§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [21st June], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair (for Committee on East India Revenue Accounts)."
Which Amendment was—
To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, and add the words, 'considering the great importance of Indian questions and the desire of the Indian people to lay their grievances before Parliament and to ask for improvement in the administration of their country, it is absolutely necessary, in the interests alike of India and the United Kingdom, that periodical Parliamentary inquiries into the administration of India be Revived, that the salary of the Secretary of State for India be placed upon the British Estimates, and that greater opportunities be given for the Parliamentary discussion of Indian affairs."— (Mr. Cathcart Wason.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question,"
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (continuing his speech)
said when the House adjourned he was referring to the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Indian Expenditure that £50,000 should 1286 be placed on the British Estimates. The paragraph ran—This contribution may be made the subject either of a charge upon the Consolidated Fund or an annual Vote on the charges of the establishment of the Secretary of State for India.On a previous occasion when this matter was debated, the noble Lord the Member for Ealing, then Secretary of State for India, replied that the recommendations of the Royal Commission had been carried out by a deduction of £50,000 from the annual sum paid by India to this country. But it was evident that the intentions of the Commission were that this charge should be placed upon the British Estimates in order to give the House an opportunity to discuss the administration of India on the Vote for the salary of the Secretary of State. By that means they would get another day's discussion on Indian affairs, and many important consequences would follow. The circumstances of India had greatly changed since 1858, and it was very desirable that there should be no distinction made between the position of the Secretary of State for India and the Secretary of State for the Colonies. If anything occurred in the Colonies to which public attention ought to be drawn, the matter could be brought up and a discussion raised on the salary of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and it was very desirable that this right should be accorded to the Indian people.
With regard to the employment of Indians in the public service, special attention had been called to the matter in the Council of India on the debate on the Indian Budget by Mr. Gokhale, whose ability, high character, and lofty ideals were generally recognised. In the previous year the Viceroy had made a statement of the two principles governing this matter, and that statement was followed by executive action which created considerable feeling throughout the country, and that made it necessary to emphasise the point on this occasion. As he understood, what the Viceroy said was that the pledges given on that question had been fulfilled, and that there had been a progressive increase in the number of appointments. Lord Curzon said, also, last March, that the Commission which 1287 sat in 1887 to consider this question made certain recommendations which had been more than carried out. But that Commission sat in 1887, and it was now highly desirable that a further inquiry should be held as to these questions by a Committee or Commission absolutely independent of the Government of India, who were bound to have special interest in the finding. What gave rise to the feeling in India upon this question was the fact that while in such a department as that of Public Works, for instance, there were sixty-one higher positions with salaries of from 1,200 to 3,000 rupees a month, all of which positions were held by Europeans, and in the Police Department there were sixty-eight higher positions with salaries of from 900 to 3,000 rupees a month, also held exclusively by Europeans, it was an entirely new practice to allow positions carrying from forty to sixty rupees a month to be filled by Europeans, because it had always been regarded that as far as possible these should be given to Indian candidates. Yet the following notification appeared in the Calcutta Gazette in May last as the latest enactment of the Bengal Government—In the office of the Board of Revenue, Lower Provinces, 30 per cent. of the appointments on pay of forty rupees and upwards will also be reserved for Europeans and Eurasians.It was not strange that it was feared that this step was the beginning of new policy in regard to opposition. Another matter which had been regarded with apprehension for many years from the Indian standpoint was the administration of Excise in India. There had been during the last thirty years a steady growth of the revenue obtained from the taxation of liquor in India. In 1874–5 £1,753,000 was obtained from this source. In 1894–5 it was £3,965,000, and in 1904–5 it would amount to £5,254,300. He was, of course, fully aware that the taxation of liquor had increased greatly, but it had not, in his opinion, increased sufficiently to account for so great an increase of revenue. It had been claimed by the Finance Member in his speech in the council in March last that there had been a reduction of 30 per cent. in the number of liquor shops in the last twenty years, but the almost universal testimony of missionaries and other residents of India was 1288 that drinking habits in India were increasing year by year. And, whilst desirous of giving the Government full credit for the reform which had been recently instituted, it was evident that the drink-problem in India demanded constant and serious consideration. Although it was said that very little good came from discussing Indian affairs in that House, he might remind the House that a Resolution moved by the hon. Member for Flintshire, in April, 1889, in connection with the liquor law of India, resulted in a despatch being framed upon the subject which had largely regulated Excise administration ever since; and that on another occasion, when the attention of the House was called to the drink evil on the tea plantations of Assam, the result was an inquiry, at the instance of the Indian Government, which in due course resulted in a Report, which led the Indian Government quite recently to introduce a number of very useful reforms. Those facts showed the utility of bringing the mind of Parliament to bear on these questions, which deeply affect India. Another fact that ought to be remembered at the present time was the deep impression made by the victories of Japan on Indian opinion. They did not know what the ultimate effect of the new situation would be, but of this he was certain, that the present time was an opportune moment for this country to show a special interest in the task of administering India, and for Parliament to consider the most pressing grievances put forward by the people of India. If such a Motion as this were to be favourably received by this House he thought it would be bound to have a beneficial effect on the administration of India.
§ SIR MANCHERJEE BHOWNAGGREE (Bethnal Green, N. E.)
said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had placed on that part of the Amendment now under discussion which provided for the holding of periodical Parliamentary inquiries a construction which was not apparent on the face of it. He confessed he had considerable sympathy with the Amendment, and rejoiced to think that the fact of their being engaged in the discussion of the Indian Budget so early in the session was in itself a proof that this 1289 House was to have in the future a better opportunity than it had had in past years of considering Indian affairs. He had often pleaded for the appointment of an earlier day for that purpose than the very fag end of the session when it had become customary for many years past to discuss the Budget, and just before the Easter adjournment he placed a Motion to that effect on the Order book. He congratulated the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for India on having been the means of establishing a precedent which he fervently trusted would be adhered to in future years, and thanked them for having responded to the wishes not only of those hon. Members who took an interest in the affairs of the Indian Empire, but of the people of India generally, for the grant of an earlier day in the session. In the sense that it furnished a better opportunity for discussing those affairs, it answered to the last part of the Amendment to a certain extent.
As regarded the demand for placing the salary of the Secretary of State on the Estimates, if that could be done consistently with reserving a special day for the Indian Budget as heretofore, he should agree to the suggestion with pleasure, for the simple reason that that arrangement would enlarge the Parliamentary opportunities for the consideration of Indian matters. But if the acceptance of the suggestion involved the withdrawal of the special day, he failed to see what good would result from the change, and would prefer the maintenance of the present arrangement, which, at all events, secured a full day for India. The remaining portion of the Amendment, which sought to secure "periodical inquiries into the administration of India," was the most important and debatable part of it, and required elucidation. It assumed the existence of "grievances" against that administration, which evidently were to be the subject of the periodical inquiries. The hon. Member who had just sat down had, however, construed it differently. He said it was meant to secure to India some such opportunities for the discussion of important matters relating to her as were secured to the self-governing Colonies by the conferences held by the Colonial 1290 Secretary with the Premiers and representatives of the Colonies. If that were so, he would certainly support that part of the Amendment also.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS
explained that what he meant to say was that the suggested inquiries would serve the same purpose for India as the Colonial Conference did for the Colonies, and would also embrace an investigation into grievances or complaints.
