§ MR. E. STANHOPE,
in rising to move—That, Her Majesty having directed a Military expedition of Her Forces charged 877 upon Indian Revenues to be despatched against the Ameer of Afghanistan, this House consents that the Revenues of India shall be applied to defray the expenses of the Military operations which may be carried on beyond the external frontiers of Her Majesty's Indian Possessions,said, that the discussions which had recently taken place both in that and the other House of Parliament had relieved him of a great deal of the difficulty which he must have felt in proposing the Resolution which stood in his name; and, therefore, in discharging the duty which now devolved on him, he assured the House that it would not be necessary for him to trespass on its attention at any considerable length. On the 21st of November last a Proclamation of War was issued by the Viceroy of India, and on the same day war against the Ameer of Afghanistan began. The duty which devolved on the Government in consequence of that act was a very simple one. They were bound, according to statute, to give Notice of it to Parliament within three months; or, if Parliament should not be then sitting, they were bound to give that Notice within one month after the date of its meeting. What the Government had really done was this—On the fourteenth day after the proclamation of the war Parliament was assembled, and the Government had made that announcement; and he now asked the House to enable it to fulfil the other Constitutional obligations cast upon it under the Act of Parliament. The section of the Act of Parliament on which his Resolution was founded was as follows:—Except for preventing or repelling actual invasion of Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, or under other sudden and urgent necessity, the Revenues of India shall not, without the consent of both Houses of Parliament, be applicable to defray the expenses of any Military operation carried on beyond the external frontiers of such possessions by Her Majesty's Forces charged upon such Revenues.The history of that clause was very simple. While the Bill for the better government of India was going through that House, a clause was proposed by the right hon. Member for Greenwich, the effect of which was that, unless the consent of Parliament was given for the purposes of war, the Military forces of Her Majesty charged on the Indian Revenues should not be employed in any operation beyond the external 878 Frontier of Her Majesty's Indian possessions. That clause was accepted in that House. When the Bill reached the other House the late Lord Derby, then Prime Minister, explained a grave Constitutional objection to which it was liable in its existing form; and although he admitted that the case was very unlikely, yet he pointed out that under the law as it then stood, it was possible, if we happened to live under a Sovereign less Constitutional than Her Most Gracious Majesty, that it would be in the power of the Crown to employ the Indian Forces in war without ever obtaining the assent of Parliament. His Lordship proposed, therefore, that a financial check should be attached to such an exercise of power, and submitted the clause which he had just read, and which became law; the effect of it being that the consent of Parliament to the purposes of the war was required, not before the Indian Army could be employed beyond the Frontier, but before the Revenues of India could be applied in payment for such an expedition. In consequence of that provision application had been made to the other House of Parliament; its consent had been given by a unanimous vote; and the Government now asked the House of Commons to ratify that decision. When a charge on the Revenues of India was proposed, the first question every hon. Member would be disposed to ask himself was—"What is the real interest of India?" Were we, as the ruling Power in India, vitally interested in the results which we hoped by means of this war to secure? From the time of the Vice-royalty of Sir John Lawrence, when out of Indian Revenues we used to make contributions of arms and money towards the support of Afghanistan, down to the present day, it had been a cardinal maxim of Indian policy that the maintenance of Afghanistan as a strong Frontier Power—not, indeed, subject to our interference in its domestic affairs, but under British influence—was a vital necessity of our position. The whole Indian world had always watched the politics of that part of the country as a matter of the most pressing and vital interest. Successive Viceroys declared that the subject was one to which they attached the greatest importance; he might have said no Viceroy could possibly have neglected it. Governments at home 879 had ratified that policy, which had been sanctioned over and over again by Parliament. That being the state of public opinion at home, and still more strongly in India, events had recently happened that were calculated to test the sincerity of the convictions which had been arrived at. We had suddenly found that British influence in Afghanistan, to which we attached the greatest importance, was not only upon the wane, but in danger of being absolutely extinguished. We had learned that the Ameer, not content with receiving a Mission from a foreign Government, in circumstances which gave its reception a decidedly hostile character, was also prepared to repel with insult, in the eyes of the people of India, a friendly British Mission. What was the result? From every part of India there came a cry that in these circumstances inaction was impossible. Native Princes had vied with one another in offering us troops and money, and in testifying their loyalty to the Government of India. They were prepared to take up arms and to make sacrifices in defence and in support of the Government of India by Her Majesty. In a word, Indian opinion, Native as well as British, declared without any hesitation that for the interest of India and for the defence of onr North-West Frontier, it was absolutely necessary that steps should be taken by the Government of India to vindicate the honour of the country. The consent of the Home Government having been obtained, the Army was moved forward beyond the Frontier under the orders of the Viceroy of India; and, that step having been taken, the next question that came before the House was the manner in which the expenses of the war were to be met. He did not suppose many persons were prepared to take the sort of view which, judging from his Amendment, was taken by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett). If what he (Mr. E. Stanhope) had just stated were true, it was impossible to say that India had no interest in the results of the present war. Yet that was what the hon. Member for Hackney appeared to be prepared to say. The hon. Gentleman's argument appeared to be that India was not only not to pay a single penny towards defraying the extraordinary, or the ordinary expenses of the war, but she was to receive a sum of money for having 880 entered upon a Frontier war, and was to have an inducement to embroil us in the future in similar wars. That was a position which, he believed, hon Members generally would not for one moment support. But, as a criticism of the Resolution which he should presently have the honour to propose, it might be said—"Why do you propose, in that Resolution, to charge the whole expense to India? Has not England a sufficient interest in the matter to induce her to be generous and contribute a portion of the expenses?" That was a matter of the gravest importance, and it had been, and was now, under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. His Resolution did not prejudge this question in the smallest degree. If the House should think fit at any time to declare that a portion of the expenses incurred by the war—nay, even that the whole of them ought to be borne by the Imperial Exchequer, there was nothing in the action he now asked the House to take which would place any impediment in the way of the adoption of such a course. Certain opinions expressed by Members of the Indian Council had been referred to. They would be read with the attention due to the position of the writers. But in his opinion no proof whatever was needed that the Members of the Council of State for India were prepared cordially to support his noble Friend (Viscount Cranbrook) in the duty cast upon him by the Constitution of this country of watching over the interests and the Revenues of the people of India. It was said that the House could not regard this question fairly, because India was not represented in the House of Commons. A more gross illusion it was impossible to conceive. Ten years ago the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing) pointed out the growing disposition of England to regard fairly matters affecting India. There could be no doubt that the Members of the House of Commons considered themselves to be, as regarded India, trustees of that great country. They had shown on many occasions a scrupulous regard for the interests of the people of India, and they certainly could not be justly charged with neglecting that important consideration. The special duty of the Secretary of State for India was to watch over the interests of India in the Cabinet; and if his 881 noble Friend should come to the conclusion that India was unable to pay these expenses, or that she ought not in justice to bear more than a certain proportion of them, his noble Friend was not the man to shrink from the consequences of that opinion, or from enforcing it with all the vigour of which he was capable on his Colleagues and the country. But looking at the character of this war and its reasonable and possible consequences, he confessed that, regarding it solely from an Indian point of view, he was induced to sayTimeo Danaos et dona ferentes.What was the character of the war? Was it at all like various precedents that might be adduced? In the first place, there was the precedent of Abyssinia. In that case there was the most conclusive testimony that India was well represented in the Cabinet, because the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then Indian Secretary, succeeded in inducing Parliament to say that India should not contribute a single shilling towards the cost of that war. That, however, was a very different case from the present. Again, in the case of the Persian War, in which the interest of India was very much more remote than in the present case, Parliament decided that India ought properly to bear the whole of the ordinary and one-half of the extraordinary expenses of the war. But when they came to the present instance they found it was nothing more nor less than a mere Frontier war, not at all dissimilar in principle from many other Frontier wars in which India had been engaged. It might, perhaps, assume larger proportions, and in that event it would have to be considered from a totally different point of view. The Government hoped and believed, however, that it would remain throughout a mere Frontier war. He hoped the House would not for a moment suppose he was prejudging the matter; but he desired to submit one or two reasons why, from an Indian point of view, if a subsidy were offered to India, she ought to hesitate before accepting it. In the first place, India was not and had never been a financial burden on this country. Unlike other conquerors, we had never attempted to derive any revenue from the country we had conquered; while, 882 on the other hand, in all her troubles and difficulties she had paid her own way. If this rule were broken through, a danger would at once arise of weakening the position of India in the eyes of the world, and altering in a very material degree the relations between India and this country. India while not imposing any financial difficulties upon England was one thing; but India as a financial burden was another. Not very long ago, in the course of the Famine in Madras, a strong feeling existed in this country that a contribution out of Imperial funds was not only desirable, but absolutely necessary. That temptation, most honourable to this country, was fortunately resisted, and the result was that India had not only been able to pay the whole cost of the Famine, but had been induced by it to make most laudable exertions for establishing a fund for insurance against similar calamities in the future. In the second place, the only true security for economical administration in India was the responsibility laid upon India to provide means for the payment of its debts. Once take away that security, let it be supposed that, save in exceptional circumstances, English assistance was forthcoming whenever needed, and the great check upon expenditure was lost. If Frontier troubles arose, there would be no financial considerations to counsel prudence. And, if unfortunately they were engaged in war, why restrict expenditure, when the English taxpayer was behind? It would be said, indeed, that with a subsidy it would be necessary to assume more complete control over Indian expenditure. That was a large question, upon which he would not now enter. He would only say, that men far wiser, and of very much greater experience than himself, had often pointed out, that there could be no greater danger to India than would arise from England usurping too much control over it, and so weakening alike the actual responsibility of the Government of India and the independence of action which had hitherto been used justly and wisely. He wished it to be understood that the whole question of the war was in no way prejudged by the Motion which he was about to move, the simple point involved in his proposal being that no shilling of the Indian Revenues could be expended for the purposes of the war 883 until after the assent of Parliament had been obtained thereto. The House would next wish to know what was likely to be the cost of the war, and how far the Indian Exchequer was in a position to meet it. On this point he wished to give the fullest possible information; but in doing this, to the best of his ability, he must guard himself against being supposed to be able to give all the details. Only that morning he had received information from India by telegraph, and it was not so easy at short notice to understand and explain a communication of that kind as to deal with a more full and written despatch. If, therefore, any blame should attach to any one for any error in the statements he was able to make, let the House bestow the whole of it upon him. He was not able, as he had hoped to be, to give any statement as to what would probably be the monthly cost of the war—a point upon which the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock) had very reasonably and properly expressed a desire to have information. The Indian Government had made a calculation as to what the war was likely to cost; but their estimate did not extend beyond the present financial year, which closed on the 31st of March. It amounted in gross to £1,200,000; but a part of this sum would be carried forward to the next financial year, and the cost likely to be incurred before the 1st of April next was put down at £950,000, or say £1,000,000. He would now remind the House of the exact position, as far as he had been able to ascertain it, of the finances of India. In August last he stated that the Estimate of surplus, made up in the previous April, was £2,156,000 for the current year. Since that time many circumstances had occurred considerably to alter that position. In the first place, there had been a depreciation in the value of silver, which had caused, and was still causing, great anxiety; in the second place, there had been a large increase in the cost of the Army, owing to the enhanced prices of provisions; and, lastly, the depression of trade had very considerably reduced the receipts. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, he was compelled to reduce the Estimate of surplus at the close of the financial year from £2,156,000 to £1,550,000.
§ MR. FAWCETT
asked, whether in this Estimate both productive and unproductive Public "Works were included?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
was glad that the hon. Member had asked the question, because he had always succeeded in throwing the whole question of Indian finance into a muddle by mixing up matters of Revenue with questions relating to capital. The answer to the hon. Member's question was, that all ordinary Public Works were included in the Estimates; all extraordinary Public Works—called "productive," and in many cases likely soon to prove productive—were included in the capital expenditure. Did the hon. Member for Hackney suppose that we could maintain our position in India without engaging in any Public Works? The surplus being of the amount he had mentioned, it must be perfectly obvious that the Indian Government could pay the whole cost of the war during the present year without adding a shilling to the taxation or the Debt of the country; but it had been pointed out that we were pledged to form what was called a Famine Insurance Fund. His information on this point was very scanty, and he could not definitely state the amount we were bound to provide for the purpose out of the surplus of the year. We were bound to find £1,500,000, if the new taxes produced as much, towards the relief of famine, or insurance against future famines. A large sum had already been expended in the relief of famine, and the amount now due and to be provided out of the surplus to fulfil the famine insurance pledges was £700,000. These figures, he thought, contained nothing to cause very serious alarm. He knew the House would shortly hear a very desponding speech from the hon. Member for Hackney, and he would ask hon. Members not to believe either himself or the hon. Member for Hackney, but to look to the facts for themselves. As far as he was concerned, he had no desire to make any statement which would not bear the fullest examination; and he might say, further, that his statements were not made on his sole authority, but arose out of frequent conversations with the Indian Finance Minister, who was lately in this country, and whose services to Indian finance would, he hoped, before long be adequately appreciated. While he did not disguise 885 from himself the dangers lying before them in the way of Indian finance, he could not admit that the state of affairs was at all unsatisfactory. During the past week the House had been discussing with some warmth, but in a most interesting manner, the question of the conduct of Her Majesty's Government towards Afghanistan. At the conclusion of that discussion the House, like the House of Lords, expressed, by a large majority, approval of the conduct of the Government. This being so, and the war having begun, he would only ask the House to accept the very wise advice tendered by the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington), in the course of the debate to which he referred, and say that, the war having been begun, they were now prepared unanimously to strengthen the hands of Her Majesty's Government to bring it to a satisfactory and speedy conclusion. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Resolution.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, Her Majesty having directed a Military expedition of Her Forces charged upon Indian Revenues to be despatched against the Ameer of Afghanistan, this House consents that the Revenues of India shall he applied to defray the expenses of the Military operations which may be carried on beyond the external frontiers of Her Majesty's Indian Possessions."—(Mr. Edward Stanhope.)
