HC Deb 07 March 1881 vol 259 cc425-6

asked the Secretary of State for India, Whether Colonel Browne was correct in stating in his lecture that the revenues of Peshawur district are entirely inadequate in times of peace to pay for its garrison; whether Peshawar is a very unhealthy station both for Indian and European troops; whether, although a force of somewhat greater strength than that of the frontier stations in the Derajat may be required at Peshawur for the purpose of watching the hill tribes, the garrison could be reduced if Candahar were held by a British force which could operate on the flank of any army attempting to advance on India by way of Cabul and the Khyber Pass; if so, whether the cost of the occupation of Candahar should not be credited with the saving in men and money effected at Peshawar and the stations in its neighbourhood in any Estimate of Military Expenditure; and, whether he will lay upon the Table of the House, a Return showing the number of troops, both British and Native, stationed at Peshawur during each of the ten years preceding the late war, the annual deaths, and the number of admissions to hospital of both officers and men?


I am unable to accept responsibility for statements made by officers or others in lectures, speeches, or essays, nor can I accept the duty of confirming or refuting such irresponsible statements. In the present instance, it may be accepted as a matter of fact that the district of Pesha- wur does not produce a sufficient revenue to pay for the garrison maintained in it, as well as for its civil and political administration and its public works. Peshawur is a comparatively unhealthy station, both for Indian and European troops; and accordingly from time to time the permanent garrison has been reduced during the unhealthy season by a removal of a portion of the troops to healthier stations—Cherat, Nowshera, the Gullies—in the neighbourhood. The peace garrison of Peshawar and the district is mainly maintained for the protection of the Hazara and Peshawur district Frontier, and the support of the fort garrisons posted along this Frontier. The Frontier posts of the Derajat are supported by the garrisons of Rawul Pindi, Lahore, and Mooltan. There is no reason to suppose that the existence of a force at Candahar could affect the strength of the reserve required even in peace time for the Hazara and Peshawar Frontier, or that it would at all affect the movements of the tribes on that border. There would, therefore, be no saving in either men or money to be credited to the cost of the occupation of Candahar in any Estimate of military expenditure. A statement giving the strength of the troops maintained at Peshawur during the 10 years preceding the late war, with the average death-rates and admission to hospital at per 1,000 strength, could be prepared if necessary; but I scarcely think that it would throw much light on the subject. The question of the Army advancing on India by Cabul and the Khyber appears to be entirely outside the question of the ordinary garrison maintained at Peshawur for the support of the troops on the Frontier.