HC Deb 12 August 1867 vol 189 cc1340-417

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


, in proposing a series of Resolutions of which he had given notice on the subject of Indian Administration, said it might appear somewhat inopportune to invite an expression of opinion by the House at so late a period of the Session, but it must be recollected that the present was the first occasion this Session on which the House had been asked in a formal manner to direct its attention to matters connected with the Government of India. One or two debates had taken place upon matters of detail, but there had been no opportunity for considering and dealing practically, as a whole, with the question of the organization and administration of the Government of India. Having had some little opportunity of seeing how the Government of India was carried on, he had been very much struck by what he considered the great defects of the system of the Governor General in Council. At present he believed that system to be wholly inefficient for its purpose. We seemed not to have made that progress which was to be expected iu adapting the system established long ago to the great changes which had taken place in the condition of our Indian Empire. Originally, there had been a very loose Administration, marked by very great abuses, inasmuch as there was an unlimited number of Members of Council, and every Councillor thought it necessary to seek every opportunity for his own aggrandizement. A remedy for this state of things was supposed to be found in vesting the whole power in the Governor General and a few select Councillors; the number chosen at first being four, a limit subsequently reduced to three Civil Members. A power was, moreover, conferred on the Governor General, after he had gone through the somewhat cumbrous process of exchanging opinions in writing with his Council, of acting upon his own authority in cases where the interest, or safety, or tranquillity of the British possessions in India was directly concerned. But in all the ordinary affairs of Government he had no power of acting alone, and was bound to consult every Member of his Council. At a time when British sway in India was very limited, it was easy to act with a small number of Councillors; but now that our Empire had enormously extended, the difficulties of administration were proportionately increased. In 1834 the attention of the House was called to the condition of affairs. After a long peace it was hoped that the Governor General would be able to facilitate the passing of good and useful laws for the people, a direction in which very little had been done for many years before; and, accordingly, an additional Councillor, who was to be a member of the legal profession, and hence likely to be versed in questions of jurisprudence, was appointed. In 1861 it was found that the financial affairs of India were more complicated than any one locally connected with that country was capable of managing, and it was thought that another Councillor might be usefully added, to be selected from gentlemen in this country well versed in questions of finance. Hence the Governor General found himself compelled by law to consult six gentlemen, and to be guided by their opinions upon all matters connected with the general affairs? of the Government, though he might emancipate himself from this necessity and depart from the opinion of the majority by acting upon his own responsibility in all cases where the matter at issue was one affecting the security or tranquillity of the Empire. If any one would reflect upon the limits which that Empire had now attained—1,900 miles from north to south by 1,500 from east to west—the number of States, the variety of languages, the differences of religion, and the multiplicity of sects, comprehended in those territories, it must be admitted that it was almost impossible for the Governor General in Council, as at present constituted, to conduct the supreme direction of the affairs of India. It was said that in practice a system had grown up of intrusting particular classes of duties to particular members of the Council without the necessity of their being participated in by their colleagues. Whatever practical advantages such a system might be attended with, if it existed, it virtually ignored the contents of the statute book, and thereby showed how much the exigencies of public affairs in India had outstripped the regulations made at home. Was that a desirable state of things? Ought we to drive the Governor General into dealing with departments of the Government with the assistance only of a single Councillor, not in a manner authorized, but prohibited by the law? If he was asked in what respect the Government of India was deficient, he had no difficulty in answering that the greatest deficiency consisted in the absence of any Member of the Council charged with watching over the agricultural industry and commerce of the country. Other departments were sufficiently represented; but the superintendence of questions relating to industry and commerce appeared to him to require that there should be appointed to the office of Councillor a person of very different education and very different attainments from those of the class from whom the Civil Service in India was recruited. However intelligent and well-informed these gentlemen were, they had not that knowledge which would enable them to grapple with the questions which had arisen and were constantly arising in India with relation to industry and commerce. Therefore, while anxious that the Governor General should be enabled to transact business with the assistance of one Councillor, he was also anxious that he should have a Councillor to advise and assist him in reference to the matters to which he had just referred. At the risk of being obliged to go into a few details, he would call attention to one or two of the more prominent branches of the subject. When he was in Calcutta, during the time of Lord Dalhousie, he suggested that the telegraphic system would be better conducted by a company than if taken up by the Government. But Lord Dalhousie was of a different opinion, and the telegraph became a Government undertaking. In 1862 he was anxious to know how far the Government had succeeded in the business, and he asked for an account. He thought if there was one general test better than another of the efficiency with which a great enterprize was conducted that test was to be found in the fact that those who conducted the undertaking had an accurate account of what was going on—of what was the capital, and what the revenue, what the profit, or what the loss. But it was not until the 19th of May, 1863, or fifteen months after he had asked for it, the Government in London obtained an account from India of the administration of the telegraphs of that country. The account he had called for was then laid on the table. In 1865 he moved for another account. Again there was a long delay, and it was not till February, 1866, he could get an account for the additional years following those included in the previous Return. And what was the result? The Indian Government had 11,700 miles of telegraph and 158 stations, on which they had spent £1,460,000, and on which, on the operations from year to year, they had lost £421,000. Well, that could not be said to be a very successful affair; but he did not wonder that it was not successful when its managers had no accounts made up, and when it took them fifteen months to be in a position to tell what was doing. He held in his hand the accounts of the administration of the telegraphs in Victoria by the Government of that colony. They had 2,500 miles of telegraph over a thinly-populated country; but, instead of having made a loss of £421,000, they were working at a profit equal to 3¾ per cent on the whole of the capital. But mark the difference of administration. The account which he held in his hand was the one for 1866. It was dated the last day of January, 1867, and it embraced the most minute details, even to every accident or interruption. If the Indian Government attempted to draw up a Report to include all the interruptions they never would be able to finish it. The last account of the telegraphs in India, which was called "Statistics of the Telegraphs of India," just laid before the House, only came up to the end of 1864, and were those which he had extracted from the Government. Did not that show inefficiency in dealing with great industrial questions? The railway system was another instance in point. The Government no doubt had pressed the construction of these lines, but the administration of them was involved in the utmost perplexity; indeed, the wonder was that they could be worked at all, considering how they were burdened with superfluous supervision. There was the Board of Directors in London, superintended by the Government here. There was another authority superintending the railway in India, another authority superintending that one, and the whole nominally superintended by the Government in India; so that there were five superintendencies, while in reality there was no member whose duty it was to represent this department of business in the Council. One of the lines which went from Calcutta was named — he did not know whether ironically or otherwise—after the Governor General. On the working of that line there was a deficit of £1,700 a year after payment of expenses. There were two projects now talked of, one for a railway between Scinde and Peshawur, at a cost of £5,000,000, and another, the Hindustain line, at a cost of £6,000,000. They were so assisted by the Governor General that perhaps they, too, would be called after him, and he ventured to predict that they too would be distinguished by an annual deficit. The first scheme was in connection with the Punjaub line, which, on a cost of £2,500,000, yielded a revenue of £25,000 a year; and the Scinde Railway, constructed at a cost of £2,250,000, and yielding a revenue of £10,000 a year—the other project was in connection with the Bombay and Baroda Railway, which earned £114,000 net in the year on a capital expenditure exceeding £0,000,000—these were the plans talked of. When he was in India persons interested in the development of railways projected a line in Western India in connection with a line that yielded to the Treasury £683,000 upon an outlay of £15,000,000. Those who were interested in that enterprize had considered what would be the best course to take with respect to a further development of its system, and they came to the conclusion that the best line would be one to open up that vast country known—politically rather than geographically—as Central India. He felt a great interest in the undertaking, and, with the concurrence of Lord Elgin, he negotiated with a Native Prince, the Maharajah of Holkar, an agreement by which that Prince was to grant a subvention, which would render a 5 per cent guarantee from the British Government unnecessary. But that having been done, one of our old Indian political Governor Generals arrived in India. He set to work, and the Maharajah was obliged to abandon his engagement. He could refer to other lines which were not likely to be productive, in consequence of their being interesting to gentlemen connected with certain services. He thought that it was absolutely necessary that this great branch of industry should be supervised with an intelligence which was not at present displayed in the management of Indian affairs. This was the more necessary, inasmuch as the time was approaching when the Government would be called upon to revise the contracts which it had made, and it was necessary to have a department in India capable of grappling with the question on comprehensive principles — with a system involving a capital of £83,000,000 sterling. But he would pass to another subject, and one which had for some time been occupying public attention—the question of irrigation. The Papers which had been produced on this subject contained the most abundant evidence that there was no mind in Calcutta applying itself steadily to the solution of this question. A despatch was sent home from India a few years ago, proposing that a loan should be raised, and that £29,000,000 should be spent on works of irrigation. Sir Charles Wood did perfectly right in treating that proposition with an answer which conveyed every feeling of amazement, indignation, and disgust at the extravagant manner in which the Government of India were dealing with that question. He declined to receive the despatch, and when another came he treated it as indignantly as he had done the first. He believed that one of the proposals was that £6,750,000 should be expended in the irrigation of the North Western Provinces, that the work should take ten to fifteen years in the completion, and that an establishment should be set up in connection with the affair, to cost £170,000 a year. Now, the House knew that when two periods were mentioned in this way they were always safe in taking the longest of the two. He thought, therefore that he might fairly assume that the work would not be completed in less than fifteen years, and £170,000 a year during that period would give no less than £2,250,000, as the sum which would be required to superintend an additional expenditure amounting together to £6,750,000. Indeed, that was the way in which the interests of the people of India were generally consulted — about one-third of the money expended upon any Government work was put into the pockets of the Europeans who were engaged in the superintendence. But the extravagance of such a proposal could best be understood by comparing it with what had been done in another direction. On the Madras Railway, which had occupied fourteen years in construction, £6,7–30,000 had been expended, and the amount devoted to superintendence and other similar expenses was £050,000, or £1,600,000 less than would in all probability have been incurred had the work been under the direction of the Government instead of a joint-stock company. This was a continuation of the old Indian system. Whenever any scheme was proposed, it was said, "Let us have a great establishment"—and one establishment was added to another, showing how little the public money was spent for the advantage of the public. An event which occurred some little while since afforded a striking instance of the way in which things were managed. In the beginning of last year an irrigation company had completed their works for irrigating 90,000 acres, sufficient for producing food for about 250,000 people. But the people would not take advantage of the opportunity, because they thought that although they might improve the land they would be visited with an infliction of the Government for centuries in the shape of an addition to the annual land tax. The Government then issued a proclamation to induce the people to take up the scheme, but it was conceived in such extraordinary language that they became still more frightened, and would have nothing to do with the scheme. He felt convinced that with regard to the question of irrigation, unless the supervision was marked by an intelligence and sagacity which had not yet been seen, it would be useless to hope that we should realize those benefits which we had a right to expect from the intelligence, energy, and scientific skill of our engineers, both in India and in this country. So strongly had he been struck with the present state of things that he had advised an English engineer who had brought before him an admirable and well-considered plan of irrigation not to have anything to do with the Government of India, because his efforts would lead to no good result, while they might end in his own ruin, and that advice he still regarded as sound. He had personally had some correspondence with the Government of India, and he had been thankful when he had obtained an answer in twelve months, and the House could easily understand that a correspondence which was carried on at the rate of a letter and answer every twelve months would inevitably be attended with destruction to the prospects of any professional or commercial man. There was another important matter which had come under his own observation, and that was the development of the great carboniferous district in the centre of India. Many years ago he had been struck with the magnitude of this question, and the advantages which would be conferred upon the country by having a supply of coal in the centre of India, as occasion might arise when it would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a supply from the coast. The Government of India, with a view to developing the coal, made a grant of 900 square miles to one man, inserting a clause, as a condition of the grant, that he should make 1,500 tons of iron — it being about as reasonable to insist on making a ton of iron there as for the Great Mogul to direct some one to grow pine apples in the fields of this country. But no condition about raising coal was mentioned in the grant. While in India he endeavoured to impress the importance of this subject by means of a letter to the Government, through a district officer, and being at Calcutta two or three months afterwards, he naturally desired to learn what, had become of his communication. But no one had heard of it. Some people thought it was up the country, whilst others thought it was down the country. At last a gentleman got a copy of it from the officer to whom it was first sent, and it was brought under the consideration of the Government. To that letter, after the expiration of about twelve months, he got an answer, and ultimately found that it was useless to keep up any correspondence with the Government of India. The fact was, that if anything was proposed in India, the proposal was met by the principles of political economy—principles which the officials in India were always studying, but could never master or understand. The Government had guaranteed an interest of 5 or 4½ per cent on most costly machinery—that machinery being a railway—which could only be set in motion by fuel, the best of which was coal. But when they went to the Government to see if a supply of coal could not be obtained, they were told that it was contrary to the principles of political economy for a railway to have anything to do with coal. This was what was called the philosophical administration of affairs in Calcutta. Now if there was a real English statesman in Calcutta, such a course of proceeding would not be tolerated. He had now given his view of this question; but as the official mind always liked to have the official view, he might quote the opinion of Colonel Strachey, who was a great authority on this matter. He stated that on all questions relating to public works and industry there was no guiding or superintending mind in the Government of India—nobody gave them a well-directed attention—they must take their chance and the multiplicity of Indian affairs. The whole thing, in short, was a perfect chaos. The Government had appointed that gentleman to a responsible post in superintending irrigation works; but still, the superintending officers had no authority for grappling with the questions before them, or power of controlling the action of the local Government. What was the general result of the system of Government carried on in India? On comparing the productive industry of India with that of our Eastern colonies, it would be found that with a population approaching 200,000,000 the imports were only £64,000,000, and the exports only £69,000,000; whilst in out-Australian colonies (adding Tasmania and New Zealand), with a population of 1,600,000, the imports were £34,000,000, and the exports £30,000,000. They were called upon imperatively to review the organization of the Supreme Government—to send to the aid of the Governor General a competent Administrator to superintend every question connected with agriculture, industry, and commerce, and thus to make our rule not only as just, but as useful as possible for the people of that country. This was the first proposition he had to make to the House. It was absolutely necessary to secure better government for the people of Bengal. It had been transferred to a Lieutenant Governor. It was thought by some that a person who had risen in the Indian service after a long career ought to be appointed Lieutenant Governor of Bengal; but Parliament had not been of that opinion. When it deliberately considered this question on the renewal of the Charter in 1834, it thought there should be a separate Government for Bengal, placed on the same footing as that for Bombay. But there had been some difficulty in so dealing with the subject under the old system. Then it was thought the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal might have a Legislative Council to work with, but not for administering affairs. The result of that imperfect change was this — that in practice they could not appoint a really efficient man to the office of Governor of Bengal; the system had been continued of appointing those who were unfit for the office they were called on to hold. He maintained that it was absolutely necessary for the efficient government of Bengal that an Englishman should be sent out from this country, quite independent of all local interests, prejudices, and trammels. Until they completed their organization in Bengal, and placed it on the same footing as the Government of Bombay, they could not accomplish this object. In 1861 he had pressed this view on Sir Charles Wood, who promised to consider it; but the tiling was put off, and the question now was, whether this important matter should be left on its present footing. It was absolutely necessary that the Secretary of State for India should direct his attention to the question. The other evening, when the famine in Orissa was under discussion, the right hon. Gentleman intimated his desire that our energies should be directed to some means of preventing such calamities for the future. The first step to prevent the recurrence of such a calamity was to reform the Government of Bengal. It deserved notice that even the Commissioners who were appointed to examine into the question, desiring to extenuate that great calamity, in effect came to the conclusion that the best remedy that could be found for the future was to improve the administration of the Bengal Government. It was due very much to the present condition of the Government of Bengal, that the people of Orissa had been so much neglected. No one really inquired into the facts of the case which would at once have been investigated, if there had been any master mind capable of dealing with them. While the lives of millions of people were in jeopardy no one took the trouble to ascertain what ought to have been ascertained by direct searching inquiry. It was said, on speculative grounds, there were large stores of grain in the country, and it never occurred to the Lieutenant Governor and the Commissioners of Revenue to take the smallest trouble to ascertain the fact. They were content to speculate in their offices on the subject, and they only discovered the truth by the fact that the people were dying in thousands for want of grain. All this arose from the feeble complexity of the present state of things in Bengal. It was therefore necessary to place Bengal on the same footing as Bombay or Madras, He would pass from the subject of the constitution of the Government of Bengal to the next Amendment he should desire to see in the administration of our Indian affairs, which had reference to the constitution of the Council at home. This was a very delicate question for the Secretary of State to deal with, for, as the noble Lord opposite had told him last year, it did not do for the Secretary of State to call his Council round him and ask them what proposition they had to make for their own extinction. Under these circumstances, it became the peculiar duty of independent Members to bring the subject forward, in order that the Secretary of State might be in a position to slate that he had been forced to take action in the matter by the House of Commons, and not by any desire on his own part to subvert the comfortable position the members of the Council now occupied. The constitution of the Council at home formed the subject of a very lively discussion in the House at the time of the passing of the India Bill, nine years ago, at which time very conflicting opinions were expressed with regard to it. Some persons thought that there ought to be an Executive Council, the members of which should act somewhat in the capacity of Under Secretaries of State, while others thought it should consist of persons holding most elevated positions. Lord Russell said they should be Privy Councillors, having large salaries, and holding office for life. He, however, and those who had a direct and immediate interest in Indian matters, thought that neither of these extremes was the right course to pursue, but that the affairs of India should be directed by a Minister of the Crown, aided by a consultative Council, the Councillors not being overshadowed by the Secretary and the Secretary not being able to convert them into Ministerial officers of his own. This was the view which was adopted by Lord Derby, and which was embodied in the Bill as it originally stood. During the discussion that took place, Lord Palmerston suggested that the Councillors should be appointed for a period of ten years, and not for life. The then Government, finding themselves in a very delicate position, having to face a large majority on the Opposition side of the House, and having important vested interests to grapple with, proposed that the Councillors should be appointed during good behaviour. In consequence, however, of the great difference of opinion that existed, the Government at length, in deference to the general opinion of that House, proposed the compromise, which was embodied in the Bill by which the Council was established. It was desirable that he should read the language of that compromise, because upon it turned very important questions. It was provided by the Bill that Councillors should hold their offices during good behaviour, and unless removed in conformity with an Address from both Houses of Parliament; but it was further provided that if at any time thereafter it should appear to Parliament expedient to reduce the number of Councillors, or otherwise deal with the constitution of the Council, no member of the Council who had not served in his office for more than ten years should be entitled to claim any compensation for the loss of his office, or by reason of any alteration that might be made in the constitution of the Council; so that the whole question of the composition of the Council might be re-opened, if Parliament considered it desirable, within a period of ten years from that date. Now, next year was the last of that term allotted to Parliament for a re-consideration of the question. It was felt at the time the Bill passed that the question could not be satisfactorily settled then, and now that Lord Derby's Government was again in office, and was likely to remain so until the expiration of the ten years, the time was most opportune for a re-consideration of the question in a calm and temperate manner; in the interval afforded by the approaching recess the Government would have the opportunity of discussing it, and he held it to be their duty to bring it before the House for consideration next Session. No one could doubt that it was not a proper state of things to set up a Council in this country, the members of which were to remain within it, even though they might be tottering to the India Office when they ought to be thinking on their relations with the other side of the grave. That was not a mode of administering effectively and energetically the government of a great Empire. It was entirely contrary to the whole policy of our administration, especially as regarded our Colonial and Indian Empire. That policy was not one of convulsive and violent change, but one of the gradual circulation of new ideas and of new men. Throughout the discussions that had taken place upon this subject he had always expressed an opinion that the Council assisting the Secretary of State should be continually reinforced by new men, new information, and new energy. Men who had left India thirty or forty years ago could not know anything about the persons now engaged in conducting affairs there, or the present state of things in India. There should be men constantly entering the Council who knew personally the leading civilians and officers in India and the qualities they possessed, and who could give the Secretary of State confidential advice in the exercise of the most difficult, delicate, and responsible duty which he had to perform, that of selecting military men and civilians for the performance of the very highest duties which public servants in India were in-trusted with. If the Council consisted of none but old gentlemen who left India ages ago, how was the Secretary to get that advice? Then there were many men who had recently returned from India who might make most useful members of Council, but they would have to be passed over until some of those wonderful constitutions, often seen amongst retired Indians, passed to their last account. There should be a gradual change, so as not to produce any sudden revulsion of views and opinions, and that change should take place under such conditions as would not lead to jobbing or intrigue. The change should be prescribed by law, and should take effect by the operation of law, the members not being put out of the Council as for any wrong- doing or want of capacity, but each retiring by rotation. The practical part of the plan he proposed was, that members of the Council should only hold office for seven or, perhaps, six years, a term quite sufficient to finish the career of gentlemen who had held public offices in India for many years. There was only one other Resolution which he had to offer the House, and that was to get rid of the solemn and extraordinary farce of the House of Commons sitting annually in Committee to declare that certain things had taken place two years previously. The House was not called upon to express any opinion as to whether those things had rightly or wisely taken place, but they had simply to say, as a matter of fact, that the Government of India had received so much money, and had spent so much two years ago. In order not to stultify their proceedings and convert this House into a debating society about matters of history, they should come to some practical conclusion, either of praise or censure, regarding the present or regulating the future. The best course to be adopted was for Parliament to have the Estimates for the ensuing year before them, and that they should pass a Resolution whether or not they were satisfactory. In doing that they would be called upon to consider whether the administration of affairs in India was satisfactory, and whether that which was the complement of that administration—the financial system in England—was deserving of their confidence. They would thus have an opportunity of passing a real Resolution upon the subject, and would have an opportunity of discussing every important subject connected with the administration of affairs in India. The House must have perceived that during the last two or three years there had been a growing disposition, and he might add, a growing requirement to mix up the English finances with those of India. He would mention one great illustration of this—the question of the transport of troops from England to India. There was a kind of partnership undertaken, and large ships were built. It became a joint transaction, and he did not complain of that, because it was evident that with the rapidity of communication, it was necessary, for the sake of economy, expedition, and efficiency, that there should be a large amount of united exertion, involving important questions of finance between the Governments of England and India. At the same time it was highly undesirable that only one portion of such joint transactions should come under the notice of that House. Again, there was the question of the Post Office which occurred the other day, and certainly it was most desirable that there should be a complete partnership between the two Governments in regard to the general Postal service of India and the East. When, however, this question was recently discussed, the House was placed in a position of great embarrassment, because there was on the one hand, the Exchequer here, which was under the most stringent rules, and, on the other, the Exchequer of the Secretary of State for India, which was under no rules whatever as regarded Parliament. The consequence was that they were waiting to see how they could get out of the complications in which they had been involved. In his opinion, the best way to deal with matters of this kind would be to lay the Estimates for the Indian service on the table, not to be dealt with to the full extent, like the English Estimates, but merely with the view of obtaining a vote of the House approving the expenditure proposed by the Secretary of State for India, for the same period of time as the English Estimates related to. The House would then be able to take a comprehensive view of the Indian finances, and would no doubt arrive at a satisfactory result. If there should be any discontent about any particular details, they would have the whole thing before them, and that discontent could be expressed in an intelligible form. He viewed, with some concern the fact that the Secretary for India had under his control the expenditure of so vast a sum of money, and he thought that expenditure should be under the same general supervision as was that of Her Majesty's Government in this country. He trusted that this suggestion would receive the sanction of the House, and that the Secretary of State would give the House an assurance that he would apply his mind to a practical examination of the condition of the Government of India. For his own part he was strongly impressed with the conviction that the condition of the Government of India with respect to those matters which he had referred to was in the highest degree unsatisfactory, and he believed that we were not doing justice to the people of that country. Year by year we were imposing enormous burdens upon them in the shape of taxes; but while we were exhibiting great intelligence and ca- pacity in that respect we were not exhibiting a like intelligence and capacity in developing the industry of the people, find in doing that which would tend more than anything else to reconcile them to a Government which was alien to their feelings and their religion. He hoped the next Session would not be allowed to pass away without the matter being brought under the notice of Parliament. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolutions of which he had given notice.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Governor General of India should be empowered, with the sanction of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for India, to conduct the business of each Department of Government in concert with one or more members of his Council instead of the whole Council:—That, in order to insure better attention to the affairs of Trade and Agriculture, an additional member of the Governor General's Council in India should be appointed to superintend those affairs:—That the Government of Bengal should be placed upon the same footing as the Government of Bombay:—That one nominated and one elected member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India should cease to hold office at the end of each year:—That the members of the Council should retire in rotation according to their length of service, whether as members of the Council or as East India Directors:—and, That the existing practice of recording by Resolutions of this House certain financial facts relating to India should be discontinued; and that instead thereof, the Estimates for all Expenditure in Europe of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for India in Council should be approved by a vote of this House before the same is incurred,"—(Mr. Ayrton,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


