HL Deb 14 May 1857 vol 145 cc249-50

recalled to the recollection of their Lordships that at the close of the last Parliament he brought under their notice a series of questions relating to the opium trade, and the mode in which it was carried on by the East India Company. The result of the discussion upon that occasion was that the question of the legality of the traffic was referred to the law officers of the Crown; and he now wished to ask the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack what progress had been made in the inquiry by those functionaries?


said, that, in consequence of what passed when this subject was last before their Lordships, he immediately communicated to his colleagues, and particularly to the President of the Board of Control, the questions submitted by the noble Earl. As soon as the elections were over the President of the Board of Control lost no time in directing the proper officer connected with his department to draw up a case, stating the facts, that it might be submitted to the law officers of the Crown. That was done—but there was some difficulty arising from the circumstance that it was all important that the facts should be stated accurately—a task by no means so easy as might at first sight appear. The case, however, was drawn up, and it had now been transmitted by the President of the Board of Control to the Court of Directors, in order that they might see whether, in their view, the facts were correctly given. It was at present in their hands; but he believed that in the course of a few days it would be laid before the law officers of the Crown; for there was no reason to apprehend that the facts were inaccurately stated.

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