§ MR. CAINE (Cornwall, Camborne)
The Amendment that stands in my name refers to the Report of the Royal Commission appointed two or three Parliaments back. This is the first opportunity which has presented itself to the House of raising any discussion on the recommendations of the Commission. The Commission was appointed in consequence of an Amendment moved to the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech in 1895 by Mr. Naoroji.* As a result of the debate, the Secretary of State for India, Sir Henry Fowler, agreed to the appointment of a Commission. The Commission was appointed by common consent of both Front Benches, the Members being Lord We by, Mr. Courtney. Mr. Jackson, Mr. Curzon, Sir D Stewart, Sir E. W. Hamilton. Sir R. H. Knox, Sir J. Peile, Sir A. Scoble, Mr. Ryder, Mr. Buchanan, Sir W. Wedder-burn, Mr. Naoroji, and myself. Later on, when Mr. Curzon was appointed Viceroy of India, Sir R. Mowbray joined the Committee. The inquiry lasted five years, and the Commission reported in* See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. xxx., p. 567.1106 April last year. The Report was a very complete one. There was a Minority as well as a Majority Report, but the minority agreed in the main with the majority. They simply carried the recommendations of the majority a step, further.
The Report is divided into three sections—first, the financial machinery of India; second, the progress of expenditure; and third, the apportionment that takes place in the expenditure between India and the United Kingdom. I only intend to deal with the third section of the Report.
My Amendment asks that those recommendations of the Report on which unanimity has been secured should not only be carried out in. the future, but should be made retrospective. It goes a. step further than that. It calls attention to the recommendation in the Report, made by the minority of the Commission, it is true, but none the less deserving the attention of Parliament on that account, and suggests that, to save further inquiry and delay, a lump sum should be paid by the Government of the United Kingdom to India in settlement of the arrears of the items which the Government has arranged shall in future be transferred from the Indian to the British Exchequer. The definite recommendations made by the Commission unanimously were that the Imperial Government should make a grant in aid of the charge for the India Office of £50,000; half the military charges for Aden, £72,000; increased contribution to the charges for Persian Mission, £5,000; and half the cost of transport of troops to and from India, £130,000—or a total of £257,000. How have the British and Indian Treasuries agreed to meet these recommendations? They give the full amount recommended, but raise it from other sources. They grant for the transport of troops,. £130,000; the military charges for Aden, £100,000; the Zanzibar maritime cable, £10.000; China establishments, £12,500; and Persian Mission, £5.000. These items amount to £500 more than the sum recommended by the Majority Report of the Royal Commission, and agreed to by the minority. I ask the House to note that all these items will from 1st April be charged to the British Exchequer instead of the Indian. If it 1107 is just that this should be done in the accounts of 1901–2, it is equally just for last year, and for every previous year, so long as any of these misappropriations have taken place. But these items are in themselves utterly inadequate to meet the justice of the case. Half the small charge, for Aden, £100,000, is agreed to by the British Treasury, but in my judgment the whole of these charges for Aden ought to fall on the British Exchequer. Aden is not an Indian port. Aden is the key to the great commercial routes to Australia and China, as well as to India itself. It is a position absolutely essential to the Imperial interests of Great Britain. It holds precisely the same position to the Suez Canal on the south as Malta holds on the north. Take the proportion of shipping and the trade involved which has called at Aden during a year. In recent years the trade between the United Kingdom and British India has averaged about £70,000,000; between the United Kingdom and other Asiatic countries, £45,000,000; between the United Kingdom and Australasia, £55,000,000; so that the proportion of the Eastern trade of this country other than that with India using this fortified coaling station is as £100,000,000 to £70,000,000. Therefore, if India is to bear only her proportion on the basis of trade relations, the recommendation of the Royal Commission and the arrangement between the British and the Indian Treasury would have been £145,000, rather than £100,000. I have no intention of claiming the whole, but if India is compelled to bear any of the charges for Aden surely the Colonies ought to bear their fair share also. Aden exists quite as much for the defence of East Africa, the Mauritius, Ceylon, the Straits Settlements, Hong Kong, and the Australasian Colonies as for that of India. Each of the places should bear its share, and if they do not India should not.
Take the item of £10,000 for the Zanzibar and Mauritius cable. A cable was made eighteen years ago between Zanzibar and Mauritius, communicating with the mainland. A subsidy was granted from the Imperial revenues for this cable, and the British Treasury Charged £10,000 of this to India. In 1894, when I raised this question, I was 1108 told that the reason this £10,000 was charged to India was the important strategic position of Mauritius with regard to the defence of the Indian Empire. If any hon. Member will take the trouble to look at the map he will see that Mauritius is about 2,000 miles from Aden, and about the same from India, and there being no cable from the Mauritius to India, it is ridiculous to talk of it as a. position of any importance whatever with regard to the defence of India. This is £10,000 of sheer plunder from the Indian Exchequer by the British Treasury. Why? Because it is unjust. If it is dropped to-day it ought to have been dropped eighteen years ago. I have no hesitation whatever in claiming on behalf of the Indian Government and the Indian people that this unjust charge for the eighteen years should be refunded. Let us note what is stated in the communication from the Treasury to the India Office of 11th September, 1900, published in a recent Paper giving the details of the apportionment which has been made. This sentence occurs with reference to this charge—For their part," says the British Treasury, "they readily agree to give up the Indian contribution of £10,000 a year towards the subsidy of the Zanzibar-Mauritius cable.Why has not the Secretary of State long since availed himself of this readiness on the part of the Treasury? I have never before known the Treasury to show any readiness to part with £10,000 a year. The justice of the case really needs no other evidence than this sentence from the Treasury itself.
Then there are the matters of the Persian Mission and the establishments in China. The House would hardly believe that of the charges connected with our Embassy in Persia and our consular establishments in China India is compelled to pay a very large portion. The Consulates in China are a great deal more important to our wealthy colony of Hong Kong than they are to India, especially with regard to the trade of Hong Kong, which is drawn almost entirely from the ports at which these various consulates are established. There is a large trade carried on by our Australasian colonies with China, but not one penny of these charges is cast on our wealthy colonies. India has had to bear 1109 her share for many years, but now relief is given to the extent of £12,500. With regard to the Persian Mission, for the last fifty years we have been taking £7,000 a year out of the pockets of the Indian taxpayer to pay for our British Ambassador at the Court of Persia. At last we have been able to get from the British Treasury a concession of £5,000 of this amount, but still some £2,000 is kept standing. The total payments by India to the British Treasury in regard to diplomatic and consular charges in countries outside India amount to £43,000. These are Imperial duties, and every penny of the charges ought to be charged on Imperial funds and not to India. Why is this £2,000 retained in regard to the Persian Mission? If it is unfair to charge the £5,000, it is unfair to charge the whole £7,000, and it is ridiculous that the British Exchequer should expect India to pay towards the salary and expenses of our Persian Ambassador. This amount with regard to the establishments in China is one of the items the Secretary of State has thrown in; it is not asked for by the Majority Report, nor indeed is it asked for by the Minority Report, except indirectly in connection with Imperial charges and consular and embassy services. The Minority Report was signed by three members of the Commission—Sir William Wedderburn. Mr. Naoroji, and myself—who had some claim to represent the Indian people; we simply accepted the recommendations of the Majority Report, and did not go into details. That this amount has not been asked by the majority shows, I think, the extreme moderation of their demands, because here it is thrown into their laps by a generous Treasury. The arrears under both these heads should be refunded. Surely the terms to which the Treasury "readily agree," and others which are given without any recommendation from the Commission should in common justice include the restitution of arrears. I have endeavoured to show that the £257,000 transferred under all these items fails to meet the full justice of their own particular claim by at least £47,000 on the recommendations of the Royal Commission. This would raise the amount which ought to be paid from £257,000 to £304,000.
