Another Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words,—
And we humbly assure Your Majesty that we regard with grave concern the introduction of the Calcutta Municipal Bill, now under consideration by the Bengal Legislative Council, which, if enacted, will practically destroy the representative character of the Calcutta Municipaity, and will constitute a retrograde step in the system of local government in India, and pray that Your Majesty will graciously direct that the further consideration of the Bill be postponed until a duly constituted Commission has taken evidence and has reported upon the objections urged against the Bill by the ratepayers of Calcutta:"—(Mr. Herbert Roberts.)
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS () Denbighshire, W.
Mr. Speaker, the Amendment which I am about to move deals with a complicated subject; but I will endeavour to place it before the House in a manner as clear and as precise as possible. It raises two principal points—firstly, the meaning and effect of the Bill to which the Amendment refers; secondly, the desirability, in view of the opposition to the Bill in Calcutta and elsewhere, of postponing the further con- 924 sideration of its clauses until opportunity has been given of hearing the objections raised against it before a duly constituted Commission. I disclaim any intention of making this a Party question. Speaking for myself, I deplore the introduction of political and Party considerations into the discussion of any Indian question whatsoever, and so far as municipal matters in India are concerned, I think, whatever privileges India enjoys in this regard have been conferred on her equally by both Parties. The Municipal Government of Calcutta, as it exists at the present moment, was conferred on that city during a Conservative Administration, in 1876, by that distinguished Indian statesman Sir Richard Temple. Later, a similar system of municipal self-government was extended to other towns and districts in India under Lord Ripon; and, later still, we had the Indian Councils Act, passed in 1891—a Measure interesting to us at the present time, because it was passed through this House by the present Viceroy of India, and increased largely the popular element in municipal administration. Both parties in the State, it is clear to me, are responsible for the promotion and maintenance of self-government in India, as far as that self-government results in good and efficient administration. But, Sir, there are one or two special points which, I think, give the Bill referred to in my Amendment peculiar importance as regards the city of Calcutta. Calcutta is the metropolis of India, and, along with Bombay, is the most progressive and most advanced city in India. It is also, with Bombay, next to London, the most populous city in the British Empire. It follows, therefore, that if municipal self-government is proved to be successful in Calcutta, that fact will have a material influence on the extension of the principle to other towns in India. But, on the other hand, if the principle of municipal self-government is condemned in Calcutta, it is not difficult to see that the effect will be to give a very serious check to the whole policy of self-government in India. My main contention in submitting this Amendment is as follows: It is that the history of municipal administration in Calcutta proves clearly that a permanent improvement in its sanitary condition is only possible, and can only be 925 achieved, by the co-operation of the residents of the city. I do not intend to go into any details in favour of this proposition; but, with the indulgence of the House, I should like to mention one or two principal points with reference to the municipal history of Calcutta. The House may remember that the first Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal was appointed in 1854. Two years later the first municipal administration was set up in Calcutta. Three Commissioners were appointed by the Government, who were made responsible for the municipal government of the city. That system was autocratic, and what I wish to point out is that it completely failed in the object for which it was established. Sir John Strachey, in 1863, remarks with reference to that administration as follows—With regard to the Northern, or native, Division of Calcutta, which contains some hundred thousand people, it is no figure of speech, but the simple truth, to say that no language can adequately describe its abominations.That is a description of the first period of municipal rule in Calcutta. The next period commenced in 1863. In that year the Government established a new system. They set up the Justices of the Peace for Bengal, resident in Calcutta, together with the Justices of the Peace for Calcutta, as a body corporate, to be responsible for the administration of the city. This system, again, was absolutely unrepresentative, and what was the result? I should like to admit at the outset that there is one great piece of work connected with the rule of the Justices of the Peace, and that was the introduction of the waterworks, which produced admirable results on the future life of the city. But the system failed entirely to effect any real improvement in the city, and the testimony of the Medical Officer of Health on the condition of Calcutta in 1876, after 13 years of this kind of rule, is perfectly conclusive on this point. Dr. Pagin says—It is impossible to conceive a more perfect combination of all the evils of crowded city life in the primitive filthiness and disorder than is presented in the native portion of Calcutta.Again, I submit, this is a perfect proof of the point I am endeavouring to make—namely, that there was no real per- 926 manent improvement in the sanitary condition of Calcutta during either the first or second periods of unrepresentative municipal rule. Now I come to 1876, the turning point in the history of municipal administration in Calcutta—a year always to be remembered as that in which Sir Richard Temple conferred a representative system on the city. I would remind the House that the system he set up was a corporation of 72 members—48 elected by the ratepayers and 24 nominated by the Government. This system worked well, and produced good results. In 1884 a Commission was appointed to inquire into certain practical points in connection with sanitary reform, and made a report recommending that certain reforms be carried out. But I desire the House to observe that this Commission did not in any way recommend any constitutional change, except a change afterwards brought about—namely, the inclusion of the suburbs within the municipal area; and I would also remind the House that Mr. Cotton, one of the Commissioners, and now a Chief Commissioner, did not agree with the report, but drew up a note of dissent, in which he bore remarkable testimony to the character and good record of the Corporation up to that date. His report is so remarkable that I should like to quote one or two sentences. Mr. Cotton says of the work accomplished by the Corporation of Calcutta, under a system of representative municipal rule, from 1876 to 1889—The Corporation of Calcutta, as a representative body, commands the confidence of the vast majority of the ratepayers; it has already done much in the direction of sanitary reform; it has not retrograded in giving effect to a single sanitary improvement; stimulated by the healthy action of public opinion, and profiting by the greater experience gained year by year, it has afforded, by the systematic enterprise of the past three years, the most solid guarantee that it will continue to advance on the path of progress.It seems to me it would be impossible to receive evidence more clear or more worthy of attention. That opinion as to the real benefit of the representative system in municipal administration cannot for a moment be doubted. Acting upon the recommendation of the Commission appointed in 1884, the municipal constitution was somewhat modified in 1888, and as that is the constitution 927 which now exists in Calcutta, and which is proposed to be fundamentally altered in the Bill to which I draw attention in my Amendment, I will give the House one or two of its main provisions. The constitution established in Calcutta in 1888 consists of a corporation of 75 members—50 elected by the ratepayers and 25 nominated by the Government. That is the main body of the Corporation. Then there is an Executive responsible to that main body, and consisting of 18 members—12 elected by the Commissioners and 6 nominated by the Government and the trade members. I cannot, of course, go into details; but I would ask the House to observe that this constitution has two main characteristics which are essential to any satisfactory system of municipal self-government. In the first place there is an exact correspondence between the elected and non-elected elements in the main body of the Corporation, and in the Executive responsible to it. Secondly, the Executive is responsible in the main to the Corporation representing the main body of the citizens. Both of those fundamental conditions are sought to be reversed by the present Bill. The question which I want to ask now is as follows: I have given the House a rapid outline of the history of municipal Calcutta up to the present time. I have shown that the record of the results accomplished by the municipality under a non-representative system of government were by no means satisfactory. I wish, on the other hand, to show the House, from evidence drawn from results that cannot be doubted, records of the administration of the municipal affairs of Calcutta during a representative system, which have been on the whole eminently satisfactory. I will not quote to the House evidence of any prejudiced or partisan witness, but I will ask the House to bear with me whilst I quote one or two opinions taken from the views expressed by successive Governors of Bengal. We will begin with the year 1890. What did the then Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, Sir Stewart Bailey, say of the present Corporation which this Bill attacks? In 1890 he left it on record that during the nine preceding years there had been a successful administration of the affairs of the municipality. During this long period the firm financial credit of the Commissioners, the 928 innumerable sanitary reforms effected, specially the extension of the water supply, the increase in material prosperity in the city, which, in consequence of these reforms, had shown itself in so marked a degree that the value of land in Calcutta generally may be said to have doubled, all testified to the truth of this statement. Now I venture to submit to the House that it is impossible to get behind such a statement as that as to the real benefits conferred upon Calcutta by bringing into association with the work of administrative reforms the responsibility of the citizens themselves. I will only trouble the House with one short quotation further, and that is a few words from the speech of the present Lieutenant-Governor, Sir John Woodburn, whose ability no one can deny, whose sympathy in regard to Indian questions from an Indian standpoint we are all fully aware of. In November last, only a few months ago, he spoke as follows of the Corporation—They are entitled to all the credit—and it is a high one—of realising the value and necessity of the great schemes which have been drawn up for their approval, such as those for the drainage of the city, and the construction of the Harrison Road. They have not shrunk from the heavy taxation which was needed to bring these beneficent projects into effect, and I have myself had evidence of the high public spirit and laborious circumspection which many members of the Corporation bring to the discharge of their municipal duties.I do not for a moment claim that Calcutta is an ideal city from a sanitary standpoint, or from any other standpoint. I admit that there are many improvements required in this direction. I do not for a moment claim that the Corporation have been perfect; they have made mistakes, as every Corporation is bound to make; but what I venture to say is, that Calcutta is a far, healthier city to-day than it was years ago, before it had a representative Government; and I say further that this improvement has, on the whole, brought about the co-operation of the people who form the great majority of the citizens of Calcutta. Before I conclude I should like to describe to the House, in one or two words, the main provisions of the Bill under discussion — a Bill which, I venture to assert, virtually de- 929 stroys the representative character of the present municipality of Calcutta. The number of members of the Corporation remains as before, namely, 75, but the Executive is reduced from 18 members to 12, and here I would point out that the crux of the whole matter must depend, in such a case as this, upon the composition and power of the Executive. According to the present system, the Executive is responsible to the Corporation, and also there is exactly the same amount of representative element in the Executive as there is in the Corporation. How is the Executive of 12 composed? Four are elected by the Government, four are elected by the Trades Associations of Calcutta, and four are elected by the main body of the Commissioners on the Corporation. In other words, as