HC Deb 09 September 1887 vol 321 cc61-150

Order for Committee read.

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton),

in rising to move— That this House regrets that the only occasion afforded for submitting to its consideration any statement of the wishes or grievances of the Natives of India should be postponed to so late a period of the Session as to prevent fair consideration of such wishes and grievances, said, although it might be inconvenient to the House, and to hon. Members who wished to take part in the discussion, to press the Amendment, he did want to state the reasons why he made this protest. They were now far advanced in the month of September. Last year this matter was taken into consideration on the 21st of June, the year before on the 6th of August; and he would suggest to the House that it was not worthy of them to leave to the last moment of the Session the sole opportunity afforded to Parliament in any way of taking into consideration the grievances of the 200,000,000 of people over whom we claimed to rule. If we had claimed to rule over them as a despotism he could have understood it. They were cynically told by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) that in India there was no public opinion, and no power of the Press— In India it is not as it is in England. In India you have no public opinion to speak of—you have no power of the Press. You hive hardly any trammels upon the Government of any sort or kind."—(3 Hansard, [300] 1302.) This was only an additional reason why he submitted it was disgraceful that the question should be taken as the eighth order of the day in an empty House on one of the last days of the Session. It was by no means certain that the Secretary of State for India exercised, or had the means of exercising, any real control over Indian affairs. If—as he was bound to assume—the answers given in this House from time to time on Indian questions were founded on information furnished by the Viceroy, then it was clear that the subordinates of the Viceroy were reticent to a degree that was utterly misleading to this House, and probably equally misleading to the Secretary of State. The Indian papers nearly all agreed in representing the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) as utterly ignorant of the affairs of our Eastern Empire, and although doubtless they were wrong to entertain that belief, it remained true either that officials in India did not communicate to their superiors at home many matters of moment, or that the facts were withheld from this House. The Natives of India believed they had a serious array of grievances, which they thought ought to be considered by the House. At two National Conferences, the last of which they held in Calcutta last December, they were full of loyal expressions. They regarded British rule as giving them opportunities for progress which Native rule would deny to them; indeed, the President of the Congress pointed out— How impracticable any such representative and all-class-and-creed-embracing meeting would have been under any previous régime, Hindu or Mohammedan; and asserted that it was under British rule, and British rule alone, that such a national gathering was possible. But they looked, at the same time, for the removal of some of those hardships under which they suffered. The serious declaration was made that among the Indian population there was continually-increasing poverty. They wished for representative institutions; and though that subject was too large and too wide to be discussed before empty Benches, and at that period, he was prepared to maintain that so long as Parliament denied India representative institutions, so long did it become the special duty of Parliament to examine most carefully into the grievances of the country, and give the people there no cause of complaint that consideration of subjects of importance to them had been avoided. The people of India complained that the expenditure for which the Government of India was responsible was wasteful and extravagant, and they pointed to the fact that whereas in the period between 1875 and 1879 the average annual expenditure was 56,800,000 of tens of rupees, in 1885 it was 71,077,127 of tens of rupees, and it now amounted to 77,443,500 of tens of rupees. They also pointed, to the fact that in the same period the debt of India had grown immensely, being in 1885 £173,752,206, an increase of about £83,000,000. Another matter about which they complain bitterly was that they were debarred from filling positions which they were competent to fill, but which were at present occupied exclusively by Europeans. They alleged that we had wilfully and deliberately broken the pledges we had made to them, and he was bound to say there was some ground for the complaint they made. He would take the statement of the President of the Conference to which he had alluded, as showing the Native view of the diffi- culty that stood in the way of Civil Service employment. Dr. Rajendralála Mitra said— The question is, that we should send our children, at the age of 16, 5,000 miles away for three years together for the purpose of passing an examination of the strictest possible kind. The odds are against them, the prizes are few, and the blanks numerous, and the risks of sojourn by youths without guardians in a large Metropolis, teeming with temptation, are most serious. Parents must be foolhardy indeed who, in the face of these facts, will venture to send their children to England at the age of 16. But suppose the age is raised by two years. Would that satisfy all your demand? I say, nay. For the service of one's country, in no part of the world is a person called away from his native land to pass an examination. Canada is under the British Government. But her Majesty the Queen Empress does not require that every French subject there shall go to England to pass an examination before being admitted into the Canadian Service. Nothing of the kind is required in the Cape Colonies, nor in Australia, nor in Ceylon. And what is true of thorn is true of any other country which is a foreign dependency. Why then should the case be different in India alone? The rule here is that no man should be allowed to serve the country without running the great risks which await him in England, without having to expatriate himself for three years, and come home to be excluded from caste. This is a great grievance too, and it is one regarding which every Hindu and every Mohammedan gentleman has a right to make a strong protest. He (Mr. Bradlaugh) did not intend to press further quotations of the same character from the speeches made at Congress; but he would urge that it was not upon our military domination of India that we ought to rest, or try to rest, in the future. Our rule ought to be secure by attracting the willing cooperation of the Indian people. There could be no object in making the Natives cross the ocean, losing caste and incurring risk to health, if we wished to interest the Indian people in our rule by affording them Civil Service employment. In the evidence taken before the Indian Public Services Commission—admirable service on which was being rendered by Sir Charles Turner—there was to be found case after case of the grossest injustice in every Department. Could they wonder that when it came to a question of cost the Natives said—''Why do you put us to this cost when in many Departments our own men could do the work better and cheaper?" It was only in the lowest class of executive offices that the Natives were allowed to have any employment at all. In the Departments where they were employed they did their work satisfactorily. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) would take some means to have the Indian Statement made at some earlier period of the Session next year, so that it should not be the farce that it was to-day in being discussed before empty Benches, and so that the discussion should be creditable to a great nation governing 200,000,000 human beings. The Natives complained that we had broken the express promises as to employment made in the Proclamation, repeated in our Statutes, and reiterated in the Regulations made by the Secretary of State in Council. Witnesses proved that in the Education Department services paid for to Europeans at 1,200 to 1,500 rupees per month would be equally well rendered by Natives at 70 rupees per month. Evidence was given that European Inspectors and Assistant Superintendents were in many cases failures, and— That many of the best Inspectors, who happened to, be Natives of India, had left the force from disgust at their treatment. In the Registration Department it was shown that appointments were made to superior posts of persons of British birth, whose only qualifications appeared to be that they were poor relations of high officials. In the Telegraph Department there appeared to be a perfectly monstrous excess of Assistant Superintendents, nearly all British. In the Police Department a class of gentlemen Inspectors was created in 1880, all British, though the evidence showed that the Eurasians, Natives, and Mohammedans made excellent detective officers, and were fitted in every way for higher posts. Major Drever advocated the promotion of deserving Inspectors, irrespective of colour or caste, to posts now occupied by a favoured section—and for this he met with the resentment of the Government. In the Public Works Department promotion is alleged to be by favouritism, and to the almost entire exclusion of Eurasians and Natives from higher posts. Turning to the engineering employment, there were a large number of Natives who have properly qualified as Assistant Engineers, Licentiates of Civil Engineering, and Bachelors of Civil Engi- neering, who all passed from Indian Colleges, and though fully qualified were utterly unable to obtain employment because excluded by Europeans. With regard to Burmah, the hon. Member said he did not intend to now re-discuss the annexation of Upper Burmah, though he was opposed to it. Having taken the country, we ought to act honestly towards it; but he maintained that we had not been acting honestly to Burmah, to the Indian people, or to the British taxpayer. He was going to suggest to that House that, so far as they were able to judge from the Papers before them, and—what was equally eloquent—the information which was withheld, they were not acting honestly in regard to Burmah. A statement had appeared in The Times the other day with reference to the sale of lands in Burmah. It was alleged—and he believed it to be true—that the responsible officer in Burmah had sold land to British officials at a price much less than 1–100th part of its value, and it was sold privately, without any opportunity for competition. He suggested there ought to be no sale of land to any British official whatever until the matter had been submitted to the Secretary of State at home. If the statements in the Indian Press had any colour of truth in them, there were gentlemen who had had comparatively large pieces of land at prices absolutely ridiculous. He could understand that we wanted to colonize Burmah with persons dependent upon us; but the corruption which appeared to be raging in that country at present ought to be checked in the manner he had suggested. He would therefore suggest that no private sales of land or other beneficial concessions ought to be permitted to any person whatever without the previous sanction of the Secretary of State for India, on a special report to be made to him of all circumstances connected with each proposed sale. The question of the teak forests had already been noticed by the Viceroy, who mentioned that the circumstances connected with the leases held by the Bombay Trading Corporation were very unsatisfactory. It was this Company which, more than any other influence, had involved us in the Burmese War. He recommended that no new lease or contract should be made with the Bombay Trading Company or anybody else with reference to the teak forests without some more complete report being made to the Secretary of State and the matter being fully examined. Coming to the Ruby Mines, it was a little hard to speak on the subject with the respect due to the Government. There was not a reply which he had received from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India, except, perhaps, the last two, which was not more or less flatly contradicted by the Parliamentary Paper that he held in his hand. In the first place, they were told that there was no lease from the Indian Government to Messrs. Streeter; but the Papers showed that there was an actual signed agreement between the two parties. They were told that this document was not a lease; but such a draft so signed by both parties could have been enforced in this country as a binding contract and converted into a lease. Messrs. Streeter's representatives were actually introduced to the Natives in this mining district as the people who had already got a concession granted to them by the Government. Messrs. Streeter went to the mines, and actually half built houses there. As regarded the future of these mines, the idea of conceding the sole right to anybody was suicidal, for if anyone had capital at his back he would simply clear out of the place every possible jewel he could get without regard to the interests of the Government. He would suggest, therefore, that the Government should see that these mines were made as profitable as possible for the taxpayers both of this country and of India. The Government ought to keep the mines in their own hands, to have every ruby sold by auction, and to let the Natives have their 30 per cent of the value for collecting them, that being the percentage they got under King Theebaw. In conclusion, he said he did not intend to move the Amendment which stood in his name, because he felt sure that hon. Members were anxious to go into Committee and to hear the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of Stats.


said, that the regret which the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had expressed with regard to the late period of the Session at which the affairs of India had come up for discussion was shared by the Government and those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House. He (Sir John Gorst) believed everyone would be glad if it were possible to bring the affairs of India under the consideration of the House at a time when more Members were present, and when greater interest could be taken in the matter. Although many promises to introduce the Indian Financial Statement earlier in the Session had been made, no Government had yet succeeded in fulfilling those promises; and ever since he had had a seat in the House the Indian Budget had been one of the incidents of the Session that had immediately preceded the Prorogation. He agreed with the hon. Member as to the desirability of the alleged grievances of the Natives of India finding expression in the House of Commons, and the more so because he thought that on investigation many of them would be found really not to be substantial. He would take two alleged grievances to which the hon. Member had alluded—the increase of Expenditure and the increase of Debt. It was supposed by the hon. Member that the increase of expenditure was an increase of extravagance, and that the increase of Debt was an increase of burden. That was not the case. The increase of Expenditure was caused by the great development of railroads, canals, and other productive works. The Debt was certain to increase rapidly, and it was undesirable that a stop should be put to it by checking the expenditure on railways and works of irrigation. In like manner the increase of Debt meant increase of capital supplied by the capitalists of this country, and expenditure on public works was beneficial to India as well as profitable to this country. As to the complaint of the non-employment of Natives in large numbers in the Public Services, that was exactly the subject on which a Commission had been sitting for some time. The hon. Member seemed to be gratified by the fairness with which evidence had been received by the Commission, and it was obvious that the Government must wait for the Report of that Commission and consider the evidence taken by it before they entertained any reforms in the direction of admitting Natives to the Public Services in greater numbers. As to the allegation that Natives were excluded from the more highly-paid posts, one-sixth of them were filled by Natives, and they were admitted in still larger proportions to the loss remunerative and uncovenanted branches of the Service; and, indeed, in those branches the greater majority of the positions were held by Natives. With regard to the alleged purchase of land, it was one of the rules of the Indian Service that no official should be allowed to buy land in his own district except as a site for a residence. In the case to which attention had been called the Government had called for a Report; and if anything improper had occurred, the Secretary of State might be depended upon to take such, steps as were necessary to vindicate the purity of the Indian Service. As to the teak forests, when Upper Burmah was occupied it was found that the Trading Company had acquired rights from King Theebaw, and the British Government could not confiscate those rights wholesale and deal with the Company as if no such rights had been acquired. All that the Government could do was to protect the interests of the Revenue of India, with due regard to equity and justice. As to the Ruby Mines, when the present Government came into Office they found that already dealings had taken place between the Government of India and Messrs. Streeter. In April of last year tenders had been called for from persons willing to take a lease of the Ruby Mines.


said, there was no evidence of that in the Papers.


said, it appeared that on the 27th of March, 1886, the Viceroy telegraphed to the late Secretary of State that the representative of Messrs. Streeter had made the highest offer for a lease of the Ruby Mines. It was not a violent inference from this that tenders had been asked for. When the present Government came into power a telegram was sent from the Secretary of State to the Government of India in these words— I gather that the arrangements are not finally concluded. The value of the mines and of the rights of the Government should be carefully ascertained before pledging the Government. Keep me aware of the results of local inquiry. That telegram, which was sent on the 10th of November last, had not been departed from, and the negotiations in India must be guided by it. No lease of the mines would be given to anyone until their value and all rights and interests had boon ascertained, and the Government would only make such a disposition of them as would be compatible with the public interest. No one had any object in parting with these mines for less than they were worth, and in the interests of the Revenue of India the utmost value would be got for thorn. Instead of expressing any apprehension, it might have been expected that tin hon. Member would rather have congratulated the House on the vigilance that was being exercised.

Question put, and agreed to.

