HC Deb 29 May 1907 vol 174 cc1632-3
MR. C. J. O'DONNELL (Newington, Walworth)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the public meeting of zemindars at Rawal Pindi on the 21st April, for speaking at which three barristers are being prosecuted for sedition, passed resolutions complaining of the increase in the land revenue imposed at the present settlement, and authorising the district association to forward their petition and memorialise the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab for relief against the increased assessment, and complaining that, while the sugar and cotton industries of the country had well-nigh been destroyed by the competition of the well-organised capital and labour of foreign countries and the help given to them by their States in the shape of reduction of freights, the Government had increased the water rate on sugar-cane and cotton 100 per cent, in the tract irrigated by the Beas Doab Canal to the injury of those indigenous industries, which were already dying out; and whether he will issue instructions to prevent the increase of the land tax and the irrigation cess at the same time.


I understand that one resolution referred to the recent revision of the land assessment in the Rawal Pindi district, and another to the revised water rates for the Bari Doab Canal. The Rawal Pindi district and the districts irrigated by the canal are some 300 miles apart. There was no question of simultaneous enhancement of land revenue and canal rates in the same districts. The increase in the canal rates was proposed as the result of inquiries which showed that the Bari Doab rates were below those of other similar canals, and that considerably higher rates could be paid without difficulty. The sugar-cane rate was increased by 50 per cent, and the cotton rate by 20 per cent. The area under these crops has increased largely and their cultivation is very profitable. The levy of the new rates has been postponed for twelve months, and all representations made by the cultivators regarding them are to be carefully considered.

*MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

May I ask if it is not the case that the ryots of the Punjab on account of the construction of these works out of public revenues enjoy exceptional prosperity, and whether it is not just that they should contribute proportionately to the relief of the general taxpayer who provided the public revenues in question.

[No Answer was returned.]