§ [INDIAN BUDGET.]
§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair" (for Committee on East India Revenue Accounts).
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (The Master of Elibank)
I must frankly confess that I would have preferred a few months' longer experience of the Department before venturing to place before the House a statement, with the difficulties and intricacies of which the House is fully aware, but I am encouraged in my task by the knowledge that this Assembly is essentially a human one, and is always ready to be indulgent towards a Member who, by unexpected circumstances, finds himself in a position of responsibility towards it. The House will deplore with me the fact that my presence at this box to-day is due to the unfortunate illness of an old and very esteemed Member of this House, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Perthshire (Mr. Buchanan), whose speedy recovery to health, is, I know, the earnest wish of every Member of this Assembly. I cannot hope to interest the House in the same manner as did my right hon. Friend last year, but I shall, to the best of my ability, endeavour to lay before it the statement which it is my duty to submit, realising full well that the House possesses many able critics closely versed in Indian questions, not the least of whom is the Noble Lord who will follow me in this Debate. As the House is in possession of the details of the financial situation in India, by means of the explanatory note which I recently circulated, it is not necessary for me to do more than to touch in the simplest form on its main outlying features, but before dealing with the financial results of 1908–9 and the Budget for the coming year, it may be well to refer briefly td the financial position of India during the preceding decade from 1898–9 to 1907–8. I do this in order to remind the House that in each of the first nine years of that period the surplus of the year was substantial, and exceeded in some years by a very large amount the 1982 figure anticipated in the Budget—as, for instance, in 1901–2 we budgetted for a surplus of £690,000, and had an actual surplus of £4,950,000, and again in 1906–7 we had an actual surplus over our Budget estimate of £1,509,000. These surpluses, let me explain, were not due to any increase in taxation nor to the restriction of administrative expenditure — on the contrary, as my predecessor stated in his speech last year, the period was one of very liberal reduction in, taxation. In it the Salt Tax and the Income Tax were reduced and important cesses on land were abolished, at the annual cost of about £4,200,000, and at the same time large additions were made to the annual expenditure on education, medical and sanitary services and civil works, such as buildings, roads, and agricultural developments, and research. The combination of lower taxation and higher expenditure was rendered possible by the fact that during the period in question Indian commerce prospered, in spite of the occurrence of a serious famine in 1900; in fact, the total sea-borne trade increased from £120,500,000 in 1898–9 to £206,750,000 in 1907–8.
The effect of the favourable conditions I have thus briefly sketched showed itself in an increased yield under the various heads of revenue, but more especially in the financial results of the railways, in which the improvement sufficed to provide an annual profit of about £2,000,000 during the last three years of the decade, as compared with a deficit of £600,000 in 1898–9. But I regret to inform the House that this period of prosperity ended—temporarily, I hope and believe— with the financial year 1907–8, when there was only a surplus of £300,000, or less than half the amount budgetted for, I should explain that the cause of the serious change for the worse which occurred in the commercial conditions of India in 1907–8 was due, firstly, to the deficiency of the autumn monsoon, on which the most valuable of the crops in India depend, and the famine conditions which prevailed over a considerable area. A large outlay was consequently necessary for famine relief, which had the result that the revenue was seriously restricted and the volume of trade reduced. Furthermore, India, like the rest of the world, suffered from the general financial stringency following on the commercial crisis in the United States of America. Although the horizon is now much brighter and 1983 this gloomy cloud of depression has faded away, the improvement occurred very recently. In 1908–9 India was still under the influence of scarcity and depression, and in consequence the year closed with a deficit of £3,750,000, instead of the surplus we anticipated of £571,000.
When the Budget of 1908–9 was prepared, Sir Edward Baker, the Finance Member of the Viceroy's Council, evidently had in his mind that the financial outlook was disquieting, because I find he expressly used the words "the dominating feature of the Budget is famine," but at the same time he undoubtedly hoped for a rapid improvement in general agricultural and financial conditions. Allowance was duly made for a growth in the receipts from land revenue, salt, customs and other heads of revenue which are directly and immediately susceptible to the touch of returning prosperity, and it was also estimated that the railways, benefiting by the improved conditions, would show a substantial advance in the gross earnings; but these hopes have not fructified. The deterioration which has, in fact, taken place may be said in general terms to be due in the main to the improvement in general trade conditions coming later than was anticipated. It has now set in, but it can scarcely be said to have shown itself until after the financial year 1908–9 had passed. Details showing how receipts and expenditure under each head compare with the Budget Estimates for the year are in possession of the House, and I do not therefore propose to trouble it with these items. But hon. Members have every reason to ask me to give some explanation of the serious falling off under the heading of railways from the Budget Estimates, for while the gross receipts were £2,500,000 less, the working expenses were nearly £1,500,000 more. The fall in the gross receipts is entirely due to the restricted trade conditions. The value of imports into India was £6,000,000 less in 1908–9 than in the previous year, namely, £102,000,000. as ayainst £118,000,000. The figures, and the value of exports was about £16,000,000 lower, namely, £102,000,000, as against £118,000,000. The traffic in food grains, which is ordinarily very remunerative to the railways, showed a specially large decrease, due partly to the diminished production and partly to the fact that the produce, which in good years would be carried very long distances for export, went very short distances to distressed districts. Perhaps 1984 in this connection I may incidentally remark that this fact provides some answer to the assertion that corn which should feed the starving population is exported for use overseas. The causes of the rise in working expenses are engaging the careful attention of the Railway Board in India and of the Secretary of State.
Under certain other heads of revenue, which are particularly sensitive to the general fluctuations of trade, decreases have occurred, which, though individually not of first-class importance, in the aggregate show a considerable falling-off. I refer to the decrease in land revenue as the result of remissions and suspensions following on conditions of scarcity; likewise salt, customs, and various revenues, which, taken together, show a decrease of £750,000. The House will have observed from the figures given in the Memorandum that the nett expenditure in 1908–9 exceeded by £685,000 the amount of the Budget Estimate. This was due in the first instance to the payment of compensation to low-paid Government servants for dearness of food, likewise to an increased expenditure of £132,000 for famine relief.
I now come to the important question of the opium revenue in 1908–9, from the figures of which I fear the House can only draw artificial satisfaction, financially speaking, because while the nett receipts for opium show an increase of about £1.250,000 beyond the estimate, as I am about to explain to the House, we are anticipating a corresponding decrease in 1909–10. Let me, however, refresh the memory of the House as to the situation in regard to this large subject. Last year my predecessor informed the House that owing to the decision gradually to restrict the export of Bengal and Malwa opium, the Government of India had to face a progressing diminution of opium revenue. He said that it would in all probability cost the Indian Government in 1908–9 a loss of about £200,000, and that that loss would progressively increase for three years certain; but that if China should continue to fulfil her part of the arrangement, the loss would continue for ten years, and then the Indian Government would cease to have any substantial return from opium at all. The fact that my predecessor's forecast has not been immediately realised is not in any way due to a departure from the limit of permissible export, but is entirely the outcome of fortuitous and temporary circumstances. The limit for the export of Malwa opium during the year having been 1985 reached in August, competition to secure priority for 1909 shipment led to duty being paid on large quantities of opium for export in the following year. In consequence of this, the Budget Estimate of receipts from Malwa opium in 1908–9 was exceeded by £798,000, and a further increase in the nett opium receipts was caused by the higher prices obtained for the Bengal opium sold at Calcutta, which, together with diminished expenses, led to a total excess of £1,250,000 over the Budget Estimate.
While I am dealing with the question of opium I may perhaps remind the House of another matter which, although it does not directly affect the arrangements made with the Chinese Government, under which we are restricting the export of opium from Indian ports, will naturally have an important bearing on the question. In February last an International Opium Commission, on which a respected Member of this House, who has a wide knowledge of the East, my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrew (Mr. Laidlaw) sat, and on which the principal States of the world were represented, was constituted on the initiative of the United States of America for the purpose of investigating the opium habit and trade in its numerous aspects. The Proceedings of the Commission are now in the Shanghai press, and some time may elapse before they are published, but the resolutions of the Commission have been made public and are very important. They invite the Governments of the States represented to take measures for the gradual suppression, regulation, and control of the manufacture, sale, and distribution of opium and its derivatives and bye-products; and on behalf of the Secretary of State I can assure the House that these matters will, when received by him, "have his most attentive and sympathetic consideration, as is only to be expected in view of the line that he has uniformly taken in this matter.
To return to finance, let me emphasise the fact that Sir Fleetwood Wilson, the present Finance Member of Council (who is well known to the House as the capable Financial Adviser to successive Governments at the War Office), in preparing the Budget for 1909–10, has assumed that normal conditions will prevail, and he hopes without additional taxation to realise the small surplus of £230,000. I must, however, warn the House not to be too hopeful that this estimated surplus will be realised, as 1986 possibly a diminished Excise and opium revenue may balance receipts and expenditure.
With regard to the military expenditure in India, an additional charge presents itself on the Estimates of about £350,000, due to the increased pay granted to the Indian Army, which has to be met in 1909–10; but, owing to economics in other directions, the increase on the estimated military expenditure as a whole is only £121,000. Among the causes which have facilitated economies are the abolition of the recurring grant, which was first provided in 1904–5 for special expenditure or Lord Kitchener's schemes for the reorganisation and distribution of the Army in India. I cannot speak of the military side of the Indian Budget without referring to the approaching departure from India of that distinguished soldier and high administrative genius, Lord Kitchener, whose efforts during his term of office have been directed towards obtaining the best possible instrument for defensive purposes at the least possible cost to the Indian taxpayer.
In introducing the changes which he considered desirable in the organisation, distribution, and training of the Army in India, it is not flattery to say that no Commander-in-Chief could have desired better material than that which lay to his hand. The devotion to duty and the energy displayed by both British and Indian troops in whatever part, whether in peace or in war, they have been called upon to play, is an historic fact upon which I need make no comment. But it is none the less the case—and in no way a disparagement to his distinguished predecessors in office to say—that when Lord Kitchener arrived in India certain reforms were necessary in order to utilise to the best advantage the good qualities of which the troops themselves were possessed. In fairness to his predecessors I must add that Lord Kitchener was fortunate in having held the command in times of financial prosperity, and was supplied with funds for which former Commanders-in-Chief might have asked in vain. A change of no small importance, which removed many possible causes of friction, was the renumbering of the native regiments and battalions as units of one army, and the readjustment of their establishments on a uniform basis of peace and war requirements. A new system of training and inspection, commonly known as the "Kitchener test," was introduced, and in the opinion of many competent critics (and 1987 this includes officers and men of regiments and battalions which have been subjected to the test) greatly increased efficiency has resulted therefrom. The abolition of the old commands and the introduction of a divisional organisation has broken down the old system of centralisation which previously obtained, and more responsibility is now thrown on the shoulders of subordinate commanders. Divisions and brigades are now trained in time of peace by those who may be expected to lead them in war, the result being greater efficiency and capacity for more rapid mobilisation.
Other matters have not been neglected. Improvements have been made in the conditions of service of both officers and men of the Indian Army—the troops have been armed with new short rifles, and the artillery has been completely rearmed with the new quick-firing gun. Factories have been improved, and where necessary established, enabling the new guns and rifles, shells, and fuses to be manufactured in India on a sufficiently large scale to meet the probable requirements of the Army in the field; and Lord Kitchener has endeavoured to bring about better staff work throughout the service by the creation of an Indian Staff College at Quetta, thus enabling a greater number of officers to take advantage of the expert training which such a college provides. I will here remark in connection with a matter which has recently formed the subject of debate in another place, that since the new system, which began with the abolition of the military member of Council, has been working, the Commander-in-Chief has been able to spend more time on touring than his predecessors were able to spend, and I believe I am correct in saying that there is not a single unit of the Army in India which Lord Kitchener has not personally visited. This is due in a great measure to the devolution of authority to the commanders of brigades and divisions, which has reduced the office work of the Commander-in-Chief within reasonable limits, and rendered it possible for him, as I have previously observed, to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the troops under his command. In leaving India Lord Kitchener will carry with him the recognition of His Majesty's Government, and the good wishes of those who have served with and under him during the period in which he has introduced with so much energy, ability, and tact reforms which will prove of lasting benefit 1988 to the efficiency of our defences in India. His place will be taken, by General Sir O'Moore Creagh, a distinguished officer who won his V.C. in Afghanistan, and rendered memorable service both as a soldier and diplomat daring the Boxer troubles in China, and who in addition has a close knowledge of India and its problems, and has the confidence of all ranks of both British and Indian services.
I now propose to deal, but, owing to pressure of time, in a limited manner, with the twin, scourges of India—I mean, of course, plague and famine. When the Budget was introduced last year a considerable portion of the country was suffering from the drought occasioned by the failure of the rainfall in Upper India in the summer months of 1907. The failure affected the autumn crops of 1907 and the spring crops of 1908. In the United Provinces, where the drought was most intense, two harvests were thus ruined, except in so far as they were protected by irrigation. In these Provinces irrigation is very largely extended, and it was owing to this that the loss was not greater. The loss of food grains, however, amounted to 7,000,000 tons, valued at about £28,000,000, equal to nine months' food supply for the whole of the Provinces, and the loss of other crops was put at £10,000,000. Losses of this magnitude are not recovered in a day. In July, 1908, although the monsoon had set in well, and general agricultural prospects were good, there were still 300,000 persons on relief works and 500,000 on gratuitous relief. That was the state of affairs a year ago; the present position is more satisfactory. The rainfall in 1908 was, on the whole, sufficiently good in the United Provinces to enable the Lieutenant-Governor to close relief works in the middle of September, and I am happy to inform the House that there is no general distress such as prevailed 12 months ago. The rains up to date are abundant and well distributed. The public health is good. Agriculture is everywhere actively pursued, and if the autumn harvests fulfil the present promise the lingering effects of the drought will be speedily obliterated.
My predecessor very carefully described to the House last year the relief policy of the Indian Government. The main principles of State relief in seasons of drought are now, I take it, settled beyond discussion, and I can claim for the Indian Government that their methods are the hard-won products of experience and continuous thought ever since India passed under the rule of the Crown. 1989 This is a fact too often overlooked by a certain school of over-severe critics of the labours of British administration in India. The British Indian Government inherited no guidance in this respect from the Indian rulers who preceded them. It was not that there were no droughts or famines in pre-British days. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that under Indian rule there were grievous famines and appalling misery, desolation, and waste, and no settled policy of relief or prevention. There were few roads, no railways; such irrigation works as existed were antiquated—were merely tanks. If the food supply of a district failed the people died. There is no record of famine relief campaigns, because such things were unknown. Sir John Hewett, the able Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces, draws a very interesting comparison between the drought of 1907 and that of 1900. In their intensity there was little difference between them, but there was great difference in the bearing of the people. The 1900 famine was a labourers' famine. They crowded on to the relief works from the first; but at the last famine the labouring population did not resort in large numbers to relief works, except in the very severely affected districts. Sir John draws the deduction that the position of the labouring classes has improved during the last decade. He also states that wages have risen in the provinces in much greater proportion than the price of food, and he concludes with these words:—That labour has become dearer and more independent every year, and to a large extent the cultivating classes no longer depend solely on cultivation.I claim on behalf of the Indian Government that its many years of devoted and humanitarian work are now bearing fruit. Railways and canals have deprived the most intense drought of its terrors, and their relief policy on each successive occasion becomes more delicately adjusted, and more conspicuously successful in its results.
With regard to the plague, its decreasing virulence during the last two years is encouraging. In 1906 it was hoped that the worst had been seen of the disease. In each of the two preceding years the mortality had exceeded 1,000,000, but in 1906 it dropped to 357,000, and keen was the disappointment of the Indian Government when the following year proved to be the worst that had been experienced. A mortality of upwards of 1,500,000 showed that the enemy had lost none of 1990 its strength. But in 1908 the death-rate was reduced to one-ninth of the preceding year, namely, 150,000, and the first six months of this year, in which, owing to climatic reasons, the mortality is always much higher than in the latter part of the year, amounted to 84,000. Let me at once say, in fairness to the Indian peoples, that they are beginning to understand the principles under which it should be combated, and are showing an increasing disposition to co-operate with the Government in its endeavours to deal with its scientific aspect. The Government of India is fully alive to its responsibilities, and attaches so much importance to disseminating knowledge that simple instruction on the subject of the plague and sanitation are now given in the elementary schools of the land.
If the House will allow me, I wish to digress for a moment to deal with a charge that is constantly made, and has recently been repeated, to the effect that there is poverty in India which is largely due to the political and commercial drain on the country year by year, the political, it is asserted, amounting to £30,000,000 and the commercial to £40,000,000. These figures have been placed even higher by those who wish to blacken the Indian Administration in order to bolster up a malicious agitation against this country. I think it is incumbent upon the representative of the Indian Government in this House to deal with the statement. I may at once say that it has no foundation in fact. Its origin is to be found no doubt in the fact that India makes annually considerable payments in England in return for services rendered, such as the loan of British capital, but there is no justification for describing these payments as a drain, and their amount is only a fraction of the figures just quoted. Let me deal first with the question of amount. As the method by which India makes her payments in England is that she exports more than she imports, all calculations as to the amount of payments must necessarily be based on the Returns of Indian trade, which show by how much the Indian exports exceed her imports. If the Trade Returns are examined for 1904, 1905, and 1906, after making due allowance for the capital sent to India in connection with Government transactions, the average excess of exports over imports—or, in other words, payments by India to England for services rendered—is £23,900,000 per year during 1991 the three years that have been mentioned. This payment is made up of:—
Let us examine for a moment the nature of these two remittances. The Government remittance is mainly for the payment of home charges, namely those charges in England which are normally met from revenue. These charges, in the three years which I have referred to, averaged £18,500,000, made up in the following manner:—Interest on debt, £9,500,000; payments for stores ordered and purchased in this country, which cannot be manufactured in India, £2,500,000; pensions and furlough pay to civil and military officers, £5,000,000; miscellaneous, £1,250,000. It will thus be seen that after deducting £5,000,000 for pensions and furlough pay the bulk of it represents interest for railway developments and other matters with which the interests of the peoples of India are intimately bound up. Besides the home charges proper, certain sums were remitted to England by the Government to defray capital charges. These bring the Government remittances to the total of £21,200,000 already mentioned.
- 1. £21,200,000, being the average annual amount of the Government remittance during three years (this corresponds to the alleged political drain of £30,000,000).
- 2. £2,700,000, the average annual amount of private remittances during the same period (this corresponds to the alleged commercial drain of £40,000,000).
Now let us turn for a moment to the supposed commercial drain of £40,000,000 per year, which, as I have endeavoured to show, is in reality £2,700,000, being the difference during the period referred to between the private remittances from India, representing private profits, savings, etc., sent home to England, and the private remittances to India representing the transmission of English capital to that country. We can, therefore, say definitely that whatever India may have sent to England within the three years, she received from England as capital a sum falling short of that amount by £2,700,000 a year, and perhaps I might incidentally remind the House that at the end of 1907 the capital outlay on railways alone in India amounted to £265,000,000 sterling, the bulk of which is British capital, but by no means represents the full amount of British capital invested in India which has taken its part in commercially developing its resources and providing employment for the masses of people in that great con- 1992 tinent. Hon. Members who have followed a recent discussion in the pages of the "Economist" will see that this figure, if we included all British capital invested for the commercial and industrious development of India, could not be placed lower than £350,000,000.
I have trespassed on the attention of the House for a considerable time, but I must now deal in general terms with that side of British Indian administration which is occupying the attention, of the country to-day, the pressing aspect of which has perhaps been brought into greater relief in the public mind by the cruel assassination of a public servant, who, as I myself have seen from Departmental Papers which have come into my hands since occupying my present position, had proved himself in countless, unobtrusive acts to be a real friend to the inhabitants of the country in which he had served his Sovereign during a long and distinguished career. I know that I am but interpreting the sense of the House if I take this opportunity of conveying its united sympathy to Sir Curzon Wyllie's sorrowing widow and relatives in their sad affliction, and its appreciation of the heroism of the Indian gentleman, Dr. Lalcaca, who gave his life in a fruitless endeavour to save the Englishman. Though this terrible tragedy came as a shock to the civilised world, yet the British people would be right to regard it as the isolated action of a fanatic and not connect it with any general, widespread conspiracy against the British nation. We may safely say that amidst all the froth and foam of a few maliciously-inclined seditionists, who are held in contempt by the loyal population, the mass of the peoples of India remain unmoved, and are fully sensible to the material improvement in their conditions which have come to them under the guidance of the British Government. A Noble Lord who speaks with great influence and authority in connection with India suggested that we had oscillated between concession and coercion. Let me repeat to the House that on the part of the Secretary of State and his colleagues here and in India, to whom has been entrusted by this House the destiny and welfare of some 300,000,000 British subjects in the East, there has been, and there will be, no supineness or vacillation in dealing with anarchical outrages and malicious acts of sedition. It is essential—and we have no desire to disguise the fact—that it should be brought home to agitators that it is the deliberate 1993 intention of this country to maintain order, and that, if necessary, they will be removed from the sphere of their mischievous activity until such time as the Government of India consider it in the public interest to revise its decision. T know that in perfect good faith and earnestness my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury holds very strong views in regard to the course of action which the Government of India, with the full approval of the Secretary of State, has thought it necessary to adopt in this connection, but I do feel that he is sometimes carried away by his enthusiasm. Let me take, in support of my suggestion, a recent letter which he wrote to "The Times," which has, no doubt, been reprinted and widely circulated in the vernacular Press in India. I propose to deal with this matter because my hon. Friend takes a leading part in the criticism directed against His Majesty's Government and the Government of India, and I feel that a letter which he addresses to "The Times" should be taken notice of in this House by the representative of the Indian Government. In this letter he brought four charges against the Indian administration. First, that the right of public meetings had been practically taken away; secondly, that the Press exists upon sufferance, as the large number of confiscations of papers and the 160 years of imprisonment inflicted upon editors and printers and others show; thirdly, that crime by explosives had been dealt with by the most drastic "Explosives Act"; and fourthly, that the right of trial by jury, and the right of a man to have his case investigated in public before he is committed for trial, have also been taken away. Moreover, he said that wherever the existence of a conspiracy has been brought to the test of examination by trained legal experts in courts of justice, it has been to show that the conspiracy was a much less formidable affair than was represented. I do not know how formidable a conspiracy must be to come up to my hon. Friend's standard, but I am sure he must have forgotten that the result of the Alipur case was that two persons were sentenced to death, 10 to transportation for life, and one to imprisonment. I might also remind the hon. Member that the seditionists took the precaution before the trial of murdering the principal witness, a high-caste Brahmin gentleman, upon whose information the 1994 case for the prosecution very largely hinged.