1110 Then the Treasury and the India Office entirely ignore the unanimous recommendations of the Commission that a grant should be made by the Imperial Government in aid of the charges for the India Office amounting to £50,000 a year. No doubt the Secretary of State will urge that the total grant proposed equals the total grant recommended. But that is a futile argument, because, first of all, the total amount recommended is made up of specific items, of which this £50,000 is one, and then the arrangement made by the Treasury and the India Office is also composed of specific items, of which this £50,000 is not one. Does the Secretary of State say that anyone of these items is unjust? I am sure he will say nothing of the kind. That leaves us clear to consider the justice of the claim for the £50,000, which is not included in this arrangement, but was. unanimously recommended by the Commission. Let me, as a simple way of putting the case before the House, read a brief summary from the Report of the Commission (p.90) showing how they deal with and why they recommend this, grant of £50,000:—The charge for the India Office is at present borne entirely by India. It may, however, be urged that, in a special sense, both the United Kingdom and India are interested in that organisation which exists in the capital of the Empire, and there brings together in a kind of co-ordination the Government of India and the United Kingdom, and we have considered the question whether the charge of this organisation is not a proper subject of apportionment. Light is thrown on this subject by a study of the treatment of similar questions in relation to colonies, whether Crown or self-governing. Historical circumstances explain the origin of the difference, but in relation to the colonies the ultimate solution arrived at is: the United Kingdom pays the whole cost of the committee of its own Government which represents it in relation to the colonies; the colony pays the whole cost of agencies established here in this country for the transaction of its business. Upon this principle the cost of the India Office would be thus apportioned; its Parliamentary representatives, with an adequate staff, would be paid by the United Kingdom, and the rest of the establishment would be paid by India. There is, however, a difference between the two cases. The East India Company paid the whole charge of its establishment in England, including that of the Board of Control. The Crown, in taking over the government of India, took it over on existing conditions, and the present arrangement is sanctioned by tradition and long practice. Tradition and long practice have established another arrangement in the colonies. A con- 1111 tribution has never been asked from them, and the great self-governing colonies throw so little work on the Colonial Office, that their share of the charge of that office would be infinitesimal. Although, therefore, in theory they might fairly be asked to contribute, it would not be worth while to raise the question with them for so small a result. The cases, therefore, are not, on examination, as parallel as they appear at first sight. It is, however, a fact that the colonies do not contribute to the charge of the Colonial Office, and in order that there may be no ground for allegation that India is treated less favourably than other parts of Her Majesty's Empire, we recommend that Parliament should be asked to make a contribution towards the charge of the India Office. This contribution may be made the subject either of a charge on the Consolidated Fund, or of an annual vote in aid of the home charges of the establishment of the Secretary of State. A choice between the two methods of procedure involves a a question of policy. These home charges amounted in the years 1897–8 to £240,000. The larger part, however, of this sum represented costs of ordinary Indian administration. The vote from the Colonial Office, including non-effective allowances, amounts to about £50,000 a year, and a like amount would be, we think, a fair contribution towards the cost of the India Office.For the reasons I have read the Commission unanimously recommended this grant of £50,000. The Secretary of State for India is only an hon. Member of the Cabinet of this country. He is none the less efficient on that account, but is it fair that the great and valuable services of the Secretary of State for India should be available for the United Kingdom and the rest of the Empire as a Member of His Majesty's Cabinet, with all the responsibility which Cabinet rank involves, without one penny being paid towards his salary by the taxpayers of this country? It is most unfair, and I think that at any rate the salaries of the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary should be paid by this country and not by India. The whole cost of the Secretary of State's establishment ought to be paid by the British Exchequer. Why has the recommendation as to this amount been ignored? I hope the right hon. Gentleman in his reply will inform us. It cannot be from pecuniary or economical reasons, because the declared object for the other items is that they will simplify the accounts between the two countries. The real object if the recommendation being ignored is because if it were adopted it would give this House a due and proper opportunity of raising a debate on Indian 1112 questions on the Vote for the Secretary of State's salary. He is the only Minister of the Crown who has this exclusive privilege. Upon the salary of any other Minister, whether it be great or small, reductions may be moved, and this, that, or the other question raised affecting the administration of the Department to which the Minister belongs. But it cannot be done with regard to India, and the result is. although any question affecting any one of our colonies, either Crown or self-governing, or the Isle of Man or Jersey, can be raised upon the salary of the Colonial Secretary or the Home Secretary, that any question, no matter how great its urgency, affecting India cannot be raised in this House at all except on an Amendment to the Address, a motion for the adjournment of the House—a course to which nobody likes to resort if it can be avoided—or upon the Indian Budget. If any portion of these charges were placed on the Estimates it would give the House just that opportunity which is most needed by Members taking an interest in Indian questions of raising matters at a time when they could be properly discussed by the House
There are many other recommendations to which I should like to refer, but I do not wish to take up the time of the House more than is necessary, as there are many other Amendments to follow, and I wish to make way for them. I feel I have sufficiently made out the case for my Amendment from the recommendations with which I have already dealt, but I cannot refrain from dwelling upon one particular point recommended in the Minority Report which has been powerfully accentuated since the Report was completed. I will read Clause 99 on page 187 of the Report—We are strongly of opinion that India ought no longer to bear the heavy financial strain of 75,000 British troops. At the present time about 10,000 of these troops have been withdrawn from India for employment in the Transvaal War, while 5,000 native troops have also been withdrawn to replace British troops transferred from Ceylon, Mauritius, and Singapore for service in South Africa. If in a time of war, when the strain is great on the Empire, it is considered safe to withdraw 15,000 troops from India it is clear that on a peace footing the number of British troops may be safely reduced by 20,000. We do not recommend their withdrawal from India, where they 1113 should continue to be quartered, but equity requires that the revenues of India should be relieved of their entire charges, and that they should be treated as part of the reserve forces of the Eastern portion of the British Empire generally and borne in future upon the Army Estimates in that capacity.A few days ago I put a question to the Secretary of State asking what troops belonging to the Indian Army were at present stationed in countries outside the frontier of India, and the right hon. Gentleman told the House that there are now 5,200 British troops belonging to the Indian Army in South Africa, 300 British and 16,300 native troops in China and Hong Kong, 1,500 native troops in the Mauritius, 800 at Singapore. 2,100 British and 800 native in Ceylon, and 600 natives in Juba Land— a total of 7,600 British and 20,000 native troops. I think I am right in understanding that these are men only, officers not included.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord G. HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
was understood to intimate that officers were included.
§ MR. CAINE
In my question I asked only for men. I did not put officers in. But it does not matter, the figures are near enough for my purpose. If there is one thing more than another necessary in the interests of India, and especially for the prevention of these recurring famines which wring our hearts whenever we read our papers, it is that money should be available for irrigation and other purposes which tend to prevent famine. The reason these enterprises are paralysed in India is the enormous amount of the military charges which India is called upon to bear. It is no concern of mine to-day to go into the question as to whether the Army is too great or too small in India, but here is the actual fact, that the Imperial Government think it perfectly safe at this moment to denude India of 30,000 British and native troops. Are these 30,000 wanted permanently in India or are they not? That is the question. If you can take them away at a time like this you can do without them altogether. We are going to have debates on Army organisation. I would recommend the Secretary of State for War to realise that he might easily, with 1114 perfect safety, add 30,000 to the British Army from India. I want the House to remember the history of the administration in India during the last five years. I do not want to go into the question of whether that administration has been right or wrong, but there is no doubt whatever-, according to the Government, that India has been seething with sedition. Personally, I deny it altogether. But the Government have suspended the Habeas Corpus Act or its equivalent in India. If that had been done in Ireland I do not know what hon. Members below the gangway would have done, but there would have been ructions at any rate. Men have been prosecuted for sedition, and a stringent Press Act has been passed. On the top of this so I called sedition there have been plague, pestilence, and famine, and the condition of things in India has been such, according to the policy of the Government, as to make it most unsafe to take these troops out of the country. I think the fact that they have been taken out of the country settles once for all the controversy as to whether India has been seething with discontent. It is perfectly clear that nothing of the sort was the case. But if it was safe to denude the country of all these troops at a time when India has been more strained than at any time since the Mutiny, it is safe to keep them out altogether. But I do not propose that they should be kept out altogether. Leave them there, but inasmuch as they are continually being used by the Government whenever there is any trouble in the East they ought, though kept in India, to be charged against British revenues and looked upon as a reserve force for the defence of the whole Empire.
