§ MR. FAWCETT
, in rising to move—That, in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient that any part of the expenses of the personal entertainment of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, on the occasion of his proposed visit to India, should he charged on the revenues of India,said, he believed it would be admitted by-Members of the most opposite opinions that the statement made this day week by the Prime Minister would have been received with more cordial acceptance if none of the three items to which he referred had been thrown on the finances of India. He was aware that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had said it was not unjust to the people of India, and that the item of £30,000, which, as the Prime Minister had stated, was associated with the rites of hospitality, ought to be borne by the revenues of India. He, however, ventured to submit that the present was a case in which they were bound to consider not so much the justice as the expediency of such a course. If the right hon. Gentleman had not particularly alluded to this item there would not have been occasion to refer to it now. But when it was remembered that this item only represented a small portion of the expenses which would fall upon India, and which would be incurred for movements of troops and other matters in connection with the visit of the Prince of Wales, and, taking these matters into consideration, he could not help thinking the right hon. Gentleman made direct allusion to the item in order that the House might have the opportunity of expressing their opinion that with regard to the visit of the Prince of Wales they were anxious to deal generously in reference to the people of India, and were prepared not to burden her finances with a shilling more than was necessary. In speaking on this subject it was almost impossible to dissociate the present from the past, and he thought no one who had paid any attention to Indian finance could help arriving at this conclusion—that in our financial transactions with India we had displayed a spirit of parsimony which was not creditable to a wealthy nation. He ventured to say there was not an Englishman who was not heartily ashamed that 1488 when we entertained an Egyptian Potentate we threw the cost of that entertainment on the heavily-burdened people of India; and he believed there was not a Member of that House—there was not a person in the country, whether belonging to the working classes or not—who did not now heartily regret that for the saving of some paltry £12,000 to the English Exchequer, we actually threw the burden of the travelling expenses of the companions of the Duke of Edinburgh, and the cost of his presents when he visited India, upon the people of that country. If this was the fitting occasion he might refer to graver instances which would prove that that House ought to lose no opportunity for making amends for the past. He could prove that in regard to many financial transactions of great amounts we unjustly cast burdens upon India, we threw a heavy restraint on her crippled finances, and caused unnecessary and vexatious taxation to be imposed on that country. Lord Northbrook, who was the present Viceroy, the Duke of Argyll, the former Secretary of State, and the present Secretary of State (the Marquess of Salisbury) had, with a courage which did them the highest honour, denounced the injustice with which England had often treated India with regard to her financial interests. He had never been one of those who thought it would be advantageous to the people of India that the House of Commons should constantly be meddling with the details of Indian administration; but there was one service, and that of priceless value, which the House could render to that country, which was to become the guardian an protector of her financial interests. Lord Salisbury, in memorable words which should never be forgotten, said last Session that if the House of Commons would keep a sharp eye upon Indian finance there would be no danger that the people of that country would be oppressed. One consideration which induced him to propose the Resolution was that some hon. Friends near him were about to oppose the grant, and he thought it important to deprive anyone of the objection that there was anxiety to save English money at the expense of India. It would be presumptuous in him to say what was likely to be the direct result of the visit of the Prince of Wales to India; but he ventured to assert, with no little confidence, that great indirect 1489 advantage would result from that visit if the House of Commons and the English nation should avail themselves of an opportunity of proving to the people of India that what had happened in the past would not recur in the future, and that henceforth they would be anxious in their dealings with India, not only to avoid injustice, but, if possible, to display a spirit of generous magnanimity. He begged, in conclusion, to move the Resolution of which he bad given Notice.
