HC Deb 20 September 1893 vol 17 cc1750-74

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

*MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough) rose to move the following Amendment:— That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that all Indian officials should be allowed an appeal to the Home Government without regard being had to the amount of their salary. The hon. Gentleman said that a few weeks back he brought a special case before the House, and he now referred to that case to say that it was on a question of principle. He brought before the Secretary for India the case of Mr. Kalvade, whose salary was just 250 rupees per month. There was an un- fortunate rule in connection with the Government of India that when an officer had a salary of over 250 rupees per month he could appeal to the Home Government; but if his salary was only 250 rupees, or under, he had no right of appeal. In this particular case the official's salary was just 250 rupees per month, and on that occasion he asked the Under Secretary for India whether he would consider the appeal under all the circumstances? This officer's salary was only short of the amount fixed by the rule by a fraction of a rupee, and on account of not having the right to appeal he had been practically ruined. It was not necessary for him to argue his case, whether it was right or wrong. This official had been ruined by a decision of the Government of India; and, therefore, he desired—and he thought very properly desired—to appeal to the Home Government; and, above all, he made a request—and this was the object of his getting the appeal—that there should be a judicial trial so as to settle the questions in dispute between himself and the Government. This was the point refused, and, therefore, he thought, so far as that particular case was concerned, that Mr. Kalvade had a very strong case indeed in favour of the right to appeal to the Home Government. He would not argue that particular case any further at the present moment. He had brought it forward before, and he only mentioned it now as an illustration of the desirability of carrying out the reform proposed by the Amendment. There were a very large number of these cases, probably more than they knew of at the present time, and he should take an opportunity later on of asking the Under Secretary of State for India to furnish a Return showing how many of such cases there were. What he desired to do now was to get the principle acknowledged of the right of appeal. According to present Rules it was held that a person having a salary above 250 rupees per month had the right of appealing to the Home Government, but that the poorer officials had no right of appeal. It might be said that it was "too much trouble," or that it was wrong to allow appeals at all to the Government at home. If they decided that, well and good; but now they said that the rich official who, in his (Mr. Morton's) opinion, did not need the right so much should have an appeal to the Home Government, and that the poor man should not. That was opposed to all ideas of justice in this or any other civilised country. He had another reason for specially asking for this reform from the Government. So far as he understood, it was the European officials who had the large salaries, and, therefore, the right of appeal to the Home Government, whereas it was the natives and the half-caste people that had smaller salaries who were deprived of the right of appeal. So far as he had been able to ascertain from the figures, there were about 4,000 European officers as against 12,000 natives and half-castes. Therefore, it was the natives who got the smaller salaries who would be benefited by an alteration in this rule with regard to appeals. Why should not the people with the smaller salaries have this right of appeal? He might be told that if appeals were allowed in all these cases there would be so many appeals that it would take too much trouble and time to look after them in this country. He did not agree with that view. His own impression was that if it were known to the officials in India that these people had the right of appeal they would act towards them more fairly, and there would be less injustice and cruelty. In some cases it was gross cruelty to refuse to redress the grievances, and if the higher officials were aware that an appeal could be made to this country against their conduct and decisions they would act differently. It was all very well to say that our officers in India and our Government acted fairly and well. He did not want to make any charge against them, but they knew very well that in India the British people considered it their duty to protect themselves at all hazards against the natives, and to treat them as a conquered people. Therefore it was not likely—it was against human nature he supposed—that they would take a very fair view in all cases of the position of these native officers. ["Oh, oh!"] So far as they had been able to ascertain, that was just what the complaints had been in India—that justice was not meted out to the natives; and, notwithstanding the ironical cheering of some hon. Members, he believed he was right in saying that the general tendency was to act against the natives. Then, why not allow these appeals? In their ordinary policy in this country they allowed appeals to almost everybody; it was the principle upon which they acted in all their Government affairs. Should they be bound by the judgment of any official whatever? Sometimes in this country officials of the lower rank were turned off without being heard, and the right of appeal in these matters had in some cases been brought before the Law Courts. He remembered reading of an eminent Judge who said that the meanest of Her Majesty's subjects, no matter what his conduct had been, had the right to be heard and the right to appeal, and he added that even the Almighty called Cain before him before he condemned him. So that they had very high authority that a man should be heard, and heard impartially, before he was condemned. He wanted the Government to thoroughly understand that they were not satisfied with the present condition of things. He did not at all wish to charge the Home Government with a desire to act unjustly. No doubt the Governments of India had a right of discretion if they choose to send on Petitions, but he did not think it ought to be a question of their discretion, because it was not likely that that discretion would be exercised in the way it ought to be. He thought it was very wrong that that discretion should be in the hands of officials in the position our officials were in India. He meant the officials who did not act from the will of the people, but depended upon the Army, and, therefore, had great power in that direction without consulting the wishes or feelings of the natives of the country. He had referred to one eminent Judge—he would now refer to another. Lord Camden said with regard to the discretion of a Judge— It is the law of tyrants; it is casual always; unknown, and depends upon temper, prejudice, or passion. He supposed in any case in dealing with Indian affairs, they should have, to some extent, to depend on temper, prejudice, or passion; but as far as possible by allowing the right of appeal they ought, of course, to remove that difficulty out of the way of their fellow-subjects, and in that sense he desired to treat the Indian people as British subjects, and allow to them the same liberty, rights, and privileges that he would allow the people of this country. He might be told that in another Amendment which was on the Paper—an Amendment with regard to a Royal Commission being appointed—his wishes might be gained by consenting to a Royal Commission being appointed, amongst other things, to give this very reform that he desired. On former occasions he had said that he objected to Royal Commissions altogether. As a rule a Royal Commission was a farce and a fraud upon the people, and they were moved and appointed for the purpose of putting off a question instead of settling it. Probably, this Royal Commission might be agreed to by the Government, and it would report five or six years hence. Then the Government would take another five or six years to consider the matter, and eventually they would be all dead and buried before anything was done in the way of a settlement. He asked the Government for justice for the people of India, and he did not see that a Royal Commission would do any earthly good to him nor to the Indian people. Everybody knew what were the grievances of the people of India, and they wanted immediate redress. They did not want to be put off by Royal Commissions, neither did he. Therefore, it was much better to propose, as he had done that day, some practical remedy for an acknowledged grievance. This was a grievance that would not be permitted in this country to last 24 hours, because it had always been admitted to be the right of the poorest and most insignificant individual to have an appeal, and he trusted that the Government of India would be able to consent to this reform. Several times during the last three or four years he had been asked to bring this matter before Parliament, and it ought now to be attended to immediately. This was an opportunity of doing something for the natives of India, and he had felt it his duty to urge the Government to do this little justice towards them. He hoped the Government would consent to the Resolution and make the necessary reform. He was anxious to do the same for the people of India as he would for the people of Great Britain, and since he had a seat in that House he had always voted, not for Royal Commissions, but for something practical, and for the benefit of the Indian people. That day he had brought forward something which was practical, would be for the benefit of the people of India, and would assure them, through the officials, that they were willing to treat them all alike, no matter whether they were poor or whether they were rich, whether their salaries were high or low. He begged to move the Resolution.