My Amendment suggests that all these arrears and the ignored recommendations should be lumped together and sunk once for all in a liberal grant in relief of the Indian famine. It is very difficult always to go back on these various difficult and intricate questions of apportionments, and I believe the Indian people will he quite willing to accept such a settlement. They know the extent of their grievances just as well as we do in this country, but I think in the face of a large grant they would accept the clean slate, and let the 1115 dead past bury its dead. The Treasury and the India Office agree to £257,000. As I have already said, if it is right now that this sum should be paid by the British Exchequer instead of by the Indian Treasury, it has been right ever since the apportionment was made. Taking it at the low figure of twenty years, it comes to a sum of £5,000,000, which, to put it plainly, has been cheated out of the Indian Government and the Indian people by the British Treasury, while, if interest at the rate of 3 per cent. is added, the amount is about £7,000,000. I am not alone in making this recommendation. One of the greatest authorities on Indian questions, the Earl of Northbrook, an ex-Viceroy of India, said it would be only just if twelve years, at any rate, were refunded to the Indian people. No grant can equitably extinguish the enormous sums of which India in the past has been defrauded by the British Exchequer. The claim of India as laid before the Commission by the Indian Government was twofold. They first asked for a specific reduction on various services, and, secondly, they appealed for liberal treatment in the apportionment of common charges. An attempt has been made by the Treasury to meet the first; but the second can only be met by a generous and liberal grant from the one Government to the other. I plead for this on the ground of equity, and I leave it to my hon. friend who will second the Amendment to plead for it on the ground of generous sentiment to a great dependency which has borne sore trouble and affliction with bravery and to the admiration of the whole world. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
§ * MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
It has always been said that if ever India is lost to this country it will be through the action of this House. My opinion is absolutely contrary to that dictum. If that event should ever occur, it will be through the inaction of this House. I think there is proof of this fact. Two cases are before us, one of which has been given in detail by the hon. Member for Camborne. He has explained that owing to the action of the Royal Commission £257,000 is now to be deducted from the payments of India to England. Who 1116 are the gentlemen who appealed for and demanded this Commission? They were nearly all Members or ex-Members of this House. The hon. Member for Camborne himself, Mr. Naoroji, Sir William Wedderburn, and one or two others brought this appeal before the Secretary of State. The Commission was granted, and we now see the large revision which is going to be made of the payments made by India. I think that is one clear proof that the intervention of this House in the affairs of India is not always a bad thing, but, on the contrary, it is very often very beneficial. I might mention in this respect some of the frontier wars, and more especially the case of Chitral. That question was debated at great length in this House, and the result has been that Lord Curzon, the present Viceroy, has come round very largely to the opinion expressed in this House, and he now seems to have adopted very largely the principles of Lord Lawrence.
§ * MR. SCHWANN
I know that the proposals made by the noble Lord were endorsed by this House, and that shows that this House takes part in Indian affairs with great advantage to India. Having proved to some extent that the action of this House is beneficial and desirable, I think we shall all feel that when India has been subject to so many misfortunes, not only last year, but misfortunes which commenced in the year 1897; when famines have struck at the root of prosperity and added largo burdens to India; when famines have been followed by plague, and the resources of the country has been crippled to a very great extent, then I say that there is some justification for asking what means are to be devised to mitigate the effects of drought and famine in the future. Last year we had in India a a combination of all the misfortunes which happened in 1897. for the famine was far more wide-reaching and far more disastrous upon India, and during the whole of that time the bubonic plague attacked the nation. With this combination of evils before us, I think it is 1117 not unnatural that this House should turn its attention to this question, and ask the noble lord what means he suggests to avoid such evils in the future. Everybody thoroughly understands that you cannot interfere in any way with the atmospheric conditions of India, for you cannot cause rain to fall there by the firing of cannons, and we know that a country like India is exposed at intervals to the ravages of drought. I think that we have a right to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to this, and to urge him to do all that is possible in this direction in India. We contend that a large, portion of this sum which the hon. Member for Camborne has suggested should be repaid to India should be given in the form of a sum to be devoted to means and devices for at any rate mitigating, if not avoiding entirely, the effects of famine in India in the future. Perhaps the House will allow me to read a very short extract which gives approximately an idea of what has been happening in India. Mr. Vaughan Nash says—The distinctive mark of the famine was its three-fold character, the lack of crops, of fodder, and of water. To the first cause the rush to the famine works and the terrible sufferings in the villages was due; to the second the loss of cattle, of which millons upon millions perished; whilst the scarcity of water added to the sufferings of the people and their beasts, and paved the way for the attack of cholera which is still raging through the famine districts. The visitation, therefore, was one of merciless severity. It gave no quarter to any living thing, man, woman, or child; and the beasts in the jungle, the birds whose bright plumage makes the only bit of vivid colour in the brown wilderness of an Indian famine, the patient bullocks who draw the plough and haul the farm produce to the market, the milch cows, and the goats and kids perished together. Besides the famine and the diseases following in its train, the plague was busy at work.While all this misery and suffering was going on, we know that the Government of India did all that was in its power to alleviate the ravages of famine by carrying out, the Famine Code, and establishing centres and famine camps. I will not say a word against the Indian officials in this respect. They behaved like heroes and died at their posts. Many of them were moved to these acts of devotion by the fortitude and the patience with which they saw the inhabitants of India bore 1118 the dreadful losses and suffering laid upon them. Mr. Nash said—and it is a fact—There was grain enough in India for every—one, and sufficient food for the needs of the cattle, but the people had no money to buy it.Of course that seems in itself very self-evident, for famine naturally occurs when the people have not got the money to buy food with, but we must remember that the necessities of the Indian people are very small indeed. We know that there are-families in India who live on two annas per day (2d.), and we know that it does not require a very large sum to enable one of the agricultural class in India to maintain life. There are one or two circumstances in connection with the distribution of relief which I hope the noble Lord will be able to explain to the House. In several districts of India during the time of the famine, suspicions—no doubt well grounded—passed through the minds of the officials that there was in connection with the relief a good deal of either skulking or malingering, or people who placed themselves upon relief without due reason and cause, and in the relief camps, in one or two of the presidencies, even the minimum amount of relief was reduced. I think myself that this requires some explanation from the noble Lord as to why under the circumstances, when famine was raging throughout these districts of India, in some of these places it was found necessary to put certain relief camps upon what are called "deterrent conditions." There may have been a number of natives who thought the conditions laid down were very exacting, and this may have kept many people who needed assistance from the camps.
I do hope that the noble Lord will give us the information which is necessary to explain why this took place. The fact is that the Indian cultivator has for some years, as far as we can judge, been going from bad to worse. In 1882 it was said by Lord Cromer in his Budget speech that the average total income of the Hindoo people was 27 rupees, or 33s. 6d., per head. In 1898–99 it fell to [...] rupees, or 23s. 2d., and I am not sure whether last year the total income in some of these famine districts was not reduced to something like 12 rupees. If in years without a famine the annual 1119 income of an agriculturist has fallen, as it has done in the years between 1877 and 1897, by 10 rupees, it seems to me that it is highly desirable that what we recommend should be done, and that Commissioners should be appointed and some of them sent out from England to find out whether greater attention cannot be paid to the mitigation of these famines. I was very sorry to read that famine again threatens India this year. I think it is desirable that an inquiry should be made as to what means can be adopted for increasing the wealth and mitigating the misery and obviating famines in the future. I am glad to think that the noble Lord himself, on the 26th January, 1897, used these words—That the opportunity this famine affords ought not to be allowed to pass without our taking every opportunity to inquire into and ascertain the best methods of protecting the people of India from the recurrence of similar calamities.I would also suggest that it would be desirable to go into the question of land tenure, because it seems that recent experience of India proves that our western ideas of land tenure are not always applicable to India. I am bound to say that from the information I have had of those who are most interested in this question, I have serious doubts upon the question.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. Member that the terms of the Amendment do not cover general observations about the finances of India.