§ MR. HANKEY
Sir, I rise to second the Motion, and I do so because I think this is a fitting opportunity for us to join in expressing opinions in consonance with those which have been expressed by the hon. Member for Hackney. We ought on all occasions to avoid being parties in any way to easing ourselves of any expenditure by throwing it unnecessarily upon the revenues of India. The question proposed to us by the Prime Minister a few days ago was, that this House should consider the expenditure for the visit of the Prince of Wales as one of an abnormal character, and one which required interference on the part of this House. What was the proposal which was made to us? The Prime Minister, as far as I understood, gave us a sort of estimate of the possible expenditure which might be required, and I think he said that, after making provision for the cost of sending out his Royal Highness and his suite to India and bringing them back, there would still be an outlay required of something like £90,000. To meet that he said he should propose a grant of £60,000, and that the remainder would be left to be found in India. Now, I think that the speech of the Prime Minister the other night certainly did show good grounds for the interference of this House on such an occasion, and that we, as Representatives of the taxpayers of England, were fully justified in supporting the Government in their proposal to make this special grant. But, if the expenditure of £90,000 is necessary, why should an application be made for only £60,000? I contend there was no ground given to us for making that distinction in regard to any portion of the expenditure. The hon. Member for Hackney has alluded to other very great expenses which undoubtedly must be incurred, and knowing that perfectly well, I hesitated at acceding to his re- 1490 quest to second his proposal. It will be impossible for us to measure in a money Vote the expenses which must be incurred. But this particular expenditure of £90,000 was one to which no objection, as far as I could understand, was taken by the House, except by some hon. Members who objected to pay a shilling, and thought it unwise that any expense should be incurred. We all know that the Secretary of State for India is responsible for the political affairs and the policy of this country towards India; but we heard a great deal at the time of the passing the India Councils Bill, that the purse-strings would be controlled by the Council of India. I very much regret that the Members of that Council are prohibited from being Members of this House, because we have no opportunity of hearing their opinions on this subject. If they are the controllers of the purse-strings, they have not properly looked after their trust. The hon. Member for Hackney has alluded to the expenditure for the entertainment of the Sultan, and thinking that was a discredit at the time, I asked the House to refuse to pay it, but I had no support. Another charge has been alluded to, and that is the payment of £1,555 to an officer on the staff of the Duke of Edinburgh for bringing home the presents made to the Duke of Edinburgh in India. Now, I do not think that was fair, and I should be surprised if any hon. Member was to get up and defend it. If the Duke of Edinburgh was able to pay the money, he ought to have paid it for himself; and if it was a national charge, it ought to have been borne by the revenues of this country. Then there was a distinguished officer—Sir Herbert Edwards—who died in this country from injuries received in the Indian Mutiny. We all remember how proud the country was of that distinguished offcer's services, and a monument was placed to his memory in Westminster Abbey. I find that a fee of £400 was paid to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster for allowing the monument to be put up, and that was charged to the revenue of India. That sum, in my opinion, ought to have been borne by this country. Sir Herbert Edwards was a very distinguished officer, and the country was proud of him, and the cost of the monument in Westminster Abbey ought to have been borne by 1491 this country, and not by India. Care ought always to be taken not to saddle India with more than was absolutely necessary. As regards the Prince of Wales, I think the House will admit that a more popular Prince has never been born, and he has been popular from his earliest youth, because he has taken up every pursuit which the people of this country are fond of, and he is consequently much beloved and esteemed. Therefore, what I should like would be to see the Prince of Wales equally popular in India; but it would not add to his popularity in that country if any charge in connection with the visit which could fairly be borne by England was put upon the revenues of India. If the Prime Minister, instead of asking for £60,000, had asked for £100,000, there would not have been a single dissentient voice, except from those who object to any grant at all. I am extremely sorry there should be any division of opinion with regard to the Motion, and I think it will be the wiser course to leave the matter in the hands of the Government for their consideration.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient that any part of the expenses of the personal entertainment of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, on the occasion of his proposed visit to India, should be charged on the revenues of India,"—(Mr. Fawcett,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Mr. Speaker, there are two modes in which His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales may visit India. He may go as the proclaimed Representative of the Sovereign; his journey then would be a Royal progress; he would be attended with a military array, and with a retinue of Princes and Chieftains; he would hold Durbars; he might if he chose, and probably would be expected to, institute an Order of Chivalry; he would pay regal visits to those who possess regal power; he would not only experience, but he would exercise, a magnificent hospitality; he would not only be present at feasts, but he would preside at festivals; he would exchange the presents of Europe for those of Ormus and Ind; and I have no doubt that, on the whole, a display would be made and an excitement created which had not been equalled in India 1492 since the days of the great Mogul Sovereigns. It must be obvious to the House that such an undertaking could not but be costly. Its amount might probably be calculated even by millions, and it would be met probably in this manner. The Imperial Treasury of India would contribute, no doubt, a considerable sum. The Native Princes, who will not for a moment rank inferior to any human beings in magnificence, and who would have made extraordinary efforts on this occasion, would levy fresh taxes on their subjects. I am bound to admit that in the present state of the English revenues my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer could hardly come forward to ask for £1,000,000 or £500,000 even—the sum most modestly suggested by those who seem in favour of this system—without at the same time indicating to the House the ways and means by which that money was to be raised.