§ SIR MANCHERJEE BHOWNAGGREE
said that would mean the institution by the Imperial Government of a sort of impeachment and trial of the administrators of Indian affairs appointed by themselves. It was true there were periodical inquiries instituted by Parliament against the East India Company; but the circumstances were quite different to those of the present day. Then India was practically under the rule of a private company, and when it required the renewal of its charter, Parliament was bound to see that the stewardship of the affairs of the large Empire committed to its care had been properly discharged. The commercial rights and monopolies enjoyed by the company wore also a source of irritation and possibly of just grievance to the mercantile and trading communities of Great Britain and India, and there was room for investigation as to the way the company had exercised its privileges. All such causes had disappeared, and any periodical inquiry, now, into the administration of India would only reduce itself to an investigation of charges levelled against those who had been entrusted with it. That would certainly affect the prestige of British rule, and do no good whatever to the people of India. What was most desirable for the welfare of that country was the steady fostering of a sense of contentment and confidence in her Government, affording a stimulus to the people to work out their salvation by a diligent pursuit of the paths of reform and progress, and by development of industries. The institution of a system of periodical inquiries with the idea of investigating 1291 into complaints against their administrators would act quite in a contrary direction, raise hopes doomed to disappointment, and, without resulting in any practical good that could well be imagined, tend to the straining of relations between the people and the Government. Unless those who advocated the Amendment could show that the inquiries suggested were meant to serve the purpose of friendly conferences like those held with colonial representatives, he was afraid he could not vote for it. But before leaving this subject, he should like to impress upon the Government the desirability of including in future Colonial Conferences one or more representatives from India, as there were many questions considered at them, such, for instance, as the military and naval obligations appertaining to different parts of the Empire, with which India was deeply concerned, and in respect to which she should have proper representation.
The time occupied in the discussion of the Amendment curtailed the opportunity they had on a night like this of considering the important features embodied in the financial statement laid before the House by his right hon. friend, and he proposed to pass over some of them in as brief review as possible. It was gratifying to note that the large surpluses of the past six years had been continued during the year to which the statement referred, but really the most salient feature of the Budget was the application or use made of the surplus. The further reduction of the salt tax by 8 annas deserved special recognition as making another stride towards the entire abolition of it, which he had advocated in the past. Last year he dwelt at some length on the reasons which impelled him to suggest that the tax should finally disappear. It was a burden on the poorer classes of the people, which, besides being oppressive and injuriously affecting the consumption of a necessary article of food, had the more serious disadvantage of impressing upon them the nation that because they were under a foreign Government they were compelled to pay a tax from which they would otherwise be immune. It was worth while removing such an impression even at a great 1292 financial sacrifice. He also welcomed the abolition of the famine cesses. These began to be levied in 1878, and in their incidence were equivalent to 2 per cent. on land revenue. They were gradually discontinued in certain provinces and now their total removal would, to his mind, benefit the cultivators as well as the landlords and tenants in the districts concerned. The grants of 35 lakhs of rupees for primary education, and 20 lakhs towards the development of agricultural instruction and experimental farms, and the establishment of a college, were pleasing signs of the recognition by the Government of India of the necessity of spreading education among the masses suitable to their needs, although it must be remarked that these contributions were but as drops in the ocean to what was needed. Another noticeable allocation of the surplus was the grant-in-aid afforded to district and local boards. All these contributions, together with the creation of a Department of Commerce and Industry, the establishment of a Railway Board, the extension of irrigation, and reorganisation of the police, were performances of the Government of India during the twelve months under review of which they had just reason to be proud.
He could indicate, if time permitted, some other equally important matters to which that Government might devote its next surplus and earn in a larger degree the gratitude of the people, which he was glad to note had been accorded to them for their wise use of the spare funds of the past few years. But as one of the most pressing reforms which had been delayed on the plea of want of funds for a long time past, and which he believed called for adoption without longer delay, he would particularly mention that of the separation of the judicial from executive functions. He had dwelt at length on this topic in his speech a few years ago from these benches, and he should content himself now with remarking only that this reform had had acceptance and advocacy from many eminent men experienced in the administration of India. The combination of judicial and executive functions in the same officer must lead imperceptibly to 1293 his being influenced in the discharge of his judicial duties in dealing with matters which he had had to deal with in his executive capacity, such, for example, as municipal offences. Even if this were not so, the popular mind was naturally imbued with the idea that this could not fail to be the case, and its confidence in the impartiality of judicial decisions was shaken. And as among the main titles of British rule to the confidence of the people in India was their belief in the impartial administration of justice under that rule, he should regard it as an act of wisdom on the part of the Secretary of State if he were to invite the Viceroy to give his early attention to the question of this reform.
When he was last in India, and indeed for a long time past, his attention had been drawn to the increasing tendency in local administrations to withhold appeals submitted over their executive decisions to superior authority by the parties concerned. In order to ascertain the accuracy of this allegation, he asked his right hon. friend recently to give a Return of the number of appeals and other representations forwarded to him from India, together with the number withheld. This Return was published yesterday, and from it he found that the allegation was well founded. It showed, in a steadily increasing ratio, a disposition in recent years to withhold these appeals in India, based upon discretion left to the local authorities under the rules governing the submission of appeals. This discretion was meant to be used sparingly, and only in respect of certain appeals which violated the rules. That the discretion was not wide, or meant to be wide, was fully apparent from this resolution of the Government of India, dated September 24th, 1880—The Governor-General in Council considers that the discretionary power of withholding petitions under Clause 8, Rule XIII. (since renumbered Clause 7, Rule XII.) of the rules for the submission, receipt, and transmission of memorials and other papers of the same class addressed to His Majesty the King, Emperor of India, or to the right hon. the Secretary of State for India, by private persons or by officers of all civil departments should be used with caution, and only after full consideration of the facts in each case. Having 1294 regard to the constitution and character of the Indian subordinate services, dismissal of Government officials often involves serious distress, if not actual ruin, to them, and it is right that, under such circumstances, every opportunity should be allowed to them of making themselves heard. Further, when, as sometimes happens, their representations reach the Secretary of State through non-official channels, it is convenient that he should be in a position at once to deal with them; instead of being obliged, as may now be the case, to refer for information to this country. Such petitions, therefore, should not be withheld when there is any reasonable prospect of difference of opinion as to the order passed on them by the Government of India, or when they contain anything to which the attention of the Secretary of State is likely to be especially directed.In spite of this injunction, it would appear from the Return that the discretionary power had been exercised within the past few years with increasing freedom. Ten years back, in 1894, of the petitions addressed to the Secretary of State, seventy-two were forwarded to him and forty-eight withheld. Since then every year the proportion of those forwarded became increasingly smaller, until, in the last year given in the Return, 1904, the numbers were twenty-three forwarded and 140 withhold. So that, whereas in 1894 the proportion of those sent was about two-thirds accepted to one-third rejected locally, ten years later it was one-sixth accepted and five-sixths rejected. This was a somewhat serious matter, and practically amounted to a denial of justice in many cases. The petitions were generally appeals against the acts and decisions of the very authorities with whom the discretion to withhold was left. He did not want to allege that they withheld these representations from any actual desire to prevent justice being done to the appellants. It was more likely that they were induced to hold them back on the ground that the interests involved in the appeals were trivial. They might be so to a high official, or even to one not concerned with the matter under appeal, but to the person appealing that same matter might be of vital importance. So long as the people were permitted to have the right of appeal—and it would be highly imprudent to curtail chat right, so great 1295 was their confidence in the decision of an appellate authority—they thought, and he believed rightly, that the tendency to withhold appeals in such largely increasing numbers was intended to take away in practice a valuable boon which had been accorded them in theory. He trusted he had demonstrated to his right hon. friend that this matter was worthy of his serious consideration, and hoped he would see the desirability of sending out instructions to India for a more sparing use of the discretion left to local Administrations with regard to the forwarding of appeals to higher authorities.
