HC Deb 07 August 1893 vol 15 cc1417-8
SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India, with reference to his statement on 27th July that the heavy costs of the Behar Cadastral Survey are to be charged against the landlords and tenants, under the authority of the Bengal Tenancy Act, whether the Secretary of State is aware that the Native Associations of Bengal unanimously hold that the wording of that Act, which refers only to the survey of a local area, cannot properly cover the survey of a Province so large as North Behar; whether he is aware that in the official draft of the Bengal Tenancy Bill, that was circulated in the vernacular language to the agriculturists of Behar in 1883, it was expressly provided that the costs of such proceedings should only be borne by the landlords and tenants in two specified cases—namely, when the landlords and tenants themselves ask for these proceedings, and when the proceedings are taken for the purpose of settling an existing dispute; whether he is aware that, in that official draft, it is shown that the words "a local area" meant an area for which a table of local rates and produce can be prepared; whether he is aware that the Government of India, shortly before the passing of the Bengal Tenancy Act, was pressed, both in Calcutta and in the House of Commons, to circulate in the vernacular language a notification of the voluminous alterations in the wording of the Act that had been made in Committee, and declined to do so; and whether the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown in India has been taken as to the effect of the words "a local area" in the Bengal Tenancy Act; if so, whether that opinion can be laid before Parliament?


(1.) No information has been received as to the views of the Native Associations of Bengal respecting the interpretation to be put upon the words "local area." (2.) The clauses quoted as to the costs of a survey refer only to cases in which the Local Government acts without the previous consent of the Governor General in Council. (3.) The original Bill did not define the words "local area" in the restricted sense quoted by my hon. Friend. (4.) On the 12th of March, 1885, the Secretary of State read in the House of Lords a telegram from the Viceroy explaining that republication of the Bill in the vernacular was unnecessary, because almost all alterations were excisions favourable to zemindars, and not new clauses. (5.) The Secretary of State has no information as to whether the Law Officers of the Crown in India have been consulted.