§ MR. FAWCETT
, in rising to move as an Amendment, at end of paragraph 8, to insert the words—But humbly desire to express our regret that, in view of the declarations that have been made by Your Majesty's Ministers that the war in Afghanistan was undertaken for Imperial purposes, no assurance has been given that the cost incurred in consequence of the renewal of hostilities in that Country will not be wholly defrayed out of the revenues of India;said, he could assure the House that he regretted having to interpose with this Amendment upon the Report of the Address; but he thought he should be able to show that the responsibility as to the course he had taken did not lie with him, but with Her Majesty's Government. Upon the first night of the Session he asked the Government to give the House information as to the Afghan War, as he wanted to know who was to bear the expenses of it. The Secretary of State for the Home Department, in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, promised to produce Papers on the subject, and said that they would be printed and laid on the Table on the morrow, and would be found to explain the whole affair. That seemed to him (Mr. Fawcett) to be a suggestion of an extraordinary character; but he waited for the Papers, and when he read them he found that they had as much to do with the question of the apportionment of the cost of the war 454 as the Criminal Code Bill or the Noxious Gases Bill. In fact, he might as well have been told to wait for the se Bills. Consequently, he felt bound to put another Question on the subject, and in reply the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he was not prepared to make any statement at present upon the subject. For that reason, he (Mr. Fawcett) was compelled to move his Amendment. If the House did not receive any statement now, they ought to have an assurance that one would be made before long, for it would be most inconvenient if some statement of the views of the Government was not made before the House was asked to consider the Budget. It was quite obvious that in speaking of Afghanistan and the war there were many questions which would have to engage the attention of the House. They would have to consider the past events which led to the war; next, the future policy of the Government when the war was completed; thirdly, the important questions connected with the conduct of the war in regard to the people of Afghanistan; and, fourthly, the most important question, as far as he was able to judge, of who was to pay the expenses of the war. He would on this occasion carefully abstain from saying anything on the first three matters, as he was anxious not to introduce any question of a controversial character into the debate, and the few remarks which he should make might be made by the staunchest supporter of the Government and their Afghan policy. It seemed to him to be clear that the expenses of the war should not be borne by India; and he wished to explain that, so far as India was concerned, this was not to be regarded as a matter of generosity, but of justice and legality. If it could be proved that India was bound to pay these expenses, he would be the last man to ask for any contribution from England, if it were asked for as a mere piece of generosity—in fact, as an eleemosynary gift, as was suggested. Nay, if a contribution were offered in the spirit of charity he could not accept it, but would be the very first person to come forward with a protest, because he knew perfectly well that if India were to receive £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 in the form of a gift, directly they introduced a system of subvention or grants in aid of India, every guarantee for economy would be 455 swept away; and that gift would be adamnosa hereditas,which would, in the end, cost India more than the amount of the gift she received. The matter must be decided on grounds of strict justice and legality, and in regard to it he wished to endorse the principle laid down last Session by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he said that India must stand upon her own bottom. If she could not do so, it would be better at once to proclaim her insolvency. This was not the first time that he had come forward to maintain and assert the financial independence of India. Upon a far more critical occasion, when India was seriously oppressed by a terrible famine, and when there was a praiseworthy and generous feeling in this country that they should come forward and assist India with Imperial funds—although he knew it was an unpopular thing to do, he opposed the suggestion, and took the earliest opportunity of saying rather than that India should receive this Imperial aid it was better that additional taxation should be imposed upon her, although he well knew what trouble and sorrow that would cost her. Therefore, he thought he might fairly claim that he was not putting forward this plea simply for the first time. What he wished to point out, and what he did object to, was that it seemed impossible to extract from the Government any declaration of principle upon the subject. Last year the Government adopted the most novel of propositions—one described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. J. G. Hubbard) as being a financial monster—that was to say, £2,000,000 sterling were lent to India, free of interest, towards assisting her in defraying the expenses of the Afghan War. Now that £2,000,000 advanced by England, free of interest, for seven years, when it would have to be repaid, would cost England about £320,000, and at that time it was estimated that the cost of the Afghan War, which was supposed to be concluded by the Gundamak Treaty, would be £2,600,000. But he never could extract from the Government whether they intended to advance this loan, free of interest, as a gift to India, or whether it would be in discharge of a legal obligation. If it were a gift, it ought never to have been offered; and if it were the discharge of 456 a legal obligation, he could only say it was a contemptible discharge, when it was borne in mind that if they accepted the joint liability of the two countries, according to this arrangement, for every £1 contributed by wealthy England, £7 was contributed by poor India. He noticed in a speech recently made by the Under Secretary of State for India that he dwelt upon the considerable improvement that had lately taken place in some of the branches of the Indian Revenue. In saying that, he did not wish prematurely to force on a discussion upon the Indian Budget. He could only say that no one would more rejoice than himself if it turned out that there was real improvement in the prospects of Indian finance. One thing he had ventured to say, that any Government that would pursue a policy of strict economy in India would reap a rich harvest of results. It would be in the recollection of the House that little more than eight months had elapsed since the Government, awakening to the true financial situation in India, resolved to change the policy which had