HC Deb 26 February 1903 vol 118 cc977-96
MR. CAINE (Cornwall, Camborne)

, moved as an Amendment to the Address, at the end, to add, "And, having regard to the great poverty of the Indian people, and to the fact that 30,000 troops of the Indian Army have been used in other parts of the world in which India has no direct or substantial interest, we humbly express our regret that Your Majesty's speech contains no recommendation for the reduction of the military expenditure of the Indian Empire." Having been engaged during the last two days in discussing the alarming increase in British Army expenditure, it appears to me that this Resolution should be moved to give an opportunity to consider the question of Indian Army expenditure, and whether or not, in justice to, and for the safety of, India, some relief may be given to that country. I will not attempt to criticise the efficiency of the Indian Army in any way, but certainly it ought to be the most efficient, because it is the costliest, army in the world. From its very nature it should be so, for India is the only county in the world which does not depend on its own sons for its national defence, but depends on the paid aliens of a foreign overlord. The Indian Army consists, roughly, of 75,000 British troops, 150,000 Indian troops, 20,000 Indian Reserves, 30,000 Volunteers, and 16,000 Imperial Service Corps, or a total of 290,000 men at a cost to India of £15.000,000, or £52 per head. The British Army came next, its total cost for all branches being £29,000,000, or £21 per head. The French Army costs £20 per head: the Russian Army £10; the German Army £9; the Austrian Army £7: the Turkish Army £7; the Italian Army £4; and the Swiss Army, the best for national defence in the world. £2 5s. Not only is the Indian Army the costliest in the world, but it is imposed on the poorest nation in the world. It costs 75 per cent. more per soldier than the British Army; it is four times dearer than the French Army; five times dearer than the Russian Army; six times dearer than the German Army: seven times dearer than the Austrian or Turkish Army; and twenty-four times dearer than the Swiss Army. Lord Curzon, whom no one who knows him would charge with being a pessimist, places the average wealth of India at £1 6s. 8d., or less than 1d. per day per head of the population. Upon so poor a community a rich overlord like Britain has no right to impose any expenditure except for the benefit of India, or any armament not absolutely required for peace at home and defence from foreign foes.

No one will contend that India has any aggressive policy. Unhappily, however, the expenditure on its Army is steadily increasing. In 1884 it was Rx17,000,000: in 1888 it was Rx21,000.000; in 1893 Rx23,500,000; in 1898 Rx24,000,000; and in 1903 Rx27,000,000. This latter figure includes the saving of Rx. 1,500,000 by the loan of troops to the British Government. We are informed by the Secretary of State for India and by Lord Curzon, that a further increase must be expected. Already from Ex. 70,000 to 80,000 has been imposed on the Indian taxpayer for additional pay for the Army; and in all probability in a year or two the expenditure on the Indian Army will reach Ex.30,000,000. What is the Indian Army wanted for? I hold it is wanted only for the maintenance of peace and order in India, and, secondly, for defence from foreign invasion. I know of nothing else for which it is required. But during the last fifteen years the additional duty has been imposed upon the Indian Army of providing a great reserve force for the general defence purposes of the British Empire, towards which the British Exchequer does not contribute a farthing. I will not speak a word of my own in justification of this statement; but I will venture to read two paragraphs from a speech delivered by Lord Curzon to the Council during the discussion on the last Indian financial statement. He said:— It is, I think, generally known that it was by the loan and prompt dispatch of British troops from India that Natal was saved from being overrun by the Boers at the beginning of the South African campaign. It was the holding of Ladysmith that prevented them from sweeping down to the sea. That service has been publicly acknowledged by the Commander-in-Chief in England and by the Secretary of State for War. I hope these services will be acknowledged by the more decent treatment of Indians who have settled in South Africa. The Viceroy proceeds:— It is also known that it was an Indian General commanding Native troops from India that relieved the legations at Pekin, and further, that, in the absence of our European troops elsewhere, —this was spoken ten months ago— it has been Native regiments by which our garrisons in China have since been supplied. But the extent or value of our contribution in either case is perhaps imperfectly understood. Since the beginning of the war in South Africa we have sent from India 13,200 British officers and men to that country, of whom 10,000 are still absent. Over 9,000 Natives, principally followers, have gone with them, of whom 5,600 are still away. To China we sent 1,300 British officers and men, nearly 20,000 Native troops, and 17,500 Native followers, of whom 10,000 Native soldiers and 3,500 followers are still away. I venture to say that these are very large and handsome contributions.'' I wish our wealthy self - governing colonies made such large and handsome contributions to national defence. The Viceroy further says:— I would like to mention another respect in which we have been of service. This had been in the provision of ammunition, stores and supplies. The Viceroy then read a list of articles which had been sent to South Africa and China; but throughout his speech he did not say a word about the danger to India of taking away such a large number of men to engage in the fiercest military campaign since Waterloo. The peace of India was still maintained. Russia did not invade the frontier, and India was able to send all these troops without any risk of danger to herself.