He asked the permission of the House to refer to a pleasant matter which had not been alluded to by speaker, but which had aroused deep interest in India. To judge from the views expressed in many parts of the country, they might feel confident that a very hearty welcome would be extended to their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, during their forthcoming visit to the Indian dominions of His Majesty, a welcome as splendid and sincere as that which greeted King Edward VII. when, as Prince of Wales, he visited that land. He believed the Royal visit would tend further to draw the hearts of the people of India to the British throne. It would be wise to signalise that event by some gracious act which might appeal to the imagination of her princes and peoples, and therefore he was tempted to suggest to his right hon. friend that he should consider if he could not revive a project formulated by Lord Lytton at the Imperial Assemblage held at Delhi on the New Year's Day of 1877, where Her Majesty the late Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. In Lady Betty Balfour's work on Lord Lytton's Indian Administration there occurred a reference to this scheme in these words—Lord Lytton desired to take the opportunity to establish an Indian Privy Council, forming a distinct and separate institution, restricted, at all events in the first instance, to the great chiefs, and empowered to consult with and advise the Viceroy from time to time on general matters of State. Occasions might arise on which such sympathy and 1296 counsel would be of extreme importance. … The opposition, however, of certain authorities at home proved too strong for the schemes to be carried out in the way the Viceroy had planned them, and they were finally reduced to an association of some of the leading native princes, with the principal advisers of the Indian Government as 'Councillors of the Empress,' thus forming a nucleus for a future Privy Council.The motive for the project was expounded by Lord Lytton in a letter to Lord Salisbury, dated May 11th, 1876, in which he said—Look at the mistake which Austria has made in the government of her Italian provinces. They were the best governed portions of Italy … Fearing the native noblesse, she snubbed and repressed it. … But the Indian chiefs and princes are not a mere noblesse. They are a powerful aristocracy. To secure completely, and efficiently utilise, the Indian aristocracy is, I am convinced, the most important problem now before us.If he recollected aright Lord Lytton not only enunciated the scheme, but actually appointed some chiefs as Imperial Councillors in 1877. Since then, however, nothing had been heard of it. He submitted that the forthcoming royal visit should be made the occasion for its revival. Among the now generation of native rulers that had come into existence since 1877, there were many well-educated, intelligent chiefs capable of giving advice to, and worthy to be taken into consultation by, the Viceroy on masters of State. Some such scheme as that conceived by Lord Lytton would give the Government of India an opportunity of securing the opinions of that class of men who, by the large stake they held in the safety and welfare of our Indian Empire, and by virtue of their representative and responsible positions, were clearly entitled to be taken into confidence and consultation by the paramount Power.
Copious reference had been made by previous speakers to that part of the proceedings of the meeting of the Legislative Council of the Viceroy where the Budget was discussed, which dealt with the attitude adopted by the Government of India in regard to our present fiscal controversy. In the course of their remarks 1297 some of his hon. friends expressed an apprehension that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham would, if it rested with him, force India, against her will, to join in any scheme of fiscal reform which was adopted by Great Britain. He could not share that apprehension, for he held in his hand a letter received from the right hon. Gentleman in reply to one he addressed to him in November, 1903, in which he distinctly said—I do not think under any circumstances that India could be forced to join unless there were general assent on the part of the Indian authorities.He considered that to be a full assurance on the part of the right hon. Gentleman that India would be left complete freedom to pursue her fiscal policy in such a way as suited best the promotion of her own economic and industrial interests, and he trusted no change of circumstances or modification of the words just quoted would be allowed to alter the spirit of that assurance.
He begged to be permitted at that stage to refer to the subject of the Motion which stood in his name, on the ground that for want of greater opportunities for the discussion of questions relating to India it had not had adequate consideration this session, and also because, as the Amendment now before the House would be divided upon, he was precluded from asking hon. Members to pronounce their definite decision thereupon. He was, however, convinced that there was not, nor could there possibly be, any division of opinion among hon. Members, whether they sat on his side or the other, as to the terms of the Motion or the object embodied in it. The Motion ran as follows—That this House regards with disapproval the degrading and harsh measures adopted in respect of His Majesty's Indian subjects in several of the British Colonies, notably in South Africa, considers them to be inconsistent with the reasonable claims of the people of India as subjects of the British Empire to fair treatment, and is of opinion that the Government of India should adopt every means within its power to protect the rights and interests of the people of India in all parts of the British 1298 Dominions, and invoke the intervention of the Imperial Government to that end.The particulars which he had to lay before the House in support of this Motion shaped themselves into one long dismal tale of woe, and constituted a gross violation of some of the most solemn pledges given by the Crown to the people of India, as well as of premises and guarantees vouchsafed to them within recent times in several parts of Africa itself for fair treatment. As long back as 1843, a proclamation issued by Sir George Napier in view of the annexation of Natal contained this pledge—That there shall not be in the eye of the law any distinction or disqualification whatever founded on mere distinction of colour, origin, language, or creed, but that the protection of the law in letter and in substance shall be extended impartially to all alike.Under the Conventions of 1881 and 1884 with the Boer Government the rights and privileges secured for British residents in the Transvaal were understood to apply to British Indian residents, and, about ten years ago, when the South African Republic contended that that was not so, at the instance of the Colonial Office it was referred to the arbitration of the then Chief Justice of the Orange Free State. His finding was adverse to the case presented on behalf of the British Indians, whereupon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham addressed a despatch to the High Commissioner, dated 4th September, 1895, in which he stated—In conclusion I would say that whilst desirous loyally to abide by the award, and to allow it to close the legal and international question in dispute between the two Governments, I reserve to myself the liberty later on to make friendly representations to the South African Republic as to the traders, and possibly to invite the Government to consider whether, when once its legal position has been made good, it would not be wise to review the situation from a new point of view and decide whether it would not be better in the interests of its own burghers to treat the Indians more generously, and to free itself from even the appearance of countenancing a trade jealousy which, I have some reason to believe, does not emanate from the governing class in the Republic.1299 Then followed the war, justified by several misdeeds of the Boer Administration, among which its treatment of British Indian subjects was held up by Minister after Minister, and quite rightly, as one of the most revolting. Lord Lansdowne, then Secretary of State for War, speaking at Sheffield in November, 1899, uttered these memorable words—A considerable number of the Queen's Indian subjects are to be found in the Transvaal, and among the many misdeeds of the South African Republic I do not know that any fills me with more indignation than its treatment of these Indians. And the harm is not confined to the sufferers on the spot; for what do you imagine would be the effect produced in