HC Deb 02 July 1923 vol 166 cc49-50W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give the full available facts regarding the recent seizure at Hong Kong of eight tons of smuggled Persian opium; and whether, seeing that Sir John Jordan stated at the Geneva meeting of the Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium that he knew the company which had shipped the opium and the name of the vessel which had conveyed it, he will say what action the British Government has taken in the whole matter?


The facts, as reported by the Governor of Hong Kong, are as follow: On the 17th of January the Hong Kong police received information that a fishing boat lying at anchor near a small island in the waters of the Colony had a quantity of arms and ammunition on board, and that the occupants were acting as watchmen on a cave where opium was concealed. Acting on this information, the police proceeded to the island, arrested the occupants of the boat, in which were found two mauser pistols, some ammunition, and a pair of binoculars, and then searched the island. They discovered 8½ tons of raw Persian opium packed in flour bags each containing eight parcels of 5 lbs. This is the ordinary packing for retail purposes. No information has yet been obtained as to the persons responsible for the importation of the opium, and police proceedings against the persons in charge of the boat failed to obtain a conviction so far as charges connected with the opium were concerned, although one of these persons was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of five years on a charge of being in illegal possession of arms. His Majesty's Government has at present no evidence of the name of the company which shipped the opium, or of the vessel which had conveyed it, and is not, therefore, in a position to take action against any firm; and I understand that no information has been supplied by Sir J. Jordan. The traffic in opium between the Persian Gulf and the Far East has been engaging the attention of the Hong Kong Government and the Imperial Government for a considerable time, as it has frequently been carried on under the cover of bogus declarations of clearance from foreign ports to Singapore and Hong Kong. Endeavours are being made to cope with this traffic, and suggestions have been made to the Hong Kong Government for strengthening the local law on the subject.

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