With reference to the right of public meetings, the hon. Member presumably had in his mind the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act, which does not take away the right of public meetings, and is not in force in any part of India. With regard to the Press, the number of confiscations is five, and the 160 years are apparently arrived at by adding together and treating as consecutive a number of sentences which are running concurrently.
§ Mr. F. C. MACKARNESS
Does the hon. Gentleman say that the Seditious Meetings Act is not in force in India?
The MASTER of ELIBANK
It is not in force at this moment. That is what I said, and I believe it to be the case.
The MASTER of ELIBANK
I have already stated that, to the best of my belief, that Act is not at this moment in force in any part of India.
§ Mr. KEIR HARD1E
Has the Proclamation of Bengal been withdrawn, because Bengal was proclaimed under the Act? I wish to know if that Proclamation has been withdrawn?
The MASTER of ELIBANK
To the best of my belief the statement I made is an accurate one, and that is what I understand to be the case. With regard to the five confiscations, they were ordered in pursuance of a special Act dealing solely with incitement to murder, to offences under the Explosive Substances Act, or to acts of violence. I cannot agree with my hon. Friend that the Press exists on sufferance because a newspaper may be prosecuted for publishing seditious libel or its press confiscated for incitement to murder. My hon. Friend says that crime by explosives was being dealt with by a "most drastic Explosive Act." He surely would not want a mild one? The Act is practically identical with the law in force in England. Again, with regard to the right of trial by jury, I should mention that the system of trial by jury is not universal in India, but exists only in Presidency towns and in certain districts to which it has been extended. Now my hon. Friend evidently has in his mind the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which provided that on the written application of the Government certain offences should be 1995 tried by a special tribunal of three judges of the High Court without a jury. The cases to which it applies are not ordinary cases of sedition, but only cases of violence or threats of violence to persons or property. The Act is in force in two provinces of India only, and it has been applied only in six cases. As regards my hon. Friend's reference to the committal proceedings under the Act, I may remind him that, as my predecessor has already informed the House, the procedure is the same as that which daily takes place before the Procurator-Fiscal in Scotland.
But my hon. Friend has throughout devoted the main energy of his attack to our exercise last December of Regulation III. of 1818, in the case of nine Bengalis. Let me recall to the House the circumstances in which this power was used. There was serious unrest and hostility to Government in both Bengals. An informer had been shot in the very precincts of the gaol, with the connivance of accomplices outside, who had provided the revolver; another intending informer had been done to death in the outskirts of the capital of Bengal; a police inspector who had traced one of the Muzafferpore political assassins was shot dead in the streets of Calcutta; and a most determined attempt had been made—the fourth of its kind—to assassinate the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. Restrained either by terrorism or disaffection, the people were unwilling to come forward and help the forces of law and order. If nothing had been done the forces of disorder would have been encouraged to further violence and the flames of incendiarism would have spread rapidly. Again, the ordinary law had failed to a perilous extent, and to save the country from the possibility of the spread of anything like a conflagration we had to strike quickly and take no risks that we struck ineffectually—resort to the Regulation was plainly necessary. It must be remembered that the methods of suppressing crime and preserving the peace which we have introduced into India rest upon the assumption that the people are on the side of law and order. If, from fear of their fellows or dislike of the Government, the people will not assist the authorities with testimony or information, the suppression of crime by trial and conviction is impossible. We must, in such circumstances, find some other method or abandon the task of Government. The extremists in India hope to force us to the latter alternative, but fortunately the 1996 Regulation provides us with another one. Some of my hon. Friends below the Gangway accuse us of abandoning the traditions of Liberalism. I will quote to you from one on whose teachings the very foundations of Liberalism rest, and this is what he says:—People must be considered unfit for more than a limited and qualified freedom who will not co-operate freely with the law and the public authorities in the repression of evildoers, who, like some nations of Europe down to a recent date if a man poignards another in the public street, puss by on the other side because it is the business of the police to look to the matter, and it is safer not to interfere in what does not concern them, The people who are revolted by an execution but not shocked at an MI assassination require that the public authorities should be armed with more strengthened power of repression than elsewhere, since the first indispensable requisite of civilised life has nothing else to rest on. A people so disposed could not be governed with so little power exercised over them as a people whose sympathies are on the side of the law and who are willing to give active assistance in its enforcement.I do not think it is necessary for me to remind my hon. Friend that I am quoting from John Stuart Mill, an authority which I think he will be ready to accept.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
Did John Stuart Mill say anything in justification of deporting men without trial or without informing them what they are suspected of?
The MASTER of ELIBANK
I am arguing this from the point of view of the public co-operating with the public authorities to prevent crime. I am afraid that these observations and the spirit in which I make them may find me in dissent with certain good Friends of mine below the Gangway with whom on ordinary occasions I act. I believe that the Government of India is taking the right step in the firm maintenance of order which is a fundamental condition of all progress, whether political or social. Be this as it may, we on this Bench are firmly convinced of it, and it is well that in India it should be fully and definitely understood. I am one of those who believe in the civilising work which is due to the efforts of our countrymen in these lands, and as far as India is concerned I believe that the masses of the people know well the miserable days when the rule of the sword alone prevailed, and when justice was unknown. I cannot bring myself to understand how my hon. Friend the Member for East Leeds (Mr. J. O'Grady), whom I know to be a humane man, can really believe that his countrymen in India are given to what he describes in the Motion down in his name as "measures of coercion and repression." Personally, I can hardly speak without emotion when I think of only 6,500 British 1997 officials in India, or about one to every 140,000 Indians, who are the custodians of the lives and fortunes of, approximately, one-fifth of the human race. It is surely essential that nothing should be done to undermine the authority of these officials, a mere handful of highly-educated, sympathetic men, living hard and strenuous lives, often separated from their fellow-countrymen, in some cases administering vast tracts of country, and in all cases concerned in the government of millions of people. There is every indication that the Indian Civil Service, as we might well have expected "from long and splendid tradition, will face their new tasks which the approaching changed conditions in India will impose upon them with energy, good will, zeal, and a spirit of intelligent cooperation in working the delicate and complex machinery of Indian administration. It is these men upon whom will devolve the carrying out of the constitutional reforms which is the most important feature of the year; in fact, in connection with which we might describe it as a historical year in India.
These reforms have been exhaustively expounded and discussed in this House, and their details are too fresh in the minds of Members to need more than a passing mention on my part. The object running through the whole of these refōrms is the desire to make a new and definite move along the path indicated in the Queen's Proclamation in the direction of associating Indians more closely in the Government, executive, legislative, and deliberative, of their country, as they have already been long associated on the judicial side. In order to make these reforms effectual it was necessary to give an ungrudging hand; to grant substance, and not merely shadow; and we hold—and time will show whether we are right—that we "have satisfied the legitimate aspirations of the people of the country, while maintaining our supremacy absolutely unimpaired. The House will wish to know what progress is being made with the regulations which are necessary to clothe the Councils Act with flesh and blood. The matter is well forward. The Government of India have devoted themselves to the task with great assiduity, and last week submitted their proposals to the Secretary of State by telegraph. Many questions are involved, including the question of Mahomedan representation, in which the Noble Lord opposite (Earl of Ronaldshay takes such a close interest, 1998 and about which, as the, House is aware, consultations have very recently taken place, if they are not actually proceeding, between the Viceroy and the representatives of the Mahomedan community in India. The consideration of these subjects will necessarily take time, but every effort will be made to expedite matters and to constitute the new legislative bodies as early as possible. We expect the despatch of the Government of India at the end of the present week. The Secretary of State in Council is diligently at work on the very full anticipatory telegram, and not a day will be lost in conveying the sanction of the Home Government in its final form. It has been said in certain quarters that these reforms have been extorted from us by fear. I need hardly tell the House that nothing could be further from the truth. Neither the Secretary of State nor the Governor-General has ever pretended that their schemes of reforms has quenched all the subterranean fires or dammed up all the turbid channels of sedition, anarchy, and terrorism. That will not be the work of a single day or any single set of changes of civil and political machinery. The Viceroy, speaking on 29th March last, used words which I think I ought to quote:—The policy of the Government of India in respect to reforms has emanated from a maturer consideration of political and social conditions, whilst the administrative changes they have advocated, far from being concessions wrung from them, have been over and over again endangered by the outrages which could not but encourage doubt as to the opportuneness of the introduction of political changes, which I have steadfastly refused to allow to injure the political welfare of the loyal masses of the people.Let me remind the House that the Arundel Committee, who made the original proposals respecting reforms, was appointed more than a year before the attempted murder of Sir Andrew Fraser sent a thrill of shocked surprise through India. The Viceroy assures us that it would be a thoroughly unreasonable view that the deeds of anarchists are proofs of the active disaffection of all India. He is receiving from Indians all over the country both public and private expressions of the deepest sorrow for what has happened. He is absolutely certain, as is the Secretary of State, that if it had not been for our recognition of Indian political desires, as well as of the need of bringing our own Government into closer and more direct touch with the people governed, we should now have had ranged against us a mass of sullen discontent, composed not only of irreconcilable extremists but of those who are now among our most loyal supporters. 1999 We are asked by some of our hon. Friends to pursue a more conciliatory policy. I would ask: What else have we before us but a conciliatory policy? Some of our Friends may think it is not conciliatory, but at any rate that is not the view of many distinguished Indian leaders, who, on more than one occasion, have shown, publicly and explicitly, that they at any rate do not cavil at the reforms we have introduced.
I cannot leave this question of reforms without reminding the House of the laborious work on which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and his colleagues have been engaged in preparing, from the mass of evidence which they collected from all parts or India, the Report of the Royal Commission on Decentralisation. Since my predecessor made reference to this matter last year, the Report has been published, and I am sure that hon. Members who have read it will appreciate the thoroughness, clearness and precision with which my right hon. Friend and his colleagues have dealt with a subject of infinite complexity and technicality. Of course, we do not disguise from ourselves for a moment that the decentralisation movement to which I have referred is only the process of evolution, following upon the intellectual freedom always associated with British rule and the imbuing of the receptive Indian intellect with European ideas. There is no doubt that the general awakening of the East, as exemplified by the rise of Japan and by the recent grafting of constitutionalism on the feudalism of Turkey and Persia, have made itself felt in India. The Secretary of State is constantly admonished in the Press that Indian unrest is due to a faulty system of education, and that it is his duty to set it right. Whatever may be our faults in India in the estimation of some of our friends, it must be generally agreed that it shows supreme strength on the part of our race that we have done nothing in the way of restricting intellectual liberty at the universities in India by denying to Indian students the use of books which have the effect of exalting freedom in accordance with British ideas. We have allowed Indians to draw all the deductions they think fit, inimical as they are to autocracy and foreign domination. The Indian Government have done nothing to hinder the new intellectual spirit which Western thought has generated in India. So far as 2000 education in India is concerned, the Indian and Englishman stand upon an equal footing, in the fame way as the water from the Government canals is distributed without favour to rich and poor.
But while Indian education officers are concerning themselves with the perfecting of their educational system and how best they may exercise a greater guiding influence over the thoughts and actions of their students, the Secretary of State at home is met by a problem of considerable delicacy and difficulty in reference to the increasing number of Indian students entering the United Kingdom. The terrible tragedy at the Imperial Institute, which I noticed earlier in my speech, has likewise attracted public attention to this matter, and it is generally recognised that the presence of these young men who come across the sea in increasing numbers constitutes a serious problem. Many of them come to this country absolutely friendless and without introduction. They live cheerless lives in boarding houses, and, with every wish to the contrary on their part and on the part of the parents who send them, the majority of them remain unprovided with the opportunities of seeing the best side of English life. It will interest the House to know that the Secretary of State has for some time been engaged in trying to meet this unfortunate state of affairs. He appointed a Departmental Committee to give him information as to the conditions under which students live in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other parts of the country. The Secretary of State has come to the conclusion that, while in no way exercising an official supervision over the movements of these students, he would wish to provide assistance and guidance for them if their parents and the students themselves desired to take advantage of it. With this object he has appointed a Committee, under the presidency of Lord Ampthill, who, as the House knows, is a great authority on India, and takes a sympathetic interest in all that affects her. The majority of the members of the Committee are Indian gentlemen at present residing in England, who feel to the full their responsibilities in acting on behalf of the absent parents. From the earnestness with which these gentlemen have thrown themselves into their new duties, it is already evident that membership of the Advisory Committee is going to be no sinecure, and it is very certain that the Secretary of State 2001 will shortly be under the necessity of considering many suggestions from this Committee affecting Indian students. Another method of helping the Indian students, which the Secretary of State has adopted, is the appointment of an educational adviser. It will be his duty to answer inquiries from parents in India who wish to send their sons to this country, and who demand detailed information concerning the facilities for instruction, the cost of living, and the possibility for arranging for their sons to live under healthy conditions. There is no demand more persistently pressed than that the young men should lodge with respectable English families who will exercise some supervision over their movements and at the same time give them the benefits of a home in a strange land. It will be the duty of the educational adviser to obtain and supply the names of cultivated families in the country, as well as in London, who will be willing to receive young Indians into their households. The House will be sorry to hear that the recent crime at the Imperial Institute makes this arrangement all the more necessary, because many English families and English lodging-house keepers, dismayed at the recent occurrence, have been reluctant to admit to their houses unknown Indian students, and the innocent are thus suffering for the guilty. I hope I am not pressing this matter at too great a length.
Finally, in order to ameliorate the lot of the Indian students, the Secretary of State has decided to supplement the work of existing Indian unofficial societies in London, whose activities are cramped from lack of funds, by charging the Indian Revenue with a sum sufficient to rent a large house in a central position in which these societies shall be lodged, and in which they can unite their activities on behalf of the students. I should also like to add that under the Secretary of State's scheme committees are being formed in the principal educational institutions of India to form a necessary link, and in every manner to assist parents, who from letters received appear to be only too happy to take advantage of the proposed arrangements for the benefit of their young sons. While speaking of these young students, May I refer to a rather delicate matter, and perhaps make a suggestion to the Press of this country that when they are writing about India and the Indians they should not forget how naturally sensitive they are to all that touches their patriotism and self-respect. 2002 Our Indian fellow subjects do not understand the rough and somewhat satirical humour with which we are sometimes accustomed to speak of each other in these Islands, and they are very apt to resent what appears to them to be reflections oa themselves and their country. In fact, I have reason to know that, quite without foundation, they are apt to think that occasional idle observations of this character are the outcome of racial and local prejudice.
I feel that I have now trespassed on the time of the House at unconscionable length, and yet I have omitted subjects which I know to be of absorbing interest to many Members present, who are to take part in the Debate this afternoon. May I venture to hope that we shall go forward into the New Year undaunted by the troubles and difficulties of the past, and confident in our high mission to govern India by the best in us for the best in her, with sympathy for her needs as our keynote, and justice, law, and order as our and her safeguards.
§ Earl PERCY
Perhaps I may preface the very few remarks which I have to make on this occasion, on which a great many Gentlemen wish to address the House by saying that the hon. Gentleman opposite (the Master of Elibank) who has so lately succeeded to his present position at the India Office in place of the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Buchanan)—whose absence from this House, and especially the reason for it, we all deplore—has all the more reason for congratulation on the manner in which he has discharged for the first time the task of explaining the Indian financial statement. I do not think there is anything in that statement which need give rise to any great anxiety. It is true that instead of an anticipated surplus of half a million, there is an actual deficit of three and a-half millions, but, considering how universal the depression in trade has been all over the world, it is hardly to be surprised at that its effect should be seen to some extent in the Indian revenues. I think it is a remarkable testimony to the strength of the Indian economic position that, in spite of remissions of taxation amounting to 24 millions in all, and a net special expenditure on military objects of over ten millions, the revenue should still show a net expansion of four millions, as compared with six years ago, and that the Government should be able to meet this temporary setback without either re-imposing taxation which they have remitted 2003 or suspending the process of repaying the almost insignificant unproductive debt of the country. There are some hon. Gentlemen in this House who are very anxious to endow India with Parliamentary institutions. I cannot help thinking that India is to be congratulated on the fact that her financial administration is not liable to be influenced by considerations of party expediency, and that the sound rule is still adhered to that the time of financial depression is the time for prudent retrenchment and economical expenditure, and not, as appears to be the case at home here, for launching out into fresh means of expenditure.
On the purely financial aspect of the Budget, I have only two comments to make. On the revenue side we are reminded that the deficit would have been considerably larger than it actually is were it not that opium has realised a million more than was originally expected. It has been explained by the Under-Secretary that that is due to anticipatory payments of Export Duty made in order to secure priority in shipment this year. But I see it is stated in the Press that, although the effect of the curtailment in the amount cultivated, and the diminution of the quantity permitted to be exported to China has had the result of enormously increasing the price of the exported article, it has also resulted in a considerable decrease in the price of opium in the home market, and, consequently, has led to a considerable increase of consumption in Bombay, Madras and the Punjab, which, I understand, already draws considerable supplies of that product from over the borders of Afghanistan. I do not know whether the Government have in their possession any figures which will enable them to test the accuracy of that statement, but I think it will be admitted that it would be a deplorable result if, in our anxiety to reform the morals of the Chinese, we were to produce, in our own great Dependency an increase of the very habit which we deplore in China. I hope that that is a point the Government will not lose sight of in connection with the steady decrease in the cultivation and amount of opium exported, which has to go on for the next ten years.
Turning from the revenue to the expenditure side of the account, the principal direction in which it appears the Government of India intend to economise is in the sum to be allocated for railways in 2004 India. In fact, they allot two and a-half millions less than was originally recommended as the annual allotment by the recent Commission on Indian Railway Finance. Of course, that means that the greater part will be devoted to existing lines and very little will be available for extensions of the system. I am, therefore, glad to see that in the Debate which took place on the Financial Statement in the Viceroy's Council the other day Mr. Harvey held out hopes that in the future the Government may be able to offer much better terms to private companies who may undertake the construction and management of branch railway lines. There has been for many years past a feeling that private enterprise, in the matter of railway construction has been somewhat shabbily treated by the Government of India. That is an impression which it is all the more desirable to do away with, because the state of internal affairs in India during the last few years has not been of a character to encourage the investment of British capital in that country. A few months ago the Secretary of State found himself in a position to congratulate the Home and the country on the fact that the announcement of his Political Reform scheme—the Reform Bill—had been accompanied by a welcome cessation of agitation and crime in India. The terrible tragedy which occurred the other day at the Imperial Institute, and to which the hon. Gentleman has made such feeling allusion this afternoon, is, I think, a reminder of the fact that; there has been, I will not say a widespread conspiracy, but, at all events, a state of widespread demoralisation, which is due partly to the defects of our educational system in India and partly also undoubtedly to the license which has been too long allowed to seditious teaching, whether in the Press or on public platforms. I do not know that I can add much to what the hon. Gentleman has said on that subject. I suppose it is too much to hope that the present occasion may be allowed to pass without renewed attacks by the supporters of the Government on the Government of India for using the weapons which have been entrusted to them for the maintenance of law and order. I gather from the letter of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Mackarness), to which the Under-Secretary has made allusion, that he is under the impression that certain recent cases—for instance, the case of Lajpat Rai and the failure of the prosecution at Midnapur—throw doubt on the adequacy of the 2005 grounds on which nine Indian gentlemen were deported by the Government of India, with the sanction of the Secretary of State, last November. That is a view which can only be entertained by those who persist in regarding this deportation under the Act of 1818 as a punitive measure adopted on what they think to be inadequate and untrustworthy evidence, given by the native police, and not, as it really is, a preventive measure adopted on the recommendation of British officers, who are responsible for the peace of their own district, in circumstances where either no evidence can be produced upon which a prosecution can be based, or where, as in the Alipur case, those who come forward to give evidence and those who actively take part in the prosecution are exposed to serious risk of assassination. It is really quite irrelevant to consider whether these particular nine gentlemen have or have not been guilty of this crime or that crime. If you have certain knowledge, for instance, that an employé is in the habit of smoking cigarettes in close proximity to a powder magazine; he may do so without any criminal intent, and your knowledge that he does so, may be based upon information which is given you in confidence, and you are not permitted to publish, but I do not suppose any one would suggest that for that reason you are to be debarred from taking steps to remove that gentleman from a sphere in which his presence must be a continuous source of danger to the public. Of course it is true to say that the power given by the Act of 1818 is an autocratic power, but Lord Morley reminded us himself that the whole system of British Administration in India is, and must always be, so far as we can see, to a large extent of an autocratic character. That is to say, it involves the principle of personal responsibility to a far greater extent than is necessary in the case of countries with a smaller and less diversified population, and you could not deal a worse blow at the moral prestige of the whole system of British Government in India, than to suggest that a power of this kind, exerciseable, after all, in an emergency and under the strict supervision and control of the Secretary of State at home, is a power which you do not consider you can reasonably entrust to the Government of India.
We had occasion, when the Indian Councils Bill was passing through this House, to comment upon what we thought the un- 2006 due tendency of the Secretary of State to overrule in many instances the advice of the Government of India, and to press upon them the adoption of reforms and measures which, in their opinion, were premature in regard to their application in India, and surely the very fact that you have passed reforms which will enormously increase the political influence of the great majority in India, makes it all the more desirable that you should not deprive the Government there of a weapon which may be absolutely necessary in future, for the adequate protection of minorities. The hon. Member has alluded to the Report of the Decentralisation Commission. I agree with him in the tribute he paid to the industry and capacity of that Commission, and I think I may also pay a tribute to the almost conservative character, in the main, of their recommendations; but the Decentralisation Commission pointed out at some length the extent to which the wheels of provincial administration in India had been clogged by excessive supervision and control from Calcutta, and we are told that one of the reasons why their adminstration is to some extent less in touch with the people themselves is that the district officers and others have gradually been deprived of many of the most important functions which they used to exercise, and questions which vitally concern the ordinary everyday life of the people of India are decided by, the various Goverment Departments without consulting them at all. We should be all ready to recognise the advantage of the principle of decentralisation, but when we are proposing to apply it internally to India itself I cannot help thinking we are not always sufficiently alive to the danger of excessive interference with the Executive of India by the Executive at home, and, still more, the irreparable mischievous effect which must be produced upon the mind of our Indian fellow-subjects if administrative acts of the Government of India are to be the very constant theme of inuendoes or criticism by way of question or Debate in this House.
