HC Deb 08 June 1888 vol 326 cc1601-43
MR. KING (Hull, Central)

said, the Motion which he had the honour to bring before the House was new to hon. Members, and, perhaps, somewhat unattractive in its matter. He regretted to have to trouble the House with so technical a subject. He should have much preferred, if he could, to have settled this case in conference with the Secretary of State for India, or with his right hon. Friend who represented him on the Treasury Bench; because it was one which he thought the House would have desired to see settled by the Department concerned. Memorial after Memorial, Petition after Petition had gone to the India Office, and despatches had been sent from the Government of India on the subject; but all the remonstrances of the Service had been met with a blank denial. Not even had a Select Committee been granted to consider the grievances complained of. Had that been granted, he should not now have raised the question before the House of Commons—the highest Court of Appeal. The cry was the cry of the whole Service. It was not the case of an individual, or the claims of a few disappointed men who had combined to bring a fancied grievance before the House; he spoke in this matter for the whole Service, from the highest to the lowest, and in it no dissentient voice was; lifted up against the Motion which he rose to move. No less than 28 meetings had been held in India in connection with these grievances since October, 1886. At Lahore, Calcutta, Delhi, Lucknow, Darjeeling—at every principal town in India the voice of the Uncovenanted Servants had been raised against the grievances and gross injustice under which they suffered. Discontent like that must, he thought, command the attention of the House of Commons. In this case, they had a whole Service asking for justice, and he doubted that his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India could produce any single name of distinction which did not support the Motion of which he had given Notice; nor, if he could, did he think it would be kind of his hon. Friend to name him; and it was not to be supposed that the distinguished men who had allowed their names to be associated with the agitation would have done so had there been no true grievance at its foundation. He had had some experience in dealing with employés, and he had long believed that an efficient Service was always a contented Service, and that you could not have contentment without just treatment. It was a poor, mean, and short-sighted policy not to meet those grievances, and to trust to the omnipotence of Government to stifle such an agitation as this at the outset. The agitation was sure to break out again sooner or later; and the agitation of which he was that evening spokesman, having simmered for the last 10 years, had at last broken out. He believed his hon. Friend would say that he (Mr. King) would not take up any agitation in that House which was not an honest one, and he warned him that either he or his Successors would have to give way on this subject—they could not face a whole Service in mutiny. There were two conditions necessary to the attainment of a contented and efficient Service—first, satisfaction with the present conditions of service; and, secondly, a mind at ease about the future. Unless those two conditions were fulfilled, you could not have a contented Service. The cheapest Service was not the most efficient; but he undertook to say that a contented Service was always the cheapest. The grievances complained of in this instance had again and again been put forward, and they had again and again been rejected; and why, he could not for a moment form an idea. In matters of the kind, one could never tell who were the persons to be reproached. There was a figure-head in the shape of the Secretary of State, and there was the Under Secretary of State; but he was not sure that it would not be found that the people who had the real power and pulled the strings in all matters relating to the Department, were the 15 irresponsible elderly Gentlemen receiving £1,200 each, who formed what was called the Council of India, and he hoped it would not be many years before the House came to his opinion that the Council was an anachronism in these days of telegraphic and railway communication. He thought that to retain the 15 Gentlemen in question, however distinguished and eminent their past may have been, was what might be described as "the survival of the unfittest;" and although he had a respect for them in their private capacity, he thought their painless extinction was much to be desired, and he should rejoice if he could see his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India released from this degrading servitude. However able the Minister of State might be, he must always act under the Council, and he (Mr. King) was certain that abolition of the Council would not only facilitate business, but, what was of more consequence to the revenues of India, effect a large saving. With regard to the remedy for the grievance now brought forward, he feared his hon. Friend was unable to grant his request; there was a repellant manner about him, and he (Mr. King) felt that when he replied, that his voice would be that of the Member for Chatham but his hands the hands of the India Council. The European branch of the Uncovenanted Service was one which possessed strong claims upon the kindly consideration and sympathy of the House. If not the most eminent, they were not the least useful in the Departments of our Indian Administration; if not so eminent as the Covenanted Service, they were the backbone of the Administration, and had been the chief instruments of civilization in our Indian Empire. The history of the Uncovenanted Service was curious and interesting. The first Uncovenanted Servants in India were the peons, who swept the offices, and the junior clerks, who totted up the figures and kept the accounts for the East India Company. From those lowly beginnings the Service had enlarged its scope and increased its functions, until it comprised many thousands of officials who had assisted in the social, moral, and material progress of India; while in the highest branches it had furnished Commissioners, Judges, and Collectors. Its members in the European branch were men of high ability and superior education; to it had been entrusted almost entirely the great work of University Education in the East; in its ranks were some of the most eminent Judges; and to it had been entrusted the great public works of India—the system of irrigation, the construction of railways, the extension of telegraphs, scientific forestry, the promotion of learning and agriculture; the survey of India, as well as the work of the Customs and Excise. That was not a small list of occupations in which the humble and lowly Uncovenanted servant had been engaged. To meet the demands of advancing Western civilization, the number of the members of the Uncovenanted Service had been largely increased, so that the history of that Service had been the history of civilization in the East. These men carried on their shoulders a large portion of the burden of our Indian Administration; they were treated as inferiors by their more favoured brethren; they had no representation, although their numbers were twice as great as the other branch of the Service; they had had no representation since the days of Warren Hastings, either on the Legislative Council of India or on the Council at Whitehall; they had no means of making their influence felt in Calcutta, Simla, or in London; individual Petitions only were received, and the rules of the Service absolutely prohibited the members from combining together to send Petitions or Memorials to the Viceroy or the Secretary of State—Divide et impera was the rule of the Indian Service, and that was why he was occupying the time of the House in representing the grievances of those active servants of the State, whose only hope of redress lay in the omnipotence of Parliament. He said that it would be merely a waste of time to refer to the Report of the Public Service Commission, which it was explained was "not to discuss the general question of the present official system of the Uncovenanted Service, or any grievance of that Service as at present constituted," and which did not throw the slightest light on the matter. The Uncovenanted Civil Servant served for 30 years with only 2 years' furlough. He (Mr. King) did not want to find any fault with the rules of Service or draw any unneces- sary comparisons. The Covenanted Service had done noble and great work, and he would be the last to say that any of their privileges should be curtailed or any of their existing rights taken from them. But the House should understand the difference between the two Services. The Covenanted Servant had six years' furlough out of 25 years service; so that after 21 years' service in India he was qualified for a pension of £500 a-year. He contended that leave was absolutely necessary for the health and efficiency of the Service; at least, he did not understand on what other ground it was granted to the Service. It had been alleged that the Government gained by leave being taken. He could not go into that intricate calculation, because, unless he had the records of the India Office at his disposal, he could not arrive at a satisfactory conclusion; and he should be forgiven for not doing so, for the Code was of so labyrinthine a character that he did not profess to understand it. As he had said, he had done his best to get to the bottom of it, and he believed he did understand it as well as any other man in the House, even as well as the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst). He really thought this was a matter with regard to which the hon. Gentleman should, even at the last moment, relent. It was a matter which should be referred to a small Select Committee of the House. He (Mr. King) had no wish to take up the time of the House on the intricate and technical questions which were involved, and he should, therefore, be delighted if the hon. Gentleman would signify his assent to the proposition he made. If the hon. Gentleman would intimate his willingness to appoint a small Committee, he (Mr. King) would not deal further with the subject, and he was sure that the House would not occupy much time in debating the matter. No one, he thought, could properly investigate the question without coming to the conclusion which he desired the Government to arrive at, and which he trusted the House would come to that night. Perhaps that was the very reason why the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India was reluctant to grant a Select Committee. He (Mr. King) had that day seen a telegram sent to this country through Reuter's agency, an agency which was not usually inaccurate in regard to its foreign communications. That telegram, dated Simla, June 7, said— It is understood that the Government of India has no objection to a Select Committee being appointed to inquire into the grievances of the members of the Uncovenanted Civil Service. He (Mr. King) did not know how long it might take for information to travel from Simla to London. Probably, the old system was still adhered to, that of relying on the Post; but, certainly, if the Government of India had no objection to this investigation, he hardly thought the voice of 15 irresponsible Gentlemen sitting at Whitehall should outweigh that of the Uncovenanted Civil Servants and their employers the Indian Government. Why should he have to come down here year after year, and take up the valuable time of the House which could be very much better employed than in listening to his remarks upon this subject, in order to plead for this inquiry, to which the Indian Government had no objection? The Service asked, in the first place, for an increased furlough. One of its great grievances was, that only two years' furlough out of 30 years of service was allowed. They asked for something more than that, and in the next place they asked for some of this furlough to count as service. In the third place, they asked that the