§ * MR. SCHWANN
I am only trying. Sir, to suggest some means of employing the sum of money which my hon. friend is asking the Government to transfer. The following quotation is from the preamble of the Government of India's Bill to "amend the law relating to agricultural land in the Punjab"—The expropriation of the hereditary agriculturist in many parts of the province through the machinery of restricted sale and mortgage has been regarded for many years past as a serious political danger. It is recognised that the danger is accompanied with had economic results, that it is increasing, and that if not arrested it will grow to formidable dimensions. It is also recognised that the idea of a free transferable interest in land which is at the root of the trouble is of comparatively modern origin, and is contrary both to 1120 the existing practice in most native; States and to the traditions and sentiments, if no longer to the practice, of the people of the Punjab.This draws attention to one point which it seems to me might be usefully considered by the Government of India. Then, again, a more elastic assessment of taxes has been found to be desirable because by degrees the land is becoming alienated, and getting into the hands of the village moneylenders. Lord Cromer, in Egypt, has introduced legislation which will have a tendency to free the people from the clutches of the village Shylocks who abound in the country. Some such similar laws are necessary in India. In other native provinces they enjoy milder systems of taxation and tenure, and they have greater elasticity. It has been said that the laws of the native States are "laws of leather, while those of British India are of iron." Talking of the alienation of the land which is gradually taking place in the four districts of the Punjab, the following figures will show to what an enormous extent this evil has grown. In the first district in the year 1895, in an area of 120 square miles and a population of 108,000, 20 per cent, of the lands were alienated to moneylenders. In the second district, containing an area of 349 square miles and a population of 108,000, the percentage of alienated lands was 28. In the third district, containing 333 square miles and a population of 50,000, the percentage was 17; and in the fourth district, with 349 square miles and a population of 30,000 people, the percentage of alienated: lands was 11 per cent. I think the greatest stress should be laid upon these facts. I should also like to recommend to the noble Lord the question of irrigation. This is a subject in which the Indian Government has always inter-rested itself, but in which I do not think it has quite carried out the recommendations of its own Commission. For example, take the example of the Famine Commission in 1879–80. Page 150, Part 2 of the Report says—Among the means that may be adopted forgiving India direct protection from famine arising from drought, the first place must unquestionably be assigned to works of irrigation. There must be reckoned the direct protection afforded by the saving of human life, by the avoidance of loss of revenue remitted and off 1121 the outlay incurred in costly measures of relief. But it is not only in years of drought that they are useful. In seasons of average rainfall they are of great service and a great source of wealth, giving certainty to all agricultural occupations, increasing the out-turn per acre of the crops, and enabling more valuable descriptions of crops to be grown.What has been the action of the Government in the years 1882 to 1898? If I summarise the figures given in the statistical abstracts, I find that the combined totals of railway expenditure for all those years has been £246,000,000, while the total for irrigation only amounts to £39,000,000, leaving a balance in favour of railways as against irrigation of £207,000,000."Everybody I must admit that railways are very useful, but at the same time they do not produce the food by which milions of the people of India are to be sustained. Irrigation does that in the most ample manner, and I think this House will see the propriety of urging upon the Government of India and the noble Lord the necessity of promoting irrigation. Railways are useful to convey grain, but they do not prevent famine. I will quote to the House an extract from the Standard's Simla correspondent in reference to what I was said by Sir Mackworth Young, the Lieut.-Governor of the Punjab, who has been making a tour of the provinces. In regard to the Chenab Canal and irrigation works which bad just been opened, the Lieut.-Governor made an important speech, of which the following is an extract—He pointed out that India had just passed through a famine, which at one time imposed on the Government the duty of supporting directly upwards of six millions of people. All this time the inhabitants of the Chenab Colony had been living in a tract of country which a few years ago was a waterless desert, utterly dry and barren. Yet the existence of the famine was hardly known to those assembled. The land had brought forth abundantly, the people had lived in peace and plenty; their surplus stocks, which were enormous, being carried off by the railway which the Government had built, to be sold at famine prices in less favoured parts of India.I would like just to refer to the classical case of the success of irrigation works in India; I mean the Godaveri Delta. At one time there were only 150,000 acres which afforded a precarious livelihood to the people, and now there are 700,000 acres producing certain crops. There is now there 500 miles of canals which have been 1122 found very useful for agricultural purposes. The population previous to irrigation was 600,000, and now it is 2,500,000. I can give other details in regard to revenues, exports, and imports which would show that this country, which was smiling as a rose garden now, was before a desert, and highly unproductive. There is also the question of technical education which I would also impress as strongly as I can upon the noble Lord, for he knows that, through the advance of civilisation by the railways, and by the free introduction of goods from all parts of the world—from England, Germany, America, and other countries—many of the native village industries have been swept away, and the result has been that a much larger proportion of the inhabitants of India have been obliged to turn their attention to agriculture. That means, as is the case in Ireland, that there is too great a pressure upon agriculture as a means of livelihood, and the produce is scarcely sufficient to maintain the population. It has been stated that there are millions of people in India who have never known what it is to have their hunger satisfied.
I believe that this House contains a great many new Members, and I hope that they will take an interest in Indian debates, for the responsibility rests upon their shoulders quite as much as upon ours. I hope that the suggestion of my hon. friend may be carried out, and that we shall have certain amounts put upon the Estimates, so that we may have more frequent opportunities of discussing the affairs of India. These discussions are generally relegated to the dog-days, and the natural result is that many Members of this House do not take that interest in these Indian debates which they should do. Many hon. Members of the present Parliament have been out in India and they possess a knowledge of her wants and needs. Therefore, it is highly desirable that they should give the House the benefit of that knowledge, and to the best of their ability promote the interests of the millions of their fellow subjects in that great Empire.
At the end of the Question, to add the words, 'But we humbly represent to Your Majesty, that although Your Majesty's Government have arranged that from the 1st
day of April next charges amounting to £257,500 shall for the future, in accordance with an unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commission on Indian Expenditure, be transferred from Indian to British expenditure, no provision has been made for any repayment of the arrears of these charges, while other recommendations of the Commission have been ignored altogether; and that, in justice to the people of India, all these arrears should be repaid by the British Exchequer to the Indian in the form of a liberal grant in relief of the Indian famine.'"—(Mr. Caine.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
* SIR MANCHERJEE BHOWNAG-GREE (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
said that the details and facts furnished to the House by the hon. Member for Camborne in his opinion perfectly justified the appeal made by the Amendment. He had never concealed his disappointment at the refusal of the Imperial Government to make a grant to India for the relief of the sufferings she passed through during the famine. The reasons urged for the making of a grant were certainly just, and were such as would enable the Government to make an adequate contribution to the Indian Exchequer with a good deal of grace. Although he concurred in the Amendment, he felt bound to take exception to one argument used by the mover in support. The hon. Gentleman attempted to prove that it was on the ground that India was seething with sedition that it was found necessary to keep 30,000 additional troops in the country in order to over-awe a disorderly people. But he contended that the military forces, both British and native, were maintained in India for no such purpose, but for the protection of the country mainly against foreign aggression, and for Imperial requirements. It had never been pretended that there had ever been any danger to the Empire from within the frontier. It was now generally admitted that the necessity for keeping up the strength of the Anglo-Indian army in excess of actual requirement was to have 30,000 men in a convenient situation so that they might be ordered out for Imperial purposes if necessary. It had been stated on the highest authority that India was a school where a large contingent of military forces might be trained and kept ready to hand in case of emergency, and therefore it was only just 1124 that the expense of those troops should, be defrayed by the English and not by the Indian Exchequer. The Royal Commission had recommended the payment of a sum of £257,500, heretofore defrayed by India, to be levied from the British Exchequer, and he thought from the-point of view of a fair business adjustment and sound policy, that it would be a graceful act on the part of the Imperial Government to the Empire of India if a sum of from £5,000,000 to £7,000,000 were awarded to the Indian Exchequer, nominally, under the head of famine relief, but really as an act of justice in payment of arrears, which would be accepted by the Indian people as an act of Imperial generosity. It was unnecessary to enlarge upon the sufferings of India during the last few years on account of the famine; at the same time he regretted to have to say that a very severe state of scarcity, if not actual famine, at present existed throughout Western and Central India, and relief measures would have to be adopted. He ventured, therefore, to make an appeal to the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India that he should give this: Amendment his favourable consideration.
