for 1913–14 shall not be put up to auction before May next so that the advisory committees may have an opportunity of considering the proposals of the Government agents and of offering their opinions upon them before they take effect?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's question is in the affirmative, and also to the second part so far as toddy is concerned. It has been the usual practice for arrack and toddy rents to be sold as early as possible in the year. I understand that the reason for the practice is that otherwise purchasers have not sufficient time to make necessary arrangements before the term of their rent begins, and I am afraid that the postponement of the sales until the establishment of the advisory committee, which must await the approval of regulations by the Legislative Council (not now in session) would lead to a serious dislocation of business, as the experience of last year abundantly proved. I may add that instructions have been given to the Government agents which will ensure that the expression of local public opinion is fully invited and considered before any licences are issued.
§ 42. Mr. FERENS
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that in the Kukul Korale, Ceylon, fifteen of the new toddy licences were surrendered by the purchaser at the end of two months; whether the Government agent put them up for resale by public auction in one block, but failed to find a purchaser; whether, when they were 1362 subsequently offered for sale singly, only three were sold at a total of Rs.410; whether he is aware that in the Siyane Korale, Ceylon, seven toddy licences were, on 27th November, 1912, put up to auction for resale, but that only one was sold at the sum of Rs.85 for the seven months as against the original bid of Rs.900 for the twelve months; and whether he can issue instructions for the suppression of such toddy taverns as are surrendered on the ground that there is not a sufficient demand for them?
§ Mr. HARCOURT
The answer to the first three parts of my hon. Friend's question is, I believe, in the affirmative. There are grounds for suspecting that the difficulties which have been experienced in selling toddy rents are largely due to the opposition of persons interested in the sale of arrack and to the prevalence of illicit toddy consumption. I am not aware what are the facts with regard to the fourth part of the question. The Government of Ceylon have assured me that, if any licences are found to have been issued in districts where there is no genuine demand for liquor, they will not be renewed.