There is another way in which His Royal Highness might visit India. He might go there as the guest of Her Majesty's Viceroy. Under his Excellency's guidance and influence he might have an admirable opportunity of largely, if not completely, visiting that great peninsula; becoming acquainted with its splendid scenery, with its ancient and teeming cities, and the vast variety of its nations and its races. He would visit some of the principal Chieftains of the land; enjoy their hospitality; share in their exciting pastimes; and have an opportunity of displaying that liberality which I and you all know is natural to his amiable and generous disposition. After that he would return to this country unquestionably with an enlarged and matured experience, and, let us hope and believe, not only with a sustained, but a renovated health.
Now, I will not stop here to offer any preference between these two systems. All I wish to state, and most distinctly to state, and which I wish to impress upon the House, is this—that when the visit to India of His Royal Highness was submitted to Her Majesty's Ministers the programme was the second programme which I have described; and it was with reference to that programme that Her Majesty's Government arrived at the conclusions which they have submitted to the House, and made their calculations and esti- 1493 mates accordingly. Now, we are told that the view which I gave to the House was one which would not be the right one to adopt. I offered to the House an accurate estimate of what the expenses would be for carrying His Royal Highness and suite to the land of India. I offered no estimate of what the expenses in India would be of his entertainment by the Viceroy. It was not in my power to do so, and it would have been presumptuous and impertinent for us to have offered an estimate on such a subject. But I mentioned incidentally a sum which casually had reached my ear, and which was founded upon documentary evidence—now, I believe, in our library—in the possession, of course, of every hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), who has introduced this Motion to-night, has spoken of it as if there was an abstract reason why India should not in any way contribute to the expenses of a Royal visit from England. But I must say that on abstract grounds I do not agree with my hon. Friend. I do not think there is any principle on which he can establish his conclusion. It, in fact, rests only upon a basis of sentiment; but a basis of sentiment, in my opinion, not at all advantageous to India, and by no means calculated' to increase its self-respect. I know no reason whatever why India should not contribute on an occasion like the present to the expense which may be incurred. Why, the Dominion of Canada—a country the difference of which, as compared with India, both as to wealth and population, need hardly be dwelt upon—Canada largely contributed to the expense of His Royal Highness when he visited that Dominion. I believe a sum of not less than £40,000 was cheerfully contributed by the people of Canada on that occasion, and they were proud of that contribution. I do not know any reason why India should not contribute towards the fulfilment of this event. The Prince is the Prince of India as well as of England, and why should we draw this distinction—and one I think not agreeable to the inhabitants of India themselves—whenever occasions like the present occur. I really think—although I am not on this occasion anxious to bring forward the wrongs of the British taxpayer—I really think the time has come when we should, on an occasion like the present, get rid of 1494 this unfounded sentimentalism, and not lay it down as a principle that the British taxpayers should alone be the persons who should contribute to public duties, which I believe, on the whole, are always cheerfully fulfilled. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion (Mr. Hankey) seemed to think this was an attempt on the part of Her Majesty's Government to diminish the expenditure of the Empire, and that, in fact, the Indian Council had never been consulted on the subject. And he seemed to think that it was only owing to the Parliamentary decisions which prevents the Members of that Council being in this House that we have not an indignant protest against this conclusion. I think the hon. Gentleman will be surprised when I tell him that at a meeting of the Council of India, held on Tuesday the 16th of March, 1875—the Marquess of Salisbury presiding—the noble Marquess informed the Council of the intention of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to visit India, and it was resolved—That the charges in connection with the proposed visit of His Royal Highness be borne by the revenue of India.Therefore, it was evidently the case that the Council were acquainted with the matter. But the Council, on Tuesday, the 27th of April, more than one month afterwards, met, and a question having been asked by Sir Frederick Halliday, as to the interpretation to be placed on the Council Resolution of the 16th of March, with regard to the expenditure on the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales to India, it was resolved—That the Resolution above referred to is not to be understood as pledging the Council to any expenditure on this account, beyond that which may be incurred on the soil of India.That must satisfy the hon. Gentleman that the Council of India were perfectly aware of the arrangement proposed, if