HC Deb 08 March 1926 vol 192 cc1879-80

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what new policy has been propounded by the Government of India in regard to the production and export of Indian opium?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Earl Winterton)

In opening the Council of State on the 9th February the Viceroy made the important announcement that the Government of India intend, subject to the approval of the Legislature, to reduce progressively the export of opium to all destinations so as to extinguish the trade altogether within a definite period except for strictly medical purposes. This policy would involve a corresponding reduction in the amount of opium produced. The period within which extinction will take place has not yet been fixed, and the position of the cultivators is one of the factors that must be taken into account in defining it. The new policy, if approved by the Indian Legislature, would go far beyond the international obligations of India and the Government of India, in proposing it, have been animated by a determination to do all in their power to co-operate to secure that improvement in the world opium situation which was looked for as a result of the Geneva Conferences.


When will there be a beginning made?


A beginning will be made almost immediately, as soon as the proposal has been formulated definitely.


Will this affect opium which is exported under licences to Crown Colonies?


Yes, it will affect all opium; the proposals apply to all opium. The new proposals which have been put forward by the Government of India are far beyond international obligations, and from that point of view will be received with approbation in all parts of the House.


Will the Noble Lord see that adequate publicity is given to this decision in those countries where we have been attacked for our opium policy, particularly the United States?


I do not know that that really lies within my power, but I hope that due publicity will be given.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

Is there any guarantee whatever that China will not take up at once the production of opium that we restrict in India?


That does not arise from the original question.

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