HC Deb 05 May 1879 vol 245 cc1707-8

Sir, I have to present a Petition from a meeting of the British Indian Association at Calcutta. I shall not ask to have it read at the Table; but I may say that those from whom it emanates state that it has been frequently their privilege, on the invitation of the Indian Government, to offer advice and suggestion regarding public measures and public policy. The Petition relates to the charges for the Afghan War. Its authors decline to discuss the policy of that war, but they greatly regret the imposition of its charge on India, and point out that the Military Establishments of India, instead of being a burden to this country, have, as they conceive, frequently offered positive assistance to this country, and that on several occasions which they enumerate, from 1842 to 1867, Indian troops have been brought, for European purposes, beyond the limits, strictly so-called, of India. They then quote the language which they understand has been used by the Prime Minister in Parliament, to the effect that he considered the Afghan question as a question which concerned the character and influence of England in Europe, and they add that they think it hard that India should be called on to pay for a war which has to do with the character and influence of England in Europe. They state that this money, out of which the expense of the war is to be met in the first instance, is money already pledged, according to the words of the Finance Minister, to be religiously ap- plied as a Famine Fund. They likewise state that it is not only the prime cost of the war which they regret, but that they are full of apprehension of a future charge, and that the question of a subsequent cost of maintaining the fruits of the war has caused consternation among them; for not only had 15,000 men been added to the Army, but it was impossible to say what additions will have to be made to the Military Establishment of India for the security of the new Frontier. I have no doubt the Petition will receive the best attention of the Committee on Petitions.

Petition ordered to lie on the Table.

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