HC Deb 23 June 1857 vol 146 cc266-302

said, that the importance of the subject to which he was about to call the attention of the House could scarcely be overrated, and when he remembered the eloquence and ability with which it had been advocated in that House by gentlemen who were no longer Members of it, he confessed that he felt somewhat dismayed at the task he had undertaken. He begged, therefore, at the outset to bespeak the kind indulgence of the House. There exists so great an indisposition to change in this country, that it is not until evils have accumulated to an unendurable extent that the Legislature can be induced to grapple with them. It was not until Ireland was overtaken by a fearful famine that we could be persuaded to abandon the folly of depending on one source of supply for our necessary food, and so in the case of India, hundreds of thousands of the population were periodically swept away by famines occasioned by droughts, and yet the attention of the Government was not directed to these enormous evils until the serious financial embarrassment they occasioned forced them to adopt some means of preventing the recurrence of these deplorable visitations. Hence the commencement of the great Ganges Canal and some other works of irrigation. We are now suffering from a, short supply of the important article of cotton, and it was not improbable that that circumstance may be the means of forcing our attention to India, and may lead to important changes in our Indian policy and Government. The wise commercial policy established in England in 1846 had produced results beyond the most sanguine expectations. Our foreign trade had doubled within the last ten years, and an enormously increased demand had been created for the raw materials of all our manufactures, the consumption of which had overtaken the production. A deficiency in the supply of cotton was consequently experienced, and many of our manufacturers were at present working short time. This state of things had led them to reflect on their present position and future prospects. The latter were by no means flattering. This great manufacture depends chiefly on one source of supply for its raw material. Of the 900,000,000 1bs. of cotton-wool which we consumed last year 700,000,000 1bs. was the produce of America. The result of this state of things was that great fluctuations in price were experienced, arising from variations in the seasons, while there was also the additional disadvantage and danger that the greater portion of the supply was the product of slave labour. In these circumstances it was some consolation to our manufacturers to know from inquiries, which they had instituted, that we had in our own territories a larger portion of land suitable for the growth of cotton than was possessed by any other country in the world. We had an abundance of land in the West Indies, but there existed a deficiency of cheap labour. In the East Indies, also, we had an unlimited area of suitable land, while labour was abundant and cheap. It was chiefly to India, therefore, that our manufacturers directed their attention. The Committee moved for by Mr. Bright in 1848, on the growth of cotton in India, reported that that country was capable of furnishing an unlimited supply of cotton. Why, then, it would be asked, did not our manufacturers send their agents to India to procure this important article; and how was it that Englishmen who are to be found in every other part of the world will not go to India? This is a question which the Indian Government are called upon to answer. Now, within the last fifteen years upwards of 3,000,000 of our people have emigrated to different parts of the world, but very few of them have gone to India. According to an official return the number of British subjects engaged in trade and commerce in India, and unconnected with the Company's service, was, in 1852, in Bengal 273, in Madras 37, and in Bombay only 7. In the towns, however, including Calcutta and other popular places, there were 10,000 such persons, while in the country there were but 317. Was it on account of the climate that Englishmen will not go to India? Why, there was no country, however inhospitable its climate, in which they were not found in pursuit of gain, or the improvement of their own condition. It could not be the climate which kept our countrymen from settling in India. There was no lack of Englishmen anxious to enter the East India Company's service. If India, then, was the only country to which our people did not transfer their energy, capital, and skill, by which it would be so much benefited, that fact alone was a sufficient ground for inquiry. The reason why Englishmen did not go to India was, he believed, because the Indian Government was synonymous with bad government. In that country there was an absence of what the noble Lord the Member for London lately described as the very object for which all Governments were established—namely, the protection of person and property. In India there are no roads, no enterprise, and the people are naked and poverty-stricken, and, except in the province of Bengal, no man can own a single acre of land in fee simple. These, surely, were not very encouraging conditions to tempt an Englishman either to embark his capital or to settle there. In England we have 120,000 miles of road, but India, a country nearly as large as all Europe, had only three or four thousand miles of metalled road. The Bombay merchants emplained that they could not get into the country because there were no roads or bridges; and, for the same reason, the people in the country could not come to them. In a Memorial presented to Lord Dalhousie by the leading merchants and bankers of Bombay in 1850 it was stated— 'Bombay possesses scarcely any roads. So miserably inadequate are the means of communication with the interior, that many valuable articles of produce are, for want of carriage and a market, often left to perish in the fields, while the cost of those which do find their way to this port is enormously enhanced, to the extent sometimes of 200 per cent; considerable quantities never reach their destination at all, and the quality of the remainder is almost universally deteriorated.' Colonel Grant said that, 'Of the vast number of sheep fed in Candeish and the Deccan which are sent down to the Bombay market, not one-third reach Bombay alive, and those greatly reduced in flesh.' Mr. Mackie, who was sent out by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce for the purpose of inquiring into the facilities which that country afforded for the growth of cotton, confirmed these statements, and said, 'It is a misnomer to call the rude tracks in Guzerat roads.' He added that, 'In the civilized and ordinary sense of the term, there are none in the province.' He relates that it took him seven hours to travel twelve miles in a bullock-cart on the road between Jambooseer and the port of Tankaria, and long before he arrived at the end of his journey there was scarcely a bone of his body which was not the seat of pain. 'On the way the mamlutdar amused us with several stories of accidents which had occurred on the road, one of which related to the sad fate of a trader, who received such a jolt as made him inadvertently bite the end of his own tongue off. Nor is this road a mere byway leading to a village or two, but a great thoroughfare, forming the main outlet to a large and rich tract of country.' General Briggs, when examined by the Committee on Cotton of 1848, of which he (Mr. Smith) had the honour to be a member, related a story which was almost incredible. He said— ''During the campaign of 1846, 100 officers were required to be sent 1,500 to 1,600 miles, from Calcutta to the banks of the Sutlej, and were obliged, from the state of the roads, to be carried in palanquins, so that 7,200 men must have been put into requisition to carry them, and yet only 30 of the 100 arrived before the campaign was over. Travellers related such a state of things in Turkey as the evidence of a barbarous Government, but one can scarcely realize it in a country which has been governed 100 years by Englishmen. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), when examined before the Cotton Committee, admitted that it was the duty of the Government to make roads, works of irrigation, and other public works in India. He was asked the question, "What revenue have you received during the last fourteen years from India?" His answer was, "We have received about £300,000,000." He was then asked, "What have you spent in roads, works of irrigation, and public works?" and his reply was, "£1,400,000," being about 1d. for every £1 they had received. But even if roads were made into the country, the extreme sterility of the soil of India afforded but little attraction to European settlers. An acre of land only produced from 50 1bs. to 70 1bs. of clean cotton; but in America the same quantity of land produced 400 1bs. The land in America was watered during the whole cotton-growing season, while in India it was parched sometimes for about eight or nine months; by a burning sun. Nevertheless, more; rain falls in India than in America, and if it were collected, instead of being allowed to run away uselessly to the sea, the land in India might be made as productive as the land in America, and its growth increased to four or five times its present extent. Colonel Cotton thus strikingly illustrated the folly and ignorance of the Indian Government:— The savages of Australia trod upon gold for hundreds of years, while they were often in want of food, and always without a rag of clothing; and very similar has been the state of things in India. With an unlimited supply of water within reach, which if applied to purposes of irrigation would more than provide for every possible want, the people of India have been generally barely supplied with the necessaries of life, and often, so entirely without them as to perish by hundreds of thousands; and their European rulers, with this treasure within their reach, of far greater value in proportion to the cost of obtaining it than the richest gold mines in the world, have been unable to make their income equal their expenditure. The native Governments appreciated this invaluable method of increasing the fertility of the soil, as is evidenced by the ruins of great works of irrigation in all parts of the country; and we have instructive proofs of the consequences of the destruction of works of this kind in the present condition of Egypt, ancient Nineveh, and Babylon, once the seats of wealth and civilization; but now, on account of the non-irrigation of the land, the soil which maintained their vast populations, is become a sandy desert, and from the same causes millions of acres of land in India were now lying waste. By means of irrigation the growth of cotton in India might be increased four or five-fold, and greatly improved in quality. He did not mean to say that the Government had not constructed any