§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
Sir, when I had the honour of addressing the House this time last year upon the subject of Indian finance, I stated that, so far as it was possible to judge, the experience of the preceding year had fully verified the predictions which I had ventured to utter in the year 1859, that, in three or four years' time, we should witness the restoration of our Indian finances to a prosperous condition. I am now happy to say that the experience of another year does but confirm that opinion. I was told at the time I uttered those predictions, that the hopes which I was holding out were entirely fallacious; but I am glad to say that the course of events has proved that I was not mistaken. In the third year from 1859—namely, in the year ending the 30th of April, 1862, the equilibrium of the Indian revenue and expenditure was so nearly restored, that on a revenue and 1809 charge of about £44,000,000 the deficit, was no more than £50,000. In the year ending the 30th of April, 1863, the accounts of which are now before the House, instead of a deficit, there was a surplus of £1,827,000. In the year ending the 30th of April last the surplus is estimated at £257,000, and Sir Charles Trevelyan anticipates that the surplus at the end of the current year will amount to £823,000. This increase has been accomplished mainly by a great reduction of expenditure in India, but to a great extent by an increase in the important branches of revenue; and although we were compelled to increase many of the taxes, and to impose some new ones, a considerable portion of these have already either been repealed or reduced. I am not aware that the demands of the public service have been in any instance stinted in the expenditure which was necessary for them, or that there has been any neglect of the measures which should be adopted to encourage the development of our resources in India; and I think the House will concur with me in the opinion, that it is a most satisfactory state of things when, so soon after so extraordinary a depression of the finances as for three years together took place in India, so large a surplus follows a year in which the expenditure and revenue were nearly equal. But, beyond this, I am happy to say that we have discharged a considerable amount of debt in the course of the last two years. Sir Charles Trevelyan stated in India that this payment of debt had amounted to £9,000,000, and though I think that calculation is rather in excess of the real sum, I do not believe that the difference is very great, because we have paid off in this country a temporary loan of £1,500,000, £256,000 of India bonds, and also debentures which fell due during the last year, to the extent of £5,557,000. The amount of debt paid off in this country is, therefore, £7,313,000. In addition to this, £1,000,000 was paid off in India, so that in the last two years the sum which has been cleared off amounts to £8,313,000.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
From the 1st of May, 1862, to the 30th of April, 1864. I stated last year that, in conse- 1810 quence of the apprehension entertained in India by the falling off of the revenue, and of a deficiency of payments by the railroad companies at home, we had at one time borrowed more than we actually wanted. I must now say that the alarm entertained in India was entirely unfounded, and before the end of the year the railway companies paid in to the full extent of the estimate, so that the sum borrowed was not required, [An hon. MEMBER: Was the sum borrowed £5,000,000?] £4,000,000. It is not true, therefore, that the amount; of debt paid off has been liquidated from the surplus of the revenue. ["Hear, hear!"] My hon. Friend cheers, as if there were some wonderful discovery in this fact; but he might have easily seen that £8,000,000 of debt could not possibly be satisfied by £3,000,000 of surplus. The financial state of India as it now stands shows that there has been a steady surplus for three consecutive years, following a year in which the revenue and expenditure were pretty nearly balanced; that upwards of £8,250,000 of debt has been paid off. Nor have we accomplished this by unduly reducing our balances, for on the 20th of April the estimated amount of the balances at the treasuries at home and in India is about £19,000,000. Satisfactory as this statement is, I must beg the House not to attach too much importance to the amount of the sums which I have mentioned as indicative of what must necessarily occur in future years; because one item of revenue—opium—will always remain a source of anxiety to the Indian financier. The amount of revenue received from opium in the year 1861–2 was about £6,359,000; and in the year, the accounts of which are now before us, it is £8,055,000, showing an increase of £1,696,000. In the year, however, ending in April last, the receipts in this Department of the revenue fell to the extent of £1,205,000. Therefore, hon. Members will at once see that the revenue from opium cannot be depended upon with any certainty. In fact, by the falling off of the opium revenue in the year which has just closed, the surplus in India was reduced to £30,000. It so happened, however, that by some arrangements made at home with the other Departments of the Government, a larger sum than we expected was received here, and the surplus was thus brought up to £257,000. [Colonel SYKES: The Income Tax?] I will speak of that tax with the other taxation. I do not think it 1811 worth while to enter into a detailed statement of the estimates and receipts, as I have sometimes done in former years, when there has been a question as to how the balance turned the one way or the other; and I think it will be more interesting to the House if I give the figures rather more generally. Now, the maximum charge in the year 1858–59 was £50,248,000 and the revenue £36,060,000 leaving a deficit of upwards of £14,000,000. In the next year the deficit was reduced to £10,000,000, and in 1861–2 to £50,000, the charge amounting to £43,880,000, and the revenue to £43,830,000. In the current year Sir Charles Trevelyan has estimated the revenue at £46,163,000, and the charge at £45,340,000, leaving a surplus of £800,000. For the last few years the receipts from the main articles of revenue have been steadily increasing. I will give the House a comparative statement of the receipts of this year and the year 1856–7, the year before the Mutiny, when matters were in their ordinary and normal state; but I must inform them that I cannot specify the amount on every article in that year, because, although we have the receipts on each item separated in the accounts before us, they were not so distinguished in the former year. Since 1856–7 the increase on the land revenue forest and abkarry (that is, the Excise) was £3,500,000, and on opium £3,000,000, I am obliged to put the Customs and salt duties together, because owing to a change which has taken place, the importation of salt from this country having entirely superseded the manufacture of salt in Bengal, the receipt of duty, formerly in the Excise, is now in the Customs. The revenue from salt and Customs has increased in that time about £3,000,000; stamps have increased about £1,100,000; and the whole increase, therefore, amounts to £10,600,000. The land revenue has steadily increased, owing to a larger quantity of land being brought into cultivation, and that is one of the best proofs of the increased prosperity and of the development of the resources of the country. Opium has increased, as I before stated, in a most extraordinary manner, and they anticipate even a larger revenue from it in the course of this year than was received two years ago. The salt revenue, in like manner, has increased in the last two years to the extent of £700,000; but, as I have already mentioned, a great change on this head has taken place. The manu- 1812 facture of salt by the Government in Bengal has entirely ceased, and the objections which the natives entertained to English salt seem entirely to have vanished. After communications with the Salt Chamber of Commerce in this country, orders have been issued for the sale of the Government stock of salt in India; and henceforth I trust that the importation of sail from this country will entirely supply the province of Bengal. With respect to the income tax, I must observe that it was imposed under the pressure of circumstances, and it certainly is not a tax that has been very successful in India. With regard to the small holders of land under what would here be called Schedule A, hardly any portion of them pay the tax, and the tax on profits in trade, which I fear is not very honestly paid in this country, is hardly paid at all in India. The richest merchants in India somehow or other contrive to evade any considerable payment, and the result is that nearly the whole produce of the income tax in India has proceeded from a few largo landholders, from the public fundholders, and from persons receiving salaries. It is not a tax which it is desirable to impose in India, except under circumstances of pressure. Last year 1 per cent was reduced on the income tax, and next year it is proposed to repeal the whole, as a general tax, leaving only a portion for the purpose of defraying certain local expenditure, which ought to be defrayed by the inhabitants of the particular districts. With respect to the Customs duties, hon. Gentlemen are aware that under the pressure of circumstances they were raised from 5 per cent to 10 per cent. Within a couple of years the duty on piece goods and yarns was reduced to the former amount of 5 per cent, and 3½ per cent ad valorem. The duty on beer was considerably reduced last year, and this year the remaining 10 per cent duties will all be reduced to 7½ per cent. Therefore, with respect to all articles imported into India, nearly the whole of the temporary duties are already reduced. It is true, however, that the Customs duties are not very productive, and, omitting the duties on piece goods and salt, the whole amount is not much above £1,000,000. Of that sum of £1,000,000, more than one-half is paid on articles consumed by Europeans, such as spirits and wine, or which hardly ought to pay duty at all, such as metals, railway articles, and the result is that the whole amount of the Customs 1813 duties levied on articles consumable by the natives little exceeds £400,000. When it is considered that the people of India are improving in condition, and that in this country £38,000,000 are raised by duties on the great articles consumed by the mass of the people, sugar, tea, spirits, wine, &c, it is a striking circumstance that so small an amount of revenue should be derived from articles imported into India for the use of the mass of the inhabitants. When pressed by the people of Manchester to repeal altogether the duty on piece goods, I can only say that without these two duties on salt and piece goods, the mass of the people in India would be practically untaxed. It appears that the first articles of luxury in which the people indulge are gold and silver ornaments, such as bracelets, armlets, &c. No duty is paid on these articles, and the extent to which they are used accounts in a great measure for the way in which the large importations of gold into India have been absorbed. Consequently, we do not derive in India in respect of taxable articles of consumption the same advantage which other countries do from the improved condition of the people. That improved condition, however, is evidenced by the great rise which has taken place in wages, which has made it necessary for the Government to take into consideration the emoluments, not only of the native army, but of the lower-paid civil servants. The pay of the Native officers and soldiers has been increased chiefly by-additional good conduct pay. The expenditure on public works is much larger now on account of the rise in the rate of wages; and the administration of justice, in like manner, is much more expensive. As a country advances in civilization the expense for the administration of justice is greater than in an uncivilized country. The administration of justice in patriarchal style, under the shade of a tree, is cheaper than its administration in a judicial court by an English barrister. The increase of charge in India in two years has been £2,000,000, under the following heads:—Public works, £1,000,000; law, justice, and police, £500,000; surveys and settlements, £500,000. This sort of additional charge must be made if we are to do justice to the country. The increased price of food, which has necessitated an increase of wages, is, to a certain extent, due to the quantity of land diverted to the 1814 production of cotton from the production of grain and cereal crops. The distress caused by the failure of the American cotton supply has not been confined to the manufacturing districts of this country. The native manufacture of cotton has been pretty nearly destroyed in India. In one district the people had to resort for support to the public works, and at another place there were disturbances which we were obliged to suppress by force. Hon. Gentlemen will be not a little astonished, I daresay, at the extraordinary increase in the prices of different articles of produce. I have a return which illustrates this in a very striking manner:—In 1859 one could buy for a rupee 810 tolas of rice in Ahmednugur; in 1863, 660 tolas; and in the same year in Dharwar, a cotton district, only 525 tolas. In 1859 a rupee procured 2,670 tolas of wheat in Ahmednugur; in 