, on rising to second the Amendment, said he would not follow his hon. Friend through the whole of the matter which he had laid before the House, though he thought they ought not to shrink from the consideration of all the propositions submitted to them. At all events, the subject would be discussed in the newspapers during the recess, and thus the people of India would perceive that their interests were not overlooked in the House of Commons. There was, however, one point to which his hon. Friend had alluded on which he was anxious to say a few words—namely, the important question of irrigation. It was impossible to reflect on the terrible calamity which had recently occurred in Orissa and other parts of the Bengal Presidency, without coming to the conclusion that, by prudent foresight, it might have been to a considerable extent mitigated. If we wished to avert famine in the future we ought to cultivate the vast water resources of the country, which were amply sufficient, if the water, instead of being allowed to run away into the ocean, was everywhere made available for irrigation. And if, in addition to this, the canals were made navigable for steamers, and an inland system of water communication was established throughout the whole of India, then the deficiency of one province would be easily met by the redundancy of another, and thus a famine, such as we have lately witnessed, be rendered impossible. His hon. Friend had alluded to a company which had large works in Orissa—the East India Irrigation Company. In 1861, plans in reference to that very district were submitted to the Government, and obtained the sanction of Lord Canning. They were then sent to the Home Government, and for fifteen long months were hung up in the office in London. He would now read an extract from the Commissioners' Report which would show that some of the responsibility of delay rested on the authorities at home who were, in fact, supreme. The Report stated that— At Cuttack the East India Irrigation Company have large establishments. They had undertaken some years before a great scheme for the irrigation of the delta of the Mahanuddee and the adjoining country, and their works had progressed almost, but unfortunately not quite, to the point when they might have been brought into partial use at the moment when the famine commenced. This was in great measure owing to the delay of fifteen months. But the value of the works even as far as they did extend was illustrated by the following testimonies in the Report:— They had spent and were spending large sums of money in payment of labour, but their operations in Orissa had been confined almost entirely to the neighbourhood of Cuttack, where their principal head works are; only one canal having been carried thence to a considerable distance in the direction of Kendraparah. It was probably in a very great measure due to their past and present expenditure, and to their provident provision of grain for the payment of their workpeople, that actual starvation occurred much later in and about Cuttack than in other parts of Orissa; but the consequence was that the intensity of the calamity came to the immediate sight of the principal European community (in and out of the service of the Government) in the province comparatively late. Then, again, it was reported— Up to this time there were no Government relief works in the Cuttack district, but the works of the Irrigation Company afforded employment to vastly greater numbers than did the Government works in Pooree. We cannot spank too highly of the humane endeavours of the officers of this company to render their works beneficial to the destitute. In January, when rice was procurable, the numbers were at their highest; and from that month till June, employment being freely offered and more and more needed, the decrease in numbers was, we understand, solely due to the scarcity of rice. He must, however, say that the noble Lord opposite had from the time he accepted office taken great interest in these works, and done all he could to further them. He had read these extracts, however, in order to impress upon the House that it was sound policy to encourage English capitalists to embark in undertakings of this nature. Again, the Commissioners said— There can be no doubt of the great advantage of the measures of precaution in regard to public works recommended by General Cotton. But it so happened that the great roads running through the length of Orissa had been long ago designed, and useful employment for almost any quantity of labour might have been found on them, in raising great embankments, collecting metal, and such-like works, eminently suited to famine relief. Superintendence and other means might probably have also been found sufficient to enable the Government to employ all who would come upon the works; food only was wanting. He hoped, therefore, that the late sad events would draw the attention of the Government to this very important question of irrigation, and especially as works of irrigation are more than amply remunerative, if thoroughly carried out. Had those works been in full operation in Orissa the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings might have been saved.

He had heard with pain the allusion made by the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) to the supposed feebleness manifested by Sir John Lawrence, contrasted with his former vigour, and he regretted that he was not in his place, or he would assure him that Sir John Lawrence had been advocating works of irrigation ever since his appointment as Governor General. Such remarks were injurious to one who of all others had the best interests of the natives of India at heart; and he only needed scope for his great energies to inaugurate measures adapted to the present exigency.