works of irrigation. He had already mentioned that they had constructed the Ganges Canal, which, although forced upon it to prevent famines, was unquestionably a great work. Including its branches it extended 800 miles. [Mr. MANGLES: Hear, hear!] He understood that cheer of the hon. Member, he knew that the East India Company was very fond of boasting of it, but this country might with equal wisdom have folded its arms, and satisfied itself with the boast of having completed a great work when it had made its first railway from Manchester to Liverpool, for that railway only bears about the same proportion to the railway wants of England that the Ganges Canal bears to the irrigation wants of India. One of the great obstacles to Europeans settling in India was the system of land tenure. The Government of India claimed to be the owners of all the land in that country; and except in the province of Bengal nobody could own an acre of land in fee simple. The question of land tenure in India was most important. In the United States and in the British colonies, as well as in India, the Government claim to be the owners of all the land; but in these countries it is sold to the people in fee simple for ever. In India the Government retain it as landlords. Every field in this vast empire is measured and assessed, and by whatever nominal tenure the land is held, the real tenure is an annual settlement, because the assessment nearly always being higher than the ryot was able to pay, a yearly inquiry was necessary to determine how much the cultivator could pay. That system of annual settlement of the land necessarily gave immense power to a swarm of corrupt Government officials; but he had no doubt that his hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) would call this system the perfection of human wisdom. He would not enter into a discussion of that part of the subject, but he would read to them the opinion expressed by the Directors of the East India Company in 1809, which appeared to him (Mr. J. B. Smith) to be so consistent with common sense that it was surprising the system had continued so long. In their despatch in that year they dwelt upon— The obvious defect of the system of land tenure, the minuteness of investigation which it involves, the necessary employment of countless native agents, the impossibility of preventing their malpractices, and the difficulty of adjusting the rents to all the varieties of the seasons and public events; and conclude, that although the plan, intelligently followed up, might be well calculated to discover the resources of a country, yet it was not to be preferred for constant practice. A high authority, Lord Wellesley, had also expressed his opinion that the Indian Government ought not to be owners of the soil or collectors of the rent. It was a mistake to suppose that there was any analogy between rent in England and rent in India. Rent in England is paid by a capitalist, who farms for profit. In India the ryots or cultivators are without capital; the only motive they have for devoting themselves to the cultivation of the soil is the pressing wants of nature, the necessity of getting food. They must, therefore, pay any rent imposed on them, or starve. After all, the best test of any system was the condition of the people. What was the condition of the people in America and in our colonies? Why, they were among the most flourishing communities that perhaps ever existed on the face of the earth. But what was the condition of the naked tenants of the East India Company? Extreme poverty and abject wretchedness. In our Eastern colonies, Ceylon, Penang, Singapore, and Hong Kong, the Indian system had been abandoned, and the land was either sold in perpetuity or let on leases of 999 years. That system was an encouragement to European settlement, and had effected such an improvement in the condition of the people that they were to be reckoned among the most flourishing of our Eastern fellow subjects. He remembered that some curious evidence was given before the Cotton Committee as to the taxes imposed in Madras upon the tools of the artisan—his hammers and chisels, for instance. Even the barber's razor was taxed. The instrument with which the Indians cleaned cotton, and which cost 1s., had to pay an annual tax of 2s. He was glad, however, to say that he had lately received a Return dated Nov. 5, 1856, in which it was stated that these scandalous taxes were abolished. About ten days ago he also received another document of a most extraordinary character relating to Madras. He believed that the land tax in that province produced less now than it did fifty years ago. After having impoverished the people to such an extent that (as was proved before the Torture Commission), the rents could not be collected except by torture, the Indian Government had at last commanded a new assessment and survey to be made of the province of Madras. That province was about three times as large as England and Wales, but the portion which was to be surveyed was about as large as Great Britain. From the evidence given before the Committee, the House might form some idea of these Indian surveys. Every field was measured; four or five holes were dug in it in different parts to ascertain the quality of the soil, from which the surveyors estimated the amount of the produce it would yield, and then the rent was fixed at two-thirds of the net produce. After all, however, the assessment was left to the judgment and sound discretion of the assessor. He saw it estimated that this survey would take not less than twenty-two years to accomplish, and that it would cost £764,000—and reckoning the value of money to be six times more in India than in England, it would amount to a sum equivalent to about £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 of our money. If a document of this kind had issued from Constantinople it would have created no surprise; but that it should have issued from a country governed by Englishmen, with the lights and experience of the nineteenth century, and with a distinguished political economist high in the service of the Company whom they might have consulted, was indeed extraordinary, and only showed how slowly light travelled to the regions of Leaden-hall Street and Cannon Row. The work would occupy twenty-two years! Why, how many of the wretched cultivators would have passed away to be taxed no more ere this doubtful relief reached them! It would cost £764,000, which in Madras would make 2,000 miles of road. If the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) did not know the effect of roads upon the value of land he would probably he glad to have his attention called to a very interesting document—a report to the Board of Trade on American railways by Captain Galton. This Gentleman says, that in the State of Illinois, bordered by the Mississippi, the American Government had on sale land supposed to be some of the richest in the world, but which remained on sale thirty years at a dollar an acre, and, strange to say, no customers could be found for it. In this state of things an American company offered, in consideration of receiving 2,500,000 acres of land, to make a railway throughout the country. The Government consented, and Captain Galton reported upon the 700 miles of railway which this company had made. No sooner was the line completed than people flocked from all parts to take possession of this rich soil, and the result was that land which for thirty years had been unsaleable at a dollar an acre was now sold by the company at 13 dollars 9 cents an acre, their sales in April last amounting to 566,000 dollars. Now, before the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had issued the Minute to which he had referred, involving an outlay of nearly £800,000 upon a work which would not be completed for twenty-two years, would it not have been well to inquire what would be the effect of making nearly 2,000 miles of road in the province? He need not take the hon. Gentleman across the Atlantic to discover the effect of roads upon the value of land. In Ceylon, which rejoiced in not being under the East India Company's government, 3,000 miles of road had been made which was nearly as much as there was in all India; and capital roads they were, for a gentleman had informed him that he had travelled over them, not on palanquins borne on men's shoulders, but in a stage coach. In the little island of Ceylon, with a revenue not one-fiftieth part of that of India, 1,247 miles of road were rendered serviceable in four years and a half. Mark the results. Sir Emerson Tennent said— Before the Kandy road was made the paddy fields at Kaduganame were but worth one-half what they sell for now. Before the road was made to Marajapoora the people there could not sell their rice for more than 6d. or 7d. a parrah, and they could scarcely get fish or salt to buy at any price, because the dealers could neither come to sell their fish nor buy their rice. Now they get from 2s. 6d. to 3s. a parrah for all the rice they can grow, and they get their salt, fish, and every other article abundant and cheap; so that the effect of new roads is to double the value of land, to double the value of everything you have to sell, and to lower the cost of everything you hare to buy. But he would take the hon. Member to India itself. In Rajahmundry, a district of Madras, roads and works of irrigation had been carried on, and he had been favoured with a letter from that district dated April, 1856, which showed this gratifying result— Everybody and everything is prospering; there is no poverty, and I never hear any complaints of excessive taxes, of having to sell cattle to pay, of having lost all their crops, or that they had been ill-treated by the authorities, or been obliged to cultivate against their will; on the contrary, the difficulty in Naggarum is to decide who is to be allowed to have land, and not who must. And in Mogultoor the amibdar says,—He need not send people bunting the ryots to get the rent; they bring it to him themselves. I never by any chance see any of those half-starved wretches with scarcely any clothes. Everybody can get plenty of work everywhere. In the same district Mr. Taylor, the reve-venue officer, officially reported— That twenty-four villages in one talook, stimulated by the improvement in their outward circumstances, had voluntarily proposed that a permanent addition should be made to their land tax, to be applied to the establishment of schools for the education of their children. There was abundant evidence to show that India possessed capabilities for producing not only cotton in almost unlimited quantities, but sugar, corn, tobacco, flax, hemp, and a variety of other articles, if the obstacles were removed which now weighed on the energies of the people, and prevented them from developing the resources of the country. There could be no question that if these obstacles were removed, and the people were placed in as comfortable a position