MATTER—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


Mr. Courtney, I will not waste any precious time in Committee by appealing to hon. Members for that indulgence which is always extended to those in the position which I occupy. I may say, also, that I hope the Statement which I ventured to circulate a few days ago will enable me to shorten my remarks, and help the Committee more easily to understand the present position of Indian Revenue. I propose to make some observations in explanation of the Paper circulated, and afterwards to confine myself to replying on any questions with regard to the Revenue of India which hon. Members may think it necessary to raise. I want, first, to observe that on the face of the Statement the prospect is not a very prosperous one. Of the three years which are under our consideration, 1885–6 shows a large deficit, and 1886–7 and 1887–8 show far too small a surplus; but I am happy to say that the condition of the finances of India is not quite so bad as the appearance of these figures would lead one at first sight to suppose. Although the deficit in 1885–6 is put down in my Statement as 2,800,000 tens of rupees, that is not the real actual deficit. That is to say, India is not poorer by 2,800,000 tens of rupees; because, if hon. Gentlemen will refer to 1887, they will see that in this year not only has the sum of 683,498 tens of rupees been spent in the reduction of debt, but 589,000 and 500,000, making a total of 1,089,000 tens of rupees have been invested in the construction of railways, and 186,807 tens of rupees in the construction of productive irrigation works. So that out of the expenditure of the year a total of 1,959,305 tens of rupees has been applied either to the reduction of debt or to investments—in other words, in increasing the assets of the Government of India, and the true deficit is, therefore, £842,421. Then, since this Paper was circulated, the prospect for the year 1886–7 has, I am happy to say, considerably improved. There has been an increase in the Revenue of £1,100,000; of which the Land Revenue gives £476,000; Salt Revenue, £117,000; Excise Revenue, £109,000; Railways, £166,000; and Revenue under other heads £232,000; making a total improved Revenue, as I have said, of £1,100,000. Of this improved Revenue, however, £420,000 belong to the Provincial Governments, leaving an improved Revenue for Imperial purposes of £680,000. Then, on the Expenditure side, the expenditure on the Army has been £400,000 more than was anticipated. The other heads besides that of the Army have altogether improved to the extent of £504,000, of which £202,000 belong to the Provincial Governments, leaving a net improvement on these other heads of £302,000. Altogether the expenditure has been worse than was anticipated by £98,000; therefore, on the whole, taking into account the increase of Revenue and the increase of Expenditure, there has been a net improvement of £582,000, which will turn the surplus of 62,110 tens of rupees shown in my Statement into a surplus of 642,110 tens of rupees. With regard to the year 1887–8, for which the surplus shown in my Statement is 16,700 tens of rupees, I am sorry to say that the prospects since the Statement was circulated have become somewhat more gloomy, for the prospective Land Revenue is 150,000 tens of rupees worse than the Estimate. That, however, is not altogether loss, because the improved Land Revenue of £476,000 in the preceding year means that part of the revenue collected has gone into the account for the year 1886–7, which otherwise might have gone into the account for 1887–8. In fact, of the 23 crores of tens of rupees which constitute the Land Revenue, about six-and-a-half crores were collected in the months of March and April, and this, of course, has an effect on the Revenue for two years, depending on whether you apply it to one year or the other; and as I suppose active collection caused a larger sum to be received in 1886–7 than was expected, we must look for some loss of Revenue in the next year. Then, as to opium, the anticipation is 250,000 tens of rupees worse than it was when the Budget Estimate was framed. Salt has improved by 300,000 tens of rupees; but I am sorry to say that the position as repards Upper Burmah is such as to constitute a serious drain on the finances of India, and the Budget Estimate, which showed a deficit of £1,770,500, is made worse by an increase of Army expenditure of 300,000 tens of rupees, while there is an increase of Army expenditure in India of 160,000 tens of rupees, making a total increase of 460,000 tens of rupees; and there is, besides, a prospective charge for housing troops in Upper Burmah of 100,000 tens of rupees. Thus, on the net result, the prospects of 1887–8 are worse by £610,000 than when the Budget Estimate was framed in India; so that, instead of there being a small surplus of 16,700 tens of rupees, there is an estimated deficit of 593,300 tens of rupees. But, as hon. Gentlemen familiar with Indian finance are aware, it is the practice of the Indian Government to make a very cautious Estimate of Revenue; and it is not too much to anticipate that the increase of Revenue will more than make up this present estimated deficit of £593,000, and that just as the finances of 1886–7 have come out with a very fair surplus, so the Revenue of 1887–8 may show a surplus well on the right side of the account. There is one other matter which was mentioned as likely to produce a very heavy charge in the Expenditure of 1887–8, but which, so far from being a real loss to the Revenue of India, is a matter of gain and congratulation. It is the conversion of Four per Gent Stock into Three and a-half per Cent Stock effected some months ago. The first issue of India Four per Cent Stock was made in 1863, and by subsequent issues made under various Acts of Parliament the total amount was raised to £53,261,820, which, according to the terms under which the Stock was issued, was redeemable by the Secretary of State in Council on or after the 10th of October, 1888, on giving a year's notice. Now, owing to there having been in the early part of the year a very steady appreciation of Indian credit, the price of the Three and a-half per Cent India Stock, which was first issued in 1880, rose above par; and the Secretary of State in Council, therefore, determined that an offer should be made to the holders of Four and a-half per Cent Stock to convert it into Three and a-half per Cent Stock, and an advertisement was issued in February last informing them that the Secretary of State in Council would issue Three and a-half per Cent Stock, which is not redeemable until the 5th of January, 1931, in exchange for Four per Cent Stock, and pay on the 6th of July the difference between Three and a-half per Cent and Four per Cent for the five quarters from July 1887 to October, 1888, thus practically allowing Four per Cent up to October, 1888, when it was compulsory to convert the Four per Cent Stock into Three and a-half per Cent Stock. These terms were readily accepted by the great majority of the holders. Out of a total of £53,261,820 Stock, no less than £47,750,000, or approximately 90 per cent, was converted, leaving £5,472,019 to be paid off in October, 1888. The prospective annual saving from the conversion is about £240,000; but an increased expenditure is incurred during the current year, amounting in all to £800,000 sterling—at 1s.d. the rupee, 1,097,000 tens of rupees—made up as follows:—The dividends on India Four per Cent Stock being payable half-yearly—April to October—and those on the Three and a-half per Cent Stock being payable quarterly, the inversion involves the payment of interest for five quarters in 1887–8, and an increase in the amount paid of £360,000; the difference between Four per Cent and Three and a-half per Cent Stock for the five quarters from July, 1887, to October, 1888, paid in July, 1887, is £300,000; the commission allowed to brokers and the charges of the Bank of England for management amount to £140,000. Altogether there will be a charge thrown upon the Revenue of India for 1887–8 of 1,097,000 tens of rupees, which, of course, looks like a great increase of Expenditure, but which really represents a great saving in the future. I mention that because I wish to warn the Committee as to statements which may be made by myself if I hold this Office next year, or by my Successor. There may be a large amount to be taken into consideration in the expenditure of the year which would alter the figures I have given. I think it might be interesting to the Committee if I were to state the results of a table which I have drawn up at the India Office, showing the credit of the different Governments of the world as estimated by the value of their securities in the London Money Market. I find that at the head of the list of countries stands Great Britain, which in the London Money Market can sell its Consols at a price which yields to the investor £2 19s. per cent; next to Great Britain comes the United States of America, whose securities sell at a price which yields to the investor £3 9s. per cent; third in the list comes the Government of India, whose securities sell at a price which gives the investor £3 9s. per cent; fourth comes Canada, with £3 9s. 6d.; fifth, New South Wales, represented by £3 13s. 6d.; sixth, Victoria, by £3 13s. 9d.; seventh, France, with £3 14s. 9d.; eighth, the Cape of Good Hope, with £3 19s.; ninth, New Zealand, with £4 2s.; 10th, Austria, with £4 10s. 6d.; 11th, Italy, with £4 10s. 9d., and 12th and last, Russia, whose Stock, as I have ascertained, yields to the investor £5 3s. 9d. It appears to me, therefore, that the credit of the Government of India, as shown by the value of its securities in the London Money Market, is a subject on which the Committee may well congratulate themselves. Now, I want to make some observations on the net Revenue and Expenditure, which is shown on pages 4, 5, and 6 of the Paper; and, in considering the financial prospects of India, the figures given there are figures which hon. Gentlemen I may most usefully study. The first observation I desire to make is that the net Revenue is steadily increasing, and that increase is more than accounted for by the Income Tax, and by the Revenue which is derived from Upper Burmah. If hon. Gentlemen refer, they will see that a certain portion of Revenue is derived from new taxes put on since 1885–6—namely, Income Tax and Land Tax derived from Upper Burmah, and they will find that if these two items are deducted the not Revenue is in- creased. It is also satisfactory to see that not only has that Revenue increased, but that the Land Revenue has also increased. If hon. Gentlemen will turn to page 22 of the Paper they will see that there is a steady increase in the Land Revenue, which, although not large, is a substantial increase. They will also see that the increase in 1887–8 is independent of the Land Revenue received from Upper Burmah, amounting to 320,000 tens of rupees. Now, I do not wish to make too much of this, because the increase is, after all, slight. But I think it is a satisfactory circumstance when rents at home are falling, and when most of the countries which depend on agricultural prosperity are in a more or less depressed condition as to their rents and revenues, that the Revenue of India should show not only no reduction under this head, but should actually show an increase. Another matter which I desire to point out is that, although the Expenditure has also increased, there is no great increase of Expenditure from what I may call normal causes. No doubt there is one great increase of Expenditure from a normal cause—namely, the increase of Army Charge, which is consequent on the permanent increase of the Army of India, which took place rather more than two years ago, at the time when the Penjdeh incident occurred and there was some apprehension as to the possibility of hostilities. That charge of about 1,500,000 tens of rupees 13 one which will permanently increase the Expenditure out of the Revenues of India. But what has caused the apparent increase in the Expenditure has been the deficit of Upper Burmah and the great cost of exchange. If it had not been for abnormal causes which were beyond the control of the Government of India, notwithstanding the increase of Army Charges, there would have been a reduction in the whole Expenditure of India of no less than 473,100 tens of rupees. If hon. Members will turn to pages 6 and 7 of the Paper they will also see figures set out which clearly show what I am endeavouring to urge on the Committee—namely, that there has been an improvement both in Revenue and in what I call the normal Expenditure. There has been a gross improvement of 1,956,800 tens of rupees. Of that sum, 490,000 tens of rupees comes out of revenues assigned to the Provinces, deducting which there is a real improvement in Revenue and Expenditure, excluding Burmah and I exchange, of 1,466,800 tens of rupees.; Now, I wish to say a word on another; matter. I must confess that, financially, Upper Burmah has been so far a disappointment. In the Budget Estimate I for 1886–7 my Predecessor, rather more than a year ago, reckoned the probable Expenditure in Upper Burmah at 775,000 tens of rupees, and the Revenue at 665,000 tens of rupees, showing a net charge on the Revenue of Burmah of only £110,000. But, unfortunately, both sides of the account, as estimated in the time of my Predecessor, were wrong. The Revenue, instead of 775,000 tens of rupees, yielded only 297,400 tens of rupees, and the Expenditure amounted to 2,038,800 tens of rupees. Therefore, instead of the estimated net charge of 110,000 tens of rupees, there was a net charge of 1,741,000 tens of rupees. Although the Estimate for this year is very much less favourable than that of last year, I hope it will, at all events, prove to be nearer the truth when the revised Estimates come to be considered next year. The present estimate is that there will be a deficit in respect of Burmah, which will come upon the Revenue of India, of 1,770,500 tens of rupees; and since this Statement was circulated telegrams have been received from India, showing that there have boon 300,000 tons of rupees additional spent upon the Army, and a probable addition of 100,000 tens of rupees for housing the troops, amounting together to 400,000 tens of rupees, which will swell the estimated deficit to 2,170,500 tens of rupees.


Does that include the ordinary charge for the Army?


It includes all charges attributable to the expenditure in Upper Burmah. Whereas there is a great reduction in the extra Marine and Army charges in 1887–8, I should like to point out that it does not give very much relief to the financial position of Upper Burmah, because it is met by an increase in police. It is only candid that I should state that this is the financial result of the annexation of Burmah. When the annexation was made it was not expected that so heavy a charge would be thrown on the Revenue of India by the policy then pursued, and it is only fair to point out that there is a heavy charge in the past year, and a heavy charge likely to be thrown upon the India Revenue in the present year. Altogether I have every hope that the anticipations of the Government of India may be realized, and that at no very remote future Burmah, instead of being a burden on the finances of India, may, at any rate, pay its own way, and become a source of profit to India; but for that we must wait until the consummation so much to be desired is brought about. The permanent increase in the Indian Army, as the Committee is aware, is 22,000 men, about 10,700 of whom are British and 11,900 Native troops. This permanent increase in the Army has caused an additional expenditure in 1885–6 of 347,000 tens of rupees; in 1886–7 it caused a further addition of 430,000 tens of rupees; and in 1887–8 it is estimated to cause a further addition of 370,000 tens of rupees. The total increase for the three years since the permanent increase of the Army was resolved upon amounts to 1,147,000 tens of rupees; but I think that, with the increase under that head, it has reached its worst. The Committee will see on page 8 of my Statement that I pointed out that there was a reduction in the Army charges of £745,000, owing to the new system of paying the pensions to officers and soldiers; but the gain is only an apparent one, and the amount paid for commuting the pensions will go on increasing for about eight, nine, or 10 years, and then the total charge on the Army Accounts will be a little greater than the sum referred to. This gives relief in the present year, but it is a relief which is purchased at the price of having 12 years hence to pay even a little larger sum out of the Revenues of India than was paid prior to 1885–6; but the application is on several grounds a right one, and I think it will meet with the approval of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have also placed before the Committee a very full statement of what are called Home charges, because these charges are payable in sterling, and carry the great burden of exchange. I call attention to the fact that, although there is an apparent increase under this head, it is an apparent and not a real increase. I should like any Member of the Committee to suggest any reduction that is possible to be made in these Home charges. A Committee went very carefully through these items, and they effected same small economies; but they did not effect any great economies. If any hon. Member can discover any of the Home charges which, without damage to the interests of India, can by any possibility be reduced, he will confer great benefit upon India. There is a note at the bottom to show that the last part of the Home charges are Capital Expenditure, and I wish to make a few observations about the state of the defence works, which the Committee will find are charged for both here and in other parts of the Statement as a separate charge against capital. Now, these special defence works consist of frontier forts and harbour defences. They are most essential to the safety of India, and the Government are obliged to push them on with the utmost possible expedition. But, as these works are not productive works, it is contrary to the principles on which Indian finance is conducted that the charge should be otherwise than one against Revenue; and there is no doubt that if there is Revenue, and if the Revenue will bear such charges, they ought to be charged against Revenue. No one can have any desire that extra taxes should be placed upon the people of India for the purpose of meeting charges of this kind, and the Secretary of Stale has no intention of suggesting to the Government of India that any such extra taxes should be imposed. As regards the charge for 1887, the Committee will remember that the surplus which I was able to announce in 1886–7 would be large enough to bear the charge in 1886–7 for these special defence works; and therefore it is the intention, if the anticipation be realized of the Secretary of State, to pay for the special defence works out of the surplus of 1886–7. In 1887–8, as far as our anticipations at the present moment go, there is no surplus; and therefore as regards 1887–8 the Secretary of State reserves the question how the Expenditure should be charged. If there should be a surplus after all, no doubt the Expenditure will be charged against that surplus; but if there is no surplus, it will be open to the Secretary of State to charge the Expenditure against capital. Now, I should like to say a few words about railways. I have given the Committee, upon pages 10, 11, and 12, figures which, I think, will enable them to judge for themselves as to the present condition of the Indian railways. I want to point out three conclusions which the Committee may draw from these figures. The first is that the Indian railways pay a large and increasing profit upon the capital which is invested in them. That appears most clear from the figures on page 11. The percentage of net receipts on the capital expended on railways has been in the three years under our review 5.27, 5.84, 5.90. Then I want also to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Government of India is not making a profit, but is incurring a large and increasing annual charge. That appears on page 12, and in 1884–5 it amounted to Rx1,051,175, in 1885–6 to Rx1, 731,713, in 1886–7 to Rx1, 458,304, and in the Budget Estimate for 1887–8 it is Rx1,589,400. This is the second conclusion to be drawn from the figures; and the third proposition I want the Committee to consider is that this charge upon the Revenue of India has been entirely brought about by the fall in exchange. For if the Members of the Committee will look at the figures which I have given of the increased charge in the Railway Revenue Account, owing to the fall in the value of rupees, they will see that, but for that increased charge in the three years under consideration, there would not only be no deficit, but a surplus in Railway Revenue administration. Of course, under these circumstances, I inquired, as I dare say every Member of the Committee inquired, how these losses occurred. Of course, we cannot help the loss of exchange. The question I wanted to ask was whether it was likely that this drain upon the Revenue of India by the railway account would be a permanent one, or whether it was likely, in a few years, that there might be an improvement or even a profit? I found, however, that a very large portion of that apparent loss is caused by capital which is sunk in partially constructed lines upon which the Government is paying interest, although the capital at present is making no return. If the Committee will refer to page 76 of the Financial Statement which Sir Auckland Colvin has submitted, they will find how much of that drain upon Indian finance is caused by the circumstance I have mentioned. It appears on that page that the amount of the capital which has been spent from 1870 to 1888 upon lines still under construction is about Rx14,000,000. At 4 per cent, which is what the Government practically pay, that would represent the amount of Rx560,000, which the Government is paying in the shape of interest on capital from which they are receiving no return at all. Therefore, there is a drain to the extent of Rx560,000 upon the Indian Revenue. The drain, however, will not be permanent; but it will terminate as soon as the lines are completed. Of course, that does not account for all, and I directed further inquiries to see what it is that causes a loss to the Revenue of India in the rest of the same page; and what I found is this: that upon the State lines which were in progress prior to 1880–1—I take that date because it was prior to the commencement of the Frontier Lines, the Quetta and Pishin Lines, which are not really railways, but defence works, and which were not made for the purpose of railways, but for defence works. Upon these lines, including the East India Railway, I find that the profit which was made by the Government of India was 6.77, and, excluding the East India Railway, 5.3 per cent. Of course, the East India Railway has been a most profitable undertaking, most profitable to the persons who furnished the capital, most profitable to the Government of India, and most profitable to the people of India. It pays 8.7 per cent upon the capital outlay. The whole of that is not taken by the Government of India; but that is what the railway pays altogether upon the outlay. Excluding that railway, we make a profit of 5.3 per cent. The State railways undoubtedly make a profit; but there is a loss incurred upon the guaranteed lines which swallows up the whole of the profit made by the State railways, and converts the profit into a loss. The reason why this loss is incurred on the guaranteed lines is that since the time when the interest was guaranteed there has been a tremendous fall in exchange. It may be said that the guarantee amounts roughly to 5 per cent on the old lines made long ago, and that that guarantee of 5 per cent really imposes upon the finances of India a burden of nearly 6½ per cent, because, in order to pay 5 per cent to the English capitalists, they have to pay 6½ per cent in rupees owing to the fall of exchange. The lines which have been guaranteed in recent years have been guaranteed at 4 per cent, and even at the present rate of exchange it is not likely that these lines will cause any increase of the loss which, the Government has to bear.


Will the hon. Gentleman distinguish between the earnings of the old guaranteed lines and the new guaranteed lines?


I have not got the figures by me which would enable me to distinguish between the two; but my opinion is that it is some of the old guaranteed lines, such as Madras lines, upon which the great loss is incurred. I should like to call the attention of the Committee to the existence of railways in India in regard to which there is no Government guarantee, and to point out that the chief of these is the Bengal and North-Western Line, which has only recently been opened. It was opened, I think, in 1886. The net return is 3.63 per cent, and the Stock of the line has stood up to a very recent period above par. It is true that the Stock has fallen in the course of the last month to 97, three points below par; but I think that is owing to some anxiety on the subject of traffic. Traffic has now improved, and I have no doubt that the Stock will again stand above par. I point this out because a great deal has been said in this House and the country about the advantage of encouraging the railway system in India; and if capitalists would venture to invest their capital in the same way as in this country without Government guarantee, they have the example of the Bengal and North-Western Railway, which shows that they would have a very fair profit for their money, and they would be able to develop the railway system of India without imposing the burden upon the finances of India which guarantees entail. Now, the only other point to which I think I need direct the attention of the Committee is one which was anticipated, to some extent, by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). I have put in a table on page 19 to show the burden of taxation upon the Indian people. I put it in because in this House it is very common to speak of the taxation of the people of India as if it were extremely burdensome. The Com- mittee will see from the table that the amount is not 2s. per head. When it is remembered that the amount of taxation which is borne by the people of this country is £2 10s. per head, I think that, as far as one can estimate from figures of this kind, it must be admitted that the taxation imposed upon the people of India is very slight indeed. I do not deny that even light taxation may, under certain circumstances, be burdensome; but I venture to say that the Government of India, on the whole, is one of the most beneficent Governments which the world has ever witnessed; that the Government is, on the whole, well administered, administered in a more true sense for the benefit of the governed than has been any other Government the world has ever witnessed; that it is, on the whole, one of the justest and most equitable Governments which history gives us any account of; and that, so far from the people of India having any ground of complaint because they are under the rule of Great Britain instead of under the rule of the tyrants who held sway over them before the advent of British rule, the Natives of India have very good reason to be grateful for the establishment and continuance over them of our beneficent Government.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it appears, by the Accounts laid before this House, that the Total Revenue of India for the year ending the 31st day of March 1886 was £74,464,197; that the Total Expenditure in India and in England charged to Revenue was £77,265,923; that there was an excess of Expenditure over Revenue of £2,801,726; and that the Capital Outlay on Railways and Irrigation Works was.£5,275,364, besides a Capital Charge of £1,086,045 involved in the Redemption of Liabilities."—(Sir John Gorst.)