been pursued by successive Governments, Liberal and Conservative, and introduce greater economy. That policy had only been pursued for eight months; and he believed that when the Under Secretary of State introduced his Budget he would be able to show that, short as was the time since this policy was commenced, it had already borne fruit, and was likely to bear more fruit in abundance. Although there had been improvement in some branches of Indian Revenue during the current financial year, yet he thought they could not too carefully bear in mind the wise and cautious remarks made on Saturday last by the Secretary of State for India (Viscount Cranbrook) when he received one of the se numerous deputations that came to the India Office from Lancashire about the cotton duties, and when it was pressed upon his Lordship's notice that he was bound to repeal the import duties on cotton goods. On that occasion, he most wisely reminded the deputation that although there was this improvement in some branches of the Revenue, on the other hand, there never was a time when, in all probability, the demands on the Indian Revenue would be so large as they would be during the present year. But the point he wished 457 to bring more especially under the notice of the House was to be determined solely by the character of the Afghan War, and not by the financial condition of India. If it could be proved that the war was purely an Indian war, then, whatever was the financial condition of India, he would cordially join with the Government in saying that every shilling of the expenditure should be borne by India; but, on the contrary, if it could be shown, as he believed it could be beyond all possible dispute, that the war was not an Indian war, that it was an Imperial war, then he would be able to show that we were bound alike by justice, and what was more important, by the strict interpretation of the law, as contained in the Act of 1858, not to demand that the whole cost of it should be borne by India. On the contrary, a considerable portion should be borne by England. On this point there was no room for doubt whatever. If India had any legal standing in a Court of Justice she would dispute her liability to pay the whole of these expenses. He would ask the attention of the House to the 55th section of the Government of India Act (1858), and the interpretation put upon that section when it was introduced into the Act. That section was introduced by the late Lord Derby, when Primo Minister, in the House of Lords. His Lordship said the object of the clause was that when Indian troops wore employed beyond the Frontier of India, and engaged in an Imperial war, the expense should be borne by England; if in an Indian war, it should be borne by India. He also said the character of any war in which the troops were engaged beyond the Frontier would have to be determined in Parliament. Therefore, the House would see that they were bound to take this fact into their consideration. Now, what light could be thrown upon the character of this war? It was a remarkable thing that every speech made in that House or out of it, by Ministers or their supporters on the subject, showed that the war was a great Imperial enterprize; the se who opposed the war having always been taunted as being "parochial" politicians, who could not appreciate the magnitude and importance of great Imperial enterprizes. The only exception to this was last year, when the House, considering the question of who should 458 bear the cost, the Chancellor of the Exchequer attempted to whittle it down in its proportions, and called it an Indian Frontier war. But he (Mr. Fawcett) maintained they could not run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, or blow hot and cold with the same breath. He would refer to the speeches of the Viceroy of India, the Prime Minister, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs upon the subject. The Viceroy of India said, in a remarkable statement, after frequent communications with the Marquess of Salisbury, who was then Secretary of State for India, that he went to India instructed to treat the Indian Frontier question as an indivisible part of a great Imperial question, mainly dependent for its solution upon the general foreign policy of the Government. There was something stronger, however, from the Prime Minister. In December, 1878, the noble Earl warned the Peers that they must extend their range of vision, and told them that they were not to suppose that this was a war which simply concerned some small cantonments at Dakka and Jelallabad, but one undertaken to maintain the influence and character, not of India, but of England in Europe. Now, were they going to make India pay the entire bill for maintaining the influence and character of England in Europe? A still later declaration, made by the Marquess of Salisbury, was during the Recess at Manchester, and the interpretation put upon it by every journal that supported the Ministry was that his Lordship treated the war as indissolubly connected with the Eastern Question. Therefore it seemed to him (Mr. Fawcett) that it was absolutely impossible for the Government, unless they were prepared to cast to the winds their declarations, to come down to the House and regard the war as an Indian one. If they did, they would be bound to repeal the 55th section of the Act of 1858. He found that the public journals desired not to treat Indian questions as Party questions; and they said, too, that it would be unjust to make India pay the whole expenses of the war. He thought it, moreover, a remarkable fact that all the se journals which supported the Government had appealed to it not to do an act which would bring contempt upon their policy. It was easy to see why there should be a de- 459 sire on the part of Conservatives not to let India pay the whole expenses of the war, as it would then be impossible to maintain that the character of the war was Imperial. In bringing forward his Amendment he had no desire to force the Government to enter into details; all he desired from them was a declaration of principle, and he should be perfectly satisfied if someone representing the Government would get up and say that they had always considered this war as an Imperial one, for the expenses of which England and India were jointly liable; or he should be content if it were even announced that the decision of the Government on the question would be made public before the English Budget was brought forward. If India was to bear the entire cost of the war, the sooner that fact was made known the better; and if England was to bear her share of it, it was desirable that Members of that House should be acquainted with the determination of the Government on the subject before they proceeded to discuss the Budget. If either of these courses was adopted he should at once withdraw his Amendment; but if his request was refused, then he should feel it to be his duty to take the opinion of the House upon the Amendment of which he had given Notice, and which he now begged to move.
