HC Deb 15 May 1907 vol 174 cc928-9
MR. C. J. O'DONNELL (Newington, Walworth)

To ask the Secretary of State for India whether, in connection with the recent rioting in the Punjab, said to be due to enhancement of the land tax, he has considered the Report of Mr. S. S. Thorburn, Revenue Commissioner of the Punjab, that in 1891 he found, after a house-to-house investigation of the condition of the peasantry over an area of 1,000 square miles, quite half the old agriculturists already ruined beyond redemption in 126 villages by the system of land revenue administration in force; and whether he can state by how much the land tax of the Punjab has increased since 1891.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Morley.) I have seen the Report referred to, but I do not gather from it that Mr. Thorburn attributed to the pressure of the land revenue the indebtedness which he found existing in the villages examined by him. On the contrary, he described the assessments made after 1855 as having left a large margin of profit to the owners, thereby raising their credit and facilitating the contraction of debt. Since he reported restrictions have been placed on the power of the transfer of land, and the collection of the land revenue has been made more elastic. In the districts forming the Punjab the land revenue was £1,500,000 in 1891, and is now £1,925,000. The increase is chiefly due to extension of cultivation and irrigation in the canal tracts. In the canal colonies alone nearly 2,000,000 acres have been brought under cultivation since 1891.