Although the course which the hon. Gentleman has adopted upon this occasion is not in accordance with precedent, yet it is one of which I am not disposed to complain, inasmuch as the speech which the hon. Member has just delivered, like almost every speech he addresses to this House, is full of interest and information, while the points to which he draws our attention are in themselves undoubted of very considerable importance. I hope, however, the House will not permit itself to be led at this moment into a general discussion of the many subjects which the hon. and learned Member has brought under our notice, but will assent to the Motion that the Speaker should now leave the Chair for the consideration of the financial condition of India, which is the special object of our assembling this evening. It is, no doubt, usual, after the Financial Statement has been made, for hon. Members to draw attention to various subjects connected with the Indian Administration, and perhaps the discussion of those subjects would lead to better results if raised by a formal Motion; but I am afraid that if we were to take up even one of the points which has been introduced by the hon. and learned Member, and to discuss it thoroughly, very little time would be left for the transaction of the business which has immediately brought us together, and hope that, although I shall feel it my duty to offer a few observations upon the questions which have been raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman they will not be made the subject of any general and prolonged discussion. I will take these questions in the order in which they have been brought I forward by the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. In the first place, the hon. and learned Member suggested a different I mode of conducting the business in the Council of the Governor General. On that point I need say very little, because the hon. and learned Member is obviously aware that, whatever the law, the practice is very much as he withes. Improvements might probably be made, and no doubt the law and practice should conform to each other. The six members of the Council are each charged with a department; one takes the financial, another judicial business, a third home, and a fourth military affairs, and so forth. The secretaries of each department refer matters to those members of the Council at the head of their particular departments, and if unimportant they are disposed of without further consultation. More important matters are referred to the Governor General, and questions of such importance as to warrant the description "Cabinet questions" are referred to the Council. That is a reasonable way of doing business, but, perhaps, it should be put upon a more regular footing, and the custom of all the members of the Council signing a despatch, whether they have been at present at the discussion of it or not, is certainly absurd and inconvenient; it is a remnant of the old system, and might well be done away with. The suggestion of the hon. and learned Member that an additional Councillor should be appointed to superintend trade and agriculture, is worthy of consideration; it is true, as he says, that there is a want of organization in certain departments partly consequent on the absence of a leading mind. With regard to the question of irrigation there is no doubt matters are mending, and we may hope for much advantage from the appointment of Colonel Strachey as Commissioner for the general irrigation service of India. Colonel Strachey's duties are not yet exactly fixed; but by the last mail a proposal had been received at the India Office from the Governor General containing definite regulations upon that subject. Colonel Strachey has been visiting Madras and Bombay and other parts of India, and has now come to Calcutta, and a regular system of irrigation, to be conducted by him, has been proposed by the Indian Government, and is now under the consideration of the Secretary of State. No doubt the change proposed will materially improve and concentrate the organization of that important branch of the public service. With regard to the hon. and learned Member's complaint that the first thing the Indian Government does in time of need is to establish a well-paid department, and incur great expense quite out of proportion to the amount of work to be done—at the first blush, the hon. and learned Member's own remedy seems to be devised on the homœopathic principle; for his proposal is that we should have an additional, and, of course, a well-paid officer to administer these matters, which he says require putting on another footing. It appears to me that it is open to consideration whether we ought, at present, to make any addition to the Council of India, and whether it will not be better that we should confine ourselves to an alteration in the distribution of the duties allotted to the members of that body. I agree, however, with the hon. Gentleman that it is most important that a more continuous and more careful attention than has hitherto been given should be applied to those branches of industry to which he has called attention. The third suggestion made by the hon. and learned Member was that the Government of Bengal should be placed on the same footing as the Government of Bombay. Without at the present moment accepting that proposal in its entirety, I am ready to go nearly the whole length with the hon. and learned Member in the comments he has made with respect to the footing on which the Government of Bengal is at present placed. I believe it is an unsatisfactory footing, or that, at all events, it will be unsatisfactory if the Presidency of Bengal is to remain as at present, and include, besides Bengal Proper, the provinces of Assam and Orissa, as well as other outlying districts, where the people are unaccustomed to be governed by the mere operation of law, and where the administration of the law is in the hands of those who are unaccustomed to the ways of the people, and who, fresh from the desk in the Secretary's Office in Calcutta, have not the advantage of those who have been trained by personal contact with the people, nor that of those who go out to India with the training of English statesmen. This question, however, mixes itself up with the question as to what are to be the relations, under the system he proposes, existing between the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal and the Governor General of India, and it raises, also, the very difficult question as to the site of the Government of India and the true position of the capital. It cannot be expected at this period of the Session that we should enter into a deliberate discussion upon questions of this sort I would also plead, on my own behalf, that although I have now been for several months in my present position, I should require more time, and certainly a great deal more consultation with the authorities in India, before entering upon a discussion of these matters. But they have engaged our attention. I am in correspondence with the Governor General and other members of the public service, on the several points that have been raised, and I can promise the hon. and learned Member that when we meet next Session he will find that I have not neglected the subject, and I shall then be prepared to discuss the matter with him, if he thinks fit to bring it under the notice of the House. There is another question of a different character which the hon. and learned Member has raised, and that is with regard to the constitution of the Council for the Government of India in this country. I can only say that this proposal raises the whole question of the Government of India, and I think it would not be convenient that we should enter upon that subject now. But the time is approaching when we may expect that by the natural course of events vacancies will arise from time to time in the Council for India. It must be recollected that although the Councillors are appointed for life, there is a provision enabling any member who has held office for ten years to quit office on a fair retiring allowance. These ten years have not yet expired, but when the time is readied it is not improbable that there may be members of Council wishing to retire, and thus we shall have from time to time persons brought in to supply their places. The question whether the period of appointment should in future be ten years or any shorter time instead of for life, is one that must require very careful discussion, and no doubt there are arguments on both sides. The argument of the hon. and learned Member is that it is desirable to introduce fresh blood, which I entirely admit; but, on the other hand, by appointing Councillors for life, it is said that you render them more independent and give them greater authority than they would otherwise possess. It is a question, however, upon which I would ask the House not at present to come to any determination. Lastly there is a Resolution, and one more directly germane to the business of the evening, which the hon. and learned Member proposes, in perfect consistency with the remarks which he has made on former occasions, to the effect that we ought not to take up the time of this House merely by asking it to put on record certain facts, but that we ought to introduce some system of voting upon the whole expenditure of India. That, again, is a question of great importance, and one in which I fully admit the hon. and learned Member has a good deal of right on his side in what he has said. But I do not think it can be the wish of the House to take on itself the control of the expenditure of India; that would be rather a delicate task; and in carrying out any such design as appeared to be first pointed at—that of voting the money for carrying on the Home Government — it must be remembered that the money comes from Indian, and not from English sources, and hence there would be considerable difficulty in drawing the line between expenditure which properly would come under the direct control of this House, and expenditure with which this House could not properly deal. I think, however, there would be great advantage in bringing the whole accounts under the more direct supervision and criticism of this House. I am not quite satisfied with the form in which these accounts are drawn up, and I propose, in concert with the Council, to introduce certain alterations, and to lay them before the House of Commons in a shape more easily intelligible. In the first place, I think it desirable that there should be more formality in the way the Estimate of the expenditure for the coming year is prepared. I am about to propose, when the next Estimate is framed, that a statement shall be laid before the Secretary of State in Council, showing in detail the differences between the last year, and the coming year, with an explanation of the reasons for the differences, and that the Secretary of State shall authorize or object to the different proposals that are made. When the year has expired and the auditor audits the accounts, I think it would be desirable that he should not only give a certificate of the money expended with proper authority, but should draw attention, as in the English accounts, to the difference between the sum estimated and the sum expended; because it might happen that an estimate of expenditure having been fixed at £120,000, the Secretary of State would give orders to increase the amount to £130,000 and the attention of the House would not be drawn to it unless some one took the trouble of comparing the accounts for the two successive years, and even then it would require a good deal of information and experience to do so. If upon reflection the House should deem it desirable to go further and, either by a vote or by referring the matter to the Committee of Public Accounts upstairs, desired to look into these matters, that would be a course which might very fairly be considered. I would rather not invite any discussion or decision upon it now, but I mention these things to show that I am attending to the subject, and am of opinion that there is an advantage in having public criticism brought to bear upon expenditure. I believe the Council for India do their duty thoroughly well; and I was sorry that some observations which fell from the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to imply that the Council are to some extent composed of gentlemen who are past their work, and who are not really doing their duty to India. As far as my experience goes I can most emphatically contradict that statement or that impression. As far as I have any opportunity of observation, I believe every member of the Council is doing his duty conscientiously and very efficiently. But on the question of expenditure, I quite feel that, however excellent may be the intentions of the members of the Council, it is desirable that something in the nature of public discussion should from time to time take place, and in that way those who advocate economy would feel themselves backed up by public support. I have made these observations because I think anything that falls from the hon. and learned Member on Indian questions is deserving of respect. But I hope the House will not pursue the matter, or enter upon a general discussion, but will go into Committee and allow me to make a statement of the usual financial character, upon which any observations can then be offered that hon. Members may be desirous of making.


said, it appeared to him that the questions which had been raised by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets were of so important a character that it was very desirable that those Members who had formed any decided opinions with respect to them should make those opinions known to the House generally, and to the Members of Her Majesty's Government. In addressing himself to those topics, he should, in the first place, observe that he did not share the belief which the hon. and learned Member seemed to entertain, that our whole system of Indian administration was radically bad, and that it ought completely to be swept away, Of course, he could not deny the existence of defects in the Government of India, such, for instance, as had led to such a calamity as had occurred in Orissa; but he thought they should start with the belief that our government of India had, on the whole, been a great and splendid success. Our Indian Empire had endured for little more than two generations, and yet it now extended from the Himayalas to Cape Comorin, and it contained three times the population of the largest Empires in Europe. Since the termination of the mutiny, India had made greater and more rapid progress in commerce and industry than had perhaps been made within so short a period by any other country. Throughout that extensive area of land, containing about 200,000,000 of souls, the average rate of wages and the average price of landed property of all kinds had, since the extinction of the mutiny, increased between 25 and 30 per cent. He was certainly within the mark when he said that Indian property and labour had risen a third or a fourth in value during the short period he was referring to, and the commerce of the country had also readied a figure which was almost unparalleled in its history. The cases of Canada and Australia were cited; but there was really no comparison between the British miner working at the gold-fields, and living in a fertile country, under a British form of government transplanted there, and the poor Ryot who, from time immemorial, long before our Empire was founded in India, worked for a miserable pittance, receiving not so much per month as the lowest paid European labourer received in a week. [Colonel SYKES: Or a day.] The career of improvement was only at its commencement in India. Railways, telegraphs, and irrigation had been referred to. He thought the manner in which railways had been carried out reflected the very highest credit upon the administration of Lord Dalhousie, who inaugurated the system. If he took the construction of railways in India, and contrasted it with the formation of the same means of communication in Russia, both of which Empires in this matter offered points of similarity, he would find the contrast altogether in favour of India. In each case there was a difficulty in the construction of railways without the assistance of Government money; there were immense tracks of country to be travelled over, and the advantages, both political and commercial, resulting from the formation of a great arterial system of railroads were alike striking in both countries; but, as he had said, the balance of progress was in favour of India. Many years ago, the Government, under the wise inspiration of Lord Dalhousie, concluded that it was of the most absolute importance that railways should be constructed in that country, and capital for that purpose was found by giving the absolute guarantee of the Government. The consequence was that a great system of railway communication had been carried out with a result which was, upon the whole, most signally successful. Great commercial profit had arisen, and would still further arise, from these railways; but it was to be borne in mind that there were questions in India of even greater importance than those of commercial profit. As an illustration, he might cite the case of the extension of the railway from Lahore to Peshawur. That line, as a mere commercial speculation, would not pay; but it was of enormous importance, in a political point of view. He was not one of those who was over - alarmed at the prospect of Russian progress in Central Asia, but at the same time he could not shut his eyes to the fact that if we did not take the precaution of securing our military communications with the frontier, a panic might some day arise; and that we might, as happened in other panics, do foolish things that might cost us in one or two years far more than the entire expense of making the railway. He trusted the right hon. Baronet would take advantage of the present cheapness of money in the market to raise the requisite amount of capital for completing the extension of that line, and such other lines as were necessary for the completion of political communications. With regard to telegraphs he was afraid they could hardly be quoted as a success in India, for the simple reason that they were carried out under Lord Dulhousie, not from commercial but political considerations; and it was notorious that they saved India at the time of the mutiny. There was, therefore, no comparison between the system of telegraphy in India and that of Australia or the United States, where the telegraphs were purely worked as commercial undertakings. The time would undoubtedly shortly come when lines of telegraph for commercial purposes would be instituted between Bombay and Calcutta; but in the meantime they must look upon the network of Indian telegraphs as being employed strictly for political objects. Having said this much upon the railways and telegraphs, he desired to make some observations upon the present state of our political government in India. He could not help thinking that it was exposed to considerable danger from changes which had recently been pursued, arising partly from the abolition of the old East India Company, and still more from changes inevitable in themselves—namely, the approximation of India to London caused by rapid steam communication and the establishment of the tele- graph. The result had been greatly to diminish the authority of the Governor General—in fact, it had inaugurated a tendency to reduce his position to that of a chief clerk charged with the duty of enforcing the orders of the Secretary of State and his Council. That was a source of very considerable danger, and it was right that they should fully investigate whether such a tendency was or was not desirable. Before discussing that point he would refer to the special question which had been raised about the Government of Bengal, because he thought that the question raised by a consideration of the local government of Bengal would throw light upon the principles which ought to be observed in the larger matter of the general government of India. In Bengal they had had a grievous break-down in the case of the Orissa famine; nor had the failure of the Government of Bengal to give satisfaction been confined to this occasion alone; but comparing it with other Governments they could not fail to observe that there had been on the whole something slack and unsatisfactory in the Bengal Administration. He was aware that in the Bengal service there were a great many distinguished officers; and there was no reason to suppose that the Civil Service in the Bengal Presidency was worse than in the other provinces. If, therefore, the system had not worked well, they must look for its cause, not in the men, but in the system of government pursued. If they considered the matter thoroughly they would agree with him that an Indian Government, to be successful, must be as far as possible a personal government. As soon as they inaugurated a system of cumbrous routine and red tape, instead of dealing with the men individually—when they came to deal with Councils and Commissions they would find such a form of government radically unsuited for such a class of people as their Indian subjects. In every Indian province that had come under British sway in India there had been three kinds of rule established—the gold, the bronze, and the iron. They all began with the gold. Where a province had been previously misgoverned by Native rulers, and was brought under English sway, the best man that could be procured from one of the old provinces was sent to govern the new; and there introduced a system of government which practically amounted to a personal or patriarchal form of rule. A Chief Commissioner was appointed, who was vested with supreme powers, and the province was partitioned out to other officers—after a fashion, similar to that of the prefects in France—who administered justice according to their English notions of what was right to be done. Under that system order and justice were introduced into all the relations of life, and general prosperity of the country increased. This state was that which the Punjaub, Oude, Nagpore, British Burmah, and many other provinces now enjoyed, and under which they were rapidly acquiring habits of peaceful industry. After two or three years had passed over, and the provinces had tasted the advantages of British rule, the communities became more prosperous, and complicated interests arose so that it was not so easy to continue to govern them upon the personal system. Then came the bronze stage, partly personal, but hampered with rules and regulations, which, having served its time, succumbed finally into the iron stage, which was a system somewhat similar to that which now existed in Bengal. The personal system of government had never existed to such an extent in that province as it had in the other provinces he had enumerated; partly because, the revenue having been collected through the Zemindars, the Ryots had never been brought into so close a connection with the British officers as had been the case elsewhere. The Bengal Government was not so good a form as had prevailed in the provinces, because the Governor General of India resided at Calcutta, and Bengal, being also the residence of a Lieutenant Governor, the same amount of independence could not be exercised by the Lieutenant Governor living next door to the Governor General, as was, for instance, exercised by Sir John Lawrence in the Punjaub thousands of miles away from head-quarters. A system of red-tapism had consequently grown up in Bengal unknown in other parts of India, and a most cumbrous machinery had to be set in motion when any action of importance required to be taken. If local disturbances arose in Oude or the Punjaub (the Indigo riots, for instance) an officer of the Government would mount his horse and ride thirty or forty miles in a single night to see what was going on with his own eyes, and would probably take active and effectual means for their suppression. But in Bengal if such disturbances took place the officer would report to the Board of Revenue, who, in their turn, would probably report to the Lieutenant Governor, and the despatch, after being bandied backwards and forwards between three or four parties, would very likely finally be sent to the Home Government, and instead of immediate action the question would be hopelessly buried in foolscap and red tape, au urgent problem in the meantime remaining unsolved. That, he believed, was very much what had occurred in the lamentable Orissa famine. Without casting particular blame upon the officers on the spot, he could not conceal from himself that if they had been more intimate with the people, as they would have been under a personal form of government, they would have arrived at the actual knowledge of things much sooner than they did. He could not, moreover, help feeling that much evil would have been averted if Sir Cecil Beadon had known the people better. That gentleman he desired to speak of with the greatest respect, for he was a conscientious and intelligent man; but all the last years of his life were spent in the bureaux of Calcutta; he had not that experience of the people which he ought to have had, and his health was very considerably impaired when he went to Orissa. The consequence was that he came away from that country with a wrong impression of the state of things. He (Mr. Laing) thought the Governor General (Sir John Lawrence) must be exonerated from any blame in this occurrence, because Sir Cecil Beadon, who had a high character and occupied a high position, was sent to Orissa to investigate affairs on the spot, and came back and reported to Sir John that no extreme famine need be apprehended. Sir John was consequently, as it were, compelled to take for granted what was told him by his emissary, and could not be blamed for the mistake. But what they wanted now was, not to repine over the past, but to draw practical conclusions for the future, and the conclusion he drew was that everything should be done to establish a system of personal responsibility in the government of Bengal. The case of Sir Cecil Beadon also taught them that they should institute some improved mode of retirement for officers holding important stations whose health was not sufficiently good to enable them energetically to discharge their duties, but which was good enough to justify them hanging on. Some system of honourable retirement in the shape of increased pension was a desideratum much needed in connection with the Government of India. He believed, moreover, that the Board of Revenue in Bengal should be suppressed. He had the highest respect for some of the gentlemen forming the Board, but during his own short experience in India he arrived at the conclusion that that Board was an encumbrance, and, as such, mischievous. Had he been a member of Lord Canning's Council six months longer than he was he should certainly have recommended his Lordship to abolish the Board of Revenue. He could not conceive of a single argument that could be adduced in favour of its existence any longer. The question of the assimilation of the Government of Bengal to that of Bombay and Madras was one of great difficulty. It meant the appointing of an English statesman of considerable rank and position to take up a position similar to that held by Lord Napier at Madras. As long as the Governor General resided at Calcutta he foresaw the greatest difficulty in an English statesman occupying the same indedendent position in Bengal as was occupied by the Governor of Madras, for the Lieutenant Governor at Bengal must necessarily be subordinate to the Governor General at Calcutta because he was so close to him. The more practical plan would be, as far as possible, to sever the outlying provinces from the Government of Bengal, and place them under a Chief Commissioner. The only question requiring solution was whether they were not too extensive for the jurisdiction of one Chief Commissioner. As regarded the province of Bengal Proper, he thought it would be wiser to go on under the present system as long as the Governor General resided at Calcutta, doing all that could be clone, at the same time to introduce more of personal responsibility, so that when wrong was committed the party who was to blame might be made amenable. Above all, they should strive in the appointment of a Lieutenant Governor for Bengal to send out a man in the prime of life, possessed of sufficient activity to move about and visit the different parts of the extensive dominions intrusted to him and see what was going on with his own eyes. As a general rule, no one was fit to be the governor of a district who could not live under canvas the greater part of the cold season. The remarks which we had made with respect to Bengal were applicable, in his opinion, to the general government of India. They should seek, as far as possible, to carry out per- sonal responsibility. What was wanted was a good Governor General. They wanted the very best man that could be got—a man of the greatest weight, standing, and authority; for the post of governing a country like India demanded higher qualities than were required by the man who held the highest position in the Cabinet at home. Especially was a man required who had a thorough knowledge of mankind, and who was perfectly qualified to select well his instruments and subordinates. That was the great function of a Governor General. If he selected good men, all would go well; but if he selected bad men, the worst results would follow. What they wanted was a Governor General who had a knowledge of mankind, and could pick out the right man for the right place without fear or favour. On this point he thought that Lord Dalhousie was the model of a Governor General. Whatever difference of opinion there might be as to the merits of Lord Dalhousie's policy, there could be none as to the school of statesmen he formed, the tact with which he selected first-rate men, and the firmness with which he upheld his own policy among them. If there was any error in the policy of Lord Canning, it was his tendency to an undue centralization. That was a mischievous thing whether exercised in Calcutta or in Downing Street. What they wanted was a man who would act upon his own responsibility under the consciousness that he would be supported by the central authority when he was right, and even when he was wrong, unless the wrong was so glaring that it required him to be superseded. The great danger in this age of steam communication and telegraph was that men would become afraid of responsibility, or of being hauled over the coals, as it was termed, and thus they would refer every question to a superior, instead of deciding upon it themselves. The great duty, both of the Governor General and of the Secretary of State for India, was to set their face resolutely against all shirking of responsibility, and to encourage their subordinates rather to act for themselves than to check and reprove them for everything. Of course he did not mean to say that if they committed themselves in any way they would be supported in wrongdoing; but if they acted according to the best of their judgment, and in accordance with justice, they would be pretty sure of the support of their superiors. As to the Resolutions of the hon. and learned Gentleman with respect to the conduct of busi- ness, the first proposed that the Governor General should consult one Councillor of State upon one special department rather than the whole Council. But he (Mr. Laing) believed that, practically, this was the case at present. He was certainly shocked when he first went to India at the piles of notes and despatches on trifling subjects that were sent for the decision of the Governor General. But Lord Canning consulted him on the point, and it was agreed that the business should be conducted much as it was done in the English Cabinet, each Councillor taking a department and settling by himself all minor questions, taking the opinion of the Governor General on those that were more important, and only bringing before the whole Council those that were of Imperial interest. With respect to the appointment of an additional Councillor as Minister of Trade and Agriculture, he doubted its expediency, and thought that it would be better to leave trade and agriculture alone. So far as trade and agriculture came within the general scope of the Government, as it would in reference to all questions of taxation, trade, and import duties, it would be under the control of the Minister of Finance, who, if he were worth his salt, would be perfectly competent to manage them. The only other matter in which the Government might usefully interfere was that of intercommunication, which required the special knowledge of a Member of Council, who would stand in the position of Minister of Public Works. With regard to irrigation, in particular, it was necessary to have a man well acquainted with the conduct of public works in this country, who should be sent out to India in some important capacity; and although no doubt the work would be continued to carried out chiefly by military engineers, and there were many in India of high talent and great capacity, yet those great works ought not to be left entirely to them. Lord Canning told him that he had often felt the want of such an official when the Government of India were about to raise £10,000,000 or £12,000,000, perhaps at a high rate of interest, for the purpose of spending in public works. The great difficulty in dealing with irrigation was the formation of water reservoirs by means of weirs and dams, because it often happened that what in the dry season was a mere thread meandering through the valleys was in the rainy season a mighty rushing torrent, sweeping away all weirs, and very often changing the course of the stream altogether by seeking out new channels. Under those circumstances it was exceedingly difficult to carry out works of irrigation properly and effectually. At all events such works ought to be placed under the general command of a competent engineer. With respect to the Resolution for altering the composition of the Council at home, he could only say that he always considered a permanent Council highly objectionable. He did not know how it might be now; but he knew that when he was in India they caused great obstruction to business under Lord Canning. If ever they had a weak Governor General and a strong Council they would find that all questions would be referred from India to Downing Street, and nothing would be done till after two or three letters had passed backwards and forwards on the subject. The Government of India, in his opinion, should partake more of the character of personal government, and the relation of the Secretary of State to the Governor General should, as he had said, be habitually one of support and deference on matters which did not involve large questions of policy upon which opinions could be formed in England as well as in India. He knew the difficulty in which a governor was placed who had to sit at the same table with ten or twelve councillors, and the danger there was of being drawn into a position of hostility to them. His feeling then was to diminish as much as possible the influence of the Council in India; and as respected that at home, he thought it would be far better if they could, by giving increased pensions and marks of honour, secure the services of a number of distinguished Indian officers, who had returned home full of honours, who should constitute as it were a body of Privy Councillors for India, to whom the Secretary of State for India might resort for advice upon all points upon which he required it. He thought that such a body would act far better than a permanent Board which was very apt to thwart and annoy the Secretary of State. The subject was one which it was not easy to exhaust, and he could not help thinking that the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets had done essential service in bringing it forward.


