§ Order for Committee read.
§ MR. J. K. CROSS
At last, after long waiting, I have an opportunity of trying to explain to the House the financial position of our East Indian Empire, and that task is neither simple nor easy. If the Accounts to be considered comprised the Receipts from taxation only and the administration of the Revenue gathered from this source, there would be little difficulty in giving a short, clear statement of fact; but, as hon. Members know, the Indian Finance Accounts, on which I have to speak to-day, comprise not only the usual financial arrangements of a Government which directly and indirectly rules 250,000,000 people, they also include the Provincial and part of the Local Expenditure of nearly 600,000 towns and villages, they comprise great schemes of irrigation and navigation, and they have relation to the railway projects of our Indian Empire. Such being the case, I propose to state—first, the gross receipts classed under the head of Revenue, and the gross charges classed under the head of Expenditure; second, I shall try to separate from these general Accounts the receipts from taxation, and show what is the cost of the government of India to the Indian people. I shall then examine the principal items of receipt and charge, showing how they have grown or shrunk. After this, if there is time, and if the House is not wearied, I will give to hon. Members some account of the financial position and prospects of our Indian Empire.
The Accounts presented for review relate to the finances of three years—the closed Accounts of 1881–2, the Revised Estimate of 1882–3, and the Budget Estimate of 1883–4. The gross Revenue of 1881–2—the first of these years—is £73,695,806; the Expenditure from the Revenue, £71,113,079; leaving a surplus of £2,582,727 of unspent money from the Revenues of the year, besides which, in that year, the Provincial Governments spent less by £1,519,792 than the amount of their allotments—the unspent money being in all, therefore, £4,102,519, and the actual Expenditure 1650 £69,593,287, against an actual Expenditure of £75,898,558 in the previous year, or a reduction of gross Expenditure of £6,305,271. The year 1881–2 was, on the whole, the most prosperous financial year which India has enjoyed; for the result I have described was accomplished, notwithstanding that £1,500,000 was laid aside for Famine Relief and Insurance; the amount spent on actual Relief being £34,849; on Protective Railways and Irrigation, £750,000; and on Reduction of Debt, £715,151. During that year the amount raised from taxation and rent under the following eight heads of Revenue—namely, Land, Salt, Stamps, Excise, Provincial Rates, Customs, Assessed Taxes, and Registration, being all, in fact, that is raised in rent and taxes by the Indian Government, was £42,210,709; or, if you consider the Land Revenue, £21,948,022, as rent, and not as tax, the amount of taxation is £20,262,687, or one rupee per head on the population of that part of British India directly under our rule. The favourable results of that year, further details of which will be found in Major Baring's Financial Statement, at paragraphs 68 and 69, induced the Government of India to relax the restrictions placed upon the Expenditure of the Local and Provincial Governments in 1879, when famine, loss by exchange, and war pressed very heavily upon India. The Supreme Government was also, during that year, able to return to the Provincial Governments £670,000, which had been withheld when these troubles threatened to upset all financial calculations. In consequence of the favourable financial position the Government were able to reduce the tax on salt by 25 per cent. and to abolish the Customs Duties on all imports, excluding liquors, leaving in the pocket of the people, including some remission of Provincial rates, no less a sum than £2,800,090, which, had these taxes been maintained, would, of course, have swelled the receipts of 1882–3.
I now come to last year, the second which I mentioned as coming under review, the year ending March, 1883. The gross Revenue is estimated, after very careful revision at £67,920,408, and the Expenditure from Revenue at £67,696,116, including the unexpected item of £1,325,496 for the Egyptian 1651 War, and leaving a surplus of £224,292; but in this year, unlike 1881–2, the Provincial Governments have spent from their balances £1,525,400, making the total Expenditure of the country £69,221,516, as against £69,593,287 in the previous year, or a reduction of £371,771; and this Expenditure includes £1,500,000 again laid aside for Famine Relief and Insurance, £25,600 being spent on Famine Relief, £144,200 on Protective Works, and £1,330,200 on reduction of Debt. The total amount raised under the eight heads I previously mentioned as rent and taxes is £39,601,600, of which £21,700,400 comes from Land Revenue, which may be taken as rent, leaving the taxation of the year £17,901,200, or a reduction of £2,361,500 as compared with 1881–2, and costing about 14.4 annas per head on the whole population of British India under our direct rule.
I now pass to the gross estimated Revenue and Expenditure for 1883–4, as shown in the Budget Estimate. The Revenue is estimated at £67,274,000; the Expenditure from the receipts of the year £66,817,000, leaving a surplus of £457,000; but, again, as in 1882–3, the Provincial Governments propose to spend £1,499,000 from their balances, making the gross Expenditure of the year £68,316,000, which is £905,000 less than in 1882–3. Again, there is laid aside and included in the Expenditure £1,500,000 for Famine Relief and Insurance, of which only £12,500 was, in the Budget, estimated to be spent on actual relief. The amount raised from land and other taxes under the eight heads of Revenue of which I have previously spoken is £39,757,300; and if we deduct the land revenue from this amount the net taxation of the whole of British India under our direct rule will be £17,964,600, or a slight increase of £63,400, making the amount raised from the inhabitants of British India about 14½ annas per head in the year ending March, 1884. I have now put before the House the main features of gross Revenue and Expenditure for two years, and the expectation for the third. I am so anxious that they should be fully understood that I ask to be allowed to recapitulate them. Taxation has been reduced, leaving nearly £3,000,000 a-year in the pocket of the people. The Expenditure in the three years under review is, in 1881–2, 1652 £69,593,287, being a reduction of £6,305,271; 1882–3, £69,221,516, being a reduction of £371,771; 1883–4, £68,316,300 being a reduction of £905,000. This Expenditure includes £1,645,000 for military operations in Afghanistan, and £1,325,000 for the unexpected Egyptian War, towards which £500,000, true sterling, has been contributed by England. It includes also £1,500,000 yearly for Famine Insurance and Famine Relief; and out of £4,500,000 so charged in the last three years only £73,000 has been spent on actual relief, the remainder being spent on productive works and reduction of Debt. In these three years the amounts raised in India by taxation—other than land tax—are, in 1881–2, £20,262,687, or one rupee per head; 1882–3, £17,901,200, or 14.4 annas per head; 1883–4, £17,964,600, or 14½ annas per head. Such are the main features of the Accounts which I ask the House to consider. But before I pass from this part of my subject, I may say that the final Accounts of 1882–3 appear so much better than the Estimate that the surplus of £224,000 will be £750,000; and, as I said a few days ago, the surplus of 1883–4, estimated at £457,000, will probably, should there be no famine, be £ 1,000,000 in addition to that sum; but no one can forecast until the rains shall be over the result of this year's Revenue. Statements are often made that we are grinding out of the people of India £70,000,000 a-year in taxation. I think Arthur Helps says that a lie only lives for a day; but it may be "the" day, meaning the day during which its currency pays. That is the principle, or, rather, the want of principle, underlying some of the articles on Indian taxation which have appeared in the public prints. I have told the House that the amount raised by the Government as rent and taxes is from £39,000,000 to £42,000,000 a-year. Yet the gross Revenue is estimated at £67,000,000 this year. There is a great difference between these sums. How does it arise? The reason is, as I told hon. Members at the beginning of my speech, that many things are included in the Revenue Account which are not taxation. This year these receipts are—Opium, which produces £9,200,000; tributes from Native States, £701,000; forest receipts, £936,000; Post Office, 1653 telegraph, and Mint (heads 12, 13, and 14), £1,670,000; receipts from the Civil Department corresponding to our Court fees and education contributions (heads 15 to 20), £1,402,000; interest on local loans, receipts in aid of superannuation, and miscellaneous credits (heads 21 to 24), £1,269,000; the receipts from adjusting entries made on account of the Army and sale of stores (head 36), £866,000; Revenue from Public Works of all kinds, both ordinary and productive, £11,473,000; amounting in all to £27,517,000; which, added to the £39,757,000 which I said was derived from rent and taxes, gives the gross Re-venue of 1883–4 £67,274,000. If our Government at home owned all the land of the United Kingdom, and rented it out, calling the rent Revenue, and if the gross receipts of all the railways which pay badly, and the net receipts of those which pay well, together with the receipts of canals and waterworks, and the foes of our Law Courts, were included in our Annual Budget, we should seem to be grinding a fearful amount of taxation out of the people of this country; but it would be just as sensible to call these items taxation in England as it is to call them taxation in India.
And now, Sir, I must trouble hon. Members with some few of the dreary details of account so distressing to the House of Commons. I do not need to dwell upon them, because Mr. Water-field, our very able Financial Secretary, has prepared an explanatory Paper which I have circulated among hon. Members, and it tells much more fully than I can by speech the details of the various items of receipt and charge coming under review. I would also draw the attention of those Members of the House who wish to obtain some general view of the financial position, without going into detail, to the Tables given at page 48 of the Financial Statement, which show the broad transactions of the three years under review, and also the heads of Revenue and Expenditure arranged in convenient groups. These Tables, with the consent of the House, will be adopted in the Finance and Revenue Accounts in future years. They present the main facts of Indian Finance in an intelligible form. There are, however, some features to which I should like to direct attention. The details of 1654 the first year coming under review, the year 1881–2 show a remarkable bound. Though the Opium Revenue fell off by £618,000 as compared with the previous year, the receipts from taxes and Railways increased so much that the surplus of the year, estimated at £855,000, was, as I have said, £2,582,727. Salt produced more than in 1880–1 by £259,632; Excise, £292,048; Forests, £165,115; State Railways, £287,407; Guaranteed Railways, £720,826; East India Railway, £472,672. This boom of prosperity enabled the Government to propose great reductions in taxation. If the taxes had been maintained at the previous rates, the finances of last year and this year would, of course, have shown very heavy surpluses, amounting to at least £3,500,000 a-year, besides providing for Famine Insurance; but the Government of India wisely determined to go as far as possible in the direction of Free Trade. They abolished the Import Duties upon everything but liquors, and reduced the Salt Duties by 25 per cent. The advantage of this reduction is shown in the increased consumption of the article during the last year, 1882–3; for, whilst the reduction in duty is 25 per cent. the falling-off in Revenue is only 18 per cent. and the price has fallen 12¾ per cent in Oude, and 23 per cent in Bengal. In the current year Major Baring estimates the net Salt Revenue at only the same as last year, or, indeed, at £13,000 less; but there is every reason to believe that this Estimate will be considerably surpassed. The Duty is only two rupees per maund, and this tax is really a great financial Reserve, which might be called upon should the necessities of the case unfortunately require it, a contingency which I devoutly hope may be avoided. The abolition of the Customs Duties on imports has, of course, reduced the receipts from this head; but it has brought the Indian people face to face with the cheapest means of clothing themselves. At the same time, it enables India to take her place as a great producing power. And now that all restrictions are removed, no doubt there will be a great development of her industries. The net Customs Duties are now only £1,109,000 and £1,111,000 respectively in the last two years; of which £400,000 is derived from wines, spirits, and beer, and £700,000 from the Export Duty on 1655 rice—a tax which the Government of India is anxious to abolish, and which, had it not been necessary to begin to pay the arrears due to the Treasury for Army Pension Charges, might shortly have ceased to exist. The Estimate of the Opium Revenue is less in 1882–3 than in the previous year by nearly £600,000 net; and this year Major Baring estimates it at a further net reduction of £182,000, the price having fallen from 1,324 rupees per chest in 1881–2 to 1,222 rupees in 1882–3; while the duty on Malwa opium has been reduced to 50 rupees per chest. The production of opium varies greatly from year to year. At present the reserve is falling. Notice has been given that the sales will be reduced after August, 1883, from 4,700 to 4,450 chests a-month, and in April, 1884, to 3,800 chests a-month. Of course, it has yet to be seen whether this reduction in quantity will have much effect on the price; but usually when the quantity of any commodity offered for sale is reduced the price rises. And this, I hope, will be the case with our opium. Remarks have been made on the great variation in the cost of the collection of the Opium Revenue; but on examination it will be found that it does not vary greatly in proportion to the number of chests produced. I have had a Table made showing the cost per chest for 10 years, and it shows but little variation, though, of course, when the cultivators are paid 5 rupees per seer, it costs more than when they are paid 4½ rupees for the same quantity. The Revenue from Excise grows at a moderate rate, showing that the Blue Ribbon Army has not yet got possession of the Natives. The net increase under this head is £190,000 in 1882–3; and a further increase of £9,000 is expected in 1883–4; but this is a very moderate Estimate, and will probably be considerably exceeded, as this item depends much on general prosperity. The next item of Revenue calling for notice is that derived from Forests, which shows an increase of £19,000 in 1882–3; but, from anticipated large Expenditure on the completion of surveys, the Estimate for 1883–4 is reduced by £76,000, increased receipts being estimated at £14,200, against an increased charge of £89,800. This is, and has been, a steadily growing item, and again I must 1656 remark on the safety of the Estimate. Forestry has become a very important Department in India, and the preservation and development of this branch is receiving much greater attention than formerly. The extent of land under this Department is now 33,000 square miles, or 21,000,000 acres, the gross receipts amounting to nearly £1,000,000 yearly, and costing about £650,000. The thorough education of young men to work this Department has engaged the careful attention of the Government of India; but there being no practical Forestry, on a large scale, available for instruction here, the students have to go to France. This Department, if well worked, should in the future be a great advantage to India, and a source of revenue to the Government. The Post Office, Telegraphs, and Mint form the next head, the net cost of which in 1882–3 was £274,731, and in 1883–4 it is estimated at £369,800; the increase being based on an anticipation that less silver will be coined this year, depriving the Mint of some £50,000 of receipts, and that an additional £85,000 will be spent on telegraph lines. The postal and telegraph business is a constantly increasing one. There are now 4,800 post offices, against 2,880 in 1872; and 7,000 letter-boxes, against 1,885 10 years ago. The telegraphs now extend to over 20,000 miles of line and 55,000 miles of wire. I ought to mention that all this has been constructed out of Revenue, and I do not know any other country of which the same can be said. The receipts of the Civil Departments show a small reduction of £78,676 in 1882–3, and a further estimated reduction of £32,100 in 1883–4. The receipts from miscellaneous sources under heads 21 to 24 are also less in 1882–3 by £338,901, and are estimated at £98,800 less this year. All these Estimates of receipt appear to be made on exceedingly cautious lines, and are likely to be exceeded. The expenses of those Departments shown under heads 18 to 26 in Abstract E of the Budget Statement, and at page 9 of Paper 268, show that tendency to increase described by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), my Predecessor, when he said—Looking at the increased demands which would necessarily he made upon them as an improved government extended itself in India, 1657 and by the growing intelligence and civilization of the people, there was a natural tendency to increase.This natural tendency to increase was shown in the Accounts for 1881–2 by an increase of £470,000, partly through increased political and marine charges, and partly through the increased cost of education and police. We know well that advance of education means heavier cost, and that higher civilization is accompanied by a growth of the police charge. The number of schools registered on the Government books has increased greatly, being in Bengal alone 15,290 in 1871, and 58,097 in 1882. There is also an increase in the new Agricultural Department, and in the cost of bringing emigrants into British Burmah. In connection with the new Agricultural Department, I ought to mention that two Native gentlemen, sent by the Government of Bengal to the Agricultural College at Cirencester, passed out this year on the completion of their course at the head of the list of students. The miscellaneous Civil Charges, shown under heads 27 to 31 in Abstract B, exhibit no material change, though Superannuations, Pensions, and Allowances show some increase. Some time since I explained to the House how the Civil Superannuation Charges had grown from a net average of £860,000 a-year in the three years ending 1874 to £1,850,000 a-year in the three years ending 1883. These charges will still grow, and it is well for hon. Members to recollect that every additional appointment to the Services in India means not only a present increase of official salary, but a future liability for pension, in addition to the salary of the official; and it means a permanent addition to the Home Charges to the extent of the pension in question in all cases where the position is filled by a European.