as those he had just described in Rajahmundry, the consumption of English manufactures would be enormous. His belief was that India was capable of consuming as much of our manufactures as we now exported to all the world; and it was certainly a marvellous thing that a few thousand people in Australia should consume more of our manufactures than 180,000,000 of people in India. We had the evidence of Sir Thomas Munro that the Natives would take our manufactures if they were able. He said— The small demand for our manufactures arises solely from the inability to consume them. If the existing mode of taxation should be abandoned, the country, instead of rice and dry grain, would be covered with plantations of betel, cocoanut, sugar, indigo, and cotton, and the people would take a great deal of British manufactures, for they are remarkably fond of them. They are hindered from taking our goods, not by want of inclination, but either by poverty or the fear of being reputed rich, and having their rents raised. When we relinquish the barbarous system of annual settlements, when we make over the land either on very long leases or in perpetuity to the present occupants, arid when we have convinced them by making no assessments above the fixed rates for a series of years that they are actually proprietors of the soil, we shall see a demand for European articles of which we have at present no conception. There had lately been a great increase in our imports from India, and some people seemed to be afraid that we were getting a great deal more from that country than we should be able to pay for—that it was draining us of our specie, and that it was becoming a question whether it would not be better for us to give up our trade with India altogether. Now, what was the reason of these increased imports from India? It was all a question of prices. The increase in our imports from India was attributable to the higher price now offered for produce, which operated as a stimulus to the Indian merchant, and, counterbalanced the want of good roads and cheap conveyance; because the rise in the price of cotton, flax, hemp, and articles which we had been accustomed to obtain from Russia had enabled the Indian merchants to pay a higher price for conveying their produce to market than they could otherwise have afforded. If the price of these articles should fall again, however, our imports from India would also decline because the same obstacles existed now as had existed before, and roads and cheap conveyances were still required for bringing produce to market to compete with other countries under ordinary circumstances. The drain of specie at this time might be explained on the same principle that it had been accounted for during the existence of the corn laws. In those days we always had a drain of specie when we had a bad harvest, because we had to obtain our corn from countries where there was only an occasional demand, and we had to pay for it in money. He had endeavoured to show the obstacles which impede the productive powers of India. These obstacles the Government alone have the power to remove. In asking the Government to expend money on roads, canals, irrigation, and other public works, he was only asking them to fill their own treasury. They acknowledged that it was their duty to construct those public works, and the profits upon them were so enormous that the only wonder was that they had not completed works of that description all over India. The Indian Government some time ago appointed a commission to report upon the public works of India, and among other examples the Commissioners gave the following as the result of executing thirty-nine works of irrigation in the district under the Madras Presidency between the years 1836 and 1849. Of the thirty-nine works in question, the total cost of which was £54,111, on three there was a loss; four realized profits under 10 per cent per annum, sixteen realized profits of from 10 to 50 per cent per annum, nine realized profits of from 50 to 100 per cent per annum, six realized profits of from 100 to 200 per cent per annum, and one absolutely produced a profit of 259 per cent per annum. The net average profit upon the thirty-nine works, after deducting the loss on the three, was 69½ per cent per annum from the year of the execution of the works. At the present time, however, those works yielded a profit of at least 100 per cent per annum: but, in addition, the Government revenue had increased and the value of private property had increased, and those two items together were equivalent to another 100 per cent; so that there was an absolute profit upon those works of 200 per cent per annum. With reference to this subject the Commissioners said— We have repeatedly stated that a vast amount of capital might now be invested in every district in the construction of works of irrigation which would yield a return of 25 or 30 to 50 or 60 per cent on the outlay. And they added:— Looking at the very small amount of expenditure (£54,111) shown in that table, and comparing it with the vast number of works scattered all over the country, the creation of former dynasties, we could not avoid the reflection that if the present powers (East India Company) had always ruled in the country it would now have been destitute of those valuable sources of wealth. But the Government had acted upon false principles in carrying out these works, and had thereby embarrassed their finances; for instead of constructing public works out of revenue, as they had done, they should have borrowed the money for those purposes. These works would be more useful to the succeeding than to the present generation, and if they had been constructed by means of loans, India might have been covered with public works without financial inconvenience, and practically for nothing. That, perhaps, was a somewhat startling assertion, but he would endeavour to explain it. In Manchester a great public work had been executed for the purpose of supplying the city with gas without costing it one farthing of taxation. The corporation borrowed the money on the credit of the city, the gas was sold at as low a rate as in any other town; and after paying the interest on the money borrowed, and setting aside an annual sum for a sinking fund to pay off the debt, there remained a profit of £30,000 a year, which was applied to the improvement of the city. What was there to prevent the Indian Government from borrowing money for public works when they could borrow money for war purposes? Now, with regard to the growth of cotton in India. Indian cotton was of an inferior quality to that of America. It was worth less by 2d. per lb., and was only consumed by our manufacturers when American cotton was dear. The demand being therefore only occasional, there was no inducement to grow it for the English market. America had been hitherto our great source of supply, from the fact of their growing it cheaper than any other country, but the question arose whether India might not be placed in a position to compete with America in the supply of cotton. Mr. Nesbit Shaw, formerly a collector of revenue in the Dharwar district, was decidedly of opinion that India could even at present compete with America, not however by growing indigenous cotton, but by fairly turning attention to the introduction of superior varieties, by introducing all practicable improvements, and by a rigid determination to put down adulteration and other frauds in the trade. Mr. Shaw tried the experiment of growing on unirrigated land several thousand bales of cotton from New Orleans seed. This cotton sold at Manchester at 6¼d. per lb., while the native cotton sold at 3½d. per lb. The produce from New Orleans seed was about 100 1bs. per acre, from native seed it was 601bs. to 701bs. This cotton (which sold in Manchester at 6¼d. per lb.) only yielded about 1¼d. per lb. to the cultivator. If this left as large a profit as other kinds of produce it would continue to be grown for a constant demand; and if, therefore, by means of irrigation the produce could be increased four or fivefold, and by improved roads the cost of production could also be reduced, there was no reason to doubt that India could compote with the lowest known prices of American cotton. But the abject poverty of the ryots was such that they could not undertake the growth of cotton, sugar, indigo, or other produce unless advances of money were made to them; and those advances were only made, according to the evidence which was given before the Cotton Committee, at rates of interest varying from 30 to 70 per cent. The Indian cultivator laboured, in fact, under extreme poverty, enormous rents, exorbitant rates of interest for advances, bad roads, and want of irrigation—the two latter evils could alone be remedied by the intervention of the Government. In Ceylon, though the same mistake was fallen into as in India of making roads out of revenue, these roads had so increased the wealth of the country that the revenue was not embarrassed like the revenue of India, and in ten years the exports of Ceylon had increased 230 per cent. He wished to call attention to the excellent opportunity which presented itself of encouraging the growth of cotton in India without a farthing of expense or risk to the Government. The province of Candeish was one of the richest in India, and peculiarly suited for the growth of cotton. It was a country covered with ruined towns and villages, which attested its former prosperity, but at present, according to the report of Captain Wingate, Revenue Survey Commissioner, only 14 per cent of the lands of that province were cultivated, the remainder lying waste, but nearly the whole was fertile and suitable for the growth of cotton, and exportable products, such as oilseeds, and indigo. The ryots were ready to extend the cultivation, but they could not do so with their present rents, a reduction would be sure to cause an extension of cultivation where there was waste to break up. Here was an excellent opportunity for the Government of India to try the experiment of giving a secure tenure of land in perpetuity, such as exists in all the British Colonies and in the United States—a system which has resulted in an amount of prosperity and happiness which might be equally enjoyed by India. According to the testimony of the gentleman he had just referred to, the people wanted the land, and would be glad to cultivate all that was now lying waste. Every farthing the Government received from unoccupied land would be clear profit; industry would be promoted, capital accumulated, the attachment of the people secured, and it would be seen whether a greater revenue could not be raised from prosperous farmers than from poverty-stricken ryots. There was land enough in that province capable of producing more cotton than was now grown in the United States. Shall this land continue to lie waste? He did not know how his Motion was to be met, but he should not be surprised if it was met, as Motions