service might commence at the ago of 21; and in the fourth place, they asked that initial employment should count. There were two obvious arguments which must have occurred to everyone in reply to these demands, so obvious that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India, who was a practised and past master in the art of debating, probably would not fall back upon them, and he (Mr. King) only alluded to them in passing. The two obvious arguments were these. First of all, it might be said that good men could be got, without increasing the furlough, and without making those other alterations in the position of the Civil Servants to which he had just referred. He (Mr. King), however, hardly thought the Indian Government would feel inclined to use that class of argument, in the face of the names he had quoted. Another argument which could be used was this—"You have made your bed, and, therefore, you must lie on it," and that argument he (Mr. King) looked upon as a very strong one. He could understand an argument founded upon the sacredness of a contract, the Government saying to the Uncovenanted Civil Servants—"You have made your contract with your eyes open, and, therefore, you must abide by it." But the Government had cut the ground from under their own feet so far as that argument was concerned by conceding to a large number of men the privileges asked for. The Government of India had repeatedly recommended this concession. They had done so in 1865, and again in 1868. He wanted the House to distinctly understand the request he made. What they asked was this, that those holding positions in the Uncovenanted Civil Service should have the same advantages extended to them that were enjoyed by Covenanted Officers occupying similar positions. At this moment they had anachronisms and anomalies existing, juniors enjoying privileges of leave, etc., which were denied to the heads of their Departments. He would give an instance of this; a Superintendent, the head of the Engineering Department of the Eastern Bengal State Railway, had four or five juniors who had greater privileges in the matter of leave than himself. In that way, the heads of Departments in some cases were treated as being in an inferior position to their juniors. He did not wish to take up the time of the House by going minutely into the mysteries of the Schedules A and B; but he should like to point out that the real distinction was, that certain of these gentlemen were appointed by the Secretary of State for India, and the Secretary of State's men, provided they occupied certain positions, were given six years' furlough, four of which counted for pension, whilst the other servants, those in the Uncovenanted branch, were denied those privileges. Well, the effect of that was to create a great amount of annoyance in the Service. There were a great number of people who considered that a serious hardship, and why it should be allowed to exist he (Mr. King) had never been able to discover. What discipline could they hope to maintain in a Service when the head of a Department was branded as inferior through having an inferior leave to that which was enjoyed by some of his juniors? What influence was brought to bear upon the Indian Office he did not know, but a sudden fit of generosity scorned to have come over them at one time, for suddenly, in 1876, every gentleman drawing 500 rupees a month—that was to say, 6,000 rupees a-year—was admitted to the benefits of the rules under Schedule A, whether appointed by the Secretary of State for India or by the Viceroy. But that fit of generosity as suddenly ceased. A number of gentlemen were then admitted to these privileges, but though hundreds since then had obtained positions exactly similar, drawing 500 rupees a-month on their appointment, they were kept under the inferior conditions. Hundreds had become entitled to enjoy those privileges formerly extended to all under Schedule A; but for some mysterious reason none of them were admitted to those privileges, and the House could hardly wonder that those gentlemen considered themselves to be treated somewhat unfairly, and failed to understand the grounds of their exclusion, for which no reason was assigned. Now, he should like to go a little further, and point out that this treatment of the Uncovenanted Civil Servants was distinctly contrary to the recommendations made by the Government of India in the year 1870. He was sorry to be obliged to detain the House by reading the financial despatch of the Secretary of State, dated the 4th of October, 1870, in which it was advised that the privileges granted to Civil Servants in England should be extended to the Uncovenanted Civil Servants of India. It was as follows:— It being then established that many important offices cannot ordinarily be filled either by Natives of India, or by officers of the Covenanted Civil Service, or the Staff Corps, it is obviously most important that suitable rules for leave of absence to the officers who must fill them should be passed. Not only have the officers themselves a strong claim to liberal treatment in this respect, but it is most important in the interest of the Public Service to facilitate by every legitimate concession, periodical visits to Europe or America by every Native of those continents in our Service, Uncovenanted as well as Covenanted. We cannot suppose that it was your Grace's intention, primâ facie, to exclude from the benefit of the more liberal rules to which you have assented, the many meritorious Uncovenanted officers who are now in our Service;.… at least, we can conceive of no ground upon which we could make any distinction between two gentlemen not Natives of India, of equal rank, or holding the same office, in our Service..…We desire strongly to recommend that, whatever may be decided for the future, every officer now in our Service in any of the appointments mentioned in the list (Schedule A, Civil Leave Code) attached to our draft rules, may be admitted to the benefits of the more liberal rules which have now been approved by Her Majesty's Government. And for the future we would submit for the consideration of her Majesty's Government, that we shall be placed in an unfair position if the fact of an officer being appointed in India shall, ipso facto, place him in an unfavourable position as compared with officers not more than his equals, and perhaps his inferiors, only because they have been appointed in England. Further on, in the same despatch, the following occurred:— The financial gain, therefore, of treating the Uncovenanted Service less liberally in this respect than the rest of our officers would not in any way compensate for the sense of wrong caused by making an invidious distinction between officers doing perhaps the same duty, and, at any rate, receiving the same salaries, merely because they belong to different classes. That was the opinion of the Government of India, and that was the recommendation they made to the 15 gentlemen sitting at Whitehall. He asked the House to put an end to the present unjust and anomalous state of things under which people in the same position and serving on the same basis were treated differently. He urged the House to put all the Civil Servants on the same footing, as the present condition of things was altogether lamentable. By following his suggestion in that particular, they would be fulfilling., at any rate, the first two or three conditions necessary to render the Civil Servants contented, and, therefore, necessary to maintain the efficient Service. He would not go into the Report of the Public Service Commission—he did not know whether the Government intended to act on it or not; but, whatever they proposed to do, he did not think it could affect the case of his friends; because it was expressly pointed out that they ought to be separated from the operation of any new rule. The gentlemen for whom he pleaded were in the Service that day. They existed under the rules of that day, and it was these rules he was ask- ing the House to recommend should be amended, or, at all events, should be inquired into by a Select Committee of the House. But whatever was done, he trusted that it would not be a sham remedy which would be put forward. He trusted they would not attempt to redress these grievances in the usual way, giving with one hand and taking away with the other. The Government the other day introduced a system of graduated pensions. It used to be the rule that, after 15 years' service, a man got one-third of his pay as a pension; but now he only got fifteen-sixtieths; but he had not heard that any one had taken advantage of that precious regulalation. These grievances affected about two-thirds of the Service. Even a cursory glance at the facts of the case would show hon. Members that from the highest to the lowest of these Uncovenanted Servants all were affected. The House would see that this bore upon his second position—namely, that a man to be an efficient servant should have his mind at ease as to his future. He need not point out that, after all, a pension was merely deferred pay, and he might draw an elaborate argument as to the right of a man to have his pension paid, at any-rate, at the rate of exchange prevailing in the country in which it had accrued; and he hoped, by a very short historical retrospect, to be able to make an unanswerable case for the reconsideration of this question. He made no claim whatever on the ground of law. If the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India had been consulting his lawyers, and had been drawing up an elaborate legal answer to him (Mr. King), he would make the hon. Gentleman a present of that argument. He (Mr. King) gave away the whole case. He made no claim whatever on the ground of law, admitting that, legally, the position of the Government was unassailable. So was the position of Shylock. He did not know whether the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India was going to demand his pound of flesh in the same spirit as Shylock—the spirit that guided every Jew money lender. ["Oh, oh!"] He trusted the House would pardon him if, feeling somewhat strongly upon this subject, he desired to make the House feel it in the same way. His object was to put the matter as clearly as he saw it himself. He wished the House to listen to Rule 2 of the Civil Pension Code. It ran as follows:— The The Government reserves to itself the rights of changing the Rules of the Code from time to time, at its discretion, and of interpreting their meaning. An officer's claim to pension is good by the Rules in force at the time when he resigns, or is discharged from the service of the Government; he is not entitled to concessions withdrawn before or made after his requisition or discharge. He did not see, with a Rule like this Rule 2 of the Civil Pension Code, any case could ever arise against the Government of the day. It would be simply impossible to go into Court, whatever the regulations might be; but he wished to try to argue the matter upon higher grounds. He wished to see and to ask the House to consider what the obvious intentions of the contracting parties were at the time they entered into their contract. He wished the House to assume in this matter the attitude which would be taken by any two honourable men, meeting 30 years after service, to revise a contract made 30 or 40 years before. He thought the House would admit that that was a fair and equitable way of putting it. No doubt, if the Government insisted upon their pound of flesh and refused to yield to his persuasion, he could not sustain his case against them as a matter of right; but he did maintain that the obvious intention of the parties at the time they made the contract was a very material factor. Up to 1855, up to the 19th May of that year, the Uncovenanted Servants always received half-pay or one-third pay as pension, and this often amounted, the House would be surprised to learn, to as much as £1,200 per annum. But the Uncovenanted Service had been growing, and the Court of Directors of the old East India Company met at the beginning of 1855 to consider what was a fair