And I now come to the Army Expenditure of the last two years. The gross totals shown in the Accounts are £17,434,000 in 1882–3, and £16,064,000 in 1883–4. These are large sums; but they compare with £28,086,000 and £18,861,000 in the previous years, 1880–1 and 1881–2, the first of which was the heaviest year of the Afghan War. The £17,434,000 spent in 1882–3 includes the cost of the Indian Contingent in Egypt, towards which a sum of £500,000 was contributed by England. In order 1658 to arrive at the net cost of the Army to India we must deduct this sum, and we must also deduct the receipts, which are really matters of Account, and which amount to £988,000 in 1882–3, besides £40,000 from the sale of stores, &c, returned from Egypt. Deducting these, we have the net cost to India of £15,906,000 in 1882–3, against a net cost of £15,039,000 in 1881–2, and of £23,864,000 in 1880–1. This year we expect that the net cost will be £15,198,000. I speak of the net cost because I am speaking of the burdens thrown upon the Indian Revenues in each year; and, in speaking thus, it is necessary to deduct from the Indian gross charge any English contributions towards it. But, I may be asked, what has been the real annual cost of the Indian Military Establishment, irrespective of and not including either Afghan or Egyptian War? Well, it has been in the last four years—in 1880–1, £15,794,000; in 1881–2, £16,054,000; in 1882–3, £15,121,000; and in 1883–4, £15,198,000. The House will like to know to whom these sums have been paid. Taking 1881–2 as an example, the last year of which we have the closed Accounts:—The active Force in India cost £11,316,000; payment to the War Office for active services, £505,000; other small payments in England, £23,000; Military Stores, £544,000; Transport of Troops, £416,000; Furlough Allowances, £318,000; total, £13,122,000; whilst the Pensions in India were £703,000; and in England, £2,229,000; together £2,932,000, making a grand total of £16,054,000. The cost of the Effective Forces of the Indian Army for the last four years has been—In 1880–1, £13,057,000; in 1881–2, £13,122,000; 1882–3, £12,207,008; 1883–4, £12,095,000, showing a very distinct reduction; but this reduction is, to some extent, neutralized by the continued growth of the Pension Charges. Some little time ago I described to the House how the Non-Effective Army Charges had grown from £1,930,000 a-year in 1873 to £2,850,000 a-year in the last three years, and I told the House that for a number of years they had been under-estimated by considerably over £200,000 annually. In every Estimate of the future cost of the Indian Military Service we must take account, not only of increasing charges, but also 1659 of the arrears of over £2,000,000 which India owes to the British Treasury at this moment. I cannot, therefore, estimate the Non-Effective Charges at less than £3,100,000 per annum. Meanwhile, it is sufficient for me to say that the Military Estimates for the year are lower than any since 1876–7; and if it were not for the increase of the Non-Effective Charges they would be much more favourable. In speaking of military expenses, I may refer to the Report of the Simla Army Commission, about which a good deal of expectation has been roused by the statement that a saving of £1,250,000 had been promised if the recommendations of that Report were carried out. These recommendations, however, were by no means adopted in their entirety by the Government of India, who finally adopted a scheme by which a direct saving of £360,000 a-year was anticipated. The Commission recommended, as hon. Members know, that the Armies of Bombay and Madras should be withdrawn from the control of their respective Governments, the whole Indian Army being placed under one Commander-in-Chief, and divided into four Army Corps, each under a Lieutenant General with a complete Staff. But, after giving full consideration to the proposals of the Commission and of the Government of India, the Secretary of State in Council informed the Government of India that it had not been shown that this measure would, in itself, effect any reduction of charge or increased economy in administration. There are reasons, too, of a political character against the principle of the change recommended. The conclusion, therefore, of Her Majesty's Government is that they are unable to adopt the recommendations in face of the political objections which may be urged against the proposed changes in the constitution of the Bombay and Madras Armies, and the absence of proof of financial saving. I may say that the increased cost of superannuation, to be added to the Non-Effective Charges, and which seems to be inseparable from all Army reform, was not taken into account by the Army Commission or by the Government of India. At the same time, considerable reductions have been made. My noble Friend the Secretary of State for War, speaking as Indian Minister last year, 1660 described those reductions, all of which have since been carried out; the result being that we have an Army slightly increased in numbers, with an ultimate saving of £200,000 a-year in India. The shortcomings of Army transport during the Afghan War showed that it was necessary for the efficiency of the Army to organize a Transport Department. This has now been done, with the result that 46,000 troops, stationed chiefly on the Frontiers, are equipped with one-half regimental transport, all in regimental charge. Of these troops 23,000 could be put into the field at once without requiring any additional carriage. For the present this transport is distributed over a larger number of corps than it will completely mobilize, in order to teach officers and men the management of transport. In addition to this, a general Transport Service is to be maintained at certain central garrisons. It is so organized as to be capable of rapid expansion in time of war. Two of these stations are depôts of instruction, to which detachments will be sent from regiments, to go through a regular course of instruction in transport duties. The regimental and depot transport maintained during time of peace provides for the immediate mobilization of 33,000 troops—namely, 10,000 in the Punjaub, 10,000 in Bengal, 8,000 in Bombay, and 5,000 in Madras. The establishment of this service will entail no increase of cost. Those who wish to have more detailed information of military matters will do well to read the able Minute of General Wilson, which is attached to Sir Evelyn Baring's Financial Statement already presented to the House. The arrangements and efficiency of the Indian Army were fully tested in the late Egyptian Expedition, and, with the unfortunate exception of the outbreak of glanders in the 6th Bengal Cavalry, everything went forward with most perfect regularity; indeed, I have been told by those who were upon the spot that the Indian Contingent did not wait one moment for anything, and we all know how greatly all arms distinguished themselves in action.
I now come to the Public Works, which are divided into two branches—Ordinary and Productive. The total Expenditure on both branches in the three years ending March, 1884, is 1661 £29,036,000, towards which there has been provided £9,402,000 from Loans and Reduced Balances in India. In the previous three years the amount spent was £28,482,000, towards which there was provided £14,399,000 from similar sources. In the last three years £554,000 more has been spent; but £4,997,000 less has been borrowed and used from Balances. I must speak separately about these works, and I will take the Ordinary Works first. They are entirely constructed from Revenue, and comprise seven items on the Expenditure side of the Finance Accounts, 42 to 48 inclusive—namely, State Railways, Capital Account; State Railways, working expenses and maintenance; Subsidized Railways, Frontier Railways, Irrigation and Navigation, Military Works, Civil Buildings, Roads, and Services. In the three years under review, the amount spent under these heads is £20,758,210, against £18,935,806 in the previous three years, showing an increase of £1,822,404, or £607,000 per annum. I should like to explain to the House how this expenditure has arisen, because I do not agree with the criticisms of my hon. Predecessor. I do not consider this expenditure necessarily bad; indeed, if prudently carried out, I consider it the very best expenditure which any Government can undertake. It is really improvement of estate from surplus income; and if it can be accomplished without an increase of Establishments, it is all gain. The question which we ought to decide is—what is and what is not prudent expenditure? The first item, State Railways, is for Railway extension in districts where lines are generally needed, or will serve to obviate famine. The second is the working expenses and maintenance of these lines, and this is more than balanced by the corresponding entry on the Revenue side, amounting to £192,000 in 1883–4, against an Expenditure of £185,000. The third head is for land given to railways and interest paid to Subsidized Railways—that is, Railways undertaken under guarantee of interest. The fourth is for Frontier Railways, undertaken for strategic purposes, the financial advantage of which is doubtful, though sometimes they may be necessary. This is not an item of expenditure for which we are directly responsible. The fifth head is for such Irrigation and Navigation 1662 Works as will, in the opinion of the Local and Imperial Governments, develop the districts in which they are undertaken, although they may not produce net direct Revenue. The sixth item is the annual charge for the building and maintenance of Military Works, which I would gladly see reduced; and the seventh is the item which includes all the Public Buildings, Court Houses, Government Offices, Post Offices, Gaols, Schools, Dispensaries, and Warehouses for grain storage. It also includes the money spent on Roads, Ferries, Bridges, Culverts, Drainage Works, and on the improvement and making of the smaller tanks and wells. These operations are undertaken in India out of current income; and they therefore appear in the annual Accounts as one of the heaviest items of Expenditure. The direct receipts, however, from them are not inconsiderable, amounting to £772,000 in 1882–3, and to £865,000 in the Estimate for 1883–4. There is every reason to hope that these receipts will continue to increase, though we must look rather to the greater welfare of the people than to cash results as the effect of this expenditure, just as, in England, money spent on similar works is recouped to the localities spending it, in convenience rather than in cash. The difference between the plan of making these improvements in England and in India is, that here we borrow for these works, whereas in India they are constructed out of current income. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Stanhope) seems to consider roads, railways, schools, dispensaries, tanks, and so forth, as luxuries which India cannot afford. He recommends that the money spent on these items should be laid by to meet famine when it comes; he objects to allowing the Local Governments to spend their own money; he would have them wrap up their pound in a napkin, like the timid servant in the parable. But, Sir, this policy would result in universal stagnation and paralysis. It seems to me that if ever you are to develop local self-government and local interest in India, you must let the local authorities spend their own funds on their own improvements, so long as they keep within their income and devote their expenditure to objects which have been approved by the Supreme Government. The Expenditure under the seventh head was 1663 £3,128,000 in the year ended March, 1879. On the 22nd of May in the same year the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. E. Stanhope) said—No now works were to be undertaken, even if already sanctioned, without the special consent of the Supreme Government; a rigid investigation was to be made into the necessity for them—as though that investigation should not have been made before they were sanctioned—Establishments which were excessive were to be cut down."—(3 Hansard,  1063.)As the result, it was anticipated by the Government of India that an annual saving of £750,000 would be effected. And the Accounts show that a reduction of £201,607 was made between 1878–9 and 1879–80. The Expenditure on this seventh item in 1879–80 was reduced to £2,926,112. It had been £4,298,018 in 1875–6. This year we budget £4,303,700. The hon. Gentleman now almosts boasts of the reduction in 1878–9 as if it had been a desirable thing. In 1879 he deplored the necessity for it. Sir, the reduction was forced on the Indian Government by war and famine. It was not a good thing. Nay, I will go farther, and say it was a great disaster. I have made it my business to ask every prominent civilian whom I have met, who has returned from India during the last three years, what was the effect of the reductions in the Public Works Expenditure generally in 1878–9 and 1879–80; and the answer is always the same. Thousands of men usually employed on useful works had to be discharged. Every improvement was stopped, and scores of Civil Engineers sat in their offices, twiddling their thumbs, with nothing to do but to draw their salaries, and to speculate on the pension terms which would have to be offered to them to induce them to retire. The Establishments, certainly, were cut down, but at an extra cost of £369,000 for superannuation—this being the amount which had to be paid in the course of the next two years to the retired Engineers. I wish, as far as possible, to avoid contentious matter. But after the hon. Gentleman opposite has so publicly stated that in Indian finance we have cast economy to the winds, and that we are spending in India £3,500,000 more than our Predecessors, I am obliged to dwell on the facts of the case.
