HC Deb 19 June 1900 vol 84 cc439-42

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will state to which Native States advances of money have been made to help them in dealing with the famine, and what the amount has been in each case.


On the 31st May I telegraphed to India for a detailed statement of advances made to Native States for famine purposes, but I have not yet received the figures up to date. Papers which have come before me show that some time back there had been advanced to States in Rajputana, £250,000; to States in Central India, £50,000; to States in Kathiawar, £50,000; to States in the Central Provinces, £20,000. A famine loan of £500,000 has also been sanctioned for the Hyderabad State under the guarantee of the Indian Government.

SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverampton, E.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether, having regard to the appeal made by the Viceroy of India to the Lord Mayor of London for charitable contributions on behalf of the sufferers by the famime in India, the time has arrived for asking Parliament for a grant from Imperial funds. In putting this question I should like to add at the end the words "to the Indian Exchequer," in order to make it quite clear that I am not proposing that the grant should be made to the Lord Mayor's Fund.


The Viceroy's letter was intended to give information as to the purposes to which the money subscribed had been applied, the good results obtained, and the need of further subscriptions for the same objects. But it does not affect the question whether the financial resources of India are sufficient for the task which the Government of that country has undertaken in connection with the relief of famine, a task which, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware, is distinct from that to which the money raised by subscription is applied. As to the financial resources of the Government of India, I may state that we have in this country an untouched borrowing power of £9,000,000, a portion of which I propose to utilise next month.

MR. MACLEAN (Cardiff)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether medical authorities in India have condemned the practice of collecting together people seeking famine relief in largo camps which are specially liable to attacks of epidemic disease, instead of dis- tributing them near their own homes; whether Mr. Monteath, Chief Secretary to Government, has reported that it is undoubtedly true that there is not sufficient establishment in India to deal adequately with the demands for relief, and that it is not supposed that the rules and orders of Government are perfectly carried out; and whether the India Office still considers that the resources of India are sufficient to deal with the famine.


I desire to ask a supplementary question, as the noble Lord has not really answered the question I put to him. I asked him whether there was to be a grant from the Imperial to the Indian Exchequer, and the noble Lord, in reply, said they were going to add to the Indian National Debt an order to avoid such a grant. I cannot conceive that that was his meaning, and I will therefore ask him if no grant is to be made from the Imperial Exchequer until the borrowing power of nine millions sterling is exhausted.


I pointed out that the Indian Government have in this country borrowing powers to the extent of £9,000,000. Any grant made by the Imperial Government towards India must be made by loan, and therefore I assumed my right hon. friend would gather that it was only reasonable that the Indian Government should try to realise its own resources before it came to Parliament. I have over and over again informed the House that if assistance is needed it will be granted.


Does the noble Lord say that the Viceroy of India does not use the resources at his disposal for the relief of the famine, though the people are dying by thousands?


I did not say anything of the kind. In reply to the question of the hon. Gentleman on the Paper, I have to say that I am not aware that the opinion of medical authorities in India is against largo relief works. It is, of course, obvious that there are some disadvantages in collecting the sufferers from famine in largo camps, but the system is, on the whole, working well and appears to be the only one under which relief on a large scale can be effectively supervised. I have no knowledge of any such report as that which is attributed in the question to a secretary of the Bombay Government. I have reason to believe that, although there must be much misery and distress connected with so unparalleled a drought, the resources of the Indian Government, as matters now stand, are equal to the task undertaken by that Government in respect of the famine.

MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)

The noble Lord has said it would be impossible to grant aid without having recourse to a loan, but would it not be possible in view of the exigencies of the famine to remit to the Indian Government for this year or for a given number of years certain annual payment made for military and other services by the Indian Government to the Home Government.


Order, order! That is an entirely new question.