§ MR. PINKERTON (Galway)
asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether mass meetings of landholders in the Madras Presidency have recently been held to protest against the action of the Government of Madras in demanding as arrears of land tax several lacs of rupees remitted in regular course by the Tanjore district authorities; whether the Madras Government has made these demands on the confidential report of their special Commissioner, MR. H. S. Thomas, representing that remissions had been made owing to misrepresentations by district officials; whether numerous officials have, in consequence of this report, been dismissed the service without trial, and otherwise punished; whether the landlords have publicly challenged the accuracy of the secret report of Mr. Thomas; whether, since the present senior member of the Madras Board of Revenue, the present Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras, and the present Revenue Secretary to the Madras Government, have each in succession been of late years Principal Collector at Tanjore, and responsible for the district administration, he will explain how such wholesale corruption, as alleged by MR. Thomas, could have existed; and, whether he will order further inquiry to be made?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE (Sir JOHN GORST) (Chatham)
In March, 1885, the collector of Tanjore reported to the Madras Government that owing to heavy rains and floods in October, November, and December, 1884, it would be necessary to remit land revenue to the extent of nearly seven lakhs of rupees. Before sanctioning the proposed remission the Madras Government sent MR. Thomas, senior member of the Board of Revenue, to make a personal inquiry. His Report left no doubt that there was a widespread conspiracy among the officials of the district to defraud the Government, and that little more than half the remission proposed could justly be claimed. Numerous officials, whose conduct had been personally inquired into by MR. Thomas, were dismissed or otherwise 1746 punished; and such remissions of land revenue as were recommended by him were alone sanctioned. The action of the Madras Government has been approved by the Secretary of State in Council. Her Majesty's Government have no information of the holding of mass meetings by the landowners, and of their having challenged the accuracy of Mr. Thomas's Report. The three officials, of whom Mr. Thomas is the first, alluded to in the fifth paragraph of the Question, ceased to be collectors of Tanjore in the years 1878, 1881, and 1883, respectively. The frauds reported by Mr. Thomas took place at the end of 1884 and beginning of 1885, and could not, therefore, have been discovered by them. The matter requires, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, very careful inquiry, which has already been ordered.