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 desirable that all Indian officials should be allowed an appeal to the Home Government without regard being had to the amount of their salary."—(Mr. A. C. Morton.)

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


I am really sorry I cannot consent to this proposition of my hon. Friend, because I cordially recognise the moderate and temperate tone in which he has brought the matter forward, and because he has on his side a considerable amount of reason. But the chief objection, as I understand, to this proposal is that it would simply inundate the India Office with Memorials. I cannot say exactly how many the servants of the State in India are, because I have not the figures here, but of those who have a salary of overl,000 rupees there are about 15,000, and if you take all grades of officials down to the lowest, we shall get to vary large figures indeed. There is nothing in the condition of things proposed to prevent each of these servants of the State from having a grievance, and if the proposal of the hon. Member is carried out there would be nothing to prevent each one of them sending Memorials to the India Office. That would, of course, very much increase the burden of work at the India Office, and would necessitate a large addition to the present staff. But it is not only on that ground that I oppose this pro- posal, but because we consider that these appeals are really better dealt with on the spot than they would be in England. When a man has a grievance against his Local Government he is not left to the Local Government for redress, but his appeal lies to the Viceroy, who is on the spot, and has better information on which to decide than we can possibly have at home. Appeals here must, of course, be carried out by correspondence, while out in India matters can be adjudicated upon by oral testimony. That is the second reason why we oppose my hon. Friend's Amendment. The existing Rule certainly does make a distinction between the highly-paid and the lowly-paid official; but my hon. Friend was, I think, wise in not calling attention to the particular case he brought before the House earlier in the Session. That was in one way a hard case, because the officer was placed in a different position than he would have been if he had only a fraction of one rupee more per month. But officers in his position have the right of appeal to this House, for they can get a public Representative always to bring a legitimate grievance before this House. He has also an appeal to the Viceroy, and we hope in the immediate future the Legislative Council of India will afford exactly that opportunity of criticising grievances which is afforded in England by the House of Commons. I admit there is upon the face of it an absurdity that the Rule permits the highly-paid official to appeal to the Government at home, while it prevents the less highly-paid servant from having the same redress. It might be a good thing to say that all grievances of this kind should be settled in India, and that there should be no distinction between the highly-paid and less highly-paid officers. But I presume the reason why the more highly-paid are allowed to appeal is because of the greater importance of the questions raised in their cases, which perhaps touch the principle of Civil administration, and may, in fact, be of sufficient social and political importance to merit the attention of the Secretary of State. The theoretical ground of the rule is, I admit, a very imperfect one, and I am quite prepared to receive suggestions for improving it. I do not say that the amount of salary affords any satisfactory clue to the importance of the grievance or the amount of suffering involved, but can my hon. Friend suggest any more practical or workable way than by the amount of salary? I am authorised by the Secretary of State to say that he will consider any plan or scheme my hon. Friend can suggest with the view of remedying any inequality in this connection, but I cannot accept the Resolution as it stands. I hope my hon. Friend will take my assurance that there is no disposition on our part to oppose any remedy for the grievance which exists.