they did not, indeed, originate it. With regard to the illustration dwelt upon by the hon. Member for Hackney and the hon. Member for Peterborough as to the visit of the Sultan, I do not think it is a felicitous one. Then it was objected that the country which entertained the Sultan did not pay for that expenditure. But the case of India is the reverse. We are discussing whether India should provide a portion of the expenditure for the Prince's entertainment in 1495 India, and therefore the cases are exactly the reverse. I will call attention to the Report of the East India Finance Committee of 1874, on which the hon. Members have founded themselves. The Committee state—Your Committee cannot lay down too strongly the position that the English Estimates ought not to be relieved at the expense of the Indian revenue, but that the Secretary of Sate for India in Council has the constitutional right of refusing to pay for objects in which he considered that India has no interest. At the same time India, as a component part of the Empire, must be prepared to share in the cost of a system the expense of which may be enhanced for Imperial purposes.That principle is perfectly sound, and instead of the fact being, as the hon. Member for Peterborough supposes, that we are calling upon India to supply a a deficit in our own resources, the truth is that all the arrangements were made in India by the Indian authorities before we had either the power or the opportunity of clearly seeing what it was our duty to recommend to the House. It happened in this way. It was made known to us that the Prince of Wales wished to visit India if the assent of Her Majesty could be obtained, and that it was intended to make no charge on the Exchequer of Great Britain, as the revenues of India would discharge the whole cost of the visit. That being the case, we had to consider the circumstances of the proposed arrangement. We believed ourselves—and it was also the opinion of the Viceroy—that the visit of of His Royal Highness might be productive of much advantage; everyone must feel that the visit of the Prince of Wales to the proudest Dominion of the Queen of Great Britain must be productive of results and influences of a beneficial character. We had no Estimate ever offered to us by the Indian Government of what the cost of entertaining the Prince would be, and it was not our business to present such an estimate; but we took the first opportunity which occurred of expressing our opinion that it would be well that the expenditure in India should be confined to the rites of hospitality; and that it would be our duty to propose to Parliament a sum which we believed would enable the Prince, among other sources of expenditure, to act in a manner becoming his station, and in accordance with his 1496 generous disposition. We took the advice of men of the greatest experience and intelligence upon these matters; and upon their advice we offered the estimate to the House, which I hope, in a short time, will be placed in the hands of the Chairman. I do not know that we could have acted in a manner more prudent or more proper than in taking the course we have adopted. We believe that the advice we have given the House upon this subject, and the proposals which we have made, are adequate and proper. We believe that they will fulfil their purpose. It is not our intention—nor was it ever our intention—to propose that a regal progress should be made in India, as I stated when I first addressed the House. I desired to explain to the House—fully, completely, and accurately—what was the proposal that was submitted for our consideration. It was a visit to India such as I have described under the second head at the commencement of my observations, which was submitted for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. We considered that proposal with reference to all the needs and requirements of which it is susceptible. We have submitted to the House two estimates which fall within our duty. We have informed the House that, with regard to the expenditure in India, it will be borne by the Indian revenue; and we trust the House will sanction the course which we have recommended. As regards the Resolution of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fawcett), I oppose it upon abstract principles, and I oppose it upon particular policy. I think it is one not agreeable or advantageous to India. I think it unjust in a financial point of view. I think it highly desirable that every part of Her Majesty's dominions, when so placed with reference to the illustrious individual whose future progress we are now discussing, should act as Canada has acted, and as other portions of Her Majesty's dominions have acted, and, therefore I call upon the House to support Her Majesty's Government in the proposals which we have made. They are proposals which were well considered. They are proposals which are made with a real knowledge of the necessities of the case. I call upon the House not to confuse their judgment and their purpose by contemplating results which never were antici- 1497 pated, and a course which it would be most impolitic and ruinous to pursue. The Prince's visit to India will be an event highly advantageous, in my mind, to India, to himself, and to the United Kingdom. It can be fulfilled, and will be fulfilled, with adequate lustre and liberality, if the course recommended by Her Majesty's Government is pursued, and with confidence I call upon the House to adopt it.