In 1885, Lord Dufferin, who was then Viceroy, with the consent of Lord Randolph Churchill, then Secretary of State, increased the Indian Army by 30,000 men. For fifteen years this wholly unnecessary increase has never been used either for maintaining the peace or defending the frontier of India. Now these men are taken away from India to be employed in the defence of self-governing Colonies in. an Imperial war, to make war in China, or against remote African tribes, or for garrisoning Crown Colonies to relieve British troops for the South African campaign. To provide this reserve force for possible contingencies in the Empire outside India, the Indian people have, since it was imposed upon them, paid out of their penny a day something like £30,000,000. My contention is that India has no use for these 30,000 extra troops imposed on her at a time of panic, and that they are neither more nor less than a reserve force for the British Army, as is amply proved by Lord Curzon's speech. This increase followed the Penjdeh scare; but the Penjdeh scare was followed by a wise delimitation of the frontier, to which Russia agreed. The fifteen years that have passed since then have been years of almost unbroken quiet in Central Asia. During the same period Russia has become absorbed in the development of her superb Siberian territories, and the Russian scare has become the deadest of all bogies, except to the Prime.

Minister, and even he declared in his speech on Tuesday night— I think that a war between Russia and Great Britain is to the last degree improbable. I ask him if he thinks it is worth while to maintain the salt tax in India, and to starve irrigation works in order to pay for the maintenance of Lord Dufferin's 30,000 additional troops. Since 1885, we have been far nearer war with other countries than with Russia. At one time we went near war with the United States. We have a frontier with the United States of 3,000 miles, which could be crossed by an Army at any point for 2,000 miles; but what would Canada say if we imposed an Army Corps on her finances because we might have a war with the United States? If we did that, we should lose Canada, and serve us right. In India, with an impregnable frontier of 300 miles of the most 'difficult mountain passes, we maintain an Army, the costliest in the world, to defend the poorest country in the world against a Power that would not Take India and its responsibilities as a gift, to say nothing of taking it as the result of a life-and-death contest with a great naval and military Power like Britain. Russia's feeling towards India was perfectly expressed by Prince Gortshakoff in 1887, when he declared "the conquest of India by Russia to be a perfect impossibility, and, if practicable, an act of supreme folly." Lord Salisbury once spoke of the dread of a Russian invasion of India as "an antiquated superstition." I want no three better authorities on this question than the present Prime Minister, the late Prime Minister, and Prince Gortshakoff. The first says that a war between Russia and Great Britain is in the last degree improbable; the second speaks of the fear of the invasion of India as an antiquated superstition, and the third as a perfect impossibility and an act of supreme folly. These 30,000 men were added to the Indian Army as a result of the Penjdeh scare. Their continued inclusion is in flat contradiction of all accepted authority with regard to the purposes for which they were added.

