MR. J. B. SMITH
said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the obstacles which existed in India to the increased growth of cotton, and the importance to India and to this country of their removal; and to move an Address for copy of further correspondence relating to the improvement of the navigation of the river Godavery. If he could convey to the House an adequate idea of the magnitude of the cotton manufactures of this country, he thought the House would agree with him that the question which he was desirous of bringing under its consideration was one of the highest national importance. The cotton manufacture of this country was the greatest industry that ever had or could by possibility have ever existed in any age or country. His hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, who was a great authority on cotton statistics, estimated, that if the cotton goods manufactured in this country were the work of hand labour instead of machinery, they would require the labour of 160 millions of people. Here was the secret of the immense wealth which they had derived from the cotton manufacture. By means of their wondrous machinery, they were able to produce with one million and a half of people as much as could be produced by 160 millions. This country had not only derived great riches from this manufacture, but millions in every part of the world had partaken, of the benefit of cheap and comfortable clothing; so that any interruption to our cotton trade might be regarded as little less than a world's calamity. It unfortunately happened, however, that the cotton manufacture of England had been dependent for many years almost solely on one source of supply. They had derived 85 per cent of their raw material from the United States of America. For many years past that dependence had been a source of great anxiety to the more intelligent and thoughtful of their manufacturers. When he had the honour of being President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, twenty years ago, it was a frequent subject of discussion, and they were continually importuning the East India Company to open out roads and rivers and to promote the growth of cotton in India. In 1848 his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham moved for a Committee of that House to inquire into the subject of the 755 growth of cotton in India, and two years after he moved that Royal Commissioners should be sent out there to inquire and report as to the feasibility of growing cotton in India. The Government of the day opposed the Motion, and it was lost. In the following year, however, the Manchester Chamber of Commerce sent a commissioner of its own out to India; but, unfortunately, that gentleman died before he executed his mission. The dread of a cotton famine continued more and more to stare them in the face, and about six or seven years ago an association called the Cotton Supply Association was formed in Lancashire, the object of which was to obtain information as to the capability of other countries to grow cotton, to distribute seed, and to endeavour to induce parties to embark in its cultivation. In 1858 the hon. Member for Dumfries obtained a Committee to inquire into the agricultural resources of India. The House would see, therefore, that every effort had been made from time to time to avert, if possible, the dreadful calamity which they saw might some day or other arise. Nevertheless, the danger so much apprehended had at last been realized, and the country was labouring under a cotton famine. In other words, to thousands of the most industrious people in the world a famine of cotton was but another name for a famine of food. Some idea might be formed of the extent of that famine, when he stated the amount of the imports from America. Last year the import of American cotton amounted to 1,520,000 bales; this year there had so far arrived only 22,000. The stock of American cotton in the country this time last year was 900,000 bales this year it was only 90,000. The total stock of all kinds at this time last year was 1,180,000; this year it was only 290,000 bales, which, at the usual rate of consumption, would be only sufficient for a month. In discussing the question it was necessary that they should take an enlarged view of it. They knew that there was a whole year's crop lying in America, with the exception of a portion which had been destroyed, and which was probably not much. But they ought to inquire what were their future prospects even if they could obtain that. Some persons had calculated that half the usual crop had been sown this year in America, but others doubted if there was so much; and who could tell what would be the issue of the civil war, or when it would end? Putting it in its moat favourable light, and 756 assuming that the quarrel was settled tomorrow, the importance of new sources of supply was more urgent than ever. Every one must see that, considering the loss of capital which had taken place, the disorganization of society, and the necessity of the Southerners to turn their labour to the growth of food and other necessaries for their own consumption, the export of cotton from America would not be for years to come, if it was ever again, so large as it had been. Various new sources of supply had been suggested, but he was not aware of any one of them that had yet produced as much cotton as would last our manufacturers from breakfast to dinner time. There were only two countries that could grow cotton in sufficient quantity for their wants—America and India — and under present circumstances India appeared to be the only resource. But the quality of Indian cotton was inferior; and manufacturers would never use it whenever they could get a sufficient supply of a better material elsewhere. The demand for Indian cotton was therefore an occasional one; and it was well known that no country would grow a commodity merely to meet an occasional demand. The result was, that whenever a demand arose, the markets of India were completely swept, not of cotton grown for England, but of that which the people had grown for their own requirements. The most important question to be considered was whether India could grow cotton superior to the ordinary native quality, and equal to the great bulk of American cotton. The Government had very recently appointed Commissioners to inquire into the subject generally. He had seen the report of one of them, Mr. Cassells, on the province of Bombay, which was decidedly unfavourable. Mr. Cassells pronounced the experiments, which were made at great expense by the East India Company, to be total failures. He is of opinion that India cannot materially improve the quality of cotton, and that such improvements as have been made were mere "cultivation in a flower-pot." If that report were worth anything, it would, of course, be very lamentable; but there was really nothing new in it. All the evidence which it contained was known before, and the only novelty was Mr. Cassells' individual opinion, which he thought he should be able to show was of little value. The Indian mind was at present in a similar state of darkness with the agri- 757 cultural mind of England twenty years ago. They all recollected the predictions, that if the Corn Laws were repealed, the land would go out of cultivation. The result of the repeal, however, had been that the agriculturists had become an intelligent and scientific body, who would now be the first to laugh at their former delusions. Notwithstanding that under English superintendents Indian indigo, which used to be the worst in the world, had been converted into the best; notwithstanding that India now produced the best coffee, the best opium, and even, he understood, the best tea; notwithstanding that a great improvement had been effected in Indian wool, flax, sugar, and many other articles, the Indian mind was still imbued with the notion that the country could not produce good cotton. It was deplorable to observe the ignorance which prevailed on this subject even in the highest quarters. The Governor of Madras wrote to the Cotton Supply Association a short time ago to say that the black soil of India would not grow cotton from American seed, A few months afterwards came Mr. Cassells' official Report, contradicting the Governor of Madras, and stating that in the province of Dharwar alone 170,000 acres of cotton were grown on Government land, from American seed, on the black soil. Mr. Heyward, the agent of the Cotton Supply Association, stated, at the same time, that there were, in addition, in the same province, 100,000 acres grown on the black soil, from American seed, on free land. The fact was, that in Madras, and in the Nizam's territory, cotton was raised on the black soil, from American seed, to great perfection. He (Mr. Smith) did not blame the Governor of Madras for expressing the opinion; no doubt he was the mouthpiece of other persons, and knew little of the matter himself. He hoped, however, opinions on these subjects would not, in future, be expressed from such high quarters, without previous inquiry. Earl Canning also told the Association that the Indian ryots had nothing to learn in regard to the cultivation of cotton. Why, these ryots were the most wretched and poverty-stricken of any race of cultivators, in comparison with whom even the Irish cottiers were prosperous. They had not money enough even to buy seed, and had to borrow it at an interest of 40 or 50 per cent, and their agricultural instruments were of the rudest description. There were only two means of growing cotton or any other article successfully in 758 India: the first was by English superintendence and capital; and the other was by some enthusiast personally surmounting the obstacles which ignorance threw in the way of success. There was no instance of Englishmen trying the cultivation of cotton after the manner of Indigo planters; but, fortunately for India, it had produced one enthusiast cotton-grower in the person of Mr. Shaw, the collector of Dharwar. Mr. Shaw was strongly impressed with the value and importance to India and to England of the growth of an improved quality of cotton in India: he had seen the experiments made by order of the East India Company, by the planters brought from America, and those of other persons, and was convinced, notwithstanding their failures, that he could grow good cotton from American seed. What Mr. Cassells said was impossible, he (Mr. Smith) would show, Mr. Shaw had accomplished. With great difficulty Mr. Shaw prevailed on the Government to allow him to try the experiment; he commenced by superintending the cultivation of twenty-five acres with American seed, which he afterwards increased to 25,000 acres. Mr. Shaw had great difficulties to encounter in overcoming the prejudices of the ryots, which could only be accomplished by great firmness and perseverance. He found the country dealers would not buy from the ryots the cotton grown from American seed, and he was obliged to buy it himself. Then the ryots complained of the great loss of growing American seed, inasmuch as their cattle, which fed upon Native seed, would not eat American seed. Mr. Shaw took the opportunity of a great gathering of the ryots on a rent-day to address them on the subject of cotton-growing, pointing out to them the advantage that the American seed produced nearly double the quantity of cotton which the native seed yielded; and to prove that the cattle would eat American seed, he offered to put down 100 rupees, and they might subscribe amongst themselves alike sum: they should then bring the first cattle they could find, and if the cattle would not cat the American seed, they should take the 200 rupees; but if the cattle did eat it, then he (Mr. Shaw) should take the 200 rupees. This offer excited all the interest in the 2,000 or 3,000 people assembled that he wished: they were pleased with the idea, and retired to consider it; but returned declining to subscribe the 100 rupees, though they were unanimously confident that the 759 cattle would not touch American seed. Mr. Shaw then ordered the people to bring the first cattle they could find; a number were brought, and