Question put, and agreed to.

Main Question again proposed.

MR. E. H. BAYLEY (Camberwell, N.)

said, that although he was precluded from moving the Resolution for a Commission to inquire into the economic condition of the people of India and their inability to sustain the present cost of the Indian Government, yet he should like to say a few words in favour of the appointment of a Royal Commission. After more than a century of our Government the mass of the people of India were sunk in the depths of poverty and degradation. When they came to consider the amount of the revenue, and its pressure on the population, the burden of taxation was more onerous and more oppressive to the people of India than it was to any other people in the world. There was a time before the Indian Mutiny when India was looked upon as a mine of inexhaustible wealth, and officials who went out there came back to England loaded with riches. But the present poverty of India was an established fact. This had been proved beyond all dispute by his hon. Friend the Member for the Central Division of Finsbury (Mr. Naoroji), who was also the Member for India, in his various publications. Let them make a comparison of India and other countries. The Income of the United Kingdom was about £800,000,000 per annum. Now, if they analysed that, they arrived at the following facts. The annual average income per head in England was £41, in Scotland £32, and in Ireland £16. Then, if they took the poorest country in Europe, and the most corruptly-governed—namely, Turkey—they found the annual income was £4. When they came to India, they found the income per head was £2—that was to say, that India was twice as poverty-stricken as the worst-governed country in Europe. Eighty millions of people in India were going through life with insufficient food, and any failure of the crops brings them face to face with famine and starvation. Mr. Robertson, Agricultural Reporter to the Government of Madras, said of the agricultural labourer— His condition is a disgrace to any country calling itself civilised. In the best seasons the gross income of himself and his family does not exceed 3d. per day throughout the year, and in bad seasons their circumstances are most deplorable. I have seen something of Ireland, in which the condition of affairs bears some resemblance to those of this country, but the condition of the agricultural population of Ireland is vastly superior to the condition of the similar classes in this country. Now, although steeped in the deepest poverty, the incidence of taxation was heavier in India than in England. The average payment of the British taxpayer to the Government was 7 per cent., whereas, in India, it was 14 per cent., or double. And there was this aggravation—that the British taxpayer paid out of his abundance, whereas the Indian taxpayer paid out of the necessaries of life. This state of things was serious, and became more serious as time went on. They were accused of being the cause of the misery in India; they were told that the administration of this country in India was expensive, and the most extravagant in the world; they were told they were draining the country of its wealth, and grinding the people to dust by our administration. If these charges were true, clearly there ought to be a Royal Commission to inquire into them and discover the cause, and, if possible, provide a remedy. They had no right to remain in India unless it could be shown that they were there for the good of the people. The continuance of this state of things must be disastrous. The words of Mr. John Bright spoken 40 years ago were as true to-day as at the time when they were uttered. He said— Rely upon it, the state of things which now exists in India must, before long, become serious. I hope that you will not show to the world that, although your fathers conquered the country, you have not the ability to govern it. You had better disencumber yourselves of the fatal gift of Empire than that the present generation should be punished for the sins of the past. I hope that no future historian will be able to say that the arms of England in India were irresistible, and that an ancient Empire fell before their victorious progress—yet that finally India was avenged because the power of her conqueror was broken by the intolerable burden and evils which she cast upon her victims, and that this wrong was accomplished by a waste of human life and a waste of wealth which England, with all her power, was unable to bear.

MR. NAOROJI (Finsbury, Central)