The time has long since passed for the relief of India from this intolerable burden; but when the day arrived for the whole 30.000 troops to be taken away from India for service in countries where India has neither a direct nor an indirect interest, the continuance of this burden on Indian finance becomes an infamy. If the 30,000 troops are wanted for the defence of India from Russian invasion, and the Governments of Britain and India really believe this, what are we to say of the statesmanship that takes the whole of them from 2,000 to 5.000 miles away from the Indian frontier at the very crisis in our history that furnished the only possibility of success for Russia if she had any such intention. I ask the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for India if they believe that Russia has sinister designs on India. If they do not, for what purpose do they still maintain these 30,000 men who were added because that belief had some shreds of justification fifteen years ago? If they think that Russia has sinister designs on India, how could that justify the withdrawal of these troops to distant service at a moment that would certainly be chosen by an enemy, when this country was involved in the greatest military struggle she has ever had to face since Waterloo? It could be done with absolute safety. No one doubts the word of the Indian people. I am quite sure my noble friend the Secretary of State will agree with me that never in the history of India were people so loyal as they are to-day. If the Durbar means anything it means that. But we can only hold India while her peoples are loyal to British overrule. It is such acts of barefaced injustice as the continuance of the 1885 addition to the Army, after using the whole of them for our own purposes, that tend to loosen the attachment of the Indian people.

Educated public opinion in India is not slow to speak out. The Indian National Congress, the most representative body of men in all India, passed this resolution on the subject:— That this Congress enters its most emphatic protest against the fresh permanent burden of £786.000 per annum which the increase made (hiring the course of the year in the pay of the British soldier would impose on the revenues of India, and views with alarm the recent announcement of the Secretary of State for India hinting at a possible increase in the near future of the strength of the British troops in the country. In view of the fact that during the last three years large bodies of British troops have, with perfect safety, been withdrawn for service in South Africa and China, the proposal to increase the strength of the British garrison manifestly involves a grievous injustice to the Indian taxpayer, and the Congress earnestly trusts that the proposal will either be abandoned or else he carried out at the cost of the British Exchequer, who in fairness should bear, not only the cost of any additional British troops that may be employed, but also a reasonable proportion of the existing garrison. It is not for one so ignorant of military affairs as myself to suggest how, or in what direction, Indian Army expenditure should be reduced. It might, however, take the form of a grant-in-aid from the British to the Indian Exchequer on the understanding that 10,000 British and 20,000 native troops of the Indian Army were to be treated as a Reserve Army Corps for the defence of the Empire, or for any warlike operations east of and including Cape Colony and Egypt. Lord Curzon claims that this 30,000 loose and available troops saved South Africa, and I think the claim is a good one. It is monstrous to lay the burden of saving our great self-governing colonies upon India without asking those colonies to contribute either to the protection of India or to the cost of Imperial defence, and it is idle to say that the Imperial Exchequer bore the cost of the Indian troops (luring service abroad. India bore the cost of their recruiting and transport and of their maintenance for fifteen years during which they were there for Imperial use when wanted, and now India is called upon to shoulder the burden rendered heavier than before until another foreign emergency arises. Sir, I have endeavoured to put the case for my Resolution in as short a time as possible, and I now bog to move the Amendment standing in my name.

MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)

In rising to second this Motion, I feel that I ought not to occupy too much of the time of the House in doing so, neither do I think it necessary to make any apology for bringing forward a Motion of this character at this stage of our parliamentary proceedings. It is generally admitted on this side of the House that India does not receive from Parliament that consideration which she ought to do, and it is absolutely necessary for us to grasp any opportunity which we may have at our disposal for bringing before this House and the country questions of vital interest to India. I think it is not unnatural that we should select as our special subject for consideration to-night the question relating to the Army in India. As my hon. friend who moved this Motion has already pointed out, military matters have absorbed and are likely to absorb a great deal of our Parliamentary attention in the present session, and if it is right for us to pay special attention to the question of the possible reduction of military expenditure at home, I think every one will admit an equal, if not a greater, duty lies upon us to consider whether this is not possible in the case of India. India, as is well known, pays the whole cost of the British Army in that country. I do not know whether it is clearly realised that India pays more than one-third of the total cost of the British Army, and when we in this country are called upon by the Government to-day to consider a change in the organisation of the Army—British and Indian—it is right, I think, that we should bring the question of our responsibilities to the Indian taxpayer prominently before this House.

