§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [14th August], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
And which Amendment was, 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, a full and independent Parliamentary inquiry should take place into the condition and wants of the Indian people, and their ability to bear their existing financial burdens; the nature of the revenue system and the possibility of reductions in the expenditure; also the financial relations between India and the United Kingdom, and generally the system of Government in India."—(Mr. S. Smith.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ SIR A. SCOBLE (Hackney, Central)
said, that when the Debate was adjourned the previous night he was submitting that under the constitution of Indian society the phrase "desperate poverty" could by no means be applied to the great bulk of the population who lived on the land, and that the taxation by the Government on the land cultivated by the inhabitants was so very light that it could not be considered any real burden on the people. He now proposed to consider for a few moments the case of the rest of the population who did not live so directly by the laud and who lived by service and other means. In regard to them, he might say that wages had very much increased in India during the last 30 years, and that the amount of taxation per head of the population altogether, including the agricultural and non-agricultural classes— 1086 according to the figures given in an explanatory Memorandum laid on the Table of the House by the Secretary of State for India—reached a very trifling sum indeed. There was no doubt that with regard to the non-agricultural classes the figure 27 rupees, stated by the hon. Member for East Finsbury as their income was a great deal too small. Their income was much greater. Their taxation was exceedingly light, and at the present rate of exchange only amounted to 15d. per annum—including the tax upon salt of 5d. per head of the population, and which was practically the only tax paid by all but a very small proportion of the people of India. He should like to call attention to a peculiar circumstance which he had come across in his consideration of the question of the Indian currency. The House was aware that nearly all the silver which had gone to India went there when the Mints were open and was there turned into rupees. The net coinage from 1835 to the end of 1892 was a little under 320 crores of rupees. The circulation, which was about 120 crores to 200 crores, had disappeared in 57 years, or an average of 3½ yearly. Taking the 12 years from 1874 to 1886, it was estimated that the yearly loss had been six crores, arising from export, hoarding, and melting. Allowing two crores for export, four crores remained, of which it was calculated that 5–16ths were hoarded, and ll–16ths employed in the arts. As the Census showed that 1,640,925 persons—i.e., about 300,000 workers—were supported by industries connected with gold and silver, this was not an excessive estimate. They could, therefore, see pretty well how these 2,750,000 rupees had been distributed all over the face of the country, and turned into ornaments by these 1,500,000 people engaged in that trade. That showed two things. In the first place, it satisfactorily accounted for the disappearance of this large sum from the currency every year; and, in the second place, it showed that melting did not go on in large centres, but was distributed over almost every village in the country. He did not mean to say that the melting of rupees for ornaments which had gone on for so many years—as everybody knew—was a proof of the wealth of the country. It did not prove that the population were 1087 rich, but, at all events, it showed that after they had provided for the necessaries of life they had still a large amount of money which they were able to hoard in the shape of ornaments on the persons of women and children. That, to his mind, was absolute proof of the fact that beyond the necessaries of life the people of India as a body were able to put away every year a very substantial sum of money; therefore, this cry of the extreme poverty of the people of India must be regarded much more as a political cry than as a cry called forth by the real circumstances of the case. He came to the next point of importance in the arguments of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. It was said by the Member for East Finsbury, in effect, that the European Army and Civil Service were the cause of all the misery in India, but the hon. Member for Flintshire did not take that view. He did not believe that view would be entertained for a moment by any considerable body of Members of the House. He thought, on the contrary, the House would approve of what Lord Kimberley said—namely, thatwe are resolutely determined to maintain our supremacy over our Indian Empire. That supremacy rests upon the maintenance of our European Civil Service and upon the magnificent European Force which we maintain in that country.But to hear what was said by the hon. Member for East Fiusbury one would suppose that this European Civil Service was like a flight of locusts extending over the whole country and consuming everything that came across its path. The Civil Service consisted at most of 1,000 men—1,000 men who governed that numerous Empire. If they made a small calculation they would find that the result was this—there was one civil officer to about every 300,000 people and every 1,200 square miles of the country. Upon that band of officers depended not simply the maintenance of the British rule in India, but the comfort, peace, and prosperity of the Indian people. It was, of course, necessary and indispensable that at the back of these Civil officers there should be that Army of 70,000 British troops which they had in the country. The hon. Gentleman who talked in this way appeared to forget what India was—that it was not a civilised 1088 country, however civilised it might have been in the days long past when our own forefathers were savages. India was not now a civilised country by any means. They had there two divisions of the population, separated the one from the other by the keenest and most exciting of controversies—a religious controversy. They had the Mahomedan on the one side and the Hindoo on the other. Our business—a business which we have successfully accomplished—had been to keep the peace between he two. We could not have done it without able Civil servants and the Army, and he therefore contended that it was a gross perversion of language to say that they were the cause of the misery of India. A great deal had been said as to the way in which the native Indians had been treated with reference to the disposal of Government appointments. It was more than suggested—almost positively asserted—that successive Governments in India had broken faith with the people, and been false to the promise of the Queen's Proclamation when Her Majesty took over the government of the country. No more unfounded statement could be made. Instead of the close system of appointments which prevailed under the East India Company the Civil Service of India was thrown open to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects in every part of the world. The native of India had the same right to compete that Englishmen, Scotchmen, Irishmen, Canadians, or Australians had, and he had not failed to avail himself of it. In the Covenanted Civil Service there were many native gentlemen. But more than that, he spoke on this point with some authority—for he was a member of the two successive Governments under which the change was carried out—the Government of India, recognizing that the distance of England from India and the religious prejudices or convictions as they might please to call them in the case of the high caste natives prevented many from crossing the sea to take part in the competitive examination, appointed a Commission to take the matter into consideration. That Commission was composed of 16 gentlemen, six of whom were natives. That Commission unanimously reported against the scheme, which was supported in this House by the Member for South Edinburgh. 1089 It reported against the institution of simultaneous examinations in India and England for the Covenanted Civil Service. But that Commission made an important proposal. They said that in order to stimulate the aspirations of the better class of the educated natives of India for employment in the Public Service there should be a reorganisation of the Services in India, and that what had been called the Covenanted Civil Service should be called the Imperial Service, recruited as it had been by competitive examination in this country, but that there should be also a Provincial Service open to natives, and including a certain number of the posts which had hitherto been held by members of the Covenanted Service or by military officers. In addition to this Provincial Service there was a judicial and Administrative Service numbering about 2,600 persons, receiving what no doubt the Member for Finsbury would call sufficient if not excessive salaries. Of the 2,600 persons holding these posts, only about 30 were Britons. Of the persons engaged in the Government of India by far the greater proportion were natives of India. The native of India, if he only succeeded in passing the competitive examination for the Imperial Service, attained the highest posts in the administration. Under the circumstances, he failed to see that there had been any breach of faith. But they were told that not only were natives of India unfairly treated in regard to employment in the Public Services, but that they had no voice whatever in the collection or disbursement of the Revenue. Now that was not strictly accurate. Under a recent Act of Parliament—an Act which was suggested by the Government of India—the Legislative Councils which had been established in nearly all the great divisions of India had a right to discuss the Budgets which were presented to them, whether they be the Imperial or Provincial Budgets. Therefore, though they might not have anything particular to do with the collection of the Revenue, they certainly had a voice in the disposition of the Revenue, and without their consent or without the consent of the majorities of these Councils no fresh taxation of any kind could be imposed. They had not, and it would be impossible that they 1090 should have, the same voice in the management of the Indian Revenues that this House had in the management of our Revenues, but they had a voice, and a patent voice, which if they chose to exercise wisely and reasonably was sure to be listened to. Now he did not wish to follow in any very great detail some of the arguments with which his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury endeavoured to support the claim for this Committee, but there was one or two things that he must refer to. Not only in the speech of his hon. Friend, but in a Paper which had been circulated amongst Members of the House, under the taking title of The Poor Man's Land, reference was made to what was described as spending the Famine Insurance Fund of the masses to provide exchange compensation for the classes. It was made a great complaint against the Government of India that it had abandoned the provision against the famines which from time to time had hitherto decimated the country, and had applied the money so obtained for the purpose of increasing the salaries of the European employés. That was a most unfounded charge. He would not use the adjective he should like to use, but it was a most unfounded charge. He invited the attention of the House to what this Famine Insurance Fund was. The misconception which had arisen showed the disadvantages of giving names which were not strictly applicable to the proceedings to which they referred. For many years before 1878 there had been a series of very serious famines throughout India, and Lord Northbrook's Government, of which Sir John Strachey was Finance Minister, determined to make provision against the recurrence of such disasters. It was determined that instead of providing in the Budget for the small surplus which was always desirable the Government should provide for a further sum of one and a-half crores of rupees, and that that should be applied to certain objects which would enable the Government, in the first place, to relieve actual distress from famine; in the second place, to construct railways and canals for the purpose of diminishing the operation of famine; and, in the third place, to reduce debt. Now that Famine Fund, as it was improperly called—that fund had been 1091 more or less in operation ever since 1878. Sir John Strachey, who knew as much about the subject as anybody, in his book on India, which he (Sir A. Scoble) commended to the perusal of hon. Gentlemen who wished to obtain in a very useful form a vast amount of information which would guide them in these Debates, wrote as follows:—The policy of insurance against famine was simple in its nature, but it has considerably been misunderstood. It has often been supposed that a separate fund was instituted, into which certain revenues were to be paid, and which would only be drawn upon for a specified purpose. No such impracticable notion was ever entertained, and every idea of the kind was from the first repudiated by the Government and by myself, who was responsible for the original scheme. The Famine Insurance Fund of which people often talked never existed. The institution was nothing more than the annual application of surplus revenue to the extent of 1,500,000 Rxto the purposes that he (Sir A. Scoble) had described. In the years from 1881 to 1894 the amount provided under this head was shown to have been upwards of 16,000,000 Rx., and of that amount had been expended 5½ crores to the reduction of debt, 5½ crores to the construction of railways and canals, and the balance to the actual relief of distress. As to this year, it was not a fact to say that the Famine Insurance Fund had been entirely left out of the amount, because 43 lakhs out of this year's Budget—that was, nearly one-third of the total amount, were appropriated to famine expenditure properly so-called. He might add that most of the objects for which the fund was instituted—in regard he meant to the construction of railways and irrigation works—had been accomplished. But it had been suggested that money had been taken in order to make an improper payment to members of the Civil Service. In consequence of the great depreciation in the value of the rupee Her Majesty's servants in India had been put to great disadvantages. But, of course, at the time he was a member of the Government this matter was under consideration. It was no new idea that compensation should be given to those officers. It was an idea which had been carried to completion only under the severest stress of circumstances, and he must say that for his own part lie thought it better that exchange compensation of this kind 1092 should be given to the members of our Services in India rather than that those Services should be rendered dispirited and be discouraged by the pressure of pecuniary circumstances. But to say that the one saving had been made in order to indulge in other expenses was a baseless and unworthy insinuation. He was afraid he had detained the House too long, but before he sat down he would like to refer to a few other points. He had left the question of military expenditure to be dealt with by hon. Gentlemen with a knowledge of the subject, who might follow him. He said that so far from the present embarrassed circumstances of the Government of India arising from lavish expenditure, they arose from circumstances over which that Government had had no control; and circumstances which had been aggravated by the action of Parliament and the Home Government than by any action of the Government of India itself. There could be no doubt whatever that the whole dislocation of Indian finance during the last few years had arisen from the constant and increasing depreciation of the rupee; and this year, in addition to that depreciation, they had such low prices for wheat in the British market that it had not been worth while for English importers to bring wheat from India when they could get it much more cheaply from other sources of supply. But there would have been no deficit this year if the Indian Government had been allowed to have its own way. The commands laid upon the Indian Government by the Home Government had prevented the Indian Government from availing itself of the sources of revenue which lay at its hands, and which it might fairly have used to meet its needs. Had those sources of revenue been availed of by the Government of India the deficit would have disappeared; but in obedience to the demands of Lancashire—demands which, he regretted to say, had been listened to too readily by both sides of the House; demands which had been listened to under the stress of political considerations much more than with a view to the considerations due to our fellow-subjects in India—under the pressure of those demands no Import Duty had been allowed to be levied by the Indian Government on 1093 Lancashire goods. The duty sought to be imposed amounted to about 5 per cent. That could not have seriously damaged the exports from Manchester; and, moreover, if it was contended that the refusal to allow the imposition of this duty was due to consideration for the people of India, he would point out that the President of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce had made a calculation that the whole incidence of the duty would be about three farthings per head of the native population. The people of India did not clothe themselves in Manchester piece goods, from which it was sought by this duty to raise revenue, but they clothed themselves in the cheap products of their own hand-looms, or of the mills which had been such a remarkable development in India in recent years. Moreover, it was perfectly certain, with regard to those articles it was proposed to tax, that the great bulk of the yarn which was spun in India could not be made in Lancashire at prices that would find buyers in India; that fully 91 per cent, of the Indian spinnings was of a kind that it would not pay Lancashire to send to India. He must say that he considered the refusal of the Home Government to allow the Government of India to impose this tax was a serious dereliction of duty towards the people of India. He hoped wiser and more generous counsels might prevail, and that this deficit might, after all, be mot by the imposition of the duty which the Indian Government recommended. The hon. Member for Flintshire referred to the question of alcohol and narcotics, which he thought it would have been better to have refrained from treating until they had the Report of the Opium Commission. He only wished to repudiate in the strongest manner the insinuation against the Civil servants of India that they desired to stimulate the sale of alcohol and narcotics for the sake of the revenue. Of the many unfounded charges made against the Civil servants of India—charges which had been refuted in the most conclusive manner, and ought not to be repeated—that was, perhaps, the most unfounded, and he would almost say the most disgraceful. To suggest that Englishmen in India—who, after all, were men like themselves, who come 1094 from the same class of society, who were impressed with no less a sense of responsibility—to suggest that they had tried to stimulate the sale of alcohol and narcotics for the sake of revenue was, to say the least, most unworthy and most improper. He thought he had shown conclusively enough, he hoped, to shake any preconceived notions in the minds of hon. Gentlemen who had not the same opportunity of obtaining information on this subject as he had, that there was not that foundation for the proposed inquiry which the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire might otherwise lead many Members to suppose there was. As he had said, he did not think the inquiry was necessary. He was sure it would be tedious; he was sure it would be costly; but if the inquiry was granted he hoped it would be limited to those points upon which not so much this House as the people of India, speaking through the Legislative Councils and the Presidents of the Provinces, had expressed a desire for information as to whether they had been treated fairly—namely, with regard to home charges, and particularly to military charges. He could understand that the result of such an inquiry might tend very much to alleviate any feelings of anxiety that might prevail in the minds of the people of India on that subject; but beyond that he hoped the Government would not go. He must congratulate the Secretary for India on the resolution he had arrived at to allow the experiment relating to the Indian currency to have its full effect before any attempt was made to stop it. He was glad to observe from the recent Trade Returns from India that the export trade was improving, and particularly that it was improving with silver-using countries in the East. It was a great deal too soon yet to attempt to form a definite opinion upon the efficacy of the measures taken with reference to the currency. But at the same time he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on that point; and he hoped that before the Debate was over the right hon. Gentleman would convey to the people of India the assurance that this Government, at all events, would rise above mere political considerations or the apprehension of the loss of one or 1095 two seats, and give to the people of India the power to meet the deficit that existed by application to the sources they had at hand.