quantities of American and of Native cotton seed were placed before them. It happened that the cattle went first to the American seed, and then ate the Native seed. The people appeared so astonished at this result, that Mr. Shaw thought he had settled this seed question for ever; but no, though the cattle had eaten the American seed, the ryots declared it would kill them all; but as none died in consequence, the great objection to the planting of American seed was thus overcome. But Mr. Shaw had now to encounter the prejudices of his own countrymen. The American planters having declared that Mr. Shaw's experiments had failed, and that the cotton he grew from American seed was inferior to that grown from Native seed, samples were sent to Bombay, and the merchants there agreed in opinion with the American planters. Mr. Shaw still maintained that his cotton was of a superior quality, and the Government, in order to put it to the test, ordered 500 bales of native cotton to be purchased and sawginned and sent to Bombay with 500 bales of Mr. Shaw's cotton grown from American seed and sawginned. The two parcels were sold by public auction, and the Bombay merchants, true to their opinion, gave a higher price for the cotton grown from Native seed, than for that grown from American seed. When Mr. Shaw heard of this result, he felt, to use his own expression, "fairly done up." The laugh went against him, but he had only to wait a few months and the laugh went the other way. The cotton was shipped from Bombay to Liverpool; it had now reached a place where its true value was understood, and now Mr. Shaw reaped the reward of his perseverance and skill: the Native cotton for which the Bombay merchants had given the highest price sold by auction in Liverpool at3½d. per lb., and Mr. Shaw's cotton grown from American seed, for which they gave the lowest price sold at 6¼d. per lb. Now, it happened that the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. A. Turner) purchased some of this cotton grown from American seed and valued at 6½d. per lb.; he tried it weight for weight with ordinary Orleans cotton which cost 6¾d. per lb., and the result was that the Indian cotton produced three per cent more yarn than the American, and of equal quality. He (Mr. J. B. 760 Smith) thought that these facts, which he hoped the hon. Member for Manchester, whom he saw in his place, would confirm, settled the question of India being able to produce a quality of cotton equal to ordinary Orleans; and what was most important the House should know was, that the quality of cotton known as ordinary Orleans formed the bulk of all the cotton consumed in this country; so that if India could supply a similar description of cotton, she would be able to meet all our demands. Unfortunately Mr. Shaw had been compelled to quit Dharwar on account of ill health, and since his retirement no Englishman had supplied his place, the result was, that although the production of sawginned cotton had increased from 25,000 to 300,000 acres, the quality sold as American seed cotton had deteriorated from being grown along with native seed, and mixed and adulterated with native cotton; nevertheless, with all its deficiencies, it sells in the Bombay market 40 per cent higher than native cotton. Now, what Mr. Shaw had done could be done again, and he (Mr. Smith) maintained that under English superintendence India could grow any quantity of cotton. Then the question was, why did she not grow it? India will never successfully grow cotton till she can compete with America. India was placed under great disadvantages in this respect. America possessed rich land and cheap carriage, while India had poor land and dear carriage. Again, the Indian soil was exhausted, it having been merely ploughed with a stick for ages, and the ryots had also for ages grown from the same seed over and over again, so that the wonder was the quality had not become more deteriorated. Mr. Heyward, the Secretary of the Cotton Supply Association, saw land picked up with a pickaxe which produced 300 lb. per acre of clean cotton, more than three times the quantity produced by Indian ploughing. With English superintendence and the English plough, they would, no doubt, succeed in growing as good cotton as they had succeeded in growing good flax, which, instead of growing as formerly, only eight inches in length, with English ploughing attained the length of three or four feet. Then again, as regarded irrigation. The East India Company tried it to a small extent, and the land produced a smaller crop of cotton. That was very strange. But the fact was the land was irri- 761 gated as for rice, and it was a wonder that cotton grew at all. If the land was drowned, the seed would necessarily rot; but if it was irrigated in the proper season, and in a proper manner, the cotton would increase four-fold, and the quality would be greatly improved. Mr. Varey had produced three crops in the year by irrigation of a quality superior to the best Orleans. It was absolutely necessary to establish in India permanent agencies, in order to inspire confidence in the minds of the ryots. At present there were native bankers in all the districts, who made advances to the ryots whenever they needed them, and obtained possession of the crops to pay the balances due to them, so that although cotton had risen in price the ryots had not participated in the advance, it had all gone into the pockets of the dealers and merchants. If we looked for increased supplies from India, we should be disappointed until there was a competition of buyers, and an assurance to the ryots that they would be able to sell their cotton, at a profit not only in any given year, but for some years to come. The greatest obstacle, however, to the increase of the supply of cotton from India was the want of cheap carriage. In America cotton could be carried for a thousand miles down the Mississippi for one-eighth of a penny per pound, but to bring cotton from Berar to Bombay would cost 2d. per lb. That district, hitherto inaccessible to us, was the finest in India for cotton, and, if properly opened up, could alone supply all this country would require. He would remind the House that shortly before the Marquess of Dalhousie left England for India a deputation from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce waited upon him to urge upon his attention the growth of cotton in India, and the interview seemed to have made a great impression on his Lordship's mind. At any rate, his apology for seizing Nagpore was that it would supply us with cotton. Whatever opinion might be entertained of the merits of the Marquess of Dalhousie's policy, every one would acknowledge that he was a man of great abilities. In his celebrated minute on quitting the Government of India he states, that the importance of supplies of cotton was urged upon him personally by the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester, and he adds—The essential interest of England requires that the territory of Nagpore should pass under the British Government, for the possession of 762 Nagpove will materially aid in supplying a want, upon the secure supply of which much of the manufacturing prosperity of England depends.But the mere possession of Nagpore was of little use if there were not easy means of conveying cotton to a port of shipment. The Marquess of Dalhousie, therefore, ordered the river Godavery, which runs 100 miles through the cotton district, to be surveyed, with the view of its being made navigable. An estimate was formed of the expense, the work was approved by the East India Company and ordered to be completed; it was commenced; but unhappily the rebellion broke out, when it was suspended, and he (Mr. J. B. Smith) believed that very little progress had to that day been made in its execution. He (Mr. J. B. Smith) had recently received a letter from Liverpool, informing him that a new kind of cotton had been shipped from Bombay to Liverpool, called Hinginghaut cotton. Now, Hinginghaut was on the Godavery, and this cotton had therefore to be carried about 600 miles upon the backs of bullocks, at an expense of about 2d. per lb., to Bombay; whereas if the river Godavery had been opened, it might have been sent to the port of Coringa for half a farthing per lb. Nothing could more forcibly illustrate the impossibility, under ordinary circumstances, of India competing with America, than this fact:—It was only when Indian cotton was selling in Liverpool at 10d. per lb., which ordinarily sells at 4d. per lb., that the merchant could afford to pay 2d. per lb. for carriage from Hinginghaut; but let us see what would be the state of things in ordinary times. American cotton at the place of growth would be worth 3d. per lb. The carriage to a port would be ⅛d., total cost 3⅛d. Indian cotton at Berar would cost 1¼d. per lb., carriage 2d. per lb., total cost 3¼d. per lb.; but when the two kinds of cotton reached Liverpool, the American cotton would fetch 5d. per lb., and the Indian cotton only 4d. per lb. But supposing the Godavery were made navigable, the merchant, instead of 1¼d. per lb., could afford to give the grower 2½d. per lb. to induce him to grow a superior article equal to American. Add to this carriage ⅛d. per lb., and the total cost would be 2⅝d. per lb. as against 3⅛d. per lb. for American cotton. The opening out of the Godavery, therefore, would enable the Indian successfully to compete with the American grower. Then with regard to English agents establishing themselves in India, it was folly to 763 expect that agencies would be established in the country so long as the only mode of travelling was in palanquins carried on men's shoulders, and produce carried on the backs of bullocks; but the moment there was a prospect of river communication there would be agencies established in Berar. Indeed, he had repeatedly had applications made to him, knowing that he took some interest in the question, from persons who were desirous of ascertaining when the Godavery would be opened. Indeed, a company had actually been formed for growing cotton in that part of India. Why, then, was not this river opened? The Marquess of Dalhousie recommended it; the East India Company had ordered the works to be commenced years ago; he believed that every manufacturing town in Lancashire had petitioned the House in favour of it; and deputations without end had waited on the Secretary of State for India. Last year he himself accompanied about half a dozen; but it was very unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman did not take the same broad and enlightened view of the importance of opening this river that the Marquess of Dalhousie had done. It was to be feared that the right hon. Gentleman looked upon this as merely a Lancashire crotchet, which was pressed by a few importunate and troublesome individuals. But if the right hon. Gentleman desired authority, he would refer him to the very able report of Colonel Baird Smith—and he was a great authority. He stated that "the single limit to the growth of produce and the sale of our manufactures in India is the extent of roads and of river navigation." There were, to the everlasting disgrace of the Government, few roads in India, and scarcely a navigable river, and their limited extent had arisen from the practice of the East India Company, of carrying on public works only out of surplus revenue. They had always waited till they had a surplus revenue, a rare occurrence, before they finished any public work. There were works now in India, to an enormous extent, begun but not finished. The Ganges canal, for instance— a work of which they used to hear a great deal of boasting in that House—was not yet finished. Two years ago, because a few thousand pounds were not judiciously expended on the Ganges, there was a famine in India, and the loss to the Government from that famine would have paid ten times over for the outlay that was re- 764 quisite to finish that work. That—he was going to call it stupid—system of the East India Company of putting works off till they had a surplus revenue caused them to cost three or four times as much as they otherwise would. But what was most