No one had more readily or persistently acknowledged the blessings India derived from British rule than he had done, but he felt bound to say that when it was a question of £ s. d., India did not always have that sympathetic treatment which was her due at the hands of Parliament. For instance, a great outcry had been made in the past about the advantages which India was supposed to possess over Lancashire in the cotton industry. Whatever the position might have been before, in the last five years it had disappeared. Famine had stopped the supply of cotton, and the plague and the Chinese disturbances had sent to ruin many of the mills one after another until the industry had entirely become unremunerative. He therefore appealed to the noble Lord to reconsider the subject of the cotton duties.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must remind the hon. Member that the terms of this Amendment are very narrow. They do not include the question of the treatment of India by England, but only that of whether certain sums 1125 shall be returned to India in the form of a grant for the Indian famine. Under these circumstances I must request the hon. Member to confine his observations to the question raised by the Amendment.
§ * SIR MANCHERJEE BHOWNAGGREE
said that one of the objections urged when a grant was suggested on former occasions was that India had sufficient credit for all her needs. No doubt India, with the British Government at her back, had credit, but to have credit was one thing and to have ready money was another. He supported the Amendment on the ground that from the highest dictates of Imperialism, and from a sense of the obligation which that sentiment imposed on the Government, it was absolutely necessary that a grant should be made to the Exchequer of India in the manner indicated in the Amendment.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
thought it would be generally admitted that it was highly necessary that this question in regard to the adjustment of the finances of India should be brought before the House at the present time. As hon. Members were aware, this was a matter which had often been debated in the House, and Commission after Commission had sat upon it, but seemed to be a long time coming to a decision. He was informed the reason for this delay was that in these matters concerning India the money was not paid by England but by India, and therefore it was all the more necessary that the House should be scrupulously careful in doing what was right.
The charges in support of the Amendment had been fully made out, and it was not his intention to weary the House with any general representation of the case, He would merely draw attention to one specific point, which was the recommendation made on page 188 of the Report—the Minority Report—of the Commission, in regard to the desirability of altering in some direction the military charges now borne by India. He was glad to notice that that was one of the main principles of the Amendment, and he would be glad 1126 to hear that the noble Lord shared the general opinion. On the ground of sentiment it appeared to him that the Government ought to make some arrangement which would provide that a certain number of troops should be stationed in India as an Imperial force, and should be paid out of the Imperial revenue. Such troops could be used on occasions of emergency, and such a course would bind still more closely India to this country, and it would also be a practical way of enabling the people of India to understand that as an Empire they shared not only the responsibilities but the expense of the Empire to which they were so much attached. From the point of view of financial justice he merely desired to point out what he believed would be the practical way of bringing about the relief to the Indian Exchequer which he thought the justice of the case demanded in regard to the repayment of the arrears which were claimed by the Indian Government. A proposal of this kind would, he thought, be useful and important from the military point of view. The history of the present time emphasised the importance of our position in the East. In his work, entitled "Problems of the Far East," the Viceroy of India had stated his belief that the great centre of future problems would be Hindustan. He also held that view, and on any question arising in the East our interests demanded that we should have a mobile and well-equipped force in India always ready for Imperial purposes in cases of emergency.
No one would doubt that if the exigencies of the Empire in the East demanded it a strong military force ought to be stationed in India, which was the most convenient situation. The history of the last two years, the war in South Africa and the operations in China, showed the importance of our having a force always at hand in case of danger not only in the East but in South Africa as well. The last point of view from which he would deal with this question was the practical point of view. Such an arrangement would get rid of the bad feeling of the last forty or fifty year's as to the financial relations between the two countries. We had drawn on India, for troops for Imperial purposes no less 1127 than nine times in the course of forty years; and in the future, no doubt, there would be still greater necessity for doing so. It seemed to him that such an arrangement as he had sketched out would be a practical means of dealing in a fair way with the arrears of payment which were claimed by the Indian Government, and would be a practical and final solution just alike to India and to this country.
§ * MR. WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)
The question which for the last two or three years has overshadowed all others in connection with India is that of the if amine, and this Amendment deals with certain means of alleviation. Famine is of frequent occurrence in India, but the last one exceeded them all in the extent of territory it affected. It has affected no less than a quarter of the total area of India, and about one-fifth of the population. The Government of India is always in a thorough state of preparedness to deal with normal famines, but this famine was of unexampled magnitude, and the Government of India acted in a manner deserving the greatest credit. During the time the famine was at its height there was a larger number than ever before simultaneously relieved, and no Government m the world could have grappled so effectively with the situation as the Indian Government have done. The officials of the Government, from the Viceroy downwards, have acted with the greatest self-devotion.
I do not at all concur with the proposal made by the mover and seconder of the Amendment, that because a certain sum of money has come into the Indian Exchequer, pretty much by way of windfall, it should be appropriated for the famine. I think the Indian Government requires no injunction to increase the means of alleviating the famine. A question has come before the House in the course of this discussion very prominently—namely, How can famines be averted? This is infinitely more important to India, and very much more worthy the consideration of this House. The causes of famine in India are manifold, but there are two or three great causes. The first and principal cause is the failure of the rain supply, 1128 which occurs periodically in periods varying from one to ten years.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I have to remind the hon. Gentleman that the causes of the famine do not arise on this Amendment.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member also that the mover and seconder of the Amendment were not bound to confine themselves to the terms of the Amendment.
§ MR. WYLIE
I quite bow to your ruling. I was going to refer to the causes of famine and to the means of preventing famine, but I shall take the opportunity of doing so on the Indian Budget. I confine my remarks to dissenting from the proposal of the mover and seconder of the Amendment, which I think is a direct injunction to the Indian Government to increase the means to be devoted to the famine fund. I think it should be left to their entire discretion, because they have shown the greatest liberality and the greatest statesmanship in dealing with this appalling disaster.
§ SIR ROBERT MOWBRAY (Lambeth, Brixton)
said he would endeavour to confine himself strictly and absolutely to the Amendment before the House. The hon. Member for Camborne continually referred to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. If this were a matter of sentiment, he would support the hon. Member in asking for a very generous and liberal grant to India to meet any difficulties in which it had been placed by the famine. He thought we owed a debt of gratitude to the Government and the Princes of India, and it would be a generous thing on the part of this country to acknowledge it. But that was not the proposition before the House. The proposition was, in the words of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, that we had been drawing from India what we, were not entitled to draw, and had put ourselves in the wrong in that way, and that we ought to make atonement for the wrong by paying twenty years arrears. When 1129 the question of arrears was gone into, I he did not know why the hon. Member stopped at twenty years. Why did he not go back to the time when the Government was taken over from the East India Company? He confessed that the hon. Member was I very generous when he only took twenty years. He did not think that after the Government had agreed to the recommendations of the Commission the House would consider that they ought to pay arrears also. He was bound to say that, so far as his recollection of the discussions in the Commission went, he did not remember the recommendation which was now made being laid before the Royal Commission at the time its Report was in preparation, and it ought to have been laid before the Commission when the Report was being considered.
He was exceedingly glad that His Majesty's Government had seen their way to carry out in full, so far as the amount of money went, the recommendations of the Royal Commission. It was quite true, as his hon. friend had said, that the Government had not acted in accordance with the precise recommendations in the Report, but India would get more than was recommended by the Commission. He would support the Government in opposing the Amendment.
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON
I think everyone who has listened to the debate on this Amendment will admit that it has been supported by speeches of sincerity, moderation, and ability. The proposition before the House is that the Government should undertake to pay a lump sum to the credit of the Indian Treasury, and that proposition is based on the fact that the Commission which was appointed some years ago made certain proposals in regard to the apportionment of expenditure between the two Exchequers by which India is to benefit to the extent of £257,000. The Member for Camborne, who was a prominent member of that Commission, suggests that the Government should make up arrears for twenty years. The Report of the Commission is a very long and a very interesting document, but it roughly comes to this conclusion, that there is no injustice in the existing 1130 arrangement between England and India. The Report, for the purpose of liberal treatment for the future, makes a proposition by which certain charges should be transferred to England.