§ * MR. PAUL (Edinburgh, S.)
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the very able and impressive speech he has delivered. My only excuse for taking part in the Debate is that I have been the unworthy instrument by which the House of Commons arrived at a Resolution with regard to an important Indian matter, which the Government for reasons they have fully and fairly stated have declined to carry out. The credit of that Motion is in no way due to me. It is due to my hon. Friend the Member for Central Finsbury, and to a man whose memory will always be associated with India—a man who is still respected and revered in every quarter of the House—I mean the late Mr. Henry Fawcett. Apart from the merits of the Resolution, a serious constitutional issue has been raised by the manner in which the Resolution has been treated by the Government. I have received reports of meetings held in India expressing agreement with my Motion. But it is not my Motion, it is the Resolution of this House; and it is very difficult to explain to the educated natives of India why the Resolution of the House of Commons on so important a subject has not been carried out. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Central Hackney that I shall not be so presumptuous as to set my opinion against his on any one of the merits of the question. The hon. Gentleman is one of the most distinguished of the distinguished Anglo-Indians in this House. On questions of India I bow to him; and in the arguments I shall take the liberty of presenting to the House I shall assume that every one of the statements he made was strictly accurate, and I shall form my arguments on the basis of the propositions which he laid down. I hesitated long as to whether I ought to take part in a Debate on a subject on which there are so many Members more competent to form an opinion, but being the author of the Resolution referred to I thought it more respectful to the House that I should take this opportunity of addressing a few words to it on the question. It is the only issue raised in 1096 this Debate to which I propose to address myself. The hon. Gentleman referred to the refusal of the Secretary for India to allow an Import Duty to be imposed on Lancashire cotton goods. I am what is called a fanatie on Free Trade, and nothing would induce me to vote for any kind of protective duty for any purpose whatever. But that is not the question on which I wish to address the House. This Resolution affirms that certain additional facilities ought to be given for the employment of natives of India in the Civil Service of that country. The hon. Gentleman has stated that the Indian Civil Service is open to the natives of India, as it is open to all subjects of Her Majesty all over the world; and I think he implied that when natives of India have succeeded in obtaining posts they do their duties satisfactorily. I do not understand the hon. Gentleman or any other Member of the House to deny to the natives of India entrance to the Civil Service on the same terms as ourselves. That would be contrary to the Proclamation of the Queen; it would be contrary to the policy of successive Governments, Indian and home. Therefore the question is whether, assuming that the natives of India are to be employed in the Civil Service, the present arrangements give them equal opportunities with us for obtaining employment. That is the real issue raised by the Resolution of the House, and it is that issue I wish to examine. Since the Resolution of the House was passed there has been issued an extremely interesting Blue Book; and if that were the only result of the Resolution it would not have been passed in vain. I think it would be difficult to compress into a smaller space so large a body of information about the Government of India. I fully and frankly confess that, having read the Blue Book, I am convinced that it is the desire of the Government of India freely to admit, in ways they think desirable, the natives of India to subordinate offices in the Indian Administration. I do not desire to make any charge either against the Civil Service of India or the Government of India. I have no doubt that what the hon. Member for Central Hackney said about the Civil servants is absolutely true. But that does not affect the question whether the 1097 natives of India have equal opportunities with the natives of this country to enter the Civil Service of India. It is said they may come over here. I have no doubt some few can come, and do come, over here. But I want to know—and I hope the Secretary for India will tell us—what is the real objection to holding the Civil Service examinations in India. Is it that examinations could not be fairly and properly held there, or is it that it is not desirable to increase the number of the natives of India in the employment of the Crown in the Covenanted Civil Service of that country? It is important that we should know upon which of those two grounds the Resolution of the House has not been carried out by the Government. I observe that in a Despatch from Lord Kimberley to the Governor General of India these words occur—I will only point out that it is indispensable that an adequate number of the members of the Civil Service shall always be Europeans, and that no scheme would be admissible which does not fulfil this essential condition.Europeans" is an extraordinary word to use. Lord Kimberley did not say Englishmen, or Britons, or natives of the United Kingdom, but he used a phrase which would exclude all colonial subjects of the Queen, and which, strictly construed, would admit foreigners. If it isindispensable that an adequate number of the members of the Civil Service should always be Europeans,is that the law? What is there in the present law to prevent every vacancy in the Civil Service of India being filled by natives of India if successful in the examination by open competition? Is that a danger?
§ * MR. PAUL
That, at any rate, is a straightforward policy; but that is not the question we are now considering. Is it right; is it quite fair; is it honest to say to the natives of India, "You may freely enter the Civil Service by competition; but we will hold the examina- 1098 tions in such circumstances and under such conditions that very few of you will be able to compete"? That is the question. I do not say that it would be possible that all executive administrative offices should be held by natives. But that is not the question which was raised by the Resolution of last year. What I do say is that you should admit them practically to whatever advantages you profess to admit them to; that you should not open a career to them in theory and in the language of despatches, and close it by the conditions which you attach. Now, not the least interesting, but, to me, most interesting part of this Blue Book is the Despatch from the Government of Madras. I have been told that this idea of holding examinations in India comes from ignorant amateurs who, without knowledge of India, propound out of their own brains, or what pass for their brains, theoretical and fantastical expedients. Are the members of the Government of Madras ignorant amateurs? Is Sir Henry Stokes an ignorant amateur? What do they say to this proposal? They say—As regards the expediency of the measure, it is evident, from the tenour of the questions placed before this Government and from the arguments which have been used by the opponents of simultaneous examinations, that it is admitted that under present arrangements natives of India are overweighted as compared with European candidates in the competition held in London. This admission is implied in the assumption that, were simultaneous examinations conceded, the proportion of natives who would succeed would be largely increased, and in the contention that the change would be fraught with various dangers connected with such increase. The inequality in the conditions arises, not from the fact that the examination is adapted to test the education which is given to the best English youth—for that merely means that a high, but not unnecessarily high, standard of instruction is demanded-but from the social conditions of native life, and from the high cost, relatively to the general level of native resources, of a prolonged visit to England for the purpose of preparation for the examination with a chance only of ultimate success.I think that that argument which is thus so strongly urged, and comes from au official source, will be seen to be the very argument which I and other ignorant amateurs have used. And now I would again ask, what is the real objection? Is it that incompetent men would be admitted if examinations were held in India, or is it that it is desirable by 1099 some means to exclude all but a very small number of the natives, and that it is thought proper to do it indirectly and in a manner which does not infringe the Queen's Proclamation and the Statutes? The Government of Madras proceed to say—Assuming that the number of native civilians would be increased, there would not result from the men themselves any danger to British dominion. Their very existence would be bound up in the maintenance of British supremacy. The bulk of them would be employed in the ordinary executive and judicial offices, to the ordinary duties of which, given the high training guaranteed by the conditions of entry into the Service, they may be expected to be quite equal. It is not the incumbents of these offices who determine the principles of administration and legislation which give a character of civilisation and enlightenment to the Government; this depends on laws and orders which, in the present day, district officers have not to initiate and create, but merely to carry out.That is what the Madras Government think. Native gentlemen must administer the Services as they find them—just as Englishmen, Scotchmen, or Irishmen would administer them, and to say that admitting a larger number of natives would be dangerous is to say that they are incompetent for the purposes of these ordinary executive functions, which has not been said by anyone against the natives, who have hitherto entered the Civil Service by the present method of competition. The Government of Madras go on to say that there might in special emergencies be some disadvantages in the system, but they say also that against the disadvantages of this kind is to be set the increased popularity of the Services. They proceed to say—Another reason for altering the status and position of natives in the Civil Service is to be found in the fact that the new Provincial Service does not in any way satisfy their aspirations and wishes. It is evident that its introduction on the present lines has been a great disappointment to them, that it has relegated them to a distinct and limited Service, and, instead of placing them in line with the rest of the Civil Servants, had confined them to what they consider an inferior and subordinate position, and that this has been accentuated by the designation which bad been applied to them, a designation which they have always associated with a distinctly and well-recognised inferior branch of the Service.The Government of Madras put it as high as a disability—the practice of 1100 holding the examinations only in London. One more quotation, and it will be the last—His Excellency in Council considers that it is-expedient to remove, by the institution of simultaneous examinations, the disabilities which now tend to hinder the entry of natives into the Civil Service proper. This step will remove an injustice, or what has almost the same consequences, a feeling of injustice, and it will not endanger the British supremacy or impair the character of the administration as a civilised and enlightened Government. It may possibly in certain circumstances weaken executive action, but the disadvantages in this respect are not so certain or so grave as to outweigh the advantages. The increase in the proportion of native candidates selected, is, moreover, not likely to be so great as is supposed, and it would be advantageous to remove the dissatisfaction and discontent which undoubtedly exist among the natives by some such measure as is now under discussion.Nothing could be more thoroughgoing than that in support of the Resolution, passed by the House last year. Of course, I am well aware that other Governments in India have taken a different line. But I have been most fortunate, and I think that those who support me have been most fortunate, in having received such strong and hearty recognition of our views even in one official quarter in India. It is admitted, even by those Governments who are hostile to the change, that there are great drawbacks to the present system. It is admitted in the Despatch from the Government of Bengal. I will not quote the entire words, but they admit that there are serious difficulties, not only as regards the expense of coming over to this country, but in the objections which are entertained by parents to sending their sons so far on the mere chance of succeeding in the competitive examination. It is not contended that they should not come under any circumstances. On the contrary, there are great educational and social advantages in their coming here. Mr. Manomohun Ghose, a leading lawyer in Calcutta, who is well able to speak on this subject, writes to me that he considers it essential that future Civil servants should come to this country. But it should not be necessary for the preliminary examination. I do not wish to detain the House any longer on this subject, though I should like to refer to one of the most interesting Despatches in this Blue Book from Sir Dennis Fitz- 1101 Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of the Punjaub. It is very interesting reading, giving an admirable account of the official natives he has been brought into contact with; and though be is not in favour of this proposal, he is strongly in favour of increasing, as far as may be, the proportion of natives in the Civil Service of India. The hon. Member for Central Hackney referred to the Report of the Commission of 1887. He described it as having unanimously declared against the system of simultaneous examinations. I have not that Report here, but I think it would be more correct to say that the Report was unanimously in favour of a statutory system of examination, because whilst the English members of that Commission did express strong objection to simultaneous examinations the native members, if I recollect rightly, said that they did not share in that objection, and dissociated themselves from it. I admit that the Commission did report in favour of the system that has since been adopted. In this country we have adopted the competitive system, and we have applied it to India. I can quite understand that reasons can be urged why it should not be applied to the Indian Civil Service, but these reasons have not been urged here—or, if they have been urged, they have not prevailed. We have adopted the competitive system, and held out to the natives of India the prospect of rising as high as their abilities and characters can enable them to rise in the administration of their country, and at the same time we insist on imposing on them these vexatious restrictions which largely interfere with, and almost nullify, the prospect which we otherwise hold out to them. I do not think that such a course tends to increase our reputation with the people of India. The Civil Service in India is a Service of which every Englishman is, or ought to be, proud, and I do not think there is an Englishman, or Scotchman, or Irishman who is less proud of it since natives have been admitted to it, or would be less proud of it if natives were admitted in greater numbers. The Secretary of State, acting in accord with the Government of India, has decided that he will not carry out the Resolution of this House. For that the responsibility rests with the Government. It may be said, why did 1102 not we, who voted for this Resolution take some steps to compel the Government to carry out the opinion of the House of Commons. Well, I will tell the House frankly why, in my opinion, it was inadvisable to make any such attempt. If we could have proposed another Resolution—if we could have found an opportunity of moving it—the Government would have sent out a n urgent Whip; they would have been supported by gentlemen opposite; everybody would have voted against the Motion who was opposed to it in principle, and all the supporters of the Government who cared nothing about the matter one way or the other would have rallied to the Government's support, and we should have been defeated, and we should have lost the legitimate advantage of having taken the unbiased opinion of the House of Commons. The Government have, so far, been too strong for us. This is a very strong Government. I am not sure that it is not stronger than any Government ought to be; and on this point it has prevailed. I can only hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, as he is strong, will be merciful, and will pay some regard to the arguments which we have urged upon him, and that he will consent to this inquiry. I do not think that this question having been raised, and having been, so far as the House of Commons could decide it, decided, should be allowed to rest. Great use, I am sure, will be made of the Despatch from the Government of Madras. Great use will be made of the important admissions contained in the Despatches of other Governments, though they are hostile to the particular plan we propose. And I am certain that our success in this matter will do great good. I do not say—I do not believe—that our proposals will be immediately carried out. The official element, or the majority of the official element, has been too strong; but if this inquiry were granted, and if this subject, with others, were inquired into, it would be seen whether we are right or wrong. I think we are entitled, after the House has carried the Resolution, and after such an important Despatch has been received from the Madras Government, to an independent inquiry. I do not wish 1103 longer to detain the House, but I thought that as the Resolution to which I refer was proposed and carried by me, it was right that I should state the reasons which induced me to believe, in spite of the great weight of official authority against me, that I was right.