There are two primary points which I. should like to mention upon this, indications which, I think, are of good omen with regard to the treatment of the Indian question in this House in the future. The first is that there is an evident disposition to regard India in this House from a non-political point of view, and the second is a growing sense of the fact of the importance of India to our Empire. Now there are three main points which lie within this Motion. The first is the necessary and inevitable fact that there continues in India to-day a widespread poverty; the second that some retrenchment in some direction in regard to taxation is absolutely necessary; and the third is in accordance with the terms of this Motion, and it is that we believe that the direction in which this reduction should take place is the direction of the Army. I am not going to dwell on this question from the standpoint of poverty of the Indian people. I only regret it is not possible in considering a great matter such as this to sweep away on the one hand official optimism, and on the other the pessimism which is perhaps inevitable on the part of those brought face to face with the poverty of India, in order to get at the facts. What we want to take is not an exaggerated view on one side or the other, but the facts of the case, and it ought, and I believe it is, the desire of everyone within these walls to act in accordance with those facts, and to shape the policy of that country in harmony with their own. But there are one or two outstanding features in regard to the great poverty of the people of India which I will, in one sentence, and only one sentence, refer to. No one who has studied Indian matters during the last few years will doubt that the fact that the effect of the unprecedented famines that have occurred recently in that country are still present in the lives of the people, and that that gives emphasis to the special means now being considered. I read the other day in the Pioneer, an able newspaper in India, which has been all along in loyal support of British Administration in that country, a statement to the effect that nearly 100,000,000 of the people of British India lived in extreme poverty, and if we look in other directions we find the same facts prominently pressed on our attention. To conclude this particular part of my statement. I think everyone must admit that the widespread poverty of the people of India does continue, and that it must necessarily be greater and more acute by reason of the great number of famines and other evils which have afflicted that land for fifty years past. This makes it all the more necessary, when we in this House consider to-day whether it is not possible to reduce taxation, to consider in what direction this reduction should take place. I think I shall carry the House with me when I say that before we can develop the industrial resources of India we must lighten in some way the burden of taxation which now rests upon the people of that country. No one who knows anything of India will deny that it is of the utmost importance to emphasise the necessity of developing the industrial resources of the country. What we want is what the Viceroy said in his speech the other day at Calcutta.

What we want in India is capital. What we want is to bring about a condition of things which would result in the flow of capital into that country. And what I hold is, that we must give this question of industrial development in India more and more thought and attention, and in doing this we cannot lose sight of the necessity of reducing, as far as possible, taxation which arises from unproductive expenditure. In other words, before we can hope to make India permanently prosperous, we must lessen the burden of taxation on the people.

I now come to the third part of my remarks as to the special direction in which this lightening of the burden of taxation should take place, being that of military expenditure. One or two questions arise under this head. First of all do we or do we not get full value for our money in connection with the British Army in India? I do not intend to go into that, because that has been dealt with by my hon. friend who moved this Amendment. The second question is, is the force we have in India at present excessive for Indian purposes? I know very well in the long run we must depend on the judgment of our military advisers in regard to this part of the question; but, alter all, military advice is not always infallible, and I agree with my hon. friend in thinking that so far as the purpose of preserving international peace and security in India itself is concerned, there has been ever since 1885 an excessive force established in the country. I do not think I would venture to express this opinion, were it not based on a somewhat close study of the views of those mainly responsible for the government of India. But I will mention just one statement made by Sir Auckland Colvin, an Indian administrator of great reputation, whose judgment on this question will be accepted by everyone in this House. In 1897, Sir Auckland Colvin made this statement— Up to 1885 the military authorities in India were looked upon us responsible only for securing the country against internal danger. Since then a change has taken place. There have come plans and projects for securing India against attack from Central Asia, with the consequence that— Almost every consideration for the good government of India has been made to yield to the alleged requirements of defence against external attacks. In considering this question I am not placing the opinions of those who think they represent the people of India against those of the Government of India, but rather the opinions of those who are responsible for the government of India against the opinions of the War Office at home. About twenty years ago, a Commission was appointed to inquire into military expenditure in India, and the then legal member of the Viceroy's Council, in his Minute of Dissent from the Report, made this statement— A standing army which is larger than is necessary for home requirements will be a tempting and almost irresistible weapon of offence beyond the borders."' I think the events of the last twenty years, the adoption and abandonment of the so-called forward movement, and the millions of money it has involved, are a vivid commentary on that statement. The third question which arises on this Amendment is this: Supposing it be granted, for the sake of argument, that the present force in India is not excessive for internal and external purposes, is it right to charge India with the whole cost of that military force? In his reply the Secretary of State will probably instance the Report of the Indian Expenditure Commission, which recommended that a certain sum should be paid in settlement of the claims made by the Government of India in reference to home charges. But that Report was made on the assumption that the United Kingdom and India must be kept strictly separate in the calculations made. At the same time it is said in that Report that— The Home Government has derived and does derive great benefit from the existence of a large effective force in India. In other words, the Commission in the same breath say that you must treat India and England separately in this matter, and that you must realise that India is conferring a great benefit upon this country in military matters. I do not think it is incumbent upon me, or upon any Member on this side of the House, to make any suggestion as to the solution of this question. I read the other day an interesting article by another able administrator, Sir Edwin Collen, in which, about ten months ago, he made this suggestion— There is, I think, only one way out of the difficulty, and that is by England foregoing the annual charges for the training of men sent to India, while India, on the other side, accepts the cost of reforms which are necessary for the general welfare of the whole Imperial Army. I am not competent to pronounce an opinion whether such a solution of the difficulty would be a proper one; I only mention it as showing that such men as Sir Edwin Collen and others, who have had life-long experience and responsibility in regard to the administration of Indian affairs, admit that something ought to be done, and that there is an obligation due to India from this country on that account. The revenues of India have been charged with the cost of many changes of organisation, not directly necessary for the efficiency of the Indian Army. The most recent case in point is the extra expenditure of £786,000 per annum, which will be imposed upon India by the changes now being carried out in the Army system. To take this step, and to burden India with this large annual charge, destroys once and for ever the validity and the finality of the Report of the Royal Commission on Indian Expenditure, because what you give by that Report you more than take away by this additional charge. The Indian Expenditure Commission has not solved the problem; we are faced with it to-day in an aggravated form.