I hope the House will allow me, for a few minutes, to give my own experience in connection with, this most difficult subject of the relative amounts which the two Exchequers should contribute towards the objects in which they are commonly interested. I was Under Secretary for India many years ago, and I had been but a short time in office-when I came to the conclusion that the Admiralty and the War Office were unjustly putting charges on the Indian revenue, and I obtained very shortly after I became Under Secretary the appointment of a Select Committee in 1874 to inquire into the home charges of the Indian Government. They took a great deal of evidence, sitting for four years. The Committee had before it Mr. Cardwell and the Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of Cambridge, and I am bound to say that the conclusions forced on my mind, from the investigations then made, greatly altered the ideas I had-before entertained. The charges placed on India might be heavy, but in no single case wore we able to ascertain a charge which the Imperial Government put on India out of which it made a profit. And the more I have looked into these charges since the more I have come to the conclusion that, speaking of the expenditure of the two Governments, the connection of Great Britain with India does not reduce her expenditure, but, on the contrary, adds to the Estimates which annually have to be presented to Parliament.
This Committee to which I allude, and which was appointed twenty-six years ago, had its recommendations included in the Report of the Commission, and the Commission expressed the highest approval at the conclusions at which they then arrived. I may roughly indicate them, because I think the principle will recommend itself to both sides of the House. Their first recommendation is that strict impartiality should be secured in the financial arrangements. I think that the supervision and general control of the House of Commons is very beneficial to India. The next recommenda- 1131 tion is that the English Estimates should not be relieved at the expense of the Indian revenue, and that we should always consult India on all charges which may affect India. That is the view which I held twenty-six years ago, and to that view I adhere. The Commission never asserted that money has been appropriated or that, as the hon. Member said, India has been cheated. They are certain that the charges made were justifiable in themselves and that no benefit accrued to the British Government from the charges so made, but they suggested, and this is the whole point, that for the purpose of securing liberal treatment for the future certain proportions of the charges hitherto borne by India should be transferred to the Imperial Exchequer, the amount being £257,000. Therefore I have to deal with a specific suggestion made by a Commission based on certain arguments and conclusions—namely, that the Imperial Exchequer should relieve the Indian Exchequer of that amount. I went, fortified by that Report, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and discussed the matter with him. He took a most liberal view of the situation, and he said, "I will assent to the propositions of the Commission." I wonder of how many Commissions appointed in recent years that can be said. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in fact, said, "So far as the amount is concerned I am ready to give the amount which the Commission recommend." I think that was a very generous and prompt response. What is now asked? It is asked that I should turn round on the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say, "It is true you have acceded to the Commission's recommendations, but you are asked for arrears." What arrears? If this Report had been based on the contention that a gross injustice had been done to India in the past, then there might be reason for asking for arrears, but the Report says that the charges, in the main, have been just, and therefore it is impossible to press this request for arrears. If I went to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and made a request for arrears I should be guilty of a breach of faith. Could anybody justify that disingenuous dealing with the head of Imperial finance?
My hon. friend the Member for North-East Bethnal Green indulged in a very 1132 happy phrase when he said he was an Imperialist and believed in the enormous benefits which British rule has conferred on India, but that he wished that the British Government would not take such a £ s. d. view of the transaction between the two Treasuries. I do not want to indulge in anything like party animadversions, but may I ask the hon. Gentlemen opposite, the majority of whom will probably vote for the Amendment, what is the foundation for the allegations made as to the charges being unduly put on the Indian revenue? When I came to the House of Commons the Manchester school of politicians was supreme. They dominated English finance, and their test of the efficiency of the administrator was regulated by the amount by which he could reduce the expenditure which he inherited from his predecessor. I always thought that was a short-sighted view to take of effective administration. After all, money is given to achieve a certain object, and the effective point is to see whether that object is achieved. The First Lord of the Admiralty in Mr. Gladstone's Government took enormous credit to himself when he brought down the Navy expenditure under a certain figure. I think it was ten millions. One of the means by which he did that was to claim for services rendered in Indian waters by the British Navy to the tune of many thousands of pounds. We have secured for the future a juster and a fairer appreciation of what is to the benefit of India, and I certainly do not think that, having obtained, as I think a large and generous contribution from the Treasury, I should be justified in putting forward a claim for arrears which is absolutely contrary to the whole of the trend of the Report of the Commission. The hon. Gentleman called attention to the fact that, although the amount we propose to give to India somewhat exceeds the amount recommended by the Commission, we have not adhered to the details of expenditure which they recommended; and the hon. Gentleman specially alluded to the fact that the proposition was made that £50,000 should be voted as an appropriation in aid of the India Office, that that £50,000 should be put on the Estimates, and that consequently the House of Commons should get an additional opportunity to those which they now enjoy of discussing 1133 Indian affairs. But the motive that induced the Commission to make that recommendation was not that the House of Commons should have that additional opportunity.
§ SIR ROBERT MOWBRAY
May I also say that the recommendation of the Commission was that, although £50,000 should be paid for the India Office, the charge should be put either on the Estimates or on the Consolidated Fund.
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON
My hon. friend has put his finger upon the motive which induced the Commission to make that recommendation. The motive was not that Parliament should have additional opportunities of discussing Indian affairs, because if they had had that idea they would not have made the suggestion that the charge should be put on the Consolidated Fund. They recommended this grant because they thought that £50,000 should be given in connection with this object. We looked carefully into the matter, and came to the conclusion that there were other objects which should have prior consideration, and we struck out the £50,000 and put in £50,500, so that India benefits by that small amount. Let me just say that I personally have no objection whatever, so far as I am concerned, to a Vote appearing on the Estimates for the purposes of discussion; but the House should look at the matter from a House of Commons and Indian point of view.
Every year there is a discussion in this House on the Indian Budget. The resolution which the Secretary of State proposes is simply a peg on which the House of Commons can hang speeches. It has no practical validity of any kind; it was purposely framed by Sir Charles Wood for that purpose. Therefore the House has every year on the Indian Budget the opportunity of raising any question of policy or any matters connected with Indian administration. It is not in the least necessary by law or otherwise for the Secretary of State to make his annual statement; he does it deliberately for the purpose of giving 1134 the House an opportunity for discussion. That seems to me to be the best method of bringing Indian affairs before the notice of the House. To put a token Vote on the Estimates for the purpose of provoking discussion would, I think, not be very beneficial to India. Going back to the days to which I was referring, when the Manchester school was predominant, the discussions on the Estimates always assumed an economical shape. The object was to reduce expenditure, and Ministers were called to task unless they could justify the expenditure which they proposed. But we have got rid altogether of that school. The object now is to increase expenditure. Every Minister who is in any way responsible for a Department behind which is a large personnel finds his time taken up in opposing demands for increased expenditure, and notwithstanding the power which the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer can exercise in this House, and the knowledge that increased expenditure here falls upon the English taxpayer, our expenditure— civil, military, and naval—is increasing at an appalling rate. In a few years Members of the House of Commons will find that this is one of the most serious matters they will have to deal with. If that is the case with regard to expenditure for which the House of Commons is responsible, what would be the position of the unhappy Indian Secretary of State, who has under him an enormous personnel, if a sum representing his salary was placed on the Estimates? He would have every conceivable motion made from different parts of the House to increase the salaries of the innumerable civil, military, and other servants under the Indian Government.
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON
The hon. Gentleman says it would be out of order. But my hon. friend is one of the most adroit adepts when the Estimates come up in attacking Ministers not for what is in the Estimates, but for what is not in them. You can by a number of methods put such pressure on Ministers that it is very, very difficult for them not to have to consider between the period at which 1135 they are so attacked and the next year some proposals for increased expenditure. If this is the case when the interests of the taxpayer are apparent to every Member of the House, what would be the position of the Secretary of State for India when the increased expenditure would fall upon not the English, but the Indian taxpayer? I am sure, from an Indian point of view, as well as from a House of Commons point of view, that the present arrangement is a far more satisfactory one than to substitute for the discussion on the Indian Budget a debate which would take place on the Vote for the Secretary of State's salary.