SIR G. CHESXEY (Oxford)
said, he felt, on some accounts, much sympathy with the proposal of the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. S. Smith) for an inquiry into Indian affairs. If he did not think that the objections to such an inquiry outweighed the advantages to be derived from it he should certainly join in voting for the Motion. He was satisfied that the more light that was thrown on the affairs of India, and on the mode in which that country was administered, the greater would be the credit, both to the Government and all concerned in India. The Government should look inquiry boldly in the face, and he was convinced that nothing but advantage would result from the information supplied. But he saw great difficulties in the way of inquiry. What was it to prove? In the words of the Motion it was nothing less than an inquiry into the whole field of Indian administration. What would be the result of an inquiry into the whole field of English life and government and social conditions and politics, and everything else, if the inquiry were entrusted to a Committee of the House of Lords and Commons? He would ask the House to consider what would be the result of an inquiry of this kind—into the government of India, the political and social conditions, and everything else. Nearly 40 years ago a similar inquiry was instituted, and Committees of both Houses of Parliament collected an enormous amount of most valuable information. Anyone connected with India and with England might look back with satisfaction upon the evidence which was then given. But having collected this information the Members of the Committees found that it was beyond their means to deal with it, and they did not even attempt to draw up a Report; they contented themselves with submitting the evidence as received by the two Houses of Parliament. That was in 1853. The House had only, in connection with the demand now made, to consider how enormously the field of administration had extended. 1104 They were informed by the hon. Member for East Finsbury (Mr. Naoroji) that they should set out by calling for some preliminary Returns, and that the first of those Returns which would be necessary was a Return of the income of every person in India. He would ask the House to consider what it would cost, both in lime and money, to obtain such a Return.
* MR. NAOROJI
said, a specimen of the kind of Return he referred to had already been sent by him to the Secretary of State. It dealt with the total production of India, and set forth what was required for the absolute necessities of every common labourer. There would be no difficulty in the Government supplying the Return, for it simply meant the working up of material which the Government of India already had at their command and could complete.
§ SIR G. CHESNEY
said, the hon. Member was putting it now in a different form. But the information which he required could not be prepared within reasonable time nor with a reasonable expenditure of money, and when ready it would be of no kind of value. No doubt it would be possible to deal with the incomes of persons who carry on all their transactions through the medium of money, but how about the people—about 99 in every 100 of the natives of India—who did not use money at all in the business of life, who lived on their own land, cultivated their own means of support, the food which they exported, the raw materials of the clothing they wore, and the wood and timber of which they constructed their dwellings, and their simple furniture? How were they to ascertain the amount and value of property of that sort? The hon. Member for East Finsbury said that he had himself prepared a Return of the kind which he would like the Government to furnish. But, probably, if the hon. Member's Return were analysed it would be found to be riddled with mistakes. But there was this further consideration: There already existed an amount of information regarding India—statistical, social, and otherwise—which was more complete than was possessed about any other country in the world. India might, in fact, be said to have been worked to death with statistics of all kinds, and what he 1105 would suggest was that it would be more practical to make use of the information already available before proceeding to undertake the compilation of a great deal more. Take, for example, the position of the cultivator of the soil. Accounts were forthcoming on this subject from every point of view, collected in the most comprehensive and minute detail. In these circumstances, it would be a waste of time to begin de novo with the compilation of similar information. For those reasons, if an inquiry were granted at all, it would be better to confine that inquiry to a very limited number of subjects; for example, to the questions connected with the financial relations of the two countries. From that point of view the Secretary of State might be prepared to meet the wishes of the Mover of the Motion. Now, the hon. Member who seconded this Motion spoke of the way in which India was dominated by this country, and of the way in which its wealth was exhausted. He spoke of the terrible state of the poverty of the people of India. But the hon. Member went back to a period long ago in confirmation of his view, and he failed to gather from him what was the particular remedy or class of remedy which he proposed to meet the state of things of which he complained. As far as appeared, the remedies which he had to propose were the introduction of simultaneous examinations in India and England, and replacing the present English Civil Service as soon as possible by one of a native character. Anybody who listened to the speech of the hon. Member might have supposed that the administration of India was entirely conducted by Englishmen. As a matter of fact, though our territory in India had been increasing year by year, the English Civil Service during the last 30 years had undergone a very considerable reduction by the appointment of natives of India. He ventured to speak upon this subject with some confidence, because no one had expressed himself more strongly than he had done as to what he considered to be the injustice to the people of India of retaining the whole of the higher appointments of the administration for Englishmen. Ho expressed himself strongly on this subject as far back as 30 years ago. The hon. Member for East Finsbury had omitted to mention 1106 that during the last few years the character of the Indian administration had undergone a complete and radical change. Whereas formerly, no doubt, the natives of India were excluded from all high offices, those offices were now within the reach of every man in the country. Moreover, apart from what was called the Covenanted Civil Service, the great bulk of the Civil administration of the country was conducted entirely by natives of India. And when the Member for East Finsbury spoke of the lower posts in the administration, he might have added that these lower posts made up the bulk of the posts which in all countries composed the machinery of the administration, and that some of these posts wereas highly paid as corresponding posts in other countries in the world, and that the great increase in the cost of the Civil administration of India in the last few years had been due not to an increase of Englishmen or of the salaries paid to Englishmen, but to the great increase in the number of natives employed and in the salaries which they received. This was a point, and a most important point, which the hon. Member and his friends steadily left out of account. Then the hon. Member spoke of the great drain on the produce of India—the drain of the cost of supporting a European administration and of the payments on account of debt due from India to this country year by year; that if the Civil Service was given over entirely to the natives India would become rich, and the poverty-producing conditions in that country would then come to an end. He believed the hon. Gentleman had been good enough to say that he had not quite made up his mind that India should yet do altogether without English troops; but suppose that the whole Civil Service had been Indianised, was it intended, as the first result of this happy state of things, to repudiate the heavy debts of India? Was the interest on the capital of £140,000,000 laid out on railways in India to be repudiated? Were the other debts of India for money spent for her welfare to be repudiated? If not, what became of the supposition that a great saving or advantage would arise from the substitution of an Indian Civil Service for a European one? He did not think that matter could be seriously considered for 1107 a moment. How would such a change lessen the amount of money which the hon. Member for East Finsbury and others complained was being annually abstracted from that country? No one could seriously contend that India could then, any more than she could now, repudiate her responsibility to repay the enormous sums that had been spent for her benefit. It was said that India was discontented and disaffected at being administered by a foreign people. To that extent, no doubt, India was a sufferer beyond what would have been the case, supposing that the same results had been produced by a purely native rule. Supposing that, instead of India having been occupied by the English, the people of that country had worked out their own salvation for themselves, and had established a free Government; that they had put down the state of general anarchy that existed throughout the Empire at the time when the English came upon the scene and assisted them; that they, unaided, had established the irrigation and irrigation works which had done so much to develop the country, then no doubt the complaint that so much money had been annually drained out of India would have deserved the serious attention of the House. But that was not the case. No doubt, year by year, a large sum had been abstracted from India and sent to Europe; that could not be denied. But could anybody say that if the state of things which he had supposed were realised, India would be any better off than she was at the present time? What was the condition of India before England came forward to help her? Just 100 years ago, Twining, as he stated in his Travels, marched from Allahabad to Agra and Delhi—across that part of India now known as the North-West Provinces—and he described that region as nothing better than a desert and infested by robbers. Two attacks were made upon him by the way, and he had to organise a strong force of soldiers to protect himself and his party, who hardly expected to get back again to civilisation. Thanks to the wise policy of British rule, that region described as, at that time, a desert had become a perfect garden. That had been entirely the result of our rule. Granting that India had paid 1108 large sums of money for the benefits she had received from her European rulers, no doubt it would have been greatly to her advantage if she could have carried out her own reforms unaided. Her case was similar to that of people who were compelled to call in the aid of a doctor or a lawyer. Of course, it would be better for a man if he could cure himself in sickness, or if he could conduct his own law-suit. But nobody would contend that because the man found it difficult to pay for the services of his lawyer or doctor he should not be called upon to do so. The question was, whether India had paid too much? He believed that the benefits which India had derived from the assistance of this country were far in advance of any pecuniary liability she had had to bear in respect of them. Could any reasonable person suppose that if we had been able to at once substitute native for European administration, per saltum, the progress of India would have been as rapid as it has been? Then they had been told by the hon. Member for East Finsbury that India was suffering from excessive military expenditure; but anyone who had any practical experience of military matters in India would know that that expenditure had been reduced as far as possible, and he should like to know in what way it could have been avoided. It had been found impossible to further reduce the expenditure consistently with the necessity of keeping pace in military improvements, and of providing the necessary equipments. In that way the expenditure had necessarily gone on. India was held by extremely small garrisons. Hon. Members should not forget that in comparison with other Powers the strength of our Army there was exceedingly small, and that it had been so greatly reduced during the past 30 years that it could not safely be further decreased. Indeed, the Army was now so limited that it was not more than sufficient for the ordinary police duty of the country. Take, for example, the large City of Delhi, with its population of 200,000 persons. If proper control were not maintained there, situated as it was in the centre of a turbu'ent district, it would speedily return to a state of anarchy. At the present time the troops there were few, consisting of little more than 1109 one weak battalion of native infantry, a garrison battery of British artillery, and a squadron of native cavalry. Again, take Bengal, a Province with a population twice as large as that of this country—about 70,000,000. The military forces there consisted mainly of a few battalions of European and native infantry—a mere handful compared with the enormous population over which they had to keep guard. Therefore, he defied anybody to say that the Army was extravagant in numbers. The pay of British soldiers was not large, and the officers were in a state of positive poverty. The munitions of war were certainly not more than sufficient. Complaints had been made with reference to other branches of expenditure, and that there had been a considerable increase in salaries to Europeans in appointments for which natives could not compete. It was not true to say that the Government refused to allow natives to compete for appointments, subject to their fitness, on equal terms with Europeans. In regard to holding higher positions, as far also as the Army was concerned, he thought the time had come when further advantages might be safely offered to natives, and he thought the concessions recently made would work well. Natives had been found efficient and able in the performance of administrative duties. Those duties they had performed with integrity; the result had been eminently satisfactory, and he thought the same principle should be applied to the Army. Natives had certainly proved themselves competent in administrative posts, and they would probably be found capable of filling Executive appointments also. He hoped and believed that that policy would be carried out before long. Under the new Rules it would be possible for the people of India to come to England and take advantage of the examinations. He thought it was said by Lord Macaulay, amongst others, that Indians should be allowed by all means to come over and take their chance, and that if a man showed sufficient superiority to caste feeling to take a voyage to England for that purpose he exhibited so much strength of character that he might be regarded as without doubt fit for the Civil Service. It was never contemplated, however, that the natives of 1110 India would, to any large extent, enter into the Civil Service by this method. Now that things had advanced so far he thought the time had arrived when the Government of India should frankly say, "We for the present intend, say for the next 10 years, that the Civil Service of India shall contain a certain number of Englishmen who shall undergo an examination test in England, and that the other members of the Civil Service shall be appointed in India." While competition was an admirable way of selecting Englishmen for the Civil Service it was a perfectly unsuitable way of choosing the people of India for high Executive or administrative posts. By choosing them through the annual competition the Government cut off the very class whom they wanted to associate with them in the government of India—the governing class from whom we had received the government of India, and to whom, in part, he hoped we might entrust it again. When gentlemen came from India and told the House that the one subject which was attracting the attention of the hopeless millions of that country was the question of simultaneous examination, he answered that not one man in a thousand in India had ever heard of competition or anything of the kind. He thought the Government of India and the Secretary for India had taken the wiser course in determining that the avenue of the people of India to high service in the State should be through the Civil Service itself. A guarantee of qualification would thereby be supplied which could be obtained in no other way. Though he deprecated the inquiry suggested, he thought there were some points into which an investigation was highly desirable. An inquiry might well take place into the question of the financial relations, especially in military matters, between India and England. There he thought that India came off very badly. If soldiers were sent on an expedition to some other part of the world possibly Her Majesty's Government paid part of the expenditure, but in almost every case they went on paying the indirect charges arising out of the absence of the troops and the whole of their pay and allowances. The ground on which this was done was that the troops must be kept up in any case, as 1111 they could not be disbanded. But when it came to a question of employing British troops in India the uttermost farthing was exacted from the Indian Treasury, which had to provide the recruiting depots and the cost of the soldiers from the day they were embarked and contribute towards the expenses of every station and establishment in that country. He thought that if a Committee of the two Houses were to examine into that question they would discover that India was not fairly dealt with in regard to it. In large matters of policy also India was very often treated unfairly. There was the case of the last Afghan War, for instance. No doubt it was on the Indian frontier, and undertaken for Indian purposes; but the British Empire had the most potent interest in the issue of that war, and he submitted that the contribution made by the Imperial Treasury to the cost of that war was perfectly inadequate. The hon. Gentleman opposite had raised the question whether, in consideration of the fact that India maintained 70,000 troops in a high state of efficiency, some share of the cost should not be paid by Englaud. That was a question on which much might be said. If the Secretary for India would agree to an inquiry, he (Sir G. Chesney) thought it would be most satisfactory.