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman and Her Majesty's Government, in opposing the Motion which has been made and seconded by my hon. Friends, are espousing a cause which may, perhaps, be considered unpopular. Undoubtedly my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney founds himself upon sentiment, which is respectable in itself, respectable for the character of those who have recommended to us this Motion, and respectable for its association with some of our recollections of of the history of India that, perhaps, are not so entirely honourable to this country as we could wish; and a vague idea that something should be done to make up for the wrongs of past times has probably, without their being conscious of it, formed in the minds of my hon. Friends, and is at the root of the feeling that India ought to make no contribution to the expenses of the visit of the Prince of Wales. Now, Sir, believing that the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman are manly and judicious, I am willing and desirous of taking my own share—whatever it may be, and small as it may be—in any unpopularity attaching to his proposal. I am convinced the right hon. Gentleman would have fallen distinctly into error on the question now before us if he had taken any other course. With respect to this Vote in general, I am bound to say that I accept it on the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government as to its amount. It is Her Majesty's Government alone, in my opinion, that have had adequate means of judging of what would be the necessary expense. It belongs to Her Majesty's Government to ask Parliament for a sum which they think adequate. If we thought the demand extravagant, it might have been our duty on that account to object to it; but no one is disposed, I think, to found any objection to the Vote on such a ground as that, viewing all the circumstances of the case. 1498 But as respects the question now before us, which involves a matter of policy, my hon. Friends are entirely in the right in stating their opinion—if they entertain that opinion—that the finances of India should be subjected to no charge whatever with respect to the approaching visit of the Prince. But will that opinion bear examination? The right hon. Gentleman has stated the case of Canda. Canada has a large and popular representation. [Cheers.] It appears to be thought, from that cheer, that because India has not a large and popular representation, therefore India ought not to be placed in the case in which Canada was placed. Is that the meaning of the cheer? [Cheers.] Well, then, Sir, I must beg to tell those hon. Gentlemen who cheer that if that is the principle and ground on which they cheer, they must be prepared to give effect to that cheer in a very different mode and on a very different scale, and on much graver occasions than the present. For if India ought not to be charged because she has not popular representation in matters where Canada charges herself, I think the millions of which the right hon. Gentleman has significantly spoken will hardly enable those generous legislators adequately to fix the balance between the two countries unless, indeed, they are consistently prepared to apply the sentiments they seem to entertain. But India has representation—the best representation we can give her; not representation in a formal or strict sense; but, at all events, India has in this country a body of gentlemen appointed for the special purpose of defending Indian interests, and particularly for the purpose of protecting Indian financial interests. That is the special purpose for which the Indian Council exists, and the right hon. Gentleman has to-night given us the interesting information that the Council of India—which all who had had any practical experience of Indian affairs know to be the vigilant guardians of Indian interests—has considered the subject, dealt with it, and expressed its opinion that, with respect to the expenses on the Government of India, some charge should be properly made on the finances of that country. But is it the amount or proportion of the charge that is thought unreasonable? As far as the figures which the right hon. Gentleman 1499 has given, he has told us that two sums, amounting together to £112,000, are proposed to be borne by the people of this country, and he has told us that about £30,000 is the probable amount of the charge to be imposed upon the finances of India. It will be agreed, I think, that, if any charge is to be imposed, the proportion is not excessive. Now, I venture to add something to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman on the proportion observed in the case of Canada. I was myself, I believe, Chancellor of the Exchequer at the period, and, unless I am much mistaken, the amount borne by this country in respect of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada was £16,000, while the amount borne by Canada in the first year was £40,000 to which is to be added a sum, voted in the following year, of £12,000 or £13,000, making £53,000 voted by Canada as compared with £16,000 provided by England. Now, viewing the relation in the case of Canada, established by the free-will of the people of Canada, and considering that we perforce have to act on the part of the people of India, can it be said that the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman has been ungenerous so far as regards the financial interests of India? I must also point out that considerable difficulty might arise, not merely on the matter of amount, but on a matter of principle—namely, whether the House of Commons is prepared to vote the money of the people of England and to hand it over to persons holding office in India or to the Indian Council, to be expended with no responsibility to us and with responsibility to the Indian authorities alone. I only, however, glance at that in passing. But now I ask what really lies at the root of this objection? It comes to this—Have the people of India an interest in this visit or not; and will it tend to promote the interest of India? [Mr. BIGGAR: No.] The hon. Gentleman says "No," and no doubt he is prepared with adequate copiousness to support that opinion. But this I say—that unless our presence in India is beneficial to the people of India we have no business there at all. If our presence in India is beneficial to the people of India, then an arrangement like this, which we think to be advantageous to both countries, is one in which the people of India have a real, 1500 legitimate, and general interest; and if they have such an interest in the visit of the Prince of Wales there can be no ground, when we examine the matter in the light of reason, for saying that they ought not to be called upon to bear any part of the expenses. I wish with regard to this Vote to say that we have now had from the right hon. Gentleman, even more specifically than on the former occasions, a frank assumption of the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. It belongs to the Government to make this proposal, and to exercise every legitimate control in regard to the expedition. It belongs to the Government to see that the arrangements of the expedition are such, and that all the measures to be