1863, 1,080; and in 1863, in Dharwar, 642. In 1859 a rupee procured 3,240 tolas of bajree in Ahmednugur; in 1863, 1,080; and in 1863, in Dharwar, 568. In 1859, a rupee procured 3,960 tolas of jowaree; in 1863, 1,260; and in 1863, in Dharwar, 595. Again, in 1859, a rupee would fetch 2,760 tolas of grain in Ahmednugur; in 1863, 1,170; and in 1863, in Dharwar, only 536.It is not difficult to imagine the extent of the distress which has been occasioned among the working classes by this extraordinary rise in the prices of provisions. So far, however, as this country is concerned, it is very satisfactory to observe the increase in the importation of cotton from India, Rather exaggerated expectations were, at the outset, entertained as to what could be done at once in procuring cotton from India. In no country is it possible that the permanent supply shall very much exceed the permanent demand. If people cannot sell produce they will not grow it. After the experiment tried some years ago of growing cotton for the English market in India, which was entirely superseded by the supply of superior quality from America, and great loss thereby caused to the growers in India, it is not surprising that they were not ready to produce on demand a large quantity of cotton, which but for that sudden emergency would not have been required from them. The first effect of the sudden demand was to bring out all the old stores of cotton, much of it of very inferior quality. It is said that even mattresses and beds were ripped open, and that the cotton inside of them was sent to this country. There was thus a considerable increase in the supply of cotton; but, in order to test the amount of production, we 1815 must compare the amount we got last year with the amount we received the year before this sudden demand arose, and not in the year after the increased demand. Even before the extraordinary demand there was a considerable increase in the amount of the supply. In 1858 the quantity of cotton imported from India was 1,185,000 cwt.; in 1859, 1,717,000 cwt.; in 1860, 1,822,000 cwt.; in 1861, 3,295,000 cwt.; in 1862, 3,505,000 cwt.; in 1863, 3,878,000 cwt. Last year I quoted one of the best publications I have seen on the production of cotton in India—letters addressed to a Bombay newspaper by a cotton broker, Mr. Smith, of Liverpool, who travelled over a considerable part of India and made some most sensible observations. Mr. Smith stated very truly that it was absurd to expect a sudden rise in the supply; but if prices were kept up there would be ultimately a steady but gradual increase in the production of cotton. Referring to the accounts of the importation of cotton into this country for the first five months of the year, ending on the 31st of May, the House will see that there has been a steady and remarkable increase in the last years. In the five months of 1858, 1859, and 1861 respectively, the cotton imported from India amounted to about 340,000 cwt. In the five months of 1861 it was 342,000 cwt.; 1862, 734,000 cwt.; 1863, 962,000 cwt.; 1864, 1,247,875 cwt. We are fairly entitled, therefore, to say that the production of cotton in India and its importation into this country have been pretty nearly quadrupled in those periods. In Berar, Nag-pore, and the other cotton districts of Central India, the number of acres under cultivation in 1861 was 380,000; in 1862, 427,000, and in 1863, 588,000. Similar progress, I have no doubt, is observable in other parts of India where cotton can be grown. On the score of quantity, therefore, we have every reason to be satisfied with what India has done for us in regard to cotton. I am afraid, however, I cannot say as much as to the improvement in the quality of the cotton. That is, of course, necessarily a much slower process. The grower who receives a high price by weight, has in many cases been tempted to enhance the weight and his profit by unfair means. So great did the evil become, that the Bombay Government passed an Act for preventing the adulteration of cotton; and from the Report of the Inspector who was appointed to carry out the law, I understand he has been very successful in accomplish- 1816 ing that object. The main difficulty, at present, consists in preventing the mixing of different qualities of cotton. Superior and inferior kinds are grown in the same field; and great care is required both in sowing the seed and in picking the pods to prevent a mixture. I have no doubt that when the Indian growers find that they can get a higher price for a better quality they will be clever enough to produce a superior kind of cotton. Of the other articles of produce the return is really very satisfactory. Between 1858.9 and 1862–3 the quantity of coffee exported to this country has increased from about 11,000,000 to 21,000,000; lbs.; of indigo, from 9,000,000 to 11,000,000 lbs.; and of jute, 317,000 to 1,266,000 cwt. The export of wool has increased from 15,000,000 lbs. to 21,000,000 lbs. With regard to the tea grown in India, I am afraid that there is some prejudice against it at the present moment, but I believe that it has very much improved in quality. The extent of the plantations has considerably increased. In Assam the cultivation has been introduced and is carried on by private enterprise, and the result has been so successful that the Assam Tea Company have been enabled to pay their shareholders a dividend of 25 per cent. It has also been successfully introduced by the Government into the North of India, and so successfully that at the present moment all the Government plantations are to be disposed of with the exception of one which has been reserved for the production of seed. I do not possess an account of the quantity of tea exported for a period of years, but the value of that exported in 1858–9 was £60,000, and in 1862–3 it had increased to £223,000. A plantation for furnishing tea seeds and plants has been formed in the Neilgherries. There is another matter which is likely to prove advantageous not only to India but the world at large. Mr. Markham, a clerk in the India Office, has succeeded in introducing from South America the seed of the cinchona tree, from which quinine is obtained, and the cultivation of that plant in the Neilgherry Hills has proved most successful. In January, 1862, 8,600 plants were growing, but in April last the number had increased to 341,000; and what is still more remarkable, the bark of the few trees which have attained sufficient size to enable the quality of the bark to be tested, gave a produce exceeding that of the hark of the same description of tree in South America. The 1817 cultivation of the cinchona plant is now being greatly extended, and I believe that the superintendent of the Dutch plantation at Java, who went over to inspect the plantations on the Neilgherry Hills, has declared that the plants are superior to anything they have in Java. The great increase in the exports from India has led to an extraordinary importation of gold and silver. In the last five years the amount has been £50,000,000 of silver and £25,000,000 of gold, but a considerable portion must have been employed by the natives in the manufacture of ornaments for themselves, their wives, and families, A large proportion of the gold and silver imported seems to have disappeared in this way, as it has not been exported anywhere. [Colonel SYKES: Has there been an increase in the coinage?] There has been a great amount of coinage. I do not intend to advert to the subject of the currency, as that question was discussed in the House a short time ago, but I shall be happy to answer any question which may be put to me upon it. [Mr. J. B. SMITH: Has a gold currency been adopted in India yet?] I stated when the subject was before the House a short time ago, that I was not prepared to take any steps in the matter until I had received a report from the Government in India. I have not yet received that report, but I have every reason to believe that I shall do so before long. The public works have been carried on with great vigour, and without any limit as to funds. The only difficulty which has been experienced has been one which we were not prepared to anticipate in India—namely, want of labour, I, in common with others, was for some time under the impression that the supply of labour was abundant in all parts of India; but I am informed that in all districts where the public works are going on, it has been found extremely difficult to obtain an adequate supply of labour. In the central districts in India the railroads and other public works have been in competition with the agriculturists for labour. The consequence has been that the price of labour has been raised, and the cost of the construction of the public works increased. In Assam, South Canara, Central India, Scinde, and the North Western Provinces there is a great want of labour, and unfortunately these are the districts in which English capital and English settlers can be most beneficially employed. So great is the inconvenience which is 1818 experienced from the want of labour, that I have been asked to do something towards importing Chinese labourers into India, which is a proposition not a little startling to those who have always been led to believe that the population of India was more than sufficient for the requirements of the country. Railroads are being carried on with great activity in all parts of India. A number of gentlemen have come forward and have undertaken the construction of what is called a light branch railway communication through the northern parts of India. They have done this without a guarantee upon obtaining the land from the Government and a contribution for a certain number of years. The terms are much more favourable to the Government than anything we have hitherto been able to obtain. I sincerely hope that the undertaking will succeed. It will show that works of this kind may be done by private companies, not only with advantage to the country, but to the shareholders themselves. The gauge is the same as that of the great railroads. Beyond that, in the course of the winter, a telegraphic cable has been laid down from Kurrachee to the head of the Persian Gulf. The recommendations of the Commission presided over by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) to inquire into the sanitary condition of the Indian army, have been followed up by the appointment of Sanitary Commissions in each presidency, who have already commenced their labours, not only with regard to the barracks, but also in reference to the condition of the town of Calcutta. For a long time, to the disgust of the more civilized inhabitants, it has been the practice in Calcutta to throw dead bodies into the river, the result of which was to aggravate during last year the ravages of the cholera, which broke out very severely. It was thought desirable to take some precautionary measure, and the first step taken was to prohibit the throwing of dead bodies into the Ganges. There was no intention on the part of the Government to interfere with the prejudices or wishes of the Hindoo inhabitants of Calcutta; and it will be a consolation to the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Sykes) to know that the prevention of the abomination of throwing dead bodies in the river had the entire; approval of the Hindoo municipality of Calcutta. [Sir JAMES FERGUSSON: What I about the state of the gaol?] The last 1819 report we have received was that the gaol was in a satisfactory state. It had been inspected by the magistrates at Calcutta, appointed under an Act of Parliament, who are bound to inspect it at least once a month. The progress of internal affairs in India is also most satisfactory, and there is no disturbance within our frontier. If there has been some little disturbance just outside our North Western frontier it has turned out to be a matter of very little consequence. Early in the Session, in answer to a question, I stated very shortly what had happened in that case, and perhaps it is right that I should now recur to it. Many years ago a Mahomedan fanatic established himself and his followers in the district beyond the Indus when Runjeet Singh ruled in the Punjab. He contended for some time to defy that ruler, and was ultimately killed, but the remainder of his companions took refuge in the hills and made marauding incursions into the territory of that ruler. When we took possession of the Punjab they had no more love for us than they had shown for Runjeet Singh, and they had been a thorn in our side, more or less, ever since. They were settled on the western bank of the Indus, just on the outside of our frontier, and were in the constant habit of making inroads upon our territory, murdering and plundering the inhabitants of the villages, and disturbing the peace of the district in every possible way. In 1857 an expedition was undertaken against them under Sir Sidney Cotton, who destroyed two of their strongholds, and took engagements from the neighbouring tribes that they would not allow them to harbour among them, or come thence to harass our frontier as they had been wont to do. For a year or two they gave us no further trouble, but being partially strengthened by some mutineers who took refuge among them, these marauders recommenced their incursions. They advanced into our territory and into one of the States under our protection, and committed their usual outrages by murdering the persons whom they came across and burning the villages. We called upon the tribes through whose territory they passed to perform their engagements and arrest their progress. One of those tribes was divided in feeling, one-half of it being disposed to do what it could to prevent these marauders from coming through its territory, the rest not being disposed to do so, and saying that they were too strong for it, and that if we wanted to stop them we must do it ourselves. 