MR. E. T. REID&c.) (Dumfries,

Mr. Courtney, I shall endeavour, as I know the time of the Committee is limited, not to use any superfluous words. I rise for a particular and definite purpose; but, in the first place, I wish to join the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) in his expression of extreme regret that the Indian Budget has been brought on this year at a later period than in any previous year. It is perfectly true that previous Governments have been offenders in regard to this matter; but it is also the case that a Resolution was passed by the House two or three years ago, at the instance of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler), deprecating the great delay to which the Indian Budget was subjected. I am sorry I do not see the hon. Baronet in his place to renew his protest. Passing from that, let me notice the last words of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst). There are few people who would dispute that the Indian Government is beneficently and justly administered on the whole, and administered with, a desire to do what is right towards the people of India. But the objection which is made is that the Government is an extravagant Government, extravagant far beyond the capability of the country to sustain, and that it is a Government which is carried on without an opportunity of coming in touch with the feelings and opinions of the people, and that it is, further, a Government absolutely despotic in its character, which this House is quite unwilling to control from the lack of time. That is the objection to the Government of India, not that its object is bad, but that we do not take pains to make that Government as effectual as it might be, and that in consequence the Government is extremely extravagant, and that the finances are in a very serious condition. Let me say a few words with regard to the financial part of this matter, the Statement which is laid before us tells us that there is a deficiency on the Financial Accounts of 1885–6 of £2,800,000 in round figures. The Revised Accounts state that there was a surplus in 1886–7 of some kind; I am told it should now be £60,000 or more. As regards the Budget Estimate of 1887–8, we are told in the published Statement that there was to be a small surplus; but now it is admitted that the Revised Estimates show, as far as they go, a deficit of between £600,000 and £700,000. Therefore, notwithstanding the panegyric the hon. Gentleman (Sir John Gorst) has delivered on the Government of India, we have this state of things—that in the first year of the three years we are dealing with there is a deficiency of £2,800,000; in the second year it is said that there is a surplus of £60,000; and in the third year there is a deficit of £600,000. That cannot be considered to be a satisfactory state of things. Let us see what are the causes of this deficiency, because the causes deserve more notice than the facts of the decrease themselves. In the first place, Afghanistan has cost us, for the Quetta force, about £2,100,000. Now, taking the whole three years together, the Delimitation Commission—the Commission which has been on the frontier of Afghanistan—has cost nearly £500,000. So much as regards the expenditure on account of the Afghan scare. Then we come to Burmah. Now, the expedition to Burmah was an enterprize of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), who seemed, at the time the expedition was undertaken, to be absolutely master of the situation. As soon as he got into Office he and the Viceroy of India, with the consent of the remainder of the Government, led India into Burmah. Now, we were told that the work was to be done for £300,000, and that it was only a matter of two or three weeks. I am thankful that I personally protested against the expedition at the time; the whole country, however, was thinking of something different—it was thinking of the General Election, and not thinking of the expense which would be thrown upon the unfortunate people of India by the Burmese enterprize. What is now the contention of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India? The statement is that the difference between the expenditure and income from Burmah amounts to a deficiency of £3,900,000; and the hon. Gentleman spoke with no hope of altering that state of the accounts. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that there is no prospect of ever making Upper Burmah even pay her own way. Those who are familiar with the country are persuaded there is no chance, at any rate, for many years to come, of Upper Burmah being able to pay her own way. Those are two causes of deficiency. These deficits are due to policy; like all financial disorders, they are, in the main, due to an erroneous and extravagant policy. Partly they are due to the absence of economy in internal management; but they are still more due to the fearful wars and enterprizes that are entered upon without any reasonable control over them by the Government of India whenever some "Jingo" spirit becomes impossible to keep under. What are the expedients resented to for the purpose of meeting these deficits? These deficits have to be met in some way or other. When deficits of this kind take place you may borrow money, or you may impose fresh taxation. Now, everybody knows that a high authority on Indian finance has stated that you cannot impose fresh taxation, notwithstanding the vaunted smallness of the taxation per head of the population. The hon. Gentleman will not contradict me when I say that substantially you have reached the limit of taxation in India. He will certainly be different from any other Under Secretary if he denies that statement. At any rate, you have not attempted to impose now taxation. What has been done has been done in another way, which is extremely significant. According to Sir Auckland Colvin's Report, the deficiency has been met by taking from the famine Insurance Fund the amount necessary. That is the expedient to which the Government are reduced; and now let me say one word as to the Famine Fund. Although I have no doubt every hon. Gentleman present is acquainted with the nature if the Fund, still, everybody may not be acquainted with it; and it is as well that the country should know what the Fund really is. The Report of the Famine Fund Commissioners, which was presented to the House in 1880, showed that ill the last 30 years there had been live famines in India, of which three were intense famines, and in the last of these, that of 1876–8, no less than 5,000,000 persons perished. It was stated that those famines were of a recurring character, and the Commissioners recommended that an annual sum should be set aside for the purpose of meeting them. The sum which has been systematically and sacredly devoted to the purpose of supplying the needs of the people in time of famine is now appropriated by the Government for the purpose of restoring financial equilibrium. According to my judgment, the causes of these deficits are very serious. The causes are ill-judged enterprises, profligate expenditure upon wars, which have been so under-estimated that one, which it was said would cost but £300,000, has already landed us in an expenditure of far more than £3,000,000. Such are the causes of these deficits, and the expedient by which the Government endeavour to restore equilibrium is one most gravely to be reprehended, and one which it is impossible for anyone to sympathize with. I have said so much with regard to the particular figures of this year, and I have said it without the smallest attempt to shelter one Party at the expense of another Party, for we have nothing whatever in Indian finance to do with Parties. I believe that in 1886 the same expedient to restore equilibrium was adopted, and therefore the Party to which I belong are equally at fault. I think in this House we ought to know nothing at all about Party in our dealings with matters concerning India. Let us consider the state of matters in the last 10 years. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) pointed out that there had been a large increase of expenditure in the last 10 years. "Yes," said the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, in the short reply he made to my hon. Friend when Mr. Speaker was in the Chair, "but that is due to railways." Now, I am sure the hon. Gentleman did not say that advisedly, because he did not show what has been the increased expenditure upon matters other than railways. In the first place, I find that in 1876 the total Expenditure was £57,750,000, and that in 1886 it was £77,250,000, or a rise of £19,500,000 in the space of 10 or 11 years. But let me go into details. In the first year that I have named—I am leaving out, of course, all sums which are less than £100,000—in the first year, 1876, the Army Services were £15,700,000, but in 1886 they were £20,000,000. Now, that is not railways; there is an increase of £4,300,000 on the Army.


In consequence of the fall in exchange.


Whenever one criticizes these things, he is always referred to the fall in exchange. It is the same story over and over again; we are always told that if such and such things had not occurred everything would have been all right. That is the kind of thing I have heard repeated year after year in relation to the Indian Budget. The Government of India are bound to cut their coat according to the cloth they have; and if we notice great deficits, if we find great increase in military expenditure, it is no answer to say that it is due to exchange. I think the hon. Gentleman will, on reflection, see that the difference between the two items I have quoted is not due to the fall in the rate of exchange, because a great deal of the money—indeed, if not the whole of it—is paid in India. At least, it is so in regard to the salaries and expenses of the Civil Service; there is no question of exchange in such cases. The salaries and expenses of the Civil Service rose from £10,300,000 in 1876 to £12,200,000 in 1886. What is the meaning of this? The meaning is extravagance, absence of proper control, and, if I may say so in this House, a systematic neglect by this House of its duty towards India in dealing with Indian finance, and in supervising the officials who instruct the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India. Of course, the hon. Gentleman can do no more than repeat that which the permanent officials, who are the tyrants of India, are good enough to put into his mouth. Let me come to the charge of collection—that, at least, is entirely spent in India. The charge of collection has risen in the most extraordinary way. In 1876 it was £6,600,000, and in 1886 it was £9,800,000. There is a spring of 50 per cent in the course of 10 years. Then, again, superannuation allowances and pensions, things which always go up, have risen from £2,100,000 to £2,900,000. I say no more with reference to the Expenditure, because I have promised to compress my remarks as much as possible. I have only given one or two samples of the chief items of Expenditure, to show that the Expenditure has increased all through. Now, a word or two with reference to the Revenue. The Revenue has not shown similar elasticity. The three chief items of Revenue in India are land, opium, and salt. In the case of the land there has been an increase of £1,000,000 in the period given; in opium the increase, I think, has been £200,000; and in salt the increase has been £100,000; and I should like to say, as regards railways, that while an increase has been incurred in expenditure, the increase of revenue—and the increase has been enormous—has kept pace with it. But this does not exhaust the matter. It was pointed out by Mr. Fawcett, and it has been also pointed out by evidence given before the Finance Committee which sat from 1871 to 1874, that the staple of Indian Revenue is of the most insecure character possible. The Land Revenue, of course, is very elastic, and it has risen very little in the 10 years; it has risen £1,000,000, and that is all, and it cannot be expected to rise more, because the system in operation there is a system of fixed rent for a period of 30 years. With regard to the Opium Revenue, everybody knows it is dependent upon the trade which you can make for your opium; and if, for example, we come to difficulties about the opium trade with China, does anyone believe that at the present day public opinion in this country would allow us to go to war again with China in order to bolster up the opium trade? Of course, opium is the most precarious revenue you can have. Then the Salt Revenue is one which is open to most of the difficulties and most of the objections that can be raised almost against any revenue. A man with £100,000 a year only pays as much by way of Salt Duty as the man with £50 a-year. So oppressive is the taxation that one of the Predecessors of the hon. Gentleman said that the repeal of the Salt Tax would confer upon the people of India as great a boon as the repeal of the Corn Laws conferred upon the English people. I must say I was rather surprised the hon. Gentleman (Sir John Gorst) drew a picture from which one would suppose that nothing but plenty and prosperity existed in India, from which one would suppose that the Indian people were an under-taxed people. Now, the best proof that India is over-taxed in comparison with the power of the people to bear taxation is that the very necessary of life, salt, is taxed to such an extent that it is a grievance to the people of India, according to the admission of an hon. Gentleman who, at the time he made the statement, held the position of Under Secretary of State for India. It is a grievance to the people of India equal in its incidence to what the Corn Laws were to the people of England. Now, Sir, I have endeavoured to show that the Revenue is unelastic; that the Expenditure is growing; that there is an impossibility of new taxation; and I should like, in the face of these facts, to put a possibility which I hope will not take place. I put it for the purpose of showing what is the real condition of Indian finance. Suppose that any great strain came; suppose there was an invasion through Afghanistan, or that there was some great catastrophe, or some great war, in which we required, all our resources. Why, Sir, there would be no nest-egg to fall back upon. We have habitual deficits; we have had a deficit in two out of the three years under consideration; and, as far as I can see, there is no branch of the Revenue from which the hon. Gentleman can give us reason to hope there will be any great increase of Revenue within a measurable distance of time. The country is taxed to the full extent, and the margin between Revenue and Expenditure is at best so small that there will be nothing whatever to fall back upon like what you have in this country to fall back upon. In this country there is great wealth, and taxation in proportion to the power to bear it is so light that you might easily extract something for a great emergency. There is one subject which gives us serious cause for reflection, and that is the increasing quantity of money which is being remitted from India to England every year. There is, in the Statement to which I have already referred, an account of the Bills drawn by the Secretary of State. It will be found that there has been within the last 10 or 15 years a large increase in the Bills introduced by the Government for India in this House. It has been suggested by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Evesham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple) that he is accredited with having estimated that the annual drain from India by this country for what you may call the tribute—though I do not mean to say that it is a servile tribute—but that the sum sent from India to England is £30,000,000 every year, without any equivalent being sent back. Part of that, no doubt, is sent sometimes in return for money invested, and comes in the form of Home charges. I do not mean to say that that is the amount drawn by the Secretary of State, for that is only some £17,000,000 or £19,000,000 annually; but the hon. Member to whom I have referred says, I think, that this is the total drain, and represents that money sent to this country from India. It is quite true that for that there has been some equivalent in the past; but the interest on money spent in India is expended in England, whereas the interest on money borrowed by the Government for this country is spent in this country, and, of course, that makes a great difference as regards the resources of the nation. It seems to me that we are bound, to listen to his. We are bound to listen to the best advice and opinion we can get from the Indians themselves. I distrust—not because I distrust the men, but because I distrust their judgment—Anglo-Indians thoroughly in this matter. Those gentlemen, familiar, no doubt, with the details of Indian life, of course have more opportunities of gauging the condition of India than a thoroughly independent witness in this country; but they are all pledged to a system. If you speak to almost any one of them—of course, with here and there an exception—you will find that they are all pledged to the lips in favour of a bureaucratic and despotic system of Government, a system of Government which in India is a benevolent despotism, I admit, but still a despotic bureaucratic Government, because it is a Government not controlled by anything in the nature of representation, as is the Government of this country. The Native Congress, to which reference has been made by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), was full of the most interesting and valuable suggestions. I believe a great many of the recommendations made by the Natives are worthy of adoption. Amongst other things, they ask that there should be some means in India of questioning the Government as regards the administration of the affairs of the country, and that there should be some method in England for controlling the expenditure of the money which is drawn from the people of India. They ask that there should be a Standing Committee of this House to hear appeals from Local Bodies against the Executive Government of India in matters of finance and administration, where it was thought that this House would be competent to control the decisions of the Indian Government. I am not going into detail on that subject, which is one of enormous importance in itself; but this I am going to say—that I have endeavoured to get the Government to listen to a proposal to have some sort of Committee of this House for the purpose of transacting duties in connection with India which appertain to this House. I endeavoured during the Parliament of 1880, more than once, to get either a Standing Committee or some other form of Committee appointed, in order to enable this House faithfully to discharge the duties which it owes to the people of India. The Government of India is absolutely uncontrolled by Native opinion, except so far as that opinion can reach the consciences of the governing class. And who controls it here? Why, it is controlled by the Secretary of State for India and the Under Secretary for India—it is controlled by the Secretary of State, with the assistance of the Council. But what is the Council—how is it constituted? It is a Council consisting of gentlemen who have spent no more than half their lives in that country, and who represent stale Anglo-Indian opinion—the opinion of 25 years ago. No one knows anything about their deliberations, as they all take place in secret. They are a secret, irresponsible Council, composed, I have no doubt, of men of great ability, and of men who have shown great capacity in India, but who represent Anglo-Indian opinion—and nothing but Anglo-Indian opinion. These gentlemen should be under the control of the Government of this country, and their operations should be subject to the fresh air of this House, and should be under the influence of public opinion and public discussion here. The influence of men who have to answer to their constituents for the course they have adopted is not brought to bear on the Government of India at all; and that is one thing, in my opinion, most necessary. How do we stand as to India? The hon. Member for Northampton has brought a variety of charges and accusations against the officials of the Indian Government. He says that Messrs. Streeter have had an unfair advantage in the matter of the Ruby Mines; that was contradicted by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary. Be it so. The hon. Member also says that the teak forests have not been well-administered. Very well. He says that a great many charges have been disposed of by a Commission sitting at Calcutta.


Sitting all over India.


He says that in one instance before the Commission a man had satisfied the President of the Commission, an Englishman, that he did not dare to give open and full testimony, because he was afraid of the Government—and that is the statement of a man who does not speak generally without facts. It will be denied, probably; and I am sure, if it is, it will be because the Government are satisfied that it is untrue. But are we to have no other method than such a Commission as that to investigate these charges? There are a series of instances of charges made and suggestions offered as to corruption and unfair treatment on the part of Government officials towards witnesses giving evidence before this Commission, and this House is absolutely powerless in the matter. On the 9th of September, at the end of a long and exhausting Session, with, perhaps, only 15 or 16 Gentlemen in the House with sufficient energy left to watch the proceedings, the House is absolutely powerless to do anything, and will be powerless so long as we confine the discussion of Indian questions to financial matters as we have done in the past. It has been pointed out in the evidence given in 1871, 1872, 1873, and 1874, that a great many cases of unfair treatment financially between the English Government and the Indian Government have occurred. It is a matter in which the Indian Government is incapable of coping with the English Government. The Indian Government are unable to cope with this Government unless they are supported by the opinion of this House. We have a duty imposed on us by the State, and it is supposed by a great many parties that the finances of India are brought before this House and considered; but the debates on this subject are reduced to a farce. The discussion begins at about a quarter past or half-past 6 o'clock, and ends in four or five hours, and we are expected in that time to have settled the affairs of 200,000,000 of our fellow-subjects, and to have sanctioned an outlay of between £70,000,000 and £80,000,000. That is a state of things in which, it seems to me, it would be far better for us to abdicate our duties than to go on discharging them in a way which is a mere mockery. None of us can do what is really our duty in the matter, because we can merely draw attention to two or three points with an eye to the clock watching the time as it passes. I do entreat the Government to listen to the appeals addressed to them on this matter. I entreat thorn to say whether it would not be possible to appoint a Standing Committee. I am not particular as to the form of the Committee, let it be a Special Committee, a Select Committee, or any other form of Committee which would give the people of India the idea that somebody in this House is looking after their interests, and that their interests are considered of the utmost importance, and are attracting, as I believe they are, a great deal more sympathy outside this House than they are inside it. Lot us show the people of India that their interests are really weighed and valued, and appreciated by the House of Commons, and that the House of Commons will not leave them to be dealt with absolutely by an irresponsible despotism.

