§ Mr. THURTLE
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is now in receipt of the full Report of the recent conference at Simla on opium cultivation in the Indian States; whether he will inform the House of the main decisions there arrived at; and whether he will consider the question of publishing the proceedings of the conference in the form of a White Paper, in view of the public interest in the efforts being made to reduce the world production and consumption of opium for other than purely medical purposes?
§ Earl WINTERTON
My Noble Friend has received a Report. The Conference 1471W recommended that a Committee should be formed to conduct a series of local inquiries in which the States concerned would be associated, and suggested terms of reference covering the following questions:
- (a) the agricultural and financial aspects of the subject, including the possibility of replacing poppy by other crops and the effect of such substitution upon the prosperity of the States and their subjects;
- (b) a searching inquiry into the extent to which opium is consumed, the occasions on which and the purposes for which it is consumed, the manner in which it is prepared for consumption and its physiological effects upon the consumer. The important question to what extent opium is administered to infants was not lost sight of;
- (c) The amount of the stocks of opium existing in the States and the best means of disposing of them; smuggling and remedies therefor and, finally, the advisability and practicability of adopting the policy suggested by the Government of India, namely, the discontinuance of cultivation in the States, the purchase of opium by the States from the Government factory at Ghazipur at cost price and a gradual enhancement of the selling price of opium in the States, so as ultimately to equalise it with that prevailing in the adjoining British districts, and thereby to remove the incentive to smuggling into British India and reduce the average rate of consumption in the States.
It is not proposed to publish a White Paper on the subject but a copy of a communique issued in India regarding the proceedings is being placed in the Library.
§ Mr. BARKER
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the amount and value of opium manufactured by the Government of India and sold for exportation each year for the last three years and whether any part of the opium sold for exportation under the authority of the Government of India is manufactured in the Indian States?
§ Earl WINTERTON
The following table shows the amount and value of opium manufactured by the Government of India sold for exportation in the last1472W three years for which figures are available:
Chests of 140 lbs. sold. Amount realised in Rs. 1923 … … 7,954 3,13,34,650 1924 … … 7,379 2,80,06,775 1925 … … 6,119 2,54,35,350
The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.