India when these poor people return to their country to report to their friends that the Government of the Empress, so mighty and irresistible in India, with its population of 300,000,000, is powerless to secure redress at the hands of a small South African State?He could quote many other responsible utterances to show that the people of India were guaranteed fair treatment in South Africa as the result of the replacement of Boer by British rule, but what he had quoted amply proved that contention. After the war was over, and while British administration was being organised there, he repeatedly urged upon the Colonial Secretary to ameliorate the condition of British Indians by repealing the Boer regulations, and time after time promises were made that that should be done, that consultations with Lord Milner during his visit to this country would be held, and so forth. The first positive indication, however, that these expectations were futile was not long in coming, for in April, 1903, the local Transvaal authorities under Lord Milner issued a notification strictly enforcing the old Boer Location Law. This, be it remembered, was the same law against which our Colonial Office had protested so strongly to the Republic, and which in consequence had remained a dead letter. Next followed regulation after regulation the tendency of which was to make the status and condition of British Indians much inferior and worse under the new British regime than it was in Boer times. Old Dutch regulations, most of which were never enforced before, were dug up 1300 and put into effect in their strictest sense. He had fully given them in detail in an appendix to a letter which he addressed to the Colonial Secretary at the end of 1903, giving a full narrative of the deplorable situation to which British Indians were reduced under British domination. That letter was forwarded to Lord Milner by his right hon. friend in a despatch which, he was pleased to say, was sympathetic. The replies, however, which that despatch evoked from Lord Milner and Sir Arthur Lawley, were most unsatisfactory, and, while indulging in vain regrets at the situation, substantially justified the hideous rigour of the treatment to which British Indians were subjected under their immediate administration, on the plea of the intense hostility of the so-called white population, and the necessity of protecting the new territories against the apprehended invasion of Indian traders. Instead of holding out any hope of alleviation, they asked permission for the legislation of more rigorous measures, but the Colonial Secretary discountenanced the demand to some extent, although not so completely as he could have wished or the justice of the case demanded. In one portion of his despatch of 20th July, 1904, he was actually driven to remind Lord Milner and Sir Arthur Lawley that—His Majesty's Government hold that it is derogatory to national honour to impose on resident British subjects disabilities against which we have remonstrated, and to which even the law of the late South African Republic, rightly interpreted, did not subject them.At a meeting of the Legislative Council of the Transvaal held after the receipt of this despatch, Sir George Farrar moved a resolution—Urging on Mr. Lyttelton to appoint a Commission of influential persons in Great Britain to visit the country," etc.With the idea of securing an impartial consideration of the whole question. Believing fully in the strength and justice of the cause he had had the privilege of advocating on behalf of the 3,000,000 of their fellow-subjects in India, and in the full faith that a Commission composed of eminent Englishmen could not possibly go so far wrong as not to recognise the 1301 legitimate demands of a considerable portion of British subjects for fair treatment, he addressed himself to the Colonial Secretary urging him to appoint such a Commission.
In reply to this he was informed that further communication from Lord Milner was awaited by the Colonial Secretary before coming to a final decision with regard to the appointment of the Commission. That was last October, and he had heard nothing more about it since. It seemed to have gone the way of many other references to the Transvaal Administration, and he was sorry not to see his right hon. friend in his place, as perhaps they might have known from him that night if he still intended to appoint the Commission. He had brought up to date in the merest outline the narrative of the failure of the Transvaal authorities to ameliorate the condition of British Indian residents within their jurisdiction, showing that, in spite of repeated pledges and promises to secure that object, they had, by various measures and regulations, reduced these people to a much worse plight than they were in during the Boer regime Lord Milner's deliberate assurance that, at all events, those among them of a "superior class" would be exempted from the application of these disabling and degrading provisions, had not been fulfilled. He said in his letter of May 11th, 1903—It is the intention of the Government to be liberal in granting such exemptions. We have no wish to subject respectable British Indians, or civilised Asiatics generally, to any disabilities.He would like to know in how many cases, and in respect of how many of the harsh measures, such exemption had been granted. This retrograde legislation, passed in a new colony when still under the immediate government of the Colonial Office, had, moreover, been the means of furnishing an incentive to the self-governing Colonies, such as Natal and the Cape, to reduce the already restricted rights and privileges enjoyed by the British-Indian residents there. In fact, everywhere in the oversea possessions of the Crown a relentless crusade was being carried on against 1302 the very existence of British-Indian subjects resident there, and it was now high time the Imperial Government regarded this state of things as a matter of Imperial concern calling for drastic treatment. They could not but realise that Lord Milner had failed to bring about relations of amity and concord between two great outlying parts of the Empire, as he might have done by showing some firmness and discountenancing the "intense hostility" of the European residents in the Transvaal against British-Indian settlers. Even this "hostility" plea, so often put forward by him and his subordinates to cover their helplessness or unwillingness to grapple with the difficulty, was hardly tenable, for he was informed that the real opposition to Indians did not proceed from British colonists of the better class, but was mainly led by a low class of aliens, Polish Jews and such like, who were permitted rights and liberties denied to the Indian subjects of the Crown. This was fully borne out by the fact that a large number of respectable European firms in the Transvaal were so scandalised at the oppressive measures adopted against British Indians that they actually submitted a petition to the Lieutenant-Governor against the curtailment of their rights and liberties. In it they said—It is evident the Indian supplies a felt want because the general public support him.They describe them as—an orderly, law-abiding, and useful section of the community, quite equal in honesty and sobriety to others who are not British subjects and yet enjoy full trading and other rights.This most valuable testimony from a body of independent European gentlemen of position was a complete negation of the "hostility" excuse, and yet Sir Arthur Lawley, in his reply to his (Sir Mancherjee Bhownaggree's) representation to the Colonial Secretary, explained it away by saying that the petitioners thus expressed themselves as they were in a position to ignore the competition of the Asiatic traders. That reply from top to bottom was one long untenable apology for the harsh treatment of the British Indian, and the strange arguments or special pleading on 1303 which it was built up reached their culmination in this remarkable sentence—If the redemption of the pledges upon which Sir M. Bhownaggree depends both in letter and spirit means that in fifty or a hundred years this country will have fallen to the inheritance of the Eastern instead of Western populations, then from the point of view of civilisation they must be numbered among promises which it is a greater crime to keep than to break.The assumption about the country falling to the inheritance of Eastern nations was gratuitous, because nobody had urged such an absurd proposition or could believe in the possibility of it, and the "crime" of keeping solemn pledges of the Crown suggested here by a British pro-Consul sounded grotesque in juxtaposition to these words proclaimed by the good and great Queen Victoria in 