HC Deb 27 March 1906 vol 154 cc1061-3
MR. C. J. O'DONNELL (Newington, Walworth)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that in 1879, when the revenue derived in India from the taxation of land was (roundly) £13,5000,000 annually, Sir W. W. Hunter, K.C.S.I., the Director-General of Statistics, declared in the Legislative Council of the Viceroy, of which he was a member, that the Government assessment did not leave enough food to the cultivator to support himself and his family throughout the year; and whether, seeing that the land tax has since increased, by £5,000,000 a year, to £18,500,000, he will sanction the further increase of £735,500 proposed in the Budget Estimates for 1906–7, just issued by the Government of India.

* MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

asked, before the Secretary of State answered, whether the Secretary of State was aware that many other members of the Viceroy's Council had expressed opinions wholly different from that of the individual member on the assumption of the correctness of whose opinion the Question was based.


I have no doubt that the Secretary of State is aware of the fact referred to in the second Question. In 1879 Sir William Hunter was not a member of the Legislative Council. In 1882 he was a member, and made a speech, in which he quoted a passage from a report by a Judge in the Deccan Districts, to the effect that in average years the Deccan ryot does not gain enough from his land to pay the assessment and to support himself and his family. Sir William Hunter was referring solely to the assessments in the Deccan, where the circumstances, I am advised, were exceptional. The apparent increase of £735,000, as between the revised Estimate for this current year and the Estimate for 1906–7, is mainly to be accounted for by the fact that remissions and postponements to the extent of £440,000 have been granted during the current year. I do not propose to with hold my sanction from the Budget proposals of the Government of India.

* MR. J. WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)

asked whether, although the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned the fact that a certain state of poverty existed at that time in a certain limited area of the Indian Empire, is it not the fact that more recently famine had been general all over the Indian Empire.


I must take exception to the expression "all over"; but, undoubtedly, speaking generally, the answer to the hon. Member's Question must be in the affirmative.

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