said, he congratulated the House and that portion of the public who took an interest in Indian affairs on the manner in which the Secretary of State had received the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets. The right hon. Gentleman had shown a willingness to listen to suggestions with regard to reforming the system under which our great Indian Empire was conducted which promised the best results, and he was sure the speech of the right hon. Gentleman would be received with the greatest satisfaction in India as well as in this country. We must not forget that all the nations of the world envied us our great Indian Empire, and that in most of them the greatest astonishment was expressed that the interests of this vast mass of population who were the subjects of the British Crown should receive so small a share of the attention of the House of Commons and of the English people. He thought, however, that foreigners were somewhat mistaken upon this point, because although the attendance in that House when Indian subjects came before it was thin in consequence of but few persons being intimately acquainted with the details of Indian affairs, yet when any subject of importance in connection with that country arose, the press of England took the matter up, while the people of this country showed an increasing interest in the welfare of the millions who were subject to our rule. Turning to the suggestion that had been made upon this subject in the course of the debate, he would ask what had been the end of the long line of Viceroys who had been referred to so favourably by some hon. Members? Why, the last of them left India, in 1857, in a stale of rebellion. Not that he regarded the present state of apparent peace as being indicative of good government. Nothing could be more fallacious than the results which were produced by what the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) called personal government. Of course, a man of extraordinary genius could make any system work well under his personal supervision. But what was required for India was good laws that could be administered by ordinary mortals, and could be understood by everybody. He was not at all afraid of Russia if we acted wifely, but he should be very much afraid of her if we acted unwisely. The Government of Russia had of late years made considerable, but slow, quiet, and silent advances towards India by pushing forward her posts of Cossacks, and it was in the newspapers of only last week that the creation of two new Russian Governor Generalships in Turkistan were announced. The people of India had year by year a better oppor- tunity of comparing the English with the Russian system, and they could not fail to perceive that while by our system Natives were excluded from all high official places, the Natives of the countries conquered by Russia were able to rise to the highest military and civil dignities in the Empire. The great defect in our system was this exclusion from office of the Natives, and he thought the Government had made a great mistake in instituting the Order of the Star of India instead of permitting the Natives to attain English Orders. It was to the remarkable difference between the policy of Russia and England that he would call attention, because no doubt the Indians much preferred the Russian system, and herein lay our danger. In the time of the Crimean war it was said that Georgians, Caucasians, and the Mussulman countries under her sway would rise against Russia, but they did not; and at the very time the command of the trans-Caucasian army was intrusted to an Armenian, they could not fail to see in the newspapers and in the discussions in the East Indian Association how greatly the Natives preferred the Russian system. It was incumbent upon us to consider whether we had adopted the best system, and not to be deluded by the treacherous calm which might exist. With regard, first of all, to the Governor General, had he sufficient power over the whole of India, and was he assisted by an efficient Council? He would suggest some reforms, which were applicable not only to the Supreme Council, but also to the Councils of the other Presidencies. He had long entertained an opinion that those Councils were not founded upon a right principle. In the first place, they ought not to be composed of gentlemen who were at the end of their service; who took no interest in the future of India; who were afraid of responsibility; who had no fame to gain; and whose chief endeavour was, by a judicious calm and quietness, to get out of the Council and return to their native country. The Governor General wanted men to advise him who were full of vigour and able to do a vast amount of work. Besides that the members of the Council ought to have some definite occupation. With respect to the Executive Council, which he would now speak of specially, he might remark that we ought to regard India as a separate empire, and govern it as empires and kingdoms were governed in all parts of the world where there was anything like a free Government. The members of the Council which assisted the Governor General should form a Cabinet Council for the Indian Empire, and assume the names usually given to Ministers in Europe. He would have no general adviser without any special functions to perform. This plan he would follow in the construction of the Executive Councils at Madras and Bombay, as well as that at Calcutta. Upon the Legislative Councils the Natives ought to be more fully represented than they were at present. The whole system of the Governorships needed revision. The Punjaub ought to be joined with Scinde, and we ought to have separate Governors for the trans-Indus provinces and Central India. All these alterations had, at various times, been recommended by able men, and should at once be carried out. Then would arise the question as to where the seat of government for the whole country should be placed? It ought to be located somewhere where Europeans could enjoy good health. In his opinion it should be upon the sea-coast, and he had no doubt that the proper place was Bombay, which, in addition to many other advantages, had Poonah immediately adjoining it. A Government established at the latter place would be virtually at Bombay. He did not understand why Burmah was ever annexed to India, and recommended that it should at once be placed under the control of the Colonial Office. The changes which he had suggested, especially the introduction of Natives into the Councils, would increase the independence and strength of the Indian Government, and would diminish the danger which the hon. Member for Wick had foreseen, that India might come to be too witch governed from this country. It was of great importance to establish one sound and well-defined law which should be supreme in India, and to provide for the education of Natives as lawyers, so that the country might not be entirely dependent upon Europeans. He had always thought that the Council of India consisted of too many members. They ought not to be appointed for life, but after a short time they should give place to others, who might bring into the Council the latest experience from India. Two members from each Presidency would give eight or ten members, an ample number for assisting the Secretary of State in the management of Indian affairs. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Tower Hamlets that the Estimates for the expenditure of the Home Government of India should be submitted to the House. This would give satisfaction to the Natives of India. England should not require any tribute from India, but should be content to govern her as cheaply as possible.


said, he presumed that the Resolutions of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Ayrton) were to be taken as suggestions, and not as proposals on which he intended to take the opinion of the House. Sir Cecil Beadon was no doubt to blame, to a considerable extent, for the lamentable occurrences in Orissa, because be ought to have adopted such vigorous measures as would have mitigated the evil. But the main fault lay with the local collectors and magistrates, who could not but know that the market rates for grain were rising to famine prices. He regretted to observe in the despatch of the right hon. Gentleman an intimation of some want of energy on the part of the Governor General. It should be remembered that his situation was one of excessive delicacy with regard to interference with local Governors, who were very susceptible of such interference, and he was sorry that any imputation upon the judgment of the Governor General should be conveyed by the Secretary of State. [Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE: There was no such imputation, as far as I was concerned.] Personal responsibility ought to be secured, and the government of the non-regulation provinces, under men of experience and reputation, had been more successful in this respect than in the regulation provinces, where the judicial forms involved great delay, if nothing worse. On the question raised by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, whether governors should or should not be assisted by councils, he would remind the House of the opinion of Dr. Johnson, a great Tory, who laid it down as an axiom that the best form of government would be an autocracy, provided only we had angels as governors. But as angels were scarce in these days he would be sorry to have a Secretary of State for India or a Governor General an autocrat, and rejoiced they had the benefit of the advice of men of Indian experience. The hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) had complained that the servants of the Crown in India were allowed to remain there after their faculties had become worn out; but he forgot that by recent regulation thirty-five years was the utmost term of their service, so that if a gentlemen went out at eighteen years of age he could not, under any circumstances, continue in the service of the Government after he was fifty-three years old, an age at which temperate men are usually vigorous, mentally and physically. With regard to the Home Government, the Secretary of State could not spend any of the revenues of India without the consent of his Council, while in other matters he was uncontrolled, and, as in the case of Mysore, for which he applauded him, sometimes acted in opposition to his Council. The restriction as to money matters was highly essential, for otherwise a Secretary might indulge his crotchets in the expenditure of large sums of money, and might even apply money for political purposes in this country. While, however, approving the existence of a Council, he agreed in the objection to appointments for life. The Directors of the East India Company used to retire every four years, and were ineligible for re-election until after twelve months' interval. Although generally, they were not always re-elected; this depending on the efficiency which they had manifested: that régime worked well for more than 100 years, and he believed that had it been continued a better feeling would now prevail in India, both amongst the servants of the State and the population of India. The hon. Member for Wick had spoken of the splendid success of the present system, and he would not deny that great material progress had been made, at least so far as was indicated by an increased revenue; but much discontent existed among the Native troops of Madras and Bombay on account of their degradation from regular to irregular troops, notwithstanding their tried loyalty, during the mutiny of the Bengal Army. One word with respect to the future of education. The Indian Colleges were now turning out men equal to those who took a double first at Oxford or a senior wranglership at Cambridge, and it was absurd to suppose that such men, so endowed and so fitted for functions of importance, would be content to stand by with folded arms, while all the posts of dignity or emolument were in the exclusive possession of Englishmen. The Mahomedan conquerors of India always associated Natives with them in the Government, and some of the most distinguished financiers of Akbar and Aurungzebe were Hindoos. Although India as a whole, owing to its division into twenty-one nations and languages and with no common sympathies, had always been, and would continue to be, ruled by foreigners, it behoved us as a matter of policy to associate duly qualified Natives with us in the Government of the country wherever we had an opportunity of doing so.