surprising was, that in that enlightened age— in the nineteenth century—the right hon. Gentleman defended this system as the perfection of human wisdom. A deputation waited upon him two years ago, pressing him to borrow £300,000 for the opening of the Godavery. He was borrowing £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 for railways; but he appeared to think that the borrowing of £300,000 additional for the opening of the river Godavery would upset his financial arrangements, and endanger the revenue of India. He would give the House an illustration how things were conducted in India. In 1858 there was a Committee of this House, before whom a very able man, Captain Haigh, was summoned. That gentleman had been sent by the Government to examine the Godavery, and he stated that there was no difficulty in making the river navigable. Before he left England to return to India, he addressed a very able letter to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, pressing upon him the importance of immediately proceeding with that great work. Captain Haigh solicited that he might be allowed to purchase £7,000 worth of tools whilst in England. That was in 1859. They were sent out to India; but when they got there, they were of no use, as he had no money to employ any one to use them. It was not until November of the following year, 1860, that the engineer received a communication that £30,000 was placed at his disposal to proceed with the work, and he forthwith proceeded to collect the necessary workmen to commence; but it was not easy in that district to procure the men qualified for the work, and he had to go 200 miles for some of them. At length, at considerable labour and expense he succeeded in collecting them together, and he had just begun the work, when he received a communication to inquire whether he had spent the £30,000 which had been granted to him, stating that it was only a grant for the financial year ending in April, and that all that was not expended was to be returned as a balance unexpended. He had expended in the five months about £7,000, and the remainder he had to restore the consequence was that he was obliged to dismiss the men 765 he had with so much difficulty engaged. Earl Canning, who, he was bound to say, had taken great interest in the opening out the Godavery, no sooner heard that the work was suspended than he ordered another grant to be made. But when the engineer set out to engage fresh workmen, he found there was great unwillingness to enter upon works from which they might be dismissed at a moment's notice, and he could only obtain workmen by giving increased wages of twenty per cent. The Government, in his opinion, had taken upon itself a great responsibility in delaying these works, and he hoped at length it was in earnest in completing the undertaking without delay; but he very much feared they were about to make another mistake. There were three barriers of rocks obstructing the passage of the river, and the Government began by making wooden tramroads round these barriers with a view of taking down the cotton grown that year. But no cotton had been grown this year, for no one knew of the demand, and, even if they had done so, the existence of these tramroads would cause the cotton to be loaded and unloaded fourteen times, instead of twice, as would be the case when the river was opened. The proper way would be to set at once about making canals round the rocks. It was proposed to construct reservoirs to assist the navigation of the river, but these works, which would be of a very expensive character, were not at all needed. It was not requisite that the Godavery should be open for navigation the whole year. The Mississippi was only navigable about seven months, the Ohio river and the great New York canal, the largest in the world, about the same period, which was sufficient for trading purposes. Therefore he hoped, that if the Government were in earnest about the work, they would in the first instance proceed with the greatest speed, and not wait till they had expended a large sum of money in reservoirs. If grants were only made at the rate of £30,000 annually, it would take fifteen to twenty years to complete the work of opening the river; but what was wanted was an instant supply of cotton, and for that purpose the undertaking ought to be completed in three years. That could only be done by placing such sums at the disposal of the engineer as would enable the work to be carried on simultaneously at every point. The House ought to be told whether the enterprise was to be paid for out of surplus revenue 766 or not. To his great surprise he learnt on the previous day that there was no surplus, that Mr. Laing had miscalculated, and that there was a deficit of £400,000. The right hon. Gentleman was strangely afraid to borrow money for reproductive public works; but that was the only legitimate way of executing them. He would state what course had been pursued by another Government in a case similar to that of the Godavery. There happened to be a barrier of rocks in the Ohio river similar to those in the Godavery, and the Government of the State of Ohio borrowed money for the purpose of opening up the navigation. They imposed a small toll on vessels passing through the canal, and that was sufficient in twelve years to pay off the amount borrowed with the interest. The right hon. Gentleman could do the same if he would. There were thousands of works in India which would pay from fifty to 100 per cent profit, and yet the Government was afraid to borrow the money to make them with, although, in a few years, the profits would redeem the cost. If Captain Haigh's report had been acted upon, and the right hon. Gentleman had proceeded with the works for opening the Godavery, what would have been the consequence? Why, they would have had English agents going up to establish themselves in Berar, and thousands of bales of cotton would have been coming down to supply their manufacturers in this time of need. Contrast the conduct of the American Government with that of our Government. The Mississippi, like the Godavery, fifty years ago was unnavigable; it was impeded by sandbanks and snags, the accumulation of ages. The American Government cleared the river out, and what was the consequence? That the country on its banks had been converted into a fertile district; that a city, with a population of 150,000 persons, New Orleans, had sprung up out of a swamp; another city of 100,000 inhabitants had been built on its banks, besides many smaller cities with several thousand inhabitants each. If the Mississippi had been under the Indian Government, the site of New Orleans would have remained a swamp to that day. So the New York and Erie Canal, which cost 30,000,000 dollars, was made by that State without spending a farthing; they merely used their credit, and the tolls not only covered the working expenses, but left a large balance towards a sinking fund, which had extinguished a consider- 767 able portion of the debt. He had endeavoured to show the House—and he feared it would think him prolix—that the great obstacle to growing cotton in India was the want of cheap conveyance. The expense of conveying food from one province to another was four or five times its value. The consequence was that the ryot was obliged to grow his own food. It might happen that one place was better fitted for growing cotton, and another for growing food; and if there were facilities for taking produce from one place to another, he would grow that which was most profitable, and would often grow cotton where now he was obliged to grow food. Then he had endeavoured to show that without English supervision and capital, cotton could not be grown with advantage. Until they had English capital employed, they could not compete with America, and their trade with India must therefore continue to be an occasional trade. But if the River Godavery were rendered navigable, and roads and rivers opened out all over the country, English agencies would be established, and improved cotton would take its stand in India with improved indigo, and improved sugar, and other products. They might be told that these rivers were not necessary, and that Government was doing a great deal in promoting the construction of railways. He did not wish to say much about Indian railways. He was afraid they were more for purposes of defence than for purposes of commerce, and he very much feared that many of them would not be very profitable. Of rivers there could be no doubt. He believed there was no instance in history of the opening up of a large river which had not been productive of great wealth to a country. There was another objection to railways, that railway communication was necessarily more limited than water conveyance; and especially as many of the railways in India were only single lines, they were very inadequate for bringing down large quantities of raw produce. If New Orleans and New York had no other mode of conveyance than that afforded by railways, they must have shut up their ports before this. The supply of cotton, he need not say, was not a mere Lancashire question—it was a question of great national importance. When they considered that the number of persons dependent on the cotton manufacture was equal to the population of Belgium, and larger than that of Portugal or Holland, the importance of the Question would be 768 manifest to the House, and the Government that failed in our present exigencies to give every possible aid to obtain new sources of supply, incurred a fearful responsibility. He should like to know what course the Government intended to pursue under existing circumstances regarding the promotion of the growth of cotton in India, what encouragement the right hon. Gentleman could offer in reference to English agencies. There was ample scope for European enterprise and profit as soon as the rivers and roads were open, and he had no doubt, whatever, that the moment that Englishmen had the same facilities of trade and travel in India which they would have in America, the profits from the cultivation of cotton would be found to be so great that the difficulty would be to keep them out of India, and the only way to keep them out was to keep the rivers closed.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Copy of further Correspondence relating to the improvement of the navigation of the River Godavery,