§ MR. FAWCETT,
in rising to move, as an Amendment,That this House is of opinion that it would be unjust that the Revenues of India should be applied to defray the extraordinary expenses of the Military operations now being carried on against the Ameer of Afghanistan,said, although the speech of the Under Secretary of State offered him many temptations to go astray, he would endeavour, to the best of his ability, not to say a single word which should lead the House to loose its hold upon the issue which it now had to determine, and which he should be able to show was as important to England as it was to India. But there were some remarks in the closing sentences of the Under Secretary's speech which he could not pass over without some notice. He knew it would be said that the effect of passing this Resolution would be to stop Supplies, and to prevent the Government from bringing this war to an honourable and a speedy conclusion. Nothing could 886 be more unjust than to attribute to him, and to the se who were going to support him, any such intention to place the slightest obstacle in the path of the Government as regarded the expenditure hitherto incurred. Before Parliament met he declared to his constituents—and he repeated the declaration—that when war had once been commenced nothing was so idle as to suppose that the House of Commons could stop the expenditure which had been incurred. The duty of the Opposition when war was declared was stated with admirable force and admirable clearness by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, when he stated that, however anxious he might be to limit the scope of the war, he could be no party to any effort to stop the Supplies. The reason of this was obvious. The soldiers who were in the field must be paid; the stores procured or ordered must be paid for, unless the House was prepared to sanction an act of national repudiation; if bribes or promises of money had been offered to independent tribes, however greatly he might regret the fact on moral grounds, there was something which would be worse still—namely, a disregard of the promises so made. Therefore he desired, in the most emphatic way possible, to state that it was unfair, because they opposed this Resolution, to fasten upon them the responsibility of attempting to stop the Supplies. Indeed, so absolutely impossible, when a war had been once begun, was it to stop Supplies, that the House of Commons could practically exercise no control; and he felt this so strongly that he had no hesitation in saying that he did everything in his power to get Parliament summoned before war was declared; and he felt that had that been done, and if before the war they had only had the information they now possessed, this war would never have begun. The question they had to determine was not whether or not the money should be paid, but whether it should be paid by England or, as was proposed by Her Majesty's Government, entirely by India. The Under Secretary had attempted to put a gloss upon the Amendment. The proposal of the Government amounted to this—that India should pay every sixpence of the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the war, and that at some future time—it might be when the Greek 887 Kalends arrived—the Government would take it into their serious consideration whether the Imperial Revenues should not pay some portion of the cost. It was said his Amendment was not sufficiently specific. Then nothing would be easier than to introduce some words to make it more distinct. He did not, of course, propose that India should make money out of this war, or that the pay of soldiers, whom it would otherwise have to maintain, should be paid by England; but all that he did propose was to give a direct and absolute opposition to the Government. They declared that this war was for Imperial far more than Indian purposes; and therefore it was as unjust as it was ungenerous to come down and say—"India should pay everything, and some day we will take it into our consideration whether some slight contribution towards the expense ought not to be made by England." This question was in no sense a Party one, and he said this not as an ordinary common place, but because the debate in "another place" had shown that many of the se who were most strong in their support of the Government most strongly objected to the entire charge being thrown upon India. The Under Secretary had spoken of the unanimous decision of the other branch of the Legislature; but, as a matter of fact, every single Peer who spoke, whether he was a supporter of the Government or not, and who referred to the proposal to throw the entire charge of the war upon the Revenues of India, unhesitatingly condemned it. Therefore, so far as the opinion of the other branch of the Legislature was ascertained, instead of being unanimous in approval, it was one of unanimous condemnation. Further, a specific fact would show that, however much they might differ as to the justice or the necessity of the war, some of the se who were strongest in supporting it were foremost in declaring that it was a great Imperial undertaking, and that it could not be fairly treated as if it were a purely Indian war. Another remarkable fact was that there were three Peers in the House of Lords who had all held high office in India. Two of them (Lord Lawrence and Lord Northbrook) opposed the policy of the Government; while Lord Napier of Ettrick, a former Governor of Madras, cordially supported it both by 888 speech and by vote. Yet Lord Napier was, if possible, still more opposed than Lords Lawrence and Northbrook to throwing the charge for the war upon the Revenues of India. He thought this showed that the issues they had to discuss were entirely and absolutely distinct from the issue discussed on Friday. The Under Secretary stated that nothing would be more unfortunate to the financial stability of India than that she should receive subventions from England, and in that view he entirely concurred. Now, he wished to discuss this question as one of absolute justice, and not as one of honour and generosity to India. He was accused of taking a gloomy view of Indian finances; but he never took so gloomy a view of them as to suppose that if they were judiciously and wisely administered, India could not pay all claims justly made upon her Revenues. He was not expressing that opinion for the first time. It would be remembered that when last September twelvemonth the suggestion appeared to gain much approval that a grant should be made out of the Imperial Revenues for the relief of the Famine in Madras and Bombay, so great was his objection to subventions that he felt it to be his painful duty to oppose the movement in question. He should have occasion to show how entirely the Under Secretary had misstated the condition of the finances of India, and to call attention to the heavy burdens which were placed upon the people of India. The question before them must, however, be determined by a consideration of the character of the war. If this were an Imperial war, England was bound, both legally and equitably, to pay for it; and he based this opinion on the 55th clause of the Government of India Act, which had been read by the Under Secretary of State for India, and which clause especially said that—Except for preventing or repelling actual invasion of Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, or under other sudden and urgent necessity, the Revenues of India shall not, without the consent of both Houses of Parliament, he applicable to defray the expenses of any Military operation carried on beyond the external frontiers of such possessions by Her Majesty's Forces charged upon such Revenues.He did not raise the question whether it was legal to spend the Revenues of India before Parliament was summoned, which might be deferred to another occasion. 889 There could be no doubt of the meaning and purport of the clause, for it was introduced into the other House by the late Lord Derby, who had charge of the Bill, and who said he introduced it for the protection of the Revenues of India: that if the Indian forces were employed in a war beyond the Frontier of India it would be for Parliament to decide whether the war was an Imperial or an Indian one, and that if it were an Imperial war the money must be paid by England. This was the common-sense and the reasonable interpretation of the clause. What would be the position of the House and the country if it were possible to employ the Indian troops in Imperial matters, and maintain them out of the resources of India without first obtaining the sanction of Parliament? One of their greatest and most precious privileges would be swept away, and an Imperial war might be carried on without the sanction of the House, as the Government would be able to carry it on entirely out of the Revenues of India without asking for a single Vote of Supply. Therefore, this clause he considered as vital to the liberties of Parliament, and to the protection of the people of England. As to the interests of the people of India, nothing seemed to him more unfair than that the Government and their supporters, when they wanted to obtain approbation, represented to Parliament and the country that this war was a great Imperial war, and that, when on the other hand, they wanted to obtain money from the unfortunate Indian people, they should minimize the scope of the war, making it out to be a "mere Frontier war." They must have one thing or the other. For weeks the supporters of the Ministry on the platform and in the Press had been saying to their opponents—"You do not appreciate the true character of a great Imperial enterprize; you are such parochial politicians you won't understand that this is only a branch of the great Eastern Question." When Lord Lytton went to India he declared that, having had personal interviews on the subject with the Secretary of State for India, he went out determined to treat Indian Frontier questions as indivisible parts of a great Imperial subject, mainly to be determined by the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. Nothing could be more 890 distinct and precise than that. But supposing hon. Gentlemen opposite were to discover that this war did not simply concern a small cantonment, but that it was distinctly intended to maintain the influence and uphold the greatness of England in India, would not they be the first to say that nothing could be more mean, nothing more shabby than that the greatness and influence of England should be maintained by the money of the people of India? Lord Beaconsfield himself had said that this war was not merely one concerning the Khyber Pass, or some small cantonment at Dakka or Jellala-bad; but that it was one which concerned the influence and character of England in Europe. How could they escape from that? If the war was to maintain the influence and character of England in Europe, could there be anything more unfair, more unworthy of this country than to use the moneys of the people of India to maintain that position and character, and to enable us to parade ourselves before the world as a great Imperial Power? Every cloud had a silver lining however, and in this matter there was something good. He did not think that that Imperialism would long survive, which was decked out in garments purchased with the money of starving ryots and the miserable peasantry of India. To support the view that India was prosperous? enough to bear the cost of the war, it was said that when he spoke of Indian finances, he produced confusion by deducting extraordinary expenditure from the estimated surplus; but in doing so he was supported by the highest financial authorities in England, and it was almost a financial truism to assert that extraordinary Budgets and extraordinary expenditure had been in numerous instances the ready resort of embarrassed European Powers. In this case he asserted—first, that there was no surplus at all; secondly, that the money about to be taken was money that had been appropriated as a Famine Fund, and was obtained by some of the most onerous taxes over imposed upon the Indian people; and, thirdly, that this was the most extraordinary proposal ever brought forward, as it was intended to show that India was so rich and England so poor that England must come like a suppliant pauper and ask India to 891 relieve her in her necessities, and this was done by a Ministry which wanted to exhibit their country's influence and power. To make India pay for this war, instead of exhibiting England as a great European Power, would exhibit her as a mean, grasping, and selfish nation. He was not objecting now to expenditure on Public Works; but he contended that in order to arrive at the true financial position of India, that expenditure must be considered in estimating the surplus. To spend on Public Works £3,000,000 or £4,000,000, borrowed at 4½ per cent, and receive a return of ½ per cent was like a landowner forgetting that he had spent £10,000 on farm buildings. The late Secretary of State for India had stated that millions had been spent upon irrigation works in Bengal, borrowed at 4½ and 5 per cent, and that it was yielding to the Government a return of only ½ per cent per annum. What was the good of ignoring the fact? It was beyond any possibility of dispute that this £1,200,000, which the Government was now about to apply to the purposes of the war, was money raised for a distinct object. It was raised by enormous taxation to provide a security against famine; but the latest news from India was that the public works in Bombay were to be stopped—that water which was to have been brought to the parched land was not to be brought; and why? Because the Government had not the courage to come to the House and ask for a special Vote. This money had been obtained by imposing a tax on incomes of 4s. a week, and raising the salt duty by 40 per cent on the famine-stricken people of Bombay and Madras. In the levying of these taxes they must remember that there were no exemptions on incomes of £150 a-year as in this country, the tax reaching £10 a-year. True, there were some exemptions in the case of the military and other professional men, Civil servants, and others, who went to the country clamouring for war, knowing full well that they would not have to pay for it, that part of the duty falling on poor carpenters and day-labourers. And the result of this appropriation of Indian money to Imperial purposes, according to the latest news from India, which the Under Secretary of State had judiciously avoided alluding to, was that almost all public works in Bombay were 892 to be stopped—works which the Government themselves had declared to be necessary for the prevention of famine. They knew that not long ago no less than 2,000,000 of Indian people died from the most terrible of all deaths in Madras and Bombay; and what was the first news they heard when just able to lift their heads from the suffering which laid them low? That the salt duty had been increased to 40 per cent. They accepted that strain in calmness, in order to protect their country in future years from the terrible famines which came upon it; but did the people of this country think that the people of India would learn with calmness that it was intended to use that money to maintain our influence and greatness? The Government could not escape from the fact that the present Indian surplus had been obtained from the two taxes which he had described, and Lord Salisbury knew that taking this money meant taking it from the actually starving. In a speech on the subject of the Indian Famine, Lord Salisbury said—The recent mortality and distress were not due so much to a want of food or to a want of means of bringing that food to the people, but that distress and mortality were far more due to the people not having the means of buying food when it was brought within their reach.After such a statement as that, he proposed to take still more from these unfortunate people in order to enable himself to perorate in "another place" about our great Imperial policy, and the magnificent position occupied by England under the auspices of the present Government. The House should remember that the expenditure of £1,000,000; of Indian money was far more serious than the spending of £20,000,000 of English money. Though he was fully aware of the distressed condition of England at the present, he considered that that was the relative position. No doubt, additional taxation in England meant a diminution in the comforts of the people, and would be a serious burden upon many; but such taxation as he had indicated in India was altogether of a worse character. The financial condition of India had been so desperate that the Government did not know how to raise an additional £1,000,000. If they did, why were they so unjust as to impose such taxation as he had alluded to last year? 893 The only justification of the Government policy, then, was that the money must be forthcoming, and this was the only way in which it could be obtained. With regard to precedent, it was true that the former Afghan War was borne out of Indian Revenues; but two blacks did not make a white. The circumstances of that time were different from the se of the present. The former war was not professedly undertaken as an Imperial enterprize; and India had a protection at the time of the East India Company, which she did not possess now. An authority whom hon. Members opposite would respect, speaking of that war, said—"If it had been undertaken to check Russia or to assert the Imperial position of England in Europe, he should like to know how England could possibly refuse to pay the bill?" The speaker was no less a person than Lord Beaconsfield, the present Prime Minister. Another point which had been lost sight of was that, even if the Resolution of the Under Secretary of State were rejected, a great part of the charges connected with the war must necessarily fall on India and not on England. If the war expenses came to £5,000,000, it would represent only an addition of about £160,000 per annum to England; but the expense to India in any case should be carefully considered. Lord Lawrence, and his Council, in a memorable despatch, said the "forward policy" would paralyze the finances of India. That despatch was important, not only considering the high authority from which it proceeded, but because it was endorsed by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government of which he was a Member. Lord Sandhurst, distinguished alike as a financier and soldier, said the forward policy would cost India not less than from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000 a-year. On Tuesday last the Under Secretary of State for India told them that before the war had lasted one month, the Native Army of India had been increased by 15,000 men. That increase amounted to about 12 per cent; and there was not a military authority, in the House or out of it, who would not be prepared to say that a proportionate increase of European officers would also be necessary. That would involve at least £1,500,000 a-year. If India was to bear the burden how was the money to be provided? Would 894 they come forward with proposals to extend the income tax from incomes of 4s. a-week to incomes of 2s. a-week? Were they prepared to increase the salt tax from 40 per cent to 80 per cent? Increase of taxation in India was not to be regarded as a mere financial question; it was a political question of the greatest moment. Lord Mayo had said that an increase of taxation would produce discontent, which would create dangers the magnitude of which could not be exaggerated. Before the Committee