it must be in a case of this kind, the Government nominees and the nominated members representing Trades Associations must be absolutely identical in their views; it, therefore means that the representation of the citizens of Calcutta must always be in a standing minority of two to one. I have no time to go into the many other provisions of the Bill, but I will sum up its results in regard to the powers still left to the Corporation by pointing out that, so far as I can gather, only four material points are left by the Bill under the control of the Corporation. These are the selection of the Bank of the Corporation, the taking of the census, the provision of burial grounds, and the arrangements for the establishment of markets. Now it seems to me that if the Government have lost all faith in the capacity of the citizens of Calcutta to discharge effectually and loyally their duties as citizens, it would be better to say so frankly, and to establish the one-man rule pure and simple. I think that would be better than to endeavour to disguise the real character of this Bill by the mere name and semblance of representative government. What are the reasons which have been brought forward to account for the introduction of the Bill? I think they can be roughly classed under two heads. There were those reasons which were originally influenced by the Government when they decided upon undertaking this legislation; secondly, there were those reasons which were brought forward when the Bill was 930 presented and attached, in the usual way, to it. What were the first reasons advanced for this new piece of legislation? There are two principal points. First of all, this Bill was introduced in order to enable the Commissioners to recover a certain licence tax from certain companies which previously escaped taxation; and, secondly, it was necessary to amend the constitution in order to enable the Corporation to exercise proper control over building operations in 'Calcutta. Both of these things are admirable in their way, but they are not gigantic, and it is rather difficult to understand why, in order to get an amendment of this character, it was necessary to introduce a Bill containing 11 parts, 42 chapters, 668 sections, and 20 schedules. There must be other reasons for the introduction of a Bill of this character, and I will summarise those other reasons under three heads. The first of them is that facts have been brought to light in connection with the alarm of plague in Calcutta which show that the town is in a terribly unsatisfactory condition; and, secondly, that the present constitution of the municipality is ill adapted to stand the strain of a grave and sudden emergency; thirdly, it is not the view expressed by Sir John Woodburn himself in a speech which he made in Bengal. He said that the Bill will be an advantage because it will increase the share in the administration of those great interests which have been overborne by the single interests of the ratepayers. So that there are three main reasons in the opinion of the Government for rendering it necessary for this revolutionary measure to be introduced. First of all, they say Calcutta is in a terribly unhealthy condition. Sir, I think the only reply to that statement is the opinions I have quoted of successive Governors, who have borne striking testimony to the constitutional improvements which have been accomplished through the instrumentality of the municipality; secondly, Sir, and perhaps this is a reason which is of more practical importance than any views expressed by officials or others—I think the fact that Calcutta practically escaped the plague speaks volumes as regards the present sanitary condition of the town. The second charge is that the municipality of Calcutta shows itself to be ill adapted 931 to meet an emergency. I would reply to that charge by pointing out that experience of India has always shown that when certain emergencies do arise the co-operation of the people is essential to success. If it were necessary, and I think it is not denied that it might be desirable, to reserve to the Government absolute power for an emergency of that kind, why should not that reserve have been made and carried out by a single clause, without introducing a Bill crippling for all time, practically, the system of representative government in Calcutta? The third charge is that the great interests of the city have been over-ridden by the single interests of the ratepayers. Sir, I only wish again to point out that, according to the present constitution, these trade associations have an adequate representation, and through that adequate representation, if they like to use it, an adequate control of administration in the town. It may be, indeed, true, because a large number of these gentlemen are busy men—that they are unable, to attend meetings of the Corporation very regularly; and I notice, in passing, that there is a provision in the new Bill for payment of so much a sitting to those who attend a meeting of the Executive Committee. I say nothing as to the difficulty in the way of these wealthy citizens of Calcutta attending these meetings in connection with the municipal work in the town, but I do submit that it would be possible, in my judgment, to have suggested a remedy for that state of things without introducing such drastic changes as those in the Bill before the House. I wish again to point out, from the standpoint of the sanitary condition of Calcutta, that I entirely agree with any Bill which would effect that object; because Calcutta is not only the chief city in India, but it is also one of the principal ports in the East; and it is our duty not only to take the necessary steps to protect and safeguard the health of those who live within the area of the town, but I think it is also our duty to take every practical measure to prevent the dissemination of disease from the port of Calcutta to other countries. I say that in order to prove in the strongest possible way that I consider the question of sanitation to be of the utmost importance, and that my remarks are not in any way directed to 932 the lessening of the importance of that question. But, Sir, there is no doubt that this Bill has aroused a great deal of feeling in Calcutta. We all know that a large number of crowded meetings, and most representative meetings, have been held to protest against the Bill. Under these circumstances, and in view of what I have said of the real improvement that has undoubtedly taken place under the present municipality, and in view of the fact that the Corporation of Calcutta has always manifested a desire to co-operate with the Government in any emergency, in view of the fact that a great deal of alarm and disappointment has been aroused by this Bill, I think that it would be wise, it would be advisable, on many grounds, for the Government not to proceed at the present moment with this Bill without further inquiry by a competent Commission. The Bill, if carried, would mean practically (that is, in my judgment) that any improvement in the condition of the town would be practically impossible with an indifferent and unsympathetic, and perhaps an estranged Corporation. If this Bill passes it would mean, further, that the services of men, leaders of native opinion in Calcutta, men who have devoted their lives largely to the administration of municipal affairs, would be lost to the Corporation for ever, and this, I think, is a matter of the greatest importance, in view of the possible emergency in the future. And lastly, if the Bill is passed it will mean, and indicate, that a change has taken place in the settled policy of the Government in regard to future extension of self-government in municipal affairs—the policy which has been the policy adopted by both Parties equally in this House, the policy also which during the last quarter of a century has been followed, on the whole, by undoubted beneficent results, and for this reason I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name—
§ * MR. ROBINSON SOUTTAR () Dumfriesshire
I have some personal knowledge of the subject in hand. My brother was one of the early Chairmen of the Municipality of Calcutta, and whilst I lived in India I was a great deal-in contact with the members of the Corporation, and I look back now with very great satisfaction to those men whom I then knew in that capacity; they were 933 most admirable men. I remember well such men as the right honourable Kristo das Pal and Dr. Rajendrala Mittra, whose name was well known in learned societies all over the world. These men have passed away, but men of equal merit have taken their place, I have no doubt, and I want to say, from personal knowledge, that the Commissioners of Calcutta are an exceedingly well-educated and high-spirited body of men—fit for any municipal chamber in this country, and men who would be equally welcome in this honourable House itself. Now I say this because I think it would be a great misfortune for Calcutta and for India if men of that class—a very much higher class than we are accustomed to see in our Councils in this country— abstain from seeking the suffrages of the electors, and, from what I can see of this Bill, I am very much inclined to think that men of this high class will no longer think it worth their while to work or to ask for those suffrages. I want to say a word or two about the condition of the city in connection with which the Bill is going to act. I am afraid that there is a somewhat exaggerated notion with regard to the condition of Calcutta. Calcutta is a very handsome city, and the European quarter has arrogated to itself the title of "The City of Palaces." Of course, the Europeans grumble, as Europeans always will grumble who live in India. It arises partly from the climate and partly from the liver. But when I tell you that in the Park Street Ward, which is the European quarter, the death rate is only 11 to 1,000, you will, I am sure, agree with me that there is not very much to grumble about. The native part is, of course, the weak part. I will say two things in regard to the native quarter. In the first place, it is not worse than the native quarters in other Eastern cities; and in the second place, it is a great deal better than it used to be. My honourable Friend who proposed this Amendment drew attention to the words of Sir John Strachey with regard to the condition of Calcutta before local self-government was instituted. Well, they are not very pleasant reading. There was a time when there was no water supply, when the drainage was open drainage, and when the scavenging was left to the kites and crows. There is now a water supply 934 quite as good as anything we get to drink in this country. There is a main drainage, and there is a Conservancy, which does a great deal of work, though doubtless it might do a great deal more. I think, with my honourable Friend, that the Commissioners have some right to point with pride to the fact that when the plague which devastated Bombay reached Calcutta it failed to find a lodgment there. At the same time, I am not standing up to say that Calcutta is not capable of very great improvement. When I was living there the streets were badly swept and scavenged. There was great congestion in the native quarters. The building of the native houses was of the rudest possible kind, and the sanitary arrangements were also very primitive indeed. The worst feature indeed arises from the existence of the tanks. The poorer native houses are built of stakes interwoven with bamboos, and plastered over with mud. When people build a square in Calcutta they get the mud from the middle of the square, or they used to in the olden days. By-and-by the process of taking away this mud made a very large hole. This hole then became filled with water, and was made into a tank. There are hundreds of these tanks, covering sometimes 25 per cent, of the district. The people bathe in the tanks; they wash their cooking utensils in the tanks, and I am afraid that very often they drink from them. Therefore, they are exceedingly dangerous, but they are not things that can be removed in a moment. The water, even if it is dirty water, is absolutely necessary for the purposes of Oriental life, and before the Commissioners could attempt to shut up these tanks they must provide better ones for the people. At the same time, I think this is one of the things that certainly ought to be done by the Commissioners, because I believe that the tanks have a great deal to do with the death rate of Calcutta. Of course, the death rate is high, and I do not wonder that the Government try to lower it a bit. But the worst places are the places in the suburbs, which have only been under the control of the present Commissioners for a few years. The worst death rate in Calcutta is in the suburb of Entally, which has a death rate of 48 per 1,000. whilst Park Street Ward, the European 935 quarter, has a death rate of 11 only. Fenwick Bazar has a population of 30,000, and a death rate of only 23, which is an ordinary English death rate. Taking the whole city of 500,000 people, it has a death rate of 32 per 1,000, and if you include the suburbs, it raises the death rate to 36 per 1,000 in a population of nearly three-quarters of a million. It is very strange, from our point of view, that the suburbs should be more unhealthy than the city, but those who know the city know it