HC Deb 06 December 1926 vol 200 cc1648-50
8. Mr. PENNY

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that his Department has instructed the Government of the Straits Settlements to set aside 10 per cent. annually from revenues for the purposes of the opium revenue reserve fund; that opinion both in Malaya and here is strongly opposed to any allocation of money to this fund; that the Government of the Straits Settlements, having carried the proposal by the use of its official majority, still proposes to give effect to it; and that the Colony has raised no objection to the eventual loss of its opium revenue and is quite ready to face new taxation to replace it; and for what reason his Department has taken the action referred to?


The Straits Settlements Opium Revenue Replacement Fund was set up by the Straits Settlements Government with my approval with a view to ensuring that the finances of the Colony should be placed on such a basis that they will not be disorganised by the shrinkage in the revenue derived from opium which is bound to occur when circumstances (at present outside the control of the Colonial Government) render it possible to give full effect to the obligations undertaken in the Hague Opium Convention, 1912, and the Protocol to the Geneva Opium Agreement of 1925. The Straits Settlements Government was also influenced by the desire of His Majsty's Government that it should be made clear to the world that the Colonial Government was not being deterred by financial considerations from taking such steps as were possible to give effect to its' international obligations. The scheme for the creation of the fund was drawn up by a committee of unofficial members of the Legislative Council presided over by the Colonial Treasurer, and their recommendations, both as to the lump sum with which the fund was inaugurated and as to the annual contributions' to be made to the fund were adopted by the Straits Settlements Government. These recommendations were based on a full review of the Colony's financial commitments and of the prospects of increasing taxation to make good the deficiency which may be expected to occur.

I am aware that there is much opposition in the Colony to the annual allocation to the fund of 10 per cent. of the revenue of the Colony. I have also received representations from the Association of British Malaya in this country. I am, however, happy to be in a position to assure my hon. Friend that on none of the occasions when this matter has been before the Legislative Council of the Colony has use been made of the Official Vote in the manner suggested.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, as a result of the Government of India's decision to reduce by 10 per cent. per annum the export of opium except for medical and scientific purposes, the imports into British Dependencies in the Far East will be proportionately reduced; and whether he can give an assurance that opium for purposes of smoking will not, be imported from other sources to compensate for the reduction in the imports from India?


No, Sir. No such reduction would, in my opinion, be practicable in present circumstances.

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