scale of pensions to establish for future use. They spent considerable time upon the subject, and they went to great pains to investigate it, and they came to the conclusion that a fair maximum pension was, as they expressed it, £500, or 5,000 rupees, per annum, and the other pensions £400, or 4,000 rupees, and £200, or 2,000 rupees. The Despatch of the 28th February, 1855, he would read, as it was rather interesting from the wording of it. They wrote— We concur in thinking the present Rule to be defective, and we desire that a clause be introduced providing (as respects persons hereafter appointed to the Service) that in no case shall a larger pension than £400 per annum be granted to Uncovenanted Servants receiving salaries of Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,000 a-month, nor a larger pension than £500 per annum to Uncovenanted Servants receiving salaries above that amount, whether that retirement be from ill-health (after either 20 or 30 years' service) or without a medical certificate after 35 years' service, under the authority conveyed in our despatch of 5th May, 1854, No. 18. The House would notice that in the case of the pension of £500 to Uncovenanted Servants, the sum was absolutely set forth in sterling. Well, in accordance with these Orders, the Government of India published a Resolution, under date the 19th May, 1855, by which officers of the Public Works Department were admitted to the benefit of the Pension Rules, and it was added that— In no case (as respects persons hereafter appointed to the Uncovenanted Service) shall a larger pension than £100 or Rs. 4,000 per annum be granted to Uncovenanted Servants receiving salaries of Rs. 750 to Rs. 1,000 a-month, nor a larger pension than £500 or Rs. 5,000 per annum to Uncovenanted Servants receiving salaries above that amount, whether the retirement be from ill-health (after either 20 or 30 years' service), or without a medical certificate after 35 years' service. He pointed this out to the House in order to show that the words pounds and rupees, in their proportionate values, were absolutely interchangeable. As time went on, the Uncovenanted Servants wished to have their pensions paid in this country, and undoubtedly that was the transaction upon which the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State would chiefly rely. The Uncovenanted Servants applied to the Secretary of State to allow them to have their pensions paid in sterling. They were told by the Secretary of State that hitherto the pensions had been paid in India, and in that statement the Setary of State was quite correct. They had only been paid in rupees up to that time. The despatch entered into particulars, and went on to say— The rate of exchange is an important consideration in regard to payment in England. Her Majesty's Government will not now fix any permanent rate for the purpose, but as a rate of exchange, based on the intrinsic value of the rupee and the market price of bills, is annually fixed in communication with the Lords of the Treasury for the adjustment of transactions between the British and Indian Exchequers, which rate is applied to family remittances of officers serving in India, the same rate appears to be equitable for the payment in England of the pensions of Uncovenanted Servants, and is therefore to be adopted. Now, he wished the House to see what was in the official mind at that time. The rupee in 1861 and 1862 had been up to 2s. 2d. and 2s. 3d., and in the official mind it was evident that it was thought it might go up to 2s. 4d. or 2s. 6d.; but he would undertake to say that not a single man connected with India or with this country at at that time ever expected the rupee to descend to as low a rate as 1s. 4d. It had, however, descended to 1s. 4d.; indeed, it had gone below that the other day, and when the House saw that the difference between 2s. and ls. 4d. in the value of the rupee was a difference of 30 per cent of the incomes of those living in this country and drawing pensions from the Indian Government, it would be admitted that this was really a serious matter; 1s. 4d. was the official rate—that was to say, the rate fixed for family remittances and other transactions for the coming year by the Treasury. That was what was officially considered to be an equitable rate; but, to his mind, the equitable rate was 2s., because the Court of Directors had said that the maximum pension should be £500 or Rs. 5,000. If the higher rate had been fixed, the transaction would have been equitable, but the low rate of 1s. 4d. was not equitable. For 10 years from 1864 the rate of exchange on the rupee did not vary a penny, but from 1874 to 1888 there had been a steady downward progress, year in and year out, and at the end of the year the rupee had almost invariably fallen lower than at the beginning of the year, and he was sorry to say he could see no prospect of any end coming to that process. What had been the result of this fall in value of the rupee, so far as the Uncovenanted Civil Servants were concerned? Why, the maximum Civil Service pension, which the Court of Directors of the old Company had fixed at £500, had fallen down to no more than £320. These Directors had spoken of £500. They were English gentlemen sitting in Leadenhall Street, and speaking of the currency of this country, and giving expression to everyday ideas with regard to that currency. When people spoke of a sum of money in this country, they did not speak of rupees, but of pounds; and in that way the Court of Directors had stated that they considered an equitable maximum pension to be £500 a-year. Well, did his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India mean to argue that £320 a-year was an adequate maximum pension for 35 years' work in a tropical climate in the highest official position? Would he maintain that view if the rupee went down to 1s. Would he still, in order to be logical, exact his pound of flesh? That was the point to which the hon. Gentleman must devote his attention. He (Mr. King) was sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were not, as a rule, very favourable to pensions, and certainly not to increasing them, would not answer the question in the same way as his hon. Friend. It was a common thing for the people who had not studied this question to say that the fall in the rate of exchange was due to the depreciation in the value of silver. That was a very easy way of getting out of the difficulty. This was one of those cases where people desired to give a reason for taking a certain course, and gave a reason without exactly knowing what it was, simply to get rid of the difficulty. Now he, for one, did not believe that the fall in the value of the rupee was due to the fall in the value of silver. To a certain extent, no doubt, it was; but he contended that the great, the extreme fall in the value of the rupee was due to the direct action of the Government. It was due to the increase of Home Charges. There was no one acquainted with the theory of foreign exchanges—the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the greatest authority on the subject, and he (Mr. King) believed the right hon. Gentleman would bear him out in this—that there was no one acquainted with the theory of foreign exchanges who would contend for one moment that the exchange would not fall when the amount of bills offered for sale was largely in excess of the demand, and the result of increasing year by year the Home Charges was to bring that state of things about—namely, to cause a larger and larger number of bills to be thrown upon the market. He was not going to detain the House with a lecture on foreign exchanges at that hour of the evening, because the fall did not affect his argument; but he trusted the House would believe that he knew something upon the subject, seeing that it lay in the direction of his own business. He maintained, therefore, that one large cause of the decrease in value of the rupee was the development of Home Charges. What was the position of the Government in the matter? He took it that their position was to be compared in some degree to that of the landlord in regard to the agricultural tenant. Did the House not think that if a landlord was called upon, because there had been a fall in the value of produce, to make a reduction in rent, that the Government should also be called upon to make some reduction in the loss which the Civil Service pensioner suffered on account of the depreciation of the rupee? So far as the Government themselves were concerned, even if they did suffer from the fall in the rate of exchange directly, there was no doubt that indirectly they gained very considerably. It had brought about a bonus on the export trade, which had increased the wealth of India and its taxpaying power; and that being so, it did seem to him that the Government, in a case like this, ought properly to be called upon to jump into the breach. He imagined, if the proposal he put forward were adopted, there would be no reason for taking the extreme view that fresh taxation would be required. Only a little economy would be necessary. The total amount required, as shown in the answer given by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India, in reply to a Question put to him a year ago, was about £20,000 per annum. Now, the abolition of the India Council would supply that. Perhaps the House was unaware that India was rich enough to spend two lachs of rupees extra last year on the Viceregal tour, over and above the amount allowed. Those acquainted with Indian affairs would know something about the annual migration of the Indian Government to Simla; they would know something about the new palace, which had cost something like 13 lachs, or£113,000; and he believed that at that moment the Secretary of State for India had his mind very much troubled with the question of the erection of a new Town Hall at Simla, which was to cost four lachs of rupees. Under such circumstances, he thought his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India would not be able to take refuge under the plea of poverty, and he did not think that it would break the back of the Indian Government to carry out his (Mr. King's) proposals. He thought if the Indian Government had come down to its £20,000, it had better shut up shop altogether. The Indian Government were not the only people who would have to deal with this fall in exchange. There were other employers of labour besides the Government who had to deal with it, and it would, perhaps, be worth while to consider what they had done. He might, perhaps, be allowed to say what he himself had done with his European employés similarly situated with those of the Government. He had—not since he started this agitation in the House, but when the fall in exchange first manifested itself—when his employés came home, which they were allowed to do once in five years, he had allowed them a free passage and half-pay. They submitted to him that they could not live comfortably or enjoy themselves when they had come home on their half-pay at the prevailing rate of exchange, and as a result he had fixed the exchange at 2s. the rupee. Why on earth could not the Indian Governmant do the same? He did not do it out of plailanthrophy; he did it as much in his own interest as in that of his employés, and because he wished his people to be well treated. Then this argument was put forward—it was true that the maximum pension had fallen, through the fall in the rate of exchange, from £500 to £300, but that £300 a-year now was equal to £500 in 1874; but that was a plutocrat's argument entirely, and was a thoroughly ridiculous one in the face of the charges which had to be met for rent, servants, schooling, insurance, and so on; and even if there was anything in that contention, it did not touch his argument that when these people contracted to enter the Service, they contracted that they should get for their maximum pension £500 per annum. The amount fixed upon as equitable was £500, and not £300. He believed lawyers said that the making of a contract was when the intentions of the two parties