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Minutes of the Ninth Session PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 00:00

19th FEBRUARY, I 909

THE SESSION opened at 10.3o a.m., the order of the day being the further consideration of Mr. T'ANG KUO-AN'S resolution of the previous dav, which ran as follows:—

" 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."

The Right Hon. Sir CECIL CLEMENTI SMITH, rising to continue the discussion, said that the action which he took on behalf of the British Delegation in opposing the appointment of a Committee in the first instance was one not in the least directed against a practical enquiry on the important subject under discussion, but was based solely on the fact that he did not consider that the Commission included a sufficient number of men competent to deal with the question. He declared that no one in the Commission was more in sympathy with the object which Mr. T'ANG had in view than he and his colleagues, and he thought it would be agreed that the British Government had shown a desire to help China in dealing with the opium problem; but he considered that whatever assistance was to be given to China should a.t least take a practical form, and one that would be universally recognised as such.
He emphasized the fact that the Commi,sion was not appointed with a scientific basis. He thought he was right in stating that beyond Dr. HAMILTON WRIGHT and the distinguished scientist on the Japanese Delegation there were none among-st them fitted to deal with such matters as anti-opium remedies, etc.; and it was holding that view in the strongest possible way, and yet feeling at the same time that it was a subject of great urgency which had perhaps been left on one side too long, that the British Delegation desired that some steps should be taken. He referred to the fact, that althoug-h the Chinese Government had issued regulations in which it was distinctly laid down that anti-opium pills should not consist of opium or morphia, it was well known that pills containing a large proportion of the forbidden drugs were being sold broadcast in China. He thought that were steps taken to properly carry out the regulations referred to much of the evil afflicting China would be dissipated. He added that although the question of anti-opium remedies had not come before the Governments of the Eastern Colonies to any extent, they had, nevertheless, already recognised the necessity for restricting the use of opium in that connection.

Continuing, the Rig,ht Hon. gentleman observed that the evils arising from the use of morphine had been most terrible in their effect. An Agreement which, after deplorable delay, was now in force, had, however, been recently macle with China for prohibiting the movement of morphia, and Ile trusted it would have the effect which all persons interested in that ques-tion desired. He repeated the opinion of the British Delegation that the Commission was not formed in such a way as to admit the investigation in a practical manner of the medical phases of the opium question by any Committee that might be selected, but he thought that he might take the opportunity of suggesting to the different Delegates that the matter be brought directly and promptly under the notice of their respective Governments, who would alone be able to appoint competent Committees and to make enquiries likely to effect the object in view. It was not a question which could be settled locally, but one that should be dealt with by the great scientific Institutions of the Western and Eastern worlds. The appointment of the Committee suggested by Mr. PANG would hamper rather than promote any such investi-gation. He would, therefore, conclude by, submitting to the Commission the following Amend-ment to the Resolution, and in the event of its adoption he would, at the proper time, ask that it might be included among the formal resolutions which would be ultimately drawn up by the Commission :—

"That, having regard to the constitution of this Commission, which has not among its Members a sufficient number to form a Committee for the investigation from the scientific point of view of anti-opium remedies and of the properties and effects of opium and its products, the Commission desires that each Delegation shall recommend these branches of the subject to its own Government for such action as that Government may think necessary."

Dr. HAMILTON WRIGHT, after thanking the Right Hon. Chief Commissioner for Great Britain for the complimentary refererice to himself, pointed out that there was on the Chinese Delegation also a medical expert, trained in the West, who, speaking from a scientific point of view, was quite competent to judge on the subject under discussion. There were, therefore, three physicians in the Commission quite capable of undertaking an investigation, though he took the Right Hon. Chief Commissioner of the British Delegation's remarks in regard to himself with all modesty. He pointed out that, when Her late Britannic Majesty's Royal Commission was appointed, the British Government had thought it sufficient to appoint only one medical expert to the Commission; that the report of that expert had coloured to a great degree the final judgment of the Royal Commission; that on the other hand that expert's report had not proved to be satisfactory to the great majority of medical men who had taken to examine it in detail; that it was time for a later opinion based on the facts which had newly come to light; and that, without calling- into question the abilities of the medical expert on the Royal Commission, there were others quite as well able to examine the question. If one expert was enough for the Royal Commission, three should be sufficient for the International Commission. One of the express objects of the Commission should be to put this medical question on a modern footing.