taken for giving it effect are such, as shall be most conducive to the attainment of the purposes it has in view, and most for the credit and honour of the connection between this country and India. But, leaving upon the Government the responsibility, I readily accede to the proposal that they make with respect to the question now before us. I am sure we should commit a serious error, and should, in fact, be hardly aware of the dangerous nature of the principles we were adopting, perhaps in disguise, if, because we think that India ought to be generously treated, we were to push a sentiment, laudable in itself, beyond the bounds of reason and justice, and to adopt as a doctrine the somewhat vague idea that India should not be called upon to pay any share of expenditure for purposes evidently very beneficial to herself, and for purposes which in other and analogous cases have been acknowledged by the free voice of popular Legislatures as perfectly fit and proper to be borne, even in a much larger measure, by the people of those countries whom the Heir Apparent to the British Throne may have been advised or may have thought proper to visit.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he was glad that, before going into Committee, a discussion had been raised on the general policy of the proposal made by the Government. This visit of the Prince of Wales to India had now been made a State affair. The House was not called upon at the present moment to say whether that was a wise thing or not; but as it was decided that Parliament should pay the expenses of the visit, any ex- 1501 pression of a difference of opinion on the subject would be an unfortunate occurrence, and if that expression took the form of a series of divisions it would be unseemly. At the same time, he must express his opinion that the Government had not, by their proposal, done justice to the loyal feelings either of the House of Commons or of the country. By loyal feelings he meant not loyalty to this or that accidental Member of the Royal Family, but loyalty to the Monarchy, which was maintained not for the advantage of the reigning Family, but which in its dignity was supported by the nation for the nation—that was to say, for the national welfare, for its well-being, its peace, and its prosperity, which were bound up with our form of Government. In his opinion, the Government had laid themselves open to the charge of undue parsimony. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the Prince did not go to India as the Representative of the Sovereign; but who or what he would represent there did not depend on the opinion of any Minister. Representation when the Prince was once in India would become a matter of feeling, of opinion, and even of imagination. The hundreds of thousands who would swarm to see the Prince would not feel interested in him except as the Representative of a long line of Monarchs historically associated with the power and greatness of England. It was impossible at this moment to say how far the visit might be of public advantage. He was willing to take the view of the right hon. Gentleman on that point, and he was certain it was impossible for the Prince of Wales to pay that visit without deriving an advantage which must ultimately benefit us. At the same time, he could not help expressing his own opinion that a larger grant would be more acceptable to the great majority of the House and the country.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that I cannot quite agree with the eloquent speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, for with all his eloquence I do not think he persuaded the House that there was much resemblance between the Indian Council and the Canadian Parliament—and although he said very truly that this Vote came before us on the respon- 1502 sibility of the Government, and on no other person's responsibility, yet I cannot agree with him in considering that Government was so implicitly worthy of our support. One thing that I complain of is that important Votes of this nature are not brought on earlier in the Session, and that we have not more time to consider them. It must have been known at an early period that this visit was in prospect, because the Prime Minister alludes to Correspondence with the Viceroy on the subject; but, knowing that, he comes down at the end of the Session, and gives a week's Notice for the country to consider his proposals. I do not altogether believe that the Motion which the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) has adopted to meet this question is the best that could have been devised; but still, as he has thought right, being well acquainted with India, to deal with it in that way, there can be no harm in another independent Member attempting, in the phrase of the day, "to improve the occasion." Neither do I agree with the course taken last week by the hon. Members for Leicester, Morpeth, and Stafford (Messrs. P. A. Taylor, Burt, and Macdonald), who said the working men took a very great interest in this question. Sir, I think we have reduced ourselves in this House to the condition that few people out-of-doors take much interest in what we do. Moreover, I am not sure that they estimate rightly the opinion of the outside public in this matter. I think that with the outside public expeditions are very popular. Let only an expedition be vague, mysterious, and incomprehensible, and it is sure to be very popular. Immediately newspaper writers go into ecstasies and everybody is delighted. So it was with the North Pole expedition. No one ever knew what it was to do, and everybody took delight in it. So it is with this expedition, which I have no doubt will be popular and fill the newspapers during the Recess; and if the Government will go on inventing expeditions—there has been one this year to the North, now there is this one to the East; let there be one next Session to the South, and the following Session one to the West—then by the and of these popular expeditions they will be able to go on until the Conservative re-action has expended itself. I object to people getting up in 1503 this House and assuming to speak as special representatives of the working man. I am quite ready to believe that if it can be proved that the expenditure of this money is for the honour and interest and welfare of England, the working men will be quite as ready to support it as anyone else. But that is the point we want to know. When any Vote is brought before this House we, as Representatives of the nation, must inquire whether it is for the good of the nation. That is the only question we have to consider; and surely my right hon. Friend who spoke just now (Mr. Horsman) must have been mistaken in characterizing divisions on this question as unseemly. What do we sit in this House for. The power of criticizing Votes is the vital power of this House. I should be sorry if we were in any way to abandon the right of scrutiny. This matter might have been put before the House in a manner that few could object to. The Prime Minister might have come down and said the Prince of Wales desired to make an expedition for his own proper amusement to the Indian frontier. We should not have made much objection to that. I am one of those who admire