I should not detain the House from going into Committee but for the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Ayrton) on the part taken by the Governor General as to schemes for railways in the North West of India—observations that contain serious, though I am sure quite unintentional inaccuracies. The hon. and learned Gentleman has stated that Sir John Lawrence had pressed somewhat unduly the railway schemes in the North West of India. If it were true that Sir John Lawrence had pressed forward those schemes, I hardly think it would be a matter of reproach to him, for, in my opinion, whenever the financial condition of the country renders it possible to complete them, they will be of the greatest public benefit. When I was in office I was in close correspondence with Sir John Lawrence on this subject, and I am bound to say, as a matter of fact, that on financial grounds Sir John Lawrence was exceedingly adverse to those schemes being proceeded with at present. With reference to the general character of the Motion before us, I agree with the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) that we should carefully avoid language of exaggeration in respect of this matter, and to say that the Indian Government has egregiously failed in any considerable affairs it has undertaken would be a very great exaggeration. On the whole, without reference to such miserable matters as the Orissa famine, which we discussed the other day, it has been brilliantly successful, and I certainly should not have selected the railway system as its vulnerable point. My hon. Friend (Mr. Laing) said it would compare well with the experience of Russia. I might go further and say—though it might be a delicate thing to do so—that it would compare well with the experience of England. Then, as regards the complaint made by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Ayrton) that a railway which was guaranteed, or could have been guaranteed, by a certain Native Prince, had not been carried out, my impression is that this is not a solitary case, but that, in one or two instances, there had been a desire to construct railways in the territories of Native Princes; but that had not been acceded to owing to considera- tions of policy, the force of which even my hon. and learned Friend will hardly be disposed to deny. Those railways, as a rule do not pay; they are only constructed from considerations of the prosperity they are calculated to bring to the people through whose territory they pass, and obviously it is the first duty of the Government that money paid out of the Exchequer for this purpose shall be spent in the construction of lines through the territory under our immediate rule. When this end has been accomplished, we must then turn our thoughts to the assistance of railway projects in the territory of the Nizam or of the Maharajah Holkar. There is another point in which the Indian Government has been deficient, and that is the point of irrigation. We are blamed—and in that lies one of the mysteries of the India Office which I have not been able to fathom, and which I do not believe anybody else will—for not having done as much as we ought in the way of irrigation. There certainly was a misunderstanding on the subject. Sir Charles Wood was, I believe, very anxious about irrigation, and I know Sir John Lawrence was; but, however, neither could convince the other that he was anxious about it, and it is impossible to say how the misunderstanding arose. But in reference to the smaller works of irrigation, the cause of delay in these cases is, I believe, the disposition of officials to refer everything, however insignificant, to the authorities at Calcutta, occasioning thereby a large amount, not only of delay, but of unnecessary irritation. The evil is a growing one, and it prevails now to a terrible extent, and when I say this I am breaking no official confidence, for I have received information on the subject since I left office. I have heard of cases in which the Imperial Government has been worried about an expenditure of £18 or £20. The very smallest matters are referred to them—even such as the erection of a sentry-box outside the Government House. I believe a great deal of the delay and inefficiency of which the lion, and learned Gentleman complains is due to the extreme and exaggerated contralization which prevails at Calcutta. My right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) could do no better service to India than by restricting, as far as possible, the powers of the Central Government to matters of large importance. Divide the territory of India as much as you can, place areas of small extent under the Governors, and then let the Central Government find out how much money it can spare to each and give them the liberty to spend it as they think best. It is not merely the waste of time that must take place, or the ignorance that must be shown by officials at Calcutta of the affairs throughout the rest of India that is so important; but it is this—that unless you give free action to carry out the work to which they are devoted to the men whose business it is to do so, their spirits sink, the work is done in a perfunctory manner, and you can never replace that zeal which enthusiasm alone can give. I believe that to be the secret of the failure in carrying out the small public works in India. With reference to the other subjects which have been discussed, I cannot hope to rival the clearness of expression of my hon. Friend the Member for Wick, who has so admirably laid down the principle of personal responsibility—a principle that ought to be deeply graven on the heart of every one connected with the Government of India. There is one subject, however, upon which I wish to say a few words, and that is the question of the position of the Indian Council, and the amount of power to be entrusted to it. We all know that this Council was constituted at a time of considerable difficulty, and that it was the result of Parliamentary compromise; therefore à priori, we cannot expect that it will work as well as a scheme matured under better auspices. That it has worked as well as it has done is due not only to the very great ability of the individuals who compose the Council, but to the singular and marvellous reserve with which they have exercised the powers which Parliament has placed in their hands. You cannot always expect, if you choose to place extravagant powers in a particular body, that those powers will not be sometimes misused. I do not deny that there must be a control over the Secretary of State, who is under the temptation to spend money improperly in two ways. In the first place he is under the pressure to make India pay for what England ought properly to pay. In the next place he is under the pressure of hon. Gentlemen, whom I very much respect—such as the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird), the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton), and the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Crawford) — Gentlemen connected with very great industrial undertakings in India, undertakings which are worthy of every protection and encouragement. But Gentlemen take a partial view of the special affairs with which they are connected, and if they had entirely their own way they might perhaps sometimes get more money out of the Secretary of State than they ought; and there is also the danger, which has been referred to, that the Secretary of State for India might spend money out of the revenues of India for the purpose indirectly of obtaining political support at home. I think, therefore, the protection of a Council which has power to limit the expenditure is desirable, and should be sustained; but the point to which I take exception is that the responsibility for that expenditure is not thrown on the Council. I will take an instance which will bring my meaning home. We had lately a discussion about the irrigation works, and we did not know whom to blame. One hon. Gentleman concluded that the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) was to blame, another that Sir Charles Wood was to blame, or Sir John Lawrence. But nobody suggested that it might possibly be the Indian Council. I do not say it was; I only speak hypothetically, and have no knowledge on the subject. But remember that the Council have every item of expenditure, large and small, under their control, and every act of the Government which can involve expenditure—that is to say, the vast majority of its acts. But you never blame the Council if the Government of India goes wrong. You blame the Secretary of State; he is the figure that stands before Parliament. You find irrigation works not carried on, you find a great province starving, and for all you know it may be the Council which prevents the Secretary of State from taking any measures at all. [Colonel SYKES: The Council have the control of pecuniary measures?] Yes, of everything which involves expenditure, directly or indirectly. When I was in office I took the best opinion on the subject. Now, these are hypothetical suggestions which I have made; what I wish to do is to impress upon the House that you hold the Secretary of State responsible for a policy in India and what it produces; but you never know whether he carries out his own policy, or a policy imposed upon him, either by the absolute votes of his Council or by a clear indication of their will. It seems to me that if the Council is to control the Secretary of State, the Council ought to bear the responsibility. Let every man bear his own burden. If the Secretary of State approve a certain policy, let him embody in it a despatch, and send it out, without any questions as to whether the Council approved of it or not before it was written, and if the Council thinks him wrong, let them write a despatch which shall arrest that policy. It is not fair to hold the Secretary of State responsible and keep him in the foreground while they lie in the background and really control the Indian policy. It seems a small matter, and until hon. Gentlemen have thought it over I fear it is impossible to impress on them its importance. As the case stands at present, the policy which governs India has no distinct authorship or parent; it is a joint product, and the Secretary of State is responsible for it only in this sense, that he is "the whipping-boy" on whom the blows must fall if that policy fails. I do not believe you will ever have any wide, general principles applied to the Government of India so long as there is that indistinct and confused apportionment of responsibility and power. I quite agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that a shorter tenure of office might be desirable in the case of the members of the Council; but only on the understanding that a thoroughly good retiring pension is given to those who go out, because unless you make some provision of that kind you will not, in the first instance, get the best men to sit upon the Council. But all these matters must come under the review of the Government, and therefore although we have kept my right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) for some time from his Financial Statement, I shall not be sorry if we have thereby been able to direct his mind to the importance of overhauling, both here and in India, the machinery by which that great dependency is governed, so that he may present to us, if possible, next year some scheme which shall correct the errors signalized in the debate to-night — a scheme which shall carry out in England and in India more completely the great principle laid down by the hon. Member for Wick—that personal responsibility is the thing requisite in the government of India.


said, that as the House, notwithstanding the deprecation of the Minister for India, had drifted into a debate on general policy, and as the right hon. Gentleman would be expected next year to bring forward a measure which might effect changes in the machinery of government, he could not help expressing his fear lest some of the changes which had been recommended would make the administration of India worse than it was at present. The use and importance of Councils had, in particular, been undervalued. No doubt it was a most important principle of representation that responsibility should rest as far as possible on one person, and that that person should not be screened by a Board or Council. But he apprehended that this principle applied only to one department of the Government—the Executive. Now, the work of Government was twofold; it was executive and deliberative: and in the Indian Government the deliberative was quite as extensive as the executive work, and even more important. As was stated by the hon. Member for Wick, there was no place in the world where so much depended on the personal qualities of the particular officer who was intrusted with power in all the important appointments. Upon the person who was at the head of the administration in any one district of India the prosperity of that district, to a very large extent, depended. But it did not follow that you had only to choose the best man, and then leave him to do as he liked. You should not rely solely upon the policy of one man, and that a man who filled office only for a brief period. Before any important act was done in India, there should be a full and complete statement, as far as possible, of the different sides of the question; the pros and cons should be brought forward by different people, and not solely by the particular officer concerned. Especially should this be so in the case of the Governor General. He perfectly agreed in the opinion that those who were entrusted with the chief power in India should not in general be persons who had passed their lives there. India ought to furnish knowledge of detail; but knowledge of principles and general statesmanship should be found more easily and in greater abundance in England, and here it should be sought. But when this officer went out to India, however able he might be, he rarely knew anything of his business. No doubt an able man would learn his business quicker than another man; but meanwhile he must be more or less dependent on the opinion of other people. That opinion, if he had not a well-chosen and sufficiently numerous Council, must be the opinion of the executive officers under him. Such opinions were often very valuable, but those who gave them were under no responsibility for the advice thus given. Now, if there was one thing more than another to which the great success of our Indian administration was due—for notwithstanding many defects it was on the whole a successful administration—it was to the fact that the Government had, to so large an extent, been carried on in writing; that no important act had been done the reasons for which had not been fully stated on paper, so that those at a distance were able to study them, and to decide upon the validity of the arguments by which the responsible officers justified their acts. It was not enough to trust to one despatch from the one officer who was so responsible; there should be a substantial discussion in the place itself, so that if different opinions were held on the subject, all of them should be placed before the functionary who was to decide in the last resort. It was this necessity which justified not only the existence of Councils, but of numerous Councils, he did not agree with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Ayrton) that the Government of Bengal had been a Government of inefficient, superannuated people. He did not wish to say anything of Sir Cecil Beadon, whose conduct had been so much canvassed of late, because he did not know much of that gentleman; but those who preceded him were, first, Mr. Halliday, and then Sir J. P. Grant, and two more efficient, enlightened administrators than those gentlemen were, it would be difficult to find in any service. Like all the great officers in India, these men were over-worked; and this was the great excuse for their shortcomings. The Governor of Bengal had never had the benefit of a Council. He (Mr. Stuart Mill) thought it was desirable that he should have one. If that Governor had had the benefit of an efficient Council, perhaps that great calamity which had lately occurred in a particular district of India would have been averted. One reason the more for a Council in Bengal would be supplied if it were determined that a member of the Civil Service should not be at the head of this Government, and that Bengal should be put on the same footing in this respect as Bombay and Madras. In that case it would be all the more necessary that the Governor should have some members of the Civil Service to assist him. He believed that such a Council would have been created in Bengal if it had not been for the expense. It was from motives of economy that a Council had not hitherto been appointed. As the Governor General and his Council were nearer to the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal than to the Governments of Bombay and Madras, it was thought that in Bengal a local Council could be dispensed with. But he was afraid that this would be found, and had, indeed, been found, a mistake. In appointing to the great office of Governor General or Viceroy, it might be said with truth that every Government had, as a general rule, chosen one of the best of themselves—a man who might aspire to a high or even to the highest office in this country. In that respect there had been no failure of duty, though mistakes had now and then been made. But his experience did not tell him that the same care and conscientiousness had been shown in England in choosing men to be the Governors of the minor Presidencies. He had known stupid men, careless, frivolous men, idle men, appointed to both the minor Presidencies—men so little fitted, for the business of government that if it had not been for their Councils he did not know how the government of those Presidencies would have gone on. It seemed to him, therefore, that if instead of a Lieutenant Governor there was to be a Governor of Bengal and a Governor of the North-Western Provinces, it was more important than ever that each of them should have a Council. One word now as to the Council of India in this country. The difficulty raised by the noble Lord opposite was real, and required serious consideration. On the one hand, it was of the highest importance to have a Council which should be a cheek upon the Secretary of State in matters of expense. On the other hand, it was true, as the noble Lord said, that the Secretary of State was in some degree compelled to bear a responsibility which might not be his own. How this difficulty should be overcome—if it could be overcome—was a matter well deserving the consideration of the House. But with regard to the necessity of a Council, and even of a numerous Council, not only to prevent the waste of the money of India, but also for the purpose of enlightening the Secretary of State on the general affairs of India, it appeared to him (Mr. Stuart Mill) to be clearer than many hon. Gentlemen seemed to think. He believed that many persons looked at it as if the question was, whether the Secretary of State should prevail or the Council, overlooking the fact that the Council would most probably not be all of one mind. The great advantage of a Council was that it represented many minds, that it embodied many of the opinions existing among public men. This was the case in the Court of Directors of the East India Company. They comprised permanent settlement men, village settlement men, and Ryotwar men: and again, in judicial matters, men who were for the regulation system, men who were for the non-regulation system, and men who were for the Native system. Indeed, every variety of Indian policy was there represented. There was no leading variety of Indian policy, the reasons for and against which were not certain to be stated very strongly by persons who had studied the subject, and were capable of urging the best arguments in favour of the views they advocated. It was surely an advantage to the Secretary of State, who could seldom know much about India when he took office for the first time, to obtain on the best authority that various knowledge which the great diversities of people and civilization rendered necessary. When he (Mr. Stuart Mill) was concerned, in a subordinate capacity, in the administration of India, he found that those who were at the centre of government in England really knew India, as a whole, better than those who were in India. Gentlemen knew their own Presidencies, and those who were concerned in the administration of one had more or less of prejudice against the system which prevailed in another. Those who were resident in Bengal knew less of Madras and Bombay, and vice versâ, than those who had access to the records of all the Presidencies and were accustomed to deliberate upon and discuss them, and to write about them; and so with regard to each of the Presidencies. He believed that a much more unprejudiced view of Indian affairs would be found in a Council than in any one of the local Governments, or even in the Governor General, if he were not acting with a Central Board. He thought that no Secretary of State who was aware of the imperfection of his own knowledge when he entered office, would wish to deprive himself of the advantage which he was likely to derive from an experienced Council. It was, however, another question whether the members of that Council should hold their office for life. It would be better, in his opinion, that they should give up office at intervals; but, neverthe- less, he thought that they should be eligible for re-election; and therefore power should be given to the Council to re-elect and to the Crown to re-appoint any member who was still in the vigour of his intellect and capable of rendering good service to the country. Those were the observations he was desirous of making.


said, the House was indebted to the notice of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) for this interesting debate on Indian affairs. It was disgraceful to the country and insulting to our fellow-subjects in India that the important questions which had been discussed this evening should have been delayed to the last week in the Session; and he desired to give notice that he should early in the ensuing Session, unless in the meantime something was done in the matter, call the attention of the House to the importance of making up the Indian accounts to such a period as would enable the Secretary of State for India to bring forward his Budget at the beginning instead of the end of the Session as had become his custom, and thus afford the opportunity of more frequently and more fully discussing Indian questions. There could be no doubt that India had made great material progress within the last few years since the partial opening out of roads, railways, and water communications, which had enabled her more fully to develop her vast resources. The results thus obtained were a great encouragement to proceed in the same direction. The civil war in the United States had led to an enormous increase of our trade with India for cotton. In 1856 the value of our imports of cotton from India amounted only to £3,500,000; last year we imported from thence to the value of £25,000,000. It was the extraordinary influx of the precious metals into that country in payment for cotton, and the large profits on its cultivation, that had enabled the poor Ryots to free themselves from debt, and to rise from a position of absolute poverty to comparative independence. The extreme high prices for cotton ceased with the American war, and henceforth India will have to compete with that country, and unless she can produce cotton as good and as cheap as America she will lose that trade. Twenty years ago his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham obtained the appointment of a Committee of this House to inquire into the question of the growth of cotton in India, with the view of rendering this country more independent of supplies from the United States, which were always precarious from the existence of slavery there. Results have proved the wisdom of that step; but although the Committee reported that the cultivation of cotton in India might be greatly improved and rendered a valuable article for our manufacturers, strange to say every effort in that direction had been discouraged by the Government, who had actually employed persons to write books to show the impossibility of improving the growth of cotton in India. True, the East India Company had tried the cultivation by American planters with little success; but Mr. Shaw, their collector at Dharwar, in spite of the difficulties thrown in his way, had, by his dogged perseverance, proved that India was capable of producing cotton from American seed, equal in quality to common American cotton. That gentleman at length succeeded in persuading the Government to allow him to purchase 500 bales of cotton grown from Indian seed, and the same quantity grown in Dharwar from American seed, with the view of testing the value of each by selling them by public auction at Bombay. The American planters employed by the East India Company pronounced the cotton grown from Indian seed to be the best, and the merchants at Bombay concurred in that opinion by giving a higher price for it by public auction than for that grown from American seed. When, however, this cotton found its way to Liverpool that grown from Indian seed sold for 3½d. per lb. only, while that grown from American seed sold for 6¼d. per lb. He (Mr. Smith) had for years past, year by year, accompanied deputations from the Chamber of Commerce and from the Cotton Supply Association of Manchester to lay these facts before the Government of India without effect, and also to impress upon it that it was necessary to the improvement of the quality of any Indian produce to combine European skill with Indian labour, as had been successfully done in the cases of indigo, silk, sugar, and other articles. It was necessary to the improved cultivation of cotton in India that an European agency should be established, and that it should be supported by the influence of the Government. At length, with great difficulty, the Government had been induced to try the experiment of appointing a special agent in the province of Kandeish; and mark the extraordinary results. Mr. Ashburner, the collector of Kandeish, persuaded the people to change their seed, and to sow Oomrawattie instead of Kandeish seed; the result was that the value of the crop grown from the new seed was more by £569,000 than that of the indigenous seed—that is to say, the introduction of Berar seed into Kandeish has been equivalent to a remission of the whole land revenue amounting to £324,283, with a bonus added of upwards of £240,000, which is left in the hands of the Ryots and local dealers. What has been done in Kandeish may be done elsewhere; and the time is arrived when every facility should be given to the Indian grower of cotton to enable him fairly to compete with the American. At present the best quality of Indian cotton is grown in Berar, 500 miles from Bombay, the port of shipment, and the cost of carriage even by railway would not be less than 1d. per lb.; whereas, if the water communication by the Godavery River to Corringa were opened out, it might be conveyed to a port of shipment for half a farthing per lb.; thus enabling the Indian growers of cotton to compete with the American planters, who get their cotton carried 1,000 miles down the Mississippi to New Orleans for that sum. It was of the greatest importance to secure to India our market for the sale of their cotton; and he hoped this question would seriously engage the attention of the Indian Government.