§ * MR. SEYMOUR KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)
said that, in rising to support the Amendment, he desired, in the first place, in a few words to call the attention of the House to the very sharp division of opinion which existed between the gentlemen who had worn the roseate spectacles of official life on the one hand and those who, like himself, had never worn those spectacles on the other. Some inquiry, he thought, was needed for the purpose of bridging over the difference between the views of these two classes of Members. He thought that the two last speakers from the opposite side of the House had entirely missed the chief point of the Resolution now before the House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had said a great deal in praise of the existing Government of India, but it appeared to him that in singing the praises of the Government of India they were not opposing this Amendment in the slightest degree. He and his friends could just as 1112 well sing the praises of the Government of India if they had not more serious matters engaging their attention. It would be an extraordinary thing if a great and magnificent, and enormously costly, Government should exist without accomplishing some excellent work. But what was the point that hon. Members had missed? He said they had missed the cardinal point of the whole Amendment—that however excellent the Government of India might be, they held that the condition of the people of India was such that they could not discharge the enormous pecuniary expenditure connected with it. It was not a question of the value of the Government, but a question as to whether such a Government could be sustained by the people. He desired to say that no inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India could offer to Members would be in the least degree satisfactory to the people of India, unless there was included in the Reference to the Committee an investigation as to the ability of the people of India to sustain the existing cost of the Government. He had already called attention to the fact that there was a sharp division of opinion on two sides of the House with regard to the ability of the people of India to sustain the present cost of the Government. How were they met by the official apologists for the Government? They all joined in telling them what everybody knew already. They belauded the work they had achieved, but they studiously refrained from tackling the hard matter-of-fact problem whether the people of India were getting richer or poorer. That was the crux of the whole question, and for the Government to give them any inquiry which would exclude that material fact from the consideration of the Committee of Investigation would be held by the people of India as nothing but a sham. They had been told from the other side of the House that the people of India, instead of getting poorer, were in a most comfortable condition. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hackney (Sir A. Scoble) told them plainly that in his opinion the cultivator in India, although he had only a small balance arising from his labour, yet had amply sufficient for 1113 his wants, while the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir K. Temple) gave a strong denial last night to the statement of his hon. Friend beside him (Mr. Naoroji) when it was suggested that the people of India were not getting richer but poorer. Furthermore, the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hackney said that there had been no breach of the engagements made by the Queen's Proclamation or by the Charter Act of 1833 with regard to the employment of natives in Government Offices. He would like to offer some remarks upon the question as to whether the pledges of the Queen's Proclamation had been carried out. What were those pledges? They were very well stated before a Committee of that House a good many years ago by the late Sir Charles Trevelyan, who gave evidence before the Finance Committee in 1874. Sir Charles told the Committee that the pledges were that the natives should be employed equally with Europeans according to their qualifications; that was set out in the 87th clause of the Charter Act of 1833, and was also contained in a clause of the Queen's Proclamation. Then Sir Charles went on to state his opinion of the qualifications of the natives of India, which, of course, ought to be the only limitation to their employment, as it was in the case of Europeans. He pointed out that there were numerous situations for which the natives were specially qualified, especially as revenue officials, and said that the whole appointments in the Customs might be filled by natives. He went on to say that it stood to reason that if they were fit to be Judges of the High Court they were fit also for subordinate appointments; the Judges had fully come up to the mark not only in ability, but in integrity also; and we should gain in security and popularity and economy by employing them. He would not trouble the House further with references of this sort, but would merely mention that he could quote the opinion of many eminent Anglo-Indians to the same effect. With regard to the employment of the natives he thought he could now show that the pledges given had not been carried out. The late Mr. John Bright obtained a Return, which was now about 10 years old, showing the number and emoluments 1114 of Europeans and natives employed by the Government of India at salaries of over £100 a year. He (Mr. Seymour Keay) procured two years ago a moderate extension of that Return, and he proposed to show from its figures whether or no any substantial increase had taken place in recent years in the number and salaries of natives of India employed in the Public Service. The Return, which was granted two years ago upon his Motion, showed that of the 70,000 European population of India other than soldiers no less than 28,000 Europeans held Government posts at salaries of more than £100 a year. These 28,000 European officers divided among them yearly the sum of no less than 154,000,000 of rupees. Not only so, but the Return showed that of these 28,000 gentlemen no less than 33 per cent, lived in this country, and that these drew no less than 60,000,000 of rupees yearly—that was, 40 per cent, of the whole sum was drawn by non-effective Europeans in this country. He was not going to say whether it was necessary or not, but he was showing the financial burden that was cast upon the native population, and it was not open to hon. Members opposite to stand up and say, "Do you say that Europeans should have no pensions or not be allowed to retire to England?" His point was that the charge was an enormous one, which, as he should prove, the condition of the people of India generally did not permit them to pay. Let them contrast the numbers and amounts he had quoted in regard to Europeans with those of natives employed by the Government of India at a salary of £100 a year. There were 287,000,000 of people in India, and of these only 17,000 drew salaries of more than £100, and these native officers only drew 32,000,000 of rupees amongst them. What did this mean? It meant that 28,000 Europeans drew 154,000,000 of rupees a year, and that the native officials of the country, numbering 17,000 only, drew only 32,000,000 of rupees. The absentee Europeans drew 60,000,000 of rupees a year, so that the non-effective Europeans living in this country drew from the public Treasury of India about double the whole amount paid to the whole of the natives of India, who were allowed into the Government service at all, at salaries of over £100 a year. 1115 He had shown that the natives of India were capable persons and could be employed in much larger numbers than they saw exhibited in this Return. Now, with the permission of the House he would ask leave to put before them some really terrible facts showing the state of the people who had in some way or another to find the enormous sums of money necessary to defray the cost of a foreign Government. Last year he himself had a small census taken of a few average villages in the Bombay Presidency, which were well known to the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Temple) who was Governor of the Presidency for two and a-half years. The people of the five villages whose census he took numbered 236 persons. The land farmed by these villagers amounted to 1,400 acres. From the village hooks he found that the whole gross value of the crops of the year was £193. Through sheer poverty not a vestige of manure had been put upon this laud for 10 years. If they allowed only 14s. a year each to these 236 persons for subsistence, and 11 rupees for each of the 58 pairs of agricultural bullocks, the whole net produce of these five villages amounted to £5 sterling in the year. But what did these people pay in Land Revenue? No less than £73, although there was only £5 of real surplus at all.
§ MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
said, he was glad the hon. Baronet had asked the question. The village books supplied the answer. They showed that the assessment was paid by borrowing from the village usurers at 24 per cent, per annum.
§ MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
said, the inquiry was made two years ago. What did the usurers' hooks show? They showed that 12,000 rupees were owed by the villagers—that was to say, 10 years of the whole assessment. He said most confidently that that was not an exceptional but a usual condition of the cultivators in the Deccan at this moment. Some doubt might be thrown upon a private census. He would draw the attention of the hon. Baronet to the statements he was about to lay before the House, and 1116 he asked his special attention, because he would do a most unusual thing if he was able to get up after him and make a plain answer to an official statement he would now put to the House. Seven years ago—although they had been told to-day by the hon. Member for Oxford that it was impossible to prepare anything like an accurate account showing the condition of the population of India—the Government of India in their secret department and for their own purposes, not only asked for, but got Returns, and adequate Returns, in exactly the sense in which it had been laid down by the hon. Member that it was impossible to obtain them. What was the occasion when this took place, and with what object were these Returns prepared? It might be remembered that about that time a very distinguished officer, who had served the Government of India long and with great ability—Sir W. Hunter—had published a book, and a statement was made in it that became famous. Sir W. Hunter was the Director General of Statistics, and his statement was—that 40,000,000 of the people of India, or about one-fifth, habitually go through life upon insufficient food.The Government of India having seen this statement, and feeling that it had weight in this country, wanted, if possible, to get hold of statements from their subordinate officers which would be in the nature of a denial of its truth. They therefore sent a Circular to all the subordinate Governments and heads of Departments, which they carefully marked "confidential." He did not know what there was particularly confidential about statements as to whether millions of persons were living on insufficient food; but so it was. He was almost ashamed to say that in connection with this Circular the Government of India did a thing which was unworthy of a great Government. In the Circular they began by misquoting the statement which Sir W. Hunter had made—namely, that—40,000,000 of the people of India, about one-fifth, went through life on insufficient food.The question which the Government of India put to these officials was whether it was "wholly untrue or partially true that the greater portion of the population of 1117 India suffered from insufficiency of food." He hoped they would get some information how it was that a great Government deliberately misquoted such a statement in this way. To the question as put by the Government he himself should reply in the negative. Sir W. Hunter said nothing of the kind. What he said was that one-fifth part of the people were without sufficient food. But it was with this garbled statement that the Circular went forth. The replies which came in in due course were bound up in Blue Books marked "confidential." Lest there should be any suggestion that he had obtained this Blue Book in an improper way, he might say that they had been given to those Members of this House who had asked for them, as the best way, he believed, of silencing questions about the matter. Although the officials to whom the work was entrusted were deliberately misled, and although it was conveyed to them that they should report in favour of the views of the Government of India, yet the truth cropped out. He would quote from page 44 of the Report in one of these volumes. It was called A Report on the Condition of the Lower Classes in Bengal. The officer in charge of the Rampoor district made a census of 12 villages scattered throughout that large district—a district which, roughly speaking, represented 1,000,000 of population. He found in these 12 villages that there were 2,000 persons, of whom 1,600 were cultivators, and the remaining 400 wore labourers, artizans, and so forth. What did the 1,600 cultivators do? The officer found that after paying rent and cost of cultivation they had available for their support 16 rupees each; that was £1 per bead. The hon. and learned Member for Mid Hackney sneered at the idea that 27 rupees per year was held to be the income of the cultivators; but here the officer in charge of this district told them that the cultivators—that was to say, the better class—had only £1 a head for subsistence money. Then there were 400 labourers, artizans, washermen, &c, who had 17s. per head per year as the whole of their means of subsistence. The next volume gave the result of inquiries into the economic condition of the North-West Province and Oudh. The population of the district in this case was also 1,000,000.