1858—We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to all our other subjects, and those obligations, by the blessing of Almighty God, we shall faithfully and conscientiously fulfil.The fact of the matter was that the Transvaal Administration had deplorably failed in doing what they ought to have done to secure some amelioration of the condition of the British Indian since our rule was there established. On the other hand, it was only too evident from the tone and temper of Sir Arthur Lawley's letter that they had encouraged, passively at all events, some of the low classes of residents there in their hostility against, and jealousy of, British Indians. And thus the sympathetic promises of the late and present Secretaries for the Colonies and for India, for some reasonable solution of this difficult question, had remained unfulfilled. Lord Curzon, too, had well championed the cause of British Indians, but without avail. He knew if it rested with them they would not lose five minutes in putting an end to this intolerable state of things. But mere sympathy, after all, was not a substantial remedy for a grievance of this magnitude. The time had arrived for the Secretary of State and the Government of India to represent to the Cabinet that this most degrading and oppressive 1304 treatment of the people whose rights and liberties they were bound to protect in the colonial possessions of the Crown, must be regarded as a matter of Imperial concern and that a solution must be found at any cost. The plea of non-interference because of tin self-governing Constitution of some of the Colonies might be convenient but was not convincing. Self-government carried with it privileges, responsibilities, and obligations to respect the pledges of that Imperial Power from which the right of self-government was derived. If and when the exercise of its authority deliberately ran counter to the generally accepted principles of the main Constitution, invalidated its solemn pledges, and trailed into dust its noblest traditions, it became the imperative duty of Ministers to advise the Crown to annul and to veto the measures which operated to such ignoble purposes. He submitted, therefore, that his right hon. friend should urge strongly upon the Prime Minister and his other colleagues to intervene with the colonial authorities to secure within their jurisdiction a recognition of the reasonable claims of the people of India to fair and honourable treatment. If the people in the Colonies could not be persuaded by conciliatory means to recognise this duty which they owed to the mother country, and were determined to strike at the very basis of the unity of the Empire by spurning the friendly advances and legitimate claims of millions of their fellow-subjects under the same flag, and thereby degrading them in the sight of other nations as unfit to enjoy the elementary rights and liberties of British citizenship, then he went to the length of saying that the Government of India should be called upon to adopt measures of retaliation. They had been talking loud and long about commercial reciprocity and retaliation. He asked with certainly much greater justification for reciprocity in the treatment of human beings. A kiss for a kiss, and a kick for a kick was, after all, a sound principle to go upon, and although any legislation by the Government of India against colonists might not have much practical operation, still in so far as the real sting of the colonial legislation against British Indians consisted in lowering them in the 1305 sight of other peoples of the globe, let there be placed upon the Statute-book of our great Indian Empire corresponding measures which might show in turn that if colonials despise Indians, Indians hate colonials. He had to apologise to the House for engaging so much of its time, and thanked hon. Members for the extremely sympathetic hearing they had accorded to his feeble advocacy of a cause which affected the honour and interests of a vast number of their fellow-subjects. He had dealt with it not merely from the standpoint of India, but in its larger Imperial aspect, in the hope of cementing a deplorable breach between the peoples of the outlying parts of the British dominions, which, so long as it endured, made impossible that unity of the Empire which they all so fervently desired.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had made a powerful appeal for a cause in which he would find universal sympathy on that side of the House of Commons, but the latter part of his speech was a singular contrast to the earlier part in which he said he could not support the Amendment.
§ SIR MANCHERJEE BHOWNAGGREE
said if the intention of the Amendment was simply to bring under the consideration of the House and the Colonial Secretary such grievances as those to which he had referred he would support it, but when it was a matter of subjecting the Indian administration to periodic inquisitions he could not.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the hon. Gentleman had talked about alleged grievances, and it seemed to him that that phrase tended to discount the real grievances which had been brought before the House. One part of the Resolution came down from the days of the late Professor Fawcett, who believed—as many of them still believed—that these periodic inquiries which used to be held, were essential to the proper treatment of Indian grievances; and that there was a closer touch in the past with 1306 the Indian people under the old East India Company than in recent times. The main object of this Amendment was to give the people of India opportunities of placing their grievances freely before the House of Commons, and the latter part of the hon. Member's speech was the best proof of the necessity for the Amendment.
Optimistic utterances had never been more strongly marked than in the course of that debate. Prosperity had been the burden of almost every speech. But the fact that India was the only country in the world in which plague had become endemic discounted these statements about prosperity in India. Plague was a disease essentially caused by poverty, and it could only be removed by removing poverty. The prosperity was a prosperity of trade accounts. Those who, in the interests of the Empire, were opposed to preferential trade within the Empire could congratulate themselves on the Indian financial accounts. It was the unanimous opinion of the Government of India, as placed before them in these accounts, that the main cause of the prosperity of India in her financial accounts was her financial system, which was rootedly opposed to a system of preferential trade within the Empire. If there had been more frequent opportunities of bringing Indian questions before the House of Commons, would it have been possible for the Indian Government to have settled one of the most vexed and disputed questions—the financial control of the Indian military expenditure and the relations between the Commander-in-Chief and the Indian Minister of War, who was the Military Member of the Council—would it have been possible for the Government to have settled that question out of hand without consulting Parliament? Yet, without consulting Parliament, they had settled this question in a manner which, in the long run, could be no settlement at all. It was obviously a compromise to keep these two great men who were unable to agree, and whose disagreement had made the system unworkable. Under that system Lord Roberts and General Sir George Chesney managed to get on perfectly, and General Sir George Chesney brought that system before the 1307 House, with the support of the present Secretary of State for War, as a model system for this country. The highest military authorities and almost everybody on both sides of the House agreed that that was a model system. Yet in a moment, because Lord Kitchener and the present Military Member of the Council did not agree, the whole system had been blown to the winds, and the Government had attempted to settle it (by a settlement which, he thought, was no settlement at all) behind the back of Parliament. That showed how incomplete was the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India.
§ MR. BRODRICK
, who was indistinctly heard, was understood to say that that was rather a curious expression to use in view of the despatch which had been laid on the Table of the House.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said there was friction between the Commander-in-Chief in India and the Military Member of the Council, and the Government met the difficulty by a compromise, and that compromise was a new military system for India to which neither the House of Commons nor the House of Lords had had a word to say. That was what he called behind the back of Parliament.
