HC Deb 15 March 1861 vol 161 cc2096-7

said, that he wished to ask the Secretary of State for India, What information it is in his power to give respecting the administration of relief to the sufferers by the famine in India, and whether works of irrigation will be vigorously promoted, as the best means of preventing such calamities in future? Although he thought that the Government of that country could interpose with very little effect in cases of the kind generally, and that it rather belonged to private enterprise to mitigate the evils of a famine, nevertheless, under the deplorable circumstances of the inhabitants of the north-west Provinces, who were the victims of much suffering at the present moment, he thought the Government was called upon to step aside from their usual course with the view of alleviating the privations of the starving people. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be able at all events to give the House some information in reference to the adoption of measures calculated to supply in some degree the loss that had been sustained by the failure of the crops. Of course it would be absurd to attempt to make the Government responsible for the famine; but he was convinced that if works of irrigation had been encouraged some years ago, there would have been fewer dearths in India than had lately occurred.


ventured to suggest, in addition to what had been proposed by the hon. Member opposite, that a plan might be organized for bringing some of these poor people down to Calcutta in families, in order that they might emigrate to Mauritius or the "West Indies. He was induced to make this suggestion in consequence of his attention having been directed that very day to a minute of the Governor of Mauritius, which had just been received, complaining of the unusual scarcity of emigrants offering at Calcutta for the Mauritius. It was well known that both there and in the West Indies they would obtain abundant employment and good wages; and that their condition would under any circumstances be better, but at the present moment more than ordinarily better than in their native country.