Passing from that subject, I suppose that this is the last occasion on which we shall have an opportunity of reviewing questions of Indian policy before the Indian Councils Bill comes into operation next year. The success of the practical working of that measure will very largely depend upon the extent to which the Government find it possible to meet the I views of the Mahomedans with regard to 2007 the question of representation. The hon. Member alluded to that subject. He told us that the Secretary of State had received the recommendations of the Government of India, and that they were engaged in seriously considering them, but he gave us no information—I think he will admit that—which was of a very illuminating character upon this very point. The hon. Gentleman has realised, and I am sure the Secretary of State for India realises, the importance of doing everything to disabuse the Mahomedan community of an idea which they undoubtedly have had during the past few weeks that the Government at home were deliberately trying to find a way out of redeeming the express pledges they had given to various Mahomedan deputations which attended upon the Viceroy and the Secretary of State. Those pledges, as the House will remember, were practically two. They were promised, not merely that they should have a representation on the Council in excess of that which they were entitled to on a strict numerical basis—they were not only told that the representation should be secured to them by means of a special and exclusive Mahomedan electorate, but they were also promised that so far as possible the system of special electorates should be carried right through the whole machinery of the local Government; that it should apply to all the elections of the local councils, and I think they are perfectly right in saying that that step is absolutely necessary if their representatives are to have anything like the prestige or anything like the acquaintance with questions of local administration which will undoubtedly be possessed by their Hindu colleagues in these Legislative Councils.
There is another reason why this particular aspect of the question is important, and it is that this organisation of the special Mahomedan electorate is absolutely indispensable to the safe carrying out of any such scheme as that recommended by the Decentralisation Commission for a change in constitution and extension of the power which is to be entrusted to the various local bodies. The Decentralisation Commission recommend, if I remember aright, that on every Council throughout India there should be in future not merely a non-official but elected majority, and that these councils should have far more extended powers than they now have with regard to their finance, local taxation, and expenditure. That may be on its merits 2008 a very desirable measure to take, but I confess I should be very loath to see that measure introduced until we have provided far better securities than the existing regulations for the protection of local minorities. The Commission themselves pointed out that one of the reasons why it has been impossible to get any local interest in these local elections is that minorities have felt themselves debarred from exercising their legitimate influence; and if the fears of Mahomedans have been excited by a political reform, which really confirms little more than extended powers of criticism, they will be much more affected at the prospect of reforms of the local machine, which will place questions which very nearly affect their daily interests under the control of a local and, perhaps, unsympathetic majority.
But it is in regard to a topic to which the hon. Gentleman made only a passing allusion—that of education—that I think it is especially desirable that if Decentralisation is to be carried out at all it should be carried out on lines which do not give grounds of offence to religious minorities. The hon. Gentleman will certainly have the sympathy of this House for the measure which he announces is in contemplation for shielding Hindu students who come to this country from undesirable influences; but, after all, the total number of Hindu students who come to this country is a very small proportion of the total Hindu population in India itself who go to school. Most of them, or a great many of them, I suppose, are gentlemen who have already in their earlier years received education at the elementary schools in India itself; and I think everybody agrees, whatever their individual views may be on the subject of education, that one of the main reasons why our educational system in India has failed in the past is that in our anxiety—indeed, in view of the necessity forced upon us, to preserve an attitude of strict religious neutrality—we have been obliged to create a type of school in which no religious teaching is given, and of which, therefore, large minorities of the population are absolutely prevented, through their own prejudices, if you prefer to call them so, from taking any advantage at all. You have only to read the recent reports of the Indian Education Department to see how miserable are the results which are secured, even in the case of those who do find themselves in a position to take I advantage of them. I hope hon. Members 2009 with any doubt upon the point will read the very instructive reports of some of the inspectors in regard to what they describe as the despairing task of trying to devise any satisfactory system of any ethical instruction which is divorced from any teaching of religion. They say so in so many words. That is on the ethical side, and on the practical side you have equally a remarkably difficult task, and the futility of the education which is given, in many instances, to provide any real foundation for a practical training is proved.
All over India at the present moment schemes are being started for the organisation of secondary and technical education, but we are told that the vast majority of those who have passed through the elementary schools are quite unable to take advantage of those further facilities. There has been an actual increase, I think, in the last 20 years of 80 per cent. in the number of children attending our elementary schools in India, and yet the proportion who reach the higher standards of the elementary schools is absolutely diminished, and the position of the teaching staff is deplorable. The wages of a teacher in an elementary school are no larger than the wages of an ordinary coolie, and large numbers of them have never passed any more than an elementary standard, and a very large proportion of them have not passed any elementary tests at all. I think the consideration of these facts must convince anybody that whatever you may do in the future in the way of remedying matters in the case of individual poor children, there can be no question for a long time of making any serious step in the direction of what we call free education. Every penny of revenue which you get will be required for the construction of new schools and for levelling up the condition and the qualifications of the teaching staff. I am especially glad, alluding again to the ethical and moral side of the question, to see that the Decentralisation Commission, in their report, endorsed the view which I tentatively put forward on a previous occasion, that if fresh public assistance is to be given at all the direction in which it may most profitably be given is not in extending the system of Government schools, but in encouraging and fostering the indigenous schools of the country, in which, at all events, the children have a chance of receiving some instruction in the tenets of their own faith.
2010 We have spent a great deal of time during some weeks of this Session in considering the development of the political machinery of India. The success of that political machinery will depend in the long run on the success of your educational system, therefore, to my mind, reorganisation, on sounder lines, of that educational system is a question far more vitally important than any political reforms which you can consider. We have long said, and we have said in truth, that our objecst as regards the future is to associate Indians of every nationality and of every creed more largely with ourselves in the personal responsibilities of administration, and if that really be our desire, I think there is no task more imperatively laid upon us than that of seeing that our educational system, be it what it may, is of such a character as, so far as possible, in fact as well as in theory, to afford equal opportunities to all.
§ Sir CHARLES W. DILKE
It is not my intention to anticipate what may be said on the Motions on the Paper, but rather to get out of the way one topic which could not be discussed upon them. The only reference I will allow myself to make to the subjects which the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Mackarness) and others will doubtless bring forward concerns the quotation which was made by the Under-Secretary of State, in his admirably expressed speech, from John Stuart Mill. It is a curious fact that, prejudiced no doubt by being born in the India House, by having been a clerk in the office, as his father was before him, one of the reasons why Mill never accepted the transfer to the Crown was his dread of that very woodenness of Government which has been the cause of a great deal of our trouble at the present time, and the cause of those very measures on which some of my hon. Friends differ from the Government. Great credit has been taken for decentralisation in this respect, but the whole system of your Government is c,entralised and will remain centralised. Mill's objection to the transfer to the Crown was that very uniformity which destroyed elasticity of government, suitable for different parts of the country in their extraordinary diverse development, on which Mill above all insisted; but in the moral that my hon. Friend drew in connection with his quotation he summed up by saying we were moving in the direction indicated by the Queen's Proclamation of 1857. How terrible a delay that remark suggests. How sad it is 2011 to think what friction at the present time and what increase of all our troubles might have been avoided if we had entered upon Lord Ripon's course long before Lord Ripon's time, or if we had entered upon the present course of reform, less wise perhaps, long before the present, or if we had continued Lord Ripon's policy, so far as he was allowed to commence it, at the time it was abandoned. That is the only moral which I will draw by way of anticipation of what we may have to debate later.
I will pass to the subject with which I wish to deal. It must be dealt with because it has been debated—one large side of it—very fully over and over again in another place, but it has not been debated here, and on two of the main heads, the military charge on the people of India, and the meaning of our Indian military system, the Government have absolutely refused to give any information to the House and have broken the usual habit of the Government of India in that respect, because on all previous similar occasions the full facts have been laid before Parliament, including the dissent, even when unanimous, of the Viceroy in Council. My hon. Friend named to the House a small increase in the military charge, and he said it was due to the increase in pay which was unanimously approved by the members of the Viceroy's Council, and is, I think, unanimously approved by all of us. The small recent increase—the immediate increase—may be said to be half due to that, and half due to the additional £300,000 a year known as the Romer Committee's proposal. That, of course, is one of the matters with regard to which this House has been given no information. On every previous occasion relating to that very question, when there has been any difference of opinion between the Government of India and the Home Government, Papers have been laid before the House. On this occasion we know that the Government of India were unanimous, and we have been refused all Papers.
The whole subject of the military charge upon India, of its injustice, of its increase, and of its meaning, was raised by the Under-Secretary. He said that the recent increase was less than it would have been because what he called the recurring grant had come to an end—that is to say, the special defence expenditure of Lord Kitchener, but he said Lord Kitchener had managed to secure by means of that grant find otherwise the best instrument for 2012 defensive purposes. That is, I think, not the case. That is the object with which Lord Kitchener set out. It was the object alleged by Lord Kitchener. It was the object stated by the Viceroy last year and the year before, but not this year, and it is now absolutely abandoned. The whole of the recent expenditure has been turned upside down, and what was for defensive purposes has been stopped, and the recent increase of transport has been for a different purpose. The redistribution scheme needs, I think, a word or two by way of examination of the arguments put before the House. The expenditure, of course, is vastly larger than is shown in the accounts, but let us take the expenditure shown in the accounts. It is 18½ millions, with nearly a million for special works. We will call it 19¼ millions. In addition to that there is, of course, the whole expenditure that we obtain from the native States so far as we utilise it for the Imperial Service force. The native States-keep up 20,000 men, specially drilled and instructed by us, and we count that expenditure so far as it produces a large part of our transport and much of the frontier defence—for instance, the defence of Chitral and the whole of the Chitral frontier, on which Cashmere spends an enormous proportion of its revenue, and the large expenditure of the Maharajah of Scindhia, of Gwalior, Pat iala, and so forth. Then, of course, the whole of the strategic railways should be included under this head of military charge, although, of course, a large, number of the frontier railways are purely strategic and run no trains. They are made, but trains do not run upon them. Then, of course, it excludes the Assam Police and other forces, which are really military; bur, taking it as it is, not only from the explanatory Memorandum which was quoted by the Under-Secretary, but from the East India statistical abstract, the increase is about the same in each place—the gross increase and the net increase—and, therefore, you can compare them, and the increase during Lord Kitchener's time has been an increase of 2½ millions a year. No one puts it lower than two millions, and I think the "Pioneer" has conclusively proved in a series of articles that 2½ millions is right.
The Under-Secretary told us that it was in part in connection with what he called the redistribution scheme, and that it had given the best defensive force at the lowest cost. The matter was debated this year in the Statement that is before us, and I do 2013 not think that Debate can be better summed up than in a very able article which appeared also in the "Pioneer," in which it was said that "the man who pays would like to know why the military expenditure has jumped up in this fashion, just at the time when Russia has ceased to be dangerous, if, indeed, she ever was." That expresses my own views perfectly. I do not think in recent times we need a special defence against the possibility of a Russian attack, because of our own strength and of Russian weakness. Without arguing that for a moment, the special expenditure on the redistribution scheme was based upon that theory, and it is only very recently that it has taken a different turn. The Secretary of State for War this year in this House claimed that Lord Kitchener's policy had given us in India nine divisions perfectly equipped, ready for oversea expeditionary use. That is an entirely new claim, and it places the Indian military expenditure upon an entirely new footing; and I am bound to say in the strongest possible terms that at this moment of Indian unrest it specially behoves us to place our financial relations with India on a just footing—a footing which can be defended by reasonable men—and this is a subject upon the general principle of which India is united. There is not a single official in India, from the Viceroy and every member of his Council, down to the lowest native official, who knows anything about it, who is not of one opinion upon this point, and that opinion is very generally shared outside the walls of the War Office. In fact, I do not know any people outside the War Office who do not think that Indian opinion in this matter is right.
I will not discuss at length Lord Kitchener's reforms and the redistribution scheme, because in its worst shape it was undoubtedly vetoed from home—very slowly vetoed, but it was ultimately stopped. The most wasteful, the most absurd, and the most indefensible of Lord Kitchener's proposals were the proposals for cantonments at Mastung and Torsappa. These proposals were rash and ill-considered, they were universally condemned, and they have been abandoned. But they are altogether inconsistent with the account Lord Kitchener himself has given of his own scheme, and as he attacked in the Debate to which I have referred some men of great authority, Sir Edwin Collen for instance, who have taken a different view, I think it is only due to them to point out that these rash and ill- 2014 considered proposals were abandoned. The opposition to the construction of the strategical railway was not allowed to prevent the survey and construction of that railway until it had, in my own opinion, produced two wars. As to one of the wars I have not the slightest doubt regarding the cause. I think it is absolutely proved at pages 67 to 69 of Paper 4201 in relation to the North-West Frontier that those of us who in advance pressed the Secretary of State to stop the construction of the railway because it would lead to war, and because it was a wasteful expenditure, were quite justified in the course we took in foreseeing the Mohmand war which afterwards broke out. The proposal was at that time to place an enormously increased force upon the extreme frontier. It was proposed to place nearly 6,000 troops at Mastung, to which the railway was being made. After wasteful expenditure the railway was abandoned, and left there leading to nowhere. It was left there rightly, because it was thought better to cut the loss and abandon this most reckless and foolish scheme. Credit has been given to Lord Kitchener for the costly but admirable improvments carried out in the matter of transport in India, but improvements were initiated by his predecessors under the system to which he put an end. The system of military Government in India was always vouched for to this House by one who, it will be admitted, is a very high authority, namely, Sir George Chesney. He always put before the House as the ideal at which we should aim a system by which the so-called military member of Council should hold the position of the Prussian Minister of War, whereas the Commander-in-Chief should hold the position of the Prussian head of the Army. That it will be impossible to carry out the present system I have not the slightest doubt, and I have not met any authority who does not think that we shall have to go slowly back again to the system which has been abolished, and which was supported, theoretically and practically, in the strongest possible form by all the great authorities who have any knowledge of the subject.
We are told we have got rid of centralisation. Well, the form we have adopted in India is exactly the opposite of that which we have adopted here. If what has been done here is right, it negatives what has been done in India, and if the change made in India is right, it negatives the system adopted here. Both claim to have got rid of centralisation. The system 2015 which has been adopted in India has no authority behind it. It is certainly not what we should call a non-centralised system. I should call it the most centralised ever seen in the world. It has been condemned by all those who, as my hon. Friend justly said to-night, had the disadvantage of not having money given to them to do more in the direction in which they wished to work. Credit has been given to Lord Kitchener in regard to transport. Of course, anyone who knows the facts denies that the credit is entirely due to him. Lord Roberts and Sir George Chesney worked together as Commander-in-Chief and Minister for War, and they raised mule transport. Sir Henry Bracken-bury and Sir Edwin Collen did the same thing, and, money becoming more plentiful in 1901–2, mule transport was raised to the present figure by Sir Edmund Elles, the last of those Ministers for War. India now keeps up over 34,000 mules. I regret that, speaking in another place, Lord Morley should have spoken of this change as having been made by Lord Kitchener, and complained that before his time transport was "bad." It was as good as financial considerations allowed it to be. Lord Kitchener learned a great deal in India, but I think it is universally acknowledged that when he arrived there he was very rash and proposed to lay hands on certain sound Conservative principles existing in India, which the rashest of Radicals would not have proposed to abolish. The Silladar system of cavalry in India was rescued from him. His other proposals are described in "Blackwood's Magazine" for the present month, and the writer, while defending Lord Kitchener's reforms, explains how rash he was when first he got out to India.
The question we have now to consider is whether we can defend the charge for the military system in India as compared with the charge for other parts of the Empire. Lord Kitchener tells us in his final speech that we have prepared nine divisions of infantry and artillery, and eight cavalry brigades which are ready to go away, while India will at the same time be amply garrisoned for every purpose. He says you can send these nine divisions of infantry and artillery and eight cavalry brigades out of India, leaving plenty of men for all the towns to be garrisoned and the country held. My hon. Friend says that Lord Kitchener's special military grant is to cease. It was pointed out in 2016 the Viceroy's Council by a whole succession of speakers that "the relief is more apparent than real, for already there is a permanent increase of 1½ millions a year," and the military authorities are to have all extra sums which become necessary just as before. It was also pointed out that of the 8¼ millions spent out of this special grant only three and two-thirds millions were spent on any purpose for which the grant was originally given. But then, on the top of all this, comes a new charge as to which no information or statement has been given to the House. There was not a single person in the Viceroy's Council except the person who went out from home who could defend it. The new Member, indeed, did not venture to defend it. He said it was an accepted fact. These words were used in regard to the new charge by one of the Viceroy's Council and adopted by some of the other speakers, "unjust and deeply resented," and "the Government of India protested against this fresh imposition." Lord Kitchener did mark the character of the changes for which he was responsible by explaining that this was the first occasion when the Commander-in-Chief had addressed the Viceroy's Council as charged with undivided responsibility. Of course, responsibility cannot be divided in military matters with a civilian council. Responsibility can only be exercised in Army matters in India just as foreign affairs are transacted here between the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. In India Military affairs are settled chiefly between the Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief now that there is no Minister of War. The original scheme was concentration on the extreme frontier. The new scheme is for an oversea striking force.
As to the new additional charge I wonder if it is final. The Secretary of State for War in the Debate here did not treat it as final. He began his speech by saying that he wanted to give the true facts, and he made a statement which I should not describe as the whole truth. He quoted Lord Welby's Commission, and stated that this charge, was to be subject to revision from time to time. The right hon. Gentleman said it was plain that India was paying vastly less than it cost this country. Nothing is less plain to me. The Government of India is convinced of the opposite. Every one of the military members of Council is convinced of the opposite, and India is opposed unanimously to this increased charge. Personally, I 2017 joined with the distinguished military writer, Mr. Spenser Wilkinson, in writing on Indian defence in 1890. We argued as strongly as we could against the whole of the original charges—the £700,000 as well as the addition of £300,000 a year. This argument was adopted by the late Under-Secretary of State. My right hon. Friend agreed with Mr. Spenser Wilkinson and myself, and maintained that the whole charge was absolutely unjustifiable and indefensible. It is a charge which is without precedent and without parallel. There is no other case in the world of a similar charge. In our own colonies we have never attempted to charge it. In fact, some of the Crown Colonies pay the whole of their military charges on a scale which is only one-tenth of the scale paid by India. Even in Egypt, before the Egyptian charge was reduced, and in Ceylon, which is close to India and almost indistinguishable from it, they do not pay anything remotely approaching this charge in India, which you must remember is additional to the payment of the entire charge of every man of the British Army in India—every charge connected with him from the moment he sets foot on a British ship until he returns—an addition for what is called the original training. It is entirely without parallel, and if it was attempted to be increased I am perfectly certain that the unanimous feeling of the House is that it ought not to have been done in this hole and corner fashion, but that the facts should be put forward, and that there should be real knowledge and full discussion.
It is impossible to regret more strongly than I regret the secrecy that has prevailed, as announced in October and December last, in a reply by the Secretary of State that he had not been able in the public interest to present papers on the subject. I do not know any other case where the Government of India has been unanimous, and has stated its view in a reasonable manner, signed by all its members, in which consent has been refused. It may have been kept back for a time, but in the long run it has always been given. I think no one in India, white or native, believes in the justice of this provision. The Under-Secretary believes that the abolition of the three commands has made great changes. The Under-Secretary spoke as though it occurred recently, because India was always calling for the abolition of the three commands. They were kept up by Home pressure. When India got 2018 its own way a long time ago, the changes, which he called decentralisation, followed. They followed slowly, because military opinion moves slowly except sometimes when it is rash; but, at all events, the change which was inevitable has no connection whatever with the abolition of the military member of the Council, which is a change in the direction of centralisation so extreme that no example of it can be found in any country in the world. Lord Kitchener defended that change on the ground that it is obviously ridiculous that the Government should receive dual advice, and that there should be two members of the Council who regarded one another as adversaries. Lord Roberts and Sir George Chesney never regarded one another as adversaries, and Sir Henry Brackenbury was never regarded as an adversary by any Commander-in-Chief with whom he served, and it is almost a libel on any of these men that this phrase should be used regarding them. I have avoided any indulgence in general statements, but I thought it essential, looking to what is involved in making these changes at such a moment and in secrecy, that some Member of the House should as plainly as possible lay the actual facts before this House.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
moved: "That this House is of opinion that reforms are necessary in the character and scope of the system of education at present in force in India."
In moving the Resolution which stands on the Paper in my name I desire first to draw the attention of the House to the magnitude of the problem which we are now asked to consider. Let me remind the House that out of a population of 240,000,000 it is carefully calculated that the children of school age may be taken as 15 per cent. of the whole, or 36¼ millions, and to-day it has to be admitted with regret that in this great Dependency for which we are so fully responsible there are at present only 5,388,000 receiving any form of education whatsoever. The percentage of boys being educated in India is 25.8, and the percentage of girls is only 3.6. These figures amply warrant the House this afternoon in fully considering the position in which we stand, because it is evident that there are 14,000,000 boys and 17,000,000 girls in India to-day growing up absolutely without education. I venture to submit to the House that one of the most pressing and elementary duties which we owe to our Dependency is that of at least providing some form of 2019 primary education for every child of school age. The State, so far, has absolutely failed in its duty, and it is with some small hope that a discussion on the subject this afternoon may cause the Government to reconsider its attitude in the matter that I venture to bring these somewhat startling figures before it. Adopting the words of a learned member of the Viceroy's Council, I say "it will not be going too far to claim that of all the problems which affect the welfare of India to-day there is none of greater moment, next to its peace, than education, and there are no improvements which are so often relegated to an indefinite future as those connected with it." When we found that the Under-Secretary this afternoon said all he had to say regarding education in India within the brief compass of three short sentences, the statement of this member of the Viceroy's Council is once again confirmed. We did gather from the altogether admirable and lucid statement to which we had the pleasure of listening from the hon. Member that the finances of India were not so prosperous as we should all like to see them, and I suppose because of that reason once again any substantial improvements as regards facilities for education are to be relegated to an indefinite future.