There was another Question he would like to ask. How did we stand with regard to what was called Lord Kitchener's redistribution scheme? India was already convulsed by this redistribution scheme. All that had been done behind the back of Parliament and of the people of India. Nobody knew anything about it—even the Viceroy's Council did not know. There was a large expenditure of money in these accounts for carrying out the details of this redistribution scheme, the most curious item being a sum for the purchase of land for native troops along the scientific frontier of India in the new province. But they were fighting over the details of the scheme, and had not settled where all this money for land was to be spent. There were two kinds of questions which should be discussed here. The military expenditure had reached this year, not 1308 £20,500,000, as the Secretary of State had said, but at least £21,000,000, the figure named by the Finance Minister. That enormous expenditure was largely swelled in the present year by the fact that the Government of India had deliberately adopted the policy of paying out of revenue the whole of the permanent charges which in this country would be put to debt charges. In India exactly the opposite principle in regard to debt charges was adopted from that in operation in this country. They were always told that India was a very poor country. Salt was taxed at from twelve to sixteen times its value, and the whole system of taxation told frightfully on the poorest people in the world. And yet we had always made India pay military charges which we could not afford here. We had been able to screw the people of India to the uttermost farthing for military charges, with the result, he admitted, of great millitary efficiency, but this principle was pushed rather far when, without the slightest consultation with this House, they had it laid down as a general policy that there were to be no loans for military purposes in India.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
replied that it was laid down in the debate in the Legislative Council. It was argued by the Finance Member of the Council and by Lord Curzon himself. It was laid down that the purchase of land for Lord Kitchener's redistribution scheme was to be paid off in four years. There was, in the case of India, a great division in the conveyance of information to the House between the War Office and the Indian Government. Last year and the year before, the policy was announced, against which many of them protested, of throwing the whole of the charge of the rearmament of the artillery upon India for the first two years. He noticed with amazement, after all that was said about the pressing and inscant necessity of this policy, that there was a shortage in the guns supplied to India. He had asked before Whitsuntide, and he had asked again that day, what the shortage was, 1309 and he got an Answer which was no Answer. And here they were, in a debate on India, without knowing what that shortage was. Another question which they had not been able to discuss in the House of Commons was the recent Mission to Afghanistan. There had been a debate in the House of Lords, however, which brought out the fact that the Mission pressed on behalf of India for all sorts of conditions which did not exist before, and which they did not succeed in obtaining. A whole series of speakers in the Lords pointed out conditions which Sir Louis Dane was asked to obtain.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
asked would the Secretary of State deny that the Government in the two Answers given in the debate admitted that Sir Louis Dane had been unsuccessful in the results of his Mission—that was to say, that he had asked for a number of things which he did not obtain.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I entirely deny that the speakers on behalf of the Government in the House of Lords said that Sir Louis Dane had been unsuccessful in his Mission.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said their language was open for anyone to read, and it had been universally read in India as meaning what he had read it as meaning. Lord Ripon, in winding up the debate, put that construction upon it, and no reply was given to what he said. He had no doubt himself that Sir Louis Dane was directed by Lord Curzon to press on the Amir certain conditions which, as he himself thought, were unwise and dangerous conditions, and that happily those conditions were refused by the Amir.
§ MR. BRODRICK
If the right hon. Gentleman desires an Answer to be given he should state what the conditions were which Sir Louis Dane was told to press on the Amir and did not succeed in obtaining.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he would give one class of conditions, which was suggested in the House of Lords debate; he meant railway facilities into Afghanistan for military purposes. That was a specific statement. It was made in the House of Lords, and it was not contradicted; on the contrary, the whole tone of the Answer went to show that it was a true statement. He gave this as another example of the class of questions which the House ought to have frequent and free opportunities of discussing. Another question was that which had been dealt with so ably by the last speaker—the treatment of British Indians in South Africa. The worst sufferers were the Indians in Natal, whose treatment was peculiarly mean in view of their great services in the war. A hundred British Indians had subscribed a large sum, and had obtained the services of the thousand British Indians who acted as bearers throughout the war and performed magnificent service, especially at Spion Kop. That added to the peculiar meanness with which these British subjects were treated in Natal and the Transvaal. A further question which ought to be discussed was the position of India in relation to the fiscal question and the Imperial Conference. His right hon. friend had read out the declaration of Lord Curzon in which occurred the words "those would be the instructions with which our delegates would proceed." In view of that declaration, what became of the free and unfettered conference? Surely this was a question which should be probed to the bottom in the House of Commons. The Indian Government had emphatically declared against preference, and the people of the United Kingdom seemed to be of the same opinion. Therefore the only part of the British Empire which substantially contributed towards the defences of the Empire and which this year had contributed over £21,000,000 towards the support of the forces of this country was the Indian Empire, and it had declared itself unanimously against Imperial preference. How, then, could a conference on the question be free and unfettered when this country and the only other part of the Empire that contributed fully to the maintenance of 1311 the Imperial forces were rootedly opposed to the idea of preference? In such circumstances it was a delusion and dangerous to the fabric of the Empire to tempt the great self-governing Colonies into a conference on the question. The whole idea was blown into the air.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said he differed from the right hon. Baronet opposite as to the object and the effect of this Amendment. The speech of the right hon. Baronet had been mainly directed to matters which had come up in the debate, and he had dealt with them very ably. One thing which the right hon. Baronet had laid stress upon was a charge that the Government of India had taken upon itself to settle very important matters behind the back of Parliament. He thought it would be a great mistake to lower in any way the position of the Commander-in-Chief in India. It was a position that commanded the highest respect with the Native Army. The work of that officer was very heavy indeed, and he could understand that it had been contemplated to appoint a Chief of the Staff who would relieve the Commander-in-Chief of a great deal of his executive duty in regard to discipline and distribution of troops. The system had worked well in South Africa, where Lord Kitchener himself had acted as Chief of the Staff. He did not think that those Members of the House who had been soldiers would have much difficulty in understanding how that scheme would work. The right hon. Gentleman said that under a former military system there had been no such trouble even with the present distribution. The House was aware of the case of Sir Charles Napier, who resigned the position of Commander-in-Chief because he was not allowed a sufficiently free hand in the management of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman had complained that money had been paid for the purchase of land for military purposes and that they were not told where the land was. That was not an uncommon thing to do in this country. Frequently a Vote was taken for certain portions of land.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he did not complain of all, because he was 1312 rather in favour of the system. What he said was that this question had been settled in one sense in India and in exactly the opposite sense in this country at the same time.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said that in spite of a large reduction in taxation India had been so blessed with prosperity of late years that the Government had been able to carry out very important reforms. He wished to point out that the Post Office carried out works out of revenue which in other departments would be charged to capital and would be raised by loan. He had listened with great pleasure to the speech of his hon. friend the Member for Bethnal Green, who had spoken with such force and so well for his fellow-countrymen in India The hon. Member knew so well how to put the matter in the most forcible manner, and with good taste, and he hoped what he had said would have a permanent effect upon the Government, and that the House would not tolerate such treatment being accorded to our own fellow-subjects any longer.