is a question of tanks, and jungle, and bad sanitation. Now the Government propose to put this right, and they have brought in a Bill to put it right. I have not the slightest quarrel with regard to the Government putting Calcutta right in every sanitary way. I should like to hear that Calcutta was being improved, and I do not suspect, as some speakers do, the present Government of any desire to strangle local self-government in India. I do not think we have any reason to imagine that the Government have such an intention in their heads. Local self-government in India was not a wicked invention of the Radicals. The Calcutta Municipal Bill was introduced by Sir Richard Temple, who was a Conservative, and local self-government was given to India under the régime of Lord Beacons-field. It is, therefore, in a sense, the offspring of the Conservative Party, and I do not see why we should suspect that Party of any desire to strangle its own offspring. The Bill is a big Bill, and I have not the slightest doubt that it is a good Bill in many of its clauses, but we do strongly object to the constitutional clauses. I must remind you, Sir, that the present Corporation consists of 75 men and the General Purposes Committee of 18, of which two-thirds are elective, and this Committee submits its operations to the approval of the general body of these Commissioners. The Government proposes to keep the number of the Commissioners at 75. It is proposed that this Executive Committee, however, shall only consist of 12, and it is proposed that of this number eight shall be nominated by the Government practically, and only four shall be elective, and it is further proposed to give this Committee, as far as I can understand, at any rate, absolutely autocratic powers. No doubt the existing arrangement is a bad arrangement, and 936 I think it is very capable of improvement, but I think the arrangement proposed by the Government is a change for the worse. The trouble in Calcutta is over-centralisation, and they are making the over-centralisation worse than it is. At present there are 75 Commissioners elected to look after the business of Calcutta, and the business of Calcutta, as a matter of fact, is looked after by 18 men. Now, what is the result? There are two results. In the first place, the work is scamped. It is impossible for 18 men to do work which would keep 75 men busy. In the second place, the work is made abortive by criticism. We know perfectly well how it is in this House when a burning question which ought to be discussed in full Committee is sent upstairs to be disposed of by a small Committee. When that Measure comes downstairs again, every man who is interested in the Bill, and every man who thinks he ought to be on the Committee, immediately begins to tear the work of the Committee to tatters. It is exactly so in Calcutta. There are 18 busy men, and as a consequence there are 57 critics, and now the Government proposes that there shall be only 12 busy men, and that there shall be 63 critics. They know perfectly well that it would be impossible that the work could be done in this way, and so they say, "We won't ask this Committee to submit their operations to the general body of the Commissioners, but we will give them autocratic powers." That means that in future in Calcutta there will be 12 busy men and 63 dummies. I believe this is based on an utter misconception of the difficulties that exist in Calcutta. It is not centralisation you want, but division of labour. Instead of 12 men doing the work, or 18 men doing the work, you want to give each one of the Commissioners a task to do. The city is very capable of being divided into sections at the streets running at right angles at various points, and the city ought to be divided into sections, and there ought to be at least a dozen Committees dealing with the municipal affairs, and also with the various sections of the city. Each Commissioner ought to be on that Committee for which he is best qualified, and probably 937 it would be better that no man should be a member of more than two Committees. If these Committees were allowed to elect their own Chairmen, and if those Chairmen formed the Finance Committee, you would have an organisation which would work extremely well. The Chairman, who is a perfect slave at present, terribly over-worked because he presides over so many meetings, could preside over the Finance Committee, and over the general body of the Commissioners. Of course, everything ought to go before the general body of the Commissioners, but you can quite under stand that when everybody is interested in the work, when everybody has a hand in the work, and when everybody has work which he specially wants to push on, he is not at all so likely to obstruct the work that has been done by the rest of the Commissioners. That is the secret of the improvement of the Calcutta Corporation. You say that the Commissioners talk too much and work too little. I say they will talk a great deal less if you give them more work to do. There is another reason why I believe the Government will fail in trying to do this work through 12 men. The Government nominees are to be eight, and are, of course, to be Europeans, otherwise there would be no reason for an alteration of the figures. Now, is the noble Lord sure that European Commissioners are the best for governing Calcutta? I very greatly doubt it. They will be commercial Europeans, and I, as one myself, and speaking of my own class, know, from experience, that commercial Europeans in India are extremely busy men. They have, between their business and their little bit of recreation, all their time occupied. They do not know the native language; they never visit the native quarters, except under exceptional circumstances, and their only knowledge of the natives is gained through their domestic servants. Neither have they any special sanitary knowledge, whether at home or abroad. Europeans are very valuable for their business capacity upon a Finance Committee, but I fear that on a General Purposes Committee Europeans would not be of very much use, and what will be the result? The result will be that the Chairman will have to do all the work, and that the 12 Europeans will meet and simply say 938 "Aye" to everything he suggests. I have not the slightest doubt, from my own knowledge that the Chairman, several of whom I have known personally in Calcutta, will be an exceedingly able man, but the responsibility will be too great even for an able man, and the grave difficulty in Calcutta—one of the gravest difficulties—is the fact that the Chairman will not keep his position. Chairman after Chairman has been elected, and has resigned. I do not know the reason why they have resigned, but there have been a great many during the last 10 years. There is a greater reason still to which I must allude. The government of Calcutta, or any other great Eastern city, or Indian city, ought not to be entrusted to the hands of 12 Europeans. Every man knows how strangely caste prejudice works amongst the natives. We call it prejudice, but to the people it is more important than life itself. Caste baffles the reformer at every turn, and caste baffles especially the sanitary reformer. It is not peculiar to the rich, but it is shared by the poor. I remember very well once passing some of my workmen who were engaged in partaking of their evening meal. The sun was just sinking to rest, and, as I passed, my shadow was thrown over their cooking utensils. In a moment every man was up, the food was thrown away, and the cooking utensils broken into a thousand pieces. My shadow had actually defiled their food. How can Europeans grapple with a race which is permeated by prejudices like these, except through the enlightened natives? You have 75 enlightened natives who manage the municipal affairs of Calcutta; but you forget that behind that 75 enlightened natives there are nearly 750,000 natives who are crushed down by prejudice and by superstition. We, in our fine, go-ahead, Anglo-Saxon way, drive through business, and issue this order and that order, and expect those orders to be obeyed, and before we know there is murder, and riot, and rebellion. It is very absurd, of course, but it is India. In the great assemblies you can manage without natives; in the Imperial and Legislative Councils you do not touch the life of the people, but in your municipal councils you have got to work through the natives, 939 whether good or bad, because your municipal life does touch the life of the people. This is especially true in Calcutta. I daresay the noble Lord will point to Bombay as an example, but that is a very different city. In Bombay there is a very mixed population. There are thousands of Parsees there who have no caste prejudices, and there are thousands of Jews, Malays, Armenians, and men of that sort, and life is altogether freer in Bombay. It is altogether different in Bengal. Perhaps it is a pity that it is so. Perhaps if we had to recreate the Bengali we should create him differently. But we must take him as he is, and let us remember that with all his faults he is an intellectual force in the East, and we must also remember that Calcutta is a great centre of thought and national life. I want to make a suggestion. I think that if local self-government is going to be satisfactory in India, the Government have to do something which they have not done at all, and which, as far as I know, they do not contemplate doing. The noble Lord knows well that Calcutta is not the only municipality that needs stirring up. Calcutta is always, of course, to the front, because it is the head-quarters of the Government; but there are other municipalities which require stirring up as much as Calcutta. Has it occurred to the Government that they have themselves to blame for the present state of things which exists in India, since local self-government was introduced there? Look at our own experiences in this country of England. Sixty years ago local self-government was introduced. Was it a success? Not a bit. Our local administrators did not learn their business all at once. Did the Government abolish it because of that? Did it turn the councils into lay figures and rule the great cities, few of which are greater than Calcutta, by committees of 12? No! They treated the Corporations as a schoolmaster treats dull pupils. They gave them an expert tutor to look after them. The Local Government Board, one of the finest institutions we have, was established in this country for the purpose of looking after our Corporations and our municipal life, and, under the watchful care of the Local Government Board, our Corporations have become what they are to-day. One would 940 have thought that with experience like this the Government of India would have started such a Local Government Board there; but whether it was thought that the natives of India were more clever than the people of this country, and that they could pick up their sanitary knowledge at their feet, I do not know; but the self-government was thrown into the water, and was left to sink or swim, and some municipalities look like sinking. As I have said before, Calcutta gets special attention, but there are places besides Calcutta where the same problem will have to be faced by the Government, and assuredly it would be very advisable that all these problems should be faced upon the same uniform plan. Is this proposal of the Government the uniform plan? If it is, then the Government is deviating from the line of policy which their predecessors for many years adopted in India, the policy of slowly but steadily teaching the natives to govern themselves. I do not think that it is the desire of the Government to upset the policy of their predecessors for a moment, but such a thought is the legitimate outcome of this Measure, because if the most cultured city in India is not fit for self-government, no other city is. If self-government is to be successful, it will not be on the present lines, and it will not be on the lines the Government proposes, but it will be by the creation of a powerful Local Government Board, which will have at its disposal the very best sanitary knowledge, both engineering and medical, that India can give. A Local Government Board of this sort should be in touch with every municipality; it should jealously watch the death statistics, and should have full power to inspect, advise, warn, arbitrate, and to compel. Such a Board would not interfere with self-government at all, but would help it immensely. It would take the burden of responsibility off the shoulders of the Lieutenant Governors, and it would be a tower of strength to every health officer, to every borough engineer, and to every chairman, and in my opinion it ought to have been established years ago. The Amendment speaks of a Commission; but I very frankly say if the Commission is simply to inquire into affairs in Calcutta, it would not be of great service, because 941 after all the facts about Calcutta are pretty well known already; but I do think that a Commission to inquire into local self-government through the whole of India, with a view to strengthening it and making it more powerful, would be exceedingly useful. I do trust that the noble Lord will encourage us to hope that the constitutional clauses, to which we so strongly object, will be hung up until he sees whether or not there is a better way.