said, that after having received an assurance from the Secretary of State for India that the subjects which he had introduced to the House had engaged his attention, and would continue to do so during the recess, and that the House should have an opportunity of maturely considering the whole subject during the next Session, he felt that the only course open to him was to ask leave to withdraw his Motion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

EAST INDIA REVENUE ACCOUNTS considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


said: I hope the long and interesting discussion which has taken place on Indian affairs will not have so completely exhausted the attention and energies of hon. Members as to prevent them from giving a few minutes' attention to the question of the financial position of that country. I rise under considerable disadvantage, after the more interesting and general discussion which has taken place, in order to make what is comparatively a dry and uninteresting statement. But hon. Gentlemen will remember that there is nothing so essential to the prosperity of any country, or certainly nothing more essential, than that its finances should be in good order; and therefore I trust hon. Gentlemen who have shown an interest in the previous discussion will allow me to state, as briefly as I can, the financial position of India. As hon. Members are aware, the ordinary method of stating the Indian Budget is, first of all, to speak, not of the year just expired, but of the year before it, of which we have what is called the actual account. The last actual account we have received is for the year 1865–6, terminating on the 30th of April, 1866. With regard to that, it can hardly be necessary that I should enter into any very lengthened statement, because the time is so far gone past that the interest that might be felt in the finances of the period must nearly have passed away. In fact, I do not think I should have found it necessary to say anything of the finances of that year but for the remarkable statement with which Mr. Massey opened his Budget in March last. Mr. Massey said—speaking of 1865–6 — that whereas about four months before the termination of the year he had estimated for a deficiency of £300,000, he found that the result showed not only no deficiency, but a surplus of £2,740,000. That certainly appears rather remarkable; but when you come to look into it more closely the wonder is very much diminished, and it resolves itself into a question of the manner in which the Indian accounts have been kept. In the first place, the surplus in part arose from the transfer of the loan account from the Treasury to the Bank of Bengal. These accounts had been kept in a rather loose manner; the money advanced on loan was paid into the Treasury, and after a time application was made for securities to be issued in respect of it; but the securities were often not issued for a considerable time after the money had been lodged; and when it was thought desirable to transfer the accounts from the Government Treasuries to the Banks, and to enter them according to the new system of accounting in the Government books, it so happened that the amount which had been received at that particular time was somewhat more than £1,000,000 above what appeared on the other side as the amount of securities issued, and consequently the year's receipts wove made to appear to be upwards of £1,000,000 more than was really the case. We must therefore set that amount aside as having nothing to do with the finance of the country. Another case in which the surplus mentioned in Mr. Massey's statement was founded upon an error of computation arose in the matter of stores. Mr. Massey stated that there had been a saving of something like £500,000 in the stores passed from England; but there was no real saving at all. Instead of there having been £500,000 less spent, the expenditure had been £15,000 more; because certain sums had been charged in the accounts here, and had not been transferred into Mr. Massey's account. Then there was a very large sum brought into the revenue of 1865–6 which did not properly belong to it. A large balance had been kept at the private banks on account of the railway companies; these balances should not have been kept there; they were transferred to the Government account, and so came in aid of the revenue of 1865–6, but though they certainly came in aid of the finances of that year they did not belong to it, and this was an accidental advantage which should not be accepted as indicative of an improvement in the resources of India. Then there was a sum of £300,000 on account of laud revenue, properly belonging to the following year, which came into that year by anticipation, swelling the receipts, and diminishing the receipts of the next year. These receipts all helped entirely to alter the nature of the financial balance at the end of 1865–6; but of course it is necessary to do no more than mention the facts; they do not call for discussion. With regard to the year 1866–7, the Budget Estimate was originally framed with the anticipation that there would be a tolerably even balance of receipts and expenditure. It was estimated that the receipts would be £46,752,800, and that the expenditure would be £46,825,600, so that it would be necessary to provide for the deficit of £72,800. We will now compare the actual results with the Budget Estimate. The year 1866–7 was curtailed by one month for the purpose of enabling the Secretary of State to bring forward the Budget sooner; but I am afraid, so far as this year is concerned, the experiment has not been brilliantly successful. In bringing forward the Indian Budget, however, much more depends upon the pressure of public business in this country than upon the time at which the information comes from India, which is usually much earlier than is convenient for its discussion in this House. Some observations fell from the hon. Member opposite (Mr. J. B. Smith) as to the period of the present debate; but I am sure that, late in the Session as it may be, there is now a more attentive and efficient audience than there would have been at any earlier season. I regret myself that when they were changing the financial year the time was not carried further back, so as to make the year close on the 31st of December. I have not yet been able to ascertain why this cannot be done, though probably it is my own fault, for everybody else says it is out of the question. At all events, the change having been made, it would be unadvisable now, without some strong ground, to disturb the present arrangement, under which the year closes at the same time as the English financial year—namely, on the 31st of March. In consequence of the change actually made we are unable to make a very fair comparison between the receipts and expenditure of the eleven months of 1866–7 and the Estimate formed for the whole twelve months; but we know the general result, and I am sorry to say that it is unsatisfactory. According to the Budget Estimate, for twelve months, the deficiency should have been £70,000, but the regular Estimate for eleven months shows a deficiency of £2,400,000. That deficit is due to several circumstances, and, in the first place, to the deficiency of the revenue. In opium the deficiency, after allowing for the month which was not brought into the fiscal year, was £952,000. There was a deficiency of £140,000 in the mint receipts, owing to the small amount of silver and copper coinage; and a further deficiency under the head of receipts for public works to the extent of £524,000, caused by the failure of the land sales in Bombay. Hon. Gentlemen are aware that very considerable works of reclamation and improvement were lately in progress in Bombay, and it was anticipated that large sales of the reclaimed land would be made at high prices, so as to pay for the works done; but the year 1866–7 was one, as we all know, of great commercial distress, which specially affected Bombay, and consequently the receipts from these sales fell very far short of the anticipations which had been formed. These three heads of deficiency affect the revenue to the extent of £1,600,000; and then, again, there are two items of excess of expenditure on the railway account amounting to about £400,000. When I say excess of expenditure, I ought properly to call it deficiency of revenue, for the net payment on account of the railways was greater by £400,000 than it was expected to be, not because of the charge for interest being higher, but because of the traffic receipts being less. The year was one of considerable physical as well as commercial trouble; floods and other circumstances interrupted the traffic, and from one cause or other the receipts fell short. Another, and a very heavy, item of expenditure comes upon the home charges for the year; £580,000 for the new transports provided for the troop service between this country and India. Taking these items, the deficiency of revenue and the excess of expenditure together, they will more than account for the figures which I have already given. On the other hand, there are some important items of improvement. There is one that I notice with particular pleasure, because it shows that although the year was, as we know, an unfortunate one, yet there was a considerable amount of comfort, of affluence even, among the labouring classes of India. The item is that of the revenue from salt; and I am happy to say that the revenue from salt in eleven months exceeded the amount that had been estimated for the entire year by no less than £279,000, and if the entire twelve months had been run out the excess would have been £330,000. This shows that there is a great consuming power among the labouring classes. In this country we look to the revenue from customs and excise as a test of the condition of the country; in India the revenue from salt is that which we look upon as a test of the well-being of the labouring classes. That is the result, generally speaking, of the finances of the year 1866–7. Of course, we are now speaking of what is called the regular Estimate, and it is possible that when we get the finally completed account it may turn out that there will be some difference between what I have stated and the actual sums; but it is not probable that you will have again such great differences as marked the year 1865–6. The year has been one of deficiency. Some of the causes of the deficiency are of a temporary character, and we may hope that when we have to deal with a year of a more regular and average character, we shall not have the recurrence of such a deficiency. At the same time, the fact of so large a deficiency does give us cause to look with some anxiety at the state of our accounts, and naturally and necessarily to consider whether there are any measures which can be taken to bring about a better condition of our finances. The first question, of course, is whether it is possible to reduce the expenditure of the country. I desired that an account might be made out of the expenditure of India, taking the year 1865–6 of which we had the latest complete accounts, and dividing the expenditure into two or three large heads, so that we might compare them with the expenditure of the United Kingdom, and ascertain the proportion which they bear. These heads are necessarily very rough, but some points of the comparison are interesting. The Indian expenditure upon the army, adding to this the cost of the marine and transport services, appears to be about 39 per cent of the whole expenditure in 1865–6, whereas in the United Kingdom for the same year the whole military expenditure, including the army and the navy, amounted only to about 37 per cent. It appears, therefore, that the military expenditure of India somewhat exceeds the proportion of the military expenditure of the United Kingdom. That is a little startling at first, because we must remember that India does not keep up a navy or hardly anything in the shape of a marine, except a few transport vessels. But when we come to consider whether anything can be done in the way of reducing this large head of expenditure, I am bound to say that I am not very sanguine of being able to bring about any large reduction. Of course, there are only two ways in which reductions can be effected. Either we must reduce the amount of our forces, or we must in some way economize in the mode of paying and maintaining them. I do not feel that I can hold out to the House or to the country any very great hopes that it would be safe or possible largely to reduce our force. I do not mean to say that there might not be reductions here and there; but when we consider the nature of our tenure of India, and see how much depends, not only on our being strong, but on our being thought to be strong, and what serious consequences might follow from any unwise reductions, either by the encouragement of domestic troubles, or anything in the nature of troubles from without, it is a very serious question whether we ought to attempt any diminution of our strength. I do not rest this matter on my own opinion merely, which I should give with extreme diffidence, but I rely greatly on the opinion of the Governor General, to which, under all the circumstances, we ought peculiarly to trust. The Governor General, who is personally responsible for maintaining the peace of India, and who, from his position, can form an opinion far better than we are capable of doing, must at all times be regarded as a very high authority. And Sir John Lawrence is a man whose opinion upon such a question ought to weigh very greatly indeed. In the first place Sir John Lawrence is a man of large Indian experience. He knows what both the domestic—if I may use the term—necessities of India are, and what are her wants in respect of security against her border neighbours. Then, he is a man who is by no means chargeable with having an extravagant turn of mind. If I there is a fault charged against him in matters of expenditure, it is much more commonly said that he is disposed to be too critical and economical than that his tendency is towards extravagance. Again, if you look to his foreign policy, I think you will find it difficult to point to any Governor General who has been more opposed to aggression and to foreign war than Sir John Lawrence. Well, then, finding, as I do find—I will not say as regards some minor points, but taking the matter broadly — that Sir John Lawrence is against any material reduction in the army, I do not feel justified in looking to such a reduction for a decrease in our Indian expenditure. Then comes the question whether, if we are to maintain the same force, we can reduce the cost of the establishment? There, again, I am sorry to say, my ideas are anything but encouraging. We must bear in mind that the cost of living and all other expenses are largely increasing in India, and, consequently, we can scarcely expect that any establishment, whether civil or military, can be kept up at a less cost than heretofore, liven in this country you have found it necessary to increase the pay of our soldiers, and, though what you have done in that respect does not directly involve an increase to our troops in India, there is no doubt that we shall have to do the same thing in the case of the European soldiers in India, so that there is the likelihood of an increase rather than of a diminution in the cost of the establishment in our Indian Empire. Then there are those sanitary questions which are most important, and which are in a true sense economical. I believe it is true economy to spend money wisely to improve the health and the accommodation of your troops; but I cannot say that it is likely to enable you to reduce the amount of the expenditure which you must be prepared to make. Something has been said to-night on the subject of the railways which are in contemplation for the North West Provinces. I must entirely and cordially endorse the opinion which has been expressed that it is of the highest importance we should, as far as possible, strengthen those provinces by pushing those railways on; but, in reference to what fell from the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, I think I may assure the hon. Gentleman that, owing to other works which have to be carried on, especially with regard to the Indus Valley and the Rajpootana lines, there is no danger of that hurry which he seems to apprehend in the case of those railways. At the same time, I repeat that the Government are quite alive to the importance of doing all in their power to facilitate the transport of troops, because by this means we economize, as we enable a smaller number of men to do the work of a greater number. It is for this reason our new transports and our lines of telegraph by bringing India practically nearer to London are of a very great importance in an economical, as well as in a political, sense. Though we may not be able to reduce the cost of our military service, we may be able by degrees to improve and increase its efficiency very materially. I believe myself that we have nothing to fear from foreign aggression; but, at the same time, the more we strengthen ourselves and husband our resources, the greater will be the security of our Indian Empire. Our army and marine service in India is not costing much more now than it did before the mutiny, and nothing like so much as when the expenditure for this branch was at its highest. In 1856–7 the army and marine cost £12,400,000; in 1358–9 it was £22,000,000; for the last year it was £13,207,000, with some addi- tion for stores and new transports. The next item of expenditure is the collection of the revenue which amounts to 18 per cent. That appears large, because in the United Kingdom the cost is only 9 per cent; but the collection of the revenue in India is something very different from the collection of the revenue in England; because, in the former case, the collection of the taxes on opium and salt comprises in some places the cultivation of the opium and the manufacture of the salt. Then in the collection of the land revenue there is expenditure which ought not properly to come under that head. With regard to all those services which may be put together under the head "Law, Police, Education, &c., Civil Service, and Miscellaneous," while die expenditure in the United Kingdom is 14 per cent, in India it amounts to 20 per cent; but here a great deal is charged on local taxation, which in India falls on the Government. As it is with regard to the military service, so it is with the civil. The expense is increasing. Great demands are made in consequence of the improvements in your system of government. You cannot carry on those improvements without enlarging jour establishments; and, though you may revise here and there, and lop off superfluous Commissioners and Boards, yet, if you carry out law, justice, education, and sanitary measures, to which an enormous importance attaches, properly, you must be prepared to extend your establishments liberally, and, in order to make your servants do your work satisfactorily, you must pay them adequately, so that neither in this department do I see any great prospect of a reduction of the expenditure. The total amount of salaries and expenses of the Public Department was, in 1860–1, £3,900,000; last year it was £3,824,000. A considerable addition has, however, been made within the last few months owing to an increase in the salaries. I have had a statement made out which I think shows that the additions to salaries made since the Budget statement of last year come to something like £200,000. I may observe that all these matters are closely scrutinized by the Government of India. For the most part, the additions are made by the local Government. They are then revised, and, it is said, rather rigorously, by the supreme Government of India, and subsequently they are sent home for the opinion of the Secretary of State in England. I do not think that as they pass through the mill in this way any great extravagance can prevail. Under another head of expenditure—the interest of debt—India compares more favourably with England. The interest on the debt of the United Kingdom is 39 per cent on the expenditure. The interest on the debt of India is only 11 percent on the expenditure. It is true that the debt has been increasing of late yews; but I do not think it has been increasing in greater proportion than the revenue, and we see satisfactorily in one point how liabilities which rose some years ago are now falling again. I refer to the guaranteed interest upon railways, on which, in 1863–4 the net amount paid was £1,669,000; in 1867–8 it was only £580,000. The hon. Member for Wick says it is not of very much importance that the debt of a country is increasing if her revenue is increasing at the same time. Now, while I do not admit that as a rule of general application, I do think that in India, where the debt only bears a moderate proportion to the resources of the country, and where the latter are largely developing, there is no reason to be alarmed at the advance which the debt has made. I observe that the public are not alarmed, because the prices of Indian securities keep their position extremely well in comparison with Consols. I have taken Consols as the standard in our public credit, and compared with them the Indian Rupee Paper—a security in which there has been no change, no alteration of the rate of interest, and no postponement or other dealing which would affect the price of the stock. I found that in January, 1861, the price of Consols was 92¾; the price of Indian Rupee Paper 95. Last January Consols stood at 90½, or more, than 2 per cent below what they were in January, 1861; but Indian Rupee Paper brought 101, or 6 per cent more than it stood at in January, 1861. In the same way the relative value of British and Indian securities shows that the Indian credit is by no means overstrained. The only other head of expenditure to which I shall refer is that for public works. In 1865–6 it was in India 12 per cent, while in the United Kingdom it was set down at 1 per cent. I inquired what particular items of expenditure were taken into account in England, and was informed that the only item was that for fortifications. There is, however, as we all know, other expenditures in England on public works. There is a great amount of expenditure in England for the maintenance of bridges and public buildings in various localities. There is also much money expended by private companies and railway companies, with which the State has nothing to do; and we know that, to a considerable extent, the