relating to India had in former times been met, by a denial of the facts; but it did not follow because the statements were denied that therefore they were untrue. The statements made on a former occasion by the late hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) and the present hon. Member for Poole (Mr. D. Seymour) were denied, though they were nevertheless perfectly true. This showed how little dependence was to be placed on the assertions of those who are supposed to be best acquainted with India. The ignorance of the Governors of India upon the condition of India was appalling. He remembered the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) stating before the Cotton Committee as evidence of the oppressions of the people, That the revenue system under the native Governments of India had always been with rare exceptions, of the most oppressive kind; that the manner in which the revenue authorities under the Nizams used to realize their revenue was by torture, flogging and imprisonment; that a revenue officer at Moorshedabad made one of his modes of extortion a pool of ordure and of all sorts of the most abominable filth, which he called 'behisht' or paradise. It was up to a man's chin, and into this he used to plunge the unfortunate defaulters till they brought forward their balances. Another of his tortures was this: he had a large pair of leather breeches made, fastened at the bottom, and full of nasty insects and rats, and these he used to fasten about the naked body of the defaulter and tie them under his arms. The hon. Member for Guildford contrasted this state of things with the happy condition of the natives under British rule, though at the very moment he was speaking the most infamous and degrading insults and tortures, of which no doubt the hon. Member was perfectly unconscious, were being practised even upon women in India—insults and tortures which he could not mention, lest perchance the description should reach female ears. But hon. Members need only read the Madras torture Report to see how the honour and character of England had been degraded by the East India Company. The House would perhaps remember that the Hon. Member for Poole brought the question of India before the House some years ago. He stated that he had recently visited India. That he had travelled for miles through a desert country. He said that the population was in a most miserable condition; and that the great object of the Government of Madras was to get 10s. out of a man who had only eight. He said that torture was practised for the purpose of extorting rent. How were these statements met? The hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), then Chairman of the East India Company, made, as usual, a very clever speech, in which he said that there was not a word of truth in what had been stated; and that the hon. Member had been imposed upon by the statements of designing and interested persons, whose petitions to that House were a tissue of the grossest perversions and exaggerations. The right hon. Secretary of the Admiralty, who was then the President of the Board of Control, also got up and said that he did not believe that torture was practised in India. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) rose and said that he had been twenty years in India, and he declared most solemnly that he had never heard of anything of the kind. Another hon. Member, the Member for Roxburghshire, declared that though he had been thirty years in India, and also Secretary to the Board of Control, he had never heard of the existence of torture in India. What confidence can we attach to the information of such gentlemen in future? The fact was, that nothing was known of India except through the East India Company and their servants. We had never come into contact with the natives, except, indeed, upon one occasion, and that was a very instructive one. Lord Harris, as soon as he heard of the charge made by the hon. Member for Poole, of the practice of torture in the Presidency of Madras, issued a Commission that declared itself ready to receive evidence from all quarters; and what was the result? Why, though this inquiry was made at a most inconvenient season of the year—at a time when the people were gathering in the harvest, yet these poor creatures came 400 miles, in a country where there were no roads, to tell their grievances, and to complain of the tortures that had been inflicted in a most cruel and unmanly manner upon themselves, their wives or their daughters. The British Government had thought proper to suspend their relations with some foreign States on account of the ill-treatment and torture to which the subjects of those States were exposed by their Governments; but he would ask, if they looked a little nearer home than Naples, whether it might not be necessary to break off their relations with the East India Company? He wished to ask whether the time had not arrived when 180,000,000 of people in India should no longer be regarded as the subjects of a Government chosen by the proprietors of East India stock, but become the subjects of Queen Victoria? He called upon the House to do speedy justice to India. They had heard from that country a voice which resembled the rumbling of a volcano, and he called upon Parliament to do its duty, and see that justice was not delayed until it was too late. He begged to move, That in the opinion of this House it is expedient that Parliament shall direct its immediate attention to the best mode of removing the obstacles which impede the application of British capital and skill to the improvement of the productive powers of India.


said, that in seconding the Motion, it was not his intention to follow his hon. Friend through the details into which he had entered with regard to the misgovernment of India and the faults of the East India Company, but he would confine himself to a few practical observations, as he thought from a connection of upwards of forty years with the manufacturing industry of South Lancashire he might be able to throw some little light upon the subject. His connection with the Commercial Association of Manchester had placed him in frequent communication with the East India Company, and he consequently possessed some acquaintance with the measures which had been taken for developing the resources of India. He must, in the first place, be allowed to impress upon the House the immense importance of the cotton trade of South Lancashire. The hon. Member for Stockport had stated that such was the immense demand for cotton in the manufacturing districts of South Lancashire, that 900,000,000lb. were consumed annually, 700,000,000lb. of that quantity being imported from the United States of America. He (Mr. Turner) believed that about 380,000 persons were employed directly, and about 1,000,000 incidentally, in the manufacture of this cotton. The amount of capital invested in the manufacture was, at a low estimate, £40,000,000, and a working capital of about £15,000,000 was employed in the prosecution of the trade. In 1856 the exports of cotton goods amounted to the value of £38,000,000 after supplying the whole demands of this country. The cotton consumed in the same year was 2,250,000 bales, weighing 900,000,000. The cotton trade had been advancing with such rapid strides that, although the production of cotton in the United States of America had also made great progress, the demand had far surpassed the supply. One or two facts would exemplify this. During the year 1848 this country imported 1,738,000 bales of cotton, and in 1856, 2,467,000 bales; but while at the end of 1848 there were on hand 496,000 bales, or seventeen weeks' consumption, at the end of 1856 there were only on hand 332,000 bales, or eight weeks' consumption for the United Kingdom. He thought these facts exhibited a very serious state of things for a large manufacturing country like this, and that it was high time public attention should be directed to the subject, which was one not of local but of national importance. If this great branch of industry should be suspended, and it was so already for a considerable number of hours per week, to any greater extent, as it had been in years gone by, what effect would it have upon a large body of the population? In such a case he thought the Home Secretary would have to look with anxious eyes towards South Lancashire, and would find that the question was a serious one for the Government as well as for the cotton manufacturers. It was necessary to inquire how the existing state of things could be remedied, and whether the present supply of cotton could be relied upon without any danger of diminution. As the supply was obtained mainly from the United States, it was necessary to ascertain what was the condition of that country. Slavery had been abolished in our West Indian possessions, and he rejoiced that it was so. But might it not be asked whether there was not some inconsistency in deriving so large a proportion of the raw material required for the manufactures of this country from a State where slave labour was employed? He thought there was a possibility that, sooner or later, there would be some serious disturbance of labour in America; and what would be the state of affairs in this country if, owing to a rising of the slaves, the cotton plantations of the United States should be uncultivated, and a supply of the raw material could no longer be obtained from that quarter? But even if the Americans were to go growing cotton not by means of imported slaves but by a more degrading method,—by means of the poor creatures they raised and reared amongst themselves like so many cattle—supposing that in this way the production of cotton in America increased, and yet that our consumption increased in a greater ratio, could we rely upon the same proportion of imports to the demand which we had hitherto derived from the United States? He thought not; for in America, and in other parts of the world, manufactures were extending as rapidly as in this country, if not more so. The manufacturers there, under a protective system, would be able to offer higher prices for the quantity of raw material they required, and he believed that whatever deficiency there might be in the supply of cotton grown in America would ultimately be felt by Great Britain. The price of cotton was now about double what it was in 1848. In that year American cotton averaged about 4d. per pound, while it was now 8d. per pound, and the difference of value on the consumption of cotton in Great Britain between 4d. and 8d. per pound amounted to £16,000,000 per annum, a sum nearly equal to the whole revenues of the East India Company. Where, then, were they to look for the means of meeting any deficiency in the supply of cotton? It was very possible that they might obtain some increased supplies from the West Indies, but since the abolition of slavery the negro population would not perform voluntarily such excessive labour as they were obliged to undergo