HC Deb 21 January 1897 vol 45 cc176-8
MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if he could state to the House what is the amount paid into the credit of the Indian Famine Relief Fund since the famine of 1877; what is the total amount of withdrawals from that fund for purposes apart from the relief of distress during the past 20 years; and what amount remained to the credit of the fund at the commencement of the existing famine; and, what is the estimated requirement of the Government of India for famine relief during the next three months?


There is no Indian Famine Relief Fund. The amount of taxation imposed for Indian famine relief and insurance was in 1877 estimated at Rx. 1,104,900 annually. Owing to the Afghan war the scheme did not come into operation for four years; and, if those be excluded, the total receipts are estimated at Rx. 16,513,500. The expenditure has been—on construction of protection works, Rx. 12,004,022; on reduction or avoidance of debt, Rx. 5,327,299; total, Rx. 17,331,321. It is difficult to forecast the exact expenditure upon famine relief for the next three months, as the numbers fluctuate so greatly from week to week, but the loss caused by famine directly and indirectly for the financial year 1896–97 will certainly exceed three and a-half crores of rupees.


asked if he was to understand that some part of the cost of the Afghan war was defrayed out of this fund?


said that when a country was involved in war it was obliged to put on one side the ordinary financial operations. During the time the Afghan war continued the money raised by this taxation was not available for famine insurance.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

inquired how much was spent on railways?


A very large proportion. It was never intended that the fund should be put in a separate box and allowed to accumulate.

MR. G. LAMBERT (Devon, South Molton)

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in view of the grave reference in Her Majesty's gracious Speech to the famine and plague in India, he will consider the advisability of remitting to the Indian Government the cost to them of the Indian troops engaged in the Egyptian expedition?


I can quite understand and sympathise with the feeling that has prompted this question, but the two subjects which are referred to in if are quite distinct, and I have no reason whatever to suppose that the Indian Government would at all desire that they should be coupled together.

MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether the attention of the Indian Government has been called or will be called to the necessity of having suitable hospital accommodation at Bombay for the isolation and treatment of cases of plague; and, whether in view of the great suitability of the Military lines and cantonment at Colaba for such a purpose, the Indian Government will find other accommodation for the troops in Bombay?


The attention of the Government of India has been called to the necessity of providing suitable accommodation at Bombay for the isolation and treatment of cases of plague; but I do not propose to interfere with their discretion in regard to moving the troops from Colaba, or using the barracks as plague hospitals. I understand that temporary hospital accommodation of a suitable kind could easily be erected on the open ground in and around Bombay.

MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Cardiff)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, having regard to the enormous loss of revenue which India will suffer through the prevalence af famine and plague in that country, Her Majesty's Government propose to invite Parliament to vote a grant of public money in aid of the Indian Exchequer?


I have to say that the Indian Government are in no lack of funds, and, until we know the outcome of the famine expenditure and the loss of revenue caused by that, it is premature to discuss the assistance of a grant of public money from the Imperial Exchequer. There is no precedent, so far as I know, for any such course.