1820 After considerable hesitation Lord Elgin authorized an expedition against the marauders, but the officers on the spot were a little indiscreet in one respect in the course they took. They proceeded by way of the Umbeylah Pass, but they did not take into account sufficiently early the probability of their alarming the powerful tribe of the Bonairs by their advance. They had not the least reason to apprehend any opposition from the Bonairs, who on a former occasion took our part against these marauders, and we had not the least intention of injuring the Bonairs. However, our officers did not send a communication to the Bonairs until they had reached the top of the Umbeylah Pass, within a few miles of their territory, and, with the suspicion natural to an Oriental tribe, the Bonairs thought we were about to attack them. They, therefore, turned out in great force and resisted our troops. They were afterwards joined by other fanatical Mahomedans, but they were repulsed with considerable loss to themselves, but with some loss also among our force. While this was going on, the agent of the Governor General, who had been absent, returned and apparently succeeded in assuring the Bonairs that we had not had the slightest intention to injure them, and they were willing to withdraw. But the fanatical allies from other tribes, under the influence of a sort of Mahomedan prophet called the Akhoond of Swat, persuaded them to continue their resistance. A successful attack was made on their lines, and they were driven from their position, and after two days' fighting the Bonairs themselves, the very people who had commenced the resistance to us before, said they were ready to go with our force and destroy the strongholds of the marauders. That object was accomplished, and the expedition ended as satisfactorily as a matter of that kind could end. It was a most unfortunate circumstance that opposition should have been offered to our troops through a false alarm on the part of the Bonairs. But the greatest pains were afterwards taken to assure them we never had any intention to attack them; that our only desire was that our frontier should not be harassed by hands of plunderers who harboured in their territory; and that we should only be too happy to live on good terms with them. We have no reason to fear that anything of that kind will occur again. [Mr. VANSITTART asked whether the expense of that war had been brought into the accounts?] 1821 The expense is in the estimated expenditure for the past year, and it amounts to between £150,000 and £200,000. Perhaps I should next notice the civil war between the Ameer of Cabul and his brothers. We simply acknowledge the de facto ruler in that case, and refuse to take any part whatever on either side. We are leaving them to fight it out in their own way, and taking the greatest care not to give the slightest assistance to either party. There is only one other quarter which may to a certain extent disturb the peace of our frontier. I refer to Bhootan. For many years inroads have been made by plundering bands of Bhootans in our territory, and it had been determined to send an expedition there, but the mutiny prevented any thing of that kind being done, and Lord Elgin thought it better to come to some arrangement if possible with the rulers of that country. There was no reason to believe that the mission to them would not be well received, because on two former occasions such a mission had been favourably received. On the present occasion, the Envoy was grossly insulted. It is difficult to know exactly how he should have acted; but although I think it would have been wiser not to have gone on, we can hardly form a fair judgment after the fact, and I have no doubt of Mr. Eden's having acted to the best of his judgment in very difficult circumstances. It would be hard to blame him now. The country was in a state of complete anarchy. The recognized rulers of the country are a spiritual chief and a temporal chief; there are also an eastern viceroy, and a western viceroy, with subordinate chiefs. At present there are two temporal chiefs, two spiritual chiefs, two eastern and three western viceroys. These viceroys were in a state of hostility with each other. We have not the least notion of going into that country or maintaining any position there; but we do intend to take possession of a narrow strip of low country, and to occupy the passes to prevent inroads, and in that way we may be able to bring them to as much reason as is possible with a race of barbarians. There is another topic to which I should wish to refer—the result of experience with regard to those legislative measures which the Legislature of this country has passed for India. In 1861 three Acts of Parliament passed specially affecting India. One was for admitting in the Council of the Governor General not only Englishmen unconnected 1822 with the Government, but Natives of India. The Council of the Governor General and that of the Governor of Madras and of Bombay was increased in this way, and a council was given to the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. As far as we can judge, that legislation has been successful, and, what is most satisfactory, the Natives who were to form part of the Council seem to have taken a very active part in legislation, and expressed their opinions with freedom, very greatly to the advantage of the Government. Three Natives were put in by Lord Canning, one of whom has since died. Lord Elgin put in three other Natives, and, I think, wisely brought a Native Chief of considerable influence from Madras. Three Natives have been put into the Madras Council, five into the Bombay Council, and eight into the Council of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. I believe the measure has given the greatest possible satisfaction to the people of India. The next measure passed was one for the improvement of the High Court of Justice. This too has worked well; the barristers, judges, and the civilians have acted very harmoniously together, and a very able Native Judge has been placed on the bench of the High Court of Calcutta. On the recommendation of a Law Commission which I appointed when I was President of the Board of Control, a code of civil procedure has been introduced into India. Upon that subject the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal says—The result of all the inquiries I have made from the Native Judges, by whom nearly all original suits are tried, and of whom I have now seen many in different parts of the Lower Provinces, is that the new procedure in working has been successful even above all hope.Mr. Harington says—As showing how successful the Code of Civil Procedure has been in expediting the administration of justice, it may be mentioned that in a Court of Small Causes in the North Western Provinces, established under the provisions of Act XLII., of 1860, the average duration of suits disposed of during the past year was only eight days, including the day on which the plaint was filed. Under the old system of procedure the average would probably have been between two and three months.The third measure was one to enable the Governor General to appoint officers from the civil service to certain offices for which they were not till then eligible. I have laid on the table this year the number of appointments under that Act, and I do not think it will be found that there is reason to complain of any one of them. 1823 The measure has been entirely successful in the objects it sought to accomplish. Since I last addressed the House on this subject we have been deprived by the stroke of death of the services of Lord Elgin, and I know no one better fitted to undertake the Government of India as his successor than that old and eminent servant of India, Sir John Lawrence. I believe it is the opinion of the people of both countries that this appointment is the best that could have been made. Sir John Lawrence will, I feel confident, justify all the expectations that have been formed from his former career, and from his intimate knowledge of the country. And I think that no one could have been found so well qualified as he to fill that high position with advantage. I am happy to think that the policy pursued of late years in regard to India has met with due appreciation on the part of the Natives of India. That policy is not mine. It is the policy of the Sovereign, the policy of this House, the policy of the country at large. I am grateful for the support which I have received from all sides of the House, and more especially the impartial and straightforward support which has been given to all those measures which he believed to be for the good of India by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, from whom I have seldom differed in matters relating to India. The policy adopted towards the country has been, I repeat, the policy of the Queen and of Parliament, and all that I have done has been faithfully to carry it out. For this reason, that it has been the policy of the country, and that they are entitled to any expressions of gratitude from the people of India. I hope, without being accused of undue vanity, I may be permitted to advert to a resolution passed at a public Native meeting which was convened in Calcutta, and there an address was agreed to which was signed by 8,000 of the most intelligent and influential Natives of that city. At this Native meeting, which was attended by the most influential persons in Calcutta, a resolution was passed which expressed the opinion of all the persons who signed the address. It is as follows:—That this meeting desires to record their high sense of gratitude for the wise and beneficent policy which has distinguished the administration and control of Indian affairs for the last five years (by Sir Charles Wood), a policy which has nobly sustained the authority and dignity of Her Majesty's Government in her Indian dominions; which has strengthened by new bonds of attach- 1824 ment the confidence and sympathy of the princes and chiefs of the country; which has, above all, steadily sought to govern the empire in consonance with justice and the true interests of her teeming millions.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
It was held in March last year. I claim no credit to myself for what has been done, for although I have received the expression of these thanks, it is not to me, but to the Sovereign and people of this country that the thanks of the people of India are due. Theirs has been the determination to pursue this policy. I have only been the hand to carry it out, and I feel convinced that this country will reap the fruits of this wise and beneficent policy long after I have ceased to take any part in Indian affairs. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the following Resolutions:—
- 1. That the total net Revenues of the Territories and Departments under the immediate control of the Government of India for the year ended the 30th day of April, 1863, amounted to £3,481,927 sterling, and the Charges thereof, for the same period, other than Military Charges, amounted to £3,040,501 sterling.
- 2. That the total net Revenues of the Bengal Presidency, for the year ended the 30th day of April, 1868, amounted to £11,755,377 sterling, and the Charges thereof, for the same period, other than Military Charges, amounted to £2,060,713 sterling.
- 3. That the total net Revenues of the North Western Provinces, for the year ended the 30th day of April, 1863, amounted to £5,162,401 sterling, and the Charges thereof, for the same period, other than Military Charges, amounted to £1,497,179 sterling.
- 4. That the total net Revenues of the Punjab, for the year ended the 30th day of April, 1863, amounted to £2,612,517 sterling, and the Charges thereof, for the same period, other than Military Charges, amounted to £1,192,674 sterling.
- 5. That the total net Revenues of the Territories and Departments under the immediate control of the Government of India of the Bengal Presidency, of the North Western Provinces, and of the Punjab, together for the year ended the 30th day of April, 1863, amounted to £23,012,222 sterling, and the Charges thereupon, including the Military Charges, amounted to £14,753,114 sterling, leaving a surplus available for the general Charges of India, of £8,259,108 sterling.
- 6. That the total net Revenues of the Madras Presidency (Fort Saint George), for the year ended the 30th day of April, 1863, amounted to £5,819,048 sterling, and the net Charges thereof, for the same period, amounted to £5,383,285 sterling, leaving a surplus available for the above Presidency, for the general Charges of India, of £435,763 sterling.
- 7. That the total net Revenues of the Bombay Presidency, for the year ended the 30th day of
1825 April, 1863,amounted to £7,831,597 sterling, and the net Charges thereof, for the same period, amounted to £4,831,841 sterling, leaving a surplus available in the above Presidency, for the General Charges of India, of £2,999,756 sterling.
- 8.—That the total net Revenues of the several Presidences, for the year ended the 30th day of April, 1863, amounted to £36,662,867 sterling, and the Charges thereof amounted to £24,968,240 sterling, leaving a surplus Revenue of £11,694,627 sterling.