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, that past experience had fully shown that the Southern States of America were the regions of the world best suited for the growth of the finest and cheapest cotton in the world, and in any quantity. The occurrence of the civil war in America had, during the last twelve months, put a, stop to the supplies; but he was convinced, that if order could be re-established and peace be restored, this country would in the course of a short time derive a great portion of its cotton supplies from the Southern States of America. India, however, would still be a valuable auxiliary, and as such it was important to discover the obstacles which impeded the growth of cotton there. He was not prepared to admit that there was any necessity for the Indian Government giving any direct encouragement to the growth of cotton in India. But if there was any obstacle either to the growth of cotton or to its shipment when grown, these obstacles ought to be removed. 769 The great obstacle to the growth of cotton in India was the want of a permanent tenure of land in that country. That impediment not only prevented cotton from being grown well, but obstructed the material interests of the country. He adhered to the opinion which he had expressed in a former debate on the subject, that the alleged boon of waste lands in fee simple lately given to Europeans was neither more nor less than a mockery and a delusion. A permanent settlement of the soil on the principle of the Cornwallis settlement in Bengal was the one thing needed in India. He had often heard it remarked, both in and out of the House, that Manchester said a great deal, but did little. Manchester was frequently taunted in this way. It was said, "Why don't you go to India yourselves? or, why don't you send persons to India to get cotton, when it can be obtained there in any quantity?" Now, he did not think the Manchester people exposed themselves to these taunts. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) was constantly taunting his Friends around him in this way—"Why don't you do for cotton what others have done for indigo?" The hon. Member had mentioned persons who went out without money—mere adventurers— who were then superintending indigo plantations which extended over many square miles, and contained enormous populations; and he said, "Why don't you do for cotton what these gentlemen have done for indigo, both in its growth and in its improvement?" That was, no doubt, a specious and plausible argument; but it was entirely fallacious. His answer was this—that in the indigo-producing districts in India there was a permanent settlement of the land. In the settled provinces of Bengal, an English gentleman could hold land in any quantity, either as proprietor, or as copyholder under the proprietor; and what he complained of was, that no such system prevailed in the cotton-growing districts. In Dharwar, Surat, and other districts where cotton was largely produced, the Government was the sole owner of the soil, and no European could obtain land whereon to grow cotton on any terms whatever. That was his grievance. The Government had a monopoly of the soil, and his advice was, that the monopoly should be wrested from them. To obtain a permanent settlement of the soil on the Cornwallis principle was a necessity for India. If that was given, no interference 770 ought to take place between the proprietor either as to what he sought to grow, or the tenant as to what he should produce. He ought to be allowed to produce either cotton, silk, or indigo, or what he pleased, and then he would have nothing to fear. Having laid down these general principles, he would next call the attention of the House to the opening of the Godavery River. Those were not the best—or, at any rate, not the most judicious—friends of India who were constantly urging on the Government, in a time of embarrassment, to engage in large works, which, it was said, would be productive; but which, in his opinion, would be productive of nothing but great embarrassment and disappointment. It would not be out of place to inquire, how did the Godavery scheme originate? Was it taken up by the Government after due inquiry into the merits of the plan? Did the British officers in charge of our interests at Hyderabad or Nagpore press upon the Government the opening up of that new work? Nothing of the sort occurred. The scheme emanated from the brain of an enthusiastic engineer —an officer of the Madras Engineers— now Sir Arthur Cotton. That gentleman had kept his plans dangling before the public in the most pertinacious way. He was an officer of immense zeal, but possessed very little discretion. His plans and estimates were less reliable than those of any engineer on the face of the globe, and that was saying a great deal. That officer, by dint of perseverance, and by means of his satellite, Captain Haig, had persistently kept his scheme before the Madras Government, and had, to a considerable extent, coerced them into approval of plans which they highly disapproved. In the same way when the matter flagged in India a pressure was brought to bear in that House upon the Secretary of State for India, and hon. Gentlemen wished "to concuss" him into support of a scheme which would be attended with vast expense, and which most experienced men in India entirely disapproved. What was the river Godavery? It took its rise near Poonah, and, flowing in an easterly, and then a south-easterly direction, cast its waters into the Bay of Bengal. From the earliest times in the history of India that river had never been used for purposes of commerce. Timber had very rarely been floated down the river Godavery to the sea, and for the very sufficient reason that the valuable teak 771 forests, of which so much had been said, did not exist on the banks of that river. It would be time enough to lay out a great sum of money on the river when these forests had been discovered. The engineers declared that the Godavery could be opened up for a small sum for four hundred or five hundred miles, and for a space of eight or nine months in the year. He disbelieved all these statements, and he would tell the House why. It was within his own knowledge that in 1853 a small Government steamer, the Pottinger, sailed up the river in June. She started when the first freshes of the year came down, and steamed from three hundred to three hundred and fifty miles into the interior of India. In the middle of July the Pottinger went aground; and although the freshes were then at the highest, she lay high and dry for twenty or twenty-five days, without a drop of water under her. If that could happen in the month of July, what possible ground was there for supposing that when the monsoon ceased the river would be open for navigation for three or four months in the year? The Government had made no inquiries on that subject, but had received the statements of those enthusiastic engineers for gospel. If they had sent competent and unbiassed persons to take the depth of the river, and the rise and fall of the water, they might have ascertained these all-important facts. Supposing, however, that the Godavery was opened for navigation during eight months in the year, who was to navigate it? He believed that no sane man would think of running steamboats for passenger or goods traffic at his own risk. People talked of the millions and millions worth of produce which would ascend and descend the river; but that produce only existed in their imagination. The supporters of the scheme pointed to the profit of two steamboat companies on the Ganges, which they said divided 50 and 60 per cent, and which dividends would be exceeded by those made on the Godavery. He knew something of both those Ganges navigation companies. They were established about the year 1840, and he would assert that they had been eminently unsuccessful, and that the shareholders had lost the greater part of their capital. He was aware that during the insurrection in the Upper Provinces in 1858–9 the Government hired all their vessels at fabulous freights, whereby the companies were enabled to make considerable profits. On 772 the whole, however, these companies had been unsuccessful; but, if they had been as profitable as the Madras engineers pretended, what comparison was there between the Ganges and the Godavery? The Ganges ran through the most fertile provinces in India; had been the channel of trade for countless ages; and had upon its banks capital cities inferior to none of the towns of continental Europe—Benares and Allahabad, and other capital cities of 200,000 and 300,000 inhabitants. But from the Rajamundry district to the confluence of streams at Wurdah there was not only not a single city, but not a town or a village of any size on the whole of the banks of the Godavery? The country was entirely desert. It was the most unhealthy district in India, and it was inhabited by tribes who practised the rites of human sacrifice. It had been proposed to transport 5,000 coolies from the state of Travancore, to work at the barriers. Now, a more mad proposition never emanated from the brain of any human engineer, and the Government did not approve of it. He firmly believed that every one of these coolies, if they had been brought, would have died from the unhealthiness of the locality. Then it was said that to improve the navigation of the Godavery would be to open up the fertile valley of Nagpore. But Nagpore was, on the contrary, a sterile country. Under the dynasty lately supplanted by the Marquess of Dalhousie the income of that country, including its land rent, did not exceed £400,000 a year. Under the Commissioners of the Indian Government he did not believe the revenue exceeded £350,000, while its expenditure, including the cost of its military occupation, was not much less than £500,000. Since there was no prospect of any private person running steamers at his own risk, the Government, if the works were executed, would be compelled to keep up a flotilla, and to force a traffic that did not now exist, and that source of expense would go on for twenty-five years at least. He was not the only person who thought that the Godavery was not a well-considered scheme. The first letter in the despatches recently laid before Parliament was one from the Secretary of State for India to the Governor General, dated January 26th, 1860. In the eleventh paragraph of the letter it would be seen that the British resident at Hyderabad, Colonel Davidson, was of opinion that the scheme was neither feasible nor advisable. 773 Some papers were sent to him for his opinion, and that was the conclusion to which he came. But what was the treatment he received? Colonel Davidson was an officer occupying a high official position, and no man was more capable of giving an opinion on the point at issue. The Secretary of State thus wrote to the Indian Government—I observe by his letter to your Government of the 30th of April, 1857, that Colonel Davidson, the Resident at Hyderabad, expresses opinions on the feasibility and advisability of the opening-up of the Godavery adverse to those held by the Madras Government and the engineer officers who have examined the river; and I deem it necessary to request you to intimate to that officer, that though his views may not accord with those that have been put forward by the advocates of the project, I must expect his ready and full cooperation, in bringing the matter to a successful issue.In other words, Colonel Davidson was told to hold his tongue. He might be asked what he himself would do. He thought it would be very advisable, before any other expenses were incurred in opening up the navigation of the Godavery, to issue a commission in India with instructions to examine the question in all its bearings, and in a comprehensive manner. Such a commission ought to be composed of disinterested persons, and the engineers who had before been employed on the scheme ought, therefore, to be excluded from it. The expense of removing the barriers must not be alone taken into account, but the inquiry should be made whether there was any likelihood of any large traffic on the river. The expense of the Government flotilla must be ascertained and determined. Then roads and railroads must be made at particular points in the river, and all these expenses should be well considered before the Government embarked in such a scheme. Another element worthy of consideration was that the Government of India had largely embarked in railway undertakings. No one believed that the Great Indian Peninsula Company would pay the amount of interest guaranteed unless the traffic was brought over their line to Bombay. The great advocate of opening up the Godavery was Colonel Cotton, and he was an enemy to all railways. Colonel Cotton insisted that water was the only solvent, and water was his Daffy's elixir. But, if the traffic was diverted from the railways, where was the money to come from to pay the guaranteed interest of 5 per cent on some £20,000,000? He thought the Government of Madras 774 might well be intrusted with the appointment of a commission. Sir William Denison was himself a distinguished officer of Engineers, and he had a well-founded distrust of the whole clique of engineers who, for the last ten years, had ridden roughshod over the Madras Presidency. Sir William Denison was no popularity-hunter, and did not write claptrap Minutes with a view to obtain political capital in England, or send them to the newspapers without showing them to the Members of his own Government. he did not expect that the right hon. Baronet would adopt his suggestion as to the appointment of a Commission, but he was firmly convinced that the money expended in opening navigation in that fragmentary manner would be money thrown away, and that, if they went on as they had gone on for ten years past, the end, if not disaster, must be disappointment.