The very contemptuousness, if I may use the word without offence—contemptuous because of their brevity—of the references to education this afternoon is in keeping with the remark which fell in a similar Debate from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury last year. He was speaking then on behalf of the Government in the regretted absence of the then Under-Secretary for India, and I well remember that he said that he was expressing, of course, only his personal opinion, but if his personal opinion were invited he thought that too much rather than too little attention was being paid in India to the question of education. I venture to submit that if these views were then the views of that Member of the Government, his successor, whom we welcome this afternoon in his new position, does not seem to have appreciated in full the seriousness of the present Indian educational problem. What we do find when we begin to examine these Blue Books is that while the State does make a certain contribution for educational purposes in India, by far the larger proportion of that allocation has gone to a privileged few students, who are able to go to the university 2020 and to higher class secondary schools. I think I am right when I say that of the total Goverment grant in aid of education at present, inadequate as it is, only one-eighth part of it goes to foster and encourage primary education, and that for the vast number of the pupils in these altogether badly equipped, badly housed schools the Government Grant in Aid is so small that it is hardly appreciable. Very considerable attention was paid last year to educational matters in this House. We had no less than two Debates on the subject, and I think all friends of education, expected that the Government would have shown in their Estimates for this year some little desire to move forward as regards, increasing the grant, however slowly. But we find that while they Budgetted a year ago for £1,665,000, and their final estimate came out at £29,200 more this year after all the representations by a distinguished member of the Viceroy's Council, they only proposed to allocate, an addition of £32,900. So when you consider the vastness of the work and the increasing urgency and importance of it, we are bound to conclude that the Government have fallen very far short of its duty in dealing with this great problem. One fact only does seem to give us some little encouragement in the matter. It is that private benefactions to educational matters in India continue to be on the increase. I venture to submit that they are not altogether attributable to the Government, and that for the increased facilities, however small they may be, that are available, we should be more and more indebted to the private benefactions of prosperous merchants in our great Dependency. I refer particularly to Mr. Pitt, who has founded a college which is doing splendid work. Passing from the financial side, I desire to address the House briefly as regards providing properly equipped teachers for the primary schools. We get at once an indication of how low the standard of education is when we discover that the average rate of remuneration of the male teachers in the primary school is the large sum of 10s. 4d. per month, or something like £6 10s. per annum.
In face of that I think we cannot wonder that the supply of teachers is not only inadequate, but the quality is not improved. I venture to say that so long as teachers are so wretchedly paid in India there can be no hope of raising the standard, nor of improving the value of the education that is imparted in the primary schools at the present moment. I am aware that 2021 there are many friends of education who say that we should have a compulsory form of it in India. I think anyone who has read the quinquennial report which has just been issued will see that such a proposal was absolutely hopeless so long as there are 31,000,000 of children, who are not in any school at all, and so long as the schools at present in existence are almost invariably over-crowded and insanitary. It would be, I think, very ill-advised that any form of compulsion should at the present stage be passed. We hope that the time may come when such a step may be possible. We are bound to acknowledge, when we consider the subject, that in one of the native States compulsory education under a progressive rule has been in force for some years, and has been an entire success, but that has been because the local funds available for education are adequate, and the whole scheme is being administered in a satisfactory fashion. I think that is an example to other States in India of what is possible where the Government come to the aid of local authorities, and give the money so urgently called for in connection with this work. The question of fees was also referred to very considerably in last year's Debate. I do suggest, when we see the value of education imparted in the primary schools, that it is almost a tragedy to think that the parents of these children should be asked to pay any fees. I suggest that one of the first reforms to be effected should be the absolute abolition of fees, at least in primary schools. Some remarkable figures were quoted recently as showing the large variation which exists in the charges made in schools. In Mysore, in 1906, 11 per cent. of the whole cost of running a school was covered by the fees paid by the parents and 11 per cent. from endowments and miscellaneous sources, and 78 per cent. from public funds. Again, in East Bengal, we find that no less than 38 per cent. of the cost is borne by the fees. These figures, I think, prove that great hardships are inflicted in certain districts, and it is impossible that we can hope for any popularising of schools if that be permitted to continue.
I desire very briefly to refer to the question of technical schools, which have been very much heard of in connection with India in recent years. If I may respectfully say so, I think a great mistake has been made by the Government in concentrating their efforts on the provision of a 2022 certain limited number of very high-class technical schools rather than on a larger number of smaller schools more suited to the needs of the varied localities. I think, if that initial error could be rectified even now, that the cause of technical education would become more popular with students of all parties, and the cost would be comparatively low. We find as regards agricultural education in India practically nothing has hitherto been done by the Government. I find that last year the total sum given for the advancement of agricultural education directly by the Government was only £4,500. I submit, if that is the Government's idea of the value of agricultural education, the possibilities of which are now so fully recognised at home if not abroad, that the prospect of any improvement and development of agricultural education in India is very small and almost hopeless. We all know the fertility of large tracts in India; we have heard it stated by those who know fully these matters about which they are speaking that if agricultural education were brought up to date according to Western ideas, the produce of many of these fertile tracts could be increased twofold if not three-fold. One of the most important duties now devolving on the Government, therefore, is to see that this branch of instruction shall receive adequate support from public funds at an early date. We find that all the authorities in India are united on this matter.
No less than three members of the Viceroy's Council, at their last meeting, deplored the fact that another year was to pass without the Government fully recognising their duty in this matter. I do hope that the result of bringing these matters before the House this afternoon will cause the Government, if not now, at least in the very early future, to reconsider their whole attitude towards this question of education in India. The Under-Secretary this afternoon, in his interesting statement, seemed almost to apologise for the fact that one of the outstanding items in last year's finance was a windfall to the Government of something like a million and a quarter from the opium tax. I venture to say, and I say it with all respect, that if a million of that sum could be ear-marked for the advancement and benefit of education in India it would be one of the greatest services of the many which this country has rendered to India, and the money would be given, and given absolutely, in a most valuable direction. Last year the Under-Secretary 2023 for India referred to the people of India as our fellow subjects, entitled to equal treatment. We are in this matter dealing with children who are the equal of children in this country, and we have a responsibility to them not less than to our children here. In this matter of education I make no difference between this Government and preceding Governments, recognising how far the British Government has failed in its educational duties to the children of India. I hope the result of our consideration of this subject this afternoon will be that, if not now, in the early future a greatly increased sum will be allocated towards the advancement of education in India.
§ Mr. E. H. CARLILE
In seconding the Resolution of my hon. Friend, one does not fail to realise the immense responsibility that devolves upon any Government which places, at the disposal of native races all the powers that education conveys. One realises entirely that we place in the hands of these native races a weapon, perhaps one of the greatest weapons, either for good or for evil, which can be placed in the hands of any community. But at the same time the dangers which surround such a step do not warrant our hesitating to provide education for those native races. We desire that they should develop along safe, good, and sound lines, and many of us in this country realise that perhaps the greatest responsibility of all is that, in placing this, weapon in the hands of the native races, we ought clearly to do so, as in this country, by coupling with it moral and religious training. I know how exceedingly difficult that would be in India, that great dependency, of which I know very little myself, having only spent a few months there on one occasion. One realises what it means to suggest that moral and religious training should be inseparable from any system of education there. But I do not think it ought to be beyond the wit of man to find some means of having inseparably associated with the education being given some elementary, moral and religious training, such as would enable this great and powerful weapon placed in the hands of the native races from becoming, not mischievous, not hindering, but of value to themselves and to the great community among which their lot is cast. Clearly education ought to be given; the ground is very little covered at the present time; some amount, of course, is given, and a 2024 large expenditure is incurred, but since a considerable portion of the Dependency is not yet covered by any system of regular education, surely the mistakes we have made in this country need not arise there. As we heard only the other day from the President of the Board of Education, the money spent in education in this country is largely wasted, and that two years after the children left school they had practically forgotten most of what they had learned. In India it need not be necessary to make such mistakes as are clearly being made here. My hon. Friend has laid stress, and I think rightly and not a bit too much, upon the necessity of technical instruction in India.
It surely can be possible in starting over new areas to secure that the education provided for the children shall be such as not to unfit them for the work of their daily life, but to qualify them to a still higher degree than even their own native training can do for the industrial life, which, in the main, is the future that lies before them. My hon. Friend laid stress upon the necessity for technical instruction in connection with agriculture. Surely it might be possible to set up some simple elementary system of technical instruction which, to a large extent, would qualify the children of that great Dependency to assist their parents in after years on a far more intelligent basis than that on which practice of agriculture in India at present rests. I know quite well that many of those who have visited India from time to time, and perhaps many who have been resident there for many years, may think it is altogether Utopian to suggest any general system of education. Those who have even a very short experience of what the Indian races are like realise that they have a peculiar adaptability for learning. The great drawback is that they learn rapidly but very superficially, and it is very essential that the education given to them should be kept close down to the daily life of the people. It that is done then we need not fear to place this great weapon and this great power in the hands and in the minds of those people, because it would not unfit them for the life which they afterwards would have to live when they pass away from the period of instruction, but that it will qualify them for that life-work which lies before them and meet the responsibility which must always rest with this country in connection with those native races. My hon. Friend (Mr. Barrie) has mentioned the number of millions of boys and of girls who are now receiving 2025 no education. The figures, of course, are appalling, and we cannot realise what they mean, but at any rate some commencement might be made upon new ground there which would obviate many of the drawbacks to educational systems either in this or any other country. My own personal feeling in the matter would be that while it is quite possible to accompany that instruction with moral and religious training, that it would really be better that they had not this weapon at all unless it was in some degree so accompanied. I have very great pleasure in supporting my hon. Friend's Motion. I trust that the Council in India and the Government at home will give increasing thought and study to this great matter, and that it may in course of time not only be crowned with success from our point of view as administrators, but that it may redound to the permanent advantage of those native races for which we have undertaken a great responsibility.
§ Mr. T. HART-DAVIES
I listened to the very admirable speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for India this afternoon, and I must say I was rather, like the Mover of the Amendment, disappointed that so very little was said about education. I am interested in the matter, naturally, because I was an employé of the Educational Department of India as an educational inspector for many years. I had the opportunity of seeing the shortcomings and of seeing the advantages of our present system. The first object of any Government ought to be, and I hope that the present Government of India will take this into very serious consideration, that we want more money. I think it is a perfectly shocking thing that there should be such an enormous sum as 20 millions spent on the Army and only one million on education. After all, as we are in the position of trustees of the people of India, we have got to see that they are properly brought up to lead the life of good citizens, and in this matter I think we fall very far short of our responsibilities. Everybody admits that the present educational system of India is in a very unsatisfactory condition. It is not altogether easy to see the remedy, but I think one reason is—and I think it is a matter that might be easily remedied by the Government—that we do not sufficiently enlist local interest in the matter. I put down a Motion on this Budget for this afternoon in which I mentioned incidentally that the local government policy ought 2026 to be encouraged. I think that has a direct bearing on the question of education. It is well known that the local committees lost a great deal of their power, and therefore naturally lost their interest in education. We have been suffering from centralisation in this as in almost all other directions. The decentralisation of the real power and the gradual falling into the hands of officials and of those people appointed by the officials of the power has had the effect that those people have ceased to take any interest because they have no power. I tried to find out what their ordinary non-official member of the local committee could do, and I found that he had the power of spending only 3s. per year on a square mile. His power was as limited as that.
I have always thought, if we could have enlisted their desire for education—for there is a desire among the people of India just as strong and vivid as among ourselves here—and that if we could have enlisted local interest and influence in the cause of education and given them real control and real power over their schools, I believe we should have an altogether different state of things now from what we actually have. So I would suggest, in order really to secure any real reform in education in India, that it would be necessary to decentralise the education authority, and to give very large power to those local committees. When I was education inspector I was always anxious to open schools wherever I could and whenever I had the money. I found among the people, even in the quiet, remote parts of the district, that there was a desire for education, and that if the Government could give a small grant towards the opening of the school that the local people were always ready to come forward and either to secure that so much would be paid in fees or that they would contribute a certain amount. We have a dual system in India, namely, Government schools and grant-in-aid schools, which I think is a very admirable system. I have always suggested that it was an Indian system we should introduce into England. In grant-in-aid schools it did not matter whether the school was denominational or not. A large number of the grant-in-aid schools were denominational, opened by some respectable old mullah. I was perfectly willing to give him, from the Government, a grant representing the secular side of education in the school, leaving him to look after the morals and religion of his 2027 pupils as he chose. I believe that system might be extended a great deal more. I am quite sure it would be if it was left to the local people to manage, and I believe they would open schools in their districts under that system of grant-in-aid whether fees are charged or not. As long as fees are not compulsory I do not see much reason to interfere with the existing practice. If the boy or the boy's parent could afford to pay that would be done, and if the parent could not the boy was let off.
I should also like to express the hope that the Government may be able to do more in the way of technical education. That I think is a very crying want in India. I should like to see a great many more agricultural schools, as was suggested by the hon. Member who moved this Motion. That is a thing which is really most essential. We have got some agricultural colleges in India now, but the teaching does not go down to the actual villages. If they could send out professors of agriculture, such as would be trained in those schools, and if they could form agricultural classes, which they could periodically inspect in the village schools, I think the result might be extremely satisfactory to the wealth of India. In all these matters I have always thought that one cure of the unrest, and the reason why there is so much unrest is that we have not given sufficient interest to the local people to manage their own local affairs. There is no opening in the village or out-of-the-way country town to administer real affairs. I should like to see district boards have real authority, and have authority over education, and that their funds should be helped by very considerable grants from the Government. After all, it is a question of money. You cannot depend entirely on the revenue for those purposes. It would prove to be insufficient unless it were supplemented by grants from the Government. I think the money would be by no means thrown away.
Some hon. Members think that the introduction of the system of English education is one of the reasons of the present ferment. I think it is too late to discuss that now, and I thought that was set at rest by the educational minute from Lord Maucaulay. I do not think that the question can be reopened, or that we can go back upon it. We have to give the people of India all the advantages of Western education; we have to open the doors of Western thought and philosophy; and I do not see how we can do that without 2028 serious loss of character to ourselves. I have always felt that it is a pity in the early years of the boy that he should be given an education that is purely and entirely secular. The grant-in-aid schools, which, I suggest, the local board should look after, would be mixed in population, and composed of Mahomedans, Hindus, and so forth. In these country districts there is no religious ill-feeling at all. There is no ill-feeling really between Mahomedans and Hindus. They all live together like brothers. India is not a fanatical country; it is a tolerable country, and if you will examine you will see that purely religious persecution has never had any part in the history of India. I am quite sure whether a school is a denominational Mahomedan school or a denominational Hindu school, that that would not cause any friction whatever in the village. I should like to hear that the Government will take this matter up seriously. I believe if they do, and if they give a sufficient amount of money, that that money would not be thrown away. This is a matter the Government must take up. It is more important, perhaps, than anything else in connection with India. There are these difficulties, but I hope the Under-Secretary will give the question serious consideration, and that he will be able to give more money. I am afraid they will rot be able, perhaps, to give more money this year, but I hope that in the future that they will be able 1o give much more for this cause, and spend it locally and through the medium of local ideas.
§ Mr. ROBERT LAIDLAW
I must join with the hon. Member (Mr. H. Barrie) who introduced this subject, in expressing regret that the Under-Secretary of State did not pay more attention in his speech to the subject of education. We are all glad to hear of the progress that has been made in regard to railways and irrigation in India; these are beneficient as well as remunerative works; but I venture to think that education is equally important, and I greatly regret that a larger increase of money is not devoted to it in this year's Estimates. Since we debated this subject about a year ago a great many authorities on education in India have expressed themselves as dissatisfied with our present system, and with the amount of progress that has been made. I thoroughly associate myself with those expressions of dissatisfaction. The fact that we educate only one-fifth of the boys of school age in the country, and are only 2029 spending something like 2s. 2d. per head upon their education, shows that there is great room for improvement, and that the time has come when we should do a great deal more. I hope the day is not far distant when primary education will be both free and compulsory.
But I did not rise to discuss the general question of native schools. I wish to refer to another phase of the subject, namely, the European schools, the domiciled community in India, though not numerically a very large one, is of some importance, and has very little representation here. All the various sections of the native population are represented in this House, and the great Services are also energetically represented; but the domiciled community do not receive much attention, and in the matter of education they are at the present moment in a very difficult position. For this reason I am glad to have an opportunity of saying a few words with regard to the grant-in-aid schools provided for the domiciled community. They are largely provided by private enterprise, and receive very inadequate support from the Government. Most of the European residents in India send their children to be educated either to England or to the hills, leaving the plains schools to be maintained by the Eurasians and the poorer class of Europeans. The consequence is that the schools in Calcutta and elsewhere have never been in a strong position, and are much in need of help from the Government. The announcement of the new Code, which is to come into operation in January next, has produced something like a crisis in all the European schools in Bengal. That Code provides for the recognition of two classes of schools only, namely, primary and secondary, each with a complete course of education, instead of the primary leading up to the secondary. It is said that the primary education is so poor that no self-respecting family will accept it, and the secondary education is so expensive that no one can afford to take it. Everyone who knows the country will agree that there is no career in India for European boys whose education is deficient. The new Code sets up a better standard of secondary education than we have had before, and in this respect we have all that can be desired; but the expenditure required for new buildings and equipment in order to qualify schools for registration as secondary cannot be less than £100,000 in Bengal. This is a large sum for the schools of that 2030 province to raise privately, and the Government should give substantial help to enable them to meet the new requirements. The Reports recently issued by the India Office contain some touching facts regarding the destitution amongst a large section of the Eurasians in Calcutta, and I trust the Government will do more for them in the way of providing cheap education.
The education problem in India is all a question of money. Instead of less than £2,000,000, which we are now spending, a large increase is called for at once. We ought to spend not less than £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, and the amount should increase year by year in a much more substantial ratio than it has done during recent years. We are glad that the European schools are to be put on a better foundation; but it is very hard on them that they should be called upon to find such a large amount of money privately for equipment. The teaching is to be much more practical and technical, and much less literary. That is all in the right direction. When this code is introduced at the beginning of the coming year, I trust the Government will see their way to help far more than they are doing in the matter of finance. In order that these schools may fulfil the functions they are expected to fulfil, we shall have to do a great deal more in the way of training colleges for teachers. What we have had in the way of training colleges, both for European and native schools, has so far been in the nature of very futile experiments, and the time has come with the introduction of this new code, to set up a better class of thoroughly equipped training college in Bengal. I trust that the Under-Secretary of State will be good enough to make a note of that point, and that the Government will see their way to give more liberal assistance to this deserving and needy community in the matter of education than they have done hitherto.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
I wish to devote my remarks to what I think is for the moment, interesting as the topic of education is, an even more interesting subject, namely, the unrest in certain parts of India and the causes which have led to it. Before I do so, I should like to express my appreciation, which I am sure is shared 2031 in all parts of the House, of the way in which the Under-Secretary has addressed himself to the subject, and of the kindly and courteous way in which he dealt with the criticisms which have been made. He was good enough to devote some of his remarks to a letter of mine which appeared in "The Times" some weeks ago. If I may say so with all respect I do not think that the criticisms which he made upon that letter were deserved. I am prepared to adhere to every word which I then wrote. There is one question of fact as to which no doubt the Under-Secretary ought to be better informed than I could be, namely, whether the Seditious Meetings Act is in force in any part of India at the present moment, or whether it was in force at the time I wrote my letter. All I could know was that it was a new Act, passed only a few months before by the Government of India for the purpose of suppressing seditious meetings, and I could hardly be expected to believe that so recent an Act had never been put into operation. I have still to learn, unless my hon. Friend assures me, after inquiry, that it has not been put into operation, that it is not still in force at least in one district of Eastern Bengal. Whether that is so or not, I maintain that I was fully justified in what I wrote, and in saying that virtually the right of meeting was taken away; because that Act, whether actually in operation at the present moment or not in any particular district, is a measure passed, having the force of law, and liable at any moment to be put into operation against anybody who holds a public meeting anywhere in India. It is a sword of Damocles hanging over anybody who chooses to hold a public meeting except under the conditions laid down in the Act, those conditions being that the leave of the police or of the district magistrate must be obtained before any meeting of more than 20 persons can be held, either on public or on private premises—"meetings of a political nature or dealing with subjects likely to create public excitement" are, I believe, the words of the Act. Such an Act places the right of public meeting at the will of the police, and virtually takes away that right as we understand it in a free country.