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

I do not wish to enter into the general policy of this Budget, or into the details of the many subjects which have been referred to this evening. I only want to say that I am quite sure that amongst the Conservative constituencies, just as much as amongst the constituencies of hon. Gentlemen opposite, there is a very strong feeling indeed that this Indian Budget ought to be discussed a great deal earlier than it is in the Session. I do not think it is any answer to the complaint to reply, as the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State (Sir John Gorst) did in a portion of his remarks, that preceding Governments have been nearly as bad as the present Government in this respect. Surely we ought now to have reached the time when the argument that two blacks make one white can no longer be available. I do hope that on both sides of the House considerable pressure will be put on Governments to force them to bring on the Indian Budget at a reasonable time in the Session. The special subject on which I wish to say a few words is the one alluded to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) before Mr. Speaker left the Chair, and which has been touched on by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dumfries who has just sat down (Mr. E. T. Reid), and that is the question of the Ruby Mines and the concession to Messrs. Streeter. My own opinion on the matter differs somewhat from that of the hon. Member for Northampton. I am rather afraid that in consequence of the pressure he was able to put upon the Government by certain Questions he asked in this House, we are probably about to sea something very like a breach of public faith in this matter. I do not think that the facts of the case have been put correctly either in the Blue Book or by the hon. Member. The Blue Book does not give anything like the whole of the case; and I think that an impression must have been created by some of the Questions of the hon. Member for Northampton that something like a job had been perpetrated. That, I confess, was the motive which tempted me first to look into the matter; and I am bound to say that, after giving the subject very careful investigation, I am inclined to think that the grievance, if anything, is rather the other way. At any rate, the matter has led to a very serious difference of opinion—judging from the statements in the Blue Books—between the Viceroy of India and the Secretary of State at home; and so far as I can read the Blue Book I am bound to say that I believe the Viceroy not only seems to have better information as to what has been going on, and as to the actual facts of the case, but, being on the spot, he is much more able to form an opinion than the Secretary of State, who is so far removed from India. There can be no doubt whatever that a concession was granted by the Viceroy of India in April, 1886, after free and open competition. That fact, I think, cannot be denied for one single moment; but that concession was granted subject to a certain condition, and subject to an inquiry which was to be made on the spot both as to Native rights and as to the mode of working the mines; but in all other respects, as to the term of years and so on, the matter was left to be settled later on the spot between the Viceroy on the one hand and the contractors on the other. Now, the language of the Viceroy was very clear indeed upon this point, because, writing on the 10th of June, 1880, he says— The highest offer of lease within given time was made by Patton on behalf of Streeters, and intention is to accept offer if certain details can be satisfactorily arranged. Concession is delayed by necessity for local inquiry upon certain points. On May 22 of this year he telegraphs— Viceroy in Council is of opinion that should Ruby Mines regulation and terms of agreement finally agreed upon prove acceptable to Streeter, he is entitled to be granted on lease in consideration of his having sent in the highest tender. Every despatch sent in for a year takes the same view. Again, on June 5, 1887, we have the following telegram:— Messrs. Streeter made highest offer within prescribed time, and we informed them that if general conditions imposed by us met their views we should be prepared to accept their offer. We see no just grounds for cancelling this. Therefore, as far as the Viceroy was concerned, undoubtedly Messrs. Streeter sent in the highest tender within the given time, and the only question was in regard to the concession as to the Native lights and as to the working of the mines. Now, how far were those conditions afterwards agreed upon? Well, both parties went to the mines, and the whole question of Native rights was thoroughly gone into on the spot, and the rules and regulations for working the mines were provisionally agreed upon and signed by the representatives of both parties at Mandalay, and were subsequently ratified and accepted by the Indian Government on or about the 23rd of May of this year. There is no doubt that the Indian Council passed these rules and regulations, so that that matter is disposed of. As to the Native rights, there can be no question that the matter was gone into very fully at the mines themselves, because a Proclamation was actually posted up there by the authority of the Indian Government, which was as follows:— The working of the rubies and the trade in rubies near the mines will be a Government monopoly, as they were in the times of the Burmese Kings, and the lease of this monopoly has been granted by the Government to a great firm of wealthy English merchants, who will use great endeavours to promote the extraction of rubies by the employment of many labourers and other means. These merchants will make arrangements with the diggers of rubies such as may be conducive to the advantage of both parties. Following ancient customs they will either purchase the rubies that may be raised, or sanction their removal on payment of dues fixed by the Government, and no rubies may be otherwise removed under penalty. The British Government have been pleased to remit arrears of revenue for the year 1247 B.E. Future assessments of revenue will be made with a strict regard for justice, reason, and moderation. Officials, headmen who are well disposed, and render proper and fitting assistance in the management of affairs, will be confirmed in their appointments, and will receive appropriate remuneration to their merits. By this Proclamation full protection was given to Native rights, and arrangements were come to as to the mode of working the mines; and not only was that done, but, in connection with everybody else who addressed the Government on the subject, Messrs. Streeter were always treated as having a formal and binding arrangement with the Government, which could only be upset by the refusal on the part of Messrs. Streeter to accept the Government conditions. Those conditions, however, they accepted. Messrs. Streeter accompanied the expedition to the mines. They built houses on the spot, and spent a sum of no less than £10,000 there in making preparations for working the mines. So much, then, for the arrangement so far as it went with the Viceroy of India. The Viceroy of India leaves no doubt whatever in the minds of anyone reading the despatches that as far as he was concerned there was a real, moral, and binding contract between him and the contractors for these mines. Meanwhile, what is happening at home? We are told that the influence of this House does not operate upon Indian questions, partly because we have no opportunities of discussing these subjects in this House, and therefore the Questions which are sometimes put here are perfectly unintelligible. Without any wish to do any injustice to the hon. Member for Northampton, for I believe him to be one of the most honest-minded men in the House, still I do think that some of his Questions have really tended to bring about that which is hardly fair in this matter, and what is the result? Why, that the Secretary for India, because he has not been kept fully informed of what is going on here, takes fright, and sends a despatch on November 18, in which he says that nothing on this subject ought to be decided without receiving his formal approval. Well, that was all very right and proper, and, no doubt, the sort of Despatch which the Secretary of State might very naturally send out. He also, at the same time, questioned the policy of leasing these mines at all, and said that it probably might be found that they should be reserved in the hands of the Government. That was the 18th November, 1886; but although that was a very reasonable despatch, it had one unfortunate defect—namely, that it was sent just seven months too late, for whilst it was despatched on the 18th November, on the 18th April in the same year the Governor General had already agreed to this lease with the contractors—the Governor General having full and absolute power from the Secretary of State at home. What were the powers given to the Viceroy to deal with this matter? They are very clear. In the first place, when the question of leasing those Ruby Mines first came up, a Question was put to the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), who was then Secretary of State for India, and Lord Harris, Under Secretary of State, on the 24th of December, 1885, wrote— I am directed by the Secretary of State for India to inform you that it is for the Government of India to decide upon your application for a mining concession in Upper Burmah, and to suggest that you should transmit it direct to the Secretary to the Government of India Foreign Department, Calcutta. Therefore the matter was transferred from the Secretary of State to the Viceroy in Council in India itself. Nothing happened for two months. When the noble Lord had been succeeded by the Earl of Kimberley, a telegram was sent by the Viceroy to Lord Kimberley on the 25th February, 1886. In that despatch the Viceroy says— Gillander and Arbuthnot offer two lakhs of rupees. On the 4th March, Lord Kimberley answered the Viceroy saying— I have no objection to offer to this concession. That is the very same concession which has since been given to Messrs. Streeter, and which was to be given to Messrs. Gillander, Arbuthnot and Co. for two lakhs of rupees. That shows that there cannot be much of a job in the matter, as far as the offer of Messrs. Streeter is concerned. A fortnight after that letter the Viceroy again telegraphed him, saying— Messrs. Streeter offer three lakhs of rupees. On April 14th, he telegraphed him again to say that Messrs. Arbuthnot and Co. were offering three lakhs, and that Messrs. Streeter were offering four lakhs, and he said— Do you consider that latter offer may be accepted? The Secretary of State at once, on the 14th August, telegraphed a reply, which practically left the matter at the decision of the Viceroy. That telegram really left the matter in the hands of the Viceroy, and this was recognized by Lord Dross himself, because he says as much in his telegram of the 11th August; his words being— A telegram which practically left the matter to the decision of your Excellency. That being the case, and full powers having been given to the Viceroy to negotiate the concession of these mines, two days after receiving that telegram, this concession was granted by the Viceroy to Messrs. Streeter. They made the highest offer—namely, four lakhs of rupees—and the only thing to do was to go out to Burmah, and to settle such conditions as to the Native rights and the mode of working the mines, which, as I have said, were fully agreed upon by Messrs. Streeter on the one hand and the Government of India on the other. So, therefore, as far as the Government of India were concerned, undoubtedly they were pledged morally, and almost legally. Of course, they could not be pledged legally, because all these matters might be subsequently upset by the Home Government. Is say in a matter of this kind, where you can establish a strong moral claim like that which Messrs. Streeter can establish, there ought to be some very strong consideration forthcoming to induce the Secretary of State at the last moment to upset the arrangement so agreed upon. It must be admitted that, in upsetting the arrangement, the Secretary of State did so after the Viceroy himself had gone to a very great length indeed, and had practically looked upon the matter as settled. In the first place, the Secretary of State says it is a question in his mind whether it would not be better to keep the mines in the hands of the Government, instead of leasing them at all; but, unfortunately, that matter was settled 18 months before by his Predecessor in Office. As to the question of Native rights, the Secretary of State for India, on the 4th of June, says that— I am not fully satisfied that the Native rights have been considered in this matter. Well, that, again, is certainly not the opinion of the Viceroy of India, who would naturally be very careful in this matter, because he, some time before, supposing that this question would be raised by the Secretary of State, in one of his despatches, says— Whatever the result of these arrangements may be we trust that your Lordship will be satisfied that we have been careful to protect the rights and interests of the Natives. Therefore there was no other question, I should suppose, on that ground. Undoubtedly, the Secretary of State is justified in re-opening the whole question if a fair price has not been given for these mines. That is the real practical consideration for the Secretary of State. There is no doubt whatever upon that point. Although the arrangement has gone so far, if the Secretary of State has any doubt upon this point, he is, no doubt, perfectly justified in withholding his sanction until he is satisfied in the matter. Now, what are the facts as to the question of price? The Secretary of State for India, no doubt, had his mind disturbed on this point by the startling statement of the hon. Member for Northampton, that the lease of these mines, instead of being worth only four lakhs of rupees, was worth at least £400,000 a-year. That was a very startling statement, and if it could have been justified, I say at once that the Secretary of State would have been right in refusing his assent to the arrangement entered into with Messrs. Streeter. Having regard to the interests of this country and India itself, he would, even at the last moment, have been justified in upsetting the arrangement; but as a matter of fact the Indian Government inquired into the matter, and they tell us that they scout the idea of the mines being worth anything of the sort, and they look upon it as an utter delusion. The gentleman who named that value refuses, I understand, to make any definite proposal. It was the duty of the Government of India to look at the past history of these mines. Well, even in the best days of King Thebaw, the most the mines brought in was about half of what has been offered by Messrs. Streeter, but the mines working in the way in which they are being worked at the present moment do not bring in one- tenth of that. Therefore, if the acceptance if Messrs. Streeter's offer is delayed, or f the matter is not settled speedily, the Government of India will be suffering month by month and year by year. They will be losing heavily, because the rate at which the mines are now being worked is worse than ever it has been, but as I have said the offer made by the firm of London merchants is more than twice what the mines produced in the best days of King Thebaw. Then there is another consideration which must have been in the mind of the hon. Member for Northampton, in fact I am sure it was, and I think that the hon. Member was perfectly right in putting the question which he did. It is a question which I myself should have put under similar circumstances—that is to say, if I had held the view of the matter which the hon. Member holds. He suspected that there was some job being carried on in this matter, and it was that suspicion which made him examine into it. I am bound to say, however, that in my view, if there is a job in the matter at all it is all the other way. If Messrs. Streeter had not intervened as they did at the last moment and insisted upon this matter being put to open competition, the loss to the Indian Government would have been considerable. The lease would have been given without any competition whatever for the sum of two lakhs of rupees, which is exactly one half of the amount obtained by competition. I say therefore that Messrs. Streeter rendered a great service to the Indian Government when they insisted that so valuable a concession as this should not be given away to the first comer at an inadequate price, but should be put up to the highest bidders. Concessions of this kind should be put up to open competition, and there should be no favouritism whatever in regard to them. It must be remembered that Messrs. Streeter sent in a tender twice as high as that which had been offered before. There is another reason why it was specially necessary that there should be competition in this matter. It was specially necessary that this lease should not be given to Messrs. Gillander, Arbuthnot and Co., because it is said that the son of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was a member of the firm of Messrs. Arbuthnot and Co. I say it was necessary that the greatest caution should be exercised before that lease was given to this firm, and I must say that a great deal of prejudice has been attached to the lease granted by the Government of India to Messrs. Streeter owing to the fact, as I am informed, of the correspondent of The Times in Burmah being the legal adviser of the firm of Messrs. Gillander, Arbuthnot and Co. If that is the case, as I am informed it is, a good deal of the information which has reached us on this subject is of course prejudiced evidence. I have been induced to bring this matter before the consideration of the Committee, simply and solely because I do not wish to see public faith broken in a matter of this kind. The Secretary of State is perfectly entitled no doubt to reconsider the whole matter; but I do contend that after a lease has been put out to open competition and a firm has offered twice the price which was originally tendered, when negotiations had been carried so far, and when the Viceroy in Council up to this day maintains that it would be the best policy to grant the lease to Messrs. Streeter, Her Majesty's Government are bound in honour to grant it to that firm if it is to be granted at all. We ought not to be frightened by questions asked in this House, or frightened by the idea that a job is contemplated, when, in point of fact by the arrangement in question a job was really prevented. I feel every confidence that when the Secretary of State takes the whole matter into his careful consideration, he will feel that something like a breach of faith will be perpetrated if Messrs. Streeter do not get the contract. I trust that the Government will not roughly and unnecessarily override the decision of the Viceroy of India, whose despatch shows clearly what is the view he takes of this matter. I trust that if he thinks that the lease which has been granted is a fair one and that the price is a fair price, he will not allow anything like a broach of faith, but will, after the firm have honestly tendered a fair price, see that that fair price is accepted and that the bargain is adhered to.


Before I commence my remarks on the Indian Budget, I desire to call public attention to the manner in which the affairs of India are discussed in Parliament, as shown by its taking place in the last week of the Session, and by the small attendance of Members during this debate. There have seldom been more than 10 Members present, though there are now 12—made up of eight on the Ministerial side and four on this side—Ministerial and Opposition Front Benches having been seldom occupied. [Here an hon. Member on the Opposition side called the Chairman's attention to the fact that there were not more than forty Members present, but the quorum was soon made up, before even the Chairman counted, and the hon. Member continued his remarks.] I am anxious now to offer my acknowledgments to the Indian Office and the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) for the desire shown to furnish the House of Commons with Returns and Statements giving information regarding the finances of India. I particularly thank the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the explanatory statement he has laid before the House. I am glad that I got the promise from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) that following the good example of the Army and Navy, the India Office would also follow suit. I do not wish to detract from the credit of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, but I hope he will excuse me for suggesting that, should he be in Office next year, he will endeavour to bring on the debate in the month of June instead of in the month of September, and that he will try and improve upon his explanatory statement by omitting details of the principal figures in the Indian accounts by furnishing that information in the form of Return which, for the two last years, has been separately laid before the House. I may also add that I fully hoped that the information which he has given us in his speech this evening regarding the increase and decrease of Income and Expenditure since the Revised and Budget Estimates were prepared should be all given in the explanatory statement. I found it impossible to take down the figures which have been so varied in their character, and so important in their amount, I can only make out that the balances against Income are larger than the Estimates show, and that in this year 1887–8—what with the falling off of the Revenue in India and the cost of converting the Four per Cent Debt to Three and a-half per Cent—the deficit will be exceedingly large. In the 12 years past, from 1876 to 1887–8, I find that in the differences between the ordinary Expenditure and Revenue there have been six years of deficits; whilst between Revenue and ordinary Expenditure there have been six years of surpluses. But the information given us this evening will now change two of these surpluses into deficits, and that the total deficits for 12 years exceed considerably the amount of the surpluses. One remarkable feature in the last two years is the omission of the Famine Insurance Fund of £1,500,000. If this had been spent as promised, a further deficit of £3,000,000 in these two years would have added largely to the excesses of ordinary Expenditure over Income. These excesses would be largely swelled if the capital outlay on Public: "Works were added on. The exact amount of Debt created during the last 13 years cannot be clearly ascertained owing to the manner in which the obligations of various kinds are entered, but the Interest paid during that period will give some idea of the large increase in the amount of Debt. In 1875–6 the the Interest is entered at £5,415,371, and in 1887–8 the amount is entered at £8,368,409, thus showing a difference of nearly £3,000,000. This, however, is not a true indication, because in these 13 years the rate of Interest, on all Debts, has been greatly reduced. Moreover, the capital of the Civil and Military Funds—in all between £6,000,000—and £8,000,000 has been taken over by Government and used in diminution of the Debt. I must, however; add that this interest now includes the loss by exchange, and covers the amount of interest for the capital invested in Railway and Irrigation Works. All these excesses may be easily accounted for by the large increase which has taken place under three separate heads of Expenditure. Under Salaries and Expenses of Civil Departments the charge has increased between 1875–6 and 1887–8 by £2,000,000. The charge for Civil and Military Buildings and Roads, the expenditure in 1887–8 is nearly £1,000,000 more than in 1875–6, and between the same period the Army Services are nearly £4,000,000 in excess. From the table I have compiled, I make out that the Expenditure for these three Services amounted to, in 1875–6, £30,711,506; and in 1887–8 the total, according to the Budget, will be £37,929,900, being an excess, in 13 years, of nearly £7,250,000. The increases in the Revenue do not, in my opinion, show any-great augmentation during the last few years. The land revenue may be said to have been slightly increased; but the opium revenue has fallen off. I am sorry to see that the salt revenue still remains depressed. During the last 13 years the net revenue from salt shows but little change; and, taking into account the additional area with its population now supplied, and the natural increase of population in these 13 years, the consumption of salt must have fallen of; and, in accordance with my annual practice, I heartily wish that the Government saw their way to give up the whole Salt Duty. No doubt, the sacrifice of £6,000,000 of annual income would be a remarkable measure; but believing as I do that the freedom of salt from taxation would bind the people of India to our Rule, and that they would prove faithful to their salt, I cannot but use my efforts towards obtaining that end. I may here call attention to the double Income Tax levied in this country on the holders of the Indian Debt Bonds. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) will see his way to the cessation of this charge. India could easily enforce its withdrawal—a mere threat to retaliate by re-imposing the taxes on the cotton manufactures of England would at once force the English Government to cease the Income Tax on the interest of the Indian Debt. I thank the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the information he has given regarding the military expenditure for the occupation of Burmah; but I wish the accounts were so prepared as to enable us to take out the figures of that expenditure. The India Office has the information, and could, therefore, set it forth in the accounts. Indeed, I doubt whether the expenditure, as now stated, is correct. It looks to me as if the expenditure in excess of the peace outlay was alone given, and that the pay and allowances of the troops are still chargeable on the revenues mainly from Madras; and here I would call attention to the great injustice done to Madras—to the favouring of Burmah—in making the former bear the whole military charges of Burmah, both ordinary and war, and thus mating Burmah appear to have a large surplus of revenue. I would also point out a defect in the accounts, in not showing, in a clear manner, the exceptional charges on account of the North-West Frontier of India. Here and there a few items, such as special defence works, may be seen, but the large outlay on account of the occupation of Quetta and the approaches thereto is not, if at all, set forth. I close my remarks with the hope that the Government of India may continue to improve its administration for the well being of the people, and to add my conviction that if the improvements continue to as great an extent which have taken place during the 60 years since I landed in India, the people of that country will be as well governed as any in the world.