1118 The Deputy Commissioner of Rai Bareili had made the whole thing out as clearly as figures could make it. He gave a census of 30 average families scattered in different parts of his large district, these families consisting of 173 persons. The gross yield of the land of these people amounted to £173—£1 a head of the cultivating population. He found that there were swallowed up by the cost of seed, hired labour, and interest paid to usurers, £40, while the rent paid to the Government amounted to £67. What was the result? It was that the balance for the food and clothing of these 173 cultivators—for there were no landless labourers included—amounted to £66, which was about 8s. per head per annum. This was the state of the district of Rai Bareili containing 1,000,000 of souls. The question might again be asked, "How, then, do they live at all?"
§ MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
said, it would be difficult for the hon. Baronet to reply to the facts which would be put before him. In the first place, the families of these cultivators made about £47 by labour outside of agriculture altogether. Ho would give the House the next, paragraph of this officer's Report, because it would show how everything was cleared off into the British Treasury which these people and their families could possibly make. Here was a list of the kinds of labour done by these people, which helped them to pay their Land Tax: Salary of village watchman, Rs.4; weaving five pieces of cloth, Rs.1; sold skin of dead bullock, Rs.2; sold butter, Rs.3; made 10 woollen blankets, Rs.10; received present from brother, Rs.60; carrying palanquins, Rs.3; thatching houses, Rs.7; boy 11 years old receives as day labourer I anna per day; wife acts as midwife, which brings the husband Rs.6 in the year. What did this show? Why, that even with the help of their outside labour every man, woman, and child in these districts were at this moment compelled to support life as best they could, each on a starvation pittance of 13s. a year. The last instance but one he would give from these Blue Books was from page 209 of the same volume. It consisted of Major Anson's Report on 1119 a part of the Fyzabad district, which district contained a population of about 1,000,000. This officer went deeper still, and made out a regular tabular statement of the different degrees of starvation that existed in his district, showing the average amount of food eaten throughout the year by each of the seven classes into which he divided the whole population. He set out with the well-known fact, which certainly would not be controverted from the other side, that a ration of two lbs. of dry grain per head daily was the necessary minimum for a healthy life amongst the agricultural population in India. He then gave the amount actually available to each class, and showed that the cultivating farmer and his family had only five-sixths of the minimum two lbs. food supply necessary for a healthy life. The Indian farm labourer, he showed, had only three-eighths of two lbs. of dry grain a day. Then came the day labourer, who got two-thirds of the two lbs. ration. The petty dealer had three-sixths of the two lbs., and the artisan and servant had just the two lbs. There was a seventh class, consisting of one man in each village—the corndealer himself—and he was certified to be the solitary creature who got more than the two lbs. of grain per day. He would quote one more instance from these valuable Returns. It was from the same volume, at page 171. Another officer, Mr. Harrington, the Commissioner of the Fyzabad District, there and then referred the Government to their own Education Department Reports, and said that they would be found to contain ample evidence of the wretched condition of the people. The Commissioner went on to say that a labourer in Oudh, if he were to send his son to school, would lose 30 per cent, of that which was necessary to preserve life in himself, his children, and his aged relatives. He added—It has been calculated that about 60 per cent. of the entire population are sunk in such abject poverty that unless the small earnings of child labour are added to the small general stock by which the family is kept alive some members of the family must starve.The Commissioner summed up as follows:—With the bulk of them education must therefore be synonymous with starvation.1120 The same Commissioner said that one-half of the population of large districts were actually forced to sell themselves into slavery in exchange for mere food, and that every second man in the fertile plains of Hissampore was now a bond slave. The Commissioner then concluded by urging the Government of India to do what the supporters of this Amendment were to-day urging Her Majesty's Government to do. He said—I call upon the Government, no longer to defer the necessary step of appointing strong Commissions to review the data and experience already gained, to make such further inquiry as may be necessary, and to map out a line of action.What did the officials of the Indian Government do when they got these Reports? Did they carry out the recommendations of the Commissioners? Nothing of the kind. They labelled these valuable Reports "confidential" in red printed letters, and buried them in the cellars of Calcutta in the hope that they would never be seen by anyone. The first Member of the House of Commons who got a copy of them was the late Mr. Charles Bradlaugh, and he had told him (Mr. Seymour Keay) that he had had the very greatest difficulty in getting it, and that it was only through his persistence that the Government came to the conclusion that the best way to quiet him was to put the whole of the five volumes into his hands.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Mr. H. H. FOWLER,) Wolverhampton, E.
They nave been published.
§ * MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
said, they had certainly not been officially printed. He hoped that when the supporters of the Amendment asked for bread the Government would not offer them a stone by saying he would grant an inquiry respecting the Budget and its accounts. He thought it would be well to adopt the Reference of the Committee of 1871, which, as was shown by the evidence, proved sufficient for its purpose. The Order in that case was—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the finance and financial administration of India.The division between the Indian experts in the House, who took opposite sides on this question, was so 1121 marked that it ought to be enough to secure a Reference sufficiently ample to enable the House and the country to arrive at a distinct conclusion as to whether the pessimistic view of the supporters of the Amendment or the optimistic view of the gentlemen opposite was the true one in regard to the condition of the Indian people.
§ SIR E. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he would not go into the particulars to which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had referred, because he thought he should be unduly taking up the time of the House if he did so. In his opinion, the calculations quoted by the hon. Member were not worth the paper they were written upon or the breath in which they were uttered. Those who made such calculations took figures which were supposed to represent certain products and put their own value upon them, the whole of the details being supposititious, and they drew from them conclusions which were on the face of them impossible. If these calculations were right, the people of India would not be living at all; the land would have no market value, and nobody would lend any money upon it. Yet, while quoting these calculations the hon. Gentleman almost in the same breath spoke of the large sums of money advanced by local bankers on the security of land. The hon. Gentleman had quoted the opinion of some authorities with whom he (Sir It. Temple) was not acquainted. He thought these gentlemen took a one-sided view of affairs, but because they happened to coincide with the opinions of the hon. Gentleman they were quoted, and all the other authorities on the question were left unquoted.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, the supposed facts were no facts at all. All that these gentlemen could possibly know was that there were so many people on the ground and that there were so many acres. The calculations mentioned were snares and delusions. He (Sir R. Temple) would rather take certain general facts which could be tested. He could not undertake to say how a particular peasant family lived, but he knew what the general statistics were. 1122 He knew what the area under cultivation was, what the ratio of the increase of population was, what was the expansion of trade, and what the exportation of food stuffs amounted to. It was said that the people of India were starving, although they were exporting grain to such an extent to England that they were seriously disturbing the prospects of British agriculture. It was said that the people of India were sinking into poverty, although during the last decade they had shown the greatest increase of population recorded in the annals of the human race, the population having increased by 30,000,000 within 10 years. It was said that agriculture was depressed. How, then, was the constant increase and growth of agricultural operations in India to be accounted for? His hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) said the taxable capacity of the people was low. This was quite true, but then the taxation was light. The poorer classes of the Indian people were the lightest taxed people in the world. As to the figures given by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Naoroji), he (Sir R. Temple) did not know exactly what the value of a peasant's produce might be; but he certainly knew what was the rate of wages amongst the poor, and it might be assumed that no man of any industrial capacity would make less than the current rate of wages. The poorest man in India could earn five rupees in a mouth when he (Sir R. Temple) lived there, but he thought he could earn more now. Five rupees came to 60 rupees a year, and could anyone say a poor man in India had to pay more than two rupees out of the 60 in taxation. If he paid two rupees, he paid 1–30th of his income. A farm labourer in England earned, say, £35 a year. Would anybody say that he paid less or more than about £2 a year in taxation, or 1–17th of his income? He did not want to give these as calculations which were perfectly accurate to a decimal or a fraction, but he said that something of this sort was the truth. That being so, the poor man in England paid 1–17th of his income in taxation, while the poor man in India paid only 1–30th of his As to the general condition of the people of India, how could those who were exporting food stuffs to such an enormous 1123 extent, and increasing the population so fast that one scarcely knew what would become of them all, be said to be dying of starvation? This was the answer to be given to the speculations of Indian officials, and to the haphazard calculations of amateur statisticians. Something had been said about the proportion of the people insufficiently fed in India. The statement was based upon reasoning of the most vague and general character. As to the contention that there was not sufficient food in India, there was not a shadow of data for it. He quite admitted that it was highly probable that a certain proportion of the people of India were insufficiently fed, but he contended that this might be said of any nation under Heaven. It certainly might be said of people in England, and more particularly of people who lived within the Metropolitan area. His hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith), for whose talents, capacity, and personal virtue he had the highest possible admiration, went on saying year after year that the people of India were poor. If when he said that he meant that their earning power, compared with that of the European, was small; that their taxable capacity was small, and that their incomes were small, he was no doubt perfectly right; but if ho used the word "poor" in its proper scientific sense, as meaning that there was no margin between a man's income and the absolute necessities of life, the people of India were not in that sense as poor as the people of England. He had spent 25 years amongst the poorest classes of India, and 15 years of active life amongst the poorest classes of this country. Taking sorrow for sorrow, anxiety for anxiety, the people of India were no poorer than the people of England. Those were two points in the speech of the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) that he would like to refer to. All the hon. Member knew was from conversations and correspondence with a certain number of educated people and a limited class in India; but that was not a knowledge of native opinion, and the hon. Member must forgive him if he declined, and if he asked the House to decline, to accept unreservedly his account of native opinion. The hon. Member alluded to their frontier arrangements, to 1124 the long line of military fortifications to protect the country against possible invasion, and without attempting to criticise his hon. Friend's geographical knowledge, he would ask him whether he could, in his conscience, say he had given to this subject the attention it really deserved before making comparisons in regard to it in the British House of Commons? He would further ask the hon. Member whether he had given attention to the most intricate and important recommendations of Her Majesty's Government? This was one of the most difficult questions they could imagine, and he could hardly conceive that a busy Member of Parliament like his hon. Friend, who was engaged in a hundred important and beneficent pursuits, could possibly find time to study such a question. He would appeal to his hon. Friend whether he was not wrong in venturing to offer to the Secretary of State the recommendation that he did? The hon. Member spoke of a perpetual settlement, and he would remind him that the perpetual settlement in Bengal was considered one of the two gigantic mistakes the British Government had made in India. When the great economic change came upon them, they found they had sacrificed millions of money for next to nothing, money that might have been employed to the advantage of the Indian dominion and the benefit of the native population. That was the result of the perpetual settlement of Bengal—and he ought to know, having governed that country. He deemed it his duty at the time to uphold that settlement, because it had been made, though lie then saw, as everyone now knew, the dangers that would be brought upon Indian finance by that most unfortunate, premature, and ill-considered measure of the Marquess of Cornwallis.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, that what he stated as to Bengal was that it gave them an example of a settlement they should avoid, and which they could never forget. With regard to what fell from the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Paul) respecting the simultaneous examinations in England and India, he must congratu- 1125 late the Government on having had the courage, the foresight, and the statesmanlike capacity to go against a Resolution even of the House of Commons. As they all very well knew, it was not a Resolution of the House at large, but was a Resolution carried on a Friday night by a snap Division. Whatever promise was made in 1833, or 1854, or any other year, to the people of India had been religiously kept. There was no desire on the part of anyone to restrict the admission of natives to the Civil Service; but the danger was that if examinations were held in India the Service would be Hooded by natives. There was the fear also of a great number of places being won by men who were absolutely alien to the people of India; and he was informed that the natives of Madras, foreseeing that danger, begged the Government that they might be governed by Englishmen rather than by Begalis. Competitive examination was not the best and most important test for India, and he believed the best plan was to entrust to the various Governments the power of selecting their own officers from amongst the natives in their own Province, from those who were qualified by birth, aptitude, probity, and position to be taken into the covenanted Civil Service. Those were the men who would be popular, and not the men who were merely the alumni of the various Universities. His hon. Friend, if he might so be allowed to call the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Naoroji), spoke as a member of one of the most honoured races in the world, amongst whom he (Sir R. Temple) counted many of his best friends; but when his hon. Friend spoke on behalf of the natives of India, he did not do so in the sense a native Mahommedan would, but spoke very much as he (Sir R. Temple) did—as a person who had resided there a long time. The hon. Member in support of his views quoted a great number of persons, himself (Sir It. Temple) among the number, but he was afraid the hon. Member had studied him very imperfectly, because at all events he was not to be classed as one of those who took pessimist views. It was quite possible, by taking particular extracts, to make any case they liked about any country in the world; but if the hon. I Member meant to say that Englishmen 1126 were insensible of the greatness of the country, or of the splendid deeds that I had been done, and of the marvellous results that the natives had obtained, then the hon. Member did them the greatest injustice, for they were not unmindful of the magnificent results that had been attained. They often heard of rose-coloured spectacles, but he would ask the House to judge whether there were not such things as green, blue, and black spectacles worn by hon. Gentlemen opposite? The hon. Member for Fins bury (Mr. Naoroji) alluded to the loyalty of the educated classes in India—educated in the sense of having Western knowledge. He had had many friends belonging to that class, but he could not shut his eyes to the fact that a great many things had happened in recent years which were calculated to shake the faith of those who believed in the loyalty of all the I natives of India. If the Congress people I had taken part in proceedings which caused suspicion and apprehension as to their loyalty, they had only themselves to blame. If they said they were loyal he would accept the assurance, hoping only that they knew thoroughly their own sentiments when they gave that assurance. If an opinion unfavourable to their loyalty was present in the minds of many people, an explanation of its presence was found in the injudicious character of many of their proceedings. It was no use handling this grave question with a velvet glove. What would the Congress people do if they had the power They would reduce all taxation; they would send home a great part or the whole of the European Army; and they would dispense with all European Civil officers. What would become of the Public Debt in those circumstances? He did not, know, but he supposed the country would follow the example of Greece and Portugal and other nations, and when all this had happened and ruin had been brought on those in England who had trusted India, the country might come to be viewed as the prey of rival Powers in the East. Then, when India was suffering under the competing efforts of France, Germany, and Russia; when she saw herself between I Scylla and Charybdis, she would expect us to send out a fleet and an 1127 army to relieve her from the embarrassments which she would herself have created, and to rescue her from the dangers of her situation. It was time that this ruinous and, in effect, disloyal policy should be unmasked. We had given the Indian people an infinite number of things for which they should be thankful. We had given them peace and tranquillity, security in landed property, equal laws, impartial administration, moral training, and education. We had, in fact, given them everything that we enjoyed ourselves, reserving only our military and political control and the command of the Civil Service. If those things were to be conceded there would be an end of our domination. They had heard our policy spoken of as the evil policy of domination. He did not know whether that sounded a very loyal phrase to English ears, but he must leave the House to judge of its loyalty. Remembering how we had granted absolute freedom and equality before the law to the natives of India, he did not like to hear such words as "British slaves." As to the speech of the hon. Member for Nairn (Mr. Seymour Keay) he did not exactly know what was meant, but at all events he did not like to hear such expressions as "British slaves."
§ * MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
said, he did not use the word "slaves," but alluded to what the Blue Books referred to as the bonded slave contract.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, that was exactly what he meant, and he objected to the words "British slaves," which did not come well from an hon. Member who had used them.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, he should like to hear the entire passage, but he certainly heard the words fall from the hon. Member. He did not wish to detain the House longer than he could help, but there was one matter in which he was inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Fins bury (Mr. Naoroji). That was the only point in the speech of the hon. Member with which he agreed—namely, that it would be wise to do more to encourage the development of native character by entrusting to natives certain public duties which should be performed voluntarily as similar duties 1128 were performed here. There was one matter he should like to mention before he sat down. His attention had been drawn to a statement made in a paper read before the East India Association by Mr. Rogers, a former member of the Council at Bombay. That statement was that statistics showed that sales in default of payment of land revenue were much more frequent in the Madras Presidency than in other parts of India. This matter was, he thought, worthy of the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India and his constitutional advisers. He thought he might conclude his brief observations by strongly urging the Secretary of State not to be dismayed by the statements that had been made and which constituted an amount of one sided exaggeration and unintentional misrepresentation that was remarkable. It represented a character of India which might be presented pari passu with that of our own country or of any other civilised country. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would persevere in the good work he was doing to the satisfaction and admiration of all those who were concerned in the administration of India. He had the greatest admiration and respect for the services which the right hon. Gentleman had conferred not only upon his Party but upon the country in many departments of the State; and remembering that the right hon. Gentleman had achieved wonders in the past, he believed he would still achieve greater ones in the future.
§ * SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banff)
said, that in considering Indian grievances he sometimes wondered whether the people of India were worse off when the Tories were in power or when the Liberals were in power, because, under neither Administration was there any proper or effective control kept over official proceedings in India. The people of India had practically no voice at all in the management of their own affairs. The Government in India was a Government of officials for officials and by officials, and the policy that was carried out in India was practically dictated by a small clique at Simla, a Civil and Military clique, whose tendency was towards aggression abroad and repression at home. Under these circum- 1129 stances the people of India had constantly to appeal to the Government at home and to the House of Commons in order to get redress of their grievances. When the Tory Party were in power it was true they had a kindly feeling towards what was called a spirited foreign policy such as took us, for instance, to Afghanistan on more than one disastrous occasion, and which had taken us to Burma!) and caused the present great difficulty in our finances. There was no doubt the Tory Party had sympathy both with a spirited foreign policy and also with that race and official privilege to which the official classes in India clung very strongly. On the other hand, when the Tory Party were in power the Indian people had the great advantage, when such a policy was followed, of hearing it denounced by the great, and wise, and eminent, men who then sat on the Front Bench on the Opposition side. But, unfortunately, when the Liberals came into power, and there arose a hope that Liberal principles would, as far as possible, be applied to the management of Indian affairs, those voices of denunciation were hushed, and the Liberal Secretary of state then spoke with the voice of the India Office and with a feeling of trust in the officials rather than of trust in the people of India. He recognised that the position of the Secretary of State—influenced as he was by a Council composed chiefly of the very officials who, in Simla, carried out the policy of which complaint was made and afterwards in Whitehall were the right hon. Gentleman's principal advisers, and by a certain number of Members of that House who had been connected with India—wasadifficult position, and that it was almost impossible for him to take any view of Indian affairs that was not coloured by official influence. The right hon. Gentleman's advisers were extremely able men, but they had the great defect that they were the very people who carried out those measures of which the people of India complained. Very hard things had been said of them. He would quote the words said of them by a great political Leader, whose utterances, he was sure, would carry weight with gentlemen on the other side. This political Leader said—When formed exclusively in India, men brought up in the Military or in the Civil Ser- 1130 vice of that country, might be gifted with great intelligence, and possess great knowledge, but born as they had been in the abuses of the system, they were not sensible of these abuses; and with such men exercising supreme authority you could not feel sure that you would be able to obtain for the inhabitants of India that redress from the grievances under which they suffer that English protection ought to secure.Those were not the words of a faddist or an agitator, but the words of Mr. Disraeli in speaking in the great Debate of 18o8. The ground of complaint which he and others took was that there was no adequate machinery for bringing forward and redressing the grievances of the people of India, and the natives complained that, in cases of injustice in India, the Court of Appeal should be composed of the very officials against whose acts they protested. Owing, moreover, to the pressure on the time of the House of Commons, there was no opportunity of bringing those grievances before Parliament. In view also of the differences of opinion that prevailed, it was only reasonable, therefore, that a strong and independent Committee of Inquiry should be appointed to ascertain the real facts of the question. Another important point was to decide which was the right view to take with regard to the position of this House and the Government of India—both of the Government of India in India, and the Government of. India in England. On this point he should like to refer to a speech which was made by the late Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne, at a public dinner in the Royal Exchange in Calcutta. Lord Lansdowne said that the great danger to India lay in the tendency to transfer power from the Indian Government to the British Parliament—That Parliamentary power perpetually exercised by irresponsible persons constituted a grave menace to the Empire; that the tendency of the Legislature was to usurp the functions of the Executive, and that such usurpation marred the Government of India by upsetting the policy of a body of experts by another body swayed by emotions and sentiment.It seemed to him a curious thing that any Viceroy or anyone employed by the Crown should talk about the transfer of power from the Indian Government to the British Parliament. Surely the 1131 power lay with Parliament already. What did the Viceroy mean by talking of transferring power from the Indian Government to the British Parliament? He said it was already with the British Parliament and remained with it, and it was only in Parliament and in the Crown that any power could lie. Then, again, Lord Lansdowne spoke of Parliamentary power perpetually exercised by irresponsible persons. Who were the irresponsible persons? Were they Members of this House? He said they were not irresponsible persons, for they were responsible to their constituents. The people who were irresponsible sat in another House altogether. Lord Lansdowne further said that the Government was marred by the policy of a body of experts being upset by another body—that was the House of Commons—which was swayed by emotions and sentiment. He never heard before that the policy of the British Empire was decided at Calcutta or by any experts employed under the Crown. The policy both as regarded the Empire and India was settled by Parliament and the Crown, and the idea of Parliament upsetting the policy of their own servants appeared to him grotesque indeed. What did Lord Lansdowne mean by this body being swayed by emotions and sentiment? He said it meant that this body was accessible to justice and humanity. He was sorry to say that the speech of Lord Lansdowne was quoted with approval in the other House. It was important to refer to it, because he admitted that there was a certain amount of truth underlying what his Lordship said, though it was said in an unbecoming way on a most unbecoming occasion. He fully granted that India should be administered mainly in India, but subject to highly important conditions, one being that Indian public opinion should be heard and considered by those who administered in India, and the other that the administration should be in strict accord with the policy laid down by Parliament and the Crown. The different functions that the House of Commons should exercise, and also the India Office, and the Government in Calcutta were, he thought, very well stated by Mr. Roebuck in a very notable speech he made in the same Debate of 1858. Mr. Roebuck said— 1132It was necessary to draw a distinction between the government of India in England and the government of India in India, and a clear distinction must be recognised between the two in all arrangements for the government of that country. First, they had to arrange the machinery in England which should bring to bear upon the actual Governors of India the opinion of the Parliament and people of England, and make them realise their responsibility to that opinion; and, secondly, they had to constitute the Government in India which should carry out their plans when they had been matured in England. For the first operation they did not require any knowledge of the people of India, a knowledge of the general principles of human nature being all that was required.Without going quite so far as regards this last point, he considered that the most valuable protection the people of India had—and they knew they had— was the humanity and common sense and knowledge of business of the public men who sat in this House, even if they had no special acquaintance with India at all. Thus Mr. Roebuck's scheme was that Parliament should lay down the principles of government, that the Government in India should carry out those principles, and administer in accordance with those principles, and that the Secretary of State for India should see that they did it. Those were the functions, and they seemed to him to be quite clear. If Members of this House appeared sometimes to be irresponsible in this matter, and sometimes to take up what seemed to be small matters of detail, it was because the people of India had no reasonable voice in the original administration of affairs there, and because they did not consider the India Office was sufficient to act as an impartial Court of Appeal to redress the grievances that were brought before them. He entirely agreed with those who would not interfere with the Indian Government as long as it was in harmony with the wishes of the people there, and as long as it carried out the general principles established in this country, and he quite realised the danger that arose if the Central Authority in ordinary administration matters was brought either into the India Office or on the floor of this House. With regard to the famine Insurance Fund, he said that the Fund was formed from the proceeds of a special tax imposed in order to construct that Fund. The apology for levying the tax 1133 at that time was that it was to be solely and exclusively used as a famine insurance. When the people of the country, knowing the difficulty of enforcing the arrangement, came to Lord Lytton and begged that the money should be paid into a special Fund, and expressed doubt that it might not always be maintained for that purpose, Lord Lytton rebuked them severely by saying that the mere suspicion of this was a calumny. But this was now the very thing which the Government had done. The reckless manner in which the Fund had been used in giving indiscriminate compensation to the European Services at a time of great difficulty was what was objected to. The man who had taken service when the rupee was worth 2s. might be entitled to compensation, but not the man who came in and accepted service when the rupee was worth Is. Id. And yet the scheme of compensation equally compensated the man who joined the Service to-day as the man who joined 20 years ago. He said that was a most reckless thing, and defeated the operation of the natural law which would have tended to the economical employment of the people of India in the services of the Government. In asking for an inquiry, they were only asking for what the wisdom of their ancestors had found to be beneficial in former times, as was illustrated by the inquiries of 1813, 1833, and 18o3. Instead of danger, safety came from these inquiries, and the great danger came from refusal to make inquiry, and to make that arrangement by which the redress of reasonable grievances could be obtained.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOB INDIA (Mr. H. H. FOWLER,) Wolverhampton, E.