last Session Lord Northbrook was asked a question with reference to this statement, and he said that, after careful inquiries, he had come to the conclusion that Lord Mayo was right. He (Mr. Fawcett) asked for justice, not for generosity, for India. It was a most serious thing for the House to throw on India the entire expense of this war—at any rate, until the Government were in a frame of mind to suggest some different proposal. It might appear hard to suggest that additional burdens should be thrown on England when trade was bad, employment scarce, and thousands could not find the means of maintenance. He believed the depression of trade would continue for some time longer. It was hopeless to look for a revival of industrial prosperity in the midst of wars and rumours of wars, and at a time when no one knew what new entanglement or fresh complication tomorrow might bring. He represented a district (Hackney) upon which additional taxation would fall as heavily, if not more heavily than upon others. No one could suppose that the inhabitants of the East End of London were anxious for additional burdens; but grievously as they would feel it, they would sooner bear it than be exposed to the reproach that they were relieved of the expense of maintaining England's influence and character by the starving millions of India. The Government were certainly not pursuing a popular course; it was a course characterized by meanness and the absence of everything like generosity, and he believed it would be repudiated by every constituency in the Kingdom. India, it was said, should not be treated in that House from a Party point of view, and if he thought of it solely as a Party question he would not attempt to prevent the Government doing as they desired; but to maintain our position in 895 India we must, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, be just and strong, but strength without justice was nothing but despotism. His only desire was that this question should be considered as one of strict justice, not of generosity to India, and on 'principles laid down by that distinguished statesman, the Leader of the Constitutional—not the Imperial—Party, the late Lord Derby—namely, that, if an Imperial war, the charge ought to be borne by England; if solely, or chiefly, an Indian war, the charge ought to be borne by India. If the charge was to be apportioned between England and India, then why did not the Government come forward and let the House know what portion England and what portion India was to bear? If Her Majesty's Government would not produce such an estimate, they would set Parliamentary control at defiance. It was stated the other evening by the Secretary of State for India that it was not necessary to consult his Council on the subject; and if the House were to pass this Resolution it would virtually give the Secretary of State for India power to draw to an unlimited extent on the Revenues of India for the purpose of carrying on this war. This was a question which involved one of privilege, and if the Supporters of the Government asserted that it was never intended to allow India to bear the whole expense, he hoped some Member on the front Opposition Bench would rise and assert the Constitutional principle that a war could not be carried on without some Vote of Supply. As far as they were given to understand at present, if the cost of the war did not exceed £1,200,000, the whole of it would be borne by India. Peeling that the proposal of the Government would be looked on throughout India, as it would be in England, as one which could not be defended on any considerations of generosity or justice, he would ask the House to reject it. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
I rise to second the Amendment of my hon. Friend, not regarding it as a Party question, but still regarding it as of great importance with reference to Parliamentary and Constitutional interests. I likewise think it of serious moment as to the basis on which we are to deal with India. The Under Secretary of State for India 896 assumed in his speech that the Amendment was to exclude India from paying any part of the ordinary expenditure on the Military forces employed in the expedition against Afghanistan. That certainly is not my understanding of the Amendment, and my hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) has now altered the wording of it so as to make it more clear and explicit on that point. Therefore, it should be understood by the House that the Amendment intends to object to the charge to India, on this occasion, of war expenses connected with the expedition against Afghanistan. Now, Sir, with respect to the Motion itself, I do not think the Under Secretary of State satisfactorily explained to the House the great importance of the Vote we are called upon to give. He has laid before us an Estimate, which he says is a very inadequate one, and one which I will say is a very sanguine one. He says that it was up to the 1st of April; but the Vote he calls upon us to give is not limited to the 1st of April at all. The Motion thus modestly proposed by him is a Motion by which the House is invited to part with its entire control over the direction of the war, and whatever expense is incurred in connection with it. I do not know why that most important aspect of the question was never presented to us by the Under Secretary of State. On another subject I hold, that the statement of the hon. Gentleman; which had all the appearance of being clear, ought to be cleared up. It is as to the bearing of this expenditure upon the finances of India in their present condition. According to the figures given by the Under Secretary of State, I understand the state of the case to be this—He says he had a surplus of £2,000,000. Unhappily, owing to various circumstances, he now stands worse by £600,000 than he did at the time when he stated to the House that amount as the estimate of his surplus. So from £2,000,000 we have got to £1,400,000.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
My original estimated surplus was £2,156,000. I then said it was likely to be reduced by the reduction of the salt duty to 897 £2,000,000. Since then it has been reduced, by other circumstances, to £1,550,000.
Out of that sum, as explained by my hon. Friend, £1,500,000 is pledged to a Famine Insurance Fund. My hon. Friend has, indeed, said that only £700,000 remains due to the Famine Insurance Fund; if so, it must be because he has already spent £800,000 upon famine. If so, out of what fund is my hon. Friend to pay the £900,000 which, according to his very sanguine Estimate, is to be the charge for the war down to the end of the present financial year? On the one side my hon. Friend has got to his credit £1,550,000. On the other side he has applied £800,000, and is to apply £700,000 more to the Famine Insurance Fund.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I did not give the exact figures. So far as I was able to give the result, I said there remained due about £700,000 out of this Fund of £1,550,000.
I am aware my hon. Friend has said that £800,000 has been already spent, and that £700,000 will be expended. But if his surplus is £1,550,000, and he has already spent out of that £800,000—
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
It was spent on the Famine, before we had the surplus at all. In estimating the expenditure for the year 1878–9, I included £550,000 for the relief of Famine. It was only when the expenditure had been reckoned upon that we arrived at the surplus.
My hon. Friend states that £550,000 out of the £800,000 had been provided for. How does he make up his £1,000,000?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I am very reluctant to rise again, but the questions are put direct to me. I can hardly explain the matter fully in this way. The difference is only something like £200,000, and I believe I can give the right hon. Gentleman a satisfactory explanation.
I quite agree as to the inconvenience of trying to settle these matters by a discussion across the Table. Probably some Member of the Government will, as early as possible in the debate, give us the exact figures, so that the se who follow me may precisely understand the situation. 898 I will not detain the House with any further remarks upon this part of the case; but I must say some words on the subject of the Act of 1858, under which it appears that Her Majesty's Government consider they are performing a legal and Constitutional duty. I stated on a former occasion that, in my view of the case, the Government had already broken the Act of Parliament. That is my clear and deliberate opinion. In my view, it was the purpose of this clause to require the preliminary consent of Parliament to the issue of Indian money for the purpose of operations carried on by the Forces charged upon India beyond the Indian Frontier, except in certain special cases which were very carefully defined. It was, in fact to prevent the use of Indian money for military operations. I remember this, for I myself was the author of the clause; and the present Lord Derby, who was Secretary of State for India at the time, completely concurred with me as to its object. It is mistakenly supposed that an essential change was made in the operation of the clause by the House of Lords; but it was nothing of the kind. It was not so in my view, and it was not so in the view of Her Majesty's Government of that day, who communicated with me upon the alteration before it took place, and who obtained my consent. I strongly felt that to place the restraining power of Parliament on the question of finance was a far better mode of proceeding than to place it in the shape of an absolute veto upon the war, the ugh the Act of Mr. Pitt had already limited the Prerogative of the Crown by a stringent prohibition going far beyond anything I ever proposed. The real truth of the case is this—that that clause, as regards its main purpose, has been completely destroyed by the action of Her Majesty's Government. I am not finding fault with the Government, as distinguished from the majority of this House; but I do say that the construction of the Government, which has been supported by the majority of the House, is a destruction of the clause, so far as the main purpose of the clause is concerned, the se who refer to the debates will find that there were evidently two objects in contemplation—one to prevent, under the new system, any undue charge upon the Revenues of India; and the 899 object of the clause is not brought out into great prominence in the debate, because we certainly believed that we were reposing in the hands of the Indian Council far more effective checks upon Indian military expenditure than those checks have been allowed to become in practice. But the main object of the clause was to restrain the action of the Executive Government in using the Indian Revenues for military purposes. I will read a few words from a speech by the late Lord Derby in the House of Lords. He said—The same constitutional check, therefore, was imposed on the Crown with regard to troops serving in India which was imposed with respect to troops serving in every other part of the globe. If the clause were not agreed to, it would be perfectly competent for any unconstitutional Sovereign "—or unconstitutional Minister—"to employ the whole of the Revenues and troops of India for any purpose which the Crown might direct, without the necessity of going to Parliament for the advance of a single shilling."—[3 Hansard, cli. 169–.]Clearly what Lord Derby contemplated was a preliminary consent. What is any consent but a preliminary consent? It is stated that—The Revenues of India shall not, in the case of the war now pending, he applicable to defray the expenses of military operations in Afghanistan.But they have been applied, and their application has been in course of operation ever since this military expedition was ordered. What is the answer? "Oh! this is a temporary operation, and does not require, therefore, that they shall be permanently charged to the Indian Revenues." But the Act of Parliament says nothing about "temporary operations." It says "shall not be used to defray." What is the usual meaning of the term "defray?" I will refer the House to that question, which any modern political dictionary will enable us to answer. It can only mean one of two things—either as to the issue of the money from the Exchequer, or to its ultimate allocation by authority on the final account, and in this Act there is not the least doubt that it refers to advancing the money. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State states that the Revenues have not been applied to defray these charges. I see the hon. Gentleman shakes his head; but I should like to know have Indian monies been applied or not? In this 900 case I think I am entitled to an answer to that question. The Act of Parliament says they shall not be applicable; and Her Majesty's Government and their Friends have their own construction of the Act of Parliament. I want to know whether they have been applied or not. It is a singular thing that on the most elementary points of knowledge it is sometimes very difficult to extract information. In my opinion, the issue of the money is the only rational construction of the word "defray." Therefore, I have not the smallest doubt that the Act of Parliament has been broken by the application which has taken place, to a large extent, without the consent of either House of Parliament. Let us observe the practical effect of this. It destroys ft by far the more important of the two I modes in which Parliament can act against a war of which it does not approve. The object of the clause, according to my view, was to enable Parliament to prevent such a war. And prevention is the mode by which Parliament ought to operate in any war of which it disapproves. I do not recollect any war in which this country was engaged for many years without the consent of Parliament. I do not remember any case in which the Government has gone forward to so great an extent without being well assured of the consent of the nation and the sanction of the people. I know we are in a condition where it does not matter to the Government one rush whether we approve or not. If instead of a minority we were a majority, if instead of 227 we were 328, we should have no power to resist, because it would not be in our hands, except by the exercise of that which, happily, is not yet taken from the House of Commons—what may be done I cannot say — namely, a Vote of Censure of Her Majesty's Government. I frankly admit that their conduct in bringing the Indian troops to Malta has been completely covered by the votes of the majority of this House; but we are left in this predicaments— when war has been declared we know we cannot stop the Supplies or order the stoppage of the war, so we are reduced to the unsatisfactory alternative of censuring the Government who made the war. It is not desirable that we should sit here passing Votes of Cen- 901 sure on the Gentlemen who form the Executive Government. What we want is the power to stop mischievous wars; and I maintain that the power which Parliament gave us by the Act of Parliament for this purpose has been taken away by the action of Her Majesty's Ministers, and the sanction given to that action by the present Parliament. The object I intend to state is plain and palpable. The Government is entrusted with the disposal of the Home Army, but in that disposal it is restrained by the Votes for the Army in this House and the passing of the Mutiny Act; but over and above this restraint a wise Government, and Tory Governments in the days when they were wise—or at least when they were wiser—thought fit to secure the concurrence of Parliament, as Mr. Canning did in the case of sending his troops to Lisbon in 1826. Such, then, is the predicament, that while as regards the Home Army the statutory and customary regulations which have been laid down, and which have been found to work well, in India you have an independent and extraneous Army, over which, there is no statutory limitations whatever, except those which are imposed by the Indian Government Act. The 55th clause has now been rendered utterly null and worthless, so far as regards its main object, with reference to restraining the Prerogative of the Crown. When this question was under discussion in the House of Lords, in 1858, Lord Ellen borough pointed out that, under the old system, it was within the power of the East India Directors to plant their foot and to say—"We will not give you money for making such and such a war;" but, according to the practice which now prevails, that restraint, which was formerly embodied in the Charter of the Company, has now been removed. The powers of the Council for restraining military expenditure are utterly null and futile, and the power reserved to Parliament resolves itself into this—that after the thing has been done and the charge incurred, the Government come down and ask for sanction to an expenditure which it is a great deal too late to recall. But, although the main purpose of the law has thus been frustrated, and although the Government have now at their disposal anywhere, except in the United Kingdom—and God forbid that wars 902 should be carried on in the United Kingdom, they have not been carried on for many centuries — according to their doctrines, the doctrine of this Parliament, and the doctrine of the Law Officers opposite, 180,000 men and a Revenue of between £50,000,000 and £60,000,000, totally free from antecedent Parliamentary control, and liable to be employed for purposes of which Parliament has no knowledge whatever, yet there remains this—that, when in the good and gracious pleasure of the Government they determine it is right to submit to us a Motion, under the 54th clause of the Act, we have something to consider of the case as it stands between England and India. And what is the case as it has been put by the hon. Gentleman. He says — "I am not at all asking you to give a final pledge as to the imposition of this charge. Anybody may, in perfect consistency with the Motion which I now ask you to adopt, come forward and propose that the charge shall not be borne by India, but shall be met, if the House is willing, out of British Revenues." He seemed to imply that it was open to the Government to make some proposal of that kind. Well, I think we are entitled to know whether, so far as the Government are concerned, this is a definitive proposal to lay the expenses of the war upon India; or whether it is a proposal to hold over the whole question until they may find it more convenient to make some final proposal on the subject? I say it ought not to be held over; there is no reason for holding it over. We ought to decide, and decide now, whether India or England is to bear this charge. But how does the doctrine of the Secretary of State suit the terms of the Act of Parliament? What is the meaning of the word "defray" in his Resolution? We consent to defray the charges of this military expedition. I presume that they have not been defrayed as yet. The whole doctrine of the Government has been in contrariety to the intention of the law that the word "defray" does not mean the first expenditure, but that it does mean the ultimate imposition of the charges. Then what does the Resolution mean? The hon. Gentleman says it does not mean the final imposition of the charge. Well, if I understand it correctly, it means nothing at all; be- 903 cause, according to him, it does not give a final consent to spending the money, and it does not give the prior sanction to advancing the