HC Deb 15 February 1915 vol 69 cc892-3

asked the Under-Secretary of State, for India whether he is aware that the Goverment of India have expressed an opinion in favour of curtailing the hours of sale of intoxicating liquors; whether he has seen the-statement of the Excise Commissioner of Bengal (contained in his letter to the Secretary of the Government of Bengal, dated Calcutta, 30th July, 1913, paragraph 63), that he would raise no objection to the opening of liquor shops at 8 a.m. instead of at sunrise; and whether any steps have been taken to give effect to this suggestion?


The opening hour for all excise and opium shops in the Bengal Presidency has now been fixed at 8 a.m. from March to October, and 10 a.m. from October to March.


asked the Under-Secretary for India whether he is aware of the almost unanimous consensus of opinion among district officers in Bombay that the change from the unrestricted auctioning of licences has resulted in a noticeable improvement in the management of the liquor traffic; whether, since the introduction of the fixed fee system in Bombay there has been a substantial diminution in the consumption of intoxicating liquors; and whether steps will be taken in the other provinces of India to supersede the auction system by a system of fixed fees?


The Bombay Government state that so far as there has been time to judge by the results their officers are almost universally satisfied with the change of system for the reasons mentioned by my hon. Friend. During the last three years the consumption of country spirit has diminished. The Bombay Government have called for a further report on the subject from the Excise Commissioner. As regards the extension of the system to other provinces, the views of the Secretary of State will be found in the seventh paragraph of his dispatch of the 29th May last, which has been laid before Parliament.


asked the Under-Secretary for India whether he is aware that only 1 per cent. of the total area of the Bombay Presidency is now under the outstill system; whether he can state what proportion of the area of Bengal still remains under this system; and whether he can give the names of the districts in which the system prevails?


An out-still system is in force in a portion of one district in the Bombay Presidency. In the Bengal Presidency, as now constituted, no area is under out-stills. In the Province of Bihar and Orissa the out-still system is in force in portions of Shahabad, Sambalpur, Hazaribagh and Ranchi, and in the districts of Angul, Palmau and Singhbhum. In the Province of Assam it prevails in the Khasi and Naga Hills districts and in parts of the Garo Hills and North Lakhimpur.