Let me, in conclusion, mention some of the dominating features in the situation. I am one of those who believe that India is the pivot upon which our supremacy in the East turns; I believe in the growing importance of India from an Imperial standpoint. The trade of the Empire may be accounted for, roughly, in these proportions: 61 per cent. to the Home country; 23 per cent. to the Colonies, and 16 per cent. to India. From that standpoint it is necessary that we should seriously consider our obligations to India. Then, from a military standpoint, I believe that we should maintain in India a force adequate for internal purposes; but if it is necessary to maintain there a force adequate for external purposes—and I am not one of those who say it is not necessary—we ought to make such a contribution to Indian finances as will substantially pay the additional cost. In regarding India as a necessary part of the British Empire I think we should do something to strengthen the bonds between that country and this. It is necessary for us not only to relieve the strain of taxation in India, but also to promote the growing consciousness that they are one with us, and that they are, in reality as well as in sentiment, a bulwark of the Empire. I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words— And, having regard to the great poverty of the Indian people, and to the fact that 30,000 troops of the Indian Army have been used in other parts of the world in which India has no direct or substantial interest, we humbly express our regret that your Majesty's Speech contains no recommendation for the reduction of the military expenditure of the Indian Empire."—(Mr. Caine.) Question proposed, "That those words be there added."

MAJOR EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)

said that inquiries had been made in various parts of the House as to the necessity for the maintenance of three Army Corps of Regular troops in this country, and the Prime Minister had declared it to be an Indian necessity. That was a startling reason, and one requiring more explanation than had as yet been given. If this pressing necessity existed, surely the country should have heard of it before now. If India was really in that dangerous position it was a terrible thing that the country should have been kept entirely in the dark. Not a word was mentioned on the point at that critical moment when large bodies of troops were withdrawn from India for service in other parts of the world. If India was in need of reinforcements the proper course was to increase the Army in India itself, as the military position of that country would not be improved by maintaining large bodies of troops consisting of five-feet-two-inch inefficient men on Salisbury Plain or at Aldershot. If the Government came to the conclusion that the Indian frontier was in danger, then let them, for Heaven's sake, send out more troops now before war broke out. What would be our actual position if war broke out? They would not be able to send a single man unless they had previously destroyed or locked up the Russian Fleet. If more troops were necessary for India, let the Government enlist the necessary number of Gurkhas, Sikhs, Pathans, and others, who were the finest military material in the world, and keep them on the spot. Some ridicule had been cast upon an hon. friend of his for expressing certain opinions with regard to Indian matters.