§ MR. J. A. TURNER
said, he should leave the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Smollett) and the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith) to settle their difference about the fertility or sterility of the districts bordering the Godavery. The one question to which he wished to address himself was the awful —he would use no other word—position in which this country was placed by the prospect of an utter cessation in the supply of cotton. Whether the Godavery was navigable or not, and whether the district through which it flowed produced cotton or not, need not be discussed. It was an ascertained fact that India in some parts did produce cotton to a larger amount than even the United States of America. It was certainly cotton of an inferior quality; but the object was to secure a supply of that article from India, and, if possible, of a better quality. His hon. Friend (Mr. J. B. Smith) had referred to some experiments he (Mr. Turner) had made; but his hon. Friend was not quite correct as to the person of whom he purchased cotton grown in India a few years ago. He did not buy it of Mr. Shaw. He bought it in India itself from an American planter employed there by the East India Company. In July, 1847, he sent an order to Mr. Mercer, the superintendent of the cultivation of cotton in the Dharwar, to send him a quantity of the best cotton from American seed which he could procure in the district, and also some native cotton. The two lots cost precisely the same price, and were landed 775 in Liverpool at a cost of 3¾d. per lb. Mr. Mercer was on his way to America to recruit his health, and arrived in Manchester on the very day that the cotton arrived there. During his visit he had the cotton passed through all the processes of a cotton mill, and at the same time, as nearly as possible, a similar quantity of cotton grown in America. The result was, that 50 lb. of the sawgin cleaned native cotton grown in the Dharwar from American seed produced in yarn 42 lb. 8 oz., being a loss of exactly 15 per cent. The same quantity of ordinary New Orleans cotton produced in yarn 41 lb. 4 oz., being a loss of 17½ per cent. Consequently, there was a decided advantage in the American seed cotton grown in India. Mr. Mercer was cross-examined at the rooms of the Commercial Association; and although he was a little prejudiced in favour of American cotton, and wished to impress them with the opinion that India never would produce any great quantity, he admitted facts which controverted his own opinion; for he stated that that particular cotton was grown in the Dharwar by the natives, cleaned by the natives, and everything conducted, under some little guidance, by the ryots themselves, and that there was a district suitable for its growth of 300 miles by 80 miles, or large enough to grow nearly all the cotton which England required. The East India Company did not follow up those results. He believed that the present Government were doing what they could in many districts to develop that important trade; and he believed further, that if communications were made and facilities offered by advances to the ryots, instead of leaving them to the tender mercies of extortionate native agents and bankers, they would obtain a good supply of very useful cotton, equal to that which they had been in the habit of getting from America. They, by no means, wished that India should have a monopoly in the supply of cotton. It was said that when the dispute was settled they would go back to America for their supply, and that the natives of India would not grow cotton for an uncertain market. But his remedy was to induce the natives to sow proper seed, to have proper superintendence, and to raise cotton almost equal to that of America; and then, although they would not supersede American cotton, they would have the means of avoiding such a disaster as had occurred. What was to be done with the population 776 of this country if they did not get a supply from India? It was his firm belief that years must elapse before they would have such crops in America as in former years. They must look to India to correct that evil and supplement the supply from America, and by so doing they would benefit both India and England, because the raw material from India would be paid for by manufactured goods from England, if the right hon. Gentleman only abolished those odious duties which were intended as a protection to Indian manufacturers, and were really a grievous burden upon the manufacturers of this country. He accompanied a deputation some time ago to the noble Lord at the head of the Government and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax, and he told them, that if these things were not attended to, they would have more noisy deputations—men from Lancashire clamouring for food. His words were incorrect. He accompanied a deputation to the right hon. Baronet yesterday. They were as respectable, as honest, and as quiet a body of men as ever waited upon a Minister. They did not clamour for food. They argued the question mildly and sensibly, with tears in their eyes when they thought of their starving families at home, for they were really operatives; and if the right hon. Baronet did not feel his heart moved when he listened to them, no words of his could produce the least effect. He implored the Government to direct their best attention and efforts to the subject. If not attended to, it was one which would press grievously upon the attention of every department, for it was impossible that peace and tranquillity could be preserved through another winter, as, by great exertions, peace was preserved through the last winter, if some assistance were not rendered to obtain the means of employing the people in the staple manufacture of this country.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
I quite concur with those who think that it is impossible at any time to overrate the importance of this subject, both to England and to India; and certainly the existence of what has been not inaptly called the cotton famine—the want of materials, and the consequent want of employment, for the population of Lancashire—now makes this subject one of ten times greater importance than ever. As my hon. Friend has stated, I had yesterday the honour of receiving a deputation of working men from Lancashire. Better-behaved and more reason- 777 able men I never had the pleasure of meeting; and remembering, as I do of old, the artisans of the West Riding, though not of Lancashire, it is most gratifying to see the increased intelligence of the working classes now, as compared with what it was some years ago, when my hon. Friend's anticipations might have been realized, and clamour might have been used instead of reason and argument. Certainly, unfortunate and uncontrollable as are the circumstances which have led to the present dearth of materials and of employment, the labouring population of Lancashire are entitled not only to our sympathy but to our admiration, for their conduct throughout this period of distress, and are entitled, moreover, to whatever we can do in mitigation of their sufferings. With regard to the question of cotton cultivation in India— though full allowance, perhaps, has hardly been made for the difficulties of the Government, and full justice has hardly been done to them—I am far from complaining of my hon. Friend for bringing forward this Motion. I am, indeed, grateful to him for doing so, and gladly acknowledge the persevering energy with which he and another hon. Friend of mine, the Member for Birmingham, have always pressed the subject upon the House, and the credit which is due to their exertions. My hon. Friend, however, has not quite considered either the state of Indian finances in late years, or what has been done by the Indian Government. He certainly alluded cursorily to the interruptions which the mutiny caused to the development of the resources of India. But he does not allow sufficient force to the fact that this calamity turned the energies of everybody to the maintenance of our empire there, and that, instead of borrowing money for public improvements, we were obliged to borrow to secure our very existence in India. In those three or four years of trial we borrowed between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000. Since then I am happy to say that a great reduction of expenditure has taken place; and though the surplus with the hope of which we were flattered turns out to be no surplus at all, the financial condition of India is now greatly improved. Thus, in 1859, there was a deficit of £13,500,000. Next year the deficit amounted to more than £10,000,000. In the year ending 1861 there was, by the last accounts received, a deficit of £4,000,000. The Estimate for 1862 shows a probable deficit of £600,000; and for 1863, instead 778 of the promised surplus of £400,000 or £500,000, the Estimate is a deficit of £250,000. Now, in the present state of Indian finance, I do not think it wise or politic to borrow largely for public works and reimpose taxes to pay the interest on these loans. But from what has been said it might be supposed that we were not spending money upon public works, and were not borrowing for the purpose. A portion of the expenditure is, no doubt, taken from revenue, but the money spent on railways is substantially borrowed by the Government. We guarantee the interest. If the railways succeed, we may be repaid the greater portion of what is advanced; but if they do not succeed, the whole loss falls upon the Government. I say therefore that substantially we borrow through the agency of the railway companies, for the whole responsibility and chance of loss rest with the Government. During the last five years we have spent upwards of £4,000,000 per annum upon public works, and upwards of £7,000,000 per annum upon railways, so that between £11,000,000 and £12,000,000 a year has been spent upon public works of one kind or other during this period. See what proportion that bears to the revenue of the country. The net revenue of India in 1861 was £35,000,000, and the expenditure on public works was therefore about one-third of our net revenue. Sometimes the Indian Government are spoken of as the great landlords of that country. Well, the land revenue of India is £18,000,000 a year, and we spend £11,000,000 or £12,000,000 upon public works. Such a proportion of expenditure and rental will not, I think, contrast badly with the expenditure of private landlords upon their property; nor, with these figures, can the Government of India be justly reproached for their neglect of public works upon a large scale. I merely make this general statement to show the mistake of supposing that the Indian Government are indifferent to these matters, or do not spend largely upon public works. But I am still more anxious to refer to what has been done to increase the supply of cotton. The Indian Government have not been unmindful of the approaching danger. Early in 1861 they called the attention of Indian officers to the necessity of taking every measure in their power for promoting the cultivation of cotton and bringing it down to the coast at an early period. The Government also caused to be collected and 779 published a mass of information never afforded before, comprising a report from each Presidency, and giving very full authentic and useful statements respecting the growth of cotton, what has been done, what may be done, what the Government may do, and what must be done by private enterprise. I will not now enter into the great question of the