At the end of the eighth paragraph, to add the words "but humbly desire to express our regret that, in view of the declarations that have boon made by Your Majesty's Ministers that the war in Afghanistan was undertaken for Imperial purposes, no assurance has been given that the cost incurred in consequence of the renewal of hostilities in that Country will not be wholly defrayed out of the revenues of India."—(Mr. Fawcett.)
§ Question proposed, "That the se words be there added."
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, that while on many Indian questions he was able to agree with the hon. Member for Hackney, he was unable, on the present occasion, to support the hon. Member's Amendment, because it affirmed that the troops which were now being used in Cabul were not being employed to protect India but for Imperial purposes. Desiring to keep Indian questions free from Party considerations, he felt bound to say that he could not look upon the war now going on in Afghanistan as one 460 undertaken altogether for Imperial purposes. In his judgment, that war was necessary for the safety of our Indian Empire, whatever secondary effect it might have had on European politics. Whether it had any connection with any action that had been taken by the Government in Europe he would not at present say; but he did affirm that the war was a just and a necessary one, and had it not been undertaken the whole of the British Empire in India would have been imperilled. The present war did not stand upon the same footing as that of 1878, which had been brought about in consequence of certain steps taken by Russia. The troops now in Cabul were engaged, not in an Imperial war, but in avenging an insult to our arms, which, if left unpunished, would have created disaffection in India. He agreed with Lord Lytton when he said that the Revenue raised from a population of 200,000,000 of people was sufficient to bear the cost of a war for the protection of our Indian Empire. It would be very bad policy to say to the Indian people—"You may do as you please—you may involve us in war, and then we will bear the whole of the expense." The first duty of India was to preserve her Frontier. He the roughly endorsed the policy of the Government in spending the money it had done in making railways through the two great Passes. Such undertakings, the ugh, in the first instance, they had been constructed for military purposes, would eventually become commercial lines, and would do far more for India than would any present or future relief of famine, for they would tap and bring trade from the North-West of Afghanistan. For his own part, he thought that it was of far greater importance to complete these lines of railway, and to spend rather on them all the money that could be spared, than that large sums of money should be spent on irrigation works. He looked upon these two railways as necessary for the safety of our Indian Empire, which was the primary consideration of our rule in the East. Whether India was to pay in future for the military occupation of Afghanistan was, however, a question for serious consideration. Alluding to the present position of our troops in that country, he believed that some time would elapse before we could leave it with honour. As regarded, however, the more 461 immediate question, he thought it was incumbent upon the resources of India to meet the expenses that had been incurred for the punishment of the se who had murdered, or had been implicated in the murder of, our Envoy. For the reasons be had given he was unable to support the Amendment.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he had hitherto abstained from publicly discussing the questions raised about our invasion of Afghanistan, because so many able men of different shades of politics treated the subject as one affecting our relations with Russia; whereas, in his judgment, it ought rather to have been looked at from a financial point of view. Without having a good state of finance, it was contrary to all past experience to carry out any policy in a satisfactory manner. Believing, then, that the finances of India were not in a condition to bear the expenses of a great war, he must publicly avow that he had hitherto been opposed to the war from a mere pounds, shillings, and pence view. From the very first he had told his friends that the expense of the Afghan War would be far greater than was anticipated, and the views he had expressed at various times were borne out by the latest accounts of expenditure. Moreover, it was admitted on all sides that India was not able to bear the whole of the charges for the war. He was sorry to see, by the last telegraphic despatch, that the war expenditure had been increased by £1,000,000, or to about £19,255,000, being £3,946,540 in excess of the military expenditure of India, 1875–6, the last year in which that charge had remained unaffected by our preparations against Russian aggression. This large excess of charge, of course, was occasioned by the great expense of the troops now employed in Afghanistan. With 50,000 men, of whom 20,000 were Europeans, now engaged in or under orders for the Afghanistan War, it was clear that the annual cost of carrying on that war could not be less than from £6,000,000 to £7,500,000 sterling. These statements, he admitted, rested upon his own responsibility; but still he had a good knowledge of the course that expenditure must assume. There was no analogy between the present and the first Afghan War; for, on that occasion, Native troops formed the greatest portion of the Force. No one could study 462 the figured statements of the military expenditure of India during the last few years without being alarmed at the annually-increasing outlay. In 1875–6, as already stated, the military charges amounted to £15,308,460. In the year 1876–7 following, the increase was nearly £500,000—namely, £15,792,112. In the year 1877–8 the charge was £16,639,761, or more than one and a third millions above that of 1875–6. In the year 1878–9, the accounts of which were not yet closed, the military charge was estimated at £16,948,190. In 1879–80, the first estimate was for £18,255,000; but, by the recently-received telegraph, this has been increased to £19,255,000; so that in four years the excess of military expenditure had been £7,401,223 over that which would have been incurred if the standard expenditure of 1875–6 had not been departed from. Further than that, no one could guess when this excess of cost would cease, because we could not say when we should be able to retire with safety from Afghanistan. It was impossible even to guess the extent of complications, because retirement from a position once taken