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON
That is another matter. I am not responsible for the disposition of the time of the House, and I should be glad if I could get the discussion on the Indian Budget at an earlier part of the session. I think I have shown that in acting as I have done I looked most carefully into the subject, have secured rapid acquiescence in the Report of the Commission, I have got a large appropriation from the Imperial Exchequer for the benefit of Indian finance, and I think it is quite unreasonable, because I have been so successful, to expect me to go in for arrears. If arrears are asked for, may I ask from what source they are to come? I am in rather a proud position now with regard to Indian finance. It is true we have only just emerged from a most serious drought, and I am afraid there are prospects of drought for the next six months, and this affects our revenue and increases our expenditure, but I believe for the last financial year, the present, and the next, we shall have, notwithstanding all this expenditure, a surplus in each year. But we know that in this country there will be a big deficit. Where are the £5,000,000 which the hon. Member asks the Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide to come from?
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON
I should suggest the tea duty. Anyhow, the hon. Member must recollect that his proposi- 1136 tion means increased taxation in this country, as this money could be provided only by a loan, which would be a permanent burden on the revenues of this country, or by increased taxation. Under these circumstances it really seems impossible to expect that I should go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask for this amount. The hon. Member for North Manchester went somewhat out side the Amendment, and alluded to the economical conditions of the people of India. I do not know whether I should be in order—
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON
I was afraid I should be precluded. Perhaps I may be permitted to say that the hon. Gentleman took the view that the material economic condition of the population generally was deteriorating. I only venture respectfully to say that I have and I accepted evidence from any quarter that could be given, but I have never yet been able to find one iota of fact to justify that view. I go so far as to say that if we as a nation and a Government cannot improve the material condition of India, it destroys the very foundation of our right and our claim to govern that country. Although India has suffered terribly during the past few years from drought and pestilence, the sufferings she has had to meet have been due not to increased poverty, but to the dimensions and the intensity of the drought which has occurred. A Commission, as the hon. Member is aware, is inquiring into the results on the people of the drought, and if it can be brought to my notice or to the notice of the Viceroy that there is any evidence to show that in any particular district the land assessment is too high or that the condition of the people is deteriorating, I can assure the House that he or I will undertake the most thorough investigation.
There are other matters to come before the House, and I can only say that it is very unpleasant to have to oppose any motion which is apparently made in the interests of India. India has suffered terribly during the past two or three 1137 years, and the people of India have borne their sufferings and privations with a courage, resignation, and absence from crime which commands the highest admiration. They have shown, too, their loyalty and devotion in the most marked manner, and, if I may allude to the irreparable national calamity which has recently befallen us, I feel that there is no part of the Empire in which the death of Queen Victoria has come home so much to the masses. Therefore I am glad that at this, the beginning of a new Parliament, there should be such evident signs that there are many Members on both sides of the House who are anxious to take an interest in Indian affairs. If on this occasion I am unable to assent to the proposition which has been made, it is not because I do not sympathise with the motives of the hon. Gentlemen supporting it, but because I have obtained on certain considerations and certain arguments a great concession to India from the Imperial Exchequer, and it is quite impossible, after what has passed, for me to make the demand which the Amendment desires.
§ * SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I am sorry this question has been raised in this form, because the debate necessarily must be narrowed down to the one question referred to in the Amendment, while the House no doubt would desire an opportunity of discussing a great many of the questions that are involved in the Report of the Royal Commission in addition to that of the arrears, as the hon. Member for Camborne calls them, and which he proposes should be paid by the British Exchequer to India in one lump sum.
I am in a very awkward position tonight. I was the parent and the author of this Commission. I gave the advice to Her Majesty to issue the Commission, not, as the hon. Member for North Manchester seems to think, as the result of a House of Commons debate, but because as Secretary of State for India I was satisfied that the financial relations which then existed between the Exchequer of this country and the Exchequer of India were not upon a satisfactory basis. That Commission sat for I forget how many years, and took a vast volume of evidence. Then it apparently collapsed, 1138 and it required all the force of questions and debate in this House—almost the threat of proceedings against the Commission for contempt of the Crown— before we could extract from them a Report. But the Report has come. There again I am in an awkward position with reference to dealing with it. That Report, so far as it is an exposition of the past financial history—and the past financial history means the whole system of Indian Government—is one of the most luminous, accurate, and best volumes ever issued in the shape of a Blue-book. If any Member of this House, desirous of taking an interest in Indian affairs, wishes to put his hand on an authoritative statement of what has been and what is the financial relationship between this country and India, he will find nothing better than what I may call the historical part of that Report. But when we come to the practical recommendations of the Commission it is a very different story. There are very few recommendations. I am bound to say, with every respect to my hon. friend opposite, the Member for Brixton, who was one of the members of the Commission, that they, I will not say shirked, but evaded almost every difficult question submitted to them.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
I am glad to be cheered in that statement by another member of the Commission. Looking at that Report I am at a loss to know what they do recommend and what they really did. We could not have had a more humorous illustration of this point than the remark of my hon. friend opposite just now. They apparently (I say apparently because I do not know what was passing in their minds) wished—I am quite sure the hon. Member for Camborne wished it—to put the Indian expenditure, so far as the Home Department was concerned, under the immediate control of the House of Commons, so that it could be discussed on the Estimates. But the Commission, whether they meant it or not, gave the alternative of putting it on the Consolidated Fund, which is the only possible mode in which the House of Commons control could be absolutely and for ever evaded.
§ SIR ROBERT MOWBRAY
I concurred in the recommendation on the ground that it should be put on the Consolidated Fund only.
§ * SIR HENRY FOWLER
And it will be found that other members of the Commission meant something else. This is not the time, but on a suitable occasion I should like to call attention to the facts which this Commission ascertained, and to show why—I say it with no small sense of responsibility and with considerable reluctance after the speech of the noble Lord—in the main I dissent from and should be very sorry to be bound by the conclusions of the Commission so far as the financial relationships between England and India are concerned. I think the findings of the Commission—I say it with diffidence, but it is my opinion, and I do not shrink from expressing it—are not just to India, and I do not consider the settlement proposed a satisfactory one. The noble Lord says he had a very pleasant interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not only generous but prompt. I am not surprised. I say nothing about the generosity, but I am quite sure he was wise to be prompt, for an uncommonly good bargain he made so far as the Treasury was concerned. At the proper time I will endeavour to call the attention of the House to some of the relationships between the two Exchequers which are not satisfactorily dealt with by the Report of the Commission.
Now, the noble Lord quoted, and justly so, the recommendations of the Committee of which he was a member twenty-six years ago. I subscribe to every word of the recommendations of that Committee. But the noble Lord, commencing that section of his speech and alluding to the many inquiries which had taken place on Indian finance, stopped at that Committee and did not bring his account down late enough. I am sure he must have forgotten for the moment what is called Lord Northbrook's Committee, which sat for a great number of years endeavouring to solve these questions, more especially in regard to Army costs. Lord North-brook's Committee's Report I think carried out the principles of the noble 1140 Lord's Committee, but the details amounted to much larger sums as due to India than this Commission has reported.
With reference to the special question with which this Amendment deals—namely, what my hon. friend calls the arrears —the argument of the noble Lord is unanswerable. There are no arrears. You are making a settlement between two exchequers; it is a settlement which has been in dispute for a quarter of a century, and on which the most distinguished Viceroys have held opinions contrary to those held by the most distinguished Chancellors of the Exchequer; but the settlement when arrived at at the end of that period, whether it be right or wrong, cannot be spoken of as in the nature of a debt on which arrears can be computed and which we are called upon to pay. I have not concealed in this House my view that it would have been wise—not only generous, but wise—on principles of high policy if twelve months ago, when I think I first submitted the proposal, the House had made a generous advance to India with respect to the famine. Of course, a good deal has happened since then. I feel the force of the argument the noble Lord has put before us, especially accompanied, as it has been, by the statement that the finances of India are in a more flourishing condition now than then, and that there is every prospect, notwithstanding the famine which may be feared in certain districts, that the financial position for next year will be a satisfactory one. We know that the financial position of this country next year will not be a satisfactory one, and under these circumstances I appreciate the force of the objection which he now raises. I should certainly not press him in that respect, but I wish to reserve, as I have already stated, my own opinion, and to express it at the proper time, with reference to what I might call the temporary nature of this settlement between England and India. I am satisfied that a time will come when the House of Commons will consider this question in a much more liberal form than this Commission has done.