tenure of land, but will only say that it does not apply to the present emergency. What the Indian Government wished was to bring down the greatest quantity of cotton to the ports as soon as possible, trying as far as possible to meet the present demand for materials; and the land tenure question could have little immediate influence in promoting this object. Nor will I now enter into the question of the cultivation by the ryots. A rather unfavourable description has been given of the ryots, but in the Edinburgh Review there is an article written by a gentleman well acquainted with the subject, who says that the ryot is by no means a contemptible cultivator; that many of their implements, though rude, are well adapted to the country in which they are used; that the ryots understand the rotation of crops and manuring which suits their own soil, and that some of their implements seem to be models from which those used in this country were taken. What we want is to get as much cotton grown as possible and as soon. My hon. Friend says that the Indian mind does not suppose that cotton can be well produced in India. I have always been of opinion, and so has the Government of India, that as in the case of sugar, indigo, and silk, so an ample supply of cotton could be obtained from India if the ryots could only be assured of a remunerative price and a permanent demand. All the evidence tends exactly to the same point, riot only from the officers of the Government, but within the last few days I have been in communication with a large number of manufacturers of this country, and they appear to entertain the same views. One of the largest manufacturers said only yesterday, "If we had only done three years ago what we are doing now, I believe we should not have been so short of cotton as we are at present." This certainly is my own opinion, and I am glad to find that those immediately interested have now adopted this view, and that the offer of adequate inducement to the ryot is the best mode of obtaining a satisfactory supply of cotton. The hon. 780 Member for Stockport has very justly given the old Indian Government credit for introducing an improved cotton culture into India. They did a good deal, and they expended some £200,000 in doing it. They introduced foreign seed, established model farms, provided improved machines for cleaning and packing cotton, and for fourteen years took active measures for encouraging the cultivation of cotton by the ryots. The Indian Government had done all that could be expected from them, and then they left private enterprise to offer the necessary inducements to the ryots to grow cotton upon a large scale. My hon. Friend has referred to the inferior quality of the cotton grown in some districts, but I believe that the purchasers of cotton in India are the persons mainly responsible for the bad quality of that staple. They contract for a certain weight of cotton, and do not trouble themselves about the quality, and I have had complaints from persons who have taken pains to clean their cotton that their money has been thrown away, because they could get no better price for good and clean cotton than they could for the dirtiest and the worst kinds. I saw it stated in a Bombay paper that in Berar the ryots, even now, were ignorant of the great want of cotton that exists in this country. The native intermediate men do not feel inclined to give that information, and therefore I am afraid that from that quarter at present we cannot expect any increased supply of cotton. I am satisfied, however, that all that is wanted to secure a good supply of cotton is to insure a fair price and a permanent demand. The collector in Madras, in a late report, says—I am convinced from my own experience that if a remunerative price is tendered on the spot, anything may be grown, although the existence of the most profitable market, if it is not close at hand, seems to offer no inducement to the ryot to depart from his usual custom.That opinion is universal, and I am glad to find that those interested in the production of cotton are about to avail themselves of the facilities for sending out agents to India who may be brought into communication with the ryots, and by the distribution of American seeds and improved implements, but above all, by undertaking to buy their produce at a fixed price if equal to sample, may induce them to grow larger and better crops. The Indian Government came to the conclusion years ago; for as far back as 1848 it was stated 781 in a despatch from the Home Government of India that no satisfactory and permanent cultivation of American cotton could be obtained until the persons most interested in the cultivation took the matter into their own hands and established competent agents in the various districts. That view is now taken by my hon. Friend and great leading manufacturers, and I think that there can be no doubt if they had acted upon the opinion expressed by the Indian Government twelve or fourteen years ago, the supply of cotton from that country would have been much larger than it is at present. I do not, however, impute any blame to them, because it was not natural that they should go out of their way to create a new source of supply when they had a sufficient supply of the sorts most fitted for their use; but their present views justify the opinions of the Indian Government expressed so many years back. I believe those interested are taking measures to develope the cotton resources of India, and I can only say that the Government will readily afford them every facility in its power. The Government cannot do much directly in this respect, but a great deal may be done indirectly in giving support and encouragement to those persons who are sent out to supply seed and to purchase the cotton from the natives on the spot. I should observe that the most effective measures were taken by the Government of India, and a considerable sum was expended in improving the roads by which the cotton was to be brought down from the interior. It is hardly appreciated here how difficult it is to make roads in India, and especially in those districts where cotton is most grown. In Goojerat we are told by Mr. Cassells "that the nature of the soil and the absence of material for metalling render the construction of roads not only laborious, but seriously costly. The revenue of the Presidency might be sunk on the province without completing the work." In those districts there are miles of country without a stone to be found. I will now refer to the different parts of India, from which there are the best prospects of obtaining cotton. Mr. Saunders, speaking of the North Western Provinces, says—Thirty, forty, and fifty years ago there was a considerable trade in cotton, and it was largely exported to China and England. The merchants and planters in the North West had cotton factories and cotton screws at Futtehghur, Calpee, and Mirzapore, but the trade gradually died away. 782 The exporters were unable to compete with the cotton-grower in the Southern States of America. That which alone would have given life and vigour to the trade was wanting—namely, a demand from beyond the sea. When a real demand comes from England, a large and immediate supply could be sent from these provinces. It is not probable that Europeans settled in the country, remembering past disasters, will take the initiative in a trade requiring an outlay of capital for building and machinery, until the American question is settled and a real and prospeotively permanent demand is secured to them.My hon. Friend has spoken as though the Godavery was the only river of India, but the districts of which Mr. Saunders is here speaking are districts bordering on the Ganges, and thus it is not the want of a great line of water communication, but of a real and effective demand, which is the cause of an insufficient supply. The East India railroad will probably be opened by the end of the year, and then there will be communication both by river and railroad to this cotton field. With regard to the presidency of Madras, the roads there have always been in a fair state, and, with the Madras railway completed, there is railroad communication with the two opposite sides of the peninsula. It passes close to Coimbatore and Lahore, the chief places of the cotton fields. It was from Coimbatore that my hon. Friend told us last year that some remarkably fine cotton had been sent by sea to Calcutta. If to Calcutta, why not to England? A further expenditure has been ordered on the roads; and although I do not say that more might not be done by the Government, still it must be left to private enterprise to obtain from the ryot in Madras the supply of cotton that may be required. In the upper part of the Bombay presidency there is considerable difficulty in the construction of roads. There, again, a railway is being carried through the cotton district from Bombay to Baroda, a great part of which may be opened by the end of the present year. The hon. Member has referred to Dharwar, where, no doubt, the introduction of American cotton has succeeded better than in other districts. I believe that Dharwar has an advantage in this respect which is not sufficiently appreciated in these discussions —namely, that its climate is better suited for the production of cotton than any other part of India. I admit that what is wanted there is the means of bringing the crop through the Ghauts to the place of shipment, and measures have been taken by the Government for supplying that want. The last report we have had from Bombay 783 on that subject states that early in April the Kyga Ghaut had been completed to a width of twelve feet; that the nine miles of road between the foot of it had been sufficiently cleared to permit carts to pass; and that several carts from the Dharwar districts did descend the Ghaut, reaching Mullapoor without difficulty, and returned laden. So much has already been done that a quantity of cotton may be brought down that Ghaut in the course of next year. On the Abyle Ghaut line a company of Sappers and Miners, together with all the labour procurable, had been employed since the middle of February; and by a recent official report we learn that the road was opened for traffic to the village of Konay, in the Sedashevaghur Bay, within half a mile of Beithal, on the 14th ult., and that on that day the executive engineer's office and establishment reached Konay from the Abyle Ghaut in carts without the slightest difficulty. The greater part of my hon. Friend's speech referred to his favourite river, the Godavery, which is, no doubt, a great line of communication with an extensive cotton district. He says that I would not borrow £300,000 for the opening up of that river. Now, if the expenditure of that sum would effect the object in view, I should not have had any difficulty in providing the necessary funds. But, as we have been told, many Indian engineers are sanguine men, who come forward with very tempting estimates, which are sometimes found to be very inadequate for their purpose. It is therefore necessary to use a little caution in these matters. I have always been of opinion that it is desirable to open up the Godavery, although I do not anticipate the wonderful effects from it which the hon. Member for Stockport appears to do. I thought that, looking to the difficulties which might arise, from having to deal with the Nizam's Government, it would be better that the work should be carried out by the Government. But the Government of Madras having recommended that it should be intrusted to private enterprise, I