The other statement that I made, in regard to which my hon. Friend criticised me, was that the Press existed upon sufferance. In view of the large number of 2032 Press prosecutions and the confiscation of papers which have taken place, I maintain that that statement also was justified. The Press Act, passed last year, gives power to a district magistrate, who need not be a barrister or a trained lawyer, but merely a civilian, if he thinks a paper contains matter inciting to violence, to confiscate not only the paper, but the plant and property of the printer. It is true there is an appeal to the High Court; but I maintain that to place that power in the hands of a single magistrate of that kind is to place the Press under such restrictions as finally shall make matters worse. As a matter of fact, from the Return presented to this House, on the Motion of my hon. Friend, the number of prosecutions were what I described them, and I adhere to the statement which fn some sort of way has been questioned. As much as 160 years imprisonment has been inflicted in the course of two years upon printers, publishers, and other persons connected with journalism for literary offences. Not only that, but a very large sum in fines has been inflicted as well. I took great care in going through that Return, and I maintain my description of it is an accurate one. I said—and say—that it was a very serious thing that such a state of things should be taking place under a Liberal Administration. I do not so greatly complain that the right of trial by jury, so far as it existed in India—I quite admit it was not universal—was taken away by the Criminal Law Amendment Act. What I do complain of is that the right of public investigation of the case by a magistrate before a prisoner is committed for trial has been taken away, and for it is substituted a secret inquiry, not necessarily in the presence of the accused at all. My hon. Friend says that the same procedure is followed in Scotland. I venture to respectfully differ from him. It is perfectly open for a defendant both to call evidence and to call witnesses before the procurator fiscal, whereas under this Act a man cannot be present to listen to the charge, cannot give evidence, and cannot call any witnesses. These are two essential differences between the procedure we condemn and the Scottish procedure. So much for what has been, said about my letter. There is one thing in the letter which my hon. Friend did not at all touch, and which, in my judgment, is the most important part of it, and the part which I wish to lay stress upon at this moment. What I said was 2033 that the Secretary of State was introducing a system of repression into India, especially that phase of it which has been seen in the deportations, without charge or trial, and which can only be legitimately introduced by a system well known to the British Constitution, viz., the declaration of martial law. What I said in my letter was: If there is such a state of things that the courts are not acting, and that people cannot be adequately tried, and that the process of the law is not operating—then, under the British Constitution, it is perfectly possible for every Executive Government, through Parliament in the first instance, to proclaim martial law, and then act outside the courts by extra-legal methods. Or, if you cannot get that, you can act according to martial law, and afterwards come to Parliament to ratify generally what has been done under martial law. The Secretary of State, by reviving this East Indian Proclamation, has taken the power which would be gained by the declaration of martial law under circumstances which I have mentioned, without the safeguards which the Constitution has laid down should be observed before martial law can be proclaimed. That, I say, is a most dangerous state of things. I think the facts prove the dangers which I have indicated have been borne out in practice.
Two years ago two men were deported for six months, when they were released. At that time it was stated by the Secretary of State, who was then in this House, that in regard to one of them the reason for deportation was that he was supposed to be engineering a seditious movement of which the special feature was an attempt to tamper with the loyalty of the troops. Well, that gentleman, as soon as he came out of his imprisonment, brought an action against a Calcutta newspaper, which repeated, not that exact charge, but dotted the "i's" and crossed the "t's" of the charge by saying that he had actually tampered with the loyalty of the troops. In the action the judge of the High Court found that not only had the plaintiff not tampered with the troops, but that there was no evidence of his being in any way a suspicious character; that he was a man of high professional reputation; was in the employment of one of the High Courts of the Punjab; that he was identified with religious and charitable works, and that he was entitled on account of this grave reflection upon his character to a verdict for £1,000. I should like here, if I may, to make a 2034 personal explanation. In writing about this case in one of the papers, and in describing what the judge said, I inadvertently used the words "malicious 'lie'" instead of "malicious 'libel'" I really believed the first word came in the actual evidence. As soon as my attention was drawn to the matter I expressed my regret at the mistake. I wish to repeat that explanation and regret at the inadvertent use of the word, and I hope that that explanation will be conveyed to the Secretary of State. The word "lie" was, as a matter of fact, used in the cablegram. These deportations, which we had hoped had been stopped, were repeated on a much larger scale at the end of last year. No less than nine men were suddenly deported from Bengal to the gaols in the various parts of. India, where they still are, without any charge having been made against them, without Parliament being informed in the least as to what are the grounds on which they were deported, and without any prospect, as far as we know, of their being released. They are being treated all the time as though they were criminals. The Prime Minister said that this treatment is preventive, not punitive. They have been described by the Secretary of State in a public speech as evildoers, and they have been, in a speech made in this House by the predecessor of my hon. Friend, described in words suggesting that they were in some way, at least some of them, connected with some criminal conspiracy. It is to me, and I should have thought to every Liberal, abhorrent that any man should be taken without charge, without trial, without being told in the least what the Government have against him, and confined in gaol, and banished from his wife and family for an interminable period. Above all, it is abhorrent to me as a Liberal to think that anybody can defend that as just. If this has to be done—I do not deny for a moment that circumstances might justify it—it ought to be done after Parliament has been satisfied that there is such a dangerous state of things that necessitates a declaration of martial law; that the courts cannot act for want of evidence, or for some other reason. Then the Executive can be given power, before or after that is done, to act in this way. But I say it is a dangerous thing, above all for a Liberal Government, to introduce this precedent. I hold those views. I hold them because from no one in the world more than the present Secretary of State for India have I imbibed them. If there is one book that 2035 expatiates more eloquently than another on the duty of protesting against oppression, and standing up for the liberty of the subject, it is Mr. John Morley's "Life of Voltaire." I read it with increasing pleasure. The chapter on Voltaire's protests against tyranny, and on behalf of the liberty of the subject, is one of the most exhilarating that any Liberal can read. Again, I have read his speeches against the same kind of policy in Ireland in the years 1887 onwards. Later, to come down to our own time, one of the strongest was the protest he made against the interference with the liberty of Mr. Cartwright during the South African War. So that I venture to put in a plea against the Secretary of State that it is imposed upon us to protest against the policy which he, by his own teaching—doubtless in all good faith—has been called upon to adopt.
I should like, if I might, to make an appeal from the hon. Gentleman to him. Is it not rather hard upon Liberals who have been brought up in these doctrines, who have been brought up to think that a man has a right to be heard, tried, and condemned before he is sent to prison, that they should be expected suddenly to swallow in the course of less than two years the large number of deportations of this character? The views of a large section of the Liberal party have been very abundantly made plain. Have we not a right to appeal to the Secretary of State to take those views into consideration? On the Amendment two years ago, when these two men were deported, there was a great protest from this side of the House. When these further deportations occurred there was an Amendment moved to the Address by myself, which was supported, I think, by about 90 Liberal, Labour and Irish Members. It was defeated only by a small majority composed almost entirely of Tories, Members of the Government, and those other Members of the House who are attached to the Government in various ways. That having no effect, a few months afterwards there was a memorial addressed to the Prime Minister, signed by nearly 150 Liberal, Labour, and Irish Members, making the simple request that these nine men who had been in gaol then for about six months, or more, should either be brought to trial for any offence they might have committed, or be set at liberty. Surely that was a simple request for Liberals to make. The answer of the Prime Minister was that that could 2036 not be done. One of the reasons given for that was that this treatment was preventive, and not punitive. It is an extraordinary thing to say that you must seize a man suddenly in his home and take him away some hundreds of miles from his wife and family, and then tell him it is not punitive. That it should be necessary to fall back upon such expedients shows how weak a case there is. We continued to press, by way of questions, for the bringing to an end of these deportations. Finally, we have come to this, that from the mouth of the Prime Minister—no doubt speaking for the Secretary of State—we are told in clear language that really we are not even to question this treatment by way of questions, and that we are doing harm by even asking for the liberty of these people! Therefore it has come to this, that the Liberal party is asked to acquiesce in silence in this method of treatment, and to go against that liberty of speech which they have been taught all their lives! That does not quite close the case. The feeling of the Liberal party on this side was such that I took the opportunity of introducing under the ten minutes Rule a Bill which would have given two or three elementary safeguards to this treatment, safeguards which have been safeguards introduced by a Liberal Government, namely, that the charge should be stated in the warrant under which the man was deported; that Parliament should be informed of the grounds on which he was deported; and that every three months the matter should be reconsidered. I brought that Bill in, and not a soul ventured to get up and oppose it, neither any Member of the Government nor any Member of the Opposition, not even a Member of that party represented by the hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs opposed it.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
Yes, but you did not oppose it, and Mr. Speaker stopped the hon. Member from speaking because he had not the courage to oppose it, and, therefore, if feeling was so strong that that measure of justice proposed in this Bill could not be opposed, I think I have a right to appeal with very great strength and force to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to pay attention to the feeling which has been evoked in this matter. There is only one other thing which I wish to say, and it is very important, and it is 2037 this: that these, deportations and oppressive treatment depend for their operation and origin upon evidence which has been admitted by the responsible persons in the Government of India to be utterly untrustworthy. I shall make one quotation from the Commission appointed in 1905 by Lord Curzon. That Commission consisted of Anglo-Indian officials of the highest authority, and they investigated the subject for about two years. They made a most elaborate Report. I make this quotation because it is as true to-day as it was four years ago:—The evidence in most provinces is that the canker of corruption affects the force (that is the police force), in a greater or less degree from constable to inspector. The corruption manifests itself in every stage of the work of the police station; suspects and innocent persons are bullied and threatened into giving information they are supposed to possess. If, in the police officer's opinion, enough evidence is not obtained to secure a conviction he will not hesitate to bolster up his case with false evidence….deliberate association with criminals in their gains, deliberately false charges against innocent persons on the ground of private spite or village faction, deliberate torture of suspected persons, and other most flagrant abuses occasionally.These are statements which anybody will find borne out who reads in the Indian Press the findings of the courts of justice, with almost terrible frequency, and when my right hon. Friend finds fault with me for saying that the evidence of conspiracy did not turn out to be so great when investigated by the Secretary of State, I maintain my statement is absolutely corroborated and proved by the findings of the High Court of Calcutta in more than one recent case. The Chief Justice in the Midnapur bomb case went on to show that the police actually manufactured evidence for the prosecution, kept back evidence for the defence, and, in regard to the bomb which was supposed to be the element of conspiracy, the Chief Justice said that, in all probability, though he did not find actually as a fact, the bomb was placed there by the police themselves.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
My statement is absolutely correct. I said that although he did not find it actually as a fact, he found it was extremely probable, and I say his words bear out the construction which I put upon them, and I am speaking now in the hearing of several of my hon. Friends who read the statement. Then there was the Barrah case, in which no less than 134 people were originally charged with conspiracy by the police. 2038 Twenty-seven were brought before the magistrate, and finally the Advocate-General for the Crown dropped the case against 24 out of the 27, and three were committed for trial before the High Court. These three were acquitted on the ground that the evidence of the police was wholly worthless, and that probably the wrong men had been proceeded against. These are all recent cases, but there are many other cases constantly cropping up. There is a case which was much more serious than any of those on which my hon. Friend below me (Sir Henry Cotton) asked a question to-day. That is the case in which a woman more than six months ago was found by the chief court of Punjab to have been forced to make a confession of murder, and to have been on that confession found guilty of the murder of her husband, the confession having been extorted from her by the police in this way. First of all, the judge found that she had been outraged by the police, and that an irritant was inserted in her rectum, and under the torture of that she was forced to confess, and she would have been hanged but that the court found the police evidence perfectly worthless. The court ordered an inquiry which was asked for in January last, but to this day we never have been able to find out whether these grave matters were inquired into or not. We do not know but that these very police are now in the service of the Government. I say it is a perfect scandal. If there was time I could quote from judgment after judgment of judges, pointing out that the police evidence is well known to be corrupt, and that their methods of obtaining it is by torture, direct or indirect, by moral pressure or actual physical pressure. All confessions of offences are so regarded by the courts that if confessions are brought before them by the police they approach them with suspicion at once.
I call attention to these things because when we pressed the predecessor of the present Under-Secretary of State he told us in this House, on a previous occasion, that the nine gentlemen who had been deported had been deported solely upon the evidence of the police, no doubt, as the Secretary of State told us, after examination by high officials, but in the first instance solely upon the evidence of the police. We know that most of the powers given under the new Act are in the hands of the police in Calcutta, in spite of the report showing that those police, in the last year, have been guilty of enormous 2039 numbers of offences. Out of a force of 3,600 men there have been no less than 500 offences, and no less than 50 men dismissed the service. Yet, knowing these things about the police, we are asked to acquiesce in the deportation without trial of men of highly respectable character, many of them who have spent the whole of their lives and fortunes on charitable and philanthropic work. That is making too great a demand upon the Liberal party. I, for one, will not acquiesce in such a course. I need not say to my hon. Friends on this side of the House what pain it is to us to find ourselves in conflict with the Secretary of State. I personally have the greatest reason to be pained at it, but it is a question of all that one believes to be vital in Liberalism, and in connection with the liberty of the subject one is bound to stand up for one's belief. I think it is a very serious thing, if it is not impertinent for me to say so, that the Liberal party should be identified now and in the future with a policy of this kind in India.
§ Sir HENRY KIMBER
I wish to make a few observations upon the anomalous position of the railway finance in India at this time, and the hampering and retarding effect upon the progress and material effects which that system has. I am bound to say I do not wish in any way to criticise the present Government. They came into the system, and I have nothing but praise in which to speak of the various officials who constitute the administration both here and in India of the railway system. But the system is in itself faulty. Let us consider for a moment the position the railways are in. Roundly speaking, about £300,000,000 of British money has been invested in the railways of India. At the commencement of that no capital could be raised without the guarantee of the Government and the Secretary of State, and it was necessary therefore at the commencement of railway undertakings in India that a particular clause should be inserted by the Government for the guardianship of the finances of the railway both as regards capital expenditure and revenue, but a different state of things now prevails. During the last seven or eight years, and including last year, a considerable net surplus has accrued to the finances of India from the receipts of the railways after paying interest upon the whole of the money expended in their construction. The finances of the railways are 2040 unfortunately mixed up, and heretofore necessarily so, with the general Budget of the finances of India, especially, of course, when the deficit of railway management had to be provided. But that no longer prevails. The railways are now assets which, from a business man's point of view, will be able to provide their own money. We find the vicious effect of this system is found in other places in the present Report. This Report deplores the necessity for repairs and renewals of the railways as causing so great a diminution in the cash balances of India that they have been hampered by them. When I point out what is really the position of these assets the House will see it has it in its power now to liberate the Government altogether from its duty of providing for this annual expenditure either on capital or revenue accounts. The capital laid out is about £300,000,000, and the gross receipts are about £27,000,000, the working expenses being about half that sum. That leaves a sufficient profit to pay the interest on the whole of the capital charge, and it left a surplus last year of £2,300,000 after paying interest on Sinking Fund. There was really a profit of about £3,000,000 to the revenues of India. From the statement laid before us for the year 1909–10 it is estimated that there may be a small deficit of £1,100,000, but that is not really so, because it includes the payment of a large number of annuities. The Government by incorporating the whole of the finance of Indian revenue, as well as the capital, has to contemplate and get an estimate at the beginning of each year of what is likely to be expended on each railway, and for the last three years they have allotted about £10,000,000. A Special Committee appointed by the Secretary of State for India, which met at the India Office, recommended that this sum might be extended to £12,500,000. But I think the whole thing might be liberated from the Government, and the money might be provided by the railways themselves. These railways produced the year before last a net return which paid 5½ per cent., and last year 4¾ per cent. upon the whole of the capital invested. When it is remembered that the capital was raised at 3 per cent., it gives a large margin of profit, and it is a commercial undertaking which could easily raise its own capital, if allowed to do so. Two years ago I put before the Government of India proposals to that effect, as regards one undertaking 2041 with which I happen to be connected, and the Government hope to see their way to accede to my proposition. Still, as regards nearly all the other railways of India, they are bound to the system of having to contemplate in their annual Budget Estimates beforehand, and they have to make this provision at the beginning of the year. As is stated in the report of the traffic, the effect of this in many parts of India is to increase expenditure by leaps and bounds, while the demands of the public are not in any degree satisfied, and they are very much behindhand, and not up to date in the provision of the rolling stock and material for purposes of taking traffic which would pay for the expenditure. I believe an alteration of this system is under the consideration of the Government. The annual Budget of expenditure and all railway finance ought to be dealt with in a separate Budget. The Government is the banker for all the companies, and receives the whole of the revenue and the whole of the gross receipts. The Government has the use of this during each half-year before they pay the interest and dividend to such private companies as have any capital invested. With regard to the raising of money, whether it is £10,000,000 or £20,000,000, which might easily and profitably be spent upon the upkeep of existing railways, if it is placed on the backs of the railways and the railways are put in such a position as I recommend to the India Office, they will be able to go into the market and raise the necessary money for extensions, and then they would have command of their own revenue. The revenues obviously must be sufficient from the very fact that upon the top of all renewals they are able to pay the interest on this enormous capital expenditure. That shows there would be plenty of ability on the part of the railways themselves to manage these undertakings and provide the whole of the capital necessary. I submit these remarks for the consideration of the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. J. O'GRADY
There are so many interests at stake in regard to Indian matters that a novice like myself is naturally somewhat diffident in speaking about India. I regret that there are so few opportunities provided in this House for discussing matters connected with India. There is no section of this House who are more keen upon the question of agitation in India than those hon. Members with 2042 whom I am associated who speak from the Labour Benches. There is a big question involved, and we feel that there are matters pressing at the present moment which ought to be dealt with in the manner indicated in the words of the Motion standing in my name on the Paper. At the present moment there is a system of coercion and repression existing in India. The hon. Member who spoke for the Government on the Treasury Bench pointed out that the 6,500 officials in India had a very difficult task to perform, and he said I ought to take note of that fact. May I be allowed to say that that is one of the causes of the unrest in India, and probably is the cause of the agitation which is going on at the present moment. The Indian people themselves ought to be more closely associated with their own Government, more particularly in regard to its local aspect. When we see 6,000 officials ruling a great empire like India one can understand that those officials would be somewhat out of sympathy and touch with the aspirations and ideals of the people themselves, and may be inclined to act in an arbitrary manner. I do not want to say a word against those officials, because I am more concerned with the attitude of the Government at home. That coercion does exist there is no doubt, and we have been told that it will be pursued to the bitter end. That is what we gather from the speech made by the hon. Gentleman from the Treasury Bench. We have had it asserted that the Government are going to deal with a certain movement in India with a strong hand; in other words, I should say that statement is nothing less than a threat, that in regard to this movement a strong hand will be used. My point is that there ought to be more discrimination in regard to this matter. With regard to anarchy and the use of the revolver in India, I wish to say that there is no section of this House more in favour of putting down such a movement with a strong hand, but it appears to me that there has been very little discrimination in the way this policy is being carried out in India. The measures that have been taken to suppress the vernacular Press have already been indicated to the House. There is no doubt that the police in India on many occasions have been proved to be guilty of acts which are not in accordance with British notions. I remember that Lord Morley, speaking at Oxford on 24th of June, stated that the criminal list in 2043 India was a terrible one. A month after that we hear the hon. Member opposite (The Master of Elibank) telling us that crime is less in India, and only amounts to about one criminal in 15,000, and he further states that there is no European country to compare with India in that respect. But those two statements do not square. The Secretary of State for India says that the criminal list is a terrible one, and the hon. Member representing the Government tells us that only one in 15,000 have brought themselves within the reach of the criminal law. I do not see how we are to reconcile those two statements, and more especially in view of the threat that the Government are going to deal with the situation with a strong hand. A large amount of the agitation in India against the Government has, in my opinion, undoubtedly arisen from what I consider to be that rather stupid Act which resulted in the partition of Bengal. There is no doubt this struggle has arisen from the operation of that partition, and although we have been told that no modification will be made in this matter I hope the Government will still reconsider the position. Nearly all the men who have been deported—and I want to pay my tribute to their high character—have been proceeded against in consequence of the agitation which has arisen from the partition of Bengal. The hon. Member who spoke from the benches opposite said he could not understand why these men were arrested under the Act of 1818. They were engaged in a perfectly constitutional agitation. Take for example the case of Lajpat Rai, who was released on the application of the Secretary of State seven months after he was sentenced. He was arrested and deported for a speech supposed to have been made at Lahore, and, curiously enough, the evidence against him was extracts from that speech printed in two Indian papers. I subsequently saw the full report of the speech. It was quite a mild speech, and in no sense could any of the phrases be said to constitute sedition. There was, of course, disaffection in them, but, unfortunately, disaffection in India is now regarded as sedition. When the Government found they could not get a case, and that the evidence upon which he was arrested was not sufficient, he was released. He proved up to the hilt in the courts of his own country that he was not guilty of what the Government thought he was, with the result that he got £1,000 2044 damages against a certain newspaper. I think the same could be said of the deportees. The arrests were made without evidence, and the men were deported to ports outside India, and landed. What we want to emphasise is that at least these men should be given a fair trial. Instead of this power being used by a British Government, with all its traditions as to the way its people have fought and obtained liberty, it is a thing which the Members of this House ought not to tolerate for a moment. I put a quest on only the other day to the Under-Secretary, asking him whether the case of these men would be reconsidered, and the Indian Government had no report yet, although the men were arrested in December of last year. This high-handed proceeding on the part of the Government has not had the effect which, I admit, they themselves desired to see. This repression and coercion, instead of wiping out the disaffection which exists, develops that disaffection into anarchy-pure and simple, and men are driven to commit acts which I believe to be stupid, and which must be greatly deplored.
The other part of my Motion asks for a policy of conciliation to be pursued. It has been attested over and over again from public platforms, and I think the Secretary of State has himself attested as well as the hon. Gentleman who spoke today from the Treasury Bench, that the Indian people are the most governable people that exist. They are a peace-loving people, their traditions and religion indicate what they are. I have said before that the people are too docile, but the fact remains that that is their disposition and character. Take the way the Government have dealt with the students. I have spoken to men like Lajpat Rai, and they have over and over again deplored that the Government should go out of their way to follow some of these students, arrest them, and in certain cases go even to the extent of flogging them. These young lads ought to be allowed a certain amount of latitude to express their opinions. A policy of conciliation even with regard to young Indians, who many of them have read deeply of our own literature, including even the books of the Secretary of State himself, would, I believe, prove very beneficial. It is certainly true they may take an exaggerated view of the statements made by our own great leaders, but that ought to be looked upon as an exuberance of loyalty, and there ought with regard to them to be a policy of conciliation pursued.
2045 Lastly, I am asking that a Committee of this House should be appointed to inquire into the whole aspect of affairs in India, and report. I regret to say that time after time the Treasury Bench seem to be in collusion with the front Opposition Bench. Even the asking of questions has been deprecated from both sides, and a compact was, for instance, entered into between the two Front Benches upon the Indian Council's Bill. I want to know-where Liberalism stands in this matter, if these compacts exist, and if both Front Benches deprecate even the asking of questions, thus closing up every possible avenue of discussion of this matter. I am beginning to think we are not a representative institution after all. We certainly are not if this thing is to be allowed to go on. There has been no question where discussion has been so smothered or brushed aside as this question of India. I hope the House will insist on every possible occasion that they should decide, or, at all events, have a voice in the matter, and have greater opportunities of discussion. We asked that the salary of the Secretary of State should be placed upon the Estimates, but that was deprecated and obstacles have been placed in the way of it. I do appeal to the Treasury Bench to take cognisance of our protest with regard to the present position in India, and particularly of our request to have an opportunity of going into these matters in more detail. That can only be obtained by having a Committee of this House appointed to inquire into these matters. These, briefly, are the reasons for my protest against the present position. On their own showing, the Government have succeeded in their action, and brought about the results they were aiming at. If that is so, let them now take the other course and pursue a policy of conciliation rather than repression. Some of the acts of which we have been guilty, particularly with regard to the deportations, would justify the action of the Russian authorities. I want to remove that reproach, and the only way it can be done is to take a more sympathetic view of all these movements in India, and, instead of repression, to do what we can to guide them in the right direction.