up was always attended with danger in the East. We had already occupied Candahar, and would possibly have to extend our march to Herat, and he could not conceive a time when it would be possible to retire from Candahar. Believing, then, that the finances of India could not bear the strain of the war, he therefore cordially supported the hon. Member for Hackney in his demand that the Government should declare whether or not they intended to make India pay the whole cost of this war. If the expectations of an Indian surplus for the present year were realized—and he would quite admit that, from the latest despatch, the Revenue of India had increased very considerably—yet the expenditure had increased in a similar proportion. His contention was that if this expenditure for war in Afghanistan had not been incurred here, a better use could have been made of the money. In the two last years of which the accounts had been rendered—namely, 1876–7 and 1877–8, the charges exceeded the Revenue by £5,765,865, in addition to which the capital laid out on public works extraordinary amounted to £8,600,336. The question, indeed, of the finances of India was one of surpassing importance. The A siatics would 463 bear much oppression in various ways; but the point at which they raised the strongest objection was when increased taxation bore heavily, as it now did, on the people of India; and it was obvious that with an excess of charge of £14,366,201 in the two years for which the accounts had been closed, India could not meet the war liabilities without increased taxation. So far from resorting to this resource, he would urge, therefore, that relief should be given to India in the matter of taxation, and, rather than defray the cost of this war, it would be politic for England to come to the aid of India. The House should recollect that since 1852 not a single war had been undertaken in connection with India unless for Imperial considerations. Only a part of the charges for these several wars had hitherto fallen on England; and as this war against Afghanistan was clearly the outcome of our complications in Europe, therefore the chief, if not the entire, cost should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer, and not by India.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he was rather anxious to hear what the Government had to say on the subject before committing himself to any opinion thereon. There were one or two points, however, on which he might make a few suggestions. He was not at all clear whether the Government were really within the law in charging the expenditure in Afghanistan to the Indian Revenue. The House was aware that the law most distinctly laid down that no expenditure beyond the Indian Frontier could be charged to India without the consent of Parliament. In the last Afghan War that sanction was accorded by Parliament. But they were told that that war had been concluded by a peace. Such, at least, was the declaration of the Government. At all events, he deemed it a question whether the new expedition into Afghanistan did not require anew the sanction of the House before any part of the expenditure could be charged to India. He should be glad to know, too, whether, if it was a new war, the Government considered that Afghanistan had been brought within the Indian Frontier? There was another point on which he would like some explanation, and that was whether the Government, in carrying on the railways that had been alluded to 464 towards Quettah, had had the expenditure sanctioned by the authorities authorized to sanction such undertakings. He would remind the House that by law the Expenditure of India and the control over the same were intrusted, not to the Secretary of State, but to the Secretary of State in Council. Of course that applied to direct expenditure. No doubt, the Governor General of India could not be prevented from making war, nor could the Secretary of State be prevented from directing him to make war; but he (Sir George Campbell) had never understood that the doctrine could be carried to this extent—that the Secretary of State or the Governor General could make a railway out of the Revenues of India without the sanction of the Council of India. He believed it was a very good thing to carry these railways to Quettah, if not to other places; but he wanted to know whether the Secretary of State had authorized their construction as far as Candahar, and especially whether the expenditure had been sanctioned by the legal custodians of the Revenue? He gathered that the authorities at the India Office knew nothing whatever on the subject. He always thought that the estimates for the Afghan War had been far below what the real cost would be, and he had taken a good deal of trouble to ascertain the views of competent military authorities on the subject; and he warned the Government that they had in no degree realized the amount and character of the expenditure which must be incurred if it was necessary, as stated in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, to maintain our troops for some time in Afghanistan. Every military man would tell them that the present Army could not carry on much longer. The Native Army had already been overworked, and we scarcely realized how small the really efficient portion of that Army was. Although we had a Native Army of 120,000 men on paper, a small proportion were fit for foreign service, and that proportion had excessive work imposed upon it. A portion of that Army—7,000 strong—had been brought to Malta, and they had been told recently by a writer, not difficult to recognize as an official scribe of the Government of India, with what joy and rapture the people of India contemplated their departure to Europe. That statement was too ridiculous and 465 contemptible to call for remark; but he would admit that the scheme of bringing these troops to Europe was carried out in a very creditable and successful manner. But he would have them bear in mind that these troops were among the most efficient in the Native Army, and that it was necessary to pay them well for their services. Since that expedition, they had been employed in large numbers in Afghanistan, and also in the Eastern Frontier of India, and he ventured to tell the House that that was a considerable matter. In the opinion of all military men, we could not continue to employ then without relief, without the gravest danger of discontent, if not something worse. If the Government did not make up its mind to withdraw from Afghanistan, it would be absolutely necessary largely to increase the Native Army, if only for the purpose of relieving the men. They could not always bear up against such arduous duties.