money, because that has been done already. Now, I admit the force of what fell from, the Under Secretary of State in regard to the very serious and grave nature of the question as to the payment of Indian wars out of Indian, or other than Indian, Revenues. We have hitherto had a tolerable understanding on the subject. Up to the time of the Indian Government Act the East India Company were the official and proper defenders—and they were not very ineffective defenders— of Indian interests in such matters. Since the Indian Government Act I do not know that there has been any case which the Members of the House would look back upon as a case involving matter of scandal or gross disagreement. In the matter of the Abyssinian War, what was done was done with the full consent of Parliament. I am not willing to lay down any new doctrine whatever with regard to the payment of Indian or Eastern wars out of Indian or British money. I look at this case simply and solely by itself, as it stands upon its own grounds, and to draw from it no authority or to establish by it any precedent, excepting a precedent applicable to an instance which might in every substantial and important particular correspond. The Under Secretary of State says—"India has a great interest in this war." India, indeed, has a very great interest in it, just as a man has a great interest in the gambling table, in which he ruins himself. India has a ruinously heavy interest, I am afraid, in this war. The Under Secretary of State considers that this war is beneficial to India. In that case I cannot be surprised that he should say India ought to pay for it; but he ought to say so plainly, and not come down to the House on the part of the Government, when hostilities have advanced to a certain point, and ask you to come to a certain Resolution which will satisfy the law, but leaving it an open question as to who is really to pay for the war. That is not the course—that is not the language—of a man who has a firm conviction on any part of the question. If he really believes that the Russian Mission was received by the Ameer under circumstances which gave it a 904 hostile character, and that Shere Ali rejected the British Mission with insult, he ought not now to be shirking the financial question and difficulty of the day; he ought not to leave it to the future to be solved, but he ought to be facing it like a man, and telling us how the expenses of the war are really to be met. My opinion is a very simple one. I consider that this war is an unjust, a guilty, an unreasonable, and an impolitic war—one of mischief to the fame of England—one of mischief to the future of India. God grant that its scope may be limited, and its issues speedy! so that the range within which these condemnatory epithets are applicable may be as narrow as possible; but, with that view of the war, I find myself thus circumstanced—the Indian people have had nothing to do with this war; they are wholly guiltless; they wash their hands in innocence, so far as this war is concerned. They have no Representative here, or elsewhere. The very powers which the law once gave to defend them, when the East India Company existed, have either been taken away by Parliament, or nullified by the action of the Government and the vote of the House of Commons. Under these circumstances, seeing a war before me to which I am compelled reluctantly to attach such a character as that, I ask myself, can I bring myself to vote that the expenses of this struggle, which is wholly our act, shall be placed upon India? I say, "No;" and I will go freely into any assembly of Englishmen and tell them I say "No," and appeal to them whether they will not say "No" also. Nay, I am persuaded—such is my opinion of their generosity—that when they thoroughly understand the facts of the case, they will say distinctly that those who make the war should pay for the war. Those who make war for purposes, whether they be or be not Indian purposes, are the right persons upon whom should rest finally the charges. I am not surprised that there is a difference of opinion upon this subject. It is a very puzzling one. Sir, I have heard of some who are disposed to say—"We have made our protest against the war, and, having done so, we will not now proceed to place the burden of it upon the people of England." Yes; but we, the minority, unfortunately do not for the time — al- 905 though some day, perhaps, we hope we shall—represent the people of England. The people of England have chosen a certain majority. They have chosen to constitute a certain Government, which has chosen to make a certain war entailing certain charges; but with the making of that majority and the making of that war the people of India had nothing whatever to do. It is the people of England who have had all the glory and all the advantage which have resulted from the destruction of the late Government and the accession to Office of the present Administration, and it is they who must take the pros and the cons, and who must be content, after having reaped benefits so immeasurable, to encounter the disadvantage of meeting charges which undoubtedly the existing Administration will leave behind it as a legacy to posterity.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House is of opinion that it would be unjust that the Revenues of India should he applied to defray the extraordinary expenses of the Military operations now being carried on against the Ameer of Afghanistan,"—(Mr. Fawcett,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir JOHN HOLKER)
said, that although the right hon. Gentleman had used extremely strong language with reference to the war in which we were engaged with Afghanistan, denouncing it as unjust and impolitic, a large majority of the House had declared it to be their opinion that it was a war both necessary and just, and which, if waged successfully, would result in very great advantage to India. That majority might, of course, be entirely in error, and that was the view of the right hon. Gentleman, who, no doubt, thought that if he had an opportunity of appealing from them to the constituencies he would be able to convince the country that they were wrong. But he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he had already brought to bear on the subject all his great knowledge and ripe experience, and all the powers of his impassioned eloquence; that be had been 906 supported by the forcible arguments of other hon. Members; and yet that the war had been pronounced by the House, as he had already stated, to be just and necessary. If that were so, he, for one, could not see how it could be considered unfair that India, which would be greatly benefited by the war, should be called upon to pay some portion of the cost of its prosecution. He had not, however, risen to discuss that point at all, because it hardly came within his sphere; and there were in the House hon. Members who were far more competent to pronounce an opinion whether it was right and proper that India should bear a part of the expenses of prosecuting the war or not. He rose chiefly for the purpose of combating the views which had been put forward by the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the construction of the Act of Parliament with which the House had now to deal. He at once admitted that there were difficulties in the construction of this Act, whichever way they looked at it, and that it was not easy to arrive at what the intention of the Legislature was in framing it; but this was true of many other Acts passed by both Conservative and Liberal Governments. However, he understood the contention of the right hon. Gentleman to be, that before the Revenues of India could be made applicable to defraying the cost of the war, the consent of the two Houses of Parliament should be obtained before the war began. [Mr. GLADSTONE assented.] He was glad to have stated the contention of the right hon. Gentleman correctly. Now, that was a contention which turned on the construction of the 54th and 55th sections of the Act, in the first of which it was set forth that when an order was sent to India directing the actual commencement of hostilities, the fact of such an order having been sent should be communicated to both Houses of Parliament within three months after the sending of the order if Parliament happened to be sitting, and, if not, within one month after it next met. Then came the second section, where it was stated that, except to prevent actual invasion, or to meet some other sudden and urgent emergency, the Revenues of India should not be made applicable to meet the expenses of a war unless with the approval of both Houses of Parliament. Taking those two sections together, it 907 was impossible to say that they meant what the right hon. Gentleman had laid down. The Act contemplated the commencement of a war before Parliament could be, or need be, acquainted with the fact, and, no war could be carried on without expenses being incurred day by day. Then if a war might be commenced before the fact was communicated to Parliament, expenses must have been going on from time to time up to the date when such a communication was made; and one would think that it would be almost necessary that some part of the cost of that war would have to be defrayed. If that were so, how would it be possible, he would ask, to obtain the consent of Parliament to that expenditure before the war commenced? A war might be begun when Parliament was not sitting and might be carried on for a considerable time before Parliament met; and yet it was contended that a single shilling of the cost could not be charged on the Revenues of India unless the prior sanction of the Legislature had been obtained. That appeared to him to be a completely erroneous view of the question. In his opinion, section 55 of the Act was quite as applicable to the case of ratification by both Houses of Parliament as to that in which the previous sanction of both Houses had been obtained. As the right hon. Gentleman was aware, there was a maxim in law, as well as in politics, to the effect that ratification dated back, and was equivalent to prior consent and direction. As in the present instance, if both Houses chose to consent by Resolution to a war being carried on that amounted to ratification, went back to the commencement of the war, and was equivalent to a prior direction by both Houses. He saw the difficulty presented by the right hon. Gentleman. Supposing a war had been waged some time and the Revenues of India had been applied to pay the expenses, and that when the Government appealed to Parliament both Houses refused to sanction such application, those who so applied them might, he admitted, find themselves involved in a difficulty. There was no doubt of that difficulty, which arose out of the construction of the Act of Parliament; but there was, on the other hand, a much greater difficulty if the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman were correct, and that 908 was that if the necessity for war existed great disadvantage might result from not commencing it at once. The expediency of beginning it before Parliament could be consulted was, therefore, contemplated by the Legislature; and if it was to be so begun, the Government must depend upon the ratification of their act when Parliament assembled. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich disputed the construction put upon the Act by the Government and the Law Officers of the Crown; but he did not know that the Law Officers of the Crown had had much to say with respect to it. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken as if the Law Officers of the Crown had delivered themselves upon this subject on previous occasions. For his own part, he did not say that they had; but even if they had, it did not follow that any opinion they might have expressed was the right one. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government might avoid calling Parliament together. But they could not avoid coming to Parliament unless they wanted to be turned out for something which was contrary to law and the Constitution; because they were obliged within three months of the commencement of hostilities, if Parliament was sitting, or, if not, within a month after Parliament was summoned, to come down and explain the whole business to Parliament, and get the consent of both Houses to their proceedings. For these reasons, although admitting that the right hon. Gentleman had with great ingenuity raised difficulties, and shown that there might be some inconvenience, yet he contended, with as much confidence as it was in his nature to possess, that the view of the right hon. Gentleman was not the correct one; but that the true construction of the two Acts of Parliament taken together was this— that the two Houses of Parliament might, by consent given after war had been commenced, ratify that which had been done, and that such ratification was equivalent to prior sanction.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, it seemed to him that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich would lead to the conclusion that the Prerogative of the Crown in declaring war must be either taken away altogether or practically annulled 909 by making Parliament participate in it. The right hon. Gentleman had said that when war was declared without the knowledge of Parliament the only-remedy was a Vote of Censure upon Ministers, and that this was utterly unsatisfactory. But this was the Constitution of the country. A Vote of Censure would be followed by removal from Office or impeachment. If those checks were not sufficient, a previous restraint would have to be put upon the Prerogative of the Crown. Parliament was not always sitting, and it might be of the utmost importance to declare war before it was possible to summon it; and, therefore, the Prerogative of declaring war had been vested in the Crown and its Advisers, subject to the ex post facto control of Parliament. This was a fundamental principle of the Constitution. Was the right hon. Gentleman prepared to bring in a Bill to deprive the Crown of the power of declaring war without the consent of Parliament? And, if so, what did he mean by Parliament? Was it both Houses, or one only? He ventured to say that the right hon. Gentleman would not dare to face such an undertaking, which would effect a fundamental change in the Constitution of the country. This, however, would be the logical conclusion to which his argument would lead. The right hon. Gentleman had dwelt upon the 55th clause of the Act of Parliament; but that clause supported the Constitutional view. It put a restriction upon the use of the Indian Revenue, and not upon the use of the Indian troops; and even with respect to the application of the Revenue, it did not insist upon a previous consent of Parliament. The consent of Parliament might be given afterwards, in which case it had a retrospective effect, and was equivalent to a previous consent. Rati habitio retro trahitur et mandato equi-paratur. It was not a new thing, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose, for Indian Revenue to be so applied without the previous consent of Parliament. When the Indian troops were brought to Malta the expense was, in the first instance, borne by the Indian Revenue, although it was afterwards recouped by England. The right hon. Gentleman had said a great deal upon the meaning of the word "defray;" but it seemed to him that he had been in error. The 910 word "defray" was not an advance or loan, but a final payment. It could not be said, for instance, that the expense of bringing the Indian troops to Malta was defrayed by the Indian Revenue, because it had been recouped by England. A portion of the money in the present war with Afghanistan had been paid out of the Indian Revenue without the knowledge of Parliament; but Parliament, he had no doubt, would consent to that which had been done, and this consent would be equivalent to an original authorization. But the expense had not been defrayed by India until it had been decided that the payment was a final one. It had been maintained by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) that the present war was an Imperial and not an Indian war, and therefore that it ought to be paid for by England. There was a certain amount of speciousness in that argument; but the hon. Gentleman had not laid down any distinct principle to guide them upon this matter. Doubtless this war had its Imperial aspect as undertaken for the preservation of the integrity of the Empire; but it was mainly an Indian war, and, as such, India ought to pay for it. Had this country been in a high state of prosperity, and a handsome surplus was to be expected at the end of the financial year, he should have had no objection, as a mere matter of generosity, to our having taken upon ourselves a considerable portion of the expenditure incurred for the purposes of the war. But, as matters stood, trade being in a very depressed state, and a deficit, instead of a surplus, looming in the future, we should not be justified in taking any additional burdens gratuitously upon ourselves. He considered there had been a want of reality in the debates that had taken place with reference to the war. The war was to be dealt with as a fact; but the causes were matters of history and political speculation. The true reason why the Opposition had refrained from moving an Amendment to the Address was because they felt that certain defeat must result from adopting such a course. The effect of the Amendment, if carried, must have caused our withdrawal from the war, which would have been a great discouragement to our Army, and have 911 been positively disastrous to our rule in India. The hon. Baronet was proceeding to discuss the Law of Nations with regard to war, when——
§ MR. T. CAVE
rose to Order, and asked whether the remarks of the hon. Baronet were applicable, as the question under discussion was who was to pay for the war, not whether it was justifiable or not. That question was discussed last week.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had gone at some length into the matter, and he was simply answering the right hon. Gentleman. He (Sir George Bowyer) argued that the right to send a friendly Embassy to discuss matters with a foreign State was an indefeasible right, resting not merely on authority, but on the interests of mankind and the interests of peace. The refusal of that right to us by the Ameer, while conceding it to a rival Power, clearly gave us a cause of war against him. He also contended that the allegation, that due time had not been allowed the Ameer to give proper orders for the reception of our Mission, was refuted by the evidence contained in the official Correspondence, as was also the charge that the Government had excited the hostility of Shere Ali by changing their policy. The policy of the Indian Government had not been changed, although there had been a change in the application of that policy, which was required by a material alteration in circumstances. The advance of Russia in Central Asia and her position in regard to Afghanistan had become so menacing as to justify Lord Salisbury in desiring to place British Agents not at Cabul, but in certain other parts of the Ameer's territory; and if those Agents had been received, they would not have interfered with the authority or the independence of the Ameer, but might have cleared up those difficulties between him and our Government which might, from time to time, have arisen. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) was very unfair the other night in his accusation against Lord Salisbury.
§ MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Baronet that in referring to what had taken place in a debate during the present Session of Parliament he was quite out of Order.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he would bow to the Speaker's authority. It had been stated somewhere that Lord Salisbury had made use of the words "create an opportunity." What Lord Salisbury plainly meant was that, as a misunderstanding existed, an opportunity should be found or made for explaining matters and clearing away misconceptions. That was perfectly fair and honourable, and what anyone would do in private life, without being reproached with acting in a tortuous or improper manner. All who knew Lord Salisbury must be well aware that he could never have intended anything unfair, or anything that was not English and straightforward. He had no doubt the campaign would end successfully; and the question—a very difficult one— would arise, what were they to do then? It would require wisdom and statesmanship to solve that question; but he confidently hoped that the Government would reject all idea of annexation. To maintain an army in Afghanistan to keep in order its very unruly and warlike population, would cost us in men and money more than that country was worth. To make war for the sake of getting possession of part of a neighbour's territory would be unjust; but, being now at war—justly as he thought— we had a right to exact such conditions as would secure our Frontier and prevent the recurrence of danger in future. We might seek, he would not say the rectification, but the improvement of our Frontier. He deprecated a Frontier that would require an army of 100,000 men to guard it. What we wanted was possession of certain strategical points which, while encroaching very slightly on the Ameer's territory, would enable us with an army of 5,000 men to defend our Frontier He trusted the Government would confine themselves to that, and would have every consideration for the Ameer, who had not shown himself to be a bad man in any way, and who had been placed in a difficult position between two great Powers. If they took that course, the end of that campaign would be "peace with honour."
§ MR. LAING
said, that having been in India, and seen something of the real conditions of that mighty Empire, it was with sadness that he found two-thirds of the time in this discussion of a great 913 question of policy taken up with dissertations on passages of Grotius and clauses of Acts of Parliament. He would endeavour to break new ground by calling attention to the political aspect of the financial question. As to this, he should like to quote some few opinions of eminent men on the subject. For instance, Lord Mayo said—The increased taxation which has been going on in India is producing a most serious amount of discontent, and this discontent, if continued, will be a danger, the magnitude of which can scarcely be exaggerated.That was not by any means a solitary instance. There was the opinion of Lord Canning, who said—Danger for danger, he would rather hold India with 40,000 men without an income tax than with 80,000 with one.Another authority on this subject was Lord Salisbury himself, who had, said—The difference between England and India in matters of finance is this—that in England you can raise a large increase of taxation without in the least degree endangering our institutions, whereas you cannot do so in India.Were these statements true or untrue? If they were not true, let them be denied; if true, how could responsible statesmen—statesmen responsible for the fate of that great Indian Empire— totally overlook this point? Taxes in this case were so mixed up with other considerations of policy that it was difficult to separate them, and especially in poor States the political aspect was dominated by financial considerations. It was the financial difficulty in Turkey which paved the way for the other complications which followed. These were not mere theoretical considerations, for everybody who knew anything of India acknowledged that Native opinion in India, such as it was, had been more frequently and more warmly excited about finance than it had upon any other set of questions whatever. When in India, 17 years ago, he found the country in a ferment upon the subject of the income tax, and at the present time the country was wonderfully sensitive upon this question of finance. Only the other day when the licence tax was imposed, meetings were held in Bombay and Calcutta and strong feelings were expressed against that impolitic tax upon Native incomes. Only that day 914 they had found that upon receipt of the intelligence of this Motion a Petition had been forwarded to the Government by the British Association, which represented the public opinion of Bombay, protesting that it was unjust that the cost of the war should be borne by India. The only species of taxation which had not excited public opinion in India was the salt tax; and the explanation of that was that it only pressed upon the poor, who were too feeble to make their cry heard. But when the Government talked about their surplus, they must remember that it was obtained by the imposition of an additional 40 per cent on the salt tax upon a set of poor wretches, in order to save their finance from absolute bankruptcy. It was necessary to look at Indian finance broadly; and looked at in that light, its present condition would be found to be one of extreme tension. The history of Expenditure in India since the time of the Mutiny showed that it gradually got ahead of Revenue until Lord Mayo went out, and he, by great effort, managed to restore something like a balance. Two great calamities, however, occurred—one was the recurrence of famines, and the other the depreciation of silver. The first caused an annual expenditure of £1,500,000, and the second a loss of £3,000,000, making thus £4,500,000 a-year to be provided for in a state of finance in which it was already difficult to adjust the balance. To show the extreme distress, he referred to the licence tax, and asked if any Government would have imposed a tax upon incomes of only 4s. a-week unless they had been in the greatest straits to find money? Did they suppose that, unless that was the case, statesmen of ordinary ability and of ordinary humanity would have done that? He wondered how Conservative Lancashire would like that state of things. The fact was the limit of taxation in India had been reached, and its revenue was singularly inelastic. As an illustration of how the taxation had been served up, he pointed to the fact that on the items of land, opium, salt, Customs, and direct taxation there was an increase from £24,000,000 sterling 20 years ago to £36,000,000 in the present. The land tax could not well be increased. As regards opium, that depended upon China; and as to the Customs, Manchester 915 would not permit an addition; and he believed, if an addition were proposed, there would be such an outcry in this country that the Secretary of State would at once telegraph to the Viceroy to stop such a proposal being put into operation. When they came to direct taxation, no one without a knowledge of the country could imagine the jealousy and fright caused by a suggestion of inquiring into their private affairs. He remembered the case of a man who hanged himself from sheer fright on the receipt of an income tax assessment notice. The income tax was not only unpopular in India, but it would never produce more than £1,000,000. This all pointed to the necessity of economy; and he agreed with Lord Canning that it was better to decrease the army and be without an income tax than to increase the army and have an income tax. Economy meant military reduction; and, in his time, out of a saving of £5,000,000, £4,000,000 were effected by military reduction. Out of the £40,000,000 of regular Indian expenditure, £20,000,000 was a fixed charge, which could not be touched; and for the remaining £20,000,000, £15,000,000 or £16,000,000 consisted of the cost of the military. If they wanted to govern India satisfactorily to the people of India, and to escape the great and increasing political discontent which advanced in proportion with the spread of education, the advance of commerce, and extension of railways, that could only be done by following the course of Lord Canning in reducing taxation. It ought to be borne in mind that what was known in, and might perhaps suit, this country as an "Imperial policy" was altogether unsuited to the circumstances of India—he meant a policy of a showy, restless, sensational character. He believed that if India had been ruled by statesmen who knew India from having lived there, and whose only thoughts were for the good of the country, considered by itself, the present unsatisfactory state of things would never have sprung into existence. He was quite sure the licence tax would never have been necessary, and the salt tax might have been levelled down instead of levelled up. The expenditure on the Indian Army had increased by £2,000,000 since the time of Lord Canning, although the Army was 15,000 men less now than at that date. The re- 916 moval of the troops to Malta—although the mere expense of their removal had been paid by this country—had necessitated a large Reserve. With respect to the present Afghan War, to what was it due? Would it have been likely to occur if the policy of masterly inactivity had been continued? He thought not. Lord Salisbury, however, reversed that old policy; but, for his part, he preferred a policy of masterly inactivity to a fidgetty, restless policy. They remembered the line of the poet—Then shrieked the timid and stood still the brave;and he could not but think that the brave man in India who at the recent crisis would have stood still would have avoided taking measures to ward off a possible contingency to arise 15 or 20 years hence. He would not, after the lengthened debates that had taken place, go into the question as to the policy of the war. Her Majesty's Government told them that the war would cost this financial year about £1,200,000. Well, he had seen Estimates of two China Wars, and the Estimate for an Abyssinian War, and in every case the reality exceeded the original Estimate—not only twice, but four, five, and even six times. It was his opinion that the present war would show a like increase over the Estimate. The first step in the war now commencing involved an increase of the Native Army by 15,000 men, costing £270,000 a-year. That was a serious matter for a country suffering from financial distress; but it was a mere tithe of what would follow. He assumed that they did not intend to depart from the salutary rule which had been laid down by successive Viceroys, that for every two Natives added to the Indian Army they should add one European—or 60,000 Europeans as against 120,000 Natives; or, as at present, 7,500 Europeans to 15,000 Natives—to preserve the normal proportion. It was not, therefore, a question of £270,000 a-year; but it would involve one of £1,000,000 or £1,500,000 a-year. The policy of increasing the Native Army was a subject of great delicacy, which he would not dwell upon at length; but he could not help saying that the increase of the number of Native Troops, and the inspiring of them with a love of campaigning and military adventure, was, in 917 his mind, the most dangerous policy they could pursue, having regard to the future interests of India. The Indian Army was just now, beyond all doubt, thoroughly well affected, and a large proportion of them were zealous in the matter of this war, for the Afghans were their ancient foes. But our difficulty in respect of the Native Army arose, not in time of war, but in time of peace. How was it, he asked, that they would not trust the Native Army with artillery? Everybody knew that we kept 60,000 European troops in India to guard against possible risks arising from the Native Army. By the policy now adopted, the Government were not only encountering the enormous dangers of political discontent arising from financial depression, but were also making more dangerous in the future that Native Army which had already shaken the Indian Empire to its foundations. What was the prospective result of the policy of the Government on the financial condition of England? He hoped sincerely that our troops would be speedily victorious, and that the war would soon terminate—as it only could—in the present Ameer, or some one placed in his stead, suing for peace. And on what conditions would peace be established? He supposed that the first condition would be the sending of an English Resident to Cabul, to be supported by an armed force. Seventeen years ago Lord Canning carefully considered the advisability of such a course, and had decided against it, on the ground that it would inevitably lead us into further interference with Afghan complications; and such action, if taken now, would practically mean an assumption of a Protectorate of Afghanistan. Then there would be a rectification of Frontiers; and so they would go on step by step, until they arrived at something very like an annexation of the country. Now, the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire (General Sir George Balfour), who was a great authority on these matters, told them it would take 15,000 European and 35,000 Native troops to keep the country in time of peace, to say nothing of what they would have to do in the event of war with Russia, or, still worse, in the event of internal insurrections. But what did this mean? It meant bankruptcy for India? Was Afghanistan worth pur- 918 chasing at that price? Was it worth while to go to so great an expense for the purpose of obtaining mere prospective contingencies? He was perfectly certain that if this question were to be decided in India by Indian statesmen, acquainted with the Indian public opinion, it would have been decided differently, and that this action had been forced upon India by Lord Salisbury. The noble Lord sent out Lord Lytton, an incompetent man, as diplomatist, who had had the worst possible training for such a post, to inaugurate his policy, and to do his bidding. He did not wish to deal with the political question; but, as a matter of fact, we were dealing with Russia in this war, and not with Afghanistan. There was, no doubt, a vast amount of dislike to Russia in this country; but it arose from other causes than the fear of a Russian invasion of India. Indeed, when we were on the point of going to war with Russia recently, Her Majesty's Government, so far from despatching troops to India to defend our present "unscientific" Frontier from invasion, actually brought troops from India to Malta. This dislike to Russia dated from the time when Russia was the advocate of absolutism and the soul of the Holy Alliance, opposing England everywhere as the champion of liberty and free thought, and checkmating her wherever she could. But in India the case was very different. He had the authority of the Prime Minister for saying that we might be very good friends with Russia there. The fear of Russia was not a plant of Indian growth. It had been planted and nurtured in England. The truth was, that we had been led into our present position with respect to Russia by the showy and sensational policy of Lord Beaconsfield. As far as India was concerned, our policy was to cultivate a good understanding with Russia; and having thus made sure of our Frontier, to devote ourselves to Indian internal reforms. But a different policy had been chosen. The Government were working up the vast Native distrust of Russia; and if it occurred to any poet of the future to write an account of the present time, he might, in imitation of the Horatian line—Quidquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi"—wind up with the following:—"The Jingoes bluster and the ryots pay."