1664 I now ask the House to consider the Productive Works—that is, speaking roundly, those Railways and Irrigation Works which have been constructed out of borrowed money, or under a Government guarantee of interest, which is very much the same thing, so far as the liability of Government is concerned. The total capital involved is £163,000,000. The gross receipts of 1882–3 show a decrease of £412,000 as compared with the previous year; but the Estimate for 1883–4 shows a recovery of £238,000. The decrease was caused by a falling-off of £417,000 in the net traffic receipts of the East Indian Railway. The total amount of Revenue is £10,782,000 in 1881–2, against £9,382,000 in the previous year; but it falls to £10,370,000 in the year ending March, 1883, and is put down at the very moderate Estimate of £10,608,000 for 1883–4. The current Revenue from these Productive Public Works now exceeds the charge for interest and maintenance, the profit being £454,000 in 1882–3, and £520,000 in 1883–4. These results are eminently satisfactory, especially when we recollect that these works wore a charge of £1,600,000 on the Revenue in 1872, and that the rate of guarantee given on the Railway lines constructed some years ago was so high. For many years these Railways were a heavy direct charge upon the taxpayer in India. No less a sum than £24,000,000 has been paid in interest in excess of the net receipts. Some of the lines were most expensively made; and, the guarantee being 5 per cent on a very heavy cost, the Railways really for a long time had no chance against their capital accounts. They have, however, now turned the corner, and seem to be fairly on the high road to prosperity. If these Railways could have been started at 3½ per cent. the profit to the Government would be over £2,000,000 yearly. While, as a whole, the Productive Works Expenditure more than pays, the financial results of the Irrigation Works are not so good as those of the Railway Works. They are weighted with the cost of several foolish schemes, undertaken by enthusiasts long ago without sufficient consideration; among which are the Madras Irrigation Company's Works, which have cost £1,750,000, and which have produced nothing. Altogether the Irrigation and Navigation Capital Account 1665 stands at £20,036,024, and produces only 4 per cent on the investment, after paying current expenses; but it is, of course, difficult to estimate the indirect advantages conferred upon India by the great increase of production which irrigation has rendered possible. The Railways, I have said, are the profitable branch of the Productive Works Expenditure; and, in order to bring their position clearly before the House, I hope that I may be allowed to state a few facts concerning them. We know the results in detail to the end of 1882. The total Capital Expenditure is 143 crores of rupees, or, nominally, £143,000,000 sterling. The Receipts are £15,231,261; the Expenses are £7,580,549; the Net Profits are £7,650,712, or 5.37 per cent on the total capital employed; if we add the excess of interest paid to the Capital Account of the Railways, raising that capital to 167 crores of rupees, the Dividend now earned is about 4.6 percent; whereas in the United Kingdom the profit last year on the total capital invested was only 4.32 per cent; and there is one very remarkable fact which is well worth noting by investors—that whereas the gross traffic on the English lines only amounts to 9 per cent on the total capital embarked on the Indian lines, it is already nearly 11 per cent. Given these figures, it is not surprising that the question of increased railway extension presses for solution. There is an extraordinary consensus of opinion on this point amongst all men in England who know India. There are still immense tracts of country, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 60,000, and in one case 160,000 square miles in extent, containing nearly 20,000,000 people, without a single railway through them—and this, too, some of the most fertile land of India, capable of great agricultural development. The Central Provinces and the neighbouring parts of Bengal might, I am assured, produce food for 20,000,000 more people than they contain. At present, at Bilaspur, wheat is about 7s. the quarter, while salt is double the Bombay price. At Nagpur, 20 years ago, rice was sold at 200 to 250 seers per rupee, a rate of 6d. per 100 lbs. The making of a trunk road doubled the price, and the approach of a railroad again more than doubled it. Can anyone doubt that the placing of a main 1666 railway in the Central Provinces—a country the size of Prance, and one, too, in which there is a steady and regular rainfall of 40 to 60 inches a-year, so that real famine has never been known—can be otherwise than an immense advantage, not merely to the district itself, but to those adjacent parts of India which are subject to scarcity. It is for the House of Commons to decide whether or not the Indian Government shall be encouraged to make such arrangements as will make it certain that railways shall be made. And, looking to the fact that the cost of all material is exceedingly low, and that the making of railways is now well understood in India, I have no hesitation in telling the House that I firmly believe it to be good policy to encourage such work within reasonable limits. There are districts, too, where railway lines are needed to bring food within reach of great masses of the people when famine comes. When famine comes, if the railway is there, time and distance are annihilated; you can bring in food. But without railways, when a drought occurs, such as that which fell upon Madras, Bombay, Mysore, and Hyderabad in 1877, the people die by hundreds of thousands before the grain can reach them. You may have unlimited money, and be willing to use it; you may have vast stores of grain 500 miles away; but you cannot get the grain to the people. Carts and pack bullocks are the only means of conveyance, and when drought comes there is neither forage nor water for your beasts of burden. The introduction of railways in such cases would enable the surplus produce of these districts to find markets in good seasons; whereas at present the surplus of a good crop is often wasted or becomes food for the weevil worm. If the surplus products of good years could be fully utilized, by the completion of communications it is probable that private trade would deal with scarcity, and even with famine, more ably and more surely than Government can deal with it. In this matter of railway development India wants no help; she asks for nothing but permission to develop her own resources; and those who deny her that right incur a grave responsibility, which I have no wish to share. I should be sorry if the House, from what I have said, should 1667 run away with the idea that nothing is being done towards railway extension in India. The State will spend this year £4,400,000, though we only borrow £2,500,000; and private enterprize, so called, that is the Southern Mahratta, Bengal Central, and Bengal and North-Western Companies, will spend, perhaps, £1,600,000, making in all £6,000,000 which will be spent on railways this year. There is also another very useful scheme proposed by the Hyderabad Government, and sanctioned by the Government of India, by which the present railway may be extended to Chanda, opening up an extensive coal field, and connecting the South with the Central Provinces.
Another item of Account to which I have to call attention is Exchange. Sir Evelyn Baring has placed this in more simple form than it has yet been in the Financial Statement of the year. The charge is more a charge in Account than an item of Expenditure, and it is caused by our method of reckoning 10 rupees as equal to the pound sterling in the settlement of the Home Accounts. Now, the rupee, with the old average price of silver, never was worth more than 1s. 10¾d., though reckoned in Account as 2s.; and at present it is only worth 1s. 7½d. Before we can really understand the nature of this item of Exchange we must dismiss from our minds the idea that there is any necessary proportional connection between the rupee and the pound sterling. I know there is a lurking fallacy in the corner of many men's minds that the rupee is one-tenth of a pound, and that the sovereign is 10 rupees, or that this ought to be so. Sir, the rupee is 165 grains of pure silver and 15 grains of alloy, minted in India, and put in circulation there as the standard coin and measure of value throughout the Indian Empire. The sovereign is 123.274 grains of gold of 22 carats, or –916 fine, minted in England, and put in circulation here as the standard coin and measure of value throughout the United Kingdom. There is absolutely no more connection between the sovereign in England and the rupee in India than there is between butter in Bond Street and bread in Bombay. When hon. Members who do not look into these matters have mastered this simple fact they will understand this item of Account better than 1668 they do at present. It is a disturbing element of unknown quantity and great power; and the entire separation between the standards of value of the two countries since the closing of the bi-metallic mint in France renders it especially desirable that we should not increase the sterling charges, while we are so uncertain how many rupees will be wanted to pay £1 worth of charge. In addressing the House on this subject four years ago I ventured to say that the silver question would probably not trouble us greatly till the American currency was well filled, but that, when America had absorbed as much as she required, we should have a recurrence of the disturbance. I do not venture any prophecy on this matter; but I certainly think that disturbance is not further off than it was four years ago, and I confess that it is not without anxiety that I look forward to the possible or probable stoppage of the American coinage of silver, and the effect which it certainly will have on our Exchange transactions with India. The indebtedness of India to this country, though reckoned in pounds sterling and dischargeable in rupees, is, as hon. Members know, really paid in produce, and whatever facilitates the export of that produce is an advantage to India. Low cost of carriage of grain from the interior to the seaboard is of vital interest to the Indian taxpayer, because the lower the cost of carriage between the point of production and the consuming market the greater will be the value at the place of production. In other words, a given amount of produce would discharge a greater amount of Debt.
This brings me face to face with the last part of my subject, the Indian Debt, said by some public writers to be so onerous and enormous a charge upon India. The total Debt, including every liability and guarantee on account of public works, is £229,000,000, against which we have public works, which pay good interest on £163,000,000, leaving an uncovered Debt of £66,000,000; not an excessive amount for a country of 200,000,000 people, whose trade is rapidly increasing, and whose annual exports exceed the total amount of her net National Debt. I may mention that the last reductions of freight on the railways have already had a great effect on 1669 the wheat export, which has risen in the two months ending May 30 to 4,166,000 cwt., against 2,705,000 cwt. in the corresponding period of 1882, and 2,024,000 cwt. in 1880–1—thus proving how important a factor cheap communication is in our financial arrangements.
There are many other points on which I should like to have spoken to day; but they hardly come within the scope of a financial speech. Before I sit down, however, I must say one word on the most regrettable event which has happened in India lately—that is, the retirement of Sir Evelyn Baring. His financial rule will long be remembered, not only for his continuous efforts to develop the policy laid down by his able Predecessor, but for the brilliant success of his own administration. In taking leave of him as our Finance Minister, I can only say how deeply we regret the parting. He leaves a clear field for his successor, who is no prentice hand, and in whose care we may safely leave our finances. One word more of regret. My Colleague, Sir Louis Mallet, whose name is most intimately connected with the commercial politics of the last 40 years, has, unfortunately for us, decided to withdraw those services which have in times past been so valuable to the Government of India. No one can blame him for this step. He has amply earned his rest, and, though he will be no longer with us in Office, we hope for many years to come to have the satisfaction of referring to his great experience whenever occasion may require it.
There is only one point more, one, perhaps, more political than financial; but much depends on the terms on which we live with our neighbours, and it has been the endeavour of the Government of Lord Ripon to cultivate good relations with the Ameer of Afghanistan. I may say that our relations are those of cordial concord. And we believe that in his own ability to defend his State lies our best safeguard from Frontier complications. The cordial friendship of the Ameer is far less costly than his shyness, and the Government of India have thought it right to enable him to maintain his position, even at some cost to themselves.
My task is done; I hope the explanation which I have tried to give will enable hon. Members to grasp the present financial position of our Indian Empire.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. J. K. Cross.)