Mr. T'ANG KUO-AN begged permission to reply to a few of the remarks made bv the Right Hon. Sir CECIL CLEMENT' SMITH. He stated that in the Regulations which China issued two years ago for the suppression of the opium habit, one of the questions dealt with was "Anti-Opium Medicines." Since that time China had been taking steps to control the sale of such medicines in the interior. For instance, at Chengtu, the capital of Szechwan, no opium medicines could be sold except by authority of the police, and in other places also the police were endeavouring to restrict the sale of opium medicines. But it was a deplorable fact that the bulk of these remedies were manufactured in, and found their wav into the interior from, the Treaty Ports; China was consequently quite powerless to prevent the spread of these nostrums without the co-operation of the Treaiy Powers. That was one of the reasons which led him to draw up the resolution now under consideration. Another point Ile wished to bring to the attention of the Delegates. Supposing there were not, in the opinion of the British Delegation, a sufficient number of men on the Commission competent to deal with this question, they were not debarred, as far as he knew, by anything in the constitution or in the rules of the Commission from seeking advice and opinion from experts outside.

Dr. R6SSLER supported Mr. T'ANG'S resolution. He said :—" According to the correspondence exchanged between the Governments of the United States of America and the powers interested in the opium question, this Commission is expected to make a general and impartial investigation of the scientific and material conditions of the opium trade and the opium habit. I am afraid the report which we are going to submit to our Governments would be incomplete were the medical aspect of the opium question omitted.
" The medical side of the opium question is the issue of the anti-opium campaign, and for this reason every Opium Commission which has, so far, been at work, has carefully investigated this side of the question. 1 may be allow ed to refer to the Report of the Ceylon Commission, of the Straits Commission, and of the important Royal Commission on opium in India, all of which contain valuable information of this kind.

" You all know that the medical views on this subject are not altogether- unanimous. The more then would it he interesting to hear what the three physicians forming part of this Commission have to say on the subject. It is a matter of common knowledge that physicians at home have little or no experience as to the effects of opium smoking, there being no problem of this kind in Western countries. But the three physicians forming part of this Commission have gained experience in the Far East, and therefore I think we should give them an opportunity to state their opinion. For this reason 1 am in favour of the proposal of the Chinese Delegation."

The Amendment moved by the Right HOD. Sir CECIL CLEMENTI SMITH was then put to the vote with the following result :—

For the Amendment     7
Against the Amendment      6

The different Delegations voted as follows:—


Great Britain








U. S. of America






H.E. Monsieur MiyA0KA replied to questions which had been put to hitn at a previous Session by Mr. R. LAIDLAW, M.P., and Mr. BRUNVATE read answers to questions submitted by the .Xtnerican and Chinese Deleg-ations (vide Reports : IL)

There being. no further business before the Commission, the PRESIDEN•I' suggested that the presentation of Resolutions might begin on Monday next (22nd February.) There would be, possibly, further discussion on some of the Reports which had not been in the hands of the Delegates long enough for study. The discussion of these Reports would be the order of the day on Monday morning. Following such discussion, it would, in the opinion of the Chair, be timely to present such Resolutions as the various Delegations might have in mind, covering the object for which the Commission was convened. He did not think it was necessary to await the reports of the different Committees before commencing the work of considering such resolutions as mig-ht be presented.

He took that opportunity of welcoming, on behalf of the House, the appearance of one of the Associate Delegates for China, Mr. J. L. CHALMERS, who had hitherto been prevented by illness from attending- the meetings of the Commission.

Mr. DE JoNGH, Chief Commissioner for the Netherlands, suggested that any Resolution to be submitted to the Commission should be distributed in writing beforehand, in order that the Delegates might have time to consider them.

The Chair thoug-ht that this suggestion was in conformity with the rule which had hitherto be..n followed, and that each Delegation ought to be provided with copies of the different resolutions by those proposing same.

Monsieur RATARD.    " If you will permit me I will state the reasons for my having-voted against Mr. TANG'S resolution.

