HC Deb 08 February 1900 vol 78 cc919-20
SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to an allegation contained in a circular letter, dated 27th December last, from the Government of India to the local governments, to the effect that the people in the famine districts are extremely ready to throw themselves on the charity of the State, and to avail themselves of every form of relief; whether he is aware that this statement has excited surprise and dissatisfaction in India; and whether he will state the evidence upon which the allegation is made, and since what period it is suggested that this feature has developed itself in the Indian character.


I have seen the circular letter dated the 27th December to which the hon. Member's question refers, but I cannot accept his description of its contents without some important qualifications, and I am not aware that it has caused dissatisfaction in India. The circular suggests, as the result of practical experience and investigation of the relief system as now worked, that care should be taken not to allow the revenues of India to be expended for the benefit of persons who are not actually in need of it; but it further states that the Government of India fully approves the prompt action which has been taken to organise famine relief on a large scale, and that they share the anxiety of the local Governments that relief shall be made accessible from the outset to the people.