HC Deb 05 February 1897 vol 45 cc1521-4

£115,000, Pay, etc., of Indian Troops at Suakim.


asked whether this Vote covered the whole cost of the troops. He thought that the Indian Government ought not to be put to any expense at the present time.

MR. T. R. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)

said that there were points on which information was desirable. In the past there had constantly been difficulties in settling the accounts as between India and the Home Government. Sometimes the Indian Government had had to wait months and years, and in connection with the Abyssinian campaign the money due from the Imperial Exchequer had to be borrowed. Did this sum of £145,000 represent the general Estimate of the Indian Government? What were the details of the amount, and was it a final discharge, leaving no claims in dispute?


said that yesterday he had informed the hon. Gentleman that the estimate of the total extra cost falling upon India through the use of the troops at Suakim had been framed in India, and, in the opinion of the Indian Government, covered every charge. Since yesterday he had received further information. The estimate was divided into seven heads, each of which had been computed by the Indian Government. The heaviest item was £59,000 for the transport of the troops from India and back. There was also £25,000 for land transit, £35,000 for commissariat, and the balance was made up of such items as pay, medical service, and ordnance. Her Majesty's Government had every assurance that the total sum would cover every expense to which the Indian Government had been put.


said that there were many Members who, like him, desired to divide against this Vote as a protest against the employment of Indian troops at all outside India, and more especially in the Soudan, but they were unable to do so because, if the Vote were rejected, the cost would be thrown on the people of India. ["Hear, hear!"] As a matter of fact, however, a considerable burden would have to be borne by India owing to this expedition. It seemed to him a monstrous thing at a time like the present, when the people of India were struggling with famine for their lives, to tax them in order to carry out a ridiculous, absurd, and iniquitous policy of jingoism in Africa. (Cheers.) He also thought the Committee should be informed what services the Indian troops had done while at Saukim, and whether India or anybody else had benefited to the extent not of £140,000, but of 140,000 pence by this sending of Indian troops, despite the protest of the Indian Government, to occupy Saukim. ["Hear, hear!"]


said that when this question was discussed last year public opinion was overwhelmingly in favour of the Imperial Government providing the pay of the Indian troops while away from India. He therefore thought that as India was suffering from a terrible famine, the Government ought to depart from the selfish and utterly indefensible principle of refusing to pay the wages of the Indian troops they had brought to Suakim. He regretted the forms of the House did not allow him to move an increase of the Vote by £40,000, or whatever might be the amount of the pay of the troops; and he thought the Government would do well to put down an Estimate for refunding the money to India as a contribution to the famine fund.


said he appreciated the spirit of the remarks of the hon. Member for East Mayo; but they were open to the grave objection that they mixed up two questions that ought to be kept apart. If help from us was required by India, because of the terrific famine, the aid that would be given would be very much larger than £30,000. ["Hear, hear!"] On the other hand, to remit this charge upon India would be to neglect a very important fiscal question of policy between the two countries in regard to the employment of Indian troops in similar cases in the future. ["Hear, hear!"] While, therefore, he had every desire to consider any application for aid from India—should it be made—he trusted that the suggestion which had been made would not be proceeded with on that occasion.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.