Forty years ago, when I first spoke upon this question, I expressed my faith that the British people were lovers of justice and fair play. After those 40 years, and with an intimate acquaintance with the people of this country, and a residence of 38 years, I repeat that faith. I stand here again in that faith, ten times stronger than ever it was before—that the British people are lovers of their Indian subjects—and I stand here in that, faith hoping that India will receive justice and fair dealing at the hands of this Parliament. I might also add, Sir, that from that time to the present I have always held that the British rule is the salvation of India. A higher compliment I cannot pay to the British rule. It has done a great many good things, and has given new political life to India. If certain reforms that can be made, and about which there was no difficulty, are brought about, both England and India will be blessed. I do not want to occupy much of your time, so I will not say more on this point. I acknowledge with the deepest gratitude that so far, in several respects, though not in all, the English rule in India had been a great and an inestimable blessing. With regard to the Amendment I propose, in which I ask that a Royal Commission be appointed in order that we may come to the bottom of many questions of grievances, and especially into the principle and policy of the British rule as it exists at present, I may just quote a few words that were uttered by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister only a few days ago in connection with the question that is before us. He says— I must make an admission. I do not think that in this matter we ought to be guided exclusively—perhaps even principally—by those who may consider themselves experts. It is a very sad thing to say, but unquestionably it happens not infrequently in human affairs, that those who ought, from their situation, to know the most and the best, yet from prejudice and prepossessions know the least and worst. How far that is applicable to the Indian administration I am not undertaking to say; that is exactly what the inquiry ought to settle—whether the views expressed by the Anglo-Indian officials are the right views, or whether they are mistaken in the way the Prime Minister thinks they may be. He says, again— I certainly, for my part, do not propose to abide finally and decisively by official opinion. Independent opinion—independent but responsible—is what the House wants in my opinion in order to enable it to proceed safely in the career upon which, I admit, that it has definitively entered. And that is exactly what I appeal to. In the matter of the difference of opinion that exists between the Indian officials on the one hand and the native opinion on the question it is absolutely necessary—especially in the case where this House cannot in any way watch the taxes and the taxpayers, which it cannot at a distance of 5,000 miles—it is absolutely necessary that there should be some independent inquiry to satisfy this House and the public whether the administration is such as it ought to be. I hear that grumbling has begun to come from India itself. Only the other day, the 15th June, a telegram appeared in The Times saying that there seemed to be little doubt that all classes of India would soon join in demanding a strict and impartial inquiry into the excessive cost of the Indian establishments and the contributions levied on the Indian Treasury by the War Office, the Admiralty, and the Foreign Office; it was universally felt that India has been treated very unfairly in these matters, and that any attempt to stifle or delay the inquiry would cause much bitterness and discontent. Now, this is not all that has to be inquired into. I say that the whole policy and principle of the Budget, and the whole administration requires an overhauling. The last inquiry we all know took place in 1854. Since then there has not been an inquiry of the same kind. When we see the Prime Minister himself acknowledging only a few weeks ago, on the 30th June, that the expenditure of India, and especially the military expenditure, is alarming, and when we see also the Finance Minister telling us in his last speech— The financial position of the Government of India at the present moment is such as to give cause for apprehension, I think it will be admitted by the House that the time has come when it is exceedingly necessary that some fair inquiry ought to be made into the state of affairs. Well may the Prime Minister say that the expenditure is alarming, when we see that in 1853 and 1854—when the last inquiry took place—the annual expenditure of India was £28,000,000, whereas now in 1893 and 1894, excluding everything connected with public works, railways, &c, we have an expenditure of Rx68,000,000, which means an increase of 140 per cent. upon the expenditure of 1853 and 1854 in 40 years. The question is, whether this expenditure is justifiable or not? No inquiry has been made during these 40 years, and it is time, with such an additional expenditure, that full inquiry ought to be made. And then we know, at the same time, that from the beginning of this century to the present day there has been a constant wail and complaint that India is poor; and when we remember that the latest Finance Ministers emphatically laid down that it is the poorest country in the world, even compared with Turkey in Europe, I think it will be enough to satisfy the House that there ought to be a proper inquiry. I will now take a few illustrations of the principles on which the Budget, as it were, is built up, and consequently which also is an indication of the principles and policy of the whole administration. I have here the Colonial Office built at an expense of £100,000; every farthing of which is paid from the British Exchequer. I have the India Office built at nearly or about £500,000; every farthing of which is taken out of the Indian Exchequer from the Revenue of the poorest country in the world. The Colonial Service is given in the finance accounts as about £168,000; every farthing of which is paid from the British Exchequer. The Indian expenses or establishments given in the India Office expenditure is something like £230,000; every farthing of which is taken from the Indian Exchequer. But there is one item which, small as it is, is peculiarly indicative of the curious relations between England and India. I refer to the examinations that take place in England to send out young men for service in India, where they get a splendid career. They inflict upon us, rightly or wrongly—I am not discussing the justifiableness of such an injury—injuries of six different kinds. They take the bread from the mouths of the natives; they take away from the natives the opportunities of service in their own country which they otherwise would have. That is the material welfare we lose. They take away also esteem and the wealth of experience, because when an English official of 20 or 40 years' experience leaves the country all his accumulated wisdom is utterly lost to us, and we do not get the benefit of the wealth of that wisdom which we have a right to from the experience of those who are serving in India. The result of that again is that we have no opportunity of exercising our faculties, or of showing our capacity for administration. So that I think, as a law of nature, our capacity is stunted, we lose and wither, and we naturally become, as it were, incapable in time of showing that we have capacity for government. And what follows? You add insult to injury. After stultifying our growth, our mental and moral capacity, we are told that we are not capable. Well, Sir, I cannot, of course, enter into the details of these various injuries we suffer; but I say that here are these English youths who are to go out to India for a spendid career, and yet for their examination and further education in this country India must be charged £18,000 a year. This is a significant example of the relations that exist between India and England. Lastly, I will give one more authority. Lord Hartington has put the case very significantly. He once said— There can, in my opinion, be very little doubt that India is insufficiently governed. I believe there are many districts