and commiserate Princes. They are people who deserve our sympathy in the position they hold in this country. We know they are debarred from entering into political life. It would be looked upon as a matter of jealousy if they did so. If they go into the Army everyone says they are promoted simply because they are Princes, and disregard the real merits they possess. What hard lives they lead—bound day after day to provide vapid amusement for stupid people! They cannot go out-of-doors without being surrounded by "snobs" rushing and crushing upon them; and next day the "penny-a-liners" devote columns describing how those unfortunate individuals looked, spoke, and acted. They do all this at our bidding, and the duties are very ably and properly fulfilled. I, for one, am truly and sincerely grateful to them for what they do, and I do not wonder at all at a Prince of the Blood getting very tired of the daily monotony of laying foundation stones, opening institutions, uncovering statues, and eating charity dinners. If the Prime Minister had come down and put it on the ground that the Prince wanted relaxation and wanted to go and share the 1504 pastimes of the Kings he had met here, I should have felt some difficulty in opposing the Motion. But that is not the ground on which we are called upon to vote this money. On Thursday last the Prime Minister brought the matter forward as a kind of Supplementary Education Vote. He said travel educated Princes, that the Prince was to be sent out to be educated, and that was not only the opinion of the Prime Minister. An hon. Friend of mine on the front Opposition benches, who is connected with India, said he should vote for the grant, as it was desirable that our future Ruler should become acquainted with his subjects. But I dispute the policy altogether, because the principle of the Constitution of this country is that the King reigns but does not govern, and the Prince will have nothing to do with the government of India, so far as I can see. If this is to be an educational mission, to teach people how to govern India, send out the Prime Minister. I am quite sure that he wants rest after the enormous amount of legislation which he has initiated, and I am also quite sure that if it would benefit his health both sides of this House would be rejoiced. There is a great deal in his character which would charm the Indians. The imagination, brilliancy, and Oriental splendour of his eloquence would attract them as much as it has the nations of Western Europe. If he would not go—and I do not see why he should, for he knows quite enough—you might send out some of the other Members of his Administration who would benefit—say the President of the Board of Trade (Sir Charles Adderley). He might also be accompanied by the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck). At all events, they would on the voyage become acquainted with shipping. That was not the only ground this Vote was put upon; the other ground was what I may call the State pageant theory. Well, if we are to go on the grand scale and pageant theory the sum we are asked to vote is perfectly ridiculous. The Prime Minister said the Prince ought to be placed throughout his travels in a position that would impress the mind of India with the dignity and influence of the station which he occupied. I do not care who says it—I do not believe that for £142,000 you can do anything of the kind. 1505 Why, these Great Moguls and people we have been hearing about to-night would beat him hollow. He cannot equal them in magnificence and pomp with this paltry £142,000; and if they outdo us in magnificence and pomp we shall be doing more harm than good to our position in that country. Sir, we toot India—got possession of it by a mixture of force and fraud—we hold it now by force; but we can only continue to hold it by fair and honest dealing, and not by indulging in costly shams. Who asks for this visit? Some allusion has been made to a Vote for a Royal dowry. But whenever that has come before the House we have had a Message from the Queen brought down to us on the subject. Somebody has said that the Indian Council approve of the visit. Well, they approve of making India pay for it, but they did not suggest it. Is there any feeling in India for it? Has any Indian newspaper said the visit would be a great benefit to the country? We are asked to vote this money on the statement of the Prime Minister that the Viceroy has sent confidential letters to the Secretary of State. Not a shadow or a scrap more of evidence is given us; we do not know when these letters were written, why he wrote them, what he said in them, nor even whom he recommended should accompany the Prince. The House of Commons was never in my experience asked to vote a considerable sum of money on such paltry, meagre, and insufficient grounds. How do we know that this visit is to be of any benefit to India? What proof is there? I doubt whether it will not be a damage to her people rather than a benefit; for with all these shows and processions going on, these Chiefs must make some show, and they will get the money by oppressing and grinding their subjects. I certainly agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) that taxation and representation ought to go together. That, at any rate, is the opinion of this side of the House. Last week we were in "a great taking" because a million or so of our fellow-subjects were taxed who were not represented—the agricultural labourers. We went like one man into the Lobby in favour of the principle—except our Leaders, of course. Surely, then, we ought to be careful how we deal with the money of these 200,000,000 of people, who are not represented either 1506 here or elsewhere. We know what that people is. We have the experience of that old Indian bill mentioned by the hon. Member for Hackney, which I have been told on good authority still leaves a rankling sore in the minds of the Indian people. Although that was but a small sum, they still look upon it as a great injustice. One word more, Sir. Is it wise to bring these Votes before the House? I thoroughly believe that the immense majority of the people of this country are, rightly and properly, warmly attached to the Monarchy. I think it will be a long time before we shall see a statesman sitting down to write a pamphlet not Is the Church worth preserving? but Is the Monarchy worth preserving? But if you can cast a shadow of a shade of dissatisfaction on the Monarchy it is by such Votes as this. ["No, no!"] Well, I hope not. I will not detain hon. Members, for I know they have made up their minds how to vote. [" Divide! "] Those who oppose this expenditure are a very small minority, and it is a pity that their opinions should be shouted down. We have heard the other side patiently, and yet the only persons who had risen to oppose the Vote were not listened to. I do not wish to find fault with the Government for bringing forward this Motion; they were compelled to bring it forward; but let the House act in a straightforward manner, and whether it is likely to benefit India or anybody else, let some vote to save the expenditure of money which, at any rate, it had not been proved would benefit India, and which I am very much afraid will make England ridiculous.