§ On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,
§ * MR. REGINALD McKENNA () Monmouth
I do not know whether an apology is necessary for intervening in this Debate by one who makes no claims to special knowledge of Indian affairs, and has only followed them from afar; but when the proposed abolition of the Corporation of Calcutta was brought before me, it seemed to me one of those cases in which it became the duty of every private Member in the House to exercise his duty of safeguarding the interests of the inhabitants of India. What is it that the proposal of the Bengal Legislative Council amounts to? It is a proposal to repeal the power of local self-government in Calcutta. Local self-government has had but a very short trial there. I hardly think it is necessary to argue that self-government has proved a complete success in India. It is only necessary to show that so far it has not been without a considerable measure of success, and that there is no evidence whatever that it is a failure. During the very short period of time that has been allowed to it, it cannot be said that any fair opportunity has been given for local institutions to develop themselves properly. The only complaint, so far as one can discover, that is made against the existing Corporation of Calcutta is that it could not be relied upon to secure sanitary Measures, and perhaps the further complaint that the Members talk too much. So far as the defect in sanitation is concerned, it must not be forgotten that in Calcutta we have to deal with a city founded on a most unhealthy swamp, and that the difficulties in securing sanitation are immense. That these difficulties have not been satisfactorily dealt 942 with by the existing Calcutta Corporation cannot to a certain extent be denied. But we have got to compare the Calcutta of to-day with the Calcutta before self-government was introduced. If we go back prior to 1886, we have it on undoubted authority that the conditions were worse than to-day, and judging by the standard of what has been experimentally done, it cannot be said that the existing Council has been altogether unsuccessful in their sanitary work in Calcutta. No doubt, if the condition of that city were compared with the ideal city, we should be able to find many flaws in their government, but, looking to the state of things as we knew them before self-government was conceded, it is not disputed that the Corporation has worked well, and I do not think it is alleged, certainly not in any definite way, that they have been a failure. There is no charge of corruption against a single member of the General Council. Now, Sir, under these circumstances, with such a great change as that which is now proposed, one would naturally expect to find that an inquiry had been held, that evidence had been tendered, and that a case had been proved against the existing Corporation of defective administration. But there has been no inquiry, there has been no evidence tendered; no case has been attempted to be shown against the existing local authority. It is surely the duty of the British Government, in its control of Indian affairs, above everything else, to make sure that it is not outraging the public sentiment in India. We govern there to a certain extent, no doubt, by the strength of our Army, but surely we govern there far more effectually and forcibly by the fact that there is a general belief in the justice of Great Britain.
§ * MR. REGINALD McKENNA
My honourable Friend says "far from it," but take educated opinion throughout India, and we see that there is a general belief in our desire to do justice, and therefore it becomes more essentially necessary that we should do nothing which would injure the opinion that the educated natives may have in the sense of justice in this country. We have already of late years committed 943 acts which have steadily tended to undermine our influence, and we ought not to consent to a Measure such as this Calcutta Municipal Bill, which will leave the impression on educated opinion in India that we are going back on the policy, which we have supported for the last 25 years, that we no longer believe in the necessity for local self-government, and that we have abandoned our principles and the hopes we have held out to the natives of India. That would be a disastrous thing for us. I would certainly appeal for such a consideration of this Bill, and such a delay as is suggested by the Amendment in order to give an opportunity of satisfying opinion in this country, if not in India, that there has been a case for abolishing municipal institutions in Calcutta.
§ MR. GEORGE HARWOOD () Bolton
The noble Lord who represents the India Office has opposed the Amendment upon general grounds. I do not suppose that we can touch on the matter of the facts of the Calcutta Corporation. It may or may not be wise to make the change from narrow considerations. There may be, and must be, a good deal to be said on the other side of the question, otherwise our officials in India would not propose this change. But I recommend the Government that they should look at the matter from a broader point of view—a point of view, I maintain, which the House of Commons and the Government have the right to take. I am sure I speak the feeling of most honourable Members who are comparatively new to this House when I say that we are distressed and pained at the way in which Indian questions are treated in the House of Commons. When we realise the facts of the Indian Empire—facts which far transcend in poetry and in charm anything that the romancer or the writer of the wildest fiction can imagine; when one thinks that the people of this island in the far North Seas—a people few in number comparatively, different in race and character—should by force of circumstances have been led to wield the empire over a quarter of the population of the globe—over a country which is inhabited by one of the most interesting people in the world, with an ancient and complicated civilisation—one would have supposed that the House of Com- 944 mons would have been struck by the poetic charm of the situation—
§ After a count, and 40 Members being present, the honourable Member resumed,
§ MR. HARWOOD
I was saying, Mr. Speaker, that it strikes one that there is something almost pharisaic in the attitude of the House of Commons towards this great question. When we dispute the wisdom of this or that extension of the Empire, these extensions are always justified to us by the plea that they are for the spreading of civilisation and for the improvement of the people. But when we come to this House and watch the way in which this House acts, I am afraid we are driven to the conclusion that many of these high claims are mere fustian, and that they have no real solid basis. It seems to me that in regard to Indian questions this House may be divided into three elements. We first have those who take a particular interest in Indian questions, but they labour under the disadvantage that they seem always to have to take what may be called an Indian native view of the question. Then we have, in the second place, the official element, which confines its attention chiefly to giving very sparse information. The third element consists of the great mass of Members of the House of Commons who, if we may judge by appearances, take no interest whatever in Indian questions. I want to put before the noble Lord what I would call a reasonable House of Commons' view of this matter. I do not follow my honourable Friends in the statistics they have given, nor do I presume to follow in the least degree the particulars they have given of Calcutta or any other Corporation. But I think this House may look at the matter from a broader and more detached point of view. I would ask the House to consider whether their attitude towards Indian questions in general is a wise and right one. As to its wisdom, I know what one is often told—namely, that it is better to leave these questions to experts. India has an admirable batch of Civil Servants, who serve it well, whose advice may 945 well be followed, and who may be wisely left to take their own course. But I venture to say that does not exhaust our responsibility. As one who has casually passed through India, I cannot help saying that India is served by an admirable body of Civil Servants. If England had not the command of such Civil Servants for all its purposes throughout the world our Empire could not exist for a week. No one knows better than we do what patriotic, devoted, intelligent service is given all through the Empire by the Civil Servants. Therefore, no words shall fall from me in depreciation of the value of their services or in depreciation of the value of their advice. But what I want to put to the no Die Lord and the House is this—it does not always follow that the men on the spot are the best qualified to decide on the principles on which you should regulate your government. This is one of those cases in which an outsider often sees most of the game, and one must recognise that whilst the men on the spot have a thoroughness of knowledge and a particular quality of experience which we cannot possess in this House, yet very often the prospective is liable to be distorted by their close proximity to the scene. All over the world, when the Anglo-Saxon is brought into contact with natives, certain feelings are aroused in him which disqualify him from taking an impartial view of the situation as a whole, and I maintain that the House of Commons is just the body to put the prospective right and take a large general view of the question. Therefore, the House of Commons must not be led in matters of detail, or in the consideration of principle, blind-folded by the specific advice even of the most able Civil Servant. As to the wisdom of our attitude of aloofness with regard to Indian questions, I would ask, is it right that the House of Commons should adopt such an attitude? To speak on an Indian question is synonymous to speaking to empty benches in this House, and I claim that it is not wise that the House should depute its responsibility to its Civil Servants. We have lately heard a great deal said about empire—a great wave of Imperialism has gone over the country. I am not going to complain of that, but I think we ought to utilise the occasion to ask ourselves as a nation, and this House of 946 Commons as a governing organisation, whether we realise that empire has its corollaries and its duties, and that it is not merely enough to extend our territories. It seems to me that we are drifting into a very narrow view of those duties and those corollaries. In regard to empire, it seems to be taken for granted in the Press and in the House of Commons that if every European nation can agree with us everything is settled, and—
§ MR. HARWOOD
What I wanted to say was that the corollaries of empire imply two things—firstly, that in extending our Empire we should feel called upon personally and collectively to devote to that Empire the best attention we can; and, secondly, that we should train the people of these different countries which we take over, and endeavour to teach them what we call Western civilisation, one of the fundamental elements of which surely is to teach them self-government, and to train them gradually to depend more and more on themselves. We should make that our object even from a selfish point of view, because if we continue to extend our Empire we shall not have the force, the people, the intellect to continue to govern all these extending territories with the same minuteness of personal government that we had at first. That seems to me the crux of this question. Calcutta municipal government sounds an uninteresting subject, but underneath this, question, I beg the House and the noble Lord to consider, lies a still greater question, and a question which ought to seriously call forth the interest and the attention of the House of Commons. It is this—are you or are you not going to do all you can to extend amongst the 250 millions of your Indian subjects the principle of self-government? If you are, you should be very careful not to do anything which may be a discouragement to that principle. I venture to say, Mr. Speaker, that it must have struck anyone who has travelled in India, or who is at all acquainted with the facts of the case, how little so far we have extended this principle of self-government. One can- 947 not help feeling, when one is in that country, that it is a comity governed by a foreigner almost to the minutest details. Attempts have been made to encourage local self-government in Bombay and Calcutta, but if this Bill is carried it will be a discouragement to this extension of self-government, and also a discouragement to the hopes of self-government throughout the whole Empire of India. I think it would be a sad thing if we, as it were, damped the courage or chilled the enthusiasm of our subjects in India who are hoping that the British Government may teach them something of the principles and practices of self-government. I know very well that it is often said they are not to be trusted, and that they are not loyal. I attended one of the Indian Congresses, and I must say that if the expressions of loyalty which were uttered there had been used in an assembly of Englishmen they would have been characterised as most absurd and exaggerated. There is no doubt that amongst the people of India exists a great sense of gratitude to our Government, and a great sense of loyalty to our Government, but there is also a great hope that the British Government will give them the training of self-government, not that they may throw us off, but that they may learn from us how to govern themselves. The noble Lord may produce evidence of abuses in Calcutta, he may show us evidence from experts advising that in this or that matter, such as water or sanitary arrangements, it is not advisable to alter the form of government, but I would ask him not to be actuated merely by the consideration of Calcutta or by expert evidence, but to remember that if this Bill is allowed to pass the greatest discouragement will be put upon the hopes and aspirations of a nation which longs to be loyal, and which will be loyal if you train it in the traditions and hopes of your civilisation.