The hon. and gallant Member seems to be continuing the debate which was raised upon the Army question. The question before the House is simply how far the cost of the troops in India should be charged upon the Indian revenue.

MAJOR EVANS GORDON said he spoke with some small knowledge of Indian matters, having spent twenty years of his life in India. He trusted that this Amendment would not be accepted, and that if India was in the serious position which the Prime Minister and the Government seemed to think, far from reducing the military expenditure, the proper step to take would be to increase it without further delay, not by keeping troops in this country, but by maintaining a larger number of troops on the spot where they might be most urgently required.


The hon. Member who brought this question before the House pointed out that his Motion was in a sense similar to that which was moved a few days ago in connection with Army expenditure in this country; but the facts on which the two respective Motions are based soon parted company. The present period is one in which the military expenditure of every country is rapidly increasing, with one exception, and that is to be found in India. I did not wish to interrupt the hon. Member who moved the Amendment in regard to his figures, but he seemed to have a statistical department of his own; his figures differed from official returns. He gave the military establishments as 290,000; I do not know where the hon. Member got his figures from, but the number should be 220,000.


I got them from the official returns. I have not figures of my own.


But nobody would include among the regular military establishment the Volunteers and Reserves.


I was making a comparative statement of the cost of the various armies of different countries, and I took all the effective forces of this country upon a war footing. I supposed that the Volunteers and Reserve forces might be used in India in a war.


It is an absolutely indisputable fact that during a period of great military expansion throughout the world the Indian Government alone has kept down military expenditure. During the seven years I have been in office the military establishment has grown from 219,000 to 220,000, and the military expenditure has advanced from £16,400,000 to £17,100,000; and it seems to me that when the Indian Government accomplished this remarkable feat of keeping down expenditure and increasing efficiency it is not a result that deserves the censure implied by the Amendment. I think that if the growth of the military expenditure in this country had been so slight the Government would have met with universal thanks from the House of Commons and the taxpayers. Per head, the Indian Army is necessarily costly, because it is largely composed of white men taken from our own country, and, being supplied on the voluntary system, it is necessary to offer the men sufficient pecuniary inducement. While located in India great precautions for preservation of health are necessary, and this involves large expenditure, and still the death-rate is far higher than it is in this country. It is quite true the cost per head is great, and it is equally true that a large proportion of the taxation is supplied by poor people; but the hon. Member does not mention two governing facts of the situation—the area of the country in which the military establishment is retained, and the fact that the military establishment of India is much smaller in proportion to population than in any other Government in the world. Of course the establishment, being small, it must be made efficient.

The hon. Member went on to say that India had an almost impregnable frontier, and seems to imply that the small force maintained is in excess of requirements. But the hon. Member is aware that the history of India long before the establishment of British rule is a continuous record of invasions over that frontier which he describes as impregnable. Nobody can say that, if our rule were withdrawn or insufficiently supported, India would not again be subjected to similar invasions from warlike tribes inhabiting the regions to the north and west, and who from time immemorial have been taught to look on the plains of India as their natural prey. Therefore the establishment is moderate and, in proportion to population, less than that of any other Government in Central Asia. The Russian establishment in Asia is ten or twelve times as great in proportion to population. But the hon. Gentleman's main argument in support of the Motion for reduction is that during the crisis of the late Boer War a considerable number of men were sent to assist the Imperial forces in different parts of the world. I quite admit it. But surely the hon. Member must know that in times of great national stress some risks may legitimately be incurred which in normal times would not be justified. Lord Curzon, with characteristic courage, did deplete his military establishment by sending 6,000 white men to Natal and 17,000 native troops to China. No one can dispute that the despatch of those forces was a most effective aid to the British arms, and well they upheld British prestige. During that period there were scarcely any Regular troops in this country; but the hon. Member would surely not argue that therefore the home establishment was too large, and that it should be reduced to the figure at which it stood during the Boer War. Such a proposition would be absurd and nonsensical. Lord Curzon, in the speech to which the hon. Member referred, never gave a. hint that in his judgment the normal Indian establishment was too large. I do not think the hon. Member would be able to get any responsible military authority to admit that our present military establishment in India is in excess of the needs of India, or more than is required to guard against certain dangers which are always present.