in India in which the number of officials is altogether insufficient, and that is owing to the fact that the Indian Revenue would not boar the strain if a sufficient number of Europeans were appointed. The Government of India cannot afford to spend more than they do on the administration of the country; and if the country is to be better governed that can only be done by the employment of the best and most intelligent of the natives in the Service. I want to point out this as an illustration of the relations that subsist between England and India. I need not say anything about the saving of £2,000 in the salary of Lord Kimberley, by appointing him also as the President of the Council. Much has been said on this point, so I will not add to it. By one stroke of the pen about 10,000,000rupees additional burden is put on the poor taxpayer of India by giving a British exchange of 1s. 6d. to the European officials. This means this, that the starving are to be starved more in order that the well-fed may have their fill. I think the House will ask whether such should be the relations between the two Revenues? To come to the next proposition. Another illustration of what I am saying is charging India with half the expense of the Opium Commission. I will not say much upon that subject, because I find that almost the whole of the English Press, as well as the Indian Press, have condemned that proposal, and have used strong words, which I should be unwilling to use—that is to say, the English Press has used very strong words against that proposal, and I will only use the softer and milder word—that it is unjust. It was the English people, in the interest of what they consider their own morality, who proposed that this Commission should be instituted, and it must be remembered that it was this House that had settled that such a Commission should be given. Under such peculiar circumstances, to ask the people of India to pay half of this expense is anything but just. And what is still more striking is this—that in 1870 the same question was before this House, and then the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and in 1891 the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith), laid it down distinctly that India should not suffer in the slightest way; that unless the House was prepared to give to India the surplus of £6,000,000 of 1870 to make up the deficit of every year in Indian Revenue, neither the Prime Minister nor the Leader of the House in 1891 (Mr. W. H. Smith) would proceed any further, or would listen to any representation about it. After such just protest against any movement of that kind, that the Prime Minister should now agree to this proposition is, I must confess, altogether beyond my comprehension. The next illustration, and a very significant one, is one upon which I need not dwell long, because only a short time ago a Debate took place in the House of Lords on the subject of military expenditure, when. Lord Northbrook, who has been Viceroy of India; the Duke of Argyll, who has been a Secretary of State; Lord Kimberley and Lord Cross were present, and it was the unanimous opinion of their Lordships that the Treasury and the War Office had treated India very unjustly in respect of the military expenditure and upon expeditions. I will read one extract from Lord Northbrook to show the manner in which India is treated in that respect. The whole Debate is worth a very careful perusal, and if hon. Gentlemen of this House will peruse that Debate they will get some idea of what highest Indian officials think of the relations of England with India. I will read one extract of Lord Northbrook's speech, which is very significant. He said— The whole of the ordinary expenses in the Abyssinian Expedition were paid by India, only the extraordinary expenses being paid by the Home Government. I may interpose that, had it not been for the agitation I raised on that occasion, there is no doubt that the Indian Government would have been saddled with the whole of that expense. As it is, they had only to pay the ordinary expenses, and the British Government to pay the extraordinary expenses, though we had nothing to do with that. Lord North-brook goes further. He goes on to say— The argument used being that India would have to pay her troops in the ordinary way, and she ought not to seek to make a profit out of the affair. But how did the Home Government treat the Indian Government when troops were sent out during the Mutiny? Did they say—'We do not want to make any profit out of this?' Not a bit of it. Every single man sent out was paid for by India during the whole time, though only temporary use was made of them, including the cost of their drilling and training as recruits until they were sent out. I think this is a significant instance of the relations between England and India, and I hope the House will carefully consider its position. In regard to the injustice of the military expense, even a paper (The Pioneer), which takes the side of the Government against the Indians generally, has expressed the opinion that the sum now imposed is an injustice, and that the expense is a large item annually increasing. It gives the whole—I think £2,200,000 in all—and then says— This sum is a terrible drain on the resources of India, and might well be reduced. One more significant instance of these things. When the Afghan War took place it was urged upon this House that it was an Imperial question; that the interests both of England and India were concerned in it; and it was right and proper that this House and this country should take a fair share in the expenditure of that war. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister accepted the view which Mr. Fawcett put forward, and he said— In my opinion, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney has made good his case. And he says again that it is fair and right to say that, in his opinion, the case of his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney is completely made good, and that case, as he understood it, had not received one shred of answer. Well, Sir, the case was then that this war had taken place in which both India and England were equally interested; that as it was an Imperial question, and not altogether an Indian question, a portion of the expenses ought to be defrayed by this country. And the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, true to his word, when he came into power, did contribute a certain portion on that ground. We might have expected that he would have contributed half of it, but he contributed nearly a quarter; out of an expenditure of £20,000,000 or £21,000,000 he contributed from the British Exchequer £5,000,000, for which I can assure the House we are most grateful, not so much for the sake of the money, but because the principle of justice was admitted. It was admitted that this country had something to do with India; and if it has its rights, if it draws millions and millions a year from India, it has also its duties. And the first time this was ever admitted was on the occasion I have referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. We regard it as a great departure in the administration of the country. Now, I urge that there is a large Military and also Civil expenditure upon Europeans. It is avowedly declared—over and over again we have been told—that a British Army and some British Civil Service in India are necessary for the maintenance of the British power, as well as in the interests of India. That in order to maintain British power there must be a certain amount of British Army nobody denies; but the question is whether the employment of this British Army is entirely for the interests of India alone, or whether it is not also necessary for the maintenance of the British power in India? In other words, are not the two countries equal partners in the benefit to be derived from the European Services; and, if so, should not England pay for this as well as India? I urge the consideration of this upon the House. I say that part of the military expenditure is for the interests of the British Empire; that the maintenance of this Army involves the interests of Great Britain as well as India, and that both should equally share the expenditure