consented about a year ago to the members of a provisional company undertaking it. I found, however, that those gentlemen were not quite so sanguine when they were to spend their own money, and they declined even the enormous prospective interest which my hon. Friend anticipates from such an investment. Therefore, do not let my hon. Friend imagine that his calculations of the cheapness 784 of the work and its great profitableness are unquestionable, and that it is only an obtuse Secretary of State who can doubt their accuracy for a moment. My hon. Friend, however, may depend upon it that the Godavery will and shall be opened; and, more than that, that everything has been done that can be done for opening it. Captain Haig has only been stopped by circumstances over which we had no control—namely, the fever which has reduced his effective staff of workpeople, and the refusal of the Nizam to allow several artificers whom he had engaged to come from Hyderabad; and, also, the want of timber. The Madras Government has, I think, taken the wisest course it could take— namely, to do what was in its power to meet the pressing demands of this year's crop; and it has made arrangements for bringing down, and also for taking up, one thousand tons at one-third of a penny per lb. in the present year. Government boats will be placed on the river for the purpose, and no doubt we shall lose money by it; but the urgency of the case is so great that I cannot refuse, for the sake of a small outlay of public money, to consent to the establishment of this means of communication. Beyond this, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway will penetrate the whole of these cotton districts. I hope a considerable part of the line will be finished by the end of the year, but it is difficult to answer for the completion of such large works. The last report states that they are being carried on with the greatest energy and rapidity, that there is plenty of money and plenty of labour. I trust that the works will be executed as fast as they properly can be; and when that is done, there will be a railway on the one side, and the Godavery on the other. Upon the whole, I believe as much has been done, is in course of being done, and will be done, as is in our power for the purpose of facilitating the growth and transit of cotton in India. That much can be done in order to produce a great supply in the course of the present year, I am afraid I cannot hold out very sanguine hopes. Last year the stock of preceding years was swept away, and I fear the crop of this year is not so good as we could have wished. But I hope that in the next year or two the supply of cotton from India may be increased to a very considerable extent. I believe that both individuals and Government are alive to the necessity of doing all that in them lies for the attainment of this 785 great national object. So far at least as Government is concerned, all that is in empower directly shall be done, in what is our more immediate province — the improvement of communication, and, indirectly, in facilitating and encouraging the natives and agents who are being sent into the country for the purposes of stimulating the culture and improving the machinery for the cleaning of cotton. By private enterprise and Government working together, all that is possible will be done in order to meet the emergency, and to meet the demands for cotton, and to mitigate, as far as possible, the distress which presses on our manufacturing districts, and which is undoubtedly of a very formidable character. With regard to the papers which have been moved for, there will be no objection to their production.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
said, he had listened with great pleasure to the speech of his right hon. Friend. It was quite clear that the attention of the Government had been seriously directed to the Indian colonies with the view of increasing the supply of cotton, and he believed, with the measures which had been taken, there was a better prospect of supply from that district than they ever had before. He had accompanied a deputation yesterday to the India Board, with reference to the great distress which existed in the cotton manufactories in Lancashire; and the right hon. Gentleman did no more than justice to the operatives who composed that deputation when he said that they conducted their case with the greatest good sense and moderation, and urged their arguments with an ability which must have surprised any one who was not acquainted with the character of those whom he had the honour to represent. One of the arguments then used he had taken the liberty of urging on the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. He referred to the great importance of a very trifling percentage on the manufactures of this country, in the competition their manufacturers were obliged to maintain in the different markets of the world. It was stated that even 1 per cent would often turn the scale; and as the cotton manufactures of England had been subjected by the Government of India to the duty of 10 per cent, which he was grateful to think had been reduced to 5 per cent, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be enabled to reduce that percentage still lower. With a 10 per cent 786 protection, or even with a 5 per cent protection existing against us in their own colonies, they might be unable to compete with them. Having introduced the principle of free trade into this country, they could not find fault with any competition that could arise in India; but it would be most inconsistent if they should allow a duty for the protection of Indian native manufactures, to raise a competition against the English manufacturers, who had to contend with them on the principles of free trade. Above all things, he hoped that the Government would not allow it to be understood in India that these duties were likely to be continued as permanent duties.
§ MR. BAZLEY
said, the object of his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport had his cordial approval, but he wished to correct one or two slight mistakes into which his hon. Friend had fallen. The Governor of Madras was not only convinced that cotton of the required quality could be grown in India, but he was engaged in giving every possible assistance to effect the required improvement. He was happy to state that only a few days before he had the satisfaction of receiving a letter from the Governor, dated the 24th of February, 1862, in which he said—I have arrived at the same conclusion as yourself, that the cotton you require in England, I mean cotton equal in quality to the average New Orleans, may be grown in Madras.A more satisfactory declaration could not be made at the present conjuncture to the starving people engaged in the cotton industry of Lancashire. In reply to the deputation which yesterday waited on the Indian Minister, the right hon. Gentleman had expressed his willingness to give every possible facility to procure an increased supply of cotton from India. Similar facilities were promised by the Foreign Office. Nothing less than an abundant supply of the raw material would relieve that branch of industry which was so seriously imperilled. They were in an exceptional position, and the Government ought to give every facility for increasing the supply of the raw material from India. He could bear testimony to the great exertions made within the last two years in increasing the supplies of cotton from India. The consumption of Indian cotton in Lancashire and Lanarkshire during that time had increased five-fold. They ought to feel grateful that they had such a resource in their own great dependency, for it was lamentable 787 that they had relied so long upon the American supply. It was doubtful whether that supply would ever again be so large as it had hitherto been, and hence the importance of doing everything we could to increase the supply of Indian cotton. He was afraid the Indian Minister had not sufficiently realized the importance of reducing the cost of carriage in India. So long as more than 100 per cent upon the first value of the article was expended in merely sending it to the seaboard, they should experience great difficulty both in improving the quality and increasing the quantity. It was also to be regretted that considerable delay had taken place in giving effect to the Minute issued by the late Earl Canning with respect to the tenure of land in India. He had been recently assured that applicants for land adapted to the cultivation of cotton could obtain no satisfactory reply from the Indian Department. It was desirable on every account that the delay should not become a permanent one, for he knew there were capitalists in England who would be glad to invest in the cotton cultivation of India if the needful facilities were granted to them. So with respect to the introduction of an increased water supply to Madras. Water was the treasure of India if rightly stored and distributed, but he understood the Indian Department were raising difficulties of a trivial kind. He trusted the Indian Minister would attend to that matter also. He felt constrained to plead for the development of the resources of other British colonies. They had vast resources, not only in India, but likewise in Queensland, New South Wales, and the West Indies. The hon. Member for Salisbury had that evening placed in his hands a beautiful sample of cotton grown in Queensland. In the great valley of the Murray they had a district inviting cultivation, and he believed it could alone supply more cotton than the whole world consumed at present. If by any means half a million of Chinese could be introduced into that country, he was persuaded that from that source alone they might obtain in a year or two all the cotton we required. The Governor of Queensland was making every possible effort to increase the supply of cotton. From him the agent of a Manchester company who had embarked in cotton cultivation in Queensland had received the most gratifying support. In a letter, dated Brisbane, April 12, the agent stated that the cotton grown in 788 Queensland, as far as quality was concerned, was pronounced by competent judges to be superior to anything ever seen in America, and that the yield was estimated at 400 lb. of clean cotton per acre. At the prices which usually prevailed in England the value of the produce, as thus estimated, was not less than £40 per acre; at the prices which now ruled it exceeded £70 per acre—the value of the freehold of some of the best land in this country. Truly, they had great resources in their colonies, but they required to be developed; and he was convinced that until Parliament gave encouragement to the cultivation of cotton, in their possessions abroad, the distress which now existed in the north would increase in intensity, and would scarcely be borne with patience by those who were now suffering without complaint privations of an almost unexampled character. It rested with the Government to make efforts which could not fail to be attended with success. If the cotton industry of this country were altogether suppressed, the loss of revenue would exceed £20,000,000, and the continuation of the present distress for twelve months would result in a loss to the Exchequer of £10,000,000. They had every reason, therefore, to encourage the cultivation of cotton in India and elsewhere, assured that by such means they would not only protect the interests of the revenue, but likewise restore the prosperity and happiness of large masses of the people.
