Exchanges in the UK Parliament: Suppression of Opium Smoking (Hong Kong and Straits Settlements). HC Deb 10 March 1910 vol 14 cc1631-2 1631
Mr. THEODORE TAYLOR asked whether the opium dens in Hong Kong were all now closed; and what steps were now being taken there to bring to a speedy close the habit of opium smoking; and also what progress was being made at the Straits Settlements in bringing to a speedy close the habit of opium smoking?
Colonel SEELY (Under Secretary of State for the Colonies): I will reply to my hon. Friend's two questions to me on the subject of opium smoking together. In the case of the Straits the Colonial Government are putting themselves in a position 1632 in which they will be able to exercise very considerable control over the traffic in opium. As regards Hong Kong, I understand that the last remaining divans were closed on February 28th. The House may rest assured that both His Majesty's Government and the Colonial Governments will continue to exercise energy and vigilance in pursuance of their policy, and the Governors of Hong Kong and the Straits shall be asked to include in the annual reports of their respective Colonies an account of the measures taken to regulate and restrict the consumption of opium and of their effect.
Mr. THEODORE TAYLOR: Perhaps the Under-Secretary might say if any other steps have been taken in Hong Kong which are known to him? I should be grateful to him if he would.
Colonel SEELY: I thought my hon. Friend would have been so glad to hear that the last opium divan was closed on 28th February, that he would not wish me to give any further information to-day. I have given him all I can, and if he will put down another question I will endeavour to reply to him.
Mr. REES: Have the Colonial and Home authorities made any observations as to the Use of alternative stimulants and drugs, which are quite as harmful as opium, and which the cessation of the use of opium may bring into use?
Colonel SEELY: Yes; that matter has received, and is receiving, full consideration. We know that there are other drugs which are quite, if not more, injurious than opium. The matter is being watched by the Government.
Mr. REES: Will the investigation in any way affect the policy of the Government, or is merely a scientific interest taken in these alternative stimulants?
Colonel SEELY: No; the Government, both in Hong Kong and here, have considered the matter as a whole, and have taken measures which they hope may result in checking the abuse of opium, and at the same time will not result in the increase of alternatives.
From the China Mail, March 12, 1909