- 9.—That the Interest on the Registered Debt of India, paid in the year ended the 30th day of April, 1863, amounted to £3,351,680 sterling, and the Charges defrayed in England, on account of the Indian Territory, in the same period, including Guaranteed Interest on the Capital of Railway and other Companies, after deducting net Traffic Receipts of Railways, amounted to £6,515,601 sterling, leaving a surplus of Indian Income for the year ended as aforesaid, after defraying the above Interest and Charges, of £1,827,346 sterling.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
said, he was quite willing to endorse the commendation of the Calcutta meeting. He believed that the confidence of the Natives of India in us had increased in consequence of the policy we had pursued since the Mutiny—a policy which repudiated annexation. He believed that if that policy had been previously adopted we should have had no mutiny at all, and should have been spared all those harrowing scenes which had occurred. As to the finances of India, the House hardly seemed in a position to discuss them. The Estimates had been laid before the Indian public; but the House of Commons knew nothing officially of what the policy of Sir Charles Trevelyan for the next year might be. He trusted that either Sir Charles Trevelyan's speech or a précis of it would be laid upon the table. There were three sets of Indian accounts. Hon. Members had the Accounts of 1862–3, and the Estimates of 1863–4 before them. But the Estimates of 1864–5 were in the bureau of the Secretary of State for India, and were not accessible to the House. He could not understand the exact position of the land question; but he approved the redemption of the land tax, which had been carried out to a limited extent. The right hon. Gentleman insisted on his system of survey of the waste lands, although it would retard the process of reclamation, and was, he thought, much inferior to the American plan. The coffee plantations on the other side of India were very important. A portion of these were held by English planters and the rest by Natives. It was calculated that 100,000 acres would require capital 1826 amounting to £10,000,000 for its due cultivation. The difference, however, was that the English planter raised a great deal more coffee per acre than the Native planter, and it was therefore important to encourage the English planter. The planters desired to have the land sold to them out and out, because, in order that they might borrow money to invest in the culture of coffee, it was necessary that they should have the fee-simple. Many persons were anxious to start companies for the cultivation of coffee; but, in consequence of the refusal of the Government to part with the fee of the land, they could not succeed in their objects. At present it took an emigrant twelve months before he could get land at a public auction, and the expense of living for that time in a Presidency town was a very serious matter. While other countries were bidding for English labour and capital, in India it seemed to be treated as quite a favour that Englishmen should be allowed to engage in the cultivation of land. This spirit ran through all the dealings of his right hon. Friend and the Indian Government. The right hon. Gentleman had made some important observations as to the rate of wages. He said that the rate of wages was rising, and that labour was hard to be had in India. Yet emigration from that country was going on to a great extent, and large estates in Ceylon and Mauritius were cultivated by labour from India. There was some analogy between India and Ireland in this respect—that the people were underfed and the rate of wages was too low. He thought it highly desirable that the Native population should have better food than they were able to procure at present, and therefore he was glad that the rate of wages was rising. He did not think that would add anything to the real cost of the public works. It was impossible that half-starved Natives who only earned 3d. a day should do as much work as was performed by the same people when they went to Ceylon or the Mauritius and received 1s. or 2s. a day. It was the case of the Irishman over again. If you paid him 6d. a day in his own country, you got sixpenny-worth of labour from him, but he did not work as hard as he did when he went to the United States and received a dollar. His right hon. Friend was surprised at the slow rate at which the Customs duties increased, and so was he. The fact was that although the well paid Government officers were well clothed, and that entirely 1827 in cotton goods from Manchester, the cultivators of the soil were miserably clad in a mere rag each. He thought that a Finance Minister should not be satisfied unless he saw the Customs revenue increase, for they were a sure index of the condition of the people. He regretted that so little progress had been made with the construction of the Indian telegraph. The delay was mainly attributable to the right hon. Gentleman's adherence to the route by Bagdad and the Persian Gulf, against which he was warned by Sir Henry Rawlinson. He was glad that a line was now being constructed through Persia, and he hoped that we should soon have a complete telegraphic communication with India. Russia had completed a telegraph to the extremity of the Asiatic continent. The progress of railways was extremely satisfactory, but there were some lines which were still much wanted—for instance, lines from Indore to Agra and from Trichinopoly to the South. As to the general question of the construction of public works, he thought that it would be better, instead of raising £4,000,000 annually from the people of India for that purpose, to contract a loan in this country, as was suggested by Lord Dalhousie. There were at present in existence one or two taxes which, either in their nature or the mode of their imposition, were highly obnoxious. In the first class was the institution stamp, which ought at once to be abolished. The tax upon spirits, although proper in itself, was open to great objection in consequence of the mode in which it was levied. The spirits were manufactured by the Government and sold at certain places, under licences which were granted to the persons who undertook to dispose of the largest quantity. This acted as a direct encouragement of drunkenness. The sellers paid a large sum for their licences, and they were obliged to resort to all sorts of means to induce their neighbours to consume the quantity of spirits which they had undertaken to sell. Upon the whole the accounts were satisfactory. The events occurring in the United States had of course exercised great influence upon India, but he was convinced that if the right hon. Gentleman had allowed land to be more extensively sold in fee simple more capital would have been attracted to India, and there would have been a still larger increase in the growth of cotton. If the American contest were now brought to an end, he had no doubt our main supplies of 1828 cotton would again flow thence; but if proper measures had been taken during the five years the right hon. Gentleman had presided over the India Office, cotton might have been fixed as a staple production of India. The same care applied to the cultivation of the plant in India as was given to it in America would have greatly increased its value. It was the mixed and dirty cotton that was objected to, and improvement could not be looked for until capital and enterprize were permitted to engage in the trade. In 1858, when the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) was at the head of the India Office, he had many applications from gentlemen and companies to purchase land. How was it that now there were no such applications, or if there were applications why were they refused? The right hon. Gentleman should encourage the introduction of English energy and English capital into India, and thereby benefit both the Indian and Imperial exchequers. He believed, with Sir Charles Metcalfe, that every Englishman who went to India added to its security and resources. He trusted that in future the right hon. Gentleman would not overlook that important point, upon which might depend to a great extent the permanency of our hold upon India. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that Russia, with nothing like our vast resources, was pressing forward in every direction. Only yesterday it was announced that she had concluded terms for railways through Herat and through Persia; she had an immense length of navigation up the Amoor, and she had telegraphic communication with China. Surely it would be well if we were to follow the wise example thus set to us. We ought to fix ourselves in India as firmly as we could, and the best way of doing so was to encourage our countrymen to go there with their capital. The more the Natives were encouraged to lay out their money in the purchase of land the more would they be attached to our Government. He hoped that when next the right hon. Gentleman addressed the House upon this subject he would be able to show that the important points to which his attention had been called had been practically considered. In that case the right hon. Gentleman would increase the claims which he already had upon the gratitude both of this country and of India for having so long administered the affairs of the latter great empire.
MR. J. B. SMITH
said, that while he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the improved state of India, he at the same time regretted that he had placed himself in such a position as to make it his (Mr. Smith's) duty to find fault. What he found fault with was—that the right hon. Gentleman had pursued the same course this year which he did last year, namely, of delaying his Indian Budget until two days before the Whitebait feast, when, as usual, not more than twenty Members could be got to listen to it. If the House was to take any cognizance whatever of Indian affairs, it was but just that they should have an opportunity of doing so at a time when they were not in an exhausted state, as they undoubtedly were at the end of the Session. The subject should be brought before the House at an early period of the Session. He had likewise to complain that the right hon. Gentleman had not furnished them with the speech of the Finance Minister of India. He could not account for the right hon. Gentleman objecting to furnish the House with that without which the Indian accounts were nothing but a mass of figures. What could the House make of the Exchequer accounts without the explanation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? When he mooted the question on a former occasion, the right hon. Gentleman said that he might as well be asked for the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech, as for the statement of the Indian Finance Minister. But there was this difference, that the latter statement was made in India, while the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was made in that House, and was printed in all the newspapers the next morning. He could see no just ground for withholding from the House that explanation which was given by the Finance Minister of India, and if the right hon. Gentleman should persevere in bringing forward his Indian Budget at the latter end of the Session, and declined to give the House the explanation of the Finance Minister of India accompanying the Indian accounts, he should feel it his duty in the next Session of Parliament to bring the subject under the notice of the House. He would again congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the improvement which seemed to pervade all classes of Indian society. There had been a great demand for labour, and a great advance in the price of provisions. That was easily accounted for—the demand for labour had been for Indian rail- 1830 ways, and for the growth of a variety of products, especially of cotton. Labour had been transferred from the growth of provisions to the growth of other articles, and the consequence had been a great advance in the price of provisions. There was no question that there had been a great advance in the wealth and capabilities of India, but still he thought the resources of the country were very far from being developed. Their railways would do something in that respect; but he regretted to find that so little attention was still paid to opening out the navigable rivers, the natural highways of India. The Godavery with its affluents was a highway 2,000 miles long, but only about 400 miles of the river, was at present navigable; and he regretted to find from the Reports which had been laid on the table respecting that river, that there was little hope of those 400 miles being much extended. The right hon. Gentleman had made some observations about the Customs duty on cotton, which he said amounted to £500,000. He did not know whether the estimate of the duty on cotton goods was taken at 10 per cent or 7½ per cent. [Sir CHARLES WOOD: In 1862 the duty was reduced to 5 per cent.] Well, the duty might be said to be 5 per cent, but it was in reality 10 per cent, and he considered it altogether an unjust tax. It was founded upon a system of protection, so far as the Indian manufacturer was concerned. In India there was a protection which could not be taken away. There they had the cotton on the spot, and England had to fetch it 10,000 miles, manufacture it into goods, and then send those goods back to India. When, in addition to all the expense these processes involved, we had to pay a high Customs duty, protection to a very large extent was of course afforded to the Indian manufacturer. Sir Charles Trevelyan complained that the great embarrassment to the trade of India had been the want of imports to meet the large amount of exports, and he said every possible encouragement should be given to the import trade. In his (Mr. Smith's) opinion the best way to encourage imports was to abolish the duty on cotton goods, and they would thus meet the objection which Sir Charles Trevelyan made. But if it was necessary to raise that revenue on cotton goods, then the duty ought to be levied on a fair principle, which would give the English manufacturer a chance. If they levied a duty on the goods of the 1831 English manufacturer, they ought to levy a like duty on the goods of the manufacturer in the country, otherwise they afforded to the Indian manufacturer an unjust protection. Sir Charles Trevelyan, speaking of the sale of opium, said that one of the causes of the decline in the price of opium was the difficulties connected with the monetary system. He stated that in 1859 the price of a chest of opium was 1,429 rupees, while at another period it was 1,100 rupees, being a difference of 300 rupees a chest. This showed the importance of the right hon. Gentleman turning his attention to the gold currency for India. He (Mr. Smith) must confess he had little expectations of a sound measure from Sir Charles Trevelyan, and that was from this circumstance—he said the effect of the gold currency would be that the depreciation of gold would be arrested. Now he there assumed that gold had been depreciated, and any one who concocted a measure on that assumption would not be likely to make it a sound one. He hoped the Secretary of State for India would do something on this subject. In conclusion, he could only repeat his congratulations at the favourable report of the finances and prospects of India as made by the right hon. Gentleman, and he hoped he would be able to do something in reference to the complaints which he (Mr. Smith) had felt it his duty to make.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he did not think any blame could fairly be imputed to his right hon. Friend the Secretary for India for not introducing his Budget at an earlier period of the Session when the difficulty of getting in the accounts was taken into consideration. Even if it could be brought forward at an earlier period, he scarcely imagined that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to secure a larger attendance of Members than was usual when Indian Questions were being discussed. The real point to be dealt with was, had India improved of late years? and he must say, after the speech which he had heard from the responsible Minister for the country, that there were the strongest evidences of her material progress. He regretted his right hon. Friend had made no allusion to the enormous duty on salt, than the bringing of which within easier reach of the poorer classes there could be no greater measure of relief. He should not enter into a detail of the great suffering which was occasioned by the existing state 1832 of things in that regard, but he hoped that, with the prospect of an increasing revenue before them, the matter would not escape the attention of the Government. Unless they took some steps in that direction, he should feel it to be his duty to bring the question under the consideration of the House early next Session.
