HC Deb 29 June 1893 vol 14 cc357-9

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether, as the closing of the Mints in India will largely appreciate the value of the silver currency of the country as against commodities by causing a scarcity of rupees, whereby the peasantry will have to part with an increased amount of produce in order to pay the Government taxes, Her Majesty's Government, with a view of gauging the extent of economic change that may result from the closing of the Mints, will arrange that periodical Returns will be prepared and laid upon the Table of the House, giving the rupee-prices of the chief articles of produce from the present date onwards, at the principal Indian centres of production, and more especially in the agricultural districts?


(1.) My hon. Friend will have seen from the Papers submitted to the House on Monday last that neither the Government of India nor Lord Herschell's Committee expect prices in India to be materially altered by the recent arrangements regarding the Indian Mints. (2.) Fortnightly price currents for the chief marts in India will be found in the official Gazette of India, which is supplied regularly to the Library.

MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)

I beg to ask whether Lord Herschell's Committee and the Governor General were prepared for the fall in silver which has taken place, and whether that will not to a certain extent modify their view with regard to the course of prices in India?


I was not a Member of the Committee, and my right hon. Friend is, no doubt, conversant with the correspondence that has taken place on the subject, and can form his own opinion. I can say nothing further than that.

MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Lord Herschell's Committee took any Evidence as to the quantity of uncoined silver in the possession of the native population of India; and whether he can say by what amount the nature of that property has been depreciated already, since the closing of the Mints to the free coinage of silver; and when the Evidence will be laid upon the Table?


Various statements were submitted to the Committee of the estimated amount of silver in India; but it is impossible to say, even approximately, how much is in the possession of the native population in an uncoined state, and consequently no estimate can be made of the amount of depreciation. The evidence, it is hoped, will be ready very shortly. The printing is in a forward state.


May I ask if the import of silver into India be practically prohibited, the result has been to enhance the value of the silver there?


I am not prepared to enter into a speculative disquisition on that point.


Is the Under Secretary aware that, since the closing of the Mint, silver has fallen in value from 37½d. to 33½d. Under these circumstances, must there not already have been a considerable depreciation in the value of native property?


That is also a highly inferential question, on which I am not disposed to enter.

SIR W. HOULDS WORTH (Manchester, N. W.)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India if there is any objection to the publication of the Evidence given before Lord Herschell's Committee on Indian Currency; and, if not, whether it can be published at once?


The printing of the Evidence, both oral and documentary, is in a forward state, and it can be published probably in a few days.

MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, now that rupees are to be artificially raised in value in India, relief will be given to the poor ryot, who has to buy rupees with produce, proportioned to the diminished power of his produce to purchase rupees?


Neither Her Majesty's Government, from any information in their possession, nor the Indian Government are under the impression at present that there is likely to be any serious fall in the value of produce in India. Of course, if the case should arise it will be for him to state the view that may be taken by the Government.