18th FEBRUARY, I 909
On taking the Chair at 10.30 a.m., the PRESIDENT announced the names of those Delegates whom he had selected to serve on the Committee on Treaties and International Agreements touching the opium traffic.
On behalf of the House he welcomed Mr. Mackenzie King, Representative for Canada on the British Delegation.
Mr. BRUN VATE then notified the House that he had telegraphed to India on behalf of the British Delegation for statistics of the imports of morphine and other figures, but he did not anticipate that the reply, would be of such a nature as to effect the substance of the information given in the Memorandum already laid on the table.
A report on the opium question as it concerns Canada was next presented by Mr. Mackenzie King, who desired the clemency of the House for the delay occasioned by his tardy arrival.
The Chinese report again came up for discussion, but there were no questions asked.
Monsieur CORNELLON, on behalf of the Committee on Revenue Statistics, pointed out that a preliminary' study of the Reports before them had shown the necessity for the adoption by the various delegations of common units of currency, weights and measures, in order that the Committee's work of preparing an International Summary might be facilitated, and he submitted the following proposition :—
I.—That measures of superficies, quantity and weight shall be expressed in terms of the metric system.
2.—That all monies shall be reduced to English currency at a fixed exchange of 25 francs to the
3.—That all statistics furnished shall cover the years 19o3 to 1.9o7, inclusive.
These suggestions met generally with the approval of the Commission, but the Committee was entrusted with the task of making whatever calculations they- might involve.
After some remarks by- the Chief Delegates for Portugal and Germany on the subject of exchange, the Chair declared a discussion of the British report to be in order.
Mr. TANG KUO-,,N asked whether, according to existing Agreements macle between the Chinese and British Governments, the annual reduction by 5,10o chests of opium of the total Indian export meant that a corresponding reduction of the import of Indian opium into China would be assured, irrespective of the conditions of demand in China.
Mr. BRUNVATE, replying on behalf of his Delegation, stated that the Agreement that Great Britain had entered into to reduce the annual export of opium from India meant exactly what it said, vtig., that Great Britain does agree to reduce exports from India by 5,1o0 chests annually for the next ten years. It involved no economic proposition such as suggested by the Hon. Commissionner for China.
Mr. "PANG explained that there was some misunderstanding in the minds of the Chinese people, and his Delegation would be obliged if the Delegation for Great Britain would put their reply in writing, as his people were under the impression that the present arrange-ment meant a reduction of 5,Too chests on the total amount of opium annually imported into China ; if they were mistaken they would like to have that impression rectified.
The Right Hon. Sir CECIL CLEMENTI SMITH observed that if any misunderstanding on this point existed amongst the Chinese, surely the correction would more properly emanate from the recognised authorities of the Chinese Empire than from his Delegation.
Dr. HAMILTON WRIGHT and Dr. TENNEY, having put several questions to the British Delegation with reference to the India report, (q.v.) the Persian Report catne up for discussion.
H.E. Monsieur MIYAOKA handed a question to the Persian DAegate concerning the import of Persian opium into Formosa.
Mr. PANG KUO-AN moved the following resolution :—
" That a Committee consisting of five Delegates be appointed to consider and report on the medical aspects of the opium question, including the best methods of curing the opium habit without recourse to the drug or any of its derivatives."
There was some discussion as to whether this resolution was in order or not, as it appeared to be in a similar form to the one moved by Dr. HAMILTON WRIGHT during the sixth Session, and negatived.
The CHAIRMAN said that, as he understood it, the present proposition was in an entirely different form from the original one, although he stood open to correction ; that in the negatived resolution the scope of the enquiry was restricted to the consideration of the subject as dealt with in the reports presented by the different Delegations; whereas the present resolution had a much broader meaningr. Whether the House desired or not to widen the scope of such enquiry was for it to decide.
Mr. T'ANG begged leave to explain that when the negatived resolution was proposed, both the Chairman of the Chinese Delegation and he himself were absent; consequently they had had no opportunity of expressing their views on the subject.
Continuing, he said:—
" We consider that this question is only second in importance to the suppression of opium in China. We think it would be futile for us to attempt to stop the smoking habit while we continue to use the drug in other ways such as eating it in the form of pills, etc. Therefore, if this Commission is going to justify its existence, and is bent on accomplishing results which will be at all satisfactory, it is necessary in our opinion that this matter should be thoroughly discussed. To show with what importance the question is regarded by everyone, I beg to state that His Britannic Majesty's Minister in Peking- has frequently asked our Government what benefit China would derive from restricting the cultivation of opium if the opium evil in other forms (by which he meant the use of anti-opium pills, etc.) was to be allowed to spread all over the Empire.
" I therefore venture to beg this Honourable Commission to take the matter into careful consideration in order that it may not only fulfil its duty in part but in whole ; for I do not think it is the intention of the Government of my country, or of any other country represented here, that we should discuss matters connected with the cultivation of the poppy only.
" On the contrary, I understand that we are here to investigate the question in every form and phase; and this idea has also been expressed by every Anti-opium Society and by the people of all civilized countries. In bringing forward my resolution, therefore, I beg most earnestly to ask for the co-operation and support of this Commission."
Dr. TENNEY observed that he would like to endorse the views expressed by the Hon. Commissioner for China. He was of opinion that the Commission would be justly blamed if the Delegates were to separate without having presented their views on this matter. When the motion was put to the Commission on the previous occasion sufficient thought had not been given to it, and perhaps the vote taken then did not express the mature judgment of the House. If it were necessary to bring the motion before the House again, he would propose that a roll call be taken in recording the vote upon this question.
Monsieur RATARD having suggested that a written copy of the resolution be handed to each Delegation in order that they might have time to consider same, and that the vote be taken in two or three days time, Dr. TENNEY proposed that the further consideration of the resolution be the first business for the next session. This met with the approval of the House.
The Commission adjourned at noon until the 19th February at 10,30 a.m.