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
While I congratulate the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken on his lucid and able speech, I cannot but say a word with regard to the contemptuous treatment which the Indian Budget has received from Her Majesty's Government. The debate has been postponed until that important Statement, affecting more than 200,000,000 people, has to be made in a House containing less than a score of Members on the Ministerial side of the House, and not half that number on the Opposition Benches. The Statement of my hon. Friend is quite worthy the attention of a full House. The administrative and judicial hierarchy of India is not generally understood in England. There has, up to the present, been a considerable distinction between the services of the "regulation" and "non-regulation" Provinces. The former are the older and earlier settled States, and embrace the Governorships of Madras and Bombay, and the Lieutenant Governorships of Bengal and of the North-West Provinces. The latter contain the Provinces of the Punjaub, Burmah, Oude, the Central Provinces, and Assam. The chief civil and judicial officers of these non-regulation Provinces are styled Chief Commissioners and Judicial Commissioners, except in the Punjaub, where there is a Lieutenant Governor and a Chief Court. In the regulation Provinces the superior civil and judicial appointments have only been open to the Members of the "Covenanted Services"—that is, to those who have passed the regular Indian competitive examination in this country. In the non-regulation Provinces, on the contrary, as they have been annexed and their Administration arranged more recently, the Executive and Judicial posts have been entirely in the patronage of the Governor General of India. There has been, practically, no criterion of examination. The Viceroy could appoint anyone, Native or European, he pleased. The most important office in the hierarchy of Indian Administration is, undoubtedly, the district magistrate, who, in the non-regulation Provinces, is styled Deputy Commissioner. Above him are the Commissioners, who superintend 1671 several districts, and above the Commissioners the Governors, Lieutenant Governors, and Chief Commissioners. But the magistrate of a district is the principal and central figure in Indian Administration. He occupies a dominant position in a district which varies in size. The average population of a British district is not far short of 1,000,000; but in many cases it exceeds 2,000,000, and in some there are more than 2,500,000. He is the representative of the British Government to all in his district. He is the chief collector of revenue. He is the highest executive officer of the district, and he has judicial functions as well. There are first and second and third classes of magistrates. There are also joint and assistant magistrates who help in his Courts with somewhat less salary. But no one can be a district magistrate who is not a magistrate of the first class and also a J.P.; and no magistrate can execute criminal jurisdiction over Europeans who is not himself a European British subject. He must also be a magistrate of the first class. The criminal jurisdiction of the magistrate is limited to sentences of three months upon Europeans and two years upon Natives, with proportionate power of imposing fines. Upon him the whole machinery of Government depends. Above the magistrate in his judicial capacity are the district and Sessions Judges, of whom there is one for each district. These are for judicial affairs, and, if they are themselves Europeans, have the power of sentencing Europeans to 12 months' imprisonment, and fines; and of sentencing Natives to longer terms of penal servitude. Above the Sessions Judges are the High Courts in the regulation, the Chief Court and Judicial Commissioners in the non-regulation Provinces. These have unlimited jurisdiction over both Natives and Europeans. Hitherto a European could not be tried and sentenced for a criminal offence by a Native magistrate or Judge, and not even by any European magistrate who was not of the first class and a J.P. There were but two exceptions. In the High Courts there are a few Native Judges; but these never sit alone, there being always European Judges present. In the Presidency towns of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, Native magistrates have been allowed a certain 1672 amount of jurisdiction over Europeans. But then there is the immense security of a large British resident population, of an English Bar, and of English Judges. Before Mr. Gupta's case, I believe, there was no instance of a Native magistrate or Deputy Commissioner, and Mr. Gupta was only temporarily in charge of a district. Now, what changes does the Illbert Bill introduce? Before considering them, it is essential that the Act of Parliament of 1870 should be borne in mind. This law enabled the Viceroy to mate rules for the nomination to public offices of Natives of proved merit and ability, not members of the Covenanted Service. Although this was passed in 1870, no step was taken under it for 10 years. The Duke of Argyll, acting as Secretary of State for India in 1869, and writing in his official capacity, on behalf of the Government of the present Prime Minister, stated clearly what it would be well that those who have to deal with India should never forget—Since Europeans have generally those qualities by which they have won and still hold the Indian Empire, the tests of competitive examination are, on the whole, good teats, as between different candidates of the English race. But this principle cannot be safely relied upon as regards the Natives of India. It is notorious that in their ease mere intellectual acuteness is no indication of ruling power. In vigour, in courage, and in administrative ability some of the races of India, most backward in education, are well known to be superior to other races, which intellectually are much more advanced. In a competitive examination the chances of a Bengalee would probably be superior to the chances of a Pathan or a Sikh. It would, nevertheless, be a dangerous experiment to place a successful student from the Colleges of Calcutta in command over any of the martial tribes of Upper India. It should never be forgotten, and there should never be any hesitation in laying down the principle, that it is one of our first duties towards the people of India to guard the safety of our own dominion.Indeed, two years earlier, Lord Lawrence, whose name has been unwarrantably used by agitators in this country, was extremely cautious in dealing with the question of Native officials in India. In his Minute of August 19, 1867, while assenting to the principle that certain posts—not the highest, by any means—should be open to Natives in the non-regulation Provinces, he concludes with the following very forcible remarks:—The Government of India have not overlooked the circumstance that Natives entrusted with administrative duties have a difficulty in 1673 dealing with independent Europeans. The Governor General—that is, Lord Lawrence—in Council expects that the local administrators will frame their proposals with due regard to the expediency of providing English officials for all districts in which European settlers or travellers abound.Lord Northbrook and Sir Arthur Hob-house, who are now talking so grandly about the rights of the Natives, did absolutely nothing during the years they were in Office. Lord Lytton, however, who is accused of many things by his political opponents, first moved in the direction of giving higher offices to Natives of India. In 1879 he drew up the following Rules:—1st. Each Local Government was to nominate Natives for posts within their Provinces hitherto limited to members of the Covenanted Service. Such nominees would have to pass the usual Departmental examination; except in the cases of Natives of not less than 25 years of age, if they were of proved experience or members of a profession. 2nd. These names were to be provisionally approved by the Governor General in Council. 3rd. The total number of persons thus appointed was not to exceed each year one-fifth of the number of Englishmen annually appointed. The first division of these nominees—that is, those without experience in a profession and under 25 years of age—could not be confirmed in their appointments until two years of satisfactory service had been reported by the Local Government and a Departmental examination had been passed. 4th. The Governor General might transfer them from one Province to another; and they might be dismissed by the Local Governments, with the Governor General's sanction. The Native officials appointed under these Rules since 1879 are styled members of "the now Native Statutory Service." Mr. Ilbert would repeal the words which confine the power of criminal jurisdiction over Europeans to magistrates who are themselves European British subjects. He proposes to give the power and criminal jurisdiction to four classes, who have not hitherto enjoyed it, provided they are magistrates of the first class and Justices of the Peace:—(a.) To Indian Natives in the Covenanted Service. Of these, there are at present nine, (b.) To the members of the Statutory Native Service just referred to. (c.) To Native Assistant Commissioners in non-regulation Provinces. 1674 (d.) To Native Cantonment magistrates; and also to all Native district magistrates and Sessions Judges. The really important head under which Natives in any numbers will be admissible to high Executive and Judicial offices is the second. In time they might, as members of the Indian Civil Service, amount to a sixth of the Official Service of India. How, and in what way, has this Bill been introduced? At a time when there was no call for it, nor any necessity. It is enough, especially in Oriental countries, to propose grave legislative changes when they are imperative. The immediate effect of this Bill may be small—that is, so far as concerns the number of those Natives who will at once get the power, though, none the loss, great hardships may be inflicted upon those Europeans, especially in out-of-the-way districts, who may come under the jurisdiction of a Native magistrate or Assistant Commissioner. Could a Native magistrate be loft in charge of a disaffected district in the case of a rising? Suppose that only half-a-dozen Native district magistrates obtained under this Bill the supreme executive power and the large judicial powers which they would have over their respective districts. In the tea-growing regions of Assam, or in some of the more turbulent portions of the North-West, where the few Whites are scattered and isolated among hundreds of thousands of Natives, what infinite mischief might be done by an ignorant or a prejudiced Native magistrate? European enterprize and capital would be driven out of vast districts which it is now developing. As was said lately by an eminent statesman—The men who are now enriching trade by the cultivation of tea, coffee, indigo, and cinchona, by the manufacture of jute, the working of mines, and the construction of railroads, are not the equals, but the superiors of the races benefited by their capital.This capital is entirely British. There can be no doubt about the effect produced by this Bill, be it just or unjust. It has stimulated race antagonism to an extent without parallel since the evil days of the Mutiny. The European population have risen against it with a unanimous and fervid opposition of unprecedented determination. The lower class of Hindoos, especially in Bengal, have been stirred up to a counter agitation 1675 of dangerous intensity. If the Bill be the insignificant measure some of its supporters represent, I would ask, was it wise, was it statesmanlike, with so little excuse, and for objects so slight, to apply the torch to such combustible material? Lord Ripon and his Advisers have stirred up a fever in India, which, at best, it will take years of prudence and calm to allay. What adequate reason can be given for the menacing convulsion his policy has fomented? We in England can barely imagine the strength of the indignation which these proposals have aroused among our countrymen throughout the length and breadth of India. Enthusiastic meetings have been held in every town, in every district. Resolutions have been passed against it and protests signed by thousands. Out of the 50,000 European civilians in India, probably not one-fiftieth part have failed to pronounce their resolute opposition to it. And it has been no mechanical or perfunctory agitation that this Bill has aroused. It is the determined, bitter, unanimous resistance of the whole British community—that is, of the enterprizing, civilizing, and progressive influence in India. The Volunteers, who number some 10,000 men, have actually threatened to return their arms if this Bill be passed. Even the Army, the very basis and symbol of our power, is deeply moved by the prospect. In several stations it has been difficult to restrain the soldiers from taking part in the meetings held to protest against the Bill. The British soldier, face to face with millions of an alien people, feels instinctively that which Ministers seem incapable of grasping. He realizes that anything which weakens British prestige in the East inflicts a perilous blow upon the British power. Nor is the official class—that vast body of highly educated, experienced, faithful, and high-minded men, who conduct the administration of India with the greatest credit to themselves and the most real benefit to the Native population—less hostile to the measure. Excepting a few high-placed officials, who belong to Lord Ripon's little clique of sentimentalists and academical Radicals, the immense mass of official opinion has pronounced against the Bill. I suppose not less than nine out of every 10 officials who have had the opportunity of declaring their 1676 views upon Mr. Ilbert's proposals have given an adverse opinion. Their Reports have been withheld from the knowledge of the country as long as possible; but they must soon be known. The misrepresentation of the debate in the Indian Council by a telegram from India, paid for with public money, is a painful and novel experience in our public life. The attempted concealment in this case and in others of like gravity is poor policy on the part of the Ministry. The Lieutenant Governor of Bengal has spoken out most unmistakably against the Bill. He is but the type of thousands. The High Court of that Province has issued as able, as fair, and as convincing a document as was ever penned. The Prime Minister yesterday ridiculed the feelings of the English in India. Hon. Gentlemen opposite contemn the opinion of their own countrymen. They pass by with easy self-satisfaction the well-weighed judgments of these real experts in Indian affairs, of these men who thoroughly know that vast country, its history, its passions, its dangers, facts about which sentimentalist crotcheteers in England are as ignorant as events have proved them to be about Ireland, about Zululand, about all their foreign and imperial policy. The English in India they describe with glib assurance as a prejudiced caste, whose knowledge and experience are not to be held in comparison with their own fantastic theories and their destructive humanitarianism. It would be just as fair to speak of the prejudice of physicians in a delicate case of disease, or of the prejudice of lawyers in a recondite question of law, or of the unreliability of merchants in a great question of trade, as to stigmatize, as hon. Gentlemen opposite have done, the men by whose system and administrative capacity and valour we rule India. The independent and permanent Executive and judicial functionaries throughout India are infinitely more trustworthy than the Viceroy's Council, most of whom are mere nominees of the Viceroy himself, men often chosen because their general views coincide with his, and because they are likely to vote as he wishes them to vote. It is a remarkable fact that all the independent Members of the Council are antagonistic to the Ilbert Bill, and that those who support it have received their position from Lord Ripon or from the present Ministry. 