§ Mr. C. J. O'DONNELL (Newington, Walworth)
I propose particularly to address myself to the position of affairs in India from the point of view of finance. I do not intend to discuss the deportations, except as a Liberal to add my protest against 2046 them. The last time I spoke in this House I think, to a certain extent, I defended them. The Government were in a difficult position, and it was rather hard to know what to do; but I was under the belief that the recent deportees, numbering nine, were being treated as Lajpat Rai was treated. I regret to say the treatment of them has been really worse than penal treatment. They have been subjected to seclusion and solitary confinement, and they have not been treated in a manner usual for such offences with which they were charged, and when political action is complained of. I will not refer at any great length to the partition of Bengal. I have always taken a part in condemning it, and I do so to-night. It is my firm belief it is the chief cause of the trouble we now have in India. I think very strongly that the Liberal party ought not to permit a line of action to continue which Lord Morley himself has described as being wholly against the interests of England and as an act regarded by the people of Bengal as a great wrong. When such language as that is used by the Secretary of State for India to describe a public measure it seems to me not only contrary to all Liberalism, but to all human justice that no attempt should be made to rectify it. The policy of settled facts is the most unjust that can be imagined. It is slamming the door in the face of justice, and I believe, if an English Secretary of State had adopted the line of conduct which Lord Morley has adopted with regard to the partition of Bengal, he would have been condemned by the Liberal party and the Labour party with a vigour which would have astonished him.
I turn now to the financial part of the statement made before the House by the Under-Secretary. The point to which I wish particularly to draw attention is the land revenue. During the last four years the land revenue of India has increased by 12 per cent. I find from the Reports of 1905–6 that the land revenue was then about £18,000,000. The year afterwards it rose to £19,000,000. It then fell a little, but it rose again last year to £19,000,000, and, to my horror, I find the Secretary of State proposes to increase it next year to £20,000,000. Looking back to the year 1899–1900, I find it was £17,000,000, so that in the course of 10 years this taxation has increased by £3,000,000, from £17,000,000 to £20,000,000; and of that increase £2,000,000 has occurred since the Liberal party came into power. The Estimates for 1909–10, based on the 2047 expectation of a normal monsoon, provide also that the famine arrears shall be due for recovery in addition to the current taxes. I will ask the House—I do not mind what party I am addressing—whether it must not feel there is something incredibly wrong when, after years of famine through which a country has passed, this great increase should be put upon the land taxation, it being attributable to the recovery of suspended revenue due to remissions in times of famine? In fact, in addition to the current demand for the year, an increase is made beyond what it was last year, and this increase is very largely due to the recovery of taxes which had been remitted or temporarily suspended on account of famine. I think, if hon. Members will only look back through the last quarter of a century to the history of famines in India, they will feel that this is not a policy which the Government ought to adopt. When there is a famine it means that there are no crops; it means that a man has to get into debt in order to live, and the Government now propose, immediately after a good crop is obtained by cultivators, to drop on them not only for the current taxation but also for arrears accumulated in days of famine. I find that the expected increase in Bombay is nearly £400,000, while it is £350,000 in Punjab, and in other provinces also it is very considerable. The greatest of all these increases, however, is in Bombay. It will be in the memory of the House that no part of India has suffered so much in the last quarter of a century as Bombay, not only from famine, and repeated famine, but also from plague. It is the part of India which has been most severely hit, and yet the Government of India is now seeking to obtain an increase of land taxes from it. The history of the land revenue in Bombay is peculiarly pitiable. When we first took over Bombay, nearly a century ago, the land revenue was 8,000,000 rupees. In five years it increased to 15,000,000, and then it went up to 28,000,000, while in 1895 it had reached 48,000,000. There have been three great increases of land taxation in Bombay, and at each of them the increase has been at least 30 per cent. The last but one was in 1875 or 1877, and the result was that there were murderous riots, and the Commission which was appointed to inquire into them condemned the enhancement of the revenue as ruinously and extravagantly heavy. It even cited instances where the increase had 2048 been 77 per cent., in spite of a protest of the local officers. No wonder that the "Pioneer," which hon. Gentlemen who take an interest in India know is the journal which practically represents Government opinion, said that no more damning indictment was ever recorded against a civilised Government. At the same time a distinguished official in Bombay, Sir George Wingate, a near relative of the Sirdar in Egypt, said:—What must have been the state of things which can compel cultivators proverbially patient and long suffering, accustomed to more or less ill-usage and injustice at all times, to redress their wrongs by murder and in defiance of an ignominious death to themselves? How must their sense of justice have been violated? How-must they have been bereft of all hope of redress from law or government before their patient and peaceful nation could be roused to the point of desperation required for such a deed?That is his description of what occurred years ago. Still, this Government proposes to add 5,000,000 rupees to the land taxation in Bombay alone. I might go through the whole list of the provinces of India, but I will refer only very shortly to the case of the Punjab. The House will remember the troubles there a few years ago, and the chief reason of them was undoubtedly proved to be the excessive land taxation. In the Rawal Pindi district the taxation in 30 years had been doubled, and in the Punjab it was raised. To the honour of the present Government it immediately interfered when this injustice was brought to its notice, and the land taxation was reduced by one half, as also were the irrigation works, and the result was an immense improvement in the condition of the Punjab. But what is the Government now doing? It proposes to increase the land taxation there by about, 2,500,000 rupees. I can hardly imagine anything more in wise. That is a matter on which I have deep feeling. I came to this House with a large knowledge of India, and I venture to assert that the real basis of our trouble in the greater part of India outside Bengal is due to this land taxation. Again and again I have been, told by native gentlemen, whose, loyalty is beyond all question, that they recognise that the British Dominion in India is their great safeguard against trouble. They have told me time after time that the thing eating into the mind of the Indian people is this continuous increase of the land taxation. I have heard the question put if Lord Morley is going to wait until another Clerkenwell is blown up, but I am afraid we shall have something worse than that in Bengal if this state of affairs continues, 2049 and we shall have a condition of trouble to which the recent occurrences in Bengal will prove to be mere child's play.
§ Mr. J. D. REES
I hope I may, as an old Indian, although a young Parliamentarian, congratulate the Under-Secretary on the statement he has made. His appointment was popular in all quarters, for personal reasons, and now he has made it of general acceptance for official reasons. I should like to just run briefly through what he said. May I say with regard to what fell from the Noble Lord the Member for South Kensington, to the effect that the India Office had been unfriendly to private enterprise in railways, that I do not think that has been the case. I was Vice-Chairman of, I believe, the only railway made by private enterprise in India. It was not a very successful enterprise, but that was not due in any way to the action of the India Office. I had to do with another railway as director, and I had no fault there to find with the action of the India Office, and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth (Sir Henry Kimber) who was chairman of that railway, in what he said upon that point. Then I should like to say a word or two on the opium question. I trust hon. Gentlemen will not forget that while the United States of America took a very forward part in convening the Congress to deal with that matter, they had nothing to lose, whereas the peasants in India, for whom the Government profess to speak, had a great deal to lose, and they were, called upon to lose it in order to satisfy the righteous feelings of those who think that opium in itself is a most damnable drug. I think it has its innocent uses. I hope the India Office will exact from China not merely an official statement that they have reduced the consumption, but that they will insist on the strongest possible proof that that is being done, in order to justify action which, from the point of view of the Indian peasant, is indefensible. As regards famine relief, there is a splendid system enforced in India, and it is exactly the opposite to that which is advocated by hon. Members on the Labour Benches opposite. They insist that whenever relief is given in the shape of employment, the current rate of wages shall be paid, but the system in India is to pay something under the current rate of wages, so that no man will continue to be employed on the works longer than is absolutely necessary. I think we may congratulate 2050 the Governor of the North-West Provinces on the admirable conduct of his Government during a period of widespread scarcity.
I shall, no doubt, hear it stated before this Committee that the people of India are starving, as the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) practically said in a small book which he published. My hon. Friend the Member for Walworth (Mr. C. J. O'Donnell), who spoke with considerable knowledge of India, which I do not for a moment deny, alluded to the great increase of assessments in India, and he particularly fastened upon Bombay, but is there any prosperous country in the world where the Revenue and the Expenditure do not regularly increase, and I believe it to be the fact, as was stated by Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the finances of India are far better managed than the finances of this country, and are in a better condition. That is, I believe, a fact. My hon. Friend published a little pamphlet a little time back, which I took the liberty of answering step by step, and I do think that while he made a good case against the new law regarding Punjab colonisation, he did not, and could not, make out his case as regards general high assessments. Luckily, he did not commit himself, like the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, by saying that the Government took 75 per cent. instead of 7.5 per cent., but he did arraign the land policy of the Government in a manner in which I regard as unjustifiable. Is the mere fact that the revenue increases a sign of depression; is it not, on the contrary, a great proof that there is prosperity in the country? That, I think, is the case when the revenue increases in India, as it is here, and in every civilised country. Then the hon. Member referred to the partition of Bengal, and in regard to that I will only make one remark in passing. A great deal has been said about the action of the Liberals, and the hon. Member condemned the partition of Bengal root and branch. He evidently thinks that India is governed alternately by Liberal and Conservative Governments, but, thank God, that is not the case. What is Liberalism? If there is anything in it, it is that the majority should rule, and while he denounced the Government of Bengal by the Hindus he never mentioned the fact that the Mahomedans are two-thirds of the population of the new province and are strongly in favour of this measure.
§ Mr. C. J. O'DONNELL
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. The hon. Member evidently does not know what the origin of this partition was.
§ Mr. C. J. O'DONNELL
I only wish to say that when the partition was first mooted and for two years afterwards, no one protested against it more strongly than the Mahomedans.
§ Mr. REES
I challenge that as a fact. I dispute it as a fact. So far as public meetings go, and so far as expressions of opinion are to be gathered, the contrary is the case, and to two-thirds of the people of new Bengal who are Mahomedans, and I dare say to the greater part of the Hindus who are not under the domination of the Babus and the Pleaders, this measure was a popular measure, and, speaking as a Liberal, I say it was a popular measure, and was carried out in accordance with the will of the majority. I have put down a Motion on education, but I shall not be able to move it, or refer to it, and I would only say that I thoroughly agree with all that the Noble Lord the Member for Kensington said on this point, and I think our system of undenominational education is calculated to turn out anarchists and atheists wholesale. Then, as to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean said, he argued that Russia had ceased to be dangerous to India, because of the Japanese War.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
I quoted a statement in which that was assumed, and I said I agreed with the ultimate words, "if she ever had any."
§ Sir C.W. DILKE
I did not propose the reduction. I argued against measures of defence against Russia.
§ Mr. REES
I should like to know whether the Russian garrisons in Turkestan have been reduced? When they reduce their garrisons it will be time enough for us to reduce ours. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the railway lines which were constructed in India were exclusively of a strategic character, and no trains ran upon them. I would ask to what does he refer, because I believe that except in the case of one strategic line, which is not finished, trains run over all the lines.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
There are two which I know are not finished, and are not to be finished. They are stopped.
§ Mr. REES
My point is that where a strategic line is finished trains do run over it, and therefore. I venture to think, though I do so with great diffidence, because I realise how valuable his criticism is, and how great his information—I venture to think that it was rather a strong statement of the case to say that the Indian railways are so strategic in their character, that on some of them no trains are run. I also gather from his speech that Lord Kitchener's system postulated the composition of nine divisions, which were to be operative outside India, leaving India garrisoned.
§ Mr. REES
I understood that Lord Kitchener's system provides nine divisions, but not that in their absence there would be sufficient force to defend India. The nine divisions could not all leave India. That is how I read it. I wish to say it is not true of the Government of India that it is carried on by Conservatives or Liberals. It is the Government of Britain in India. I wish also to express my great satisfaction that the Government have prosecuted and obtained a conviction against the printer Horseley, who printed the "Indian Sociologist." I brought the matter before the House two years ago, and I believe the Government have been working at it all the time, and I congratulate the Government on having shown that it is not possible for men in these islands, although we may harbour all the riff-raff population of the world, to publish incitements to assassination. When the Czar Alexander III. was assassinated the printer of the "Freheit," who extolled this odious deed, had his type confiscated and was sentenced to 16 months' hard labour, and I hope a similar fate will 2053 overtake all those of a like persuasion. If it be true that the paper called the "New Age," a Socialist journal, has published what I have in my hand, I sincerely hope the Attorney-General will turn his attention in turn to that paper, and also to the paper called "Justice," which describes the murderer of Sir Curzon Wyllie as a fanatical young person who brooded over the wrongs of his country and said what horrible wrongs they are. So say some Members of this House, and men will not be wanting to commit these crimes so long as there are men to urge them on to crime. As has been said, however, when the natural consequence of their invective against the British raj has been attained, and unbalanced young Indians have played up to their inuendoes by acts of violence, those Parliamentary irresponsibles have been the first to deplore the terrible events they have done so much to bring about. As Sir J. P. Hewett, the Lieutenant-Governor, reminded the leaders of Indian society:—We expected more from them than the mere denunciations of crime and relied on their support hi suppressing attempts to sow the seed of sedition.This Indian rag, the "Indian Sociologist," was circulated in England on the very morning on which the assassin Dinghra shot Sir C. Wyllie, and it may well be that such inflammatory harangues as it contained, getting into the hands of a half-educated Indian, might set fire to that spark and lead to the disaster which we all deplore. It seems to me to be a deplorable thing that condemnation should be expressed in this House of a journal like "The Times," which, whether rightly or wrongly, published letters from this man Krishnavarma, which contributed in a large measure in bringing to justice the printer of his paper. I am sure that great harm is done by a newspaper called "India," although it is in a different category. It is appealing for subscriptions, and the "Statesman" in Calcutta, which is a pro-native pro-reform paper, says that:—Mr. Gokhale's appeal for financial support for the journal known as 'India,' which is published in London as the organ of the National Congress, would be likely to meet with more sympathy were it not that as at present conducted 'India' is calculated to do more harm than good to the cause of Indian reform. The tone of the journal is consistently anti-British, and it is always ready with a sneer for anyone who has a good word to say regarding the work which England has done in India. It recently assailed Mr. Roosevelt because he eulogised British administration in this country.…The Editor of "India"—still Mr. Cotton, I think—said, in a letter to "The Times," his methods were strictly constitutional, but I should like to know what is constitutional 2054 in India. In India no agitation can be constitutional, for what Government can, without disloyalty, be substituted for the Government of India, and I say the reports from Calcutta this morning give us proofs that the native Press is bitterly anti-British. A man named Aratindo Ghose, who had narrowly escaped imprisonment, called upon youths not to be cowards, and said that imprisonment was not as terrible as it seemed. I hope the Government will deport this man. He and his like are stirring up youths and telling them that imprisonment is not terrible. When deportees are spoken of it is very terrible, but when it is a case of trying to incite youths to rebel against us he says it is not. Even a professional agitator cannot have it both ways. Either it is terrible or it is not, and in any case a man who behaves like that is a type of man who, whether or not any legal proof can be got against him, should certainly be deported in the public interest. I hope to hear in a few days that the Government of India have taken their courage in both hands, and have sent him to join the other nine.
Surendranath Bannerjee is again on the stump on the boycott. That means the exclusion of all British goods from India— cottons from Manchester, and so on. I should like to ask hon. Gentlemen who gained their seats as Free Traders how it is that they are strongly in favour of protection in India. Do their constituents know that it means no boots from Nottingham and no beer from Brentford? These hon. Gentlemen are all Protectionists in India but strong Free Traders in their own constituencies. I should like them to kindly explain their attitude in this matter. Upon this point of the vernacular press I should like to explain what is the process that goes on, and how it affects these youths, of whom the assassin Dinghra is a specimen. I have a little book called "The Sikh's Sacrifice." The authoress is a daughter of one of these deportees, the editor of a seditious newspaper.
§ Mr. REES
I think so, but no one will dispute that it is a seditious paper. Mr. Bannerjee wrote in 1906 a preface to this book, in which he says:—This little book reveals the process of nation building through the ordeal of fire and persecution. It should be in the hands of everybody who has his eye open to the significance of the events that are passing around us.2055 I think there is some significance even in that. I will ask that Bannerjee's speeches in London may be printed side by side with what I have read. He wished the book should be in the hands of every schoolboy in Bengal. It has been the text-book of one of these societies, both the leaders of which are amongst the nine deported Bengalese. There was one stabbing and murder case amongst these boys in 1907, a dacoity case with murders in 1908, and another murder in the same year, and a terrible murder in June last. I wish also to read to the House the oath which members of this association of youths in Bengal take. They say:—In the name of God, father, mother, preceptor leader and mother country, I make this solemn vow that I will not be bound by any tie from my father mother, relatives, kinsmen, friends, hearth and home until the mission of this Samiti is fulfilled, that I will not hesitate to make any sacrifice in the discharge of the work of this Samiti…that if I flinch from this solemn vow, or in any way act contrarily, the curse of God, of mother (i.e., Kali) and the mighty sages will destroy me ere long.That will give the House a sufficient idea of what the teaching is in these native associations. This is the battle song reciting the manifestations of the power of this deity of the revolutionists:—Half a century ago all the children of India once made a solemn vow. Alas! those efforts went for nothing. Evil was brought about and the welfare of the country was not achieved. Lakshmi Bhai from Jhansi, Tantia from Halwa, Nana Sahib Sing from Bithor arose roaring, and Humar Sing from Bihar, to remove the bondage of the mother. To-day Bepin, Surendranath and Tilak Singh of the Mahrattas have proclaimed that Ajit Singh is making arrangements in the Punjab and that the religious rites of the mother (Kali) will be fully performed this time. Rise up now with prowess.This is the kind of literature upon which these excitable youths are nourished in Bengal. Then I see that another leader of the Reform party the other day in London proposed a vote of condolence with Lady Wyllie on the assassination of her husband—a very proper proceeding—and I note that in 1907 the same man made a speech in which he said it would be necessary on dark nights for congregations to assemble and to sacrifice 101 white goats. In the imagery of the East that is regarded as referring to Europeans, and as being a direct incentive to the murder of Europeans. The same man who made that speech in 1907 in Calcutta comes over here in 1909, and, when one of these youths commits an assassination, proposes a vote of condolence with the unfortunate widow. I beg the House to consider these things as well as the appeals to what is called Liberal sentiment. I cannot help referring to the attacks upon the Indian Govern- 2056 ment which are made in questions. The hon. Member for Brentford infers that the Government are neglecting the people in the famine.
§ Mr. REES
I am extremely glad to hear the hon. Gentleman's disclaimer, and I can only regret that though the intention was good the effect should be so bad, because the contrary effect is produced. At any rate he elicited a valuable answer as regards the recent famine, because the eleven deaths attributed to want of food amounts, I believe, to the one hundredth part of a man per million of the population of India. The death rate is frequently referred to. The death rate of India, of course, is higher than in this country, but so is the birth rate. Oriental populations refuse to die, or to be born, to please the people of these Islands. They will be born, and they will die in larger numbers, and you cannot prevent them. But the birth rate is larger than the death rate, and I do not know that we have any particular cause to quarrel with that, particularly when the death rate is not greatly in excess of the death rates of some parts of Europe, or of other countries nearer than India.
As regards the power of deportation it is of course autocratic, and it is exercised in that way. There is no Government of any Eastern people that has not got an autocratic power, nor will any Eastern people believe that their governors have power if they do not see that in the last resource they can act independently of those little books and reports and bits of paper of which we make such fetishes. It is not the custom of Asiatic people to judge their governors in that way, and in an extreme case they expect them to exercise that autocratic power. The number of 22 deported in five years works out, I calculate, to the one-fiftieth part of a man per 1,000,000 per year of the population of India, and that must be regarded as a very modest exercise of that power.
The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Mackarness) referred to the magistrates in India as merely civilians. I should like to meet the hon. Member there. There is no one connected with the Government of India who has ever held that civilian magistrates are in any way inferior to the barrister magistrates, though I have heard the contrary case maintained, for the very 2057 obvious reason that the civilian magistrates know more about the languages and the people. But I have heard it said, and have observed myself, that there are barristers with little knowledge and less practice who often go out there over the heads of their betters, because they have for a short time, perhaps, been Members of this House, having too much leisure and no work, and by taking an active part in some political propaganda have, perhaps to be got rid of, been sent out as judges. For any hon. and learned Gentleman to pass a sneer like that upon civilian magistrates in India perfectly justifies a retort of that character, which I have much pleasure in making, and most thoroughly mean. The hon. Member said that to revive this regulation, which has never been obsolete and has always been on the Statute Book, was like bringing in martial law, and before the Government could act under that they should introduce martial law and come to Parliament for an indemnity. I can remember when the State of Natal, also carrying out a difficult task amongst the coloured population, did put martial law into force, and who condemned them like the hon. Member? They were tyrants, they were oppressors for the enforcement of martial law, just as the white men in India are tyrants and oppressors for not resorting to martial law, but for using the law which they have upon their Statute Book. The fact is that whatever the hon. Member's fellow-countrymen in foreign parts do is wrong, and whatever action they take they are tyrants and oppressors. Why they should be so much inferior to the hon. Gentleman in humanity, knowledge of law, and in all other respects is a matter which I trust he will at some time in his abundant leisure explain. He began with the senseless and foolish persecution of the Pro-Consul (Lord Milner), and he is ending with a general and comprehensive proscription of his fellow-countrymen who are engaged in the difficult task of government in our foreign possessions. He said ho introduced his Bill and no one would oppose it. I did not wish to divide against it, because I think it is a settled principle that however bad a Bill is it should be allowed a first reading. It never goes any further, and it generally does no harm, and the sole reason that induced me to get up was that the hon. Member introduced the Bill not with the idea of making it law, but because it gave him an apportunity of talking for ten 2058 minutes by the clock under the Standing Orders in order to depreciate his fellow-countrymen.
