HC Deb 18 March 1870 vol 200 cc206-7

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether the Viceroy has issued orders to stop further expenditure on Public Works, and if such is the case, whether the orders have been approved by the Home Government; and, whether he would object to lay upon the Table of the House a Copy of the Orders and of the Despatches of Lord Mayo on the subject, also of the Correspondence relating thereto?


replied in the negative. The Home Government had not approved, nor had the Viceroy issued, any such orders. What really had happened was this—The Government of India discovered last autumn that it had been taking itself, and had communicated to the Home authorities, too sanguine a view of its immediate financial position, and it had found it necessary to make certain reductions in, among other things, its expenditure on those public works which it pays for out of annual income, and which are known as "Public Works Ordinary." The best way to reassure his hon. Friend, and those who might be oppressed by similar fears, would be to read a passage from the despatch which the Government of India sent home, asking for the authorization of its proposed reductions, under the head of Public Works. The despatch said— The general result of these proposals will be to fix the Public Works Grant for next year as follows:—Military, £1,250,000; civil buildings, £600,000; communications, £1,000,000; miscellaneous, and tools and plant, £100,000; establishment, £800,000; total, £3,750,000. To this may be added £600,000, as in the current year, for agricultural works, and say £200,000 for railway charges against the revenues, making in all £4,500,000 as the Public Works Charge, to be borne by the revenues of the year 1870–71 as against £5,750,000 for the current year, being, as before mentioned, a diminution of £1,250,000. If to the outlay provided from the revenues we add the sum which it is proposed to lay out from borrowed funds upon new irrigation works and railways, which we may estimate at about £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, the total amount directly applied by the Government to public works is found to be more than £8,000,000 sterling annually. Nor does this properly complete the statement of the contributions of the Government of India to works of internal improvement. It has already been noticed that the charge of guaranteed railway interest is virtually incurred for public works. This adds, at least, £1,500,000 to the effective expenditure of the year, so that, in fact, not less than £10,000,000 will be spent from Imperial sources for these objects even after our proposed reductions; and we think we may affirm that such a position has scarcely ever before been assumed by any other country in the world. There would be no objection to lay upon the table the despatch from which he had been quoting, together with the answer of the Secretary of State in Council, if his hon. Friend would move for them.