COLONEL HILL (Bristol, S.)

I rise to call attention to what I consider to be a very great hardship and grievance experienced by the civil engineers in the Department of Public Works in India. On the 17th of June last I put a Question to my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) respecting the mode of payment of the pensions of these gentlemen, and I gave Notice at the time that in consequence of the answer which I received I should take this opportunity of bringing the matter before the House. The question of the grievances of certain civil servants in India has been brought before the House on more than one occasion, and I do not propose to go into the general question now; I only desire to bring one specific Question under the consideration of the Committee; and I base my contention that the engineers in the Department of Works are undergoing a hard measure of injustice on two points First, the mode of paying their pensions is not that which they were led to expect under the contract which I hold in my hand; and, in the second place, they were promised that their position should be assimilated to that of Her Majesty's engineers engaged in similar work in India. The document I have here is a form of contract signed by gentlemen accepting the position of civil engineers in Her Majesty's Department of Public Works in India, and in it there are several notices of rates of payment which are to be made to these gentlemen, and which are expressed as follows:—Rs1,300, £130; Rs2,000, £200; Rs3,000, £300; and Rs4,000, £400. Of course, this means that they were given to understand that their pay would consist of monthly payments which the Government valued at Rs10 to the £1. The contract also stated that they would be entitled, after 30 years' service or upwards, to pensions not exceeding Rs5,000. When they entered the Service there is no doubt that they had the prospect of enjoying pensions of £500 a-year on their return to England after their life-long service in India. I believe this will not be considered a very extravagant pension for men who have spent so long a time in work, which, in many instances, is certainly not healthy; and I do not think anyone can contend that there was any intention on the part of the Government to convey any other impression than I have stated to their minds. The Government, of course, had no knowledge whatever that there would be this enormous decrease in the value of the rupee; but the fact remains that their pensions, at the present Government rate of payment, would be reduced to £375. There is even a prospect, as I am informed, of a continued depreciation, and some think that the value will be reduced to 1s., in which case, instead of receiving a pension of £500 a-year, these gentlemen would only receive £250 a-year. I ask the Committee to reflect that the reduction of 50 per cent on so small a sum as £500 is a very great hardship. To show what was the Government idea of the value of a rupee, I may mention that, in 1870, there was a certain resolution passed, which, in 1873, was published, which contained a note stating that the sterling equivalent of a rupee was 2s., which would be the rate of exchange. That note appeared in the publication until as late as 1886, and then it was discovered that it ought not to have been there—that it did not form any part of the resolution. That is one part of my case on which I base the allegation of hardship and injustice to these officers. My next point is that they have been, on more than one occa- sion, distinctly told that they would be placed on the same footing as the Royal Engineers selected for continuous service in India, and I can give various extracts from letters of Governors General and Ministers of State to this effect. I will not go into those now, but I say that these officers ought to receive their pensions, which they were entitled to at the end of 30 years, in sterling, in the same way as, under the same circumstances, the Royal Engineers receive their pensions. The answer which my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India gave me was that no increase had been made in the pay of the Royal Engineers in India; but I think he has overlooked the Royal Warrant of 1886, which made those officers eligible for the Indian staff pension, which, after 32 years' service, amounts to £700. That was in answer to paragraph 6 of my Question; and, in answer to another paragraph, he asserted that the Government did not give any assurance that these officers would receive their pay in sterling; but I again say that I think the Circular most distinctly led them to believe that they were to receive their pensions in sterling, and that they ought in justice be to receive them. In my own view a pension is simply deferred pay, and where you give an officer so much pay and so much pension, you are actually keeping back from him part of his pay. It is, in my opinion, manifestly unfair to take advantage of the lowest point of value reached by the rupee to pay the pensions in question, and I venture to hope that Her Majesty's Government will be able to conceive some mode of giving redress to this valuable class of officers, who are considered to do their work in an excellent manner, and whose services have been, on more than one occasion, thoroughly acknowledged.

MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

It is, I think, a subject for regret that, as far as my memory serves me, it is impossible, no matter at what period of the Session, to get anything like an audience in this House when the question under discussion relates to India. I must congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India (Sir John Gorst) both on the lucid document relating to Indian finance which he placed in the hands of hon. Members a short time ago, and also upon the able and clear statement which he has made this evening. But although the hon. Gentleman has laid before us this statement with regard to the finances of India and also of Burmah, I am bound to say that he has told us nothing with regard to the policy of Her Majesty Government in Burmah, and on the North-West Frontier of Afghanistan. I take a great interest in the boundary arrangements which have been going on; but I am not able to place much faith in them, because when such arrangements are made between civilized and semi-civilized governments there is very little chance of their being observed. In my opinion this question of frontier is one which will involve this country in very serious responsibilities, inasmuch as these frontier delimitations must always leave the continuance of peace between Afghan and Russia a matter of doubt, and any breach of the peace between those countries would endanger the peace of India, and therefore that between England and Russia. During the last 10 years we have had two polices in Afghanistan. We have had the forward policy of the Conservative Government of 1874–80 with regard to the North-West Frontier, the result of which was, as the country knows, to increase the charge upon the Revenues of India by £20,000,000, and if that policy had been continued we should have required for the purpose of maintaining it an army of 60,000 men. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) reversed that policy. But it was a case of "Out of the frying-pan into the fire," because the policy of the right hon. Gentleman involved this country in responsibilities in connection with the North-West Frontier of Afghanistan over which we have no control whatever. It is true we have a Representative at Cabul; but he is a Native of India, and being a Mahommedan, is amenable to influences from which a European is exempt. Instead, therefore, of hampering this country and India with the responsibility which I have referred to, we ought to have embraced the opportunity we had of freeing ourselves from all responsibility whatever with regard to Afghanistan. I am anxious to obtain from Her Majesty's Government a clear declaration of their policy with regard to the future government of Afghanistan. Lord Salisbury at the Mansion House made a statement, in the course of which having congratulated the country on the conclusion of the delimitation of the frontiers of Afghanistan and Russia, said there was room enough in Central Asia for both countries. That is a policy which may mean anything or nothing. It may mean that Lord Salisbury intends to reverse the policy of the Conservative Government, or it may mean that he intends to reverse the policy of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and withdraw from the responsibility under which the country now labours with regard to Afghanistan. If that is the policy of Her Majesty's Government I need not say that it will receive the support of a very large number of Liberals and Conservatives. Hitherto we have found that, having accepted responsibilities over which we have no control, we have always had to make some concession, in order to get out of them. This irresistible tendency on the part of successive Governments to do something on the Frontiers of India has led to enormous expenditure already, and the probable expenditure next year will be £17,000,000. We were told by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), when the present Government entered on the conquest of Burmah, that the trade of the country would largely reduce the cost; but the result has been a deficit of something like £3,000,000, and to-night we have been told nothing about any prospective increase of income. Then I should like to be informed what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government in Burmah? Have they any policy by which they intend to recoup the Government of India the deficit which they have created by the class of responsibilities under which we now labour with regard to that country? I shall be glad also to hear what their proposals are for developing the commerce of Burmah. With regard to the large charge for pensions and furloughs, I point out that this is all being spent for the benefit of Anglo-Europeans in England who return to this country after enjoying large salaries in India—return to this country at a comparatively early age and take their ease on handsome allowances. To my mind this is a matter which requires revision. I hope the Under Secretary for India will turn his attention to it in order to bring about a reform in the system of pensions and furloughs. In my judgment there is ample room for saving money in connection with these charges. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India has attended to the saving which is to be effected by the conversion of Four per Cent. Stock into Three and a-half per Cent Stock. I am of opinion that the principle which is involved in this might be carried somewhat further—that is to say, that instead of the Indian Government guaranteeing the loans made in India for railways and other purposes of the Indian Government, the Imperial Government should be the guarantors. The effect of this would be that the Indian Government would be able to save something like £1,000,000 per annum by the Imperial Government being able to borrow money cheaper than the Indian Government. When we compare the amount of money spent on military exploits with that which is spent on the moral, material, and intellectual welfare of the people, we shall see that the former is enormous and the latter comparatively small. It is quite true that large sums have been spent on railways and irrigation, but I am referring to other matters. What are we spending on education this year amongst a population of 250,000,000. The sum proposed to be spent is only £199,000, and we are actually going to spend £4,000 less than in previous years. When I was in India some years ago, a gentleman perfectly competent to speak on the subject said to me, "The one blot on your Government of India is neglect of education." As we neglected education in England at one time, so we are now neglecting it in India, where for a long time all the education given has been by British missionaries and the missionaries of foreign countries. I consider that our policy in this great matter is unworthy of a country like Great Britain. I should like to say a few words as to the mode in which some of the India Revenue are spent, and I point as an instance to the Forest Revenues. These amount to £1,100,000 per annum, and the cost of collecting that sum is £650,000, while reckoning the money paid for pensions and allowances to those formerly engaged in the Service, the total cost is not far short of £750,000. This is clearly a matter which requires earnest attention on the part of the Government. Passing to another point, I can see no reason why the seat of Government in India should be removed every year from Calcutta to Simla. It seems to me absurd that the Governor General of India, with all his staff and appurtenances, should remove once a-year to the Hills at great expense to the people and with great inconvenience to the commercial world. This is a practice which I trust Her Majesty's Government will consider, with the view of putting a stop to an unwarrantable charge thrown upon the country by the highly-paid servants which we have in India. Then, Sir, I think that the salary of the Governor General of India, which amounts to £25,000 a-year, and the salaries of the other highly-paid officials of the Government, ought to be reduced. An hon. Friend of mine has recommended that a Standing Committee of this House should be constituted to deal with all questions relating to the Government Revenues and other matters relating to India, and I am of opinion that this would be a wise course for Her Majesty's Government to adopt. It is quite true that there is the India Council; but we in this House have not the control over the proceedings of that Council which we have a right to exercise with regard to the affairs of India. I do not see the necessity for this old form of government continuing to exist; and for my part, as I have said, I think it would be wise on the part of Her Majesty's Government to set up a Standing Committee of the House of Commons in its stead.

SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)