1677 What does Lord Ripon himself know about India? Probably less than Mr. Lal Mohun Ghose knows about England. Mr. Ilbert himself is a young barrister of some ability, whose brains were crammed with theoretical knowledge, and with philosophical abstractions and dreamy speculations—a very poor preparation, indeed, for the art of government, and generally implying a proportionate ignorance of men and things. This measure was wholly uncalled for. There was no demand among the Natives. There is no assertion of any denial or miscarriage of justice under the present system. It is true that since the introduction of the Bill the Baboos of Bengal have stirred up an agitation in its support. But even they do not allege that justice is not impartially administered at present. The Report from the High Court of Bengal, a body of most eminent and learned judicial functionaries of the highest character and the widest experience, is conclusive upon this point. Sir Richard Garth, the Chief Justice, is a man whoso great talents and probity of character inspire universal respect; and the Report upon this Bill, drawn up by him and by his Colleagues, is a model of clear and powerful reasoning. Its tone is moderate and judicial; but its arguments are irresistible. Native suitors infinitely prefer to go before English Judges. The poorer class especially seek the White magistrate. They know that neither fear, nor favour, nor presents, can pervert his decision. Those who seek justice undefiled invariably seek the Court presided over by an European. Moreover, the decisions of an European Judge are accepted with contentment even by those who lose. The bearing of Native litigants towards magistrates of their own colour is very different. They believe his judgment to be affected by some influence extraneous to the suit. They complain and they appeal. Often do Native disputants, in remote districts where there is no White magistrate, refer their differences to the arbitration of any European trader or resident rather than go to their own Courts. These are facts which anyone who knows India can confirm. Well, then, what is the excuse for this proposed change? It does not consist in any failure of justice, or in any practical grievance felt by the Native population. It is based on the desire to remove 1678 anomalies. It is a straining after an impossible equality of races and position which can never be attained so long as the British flag flies over India, and an English Administration governs the country. Once begin to base your Indian legislation and policy on the removal of anomalies, and you enter upon a course fatal to your dominion in India, fatal to the prosperity and wealth of these Kingdoms. The removal of anomalies, indeed! As Sir James Stephen well says, if this be your principle the greatest anomaly of all is the presence of Englishmen in India at all. Will the right hon. Gentleman and his Viceroy prepare to drive his countrymen, bag and baggage, out of the country they have rescued from war, from tyranny, and cruel devastation? That is the only logical and practical outcome of the argument as to anomalies. As the Judges of Bengal state in their most convincing Report—The anomaly involved in he present state of the law is merely one instance of a state of things on which the entire structure of Indian society depends.This Bill does not extinguish anomalies. It only brings them out in clearer relief. Do you allow Native officers to lead your troops? Do you allow Native soldiers to man your artillery? Would you appoint a Native Viceregent of the Queen? Dare you give a Native Judge power of life and death over English men and women? The advocates of this Bill overlook one striking anomaly which it promotes. It denies to the British non-official residents in Hindostan, many of them men of the highest ability and the most cultured education, the power of acting as magistrates or Judges. Yet it would confer the power of fine and imprisonment over British men and women upon Natives who know little or nothing of European ideas and habits. This prating about anomalies is idle and unfruitful, save of mischief. It can only lead to the undermining of the base upon which your beneficent rule in India must rest. Now, Sir, I ask the question of the Government—Are they prepared to give up India under any circumstances, or on any plea, or at any time? The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister stated on July 27—if we are endeavouring to make the resources of India auxiliary only to the greatness of England …. then we ought to walk out of India, and the sooner we do so the better.1679 These are vague and dangerous words. Let us not deal with theories. Let us keep to facts. Do not lot the torch of vacillation, and of hypothetical conditions, under which India may or may not be abandoned, be applied to India as it has been to Ireland, and with like disastrous results. We do govern well. British rule has conferred vast and inestimable benefits upon India and her myriad and heterogeneous population. We can prove those blessings—the priceless boons of order and peace, of rapid communication, of a better morality, of education, of impartial justice. Our rule will bear scrutiny. It will stand the closest comparison with that of any other conquering race the world has ever known. But there is another side to the picture, and that is the question of the interests of this country. Few realize what the possession of India means to these Islands. There is a volume of trade amounting to over £50,000,000 every year, which is rapidly increasing—a field for British enter-prize practically boundless. There is employment, profitable to themselves and beneficial to the country in which their energies are devoted, for thousands of active and enterprizing Britons. Have you realized what the loss of India would mean to the people of this country, your own people, your flesh and blood, whom you are bound to consider first and foremost? Are our markets so many, is our trade so flourishing, are others nations so fond of receiving our products, that we can treat with indifference anything that weakens our hold upon India? What would the working classes of this country say to your sham philanthropy if they realized what the loss of India would mean to them? Is the wage fund so abundant, is labour so highly paid, that our artizans and labourers can lightly put up with a diminution of their weekly wage by a sum of from 5s. to 10s. for every able-bodied man? That is what the loss of India would mean. I speak not of honour and power and high repute, of Imperial grandeur and prestige. These, we know, are antiquated delusions in which our foolish and wicked fathers believed. The wise men of the present prefer surrender, humiliation, and insult. Anarchy is the latest specific for the reformation of mankind. With India goes the commerce of the 1680 East, which is now poured into the lap of Britain—the trade of China and Japan, of the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, of the Islands of the Archipelago, of Persia, Arabia, and Egypt; and even that of our Australian Colonies would be at the mercy of a Foreign Power that held India. If a Liberal Cabinet do not appreciate the value of that with which they are tampering, at least the great despotism of the North knows what it is worth, and so Russia spends millions in sapping up to our Frontiers, hoping for a rich harvest in your day of trouble. Now, in view of the immense, the inestimable, importance of India to England, I affirm that the determination of British statesmen should be to maintain the authority and power of Britain unimpaired. I believe that, though but a humble Member of this House, I speak the mind of the great Conservative Party on this subject, and, more than that, the mind of the great bulk of the English people. It is no Party question. It is the life of the nation, the greatness of the Empire, the prosperity of our race, that are at stake. It is due to the greatness of the interests involved that there should be no doubt or qualification in this matter. A familiar collection of crotcheteers and anarchists were gathered together at Willis's Rooms a fortnight ago. The well-known names, the friends of every country but their own, that hounded on Russia in 1876 and 1877, that have since composed the Afghan, the Transvaal, and Zulu Committees, that have pressed upon the Ministry the anarchization of Ireland, are now banded together to support Lord Ripon in his destructive policy. Misfortune makes strange bed-fellows. I was interested to notice the conjunction of those fallen stars, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). The right hon. Member for Bradford referred to my interest in this question with somewhat of a cheap sneer. I was not aware that the administrative success of the right hon. Gentleman had been so conspicuous as to justify his treating even my views with contempt. There was, indeed, a third anxious to encourage the political aspirations of the Baboos of Bengal—the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). Times have changed since one of 1681 his present protégés—;a learned Baboo pundit—wrote of the official character of that hon. Member in Bengal—While he ruled this Province with a rod of iron he was the cactus grandiflorus of English despotism; but when he transmigrated to the House of Commons they exposed his cui bono in all its naked deformity.What a spectacle for gods and men! This trio of anarchists, led by the Baboo Lal Mohun Ghose. Never shall vague and mischievous rhetoric and pseudo-philanthropy shake the pillars of our Indian Empire. Never shall the pernicious humanitarianism of the clique that filled Willis's Booms on Monday last break up that glorious heritage of power. Under no circumstances will "we walk out of India." The buttresses of English power in India are adamantine, and so they shall remain. That is the resolve of the British people. It may, however, be said—"We concede much of what you say. But the way to strengthen our hold in India is to win the affection of the Natives, and to conciliate them to our rule. You must give them these privileges they ask for, and they will be loyal subjects of the Queen. "Now, I dispute this proposition. You must give India good government. She has it to a degree that she has never had before we conquered the country, and to a degree she never could enjoy under the rule of any Native race or dynasty. India must have liberty, she must have justice, impartially administered. Both she enjoys. Equality with the dominant race is impracticable. It is impossible, unless we are prepared to march out of India sooner or later. India was won by the superior qualities of Englishmen in arms, in statecraft, in commerce, in administration. India can only be kept under the British flag by the maintenance of that undoubted superiority. Do you think that for generations, for centuries, the same qualities that make the English people the Imperial, the civilizing race of the world, can be given to the Hindoo? Can you make him courageous instead of timid, honest instead of a believer in prevarication, incorruptible instead of a regular taker and giver of bribes? Can you eradicate the ingrained vices of Oriental peoples, which thousands of years of steady habit and degradation have made part of the Eastern character? 1682 Can you give to the Hindoo Judge more than a faint conception of our English thoughts, habits, motives, and life? Why, the relations that exist between the sexes in Europe are to an Oriental incomprehensible. He regards women as little better than animals. Are English women to be subjected to trial before a Hindoo Judge? Equality! Why, the name is preposterous in India. When gentlemen, like Mr. Lal Mohun Ghose, come here and prate about the rights of man and the equality of Native and European, they conveniently suppress the tremendous inequalities which their own civilization is based upon, and which he and his compatriots cherish as their dearest heritage. They say nothing about their insuperable barriers of caste. They are very quiet about the fact that Natives enjoy privileges in Courts of Justice which are not granted to Europeans. The wife of the highest English official may be called upon to give evidence in open Court. Many Native women—and not only they, but Hindoo men of certain rank—are exempted from any such responsibility. These are anomalies which the Bengali Baboo, who clamours for the right of criminal jurisdiction over Englishmen, would not like to see removed. Why, even in the Northbrook Club, it is notorious that the Native members of different castes and creeds regard each other with scant pleasure. And this in England, where such prejudices might be supposed to be, at least, in abeyance. This craving after an impossible equality is the curse of every people where it has taken root. It is based on the worst qualities of our human nature—selfish, self-asserting egotism. It has ruined France, and, if it be encouraged in India, it will be the parent of revolution and anarchy. Liberty is the sacred right of mankind, equality is the dream of theorists and the idol of anarchists. You, whose fatal counsels and still more fatal mismanagement have convulsed Ireland with sedition and ruin, appeal to Ireland as your justification for the agitation you are now fomenting in India. Has your policy in Ireland been so successful that you can call it to witness in the case of India? You found the Irish people prosperous and orderly. Where is the gratitude and the love which you fondly expected from the Irish people? You have roused a Frankenstein monster 1683 which will overwhelm you. The I Liberal Party in Ireland is gone. Mallow and Monaghan are the answers of the revolution to its short-sighted Ministers. And so, if your advice is not followed, and if the Baboo agitators are not given their way, we are to "have another Ireland in India, with 250,000,000 instead of 8,000,000." And this from you after the lessons of the past three years. Blind leaders of the blind, what strange fatality put such a self-convicting metaphor as that in your mouths? An ounce of courageous statesmanship is worth all the high-flown sentiments and humanitarian platitudes in the world. "Justice and Equity!" Those twin shadows of delusion in the ingenious eloquence of the Prime Minister will, no doubt, once more be trotted forth to do duty in the sacred cause of the Baboos of Bengal. Justice and Equity! How often have those words in the most impressive tones of the right hon. Gentleman, and with all his wealth of gesture and of elaboration, been given as the plea for some fresh onslaught on the loyal subjects, or on the Imperial interests of England? In those words Ireland was convulsed and demoralized. The Irish Land Act and the Coercion Bills were both defended by this formula. Under that plea the Transvaal surrender took place, and thousands of our Native allies were given over to spoliation and to death. Zululand is their latest victim; and many a British Colonist has cursed the day on which false sentiment usurped the place of statesmanship, and a sickly cosmopolitan humanitarianism supplanted that ancient patriotism which is now but an obsolete and ridiculed tradition. It was in the name of "justice and equity" that you would have swept away the solemn recognition of the Almighty by Members of this House. Now, you would undermine the very foundations on which our splendid and beneficent Empire in Hindostan rests, for the same misleading and fatal shibboleth. Oh, Sir, is there no justice for the interests of England? Can no equity be found for the claims of the Empire of Britain? Can the Prime Minister of England never feel some of that "deep emotion" which stirs him to eloquent protest on behalf of a French Company, when the influence and power of England are at stake, when the rights and the lives and the future of the English 1684 race largely hang upon his decision? We won India by the superior qualities of the English race. We can only keep India by preserving that superiority. The Native has found the acknowledgment of that superiority no hardship hitherto. He has never known any sort of rule but a crushing tyranny, rarely redeemed by good administration. He has been accustomed to look up to the White rulers as blessed visitors, who give him order and prosperity, and show him an example of honour and gallantry and purity which he admires if he does not imitate. It is not by force alone that British rule in India is maintained. The 60,000 British bayonets that garrison that vast country are but a drop among the teeming myriads by whom they are surrounded. It is the repute, the prestige, the innate sense of superiority that makes that little band of soldiers and administrators respected and obeyed by the masses around them. They have been convinced by the past history of their relations with Englishmen that the courage of the English race is indomitable; that their tenacity is unyielding; that though they may be repulsed once, or twice, or thrice, yet will they return to the struggle, with unabating resolve, till resistance is vanquished. This feeling must be maintained. But if this mischievous measure become law a dangerous blow will be struck at the popular idea of British superiority. The Native who sees an Englishman tried and sentenced by one of his own race will soon lose the natural respect which at present is felt for an Englishman, and will begin a course of encroachment which can only end in trouble and mutiny. The Oriental mind mistakes concession for fear. It cannot comprehend the high-flown motives which lead, for instance, to the surrender in the Transvaal, or to the scuttling out of Afghanistan. As a Native said insolently to an English official a few months back—"You will soon have another Afghanistan, and we will be the Afghans"—that is, we will drive you out of India. This shows the injurious effect of our retreat from Candahar. Already a great change has come over the bearing of the Natives in Bengal since the Baboo agitation began. Every letter from India speaks of the changed manner of the Natives, of their insolent and defiant demeanour. This may seem a small 1685 matter to our smug Radicals at home. But it is a very serious thing indeed for Europeans living almost alone in a distant Province, among thousands of alien, ignorant, and excitable people. Those who have not forgotten the awful deeds of the Mutiny, when massacre and horrible outrages were the lot of hundreds of English women, cannot but feel indignant at the recklessness that is fomenting a like danger now. Insults to Europeans have trebled since the introduction of this Bill, and there have been several cases of grave outrages upon English women. But who is it demand these new rights? The better class of Natives do not want them. The manlier and more virile races do not care for them. A very remarkable proof of this appeared in a recent issue of The Pioneer of Allahabad. In a letter signed "Mahomed Noor Khan, Pensioner, late Rassaldar, 7th Bengal Cavalry," the writer asserts, as the result of 26 years' experience, that cases, civil or military, are more impartially tried by Europeans than by Natives. He proceeds thus—With the exception of the obese and feeble Bengalees, who would be found utterly incapable of defending their country should an emergency arise, no other race in India would hail the passing of a measure which, instead of improving the condition of the people, would simply entail disasters and misfortunes, unheard of and unprecedented, on this unhappy land. And if the Government be desirous of completely ruining the country, it cannot do so better, or sooner, than by passing this obnoxious Bill. My object in addressing you is that no heed should be paid to these clamorous Baboos; that the Bill, already a source of discord and ill-feeling, may be consigned to the names; and that the Government of the country may be carried on upon the same principles as heretofore.Of all Eastern products, the Bengali Baboo is the most unpromising and the most unlovely. He has a supple character, and a glib tongue. He is master of smooth phrases and specious arguments. Of solid and generous qualities he is devoid. These are the men who hope to make a good thing out of the agitation, that are inflaming the minds of the populace against English rule. Macaulay draws a good picture of the Bengali of 100 years ago. His modern descendant is not more manly, but he is more mischievous. He has learned the vices