15th February, 1909
THE President called the House to order at 10.30 a.m. and announced the names of the Delegates chosen to serve on the Committees, the formation of which was resolved by the House at the last sitting.
The appointment of Mr. J. W. Brining as official stenographer to the Commission from the 13th February was confirmed.
The Right Hon. Sir Cecil Clement: Smith read a reply to a question put to the British Delegation at the previous sitting by Dr. Hamilton Wright concerning the imports and exports of morphine into the United Kingdom. Dr. Hamilton Wright said that his query had evidently been misunderstood. What he wanted to know was the final destination within the United Kingdom of net imports of crude opium. He would put the question in writing.
A report on the production and use of opium in Italy was next read by Signor Faraone. He stated that there were in that country no special laws affecting opium, but strict regulations were in force for controlling the trade and sale of all remedies containing poison, any infraction thereof entailing heav\' penalties.
The Chair then declared a discussion on the Netherlands Report to be in order.
The German Delegation put questions as to the class of the population in Netherlands-India consuming opium, and the average daily dose per capita, and Mr. Laidlavv enquired what amount of revenue was derived from opium in Java during each of the last ten years.
Dr. Tenney also asked what proportion of the revenue derived from opium was disbursed in preventing smuggling ( Vide Vol. II., Netherlands-India Report.)
H.E. Monsieur MivAoKA, having read replies to questions put to him by the Bntish Delegation at the previous sitting, Mr. Laidlaw asked whether the figures under the heading " Expenses of Opium Factory " comprised payments made on account of preventive service. H.E. Monsieur Miyaoka answered in the negative, stating that such expenses were included in the General Police and Customs Budget.
Mr. PANG KUO-AN then read replies to questions put by the British Comniissioners to the Chinese Delegation. Referring to Sir Alexander Hosie's statement (vide Minutes of Sixth Session) he said that the sympathy expressed by the British Delegates with the efforts of the Chinese Government to restrict the cultivation of the poppy and consumption of opium in China was most highly appreciated by himself and his colleagues. Based as Sir Alex-ander's opinion was on actual experience of life and travel for years in the Western Provinces of China, and from personal observation, his frank admission of the evils resulting from opium smoking would certainly carry great weight with those taking part in the Commission. He was quite sure that Sir Alexander's criticisms on their Report were made in no fault-finding spirit. What China needed most was more sympathy like that so gracefully expressed by Sir Alexander Hosie. He hoped that the labours of the Commission would result in resolutions condemning the use of opium and its derivatives, except for purely medicinal purposes. Such an expression of opinion would, he was sure, act as a fresh incentive to his countrymen and spur them on in the work of suppressing poppy cultivation, and eradicating the opium vice, which was threatening the welfare of 400,0oo,000 people and the very existence of the Chinese nation.
Mr. Tang also made the following statement, in reply to the observations of the Right Hon. Sir Cecil Clementi Smith at the previous sitting reflecting on the accuracy of the particulars given in the China report as to the amount of smuggling between Hongkong and China:—
"On page 4 of our Memorandum it is stated that previous to 1887 the quantity or foreign opium entering China each year by unauthorised channels amounted to about 20,000 piculs."
The Right Hon. Chief Commissioner for Great Britain thinks "the quantity has been much exaggerated. The figures given are those mentioned in Morse's Book The Trade and Administtation of the Chinese Empire,' page 342. Mr. Morse was a careful observer, and his book is considered to be a very fair and impartial chronicle of the Chinese matters discussed therein. Moreover, his estimate is, to a large extent, justified by comparing the quantity of opium entering the Province of Kwangtung through the ports of Swatow, Canton and Pakhoi for the six years previous to 1887 and the quantity of opium entering that province through the same three ports, with the addition of Kowloon and Lappa, for the six years following 1887. The average annual importation into Kwangtung for the years 1881-6 was piculs 6,114 and for the years 1888-93 was piculs 23,246—a difference for each year of 17,132 piculs. These figures represent the amount of opium that paid duty and likin at the Custom House mentioned and do not take into consideration the amount of opium which managed to avoid the Customs. In the published Customs Records of 'Fines and Confiscations' for those years, the number of seizures made show that attempts at smuggling were of frequent occurrence. It should also be remembered that the smuggling of ophim was not confined to the province of Canton alone; the Customs Records of 'Fines and Confiscations' prove that it was constantly taking place in nearly every Treaty port of China.
" The statcment in the Memorandum was not meant to apply solely to Hongkong, as it was well known that opium was also smuggled in junks from Singapore, and by the crews of steamers trading with Singapore, Penang and the Indian ports. The Chinese Deleaates consequently claim that the estimate of 20,000 piculs, as representing the annual amount of opium smuggled previous to the year 1887 is not an unreasonable figure, and that 3,000 piculs for the subsequent years is also not an exaggerated estimate."
Mr. T'ANG regretted that his Delegation had overlooked the questions handed in by the ChiefCommissioner for France,but the required particulars would be furnished as soon as possible.
The Chief Commissioner for the Netherlands asked permission to make the following statement:—
"Now that the Delegates to the International Opium Commission have seen our report, with the Memorandum on the Régie system operative in Netherlands-India, and have heard the questions put and answers given thereon, we think it will be quite evident to them that our Government by its system is striving earnestly with the object of checking the consumption of opium gradually and continually by all available means. In accordance with this policy, the Delegates of the Netherlands have been authorised to declare as follows:—
1.—That the Netherlands Government being convinced of the desirability of restricting the use of opium will never be prevented by financial considerations from taking such measures as will in its opinion genuinely effect a gradual decrease in consumption.