I think I may join with hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House in offering congratulations to the Under Secretary of State for India in respect of the very able statement which he has made to us this evening, and also in respect of the interesting Memorandum which he has circulated beforehand for our information. Sir, it may be thought that the people of India will be discouraged when they hear of this Indian Budget being brought before the House with diminished numbers, and at the close of the Session; but I believe they can derive some consolation from the fact that, during this long and protracted Session, scarcely an evening has passed without some Question or other being propounded to the Members of Her Majesty's Government with regard to our Empire in the East, And they may further derive hope from the fact that this Parliament, and the Parliament immediately preceding it, being the two Parliaments elected under a very extended franchise, have contained a far larger proportion than any which preceded them of men practically conversant with the affairs of the East; and I am convinced that if we in any way understand the feeling of our constituents, there is no Member of this House who cannot assure the people of India that the mass of the electors of this country have an abiding interest in the welfare of their fellow-subjects in the East. Further, most of us who are well acquainted with those regions can bear personal testimony to the fact that there is not a city or any great centre of intelligence in the United Kingdom to which they are not invited to give an exposition and explanation with regard to the position of affairs in India. I know, of course, that many hon. Members will take this occasion for pressing, and justly pressing, particular points which they are in the habit of bringing forward. I have no such points to press on the attention of Her Majesty's Government; but I will, in fulfilment of my duty to my country, both at home and abroad, offer a few remarks, and present some large points, which I will try to treat in a very summary, and yet in a broad manner. Now, as regards finance—the general details of the finances—I quite acknowledge, with reference to what fell from the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley), that our expenditure on the North-West Frontier is alarmingly large. I also acknowledge that the deficit in Upper Burmah is very considerable, although I am sure that the expenditure in connection with the occupation of that country will sooner or later fructify a hundredfold for the benefit of the people of India; and, however largely hon. Gentlemen opposite may complain of the Afghan War, there is no doubt that it has left one effect behind it—namely, that it has placed us in a position to effectually defend India against the possible approach of Russia—it has placed us in the possession of that great object to an extent which we never before enjoyed. I also acknowledge that the increase of the just and necessary expenditure on public works is very considerable, especially when we remember that it adds greatly to what we know as the loss by exchange. But, admitting all these things to the full, I venture to assure this House and the country that the finances on the whole are satisfactory; and that assurance I make with some confidence, inasmuch as 19 laborious years have slipped by since I first had to do with the finances of India. You must not look at the finances of this year or that year; you most look at the finances of the country as extending over a series of years, and I am sure that on such a retrospect it will be found that a surplus rather than a deficit has been the rule, and, indeed, that a deficit has been the exception. There was a time, at the beginning of this period of 19 or 20 years, when the finances of India were under a cloud for two particular reasons—one, that we were mixing up capital with our Revenue expenditure—that is to say, we were charging against ordinary Revenue expenditure that the Government of any other country would have charged to capital; and, in the second place, we have had to build palatial barracks for our European troops out of Revenue. We have now made a proper discrimination in the Accounts between ordinary and extraordinary expenditure. Well, Sir, these two main difficulties having passed away, taking one year with another, a surplus has been the rule and a deficit has been the exception; and every deficit which has occurred—even the deficit which was mentioned to-day as belonging to the year before last—every deficit has been satisfactorily accounted for. I entreat the House to remember that we have done two things out of Revenue which were very difficult to do—namely, we have defrayed a vast sum—a sum amounting to between£15,000,000 and£20,000,000 sterling—out of Revenue for the relief of famine, and by these means we saved millions of our fellow-subjects from death by starvation. India has also contributed very largely to the cost of the last Afghan War. On the whole, therefore, I repeat that the finances of India are very satisfactory, even down to the deficit mentioned to-day. After all, what is that deficit? It is really owing to what is called the war scare of Russia—that is, the necessity of making pre- parations for war against Russia; but, with regard to matters of this kind, it must be remembered that India is not the only country which has to incur such expenditure, and is obliged to face such deficits. Why, Sir, this country—England—has been in deficit for similar purposes, as we well know, who have served on the Public Accounts Committee and audited the expenditure under the Vote of Credit. If, then, the Indian finances are satisfactory as regards the equilibrium between income and expenditure, I submit that the taxation is light. In the interesting Memorandum circulated by the Under Secretary for India, not the least interesting point in the many interesting points which it contains is the significant table which shows how light the burden of taxation is upon the shoulders of the people of India. I know it is said by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite that though the taxation may be light, the shoulders of the people are weak to bear it on account of poverty. But are the people poor? Poverty and wealth surely are relative terms. If their income is small, their wants are small and their requirements are moderate; and if the doctrine be accepted that he who can live just within his income is really rich, and he who lives beyond it is really poor, then the Indian people are better off than most of the populations of Europe. After all, it is no use to argue as to what is wealth and what is poverty. Let me point out to the Committee what the position of the people of India really is. Their numbers are increasing; their cultivated area is expanding; their wages are rising, and their trade is growing; they are exporting masses of edible produce—cereals and the like, as our British farmers know to their cost—and they are also secreting vast quantities of precious metals. Well, Sir, I ask this Committee to judge for themselves whether the country which has done all these things can be said to be poor? With regard to the Debt, I think the Committee will have listened with the greatest interest to the statement made by the Under Secretary for; India to the effect that this Debt is incurred now not for war and unprofitable expenditure of that kind, but in beneficent expenditure which will bear fruit a hundred-fold. After all, if credit is the test, it has been shown by the Under Secretary this evening that we now stand in India third best in the world in respect of credit—better by far than any country on the Continent of Europe. When I was Finance Minister, India stood second best; but, since then, Australia has shot ahead. Vast public expenditure in India is now divided into two portions—namely, that upon canals and that upon railways; and the only item in the interesting Memorandum of the Secretary of State which I am somewhat inclined to quarrel with is that with regard to the canals, and the result of the irrigation operations, especially in the South of India, is hardly Bet forth in the Paper. That statement, I would remind the Committee, shows only the main, or grand, irrigation works. There are a great number of irrigation works in all parts of India, especially in the South, which are not shown in that statement. Why, Sir, there are now, I should say, not less than 13,000 miles of canals, great and small, including main branches and distributors, affecting an area of 7,000,000 acres, and representing an expenditure of not less than £25,000,000 sterling. The total represents the greatest work of the kind ever seen in any age or in any country of the world. The next item of outlay is that on railways. Now, of all questions affecting the immediate future of India, the question of questions is that of the railways. Railways have changed the whole face of the country in India. They have modified not only the material, but also the social condition of the country. They have made the country a new country for European habitation. Well, Sir, the question of questions, I say, for the future is to know how to extend these railways. After all, what are the 15,000 miles which we see mentioned in the present Memorandum—what, I say, are 15,000 miles in a country of 1,500,000 square miles? Why, not 15,000 miles, but 150,000 miles, are required before we can say that India is in a satisfactory condition in this matter. The question is, how is this to be done? At present we are constructing railways either by immediate State operations, or by what is known as the guarantee system. This is open to great objection, inasmuch as it increases the heavy item of the loss on exchange. At present we are halting between two opinions. At one time we say that no more guarantees should be given, and we will trust altogether to private enterprise. That continues only for a time, and then we revert to the old system. It is obvious that so long as people can get guarantees, either for a long time or a short time, or for ever, they will not put their money into Indian railways without a guarantee. If we are to give a proper and a fair chance to private enterprise, we must put our foot down and say that, for the present, we will give no more guarantees and undertake no more State railways; and if, after having given a complete trial to the system, it is discovered that private enterprise is not sufficient, then I suppose ultimately we shall have to revert to the old system, because it is certain that if we do our duty to India we must cover it with a network of railways. Times have, perhaps, not been favourable to these operations in the Money Market; but there have been several instances of singular success in respect to railways constructed by private enterprise in India. The Under Secretary for India this evening mentioned one, the Bengal and North Western Railway, and there is another to the West of Calcutta which is doing remarkably well in respect of Native traffic, and especially of pilgrim traffic. Therefore, I think if we try our new plan by letting those persons who advance money on these undertakings see that we are not going to give direct help, except by grants of land, there will be a chance of India being materially benefited by private enterprise being enlisted in this most important work. There is a chance of India being materially benefited also by a subject connected with this—namely, the development of the wheat trade. There is no question, perhaps, of more immediate interest to agriculture, or of more importance, than this question of the production of Indian wheat. No doubt, it is to these railways that England owes that which is called by many the blessing of cheap wheat from India. Cheap wheat from India may be a blessing to the majority, although it may be something else to some of us in the agricultural districts. There is no doubt that there has been a great increase of wheat cultivation in India. The old supply of wheat was always consumed in the country, and the same quantity is now consumed, and the extra amount that is produced is exported from India and conies to Liverpool and other ports of England; and that quantity represents so much added to the area under wheat cultivation in India. I have carefully considered this matter with the best experts; and their opinion, added to my own experience and belief, is that, on the whole, as the soundest conclusion, the amount of wheat imported to England from India represents a corresponding addition to the area under wheat cultivation. Well, the question then arises, how far this increase of the wheat area is to go on? It must be understood that we are not to expect a vast or sudden increase. Whole regions in India are not going suddenly under wheat as they do in Canada and America, and other places we are acquainted with. Nothing of that kind is to be expected. It is also to be remembered that the greater portion of the arable area of India is not suited for wheat, and that the masses of the people of India do not live upon that variety of the cereal species. There is no prospect, no likelihood of any leaps and bounds in that respect, and if there is to be an addition to the wheat growing area it must be a gradual one. Then this question arises—is this area now increasing? Well, it has been increasing gradually for several years past; but at this moment, according to my opinion, this increase is arrested. It may spring forward again. No one can exactly say, as that depends upon what goes on in America. We hear, however, that the American importations are not likely to be so great as they were, and that might give an additional stimulus to the wheat importation from India; and, after all, if there is to be a great exportation of wheat from India prices in India must rise. That we may be sure of. Prices have been wonderful of late—lower, I should think, than they have ever been within the memory of living man. The rate of exchange may rise again, and that, of course, would affect the cost of the production of wheat in India, or, rather, the cost of exporting wheat from India; so that it is very possible—even, indeed, probable—that should there be any falling off in the arrivals of wheat from North America, there may be some increase in the exportation from India. As to any improvement being likely to arise in the condition of exchange in India, I fear there is not much chance for the appreciation of silver, particularly now that there is little to be hoped from the gold discoveries in India. But still we have this fact to bear in mind at this moment—the exchange is steady, with a slight tendency to rise. Well, I need say nothing more, I think, regarding the question of finance. I have not said much on that question, probably not as much as I ought; and probably I have not said as much as the occasion requires with regard to the Army Expenditure. But before I pass on to the general topics regarding the Natives I should like to say one word more regarding our finances, which is this—that while, on the one hand, the Army Expenditure and the Army arrangements throughout India are satisfactory, the naval arrangements are blamed out there as much as they are in any part of the Empire. It is a common cause of anxiety and complaint that our great coaling stations in the East are left comparatively undefended, and that the number of ships of war in Indian waters is dangerously small. No doubt, the expenditure is small too; but those who value the safety of India will feel that an additional burden, in respect to Naval Expenditure, should be borne in consideration of the value of naval defence to the safety of the country. I would now say a few words on a subject as to which much reproach has been levelled lately against the Indian Administration. It is said that in order to stimulate the Excise Revenue upon drugs and spirits we are driving the people into intemperance. Sir, I should, as a responsible person, like to give a most emphatic denial, on the part of the Administration of India, to any statement of that kind, and to express my utter disbelief as to any such result being produced, or in there being any tendency towards such a result. No doubt, it becomes very important to make changes in our arrangements regarding the administration of the Excise. It becomes, sometimes, difficult to maintain a system of excessive centralization in that respect. It is necessary to extend the system to what is called "out spirits"—that is to say, stills which radiate from centres; but all this is done for the purpose of securing the Revenue—for the purpose of insisting upon every consumer paying the tax—that, and nothing else; and also for the purpose of stopping smuggling. If it should happen that, owing to these arrangements, there should for a moment be a tendency towards an increase of intemperance, then this House and the country may depend upon it that the Government of India will take steps immediately to stop it, for nothing can be further from their minds or their thoughts than the idea of encouraging intemperance; and I am sure, in justice to the Natives, that there are very few people on earth who are less addicted to intemperance than they are. As to land, it will not surprise the Committee to hear that all those vexed questions as to which we hear so much at home—the registration of title, cheap transfer, administration and codification, have all been settled long ago by the Government of India. The land tenure registers are worked on the cheapest, most deep-reaching, and far-extending system. As regards the administration of justice, the expenditure on that has increased, of course owing to the great increase in the salaries of the Native Judges and other Native officials of all ranks; and, as I said, with regard to the question bearing on land, the laws bearing upon contract and civil jurisprudence have been consolidated and codified, and questions of scientific legislation which are still unsettled in England have been settled in India with the help of the most eminent jurists from England herself. I do not deny that, despite all these improvements, there is one evil which has eaten, like a canker, into the heart of the rural population in India—namely, peasant indebtedness. We hear a great deal here about the money lenders, or "gombeen" men, from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite, especially in regard to Ireland. Well, Sir, I can assure hon. Gentlemen that the Celtic variety of that interesting species in the United Kingdom is quite a mild specimen compared with his Indian brother. And now I would say a word with regard to education—a subject which has been so much dwelt upon by the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley). Did I hear him rightly with regard to the sum expended upon education in India? If I heard the figures correctly I think he was considerably under the mark. At any rate, might I be allowed to point out to the Committee that this most necessary and beneficent expenditure has greatly increased within the last two years? It has risen from £1,500,000sterling in 1878 to £2,500,000 sterling in 1885. That is a very considerable increase, especially when we remember that in India, as in England, that sum does not represent the total expenditure upon education. I have not the figures before me at the present moment; but I am sure that if I could present to the Committee the total of what is paid in India from private sources of all kinds—that is, private munificence—and also the system of local rates upon local property, which is regulated in exactly the same way, and levied as it is from the ratepayers in the Metropolitan areas—I say that if all these things were taken together, the expenditure Would be nearly double of the large figure which I have quoted. And, Sir, considering that in the last generation there was no education at all worthy of the name in India fair progress has been made. They have now a very respectable Educational Department, several Universities, many Colleges, high schools by hundreds, and village schools by thousands, and there are between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 children being educated. That is a good result; but I admit that we have still, relatively speaking, a small number of children at school. So far I agree heartily with the hon. Member for Sunderland. What are 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 children attending school out of a population of 200,000,000 in British territories, exclusive of Native States? Why, Sir, there are more millions of children at school in Great Britain than there are in the whole of India; and yet the population of British India is, perhaps, six times as large as that of Great Britain. If we had the same number of children at school in India in proportion to the population as we have in Great Britain, there ought to be 18,000,000 or 19,000,000 under education there. Well, I must point out to the hon. Member for Sunderland that if he considers the sum spent upon education, in India too small, it is quite as much as is wanted at this moment for the population of the country, because the people will not send any more of their children to school than those who at present go; and they will not thank you, therefore, for adding to this expenditure if it is to be under the condition of their sending their children to school more and more. I am one of those who, upon this question, may, perhaps, be called advanced thinkers. I am one of those who believe that education amongst the Native people of India will never prosper as it should until we make up our minds to adopt that mild form of compulsion which we have in our own country, and which every civilized country in the world has adopted. Of course, we shall have to gradually and gently introduce that system; but until that happy time comes when we have a compulsory system, we may depend upon it that the increase of scholars in the schools and the increase in the number of children going to school will be comparatively small. There never will be a proper system of education such as will make this teeming population a wise and understanding people until we adopt this compulsory system of education. Well, Sir, in connection with education in India, we have the same cry there that we have here in this country. The words "technical education" resound from one end of India to the other as they do here, and technical education is, if possible, even more regarded there than here, because there is no doubt that our system has too much tended towards literature and philosophy, and too little towards science and industry, so that the Natives of India, when leaving our higher schools, can find nothing to do but to resort either to the Bar or remain waiting in attendance outside the precincts of the public offices—namely, seeking for employment inside. Of course, the object is to teach the Natives all those arts and sciences which have made us what we are, and to induce them, instead of attending overmuch to literature and philosophy, to proceed more in the direction of those fruitful and useful ways of art and science. This leads me to the last topic with which I shall trouble the Committee—namely, what may be called the hopes and aspirations of the educated Natives, of which we have heard so much tonight. I am quite aware of this fact, and I agree with my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) that it would be well if these complaints could be brought before the House when there was ample time to discuss them. I am quite sure, with respect to these complaints, that the evidence given on the side of the Natives would often be rebutted by the evidence given on the other side, and that if they were examined by an impartial tribunal a vast amount of vapid, frothy, and groundless fault-finding would be dissipated. It has been said that the pledges which were given by Her Majesty in Her Most Gracious Proclamation of 1858, when she assumed the direct Sovereignty of India, have not been fulfilled. I have heard it said in this very debate that those pledges have been shamefully broken. Sir, I deny that. I say the pledges have been fulfilled so far as practicable, though not to the utmost extent the Natives could desire, because such fulfilment in one or even two generations would be impossible. Much, however, has been done since the Proclamation. More has been done for the Natives than was done in centuries previous to British rule. The salaries of the Natives have been increased; their tenure of office has been rendered more certain; their promotion has been accelerated; and their right to furlough and pension has been fully recognized. In consequence of the change in their position there has been a marked improvement in their integrity and trustworthiness. So sure as we have increased their emoluments, and established their position, and rendered them secure in the fruits of their intellectual and official labour so sure have they been found to grow rapidly in moral stature with respect to trustworthiness and efficiency. Well, Sir, we have now done much to advance them in the Public Service not only in Ministerial offices, but in high Administrative offices, and we have placed them in the highest positions even in the Civil Service. We may truly say, as Queen Dido said to Æneas, Regni in larte locav." We desire that they shall have all these benefits; we desire that they shall have a practical share in the Government of their own country. We have given them representative municipal institutions in two of the most important places in India, Calcutta and Bombay. Representative institutions have flourished in Bombay for many years. I found them there, because they were established by Sir Bartle Frere. I promoted and encouraged them; and so did the right hon. Member for North East Manchester (Sir James Fergusson) who is sitting near me. But, Sir, I am here to testify to what was done in Calcutta, for I did it myself. I sacrificed all municipal patronage in my hands, and decided that the people there should elect representatives to manage the municipal concerns of one of the greatest cities and of the greatest parts of the British Empire. I quite admit that there was a good deal of difficulty in getting them to understand the system. Though they were to vote for their own popular candidates, there was difficulty in getting them to exercise the franchise, in inducing them to go to the poll. Now, I suppose, after 10 or 15 years have elapsed, they are no longer apathetic about the exercise of their electoral rights; but I believe they would almost rise in rebellion if those rights were threatened. They will rapidly learn the electoral system. I hope they will learn nothing but the blessings of it. I hope they will never learn some of the abuses of it which have existed in our own country, and in Trans-Atlantic regions. We feel that, if they are to be educated in the highest sense of the word, they must learn to take a share in the government of their own country, and especially in the management of their own local affairs. They will then feel that they have a part in their own country, and that it would be worth while in the day of trial and danger to come forward and fight, if necessary, for their institutions. But, while I admit all this, while I admit it as much as any Member below the Gang-way opposite, yet before I sit down I must give a word of the most solemn warning to this House and the country not to pursue the system too far. There is a great deal of work in the Public Service which cannot be performed efficiently by men who do not possess European nerve. Such work is to be found in the Public Works Department, in the department of the telegraphs, and upon the railways. For instance, I do not know whether hon. Members would like to entrust an express train to a Native driver. There are certain kinds of civil employment which we must reserve to ourselves; and therefore, having done our utmost for the Natives, socially politically, intellectually, and in every other respect, we must yet take care that in the Legislative Councils of which they are to be Members, and, indeed, are already Members, and I hope will become Members in increasing proportions, we must take care to preserve a preponderance of the European voice. After all, it is upon us that the responsibility of defending the country must ever rest, and those who have the responsibility of defending the country must have the power in the last resort of governing it. Although we may try to advance the Natives in every civil capacity throughout the country, yet there are certain magisterial and administrative appointments which must be held by Europeans. For, in the hour of extreme danger, such as the Mutiny, it is upon the courage, resolution, energy, and tenacity of the Anglo-Saxon alone that the Government must depend. If, in the time of peace, we should ever be so fatally unwise as to place all these appointments in the hands of Natives in India, in the day of trial we may be found wanting, and the words of doom may be written against our Empire. Therefore I say that while we have the European voice prevalent in our Councils we must have European intellect in all the high places of Civil Administration also. I thank the Committee most heartily for the fairness with which they have listened to me; and I only desire, further, to point out that while we are doing our duty to the Natives, we are undoubtedly benefiting ourselves. I am not ashamed to say that in the British Legislature, because, after all, this Empire does not exist only for the benefit of the human race, but also for the benefit and advancement of British industry, British trade, and British transactions of every kind. And if we manage India well, and develop her materially, and promote her morally and intellectually, we shall secure the second greatest market for our goods in the world—I say the second, counting China alone as greater. Therefore, we have every reason for keeping India, for holding by her, for clinging to her and doing our duty by her. We may be confident that in so doing we shall be sustaining our position as an Imperial Power, and, at the same time, promoting the best interests of the electors and constituents whom we represent in the British House of Commons.