met, and although he was not a lawyer he could very well understand that that must be so. When the minds of two parties came together to one identical point, then the contract was made, and as the House had seen, in this case, the contract was for a maximum pension of £500 and not £300. There was one argument which had been used which he did not wish to lay undue stress upon, and he did not wish to ascribe to it the virtue of imposing any legal obligation upon the Government, but he quoted it as illustrating his argument as to what the intention of the parties was when they entered into the contract. He wanted to ask the House, as a body of fair straightforward Englishmen, what they, as young men going out to India to take service, would have thought of such a statement as that to which he was about to draw attention. A young man, when asked to go out to take service there, was asked to do it under the big book of the Codes of the Financial Department. No young man would read that book through, but he would gather the gist of it and accept service accordingly. The following note, by some officious clerk, but one who evidently had in his mind what was intended by the authorities on the subject of the pensions, was printed in the Official Pension Code:— Whenever in the following Resolution a pension is stated in sterling, the equivalent in rupees is meant, at 2s. the rupee, which had been at that time, for several years, the fixed rate of exchange for the adjustment of financial transactions between the Imperial and Indian Governments. Then let them turn to the Cooper's Hill Prospectus. It was there stated in one part, in speaking of the office of Assistant Engineer, second grade— The salary of which grade is Rs. 4,200 (about £420) per annum, and the remaining one-tenth as Assistant Engineer; third grade, the salary of which grade is Rs. 3,000 (about £300) per annum. and further on, in a note to a paragraph on the various ranks of the Department of Engineers and their salaries, it was declared— Ten rupees are nearly equivalent in value to one pound sterling. Further on, again, it was stated that after a service of 25 years a pension was to be allowed— Not exceeding one-half of the officer's average emoluments; and also not exceeding Rs. 5,000 a-year, or, if his average emoluments do not exceed Rs. 12,000 a-year, Rs. 4,000 a-year. He would ask the House, whether, if they had had a prospect offered to them of going out to India on these terms, they would not have imagined that at the end of their service, seeing that 10 rupees was said to be equal to £1, they would have been in receipt of a pension of £500 a-year as the equivavalent of 5,000 rupees. It would be found the pensions, as opposed to pay and allowances, was always stated in sterling in the Code until this question as to the rate of exchange arose, when it was thought that inconvenience might arise from the old method and the system was changed. As an illustration of the way in which the Indian Government dealt with this question, he thought that hon. Members would remember the Question he had put in the House on the subject of Colonels' allowances. There were certain Colonels in the Service who, at a certain time, had attained to a salary of £1,100 a-year. Well, 12 of these gentlemen out of 420 had elected to live in India; and a very excellent thing for India it was, and it should be the policy of that country to encourage people who had lived there the best part of their lives to take up their permanent abode there. Well, they found that while taking the rupee at the lowest rate in this country, the Government took it at the highest rate going in India, thus mulcting the 12 gentlemen to whom he had referred of one-third of their incomes, the rupee being valued at 2s.d. The depreciation of silver, he believed, had led to a great deal of correspondence between the Government Departments at home and in India and English Shipping Companies doing business with the East. Certain seamen had been in the habit of signing contracts to the effect that if paid in India they should be paid in rupees, and that the rupee should be taken as equivalent to 2s. The result of that was that sailors discharged in Bombay, for instance, received very much less than they would have done if discharged in England. Lord Lytton, Lord Ripon and Lord Dufferin had successively protested against the custom, and had urged that legislation should be undertaken in England, where the agreements were made, to make void the stipulations complained of, and though it was thought, in the year 1882, that the difficulty could be got over by thoroughly explaining the state of the case, before signing articles, as late as October last the Indian Government wrote to Lord Cross asking if nothing could be done In the matter of payment of seamen's wages in India, at a rate of exchange which really deprived them of a quarter of the amount which they believed they had earned? The Government document from which he was quoting went on to say— We cannot but consider it objectionable that our officers should be compelled to assist at and sanction, as part of their official duties, the execution of agreements which involve such injustice. He (Mr. King) declared that the views he expressed with regard to pensions were views supported, years and years ago, by some of the greatest authorities in India. Lord Lawrence's Government were in favour of increasing the amount of the pensions. Sir Stafford Northcote, when Secretary of State for India, said on the 2nd July, 1868, in a Despatch to the Governor General in Council— As regards any advance in the rates of pay or of pension, I must leave it to your Government to submit to me any proposals which, after full consideration of the relative clauses of this and other branches of the Service, you may think fit to adopt. I shall be prepared to entertain them in a liberal spirit. The Government of India, in reply, wrote that they thought a new graduated scale should be introduced for regulating the pensions of her Majesty's Uncovenanted Civil Servants in India. They said that the Furlough Committee, whose Report they annexed to their despatch, proposed to limit the pensions of the Indian Service to 30–60ths of the salary, and also to fix an absolute limit of £600 per annum for the full pension, and proportionately lesser sums for pensions granted under medical certificate before the completion of 30 years' service. They said, further on— Moreover, £600 is the maximum pension granted to Covenanted Civil Servants, and we may remark that in the case of Uncovenanted Service, this maximum will only be attained in exceptional cases. The suggestion which was made by the Government of India was disregarded. He (Mr. King) urged the House to consider the tendency the system of paying low pensions had to block promotion. If men had no inducement to retire, and dare not face the risks of retiring, they would hang on to the Service long after the period had passed at which they were fit for effective service. If the House would think of the effect on other members of the Service of such a block in promotion, they would see other reasons for dealing with the matter more liberally than the India Office saw at present. He trusted the Government would answer the question as to whether they were going to deal with this matter of pensions in any way. He would ask the House whether it was not clear, from what he had said, that it was cruel to apply this official Rule as to exchange to Indian Civil servants who resided in this country, men who, after 35 years of hard work in India—in a tropical climate—retired at a pension which would certainly not be excessive in amount, even if it were calculated at 2s. to the rupee? Those men saw, year after year, their incomes dwindling away—incomes of £500 becoming £320, incomes of £400 becoming £250, and incomes of £200 becoming £133. Why, a man, under such circumstances, must live in absolute torture—he could imagine no torture equal to that of the man watching the diminishing rate of exchange under such circumstances. He had read, and many in that House remembered the story, of the prisoner who, day by day, saw his cell becoming less as first one window and then another disappeared. He could imagine that somewhat similar feelings to those experienced by this man were experienced by those unfortunate pensioners as they saw one penny after one penny fall off the rate. He thought the House could hardly have any idea of what this fall in exchange meant. They could hardly imagine how terrible was the uncertainty to any man in such a position who, at the close of his life, desired to settle his little scheme of existence. How was he to know that that which was sufficient for this year would be sufficient for the next? How was he to guess what his next year's income would be? One luxury after another—nay, almost one necessary after another—had to be cut off, and one economy after another had to be practised. A constant struggle had to be made in order to keep up the insurance premiums by which those poor pensioners hoped to keep their families from penury. He had himself seen the sacrifices those people had to make to keep alive their insurance. He had seen them with tears in their eyes looking up here and there the few pounds necessary to save their policies. With such painful scenes coming under his notice the House would not be surprised if he asked himself whether such treatment was creditable on the part of a civilized Government? Then, who had made these arrangements which pressed so hardly upon those old officers?—too old to protect themselves; whose days for energetic struggle for existence had gone by; who had earned, if anybody had done so, by long years of toil a short period of rest before they passed away? The men who made these regulations were living in luxury, hedged in and protected from similar experiences by the rules they themselves had made. He asked the House to remember that it was in their service that these Civil Service pensioners had been worn out in body and in brain. Thirty-five years' work in India was not to be done without such terrible outpouring of strength that few of these men were capable of coming home and beginning life afresh in some new avocation, so as to add to their small incomes. The House would forgive him if he spoke strongly, because he felt strongly. He had himself seen the protracted agony of this struggle; he had sat by the deathbed of the hopes of some of these men; and from the hardness of official and technical rules, and from the rigidity of legal phrases, he appealed to the House—he appealed to the sense of justice of every Member of it. He knew the hon. Member the Under Secretary of State for India would state his case with a clearness and in a style with which he (Mr. King) felt himself unworthy to compete. He knew he could not compete with the hon. Gentleman in dialectics and in argument. He (Mr. King), who was "no orator as Brutus was," could but state his case. He had tried to do it to the best of his ability—to put it plainly before the House—and if the hon. Gentleman did demonstrate, however clearly and de- cisively and logically, that the Government of India were within the four corners of their contract and within the letter of their bond, it was no more than he himself had told them. He had told them that his hon. Friend was entitled to his pound of flesh; but he believed that he would not make his appeal in vain, and that a result satisfactory to those aged servants of the State would yet be won from the kind and generous instincts of the House of Commons.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is inequitable and anomalous that privileges as regards leave and retirement should be refused to some classes of Officers in the Uncovenanted Civil Service of India which are enjoyed by others in similar circumstances; and that, in view of the heavy fall in the value of the rupee, the payment of pensions of retired European Uncovenanted Officers in England at the official rate of exchange is no longer equitable,"—(Mr. King,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