said, if the object of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) was merely to raise a discussion and enable him and his Friends to press their views on the Government, no complaint could be properly made against him; but, certainly, the Government would have a right to complain if he pressed his Amendment to a division, and asked the House to find fault with them simply because, as prudent and reasonable men, they had wisely abstained from binding themselves to a conclusion at the beginning of the Session as to what proportion of charge should fall upon India for the expenses of a war in Afghanistan which had not yet been concluded. He thought it was a little hard for the hon. Member for Hackney to blame the Government for having abstained from pronouncing any final determination on that matter. With regard to the remark of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), that the expenses of the present Afghan War could not be a legal charge upon the Revenue of India, he thought the hon. Member was to some extent in error. That, of course, entirely depended upon the question whether the present war was independent and separate, or a mere continuation of the war which broke out in 1878. It was said the Government had stated that the war of 1878 had been brought to a conclu- 466 sion. Everyone thought it had been brought to a conclusion. If people said that war had come to an end, it did not follow that a continuance of that war was the undertaking waging a new war. He, however, presumed such to be the opinion of the Government, from the fact that they had not thought it necessary to summon Parliament last autumn for the purpose of obtaining its sanction. As to the statement of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy with reference to the necessity of increasing the Indian Army, he would observe that there were contingent troops in the protected States; and he had no doubt that if a call were made by the Indian Government upon the Princes of the se States, the se contingent troops might be made available. No doubt, when the war was ended, the Government would come down to the House and state the expenses and be prepared to give reasons for any apportionment they might think it right to make; but at present the question raised by the Amendment was not ripe for the decision either of the Government or of the House.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that, in his opinion, the hon. and learned Member who had last spoken (Mr. Gorst) misapprehended somewhat the position of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), who had intimated that if the Government made a statement in accordance with his well-known desire that the se charges should not be borne by India he would be satisfied, and would not press his Amendment to a division. He said that if the Government would, before the English Budget was brought in and the financial arrangements of the year concluded, give an opportunity to him to express his views upon the subject he would be quite satisfied. He (Sir William Harcourt) thought that that was a very reasonable demand. If the matter were to be introduced after the financial arrangements of the year had been completed, the Government might say—"Oh, but it is too late to open the question now." The hon. Member for Hackney and his Friends only now wanted to enter their caveat before it was too late. He (Sir William Harcourt) would not go into the whole question; but there were some views upon the subject of Afghanistan which he should like to submit to the consideration of the hon. Gen- 467 tleman the Under Secretary of State for India. One great difficulty he had always found in criticizing the conduct of the Government was to hit upon exactly the style in which they liked to be criticized. The style that he had attempted had not been favourably accepted by Members of the Government; but at last he had found a solution of the question which he was sure would be satisfactory to them. He was going to offer some remarks to them on the subject of Afghanistan in language to the style of which they could offer no objection. After he had read, in language far better than his own, the expression of sentiments which were the se he held, he would tell the hon. Gentleman who was the author of the se sentiments, and that on the occasion of a former Afghan War, when the circumstances were similar to the se attending the present one, the following language was employed:—According to the right hon. Gentleman, the internal state of India previous to the invasion of Afghanistan was of a very peculiar kind. According to him there was an indefinable restlessness in the public mind, a strange uneasiness, a singular and alarming looking forward to something they knew not what, an apprehension of something unknown, a mysterious conviction, founded on no facts, authorized by no events, that 'the star of England was no longer in the ascendant,' and it was necessary, the, right hon. Gentleman assured us, that this expedition should be undertaken in order to re-establish the confidence of the people of India in our 'star.' He told us that we had quite succeeded in producing the desired effect.… Porhaps the right hon. Gentleman may inform us tonight how the 'confidence in our star,' which, according to him, is the foundation of our Indian Empire, stands since the re-capture of Ghuznee. He really did hope that in these hard, dry, matter-of-fact, Income-tax days, statesmen would be prepared to offer some more substantial reasons for their policy than the expediency of restoring 'confidence in their star.'"—[3Hansard,cxiv. 448.]The same authority on which he was relying further said—If he believed that 'confidence in our star' alone, or principally, constituted the tenure on which we held India, he should despair of holding that country for any considerable period."—[Ibid,449.]Then he proceeds to say, and he asked the attention of the Under Secretary to it—He would take the liberty of mentioning to the House, what, in his opinion, were the elements of our Indian tenure. He did not be- 468 lieve that we should be deprived of that Empire either by internal insurrection or by the foreign invasion. If ever we lost India, it would he from financial causes. It would be lost by the pressure of circumstances, which events, like the war in Afghanistan, were calculated to bring it about by exhausting the resources of the country in military expeditions, and by our consequent inability to maintain the se great establishments which were necessary to the political system that we had formed and settled in Hin-dostan."—[Ibid.449–50.]Those were his own sentiments, and he hoped the language in which they were expressed was satisfactory.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
