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Opium Traffic, British North Borneo

Volume 155: debated on Wednesday 21 June 1922

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the League of Nations has made any inquiry of His Majesty's Government as to the traffic in opium conducted by the British North Borneo Company for consumption by the labourers on the plantations; and whether His Majesty's Government proposes drawing the attention of the company to the undesirability of any administration under the British Crown profiting by this traffic?

No, Sir, no inquiries have been received from the League of Nations relating specifically to North Borneo; but at my request the British North Borneo Company has from time to time furnished for the League of Nations information relating to that territory similar to that supplied regarding the Colonies generally. With regard to the second part of the question, I would remind the hon. Member that apart from the limitations imposed by the Charter, the administration of North Borneo is a matter for the company, and I would add that so long as the complete suppression of opium smoking in the Far East cannot be attained, it is, in ray opinion, essential that the traffic should be under strict Government control and that any profits should accrue to the administration rather than to private persons.

Is it not extremely undesirable that this company should engage in this traffic?

However undesirable that may be, it must be regarded as less undesirable than that this traffic should pass into private hands.