and the cant of our civilization, but not its virtues. Is it kindness to the 1686 people whose cause you think you are defending? Supposing the Bengali got his way, and drove the English out of India, what would be his fate? How long could he hold his own? Not for 12 months. As before, so then, the stouter and braver races of the North and West would soon make him regret the loss of British protection, and of British liberty. The Sikh, the Mahratta, the Pathan, the Ghoorka, the Afghan, would ride roughshod over the soft Bengali. If he fancies himself now chastened with whips he would soon experience the scorpions of Oriental conquest and despotism. These are just the class who, if they get power, would misuse it, who would "take it out of the Whites," as one of them boasted not long ago he meant to do. My argument has hitherto been mainly based on the weakening of British authority throughout India, which this change would tend to bring about. But there is a very practical danger to the European settlers and merchants. The characteristic vice of Eastern legislation is perjury. The subornation of witnesses is not altogether unknown in England; but it is a fine art in Hindostan. Troops of false witnesses can be hired for a few rupees, ready to swear anything or everything. In the case of Natives, this often equalizes itself. If the prosecutor comes into Court with 50 false witnesses, and the de-fondant meets his charge with 50 rebutting perjurers, a balance can be struck. Everyone who has experience of India knows the prevalence of this false swearing. But Europeans in remote corners of India, especially in Assam and the tea-growing districts, where they are far from European communities and surrounded by swarms of an alien population, will be peculiarly helpless if tried before a Native magistrate. They would be overborne by the stream of lying witnesses; the magistrate might easily be prejudiced against them. He would not understand the English feeling or mode of life. An English artizan or clerk, for example, an engine-driver or warehouseman, would be quite at the mercy of his enemies in a distant Province. He could not afford to employ an English lawyer, or, if he could, there would be none within reach. That the Europeans in the Mofussil, and especially in outlying districts, feel this danger acutely the vehemence and unanimity of the proteats 1687 against the Ilbert Bill prove conclusively. No one can read the determined and almost desperate opposition of the whole European community to this change in the law without feeling that to them it is a matter of life and death. Many, indeed, openly say they cannot stay in the country. Will those friends of India who are trying to render life for their countrymen impossible in that country make a computation of the loss to their Indian clients if British capital be withdrawn from India? It is with no vainglorious self-righteousness that Englishmen may point, as a sufficient vindication of their Empire in Hindostan, to the matchless benefits which their supremacy has conferred upon the inhabitants of that vast and heterogeneous country. The history of the world can show no parallel to the rule of Britain over India. There 250,000,000 of people of many races and hostile creeds, of ancient origin and chequered history, enjoy the benefits of a regular and beneficent Administration. These myriads of people, alien in blood and religion, in language and manners, yet enjoy, under the British flag, blessings to which, in the long history of their past, their forefathers have been strangers. For a century they have had peace instead of desolating struggles, security instead of wars and invasions, in which the conquerors pillaged, massacred, and oppressed the vanquished. They have had order and law; not the occasional tranquillity of a rigid and unbending despotism, but the regular order of a civilized Power, guided by principles of justice, and administered in the main by just and honourable men. They have lived under, not the capricious edicts of tyrants, but the well-considered provisions of an established code of laws. Commerce, which was limited by the hostility of rival States and by the difficulties of intercommunication, has been marvellously developed by the union of all India under one civilizing Power, and by the promotion of those wonderful means of communication with which science has furnished man. Ten thousand miles of railways already exist in India. The time of journey from Bombay to Calcutta is not a tenth of what it used to be. Before the end of this century it is probable that the length of railways will have been trebled. What this means as an active agent in developing 1688 the wealth of Hindostan, in preventing the scourge of famine, in promoting the general comfort of the people, the most ignorant can form some estimate. The education of that vast Continent is progressing. The humblest student of the history of this most interesting country cannot but wonder at the change which a few generations of British power have wrought. He will behold a land not long since swept over by hostile and remorseless hordes as with a besom of destruction, downtrodden and oppressed and despoiled, now in the peaceful enjoyment of order and good administration. He will see hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile soil recovered from desert jungles, that owed their growth to the terror of wild beasts or of hostile incursions. He will see everywhere law, and even progress, instead of capricious tyranny and stagnating corruption. All this he will find; and seeing it, the Englishman of this generation, if he be true to his country and to his race, to his great ancestors, whose courage and skill, whoso resolution and statesmanship, have won this splendid country for him, and have conferred such priceless advantages upon its people, will make it his first duty and his highest pride to hand down that matchless heritage of beneficent power unweakened—nay, more strong and more secure—to those that come after him.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
, in rising to move—That, in the interests of India and of the United Kingdom, it is desirable that India should not bear the charge of the Consular and Agency expenditure on the Persian Gulf, and upon the Tigris and Euphrates, and that the concerns of British trade and commerce in Western Asia should be in the hands of officers more completely responsible to the Home Government,said, he was one of the very small number of Members present when the House was counted out on the occasion to which the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) had referred. He regretted the occurrence, as he believed nothing could more strengthen the policy of Lord Ripon than a discussion in that House on Mr. Ilbert's Bill. Passing from that subject, however, he wished to express his opinion that the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India was full of very hopeful encouragement. It was a practical statement, and it contained something more 1689 than the germ of a suggestion which would be in the course of another year largely developed. He alluded, of course, to that part of the speech in which his hon. Friend referred to public works and the development of railways in India. He desired to call his attention to a practical question connected with his Amendment. It related to the increase and the stability of British trade in the Persian Gulf and on the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates. At present that region afforded the best promise of an increase of British interests with regard to trade. It was, however, quite an anomalous state of things that our Consuls and Representatives at Bagdad, Muscat, Bushire, and other places in that region should be paid out of Indian funds. The reason why the anomaly existed was that, to a certain extent, it was not an anomaly before the construction of the Suez Canal, because no part of the earth had been so affected by that construction. In 1860, before the construction of the Suez Canal, the amount of tonnage in the Persian Gulf did not exceed 3,000. Last year it was 60,000, and there was no increase comparable to that in any other part of the world. He believed there was a small Steamship Company, acting under a Firman granted by the Porte, plying on the Tigris from the Persian Gulf to Bagdad. This Company was at present in receipt of a subsidy from the Government of India for carrying Her Majesty's mails on the Tigris and Euphrates; and the vessels had been violently laid hands on by the Porte, prevented from discharging cargo or mails, and compelled to go some hundreds of miles to Bushire. He was disposed to think that this highhanded conduct on the part of the Porto was due to the fact that Her Majesty's Government was not properly and directly represented as it should be in those places. Consequent upon the opening of the Suez Canal and the abridgment of the distance from this country, these regions had become more important than ever in the interests of England; and it was a monstrous abuse of our power that we should impose these charges upon India, and in the highest degree short-sighted in the interests of this country not to have officials there directly responsible to Her Majesty's Government. He hoped that next year the India Office would agree to the appointment 1690 of a Select Committee to consider the agricultural condition of India in connection with the Report of the Famine Commission. He concluded by moving his Amendment, not intending to press it, but hoping that some satisfactory statement on the subject would be made by the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
To leave out the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the interests of India and of the United Kingdom, it is desirable that India should not bear the charge of the Consular and Agency expenditure on the Persian Gulf, and upon the Tigris and Euphrates, and that the concerns of British trade and commerce in Western Asia should he in the hands of officers more completely responsible to the Home Government,"—(Mr. Arthur Arnold,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
, without wishing to enter into the collateral question raised by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold), observed that in 1879–80 a Special Committee inquired into the incidence of these charges between India and England; and his impression was that the Committee were of opinion that, on the whole, the existing arrangement was the best. He had listened, in common with everybody in the House, with great interest to the able and lucid Statement of the Under Secretary of State, and was only sorry he had not had an opportunity of making it earlier in the Session. He should like to point out the new position in which they stood in regard to Indian matters in consequence of the New Rules of Procedure. Hitherto it had been possible to bring Indian questions forward on going into Committee of Supply; but now they could only bring on Motions germane to the Votes. Thus there was hardly an opportunity during the Session of raising Indian questions, except on the Indian Financial Statement, or when a private Member was successful in the ballot. The result, he was afraid, would be—possibly even next year—that those who desired to speak on the condition of our Indian Empire would be forced to take the occasion of the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech, unless the Government afforded them some better opportunity earlier in the Session than at 1691 present. In listening to the Under Secretary's speech he could not help thinking that the hon. Gentleman was a good deal overshadowed by the discussion which took place on the question of the reduction of the Indian Expenditure, because a great part of that speech was taken up in apologizing for certain items, and in pointing out that, after all, they were being gradually reduced, and that with regard to others he hoped the Expenditure would be increased. He did not think it necessary to point out the fallacy of comparing one year's Expenditure with another's by simply contrasting the gross Expenditure. He had endeavoured to prove the other day, when he brought forward a Motion which was accepted by the House, that the Expenditure now was £3,500,000 larger than in 1880; and he was not aware that any attempt had been made to controvert that proposition. The only reply of the Under Secretary of State for India was that, although this might be true, the Expenditure of the present Government was upon good objects; that of the late upon wicked objects. He did not know that the Liberal Party had a monopoly for doing good in India. But that had nothing whatever to do with the question. The argument would be quite germane if they were discussing whether the Afghan War were just or unjust; but now that they were endeavouring to compare the ordinary Expenditure of one year with that of another, it was trifling with the question to drag in extraordinary Expenditure of that kind, and so leading people away from examining into whether the ordinary expenditure had been increased or decreased. He assumed, as a matter of fact, that the ordinary Expenditure had been increased by £3,500,000; and when the hon. Gentleman said that the reductions which took place in 1879–80 were not to the advantage of India—of which he made a very considerable point—he would like to ask the hon. Gentleman what caused those reductions? In the first place, the Government for the time being examined very carefully into the condition of financial affairs in India, and came to the conclusion that it was right that a considerable reduction of Indian Expenditure should take place. They made proposals to Parliament to that effect; and how were they met? The Prime Minister stood up in that House and told 1692 them his objection to those reductions, which were now said not to be to the advantage of India, was that they were inadequate; and he urged the House not only to accept the reductions then proposed, but to reduce the Expenditure of India by no less than £4,000,000 in addition. With regard to the item of Public Works, the Under Secretary spoke as if the Government had made a new discovery that Public Works were a good thing for India; but Lord Salisbury, during the time he was at the India Office, had probably done more for the development of Public Works in India than any previous Secretary of State. He (Mr. Stanhope) desired most heartily that Public Works should be pushed forward as the finances of India could afford and the material condition of the country would justify, but not to push them on in advance of the material condition of the people. He contended that they ought to maintain a fixed policy, to say what amount it would be justifiable to spend over a reasonable series of years, and not to allow that amount to be exceeded by the pressure which came from all quarters. When the hon. Gentleman pointed out to them that the Effective Charge for the Army in India had been reduced during the present year, he stated that he (Mr. Stanhope) was heartily glad to hear it. But he was exceedingly sorry to hear that, although the Government had undoubtedly taken steps which had the effect at present of reducing the Effective Charges for the Government in India, they had also taken the very decisive step of rejecting all the proposals for the reduction of Army Expenditure made in the Report of the Simla Commission. The House had been unfortunately kept in the dark as to what those proposals were, and he protested against the action of the Government in that respect. The time had come when Papers giving full information ought to be before the House. It was all very well to say that the Correspondence was not complete; but no Indian Correspondence ever was complete. He feared it was too late now to make any remarks upon these proposals with the hope of inducing the Government to act upon them. He regretted that Major Baring had been called upon to vacate the responsible position he occupied in Egypt. It was a misfortune to India that a master of 1693 finance should be called away from India just as he had begun to thoroughly understand the finance of that country. Happily, Major Baring was able to leave the finance of India in a sound position. He (Mr. Stanhope) also regretted that Sir Louis Mallet was no longer able, on account of ill-health, to continue at the India Office; he could only hope that that gentleman would long be spared to serve his country in other ways. Reference had been made to the relations with Afghanistan. He did not desire to dwell upon that matter; but he hoped the Government were going to produce Papers in regard to it. They all knew perfectly well there had been recent negotiations with the Ameer of Afghanistan. The Ameer had expressed a desire to visit India; but for what purpose they were not told. Now, apparently, the journey had been abandoned. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett), in an able and instructive speech, had introduced the question of the Ilbert Bill. Although the matter had been very little mentioned in the House, it was one of the deepest importance to all those who took an interest in the affairs of India. There were some hon. Members who were in the habit of alleging that the fears of the Anglo-Indians on this subject were exaggerated. It ought to be remembered that the people who were in the best position to judge were those who had had experience of India by living among the population, and who knew the difficulties with which the Anglo-Indians had to contend. There were many who thought that the Anglo-Indians had established most conclusively that the privileges it was now proposed to take away from the Europeans were the important safeguards against the real danger. Who was it who held that opinion? The Judges of the High Court of Calcutta held that opinion. They were well qualified to form an impartial opinion on the subject. After quoting the speech of Sir Stuart Bayley in the debate of March 9, in which he pointed out the dangers to which it was stated the Europeans in India would be subject, they said—The Judges concur in the views here expressed; and they consider that the dangers thus described in the case of planters and manufacturers would he even greater in the case of persons in a humbler position in life, railway employés, artificers, and the like. These men 1694 are continually brought into contact with Natives in ways which may easily give rise to misunderstandings and ill-will. Should an accusation he brought against them, they labour under great disadvantages; they are often isolated from other Europeans: they generally have but an imperfect acquaintance with the vernacular languages; they are unable to retain the costly services of European advocates; and they might, in some circumstances, find it impossible to secure the assistance even of Native practitioners. It is easy to see how the grossest injustice might easily be inflicted in such eases by an officer who from any cause fails fully to realize the position of the accused. It is, at any rate, certain that Europeans of this class would feel an entire want of confidence in any hut an European tribunal. On the whole, after making every allowance for temporary excitement and agitation, it is, the Judges think, impossible to doubt that European residents in the Mofussil do really consider themselves to be, and in fact are, in a position which justifies them in regarding this privilege of being tried by an European, on whose independence and impartiality they can fully rely, as one of very real importance to them.That opinion so held by the Judges was the opinion which up to this time had been held by all authorities on the subject of the Government of India. He would venture to quote again a remark which was made on the subject by Lord Lawrence. Writing in 1867, Lord Lawrence said, in regard to the re-admission of Natives to the Civil Service—In arriving at this decision the Government of India has not overlooked the circumstance that Natives entrusted with administrative duties have a difficulty in dealing with independent Europeans. The Governor General in Council expects that the local Administration will frame their proposals with due regard to the expediency of providing English officials for all districts in which European settlers or travellers abound.That was the opinion of Lord Lawrence; but it did not appear to be the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), who had spoken of the opposition to this Bill in most contemptuous terms. The right hon. Gentleman had said that all the opposition came from the lawyers, not hesitating to attribute the meanest motives to his political opponents; and he added that the reason why the Judges objected to it was that a Native was recently appointed as Acting Chief Justice at Calcutta. A more impertinent insinuation he (Mr. Stanhope) never heard of; and if it had not come from a person in the position of the right hon. Gentleman he would not have noticed it. The right hon. Gentleman would be 1695 very much surprised to hear that all those Judges and all those Civil servants were just as much devoted to India as he was, and that they were just as anxious that the relations between Europeans and Natives should be improved—and, what was more, they had laboured during a long and trying career in India to effect that object. He should not be surprised that many of those gentlemen should be deeply hurt by that observation of the right hon. Gentleman. The fact was, the opposition to the Bill did not come from the lawyers. It was quite true that the legal element was as much opposed to the Bill as the Civil servants, nine-tenths of whom, both in India and England, were opposed to it. ["No!"] He said that deliberately; and, what was more, there were many Natives opposed to it. It was, in short, a case of experience against sentiment. Was experience to go for nothing? Those most opposed to the Bill had spent their lives in India; they had experience of what Native Judges could and could not do; and what they said ought to be weighed by the Government before anything was done. Not one single Local Government in India was in favour of the Bill, as it had been introduced, and the two principal Governments concerned—those of Bengal and Assam—were opposed to it in every form, and desired to have it withdrawn. Now, what were the grounds for the Bill? None whatever had been alleged. No one had seriously ventured to put forward the idea that there was any real inconvenience which required a remedy. On that subject the Judges were entitled to express a very strong opinion, and they told us not only that there was no inconvenience now, but that there was in the immediate future no prospect of any, and they went on to say that the course of legislation since 1793 had been invariably against the policy of the measure. They also pointed out that it was contrary to the settlement of 1872. The deliberate compromise then arrived at was that there should remain on the Statute Book this special privilege of Europeans in India. He had not been able to discover in all the papers he had read any reason for the proposal, except the one broad ground that it was desirable to abolish all race distinctions in India. The answer to that was that it 1696 was impossible to do so. Race distinctions necessarily arose in consequence of our position as a Governing Body, and if they were to be got rid of Natives would have to give up far more of them than Europeans. He would like to read a short passage from a speech of Sir James Stephen, who was a great authority. Sir James Stephen said—In countries situated as most European countries are, it is, no doubt, desirable that there should be no personal laws; but in India it is otherwise. Personal as opposed to territorial laws prevail here on all sorts of subjects, and their maintenance is claimed with the utmost pertinacity by those who are subject to them. The Mahomedan has his personal law, the Hindoo had his personal law. Native women, "who, according to the custom of the country, ought not to appear in Court, are excused from appearing in Court. Natives of rank and influence enjoy, in many cases, privileges which stand on precisely the same principle; and are English people to be told that, while it is their duty to respect all these laws scrupulously, they are to claim nothing for themselves? That while English Courts are to respect, and even enforce, a variety of laws which are thoroughly repugnant to all the strongest convictions of Englishmen, Englishmen who settle in this country are to surrender privileges to which, rightly or otherwise, they attach the highest possible importance? I can see no ground or reason for such a contention. I think there is no country in the world, and no race of men in the world, from whom a claim for absolute identity of law for persons of all races and all habits comes with so bad a grace as from the Natives of this country, filled, as it is, with every distinction which race, caste, and religion can create, and passionately tenacious as are its inhabitants of such distinctions.Some contended that the opposition to the Bill was contrary to the policy of the Act of 1833, which laid it down that no Native, by reason of race, religion, and so on, should be disqualified. But could anyone say it was possible to carry out that principle in every case? [Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: Hear, hear!] Was the hon. Gentleman who cheered prepared to appoint a Native Governor General of India? Did he think that within any reasonable distance of time Natives could be so appointed? Lord Ripon was anxious to shift the responsibility from himself, for he said—The great change which has taken place in regard to this question from an administrative point of view has been that made by Lord Lytton's Government in 1879;and he wont on to argue that "Lord Lytton's system," "Lord Lytton's rules," caused an irresistible necessity for this measure. Lord Lytton certainly 1697 did more for the admission of the Natives into the Public Service than most Governors General, and a great deal more than Lord Ripon by this Bill could possibly effect. Lord Lytton, in accordance with an Act passed in 1870, when the present Prime Minister was at the head of the Government, framed Rules for the larger admission of Natives into the Public Service. There was no suggestion from the opponents of the Bill that the Natives should be kept out of the offices then thrown open to them. What they said was that when appointed they ought not to be given a new position for which there was no necessity and no justification. His own opinion was that the chief importance of the Bill was derived from the fact that it followed so close upon the heels of the Local Government scheme. That scheme, whether good or bad, was an honest attempt to associate Europeans and Natives in the government of the country, and the experiment was about to be tried by Lord Ripon in all parts of the country and under all possible conditions. The first essential to the success of that scheme was that the Natives and Europeans should meet on the new Board on an equal footing; and at the next moment, when race feeling should be allayed by every means, and when everyone wished to see this Local Government scheme tested fairly, this bomb-shell was thrown in. By so doing they introduced at once race feeling of the most vitally dangerous character; and he was afraid they would find the result would be that a state of affairs had been brought about by which, without conferring any boon on the Natives, they would be taking a course offensive to the Europeans and dangerous to the success of the experiment they were about to try. The Natives believed that we were taking a step which was gradually to lead to the abolition of English and European rule. The Native Press throughout India were endeavouring to teach the people that a new era was about to dawn, and that this Bill was the introduction of a new system, for which they could not be too Boon prepared. He should say that he read this morning the language of the Prime Minister yesterday with intense regret. Anything more indiscreet than the sort of language in which he spoke of the Bill as if it were only a step towards 1698 a wider policy without limitation as to time, it would be impossible to imagine. Holding the opinion of the Duke of Argyll, and always remembering that our rule rested on the recognition of the fact that we were the stronger, the policy recently adopted was, in his opinion, most unfortunate. There were two ways of ruling a great Empire like India, which included a great number of Europeans and a great number of Native races. One was to raise the Natives to the level of the Europeans, and the other was to bring the Europeans down to the level of the Natives. In the old Roman Empire the former course was always followed. They were doing exactly the reverse; they were levelling down to the Natives. They were taking away privileges which had for a long time been enjoyed by Englishmen, and they were to confer no benefit on the Natives. It would achieve no practical object, and he therefore ventured to enter a protest against it, on the ground that it appeared to him to be full of danger. But he did not yet despair. The reason why he had not brought forward before a specific Motion on the subject was simply this. Now that Lord Ripon had received the opinions of all the Local Governments of India we could not doubt they would have weight with him. There was no one who would deny that those opinions ought to be conclusive. Could they conceive that a measure ought to be passed which not one Local Government said ought to pass, and that it ought to be pressed upon an unwilling European population? He fully admitted the difficulty in which Lord Ripon was placed; but he hoped that even at this hour prudent counsels might so far prevail, and that Lord Ripon would not be carried away by the encouragement he had received from certain Radical Clubs in England; but, looking to the truest interests of India in the future, he would endeavour to avert a danger that must be great, and must increase with agitation in India.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
said, he should not follow the hon. Member who had just spoken on the question of the Ilbert Bill. He (Mr. Fowler) was disposed to think that it would be found that there had been much exaggeration in the minds of the opponents of this measure, 1699 and he was entirely satisfied with the explanations given by the Prime Minister so recently. He desired to confine his remarks to the question of Public Works—a question second to none in its importance. It divided itself into two portions, first, as to works made out of Revenue; and, secondly, as to works constructed by means of borrowed money. As to the former, he never could understand why works which would here be made by means of borrowed money should in India be made out of Revenue. He remembered discussing the matter with Mr. Grant Duff as long ago as 1873, and the only reply he got was that the Government dared not trust itself, or its officers, to increase borrowings. That seemed to him a very poor answer. It might fairly be said that a Government which could not trust itself to select what works were fit to be made was not fit to govern a great Empire. At that moment it appeared, from the paper he held in his hand, that India paid £7,000,000 every year out of Revenue for works most of which would be paid out of borrowed capital at home. The salt tax was almost £6,000,000; so that, in fact, they taxed the people's salt in order to make these works. Then, again, they derived a large revenue from opium—a revenue much disapproved of by many of them. And yet they continued paying for works out of Revenue, as if their taxation were of the most satisfactory kind possible. It was said that the burden of taxation was not heavy in India. That might be so; but so long as they had a salt tax, and a revenue from opium, he should regard with aversion the paying for Public Works out of Revenue. Had India a Parliament it would not be done; and the only explanation of the present position was that she had no Parliament. He would now pass on to the second head—namely, Works paid for out of Borrowed Money. The position of India was certainly very peculiar economically. She had, in fact, enormous surplus produce, but she was deficient in markets. She could not get her wheat to the coast, except at great expense. Where there were no railways, every 20 miles carriage by carts added 1s. a-quarter to the cost of the wheat. So, as had been explained already that day, a great harvest might 1700 be a calamity to the people, because the prices of grain fell heavily, and the cultivator could not sell his surplus at a price sufficient to enable him to pay his taxes or rent. Over great areas there was no railway, and, therefore, no market. The opening of a line from Bhopal to Gwalior, for instance, would, he was assured, bring down 200,000 tons of additional wheat to the ports every year. It was impossible, when considering this matter, not to be struck with the contrast between India and America. In India they had 250,000,000 of people, and 10,000 miles of railways. In America they had 50,000,000 "of people, and 100,000 miles of railways. America, in about 40 years, had made 100,000 miles; and India, in about 25 years, had made 10,000 miles. So the resources of America had been developed to an infinitely greater extent than the resources of India. He should like to mention one or two American facts. In Oregon the export of wheat had risen from nothing to 5,000,000 bushels a-year since railways had been established there. From Illinois the export of wheat had doubled under the development of the railway system, and the same progress had taken place in Missouri and Nebraska; and in Missouri very little was done before the railways came, though they had much water carriage in that State. The American experience was well summed up by Mr. E. Atkinson, an eminent authority. In 1880, he said—In all these great achievements in human progress—in the production or leading forth of the wealth of the mines, the forests, and the soil—it has been the railroad that has made all other inventions worth applying; that has caused abundance to rule where famine might have been.The importance of this question was evident from the amount of wheat they imported. In the year ending the 31st of this month, they would have imported from all quarters about 20,000,000 quarters of wheat; and he was assured that they could procure the whole of this amount from India, if she only possessed adequate means of transport. It appeared, from Sir Evelyn Baring's statement, that the present cost of carrying wheat in India over 616 miles of railway was greater than the cost of carriage over 960 miles in America. In America it cost about 6d. 1701 per quarter per 100 miles, while in India it amounted to nearly 1s. He had no doubt that India would prove to be one great source of supply of wheat in the future, if not the greatest; and he wished to observe that the wheat trade from the Persian Gulf was growing rapidly, and India needed every facility in order to enable her to compete with this important rival. Many improvements might be suggested as to the management, of Indian railways. He thought there should be less of Government interference in details; and he thought that Native labour might be more largely used with a most economical result. And Government might do other things. It might encourage the use of good seed; it might promote the establishment of warehouses and of agricultural banks; and it might do much to extend a knowledge of agriculture amongst the people. Two questions arose as they considered this subject—Why were not railways made faster, and why were they not made cheaper? One great objection also arose, and that was as to borrowing money. It was, however, absurd to foresee any real danger in this direction, when they had just heard that the total uncovered Debt of India was only £60,000,000 sterling, and that the railways paid more than 4 per cent on the whole outlay upon them, including the loss of interest incurred in the early days before the traffic had been developed, and when so much money was wasted in construction. But in 1878–9 a Committee of that House resolved that the Government of India ought not to borrow more than £2,500,000 for the purpose of making Public Works. To impose such a limit was, in his opinion, most unbusiness-like. The amount required at any one time must depend on the circumstances of the period. He could understand what hon. Members opposite called "a policy;" but he could not understand "a limit" of money. He was for a policy of the prudent extension of works, without a hard-and-fast line as to the amount to be expended in any one year. Were their railway system really developed, the benefits to India and to England would be great. As to the former, he believed that the land revenues would increase rapidly; and with the improved condition of the people there would be an increased revenue from stamps, and an increased 1702 demand for salt. To quote the words of Mr. Juland Danvers, in his last Re-port on Indian Railways—In 1860 not 1 cwt. of wheat had been exported from India; last year, 9,379,236 cwts. were consigned to the United Kingdom.