§ MR. VANSITTART
said, he quite concurred in much that had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who spoke last but one, and whom he was happy to see sitting on the Opposition Benches—an indication he hoped that those on that side of the House might look forward to receiving his valuable support in future. He also concurred with the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Henry Seymour) in regretting that he had not the advantage of the speech of Sir Charles Trevelyan before him, for he had, he believed, set down his surplus at the modest figure of £20,000. However that might be, he did not entertain any confident expectation of a permanent improvement in the finances of India, while so many reasons existed to disturb the calculations of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. Our surplus this year would have been larger, but for the hastily conceived and badly organized proceedings on the North Western frontier; and the surplus of next year, he believed, would be swallowed up in consequence of that insatiate and insatiable desire to thrust our trade and commerce upon the inhabitants of Bhootan, which had resulted in our envoys being grossly insulted—the probable consequence of which was that war would be carried on in those sterile and mountainous regions, if it had not already been commenced. The taxpayers in this country would find their expenditure largely increased owing to our wars in New Zealand, China, Japan, Ashantee, the Cape of Good Hope, and, he believed, in Bhootan. These two hostile collisions in India might have been avoided if we had followed the plan which we had adopted at Cabul, where our negotiations were conducted through a Native. By this method the prejudices of the Natives were conciliated, and the terms upon which the British Government stood with reference to Cabul were of the most amicable character. It was notorious that even in time of profound peace, our surplus in India depended entirely upon the value of the sales of opium. There appeared to be two systems existing in India in reference to the cultivation of opium. The one was carried on in Bengal, where the Govern- 1833 ment was the producer; and the other in Malwa and Central India, where the Government did nothing but levy a duty on its exportation to China. This duty was originally 200 rupees or £20 a chest, but it was gradually raised by Sir Robert Hamilton to 500 rupees, or £50 a chest. Lord Canning was anxious to raise it to 600 rupees, but he was dissuaded, because, as long as the opium was grown by the British Government in Bengal, and was a Government monopoly in that Presidency, the producer in Malwa and Central India had not a fair market for competition. The actual cost per chest in Malwa to the producer varied from 300 to 400 rupees, or from £30 to £40, and the average selling price might be estimated at from £100 to £120, sometimes falling as low as £80 or £90. Taking, therefore, the cost of production at £35 and the duty at £50, there would remain a profit of about £15 to cover risk, insurance, and other contingencies. If the Bengal monopoly glutted the China market, the price of the chest would fall, and the loss to the Central Indian merchant would almost inevitably entail his ruin. Sir Robert Hamilton had proposed to check the monopoly of growth by the British Government in Bengal by placing an uniform duty of £50 a chest on all opium exported to China, wherever and by whomsoever grown, and thus adopt the Central India system uniformly throughout the whole of India. He believed that if this were done, we should not have any decrease in our revenue from the sale of opium, and that our China trade would be placed on a healthy foundation without involving in so disgraceful a speculation the British Government, the Secretary for India, and his Council.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he desired to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the effect of the duty imposed on saltpetre. On the assumption that they possessed a monopoly, the Government of India, in 1860, raised the duty to 50 per cent on the value of the article. Previous to that period the export duty had been 3 per cent on the value. The price of saltpetre was 26s. per cwt, and the duty £6 per ton, which was an enormous duty; and, in consequence of it, people of an inventive turn of mind had turned their attention to finding a substitute for it, and had discovered in a preparation from nitrate of soda an article which was applicable to many of the purposes for which saltpetre was used, and large quantities of this article were 1834 imported from Magdeburg and other towns of Germany. In 1859—the last year before the change in the duty—the quantity of saltpetre exported from Calcutta was 25,000 tons; in 1860 it was 19,000; in 1861, 22,600; in 1862, 31,000; in 1863, 21,000; and in 1864 the falling off it was calculated would be to a considerable extent. Now, up to 1860, there had been no saltpetre received from the German ports; but, in 1861, 1,591 cwts. were received; in 1862, 4,480; in 1863, 8,418; and in 1864, down to the 31st of May, no less than 12,510 cwt.; showing the extent to which we are receiving supplies of manufactured saltpetre from foreign countries to the exclusion of the saltpetre which we used to receive from India. The quantity of nitrate of soda supplied from Peru and Chili was in proportion to the quantity of saltpetre received from German ports. The quantity of Baltpetre received from Bengal and exported from this country had fallen off from 151,000 cwt. in 1862, to 74,000 in 1863, and this year to the present time the exports were 41,000. The deduction from this was, that the trade was in considerable jeopardy from the heavy duty on the export from Calcutta. If any advantage from this arrangement accrued to the public he would have no right to complain; but such was not the case, and on the part of those engaged in the trade in the City of London, he had taken the opportunity of laying the matter before his right hon. Friend, in order that it might be brought under the notice of the authorities in India. With reference to the introduction of a gold coinage into India he confessed he was one of those who did not anticipate much advantage from such a measure. The whole of the pressure which had been experienced at Calcutta and Bombay arose not from any want of money, but from the inability of the possessor of hard silver to convert it into current coin. It was within his own knowledge that a person in the possession of silver to the extent of thousands of pounds, had been obliged to pay 15 per cent per annum for the temporary use of coin while his silver was being coined at the mint. He (Mr. Crawford) thought the coining power of the mint ought to be increased at least threefold. The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith) was misinformed when he stated that the best cotton was grown in Dharwar. Considerable quantities had lately come from the interior of; India far superior in quality to any that 1835 had been grown in Dharwar, as he should be happy to show to any gentleman who would favour him with a call at his office. His hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr. Henry Seymour) talked about the Russian Government making a railway to Herat; but as Herat was thousands of miles from any civilized part of the Russian dominions, he (Mr. Crawford) received with utter incredulity the statement of such a scheme. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had adverted to the fact that the Government received but little in the shape of Customs duties from the Natives of India. That was a result which could not surprise any one who was acquainted with the mode of living of the people of that country. They drank hardly any wine or spirits, or tea; the sugar and the tobacco which they consumed were manufactured upon the spot, and they therefore made very few purchases of any of the articles on which Customs duties were principally raised. He entirely coincided in the statement of his right hon. Friend, that a considerable increase in wages had taken place in India during the last few years. The fact was, that since railway operations had been carried on in India the value of labour had risen to an extent which no person could a few years ago have thought possible. He was glad to be able to join the Members who had preceded him in congratulating his right hon. Friend on the very satisfactory state of affairs which he had been able to bring under their notice that evening.
§ MR. TORRENS
said, that he also would offer his congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India on the very satisfactory statement he had made on that occasion; but he could not help regretting that it should be submitted to their notice at so very late a period of the Session. He was aware that that was occasioned by the period up to which the accounts were made up in India; but he could not see any reason why these accounts should not be closed at the end of December or November instead of April, which would allow the right hon. Gentleman to make his statement about the same time as the Chancellor of the Exchequer was making his statement here. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be slow to act on the suggestion of the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Vansittart), that the system of opium cultivation in Bengal should be assimilated to that in Malwa and the West of India. He should be sorry to see 1836 the ill-feeling which existed between the indigo planters and the ryots extended to the cultivation of opium. He did not think the matter of a gold coinage was so pressing as it had been represented to be, and he hoped that the Secretary of State, before taking any step with regard to it, would wait to receive suggestions from the local authorities. The right hon. Gentleman had adverted to the Act passed last year for throwing open certain civil appointments to persons not belonging to the covenanted service, and he seemed to speak favourably of that measure. But he (Mr. Torrens) believed that of the instances quoted by the right hon. Gentleman to exemplify the working of the Act, two at least were open to animadversion. In one case a gentleman of great local interest—brother-in-law to the Governor of Bombay—was put into an appointment contrary to the Act, and the right hon. Gentleman had thought proper to cancel the appointment. In another, a Native named Gopal Rao Hurry had been appointed to an assistant judgeship at Ahmednuggur, and the appointment was so illegal that it was taken up by the High Court of Judicature, and the Government was obliged to cancel it. This Native, however, was put into another appointment, which gave rise to a memorial from the whole Civil Service there. He hoped that memorial would be sent home.