My hon. Friend the Member for the Evesham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple), who has just addressed the House, is a man who has had immense experience. I followed his footsteps very closely in Indian fields, and I am bound to agree with him in most things. I do agree with him in most things, and I shall certainly not undertake the task of criticizing him in what he said, except to say that I think his views are covered over with a general optimism which makes it necessary we should receive them with some little deductions. At the same time, I thoroughly acknowledge the excellence of my hon. Friend's speech. As regards the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst), I cannot help thinking that the hon. Gentleman took a rather couleur de rose view of the state of Indian finance. It is somewhat unfortunate that the Statement issued about a week ago was altogether different from the speech of the hon. Gentleman. All the statements in the Memorandum were by the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary entirely altered, and perhaps it would have been better if we could have had given to us an epitome of what was coming, instead of an epitome which turned out to be a little out of date. The hon. Gentleman told us that last year things turned out better than they were expected to turn out, but that the Estimate for the present year turned still more to the worse. There is a fortune that attends the mistakes of Indian finances, and that is, that they have a happy way of balancing one another. The £500,000 to the good last year and the £600,000 to the worse this year balance matters pretty well. The unfortunate part of the matter is that of the series of years under review the years in which the mistake is for the better are the first years, and the years in which the mistake is for the worse are the later years. In this matter I am bound to say I cannot take the optimist view of Indian finance taken by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Evesham Division (Sir Richard Temple). On the contrary, I am rather inclined to take a gloomy view, especially as the first year to which the Under Secretary of State for India alluded, was the year in which there was a considerable sinking fund in the shape of the Famine Fund, while in the last year the sinking fund has entirely disappeared, and you have nothing but barely balanced estimates of receipts and disbursements. I will not go into the large question whether India should be governed by this House. I am one of those who doubt very much that it is possible for this House, with its own great concerns to attend to, to attend equally and properly to the great concerns of India. A Committee would certainly be no improvement on the Indian Council. I do think it is an excellent thing that a spirit of healthy inquiry should prevail in this House, and to that extent I am inclined to think it a good thing that this House should take an active interest in Indian affairs. When we come to the actual administration, I confess I wholly doubt whether, in our present procedure, at any rate, it is possible or desirable it should be centred in this House. Now, coming to the question of finance, I do not, as I have said, take so hopeful a view as my hon. Friend opposite (Sir Richard Temple) and some other Members have taken. In fact, for many years past I have always been regarded as a pessimist in regard to Indian finance. The view presented to us has always been rose-coloured in the event of something not happening, but that something has happened and turned the rose colour into something very different. A sinking fund is in my opinion a necessary part of sound finance. There is a great probability of increased expense in regard to the pay of Native soldiers. I have very long been of opinion that we cannot reduce the numbers of the Army. On the contrary, I have long suspected that we shall have to increase them. As regards the Frontier, I am one of those who have always deprecated the cry of "Wolf!" in which so many have indulged for the last 50 years. At the same time, I have always admitted that the time would come when the isolation of India would cease, and India would be coterminous with another great Empire. That day is fast approaching, and the result is that we have been involved in excessive expenditure. I am sorry to think that all those pessimistic predictions do certainly at the present moment seem to be coming true. We have attained our present financial balance in India only by stopping the Famine Fund, a fund very much in the nature of a sinking fund. We have also attained our position by trenching very largely upon that decentralization of finance which has been established. We have recouped the Government of India for its losses by making all the various Provincial Governments contribute very largely from their savings. There is no doubt that it is a very great evil. Then, since we sacrificed the Custom Dues, we have imposed an Income Tax, and we have imposed additional taxation. Undoubtedly it is the case that our finances are by no means so flourishing as they were. We have at present no means of making provision for the event of famine or war. I do not take the view that my hon. Friend (Sir Richard Temple) has taken—namely, that our present position on the Frontier Question is one which can be looked upon with pleasure and hopefulness. On the contrary, my impression is that the Frontier Question is one which must continue to cause great expense, risk, and anxiety. Although it is satisfactory to have come to a settlement with Russia, there is some force in the view that an elastic frontier may involve less risk than a fixed one, which we are bound to see is not transgressed, and the trangression of which must inevitably involve us in war. Then, again, as regards Burmah, I am unable to take the view that there is any hope that in the very early future Burmah will be a paying country. We have learned from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India that at present there is a very serious deficit in respect of Burmah, something like £2,000,000 sterling. I do not see any prospect of that deficit being reduced within reasonable limits in any short time. I fear our difficulties and expenses have increased, and that the diminution of them is quite uncertain. The question is how are these difficulties to be met? I do not myself believe very thoroughly in the elasticity of the Revenue of which so much has been said. Apart from the increase of territory, which at least involves increase of expenditure, I cannot see that the Land Revenue has largely increased, or that the Opium or that the Salt Revenues have increased. The only rapidly increasing revenue is that of Excise, and I confess I have great doubts on that subject. This revenue has in the last 10 years very nearly doubled. That is au extraordinary advance. The revenue has increased by leaps and bounds, and I was very loth to believe that to the Governments in India could be attributed any carelessness with regard to the moral and social condition of the people. I know my hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire (Mr. Samuel Smith), associated with the Archbishop of Canterbury and very many well known persons, has expressed before the country views which seem to attribute to the Indian Government very great recklessness in this respect. I have said that I would wait until I saw the facts and figures before I would believe anything of the kind. Having seen the facts and figures, I am bound to say that I cannot go so far as my hon. Friend opposite (Sir Richard Temple) in asserting that the Indian Government can be accredited with sufficient concern as to the source from which the revenue is derived. I am afraid the revenue has reached a point which gives rise to doubt, and that in this one instance the decentralization of finance from which so much benefit has been said to arise has to a certain extent been disadvantageous, because it has given some of the Local Governments too great a temptation to raise large revenue by a system under which drinking has been increased. I am somewhat disappointed at the Report from the Government of India which has been largely relied on in the House. That Report seems to me not judicial in tone. I am afraid the Government of India have allowed the Departmental officials to draw up that Report because it is drawn up in the tone of an advocate, and in order to show that everything is right, rather than in the tone of a judicial reviewer, examining and candidly telling us where there is right and where there is wrong. I do not profess to know the details of any other Province than that of Bengal. Bombay, which has been administered by two right hon. Gentlemen opposite, is certainly far and away the most drunken Province in India; but I am free to confess from the reading of the Report that a good defence has been made out in regard to the Government of Bombay. Of late years, the policy of the Government of that Province has been to raise increased revenue by increased taxation. In the Punjaub we have been able to keep down the consumption of spirits, and I do not see why the same thing should not be done in other Provinces of India. I have been astonished, looking at the figures, to see how small the consumption of spirits is in the Punjaub. I formerly know the Punjaub better than any other Province, and this I know—that a great deal of spirits was drunk there. The Sikhs have been accustomed to drink a good deal, and one would have expected that there would have been a larger consumption of spirits in the Punjaub than in any other Province of India; but, as a matter of fact, the consumption has been very much less. It has been effectually kept down. I very much fear that some other Governments cannot be credited with equal concern as to the source from which this increased Revenue is derived, and I think some blame may lie on some Administrations in that respect. As I said, I cannot speak in detail; but I do know something with regard to this subject in Bengal. The Revenue went up at one time by leaps and bounds, and that excessive increase of Revenue was concurrent with the change of system, when the Government of Bengal went back from the civilized system to the older system. The change was followed by almost a doubling of the Revenue from spirits; but the result was a great increase of drunkenness and of the craving for drink. I have conferred with the last Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, and I am sorry to say that what he tells me leaves no doubt in my mind that there was a few years ago a great increase of facilities for drinking in Bengal, and that with the increase of Revenue some of the people became demoralized. I know that the late Lieutenant Governor did a great deal in order to go back to the better system; but the resistance to the change was so great that this has not yet been fully effected. Therefore, I cannot but think there was a vicious change made in the Excise system, and I am full of apprehension that the increase of Excise Revenue may in some cases have been obtained at the cost of evil in the habits of the people. Then, with regard to Expenditure. No doubt, reforms have been in some directions made; but fresh demands are made in others. I think we are too liberal to our own countrymen in India, and I have some apprehension that the Staff of the Army is paid too highly. Their pay is enormous as compared with the pay in all the other Armies of the world, and it is higher than under the old system. This is not a matter on which I can express a very confident opinion; but it is one which I am convinced needs to be looked into. There is one point in the statement of the hon. Gentleman on which I have a great deal of doubt—namely, that the increase of Debt is not a real increase of Debt.


I did not intend to say there was no increase of Debt. I said that the deficit of 2,800,000 tens of rupees was reduced by large sums applied in reduction of Debt and investments in Public Works.


I am glad that is so; but, as the hon. Gentleman has stated, there is a considerable increase of Debt, and there is a larger increase than appears in the Paper, because there is a considerable transfer going on between accounts attributable to real Debt and accounts attributable to works, which in the time of former Governments were taken out of Revenue, but which you are now taking out of capital. I will not argue whether this is right or wrong; but I am afraid the tendency now is to throw too much on capital and too little on income. I cannot view this change without some uneasiness; it is a thing which gives me considerable doubt as to our Indian system of finance. I am one of those who agree with the hon. Member for the Evesham Division (Sir Richard Temple) in thinking that railways have been of enormous benefit to India. They have improved India morally and socially, and I believe they should be encouraged. The old guaranteed railways—the East India, the Great Indian, Peninsula, and the Bombay and Baroda Railways, laid down by the wisdom of Lord Dalhousie—all pay handsomely; but, on the other hand, it seems to me that some imprudent guarantees have been given of late years. I am apprehensive that the Government have been too much open to pressure from Syndicates, and I believe it would be much more profitable if, instead of encouraging more trunk lines, the money were devoted to the construction of small lines of railway to take the place of the roads of the country which are with difficulty kept up. I look with great apprehension on the recent additions to the network of lines towards Bombay. Useful they must be, because all railways are useful; but I think these have been got up not so much in the interest of the people of India, as owing to the pressure of Syndicates. I have always believed in the entire honesty of the India Office; still, I do not think they are strong enough to resist the pressure of great Syndicates in the City, composed of men of high standing. I have known some of the best men in the India Office to be alarmed when these guarantees have been given over their heads, and without their advice. I think the India Office must take care to uphold the character which it has be long possessed, and which the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India has described so eloquently, by saying that the Indian Government looks to the welfare of the people alone, and I trust they will not be induced to give any rash guarantees to Syndicates. Looking over a statement which I omitted to bring down to the House, I came to the conclusion that in most of the offices of the country a system of compensation or re-organization of offices under which men are pensioned off in the prime of life is prevailing to an undue extent; and, having regard to these pensions which are borne on the India Office Vote, it strikes me that the Department is a great sinner in that respect. I know there are men who have been pensioned off at a time of life when their services might well be retained. I will not pretend now to suggest the remedies which I should like to lay before the House; but I again say that the apprehensions which I entertain are not allayed, but rather made more, by the figures laid before the House by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India. I feel that there is cause for great anxiety with regard to the finances of India. The difficulties are very great, and I believe they will tax the best minds and the ablest intellects to grapple with them. Perhaps it is better, under the circumstances, not to place a favourable view before the country, especially if it cannot be supported by facts.


Of all the speeches I have heard in the course of this discussion, I think that which we have just listened to from the hon. Baronet the Member for the Evesham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple) is the most valuable. He has brought to bear upon the subject an amount of knowledge and culture which renders his presence exceedingly valuable on any question relating to India. We have also had a number of other speeches all pertinent to the question before the Committee. But one impression I have received from the discussion is that we do not feel a sufficient sense of the responsibility which rests upon us in governing this great portion of the Empire, and I need not say that the responsibility of governing 200,000,000 people is a very great one. Another impression which has also been fixed upon my mind is that there is not enough economy practised with regard to the finances of India, and not a sufficiently close investigation of the Accounts; and unless greater care is taken I fear we shall be driven to place burdens upon the people of India which will endanger our position in that country. I think, therefore, we should welcome in every respect public scrutiny of all matters connected with India, the expenses in connection with which country are growing at a fearful rate. There can be no doubt about that; and we all know very well that the resources of the country are being taxed to their fullest extent, and to an extent, in my opinion, which renders further taxation impossible to be borne. All the Natives of India with whom I have come in contact have contended that the Salt Tax is one which bears with great hardship upon the poor people of the country, as is the case of all taxes levied on the necessities of life. I therefore hope we may, to some extent, be able to modify that tax, which is both hard to bear and obstructive to the progress of the people of India. I believe that we shall all admit that it rather raises the tone of discussion in this House when we direct it to the consideration of the happiness of the people rather than to questions of coercion, and therefore I think the result of this debate will be to increase our sense of responsibility and to strengthen our desire to lessen those evils with which the people of India are afflicted. In that direction I think a great deal is to be done by the adjustment of the Revenue, and I am of opinion that some of the taxes may be modified with considerable advantage. I am delighted to see, with regard to railways, that the extension of the system has very much helped to preserve our position in India as well as to develop the resources of the country. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India has, no doubt, referred to a very important fact in pointing out the bearing which the railroad system of India has upon our food supply. I rejoice that we are able to get this wheat supply from India instead of from other countries; and it is a satisfaction to know, if we cannot produce enough food to supply ourselves, that, at least, a large portion of our requirements is met by one of our own Dependencies. I am convinced that whatever tends to commercial development and the intercourse between the two countries will lead largely to the cementing of those feelings of goodwill which ought to exist. To make our rule in India permanent we must make it mutually advantageous, for all Governments based on the benefit of the governing instead of the benefit of the governed must contain within themselves the elements of decay. Therefore I think the hon. Baronet the Member for the Evesham Division deserves our gratitude for drawing attention to the fact that our Government of India must be based upon the happiness of the people, and not upon our own interest. The more we advance in the direction of removing wrongs, and the more we increase the intercourse between the people of India and the people of England, the more lasting will be our rule and the more blessed the result. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) has told us that the spirit trade in India is tending to an amount of demoralization to which we seem to be shutting our eyes; and I do hope that great care will be taken not to strain our position by obtaining our chief revenue from the taxation of articles on which the happiness of the people depends. I believe that this debate will increase the sense of responsibility which rests upon us in the mind of every hon. Gentleman, and not only that, but in the minds of all who read the reports of the debate; at the same time, I join in the hope that has been expressed that our connection with India in the future, guided as it is by wise and high views, will be lasting and happy. A wise suggestion has been made in the course of the discussion—namely, that, as far as possible, we should draw into the Government of their own country our Indian fellow-subjects, and give them thereby a sense of responsibility on the one hand, and sympathy with the true interests of the people on the other. I have great pleasure in expressing my sense of the obligation we are under to the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India for his clear exposition of the finances of India, although I do not agree with some portions of that Statement. Last year I read with great interest the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Western Division of Bristol (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), which was also exceedingly clear; and my recollection of it inspires me with the hope that he may soon return to aid us in this House with his views in the work of securing the happiness and welfare of the people of India.


I must confess to some amount of surprise at the observations made by the hon. Member for East Bristol (Mr. Handel Cossham) with reference to the Salt Tax, because he does not seem to remember that we have made a great reduction in that tax. The tax was some time ago equalized all over India, and reduced to two rupees per maund—that is, to 1s. 6d. for 82 lbs., which I do not think can be considered a very extravagant rate of taxation. But that is not all. As a matter of fact, the consumption of salt in India has greatly increased; and if the hon. Gentleman will refer to the Abstract he will find that whereas the consumption of salt in 1876 was 25,900,000 maunds, it had risen in 1885 to 32,091,000 maunds. I think the Government may very well be satisfied with the discussion which has taken place. I observe that every hon. Member who has referred to the Indian Financial Statement has regretted the late period at which it has been brought before the House. I have here some statistics on that point. The Statement—which is not required to be made under the authority of any Statute—was first made by Mr. Dundas, President of the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India, in 1787–100 years ago—and it was continued annually without intermission until 1806. The practice was then discontinued, and was not revived for nearly 50 years, when Sir Charles Wood made a Statement—in 1854; and since then the Statement has been made annually, with the exception of the years 1857 and 1858, when the Mutiny in India occurred. But during all the years in which the Financial Statement was made to the House it was never brought forward until the very end of the Session, except in the years 1859, 1865, 1871, 1877, and 1879, and on those occasions it was made earlier because loans were contemplated. I have made inquiries into the matter, and I find that it would be impossible to lay the Financial Statement for India before the House of Commons earlier than the month of June. The accounts received from India can, no doubt, be laid before the House of Commons in that month; and, so far as I can see, there is no reason why they should not be laid before the House at that time. I have myself no influence in this matter; but I can promise that the observations which have been made in this debate shall be laid before my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India (Viscount Cross), who, I believe, will do his best to insure the Financial Statement being presented at an earlier period of the Session. I do not attempt to answer the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid), who has attacked the Government of India and their policy, root and branch. He has found fault, I must say, with all Governments. He attacked the Afghan Boundary Commission, which was appointed by the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone); he attacked the Quetta Field Force, for which, I believe, both the Government of that right hon. Gentleman and the Government of Lord Salisbury were responsible; and he attacked the annexation of Upper Burmah, which the late Government approved and carried out. Of course, if we were able to remain in India without frontier defences, and without a large force to protect the country against its neighbours, either civilized or uncivilized, and if the exigencies of our Empire did not force upon us occasional extension, no doubt we should be able to govern India at less expense; but it is of no use saying what you would do if you were in a different position from that in which you are placed. Situated as we are in India, I think it would not only be the greatest folly, but a most criminal act, if we were to neglect those measures which, in the present state of the world, are necessary for the protection of the people of India. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman talked about our Famine Insurance Grant, as if we had taken possession of some of the funds, and he has used the term "sacred fund" in referring to it. But that grant is nothing more than the surplus which the Government of India are determined, if they can, to keep up—a surplus of Rx1,500,000—and which they spend on purposes necessary for the prevention of famine, or the lessening of it, if it should arise. But does the hon. and learned Member imply that we should put taxation upon the people of India for the purpose of creating a surplus? All that has been done in the years 1886–7 and 1887–8 has been to recognize the fact that the surplus no longer exists, and that you have not got the money that you could spend in this way. No doubt, if the finances of India recover themselves before any fresh taxation is imposed, the Famine Insurance Fund would revive, and for many years I hope the surplus of Rx1,500,000 would be kept up for this purpose. Then the hon. and learned Member made one of those wholesale and general attacks upon the Government for extravagance in expenditure that I have often heard made in this House, not only as applied to the Government of India, but as applied to the Government of Great Britain. In my humble opinion, there is no good whatever in this sort of thing. Nothing is more easy than to get up and go through the Finance Accounts and lay your finger upon certain figures and cry out against the monstrous extravagance of the Government. What the people who wish for financial reform should do is to point out the particular items—the particular expenditure—which it is possible to forego. Now, I have just an instance here which shows the value of the hon. and learned Gentleman's criticism. One of the chief instances he gave of a great increase of Expenditure to illustrate the extravagance of the Government of India was that the charge for collection had increased in three years by the sum of 1,529,000 tens of rupees. It is true that it has so increased, but how? Of that sum, the increased payments for opium, owing to the very large crops, amount to no less than 38,000 tens of rupees; the increased charge for interest, which represents the outlay necessary in order to make an increase of Revenue, amounts to 261,000 tens of rupees; and the increased cost of the collection of Land Revenue, which consists of increased payments for the Native village officials who were thought to be not adequately paid, amounts to 463,000 tens of rupees. These items of the increase in the cost of collection, to which the hon. and learned Member takes exception, amount in the total to 1,562,000 tens of rupees, and thus amount to more than the increase which he has found fault with. That is a specimen of this kind of general charge. But I have here another instance. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained that the increase in the Army charge in 10 years amounted to 4,396,000 tens of rupees. Well, that is so. That increase is caused by the special charges for the Quetta Field Force, amounting to 2,185,000 tens of rupees; to the Burmese Expedition, amounting to 631,000 tens of rupees; to the increased pay of European troops owing to the fall in the value of the rupee—the increased number of rupees you have to give them to represent their sterling pay, which amounts to 437,000 tens of rupees; and to a charge which the hon. and learned Gentleman found fault with us for bringing in, but which we have always with us—namely, 800,000 tens of rupees for payments in England and other matters, making a gross total of 4,053,000 tens of rupees. So that, although the Army of India has been permanently increased by 22,000 men, at a cost of 1,500,000 tens of rupees per annum, yet the increase in 10 years has only been 343,000 tens of rupees. Now, I do not think I will follow the hon. and learned Gentleman in his suggestions for the improved administration of India. He seems to think that the Secretary of State and Council of India, who, he was pleased to say, represent the Anglo-Indian opinion of 25 years ago, should be replaced by a Standing Committee of this House. I do not know that it is part of my business to stand up for this; but I should like to remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that, so far from representing the Anglo-Indian opinion of 25 years ago, some of the Members of the Indian Council have only recently returned from India, and represent some of the most recent and modern ideas of Anglo-Indian Government, while others are men whose names are illustrious as connected with the Government of our Indian Empire, and others, again, are not Anglo-Indians at all, but persons of English financial and other experience, who give their general advice and counsel. Though I do not pretend to say that the Council of India differs from almost every other body that exists in being incapable of some reform, I am by no means sure that a Standing Committee of this House would represent so much Indian knowledge or so much general political knowledge as that Council does represent. At any rate, I must remind the Committee that it is not the House of Commons which governs India, but the Secretary of State in Council; and the function of the House of Commons is not to usurp the Executive powers of the Secretary of State in Council, but to act as a checking body. It is for the House of Commons to express its want of confidence in the Secretary of State and in the Government of the Queen if it finds that this great Dependency of India has been maladministered. I must now say just one word about the charge of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury), though I might almost leave him and the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) to fight the matter out between themselves, because the one complains of the Government for having given too much to Messrs. Streeter in connection with the Ruby Mines, while the other complains of them for having given too little. But the fact really is that the Secretary of State holds an intermediate position between the view taken up by one hon. Member and the view taken up by the other. I cannot admit that there has been any breach of public faith. In making contracts we do not act upon public faith—it is a matter of law. Either there is a contract between the Government of India and Messrs. Streeter or there is not. If there is a contract, all I can say is, in the words of the Town Clerk of Ephesus—"The law is open; let us compel one another." If there is no contract, the Secretary of State is free—and the hon. Member for Preston is constrained to admit it—to make the best terms for the Revenues of India that he can. Now, where I think we differ from the hon. Member for Preston is here—he seems to think that the value of the mines has been satisfactorily ascertained; but the Secretary of State thinks that that is not so. There are two ways in which you could ascertain the value. You might put them up to competition, if there was a real open competition between a large number. But there is not. There were tenders in Calcutta, but they were only made by two firms, and without public advertisement, and they were made before the mines had actually been visited by European troops, or by any European except a Frenchman in the days of King Theebaw, which certainly, under the circumstances, was no test of the value. The mines had certainly never been visited on behalf of the Government. The other way to ascertain the value is that the Secretary of State should send out to Burmah someone who is able to give an estimate of the value of the mines, and until that is done no contract will be entered into by anybody whatsoever. I differ from the hon. Member for Preston in thinking that a valuation in King Theebaw's time is any test of value at all.