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, that at the commencement of the present year he had occasion to address his constituents at Cambridge, and he took the liberty of telling them that the recent victories of the Russians in Asia Minor and in Turkey, coupled with their advance in Central Asia, would at an early period load to trouble, and the result which he had pointed out had taken place in Afghanistan. But he did not know at that time that the Russian Governor of Turkestan had engaged in vile and atrocious intrigues with Shere Ali, or that the latter had been estranged altogether from his English connection. The present position of affairs, therefore, if somewhat prematurely brought about, did not surprise him. Both Houses of Parliament having approved the policy of Lord Lytton by overwhelming majorities, the question now before hon. Members was, who should pay the piper? The war had been undertaken to punish the treachery of an Asiatic Prince, with whom the Government of India had entered into a friendly Treaty and a distinct alliance; and so long as the war was local—that was to say, confined to Afghanistan—he held that India should pay the entire cost of it. The Indian Exchequer, in his opinion, was amply sufficient to provide the requisite funds for a purely Afghan War, provided only that Indian finances were managed with anything like propriety, and that economy was enforced in every department of the Indian Government. That had not hitherto been done; but he hoped that the result of the present war would render it necessary. The debates in that House during the past week were, in his opinion, singularly dull and uninteresting. They were replete with personal attacks, and everything was said except what affected the real question at issue. It was repeatedly asked why we were engaged at war? and he did not think the question had ever been distinctly answered. [Opposition cheers] He was prepared for those cheers; but he did not think hon. Gentlemen opposite would cheer him when he came to the end of his discourse. The causes of the war were not far to seek; and, as he was untrammelled by any official connection, he would tell them what they were. The war was not undertaken by Lord Lytton from any desire to acquire territory, or because Sir Neville Chamberlain was re- 920 fused admission to Cabul. It was undertaken—first, because in July last the Russian authorities in Turkestan sent a Mission to Cabul well knowing that it was the settled determination of England to let no Power obtain a footing in Afghanistan except herself; second, because the Russian authorities, in sending that Mission, broke a solemn and honourable engagement; and third, because Shere Ali received their Mission, which he knew would give mortal offence to England, with a salute of 115 guns. In thus receiving the Russian Mission Shere Ali, in his opinion, courted his own fate. The war at present was local, and he hoped it would remain so; but if Russia interfered by sending men, arms, or ammunition to the Ameer, he trusted that England would come forward in her might to protect her Indian Dominions, and bring the Czar to a proper sense of his situation. The war had been described by hon. Gentlemen opposite as unjust and immoral because, it was said, Afghanistan was an independent State, and the Ameer was an independent Ruler who could choose his own society, who might hob-nob with a Tartar and insult a British officer. He denied entirely that Afghanistan could be called an independent State, in the true sense of that word. Afghanistan was a poor, impotent, weak, and sterile country; it was incapable of defending itself against foreign aggression by a strong Power; for many years the Ameer had admitted that he could hardly defend himself against domestic foes; and for many years, on account of his helplessness, he had been receiving subsidies of men, guns, and ammunition from the protecting State, for Afghanistan had been protected by the Indian Government. More than this, the Ameer had been importuning the Viceroys in India to protect his personal rule in Afghanistan against his own subjects; he had been demanding that our Viceroys should give him a guarantee that any son, heir, or member of his family he might designate should be acknowledged as his successor. For many years he had been importuning our Viceroys to ratify a Treaty, offensive and defensive, which should protect Afghanistan from invasion, and he had particularly pointed out that it was from Russia he expected to be invaded. Of late years every Viceroy had humoured this savage; 921 Lords Mayo, Northbrook, and Lytton had been ready to enter into engagements of that sort, provided only he would permit the Government -which was thus to protect him to have officers stationed on the Frontiers of Afghanistan to see that he did not embroil himself and us in quarrels with other Powers. These demands were rational, modest, just; but the Ameer would not hear of such terms, and would give us no security at all. Neither Lord North-brook nor Lord Lytton would concede his demands, and there was no change of policy at all, except that Lord Lytton went further than Lord Northbrook in humouring the Ameer, who every day became more insolent and morose. The only excuse for him could be that he was mad, and was not capable of ruling at all. At last he threw over the allegiance of Great Britain and allied himself with the Russians; and, of course, he must be brought to reason and submission. This would probably be done without any very great expense; it was likely that we should soon hear of the termination of the war, which he trusted would be short, sharp, and decisive, restoring peace to Central Asia and our Indian Dominions. It had been said that Shere Ali was the victim of a bastard Imperialism—a charge that was utterly absurd and perfectly ridiculous. Contrast the moderate treatment Shere Ali had received from the present Government with the insolent manner in which his father, Dost Mahomed, was treated, not many years ago, by a Liberal Government! Men spoke of a return to our traditional policy towards Afghanistan, as if this were our first expedition into that country, forgetting that our first entanglement occurred in 1838, when Lord Palmerston was the Foreign Secretary, and Sir John Cam Hobhouse, a noted Radical, watched over the interests of India as President of the Board of Control. At that time the nearest Russian station to Afghanistan was 3,000 miles distant, and our own territories were separated from it by a distance of 500 miles at least, and one would have thought there was very little danger in that direction; but the Liberal Government had authentic proofs in their possession that intrigue was rife in Cabul for the overthrow of British interests in India. Lord Palmerston thought that the intrigues 922 carried on by Russian and Persian Agents must be counteracted, and he instructed the Government of India accordingly. The first step taken by Lord Auckland was to send a Mission to Cabul, selecting as its head Sir Alexander Burnes, of the Bombay Army, a man of very great ability and of uncompromising political integrity—a man, in fact, who was a great deal too honest to be a successful diplomatist, for diplomacy was a very rascally trade. The Ameer, Dost Mahomed, had no objection to receive an Envoy from any country on the face of the earth. He had at his Court a Russian Agent, and he professed to receive Sir Alexander Burnes with great friendship and much favour; in fact, Sir Alexander Burnes and the Ameer became fast friends. In every despatch sent to Calcutta Sir Alexander Burnes spoke of the Ameer in the best terms, and represented him as anxious for an English alliance, and as having no faith in the Russians. All he wanted was money, guns, and ammunition; but Sir Alexander Burnes was not authorized to give him anything more than moral support, and moral support did not go a very long way in Afghanistan. The last thing that Sir Alexander Burnes hoped for was that Dost Mahomed should be driven from his Throne; but Lord Palmerston and Sir John Cam Hobhouse were persuaded that he was a tool in the hands of Russia, and Lord Palmerston accused Sir Alexander Burnes of being beguiled by an Afghan Prince. Orders were sent out to dethrone him, and Lord Auckland carried them out with reluctance. It was necessary, however, to have some puppet to succeed to the Throne, and we selected Shah Soojah, who had been driven from it for incapacity, and was a fugitive at Loodiana. Lord Auckland sent an army with Shah Soojah to place him upon the Throne, and he was also given a guide, philosopher, and friend in Sir William M'Naghten, Chief Secretary to Lord Auckland. Our army marched to Cabul with very little opposition. Dost Mahomed fled to the mountains, was hunted down, and taken prisoner, and sent to Bengal. If he was an independent Sovereign that was very remarkable treatment for a Liberal Government. This was Imperialism with a vengeance. It was insolent and violent; it was characterized by what people now called Jingoism, which was 923 attributed to the Conservative Party, Jingoism being, he believed, a cant word for ruffianism. This policy was not even successful. In the course of 18 months, when the British Army had been reduced in numbers, an insurrection broke out; the insurgents put Shah Soojah to death; Sir William M'Naghten was barbarously murdered; while our small Army, badly handled and treacherously led into mountain defiles, under promise of a safe conduct, miserably perished in the Jugallic Pass. Compare, therefore, the treatment which Dost Mahomed, the Ruler of Afghanistan, received from previous Governments—Liberal Governments—with the forbearance that was shown in the present day to Shere Ali. He left unnoticed the history of the second expedition to Cabul, undertaken by Lord Ellenborough to avenge the betrayal of the British Army, in 1842. He had introduced this matter mainly to show that these two campaigns, undertaken at the instance of a Liberal Administration, without the knowledge of Parliament, had cost, at least, £15,000,000, and that these charges were wholly borne by the Indian Government. No Liberal Member came forward then to ask that the cost should be charged to the English Exchequer, and yet that took place under the Liberal Government of Lord Melbourne. There was one other point on which he would say a few words. The arguments of hon. Members opposite, in discussing the conduct of the Government with regard to this war, had turned a good deal on alleged manipulation of official Papers. The right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had stated that the Papers produced had been manipulated in a manner and to an extent he had never known before. The right hon. Gentleman had, it appeared, a very convenient memory. He would, however, tell him of such a case. In the year 1861, when the right hon. Gentleman was Chancellor of the Exchequer, a Motion was brought forward about the trickery and falsification of official documents under Lord Palmerston at the Foreign Office. The Papers which were manipulated were the Afghanistan Papers. In 1840 the despatches of Sir Alexander Burnes were laid on the Table by the Foreign Office, in order to show that Sir Alexander Burnes had recommended the de- 924 thronement and deposition of Dost Mahomed, while he had always represented him in the best possible light. The fact was not discovered for 20 years afterwards, when the Papers were published as originally written. Then, in 1861, a Motion was made in the House of Commons by a Liberal Gentleman —Mr. Dunlop, Member for Greenock —inculpating the Government and denouncing the trickery. A Colleague of the right hon. Member for Greenwich— the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) — supported Mr. Dunlop, and showed that the Papers had been grossly falsified, and denounced the forgeries. A division was taken on the question, for the manipulation was not and could not be denied. He had voted for that Motion on the 19th of March, 1861; but he would undertake to say that the right hon. Member for Greenwich did not vote for it, although the Papers were strangely falsified. In conclusion, he begged to say he would support the Motion of the Under Secretary of State for India, that the whole expense of this war should be charged to British India.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, he had been struck with the change which had come over the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Last week when they were endeavouring to rouse the war feeling of the House, the war was one undertaken to maintain the prestige and integrity of the Empire. This week, when it had become a question of paying the bill, it was a war waged to punish an Asiatic Prince and to protect an Indian Frontier. Speaker after speaker last week had concluded his speech by appeals to the honour and patriotism of Englishmen. What had become of their honour and their patriotism to-night? It was very easy to be patriotic at other people's expense. He could not conceive anything more delightful than to cut open one's newspaper in the morning and to read of the brilliant achievements of our troops, and to feel all the time that come what might our own pockets were perfectly safe. It reminded him of that patriotic individual—Mr. Brown, who of his great bounty,Built a bridge at the cost of the county.Now a word about the Act of Parliament. He had no doubt that the letter 925 of the Act required that the Government should obtain the consent of Parliament before doing what they had done; for the consent of Parliament was made a condition precedent to the outlay which it was admitted had been made. If so, could they doubt that there had been a breach of the law? But if they turned from the letter to the spirit of the Act, was it not plainly the object of the section to preclude the possibility of applying Indian Revenues to Imperial objects? But the war had been described, over and over again, as an Imperial war, the outcome of events in Europe—a war, according to one hon. Member, as Russian as the Crimean War itself. It might be true that, thanks to a Revenue swollen by the most nefarious traffic which the world ever saw—the opium traffic—and thanks also to the stoppage of their public works and to their having trenched upon the Famine Fund, which they had pledged themselves to maintain, they had this year something which the Under Secretary of State called a surplus in India. But during 16 out of the last 20 years they had had not a surplus, but a deficit. And to whom did that surplus belong? Why, it belonged to the people of India. What did we do in this country when we had a surplus, or rather, what had we done when we had had one, for unfortunately surpluses with us had become matters of history? Why, we gave it back to the taxpayer in the shape of a remission of taxation. Were there no taxes to remit in India? Had hon. Members forgotten the salt tax, that dire impost on the first necessity of life, which, within the memory of men who were but lately living, had produced the most terrible revolution which the world ever saw? He had lately read an article in The Nineteenth Century, entitled the Bankruptcy of India, and if one-tenth of what the writer stated was true, the ryot of India was the most heavily-taxed person on God's earth. The writer said—The natives say, and have said for years, that, as a whole, life has become harder since the English took the country. They are right; it has become harder, and will become harder still if we proceed on our present lines. They say also that the taxation is already crushing. That is true too; and it has become yet more crushing in this present year. There is evidence enough already and to spare, while we are staggering on with our committees and commis- 926 sioners to a catastrophe which, unless facts and figures utterly lie, will be unequalled in the history of the world. When poverty-smitten cultivators in one part of India are taxed— permanently taxed—to support famine-stricken ryots in another, who in their turn are to be taxed again for the like service, the whole country being drained all the while by enormous military charges, home charges, interest, remittances, and loss by exchange, it needs no great economist, no far-seeing statesman, to predict that a crash is inevitable. The famines which have been devastating India are, in the main, financial famines. Men and women cannot get food, because they have not been able to save the money to buy it. Yet we are driven, so we say, to tax these people more.It was said that this was to be a cheap war; but no war could be called cheap until it was over. Let them look for a moment to the future. The Under Secretary of State for India had laid it down that without a "strong and friendly" Afghanistan, there could be no peace or prosperity or retrenchment for India. Did they make men friendly by burning down their villages and shooting their fellow tribesmen? Recollect that an Afghan never forgets. He was the most Oriental of Orientals, the most vindictive of men. They were sowing the seeds of a blood feud which might survive to remote posterity. Then did they think that the war would give them a "strong" Afghanistan? Why, one thing was quite certain—that the war would destroy even the semblance of Government which Shere Ali had established, and hand the country over to anarchy and rapine. What would they do then? Could they stop where they were? Would they burn their fingers with another Shah Soojah? Why, in mere self-defence, they would have, in some form or other, to occupy Afghanistan; for, if they did not do so, they might be sure that Russia would do it. But how was the cost of the occupation to be met? They did not suppose that Afghanistan, like Cyprus, would be "self-supporting." The brother of an hon. Friend of his who sat in the House—one of the few survivors of the Afghan War—had described the country to him as a limestone desert peopled —as far as a desert could be said to be peopled—by the greatest scoundrels on the earth. Now, scoundrels and deserts were not, as a general rule, self-supporting; and it was this prospective expenditure, calculated by Sir Erskine Perry, in his very able protest, at be- 927 tween £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 a-year, which, of course, would be thrown wholly on the Indian Revenues, which rendered it especially hard to charge the whole of the burden of this war—for that was the Motion before the House—upon that country. He was as much averse to increasing the burdens of the country as any man in that House. He had voted on every occasion since he had entered it in favour of reducing those burdens. He believed that one great cause of the depression, which had invaded every industry in the country, was the reckless additions which the present Government had made to the military expenditure of the country. But when it came to wringing their last anna from a population which only the other day were dying by millions for want of the price of a handful of rice, in order to pay for our wars, he felt inclined to exclaim with Marcus Brutus in the play—By Heaven! I would rather coin my heart, And drop my blood for drachmas, than to wringFrom the hard hands of peasants, their vile trashBy any indirection!Talk of a "shabby war!" What were they to say of the mode of paying for it? Let them not forget that the people of India were in an exceptional position. Alone among the dependencies of the British Crown they had not even the semblance of representative institutions. They had not even liberty of speech. We had gagged their Press. They were as dumb as the sheep before his shearer. To whom, then, were they to look for protection? Was it to Viceroys and Financial Secretaries and that knot of highly-paid European officials to whom increase of territory meant increase of patronage, increase of promotion, and increase of pay? No! it was to the British House of Commons, who were not only the Representatives of the free and generous British nation, but the duly appointed and accredited guardians of the people of India, that they alone could look for help; and it was under a deep and full sense of the responsibility thus imposed upon him that he, for one, would never consent to claim for the richest and strongest country in the world the glory and the gain of this war, and to leave 928 the burden and the cost to be borne by the poor starving ryots of the Deccan.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