§ Mr. REES
The hon. Member says I had not the pluck to divide, which made me think I should be in order in making that explanation, but I will leave the point. I must say a word or two upon the Indian police. Hon. Members of the same school to which I am now referring continually put questions to show that the Indian police are not worthy to be trusted, and that any act of theirs is corrupt, and that no conviction can properly be obtained upon their evidence.
§ Mr. LUPTON
What I said was that a defendant ought to know the evidence against him in order that he might be able to defend himself.
§ Mr. REES
I was not referring to the hon. Gentleman. Accused persons always have that opportunity. My hon. Friend is thinking of the deportations, which I was not speaking of at the moment. The law of India and of England in that respect is just the same. I asked the Under-Secretary this afternoon "whether the rank and file and the petty officers, and all but the chief controlling officers, of the police are natives of India; whether he has any official information showing that they belong exclusively or chiefly to exceptionally low, uneducated, or criminal classes of the population," and he replied that that was not the case, and that the Government did their best to get people belonging to the respectable and educated classes. The whole of the police of India are natives, and the case put by certain hon. Members in this House is that the natives of India ought to be allowed to govern themselves, and that Europeans should not be brought in. If the police are as bad as they are sometimes represented to be, how are the natives fit to be governors, magistrates, and judges? Observe the position in which hon. Members are placed. It is an absolutely impossible position. Either the natives of India are good enough to govern themselves or they are not. I do not take the view about the police which some hon. Members take. I do not think they are so bad, and neither does the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. Hon. Members bring up every case they can find against the police of India. If they are so bad, 2059 hon. Members must be perfectly mad if they think that the Government of India should be handed over to people of that sort.
§ Mr. W. CROOKS
I would appeal to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, on a point of order. The hon. Member is continually making statements, and saying if so and so was the case, and then immediately he accuses Members of certain things they cannot be guilty of. I wish to know whether that is in order, and whether it is just to absent Members?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I cannot say that the hon. Member is out of order. He is putting a hypothetical case, and I think he is entitled to do so unless he reflects in an improper way on the conduct of hon. Members.
§ Mr. REES
The hon. Gentleman must have entirely misunderstood me. [An HON. MEMBER: "You do not know what you did say."] I said that if anybody thinks that the police are so corrupt that they are not fit to be police, and if they are drawn from the people of India, then hon. Members must necessarily think that these people are unfit to govern themselves, and would be mad to allow them to do so. I do not say so.
§ Mr. REES
What is the inference? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman who follows me will tell me? In regard to the case of Lajpat Rai, I must be in order. It has been said that this gentleman got a verdict in his favour. No doubt he did from one judge, and it may be that that verdict will be upset. However that may be, it must not be understood that the fact he got a verdict against a newspaper is any proof that the Government of India had not sufficient information to warrant them in deporting him. No inference of that kind can be fairly drawn. I will read an extract from a well-known newspaper belonging to the reform party on this point. It says:—This protest against deportations is limited entirely to the House of Commons. There is no sign of any great outcry in India against the deportations.2060 That I believe to be the case. It is not likely that there would be any outcry in India, because, according to native methods of government, rulers must have such power and use it freely. We, also, in our East African Protectorates have the same power. The fact is that the methods of administration which are followed by the Liberal party and the Conservative party in this country do not exist in these Oriental countries. As to the deportees, it has been alleged that they are cruelly treated in their confinement. Mr. Krishna Kumar Mitter "has in his cell a table and a wooden bedstead." He is permitted books to read. These include Farrar's and Renan's "Lives of Christ," and a history of the Punjab, and should include the laws of India. Mr. Syamsunder Chakravarty has got his roof perforated to admit of more light. "He reads British magazines and sleeps in the open." I will say no more about the police, because it seems to me, although some hon. Gentlemen seem ready to attack the police, they do not like to hear them defended.
§ Mr. REES
I find that Mr. Bannerjee said in London:—The secret police in India are the most unscrupulous in the world. I think they might give points to the Russian police in their amazing facility in fabricating evidence.He gives me there an opportunity of offering so crushing a rejoinder that if I gave it he would never again be quoted in this House. The only other remark about the police that I have to make is in regard to the opinion of Sir Norman Baker, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, whose authority, I remember, was invoked the other day. He was regarded as the best witness when the question of giving Executive Councils to Bengal was before the House, and, therefore, hon. Gentlemen will appreciate his opinion. He saidthat the conduct of the police of Calcutta has been worthy of the highest commendation during the trying year VMK and he expresses his thanks to all ranks for their excellent work. In a time of great strain and excitement the demands on their energies by cases of a new order and of the most momentous importance have been met without neglect of their regular duties. The allegations to the contrary so frequently made in some sections of the Press are disproved by the statistics in the Commissioner's report, which shows a steady progress in dealing with ail kinds of crime, notably in bringing to book old offenders, which may be regarded as one of the highest tests of police work.I submit that when a body of men are arraigned, as they are here, and when every error they commit is immediately put on the Paper in the form of a question, I am well within my right in bringing before 2061 the House what is to be said on the opposite side. I wish to refer to the planters of India—people who seldom come before the House, but who are worthy of all honourable mention here. There has lately been an inquiry into the labour law of Assam. I was one of the Select Committee who dealt with this matter originally in the Viceroy's Council. After the inquiry the planters have come to the conclusion that the tea industry will be best served by free labour and free immigration. They are laying proposals before the Government to bring this about. I thoroughly agree with them in this respect, and I hope the Government of India will do their best to meet them half-way. They are people who are doing more for India than all the patriots who are continually talking about representative institutions. They spend large fortunes there; they maintain a large labour force, and keep the workers well. They have an interest in all this political agitation, because they fear that it will touch their labour force and injure the industry in which the coolies are engaged. Quite recently they passed a resolution which they sent to the Prime Minister. I daresay it was sent directly, and, at any rate, I know it was sent through myself. The resolution expressed great satisfaction with the answer the Prime Minister made the other day collectively to several hon. Gentlemen who sit here and who have been continuously asking questions about these deportations, and the resolution said that some action of that sort was the only means of dealing with the situation, and expressed strong approval of what the Prime Minister had said, and urged the Government to proceed in that way, and to pay absolutely no attention whatever to requests made to them by hon. Gentlemen who sit in my immediate vicinity. I wish to reinforce that resolution as far as I can on my part, and to urge that all these agitations and alarms are most terrifying to capital, and that they are most damaging to this country and to India, and that instead of criticising the Government whenever they deport an agitator, this House would be well advised, in the interest of the multitudinous peoples of India, and the people of this country, to be thankful to the Government for taking on themselves that responsibility. They should realise that Gentlemen like those planters and merchants of whom I am speaking at this moment are the representatives of the real interests of the masses of India, and are not like other hon. Members, who 2062 are continually addressing this House, representatives of the classes as distinguished from the masses. For hon. Members who are in the habit of speaking here ostensibly on behalf of the peoples of India are really speaking on behalf of the classes, who have no sympathy with the peoples of India, the Brahmins, and the higher classes, who never have had sympathy, and never will have sympathy, with the rank and file of the peoples of India, and who think they should govern the people of India instead of us. At present they are our agents. They wish to turn us out. The fact is not disguised, and the action taken here tends in that way, whatever may be the actual wishes of hon. Members who are putting these questions. When hon. Members constitute themselves what they call the friends of India, and urge that the British should leave the Government to be handed over to the natives, what does it mean? It means handing over the masses of India to the higher classes—the Brahmins, who inspire all this, the able intriguers in whose hands hon. Members are mere children—handing over the masses of India to the classes of privilege, of forced labour, and of all that oppression from which we alone—the British Civil servants, who are held up here to ignominy every day as oppressors—deliver the people of India.
The EARL Of RONALDSHAY
The Under-Secretary this afternoon rightly described the present year as an historic year, for this year a wide scheme of reform in the Government of India had been introduced, and he went on to say that it would in the course of a little time have final sanction given to it. No doubt the Under-Secretary of State had in his mind that particular part of the scheme by which it is sought to set up machinery for the proper representation of the great communities which form part of the complicated Mosaic of countries and of peoples which we are in the habit of describing by the simple but comprehensive term of India. That being so, this is the last chance which we shall have of discussing that particular part of the reform scheme before it is finally sanctioned. The Under-Secretary, in the course of his remarks, referred, I think, to me as having taken some interest in the claims of one of those great communities, namely, the Mahomedan community. I hope it will not be supposed that I have any personal interest in the question of advocating the claims of one section in India more than 2063 those of another. As to the merits of any particular scheme by which it is sought to obtain representatives on the proposed representative bodies, I need say nothing. Whether I am in sympathy with a scheme of mixed electorates or with a scheme of communal representation is neither here nor there. But when we find the Government both here and in India by their statements giving justification for a suspicion that their promises upon this point are liable to violation, I feel bound to take every opportunity that comes along of urging upon the Government, the imperative necessity of removing once for all any cause there may be for any such suspicion. The request which the Mahomedan community have more especially put before the Government of India are very well known. I am only going to deal with one of them, which is, I think, in their opinion the most important of all. That request is that whenever a Mahomedan is to be elected to a representative body, whether that body be a provincial council, a rural board, a district board, or a municipal board, or any other representative body, he shall be elected by a purely Mahomedan electorate.
It may be said by those who take an interest in these matters, especially those who have followed our Debates on the Bill, that that request of theirs has been most explicitly promised to them, and there is no good reason for raising this question anew at the present time. It is quite true that when the Indian Council's Bill was upon the point of passing from the control of this House a most definite pledge upon that point was made by the Secretary to the Treasury, who was in charge of the still on behalf of the Under-Secretary for India, who, as we all regret to say, was indisposed. But unfortunately the whole value of that assurance has been very largely discounted by a statement which was subsequently made after the Bill passed from the control of this House by the Secretary of State in another place. The statement which in all the circumstances appears to me to be quite incomprehensible took the form of a telegram from the Viceroy to the Secretary of State, which he read in the House of Lords, and it was considered of such importance that it was subsequently issued in the shape of a White Paper. I propose in a moment to refer to that particular statement, but before I do so I should like to make two points; first that there can be no possible mistake as to this demand on the part of the Mahomedan community, and second 2064 that the Mahomedan community were promised in the most explicit terms that as far as this particular matter was concerned they would be met by the Government to the full. It is quite easy to prove both those propositions. It will be within the recollection of the House that as soon as any suggestion of reform in the Government of India was made the Mahomedans organised an important deputation in order to lay before the Viceroy certain matters to which they attached great importance. The deputation went before Lord Minto, who was Viceroy at the time, and placed these requests before him, their main request being that to which I have already referred. Subsequently the deputation waited upon the Secretary of State in this country, and they urged the same request as that which had already been put before Lord Minto at Calcutta. I should like to read two extracts from the speeches made by the spokesman of the deputation to the Secretary of State in January of the present year. The first speech was by Ameer Ali, who said:—The important deputation that waited upon the Viceroy in 1906, emphatically urged upon his Excellency that the separate representation of the Mahomedans should begin from the lowest rung of the ladder and go up to the highest. In that way alone will they get any benefit from the concessions which you are so generously going to inaugurate in India.The other speech was by a member of the deputation, namely, Major Syed Hasan Bilgrami. I quote the following sentence:—The chief point we are bringing to your Lordship's notice is the subject of communal representation. What we mean by communal representation is the representation of Mahomedans by Mahomedans at all stages of the elective system.Everybody knows quite well what was the result of that deputation. Lord Morley gave most careful consideration to the question of the Mahomedans, and, having done that, he stated most explicity in the House of Lords, on the Second Beading of the India Councils Bill, on this particular point, and one other point, but this point principally, that the Government intended to meet them to the full. The Mahomedan community were duly grateful to his Lordship for that promise and drafted a letter, in the course of which they construed his Lordship's declaration:—As applicable to the elections for district, municipal and rural self-governing bodies, as these elections have invariably been included in the Mussulman appeal for adequate and distinct representation.It would, of course, be quite easy to emphasise the insistency with which the Mahomedans made this particular request 2065 by quoting the numberless resolutions passed at meetings of Mahomedans all over India during the past few months. I will not trouble the House with the whole of them, but there is one which I desire to quote, and which was passed at a representative meeting held at Lucknow on 27th April in the present year. It was a very large meeting of Mahomedans, the number present being about 12,000. The chair was taken by a Mahomedan of great weight, and there was a number of speakers. The meeting was addressed by another Mahomedan of great weight, and a number of resolutions were passed, and that to which I wish to call the attention of the House is as follows:—That this meeting is of opinion that the principle of separate representation together with the allotment of a sufficient number of seats in excess of their numerical strength should be recognised for the Mahomedans in all elections at all stages, i.e., district boards, municipal boards, universities, etc.The second resolution was:—That the proceedings of this meeting be wired to the Local Government, to the Government of India, and to the Secretary of State, and be published in the newspapers.The reason why I quote that second resolution will be apparent very shortly, when I come to deal with the telegram of the Viceroy to the Secretary of State. To prove my second point, namely, that the Government explicity promised the Mahomedans that there should be separate elections, not only for provincial councils, but in the case of all representative bodies is a simple matter. I need hardly quote at this time of day the words of the Viceroy himself in answer to the deputation which waited upon him in October, 1906. They have been repeatedly quoted, both in this House and outside, and they are very well known to all who are interested in the matter. The Viceroy said that he entirely agreed with the Mahomedans in their demand, namely, that they should be given a separate electorate in all those elections. I come, secondly, to the promise of the Secretary of State on the second reading of the India Councils Bill, to which I have referred. Lord Morley said:—The Mahomedans demand three things. I had the pleasure of receiving a deputation from them and I know very well what is in their minds. They demand the election of their own representatives to these councils in all the stages just as in Cyprus, where, I think, the Mahomedans vote by themselves.… Secondly, they want a number of seats in excess of their numerical strength. These two demands we are quite ready, and intend, to meet in full.Lastly, that pledge was reiterated and emphasised by the Secretary to the Treasury on the Report stage of the Bill in this 2066 House, and the words which he used were:—Before I sit down I would add one sentence, and it is that wherever elections are found possible they shall be conducted on the basis of separate representation of the Mahomedan community.I think there can be no possible question on these two points, firstly, the Mahomedans have from the beginning asked for a separate electorate; and, secondly, the Government most definitely and most explicitly gave their word that they would meet them on that point. The telegram of Lord Minto to Lord Morley, to which I wish to call the attention of the House once more, contained these words:—I do not understand any Mahomedan here to claim concession suggested by Hobhouse, namely, that wherever elections are found possible they should be conducted on the basis of separate representation of the Mahomedan community. If interpreted literally that would involve separate Mahomedan electorates within the various electorates proposed, such as presidency, corporations, district boards and municipalities, universities, landholders and the commercial community. This is manifestly impracticable and has never been suggested.I should like to ask the Government the quite plain and simple question, Do they or do they not attach to the assurances to which I have called attention the meaning which the Mahomedans attach to them, and the meaning which, I think, is the only meaning which can be attached to them, namely, that in all these cases the Mahomedans are to have a separate electorate t If they do not attach that meaning to it, what is the meaning which they do attach to it? If the Government do attach that obvious meaning to these words, then how do they reconcile their assurances with this telegram sent by Lord Minto? Lord Minto maintained in the words of his telegram that assurances given in the most explicit manner by the Secretary of State involve principles which are "manifestly impracticable and have never been suggested." I should like an answer to that question' if it is possible. I do not wish for a moment in any way to embarrass the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for State for India. I quite realise that at the present time the final details of this scheme are undergoing consideration at the hands of the Secretary of State for India. But I think it must be known quite well that, from these conflicting statements which we have had time and again, both from the Government in India and from the Government in this country upon this point, a great deal of apprehension has been aroused in the minds of the Mahomedans, and they are in a state of great uncertainty as to whether the Government really do intend, or do not intend, to carry out what 2067 they consider to have been the most definite pledges given to them in the most definite and most authoritative way.
I wish to refer to one other matter in this telegram from Lord Minto. Lord Minto quoted in the first part of his telegram an isolated passage from a letter written by the special committee of the All-India Moslem League on 4th February, and the object, I presume, of quoting this isolated passage was to suggest that the Mahome-dans were not, as a matter of fact, so frightfully keen upon this particular point of a separate register. If that was the object, it entirely fails as soon as the contents of that letter are carefully examined. It is a very long letter, and I am not going to read it to the House. I have, of course, read it myself, and I have no hesitation in saying that if there is one point in that letter upon which more stress is laid than on any other point it is that the Mahome-dans are absolutely determined, if they are to receive any benefit from the reform scheme, that they must have this separate register which has been promised them. I could give extracts from the letter showing in so many words that they attach the most vital importance to this matter, but the House will, I am sure, take my word for it, and anybody is, of course, entitled to see it. Lord Minto went on to say that the Deccan and the Madras Presidency Moslem Leagues were in agreement with this isolated passage, which he quoted from the letter I have referred to. Those Moslem Leagues, like many other Moslem Leagues throughout India, have passed resolutions in the plainest and most explicit language, and language which it is impossible to misinterpret. The Deccan Moslem League passed the following resolution on 17th April of the present year:Resolved that the Conference endorses the prayer of the Mahomedan deputation to Lord Morley for the representation of Mahomedans by Mahomedans, elected by Mahomedan electorates at all stages of the elective systems.The Madras Moslem League passed a resolution in very similar terms. I maintain then that there is no doubt whatsoever as to what the Mahomedans want. The only point upon which there is any doubt is whether the Government are going to carry out the promises which they undoubtedly did make on this particular point to the Mahomedan community. Unless the Government are able to clear up the doubt and uncertainty under which this point is undoubtedly still enshrouded, I am afraid that two beliefs of very serious 2068 import will grow up among the different communities in India. I think the first belief, and one which has already grown up, I am afraid, is that the only way by which it is possible to obtain the ear of the Government, or to obtain satisfaction from the Government, is to adopt those noisy and boisterous methods of agitation which have undoubtedly been adopted by a considerable section of the Indian community already. And the second is also a most lamentable belief. It is that the word of the English Government is no longer its bond which is incapable of violation. I came across a' passage in a newspaper a very short time ago. It is a passage which, I think, is extremely unpleasant reading. It is from the "Indian Spectator," which, no doubt, is well known and a paper which advocates the views of the Congress Party in India.
The EARL of RONALDSHAY
The hon. Gentleman probably knows. I was under the impression the "Indian Spectator" was sympathetic to the Congress Party. If he denies that, I accept his statement. The passage to which I referred is as follows, of the date June 26th:—The Viceroy, in an unguarded moment, allowed his generosity and gentlemanliness to outrun his foresight, and endorsed the representation of a deputation, without previously consulting either the local governments or the Secretary of State. The Viceroy has made it abundantly clear that he does not take a pride in what he has done.Of course, it is quite obvious that the representations referred to in that passage are the representations from the Mahomedan deputation of 1906. I really do not think it would have been possible for a responsible organ of the Press to make a comment of that kind upon the attitude of the Viceroy unless the policy of the Government had been characterised by a very great amount of vacillation and indecision. In order to show what I have said as regards the indignation and disappointment of Mahomedans, and also to prove what I have said as to the uncertainty and doubt from which they are at present suffering as to what the intentions of the Government are on this point, I cannot refrain from concluding my remarks by giving to the House an extract from a very important letter, and a letter of great weight, which was written by the Rajah of Mahamudabad, who is a member of the Viceroy's Legislative Council. I think no words could make it clearer 2069 to the House, or so clear to the House, as do the words of that Maho-medan—how difficult they find it to understand what the intentions of the Government really are upon this particular point. The following is the extract:—Your Excellency, from this plethora of statements, I confess I emerge with my mind somewhat confused. It is difficult in this winding labyrinth to discover the pathway which leads to understanding, and I can safely state that the general state of feeling amongst the Mahomedans at the present moment in regard to he question of their rights and privileges under the Reform Scheme, but especially in regard to the matter if a separate electorate, is one of utter confusion. They tear, however, that a great wrong is about to be inflicted upon them; that they are to be treated with an inustice wholly undeserved by them, and undreamed of, and they are deeply disappointed. They are not politicians, they do not understand the language of liplomacy, they are a patient, loyal, God-fearing people, who have trusted in a solemn pledge given to them by heir rulers, and who ask for a sign that that pledge s about to be fulfilled.I think it will be admitted by all those who have taken any interest in Indian affairs that a declaration of that kind made by a man carrying deep weight in the Mahomedan community that is carried by the Rajah of Mahamudabad, who is himself a member of the Viceroy's Council; I think when we find a statement of that kind and of that character coming from him, that it does show that there is serious danger of most grievous irritation in the minds of the people until they are given once and for all a definite understanding as to what the intentions of the Government really are on this important point.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
It is, I confess, lot very encouraging to me to rise, when called upon, to address the House on important Indian topics at a time when there ire only 12 or 13 Members present. I do lot think that this fact, when it is realised in India, will be regarded as very satisfactory by public opinion there. But I desire to make certain observations on general subjects which were suggested by the speech of the Under-Secretary of State. That speech was an important one, and I am glad to congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the excellence of its delivery, and the urbanity of manner which Accompanied it, although I cannot afford equal praise to the matter which some pants of it contained. What I want to bring to the notice of the House is that at this moment we are faced in India with a very serious situation, the growth of a national or patriotic movement in that sountry—a movement resulting from the tendency which has existed in India for several years past towards unification, towards sinking minor interests and differ- 2070 ences, towards the amalgamation of races, towards fusion between Mahomedans and Hindus. The observations of the Noble Lord (Lord Ronaldshay), dwelling upon the extreme importance of developing antagonism between Mahomedans and Hindus, are not only out of place, but simply lamentable.
The EARL of RONALDSHAY
What I said was not with a view to accentuating differences between Mahomedans and Hindus. My object was to show that it would be a lamentable thing that the promises which have undoubtedly been made by the Government should be in any way broken.