What I said was that I thought the Secretary of State was justified in making a fresh inquiry if he thought the terms with Messrs. Streeter were not fair terms; but that if he found out that they were fair terms, then the arrangement had gone so very far with the Viceroy that it would only be fair to give Messrs. Streeter the preference.


But there was no contract made in February, 1886, by the confession of both parties. The Government did not make a contract, because they waited for the mines to be visited, and Messrs. Streeter in the meantime by a telegram directed that no contract should be made until the preliminary conditions had been fulfilled, one of which was to ascertain the value of the mines. And I may remind the House, as something has been said upon the subject, that there is no race for the mines now. This is not quite the case of a cornfield—it is the case of a number of rubies, which are there. You cannot make more of them than they are—they can only be got once; if not this year, then next. The rubies remain there; they will not run away, and the only question is in what way they can be extracted so as to be satisfactory to the Revenues of India. Then there is the grievance which has been brought before the Committee by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Bristol (Colonel Hill), I confess that the condition, not only of the civil engineers employed by the Government, but of all those uncovenanted civil servants whose pensions are payable in rupees, is one which excites the sympathy of everybody; but, unfortunately, I do not take quite the same view of the matter which my hon. and gallant Friend does. It seems to me that upon any construction which may be put upon the agreement made between the Government of India and the uncovenanted civil servants. The pensions to which those servants are entitled are payable in rupees, and not in pounds sterling. It is otherwise with the covenanted and military servants—their pensions are payable in sterling. In the case of the uncovenanted civil servants, the pensions are, by their terms of service, payable in rupees. No doubt at the time the service was undertaken these gentlemen expected that being paid a rupee was pretty nearly equivalent to being paid a 2s. piece. The Government thought so too, I dare say, when they made the contract. But, unfortunately for these civil servants, the value of the rupee has fallen. Still, I do not know that the Government would be justified, out of compassion for the disappointment which these gentlemen must feel over the bargain they have made—I do not know that the Government would be justified in saddling the Revenues of India with increased charges because the felt compassion. I can only say that the question has been brought before successive Governments and Secretaries of State; and no one has yet felt himself in a position—and I am afraid the present Secretary of State cannot do it—to allow his feelings of compassion to over-weigh his duty of strictly guarding the interests of the people of India. The Secretary of State, therefore, will not be able to concede the demand which he would wish to concede if he could possibly manage to do it. Now, I must just say one word in reply to what has fallen from the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), who has told the Committee that he was engaged in all these Indian questions, and whose speech has given us a remarkable example of the gloomy and despondent view which some people take of Indian administration.


No, no ! Of finances; not administration.


Well, this is a case of administration, because the hon. Member expressed his sorrow to find the alcoholic revenue doubled, and, at the same time, appeared to neglect the equally significant fact that while the revenue has doubled, the consumption has enormously decreased. [Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: No, no!] Well, I will give the Committee the figures in a moment. This is not all. Not only has licit consumption decreased, but illicit consumption has been entirely put down. Therefore, so far as the revenue is concerned, there is much to be thankful for, and nothing to complain of, in the Government of Bombay—


I admit the decrease in Bombay; but that is the smallest of the Provinces.


Well, I will take Madras. The effect of the increase of duty made in 1883 was to reduce consumption from 1,200,000 gallons in 1881, 1882, 1883, and 1884 to 1,000,000 gallons in 1885–6. In Bengal the number of shops for the sale of liquor in 1882 was as high as 39,000; but the stricter measures recently adopted have brought down the number to 27,000. The number of shops for the sale of intoxicating drinks decreased from 16, 600 in 1881 to 6,000 in Bombay. While there you have a reduction of consumption—a reduction of licit consumption—the illicit consumption, I say, has been almost entirely put down; and I cannot understand anything more calculated to make anyone take a cheerful view of Indian administration than the observation of the fact that the revenue has so large increased, while the consumption, both licit and illicit, has no largely decreased. I cannot endure to hear Englishmen of benevolent character trying to make out that we are encouraging the people of India in drinking. I think it has been stated that we found the people of India sober, and we made them drunken. It is not fair to them at all to call them a drunken people. The consumption throughout India is only one or one and a-half bottles of spirit for every adult man in a year; and. if that was contrasted with the consumption in a sober country like England, Scotland, or Ireland, I think the people of India would come very fairly out of the comparison. Then, as to the collection of the tax, I must say that I cannot conceive any principle upon which the collection of the tax can be more justly and properly arranged than the system avowed by the Government as the system by which the actual revenue is really collected. The details of the system are not the same in all the Provinces—there is a variation between one Province and another in the particular provisions in force—but the policy of the Government of India, and the policy as endeavoured to be carried out in every Province, is to place as high a tax as it is possible to place upon intoxicating liquor without conducing to illicit distillation; and out-stills, which as a general principle the hon. Member vary properly condemned, are obsolete. They are only employed in those districts of India where it is a choice between having an out-still and having illicit consumption. That is the policy of the Government. The hon. Member may say that that policy is not carried out in certain places. [Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: Hear, hear!] But the Government of India have endeavoured to carry it out universally, and have acted avowedly upon it, and the Secretary of State has supported it, and that is the policy in India at the present moment. Under these circumstances, I do not see how people can accuse us of attempting to make the people of India drunken. The hon. Member also took, I think, an unnecessarily gloomy view of the increase of the Indian Debt. If he does me the honour of looking at the statement of assets and liabilities to be found on one of the last pages of the Paper I circulated, page 18, he will see that if you take all the assets of the State in the form of railways and irrigation works, loans and cash balances, and compare that with the Debt of India and all the other obligations of the Indian Government, there appears to be only a total uncovered Debt, which is not covered by assets, amounting to about £38,000,000, and that represents the real indebtedness of India. The nominal Debt, I know, is far higher: but all but £38,000,000 of it is covered by assets, not borrowed to be frittered away on unproductive expenditure, but sunk in investments which yield a very fair interest on the outlay. I hope, Mr. Courtney, that the Committee will now consent to pass the Resolution I have moved, and I can only thank hon. Gentlemen for the kindness with which they have received the statement I have made, and for the very useful tone which this discussion has assumed this evening, which I hope will not be without its advantages for the future good government of India.


I do not wish to prolong the debate; but on one or two bare matters of fact I should like to say a word or two. I wish to make a correction—first, as to the Salt Tax. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India has repeated again what I have frequently corrected, and must correct again, and that is that the Indian Government have reduced the tax upon salt. I have denied that before, and I deny it again. What happened was this—some years ago the tax on salt varied from three-quarters of a rupee to three rupees and a quarter. In Madras and Bombay it was three-quarters of a rupee; in Bengal it was three rupees and a-quarter. What has been done has been to equalize it. They first levelled up, and there was an outcry, and public attention was directed to it, and then they partially reduced it again to two rupees almost all over India. The late Governor of Bombay, who sits opposite, will, I am sure, confirm my statement. That was, the reduction which took place was only from the amount at which the tax was fixed for one or two years; and the so-called reduction was nothing but that. In some Provinces the present tax is now much higher than the level which prevailed some years ago. As to the Excise, I must clear that up. I do not dispute that the excessive consumption of Bombay has been reduced; but as regards Bengal—and I speak advisedly—what has been done is this. As regards the consumption of spirits the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India compares 1882 with the present time; but if he made the comparison with the five years up to 1882 it would be found that an enormous change of system had taken place. The Excise Revenue had been doubled by a system which involved a greatly increased consumption, and great laxness. An enormous increase took place, and then there was a partial reduction, and that is the reduction which he speaks of. I speak confidently on this important subject, in which there was a great deal of inquiry, with regard to the question of out-stills, during my administration and that of the hon. Baronet opposite. Sir, this is a very important matter which many important people take an interest in, and we must bring out the truth about it. The hon. Baronet opposite was in the Government of Bengal, and I wish to appeal to him as to the facts. During my administration and his administration this out-still system was confined to places where it was impossible to work the regular system; but it now prevails almost throughout the whole country of Bengal, even in the district of Hooghly, and the fixed duty system is now the exception in Bengal. No doubt a change has taken place of recent years, and you are partially returning to the better system. As to the drunkenness of the people of India, I am thankful to say they are not nearly so drunken as we are, but an immense amount has come in with our civilization; especially in Bengal, the educated classes are taking to drink, in a way they never did before. We cannot shirk this, or rely on these couleur de rose reports upon so important a question. Drinking is becoming common among the educated classes of Bengal and other parts, and I do say that the rise in the Excise Revenue is a very dangerous rise.


After what the hon. Member has just said, I really must ask the Committee to allow me to refer to a passage in the Memorandum which I laid before the House a short time ago. In that Memorandum it is stated, in reply to a representation by the British and Colonial Temperance Congress, sitting in London, that the out-still sytem existed in past times, but that the history of the period during which the increase of the Revenue had taken place was a history of the com- plete supersession of that system by better methods.


Well, Sir, I will only ask whether the noble Viscount the Secretary of State (Viscount Cross) will inquire into the matter, and especially whether the instill system is not confined to a few small districts of Bengal, and whether the out-still system does not still prevail, although an attempt has been made to limit the size of the stills? I hope that some inquiry will be made into the matter, as I am certain I am right.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I am sorry to interpose for a moment between the Committee and its decision; but there are a few matters to which I wish to direct the attention of the Government, and upon which I wish to ask for some definite information. It will be recollected that I have on one or two occasions put Questions to the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) upon the subject of Indian telegraphy. Not only have I done so myself, but a Question was in the early part of the Session put to him on the subject by an hon. Member on the opposite side of the House, one of the Members for Hull. I originally questioned the Government on the subject at the commencement of last year, and, up to the present time, no further information has been obtainable in the matter, except that communications are still taking place, and that it is impossible to lay any Report upon the Table, because the Correspondence with the Indian Government is still incomplete. Now, what I want to ask the Government is, whether it is not possible for them to give us some assurance that the new scheme of reorganization which has been sent out, as I understand, to the Government of India, and has been practically approved, if I am not mistaken, by the Government on this side, will be promptly brought into operation? The members of the Telegraph Department in India, several of whom have been in communication with me and others on different occasions, and have earnestly implored us to do what we can in this House to advance the matter in their interests, are accordingly anxious, not only on their own account, but for the good working of the Department as a whole, that no unnecessary delay should take place in bringing the new scheme, whatever it may be, into operation. I dare say that a great many hon. Members in the House may not be aware of the difficulties and hardships under which these gentlemen labour. That their complaint is not in vain is, I think, sufficiently shown by a statement made by the Governor General of India as long ago as January last year, in the following words:— The Governor General in Council cannot conclude his review of this record of excellent work performed without touching on a question which most nearly concerns the officers who have laboured so successfully. His Excellency is aware that many officers of the Department have had their prospects seriously marred under the present scheme, and it would have afforded him great gratification if he could have announced that the new scheme had been fully decided upon. Yet, notwithstanding the use of language of this kind, here we have been going on for a year and a-half, and whenever a Question is asked the only answer we can obtain is that the Correspondence is incomplete, and that it is, therefore, premature to lay it on the Table or to give any information to the House. As far as I can make out, this state of things may go on for years to come. I may just state, for the information of hon. Members, what the particular grievance is. The whole difficulty is caused by the block of promotion in the Service, and this arises principally, if not wholly, from the fact that an abnormal number of men was sent out to this Service in the four years from 1868 to 1872. In that period no less than 72 men were sent out, when probably not more than 10 would have been the proper quota. It stands to reason that so large a quantity of men being sent out has resulted in an impossibility of getting that promotion which they were led to expect they would obtain when they entered the Service. To show that this is not an ideal grievance which I am bringing forward, I may say that it has been under the consideration of the Government for some 12 years past. Re-organization was attempted in 1880, but without any satisfactory effect, because, as I understand, it simply resulted in placing the congestion higher up in the seniority list, and not in removing it altogether. In 1884 the Director Gene- ral was called upon to elaborate a scheme in order to meet the grievances of the civil servants of this Department; but that scheme apparently was considered inadequate, and in 1885 the Government of India proposed to the Secretary of State that special compensation allowances should be granted to such men as were considered to be deserving, but were unfortunate as regarded promotion. That proposal, it appears, was not found to be adequate to the condition of things, and at the end of 1885 a comprehensive scheme was asked for. Ever since then this comprehensive scheme of re-organization has been under consideration, and it is with reference to the provisions of that scheme and to the probable date at which it may be issued that I now ask the Government for information. I do not know whether it will be necessary to trouble the Committee with, any remarks as to the details of the scheme. I do not, of course, pretend to have the details at my command, and I leave it to the judgment of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India to say how far he will go into them. But I do earnestly ask him, not so much in the interest of individuals as in the interest of the Service, to answer the questions I put to him. I have here a letter from one gentleman, saying that those who are in the Service are greatly disheartened at the delay which has taken place, and asking me to put certain questions to the Government on the subject. This is a letter which I received about 12 months ago—that is to say, before the Dissolution of Parliament last year; and, owing to the Dissolution, I was not able to do what I was asked.


If the hon. Member will allow me, I can answer his question in a moment. The matter has been decided by the Secretary of State. A despatch has been sent to India on the subject, and as soon as that despatch arrives the re-organization will come into force.


I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. That answers the principal part of my complaint, and I suppose that if the scheme is a workable one it will satisfy those who are aggrieved. I can only say, in justification for having brought the matter forward, that when I last asked the hon. Gentleman for information on the point he could only tell me that it would be premature to give any information. I will not trouble the Committee further on the subject. I now ask permission to place before the Committee another matter which has been committed to my charge, and as to which I have been asked to seek information from the Government. It is with reference to a Staff appointment given to Colonel Pottinger, and the question that I am asked to obtain information upon is whether the instructions sent by the Secretary of State to the Bombay Government have been disregarded in appointing Colonel Pottinger to succeed Colonel Willoughby at Bombay, Colonel Pottinger being an officer of the British Service who formerly belonged to the late Bombay Artillery, and being, therefore, ineligible for the appointment? Now, this may seem to be a very insignificant matter; but it appears to me, at any rate, from the form in which the subject has been placed in my hands, that the appointment, under the circumstances in which it has taken place, is of a nature to bear hardly upon the Native officers. I have in my hands a letter from the Secretary of State to the Government of Bombay, dated the 13th of December, 1871, intimating the desire of Her Majesty's Government that no officer of the British Service should be even temporarily appointed to any Staff situation unless he is a probationer of the Staff Corps, and stating that, if special circumstances render it indispensably necessary to appoint a British officer, a full explanation of the reasons which render the appointment necessary should be forwarded to the Supreme Government for communication to Her Majesty. Now, my complaint is that, in this particular case, Colonel Pottinger was an officer of the old Bombay Artillery, and that, having been required to elect definitely for the British or local Service, and having elected for the former, he was ineligible for the appointment. I desire, therefore, to ascertain from the Government what explanation is given of this appointment. I, of course, do not profess to be familiar with the details of these somewhat technical, and, I suppose, military matters; and I may say, in justification of my action in placing the subject before the Government, that I was requested only last evening by a friend who is unable to be here to-night, to do so, and that I have, therefore, been unable to make any independent examination into the question. But, as I have already said, it is represented as a grievance to the Native officers in the Service that an appointment of this kind should be made under the circumstances which I have described, and it is on this ground that I have endeavoured to call the attention of the Government to it. I am not going to detain the Committee further, although there are a great many interesting topics upon which, if this had been an earlier period of the Session, and if it were an earlier hour in the evening, I might fairly be entitled to claim the indulgence of the Committee. I would, however, only say that I have appreciated the statements made in the speech of the hon. Member for the Evesham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple) this evening, as well as the vigorous attack made upon the present system of administration in India by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid), and I can only regret that so little interest is taken in these matters in this House, as has been testified by the deserted condition of the House throughout the discussion. The complaint made by the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries was, I think, scarcely sufficiently appreciated, if he will allow me to say so, by the hon. Gentleman the Undersecretary of State. What I understood my hon. and learned Friend to say in reference to the reform he proposes in the administration of India was, not that it was necessary for this House to take over the entire control of the Executive in India, but that, owing to the total absence of publicity as to what is done in the Council of India, it is impossible, either in India or in this House, to exercise that effective control over the management of Indian affairs which it should be the aim of all of us to promote. I feel very strongly that until we get that publicity it will be impossible to exercise any such control. I do not see for a moment why the deliberations of the Council of India should not be conducted in public just as much as the debates of this House. That is all I desire to say on the present occasion. I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for having given me an answer to the first grievance I brought forward, and I shall be much obliged to him if he will throw some light on the second.


I am sure the hon. Gentleman must feel that it is quite impossible for me to answer him in detail on a matter of this kind without any Notice whatever; but if he will write me a letter on the subject I shall be glad to reply to it.

Question put. Resolved, That it appears, by the Accounts laid before this House, that the Total Revenue of India for the year ending the 31st day of March 1886 was £74,464,197; that the Total Expenditure in India and in England charged to Revenue was £77,265,923; that there was an excess of Expenditure over Revenue of £2,801,726; and that the Capital Outlay on Railways and Irrigation Works was £5,275,364, besides a Capital Charge of £1,086,045 involved in the Redemption of Liabilities.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.