would tell the date presently. And now for the reasons given for the invasion of Afghanistan—There must have been some reason to induce us to invade regions which had baffled the greatest conquerors, some reason for bringing about a state of affairs which forced the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government to direct the attention of the House to the propriety of seriously taking into consideration the state of our Indian finances."—[Ibid.455.]The speech next went on to say—The late Ministers of the Crown, the se fortunate Gentlemen who proclaimed war without reason and prosecuted it without responsibility, would have an opportunity to-night of throwing some light upon these circumstances; they would have an opportunity to-night of telling us why that war was entered into. Would they tell us that it was necessary to create a barrier for our Indian Empire? When he looked at the geographical position of India, he found an Empire separated on the east and west from any Power of importance by more than 2,000 miles of neutral territory, bounded on the north by an impassable range of rocky mountains, and on the south by 10,000 miles of ocean. He wanted to know how a stronger barrier, a more efficient frontier, could be secured than this which they possessed, which nature seemed to have marked out as the limit of a great empire. But they wanted a barrier. A barrier against whom? Who was the unknown foe against whom we waged these mysterious wars, to baffle whom we attacked chieftains who were not our enemies, invaded countries with which we had no quarrel, incurred ruinous expenditure, experienced appalling disasters P The foe could not be Russia.Oh! then it was Russia. The noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) did want a barrier against Russia—with the noble Lord's peculiar views he was not surprised at this. The noble Lord had always been suspicious of that country. He had appealed to Europe against Russia. He had made men ambassadors because they had written pamphlets against Russia. He had established a periodical work for the sole purpose of opening the eyes of the people of Eng- 469 land to the designs of Russia. And now the noble Lord wanted a harrier against Russia for India. But was India violated? If they wanted a barrier against Russia for the sake of India, they wanted a harrier against Russia for the sake of England. Was England to be inactive if Russia invaded India? India was part of England. He (Mr. D'Israeli) protested against the principle that if our empire in India was menaced by Russia the struggle was to be confined to Asia."—[Ibid.455–6.]There was another passage which he would commend to the attention of the Hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India—If all this were true—if it were true that this expedition had been undertaken to check Russia, if this were explained the expression of the late President of the Board of Control, that it was necessary to produce a moral effect on Europe—he should like to know on what grounds the people of England could refuse to do what a great authority had expressed a few nights hack as 'paying the bill.'"—[Ibid.456.]These sentiments were expressed in excellent language, and he would be extremely glad to hear the reply of the hon. Gentleman to them. Again the speaker said—The noble Lord's system appeared to be this:—'I am the Minister of a powerful country, and I can always extricate myself from any difficulties by force.' Now, in his (Mr. D'Israeli's) opinion, this was not the mode which should be employed by the head of our diplomacy, by one whose arts should essentially he the arts of peace. This use of a giant's strength was neither generous nor politic. This system might be for a moment successful. It might take Ghazni and capture Acre; but the ultimate effect of such a policy must he to embarrass our finances and rouse against us the prejudices and passions of independent states."—[Ibid.459.]It was impossible, he (Sir William Harcourt) considered, to express more accurately the sentiments entertained by the Opposition with regard to the Afghan War, and he trusted he had at last found a style in which the hon. Gentleman would have the conduct of the Government criticized. The language he had just quoted was the language of the present Prime Minister. It was the language of Mr. Disraeli in speaking of the late Afghan War, and they were the sentiments which he himself felt with regard to the present Afghan War.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
asked the hon. and learned Gentleman to oblige him with the volume ofHansardfrom which he had been reading.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he did not suppose the hon. Gentleman required to learn fromHansardthe drift of the last Afghan War. They knew that even at the India Office. He was glad, therefore, to see the Under Secretary was going himself to reply to the statement of the present Premier. When the se statements were so expressed—accurately and eloquently expressed—they deserved the attention of the Government, and he also thought they were well worthy of and would command the consideration of the people of this country.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, he would at once admit that the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had strictly adhered to the line he laid down for himself at the opening of his important and interesting speech, that he would avoid any subject of controversy. He (Mr. E. Stanhope) was afraid, however, he could not say so much for the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Sir William Harcourt). He would only say this as to the excellent quotation the hon. and learned Gentleman had just read—that he could only explain the hon. and learned Gentleman's conduct in this way—having discovered it, he was so dreadfully afraid of other Members making use of it that he could not lose a single instant, but dragged it in on a subject to which it did not in any way relate. But, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had used the quotation, he should like to ask him what happened in 1842, when the noble Lord now at the head of the Government made that most powerful and effective speech. Did the Government of that day contribute a single shilling to the expenses of the last Afghan War? Not a single penny. The expenses of the war were paid by India without any protest from persons in the position of the hon. and learned Member. He really did not, however, want to detain the House by dealing with matters of controversy; everybody must be perfectly aware that the circumstances had entirely changed since the date to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had referred. We must consider the question, and decide our course with regard to the contributions, if any, which England might make towards the expenses of the Afghan War, under the altered circumstances of the case. The hon. Member for Hack- 471 ney laid down some excellent financial principles, which he (Mr. E. Stanhope) appreciated very highly indeed. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would continue with his usual force to press them upon the House on every convenient occasion. But when he came to his legal principles, he must say that neither the hon. Member, nor the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), were very happy in their references to the 55th clause of the Government of India Act. First of all, there was the question of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy. He said—"I want to know, if this is a new war, why you did not obtain the assent of Parliament, in accordance with the Government of India Act?" His (Mr. E. Stanhope's) answer to that was that it did not matter, because, if it was an old war, the consent of Parliament was already obtained in 1878; while, if it was regarded as a new war, then he did not think any Member of that House would venture to dispute that under the Government of India Act the consent of Parliament was not required in the ease of sudden and urgent necessity. Again, the hon. Member for Hackney maintained that England was compelled by law to make some contribution to the expense of the war; but all that the Act said was that before the Revenues of India could be applied to the purposes of an external war the sanction of Parliament must be obtained. The Government did obtain the sanction of Parliament in December 1878, and they then said they would reserve for future consideration—when events had developed themselves—what course they ought to take with regard to the incidence of that expenditure. Last year application was made to them by the Government of India for assistance in the peculiar circumstances they were placed in, owing to the very great depreciation of the value of silver, and they asked Her Majesty's Government for a loan of £2,000,000 without interest, in order that they might be able to reduce for the current year the drawings that were necessary. After full consideration, Her Majesty's Government agreed to grant that loan to India without interest. In the course of the debate on that loan, it was urged, on the one hand, that we should contribute a much larger share towards the expenses of the war. On the other 472 hand, some hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock), thought that we should look on the Eastern complications as a whole, that our main interest in the Eastern Question was the maintenance of our route to India, that England had made considerable sacrifices in the maintenance of that route, and that, so far from having contributed too little, it might be urged that England had paid too large a proportion of the whole charge. The House approved of the course adopted by the Government. There had since been a renewal of hostilities; but what Her Majesty's Government complained of in the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney was that it was altogether premature. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had put the case very clearly when he said that it was absolutely impossible to arrive at a definite conclusion in the absence of further information, and that it would be hard to blame the Government because, in the absence of that information, they refused to come to any absolute conclusion. They knew that hostilities had been renewed, and that further expenses had been incurred; but the new facts in relation to that expenditure were not yet in their possession. He believed he was right in saying that before many weeks—he might almost say before many days—were over, they would have the figures of the Indian Budget at hand. they certainly hoped before the end of the month to have an estimate of all that had been spent or was likely to be spent up to the end of the financial year on the war in Afghanistan, with a good estimate of what the probable expenditure would be in the future. When they had obtained that information the Government would the roughly consider the whole position, and see how they stood in that matter; and he hoped that there would be ample time to do so before the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced the English Budget. He could not help thinking that the mode in which the hon. Member for Hackney had brought the question forward was rather calculated to weaken his own case, because he alleged that as the campaign in Afghanistan which resulted in the Treaty of Gundamak was undertaken entirely for Imperial purposes and was the outcome of European complications, 473 therefore England ought to have contributed a large sum towards its cost; and he went on to say that as the renewal of hostilities had occurred England ought to contribute to the cost of this war also. But the hon. Member must surely have felt that the retort might be made to him that the renewal of hostilities had not been the result of any European complication, but the consequence of the Envoy of the Indian Government having been treacherously murdered in Cabul. He would not, however, press that point, because he did not desire in the least to prejudge the question before them. He was quite sure that when the Government came to consider it, they would wish, on the one hand, to be just, and even liberal, to India, and would be anxious, on the other hand, to bear in mind the great principle of the hon. Member for Hackney, which could not be too often borne in mind—namely, that India should not be made a financial burden to this country. He believed it would be the greatest misfortune to India if it could be said that she was becoming a financial burden to England, and that, therefore, England must cast her off. Now, what the hon. Member for Hackney asked for in his Amendment was a sort of vague announcement to the Government of India that when the proper time came England was prepared to pay a certain proportion of the expenditure they incurred. Could any more dangerous step be taken than that? Why, if his noble Friend Lord Lytton and Sir John Strachey really entertained any of the se grand designs and mischievous schemes which were sometimes imputed to them, he could not imagine that they would desire anything better for the carrying out of the se projects than to learn that they might go on with them because England would be ready to provide the means for their execution. Therefore, in now asking the House to reject the Amendment, he only desired to add that they did not by that course in any way prejudge the question, but only expressed the opinion that the Amendment was premature, and that they must postpone their decision on that subject until they had received further information.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he was glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was now present to supplement the re- 474 marks made by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India, as it would be unfortunate if the right hon. Gentleman did not give some further assurances on the subject. He (Mr. Forster) hoped that he might be allowed to re-state the appeal which the hon. Gentleman had made at the close of his remarks. He said he did not think the present was the time to open up a discussion upon the expenditure now being incurred, nor upon the Frontier policy of the Government in India. In that he (Mr. Forster) agreed with the hon. Gentleman, and that any such debate at present would have been premature; but, on the other hand, he had no doubt that it was not only his own opinion, but that of many hon. Members, that this was a question which would have to be again considered by the House, and that before long. Perhaps he might be allowed to say that in consequence of certain rumours, on very high authority, and the answers given in this place by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and the Prime Minister in "another place" yesterday, it became all the more necessary that the House should very soon have an opportunity of considering the policy of the Government, especially as regarded their North-Western Frontier in India. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had stated that if the Government would give him an assurance that they would lay their views on this question of India paying part or the whole of the expenditure connected with the war before the House before the English Budget was produced, he would withdraw his Amendment. But from the statement of the hon. Gentleman opposite, it appeared that it was still doubtful whether the Government had or had not decided whether this country should be partly included in meeting the expenditure. He (Mr. Forster) did not think, however, that his hon. Friend would press the Government to a decision then; but his request that the House should know what was the view of the Government before the English Budget was brought in was one which must commend itself to every hon. Member. He understood the Under Secretary of State for India to hold out the hope that the House should be informed of the views of the Government before the introduction of the Budget; 475 but they had been so often informed that in a very few weeks, or in a very few days, certain statements would be made, the ugh their coming had been delayed, that he thought it necessary to ask for some more definite statement that the Budget would not be presented while the House was in the dark on the subject of defraying the war expenditure in India. At present they did not know whether India would be partly relieved or not of the cost, because it appeared the Government had not come to a decision on the point. If no information was given before the Budget, the Government might, after presenting it, alter their views, and then there would be a Supplementary Estimate; or it might be the case that the feeling of the majority of the House would be that help should be given to India. He trusted that the Government would give such an assurance to the hon. Member for Hackney as would enable him to withdraw his Amendment—that assurance being that their views on the subject would be placed before the House before the Budget was brought in. Before sitting down he wished to refer to a remarkable observation of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow). He said he agreed with the proposal of the hon. Member for Hackney last year—that help should be given to India to meet the expense of the war, but that he did not think help should be given now for taking vengeance for the murder of the British Envoy at Cabul. Well, he (Mr. Forster) thought it was not very difficult to see from what was going on in India that the revenge of that terrible act was not the only object for which expenditure was being incurred there. Therefore the hon. Gentleman's remarks were disproved by the actual facts, which were clear to most people. The same hon. Member held that the preservation of life from famine was hardly to be considered in comparison with the importance of maintaining the honour and security of the Empire. Well, he (Mr. Forster) should be very sorry to think that this was the view entertained of Her Majesty's Indian subjects by the House, or that the people of India should think we entertained it. They all knew what famine was, and they knew what it was to meet it, and what were the attempts that had been made in the past to save people from death from famine; but 476 when they came to the question of the honour and security of the Empire there would be sure to be difference of opinion. Some would think that the security of the Indian Empire depended upon "the scientific frontier," while other persons would hold that it did not. But when they were dealing with 200,000,000 of Indian subjects, liable to the se terrible visitations of famine, it was most advisable that the Government should make it their first duty to protect so many lives from perishing. In conclusion, he would again express the hope that the assurances which the Government were prepared to give would enable his hon. Friend, the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) to withdraw his Amendment.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
trusted the House would clearly understand that it was not from any want of respect to the House or from any disregard of Public Business that he was not present at the time the hon. Member for Hackney addressed his remarks to the House. His absence had been caused by very pressing public business elsewhere. He knew, however, that he would be well represented by his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India (Mr. E. Stanhope). He did not for one moment undervalue the very great importance of the question raised by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett). It was a subject of considerable financial and also one of still greater political importance. It raised, indeed, questions of the very highest political significance, and it ought certainly not to be dealt with cursorily or prematurely. The House was generally aware of the view which the Government had taken on former occasions of the question of the incidence of warlike expenditure in India; and he would not now say anything more on that subject. But he entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Hackney that the matter was one which ought to be very carefully sifted and discussed; and he also agreed that it ought to be considered before they settled what were to be their own financial arrangements of that kind. He could, therefore, undertake—and he understood this to be the principal object of the hon. Gentleman in now raising the question—that before the House was asked to vote anything connected with the financial arrangements of this country for the present 477 year the question of whether financial assistance should be given to India should be brought under its notice, and it should have the opportunity of considering whether, in the financial arrangements for this year, it would be right to make any provision in regard to Indian expenditure. At the present moment, as they had been reminded by his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India, they were not in possession of the actual financial position of the Indian Government or of the expense which had been incurred, and for that reason, if for no other, it would be premature to express any opinion on the subject at present. But he thought that probably the undertaking which he readily gave to the hon. Gentleman that the House should have an opportunity of discussing that question before it bound itself in any way to the financial arrangements of this year would be sufficient, and that there would be no occasion to go to a division on the Amendment.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he was entirely satisfied with the assurance which had been given on the part of the Government that the House should have an opportunity of discussing the question before the Budget was introduced, and would, therefore, beg leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave,withdrawn.