§ MR. GREGSON
said, he quite concurred with the hon. Gentleman that it was desirable that the Indian accounts should be brought down to a later date; and he thought that by the employment of an additional staff at Calcutta that might be done. He also thought it desirable that the accounts should be closed on the 31st December instead of the 30th April. With regard to the opium question he entirely disagreed from the right hon. Gentleman, for he thought that the opium system of Bengal should be assimilated to that of the Western Provinces. He thought the monopoly of the opium trade by the Government of Bengal was injurious and ought to be abolished. He heartily congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State on the flourishing condition of the Indian revenue, as he had laid it before the House that evening. India had had three prosperous years in succession; and the Indian Treasury had been enabled not only to reduce the debt £8,000,000 but there was £19,000,000 in the Trea- 1837 sury. This was a highly satisfactory statement. But he perceived that the increase of revenue to the amount of £1,600,000 was from opium; but opium revenue was a precarious and dangerous source of income to rely upon. The increase upon the land revenue was in every respect satisfactory. But he did not think that the Indian finances had yet been put on an unexceptionable footing. The tax on salt was oppressively high. Salt was essential to the health of a population that lived chiefly on vegetable food, and he would therefore urge upon his right hon. Friend the propriety of reducing the tax at the earliest possible moment. He did not believe that the revenue would ultimately suffer by the reduction—on the contrary, he believed it would be rather increased than diminished. But in order to effect any good, the change must not be made in any niggardly spirit. The tax was at present from 1,800 to 2,000 per cent on the value of the article, and the diminution in the cost if the tax were reduced to a moderate amount would be certain to produce a vastly increased consumption. He thought there were many grounds on which the right hon. Gentleman might take into favourable consideration the introduction of a gold currency into India; nor did he think it would be attended with those difficulties the right hon. Gentleman anticipated. There was already a gold coin in India, but it was not in general circulation. He thought that the introduction of a more portable medium of exchange than silver would be received with favour. In conclusion, he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman and the House on the growing prosperity of India. It was a little more than one hundred years ago that the tragedy of the Black Hole occurred—now we reigned over nearly 200,000,000 of people, whom our Government had raised to a great degree of material prosperity. He believed that the whole of the intelligent Natives of India were well satisfied with our Government. Such indeed had been the improvement effected of late years in the moral and intellectual well being of the Indians, that he thought in course of time they might be trusted to govern themselves.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, that at present he was hardly sanguine enough to believe in an Indian surplus; but, however that might be, the Secretary of State would do well to bring forward this question a little earlier in the Session, 1838 so that there might be a creditable debate and a fair audience. He did not object to the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman, except the sixth, in which there appeared to be a mistake of £2,000,000. [Sir CHARLES WOOD: It is a misprint; instead of £5,383,285, the figures should be £7,383,285.] When the revenue was £46,000,000 and the expenditure £45,750,000, it could not be said that a margin was left. Some £16,000,000 or £17,000,000 out of the revenue was gone, being bespoke as interest of debt, allowances, obligations under treaties, and expenses of collection, which according to his estimate amounted to nearly £6,250,000. Under our present system a deficit was just as likely to happen as a surplus. The cost of the army was very large, for in the last three years this charge had amounted to £37,000,000—nearly as large as the army expenditure for the United Kingdom. He wished to know what had been the expenses thrown upon the Indian revenue by the necessity of doing justice to the officers of the Indian army. The prophecies of those who deprecated the amalgamation had been fulfilled, and it seemed that having made the blunder and given the guarantee, the Natives of India were now being made "to pay the piper." He should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would give some explanation of the state of this account at the present time. Did he understand that the late war with the Hill Tribes had cost only £150,000?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that was the estimated cost, but in order to cover contingencies a sum of £200,000 had been taken.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
could only say that the war had been a very cheap one; but he presumed that this was the extraordinary expenditure. The whole proceeding was rather in the nature of a blunder, and the war might have been avoided if the proper steps had been taken in the first instance. However, he did hope that we were not going to engage in another war with this wild people, and that we should be able to check the Hill Tribes, leaving their country alone, and thus avoiding the little wars which destroyed the Indian surplus from year to year. Nothing was to be got by attacking them, but they were very good shots and might give our troops a good deal of trouble. This was not the time to enter into the gold currency question, and it had recently been discussed in that House; but with 1839 regard to the salt tax, the Government should deal with it with great caution. It was necessary to consult the prejudices of the Natives. It was difficult to find a tax that they were willing to pay, but they would pay taxes to which they had been accustomed. Though the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Gregson) hoped that the people of India would pay the income tax, he must say he agreed with Mahommedans and Hindoos in thinking the tax extremely abominable. He should, therefore, be glad to find that the Government did not press that tax on India. But, on the other hand, bearing in mind that there were not many means of obtaining revenue from the Indian people, he thought that the salt tax ought to be approached with the greatest caution.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that no doubt the financial administration of Indian affairs by the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary for India, had been surrounded with a bright halo during the last few years, but all the rays of this crown of glory could hardly be said to emanate from the brilliant administration of the right hon. Gentleman, for many of them were traceable to the Government of the East India Company. The right hon. Gentleman boasted of the increase of land revenue; but that was the result of the establishment by the Court of Directors of a permanent system of taxation, which stimulated the Natives to lay out their money to extend their cultivation, with the certainty of themselves reaping the profit. The next statement the right hon. Gentleman made was, that the cash balances were in such a good state as enabled him to pay off a considerable amount of debt; and the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Gregson) talked of the cash balances being £19,000,000. According to Sir Charles Trevelyan's last Report for the years 1863–4, the cash balances instead of being £19,000,000 were only £14,000,000; but in 1857—that was before the Mutiny broke out, and under the administration of the East India Company—they amounted to £15,389,000, and the Indian Government were then enabled to pay off a 5 per cent loan. He understood his right hon. Friend to say that the employment of Natives in judicial administration was a new thing within the last five years. [Sir CHARLES WOOD explained that what he stated was that Natives had for the first time been put into high class judgeships.] He approved that step, but, with respect to the administration of jus- 1840 tice, it was the fact before that 98 cases out of 100 were adjudicated on by Natives, as he (Colonel Sykes) had shown by publishing the official consecutive Judicial Returns for twelve years for all India. He gave the right hon. Gentleman credit for putting Natives into high places, but they were Princes and Royal personages that were so appointed; and they, no doubt, considered it to be a great honour to be associated with their governors; but they were not the persons best acquainted with administration, and he wished to know whether it would not be more advantageous if persons of a lower class with greater administrative ability were made members of these Councils? The right hon. Gentleman was, moreover, inconsistent in exercising his power in the appointment of Natives to office, in not allowing the employment of Natives in the medical service in India, notwithstanding that some Natives had come to this country to be educated at their own expense, and on examination had been rewarded with gold medals and full diplomas. He hoped such men would be included in the new medical service about to be established in India. He would not now touch on the still continued wrongs of the officers of the Indian army, in violation of Acts of Parliament, as there was no doubt that that question must be distinctly mooted next Session. The imports into India, though the House would scarcely believe it, had actually fallen off. According to Sir Charles Trevelyan's Report the Customs duty in 1861–2 was £2,876,139; but in the regular estimate for 1863–4 it was only £2,324,200, and the estimate for the next year was still less. On the other hand the exports had enormously increased, rendering the settlement of the balance of trade annually more difficult. The revenue from opium fluctuated greatly year by year. The Chinese were the only consumers of the drug, and what was the state of that country? Anarchy reigned throughout the land, and England had lent her aid to aggravate the desolation. They could not, therefore, look upon opium as a permanent source of revenue, but must be prepared for a time when it would, to a considerable extent, break down. In Bengal there was a vicious Government monopoly. The farmer had not control over his own land, for he was obliged to cultivate opium on a fixed portion of it, and sell the produce to the Government, who bought it at a low and sold it at a very high rate. That was neither 1841 a sound nor a creditable system. On the Bombay side of India an Excise duty was imposed on opium, and its cultivation was left to the discretion of the people. There was a great deal of talk about developing the resources of India; but the fact was that they had already been developed to such an extent that the balance of trade was annually increasing against us. We required Indian productions—indigo, sugar, cotton, oil seeds, jute, flax, &c, and must have them; but the people of India did not want our woollens or warming-pans. The demand for their products was increasing year by year, and we were obliged to pay for them in hard cash. Since 1800, by a Return which he (Colonel Sykes) had moved for, it appeared that the amount of silver and gold which has been introduced into India was £254,000,000 sterling. No part of this sum had come back again, or was likely to come, seeing that it could be lent at from 10 to 30 per cent. It was absurd to talk of the people burying their money, for they were much too acute to do that when they could get 20 or 30 per cent for it. His right hon. Friend, in his review of Indian progress, had not included the financial movements of 1863–4, which must be in his possession, as he (Colonel Sykes) held an official paper on the subject in his hand, and these figures would have been more acceptable than those of former years.
§ MR. BAZLEY
said, he joined with every other Member who had spoken in regretting that the Budget had not been brought forward earlier in the Session. An impression was growing in the public mind that there was a disposition to carry on the Government of India irrespective of the control of Parliament. If, as had been proposed, the accounts for the year were submitted to Parliament at a proper time, very valuable suggestions, no doubt, would be made in the course of the discussions, the result of which might be of great benefit to the Indian Government. He wished, however, he could congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the services of the Government in regard to the cultivation of cotton in India, and its increased supply; but on the part of his friends in Manchester he had to complain that the Indian Government had interfered in the affairs of the Manchester Cotton Company in such a way that that concern had been reduced to comparative ruin. In describing the prosperity of India, the right hon. Gentleman was wanting in candour in omitting to state 1842 that the surplus price of cotton remitted to India at the present time amounted to little less than £50,000,000. But how were the Indian Government requiting Lancashire for the excessive price they were paying for cotton? Why this was the very moment which was chosen for in-forcing increased exactions on Manchester goods to the amount of 100 or 150 per cent, taking into account the high value of cotton. Such was the dissatisfaction in Manchester that a claim was raised not merely for a reduction of the duty on cotton manufactures, but for the admission of Lancashire goods into India free of duty. The practical effect was that the Lancashire manufacturers were carrying on very extensive works at a great pecuniary loss. There were individual establishments contributing to the revenue of India as much as £100 per week in the duties levied, which were about to be mulcted in £200 or £300 a week, thus, of course, adding to the losses they already sustained. It was cheering to learn from the hon. Member for London (Mr. Crawford) that an improved quality of cotton was now being received from India. He had never doubted that that country might be made to grow cotton which would not only compete with but even supersede the American supply; but it was of great importance that a superior quality of fibre should be cultivated in India. If, while the Indian supply was in its present condition, the American supply were suddenly to be restored, the manufacturers would prefer the latter, and the result would be that all the efforts that had been made in India during the last few years would be thrown away. Every effort ought, therefore, to be made to raise the character of the cotton which was produced in India. He trusted that next Session more time would be given to the discussion of Indian affairs.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, that they were met together on the 21st of July for the purpose of re-enacting the solemn farce which last year was performed on the 23rd of July. After a Session passed in laborious discussions, a mere fragment of the House of Commons met for the purpose of deliberating upon the Government of more than 200,000,000 of people. A more scandalous sight could not be presented to the British nation than the aspect of the House at that moment. The Government of 200,000,000 of people was confided to their care, and yet the welfare of that enormous population was muttered 1843 over to Benches almost empty. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman was to some extent encouraging, as it showed that the natural resources of the country, assisted by that Providential interposition which generally came to our aid when we had committed great blunders, had raised the revenue of India to a paying point. He, therefore, trusted that the Government of India would feel inclined to treat the two services in India with more liberality than they had hitherto displayed. It had been remarked that evening that the Speaker had heralded the finale of the I labours of the Session by his annual dinner, and he (Sir James Elphinstone) therefore felt justified in calling this a post-prandial discussion of a subject that was worthy of greater respect and attention by the House. By a formal decision of the House it had been declared that those services were entitled to consideration, and he gave the right hon. Gentleman fair warning, that if the subject was not satisfactorily dealt with or explained by the right hon. Gentleman, that at the beginning of the next Session the subject would be forced upon the attention of the Government and the sense of the House again taken upon it. The revenue and expenditure of India which they were now discussing were matters of history, and debates of this kind simply converted the House of Commons into a debating society for expressing opinions upon India in general. He was glad to hear that the Government had at length adopted the recommendation of the Committee, to transport our troops to India by the way of the Red Sea, rather than by the Cape. This was a course so consistent with common sense and economy the marvel was that the Government did not see the advantage of it before. He wished to ask on whom the expense for providing the passage of those troops from England to Alexandria was to fall, and whether this country or India was to provide the transports from England to Alexandria? He hoped that the Government of India had duly considered the periods of the year when the health of the troops would be seriously endangered by their transit. At the fall of the Nile fever set in, which lasted for three months afterwards, and therefore the troops should not be sent to India by this overland route between the months of June and November. Now that there was extensive railway communication in India it was time for the Government to look before them, and to con- 1844 sider seriously whether a reduction in the Indian establishments could not be effected. Sir Sidney Cotton—a most able and experienced authority—stated with those means of communication with India they could govern India with 30 per cent less of troops than they had heretofore thought necessary to have there; but that could only be done by the abandonment of the old system of cantonments, which was now entirely obsolete, and by availing themselves of the facilities afforded by the extension of the railway system. He recommended the Secretary of the Colonies to consider whether a similar course might not be advantageously pursued in the colonies for the development of railway communication. There was, however, one point to which the attention of the Government of India did not appear to have been sufficiently turned. The whole of our efforts for the last few years had been directed to the development of the internal traffic of India. No doubt that was of paramount importance, but in order to render it effectual it was also necessary to give increased facilities for the coasting trade of India. Much had been said about the scarcity of labour in India; he did not believe there was any such scarcity. No doubt the higher portions of the country were more sparsely inhabited than the alluvial portions of the country. The lines of communication which were now established in India appeared to be intended more for the transport of the products and commodities of the country than for the purpose of supplying food to the population; if the Government afforded proper facilities for conveying labour from one part of the country to another all the difficulty would cease. Three years ago he obtained a Committee to investigate the possibility and practicability of deepening a channel through Adam's Bridge, connecting the Continent of India with the Island of Ceylon, so as to enable large ships to go through the passage instead of going round the Island. There were between 3,000 and 4,000 yards of ground requiring to be cut through, but the work was not greater than was met with in any ten miles of railway out of Loudon, and it was most important with regard to the coasting trade of India. According to the evidence taken by that Committee it was quite clear that £100,000 or £150,000 was all that was necessary to open that channel for a line-of-battle ship. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether any steps had been taken to open up 1845 that channel? The present extra expense of the coasting trade, arising from the necessity of taking a 350 miles' voyage for one year, would pay for the canal and enable the Princess Royal, the flag ship of the station, to sail through the Straits. Materials of excellent quality were on the spot, and the surplus which the right hon. Gentleman had in hand would enable him to carry out that improvement. We had peace in India, and revenue was springing up. The East India Company was constantly at war, coerced into it by the Board of Control; and when the Company had taken the chesnuts out of the fire they were set aside, and the right hon. Gentleman took credit for the present state of things. Another point on which he desired to have information was who paid for the British navy in India? The coasts of India were about 4,000 miles in extent, from Beloochistan to Singapore, and the whole police of these seas was managed by the Royal Navy. One of the first acts of the right hon. Gentleman was to extinguish the Indian navy. The Indian navy comprised more scientific men, for its numbers, than any other service in the world, excepting a strictly scientific service like the Royal Engineers. They were employed as ambassadors, diplomatists, residents, consuls; they explored countries, they investigated the ruins and antiquities of the country; they were linguists, surveyors, admirable seamen, and they maintained a post of the highest respectability and honour under the East India Company, and performed services of the very greatest importance in the survey and exploration of the country, not only of the East India Company, but adjacent to the Red Sea and in Abyssinia. That service was swept away with scanty-thanks or justice. He asked the right hon. Gentleman, out of his overflowing Budget, to temper justice with mercy, and to give the members of that profession some of the advantages which he was extending to the country which we had saved from anarchy and despotism. By what had that force been replaced? By the Royal Navy. And who paid the navy for this service? The taxpayers of England. Now, he would ask whether it was right that the taxpayers of England should send out a navy to do the business which should be done by the Indian Government, and enable the right hon. Gentleman to come down to the House with a flourishing statement about 1846 the revenues of India? Then, as to the alteration in the boundary between the East India Company's territory and the territories of the Crown. Formerly, when an officer passed the Cape of Good Hope, he came under Indian allowances. We had now established a command eastward of the Cape; we had established a naval command from the Cape of Good Hope to Singapore, where it joined the Chinese station. It was practically impossible to separate that portion of the sea from the territories of the Indian Government. The whole stream of our commerce went from the narrow neck round the Cape of Good Hope to the Southern Indian Ocean, and there ought to commence the subsidy of the Indian Government for the navy, and it was a practical injustice to this country to make it otherwise. It was a direct premium to the Admiral for spending the whole of his time in the Indian portion of his station. He' wished to know how the right hon. Gentleman intended to deal with these matters. He understood that an important alteration was to take place with regard to the States Settlements, and he wished to know in what that change was to consist. When Sir Stamford Raffles established the colony of Singapore in 1819, it was guaranteed as a free port. He (Sir James Elphinstone) was there in the year 1820, and he had been there occasionally during the next seventeen years. A more extraordinary increase in any port had never occurred, except in some of the mushroom places in America, than took place at Singapore. The whole of the trade of the Eastern Archipelago had been centred in that port, and the progress of the colony was mainly due to its immunity from all port charges. He understood that it was the design of the Indian Government to introduce port regulations for Singapore. He wished to know whether or not that was really the intention of the Government; because, if so, that opportunity might be obtained in the next Session which was denied him in the present of opposing a policy likely to be so mischievous. Then, as to the taxes in India, and especially the salt tax. He looked upon the cotton cultivation in India as ephemeral. The war in America must, in the nature of things, end some time or other. There were in the South 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 of slaves, and half a million would be quite enough to supply this country with all the cotton it required.
1847 The total destruction of the animals in Egypt had altered the position of that country, and instead of exporting large quantities of grain, Egypt was likely to become a great cotton field, and to import grain for its own consumption from the Black Sea. Under these circumstances, was it likely that we should take our cotton from a country 16,000 miles distant when we could get it from America and Egypt? India, no doubt, had benefited from the war in America, and as long as it pleased Providence that the war should continue India would be likely to benefit. But as soon as it came to an end the people of this country would fall back upon their old sources of supply. But since the people of India must consume a certain quantity of salt with their food, the salt tax, in his opinion, and in the opinion of those best acquainted with India, was the last tax with which the Government ought to interfere. He felt bound to enter his protest against the system inaugurated by the right hon. Gentleman of bringing forward his financial statement, when he might have acted far otherwise, at a time when the benches of that House were so empty. He should have been glad to see the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) present on that occasion. It was the proper function of an Opposition not to allow questions of such importance to be slurred over as they were that evening, and he hoped the House would support him next year when he should endeavour to bring about a better state of things.
MR. GRANT DUFF
said, that of all the wonderful political performances ever enacted on this terrestrial globe, the most astounding was the performance of the right hon. Gentleman. It was not merely that the Indian Budget was brought in at the end of the Session, when they were all wearied and jaded, but that they were wearied and jaded from listening not to a speech, for it could not be called a speech, but to a sort of concatenation of broken, interjectional remarks and sentences, jerked out by a Minister to whom Heaven had denied not only the power of lucid statement but almost the gift of articulate speech. ["Oh, oh!"] Assuredly the noble Lord at the head of the Government could find a colleague who, while not inferior to the right hon. Gentleman in administrative ability, might possess the power, he would not say of laying before the House such a statement as that which the Chancellor of 1848 the Exchequer was in the habit of making from year to year with regard to the financial position of England, but a person who could make that sort of clear and intelligible statement which the country had a right to demand. ["Oh, oh!"] He had listened year after year to the speeches of the right hon. Baronet, and he had never heard him make a speech which would be in any respect satisfactory, even if it appeared as an anonymous article in the pages of a Quarterly Review.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, with regard to what had been said of the state of the House, he believed these Indian debates followed only the ordinary course of such matters, and if there was any peculiarity in this debate it was to be found in the circumstance that there was an almost entire absence of all the Members connected with the manufacturing districts who had ever taken an interest in the affairs of India. The only two persons present who could be said to represent the manufacturing districts were the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bazley) and the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith), and they had expressed themselves as satisfied on the whole with the state of affairs. He attributed the peculiarity to which he had alluded to the circumstance that from repeated discussion they had arrived at a better appreciation of the relations of this country to our Indian Empire, and they felt that the causes of complaint upon which they had formerly dwelt had ceased to exist. They no longer looked for that enormous supply of cotton which they had formerly anticipated, nor did they attribute the deficiency to the causes of which they had so often complained. While regret had been generally expressed that the House had not before it the financial statement delivered by Sir Charles Trevelyan to the Indian Council in the beginning of the financial year, an hon. Gentleman spoke of it disparagingly, and said that it had sent every Member of the Council to sleep, except Sir Charles Trevelyan, who was reading it. He (Mr. Ayrton), on the contrary, had received a copy of that statement, and he must say he considered it as deserving to be spoken of with the utmost respect, and that it reflected the highest credit upon Sir Charles Trevelyan. In former years some gentlemen went out to India with the most inflated ideas of their position; they called themselves Chancellors of the Exchequer, and delivered speeches which were not worthy of being reproduced in this country 1849 and of being laid in an official form upon the table of the House. But there was a total absence of any such assumption on the part of Sir Charles Trevelyan. Considering the tone of Sir Charles Trevelyan's address, he was of opinion that some arrangement should be made by which such a document should be laid upon the table of the House by the Secretary of State for India; not that the document should be looked upon as binding the Secretary of State to everything contained in it, but merely as an expression of the opinion of the Government of India on the finances of that empire. It was most un-satisfactory that they should be passing Resolutions relating to a state of affairs past and gone when Sir Charles Trevelyan had published a statement which brought the finances of India up to the April of the present year, and estimated them to the April of 1865, and had added a financial criticism relative to the increase or diminution of the income and expenditure of that country. He thought that with such information the House would be able to arrive at a better conclusion than by merely receiving the accounts which had been laid upon the table. It was not his intention to enter into discussions extending from the Himalaya to Adam's Peak, and from the chronicles of Adam to the present time; but he could not help recalling the attention of the Secretary of State to a subject which he had brought to his notice last year, and which showed a tendency on the part of the Government of India to fall into the evil course into which the Home Government had fallen. A hundred years ago it was predicted that if the Government of this country could raise a revenue from the vices of the people by the spread of intemperance, they would address themselves to promote the consumption of ardent spirits rather than to diminish it, and that prophecy has been thoroughly fulfilled. He thought there was a disposition on the part of the Government of India to fall into the same error. Nothing could equal the horrors produced by stimulating the consumption of intoxicating drinks in India, and it became the Government seriously to consider whether some improvement could not be introduced into this system. He must also again press on the right hon. Gentleman the condition of the salt revenue. That revenue had been raised very much during the last few years; and while every step taken in the remission of revenue was for the relief of the wealthy classes in India, 1850 they were putting on a tax on the first necessary of life for the poorer classes The increase of the salt tax had been attended with the most deplorable results. Those who are engaged in the curing of provisions had been compelled to reduce the quantity used, and the most lamentable evils, involving loss of life, had been the consequence, Serious effects had also been occasioned to cattle and agriculture. He was quite satisfied that the present amount of this tax was oppressive and ought to be reduced at the earliest possible period. With regard to expenditure, it was unnecessary to go into all the items that appeared in these accounts. He feared very little could be done in reducing the expenditure on account of the army and civil service. But there was one thing for which Sir Charles Trevelyan