I think I may say, before going into matters of detail, that I think the course which the Government has followed this year has been one which has not turned out a failure. The previous practice has been to discuss Indian affairs only during the last stages of the Appropriation Bill; the Debate on the Indian Budget has occupied generally but one Sitting of the House, and it has rarely occupied two. This year, however, we began this interesting Debate last night, and it has lasted through this afternoon. I hope the House will not think me unreasonable in pressing upon how. Mem- 1134 bers the desirableness of allowing the Speaker to leave the Chair before the close of the Sitting, so that the Budget may be taken the first thing to-morrow. I have rarely listened to a Debate which has been conducted so entirely by gentlemen who are themselves conversant with the matters on which they spoke and from personal knowledge on one side or the other of the difficulties with which we are dealing. Although there has been an expression of very contrary opinions with reference to some of the great questions submitted to the House, the whole Debate has been conducted with good temper and with a due appreciation of the difficulties which Great Britain has in governing India, and also with the desire, in discussing and deciding these questions, that the one supreme and ruling consideration should be the benefit of the people of India. That is the sacred trust which has devolved upon us; and although we may differas to what is the wisest and best mode of discharging it, yet our motives are the same—to discharge it honourably and well. This Debate has travelled over a wide area. I shall endeavour to avoid questions which are purely financial, so that they may be discussed in their proper place on the Budget to-morrow. But I cannot forget that the Mover and Seconded of the this Resolution have certainly brought before the House and the country a very strong indictment of the British Government of India; and if I did not object to that indictment and attempt an answer, the Government might be taken as accepting some of the conclusions at which these hon. Gentlemen have arrived. While I appreciate all that my hon. Friend has just said with reference to India, as to all other parts of the Empire, of the supreme power of Parliament, yet my hon. Friend recognised the possible danger of discussions here assuming a certain character which might disturb administration there. I will not follow him on that point, or in the illustrations he has given, and I agree with some of the sentiments he has uttered. But I must point out that the views and statements of my how. Friends who moved and seconded the Resolution will be repeated, reprinted, and read throughout the length and breadth of India. If our government of India has been, as described 1135 by the hon. Members, so gigantic a failure that it has produced a general feeling of deep discontent and dissatisfaction with British rule, I think that we are bound, at all events, by the dry light of fact to see whether this indictment is correct. But my hon. Friends alleged a general feeling, which they said came from India, of deep discontent and dissatisfaction with the existing mode of government, and the illustrations which they gave were, in the main, con-lined to finance. It was the financial administration of India which they contended was defective, unjust, and extravagant. Two or three years ago my predecessor came to the conclusion—I think a wise one—looking to the number of years that had elapsed since the British Government undertook the government of India, that the time had arrived when there should be a searching inquiry as to what had been the practical result of Imperial government in India since the East India Company was brought to an end. No reference has been made to that most interesting inquiry in any of the speeches delivered today. I consider that most of the facts brought out in that inquiry are pregnant with a great deal of information and with a good deal of teaching for the House in discussing the questions brought before it. I propose to draw the attention of the House to several salient points in that inquiry, taking the starting-point 30 years ago. You cannot test the progress of a Government by one, two, or five years. You must take much longer periods in order to test the government of India by the Imperial Parliament, for that is practically what the government of India is now, as carried on by a Secretary of State and Council responsible to Parliament. The question I wish to consider is whether that Government, with all its machinery as now existing in India, has, or has not, promoted the general prosperity of the people of India; and whether India is better or worse off by being a Province of the British Crown. That is the test. If we have been influenced by the powerful speeches we heard last night, and especially by that of the hon. Member for Flintshire, we must have come to the conclusion that it would be better if India had not been connected with us at all, and 1136 that our government of that country has been a great failure. The hon. Baronet opposite expressed just now the wish that my hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire had made himself more completely acquainted with all the facts of the case. My hon. Friend told us that his acquaintance with India commenced 30 years ago, and I think that although a good many of the pictures which he drew might have been true 30 years ago, they are not true when applied to India to-day. I wish to draw four or five points of contrast between the state of things which existed then and those which exist at the present time. I will take first the question discussed this afternoon, especially by the Member for South Edinburgh, with reference to the employment of natives in the administration of India. Whether hon. Members agree or disagree with the policy of the Government in regard to a small section of officers in the Civil Service, they will, I believe, all concur in expressing a strong desire that the natives of India should take as large a share as possible in the administration of that country; and that the tact and experience and competency of those gentlemen should be employed in the service of their native country. My first contrast will be in regard to the employment of natives in India. When the English Parliament took over the government of India there were no natives on the Bench of any supreme or chief Court in India; there was no native in the Covenanted Civil Service; and practically the administration was carried on to a great extent by Europeans. I will leave out of consideration the question of the higher Civil Service. The entire number of appointments in the higher Civil Service is 898, and of these 93 are now available for natives. But of far more importance is the question of the Judges. There are now native Judges in everyone of the High Courts in India. The superior officers in the administration are drawn from services of which the overwhelming majority are natives. There are seven natives in the Governor General's Council; 10 in the Council of the Governor of Madras; 10 in that of the Governor of Bombay; 10 in Bengal; and six in the North-Western Provinces. Taking the provincial and subordinate services, numbering 3,135 1137 officers, the oven whelming majority are I natives; and the whole of the Government offices are almost entirely manned by natives. In the direction of the employment of natives we have made great progress during the past 30 years, and we shall, I hope, continue to make still further progress in the future in that direction. The second point is decentralisation. At the time I am speaking of the Government of India was an absolutely centralised Government. Since that time he administrative, the judicial, the revenue and the executive business has been more than doubled. Not only has the administrative business been transferred to Local Authorities, but a system of local self-government has been founded, which, to a great extent, is in the hands of the native inhabitants. Seven hundred and sixty-one municipal towns have Municipal Corporations and possess an income altogether of 4,000,000 or 5,00,000Rx. There are a large number of District Boards performing, and performing satisfactorily, their respective duties, levying their own taxes, spending their own money, and carrying on very much the same work of administration as that which is carried on by Local Government Bodies in England. There is, in fact, a distinct beginning of a large system of local self-government in India. I take next the administration of justice. A large majority of the Judges and Magistrates at the present time are natives. Nine-tenths of the Civil suits and three-fourths of the Magisterial business of the country come before native Judges and Magistrates, who discharge their duties to the satisfaction of the public. Last year more than 2,000 native honorary Magistrates dealt with the Magisterial business of the towns and rural districts; 30 years ago things were quite different. I could give similar illustrations in regard to the judicial machinery of Police and Criminal Courts. All these are the rudimentary effects of efficient government, and all this has grown up under the rule of the Imperial Power. Let me now go to another branch, where we are advancing to a still higher plane. Thirty years ago there were 112 hospitals in India, in which 671,000 patients were treated. Last year there were 1,879 hospitals; the number of in-patients was 290,000, and the number of out-patients 1138 over 14,000,000. The same thing applies in reference to sanitation, which 30years ago was an unknown science in India. Increased sanitation is now developing year by year, and the water supply in most of the large towns is being greatly improved. Another test which will interest us is the test of the schools. The statistics of 30 years ago are very incomplete, but, according to the best opinion, there were then only about 400,000 scholars at school. The first year for which there are complete statistics is 1865, and in that year there were 19,000 schools and 619,000 scholars. The number of schools has now risen to 142,000 and the scholars to nearly 4,000,000. Then, take another test—the test of the development of the railways. I do not know a better test of the improvement of a country than the railways. Nothing has been more important than the improvement effected by the railway administration in India, an! the construction of the railways has been a great source of prosperity to the country and a most important cause of its increased wealth. Thirty years ago there were in India only 300 miles of railways, carrying annually 2,000,000 passengers and about 2.50,000 tons of goods. Last, year there were 18.459 miles of railways, which carried 127,000,000 passengers and 26,250,000 tons of goods. We pass, then, to the trade, and find the same evidence. The entire trade has gone up from 40,000,000 to 204,250,000. Agriculture, again, shows the same re-results. Take the one item of tea for example. During the past 30 years the tea industry in India has been practically created; last year India exported nearly 120,000,000 But most important of all is the condition of the people. Yon could not have a people plunged in ever-increasing poverty and going from worse to worse, as some would have us believe, indulging in increasing public expenditure, constructing large public works, and improving the moral and material condition of the people and their resources. The condition of the people is fully discussed in the interesting Report from which I am quoting, and in that Report Lord Cross, the then Secretary of State, points out that it must be borne in mind that in rural India, from the nature of the climate, the poorer classes have fewer wants than in this country, and 1139 can satisfy those wants more easily than the poor of England can satisfy theirs. The average Indian landholder, trader, ryot, or artisan consumes more salt, he consumes more sugar and tobacco, than he did generations back. A careful analysis of the condition of the people has been made, and the Reports show the condition of the people, especially the small landowners, and show facts directly in contradiction to the statements we have just heard. In a certain portion of Bengal and Oudh, and in certain other districts, there is undoubtedly; much poverty. No one, of course, I will maintain that there is not great poverty in India. There is great poverty there; but my point is that under British rule that poverty is not increased, hut diminished. I very much regret its amount, and I can assure the House that no one is more anxious than I am to take every possible step to reduce that poverty if it can be diminished; but, so far from the poverty of India being attributable to British administration, the facts show exactly the opposite. I am not now going into the question of the Revenues of India and taxation, because I shall have to trouble the House on that subject to-morrow. The ordinary debt of the country, exclusive of money borrowed for public works, which I call reproductive, which was Rx. 103,000,000 in 1877, is now only 76,500,000. With reference to another point of the hon. Member for Flint—namely, the deficits in the Indian Exchequer, which, he says, are a proof of the poverty of the country. I must demur to the statement that deficit after deficit is being piled up. On the contrary, in recent years there have been surpluses. The last two have been bad no doubt owing to the loss in exchange— the fall in value of the rupee. But in the last six years, 1889 to 1894, there have been four years of surplus, amounting to Rx.6,805,000, and two years of deficit, amounting to Rx.2,626,000, leaving a net surplus of Rx.4,179,000. In 1884 Mr. Cross informed the House that India in the previous 30 years had absorbed a very large amount of silver and gold. £220,000,000 of silver and £110,000,000 of gold, making a total of £330,000,000. I have no means of verifying the figures, but I am sure Mr. Cross would not have made the statement except on 1140 good authority. During the 13 years India has imported a large amount of gold and silver which remains unaccounted for, and which, therefore, is in India now. The net balance unaccounted for is £191,000,000, of which £51,000,000 is of gold. I think that is a fair argument to use when the poverty of India is spoken of. Then, as to wages, though a great deal of them are paid in kind, of course a large amount of money passes, and there has been a considerable improvement. One of the most competent officials of our Indian Government —the gentleman at the head of our Statistical Department—has taken out from a number of large towns and localities the fair average type of wages of the agricultural labourer, mason, carpenter, blacksmith, and other craftsmen —and I am now talking about money wages. The wages of the agricultural labourer have risen between 1873 and 1892 by 9 per cent. and the rise in the wages of artisans has been 16 2–3 per cent. So that, so far as that goes, we are on the right side. Now, as to the Revenue, I think the figures are very instructive. Whereas in England the taxation is £2 11s. 8d. per head, in Scotland £2 8s. 1d. per head, and in Ireland £1 12s. 5d. per head, the Budget which I shall present to-morrow will show that the taxation per head in India is something like 2s. 6d., or l-20th the taxation of the United Kingdom and l-13th of that of Ireland.