2.—That the Netherlands Government would not object to such alterations in the Régie system as might be likely, in its opinion, to check the use of opium, or to the extension of the means of preventing smuggling by land and sea.
3.—That in those provinces of Netherlands-India where the farm system still exists the substitution for it of the Régie system is already under consideration."
Dr. ROSSLER called attention to a misprint in the report of the German Delegation. On the last page, under heading III Use of Opium: the words "average smokers use at last 2 liang" should read " average smokers use at least 0.2 liang."
Mr. TANG, referring to previous statements relative to the percentage of opium smokers in China, gave some information which he had obtained concerning the percentage of smokers to the Chinese population in the Philippine Islands. He said that of the total number of Chinese residents in the Archipelago 23 per cent were registered officially as smokers. There would be in addition a certain number who would, from one reason or another, escape official notice; so that it was fair to assume that 25 per cent of the total Chinese residents were smokers. This would corroborate the estimates made by his Delega-tion as to the extent of the habit in China itself, the percentages quoted being much higher than those usually given for China.
The Right Rev. Bishop BRENT, vacating the Chair (which was taken for a few minutes by Senhor Potier) made a personal and explanatory statement with reference to Mr. T'ang's observations. He said that, to prevent any misunderstanding, he thought it necessary to point out that all registered smokers in the Philippines were Chinese—natives not being allowed to take out licences. The majority of the Chinese came from Amoy, where the smoking habit was, he understood, exceedingly prevalent. Further, nearly the whole of the Chinese population consisted of adult men, and the fact of there being very few women or children would help to account for the high percentage of smokers.
These explana.tory remarks were supplemented by Dr. HAMILTON WRIGHT, who said that the result of his investigations in the United States amongst the Chinese population showed that 2o per cent of the adult males were heavy smokers, and 20 per cent light smokers, making a total of 4.o per cent using on an average mace a day of prepared opium. This estimate was, perhaps, too high, but he could state with a fair amount of certainty that 3o per cent of the adult male Chinese population were addicted to the habit.
At 12.15 p.m. the House adjourned.
On re-assembling at 2.3o p.m. the Austro-Hungarian Report came up for discussion. There were no questions, but Dr. ROSSLER asked the Austro-Hungarian Delegate to obtain information with regard to the use and sale of opium in the Austro-Hungarian Concession at Tientsin.
The Right Rev. Bishop BRENT stated that his attention had been called by the French Delegation to certain errors appearing in the report issued by the "American Commission on Opium in the Philippines"—of which he was a Member—relative to the amount of revenue derived from opium in French Indo-China. Steps would be taken to rectify these mistakes.
The Chair then announced that a discussion on the Reports presented by, the German and the Persian Delegates would be in order.
Dr. HAMILTON WRIGHT intimated that he would have certain questions to put with regard to these reports at the next meeting.
Following a remark made by the Right Hon. Sir CECIL CLEMENTI SMITH, the Chair considered that it would be in order for the Committees appointed to deal with specific portions of the reports to re-open a discussion on any subject dealt with by them, should they desire to elicit further information thereon.
A suggestion by Dr. R6SSLER that the Committee appointed to report on the revenue statistics of opium should extend their investigations to tariffs, excise a.nd other legislation governing the importation and distribution of opium and its derivatives. was favourably received.
A discussion ensued as to the nature of the laws and conditions covering- the opium trade, contained in the Treaties between the various countries represented on the Commission, the Chairman eventually sugg,esting that if expedient, each Delegation might obtain the desired information, or a Committee might be appointed to investigate the subject.
Dr. WISSLER then moved the following resolution :—
"That a Committee on existing International Agreements covering the traffic in opium he appointed."
This was accepted by the Commission after discussion.
In answer to a question put by the Chair the American Delegation stated that their report would be in the hands of the Delegates on Friday next. It was also announced that the French Report would be ready on Friday; that proofs of the Report on India would be distributed on Wednesday; that the report on Canada would be forthcoming as soon as possible after the arrival of Mr. Mackenzie King,-; and that the Reports on Portugal and Siam would be ready shortly.
Dr. R6SSLER asked the Netherlands Delegation whether a report on opium in the Netherlands itself would be laid on the table. Mr. de Jongh, replying, said that no report on the Netherlands could be presented for the present, as he had understood that the object of the Commission was to deal with the opium question in the Far East only. He rnight say, speaking freely, tha.t he had never heard of any poppy growing in the Netherlands, nor of the existence of an opium problem in that country. However, he would endeavour to obtain more positive information if desired.
The PRESIDENT.-" It seems to the Chair that the House would be gratified if the Chief Commissioner for the Netherlands would obtain the necessary information, as he suggests."
A discussion then ensued as to whether the scope of enquiry was intended originally to include other than Far Eastern countries. The Chief Commissioners for France and Portugal respectively stated that they understood that the investigations of the Commission would apply only to the Far East. Dr. Hamilton Wright declared that the United States Government had suggested the study of all phases of the opium question in each country represented on the Commission, and especially that such investigation should be carried out before the meeting of the International Commission, in order to facilitate the preliminary work of the Commission.
The Chair ended what promised to develop into a lengthy, debate by suggesting that each country represented might at least obtain such information regarding the conditions at home as would enlig-hten the Commission, and enable it to carry the work before them to a successful issue.
The House adjourned at 3.45 p.m. until Thursday, the t8th February.