§ MR. ARTHUR MILLS
said, they had tolerably clear evidence that the Indian Government were thoroughly in earnest in doing all that could be done to facilitate the transport of cotton in India. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire that India could not be regarded as more than an ancillary field for the production of cotton, and that they must always depend mainly upon the Southern States of America. He believed, on the contrary, that they must in future look to India and their other dependencies for the great bulk of our cotton supply; and he, for one, would not regard the civil war in America as an unmixed evil if it should lead to the development of the material resources of India. Nor could be concur in the sarcastic remarks of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire relative to a late Governor of Madras. Sir Charles Trevelyan had proved himself in the long run no bad prophet in matters of finance, and 789 it would have been well for India if his views had prevailed and been acted upon long ago. Many of the financial projects brought forward by others had yielded very small results, and it was now admitted on all sides that success was to be achieved in India not by increased taxation or by the application of European modes, but by reduction of expenditure.
§ MR. FINLAY
said, that a more important subject than that under discussion could not occupy the attention of the House. He had himself attempted to improve and extend the cultivation of cotton in India; but he had always found that, even where the best seed was used, the crop deteriorated in quality after the first year or two, a result which one might expect from the nature of the soil and climate. He did not think, therefore, that Indian cotton would ever equal that grown in America. Still the quality might be very much improved, so as to render the cotton of a useful character. It would be necessary, however, to act directly with the ryots. They were so poor that they could not cultivate until they got advances to buy seed; but those advances would be made if some security were given to purchasers over the growing crop; and some law should be passed in India for that purpose. He thought that many hon. Members were too sanguine in expecting a large increase of Indian cotton within the next two or three years. The improvement and the extension of cultivation in any country were slow processes, and he confessed that he did not see where supplies were to be got from unless from America. With respect to the means of communication, he suggested that in districts where regular roads could not be made for want of stones and other materials, tramways to be worked by horses could be laid down at a small expense.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that in the Berar district the finest crops of cotton could be produced—cotton equal to the production of any part of the world. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bazley) had inspected specimens of cotton grown by Dr. Reddell at Hyderabad without irrigation, the value of which the hon. Member fixed at 19d. per lb. There could not be a doubt, therefore, that India was capable of producing any quality of cotton; but the question arose whether the farmers could reap a greater profit from the cultivation of cotton than from sugar, indigo, or oil-seeds. The matter, therefore, was 790 really one of price. If the Lancashire manufacturers would make it worth the farmers' while, there might be a very enlarged production; but this could not be suddenly effected. A diminished cost to the manufacturer in the transit of cotton might be effected by opening up the water communication of the country. It was said that India could not bear the expense of the necessary works, and that was urged at a moment when an additional military force amounting to 4,000 men was about to be sent to India at an expense of half a million of money—a sum which, if spent on the opening of the Godavery, would be amply sufficient to effect so desirable an object. He asserted it was the duty of the Government to reconsider the question relative to the sending out of these troops, for all available means should be taken advantage of, to assist in preventing the recurrence of such an unhappy state of things as now existed from the cotton famine in England.
§ MR. CAIRD
said, it was one of the first duties of the Government of India to form roads and open up the communications with the interior. If that had been done, we should now have been able to obtain from India much of that cotton which was now so much required. The right hon. Gentleman had read a letter, stating that in Upper India the ryots were ignorant of the fact of an increased demand on the part of England for Indian cotton. If this were so, it must be owing to the neglect of the officers of the Indian Government, who should have made the native cultivators acquainted with a fact of such great importance. He doubted whether the Government realized the immense importance of the present crisis. In his opinion, the famine in Ireland was not to be compared with the existing danger. A quarter of the whole population was directly dependent on the supply of cotton for its livelihood, and what seriously affected one important interest of the country could not fail to affect others also. With regard to our future supply from America, it had been said that not only the last crop, but the crop now in the ground would pour in upon them as soon as peace was re-established. But he had had, on the preceding day, the opportunity of conversing with a gentleman from one of the Southern States of America, who said that not an acre of cotton had been planted in his district the present year. The Southerners refrained from planting, not merely from fear of being 791 overrun by the North, but because there was a pressing demand for corn and no outlet for cotton; and because, even if an opportunity should occur of disposing of their cotton, they felt that if the two crops were brought into the market, the price would be lowered, and therefore it was in every respect to their advantage to sell the single crop at double prices. It therefore appeared that we should not have much more than last year's crop to rely upon, and of that a great deal would be destroyed by falling into the hands of the troops, and from other causes that were likely to arise in the present convulsed state of the country. It should be borne in mind that the Southern States offered a field for the cultivation of cotton superior to any other on the globe. The water they must supply in other places by irrigation nature gave them in the Southern States of America. When the slave system was well managed and profitably conducted, it was self-supporting, and in that the planters had another great advantage in the production of cotton. Thus, cotton could not hitherto have been grown in India for the same price as in America, and the price at which it could have been grown in India would not have been given by Manchester. But the times were changed, and Government should take measures to make up for the deficient supply of cotton from the Southern States. It was probable that neither the one nor the other of the parties in America would cease the conflict until the question of slavery was settled, and then the advantages which the Southern States had hitherto derived from slave cultivation would to a great extent be at an end. Consequently, the cultivation of this product in the South would be limited by the restriction or abolition of slavery, and we should have to look elsewhere for much of our supplies. The whole yield from Algeria, Egypt, &c., would not provide for more than six weeks' consumption. In case they should lose one-fourth of the supply from America, India would have to double her supply to make up even that small portion of the American deficiency. It was, therefore, necessary that they should draw out the power of cotton-growing in India; and the fact that India had sent them this year such an enormous supply disposed of the argument respecting her capacity to produce cotton. In the district of Dharwar, by the simple introduction of New Orleans seed, the produce per acre had been increased from 80 lb. or 792 90 lb. to 200 lb. Even this was but half the acreable produce of America, and yet, if attained on only the present extent of cotton land in India, it would supply all we required. It was difficult to introduce a new system of agriculture, but not difficult to improve an existing one. That was all that was needed in India. He hoped the Government would do all in their power to improve the cultivation of cotton in India. They might give legitimate assistance by providing the Natives with a supply of the seed of the improved plant, by making roads of access to the cotton districts, and by repairing and restoring the ancient reservoirs and canal irrigation works of the country.
§ MR. GREGSON
said, it was unfortunate that we had not earlier considered the danger of depending almost entirely on one source of supply; and he believed that if enterprise and capital had been expended on India in former years, the supply of cotton from that country would have been sufficient to meet all the demands that could be made upon it. Last year the western side of India supplied nearly a million bales. He was afraid, however, that if the affairs in America should be settled, we should neglect India as before. All that was wanting to ensure the cultivation of cotton in India, was that the native cultivators should feel assured that there would be permanency in the demand, and they would easily raise the production to two or three million bales a year. What he recommended was that the capitalists should themselves take up the matter. Instead of crying to Jupiter for help, let them put their own shoulders to the wheel. If they would but supply capital, the skill and labour necessary would be easily forthcoming. He sympathized greatly with the distress of the manufacturing districts, and he regretted that the finances of India would not permit the removal of the duty on English imports, but, at the same time, he thought they should remember that India had herself reason to complain. It would be only too glad if her sugar, for instance, was taxed no more than 5 per cent, instead of 50 per cent.
§ MR. VANSITTART
could not admit that past Governments had done nothing to promote the growth of cotton in India, because it was distinctly proved before the Colonization Committee, that all that was needed was that English capitalists should prove to the natives that they were in earnest in this matter, and were not pre- 793 pared to blow hot and cold with regard to it. It was also shown that it was not necessary that any Englishman should hold land of his own. All that was necessary was that he should locate himself or his agent in some thickly-peopled district where the land had been settled, and make advances to the Native farmer or ryot, and then apply his skill in preparing the cotton for market in a superior manner to that which was usually the case with the cotton exported from India.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.