in the United States. It had been argued that if slavery were abolished in America the negroes would still continue to work, but he did not believe they would get through one-third of the labour they were now compelled to perform. Cotton had been grown, and was still grown, in Brazil, but for many years there had been no increase in the production. In Australia, which had been suggested as a place from which the necessary supply might be obtained, the want of cheap labour must prevent any extensive production for many years, and the same objection applied to Natal. West Africa had been mentioned, but he had himself been concerned in an attempt to establish a plantation in that quarter of the world by way of experiment, which had proved a complete failure, in consequence of the impossibility of compelling the negroes to anything like steady continuous labour. He believed, with the hon. Member for Stockport, that they must look to India to supply the deficiency. He would give the East India Company credit for having, many years ago, introduced a number of American planters into their territories, at very considerable expense, with the view of cultivating cotton on the system pursued in the United States: but he believed the East India Company themselves would acknowledge that that had been a failure. He believed the Americans never intended to accomplish anything worth while in India. Their national feelings led them to fear lest India should become a rival to the United States, and their heart never was in the work. They always said that the cotton of India was as good as it could be made, and that no improvement could be effected in it. Now, he (Mr. Turner) was the largest consumer of East India cotton in Great Britain. His firm used at one time 80,000lbs. weight of East India cotton per week, but it came in so dirty and neglected a state that no price could be given for it at all equal to the price of American cotton. A low price was paid for it, but there was so much adulteration that the firm at one time threw away an amount of sand and dirt that cost them no less than £7,000 per annum. That dirt and sand, however, might have been left behind in India. He must say that, in making representations on the subject of cotton to the East India Company, when he had accompanied deputations, he had always been received with great courtesy and civility; but, though many promises were made, nothing seemed to have been done. Cotton still came from India in the same filthy and neglected state, and that was accounted for by the way in which it was cultivated and brought to the coast. It was cultivated by the poor miserable ryots, who had to borrow money at a most exorbitant and ruinous rate of interest before they could put seed into the ground. From them it was transferred to the dealers, and then commenced the process of adulteration. When the dealers got the cotton, it was placed on bullocks' backs, and in that way conveyed to the coast, being often drenched with wet, and otherwise soiled and disordered. How could it be expected, under the system of culture and conveyance that was in use, and considering the miserable condition of the ryots, that a good article could find its way to this country? Now, to show that the cotton was good originally, he would state another fact. Mr. Landon, a gentleman in India, who had a station at Bruchma, who took an interest in this question, resolved that he would not only clean cotton, but spin it, and for this purpose he erected a mill. He had sent him (Mr. Turner) a specimen of his cotton yarn, which convinced him, that if the cotton could only be got in this country as clean as he had made it in India, the same results could be arrived at, and as good yarn produced. With the cotton which his firm at Manchester obtained from India (speaking technically) they could only produce what was called No. 16 yarn, whereas Mr. Landon was producing, in India, yarn equal to No. 40 from the same cotton. He believed that if the East India Company would only pursue the experiments carried on by Mr. Shaw, they would produce a revolution in the cotton trade of that country. By encouraging the natives to cultivate the American seed, instead of the seed of the country, nearly double the quantity of cotton per acre would be raised, and it would be worth 50 per cent. more than the indigenous article. The East India Company must also encourage efforts on the part of their servants, and make every officer feel that it is his duty to promote, to the utmost of his power, this great national work. They had no right to hold that great country merely for the sake of dividends and revenues. They held it as a sacred trust for the people of this country, as well as the people of India, and it was their duty to see that the interests of both were promoted in their intercourse with each other. The hon. Member for Stockport had alluded to his (Mr. Turner's) using some of the improved cotton of India. It was true, he had done so, and he could assure the House that the cotton grown in Dharwar from American seed was equal in every respect to cotton grown on the banks of the Mississippi. Indeed, the advantage was rather in favour of the East Indian cotton. Mr. Shaw, writing to him, said that the cotton sold in Manchester, and used by him (Mr. Turner) which was valued at 6¼d, to 6½d. per lb., was grown by ryots by contract; that the rent of the land which produced it was 1½ rupee per acre, and the contract cost for cultivating it another 1½ rupee, altogether 6s. Let the House just reflect upon such a fact as this; that, if properly managed, the produce of an acre of cotton, which would amount, even under ordinary circumstances, to 100 lbs., would cost only 6s. Why, Amecan slave labour had not a chance of standing against a cultivation like this. He would venture to hope, then, that the East India Board and the Court of Directors would take this matter into their serious consideration, and continue and extend guarantees to capitalists who provided money for well-considered railways, canals, and works of irrigation. He was satisfied that such undertakings would pay a good return for the outlay. He hoped, also, that they would continue and extend the system of securing to the cultivators a sure tenure of their land. That was absolutely necessary; for no man would ever think of attempting to improve land if he had to give the benefits of the improvements to his landlord. Lastly, they should establish a Board of Works in India, to which should be entrusted the special care of all improvements, as by so doing they would secure a more judicious expenditure of capital. By pursuing such measures as these, he believed they would derive a much, larger revenue from their Indian empire than they had hitherto done; and, in place of a miserable population like that which the hon. Mover had described, and which was very little better than the slaves of America, or the serfs of Russia, they would have a happy and contented people, who, instead of requiring silver for everything they sent here, would be able to take our Manufactures, and become, what their poverty now prevented them being, valuable customers of this country. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient that Parliament shall direct its immediate attention to the best mode of removing the obstacles which impede the application of British capital and skill to the improvement of the productive powers of India.


said, the subject which the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith) had brought under the consideration of the House was one of great importance, and, he believed, one very little understood. He should, indeed, have to crave the indulgence of the House, if he could feel it right to bandy the very hard language in which the hon. Member had thought it fitting on this occasion to express himself. The hon. Member had denounced the misgovernment of India by the present generation, on grounds which related to transactions which occurred when he (Mr. Mangles) was in his cradle, and for which the present Court of Directors of the East India Company could not be in the slightest degree responsible. Again, the hon. Member talked of India as if it was a unit, and spoke of Madras as if it represented the normal condition of the whole country, and without reflecting by how many hundred miles the two Presidencies were divided, seemed struck with wonder, that a person who had been a Bengal civilian should not know of abuses which existed in Madras. Well, if he (Mr. Mangles) was thus ignorant, he was so in good company. Lord Ellenborough, a man of the greatest ability, who had been for years at the head of the Board of Control, and who had been Governor General, had likewise declared that he knew nothing of the matter. The hon. Member, like other gentlemen from the northern part of the island, seemed to think that they were the men, and that wisdom would die with them. They seemed to believe that none but a Lancashire man could manage any concern, public or private; and they sought to put the Government of India into this dilemma,—either it was guilty of the most atrocious wickedness, or of the most culpable ignorance. The hon. Gentleman talked about improving the productive powers of India. Well, Dr. Johnson had said, that some persons would call out fire during the deluge, and was not the hon. Gentleman aware that India was at that moment sending more to this country than this country could pay for? The sum remitted to England, in the shape of dividends, fortunes acquired, and the like, was at least £5,000,000 a year, for which we send nothing back except a few military stores. So again, the enormous quantity of silver bullion sent out showed the great amount of produce which was sent home. The House would be surprised to hear that in 1855–6 no less than £11,300,000 in silver bullion was sent to India from this country, and that in 1856–7, up to the 3rd of April last, silver bullion to the amount of £10,000,000 was sent out by the Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamers, while within a fraction of £1,000,000 more had been sent from Marseilles, Malta, and Gibraltar. The House was aware that when the war with Russia broke out, our supplies of oilseeds and hemp from that country were stopped, but the deficiency was completely made up from India. The same thing would happen in regard to cotton, if the proper steps were followed. India could supply all the cotton that this country would require, if manufacturers and those who wanted it would cease calling upon Hercules, and set about putting their own shoulders to the wheel, in the same way as those who wanted other commodities from India had done. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion appeared to demand that the Indian Government should undertake to clean his cotton for him, which, he said, came to him mixed up with dirt and gravel, while in the same breath he informed the House that Mr. Landon's cotton was always perfectly clean.