§ MR. SCHWANN () Manchester, N.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words on the general principle that we ought to do all that lies in our power to further self-government among the Indian people. I believe all of us who take an interest in India have noticed that in the last few years there has been a decided tendency on the part of the Indian Government to put the hands of the clock backwards. It is only a few 948 years ago that there was a decided attempt in Bengal to abolish the right of trial by jury. That proposal was dropped Largely in consequence of opinions expressed in the papers and in this House; and I believe since then the principle has been rather extended than restricted. I believe this present Bill for the municipal government of Calcutta arises to some extent from the retrograde feeling on the part of the Government of India. I remember when I was in India seven years ago, the great question then which seemed to agitate the retrograde mind of the officials was that there must be in every municipality or local body an Englishman as President. I need not say how galling that was to the Indian people. There are among the Indians as fine business men as any to be found in this country. I do not say that every Indian is qualified to be a Councillor or to take a position in the Municipal Council, but, at the same time, a great number of them are as well gifted in this respect as the English people. I know they felt the greatest repugnance at having Englishmen forced upon them as Presidents of their local bodies. No doubt the municipal bodies in India have been at times unseemly and unruly, but we have all read the papers in England, and have seen cases which certainly do not tend to throw great credit or dignity upon corresponding institutions in England. I remember when having charge of the Amendments to the Bill by which the Councils of India were to be increased in number, reading the reports of the English Commissioners on the subject, and without exception those Commissioners were all favourable to the increase. I should like to ask whether the plans and advice of the Indian Government for the benefit of the population of Calcutta were always up to the highest European mark. I do not think anybody could say they were. For a long time the Indian Government directed education, and I visited, with Her Majesty's Inspector, nearly all the schools in Calcutta, some of which had just been handed over by the Government to the new municipality of Calcutta. Those schools were most wretched institutions, some of them being held over stables, and others in badly lighted rooms. If the present Municipal Government of Calcutta is to 949 be blamed for that, I think some share of blame ought to rest on the Government which preceded it. I think the suggestion made by my honourable Friend the Member for Dumfriesshire, that a Local Government Board should be established in India, which should be able to foster and guide the different municipal institutions of India, is a very admirable suggestion. Of course, it is very difficult for anyone who has not been in the Government of India to say how that would fit in with the general arrangements, but it does not seem to me to be altogether impossible. I hope the Government will put aside any narrow official view and look to the wider interest of the Indian people. For my own part, I think it would be desirable to wait until the present Viceroy, Lord Curzon, who seems to have shown a considerable amount of acumen since he has been in India, has taken in the new circumstances and formed an opinion.
§ MR. SCHWANN
I am delighted to hear from the noble Lord that that will be so, and in view of that fact I think it will be a great benefit that this Debate has taken place. I hope the same good sense which has been shown in this House will be displayed in India, and that this Bill which we so much deprecate may not pass.
§ * SIR H. FOWLER () Wolverhampton, E.
Mr. Speaker, I wish, before I touch this question, to express my strong feeling of admiration for the manner in which this Amendment was brought before the House. I think the speech of my honourable Friend the Member for West Denbighshire, in moving the Amendment, was not only a very lucid and powerful speech, but it also stated the case which the House has before it to consider. I do not propose to go into the general question of the government of India, or the relationships between this country and India on the many interesting points mentioned by the Member for Bolton. Although I can see the line the noble Lord may take with reference to this Motion when the matter is still, so to speak, sub judice, still, as this House has so few opportunities of expressing its opinion 950 on Indian affairs, it is not out of order nor out of place that upon a question of this gravity the House should be in a position to express, I will not say a definite or a final opinion, but at all events a strong opinion as to the aspect this Measure assumes in its sight, and give the noble Lord some idea of what is the feeling in some sections, at any rate, of the House. The Bill is a very long one, consisting of 700 clauses, but what we have to deal with is the past history of this question in Calcutta, and is not a very old question. The municipal government in Calcutta dates back, I think, to the year 1876, and the present Measure is founded on a Measure which was introduced by Sir Richard Temple in that year. The Bill was reconstructed in a great many points in 1888, and what we are dealing with now is the municipality of Calcutta as it was constituted in 1888. It is now, in 1899, proposed to materially alter the municipal government in Calcutta. I think the first question we have to ask is, what has been the past history of this experiment? Has it broken down in any one of its conditions so flagrantly, so utterly, and, apparently, so hopelessly that it is absolutely necessary in so short a period as 10 years—and 10 years is a short period in Indian history—to pull the thing to pieces, and alter it again in a manner which would be very foreign to our notions of dealing with municipal government here, and which we have reason to think is unpopular in India? We have been very slow in our progress in municipal government in England. Generations passed before we arrived at the changes which have been arrived at in India within a comparatievly short period. Apparently the point at issue between my honourable Friend and the Government, not of India, but the Government of Bengal, is really confined to one or two points. As I understand the matter, the Council of Calcutta consists of 75 members. Fifty of those members are elected, as we elect them here, by popular voting—the vote of the ratepayers. Fifteen of them are nominated by the local Government, and the other 10 are elected by various bodies, such as the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, the Calcutta Trades' Association, and the Com- 951 missioners for the Port of Calcutta. Though the nominated element is rather strong, I think on the whole it is a prudent distribution of the elective principle. The House will observe that there is a complete majority—50 out of 75—composed of members elected by the voters. But there is an Executive Committee, or you may call it a Cabinet, which, as I understand, really does the work. The others are a sort of House of Lords, but the 15 appear to have the powers of the House of Commons. Sir Richard Temple and the other wise administrators who formed the original municipality of Calcutta followed, in the constitution of this Executive, precisely the same principle and the same proportions as were adopted in respect to the Council. This Executive Committee or Cabinet—call it what you like—consist at the present time of 18 members. Twelve of these members are elected by the 50 elected members of the municipal corporation, and the other six are elected in various proportions by the non-elected and the Government nomination. The whole question now under discussion turns upon the constitution of that second body. As I understand the new proposal, it is suggested to leave the original constitution of the 75 members as it was, but it is proposed to reduce the Executive Committee from 18 to 12, and instead of giving the elected members power to elect two-thirds, it is proposed to allow them to elect one-third only, which is practically to put them in a minority. In Sir Richard Temple's legislation no allowance is paid to the Commissioners for their work on this Committee. The work there is, as it is in England, unpaid, but the Bill which it is now proposed to introduce gives, for the first time, fees. It provides that—Every member of the General Committee shall be entitled to receive a fee of 32 rupees, and every member of a Sub-Committee a fee of 16 rupees for each Committee which he attends.That, I think, is an innovation in municipal government, and certainly a novel innovation in India, which I do not see any reason for adopting, except it may be, as I rather gather from one or two remarks made in connection with this Bill, with the idea of attracting certain classes of the community to discharge 952 these public duties—not the people who cannot afford to give the time to these public duties, but those who could afford to give the time, but are not disposed to give it without some inducement. I hope the Government will carefully consider before they sanction a principle which will have a very large development in India. But that is a question of slight importance compared with the other question. We are trying a great experiment in India, and one which, I think, has been successfully tried—the introduction, as far as possible, of self-government in the large municipalities. Of course they have made blunders, of course they have done stupid things, but I should like to know what municipal Corporation or County Council in Great Britain has not made blunders and done foolish and stupid things, has not retarded sanitation, and has not required legislative compulsion to make it do its duty, and has not, at last, had the heel of the Local Government Board brought down upon it in order to bring it up to the mark. We know that education in municipal work is a slow process in the western countries, and naturally it will be the same in India. Perhaps they talk too much, and talk too long. Even if they did, too much talking is not confined to municipal life. I am not sure that even in the Mother of Parliaments they might not have found that the objections based on that point were not without precedent. Obstructing public business is a serious offence, we know, but I do not think, at all events, that with Englishmen who understand the working of Parliamentary life, municipal life, and local self-government through all its ramifications, that agreement will weigh against the great principle of self-government. I know you cannot bring at once to perfection either in Calcutta or in Bombay, or anywhere else, similar institutions to that which you have in western countries, but the process of education must be carried on. I think the checks, if they are to be called checks, which the Local Government of Bengal introduced, under the sanction of one of the wisest Governors that Bengal ever had—I mean our old friend Sir Richard Temple—will be quite sufficient. The noble Lord may have had evidence before him, but 953 I see no evidence yet to justify the statement that the system has broken down, and that we should introduce into an experiment not yet ten years old a novel principle altogether of nominating officials on popular elective bodies, and throwing to the wind the idea of popular self-government. One honourable Member made a suggestion which I think is a good one—namely, that this Bill should be suspended for some little time in order that not only the new Viceroy should have an opportunity of considering it, but also that the Government of Bombay itself, which brought it in in rather too drastic