§ MR. WEIR
To ask the Secretary of State for India, having regard to the fact that in the year 1900–1901 the holdings† See (4) Debates, cxlvii., 1093.65 of 14,760 ryots in the Madras Presidency were sold in default of payment of land revenue, will he state whether the Madras Government, before resorting to these extreme measures, considered to what extent the difficulties of these ryots might be attributable to the preceding years of famine.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Brodrick.) I have no reason to suppose that the Madras Government failed to treat impoverished ryots with due consideration in collecting the land revenue in 1900–1. In the Memorandum prefixed to the Return made in connection with the hon. Member's Question of March 24th, † 1904, it is shown that the land sales in Madras are due to a great extent to causes other than stringency in coercive processes. In the year preceding 1900–1 remissions of land revenue to the extent of 29½ lakhs of rupees were given to ryots whose circumstances required relief.
§ MR. WEIR
To ask the Secretary of State for India, having regard to the fact that the number of defaulting ryots in the Madras Presidency whose holdings were sold fell from 14,760 in the year succeeding the famine to 4,946 last year, will he arrange for defaulting ryots to be granted a longer period before their property is dealt with, in order that they may have more opportunities for recuperation from the effects of famine.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Brodrick.) There are rules in force in the Madras Presidency for the suspension and remission of the land revenue which provide for the protection of ryots whose crops have failed, and prevent the premature sale of land for arrears of land revenue. It has frequently been explained by the Government of Madras that a large proportion of the recorded sales represent the voluntary abandonment of land by holders, and that the process of sale is not resorted to until ample opportunity has been given to the defaulter to pay the dues of the State. I feel sure that the Madras Government may be trusted to see that impoverished cultivators are treated with every consideration.† See (4) Debates, cxxxii., 606.