explained, that he believed both his cotton and Mr. Landon's were originally perfectly clean; but while the latter had only to travel a short distance, his own cotton had to pass over the miserable roads of India, and to undergo the treatment to which Indian dealers always subjected such things.


said, that those who were anxious to have cotton from India should adopt the reasonable course which Mr. Landon had followed. If they would take the trouble to send out their agents to India, there was hardly any amount of cotton which the manufacturers of this country could not procure from that source. He would just call the attention of the House to the extraordinary increase which had taken place in the production of some articles for which there was a demand. From the provinces of Arracan and Pegu, the elder of which had only been in our possession about thirty years, and the younger had only been occupied the other day, he found that in 1855–6 there were exported no less than 250,000 tons of rice. Why could not the export of cotton be increased in the same ratio? There was no difficulty in procuring sugar, oilseeds, or jute. Then there was the cuckoo cry, that the people of India were so wretchedly poor, that they could not buy our manufactures; but how could that statement be reconciled with the fact, that the balance of trade was, of late years, always against us, and that we were always under the necessity of exporting silver to pay it? The reason for the latter circumstance was, that the manufacturers did not sufficiently study the tastes of the natives. If they were to send out their agents to India to study the taste of the people and cater accordingly, they would find a more extensive market. The question of the evening, however, was, how it happened that cotton was the only article which could not be got in sufficient quantities from India. The hon. Member for Stockport had stated the land tenure as a great impediment to the extension of cotton cultivation; but why did that apply to cotton only, and not prevent the production of indigo? [Mr. J. B. SMITH: Because indigo is grown where the land is held on the more permanent tenure.] The hon. Gentleman had fallen into the trap, and said, that the growth of indigo in Bengal was so large, because of the more permanent tenure of land in that presidency; but the fact was, that a larger increase in the growth of indigo had taken place in Madras, where the ryotwaree system of land revenue prevails, than in Bengal. He (Mr. Mangles) had a letter from an extensive grower in Madras, in which he stated, that since his first establishment in India, the production of indigo in that Presidency had increased from 5,000 to 20,000 chests, weighing 250lb. each. That gentleman exported about 350 chests of indigo and 5,000 tons of sugar yearly, but he did not cultivate the land himself, finding it more profitable to buy of the distressed and degraded ryots, as they were called. The tenure of land which had been so much talked of, was by no means so simple a question as some hon. Gentlemen imagined it to be. High authorities had held, and among them the late Mr. James Mill, and his still more eminent son, Mr. J. S. Mill, that the land assessment was not a tax at all. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Resolution said, that the Indian Government claimed to be the owners of all the land in that country; but such was not the case. The truth was that a great proportion of the rent of land in India had ever been set apart for Government uses, and to give up the assessment in favour of the occupiers of land would render it necessary to inflict taxation upon the shopkeepers and artisans. The hon. Gentleman had attacked the land survey which it was intended to introduce into Madras; but Mr. Mackay, the commissioner of the Manchester manufacturers, spoke highly of the effects of the same survey in the districts of Bombay, saying that it had conferred great benefits upon the ryots. It was the same kind of survey which it was proposed to introduce into Madras, and he had no doubt that it would prove equally advantageous to the people there. And here he would say, that while he was regardless of the hon. Gentleman's strictures on himself, his blood boiled at hearing the attacks made on public servants in India, whose devotion to the discharge of their onerous duties was not exceeded by that of any servant of the Crown at home or in the Colonies. These men were earnestly labouring for the benefit alike of the Government and people of India, while their conduct was made the subject of unjust criticism by English gentlemen sitting at case at home. Before the Cotton Committee he (Mr. Mangles) made a clean breast of it. Even Mr. John Bright praised his conduct. He admitted in his evidence before that Committee that in times gone by the Government had not done its duty, but a new era had arrived. The neglect of former years was not now chargeable against the Government of India. The House was aware of the fact that the Government had pledged itself to pay interest varying from 4½ to 5 per cent upon a capital of £30,000,000 for the construction of railroads in India, and had ordered the making of roads from all sides of the country to the several stations, for the purpose of bringing the produce of the country to the railways. To the hon. Member for Stockport, who spoke of the Ganges canal, nearly 900 miles in length, as a local work, 3,400 miles of railroad would appear but a trifling affair; but such, he thought, would not be the opinion of the House. It was said, however, that the railways were being made for political or military, not for commercial, purposes. Now, he held in his hand a map of India showing the districts in which cotton was grown, and any hon. Gentleman who chose might see that the railways now in course of construction under the guarantee of the Government passed through every one of those districts with a single exception. And that exception was a peninsula—almost an island,—well supplied with seaports. At the rates which now existed upon the Madras Railway one pound of cotton might be conveyed from Nagpore to Madras, a distance of 450 miles, for about three-fifths of a farthing—a fact which, he thought, would satisfy the economical mind of the hon. Member for Stockport. He now came to works of irrigation. The statement of the hon. Member upon that head was, first, that the native works had been abandoned; and, secondly, that the Government had contented itself with making the Ganges canal. But the fact was not so, for besides the Ganges canal, 810 miles in length, and which of itself alone was a more important and larger undertaking than any other similar work to be found in the world, the Government had constructed the Jumna canal, which watered a very extensive tract of country, and many other canals in the Northwestern Provinces and the Punjab. Lieutenant Colonel Baird Smith, who was sent down from Madras to report on the works of irrigation in that Presidency, said the projects either actually effected, or in progress of execution, affected territories containing in the aggregate 20,000 square miles and 4,000,000 inhabitants. Could it in fairness be said that the native works at all approached these undertakings? And he must say, that after such results it was too bad for the East India Company to be told that they were so stupid as not to know how to manage their own business, until taught by hon. Gentlemen from Stockport and Manchester. The first cause why they did not get cotton from India was the lowness of price. As long as there were good harvests in America there was no demand upon India, and the manufacturers of this country were satisfied with the few thousand bales which were imported annually from the latter country. But when there occurred a bad harvest in America, and the price of cotton was high, the manufacturers most unreasonably turned round and asked where was the cotton of India? How should the people of India have grown cotton in anticipation of a demand which might take place once in five or ten years? At the same time there were an enormous production and an enormous consumption of cotton in India. But the cotton was grown mainly for home manufacture. It was true that to a certain extent the spinning jennies of Lancashire had put down the manufacture of cotton fabrics in India. But no machinery could ever put down the domestic manufacture, which cost nothing, because the manufacture was carried on at leisure times by the ryot himself and by his wife and children. The contrast between what was done in America and what was done in India was fallacious, if no allowance were made for the energy of the Anglo-Saxon and the apathy of the Indian character. If the natives of India had been a vigorous and energetic race we should never have been masters of the country; and as long as they were what they were they would not study the price currents of Liverpool nor the exports of America. He admitted that the roads had something to do with the price, but when railways were carried down to the wharves, there would be no case at all against the Indian Government. There was also the question of energy and the question of honesty. The Indian people had not energy and they had not honesty, and the men of Manchester should supply those qualities. Indigo was an indigenous production, and from the increase in the production of that article might be seen the effect of a continuous demand without any artificial stimulus. In 1785, England only imported 2,000,000 lbs., and India supplied only 500,000 lbs. European energy and industry were applied to the manufacture of the article, and India had now almost a monopoly of the trade, applying no less than 20,000,000 lbs. annually. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the success of Mr. Landon, but the hon. Gentleman was so simple as not to see that what Mr. Landon had done any Englishman of equal energy and perseverance might have effected also. By Mr. Mackay's evidence it appeared that the frauds in picking and packing cotton in India were of themselves sufficient to account for our not receiving a larger quantity. Let the gentlemen of Manchester send trustworthy agents to settle in the heart of the cotton districts, with money to advance to the ryots, and machinery for preparing cotton for the market so that it might not have to be unpacked; they would then have no difficulty in getting any amount of cotton from India which they might require. But so long as they remained at Manchester praying to Hercules to help them out of the ruts, alternately abusing and advising the East India Company, and asking them to clean their cotton for them, they would be spending their energy in the wrong direction. The East India Company were doing all that men could do to develope the resources of India. They were pressing on the railways with vigour, and the main impediment to their being finished was the impossibility of finding the means of conveying rails and locomotives fast enough, for each ship would of course only take a limited quantity of such metal dead-weight. The cultivation of cotton in India was, no doubt, a national object, but do not let the gentlemen of Manchester ask the East India Company to do for them what they ought to do for themselves, or to interfere, as no Government ought to do, between the growers and exporters of cotton. That day was the hundredth anniversary of the battle of Plassey, by which Clive laid the foundation of our ascendancy in India. In estimating the results of the East India Company's government during the last hundred years he trusted the House would take into account the great impediments which the Government of such a country had had to encounter, peopled as it was by nations who had been slaves for centuries, debased by dark superstitions, and the slaves of caste, that worst description of slavery. The East India Company were obliged to keep up an enormous military establishment, and a large portion of their revenue necessarily went in giving high salaries for efficient European agents. He entreated hon. Members opposite (Mr. Mangles spoke from the front Opposition bench) not to believe that those who voted with them on all other Liberal questions were, as soon as they had anything to do with the Government of India, transformed not only into tyrants, but into the most foolish and stupid of tyrants, as some hon. Friends of his would try to lead the House to believe.