COLONEL HILL (Bristol, S.)

said, he had the honour to rise generally to support the Motion which his hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull (Mr. King) had laid before the House. The hon. Member had stated his case with much clearness, with much detail, and with much eloquence. Therefore, he (Colonel Hill) felt it would be becoming in him to offer as few observations as he could, and not to detain the House a moment more than was necessary on the matter. He proposed to confine the few observations he did offer to the question of the payment of pensions to the Civil Engineers in the Indian Service. There were two classes of Engineers. There was the first class, called the "Stanley," established in 1859, and who did most of the work until Cooper's Hill College was instituted in 1871. He had ventured to bring the case of the payment of the pensions of these Engineers before the House last Session on the Indian Estimates, and the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India was good enough to offer his compassion, but did not propose to give any direct relief to the grievances which he (Colonel Hill) had put before him. No doubt, the compassion of so distinguished and so kind-hearted a man as the Secretary of State was very valuable and very consoling, but it did not help the unfortunate Engineers of India to pay their bakers or their landlords or their schoolmasters, and he (Colonel Hill) did hope that, after this discussion, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State would be able to see his way to offering something more than mere compassion. But he (Colonel Hill) did not appeal to the House for its compassion at all. He ventured to base his appeal to them on their sense of justice, and that alone. He did not think this honourable House would be deaf to the appeal made to that sense of justice, and he believed they would feel that it was not consonant with the honour of this great country to take advantage of a mere dry legal position to effect an economy which their neighbours in France would designate, very properly, an économie de bouts de chandelles. He must say he did not think it would be to the interests of the country to do so. He held in his hand a document 20 years old, brought to his notice by one of the Stanley Engineers, entitled Rules for the Information of Candidates Employed under the Engineer's Establishment. It was upon that document that that gentleman, and many other gentlemen, made up their minds whether they would or would not accept service under the Government of India. His (Colonel Hill's) contention was that this document led the candidates to understand that one of the conditions under which they undertook the service was that at the end of 30 years, if their conduct was satisfactory and their service meritorious, they would receive pensions of £500 a-year. To convey that belief was the intention, and he was borne out in saying that by the fact that the figures were given as Rs. 1,300 or £130, Rs. 2,000 or £200, Rs. 4,000 or £400. He had also an official document, presented by an official Department in India, to which some allusion had been made. He referred to Despatch No. 205, p. 8, sections 13, 14, 16 and 20, where pensions were alluded to in pounds sterling. Again, in the orders of the Government, in Despatch 135, of the 1st July, 1870, paragraphs 2, 3 and 8, pensions were mentioned in pounds sterling, as also in paragraph 12, sections 1 and 3. He would not trouble the House with reading these extracts; but he would say this, that no fair-minded man could possibly read these documents without coming to the conclusion that it was fairly given to these gentlemen to understand that they were to have a maximum pension on retirement of £500 a-year, and that the intention of giving them that pension was always in the mind of the Government. That paragraph, or rather note, which an officious clerk was supposed to have introduced, had been alluded to. That note was deserving of the attention of the House, as it clearly showed that in the mind of the Government, when the original arrangement was made, 10 rupees were to equal one pound sterling. In the Uncovenanted Service there were many individuals who were Natives, and that would probably account for the fact that rupees were mentioned; otherwise in the whole transaction, the payment might only have been recognized in pounds sterling. It had been said that both Natives and Europeans were to be placed on the same footing and treated in the same way. That, he ventured to think, was a very proper thing to do originally, but it was not so now. The rupee in India, as he was informed, retained the same purchasing power that it used to have, and therefore the Natives received their pensions exactly as they had been led to believe they would receive them. The European, however, had to put up with a depreciated rupee. Well, the present rate of Exchange on Government transactions was ls. 5d. on the rupee. It was only fixed for six months, instead of twelve—for the reason, presumably, that the Government anticipated a further depreciation—and, at that rate, pensions of £500 only amounted to £334. Could it, he asked, be to the public interest to have an important class of public servants smarting under what the House must feel to be, at all events, a great disappointment to them? How was it possible, how could anyone expect that the State would receive the best services of these men when they conceived themselves to be suffering a grievance? He felt quite sure that these servants, if they did not get some redress, would feel themselves forced, in justice to themselves and their families, to seek for opportunities to abandon the Indian Public Service in order to find some other form of service to provide them with the means of living in decency and comfort. The services of the Civil Engineers had often been acknowledged. It could not be gainsaid that these men had performed their duties well. Now, he argued, as had been argued before, that pension was simply deferred pay. The House would be perfectly well aware that if they advertised for the services of a gentleman and proposed to give him a pension at the end of a given number of years' service, the salary would be fixed at a lower figure than it would if they left the man to make provision for the future himself. It appeared to him (Colonel Hill) utterly indefensible that the Government should take advantage of the unfortunate depressed state of the rupee, and give these Uncovenanted Servants their pensions the lowest possible. The very least that common justice and fairness demanded was that an average should be struck. But the Civil Engineers were no longer designated Uncovenanted Servants. In a despatch, dated March, 1883, it was ordered that the title should no longer be used in respect to these men. If they were not Uncovenanted Servants, they must be Covenanted Servants, and, like them, should be paid in sterling. It must be extremely galling to these public servants to find themselves working alongside men not in a superior position—their brethren of the Royal Engineers—who received their pensions in sterling, while they were compelled to take their pensions in a depreciated currency. He trusted the House would accede to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull (Mr. King), and that justice might be done to a very deserving class of public servants, with whom the House must sympathize. He trusted the House would feel that in doing justice to these servants they were doing justice to themselves and their country; he heartily endorsed the remark of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Hull, that they could not have good and faithful servants unless they treated them in a fair and equitable way.