deserved the greatest credit. Instead of lending himself to the views of a few people in India who were desirous of carrying on a false system of finance, he had boldly applied himself to the proper appropriation of the surplus Indian revenue to the reduction of the public debt. That surplus had been created by factitious finance, and the debt ought never to have been created. Still, there had been a pressure put on the Government that the surplus should be applied to develop the resources of the country and the maintenance of a false system of finance. Every encouragement should be given to the Finance Minister in India in resisting that pressure. He had been placed in a position of the greatest possible difficulty, being surrounded by persons who fancied that the interests of India were coincident with their own, though these might be limited to the province or towns in which they resided, and by no means identical with the interests of the great mass of people for whose good government we ought to feel ourselves responsible. He thought the statement which had been made exceedingly gratifying. India was prosperous, notwithstanding the misfortunes of the Mutiny and in consequence of the war in America. Immense capital had been invested in India by the railway companies. There had been a vast increase in the value of its produce, which had tended to bring the finances of India into a more healthy condition. But he hoped it would not be thought, because we could collect revenue from a submissive people we should exact from them the last farthing they could pay short of driving them into rebellion, and that we were entitled to squander that 1851 revenue on anything that gratified the caprice of Europeans. They were now congratulating themselves on the great prosperity of India; but he would remind them that a few years ago Lord Dalhousie printed a Minute, in which he congratulated himself and the country on the prosperity which had resulted from his system of administration; and all concerned in that Minute—the Court of Directors, the Board of Control, and the Public Service in India—were extremely delighted by that state of things. But when the record came home it was found to be a factitious statement, and twelve months afterwards we were awakened by the astounding discovery that the statement was mere imagination; and that underlying our administration was a deep sense of injury and wrong, a growing state of dissatisfaction which burst out into open mutiny and sedition. Government would do well to consider what was the real state of India, and not build too much on the force they possessed, and the submissiveness of the people, for if they did, deriding Native prejudice and superstition, and exacting from the people the utmost farthing they could pay, without breaking out into open rebellion, the time would come when this country would be more startled than before, and would regret that it had not taken advantage of the pacific and humble disposition of the Natives of India.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
was very much obliged for the views which had been expressed on this subject by hon. Gentlemen who had spoken in the debate, and the kind expressions which had been used towards himself. It had been stated by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir James Elphinstone) that the Indian Budget had been postponed, as a dodge on his part, till so late a period that he might be enabled to make what sort of statement he pleased. Now, the real facts of the case were these—till he became President of the Board of Control no Indian Budget was ever laid before the House, and no more information about the affairs of India was placed before the House than of any part of the world with which we had no connection. He could therefore hardly be accused with justice of wishing to keep the House in ignorance of Indian affairs. But how much earlier could he make his statement? The accounts on the table, up to the end of April, 1863, were made up in India in March and April, 1864. The regular Estimates for 1863–4 were made 1852 up about the same time, and did not arrive in this country till towards the end of April. The form of the accounts had been settled by the House of Commons, and the day on which they must be laid on the table was fixed by Act of Parliament. That day was the 14th of May. Generally speaking, they could not be laid on the table more than a day or two before the time fixed by Act of Parliament. The accounts were laid on the table before Whitsuntide this year, and they were of such a detailed character that they could not be printed before the middle of June. No doubt it might be possible to change the whole arrangement of business in India and to alter the date of the Indian year, which had been fixed for the convenience of India, and not of this country. He might by this means be able to make his statement about India at an earlier period of the Session. The House must see that it was a matter of perfect indifference to him whether he made that statement on the 1st of January or the 1st of July. But the financial year in England had been changed from the end of December to the end of March in order that the votes for the great services might be got through before Easter. If even one night were taken for the Indian Budget before Easter it would interrupt the course of business in that House, and it was, therefore, necessary to appoint such a day as would least interfere with English business. The House of Commons, however, did not vote the taxes of India, nor did it in the first instance control the expenditure of India. The object of the statement now made annually by the Indian Minister was to lay before the House the general state of affairs in India and to enable those hon. Members who took an interest in Indian matters to make such suggestions or ask for such information as might be useful. The House was asked for no vote that influenced the taxes of India. He had listened with great attention to the various suggestions which had been made; but if he adopted the suggestions of some hon. Gentleman he should have very little surplus left. He had never thought it desirable to maintain a high duty on salt; but when recommendations of its reduction were made, hon. Members must think of the present state of Indian revenue. The surplus in India was estimated at £30,000; but there were miscellaneous receipts in England that brought it up to £257,000. It must be remem- 1853 bered in how large a degree the Indian revenue depended on opium, the income from which sometimes varied as much as £1,000,000 a year or even more, and how difficult it would be to make up any possible deficiency which might not improbably occur in that source. The evils of the salt tax had been, he thought, a good deal overrated, for he remembered a report from a medical officer attached to a hospital in Calcutta who examined his patients on this subject, and found that out of 100 persons only three said that they had ever suffered from the diminished quantity of salt which they were able to consume in consequence of the high price. The land revenue was a rent, and not a tax, and the only taxes the Natives of India paid were Customs duties on piece goods for clothing and the tax on salt. The people of India had always been accustomed to taxes on salt. They bad a singular objection to a new tax, and it would therefore be most unwise to repeal the salt tax which had always existed in India, and substitute some other impost which the people of India had never paid before. It could not be said that the people of India were too heavily taxed. With regard to opium, he was ready to admit that the pass duty on Bombay opium was at present too high, and that it would be well that it should bear a fairer proportion to the amount of duty at Calcutta. The hon. Member (Mr. Henry Seymour) had not correctly understood the state of the case in regard to waste lands. What he (Sir Charles Wood) had stated, and that was on the authority of Lord Canning, was that he did not think a large amount would be available for sale in Bengal Proper; but that in Assam and the Neilgherries there was a good deal of waste land available for European cultivation. With reference to the telegraph, he did not see that he had been at all to blame. The Turkish Government insisted upon constructing the line in Turkey, and the Persian Government upon constructing that in Persia. He had completed all that depended upon himself, and had assisted those Governments as far as they would allow him in constructing the lines which passed through their respective territories. The complaints of the hon. Members for Stockport and Manchester as to the valuation of piece goods at Calcutta were not well founded. The duty was 5 per cent ad valorem, and as the value of the goods had risen, it was 1854 only fair that the rate at which they were charged should be increased. That had been done in concert with the Chamber of Commerce at Calcutta, which admitted that it was perfectly fair. The hon. Member for Stockport charged him with bad political economy in doing with reference to tea and the cinchona—that is to say, encouraging the introduction of those articles of produce—that which he refused to do with regard to cotton; but the hon. Member forgot that all that he was doing in the former cases had been done with regard to cotton ten or fifteen years ago by the East India Company, who, having introduced the best description of cotton and shown that it could be grown, handed the plantations over to private enterprize. Upon the subject of the duty on saltpetre, a letter had that morning passed the Council, and was about to be sent to the Government of India, informing them that saltpetre was being manufactured in Europe to a considerable amount from nitrate of soda, a fact which bore most importantly upon the duty, the existing rate of which was only justifiable upon the theory that India had a monopoly of the article. The inconvenience which had arisen at the mint of Bombay arose from the circumstance that in October last, there being then no bullion to coin, the old machinery was taken down for the purpose of substituting new and improved engines. While the establishment was in this crippled condition there came an extraordinary influx of; bullion, which, of course, could not be immediately coined into money. The hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham had found fault with him for not going more minutely into the estimates of revenue and expenditure. On former occasions he had done so—in fact, had made an Indian Budget; and he had only omitted to take that course on the present occasion because the experience of the last year or two had induced him to think that it rather bored than interested the House. The speech of Sir Charles Trevelyan was not an official document, and therefore could not conveniently be laid upon the table. He did not quite understand what the hon. Baronet meant by doubting the existence of a surplus. So far as last year went, the surplus was an ascertained fact. That of the current year was, of course, only anticipated, and might or might not be realized; but he had confidence in Sir Charles Trevelyan's judgment on this point. 1855 There must always be some uncertainty as to opium. As to the transport of troops, arrangements were now under consideration, in concert with the Admiralty, for sending them through Egypt. He was not so sure as he was at one time that the adoption of that course would lead to any considerable saving of expense, because the cost of building transports had been found to be much greater than had been anticipated. The troops would certainly be sent during the cool months of the year. Various suggestions had been made as to new taxes, but upon the whole he was inclined to believe that Indian finance could be better administered on the spot than by suggestions in that House. With respect to charges for the navy he would only observe that the external defence of India had always depended upon the Imperial forces, and the Indian navy was hardly more than a transport service. A question had been put about the Straits settlement which he scarcely understood.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, what he wanted to know was, Whether Singapore was to cease to be a free port, or whether duties were to be levied there by the authority of the Indian Government?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, no alteration in the position of Singapore was intended; but questions had been raised by the Singapore Chamber of Commerce as to harbourmasters, and also as to moorings, and it was stated that no objection would be made to the levying of some small duty for the purpose of defraying any expenditure for these purposes. He believed that he had noticed all the points that had been raised, and had only further to thank the Committee for the patient attention they had given to his statement, and to thank hon. Members for the suggestions which they had made, and which he could assure them should receive his most careful attention.
§ MR. TORRENS
wanted to know, whether there was any probability of the plan he had suggested being adopted—namely, to close the Indian accounts at an earlier date—say the 31st of December?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he would communicate with the Government of India upon that subject, but he would remark that, even if he were enabled to bring forward the accounts earlier in the Session, he should not be able to make his statement earlier without interfering with the English business. The accounts before the Com- 1856 mittee were for the year ending the 30th of April, 1863. The local accounts might be made up earlier in India, but the accounts for all India were not made up until March, and did not reach this country till the middle of April.
§ MR. TORRENS
said, the accounts of India were closed on the 30th April—he could not see why they could not be made up to December 31, or to any preceding date, so that they might be laid before Parliament early in the Session. He had great experience himself in relation to those accounts, and could see no obstacle to the plan he suggested.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
admitted that the hon. Gentleman was better acquainted with the subject than himself, but he had spoken of the delay of arranging all the local accounts at Calcutta before reaching this country.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
thought that all the right hon. Gentleman had to do was to send out an order that the accounts should be made up to a particular day. With respect to the expenditure for barracks, he hoped attention would be given to that subject, as most of them were unhealthy and even pestilential; and if the Government would take the opinion of such men as Sir Sidney Cotton, they would soon learn where improvements were needed, and whether it would not be possible to do with some 20,000 or 30,000 less Europeans than were now kept in India. Then as to the Paumban Channel, he thought the expenditure of some £200,000 would be a most useful application of money, as it would greatly facilitate trade, and a small duty upon coasters would soon recoup the outlay.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
said, that Sir Charles Trevelyan had made a statement in India of the estimate for next year, and yet the House was kept in ignorance upon the subject until the moment when the right hon. Gentleman spoke, and even then they were only informed of the general items, though the full accounts had been published in India. As to the home charges, that part of the accounts must be sent out from England; and why could it not be laid before the House? He complained also that the accounts which they had contained no column comparing the accounts with those of the previous year. The statement of Sir Charles Trevelyan was an explanation of the estimate of this year.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that if 1857 his hon. Friend would look at the papers which had been laid upon the table he would find that the accounts for 1862–3 were actually compared, page after page, with the estimated expenditure for the year 1863–4.
§ In reply to Sir HENRY WILLOUGHBY,
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that measures were being taken to consolidate various treasuries, which were now unnecessarily multiplied.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
gave notice that if the naval service was not placed on the same footing as the military service by next Session he should move the rejection of the Resolution.
§ Resolutions agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Twelve of the clock.