He thought that they had in many respects strayed from the precise terms of the Amendment. He did not think, moreover, that the arguments of the mover and seconder of the Amendment established a case showing the beneficial effects which would flow from frequent Parliamentary debates in relation to the government of India. It would be most dangerous if the House put pressure on the Government of India in relation to policy on grounds which revealed little knowledge of the real circumstances of the country. In opposition to the statements of the mover of the Amendment, he maintained that the methods of government in India were most sympathetic to the native population. In no country in the world were the governing classes so much brought in contact with the people, the vast majority of the Civil Service being natives, though, of course, as long as England governed India the higher offices, must be kept in British hands. It was altogether untrue to say that the natives were not admitted to a fair share of the 1313 appointments in the Civil Service, and the most rudimentary acquaintance with the Government of India would show that such a charge was totally without foundation. He should be glad, however, if the Government could see their way to enter upon a more liberal and less restricted expenditure in regard to railways, because railways had been the salvation of India. Before any of these railways were made, the cost of carriage of the valuable produce of India on the backs of animals to the seaport was so great that as soon as the railways were made even the highest railway rates charged enabled the produce to be brought to market at a reduction of 50 per cent. upon the former carriage. With regard to the great difference in the manufacturers' prices and the prices at which articles were purchased by the people, hon. Members should not forget how great a part was played in this transaction by the cost of carriage. When salt had to be carried hundreds of miles on the backs of animals naturally its cost must be greatly increased to the consumer. Railways and roads were now being made in order to cheapen the cost of salt to the people. The making of branch railways and roads would have the same effect upon India as they had had in France, for they would increase the prosperity of the country and still further increase the revenue.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said he thought it would be generally agreed that there was no ground for the Amendment before the House, despite the efforts that had been made by some of its supporters to give a depressing look to things in India which really wore the most cheerful aspect. The demand for periodical inquiries was really an invitation to go back to what, in the case of India, were the dark ages. The last instance of such an inquiry was in 1833, but one hon. Member had delighted the House by carrying us back to the advantages gained by the inquiry in 1813 under totally different conditions. It was also asked that greater opportunities should be given for the Parliamentary discussion of Indian affairs. It was not desirable that the House should interfere in details with the Government of India. Questions of principle, such as he had brought 1314 forward that day, might very properly be made the subject of criticism, but the main government of India must be conducted in India; and, indeed, it was to the infrequency of Parliamentary discussion of Indian affairs which must be attributed the fact that the government of India was conducted with so little Party conflict, to the great advantage of the country. But there was no real lack of opportunity for the discussion of Indian questions. The question of the treatment of Indian natives in the Transvaal might have been raised on the salary of the Colonial Secretary. As for the fiscal question, that question had been discussed six or eight times during the present session, and he remembered only the barest incidental reference having been made to the case of India.
His noble friend the Member for Ealing was kind enough to say that there was very little difference between the views of the late and the present Secretary of State with regard to the fiscal question as it affected India. If he were to ask his noble friend to educate the people of this country up to the standard of conduct which ruled the Indian Government in fiscal matters he would be said to be playing into the hands of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. Why? Because, first, the Indian Government had a free hand in fiscal matters which was not the case in this country, or at all events we had not been in the habit of using it; and secondly, they had a general revenue tariff, which was the bugbear of hon. Members opposite. They had exactly that freedom for which the Prime Minister contended, no more and no less. All he could say was that the general tribute which had been paid to the Indian tariff position of the Indian Government to-day, and the evident desire of his noble friend the Member for Ealing that they should all go into the same lobby in support of that position, was one of the most salutary symptoms he had seen in the course of the long discussions during the last two years, and showed the absolute correctness of the position taken up by the Prime Minister on this subject.
He regretted that the lateness of the hour precluded him from dealing in detail 1315 with the various suggestions which had been made. With regard to the attempt of the hon. Member for Flint to show that the people of India were in a position of destitution, ignorance, and starvation, that had been admirably dealt with by his hon. and gallant friend the Member for stepney, who, speaking from his Indian experience, showed conclusively that the observations of the hon. Member for Flint were of a partial character. He did not propose to follow that argument, but he should like to say a word with regard to the proposal to place the salary of the Secretary of State on the Estimates. Personally he had not the slightest objection to that, for, having had experience of that ordeal in a less peaceful atmosphere, he had ceased to dread it. But, at the same time, he deprecated it as a Member of Parliament, and particularly as the Member specially responsible for the affairs of India. The salutary and hitherto generally accepted position taken up in respect of the affairs of India was that they should be kept out of the domain of Party polities. That, however, would be absolutely impossible if they put the Secretary of State's salary on the Estimates, for that salary would then be made the subject of Party attack. It was so continually in regard to every other office, and it would become so undoubtedly in regard to India. He had done what he could to give an opportunity for the discussion of Indian subjects this year by inducing his right hon. friend the Prime Minister to give an earlier day, and if there were ever a prominent Indian subject which had escaped the notice of Parliament, he should be among the foremost Members to press that a special opportunity should be provided for its discussion. But he honestly confessed he was driven back, and not forward, by the picture drawn by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, whose evident desire it was to bring every administrative question in India under the notice of Parliament and to secure for it previous discussion in the House of Commons. That seemed to him an extremely vicious interpretation of the system of government which had hitherto prevailed, and had enabled them to put forward so excellent a picture of the finances of India.
1316 He regretted, too, that the right hon. Member should have displayed less than his usual candour and accuracy in the statements he made in respect of the opinions of the Government of India, and also of the recent negotiations with Afghanistan. With regard to the former, he asked the right hon. Baronet on what ground he complained that an injustice had been done to the Indian taxpayer by its being laid down that money should not be borrowed for military works.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
denied that he said it was an injustice to the taxpayer. On the contrary, he was favourable to the system. What he complained of was that one system was adopted in India and exactly the opposite here, and they were defended on opposite grounds.
§ MR. BRODRICK
pointed out that it was by no means laid down as a policy by the Finance Minister; it was simply stated not to be necessary to borrow at the present moment, but if necessity arose he would do so. With regard to Afghanistan, the right hon. Gentleman had made some very startling statements. It was not the case that the negotiations had resulted in failure. As stated by Lord Lansdowne, the main objects of our negotiations with the Amir of Afghanistan were, first, to renew the agreements entered into with the late Amir, and, secondly, to have friendly negotiations with him with regard to a number of subsidiary points. The first object was achieved by an agreement that covered all the engagements entered into by the Amir Abdurrahman. We also arrived at a thoroughly friendly understanding with the Amir on a number of subsidiary points. He thought the Amir understood our point of view and that we understood his. The Government had every reason to be satisfied with the conduct of the negotiations by Sir Louis Dane and also with the attitude assumed by the Amir on these various questions at the close.
He would not trouble the House by giving more than a general Answer to the criticisms which had been made with regard to the treatment of Indians in 1317 South Africa. He fully realised that it was the duty, as it was the desire, of the Government to secure for British-Indian subjects in any British colony the fullest opportunities they could for peaceful employment in their various trades and professions. On the other hand, it was perfectly well known that the peculiarities of climate which preserved us in this country from the competition of an unlimited number of Asiatics did not exist in some of our Colonies. There was a good deal of objection to that competition in some Colonies, and his Majesty's Government had not the power to compel our self-governing Colonies to admit their Indian fellow-subjects to the same advantages as they enjoyed themselves. The Government could only bring to bear the greatest pressure in their power, and they exercised their influence wherever they could. He believed the time would come when the objection to Indian labour would not be so strongly felt in South Africa as it was now, and that it would then be possible to insist upon proper terms. In the meantime we must exercise patience. He trusted that as a definite Motion had been submitted to the House they would be permitted to take a division on it before the sitting closed.
§ MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
contended that this country already possessed the same freedom that India enjoyed, and with the leave of Parliament could retaliate if it desired to do so. He reminded the House, however, that the Government of India had issued a Blue-book carefully analysing what the effect of retaliation would be upon the Indian Empire if they adopted the principle of colonial preference. That Blue-book went through country by country, and showed that India had much to lose and little to gain by any attempt at retaliation. The Prime Minister, on the other hand, was pretending in regard to this country, that he could do much by retaliation. If the Board of Trade would only present a similar Blue-book, showing how much this country would lose by adopting a plan of retaliation, it would do an inestimable service both to the House and to the country. Instead of getting the 1318 Board of Trade to do that, the Prime Minister was attempting to make the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham think, and was also inducing the whole country to think that he was really in favour of protection. The Secretary of State had not at all met the case put by the right hon. Baronet with reference to a Colonial Conference. India had debarred herself from taking part in a free and unfettered conference. Would the Prime Minister make a similar declaration with regard to this country?
As to the actual Amendment before the House, its wording was undoubtedly open to criticism, but its general spirit being that we should discuss Indian questions more fully, and pay more deference to Indian opinion, he should vote for it. Considerable difference of opinion had been expressed as to the prosperity of India, but the statements were not so irreconcilable as they might at first sight appear. Members on the one side were talking rather of the poverty of India as compared with other countries, while the Secretary of State and his supporters were speaking of the comparative prosperity of India in her national finances. India was unquestionably prosperous in the latter respect. In this country the national finances were much worse than they appeared, inasmuch as we pretended to be paying off debt by the Sinking Fund, whereas, in reality, we were doing nothing of the kind. But in India, during the last seven years, there had been a surplus of £21,000,000, largely used in reproductive work. In addition, £8,000,000 profit, not shown in the accounts, had gone to the gold reserve fund. In the year 1904–5 a surplus of £3,500,000 was anticipated; £1,137,000 extra was paid for Army services; a crore of rupees or £67,000 was given to the Presidencies of Bombay and the Punjaub in connection with settlement, and there was a profit of £1,750,000 on the coinage. Therefore, if the Estimates had been adhered to there would have been a surplus of £7,000,000, or one-third of the total taxation. He believed, however, that these enormous surpluses were a danger to the Indian people, inasmuch as they tended to extravagance. During the last twenty years much extra taxation had been levied and had not yet 1319 been removed. The salt tax was certainly lighter, but a whole series of import duties levied ten years ago had not yet been removed, and he thought the time had come when an effort should be made to secure their removal, which would be a real step in the direction of free trade. The revenue in past Budgets had been purposely under-estimated. He was glad to see that this year there was a much less under-estimate, as it was not right that the people of a country like India, already so heavily taxed in proportion to their wealth, should be asked to pay more than was necessary, and to provide large surpluses which tended to extravagance and to unnecessary military expenditure.
§ MR. WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)
said the policy of India had been largely in the direction of fiscal reform, and much of her prosperity was due to the fiscal reforms which had been carried out in that country, especially in connection with the Currency Act of 1897, the principal features of which were the abolition of the free dumping of silver in the mints and the establishment of a gold standard. Then in 1895, in connection with the cotton duties, countervailing excise duties were imposed for the purpose of giving a fair field and no favour to products principally from Lancashire, and the Lancashire Members without exception supported the proposal. But in 1899, when a similar proposal was put forward in connection with the production of sugar in India, many of those same
§ Members on the Liberal side opposed the policy, which, when it was for the encouragement of their own manufactures, they supported, as being in their opinion contrary to free trade. The fiscal policy of India afforded a good example, and he concurred in the view of the Secretary of State that it was a similar power that the Prime Minister was seeking for this country. While fully agreeing with the admiration which had been expressed for the railway system of India, he would point out that since 1878 the policy of the Indian Government had been to encourage the railway system and starve the irrigation works. It was true there was an improvement to the extent of 50 per cent. in the present Budget, but it was really a miserable addition, seeing that the amount expended on railways up to March 31st, 1903, was £196,000,000, whereas only £26,000,000 had been spent on major irrigation works, while even in the present Budget over £9,000,000 was being devoted to railway purposes against £2,000,000 for irrigation works. He regretted that time would not permit of his going into the subject; he would merely say that if more opportunity was allowed by the Government of India for private capital to enter in connection with all kinds of useful works it would be better for the country.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided. Ayes, 116; Noes, 65. (Division List No. 202)1321
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Fellowes, Rt. Hn. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Finch, Rt. Hn. George H.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A (Worc||Finlay, Sir R. B. (Inv'rnssB'ghs|
|Bagot, Capt. Joseeline Fitz Roy||Chapman, Edward||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Forster, Henry William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin & Nairn|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Dalkeith, Earl of||Guthrie, Walter Murray|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Davenport, William Bromley||Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Denny, Colonel||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Dickson, Charles Scott||Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers-||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.|
|Brassey, Albert||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John||Egerton, Hn. A. de Tatton||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Morrison, James Archibald||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Jessel, Captain Herb. Merton||Mount, William Arthur||Smith, H. C (North'mb. Tyneside|
|Keswick, William||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Spear, John Ward|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lancs)|
|Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Nicholson, William Graham||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S||Percy, Earl||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Pierpoint, Robert||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Turnour, Viscount|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Plummer, Sir Walter R.||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Pretyman, Ernest George||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Purvis, Robert||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Randles, John S.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Wylie, Alexander|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Milvain, Thomas||Robertson, Herb. (Hackney)|
|Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Alexander Acland-Hood|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||and Viscount Valentia.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Helme, Norval Watson||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Allen, Charles P.||Higham, John Sharp||Shackleton, David James|
|Bell, Richard||Holland, Sir William Henry||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hutchinson, Dr. Chas. Fredk.||Slack, John Bamford|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Burt, Thomas||Lamont, Norman||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe|
|Buxton, N. E (York, N. R, Whitby||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Caldwell, James||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Tomkinson, James|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Levy, Maurice||Toulmin, George|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Lewis, John Herbert||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Cremer, William Randal||Lough, Thomas||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Delany, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hn. Sir Charles||M'Crae, George||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Dobbie, Joseph||Markham, Arthur Basil||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Ellice, Capt, E. C. (S Andrw's Bghs||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.|
|Emmott, Alfred||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N. E.)||Rickett, J. Compton||Cathcart Wason and Mr.|
|Hardie, J Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Herbert Roberts.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Considered in Committee:—
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Resolved, That it appears from the Accounts presented to Parliament that in 1903–4 the Revenue of India amounted to £83,756,155, the Expenditure charged against Revenue to £80,759,755, and the Capital Expenditure not charged to 1322 Revenue to £5,043,003.—(Mr. Secretary Brodrick.)
§ Resolution to be reported.