HC Deb 20 December 1906 vol 167 cc1689-90

To ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the Madras Estates Land Bill, in addition to giving tenants occupancy rights, protection from enhancement of rent and from unjust eviction, and customary claims to communal grazing, and to waste and cultivable lands, also deprives the landlords of various customary rights and privileges, such as the right to increase the area of their home farms, the right to enter into contracts with their tenants for the cultivation of any lands at any other than the fixed rate of assessment, the right to receive rents in kind where such a custom exists; that the landlords strongly object to such provisions; that such landlords are not descendants of farmers of the revenue but of ancient and princely families who have possessed the privileges of which it is now proposed to deprive them from time immemorial; and that they hold that they and their lessees should not be put in a legal position inferior to that of their tenants; and whether he will, in view of the feeling entertained on the subject, direct the Government of Madras to hold such further inquiry as he may deem fit and proper in the circumstances.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Morley.) The neccessity for legislation to declare and protect the rights of the cultivators in the permanently settled estates of the Madras Presidency has long been recognised, and the Bill at present before the Madras Legislative Council is the result of prolonged inquiries. I am not prepared to admit that its provisions will have the effect attributed to them in the Question. I understand that they have been extensively modified by the Select Committee to whom the Bill was referred, and that concessions have been made on various points to the landlords. As at present advised I am not disposed to take the action suggested.