expenditure of private individuals and private companies is aided by the State in the shape of loans, such as, for instance, the Drainage loans, and the annual loans from the Exchequer Loan Commissioners. But in India the large expenditure for public works is nearly all conducted by the Government of India, and by the Home Government. This is an important distinction, but as it is a matter on which a good deal has already been said, I shall pass it over more briefly than I otherwise would. I endorse, however, what has been said by my noble Friend (Viscount Cranborne) with regard to the difficulties and hesitations which have occurred in carrying out that policy, which everyone would acknowledge to be a right policy—namely, a fair and liberal development of the resources of India by a great extension of public works, and especially of irrigation. I am sure that upon this head there is no one to whom India owes a greater debt of gratitude than to my noble Friend, for during his short tenure of office, he gave an impulse to public works generally, and to the irrigation service in particular, and though it would be ungenerous to throw any slur on the Government in India, or to suppose that they were not earnest, and anxious to push this matter forward and to carry out the policy in a manner adequate to the wants of the country, yet all who have read the documents on the table and who know what has taken place, will admit that the impulse which my noble Friend gave to the execution of public works is likely to produce excellent results. All have seen, no doubt, serious difficulties in carrying out irrigation works, and though it may be easy to say that many of these difficulties were such as a man of energy would overcome, yet experience in India has made it manifest that while irrigation works should be pressed forward vigorously, yet we must be very prudent as to the mode in which we carry out the necessary policy. There was a question raised as to the possibility of obtaining labour, and, no doubt, with respect to certain periods and certain works, there was a great difficulty in obtaining a sufficiency of labour. There is also a considerable risk of improvident works being entered upon. If you send out engineers to report on the commencement of irrigation works, you will find able but sanguine men, who see everything in rosy colours, prepared to recommend schemes which, if intrusted to their execution, would produce credit to themselves, but which, on proper examination, prove financially more or less delusive. I will mention one scheme to which my attention was called, and I will quote the authority of one of our Governors, Lord Napier, who takes great interest in this question of irrigation. While he tells us that there are portions of the Madras Presidency where irrigation may be carried on with great advantage, such, for instance, as the deltas of the Kistna and the Cauvery, he also speaks in a different tone of some other projects. He mentions the Bellary project, the first estimate for which was £1,000,000 for irrigating 250,000 acres; but another estimate increased the sum to £1,500,000, and reduced the acreage to 150,000 acres. I do not know whether this latter estimate is correct, it may prove to be not a sufficiently sanguine estimate, and I mention this case not for the purpose of saying anything against the Bellary project, but simply as an example of what one hears from time to time from different quarters. Lord Napier mentions it as an instance, in which a more sanguine view was taken some months ago than is now adopted, and as a proof of the necessity of taking care how far you commit yourselves to large schemes of this sort, until you are certain what the cost will be and what advantage it will produce. It is quite certain that this whole matter is being put on a more organized and better footing than before. An officer (Colonel Strachey) has been appointed to give it his special attention. He is an officer who has taken a great interest on the subject, and he has been going over the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay, and has now gone to Bengal. His exact position is not finally determined. We have now before us a despatch setting forth the footing on which the Government of India wish the irrigation service to be carried on. Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald has been actively engaged in this matter at Bombay, and has appointed an officer to take the special direction of the irrigation works there. There is no doubt that a great deal will be done next year in Scinde and Bombay, and we know that in the North West Provinces much is being effected. The attention of the Government of India is being roused to the work, which will have the steady and hearty support of the Government at home. There is no fear, then, that this matter will be allowed to languish; but there should be considerable caution, and in some respects, scepticism, with respect to the projects proposed, so that nothing may be undertaken without a fair and good prospect of success. A great change which has taken place in this matter has reference to the mode in which the expenses are to be charged, for it was proposed by the Government in India last winter, when the Estimates were being prepared (and the proposition was agreed to by my noble Friend) that the expense of the irrigation and other reproductive works should be charged not to income but to capital, thus treating India as a proprietor treats his estate who, in undertaking works of improvement which cost more than the annual income, might deem it a good and economical arrangement to borrow money at a moderate rate of interest for improvements, from which a return would be obtained not only covering the interest, but replacing the capital. The principle was sanctioned by the Home Government, and has been recognized in the Budget Estimate I am now about to refer to—the Estimate for 1867–8. Mr. Massey, in his statement of last March, begins by calling attention to this change, and observes that on its being sanctioned, the Government of India applied to the different Presidencies for a statement of the amount proposed to be expended on irrigation. Mr. Massey states their demands at £700,000, and he naturally says that is comparatively a small demand, and he had hoped that it might have been larger; but it was to the credit of the Governments of the Presidencies that they did not immediately send up crude schemes, but took time to have them thoroughly sifted and examined. That demand then amounted to £700,000, and in addition to it Mr. Massey stated that he was about to borrow certain sums of money for the purpose of making advances to Bombay and Calcutta. In Bombay, in consequence of the commercial distress there, the progress of the land sales has been delayed; and, as it was thought unwise to delay the public works, the prosecution of which was dependent on the proceeds of those sales, the Government of India determined that they would carry on those works, borrowing certain sums in order to effect that object. They borrowed altogether £1,000,000 to give to Bombay; but that amount is in the nature of an advance to Bombay, and therefore not in the nature of a permanent addition to the debt of the year. In the case of Madras and Calcutta, they have agreed to advance a sum of £520,500, for three years, for executing the waterworks there; but that sum will be speedily repaid. Taking those sums together, Mr. Massey's estimate was that he should have to borrow about £2,000,000—and this amount he did not propose to reckon in his Budget Estimate. He calculated that his expenditure, including what are known as public works extraordinary, but exclusive of the sums to be borrowed for irrigation, would amount to £47,340,000; his revenue, including the charges on customs' revenue and on stamps, he estimated at £46,283,000, thus showing a deficiency of £1,057,000. In order to meet that deficiency, he proposed to levy a licence tax, the amount of which he calculated at £500,000. The deficiency would by that means be reduced to £557,000. The balance he proposed to make right, not by adding anything to taxation, but in the following manner:—The Government of India are now engaged in re-modelling the barracks and in building new ones. A sum of nearly £2,000,000 will be required for that purpose during the present year. Instead of taking that sum out of revenue, Mr. Massey transfers £1,000,000 of it to loan, and in that way shows a surplus of about £500,000. The expenditure on barracks in India has an analogy to the expenditure on fortifications in this country. It is undoubtedly difficult to meet so large an expenditure out of annual revenue, and I am not prepared to say that Mr. Massey was not justified in spreading the cost of those barracks over a somewhat longer period than is necessary for their completion. Assuming it to be necessary that they should be completed with great rapidity—say in a period of five or six years, it is not unreasonable, I think, to spread the re-payment of the sum required for the purpose over a period of ten or twelve years, providing for portions of the expenditure by means of temporary loans. I am, at the same time, of opinion that an outlay of this description ought to be met within a definite and a short period, and that an addition to the permanent debt of the country ought not to be made for such an object as the construction of barracks. That would be a most dangerous policy, and it will there- fore be incumbent on the Government of India to keep up a considerable surplus of income over expenditure, in order to clear oft that amount of debt, unless they find it possible to adopt our system of terminable annuities, in which case the debt would be extinguished within a limited time. I draw a broad distinction, I may add, between a debt of this kind and one incurred for the purpose of carrying out reproductive works, for which you may take a loan with great safety, because you may reckon on their producing a profit sufficient to cover the interest of that loan. At the same time, even with regard to those works, I am anxious that some system should be established, by means of which the money borrowed to execute them should be repaid through the operation of something like a sinking fund. I should like to see something in the nature of those provisions made in England in the case of drainage and other advances, if possible, carried out in India, so that the loans to which I am referring might be repaid within a certain period. I will now mention a few other items which I look upon as worthy of notice in a statement of the revenue and expenditure of India for the current year. In the land revenue there is an increase of £200,000, notwithstanding the remissions which have been made in Orissa and elsewhere. [Mr. CRAWFORD: What is the total amount of the land revenue?] The total amount of the land revenue was estimated at £20,054,000. In the customs' duties, as the House is aware, considerable changes have been made. A Commission was appointed, which revised the tariff, and the result has been that whereas formerly all articles not specially exempted were charged with duty, now all articles not specially mentioned are free from duty. Upwards of forty articles have, I believe, been exempted from import duties, and there are only ninety-five articles in sixty-five classes on which those duties are now charged. There are at the same time many articles which were formerly subject to export duties on which those duties are no longer levied. There arc, I believe, eighty-eight articles on which they have been abolished, and only nine on which they are charged. These changes brought about an estimated loss to the revenue, including the loss on saltpetre, of £140,000. To make up for that loss the Government of India laid an additional export duty of one anna per maund on grain. It is not a very heavy charge, and I do not like to question the discretion of the Indian Government in the matter, but I regret that they have felt themselves obliged to take such a step. With regard to other items I am happy to be able to state that the revenue from salt is estimated for the present at a higher figure by £544,770 than in the previous year. The estimated revenue from opium is, however, much more moderate, being taken at £7,713,750, instead of £8,500,000. That is a moderate estimate, and I have every reason to believe that it will not only be fully reached, but, in all probability, exceeded. With respect to stamps, a revision has taken place, which will increase the revenue from that source by about £500,000. The receipts from public works are estimated to fall very far short of those for last year. They then amounted to £978,000, whereas the Estimate for this year is £480,000. That decrease is attributable to the exclusion of the Bombay land sales. I will not trouble the Committee with the various items of the increase and decrease in the expenditure. There is a considerable advance for the supply of grain to Orissa; it amounts altogether to £410,000, of which about £150,000 will be lost—that is to say, it I will be spent in the relief of destitution. Again, the transport service is estimated to cost £240,000 more than in the previous year, and there is a decrease for the army of £520,000, which is due to the removal of Berar from the accounts, and I the reduction of the charge for the home transport service. Having gone through these points I come to a question which is perhaps still more immediately interesting to India, and also to many in this country; I allude to the licence tax. This tax, although it is not estimated to produce a large amount, affects a considerable number of people in India. Its imposition has caused so great sensation that several memorials have been addressed to me praying that I would disallow the tax. It is, I may add, in the power of the Secretary of State in Council to take that course, and the power was exercised by Sir Charles Wood in the case of certain export duties. This, however, is not an occasion on which I should deem it right to follow his example. I cannot but feel the force of what Sir Charles wood said, that a Secretary of State should control but not direct the finances of India. That is a view which, in my opinion, ought always to be borne in mind. We must recollect that the responsibility of fixing the taxation of a country must rest with those who are on the spot, who are best able to judge of its wants, and of the amount of the burden which it can bear. I could not say, looking at the state of the Estimates for the present year, that it was not right to make some provision in the shape of additional taxation, and I cordially agreed with the Government of India that that addition ought not to take the form of an increase of the salt tax. Nor do I see very well in what way it could be levied except in the way of direct taxation. There are, of course, various forms of direct taxation, and this addition might have assumed that of an income tax, a succession duty, or a licence tax, which, to a certain extent, is familiar to the people of India; and in some districts, at all events, it is a kind of taxation which is not unpopular among them. I am not prepared to contend that the particular form given to the present licence tax is the best which could be selected. I have no doubt that it was, to a certain extent, tentative; and, indeed, Mr. Massey speaks of it as an experiment, which would probably require hereafter some modification. I am sorry, however, to see that he has mixed up rather too much, as I think, the principle of the income tax with the principle of a licence tax. He has made what seems to me a mistake in taxing incomes derived from salaries on a principle inapplicable to an income tax. The mistake, I think, is this, that all men are made to pay the same amount if their incomes are in excess of a certain fixed sum. I can understand a graduated tax upon trading interests in which a man who carries on a large business and lives in a superior house is rated at a higher sum than a man in the class below. There are no doubt instances in which this might be done, and when you deal only with traders, and when it is an object to collect the tax without inquiring too minutely into a man's private affairs, there is an advantage in gradation and division into classes, which must not be lost sight of. But when you come to apply that principle to salaries the injustice becomes apparent, because if a Secretary of State, for instance, with £5,000 a year, pay the same amount as the Under Secretary, with £2,000, or a clerk with £1,000, it must necessarily lead to soreness and a feeling of dissatisfaction. I feel sure that this is an oversight, and that, upon the attention of the Government of India being called to the matter, a remedy will be applied; at all events if the tax is to become a permanent one. But the question of its permanent maintenance is one upon which I cannot undertake to decide, and which I must leave to be dealt with by the Indian Government according to their discretion. It will be for them, taking into consideration the circumstances of the country, looking at the state of the debt, the amount to be laid out on reproductive works, and the prospects of improvement to the revenue, to say whether it will be necessary or desirable to keep up a system of direct taxation, and if to a large amount, whether they must not go to the income tax? I now come back for a moment to the question of irrigation, or I should rather say of irrigation finance, and I wish to connect with that subject a passage in Mr. Massey's speech. Mr. Massey said— I must add that the Government, without giving a definite pledge, does not propose that this tax (the licence tax) shall form a permanent source of the Imperial revenue. During the first year the duties will be collected and credited like any other tax; but in our opinion a tax of this nature is better suited to local purposes than to the general purposes of the State. We intend, therefore, in another year to transfer it modified, if experience should suggest such a modification, together with the corresponding amount of charges of a local character, to the several local governments and administrations. I think I see in that passage the germ of the solution of several difficulties. It seems to me that a tax like this licence tax, which, applied to the whole of India, causes a great deal of heart-burning and discontent, while, at the same time, it yields but a small result, may, though unpopular and unpleasing in some parts of the country, be accepted in other parts as a recognized and convenient form of taxation. I think, moreover, if you were to adopt the principle of transferring the power of local taxation to a limited extent to the different local Governments, you might enable those local bodies to adapt their taxation to the prepossessions and the prejudices of those with whom they have to deal, while you would at the same time enlist those bodies themselves in the pursuit of the objects you desired to see attained, and free them from those annoyances to which my noble Friend has referred—annoyances which grate harshly upon their feelings, but from which, it is at present difficult to relieve them, because as long as the whole expenditure of the country is thrown upon the Government of India, that Government will of course be occasionally compelled to interfere in matters which at first sight may appear trifling and vexatious. I am inclined to think that in that way it would be possible to accomplish another object—namely, that of making your advances for reproductive works upon a footing which would enable you, in a bonâ fide and perfectly legitimate manner, gradually to recover the money so advanced. I do not profess to have elaborated any scheme upon this subject. I only throw out this suggestion for consideration. I am disposed to think that, connecting it with other measures which we may, perhaps, take for the development of local government throughout India, we may be able by its means to do great good. I am quite sure that the painful matters to which the attention of the House has been directed within the last few days ought to have left upon our minds the impression that it is our duty to take such measures as we are able, in order to give fairer and fuller play for the development of the resources of the country in its remoter districts, and that we can scarcely accomplish unless we are prepared to a certain extent to relax the principle of centralization by which we have have been so long guided. I am most anxious to pay attention to the valuable recommendations contained in the Report of the Commissioners in Orissa, to see measures introduced something after the manner of our own Poor Laws, some attempt, that is to say, to provide for the maintenance of those who accidentally become destitute. I should also be glad to see some alteration introduced in the relations between the Zemindars and the Ryots, so as to secure the latter class a fair share in the benefit of that great settlement of which the Zemindars at present seem to have the lion's share. Looking at this, and remembering to what an extent local knowledge, local interest, and local control are valuable in carrying out such matters as those to which I have adverted, I am very anxious to organize some system of that kind. And though I possess the highest respect for the great abilities and merits of the gentlemen who have been spoken of as holding high offices in Bengal, and though the system of government in that province has led to a great respect for the law among the inhabitants, I cannot forget that Bengal is not India, and that we must endeavour so to shape our measures and our policy as to give full play to all portions of the country committed to our charge. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by proposing the formal Resolution.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the total Revenue of India for the year ending the 30th day of April 1866 was £48,935,220; the total of the direct claims and demands upon the Revenue, including charges of collection and cost of Salt and Opium, was £8,452,153; the charges in India, including Interest on Debt and the value of Stores received from England, were £32,668,771; the charges in England were £4,981,185; the Guaranteed Interest on the Capital of Railway and other Companies, in India and in England, deducting net Traffic Receipts, was £67,043, making a total charge for the same year of £46,169,152; and there was an excess of Income over Expenditure in that year amounting to £2,766,068."—(Sir Stafford Northcote.)