thought the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) would have done better if he had not made out so extreme a case. When talking of the sufferings of the people of India from famine, he forgot to mention the liberality that had been shown by the people of this country to those famine-stricken people. The hon. Member looked upon this altogether as a question which ought not to affect the expenditure of India; but he and hon. Gentlemen on the other side had forgotten to tell the House what they would have done in the circumstances in which the Government were placed. Considering that Russia had an Envoy at Cabul—that Envoy being an European —and that it was because our Envoy was an European that he would not be received, he did not think any hon. Gentleman would say that Russia ought to have a predominant influence in Afghanistan. That was the question which had been settled last week. It was settled then that there was nothing this country would not do that Russian influence should not prevail in Afghanistan. Therefore, though, in the first place, this might be an Indian question, it was an Imperial question also. He would venture to ask the Government to look at it in its broadest point of view; because, though the Russians had tried to get their Agents into Afghanistan and to have supreme influence there, they would not have done so at so early a period had it not been for complications in Europe. We should not forget why Russia had an Envoy at Cabul, and why she was marching an army in three columns on Afghanistan. It arose, no doubt, from the possibility, nay, at that particular time, from, he might say, the probability, of war with Russia, and also from our bringing certain Indian troops to Europe. Look at it as we might, we must acknowledge that this war would not have occurred had not these complications in Europe arisen. If that were true—and no one in that House would deny it—he would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state distinctly that they would consider the matter in a fair and candid spirit, and would ask this country to bear its fair proportion of the expense, leaving 929 only that portion which India ought justly to pay to be borne by the Indian Revenues. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that India should pay nothing; but it should not be forgotten that, in the first instance, this war was undertaken to protect the Indian Empire. The House had heard of Shere Ali sulking, but why should England think about sulking Afghanistan? Shere Ali had been faithless to this country, and the Ruler of Afghanistan, be he who he might, ought to be thoroughly under our control. He hoped, whatever might be the result of this war—and no one could tell where the war might extend to—the country would recollect that it had to deal with Russia, and that we ought to have some absolute and definite Treaty, and not trust to Russia's words and promises. England must know how far Russia was to be allowed to advance, and would then be able to decide where we were to stop. He believed Russia would never cease to advance until she found herself face to face with British sentinels. In conclusion, he said, he felt that only a little pressure was required to induce the Government to place a fair proportion of the cost of the war on this country, and a fair proportion on India.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he might have been surprised at the sanguine statements of the Under Secretary of State for India were it not for the fact that Under Secretaries were always sanguine. India had never paid its way, but had always borrowed its way, and was continually adding to its Debt. The House was always told that there would be a surplus in India if something did not happen; but something always did happen. The something, in the present instance, was the war against Afghanistan. He had not determined to support the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) without some hesitation. He could not support him on the general grounds he had alleged, for he (Sir George Campbell) was one of those who thought the interests of the mother country ought to be considered in her relations with India and her Colonies; and that the cost of all wars, great and small, ought not to be thrown upon her on the ground of Imperialism. In some wars England must pay, and in others India should. He was prepared to say that if the 930 matter had been fairly dealt with, and a fair representation allowed of the interests of India in this matter, he should not have voted with the hon. Member. But after mature reflection he was prepared to vote with his hon. Friend, for this reason—that India had not been fairly treated in accordance with the law, and the interests of India had not been fairly represented. He was inclined to throw the expense incurred upon England, for much the same reason that the damage caused by the Alabama was thrown on England. The Government and Lord Lytton in this respect stood, in his eyes, in the same culpable position as the shipbuilders of Liverpool, and the Law Officers of the Crown did in the Alabama affair, and we must be responsible for them. He believed that the fault was chiefly the Viceroy's, and that, with the exception of the clear breach of the 55th section of the Act of 1858, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had pointed out, the Government at home had kept within the limits of the law, though it was a bad law. The law of 1858 had emasculated the Council of India so far as they were the custodians of the finances of India, for it enabled the Council to be completely overridden in practice. The Council of India having been emasculated, in this House the interests of India did not evolve great interest, except when important Party or personal concerns were involved. Towards the close of last Autumn, when we sent a Mission to the Ameer, there was an evident foreshadow of the war that was now progressing; but, unfortunately, the matter was not then discussed in that House as it ought to have been. But, however the Liberal Leaders had been wanting on former occasions, he was, glad to acknowledge that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition had spoken out like a man with reference to this war. The noble Lord had not flinched from the right issue, and it was not very doubtful what the result of an appeal to the country would be. He quite agreed with the noble Lord's remarks on Lord Lytton's conduct in India. The appointment of Lord Lytton as Governor General, he was willing to admit, was honestly made; but he believed he expressed the opinion of every man connected with India, when he said that that appointment was a failure, and 931 the first step towards the peaceful solution of the difficulty would be to substitute a capable man, on whose judgment and discretion more reliance could be placed. The presence of Lord Lytton in India constituted a grave danger to this country. It was difficult to apportion the blame rightly between the Government and Lord Lytton in recent transactions, many Papers necessary to the elucidation of this matter being conspicuous by their absence. From all that he had learnt from India he was disposed to believe that Lord Salisbury had, as a matter of fact, restrained Lord Lytton, and that a very large portion of the blame which he was disposed to lay at the doors of the Government took the form rather of their being responsible for the appointment of that noble Lord as Viceroy than of any direct attempt on the part of Lord Salisbury to do all that had been attributed to him. When Lord Salisbury came back from Constantinople he found Lord Lytton was straining at the leash, and trying to go farther than the Government would allow him. Lord Lytton had been subsequently loud in his complaints that Lord Salisbury would not sufficiently support him. Lord Lytton managed, however, to force the hands of the Government, the Cabinet being divided between the Leaders of the Jingoes, and such prudent men as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He felt, he might add, bound to protest against the idea which had been broached, among others, by the Under Secretary of State for India—that we were to suppose that country was more contented, because of the inspired telegrams which had been received with respect to the loyalty of the Indian Princes and troops. No man practically acquainted with Oriental customs could be misled by anything of that kind. He was quite willing to believe that the conduct of the Government had not yet succeeded in alienating them; but it was not safe to conclude, from those inspired manifestations, that Lord Lytton had been a successful Ruler in our Indian dominions. In the Mutiny the Native Chiefs rendered loyal service, and he believed they would do so again; still, he warned the Government that it was not the Native Chiefs that first offered their assistance who were most to be trusted. His impression was that some 932 of the Native Princes, struggling to increase their armies, would be delighted to aid us in this war while we were prosperous; but they might possibly turn against us if unhappily we incurred disasters. As to our military successes, he would say that, although he did not believe we had many troops of the first quality in India, yet there were, in his opinion, a certain number who could do the work in which they were now engaged—or, indeed, any work—as well as the best troops in the world. The House had, however, been informed that evening that the correspondents who attended the Army were only the approved correspondents; so that they were not, perhaps, to be relied upon for telling the whole truth; and he had noticed that morning certain remarks about suffering among camp followers, which showed that everything was not of that couleur de rose which some persons seemed disposed to imagine. There was another point of very great importance to which he wished to call attention. On looking at the Correspondence, he found that the despatches from home were generally addressed — and rightly so — to the Governor General of India in Council. There was, however, a despatch of February 28, 1876, which was not so addressed, but addressed to a person not known to the law — the Governor General, without his Council. He would not demand the head of Lord Salisbury for this; but he wished to say he considered it a gross illegality. The Viceroy, on the receipt of that despatch, had concealed it from his Council; but had acted upon it all the same, telling the Council that he had the authority of the Queen's Government for sending an Envoy into Cabul. That was a very important step, for no Mission had gone there since the year 1841. From a Minute of the 19th of June, it was clear that the Councillors had been discussing the absence of Instructions at that time before the despatch of February 28 was shown to them. The Council had been kept in the dark, so that Lord Lytton was able to establish a personal rule, which was the cause of all our troubles. From that time he had acted, not through the usual channels of communication, but by agents of his own; indeed, the Papers in the Blue Book contained no mention of any Member of the Council of the Governor 933 General, but chiefly of Colonel Pelly and Colonel Burne, as the advisers of the Governor General. The result of that policy of personal government was the resort to mischievous activity and coercion of the Ameer which had been attempted. As for the position of Russia, he, for one, was inclined to deprecate the strong language that had been used with respect to her on that side of the House, but he was far from trusting to Russian assurances. He would mention a Paper in the Central Asian Blue Book, in which they would find a very important despatch from Lord Augustus Loftus, our Ambassador at St. Petersburg. This despatch was dated September 27th, 1878, and explained the views of the Russian government with regard to the Russian Mission to Afghanistan. It seemed strange that the Government should have taken the House so far into their confidence as to publish it, without giving something more, for it contained an assertion of the Emperor's right to send such a Mission if he pleased. That was a claim on the part of Russia to which we certainly could not submit. His view, however, was that Russia's action in this matter might to some extent be justified by the excessive partizanship of our Government with regard to the whole course of the Eastern Question. He believed there was no Oriental Power on which we could place less reliance than on Russia—but at the same time we ought to deal fairly by Russia; he thought we had not done that, and that Russia was to a certain extent justified in the reprisals she had made. In his opinion, the great blunder the Government had made was in exhausting all their energies in aiding the Sultan to re-enslave the unhappy Bulgarians. If we had pressed Russia a little less with regard to Bulgaria, we might easily have made an arrangement with her to prevent this interference with Afghanistan. Russia was not likely to go to war on the question of Afghanistan; she only wished to induce us to coerce the Turks to carry out the Treaty of Berlin. Until a settlement had been made with regard to lines of demarcation in Central Asia as well as in Europe, Her Majesty's Government would not have achieved peace, honour, or safety. He was prepared to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for 934 Hackney, but only on this special ground —that the Government had in his opinion broken the law and the Constitution in regard to India, and had rendered themselves responsible for what had occurred. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Hackney that a great saving could be effected in the Indian Army, which was as small as our great interests in India permitted it to be, and the Government were of the same opinion, for they had recently decided to increase it by 15,000 men. The 55th clause of the Act of 1858 was not the only one that had been treated unsatisfactorily by the Government. Their conduct was also open to question with regard to the 41st section, which provided that the Indian Revenues were not to be expended either in India or elsewhere without the consent of the Council. That provision had been completely overridden by successive Secretaries of State, and no satisfactory explanation of their conduct had been given. It was impossible to estimate the ultimate cost of the war from the expense that had already been incurred, because the Government had hitherto been using up their accumulated stores, the value of which was not taken into account. He believed that if it should be unhappily necessary to conquer Afghanistan the cost would have to be counted, not by hundreds of thousands, but by millions. His advice to the Government was to make peace as soon as possible, before the contest had been embittered by too much bloodshed and by too far an advance into Afghan territory. Her Majesty's Government had succeeded in making a certain advance into Afghanistan and in frightening the Ameer, and would be able to make peace speedily, provided they did not make their terms too stringent. The basis upon which peace should be made was, that the Ameer should consent to receive our Mission with every formal parade in his capital, that he should engage never to receive another Russian Mission, and that he should only communicate with Russia for the future through ourselves. We ought to be paramount and supreme in Afghanistan in comparison with Russia, but in no other sense, and we should bear in mind that the Afghans were a nation of soldiers whose subjection would be very difficult. The Prime Minister had spoken of the rectification of our Frontier, 935 Men of the greatest experience were entirely opposed to our taking possession of the defiles and passes of Afghanistan. But there was one rectification of Frontier which we might make without breach of faith and by keeping within our right. He alluded to the position of Quetta. He had never committed himself about the occupation of Quetta; but he thought they must either put a stronger force than they had there, or withdraw it altogether. Inasmuch as we had already gone so far, and we had now the right to maintain a force at Quetta, the right thing to do would be to establish ourselves there, constructing a railway, and making the place a base of operations both in a political and a military sense. He would not recommend, as General Hamley recommended, the occupation of Candahar, which would be completely inconsistent with the maintenance of a great Afghan State. With regard to the attempt to impose European Residents on the Ameer, in India a European Resident in a Native State was always regarded not as an Ambassador, but as a man who overlooked and over-rode the Native State. That was the light in which the Ameer and the Afghan people viewed a European Resident, and they could not persuade them to the contrary. Moreover the absence of a European Resident did not imply, the absence of diplomatic communication altogether. We had had a regularly equipped Mission in Afghanistan, of which the members were Natives. The Afghans were ready to admit as many Native Missions as we liked; but it would always be a source of extreme embarrassment if we insisted on their receiving European Residents, whom they regarded as supervisors who were imposed on them. He thought the demand that they should receive them was uncalled for and unreasonable. With respect to Merv, it was separated from Herat by a great mountain chain. The real road was through the Meshed district in Persia. There was only one demand of that sort which we should make. We should ask permission to keep a Mission at Balkh. In conclusion he earnestly trusted that in any arrangements which might be made, the Government would be indulgent towards the Afghans and would remember the provocation which they had received, otherwise they would never have peace in that country.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