said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down, had concluded his address by saying that this was the hundreth anniversary of the battle of Plassey, but he (Lord Stanley) confessed he did not exactly see how it followed as a logical consequence that because one hundred years ago a great victory was won in India by one member of the Indian Civil Service it was the duty of another member of that service to set himself to oppose the development of the internal resources of India. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mangles) had taunted the gentlemen of Manchester with asking the Government of India to help them out of a difficulty which they ought to remove themselves. But the Government of India being the landlords and receiving the rent of the soil under the name of land-tax, were bound to take upon themselves those works of improvement which in other countries were executed by individual landlords. What was asked of the Company was not to give an artificial stimulus to the culture of cotton by any means whatever, but to remove impediments which now stood in the way of that culture in the shape of bad roads or want of roads. Did the hon. Gentleman mean that it was the duty of Manchester to make roads in India? The hon. Gentleman had employed an, argument, which he (Lord Stanley) had heard frequently elsewhere, and had told the House that the real drawback to an increased cultivation of cotton in India was the absence of a sufficiently continuous demand. But why did not the hon. Member state the reason for the absence of this demand? It was this. India was available as a cotton-market in time of extreme scarcity, because in those times, and then alone, the high price enabled the Indian cultivator to overcome the artificial obstacles in his way. But the Indian Government had no right to take advantage of its own wrong. There would be a continuous demand for Indian cotton if it were grown in districts so open to the seaboard that there was a possibility of carrying the cotton at a sufficiently low rate to enable it to compete with American cotton in the ordinary state of the market. The hon. Member had said that there was a great deal more cotton grown in India than was seat to this country, and that the natives preferred to manufacture it for their own use. A great deal of cotton might be worked up for consumption on the spot, but it did not follow that it was more economical to do so. No doubt, the cost of freight was an important element, but the cost of sending the raw material half over the globe might be more than balanced by the greater economy of English manufacture. A hundred instances could be found in the history of commerce where this course of dealing was pursued to the advantage of both parties engaged in it. It used to be matter of ridicule against California, as it was now against the South American States, that they sent their raw hides to the United States, there to be manufactured and re-imported into those countries as shoes. That may have shown a want of enterprise on the part of South America; but it did not follow that that double voyage was not more economical for all parties. The hon. Member (Mr. Mangles) used another argument which also seemed to make against his case—he asked the House to look at the development of the culture of indigo in Bengal as a proof that the East India Company's government had not hindered commercial enterprize in India. But what if it were shown that the success of one kind of culture and the failure of another, were due to their being differently circumstanced in the very respect complained of? The difference between the two was this—that the cotton-growing districts, though perhaps not situated further in the interior than the indigo plantations, were yet far less accessible from the want of internal communication: while, from the infinitely greater value of indigo in proportion to its bulk, the cost of conveyance even by the slowest means over the worst roads, formed a far less deduction from the profits of the grower. With regard to works of irrigation, the hon. Gentleman appeared to think great injustice had been done to the Indian Government by the assertion that it had not equalled the enterprise of various Native rulers. Without depreciating the value of the Ganges canal, and other works of a similar character though of less extent, which had been undertaken by the Government of India, looking at the condition of the native States when they passed into our hands, examining the works that existed there, estimating, also, the proportion those works bore to the resources and population of those States, and contrasting all this with the power which our Government now had, with the present population, and with the superior industrial appliances at their command, he was much mistaken if, on such a comparison, made in a dispassionate spirit, it were not found that many dynasties, which are justly termed barbarous, had, in ages long gone by, provided far better than we now did for the material wants of their subjects. He would mention a single example of this which came under his own observation. Mysore passed under British dominion within the memory of the present generation. It comprised an area of 36,000 square miles, and he could state from official information obtained by him on the spot, that it contained no fewer than 27,000 tanks, many of which were of large extent; the general result being that not less than one twentieth of the entire surface of the province was under water for the purposes of irrigation. In no part of India had a provision to anything like that extent been made by our Government. The instance he had quoted came actually under his own eyes: but he might mention another, drawn not from an historical but a pre-historical period. The greater part of the northern districts of Ceylon were at present inhabited by a scanty population, and many tracts of country lay entirely waste. Sir E. Tennent, who formerly held an official position in that island, and had travelled through it, stated, in a book which he had published, that he saw the remains of various tanks or artificial lakes, about thirty of which were of large size; and that one which he examined, and which was not the largest, must have measured, when in a perfect state, something like ten miles in one direction, and twelve in another. Of course individual instances proved nothing; and without a detailed comparison, which it was certainly difficult now to institute with accuracy, it was impossible to say how the case stood between native Governments and our own; he thought, however, he had stated enough to throw doubt on the justice of our claims to superiority in this respect. With respect to railroads, the hon. Gentleman admitted the truth of a great deal that had been charged against the Government of India. He did not pretend that this species of communication had been opened to anything like the extent that was desired, but he assured them that it would be so some day or other. He told them to look at the map and they would see the railways that had been—made? No, but planned and laid down on paper. Why it was an easy thing to draw a red line on a, map and take credit for that as for a work of improvement in progress. But the question was, would these lines be executed, and, if so, when? Time was an element in matters of this kind which they were too apt to neglect. In making railroads in India they followed too much the English practice. Not that the works were not admirable in construction and perfect in execution, if high speed were the chief object, but their scale and expense were such that the resources of the Indian Government would not suffice to complete them within any moderate period. It was the opinion of many eminent practical men that the precedent of the English railways did not apply to a country situated like India. In England, before a single mile of railway was laid down, we had a most complete system of canal communication, which practically sufficed for the carriage of heavy goods. The railroads came in to supplement the canals, not to supersede them. In India, on the other hand, the state of things was rather that which existed a few years ago in the United States, where the railway did not supersede the canal, but was the first and only communication introduced. It was, therefore, clearly the policy of those who planned the lines in the United States to execute them at the lowest possible cost, to treat with comparative indifference the question of speed, and to press forward the completion of the works with the utmost despatch, even though they should be finished in a comparatively rough and clumsy manner. Thus they would be opened for slow and heavy traffic at the earliest practicable period. The principle which was found adapted to the case of the United States was far more suitable to India, because the interest of money was greater in the latter instance than in the former, and the outlay upon unfinished works therefore constituted a heavier burden upon the projectors. The hon. Gentleman had placed the House in a dilemma by requiring them to affirm that the Government of India was either very dishonest or very foolish. Now, he (Lord Stanley) was not prepared to endorse either of these charges. He did not accuse the Indian Government of being interested in opposing the opening of railway communication in that country; but, owing to their peculiar position, they required a good deal of propulsion from without to make them carry on their works with due zeal and energy. The question was not so much what order should be sent out by the President of the Board of Control, or by that body which the hon. Gentleman represented, as what was the feeling of the local authorities on this subject. The Indian official in charge of a district—than whom there could scarcely be a more hard-working person—was entrusted with a sufficient amount of duty to fill up any one man's whole time. A vast area was confided to his sole care, and the climate after long residence was unfavourable to continued energy on the part of Europeans. He was expected to report frequently, and sometimes in unnecessary detail, to the authorities at Calcutta, which occupied much of his time, and, above all, his connection with the country which he governed was official and official only. An