a manner, should have an opportunity of reconsidering the position. A suggestion made by one of my honourable Friends is also to my mind a good one, that in the interests of the nation it would be desirable if some authority were appointed to see that these works should be carried out in moderation for the safety and the welfare of the whole of the community. My honourable Friend behind me points out there would be no objection to a suspensory clause being inserted in the Bill. These are all considerations which will weigh with the Government, and which I think will sufficiently safeguard the satisfactory working of the sanitary work of that department of the Government without imperiling what is a vital principle so far as India is concerned. Now there is one other point to which I should like to call the attention of the Government, and that is this, the unwisdom of exciting public feeling on questions of this sort. There is no doubt that there is considerable public feeling roused in Calcutta upon this question. It has been exaggerated, but the exaggeration is not confined to questions of this sort. I have received documents myself in which not very wise language is used with reference to the step taken, and improper motives have been imputed to the Government in connection with it. But, nevertheless, looking at the delicate relations between this country and India, looking at the Oriental minds and the rapidity with which this sort of feeling spreads and assumes dangerous proportions, it is not wise to put the Imperial Central Government of India and the Government of Bengal into conflict with public 954 opinion unless there is absolute necessity; they may have gone too far ten years ago: it may have been unwise, I do not say it was, that they should have given such large powers—the majority control—to these elective representatives of this Committee; but, having done it, it will be more unwise to go back. Prove the case, and if there is proved to be any public danger to the peace, health, or Government of Calcutta, I should be the last to shrink from supporting the Indian Government through thick and thin in such an emergency. But there is nothing of that sort. The rather philosophical view on the part of the Executive seems to be that there would be a more vigorous control if it were in the hands of the Government. We have educated our people in local self-government, and there has been a marvellous transition in the local government of this country, and marvellous results. There has been a marvellous change in the local self-government here and a marvellous public expenditure, with wonderfully good results on the same lines. Let us encourage self-government in India, do not discourage or repress it. So long as you run no risk encourage it in every possible way. I do not knew what view the noble Lord the Secretary for India will take in this matter, and we cannot expect him to say what he will do because the matter will come before him judicially, but still the final decision upon this Bill rests in his hands. But what I want, if I may say so, to indicate to him is that I think it would be desirable that the Bengal Government should not send this Bill home in its present state even to him, and unless they can make out a very much stronger case than they have they should be willing to wait until the experiment has had a fairer trial; until the new Viceroy, of whom a great many of us have the highest opinion, has had an opportunity of considering the matter. At all events, it should be kept in reserve until the House on a future day, and in a clearer light, has a better opportunity of pronouncing a sound judgment upon it.
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
I think anybody who has listened to this Debate must admit that all who have spoken have done so in a tone of great modera- 955 tion. There has boon a desire on the part of the speakers to eliminate so far as possible all points of controversy, and everyone has endeavoured to put forward proposals and suggestions which they believe to be for the benefit of India generally. My task in replying will also be easier because the Debate has been free from those reflections upon the Civil Service which have unfortunately too often characterised Debates upon India. If honourable Gentlemen would only recollect that these gentlemen are, as I believe, discharging the most difficult and onerous duties of any public service of the world, and doing it well, they would refrain from making such observations and relieve me as the official head of that service from taking the notice of them that I am bound to do. Now, Sir, the Motion which is before the House tonight is of a very peculiar character. Every honourable Gentleman who has spoken in support of it has assumed that he is speaking on and supporting a Motion promoting the best interests of the several local Governments in India, but to my mind there has never been a Motion made which so obviously strikes at the roots of government as this. For many years past every Government in office has endeavoured to promote local self-government in India by the creation of local Legislatures, which have, within limits, freedom of action, and during the time I have been in office I have added to these local Legislatures, one in Burmah, and one in the Punjaub. Of all these legislatures the most important is Bengal. But the honourable Gentleman comes down and proposes in the interests of local self-government, on one or two sections of a Hill of 700 clauses and 20 schedules, to summarily arrest the whole proceedings of the Bengal Legislature, to stop the investigation now being carried on by a special committee appointed by that body, and to institute a Commission whose business will be not to take an impartial view of the question under consideration, but whose duty is to be confined to reporting on the objections which can or may be urged. Now I do not think anybody who had any wish to promote local self-government in India could have brought in any Motion so destructive as this.
Will the noble Lord tell the House what is the composition of the local Legislature of Bengal?
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
It is composed, as all local Legislatures are, with the idea of representing as accurately as possible the constituent elements in which they live.
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
What is the use of the honourable Gentleman putting questions of this kind to me? Does the honourable Gentleman know the number of electors in Calcutta? Docs he know what the population of India is? The electorate of Calcutta is not 60 per cent, of the population. What I do say is that these local legislatures have to go through certain preliminaries before they can introduce any sort of Rill. In the first place they have to get the consent of the Viceroy, and then they have to get the assent of the Secretary of State in Council. Whoever is Secretary of State in Council—and I am sure the right honourable Gentleman will take this opinion of mine—derives the utmost benefit from the enormous experience of the members of this Council. There is no function which that body discharges more admirably than the investigation of matters which come before the local legislatures. This Rill was laid before the Indian Council and carefully examined before we assented to its introduction, and we reserved to ourselves the power to alter any of the details or any of the separate clauses of the Bill. The Rill then goes back to India, and passes through the ordinary procedure prescribed by the rules governing legislation, which is something similar to that prescribed by the Rides in this House. Then it comes back, through the Viceroy, to the Secretary of State for India, and it has an opinion pronounced upon it as to whether or not the Bill should be added to the Statutes. I am, therefore, in a position of some difficulty. I shall, in the course of a few months, in my capacity as Secretary of State, have to decide whether this Bill, in the shape in which it emerges from the Select Committee, shall pass into law or not; and, therefore, the House will understand in the speech that I make to-night that 957 I express no final opinion, but only make use of facts and arguments to traverse the statements which have been made sufficiently to show that there are two sides to this question. Well now, Sir, I think everybody will agree, and nobody more than my predecessor, the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, that municipal government is granted by a higher power to a local authority for the purpose of trying to establish an efficient administration of local affairs. Such authority is always delegated to the local authority by the higher power. Now that higher power can always withdraw those functions which it has so delegated if the local authority mates a misuse of them, or obviously neglects the duty imposed upon it. The fact that any local authority is representative in its character does not in the least free it from this general principle. But, at the same time, every Government, and every higher authority, wherever there is a local or municipal body representative in its character, is far more tolerant of its proceedings than if it were a body under its direct control and jurisdiction. Therefore, in India, as in this country, there has always been shown towards any municipal authority in the constitution of which the representative principle has entered considerable leniency as regards its shortcomings. But there is a line at which that tolerance is no longer possible, and that line is reached where the action or inaction of the body in question endangers the lives and the health of the community under their charge. Now, Sir, almost every speaker from the other side has assumed that, out fit sheer wantonness of spirit, and from a desire to destroy or retard the representative principle in India, this Bill has been introduced, and they seem to assume that the Indian Government—or, rather, the Bengal Government—is so short of work that it has gone out of its way to find itself this task. Now let me just bring the House back from the regions of imagination, into which a good many Members have wandered, to the conditions which at the present moment have to be faced by the Government in India. In the first place, plague is prevalent in certain parts of India, and at any moment plague may descend on the ports of Madras and Calcutta, and if 958 it once became epidemic in Calcutta it is absolutely impossible to calculate the amount of injury and harm it would do, not only to Calcutta, but to the whole of Northern India. No statistician, however competent, can in any way appraise the full injury which the plague has done in the past few years in Bombay, for not only has it damaged commerce and increased the actual local mortality, but it has created such terror that there has been a periodical exodus from that city of its inhabitants, carrying with them the germs of the disease into other portions of the Presidency. But it is not a mere question of the increase of mortality or the health of the people. Bombay is a great seaport town, used for the greater portion of the export trade of the West of India, and upon the export and import trade depend the occupations of tens of millions of people throughout Western India, and if plague once descends on the town, and curtails a portion of the export and import trade, the means of sustenance of these people is imperilled. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that the sanitary regulations of this great seaport town are not a mere matter of local interest. They are not merely matters of town interest, but they are matters of national interest, and for the sake of an abstract principle of representative givernment, we could not allow the lives, and interests, and the means of sustenance of tens and hundreds of millions of people to be endangered by the negligence which I have previously mentioned. And similar considerations apply to Calcutta. Well, now, every Gentleman who has spoken on the other side has assumed that the municipality of Calcutta has done its work well in recent years, and that there has been a marked improvement in the sanitary condition of that town. Well, I am afraid that that is not in accordance with the facts. The sanitary condition of Calcutta during the past few years has unquestionably deteriorated, and in ten years the death-rate has increased 30 per cent. In the earlier days, after the creation of the existing municipality, no doubt, the work was done well; but in recent years I think it is almost the universal opinion of everybody who has watched the proceedings of the municipality that there has been a steady deterioration, both in the character of those who serve on the 959 municipality as well as in the class of work done. I do not wish unduly to press this point, but perhaps the shortest and most convincing way in which I can prove to the House the accuracy of my contention is to quote one of the very many extracts from this Blue Book, which has only recently been published, on the sanitary condition of Calcutta. Fortunately we have only had a few sporadic cases of plague in Calcutta, and when the first case of bubonic plague occurred in Calcutta, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal appointed a Sanitary Commission to investigate as to the sanitary condition of Calcutta. This Commission was composed of some eight gentlemen of experience, and they appointed, in addition to that number, one of the most able medical officers in India, who was a man of exceptional sanitary experience, who was lent to the Corporation in order to discharge the functions of medical officer. He had a large number of places to look after, and 1his is what he says, reporting in October 1896:I assumed charge of the Conservancy Branch of the Health Department of the Calcutta Corporation ten days ago. My attention has been, during this period, confined chiefly to what are reputed to be the dirtiest, most overcrowded, and unhealthy wards. The knowledge which I have so far gained of the conditions prevailing justifies me in pronouncing these wards abominably filthy. It would require stronger language annica' to convey anything like a correct in than is to he found in the 'Encyclopædia Britpression of the appalling state of affairs. My services have been placed at the disposal of the Commissioners for three months. I venture to state, as an opinion, that if my services were placed at their disposal for twenty years I should not be able, within that time, with a mint of money at my hack, to bring the chaotic condition of affairs into anything like order.This is the opinion of a man of experience and an authority on the subject, and it is entirely endorsed by the reports of the Sanitary Commission and the various officers which they appointed. I have never heard it disputed that the sanitary condition of Calcutta, is very bad. Therefore, Sir, it must be remembered that the Government of Bengal had to deal with the difficulty that the sanitary condition of Calcutta was appallingly bad, and then arose the question—What was this condition of things due to? Was it due to inferior local administration, 960 or the difficulties surrounding the nature of the country, or was it in any way due to a failing in the administration? I wish to preserve a judicial temperament on this and all the questions relating to this Bill, but I am bound to say that the evidence brought before me shows that this condition of things is very largely due to the chaotic system of administration which has prevailed in Calcutta during the past few years. I quite agree that in this country there have been a good many instances in the earlier days of local self-government, of local authorities, either by omission or commission, misconducting themselves, and afterwards so far pulling themselves together as to greatly improve the locality which they administer. But we have got to deal with a very exceptional state of things in India. In this House we all greatly value the services of those gentlemen who are called "the members of the long robe." In India, too, these gentlemen assist, and they speak upon various questions, and as a rule the Debates are lengthy. Now, one-third of the Corporation of Calcutta is composed of barristers, and a certain number of these gentlemen have not had much opportunity of speaking outside the municipal chamber. During the last nine years there has been established in that municipality, I believe, what is called a Complaints Committee. It is obvious to anybody who is accustomed to local self-government what the result of this would be, and it strikes me that it would not tend to raise the grade, but to lower it, of officials in the discharge of their duties. Honourable Gentlemen have quoted one or two extracts from speeches of the ex-Lieutenant-Governors in support of the theory that Calcutta is very well administered, and that the sanitary conditions there are satisfactory. I interrupted the honourable Gentleman who made this Motion, and remarked that I did not think he had seen the significance of the extract he was reading. It was not a compliment to the municipality of Calcutta, but it was a compliment to the Chairman, and if the honourable Gentleman will read—as I wanted him to read—the concluding part of his own extract, he would see that the enumeration of the benefits is stated to be a sufficient and lasting tribute to the manner in which its first Chairman, Sir 961 Henry Harrison, discharged the duty of his responsible, difficult, and thankless task. The fact was well known to everybody who has lived in Calcutta, in recent years—and I should think the honourable Gentleman who seconded this Motion must be aware of the fact—that the only thing which made the Municipal Corporation, since it has been established, an efficient body was the extraordinary tact and ability which its first Chairman, Sir Henry Harrison, displayed. From the time of his retirement it has been exceedingly difficult to get anybody to take up his post. The endeavour to carry on, under almost impossible conditions, the executive work has been too much for almost all the able men who subsequently succeeded him. Those are the conditions of things which have to be considered. You have the plague in India, and you have a most deplorable sanitary condition in Calcutta; and, moreover, you have a body of gentlemen, no doubt actuated by the highest possible motives, but who unquestionably have the reputation of being, I believe, the most talkative local authority in the world. I do not say that that in itself is a reason why they should be disestablished, but when you have got this plague to deal with in Calcutta—and you must recollect that it is the most awful calamity by which the human race can be afflicted—you cannot allow talk to stand in the way of of work. The Indian Government have a strong charge upon them, they must protect the lives of the people under their charge, and they must take care, so far as they possibly can, that Calcutta does not run any undue risk from defective administration, or from defective sanitary arrangements. It was for these reasons that this Bill was introduced which is now under the consideration of the Bengal Council. Now, Sir, since that Bill has been introduced there has been a change in the personnel of that body as regards the official who is the Viceroy of India, as well as the official who is the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. The honourable Gentleman the Mover of the Motion has quoted, with approbation, the language of Sir John Woodburn which he used in connection with this very Bill only three months ago. He was then President of the Bengal Legislature. Now, if Sir John Woodburn was three 962 months ago capable of taking a fair and equitable position on what he admitted was a difficult question, why does the honourable Gentleman imagine that in the three months that have since elapsed he is now incapable of maintaining that attitude in the matter? Lord Curzon, too, has an absolutely unbiased mind on this question, because the sanction to introduce this Bill was given before he arrived in India, and therefore the House has the utmost guarantee that this Bill will, from those in high authority, receive absolutely impartial and fair consideration. Now, Sir, so far I have expressed no opinion as to details. It is, perfectly clear to those who have looked through the proceedings in past years, and are connected with the Calcutta municipality, that if an effective administration is for the future to be set up, it must not be a miniature model of the existing municipality. That was present, I believe, in the mind of Sir Alexander Mackenzie when he made the present proposal which is before the Bengal Legislature, which is to try and adopt a municipality for Calcutta similar to that of Bombay. In Bombay the Executive Council consists of 12 members, but the composition of the Committee is different from that which is provided for Calcutta. There are four nominated members in Bombay, and eight elected members, and the proposal in this Bill is that for Calcutta there should be four members nominated by the great trades interests, and four nominated by the electors of Calcutta. There is a great difference between the composition of the population of Bombay and that of Calcutta. In Bombay there is a great diversity of race and of religion—there is a large Parses element, and there is also a large Mohammedan element. Consequently the native members are much more disposed to take an independent view of the questions that come forward. In Bengal the natives are all much of the same race, and the class of members who are returned, so I am informed, are much of the same social standing and views, and have the same interests to support. One of the objects of Sir Alexander Mackenzie in wishing to have the nomination of four Government members was to include in them a Mohammedan to represent Mohammedan interests, which are at present inadequately represented in 963 Calcutta, and also to put in someone who would look after the interests of the poor Hindoos of Calcutta who live in the slums, and whose welfare at the present moment, in the opinion of the Bengal Government, is not sufficiently safeguarded. Therefore the House will understand that there is no ground whatever for the fear which seems to exist in the minds of honourable Gentlemen in this House that the idea of having so many nominated members was to select no one but Europeans; but, on the contrary, our object is to give a more adequate representation to the native races and classes who, under a limited franchise, have not received sufficient representation upon the Calcutta municipality. I agree with the right honourable Gentleman that we ought to try to preserve, as far as we possibly can, the representative element in this municipality, subject to one condition, which I consider to be of paramount importance, and that is the establishment of an efficient Executive. Now, Sir, I have stated the views and objects which the Bengal Government have in view in introducing this Bill, and I have shown that it has been introduced in accordance with the system of local self-government in India which has been promoted by every Government and every Party for 40 years past. I do hope, therefore, that the House will accept my assurance that I will, to the best of my judgment, impartially consider the many provisions in this Bill when it comes finally before me for judicial consideration, and I hope that the provisions will be so satisfactory as not to make it necessary to interfere with the action of the local Legislature in the manner suggested, for that is a serious interference in itself, and the more serious that it is an obstacle to passing legislation for the protection of health, and be at a time when the primary object is to fight against the worst of all enemies—namely, the plague.