Then my hon. friend referred to the speech made by the Prime Minister the other night. I do not think that he quite grasped the significance of what my right hon. friend said. My right him. friend did not describe India as being in serious danger, nor did he speak of the probability of a war between England and Russia, but he pointed out that it was a possibility, though he thought it was a very remote possibility. He said there was in the same way a remote possibility of a war between Germany and Russia. But if that contingency did occur it would necessitate very large reinforcements being sent from this country to augment and bring up the Indian establishments to the standard necessary to combat such a danger.


May I point out to the noble Lord that that is a contingency and a danger that has existed for years past?


My right hon. friend said there was the possibility. He said nothing more than that.

MR. BECKETT (York, N. R., Whitby)

Why three Army Corps?


Possibly in the past sufficient attention has not been given to the organisation and training of soldiers, and if those matters have been brought to light now it is incumbent on the Government of the day to try to remedy them in what they believe to be the most effective manner. I now come to what I think was the method of relief the hon. Gentleman suggested, and that was that a certain number of men on the Indian establishment should be maintained and paid for out of the Imperial revenue and kept in India. I cannot say that that is a proposition which in any way commends itself to my mind.


It would be cheaper than the three Army Corps.


I am not going to argue about the three Army Corps. I am arguing as regards the dimensions at which the Indian establishment should be kept up. All these establishments, as my hon. friend is aware, are organised on the Army Corps principle. I say that what the hon. Member suggests is not a proposition that I can assent to. I believe nothing would be more dangerous than to put nominally under the control of the Indian Government certain forces paid for by the Imperial Government, because it would follow that the Imperial Government would have control over those forces. Each party, the Imperial Government and the Indian Government, would rely on being able to use the same troops, and it is not unlikely that at the critical moment some large combination might utterly fail if each Government were to rely on. such an arrangement. Whatever men are on the Indian establishment must be absolutely under the control of the Indian Government, just as those on the Imperial establishment must be under the control and direction of the Imperial Government. What the Prime Minister in his speech the other night really made clear was possibly new to Members of the House, namely, that the possession of India does put such a strain on the military system as is in no way compensated for by the payments made, and therefore it did follow that the taxpayer and the military system of this country were subjected to constant pressure in consequence of the possession of India, which puts upon them a very considerable strain. I have always felt that while it is necessary to fight, and to fight hard, to secure justice between the Indian and' the British exchequers, so far as the apportionment of charge is concerned, for services in which they have a common interest, the fact that India is a charge upon the Imperial revenue ought never to be forgotten. I believe that the connection between India and Great Britain is beneficial to both; we gain largely, commercially and otherwise, but the greater gain, I think, is to the inhabitants of India. We have so swept away the oppression and misgovernment which prevailed that we have really eradicated the recollection, and I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that India is the foundation—I think he said the pivot—of our Imperial interests in Asia. If that be so, both Great Britain and India must combine together to preserve those interests, and each must bear a part of the charge that falls on their exchequers. During the past seven years we have been able to improve the efficiency of the military establishments.

The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment alluded to taxation and to charges, and he put those against the revenue which the Indian Government receives. I am glad to say that, not withstanding the period of exceptional drought through which we have passed, we have been able to bear all the extra expenditure connected with that drought, and yet year after year we are realising a considerable surplus. I am glad to say that the agricultural prospect is improving and that we have been able to close Indian relief establishments which we were obliged to maintain for a considerable number of years. I do believe that the prospects of commerce and agriculture in India are improving, and if we can only have normal years there is not the slightest doubt that there will be an increase under every main head of revenue, and as we have already a certain surplus, we hope to be able to remit taxation. We shall keep our military establishments up to that level in India to which it is the universal opinion of our military advisers it is necessary to keep it, at the same time carefully supervising all expenditure connected with these establishments. That is our first duty, and the next is to endeavour, in the years ahead of us, so to adjust our income and expenditure that we may be able in some way to reduce the burdens that the Indian people now are suffering from. Here perhaps I may remind the House that for the last seven years no additional taxation whatever of any kind has been imposed in India. It seems to me that this is not an Amendment which should be pressed to a division.

Question put, and negatived.

Main Question again proposed.