wished to appeal to the Government to extricate him from what appeared to him to be a considerable difficulty. Anxious as he was to vote for Her Majesty's Government, he could not vote for the Resolution proposed by the Under Secretary of State for India. The hon. Gentleman would pledge himself only within a considerable margin, and had endeavoured to show that the words of his Resolution were merely a protection by Act of Parliament to the proceedings of the Indian Government, and were required to put the action of the Indian Government upon a Constitutional basis. It appeared to him that the words of the Resolution meant a great deal more. The words as they stood bound the House to consent to the Revenues of India being applied to defray the expenses of Military operations which now were, and could be, carried on beyond the external Frontier of Her Majesty's Indian territory. The words further imported that the whole of such expenditure was to be defrayed, and it must be paid by the persons who defrayed it. Therefore, the Indian Government was to be at the costs and expenses of the present expedition. That was the logical interpretation of the words as they stood. If that were not the correct interpretation, he would be glad if the Govern-would say so. It had been said that the Indian Revenue showed a surplus; but that was no reason why this war expense should be put upon it. To judge whether the expense of sending an expedition into Afghanistan should be placed upon the Revenues of India it was requisite to keep two considerations in view. First, who made the expedition? and, secondly, who profited by it? He did not wish to trust to his own judgment on these questions, but would quote the opinions of Members of the Indian Council. A Paper was circulated on Saturday signed by five Members of the Indian Council, and they all concurred that the war in Afghanistan was a part of the Imperial policy of this country, and could only be ascribed to the action of our own Government. With regard to the particular point as the incidence of the charge for the Army, there was a difference of opinion. Three Members of the Council—Sir Erskine Perry, Sir Robert Montgomery, and Sir Barrow Ellis—thought that none 937 of the expenses should be borne by India; while Sir William Muir and Mr. Dalyell considered that some portion of the cost, at all events, should be defrayed by this country. Those gentlemen were, from their experience and position, capable of forming an intelligent and independent opinion on the subject; and he felt himself fortified in his own convictions that the whole charge for this expenditure ought not to be thrown upon the finances of India. He looked with a great repugnance upon a division of the interests of India and England. There ought to be no difference of interest between them; India was so integral a portion of the possessions of this country that what were her interests ought to be ours, and what was her prosperity ought to be ours also. Her finances should be husbanded with the same vigilance and administered with the same economy as those of Great Britain. There was yet another matter that should be remembered, and that was that India had a separate organization for taxation from this country, and that any increase in her expenditure would have the effect of increasing burdens which already pressed heavily upon her. It was because he believed India was very heavily taxed at the present time, that he demurred to any increase of that taxation by throwing upon her a portion of the expenditure to be incurred in this war. He would appeal to Her Majesty's Government to give an assurance that the extraordinary expenses of this expedition should not necessarily be borne entirely by India; but that they should be treated as expenses incurred by the Home Government, to be shared between India and England. If Her Majesty's Government would give him that assurance, he would vote for the Resolution, which he would then take to mean nothing more than that India was, in the first instance, to advance funds.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR,
remarking that several hon. Members on his side of the House wished to take part in the discussion, moved the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Lyon Playfair.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I had hoped earlier in the 938 evening that it would have been possible to close this debate to-night; but I can entirely recognize the justice of the observation of the right hon. Gentleman, and I feel that the matter is one of such great importance to others, besides ourselves, that it would be undesirable that the debate should be, so to speak, huddled up; therefore, I will consent to the Adjournment to-night. I do not wish at the present moment to enter into any discussion of the arguments; but to prevent misunderstanding, it is as well that I should say, in answer to the question of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Hubbard) as to the intention of the Government in this proposal, it is not intended that the whole of the expenditure of the military operations should necessarily be thrown on the Revenues of India. That will be a matter for consideration; and I think it will be undesirable to attempt to lay down any rigid principle as to the amount of aid which the Imperial Exchequer should give till we know a little more of what the war is likely to cost. I wish to explain that it is not intended that India should bear the whole of the expenditure.
§ MR. CHILDERS
wished to make a suggestion which he thought of some importance. In the course of the debate that evening the Under Secretary of State for India had quoted part of a very important telegram in relation to the finances of India. Certain figures were given which had a very important bearing upon the present financial position of India, as compared with the Budget Statement. He wished to ask whether, under these circumstances, as this telegram had been referred to in debate, the Government could have it printed and placed in their hands by 4 o'clock the next day. Considering the extreme importance of knowing exactly what was the financial position of India, he hoped the Government would not make any objection to the production of the document.
§ MR. BULWER
observed, that he did not understand that the proposal of the Government was that either the whole cost of this war, or any definite portion of it, should certainly be defrayed out of the Indian Revenues; but they only asked at the present time that the decision as to what portion, if any, should be defrayed out of the Indian Revenues, and what portion out of the Imperial 939 Exchequer should he left to them. He had listened with surprise to many speeches which had been delivered that evening, and many of them, it seemed to him, might very well have been delivered in the preceding week. He could not understand what the finances of India had to do with the question now before the House. It seemed to him that the decision of the amount to be paid by the Indian Revenues should, for the present, be left with the Government. The House had not before it the materials to decide that question, and were only asked now to settle the principle that the Indian Revenues should, if the Government deemed it necessary, contribute to the expenses of the war. Surely the House was not going to say that the whole expense must necessarily be borne by the Imperial Exchequer.
§ MR. HERSCHELL
said, that no doubt his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Bulwer) would be quite content to take the decision of Her Majesty's Government upon the question of paying the sum out of the Indian Revenues, or upon any other question. But those sitting on that side of the House were not so willing to leave the matter in their control. Up to the present time the Government had not pledged itself that any portion of this expenditure should come out of the Imperial Revenues. According to the terms of this Resolution it would be in the power of the Government to throw every penny of the expenditure upon the Revenues of India.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that the real question was, whether the Government considered that, under the circumstances of this war, they had by law any right to apply the Revenues of India in payment of the expenditure incurred for it? He did not go into the question, because the debate was to be adjourned; but perhaps he might say that it appeared to him to be a very grave Constitutional question, whether, under the circumstances of this war, and considering its nature and character, the Government was justified in throwing the expenditure for it upon the Indian Revenues.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
hoped that it would not be understood that hon. Members were debarred on this Motion, by any supposed understanding, from 940 questioning the policy of Her Majesty's Government in undertaking the war. It appeared to him that the debate raised the question of the whole policy of the war.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
observed, that he did not quote from any one particular telegram. The India Office had been in frequent communication with the Indian Government recently, and several telegrams had passed between them. If in any one of the telegrams there were facts which they could fairly put before the House, he had no doubt the Government would be able to assent to what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) proposed. Having regard to the form of the telegrams, so far as he remembered there was nothing which could be laid upon the Table of the House.
§ MR. CHILDERS
asked, whether, if that was so, the Government had any objection to give the House the substance of the financial information which they had received?
§ MR. FAWCETT
rose upon a point of Order. The Under Secretary of State for India, in his opening remarks, had made certain statements with regard to Indian finances from private information derived from telegrams. He had always considered it to be the rule that Ministers were not allowed to quote from documents which were in their possession, and not in that of hon. Members, without producing such documents, in order that they might be compared with the statements made. It was absolutely impossible for them to arrive at any clear opinion on this matter, however anxious they might be with regard to the position of the Indian finances. The Secretary of State for India, on Monday last, made certain statements as to the Indian finances, and then the Under Secretary, without presuming to lay a single document on the Table, came down to that House and stated that he had received a series of telegrams, the effect of which, as he understood, was to reduce the anticipated surplus of Monday last from £2,100,000 to £1,500,000. He wished to ask, whether it was not the invariable practice that, in financial debates, Ministers should lay upon the Table of the House the documents from which they quoted?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The practice of the House is, that if an official document is 941 quoted by a Minister it shall be laid before the House. At the same time, if the public interest should be opposed to that proceeding, that would be accepted by the House as a reason for withholding the documents.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
thought the hon. Member for Hackney was somewhat mistaken as to the effect of the telegrams referred to. They had received a good many telegrams on the subject, and there had been some difficulty in working out exact amounts, with the figures supplied from India in addition to those already known at the India Office; but the work had been done with the greatest possible industry and care. He did not wish to lay imperfect information before the House, and he felt that it would not be advisable to produce the confidential telegrams which had been received.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he hoped that the Government would be able to-morrow to state the grounds on which they based their estimate that the expenses of the war would amount to £1,200,000. No one who had listened to the debate, or who remembered their experience of the Abyssinian War, could believe that there was the slightest real ground for thinking that the expense would be limited to that amount. He objected to be led into a trap of that kind by such vague statements. He was bound to say that he thought the cost of the war would far exceed £1,200,000; and it was absolutely impossible that the necessary provisions made for many months in advance, in the arrangements made for commissariat and ammunition stores, could be met by anything like that amount. Under these circumstances he thought the country was entitled to know the grounds on which the Government made that confident statement.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, if there was any information which the Government thought contrary to the interests of the public service to produce they had every right to keep it back; but the position was quite a distinct one when they first quoted the information and then refused to give the document on which it was founded. A similar question was raised in the Denmark Debate of 1869, and, if his memory served him rightly, one of the things insisted on 942 most strongly on that occasion by Gentlemen sitting on the front Bench opposite, was that Mr. Layard, then Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, should produce the documents he referred to. If Sir Austen Layard was asked to produce those documents in the Denmark Debate, it seemed to him to be on all fours with the present position, when the Under Secretary of State for India used information which he might have kept back and then stated it was not in the public interest to produce the documents on which it was based. There might be statements in it which it would not be well to produce to the House, but, looking at it from a common-sense point of view, he could not see that, with the numerous and efficient Staff of the India Office, they were not in a position to give them almost immediately the information relied on by the Under Secretary of State to warrant the statement he had made to the House.
§ MR. DILLWYN
suggested that the Government might give substantially the information which was required. In whatever form they gave it, so long as it was substantially correct, it would be sufficient.
§ Mr. E. STANHOPE
said, the Government did not desire in the least to keep back any information; they only desired that any information they gave should be in a form that would be satisfactory to the House, and that its publication should not be injurious to the public service. He would, therefore, look into the documents to-morrow morning and see if there was anything in them that could be given. In any case, the House might be assured that every satisfactory information should be given when it was received, and that there was no hesitation on the part of the Government in laying it before the House.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that what had fallen from the Under Secretary of State clearly showed that there was no desire on the part of the Government to put the House into a false position. If the Government were not able to give more than had been stated that day, it would be satisfactory to have the figures before them in a printed form.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.