§ MR. LAING
said, the question whether India should bear any portion of this expenditure was a large question of policy; but it had been argued on narrow grounds, as though it were rather a question of special pleading between the two countries. If India were independent, prosperous, and rich, and were represented by an Assembly like the House of Commons, it might then fairly be asked to bear some share of the expense. But India was poor, while England was rich; India was weak, while we were powerful; and India had no representation. Were we not, then, letting slip an opportunity for a great stroke of policy, in asking India for any contribution? He entirely denied the statement of the hon. Baronet 1507 that we maintained our hold on India by force and fraud.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
I said that our Empire in India was "acquired "—not "maintained"—by force and fraud.
§ MR. LAING
said, he had not the slightest wish to misrepresent the hon. Baronet. He had merely heard the words "force and fraud." He maintained that our Indian Empire was acquired and maintained mainly by the prestige of English character, and the recollection of such men as the Elphinstones, the Dalhousies, the Lawrences, and the Outrams. We had impressed the Natives of India with a sense of our moral superiority in all respects. But now—by doing an action which could be plausibly misrepresented by those opposed to English rule in that country, as shabby, illiberal, and unworthy of a great nation—we should do far more harm than could be repaired by 100 times the amount spent upon our Army. It was on that account he thought we were making a mistake, for the sake of a paltry £30,000, and throwing away an opportunity for repairing past omissions—or rather commissions—in this respect, and for giving grace to a Royal visit which otherwise was so well calculated to produce the most favourable impression on the public mind of India. He was convinced it would be a much more wise and politic measure if, as an act of grace, the Government had come forward, and said—"This is a spontaneous visit, which will probably tend to draw closer together the bonds between the two countries; it shall be done graciously, and no charge shall be thrown on the Revenues of India."
said, he differed very much from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. It would have been most unfortunate, and a great mistake, if the Government had been advised to allow the Prince of Wales to make this visit to India, and to have proclaimed throughout the world that India had really no interest in the matter, and ought not to be called upon to bear any portion of the expense. 1508 India was well able to bear the charge, and no nation on the face of the earth understood better the duties of hospitality than the people of Hindostan. He felt sure that if they had an opportunity of expressing their minds on the subject, they would have said that it was their wish that they should bear the expense, and that they would gladly bear the expense—of welcoming the Prince of Wales, with all the honour to which his high station entitled him. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had done good service when he said that India was bound in these Imperial questions to take its share of duty and responsibility, and it would be mischievous both in the present, and in the future, if any other principle were to prevail. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) to whom the House had listened with so much pleasure—[" No, no! "]—well, to whom ordinarily the House listened with so much pleasure—had not struck the right chord on this occasion. He had greatly undervalued the advantage of His Royal Highness's visit, simply because it could not be reduced to an arithmetical sum. For his own part, he believed the benefits resulting from it would be felt long after the visit itself had passed away, and that nothing could tend more to diminish those benefits than to insist that India should not be allowed to bear her portion of the expense. With respect to the feeling of the working classes in the matter, he believed that the only regret which would be expressed in this country would be that Her Majesty's Ministers did not, on reflection, think it within their duty to propose a somewhat more liberal grant for the expenditure of His Royal Highness. It would be vain now to argue the point; it would be impolitic to do so; the responsibility must rest with Her Majesty's Ministers. He would, therefore, oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hackney, and support the proposal of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 379; Noes 67: Majority 312.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.