—Now 19,000,000 cwts. were exported—In fact, the indirect are greater than the direct gains, though not measurable with the same exactitude, and to railways is greatly due the extended trade, the increased revenue, the success of the great fiscal reforms which have of late been effected, and the improved condition of the people.But the people of England would also derive benefit. In the first place, the demand for rails and engines would be of great service to some of their industries. Ear more important, however, was the consideration that in taking wheat from India they were dealing with a country with which they had true freedom of trade—a country which took our goods in return free of duty, and not, as in the case of America, a country which imposed on them a heavy duty. So an extension of this trade with India would probably cause a great demand for the produce of their looms. Therefore, for every reason, he asked the House to insist on a consideration of this question, and to refuse to lay down a limit as to the power of the Government to borrow. Those who refused to assist the people of India in the development of their country incurred a great responsibility; and, alike in the interests of England and of India, he asked the House to encourage the Government of India in the great work of extending the means of transport throughout the country.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he was somewhat dismayed by the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. W. Fowler), because, if it meant anything, it meant the reduction of taxation and unlimited borrowing powers. If that policy were carried out, in a short number of years they would have to impose a great deal more taxation than at present. Not very long ago he saw in a journal with which he believed the hon. Gentleman was connected—The Economist—that half the railways in America paid no dividends at all. These Companies had been promoted by enormous grants of land. There was no comparison at all between the United States and India. In America they had 1703 the largest and most fertile territory in the world, in which Europeans could live in comfort all the year round. In India the conditions were exactly opposite. What his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Stanhope) and those who sat on his side of the House advocated in reference to Public Works was that that policy should be continuous. When he was in Office the Government had to deal with Indian finance during a period of great pressure. The present Under Secretary had to deal with a period of great prosperity; and, therefore, what they had said was that, while continuing to spend money on Public Works, the Government should spend a little less money than usual during a period of prosperity, in order that they might be able to spend a little more than usual during a period of pressure. It was a great misfortune that this Financial Statement had been made the second Order of the Day at a Morning Sitting on the last Wednesday of the Session. Private Members had been induced to consent to a curtailment of their privileges in order that more time might be given to the discussion of important Public Business, and this was the practical result. In one part of the speech of the Under Secretary of State for India he entirely concurred—namely, that in which the hon. Gentleman regretted the loss India would sustain of the services of Sir Edward Malet and Sir Evelyn Baring. He could not, however, agree with that portion of the speech which related to the question of exchange. No doubt, the value of gold and silver, like that of other commodities, depended on the law of supply and demand; but it should be borne in mind that the gold was the standard by which the price of silver was calculated. Now, he heard that there was a reasonable prospect of a great discovery of gold in South Africa, and if that occurred, the increased supply of gold would indirectly appreciate silver, and they would once more see it back at something like the figure at which it stood three or four years ago. The hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) had introduced the burning question of the Ilbert Bill, and had brought out the obvious objections to that proposal. He would add a few words to his hon. Friend's remonstrances. The right hon. Gentleman the 1704 Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) outside the House, and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister inside the House had contrived to entirely misunderstand what would be the practical effect of this Bill, and also the nature of the objections to it. The measure was introduced on a false plea. It was said to be intended to remedy an administrative difficulty; but it was clear that difficulty did not now exist. If the Bill passed into law it would certainly raise an administrative difficulty of a most serious character. The right hon. Member for Birmingham assumed that all the Native Civil servants who, under the provisions of the Bill, would have criminal jurisdiction over Europeans, were civilians who had undergone a certain course of training in this country. But that was not the case, and in future years the greater bulk of those who would have to administer the Criminal Law would be Natives who had never left India at all. What was the objection which lay at the root of the agitation of Europeans against the Bill? It was that they were especially liable to have false charges made against them. He had seen a remarkable letter from a respected planter in Assam, in which he said—The dishonesty of the smaller Native officials in Assam is appalling. It is well known to our officers. False witnesses can be had in any number at every Court. They hang around, sitting under the trees, and can be got to swear and learn their eases beautifully at four annas.Under these circumstances, was it too much to ask that Europeans should have continued to them the right which they had enjoyed from time immemorial of being tried by men who could speak their language, understand their customs, and appreciate their motives? Last night the Prime Minister likened this Bill to the abolition of slavery; but there could not have been presented a more preposterous simile, because, in this case, the inherent rights of Europeans were to be taken from them without any compensation, whereas, in the abolition of slavery, compensation was given to those who had deprived the negroes of the inherent right of liberty and freedom. He believed the apprehensions of many Englishmen were unduly excited. But, supposing the Bill passed, and that upon false and perjured evidence, a European was imprisoned, 1705 would not there be an uproar from one end of India to the other, which would make it impossible to proceed with the various schemes for establishing local self-government in India? The idea of establishing local self-governing institutions in India was based on the assumption not only that all Natives were equal, but that Europeans and all Natives were equal. In his opinion, their government of India was strong as long as it confined itself to the discharge of paternal and autocratic power, protecting the large masses of the people from the predatory instincts of a small warlike minority; but it would become weak the moment they instituted local self-government, because the Western idea of self-government was based on the fact that the people of a community were equal, and more or less homogeneous in race, which the people of India certainly were not. A Native Member of Lord Ripon's Council had said that his head, under the dictates of prudence, was in favour of the Bill, but his heart was against it. Such sentiments he (Lord George Hamilton) believed were held by most of the intelligent Natives. The difficulties in the way of this Bill were so many and so great that he hoped the Government would either withdraw it altogether, or that they would modify its provisions in a way that would sooth the apprehensions of Europeans. The Viceroy had a majority in his Council, and the Government had a majority in the House of Commons; and if they cared to make an unwise use of that majority for the purpose of passing into law a Bill which would do more to create race prejudices than any measure which for many years past had been mentioned in connection with India, upon their heads, and upon their heads alone, the responsibility would rest.
§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH
expressed his satisfaction at the excellent and cheering statement of the Under Secretary of State, and congratulated the Government on the remarkable improvement that had taken place in the finance of India in the last few years. He believed nothing would give more satisfaction to the commercial classes of this country than the prospect of an extension of the means of communication with India. There were no two countries in the world capable of a greater increase of 1706 mutual trade than the United Kingdom on the one hand and India on the other. India produced everything we wanted, and we supplied everything India wanted. But this country wanted, above all things, an outlet for her manufactures; and just as we developed the resources of India should we find a market for our commodities. This country always suffered from an over-supply of capital, and India was crying out for capital, and there was needed a bridge to bring the two things together. The great barrier interposed of late years had been the excessive fluctuations in the value of silver. Since 1871 silver had fallen 20 per cent in relation to the value of gold; and the result was that capitalists who had invested money in silver-paying securities had got such a fright that they were not likely to do so again. Where was the inducement to English capitalists to lay out their money? The only inducement they could have was to pay the interest in gold, as the English capitalist would no longer consent to invest his money in countries whore the interest was paid in silver. There was no relation between the currencies of the two countries, as there was an incessant see-saw going on. It seemed to him not at all unlikely that they would have another catastrophe in the course of the next few years that would still further reduce the value of silver in relation to gold, and almost put an end to the flow of capital from this rich to that poor country. It was possible that in 10 or 20 years there would be another drop in silver equal to that which had taken place; and he should not be surprised to see the rupee ultimately standing at 1s. instead of 1s. 7d., as it was now, through the unfortunate action of Europe in regard to silver. So long as the present state of things existed it would be hardly possible to devise any means by which the capital of England could be offered in large quantities to India. It was not necessary to submit to this state of things, which was mainly caused by the aversion of our financial classes to the bi-metallic system which France, the United States, and probably Germany would re-establish if this country would join them. He would wish to have a larger opportunity of discussing this matter, which lay at the very foundation of the welfare of India and the 1707 future development of that country; but he would not now do anything more than express the hope that the Government next year would appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the monetary question, especially in reference to India, and do what nearly the whole of our Indian officials believed in, and give an opportunity of proving to the world that it was quite possible to restore the monetary connection between gold and silver, and thereby pave the way for the future development of the resources of India.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir George Campbell.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he hoped the House would agree with the proposal of the hon. Gentleman, and that they would do so without unnecessary delay. The Government supported this Motion in order to enable the House to make progress with three of the Orders of the Day. Those Orders were the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to the Patents Bill, Committee on the Post Office (Money Order) Acts Amendment Bill, and consideration of the Merchant Shipping (Fishing Boats) Bill as amended, and he would undertake not to prolong discussion after a quarter to 6 o'clock. It was proposed to resume the debate on the Indian Financial Statement to-morrow, when the House would meet at 3 o'clock; and after the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill and one or two other Orders had been disposed of, it was proposed to continue the debate on the Indian Financial Statement. He trusted, therefore, that the House would assent to adjourn the debate.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, that although he did not wish to throw any obstacle in the way of the Motion, he thought it was necessary to draw attention to the extraordinary conduct of the Government in treating a debate upon Indian affairs in this manner. He should like to know the opinion of the Postmaster General upon the subject. The right hon. Gentleman had often protested against the careless treatment which India received at the hands of Parliament; but he feared that since he became a Minister his ideas had somewhat changed. He should like to hear from 1708 the noble Marquess what Bills besides the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill he proposed to take to-morrow, and at what hour the discussion on the Indian Financial Statement was likely to be resumed, as many hon. Members had remained in town at great personal inconvenience in order to take part in it. He entered his protest against what he called a political scandal—namely, that the Indian Financial Statement should be taken on the last Wednesday afternoon in the Session, and then postponed to make way for possibly less important matters.
GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUE
said, he hoped that the debate would be resumed to-morrow in ample time for Members who so desired to take part in it.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he felt bound also to make what protest he could against the extraordinary conduct of the Government in this matter. They appeared to consider that the interests of India were sufficiently looked after if the Indian Financial Statement were taken on the last Wednesday of the Session, not as the rstfi Order, so as to secure the whole day for its discussion, but as the second Order; and then, after some three hours' debate upon the fate of an Empire containing more than 200,000,000 of human beings, the House was told that it must make way for Bills of far less importance. The Lords' Amendments to the Patents Bill, which they were asked to consider, and which extended to seven pages, had not been obtainable in the Vote Office longer than an hour. He should, therefore, divide the House against the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. J. K. CROSS
said, he trusted the hon. Member would not pursue such a course, which would only be wasting the time of the House. It was really important that the Bills referred to by his noble Friend should be taken, and on the following day the debate on India could be resumed.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, the reason given for the adjournment of the debate was a very poor one indeed. He should support his hon. Friend if he went to a Division.
§ The House proceeded to a Division:—
§ MR. SPEAKER
stated that he thought the Ayes had it; and, his decision 1709 being challenged, he directed the Noes to stand up in their places.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (seated, and with his hat on)
We are not supporting a dilatory Motion, Mr. Speaker. [Cries of"Order!"]
§ MR. HEALY (seated, and with his hat on)
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, we are not supporting a dilatory Motion. The Rule says any person——[Loud cries of "Order!"] We are perfectly in Order. I ask, Mr. Speaker——[Cries of "Order!"] We are perfectly in Order. Gentlemen who do not know anything about it might hold their tongues. The Rule, as I understand it, says that when a Motion is made for dilatory purposes, those who are in favour of it must rise in their places. Consequently, it is not permissible in this ease. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you will read the Rule?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I will road the Standing Order, and I think that the hon. Members will at once see that the construction which they put upon the Rule is incorrect. The Standing Order is in these terms—That, after the House has entered upon the Orders of the Day or Notices of Motion, when, after the House has been cleared for a Division, upon a Motion for the Adjournment of the De-hate, or of the House during any Debate, or that the Chairman of a Committee do report Progress, or do leave the Chair, the decision of Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman of a Committee, that the Ayes or Noes have it is challenged, Mr. Speaker or the Chairman may, after the lapse of two minutes, as indicated by the sand glass, call upon the Members challenging it to rise in their places.I must call upon the "Noes" to rise in their places.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
I rise, Sir, to apologize for contesting a ruling which I now see to be right.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have to call upon the "Noes" to rise in their places.
1710 Right Members only having stood up, Mr. Speaker declared the Ayes had it.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.