§ * MR. H. H. FOWLER
Yes. So far as the taxation of India is concerned, taking the rupee at 1s. 1d., it is 2s. 6d. per head. So much for what I may call a general view of the progress of the people in India. Now let me say a word or two on some of the points which have been specially referred to. My hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire referred to some of the grievances of the people. He complains, first, that the Government is too expensive, the scale being a European one, and that the salaries are too high. Ho put forward the statement that if the salaries were reduced to proper Indian proportions a great saving might be effected. But the natives of India are paid according to this scale, and 1141 natives amongst the employe's of the Government are in an overwhelming majority. Let me give a few figures. In Bengal a native High Court Judge I receives Rx.5,000 a year. The salaries of the native subordinate Judges range from Kx.720 to Rx. 1,200, and the lower Judges receive from Rx.300 to Rx.480. In the Provincial Service the salaries range from Rx.960 to Rx.2,400. The salaries of the higher grade in the Civil Service are not very dissimilar to those paid here, and contrast very favourably with the salaries paid in foreign European countries. I admit the salaries are on a high scale, and that is a question which some day may have to be considered no doubt the exile from England when the salaries were originally fixed was more complete than it is now, but it must be remembered that at that time the rupee was worth 2s., and the sum received now-a-days does not by any means represent what it did formerly. That, of course, is a matter of detail. I am not going to commit myself to any view as to the scale of our expenditure. What I am saying now is to show the House that there has been no increase to the disadvantage of the people of India in this respect. Objection has also been taken by my hon. Friend to the pension list. I take exception to the pension list in Great Britain, and it is increasing here as rapidly as in India. I think 3d. in the £1 on the Income Tax is required in this country in order to pay pensions, and so long as the system of pensions continues we shall have to provide for them. Pensions are a never decreasing charge; whether in England or in India you will find the pension list increasing. My hon. Friend made some severe remarks about the squeezing of the land assessment. He complained bitterly especially of the temporary settlement, and very strongly advocated what he called perpetuity of tenure at a fixed rent. Well, the laud assessments are not increased in the manner stated by the hon. Gentleman. The instructions of the Government of India are clear. The only grounds on which the land assessment is increased are the increase of area under cultivation, rises in price of agricultural produce, and increase in produce, owing directly or in- 1142 directly to the action of the Government —to the improvements effected at the expense of the State. These are the only grounds on which the assessment can be increased; and improvements effected by the cultivators or the landlords themselves, whether from their own funds or by means of State loans, and whether arising from improved methods of tillage or otherwise, are exempt from assessment in most parts of India. Irish tenants would be glad to find that their rents were not raised on those grounds in Ireland. To-morrow I shall submit a statement as to the laud of India. Now, in passing, I can only express my regret that my hon. Friend thought it right to charge the officials of the Land Revenue with bribery and corruption.
§ MR. S. SMITH
said, he referred to the native agents employed by the Land Office. He was not referring in the least to Europeans. He believed that a great deal of bribery prevailed amongst the inferior native agents.
§ * MR. H. H. FOWLER
I am glad my hon. Friend has made that statement, and that he has modified what he said. But even as the hon. Member has modified it the charge is a serious one—that of bribery and corruption. The people of India do not understand all the ins and outs of our Parliamentary customs. What my hon. Friend has just stated is hardly a sufficient reason for a statement which will go out to India with the authority of one of the most universally-respected Members of this House. I ask him to do one of two things—either to give me some case where this offence has been committed, and I promise him it shall be dealt with promptly, vigorously, and severely; or, if not, that he will feel it due to a large class of Civil servants to withdraw so grave a charge. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Naoroji) has been fully replied to by the hon. Baronet the Member for Kingston, but there was one point in which he was supported, to my intense astonishment, by my hon. Friend behind me—namely, with reference to the excess of exports over imports. They seemed to think that excess of exports over imports was a proof of the poverty of India. Why, Sir, India must have au excess of exports if it is to pay its way. A large part of it represents interest on 1143 debt which has been incurred for the benefit of India. That must be paid for by exports. India has to pay a large portion of the cost of government in England—and I consider she receives money's worth from the English Government—and therefore India must have a surplus of exports. In addition to that, a very large amount of English capital has been invested in India. If that were not the case, I doubt if the great manufactories that are now in India for the manufacture of cotton, jute, and indigo would exist there at all. The profits on that capital must be remitted to England, and therefore there must be an excess of exports over imports if India is to pay her way. I have already called attention to the enormous accumulation of treasure as against that. The hon. Member for Fiusbury seemed to think that the one thing desirable was that a native Administration should take the place of the British Administration. He was very enthusiastic about it, and so eloquent that he puzzled mo very much, because he first of all said that India could not bear a further burden of taxation imposed on it; and then he said, "If you will allow us to prosper we will pay three or four times our present revenue." He argued that a different system of government would increase enormously the paying power of India. Now on this subject I have had laid before me a very instructive comparison—so instructive that I must ask the House to attend to it. The argument is that the administration of India by England is costly and intolerable, and that native administration would be economical and popular. We have in the south-west of India one of the most influential and prosperous of the native States, the State of Mysore, which was handed over to native rule I think in 1881. It is surrounded by Madras. The conditions of life in the two districts are practically the same. The population of Mysore is 5,000,000; in Madras it is 35,000,000, or seven times more. Mysore, moreover, is administered by an able and business-like Representative Body. Now, Mysore taxation falls on the population at the rate, including the land revenues, of three rupees per head. In Madras it is two rupees and four annas. Taking the items, I find that in the 11 years 1144 ending 1892–93 the growth of taxation has been in Mysore from 101 to 153 lakhs, or 52 per cent.; in Madras it has been from 735 to 884 lakhs, or 21 per cent. I can go through various items of revenue and give the House the most interesting figures showing the progress—I think the wise progress—of this State which is availing itself of a great many of the modern improvements which are prevalent in the adjoining country of Madras, and I find in every point there is an increase in expenditure. That, I think, is a very good illustration of, I will not say extravagance, for I do not wish to imply that against Mysore, but of the fact that if you are to govern India wisely and successfully the cost of government will necessarily increase. The handing over of the financial administration of India—whether it be wise on other grounds or not I will not say—at any rate from a financial point of view would not be in any sense a greater economy. Now I ought to say a word or two with regard to another subject. There has been a long Debate on the subject of the simultaneous examinations, and I will only say, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh, who complained of the unconstitutional action of the Government in this matter, that the action we took was with a full sense of our responsibility alike to Parliament, to the country, and to India. The how. Member very naively admitted that if our action had been challenged on a second Division the first decision would probably have been reversed. On that I will express no opinion, but I want the House distinctly to understand the grounds on which the Government proceeded in their action. I want my how. Friend to understand that in so serious a matter as, I will not say the refusal of the Executive Government to accept a Resolution, but suspending action upon a Resolution of the House, and, therefore, taking the risk that the House would I deal severely with it by ejecting it from Office if it disapproved of its action, we were not acting on the advice of the Government of India; we were not acting on the mere opinion of one individual: Minister. Our decision was arrived at by a unanimous Cabinet, after full and careful consideration of all the circum- 1145 stances of the case, and with a full belief, on our part, that no other decision was open to us than the one at which we arrived. We did not decide the matter on the ground the hon. Member seems to think of depriving India of the advantages of competition; in our judgment competition is not the best means of selecting natives to the highest-ranked places. It may be necessary in Europe in order to check nepotism, but in India nepotism is impossible. Probation by actual employment forms a competitive examination of the best kind, and on that ground I am prepared to join issue with my hon. Friend. I am not a great admirer of competitive examination itself. We thought that to apply competitive examinations to India in which a certain class of learning was necessary, which was accessible only to a limited section of the population, and to which some of the ruling sections were indifferent, would have been an act of great folly on the part of the Government. One test—and the best test always for promotion in India—will be successful administration, character, competence, and proved ability. My hon. Friend said, "Are you of opinion that a certain number of the Civil servants should be not natives, but Europeans? "and we say, "Yes, we are." In order to insure the efficient government of India a minimum of European officials is, in our judgment, indispensable. It would be entirely out of the question to reduce the existing minimum of Europeans at the present time, as the number of them is at present exceedingly small. Deducting 93 posts assigned to the Provincial Service, the cadre of posts at present reserved for covenanted and military officers numbers 731. These are the officers upon whose administrative capacity depended the quiet and orderly government of 217,000,000 of people. They represent the British Government in India. They represent the British Government in the eyes of the people. It is to their personal influence, their impartiality, justice, efficiency, and moral fitness that that department of the administration of the Empire is entrusted. I have already told the House that there are thousands of appointments in India which are held by natives. There are a certain class of appointments to which no 1146 Government in India can appoint a man who is not a native without reporting the matter to the Central Government and obtaining their consent to such appointment. We think the present number of Europeans in the Indian Service small and necessary. My hon. Friend alluded to the able note of Sir D. Fitzpatrick, whose opinion—and he is a man of great Indian knowledge—came to this, that with the contending races and faiths, with the different climates and different conditions of life in the various parts of India, we could not put the government of one Province into the hands of the representatives of another Province —in other words, that we could not ask: the martial races of India or the Mahom-medans of India to submit to the rule of the inhabitants of Bengal, and vice versa Upon all these considerations we arrived most reluctantly—for no Government would wish to come into conflict with the House of Commons on a question of this kind—and simply from a sense of public duty, at the conclusion that has been criticised to-day. And now my time has gone. I cannot deal with a great many points I should have liked to deal with in reference to this Debate. What is the course which we are to take upon the Resolution before the House? The Resolution commences —That, in the opinion of this House, a full and independent Parliamentary inquiry should take place into the condition and wants of the Indian people, and their ability to bear their existing financial burdens.What is "a full and independent Parliamentary inquiry"? I thought all Parliamentary inquiries were independent. I suppose my hon. Friend means impartial. "A full and independent" inquiry I do not know whether he means to restrict the class of Members to be put on; the Committee. The Resolution says the Committee is to inquire—into the condition and wants of the Indian people, and their ability to bear their existing burdens, the nature of the Revenue system and the possibility of reductions in the expenditure; also the financial relations between India and the United Kingdom, and generally the system of Government in India.Well, Sir, that is a proposal of a very wide character. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said last year that he was not prepared to refer the British Constitution to a Select Committee, and I am sure the 1147 House would not sanction referring the constitution of the Government of India to a Select Committee. An inquiry of this sort must be most protracted and costly, and I think the results would be most unsatisfactory, because, after all, any question relating to what I may call the Imperial policy with reference to India must Tae a question for the responsible Government of the day. No Government of the day would shirk that responsibility, no Government of the day would allow any Committee to undertake that responsibility for it, and I am sure no House of Commons would allow any Government to shelter itself behind the Report of a Committee in dealing with such a question. My hon. Friend quotes the precedent of the East India Company, but that Company was a trustee who came to Parliament once in 20 years for a renewal of the trust, and therefore Parliament was entitled to ask how the Company had discharged its duty. But we are not living under that state of things. We are living under the Government of the Imperial Parliament, by a Minister who is responsible to and controlled by this House. With reference to these Committees, there have been several appointed ahead) Mr. Fawcett's Committee was appointed in 1871. It sat for three years, and the only practical recommendation which it made was that the Indian Budget should be presented early in the Session. That has not been realised. In the new Parliament of 1874 the scope of the inquiry was limited, and a Report was presented which amounted to nothing. Lord Northbrook's Commission sat for 14 years before it made its final Report. Therefore the precedent of these Committees and Commissions is not encouraging. The people of England understand exactly what is meant by a Select Committee and a Royal Commission, and what the limits of their authority are. But if you were to appoint a Committee to overhaul the Government of India you would produce a serious effect. You would create an impression that the Government of India was upon its trial and would weaken its moral force. One or two gentlemen have complained with reference to the financial arrangements which now exist between the War Office, the Treasury, and the India Office. The 1148 hon. Member for Oxford said there is a good deal to be said on both sides. I know there is. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would have a word or two to say on the other side, but I at once frankly admit that I think it is desirable that the financial expenditure of a great country like India should be subjected to the criticism of the House of Commons more in detail than is possible in the annual Budget. I think that, upon the whole, it would be wise from time to time to have an inquiry as to how the Revenues of India are spent—spent in England as well as in India. No inquiry of that kind would be entirely futile if you could compress it within reasonable limits. If you made it wide and extensive the whole thing would break down. What I would suggest to my hon. Friend—as his motive and that of the Government are the same—namely, to bring about a more efficient and economical administration in India, and to let the people in India know that for every sovereign spent they get 20s. value—what I would suggest would be that he should withdraw his Motion, and I will undertake on the part of the Government that at the very commencement of next Session we will propose the appointment of a Select Committee, which will inquire into the financial expenditure of the Indian Revenues, both in England and in India. I think that would be giving to the House what would be of some service to it, and would obviate some of the difficulties which have been raised. It would, I think, clear up some of the charges of extravagance which have been made against the Government of India, and on the whole, would be conducive to the public good. In thanking the House for the patience with which they have listened to me I can assure them that my desire is to carry out the policy adopted by both sides and to administer India as efficiently and as impartially as possible. My hon. Friend the Member for Banffshire is mistaken in saying that the Secretary of State is simply a tool in the hands of the Indian Council. I can assure him that the Secretary of State exercises an independent judgment on all Indian affairs, and that he is as much entitled to Parliamentary confidence on that point as any other Minister of the Crown.
§ * MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
asked whether the Reference would include the question of "financial administration"?
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, he did not quite understand what the hon. Member meant. He did not propose to make a Motion to-day, but at the commencement of next Session. It would be open to any Member, when the Motion for the appointment of the Committee was made, to submit any Amendment he thought necessary.
§ MR. S. SMITH
said, that he and his friends who were supporters of the Motion would accept with a certain degree of satisfaction the offer of the right hon. Gentleman. They thanked him for having to some extent met their desires. But they did not think the inquiry would be adequate or complete unless it enabled them in some way to deal with the tax-paying power of the people of India. They therefore held themselves free to ask for such an extension of the Reference as would enable them to bring in that question.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee).
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.