HC Deb 03 August 1866 vol 184 cc2039-40

I rise to make a personal explanation to the House—in doing which, however, I shall not occupy much time. The explanation relates to Colonel Strachey, a distinguished officer in the Royal Engineers. On the 19th ulti- mo, I made some remarks on the Indian Budget. I referred particularly to the Department of the Public Works; and I stated that the Government of India had spent some millions on works of irrigation, and that though a similar sum had been spent by private companies for a like object, the works were entirely unremunerative; but that, nevertheless, a Memorandum had been addressed to the Governor General, in 1865, bearing the signature of Colonel Strachey, who then held the important situation of Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Public Works, advising the Government to borrow £20,000,000, with a view to carry out works of this nature upon a great scale throughout India. I objected to this being proceeded with, and I observed that the works would take an immense time to execute, and that as the engineer only promised that they would repay the cost of the construction ten years hence, that few of us. would live to see the result, and that the engineer would have been able by that time to return to England with plenty of money in his pockets. That is the phrase to which objection has been taken to. I did not intend to convey the smallest imputation on the honour or integrity of Colonel Strachey. Knowing, as I have done, the Indian service for many years, it would be absurd to suppose that any person in the position of a Secretary to the Government of India advocating the borrowing of money for public purposes could have any advantage in carrying the works into effect. I know nothing personally of Colonel Strachey; and, independently of that, I hear that he has retired from the service.