SIR WILLIAM WEDDERRURN () Banffshire
I am extremely sorry that the noble Lord has not accepted this reasonable Amendment. He has laid much stress on a Health Officer's report upon the insanitary condition of Calcutta. Even in this country you might send an officer into the slums of the 964 Metropolis, and he would bring us a report of filth and disgraceful sanitary conditions. But this state of things cannot be made the ground for upsetting the institution of self-government. I quite agree with the noble Lord that nothing could be more terrible than this plague, and every effort should be made to keep it out. But, as a matter of fact, the Calcutta municipality have succeeded in keeping out the plague. They have got absolutely solid results to show, and they have the well-considered opinion of a whole series of impartial Lieutenant-Governors, who say that the work they have done has been as good as under the circumstances could have been expected. Now, it appears to me that the noble Lord has altogether failed to realise the history of this thing. The remedy, supposing Calcutta is in an insanitary condition, is not to upset local self-government there. The noble Lord does not realise that the whole history of Calcutta shows that from the very beginning the attempt to administer the affairs of the municipality by officials has been unsuccessful. It has been a distinct failure, whereas whenever the representative element has been introduced, and whenever the Commissioners have been elected by the people, you find a very great improvement in the sanitary conditions and health of the people. My honourable Friends have already referred to a whole series of favourable comments upon the action of the municipality, but I notice that the noble Lord lays special stress upon the opinions of two high officials—I mean the late Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and the present Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, Sir John Woodburn. I understand that the noble Lord is under the impression that the views which these two officials have expressed are altogether conclusive that this municipality must be fundamentally altered. Now, I have very carefully gone through all the Papers in this case, and I think anyone who will go through them will say that, even after the report of these two officials, the grounds are not sufficient to warrant the change which has been proposed. I would specially commend to the notice of the noble Lord a very interesting speech which Sir Alexander Mackenzie made at the opening of the great drainage works that have now 965 been started in the suburbs of Calcutta. Now, that speech, and the condition of things to which the speech referred are very important for two reasons. The first reason is this. It was in that speech, delivered at the opening of these great drainage works, that Sir Alexander Mackenzie first sprang on the Calcutta Municipality the terrible news that they were entirely disapproved of, and that they were going to be put an end to. That was the first hint the Municipality had of it. My second reason has to do with the sanitary condition. I am sorry the noble Lord does not consider it necesssary to give attention to my remarks, for I am commending to his special notice a speech by Sir Alexander Mackenzie to which I attach very great importance, because the treatment of the Calcutta suburbs forms the best comparison between the work done by autocratic officials and that accomplished by a representative Municipal Commission. If the noble Lord will refer to the report of the Commission which sat in 1884 to examine into the insanitary condition of Calcutta, he will find that certain recommendations were made for the improvement of the city, which were afterwards put into force. The main recommendation was that the suburbs, which had previously been under Government officials, should be transferred to the Municipality. That was simply because the condition of the city was so much superior to the condition of the suburbs, and it was admitted that at that time, in the suburbs north, east, and south of Calcutta, there was no underground drainage, there was no pure water supply, and the Conservancy arrangements fell far short of those in force in the town. That was the result of official work, and it was in consequence of that that the Commission recommended that the suburbs should be transferred to the administration of the Municipality. That body immediately took most vigorous measures to improve the Conservancy, and in the speech from which I have been quoting Sir Alexander Mackenzie congratulated them upon the drainage works which they had constructed. In opening them, Sir Alexander expressed his astonishment at their gigantic nature, and he referred to the great engineering difficulties which had had to be overcome; while, with reference to the delay which had occurred 966 in completing the works, he said that wise caution had been maintained, and that they had done well not to hurry too much in carrying them out. His praise was absolute, and instead of condemning and cursing the Municipality, Sir Alexander Mackenzie set to work to bless it. Perhaps I had better quote his words. He said—The Municipality has never shown niggardliness, or been backward in sanctioning money for either the water supply or the drainage.As regards the insanitary condition of Calcutta, I really do not know where the noble Lord got his information from. I recommend him to get it from Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who spoke of the health of the human population as quite remarkable.
§ SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
The noble Lord has drawn attention to the fact that Sir Alexander is the author of this Bill. I would, therefore, ask what is the great body of evidence upon which this revolutionary Measure is based. What are the reasons given by Sir Alexander Mackenzie? The first is that the Commissioners talk too much. But, surely, that is a very small ground for upsetting an institution 20 years old. I am certain that this House will grant a little indulgence to those who do talk a little too much. The second ground is that the Executive is not strong enough. But that is a stock complaint of all officials; they all want more power and more money to spend, and they all dislike the control of the ratepayers. It is within the experience of every honourable Member that great departments very properly desire the power to spend money, and that the interference of those who represent the ratepayers is always most disagreeable. Therefore, for the officials to say that the Executive is not strong enough is simply for them to repeat what officials are saying all the world over. The third reason given is a very curious one. It is that the Commissioners pay too much deference to special interests. It is very strange that the special interests that 967 they are accused of paying too much deference to are the interests of the ratepayers and of the general body of the people.
§ SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
I will prove that presently. I do not think the noble Lord can have read this, or he would not say No. As a matter of fact, if an accusation of paying too much attention to special interests is to be made at all, it ought to be made against the promoters of this Bill, because they give very special powers to wealthy European associations, to the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, to the Trades' Association, and to the Port Association, which all represent wealthy Europeans. These are all the reasons I can find. Sir Alexander Mackenzie tells us that the Municipality has done good work, and that Calcutta is quite remarkably healthy, and, as a reward for this, he is going to upset and break up their local self-government. What is the remedy he proposes? He proposes that a great revolutionary change shall be made in the constitution of the Commission. That proposed change has been explained by my honourable Friend. But what strikes one as very curious in Sir Alexander's statement is the absolute misconception of the condition of things. He tells us that this Municipality has not been a success, because its constitution has been taken en bloc from the most advanced English models. He then goes on to instance Birmingham. He says that it is just like Birmingham. I am sorry the right honourable Gentleman the Colonial Secretary is not here. I think he would repudiate anything of the sort. Under the existing condition of the Municipality a goodly number of the members of the Corporation of Calcutta are nominated by the Government. Its chairman is appointed by the Government. I think Sir Alexander Mackenzie gives no evidence of a very careful political study of municipalities, if he supposes that the Government nominate members of the Birmingham Council or appoint the Lord Mayor of that city. But this is only one instance of the happy-go-lucky way in which this matter has been treated. Instead of relying upon a good body of evidence 968 they have taken fanciful ideas of this sort in order to justify the change they are proposing. The curious thing is that, having told us that the only remedy is to make a great constitutional change, Sir Alexander Mackenzie tells us immediately afterwards that it is not required.
§ SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
The noble Lord, I understand, has not read this speech. I will quote some of the words uttered by this Gentleman, who is proposing to upset existing institutions. He says—I believe, as a matter of fact, you could do nearly all that you wanted for the future under the existing law.How do you get over that? Where is the necessity for a change if you can do all you want under the existing law? And, in order to emphasise that, he says—With most of the evils depicted by the Sanitary Commissioners your existing Act gives ample powers to deal.This comes from the gentleman upon whose sole authority the noble Lord is upsetting the work of 20 years.
§ SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN
I have not heard of any other authority except that of Sir Alexander Mackenzie and Sir J. Woodburn, and as to the latter Gentleman, I shall have to make a few remarks. Sir John, who reechoes the opinion of Sir Alexander Mackenzie as to there being too much talk indulged in by the Commissioners, and as to the alleged lack of motive power, also shows a great misconception of the facts; he is nearly as much mistaken as Sir Alexander Mackenzie. He says he would be opposed to this Bill if it upset self-government, but he considers it certainly cannot be alleged that it infringes in any way the principles of self-government. I venture to assert that that is a most extraordinary statement for a man in a responsible position to make. 969 Under the proposed Bill the elected members of the Council will be in a hopeless minority, and yet an experienced administrator does not think that that is upsetting the self-government of that institution. Next as to the complaint of great interests being overborne by one single interest. On this point the noble Lord is under a misapprehension. Sir John Wood-burn gives an explanation of what the single interest was. He says—"Great interests are overborne by the single interests of the ratepayers." Of course it may be very well to administer Calcutta in the interests of the European merchants, but if so, it is in the interest of the classes and not the masses, it is not proper self-government. There have been no fewer than seven large public meetings held in Calcutta between the 21st of December and the 7th of February to consider the case of the ratepayers. The last meeting was convened by a very distinguished gentleman, Sir Romesh Mitter, the late acting Chief Justice of Bengal, and the chairman was Mr. Ghose, a member of the Viceroy's Council. At these meetings the ratepayers stated their case in the most moderate way, and it seems monstrous and extraordinary that this House should not give these people a hearing. We do not say that one side is right and the other wrong, but we do say that this important institution ought not to be destroyed until it is proved to be guilty of real wrongs to the people. I may, perhaps, point out that Sir John Woodburn joins his praise of the Municipal Commissioners with that of the others. He praises their public spirit, their knowledge and activity. All he says against them is that perhaps they have shown too much zeal, but he does not say that the zeal was indiscreet; on the contrary, this is what he says—The Municipal Commissioners have shown so much good sense and public spirit in all the greater matters of the past, that I have entire confidence in their bearing in the future.What more could be said of any body of men? But he says more—he speaks of the immense value the assistance of these people was at the time of the plague in calming the fears of the people and establishing temporary 970 hospitals. In every way these men helped willingly and with admirable results. And yet this House is to be asked to allow this Bill to go on upon the feeble chance that the noble Lord will veto it—a thing we know he never does when once a Bill has been placed on the Statute Book. All we ask is that the Government shall not rush the Bill through after hearing one side only, as the noble Lord has suggested, but that both sides shall be heard, so that whatever is right may be done. In conclusion, I should like to make three suggestions to the noble Lord. In the first place, I would ask him to compare the state of the sanitation of Calcutta now with that which existed before self-government; secondly, that he should see whether the progress made in sanitation should have been greater looking to the funds available; and, thirdly, whether such progress was impeded by defects in the constitution. The eyes of all India are centred in Calcutta, and it is, therefore, to calm their feelings and to show that the authorities are willing to hear them, and not condemn them unheard, that I most earnestly trust that the noble Lord will see to these matters.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS
Mr. Speaker, I hope I may be allowed to say one word. We recognise that this Bill at the present time is under consideration, and we know that the objectionable clauses will have to receive the approval of the Viceroy and Sir John Woodburn before they are recommended to the noble Lord for his kindly approval. Under these circumstances, reserving to ourselves the right of raising this question at a later stage, and in the hope that these clauses will be so drafted as to meet our views, I desire to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Amendment by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question again proposed.