officer so situated might not fail in discharging his functions, but it was clear he had no strong motive urging him to go beyond the strict line of his duty. He had spoken of official persons and it must be remembered that the Indian public was almost exclusively official; it consisted of military men, whose feelings, perhaps, lay in a different direction from the promotion of industrial improvements, and of civilians who had no strong personal incentive to take up subjects of this nature. He omitted the native population when speaking of the Indian public, because their voice scarcely ever reached this country or influenced the policy of the Government. The result of that absence of an influential public opinion, independent of the governing class, was seen in the constant and notorious tendency in the Indian Government to quarrel with its neighbours, which quarrels invariably exhausted funds that might otherwise have been devoted to the improvement of the country. Nothing could keep an Indian Governor General quiet except a deficit, and even that would not always do it. The public in India consisted of civilians and the military. The civilians foresaw an extension of patronage in every new annexation, and both they and the military were flattered by prospects of the extension of the power of this country. Even the missionary interest, he believed, was not hostile to what might enable it to propagate, under British protection, its opinions in a new district. And so it happened that whenever there was any prospect of a dispute it was almost certain that all parties would be in favour of a warlike policy. He did not say that from theory only. He was in India at the time that the second Burmese war broke out. He was not about to criticise the policy of that war, but this he would say, that before it was competent for any man to have formed an unbiassed opinion upon the dispute between the Indian and the Burmese Governments, before any certain or authentic information had been or could be received, there was throughout the country a cry taken up by every class of Europeans, without arguing, without hesitation, and without reflection, in favour of going to war. He mentioned that fact because the same causes still existed, and were likely to exist for a long period, why we need not hope that the surplus revenue of India would be applied to the development of its resources. If we were to wait until India applied her revenue to works of internal improvement we might have to wait for a long time. These works should be undertaken without regard to the question of surplus or deficit, for looking at the question in a merely financial point of view the cost to India of delay will be much greater than if they were carried out at once. He would go into no further details. He had risen simply to meet the defence of the hon. Member for Guildford by a reference to the real facts of the case. At this moment we had a demand for cotton which exceeded the supply. During the last ten or twelve years our productive powers with respect to the cotton manufacture had increased 40 per cent, and there was no reason to suppose that either those powers or the demands of foreign countries for our produce would diminish; on the contrary, they were likely to increase. Although the cost of cotton was now double what it was a few years ago, the cotton manufacture in this country had increased to an unprecedented extent, and the difference in price had caused a loss to the community of £16,000,000 or £17,000,000 a year. No fact could be stated more significant than that, and it could therefore hardly be disputed that the Indian Government, which was, in fact, the landlord of the soil of India, ought to exert itself to the utmost to promote the growth of cotton in India, in order that the constantly augmenting demands for our cotton manufactures might be amply supplied.


said, that it was impossible to exaggerate the importance of the question, and that if the Indian Government had been guilty of any defects in developing the resources of India the House would have been entitled to interfere; but the speeches that he had heard that evening scarcely touched that point. It was some years since he had the honour of co-operating with his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport on Indian topics, but he begged to remind his hon. Friend that his remarks that evening applied rather to a state of things which existed several years ago than to the present state of India. His hon. Friend had quoted from documents which related to the period anterior to the commencement of what he might call that great era in Indian history which dated from the grant of the charter of 1853. His right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Control had endeavoured this Session, by laying on the table various despatches which had been sent to India during the last few years, to show the House what had been recently done in that country with respect to public works. He (Mr. D. Seymour) did not mean to say that the British Government had till lately executed public works in India at all equal to those which former Governments had executed with much smaller means; but when the British Government became aware of the facts they resolved to make amends. His right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty introduced, while President of the Board of Control, a new system with regard to public works in India, by which many of the suggestions of Mr. Bright were carried into effect. In each of the Presidencies a Commissioner of Public Works had been appointed, and each year those Commissioners sent to the Government of India a list of such works of irrigation, &c., as they thought necessary. The amount expended during the last two years on public works was nearly £3,000,000, being about one-eighth of the whole revenue of the country, and he ventured to say that that was as much as any Government in any country had ever done. The noble Lord who had just sat down had discussed the question whether railroads in India should be of a solid, permanent character, like those constructed in England, or temporary, like those in America, which were constantly requiring large outlays for repairs, and which, without such outlays, soon became only fit for tram-roads. But putting that aside, the Indian Government had resolved that the wisest plan was to make solid, although expensive railroads, such as those in England, which would last one hundred years, as they believed that in the end that would prove to be the truest economy. That was the plan that had been adopted in Austria, Russia, and, in short, every European country that had sufficient capital. He also had to remind hon. Members that railways in India were made by means of foreign, not Indian capital. As to the question before the House, he had to remind them that the cotton trade had sprung up within the last seventy years, and great pains were at first required in order to grow cotton in America. It was not an indigenous plant there, and some time elapsed before those varieties could be discovered which were best adapted to the American climate. There was a Report of M. de Maurepas in the French archives as to the advantages of growing cotton in Louisiana, and when at that period, not more than seventy years ago, eight bales were entered at the custom as the produce of that country, it was rejected as being more than America could produce. The present immense growth of cotton in America was the result of that same diligence and labour which had raised up the cotton manufacture in this country, and the same means adopted in India would produce the same result. There was no difficulty in growing cotton in India. The soil was suitable and the people were industrious; the chief obstacle lay in their poverty. When capital was forthcoming, and as the intelligence and education of the people increased, they would be able to manure their land more, to raise better sorts of cotton, and would come forward to improve the communications, which at present impeded the carriage of cotton to the coast. Upon what ground was the House called upon to exercise Parliamentary interference? Not one word had been uttered during the discussion which showed the necessity of such interference. On the contrary, every thing that had been said referred to a previous period, while what was doing now appeared to be ignored. The only suggestions offered referred to the sale of the land in fee simple and to the making of roads. Upon roads, however, the Indian Government were laying out £3,000,000, besides the expenditure upon railways; and he did not see how they would be justified in laying out a larger sum. With regard to the tenure of the land, that was a most difficult question. There were persons who considered with Mr. Mill that the state was entitled to the increased produce of the land, and Mr. Mill would consistently apply the same principle to England. On the other hand, the principle of selling the fee simple outright existed in some of the most advanced and prosperous countries of the world. He was not, however, at that hour of the night going to enter into the question of the land tenure of India. He had heard of the formation of cotton companies, but no gentleman had come forward and said, "We will endeavour to grow cotton in India if you will let us try the experiment upon a tract of country." The Government, he was persuaded, would not be indisposed to aid the experiment by allowing British planters to be located in India, and they would be only too happy if such an experiment succeeded. Good roads, capital, with European superintendence, were the requisites needed, and if these were forthcoming there need be no fear respecting the growth of cotton in India. Meanwhile, if the only suggestions which could be offered were those he had noticed, he thought, as the Government had done all they could do, it was very hard that this House should condemn them without making out any good case for so doing. He should, therefore, conclude by moving the previous question.

Whereupon Previous Question proposed,

"That that Question be now put."

SIR ERSKINE PERRY moved the adjournment of the debate.


said, that, considering the importance of the subject, the Government would not oppose the Motion for adjournment.

Debate adjourned till Tuesday next.