for the maintenance of the British power in India and for the protection of British interests there. I may have to say a great deal upon this subject, but considering the time we have at our command I will be very brief. I would only say this: that on the discussion which formerly took place the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition took an opposite view to the view held by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. Among the other reasons this was one of the reasons urged—that if India had belonged to an independent Ruler, like the Mogul, it would have been necessary for him to have entered into the war precisely as the Indian Government had done, and for precisely the same objects. There was no doubt, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government were following out a right line of policy in throwing the whole of the cost upon Indian finance. For these reasons he gave the Government his cordial support—that is to say, for throwing the whole expenditure on India. The right hon. Gentleman, however, forgets altogether that when the Mogul was the Emperor, and when the natives were a self-governing people, every farthing spent in the country on every soldier returned back to the people, whilst at the present time, in maintaining a foreign distant Power, you are drawing considerable amounts of money from the Indians for the Europeans, every farthing of which is completely taken away from the people under the present circumstances. That makes it entirely different. When a foreign domination compels the people to find every farthing for the sinews of war, then the money does not go back to the people as it would under, a Home Ruler. That is not the position of Britain. Britain is 5,000 miles away from India, and sends thousands of Europeans and foreigners over to India in order to support her power. We have to find every farthing of the cost, and then we are told it is only what the Mogul would have done. It is as different as the poles, as the House will recognise. It may be remembered that a few months ago a Petition was presented to this House from a public meeting in Bombay. In the Despatch quoted from the Government of Lord Lytton to the Secretary of State, he put the question in such a form that I shall be perfectly content to leave his words before the House. After making certain preliminary remarks, the Despatch goes on— We are constrained to represent to Her Majesty's Government that, in our own opinion, the burden now thrown upon India on account of the British troops is excessive, and beyond what an impartial judgment would assign, considering the relative material wealth of the two countries and the mutual obligations that subsist between them. All that we can do is to appeal to the British Government for an impartial view of the relative financial capacity of the two countries to bear the charges that arise from the maintenance of the Army of Great Britain, and for a generous consideration of the share to be assigned by the wealthiest nation in the world on a dependency so comparatively poor and so little advanced as India. I hope these few words will bear weight. I do not ask for a share of the Military and Civil expenditures of the European Services simply as a beggar on account of being poor, though that is a great hardship; but I ask it on the ground of justice, on the ground that our interests and British interests are practically identical, and that both have an interest in maintaining the British rule in India. The British people have a great advantage, and in justice to the Indians they should be willing to pay their share. Now, I wish to say a little about the administration. I will say it in a very few words. As an illustration, may I remind the House that there are 37,000,000 people in the United Kingdom, and that an Income Tax of 1d. in the £1 produces above £2,250,000. India has a population of seven or six times the number in Great Britain, and yet on the 1d. in the £1 she can hardly pay, I think, £200,000. If this be not an indication of the condition of the people, of India I do not know what else is. A short time ago I heard with very great interest the Statement on the Budget by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He spoke in very warm terms of the marvellous way in which the Income Tax increased in this country, although merchants and traders were complaining of a very bad state of trade. The Chancellor of the Exchequer rejoiced that, notwithstanding this, the Income Tax was jumping on year after year. I was very anxious to hear his explanation of this paradox. I would like to give a little explanation upon it. I do not know whether it may be an exact statement of the facts, but still I will venture to give it. Under ordinary circumstances, it is estimated that Britain draws something like £20,000,000 a year from India. I know that much more is said by some people, but I want to put it at the lowest. On the testimony of one gentleman who is generally antagonistic to the Indians—namely, the late Member for Oldham (Mr. Maclean)—£20,000,000 is about the amount. Therefore, we may take it that something like that sum is annually drawn from India. I would welcome this annual wealth being taken from India by you if we benefited as well as you. I take it as a matter of fact that with all this wealth flowing into Britain the Income Tax is increased. I think if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer can see his way to agree with me on this point he will show a greater sympathy with India in his dealings with the financial aspect of the Empire. I will give another illustration which will bring the matter home to the mass of the English people themselves. In India you have a vast country inhabited by people who have been civilised for thousands of years, and capable of enjoying all the good things of the world. They are not like the savage Africans, whom we have yet to teach how to value goods. But here you have 300,000,000 people to trade with, and for 100 years you have ruled them administratively by the highest-paid Service in the world. What is the result? What does England get in the shape of commerce? England sends her exports to various countries, and there are countries which shut their doors to her trade. But in India the trade is free; it is entirely under the control of the British themselves, and yet what profit do all the masses of the people receive? Very little. The total export of British produce to India is not worth 2s. 6d. per head per annum. If India were prosperous, if you allowed India to grow and make use of its own productions, then if you could export, say, £1 per head per annum, you would have a trade in India as you have not now in the whole world. It is a great loss to you and to us. If the present principles of administration were reformed and changed, and brought into a more natural condition, the result would be that the trade of England would grow to an extent of which we have no conception. You would have a market with 300,000,000 people, whereas, at the present time, you are spending hundreds of thousands in finding markets which will produce nothing approaching this. But here is a market at your own doors, and you are not able to sell of your produce more than 2s. 6d. a head per annum on the population. We know that in Native States native industry is prospering under the protection of British supremacy. The Native States have not foreigners going in and eating up their productions. They are gradually progressing in prosperity. I hope the time may come when important changes will he made in the administration of the country. I will not go into any further illustrations, but I would remind the House that Lord Salisbury has said what this policy is in the most significant terms. He has expressed it not in the hurry of a speech, but in a deliberate Minute made as Secretary of State for India. I hope his words will be digested by the House. He thinks that India only exists to be bled, and that now only those portions should be bled which are capable of giving blood. He says— As India must be bled, the lancet should be directed to the parts where the blood is congested, or at least sufficient, not to those which are already feeble from the want of it.