" I have here copies of the correspondence exchanged between the French and American Governments anent the programme of this Commission, on which was based the instructions given to our Delegation. The question was submitted to the French Governinent by H.E. the Ambassador of the United States at Paris on two occasions, isth and 24th July, 1908. The communication of the isth July enumerates the points to be dealt with by -the Commission, and which the American Government suggests should be studied in advance by the

Delegates of each country to be represented, as follows :----

1.—Importation of opium in its crude state and of its derivatives and of opium prepared for smoking, it-hand/I).
2.—Internal consumption of raw opium.
3.—Manufacture and use of chandu.
4 —Manufacture of morphine and other derivatives.
5.—Use of the drug in its raw state.
6.-- Preparation and use of morphia and other derivatives.
7.—Extent, legal and illicit, of the cultivation of the poppy (in America); possibility of its cultivation.
8.--Laws (Federal) relating- to the use of opium and of its deriyatix es.

" The official reply of the French Governtnent to H.E. the American Ambassador at Paris, dated sth August, 1908, declares that, in conformity with the desire expressed by. the United States Government, the French Government will nominate only Commissioners conversant with all questions concerning the opiutn trade, well informed with regard to French interests concerned thereby, and furnished with specific instructions.

" The instructions given by the French Government to the Chief Commissioner for Fra.nce, after repeating the points of the programme outlined above, and remarking that the opium question is one of considerable interest to French Inc-lo-China, whose Budget might be affected by the findings of the Commission, recommend the French Delegates not to deviate in any way from their instructions.

" The vote which the French Delegation cast just now is consequently fully justified by these remarks. No Delegation is more in sympathy with the efforts of the Chinese Govern-ment to get rid of the opium evil, and I associate myself wholly with the sentiments expressed to this effect by Sir ALEXANDER HOSIE. The scientific and medical questions connected with opium are of such importance that I believe, like the Right Hon. Sir CECIL CLEMENT! SMITH,. that it would be extremely interesting and useful were they .submitted to the highest scientific and medical authorities of those countries chiefly interested. It is, however, impossible for this Delegation to exceed in any way the instructions laid down for its guidance."

H.E. TSUNEJIRo MIYAOKA—"With the permission of the Hon. gentlemen here assem-bled, 1 desire also to make an explanation of the vote which I had the honour to cast in the name of the Japanese Delegation. In a note which was addressed by ILE. Mr. O'Brien, Ambassador of the United States near the Imperial Court of Tokyo, under date May 12th, 19o8, to the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Count Hayashi, Ile stated :—
The idea of the Government of the United States of America is that the Commissioners of each Government shall proceed independently and immediately . . . . with a view :—

1.—To devise means to limit the use of opium in the possessions of that country. 2.    To ascertain, should there exist among the nationals of that country in the Far
East a traffic in opium, the best means of suppressing such traffic.
3.—That the respective Delegates be in such a position that .    . . they will be prepared to co-operate and to offer, jointly' or severally, definite suggestions of measures tending towards the gradual suppression of opium cultivation, as well as its traffic and use within their Eastern Possessions, and which their respective Governments may be prepared to adopt. In this way the Members of the Chinese Government will be assisted in eradicating the evil from their Empire.'

" This occurs in a note, as I stated, of the Ambassador of the United States dated May 12th, 1908. The Imperial Government of Japan acceded to this proposal, implying that they were prepared to appoint a Commission which should devise some means of limiting the use of opium, the best means of suppressing the opium traffic, and the best means of gradually suppressing not only opium cultivation, but the use of opium. Knowing that all schemes and devices which have for their object the suppression of opium and the use of opium cannot be effectively discussed other than by men who have particular knowledge of the chemical properties of opium, and the effect which it has on the human constitution, the Imperial Government of Japan has deemed it proper to appoint an eminent chemist, Dr. TAHARA, and an equally prominent man of medical science, Dr. TAKAKI, who, I may add, stands at the head of affairs connected with the control of opium in Formosa. When this Delegation, therefore, was appointed by the Government of Japan, it was understood that we should be expected to enter into the question of the suppression of the use of opium,. naturally involving the cure of the opium habit. The Japanese Delegation, therefore, felt constrained to vote against the Amendment submitted by the Right Hon. Sir CECIL CLEMENTI SMITH, in order that it might have an opportunity of casting its vote in favour of the original resolution presented by Mr. T'AN(;."

Dr. HAMILTON WRIGHT, in the name of the United States Delegation, stated that he agreed perfectly with what had fallen from the Chief Commissioner for France in regard to the meaning- of the correspondence exchanged between their respective Governments.

After Dr. TENNEY had withdrawn a proposal that the Commission should hold a Session on Saturday morning, the House adjourned at 11.4o a.m., on the motion of Monsieur Miyaoka, until Monday' morning (22nd February).

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 April 2011 18:18

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