The only other point on which I wish to say a word is with reference to 1141 the recommendation which has already been mentioned—that of putting a sum of money upon the Estimates in order to bring Indian matters under the review of the House of Commons. I agree with what the noble Lord has said, and perhaps I should go even further. The Government of India is a very difficult and complex piece of administrative and legislative machinery. It was devised by great men fifty years ago. India has been well and wisely governed, as I venture to think, during the past half-century, and you cannot take a machine of that sort to pieces bit by bit. If the House is going to introduce new principles and new modes of government, to deal with Indian expenditure as it deals with English expenditure, the taxpayer in the one case being totally different from the taxpayer in the other, I think the House of Commons will impose upon itself a duty it will not be able to discharge. I think it will shift responsibility from the shoulders upon which responsibility ought to be placed, and where it is now felt, to shoulders which would not feel the responsibility; and, above all, it will have taken the first step towards making Indian questions of detail and of administration part of the party politics of the House. I think the House of Commons will pause a long while before it impairs the interests of India by taking such a step as that.
Having said that, I am free to say that I echo every word the noble Lord said with reference to the responsibility of the English Government and of this House for what I may call questions of Imperial and Indian policy. This House has never been without an opportunity under the present system of dealing with these questions, when they have arisen, far more effectively and far more conclusively than it would have been by a reduction of £10, £20, or £100 being moved on the Secretary of State's salary. There is not a single question of Indian policy raising matters of vital importance to the Government of India which this House has not had an opportunity, certainly during all the years I have been a Member of Parliament, of fully discussing and finally deciding. 1142 ["No."] Hon. Members say "No." Will they give me a case?
§ * SIR HENRY FOWLER
The question of the Chitral Expedition was discussed, not in August, but within a fortnight of the House assembling. In the month of January or February there was a debate of three or four nights, in which a large number of Members took part, and after which the House came to a decision. Were the Cotton Duties decided in August? They were decided in March, as I well remember. The Opium Duty question has come up several times since I have been a Member of this House. With reference to the Indian Budget, I quite agree that it ought to be brought forward much earlier. It cannot be brought forward before May on account of the financial dates of Indian finance. But last year, if I remember rightly, it was brought forward in July—a fortnight or three weeks before the end of the session. I do not think that any motion which could be made to accelerate the bringing forward of the Indian Budget at a time which would give proper opportunity for discussing Indian affairs would meet with any opposition from either side of the House. But the mere fact that these questions are dealt with, not perhaps as fully as we should wish, on the Indian Budget at the end of the session must not be taken, cither by the people of this country or by those of India, to mean that Indian affairs of magnitude are discussed only at that time, and that there are no opportunities given in all the forms with which this House is familiar for discussing questions of Indian policy.
I very much regret that -we have not had an opportunity of fully discussing this Report, but I venture very respectfully to submit to the noble Lord that this is not a settlement which can be finally accepted as disposing of questions, some of which have been raised by the mover of the Amendment, and some of which have not been touched upon at all to-night, which affect the finance of India as well as the finance of England, and I hope that, on some future occasion England, and India also, will be in a position to approach this matter again, perhaps with better light than 1143 this Commission has had, and that, while availing ourselves of the vast volume of very valuable evidence which they have collected, and of the very admirable exposition they have given of the Indian position, nevertheless we shall approach it with fresh light, and I think in the long run both this
§ country and the House of Commons will arrive at a different conclusion than that at which the Royal Commission has arrived.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 112; Noes, 204. (Division List No. 9).1145
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Hammond, John||O'Dowd, John|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Hardie, J. Keir(Merthyr Tydvil||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glouc., Stroud||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. H. Seale-||O'Malley, William|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Mara, James|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Boland, John||Holland, William Henry||O'Shee, James John|
|Boyle, James||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Burt, Thomas||Jordan, Jeremiah||Price, Robert John|
|Caldwell, James||Joyce, Michael||Reddy, M.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Leamy, Edmund||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Charming, Francis Allston||Lloyd-Ceorge, David||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Lundon, W.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Condon, Thomas J.||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Crean, Eugene||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roche, John|
|Cremer, William Randal||M'Cann, James||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Crombie, John William||M'Crae, George||Samuel, S. M.(Whitechapel)|
|Cullinan, J.||M'Dermott, Patrick||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Daly, James||M'Fadden, Edward||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||M'Govern, T.||Shipman, Dr. John|
|Delany, William||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Dillon, John||Minch, Matthew||Sullivan, Donal|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Moulton, John Fletcher||Thomas, Alfred(Glamorgan, E.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Murnaghan, George||Thomas, D. Alfred(Merthyr)|
|Duffy, William J.||Murphy, J.||Tully, Jasper|
|Duncan, James H.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Newnes, Sir George||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway, N.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||White, Patrick(Meath, North)|
|Field, William||O'Brien Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Brien Patrick (Kilkenny)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Doherty, William||Mr. Caine and Mr. Schwann.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Gurdon, Sir William Brampton||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Bartley, George C. T.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Chamberlain, J. Austen(Worc'r|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Bell, Richard||Chapman, Edward|
|Allhusen, Augustus H. Eden||Bignold, A.||Charrington, Spencer|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Bigwood, James||Churchill, Winston Spencer|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Blundell, Col. Henry||Clare, Octavius Leigh|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Roscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H.A. E.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bowles, T. Gibson(King's Lynn||Colomb, Sir John C. Ready|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cook, Frederick Lucas|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)|
|Austin, Sir John||Bull, William James||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Baily, James (Walworth)||Bullard, Sir Harry||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Carlile, William Walter||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Cubitt, Hon. Henry|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W(Leeds||Cavendish, Y. C. W. (Derbyshre||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Balfour, Maj. K. R. (Christch'ch||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Banbury, Fredrick George||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.(Salop||Pym, C. Guy|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Keswick, William||Rasch, Major F. Carne|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Knowles, Lees||Ratcliffe, R. F.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lawrence, William F.||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Burning Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. Edw. H.||Ridley, Hn. M.W. (Stalybridge|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lee, Capt AH.(Hants, Fareham||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T.|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Finch, George H.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Leighton, Stanley||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Russell, T. W.|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Long, Col. Charles W(Evesham||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln.|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Flower, Ernest||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Foster, Sir Michael(Lond. Univ||Lowe, Francis William||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Garfit, William||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Gibbs, Hn. A.G.H.(Cy. of Lend.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Smith, H. C.(Nrthmb. Tyneside|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E(Elgin&Nairn)||Macdona, John Cumming||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks)|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Malcolm, Ian||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Gordon, Maj Evans (T'rHmlets||Martin, Richard Bidduph||Spear, John Ward|
|Gore, Hon. F. S. Ormsby-||Maxwell, W.J. H. (Dumfriessh||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Stock, James Henry|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Fredk. G.||Stroyan, John|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Milton, Viscount||Sturt, Hon Humphry Napier|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J.G.(Oxf'd Univ|
|Greene, Sir E.W.(B'ryS Edm'nds||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Groves, James Gimble||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Tollemarche, Henry James|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||More, Robt. Jasper(Shropshire)||Tomlinson, William Edw. M.|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Morrell, George Herbert||Tufnell, Col Edward|
|Hain, Edward||Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Ld G. Midd'x||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Vincent, Col Sir C. E. H.(Sheffild|
|Hamilton, Marq. of (L'ndond'y||Mount, William Arthur||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynemo'h||Nicholson, William Graham||Webb, Col. William George|
|Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanl'y||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Whiteley, H.(Ashton-under-L.|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Helder, Augustus||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Henderson, Alexander||Pemberton, John S. G.||Wills, Sir Fredrick|
|Hoare, Edw. Brodie(Hampst'd)||Percy, Earl||Wilson, A. S. (York, E. R.)|
|Hogg, Linday||Pilkington, Richard||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C.B. Stuart-|
|Hope, J. E. (Sheffield, Brightsi'e||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wylie, Alexander|
|Hoult, Joseph||Plummer, Walter R.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Johnstone, William (Belfast)||Pretyman, Ernest George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T (Denbigh||Pryce-Jones, Lt-Col Edward||Sir William Walrond and|
|Kenyon, James (Lancs., Bury)||Purvis, Robert||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ Main Question again proposed.