An hon. MEMBER

Where does he say that?


It is in a Minute made by Lord Salisbury in connection with the Famine Commission Return, No. 3,086–1, 1881, page 144. Those singular words cover the whole present policy of administration, and I do not think I need add anything to them. I will use a few words of our Prime Minister, and of other great and eminent statesmen, as to what sort of relationship there should be between England and India. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister on one occasion, in 1858, quoted these words of Mr. Halliday approvingly— I believe our mission in India is to qualify the natives for governing themselves. But I would lay most stress on the words he recently expressed in this House in connection with the Irish Home Rule Bill. He says— There can be no nobler spectacle than that of a nation deliberately set on the removal of injustice, deliberately determined to break not through terror, and not in haste, but under the sole influence of duty and honour, determined to break with whatever remains still existing of an evil tradition, and determined in that way at once to pay a debt of justice, and to consult by a bold, wide, and good act its own interest and its own honour. I appeal to no other sentiment of the British people, but leave it to their justice. It is necessary, in putting this matter properly before the House, to show how the present principles of administration in India are destructive. I appeal, therefore, to the Government, and say that an inquiry is absolutely necessary to ascertain whether it is or not that the administration of India is based upon a principle not only destructive, but very much mistaken. This is my view. I appeal to this House to give us an opportunity of proving that the present system of administration is an unfortunate one, and that certain changes of reform would be a blessing. With regard to the extract from Lord Hartington's speech, which I have read, I may say that that clearly shows that India is not properly governed. It is not sufficiently governed, for you cannot have the requisite number of men to govern it except from the Indians. I will read a few words from a speech of Mr. Bright's which are very expressive of our opinion regarding Indian government. He said— You may govern India, if you like, for the good of England, but the good of England must come through the channels of the good of India. This expresses what is desired by the people of India. Mr. Bright further says— There are but two modes of gaining anything by our connection with India: the one is by plundering the people of India, and the other by trading with them. I prefer to do by trading with them. But in order that England may become rich by trading with India, India itself must become rich. He also says— We must in future have India governed, not for a handful of Englishmen, not for that Civil Service, whose praises are so constantly sounded in this House. On this point and in these words you have the whole Indian trouble, what the principle of the administration ought to be, and what alone will benefit both England and India. I will just read a few words by Sir Stafford Northcote when he was Secretary of State; I have no hesitation in saying that he endeavoured to do the best for us. He tried his best to see what justice he could do to the Indians, and he expressed himself in words like these— If they were to do their duty towards India they could only discharge that duty by obtaining the assistance and counsel of all who were great and good in that country. It would be absurd in them to say that there was not a large fund of statesmanship and ability in the Indian character. I might quote something similar by the hon. Member for Kingston (Sir E. Temple). Sir Stafford Northcote further says— Nothing could be more wonderful than our Empire in India, but we ought to consider on what conditions we held it, and how our predecessors held it. The greatness of the Mogul Empire depended upon the liberal policy that was pursued by men like Akbar availing themselves of Hindu talent and assistance, and identifying themselves, as far as possible, with the people of the country. He thought that they ought to take a lesson from such a circumstance. Now, I do not think I need say more. I think I have made out a primâ facie case that the Indian problem is a very serious problem. As Sir William Hunter once said, it is a problem which might in 40 years become an Irish problem, but 50 times more difficult. I hope and trust that time will never come, and that such a contingency will never arise. I hope the time is coming when the natives themselves, educated and learned men, will have a voice and due share in the government of India. Everything is promising. If the statesmen of to-day will only overhaul the whole question and have a clear inquiry by independent and responsible men acting with English sense and honour and justice, then the time is not far distant when both England and India will bless each other.