said, he thought that the Uncovenanted Servants were to be congratulated upon having secured so eloquent an advocate of their cause as the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. King). It was impossible that their case could have been put more forcibly and clearly, and there was no need for the hon. Member to say—"I am no orator, as Brutus is." He agreed with every word of praise that had been said of the Uncovenanted Services, and if it was his painful duty, as the Representative of the Indian taxpayers, to oppose this Motion, he hoped the hon. Member would not think it was from any want of sympathy for the trouble of his clients. In one respect the hon. Member was mistaken. This question had received the anxious consideration of the Secretary of State and himself, and of those fossil Indians, as the hon. Member called them, the Members of the Council. He must remind the House that there were two sides to this question. The hon. Member had spoken as if the Uncovenanted Civil Service consisted exclusively of Europeans, whereas the bulk of them were Natives. And although the Europeans among them found many advocates in that House, the Natives were in a very different position, and it was his duty to represent their interests and feelings. In one Department, for example—the executive and judicial—there were 139 Europeans only, and 2,449 Natives. The Natives viewed the matter in a very different light from the hon. Member. Many of them thought that they ought to have the whole, or nearly the whole, of the highest places in the Uncovenanted Service to themselves, and made it a grievance that any difference at all should exist between themselves and Europeans. They thought it unfair that Europeans should receive more pay for the same work. He gave this as an exaggerated view on the side opposed to that of the hon. Member the Government of India rightly considered that it was now, and would be for many years, the highest interest of India that in all Departments of the Public Service, and especially in the higher grades, there should be a strong leaven of Europeans, and the Government was desirous of maintaining the existing advantages to the European servants, so as to make the Service attractive. But he warned his hon. Friend and the House that at any time unduly to extend the privileges of the European servants might give rise to such action as might cause the distinction between Europeans and Natives to be swept away. The House ought to remember the great distinction between the Covenanted and Uncovenanted branches. The former was an Imperial service, open by competitive examination to all the Queen's subjects, British, Indian, and Colonial. The Uncovenanted branch was recruited mainly in India, by a great variety of means. Some were appointed by competition of a less stringent kind than the examination for the Covenanted Service; some by pure nomination on the part of the Secretary of State, the Government of India, or the local governments; and others, again, were trained in some such institution as Cooper's Hill, or went straight from school. If those gentlemen preferred the wider and easier gate of the Uncovenanted Service to the narrower and more difficult entrance by the Covenanted Service to the Indian Public Service, they had no right to complain that they were treated upon different terms from those who were Covenanted Servants. The hon. Member had referred to the Report of the Public Service Commission, which had been appointed in consequence of the strong expression of feeling on the part of the Natives of India that they were entitled to a larger share in the government of their country. The Public Service Commission was a body consisting not only of Covenanted Servants, but of Uncovenanted Servants, independent persons, and Natives, so that it was a thoroughly representative body, in which the Natives of India and the people of this country had every confidence. The Commission sat in India, and it had heard a vast amount of evidence, and its Report was now under the consideration of the Indian Government. It would, therefore, be unbecoming of him to express any opinion upon that Report until the views of the Government of India with regard to it had been received. But one of the main proposals of that Report was to organize in India a provincial service for the different Presidencies in which Europeans and Natives were to be employed upon identical conditions. In these circumstances it would be very rash on his part were he to express any opinion as to whether it was desirable or not to place the Uncovenanted Servants upon the same footing as the Covenanted Servants. Having said so much on the question in a preliminary and a general sense, he would now proceed to address himself to the two particular points which the hon. Member had brought before the House—namely, those which related to the pension rules and to the payment of the pensions in rupees instead of in pounds sterling. Up to 1872 all the servants of the Indian Government who did not belong to the Covenanted Civil Service were treated very unfavourably by the rules, on the ground that, instead of being recruited in England, they were recruited in India, and were, therefore, not exposed to the penalties of exile from home. But in 1872 new rules were made, under which those who had entered the Service before that date were more favourably treated. The hon. Member had said that there were anomalies in the Service. No doubt there were, because there were anomalies in the treatment of officials in the Public Service of every civilized nation. He fully admitted that the Public Works and Telegraph Departments in India had been treated with exceptional favour; but he was afraid that the result of any agitation founded upon that fact would be to inaugurate a system rather of levelling down than of levelling up. No doubt the strong point which had been made by the hon. Member was that which related to the question of pensions. With regard to that point, he should like to remind the House that in 1822 even the Covenanted Civil Service had no pensions. But from that date 4 per cent of the salary of every Covenanted Civil Servant was deducted to form a pension fund, and a similar sum was added by the East India Company to that fund. Therefore, the Covenanted Civil Servants contributed towards their own pensions, which the Uncovenanted Service did not. As to the payment of the pensions in rupees instead of in pounds sterling, the hon. Member for Hull admitted that his clients had no legal claim to be paid in sterling instead of in rupees. That was undisputed; and he would ask what business had a Government which represented the poor people of India to make, out of sheer generosity, to one section of its servants, a present of this concession to which those servants did not even profess to have a legal claim? Before 1862 the pension of the Uncovenanted Servants could be drawn only in India? and they had to employ an agent in India to draw it and remit it to this country. At that time a pound sterling and 10 rupees were convertible terms. But in 1862 new pension rules were made, and one of them, rule 18, was this— An officer shall on retirement have the option of drawing his pension either in India or from the home Treasury. The payments in England will be made at the rate of exchange which is annually fixed in communication with the Lords of the Treasury for the adjustment of transactions between the British and Indian Exchequers. In 1871 there was the first fall in exchange, and then the recipients of pensions at home were paid on a lower scale. A question was raised on the subject, and on the 10th of August, 1871, the Duke of Argyll wrote the following dispatch:— Letters having been received from persons drawing pensions in this country under the Uncovenanted Service Pension Rules complaining of the recent reduction in the rate of exchange at which such pensions are paid, I have to point out that, prior to the rules of 1863–4, pensions granted to uncovenanted servants were only payable in India, and that, although by section 18 of those rules an option is given of drawing the pension either in India or at the home Treasury, it is at the same time provided that the payments in England will be made at the rate of exchange annually fixed for the adjustment of transactions between the British and Indian Exchequers. The Civil Pension Code of 1872 said— A pension is payable at any Treasury in India or at the home Treasury in London. Payments at the home Treasury are made quarterly at the rate of exchange which is annually fixed for the adjustment of transactions between the British and Indian Exchequers. Could anything, then, be more plain than that if the pensions were to be paid in England it was distinctly laid down that they should be paid at that rate of exchange? He hoped he had established to the satisfaction of the House that the right to draw pensions in England was a concession, and that they were to be drawn at the rate of exchange fixed for the adjustment of transactions between the two Treasuries. The Government of India argued that the pension bore a proportion to the pay, and that in India that proportion was higher than in almost any other country in the world. It was almost one-half, and if you turned those pensions into sterling money at the rate of 10 rupees to the pound sterling you made them more than one-half and enhanced them out of all proportion to the pay. Another argument was, that in recent times several branches of the service, engineer officers and others, had had enhanced pensions granted them because of the fall in the exchange. If those officers were to obtain a larger number of rupees was it reasonable that they should demand that this increased number should be paid at more than the annual rate of exchange? He hoped the House would remember, before assenting to a Resolution like this, that we could not stop at the paltry £20,000 to which the hon. Gentleman referred. You could not restrict a privilege of this kind to the officers resident in England; you must extend it to the officers in India; and where you paid now 620,000 tens of rupees, if the proposal of the hon. Member was carried into effect, that sum would be enhanced by 100,000 or 150,000 tens of rupees. The hon. Member said that low pensions prevented officers from retiring; but to enhance pensions was to offer to these officers direct temptation to retire earlier, and thus the non-effective charge would be swelled by earlier retirements and more numerous pensions. Moreover, officers in active service as well as those who had retired were suffering from the fall in exchange. There was not an officer who was not more or less crippled in his needs owing to that particular cause, and if the House once yielded to the compassion which the hon. Member for Hull had so eloquently put forward, how could they restrict it to the case of pensioners who had retired and refuse it to those still in actual service? And, not only the Uncovenanted Civil Servants but the Government of India itself and the impoverished people of India had suffered by the fall in the rupee, and, in consequence, the Salt Tax had had to be increased. How inconsistent it would be for the House at the beginning of the Session to be lamenting because the Government of India had to extract more money from the pockets of the poverty-stricken Indian taxpayers, and then, when the Session was well advanced, to pass a Resolution which would saddle them on behalf of the retired Uncovenanted Civil Servants with further taxation still? He observed many hon. Gentlemen present who had distinguished themselves by their criticism of English pensions, and who would not suffer anything more in the shape of pensions than the State was under obligation to pay. Would they be so inconsistent as to vote for a Resolution which confessedly asked the House to pay something which the State was under no obligation whatever to pay, and to pay these additional sums of money merely in the name of compassion? He sympathized as much as the hon. Member for Hull with the people who found themselves in the position of not having the income to which they had been accustomed; but the House must remember that they were dealing not with their own money but as trustees of money contributed by the poor people of India, and, however much they might sympathize with a deserving and estimable class of men, Parliament ought not to cast upon the people of India burdens which they could not justly be called upon to pay.

MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

said, he warmly supported the Resolution. The question was not one that could be touched by the mere broad principles of political economy. Nor did he understand the analogy sought to be drawn by the Under Secretary between English and Indian pensions. English pensions were overpaid, Indian pensions were underpaid. English pensions were granted for nothing, Indian pensions represented underpaid work done by men who, at the end of 40 years' were relegated to genteel starvation for promoting the service of the Empire at the expense of health, absence from home, and all the embarrassments which prolonged residence in a dreadful climate involved. He denied that the effect of acceding to the Resolution would be to draw a distinction between European and Native servants, else he would vote against it; and urged that, although there might not be a legal contract in the matter, there was what was equally binding—an honourable understanding. In referring to the anomalies which existed in the treatment of Europeans appointed in this country and those appointed in India, he showed that a person appointed in India by the patronage of the Governor General did not obtain a furlough for 10 years, getting then one year; while the person appointed in England by the patronage of the India Office, received two years' furlough out of eight years. Besides, all the privileges asked for the Uncovonanted Service were, in point of fact, enjoyed by some members of that service—such, for instance, as the Telegraph and Public Works Department. Why should such an invidious distinction be made? The existence of these distinctions in treatment gave rise to heartburnings which were prejudicial to the interests of the Service.

MR. E. B. HOARE (Hampstead)

said, he listened, and he believed the House listened with very great interest to the very able speech in which his hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull (Mr. King) pleaded the cause of his clients, the members of the Uncovenanted Service. He also listened with very great interest to the very able speech in which the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) pleaded the cause of his clients—the taxpayers of India; and if the House was at all reduced to the same frame of mind as himself, they would agree with him that the House of Commons was a tribunal perfectly incompetent to judge between the two. It was utterly impossible in his opinion for the House to say which of the two hon. Members was right. The hon. Member for Central Hull had made out a very strong case. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State had stood upon the legal rights. The legal rights no one disputed; but were they to be taken as the sole test in this matter? It seemed very hard to the Uncovenanted Servants to say that the legal rights should be the test. There was very little doubt that the Uncovenanted Servants entered into a contract which they believed, and which their employers believed, meant a pension of £500 a-year. Whether that was the case or not, he felt he had very inaccurate data to rely upon. He, therefore, most earnestly begged the hon. Gentleman who represented the Government of India to grant what he was sure would satisfy his hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull, some inquiry into the matter. All that was desired was that justice should be done. The hon. Gentleman who Moved the Resolution did not desire to impose an additional burden of £20,000 or of £1,000 needlessly upon the taxpayers of India, neither did he desire that a body of deserving servants of the public should end their days grumbling and dissatisfied. Let the matter be cleared up once for all, and let everybody be satisfied. If hon. Members of the House felt that their wisdom was equal to settling the matter straight off, they must feel themselves very much wiser than he felt himself to be. He was satisfied there was a case for inquiry; but that that House ought not to try by off-hand action to settle the rates of pension for those servants. He very strongly urged the Government to grant an inquiry, in whatever form they might think best, which would satisfy the hon. Member for Central Hull and, he was sure, the House.

MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

said, that the hon. Member for Central Hull (Mr. King), in support of his case, went upon the unprecedented discontent and alarm which he said pervaded the Uncovenanted. Service of India. He (Mr. Pickersgill) admitted both the discontent and the alarm, but he hoped the House would not believe that they were due solely to the grievances which the hon. Member put before them that night with such expressive eloquence. There was another cause for that discontent and alarm. During recent years we had adopted the policy of calling upon the Natives of India to fill Offices in the State from which they had previously been excluded, and the Uncovenanted Service, which acted as a sort of buffer between the Covenanted Service and the Native Indian officials, was the first to feel the pressure of the new competition, and hence the discontent which, he believed with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. King), was unprecedented. The hon. Member was not quite unaware that there was a good deal in what he had just said. It was, he found, about a year ago that the hon. Gentleman asked the Under Secretary of State for India, whether his attention had been called to the expression of alarm in the Indian Press and amongst the Anglo-Indian community, at the course being pursued by the Government of India, owing to which very important changes were contemplated in the organization and conditions of Service, especially in the direction of a large admission of Natives to the important positions of the Service. In that Question he could not perceive any sympathy on the part of the hon. Member with the new policy on which we had embarked. He (Mr. Pickersgill) rejoiced that we had begun to allow the Natives of India to take more important posi- tions in the Service of their own country, and he hoped that the new policy would be steadily and vigorously and rapidly pursued. As an old Civil Servant, he (Mr. Pickersgill) should not be without sympathy for the grievances of the class of which, for a good many years, he was a Member. He assured the hon. Gentleman (Mr. King) that he sympathized to a large extent with those grievances which he very eloquently put before the House a little while ago; but, although he sympathized with the Civil Servants, he had, he felt, another duty to perform. As Members of the House of Commons they all had to guard with peculiar jealousy the interests of that large Indian population which was not directly represented in the House. Personally, he was very anxious to hold the balance even between the Civil Servants on the one hand and the poor taxpayers on the other hand. Their symyathy had been invited for the Civil Servants. But why should they not, with at least equal reason, bestow their pity upon the taxpayers of India? As regarded the Uncovenanted Servants, they had got, at all events, what they bargained for; he believed that that was admitted even by their own advocates. But they had got something more than they bargained for; because he found that only last year a very considerable concession was made to members belonging to this body. He found that up to last year, members of the Uncovenanted Service, leaving that Service after from 10 to 15 years' service, were entitled only to a gratuity. Since last year, the Government had made a concession, and Uncovenanted Servants were now, under the same circumstances, entitled to receive pensions of one-sixth to one-fourth of the salaries they were receiving at the time of leaving. That, he thought, was not an inconsiderable concession, and he mentioned it to show that the Government were not indisposed to listen in no unfriendly spirit to the grievances of the Uncovenanted Servants.


said, he was sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he was bound to point out that that concession was only extended to the Telegraph and Public Works Departments.


said, that, at all events, the servants in those Departments were portions of the Uncovenanted Service of India, and the grant- ing of the concession supported the argument that a portion of the Uncovenanted Servants of the Crown had received more than they bargained for. Now, hon. Members upon the Opposition Benches frequently complained of the vast expenditure involved in the administration of our Indian Empire. There was scarcely a writer of authority upon Indian finance who had not pointed with grave distrust and alarm to the enormous cost of the Non-Effective Service of India in particular—a cost which is drawn from India, and which was spent in England. The late Mr. Henry Fawcett, the best friend that India ever had in the House of Commons, said, that taking the figures of the actual expenditure in 1876–7, the latest year for which the figures were available, it appeared that no less an amount than £2,800,000 of the Revenues of India had annually been paid in England in pensions, and he added— The real significance of that drain upon the resources of the country will be understood when it is remembered that the entire net or available revenue is not more than £38,000,000. Well, 10 years had elapsed since those words were used by Mr. Fawcett, and he (Mr. Pickersgill) had lately been going through the home accounts of the Indian Government, in order to ascertain how we stood now, taking the figures parallel to those quoted in 1879 by Mr. Fawcett. Mr. Fawcett said that in 1879 £2,800,000 drawn from India was paid in England for the purpose of pension allowances, but the sum was now £3,787,124—that was to say, in the course of 10 years the amount of Indian Revenue paid in England had been increased by something very nearly approaching to £1,000,000 sterling. Well, under these circumstances, he hoped the House would not hastily take a step which would have the effect of increasing the burden upon the Indian people. In the course of this very week, when it was proposed that this House should interfere with the Government of India, the objection was raised—which, he confessed, he thought in that case frivolous—that we were about to interfere by applying a principle which was independent of local considerations, or to institute a change which was not of local application. But here, that night, they had a very different case before them—a very intricate and a very difficult case, and he sincerely hoped that the House would not, upon an ex parte statement, or, at the best, upon any insufficient information, take a step which would add to the burdens of the already heavily taxed people of India.