said, he begged leave to congratulate the right hon. Baronet upon the exceedingly clear manner in which he had, after so short an experience of the department, brought before the Committee the details of the financial condition of India. He had listened to a great many financial explanations in relation to the revenues both of this country and of India, and he had never yet heard the details of receipt and expenditure more clearly laid before the House. He wished to refer to the manner in which the Government of India had acted in respect to the imposition of export duties. A Committee had been appointed by the Government in Calcutta to consider the tariff arrangements of India; and he was glad to find that the conclusions of that Committee were not unanimous, at all events as regarded recommending increased import duties on the produce of India. On that Committee were the officiating Commissioner of Customs at Bombay and several other gentlemen acquainted with mercantile matters. Among them was a relative of his own, and he was happy to find from his clear Minute that he had taken a view entirely opposed to that of the Committee at large. It was generally held to be an axiom in matters of taxation that it was exceedingly unwise to levy an export duty on the raw produce of a country, and to expose its producers to a competition which placed them in an unfavourable position with reference to the products of other countries not subject to such taxation. He had a letter from a gentleman at the head of a large commercial establishment at Madras, in which, at his request, the writer reviewed the Report of the Tariff Commissioners of Calcutta. That gentleman re- minded him of the fact that some few years ago, when the late Mr. Wilson went to India, he selected the article of saltpetre for taxation, and raised its price about £6 per ton. When the news of that proceeding on the part of Mr. Wilson arrived in this country, he himself took the liberty of stating in that House that the effect of that increase of duty would be to set the inventive genius of chemists and other persons in Europe at work in order to produce some commodity that would take the place of saltpetre, the price of which would be enhanced in consequence of the increased export duty. Well, what he then stated had been completely borne out by the event. The chemists of Europe had turned their attention to the matter, and had succeeded in producing a substitute applicable to most of the uses to which saltpetre was formerly applied. The Tariff Committee, in their Report, recommended the Government of India to retain the duties on certain articles which they enumerated, and to free other articles from duty, including saltpetre, the trade in which had been almost destroyed by the effect of the high taxation upon it. A similar result had followed a similar policy adopted in Ceylon in regard to cinnamon, upon which a high duty was imposed; and now the trade in cinnamon from Ceylon was reduced comparatively to next to nothing. Another example of the same kind was afforded some years ago by the article of sulphur, on which the Government of the Two Sicilies, thinking it had a monopoly of that article, placed a very heavy export duty. The same consequence would ensue if the proposed high export duties were levied on the produce of India. He would take the case of indigo. In the Madras Presidency a kind of indigo was grown which was subject in the markets of Europe to competition with a description of indigo that was produced in the State of Guatemala, in Central America. The Guatemala trade in indigo had been gradually increasing, having within the last ten years nearly trebled itself. While the Madras indigo was subject to competition in our market with the indigo of Guatemala, it was now to continue to be burdened with a heavy impost on leaving India. There had already been a considerable decrease in the exports of that particular description of indigo from Madras, though, no doubt, the falling off was due in some degree to the circumstances of the season. The Secretary of State had told them that the land revenue of India produced £20,054,000 out of a total of upwards of £46,000,000. It could not be denied that a very considerable portion of that revenue fell upon the articles produced from the land, and he was informed by an experienced authority that the cultivator of indigo after paying 30 per cent on his produce in the shape of land-tax was mulcted at the port of shipment of three rupees per maund. Then, again, the export duty on grain was to be raised from two to three annas, or 50 per cent. Such a tax was entirely wrong in principle, and what ground was put forward by the Tariff Committee for levying such a duty on grain? Because it suited the people of the Mauritius to charge a duty on the rice imported into that colony, was it therefore necessarily a wise and prudent thing, or a proceeding consistent with the principles of political economy, to levy an export duty on its leaving Calcutta? He hoped that the right hon, Baronet would see the propriety of expressing to the Government of India his views on that subject in terms which would induce it to reconsider the matter. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the very favourable position of the revenue arising from the salt duties during the past year. That might arise in some degree from the great facilities afforded to the consumers by the railways, by which salt was conveyed up the country from Calcutta at very moderate rates. He was glad to hear what the right hon. Gentleman had stated in regard to the licence tax. It was exceedingly unpopular in India, not so much because it was a personal tax, as on account of the irregularities and inequalities to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred. It appeared that the Home Government did not propose to deal with the tax, and when that intelligence reached India the Governor General would no doubt make up his mind to receive some vigorous applications for its removal. He also heard with satisfaction the plan which it was proposed to adopt to replace the money expended in the construction of irrigation works, not only because it would tend to make taxation for such purposes local, but because it would help to relieve the subordinate Presidencies, as they were termed, from their position of dependence on the superior Government. There was nothing more irritating or vexatious than the feeling which prevailed in these subordinate Presidencies that no item of expenditure, however insignificant, could be incurred without the matter being brought under the cognizance of the supreme Government. The fact was that the manner in which these small items of expenditure were bandied about from, one department to another in the Governments of India was something approaching the ridiculous. He rejoiced, therefore, that the principle advocated by the right hon. Baronet would tend to free the subordinate Governments of India from the state of dependence upon the supreme Government in which they were placed at present upon matters of the most ordinary expenditure. With respect to new railways he was not sorry to hear that the Government would take time to consider the plans brought under their notice. He (Mr. Crawford) viewed with some distrust the execution of the works proposed in connection with the Valley of the Indus line. There were, it was true, many reasons commercial and political which commended it to support; but at the present moment, when a rival scheme was propounded, it would be impolitic to favour one at the expense of the other. They should at least wait until the respective merits of both were fully ascertained. As to other railways, he hoped that the Secretary for India would set his face against any undue extension of the existing system. He wished to see the existing companies have time to mature their plans, and then the public would see at no distant day these railways returning an income, as compared with their expenditure, far exceeding anything known in this country. There were two railways in India, with a mileage of 2,500 miles between them, which, with an outlay of £45,000,000, were now earning the full amount of their guaranteed dividend, and if the existing companies were allowed to perfect their system, and were not called upon to add branches beyond the scope of their original schemes, the time was close at hand when the most sanguine anticipations of the predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman would be realized as to the receipts added from these sources to the credit of the Indian Government. He would not further detain the House except to express his personal satisfaction with the statements of the right hon. Gentleman.


said, he wished to say a few words on the special question of finance, and he would confine himself to the special topic of the new taxes imposed. A material part of the Budget statement of last year was that new taxes of a very objectionable and unpopular character had been imposed. He concurred in what had fallen from the hon. Member for the City of London as to the injurious effect of some of the export duties, especially with reference to the article of saltpetre, and he regretted nothing more than that when he was in India be did not take the opportunity of reducing the duties on that article, for an important branch of Indian industry had been almost destroyed by that tax. The House could hardly understand how unpopular the licence tax was in India. Any system of levying any considerable revenue by means of direct taxation met with such an amount of opposition and excited so much unpopularity as it was impossible for any person with European notions to conceive. A plan of direct taxation of this kind was partially introduced into Oude as an experiment, and several cases of suicide occurred on the part of petty dealers because they were subject to a licence tax of something like half-a-crown. This was almost inconceivable to European minds. One reason of the oppressiveness of a tax of this sort was that it had necessarily to be levied by local agents, who acted on the fears of an ignorant and excited population, threatening them with something ruinous unless they paid a douceur. He had occasion when in India to consider the operation of a licence tax, and he found that the average amount imposed on every small trader would not exceed 4s. or 5s., so that 4,000,000 persons must be taxed to raise £1,000,000, and, taking these as heads of families, 15,000,000 or 16,000,000 would be subjected to alarm and extortion for the sake of £1,000,000 of revenue. In Lord Canning's time, by strict economy, not only was no new tax imposed, but the tax on small incomes was reduced, and he regretted that Mr. Massey should have introduced a licence tax without waiting, at any rate, another year to see whether it was necessary to avert a permanent financial deficit. It was true there was an apparent deficit on the present year, but Indian Budgets materially depended on the estimate of opium and on the way in which various large items were brought in and for the last five or six years there had been small surpluses and small deficits, the former slightly preponderating. Practically there had been an equilibrium, although a large amount had been charged to revenue for public works and interest on unfinished railways. A great deal of the mischief had arisen from the unwise reduction of the cash balances, which should always be considerable, so that in case of any fluctuation in the revenue, or unforeseen contingency, it might not be necessary to resort to additional taxation. He thought there was room for further economy, especially in the army expenditure. In the model years of 1861–2–3, when expenditure was reduced to the lowest point in every department, the cost of the army was brought down to about £12,500,000, the European force being 72,000 men. That force was now 10,000 less, which ought to involve a saving of £1,000,000, and a difference of £500,000 had been made by a transfer as to stores, which were now paid for in this country. Instead, however, of the army expenditure being reduced to £11,000,000, it exceeded £13,000,000. There had no doubt been some increase of charge on account of the rise in the price of provisions and other causes; but still he thought that a military expenditure in India exceeding £13,000,000 was higher than it ought to be. Had that amount been reduced it would have been possible to dispense with the licence tax; and if such an impost was necessary at all it ought to have been levied, not as an Imperial, but, as was at one time contemplated by Lord Canning's Government, as a local tax, so that it might be modified to suit the varying circumstances of different districts. He did not, however, blame the Secretary of State for not exercising his veto, which he could hardly have done unless he had been backed by the private; opinion of the Governor General; but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would use his influence so as either to dispense with the tax before another year by strict economy, or else to leave direct taxation to the local Governments, which would be the next best thing.


said, he thought the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) had taken a somewhat optimist view of the state of India, especially during the last twelve months, when 750,000 people had died of famine. He had argued the prosperity of the country from the fact that wages and prices were both rising; but unless wages were rising in a greater ratio than prices this test was obviously inconclusive. The rise of prices showed a depreciation in the value of money, consequently the expenses of the Government must increase and were actually in- creasing. Now, considering that a greater portion of the revenue arose from the land tax, which was a rent paid to the Government for its proprietary rights in the soil, and that the policy had been to commute proprietary rights for fixed monetary payments, the prospects of Indian finance were semewhat serious. If money depreciated, and if our chief source of revenue was commuted for a fixed payment we should become poorer every year. Commutation ought, therefore, to be avoided. He agreed with the hon. Member for the City (Mr. Crawford) in condemning the export duty on grain; but he did not agree with him as to the feasibility of increasing the salt tax, for this was one of the worst imports ever devised, and Indian finances would not arrive at a satisfactory condition until we were able to get rid of it altogether. As to the licence tax the correspondence he had received from ninny of his friends showed it to be exceedingly unpopular. It was, moreover, most unequal, for he believed an income of £250 a year paid as much as one of £1,250. The man who paid a land tax was not really taxed; he was simply paying rent to the Government; therefore it seemed extraordinary that the licence should not be applied to land. In the debates which had taken place on the famine in Orissa, almost all the time was taken up with personal atttacks, one finding fault with the Governor General, and another with Sir Cecil Beadon. He had listened to those attacks with pain, because both men had rendered illustrious services to India. A question of much more importance, however, had been left out of the discussion. The famine had been produced entirely by physical causes, over which we had no control. There was not a sufficiency of rain, and the crops failed. No doubt everything that ought to have been done was not done to relieve the famine, but those who had most experience of India would agree with him when he said that, considering the utter failure of the crops in Orissa, however the Government officials in Calcutta or Orissa might have exerted themselves, nothing could have prevented widespread distress and suffering. But what he wanted to know now was, whether the Government were taking any steps to obviate the recurrence of such a calamity? During the last twenty years four or five famines had taken place in India, and in the famine of 1860, though admittedly everything possible had been done by the local authorities, there was a loss of life estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000. The important question, therefore, was, whether it was not possible to bring to our aid the resources of England and of modern science to prevent those fearful calamities which were certain to recur in a tropical climate like India, unless we husbanded the water, and made it to produce fertility, when rain in sufficient quantity was not forthcoming.


wished to say a few words on a matter which appeared to him of great importance. By the Resolution before the House they were called upon to affirm the proposition that there was an excess of income over expenditure in the Indian revenue of £2,766,068. The right hon. Baronet began by telling the House that this was a statement sent home by Mr. Massey, and he went on to show that Mr. Massey had made several errors to the extent of £200,000 and £300,000, and ended by showing that, when the accounts were properly stated, there really was a deficit of £500,000. He did not see how the House, after hearing the statement of the right hon. Baronet could honestly affirm the Resolution, for it had been shown by the right hon. Baronet himself that there was no such surplus, and he should be sorry to see such a Resolution placed on the Journals of the House when the statement it embodied was contrary to the fact. He thought the right hon. Baronet would have done much better if he had formally corrected the erroneous statement of Mr. Massey, and given the House, in his Resolution, the real facts as to the income and expenditure; and he maintained that it would be wrong to put a statement on the Journals which was notoriously contrary to the fact.


condemned the delay and procrastination which had taken place in bringing forward the Indian Budget. He approved the suggestion that an Indian Minister of Trade and Agriculture should be appointed, and condemned the notion of congratulating ourselves upon the fact that India had 3,600 miles of railway communication, seeing that we had in this country 12,000 miles, and America had 40,000. The statement of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets was very interesting and important, especially that portion, which related to the railway accommodation, and he contended that the accommodation was by no means adequate to the wants of 200,000,000 of people. He recommended the medical service of India to the best consideration of Government, and contended that the old medical officers had great injustice done them. The exports of India had increased in seven years from £14,000,000 to £70,000,000 — a fact which showed that the people of that country were ready to labour in the improvement of the land, and deserved every encouragement. Owing, however, to the want of public works the progress of the country had been retarded. If a Minister of Trade and Agriculture was appointed it would be his duty to give every information with respect to such public works as ought to be carried on, and that would lead to the increased productiveness of the country, and to that augmented revenue for which the Indian Minister was now sighing. He trusted that in the next Session the accounts would be laid before the House at an earlier period. It was not creditable to the dignity or deliberations of that House that a few hours only in one night should be all that was devoted to the financial and general interests of India.


said, in reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren), that he must admit the justice of his criticism as applied to the Resolution in its present shape. He proposed to amend it by inserting the words—"That it appears from the accounts laid before the House." There was unquestionably the error he had pointed out, but the other items were correct. With respect to the suggestion offered by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), he had to say that a great deal of work was now being done in the way of irrigation, and a considerable expenditure was in progress, which he trusted would have the effect of averting the calamity of famine in future years.

Amendment proposed, in line 1, after the word "That," to insert the words "it appears by the Accounts laid before this House that."

Question "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That it appears by the Accounts laid before this House that the total Revenue of India for the year ending the 30th day of April 1866 was £48,935,220; the total of the direct claims and demands upon the Revenue, including charges of collection and cost of Salt and Opium, was £8,452,153; the charges in India, including interest on Debt and the value of Stores received from England, were £32,668,771; the charges in England were £4,981,185; the Guaranteed Interest on the Capital of Railway and other Companies, in India and in England, deducting net Traffic Receipts, was £67,043, making a total charge for the same year of £46,169,152; and there was an excess of Income over Expenditure in that year amounting to £2,766,068.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the Clock.