I think, Sir, that the first condition imposed upon those who make a proposal such as we have just heard should be that they should put forward some sort of case for the establishment of an inquiry. I have listened with great attention to the hon. Member who moved this Resolution, and also to the hon. Gentleman who seconded it. And I am bound to say that, having listened to them, I have been unable to discover anything whatever which can be taken seriously to justify the course which is proposed—namely, the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the economic condition of the people of India, and which, apparently, is not only to cover the whole ground of the administration of the system in that country, but also to deal with various matters civil, military, political, and financial. Sir, the hon. Gentleman who moved this Resolution gave the only sort of support to it that he could by assuming a constantly-increasing poverty among the people of India. As regards that very startling and novel announcement, he offered the House no sort of evidence whatever, except so far as to misstate by about £20,000,000 the Expenditure of the country. As to the constant cry about increased poverty, he was, no doubt, supported by the hon. Member (Mr. Naoroji) who supported his Motion. That has been the key-note of a great deal the latter hon. Gentleman has said both in and out of this House. He has taken up the position as a sort of general Representative of India. Well, on that point I would venture to remind the House there are a great many Members who have had a much larger and much more recent experience of India and Indian affairs than the hon. Gentleman who represents Finsbury (Mr. Naoroji). Moreover, I would venture to remind the House that the hon. Member, who speaks with such confidence, and assumes such a knowledge of the country, has spent only a comparatively small time in India, and that, too, in one corner of the country. There are Members in this House who have spent a much longer time in the country, and who have had opportunities which have been denied to him of serving and living in various parts of India. Many of us have lived in almost every part of India. We have thus had an opportunity of knowing intimately the native races with whom the hon. Gentleman is entirely a stranger. I entirely sympathise with him in his desire that the wants of India should be made known, but I would remind him that as regards the people of India he belongs to an alien race which has spread over that country solely and only as a result of British occupancy. Where the English have found their way, there also the Parsee community, a highly respectable and enterprising community, have followed in their footsteps; but they are no more natives in the proper sense of the word than Englishmen. They are aliens separated from the people of India by religion, by race, by caste, by tradition, and by history. If English domination, as it is called, or English government in India, were to come to an end, then that community, which is a much smaller community than the English, and they would assuredly be driven out of India at the heels of the latter. So much, therefore, with regard to the claims of the hon. Gentleman to pose as the Member representing India. But, at the same time, I admit it is satisfactory to find the case of the people of India advocated in this House. No one can spend his life in India who does not acquire a real regard, and I may say a real affection, for the people of India, and who does not feel that his interests have become their interests, and that it is his duty, after he has left the country, to consider the welfare and happiness of the people with whom he has lived so long and to whom he feels he owes so much. I think all hon. Members who have served in India share that feeling. But when it comes to proposals of the kind now put forward I venture to ask the House what is the connection between the desire that the people of India should have a Government which will give them a just measure of happiness and prosperity, and a proposal that there should be a Royal Commission to gather evidence and to make, apparently, some indefinite proposals. Sir, I cannot conceive anything calculated to do more mischief in the present state of things than to set on foot an inquiry in the form which has been proposed. I am quite prepared to agree that inquiries made in a proper sense may produce a reasonable result, but to carry the Motion which has been proposed to inquire into the economic condition of the people of India, with the suggestion thrown out that the condition of these people has deteriorated, and that the deterioration is due to the action of the British Government, is a most monstrous proposition to be made by British legislators. Both hon. Gentlemen who have spoken have assumed without any sort of evidence that poverty in India is constantly increasing. They have, as I say, no sort of evidence whatever in support of such an assertion; the real evidence which is in our possession entirely disposes of that assumption. When you have an increasing trade and an enormous traffic on the Indian railways which have entirely sprung up of recent years, and further a large increase not only in population, but in the great mercantile centres, you have most indisputable proof that the wealth of India is, on the whole, largely increasing.

It being half-past Five of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.