said, he rose with pleasure to support the proposal of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Mr. King), and to add his voice to that of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Hoare), in asking the Government to grant them at least a Committee to inquire into this undoubted case of hardship. He supported his hon. Friend's Motion with all the more pleasure, because the hon. Gentleman had declared so clearly that the Motion was intended as no disparagement in any way to those other glorious Services of India—the Covenanted Service and the Military Service—which had done so much for the traditions of the British name in India. But they did, in this Motion, protest against what was merely the survival of the ancient privileges of the Covenanted bureaucracy in India, in so far as they pressed heavily on the Uncovenanted Body. They wished to see an end put to these privileges only in so far as they pressed heavily on the Uncovenanted Body. At that late hour of the evening (11-50 p.m.) he would content himself with dealing with one or two of the points which were raised by his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst). That hon. Gentleman called the attention of the House to the fact—or what he said was the fact—that the Natives of India were desirous of, and were capable of, filling many of the appointments now held by English Uncovenanted Servants. Well, to that he would answer at once, that so far as they were able and were qualified to hold those appointments, and were willing to do so, the Government was bound to admit them. Therefore, the Motion of his hon. Friend did not touch that point at all. And, in addition to that, he might say that so far as the pensions of the Native Members of the Uncovenanted Service were concerned, being paid in India, they were at the rate which the Natives had been led to expect, and the same statement, of course, applied to European officers who elected to reside in India after the expiration of their period of service. These officers got their rupees—and the House was perfectly well aware that in India the rupee had not lost its purchasing power. That was the whole point at issue—that the rupee in India had retained its old purchasing power; but that when it was sent home, it had lost it to the extent of something like 30 per cent or more. Further, with regard to the objection of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India, that the Natives might receive these appointments, he would call the hon. Gentleman's attention to the definition that the Government of India itself had laid down as to Uncovenanted appointments now specially referred to. In a despatch which had already been quoted in this debate—the despatch of 4th October, 1870—the Government of India thus described the Service of which they were speaking— It has been established that many important offices cannot ordinarily be filled either by Natives of India or by the officers of the Civil Service or by the Staff Corps. That was the Service of which he was speaking. These appointments could not be filled, as the Government of India told them, by the Natives of India. These Uncovenanted Civil Servants were men holding offices of a nature that could not ordinarily be filled even by Covenanted civilians. If these offices the House were dealing with could have been filled by Covenanted civilians, the difficulty would not have arisen. Take only two Departments out of the number mentioned by the hon. Gentleman—take the Department of Public Works, the Engineers—or take the State Professors in the Government Colleges connected with the Education Department there. Surely, they could not send a Covenanted civilian, who had simply passed a competitive examination here on the general results of a liberal education, to build bridges or set up barracks, nor could they be expected, able as they were, to enter the Public Service to lecture to undergraduates of the Calcutta University on the lunar theory or other high subjects of learning. These, he ventured to state, were typical of the services of those for whom they were pleading that evening. These gentlemen were specialists. They fulfilled special duties which could not be fulfilled by any other class of public servants. That was the answer to what he might call the academic objection of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India, when he told them that the Covenanted civilians had their privileges, because they had passed a very difficult examination, whereas these Untovenanted Servants of whom he spoke had not passed this examination. Of course, these Uncovenanted Servants passed no examination; and why? Because examination would be no test whatever of the particular qualifications required in these Uncovenanted Servants. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary would take his (Sir Roper Lethbridge's) word for it that he knew the Education Department of Bengal thoroughly, and that he could say that there were 38 officers of that Department, of whom no less than 20 were first-class graduates of either Oxford or Dublin, or wranglers of Cambridge. Five of those gentlemen in the Calcutta University alone were Fellows of the Colleges of Cambridge. Take the Professors of Mathematics in the Calcutta University. There was, first, Professor Clarke, who was third wrangler at Cambridge in the very year preceding that in which the Under Secretary of State for India took the same distinguished academical position. Then there was the Professor of Literature in that University, Mr. Dawnay, who was a senior classic and Fellow of Trinity College in the same year as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan). These, then, were the men—these were the specialists. He now passed to another objection raised by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary. He had told them that the pension of the Covenanted Civil Service was very much larger than the highest pension awarded to the Uncovenanted Servants, because a portion of the money annually paid to them in gold had been contributed by them as deductions from their pay; but surely all pensions were of the nature of deductions from pay, and these deductions were simply deferred pay. Large deductions were made in the case of the Covenanted civilians; but large additions had been made to the pay in the first instance, so that the deductions made to increase the pensions could well be borne. The remedies for the grievances which had been so eloquently expressed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Hull were not far to seek, and he felt sure that if a small Committee composed of impartial Members of the House were to inquire into the subject they would readily find the remedies. The first step which then should be taken, as had been frequently stated, should be to provide that there should always be on the Viceroy's Council at Simla, a representative of the Uncovenanted Civil Service. There were at present there, representatives not only of the aggregate Covenanted Civil Service, but of almost every local branch of it. If the Madras Covenanted Civil Service was not represented, it was because it did not think that it should be, or did not care to be, and so with all the other branches; and when they had this great and important Uncovenanted Civil Service absolutely unrepresented, it was idle to expect from the Secretary of State or the Under Secretary adequate treatment for it. He did trust that Her Majesty's Government would make some concession to the eloquent demands of his hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull. He could assure them that the greatest dissatisfaction had already arisen in India on account of the meagre results which had flowed from the Public Service Commission, of which the Under Secretary had spoken to-night. He (Sir Roper Lethbridge) confessed that, for himself, he expected no very great results from that Commission, for on it there were an enormous preponderance of officials representing the Covenanted. Service, whilst there was hardly a single member on it representing the Uncovenanted Service. The greatest discontent existed in the Service—a fact which in any but an extremely loyal service would be a most serious matter. He asked for no generous treatment for the Uncovenanted Civil Servants in India, but simply asked that their claims might be dealt with in a spirit of justice and equity.


said, he thought it would be discourteous to several hon. Members who had asked questions of the Government since the reply of the Under Secretary of State for India, if some response were not made from that Bench; but after the long discussion which had taken place, he could assure the House that he would not trespass on its attention for more than a few minutes. He thought that the main question which had been brought before the House that evening was this—whether the fall in the rupee entitled the members of the Uncovenanted Service to be paid their pensions in sterling, instead of in Indian currency. That was a subject upon which the arguments on both sides had been so clearly stated, that no inquiry before a Select Committee could throw further light upon it. It was a question in which there were two conflicting considerations—one was sympathy with the Uncovenanted Civil Servants who had suffered grievously through the fall in the rupee; and the other was, the most grave consideration whether in regard to this one particular class of officials they ought, without the consent of the Indian Government, and against the views of its representatives, to lay it down that pensions should be paid in sterling at the expense of the Indian taxpayer. That was the simple question which, he thought, was before the House. There were other grievances which had been mentioned, but a special debate had been raised in order to secure what the hon. Member for Central Hull did not call a legal claim, but what he called justice in the matter of the payment of these pensions to the Uncovenanted Civil Servants. With regard to the general position, he thought the hon. Gentleman who spoke earlier in the debate was not correct in saying that the Covenanted and Uncovenanted Servants had entered under similar circumstances. The hon. Member had represented one class as under the patronage of the Home Government, and the other as under the patronage of the Indian Government.


said, he did not say that. What he said was that in the Uncovenanted Service there were two sources of patronage; the source at home, where the objects were under specially favourable conditions; and the source in India, where they were under favourable conditions. He had said that both classes had really entered for precisely the same duties, and that the different circumstances were very galling.


said, the Covenanted Service stood in a different position from the Uncovenanted, the former being qualified by an expensive education. There was no patronage. He accepted the explanation of the hon. Gentleman, but did not want it to go forth that there was any special privilege enjoyed by Covenanted Servants. The House had been appealed to on behalf of the Uncovenanted Servants as if they were its servants, and as if the Indian Government had great wealth at its disposal to be generous with to them. They had been asked why they should exact their claims as Shylock's; but he would remind the House, as the Under Secretary had shown in his most clear and convincing speech, that what they were asked to do was at the expense of the Indian taxpayer. No doubt, the fact of being paid in Indian currency was a grievance which was shared by a vast number of the servants of the Indian Government. If to relieve the Civil Servants of India from the loss they suffered in consequence of the depreciation of the rupee, they were to pay them in sterling, they would have to pay a vast amount of other salaries in sterling also. That was an argument used by the Under Secretary, and no reply had as yet been made to it. The Government did not resist this proposal from any want of sympathy with the Uncovenanted Civil Servants, who, like a great number of other most meritorious Servants of the Indian Government, suffered great hardship from the fall in the value of the rupee. But he ventured to hope the House would not take its stand on the principle that this loss should be met in the case of one particular class, when it was clear that it would be impossible to stop at that class, and that the effect would be that, without consultation with the representatives of India, at a time when the burdens of the Indian Government were very heavy, they would make a very large increase to those burdens.

MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

said, he was not satisfied with either the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) or that of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen). ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen cheered too soon—he was not quite satisfied with those speeches, because they left out an argument which appeared to him more cogent for their case than any they had used. He felt the force of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he might have made it still more convincing. The hon. Member for North Kensington (Sir Roper Lethbridge) said that Uncovenanted Servants serving in India had suffered no loss whatever; they were paid in rupees, and rupees had suffered no depreciation in India; consequently these Civil Servants commanded the same resources they ever expected to command. But then the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of the "grievous hardship" suffered by members of the Uncovenanted Service who, residing in England, had their pensions paid in the equivalent for rupees in English pounds sterling. Now, he demurred altogether to this assumption. It was admitted by the hon. Member for North Kensington that Uncovenanted Servants residing in India were receiving just as much as they expected to receive. In England their rupees did not command the same amount in pounds sterling as they would have done 20 years ago; but did the same amount in pounds sterling command more or less of the commodities of life in England than they did 20 years ago? He would not say that precisely the same cause as produced the depreciation in the value of rupees depreciated the value of other commodities, but it was an undoubted fact that, concurrently with the depreciation of rupees, there had been a depreciation in other commodities, so that a man who expected for his 5,000 rupees £500, and now only received £400, had with the latter sum very nearly as much command over the requirements of life as £500 would have given him 20 years ago. Therefore, the annuitant who received his pay in England had suffered no more damage than if he received it in India, for though he did not receive the same amount of pounds sterling, the purchasing power of the pound having increased, had a greater command over the resources and means of life than it had 20 years ago. Admitting this—and it could not but be admitted the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer should take up this as stronger ground, or he would find it difficult to defend the Indian Exchequer against the demands of annuitants at home. He must take his stand on the ground that there was a fall in the value of other commodities beside rupees; and though there had been a nominal reduction in the income of the annuitant, he had as much command over the means of life as his larger receipts in India commanded.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 166; Noes 55: Majority 111.—(Div. List, No. 135.)

Main Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,"