§ Sir HENRY COTTON
I cannot deny that promises were given, nor that it is practically impossible for them to be fulfilled, but if I understood the Noble Lord's argument correctly it was to encourage the Mahomedans in their agitation for exclusive representation in the councils; and if they are successful in attaining that it cannot but tend to accentuate and exacerbate the differences between Hindus and Mahomedans. The great object which the Nationalist or patriotic party have at heart is to lessen those differences—in fact, to work together for a common end. That great movement which is producing widespread results throughout India is due to two causes. It is due, no doubt, very largely to the awakening of the East, which we observe in all countries of the East. What an inspiration Japan affords to every other country in Asia. Look at China. I have here a quotation from Sir Robert Hart, the greatest living authority on the growing feeling of the Chinese. He, with his ripe experience, does not hesitate to use this striking language regarding the national movement in China: "Every man in China is thinking ' China for the Chinese; out with the foreigner.'" That is not my observation, but the observation of Sir Robert Hart, after a lifetime spent among the Chinese. That is what I call the awakening of the East in China. We have seen it ourselves in Persia, where constitutional Government is now being established; we have seen it in Turkey; and we have seen the strivings after constitutionalism in Russia—aye, and in Egypt. Does anyone suppose that this great movement over a vast continent plays, so to speak, over public opinion in India without striking a responsive note? It does not. The people of India have been profoundly influenced by this national movement in 2071 their own continent and in their own vicinity; they have also been impressed by the sympathy which the English nation has poured forth on behalf of this national movement everywhere else than in countries under the dominion of Great Britain. There is a growth of this feeling of freedom and of liberty:The world is rolling freedom's way,And ripening with her sorrow:Take heart, who bear the cross to-day.Shall wear the crown to-morrow.That feeling exists in India as well as in China and other countries, and it has been stimulated to an extraordinary extent during the last four, five or six years by reason of the unfortunate policy which was followed by India under the late Viceroy. Nothing pains me more than to have to say what may be considered harsh words regarding Lord Curzon, a man for whom I have the profoundest admiration in so many respects, but who, in my judgment, erred fatally from his want of sympathy with the aspirations and wishes of the Indian people. He pursued a policy opposed to those wishes, contrary to those aspirations, and that policy reached a climax in the never too much to be regretted partition of Bengal. The antagonism which was aroused by this policy developed this patriotic feeling in the country to an almost incredible extent. It gave life to the sentiment which was growing naturally, but which needed a stimulus of this kind to develop into full vigour. What form of development has it taken? It has taken primarily a movement in the direction of encouraging local manufacturers, of everything that is Indian, and of the discouraging and opposing, as far as possible, the importations into India of foreign goods. I wish the Benches opposite were fuller than they are at this moment; for this movement in India I refer to is but an exaggerated form of that which is known in England as Tariff Reform. What is regarded as a patriotic movement in England is sedition in India. It leads people in India, unfortunately, into some active opposition to the representatives of the British Government, those who are placed in authority in the country; and no doubt in some cases these public men who have identified themselves with the cause of Swadeshi—a vernacular name that is more or less familiar to the people of this country, and means the encouragement of local manufactures—have come into conflict with the officials, and in some places no doubt have broken the law. Where they 2072 have broken the law by all means let them be tried before the law.
I am going to make a very grave statement, and it is this: That these nine gentlemen who were deported in last December, and whose case we have been systematically raising in the House of Commons even since—that these gentlemen, admittedly of high character and repute, whose names are household words in the provinces to which they belong, have been arrested, hauled away from their families, taken 1,000 miles from their homes, and cast into gaol without charge, without trial —that the real offence of these men is that they were the leaders, the animators, of this movement in favour of encouraging the manufacture and consumption of country-made goods and the discouragement of foreign importations. That, I assert, is the real crime of which these men have been guilty. That is the sedition which we have heard so much of. Their action in this direction is part of the conspiracy of which we have heard something, although I admit not much this afternoon. I assert that is the reason for this action which we on this side of the House, and on those Benches also, I am thankful to say, as Liberals and as lovers of freedom, as Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen, so vigorously condemn.
§ Sir H. COTTON
In the Resolution have had the honour of putting down I have referred to what I call coercion and repression in India. I understood the Under-Secretary to say in the course of his speech that really there was no justification for the use of those expressions. If the arrest and imprisonment, without charge or trial, of leading members of the community is not a coercive process, I know not the meaning of the words. When I look at the fact that at this moment scores and scores of journalists, editors of newspapers, and owners of printing presses are languishing in gaol, suffering a rigorous imprisonment, herded with the vilest criminals, loaded with chains— when I reflect on these things, am I not right in saying that coercion and repression is being exercised upon the expression of public opinion in India? Why, of course, it is. I heard the Under-Secretary, to my profound regret, hold out what I could only regard as a threat that further action in that direction is imminent. To- 2073 morrow, the 6th of August, is the great day in the eyes of the people of Bengal. It is the anniversary of this movement to which I have referred. All over the province men will gather together and renew their solemn vows in favour of their own country's goods, and the prohibition, so far as in their power lies, of the importation of alien and foreign goods.
§ Sir H. COTTON
They are alien and foreign from the point of view of the Hindu. Hon. Members should try and put themselves in the same circumstances as the people of India. If they did that there would be fewer of these interruptions, and possibly more sympathy. I maintain that there is now coercion and repression of a grievous type in India. Although I appreciate as much as anybody can do the reforms which the Secretary of State has so long had under his consideration, and is now, with the aid of the Government of India, introducing into India, yet do I suppose for one moment that the introduction of these reforms will obtain the effect they are intended to produce? Will they allay unrest, remove disquiet, recover for us the gratitude and goodwill of the people so long as they are accompanied by those harsh, and to liberal Englishmen at least, unjust measures of coercion? No, they will not, and in this connection I will read the opinion of one who, when he sat on this side of the House, was always recognised as the best and the ablest of our political leaders:—Coercion will have the inevitable effect, and I believe yon know it in your hearts as well as we know it, of throwing the whole sentiment of the country against your remedial legislation, and giving strengn to what you are pleased to call and to consider a lawless organisation. Anyone can pass Coercion Bills, but it is not everybody who can undo the mischief which Coercion Bills have done. It is because we believe that it will do none of the good that you anticipate, and that it will do enormous and irreparable mischief at a critical moment that we protest against it.These are the words of our master, who sat about a year ago upon these benches, and who, to the general regret of this House, has been translated to another place; that was the language used by Lord Morley when he was protesting, and rightly protesting, against the Coercion Act of Ireland, and he must know in his heart of hearts that no other results than these is likely to follow when he applies 2074 his coercive legislation to the people of India. There is one other remark which I desire to make. I wish to refer to the measures of self-government which I hope and trust we are slowly extending to the people of India. I wish to refer to the argument which we so often heard and which in my humble opinion is so improperly put forward in this House, namely, the argument that the people of India are not fit for self-government, and therefore cannot have this boon. No system of government can be progressive or beneficial which does not foster the self-reliance of the people and encourage their aspirations to realise their own destinies through their own exertions. We are told that the Indians are not fit for self-government; how can they ever become fit if we give them no opportunity of exercising those privileges and those rights which they value and for which they yearn? That is a conclusive answer to the argument that we cannot extend self-government to people because they are not fit for it. I have been told Lord Morley's scheme does make a decisive advance in this direction, and I had hoped that if it was accompanied, as it ought to have been accompanied, by concessions at the proper time, it would have done so. If Lord Morley, when he took charge of his office three and a-half years ago, had only reconsidered this question of the partition of Bengal, and had allowed it to be re-opened up and had appointed a Committee to consider it, we should have none of that unrest which caused such profound anxiety in the Province of Bengal from the day on which the right hon. Gentleman took charge of his office until this present moment. If the Under-Secretary would plead with Lord Morley to show some concession to the feelings of the people and to reopen this festering sore of the partition, and to consider those drastic sentences passed upon printers and journalists, extending in some cases to 10 years' imprisonment, and extending in one case, in regard to which I asked a question a month ago, to transportation for life, if the Secretary of State would only reconsider these sentences and forego this campaign of coercion, then I could guarantee him a peaceful, grateful, friendly people in a country where there is now, I fear, grave unrest and serious disquiet. If he would only adopt this policy of conciliation for which I plead, then we should actually attain the fruition of the memorable words of Queen Victoria 2075 in her gracious proclamation to the people of India more than 50 years ago:—Their prosperity will be our strength, their contentment our security, and in their gratitude our beat reward.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
The statement has been made that two-thirds of the population of Bengal consists of Mahomedans. As a matter of fact, the Mahomedans constitute a population of some 18,000,000 in Bengal, whereas the total population approaches 90,000,000.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
The statement may not have been intended to mislead, but the effect of it was to mislead the House.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Then there was another statement made with regard to Surendra Nath Bannerjee. As a matter of fact, this gentleman was quoting from a judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Hunt, who, when he was appealed to in regard to the 18 men who had been convicted for taking part in the riots, reversed the decision, and set the men at liberty. During the course of his judgment Mr. Justice Hunt used the phrase which Surendra Nath Bannerjee was quoting from. The use of the phrase was imputed to Surendra Nath Bannerjee, whereas he was quoting a phrase from an Englishman occupying the position of judge in the Court of Appeal. I wish to join in the congratulations extended to the Under-Secretary for India on his appointment and upon the lucidity of the statement which he has made to the House. I do not know whether the hon. Member is in a position now to say whether his statement about the Seditious Meetings Act not being in force in India 13 correct.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I do not know whether it was in any way intended to prohibit the demonstration on the 7th of this month referred to by the hon. Member who has just sat down. There is considerable apprehension that the authorities may intervene at the holding of this annual demonstration. Two years ago the authorities sought to prohibit it, and the Viceroy was approached, and some of the leading members of the Indian community in Calcutta gave a personal guarantee for the orderliness of the proceedings. I do not 2076 think there is any reason for holding this meeting to be illegal. One omission struck me in the speech of the Under-Secretary. So far as I could gather he said nothing about the present condition of things in India. Is the condition of India in the disturbed districts improving or becoming worse? That is a very important point, and one upon which we are entitled to have some up-to-date information. The bon. Gentleman quoted the Alipur case, in which the accused was found guilty, but he said nothing about the Midnapur case and a score of other cases in which the evidence of the police has been openly thrown over by the Court of Appeal, instances which have been so elaborately set forth by my hon. Friend for Newbury. I was very sorry to notice that the hon. Gentleman, following the lead of his predecessor, by innuendo, associated the nine deportees with the crime of violence. That is a point which has been raised in the House before. The case against them was that they were not guilty of this crime, but that they had supplied funds for the commission of crime, and they had incited others to crime. No one who knows these men will dispute that a charge of this sort is cruel in the extreme. They may have been guilty of holding extreme views in regard to the partition of Bengal, but anything approaching the instigation of crime is entirely alien to the nature. The point I want to make is that these men had been deported exclusively on the evidence of the police. The previous Under-Secretary for India stated that the evidence supplied by the police upon which deportations had been made was thoroughly tested by the authorities. I want to call attention to the facts of another case practically identical in all its details, which shows that this alleged investigation on the part of the Government is just as little to be depended upon as are the statements of the police themselves. I am referring to the Midnapur ease, the details of which the hon. Member is more or less familiar with. When the arrests began to be made and the statement was in circulation that bombs were being manufactured a state of alarm seized the inhabitants because the police were no respecters of persons, and not only citizens of good standing like the Rajah of Narajole, were suspected and apprehended, but throughout the entire district no one knew whose turn it would be to be accused next. Under these circumstances a number of leading citizens got together and authorised Mr. K. B. Dutt to communi- 2077 cate direct with Sir Andrew Fraser, the late Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, in order to put him in possession of the actual state of the neighbourhood. To this a reply was sent by Mr. F. W. Duke, who was officiating as chief secretary to the Government of Bengal, in which he practically informed the petitioners that they were interfering with the course of justice and trying to hinder the police in the performance of their duties. They offered to supply the Lieutenant-Governor with a detailed statement of the facts, whereupon they received a further reply in which the following paragraph occurs. Mr. Duke, writing on behalf of the Government and the Lieutenant-Governor, says:—I am to reply that the matter has been carefully considered by Government: the statements have been examined, weighed and compared with the diaries which are regularly submitted by the police officers at Midnapore; and the conclusion arrived at is, that these statements do not afford grounds to suspect the methods employed by the police, or to induce the Government to interfere with the progress of a prosecution which has now come before the Magistrate and is under judicial inquiry.Those methods, as subsequently shown in the trial, were those of corruption, intimidation, and the concoction of false evidence. Fortunately, the High Court discovered them in time to prevent a number of men being arrested and deported. It was these same police and this same Lieutenant-Governor who caused the deportation of the nine men we are now considering. Surely, if the evidence of the police and if the testing and weighing of it by the Government would not bear the examination of the High Court when it came before it, that is a double reason why the case of these nine men who have not been supplied with the charge against them, and who have had no opportunity of giving evidence in their own defence, should be investigated by some impartial authority. I hope the India Office will not dismiss this matter lightly as one of no moment. The two great causes of unrest in India at the present time are undoubtedly the partition of Bengal and the deportation of these nine gentlemen. The Government of India is not being asked to annul the partition of Bengal. The claim put forward is that the partition shall be so effected, as it can be, to preserve the old boundaries of ancient Bengal and yet secure the improved administration, which was the ostensible reason for carrying through the partition at all. Surely, when the Government knows, and the Government do not deny it, that the continuance of the partition is one of the main causes of all the unrest in India, they 2078 should not on a point of etiquette or pride be above considering whether this partition could not be so remodelled as to bring peace to the disturbed areas, and put an end to the tension which undoubtedly exists. The same thing applies to the deportations. Nothing conceivably can cause a more rankling sense of injustice in the minds of the people of India than the feeling that their leaders are being unjustly and unfairly treated. If these men had been sent to prison as the result of a trial, that could have been justified, but to take men who are never alleged to have committed any crime, men who are prominent educationalists and religious teachers, men of unblemished character and reputation, and to transport them in the manner as has been done, is to create a sense of injustice which must produce results the opposite of beneficial.
I would like to ask what the reason was for the provision of the new Calcutta Police Amendment Act? Is the condition of Calcutta and Bengal so alarming that these fresh powers of the most extraordinary kind are required for the still further strengthening of the hands of the police? Under the provisions of this new Act which was published in the "Gazette" last month, the police are to be made absolutely supreme in everything that pertains to the public life of the community. Meetings, concerts, processions, and every form of public gathering are to be at the absolute uncontrolled mercy of the police of Calcutta. Is the reputation of the police so good that we can afford to place in their hands drastic powers of this kind? There is, further, an indemnity clause in the new Amendment Act which rob people who are aggrieved of even a chance of recompense when it is proved that they have been wrongly and injuriously treated by the police. Under this Bill the police may do what they please. They may break into houses and ransack them; they may break up meetings and entertainments; and there are no possible means of obtaining compensation from them, no matter how wrongly or injuriously they may act.
It was said by the Under-Secretary, and we all recognise, that this year will be the beginning of a new era in the history of India. The new Reform Bill will shortly come into operation. Is there to be an amnesty when it comes into operation? Surely the case is a fitting one for making a fresh start in the public affairs of India? There have been many quotations given to-night, and I should like to give one more on this question of an amnesty. Speaking 2079 in Ireland, in 1888, the present Secretary of State for India said:—I want to ask a question. The French amnestied the Communards who were guilty of the most atrocious crime against their country. The Americans amnestied the Secessionist rebels who were guilty of an atrocious crime against their Government. Are the only people in the world for whom there is to be no amnesty Irishmen, whose only offence has been that they have used their talents for the benefit of their countrymen, and have done their best to raise up the miserable, oppressed, and downtrodden people of their country. We are here to-night—Lord Ripon and I—to assure you that at least one great party is anxious for an amnesty, for an act of oblivion on your side and on ours both.Substitute India for Ireland, and that statement is as applicable to the state of things in India to-day as it was to those in Ireland at the time it was spoken. I think we are entitled to say to the Government, You have tried suppression of public meetings, you have confiscated the Press suspected of seditious teaching, and you have imprisoned men without trial. And what is the result? Is the condition of India more settled than it was before these operations were entered upon? One result we all deplore is the act of Dinghra. You may, if you will, drive this perfectly constitutional movement underground, but it will crop up in other and far more terrible forms. With the experience of Ireland before us, with the attempts to repress the National movement in Ireland which failed—we must realise that only justice for the people will allay discontent and put down sedition. Surely, with that example before them, this Government will not pursue the fatal course of trying to repress by force a perfectly legitimate movement which has for its aims, not severance from this country, although that may grow out of it, but a desire on the part of Indians to share in the management of their own affairs. The Reform Bill which is coming into operation shortly will afford the Government an opportunity for reconsidering the whole question of the political prisoners, and if that is seized the reform will start under happy auspices, and before many years are past India will once more be loyal and contented. But at the present time we are making loyalty and sycophancy synonymous terms. Men who show the slightest degree of independence are accused of being seditious. They are, in fact, imprisoned for showing independence, and the result is that there is growing up a feeling which must be dangerous to the stability of our Empire in India.
§ Dr. V. H. RUTHERFORD
I wish to add my hearty congratulations to the 2080 Under-Secretary for India, and to wish him a very successful career in his new office. I trust he will extend to India a sympathetic and liberal spirit which will bring about a closer union between the Indian and British peoples. I do not, as a rule, think it wise to reply to anything the hon. Member for Montgomery Burghs (Mr. Rees) stays in this House. He is by this time fairly well understood, and we here always feel that his proper place is on the other side. But to-day he made one false charge which really ought to be answered. He said that many of us who are advocating greater freedom in India gird at the officials in India. As a matter of fact, we strive to avoid attacking the officials. We sympathise with them in their difficult and almost impossible situation. What we do criticise and denounce is not the officials, but the responsible advisers of the Government—the responsible men who have control of the Government of India, and we feel we are entitled to criticise and condemn whatever we think is wrong. We think that the present Government of India is entirely wrong. We say that the system is wrong. It is a rotten system. It is alien, bureaucratic, and demoralising for Indians and for us. It is bad for everybody, and the sooner we can bring about contentment, satisfaction, and self-respect amongst Indians, by giving them a due share in their own Government, the better it will be for them and for us. I should like to quote from a correspondent in "The Times," who has endeavoured to enlighten us on the present serious situation in India. He did so on 20th June this year, and his conclusions are threefold. The first is that the gulf between the rulers and the ruled has widened; the second is that it is beyond abridging; and, thirdly, he declares that when a favourable opportunity comes, when Britain is entangled elsewhere, there will be a conflagration. That is a desperate situation, but I trust it is not altogether true. The question I asked myself after reading those conclusions, and giving them the weight I thought they deserved, is what are the deductions we ought to draw from them. The first deduction I draw is that Toryism has failed. The Tories had a great opportunity; they had a free hand for at least 10 years, and they failed to pacify India. Secondly, Lord Morley has failed to pacify India. That is a terrible thing for us as Liberals and as Englishmen. Let us ask what are the reasons for this state of affairs. The Tory treatment for disturbed conditions in any 2081 portion of the British Empire was 20 years of resolute Government. They tried it in Ireland, and they ignominiously failed, and they thereupon proceeded to introduce great and valuable reforms. We trust that their views with regard to the Government of India will similarly change, and that they will adopt a policy for India like that which they were forced to adopt for Ireland. Now I come to our own party. Our party is responsible for the Government of India, and I have to ask why has Lord Morley failed to pacify India. In spite of the good things he has done, he has unfortunately failed. He has made great and terrible mistakes. The first was in connection with the partition of Bengal, the second had reference to his coercive measures, and the third was the inadequacy of his reforms. I will take first the question of the partition of Bengal. Lord Morley acknowledged it to be an error, but he had not the courage of his convictions, and he did not rectify that error. On the contrary, he excused himself, and apologised by saying that it was a settled fact. That, however, is not the way in which Liberals deal with wrongs. We do not accept them as settled facts. We try to rectify them. We are doing so in the case of the Licensing Acts. We considered that the whole policy of the late Government in South Africa was wrong, and we rectified it by restoring freedom to the Colonies there. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman told us with regard to the partition of Bengal that if substantial grounds were found for interference the matter would be reconsidered by the Government. The Prime Minister the other day, in response to a question, restated that. I wish to submit to the Government new and substantial grounds for reviewing that policy. The first is in relationship to an anarchical conspiracy. We have had references made several times to-night to the Alipur conspiracy— the largest yet discovered in India. What was the date of that conspiracy? We are told it was 16th October, 1905. What was the date of the partition of Bengal? It was 16th October, 1905. As far as I can see this is cause and effect. They say that the conspiracy followed out of the partition, so that surely this is a reasonable occasion for the Government of India to reconsider their position. No partition, we can safely say, no conspiracy, and we can go further, and say, no partition, no repression, no imprisonment; so that the remedy lies in the Government's 2082 bands in an easy and satisfactory manner. The second is that the Royal Commission appointed by the Government to deal with Decentralisation has also recommended that the partition should be reconsidered and remodelled. The third is that the national sentiment in Bengal is outraged. The people decline to be pacified until this is rectified, and surely we as Liberals say, the will of the people and, therefore, public sentiment should be respected, national sentiment shall not be outraged, and we shall reconsider the matter. It is our business and our duty to do so, and I have to say this honestly and straightforwardly to Lord Morley, that if he has not the courage to do it, it is his business to retire and let somebody else do it.
As to the Secretary of State introducing coercive measures that has been so thoroughly dealt with by many hon. Members, that I think I need not dwell upon it, but I should like to remind the House of the attitude of the present Irish Secretary, when he was bullied by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side to introduce coercion into Ireland. He said, "I will not." He has given his reason, and it is that the sources of disturbance in Ireland is disappointed hopes and unrealised expectations. I wish to Heaven that Lord Morley had the same courage and the same virulent faith and fidelity to his principles, and say "I will not" accede to the appeals of the officials in India who ask for coercive measures. I should like to refer to one passage by Morley himself in Gladstone's "Life," where he is recording the condition of Ireland, immediately after the Phoenix Park murders, which were despicable murders, even more despicable than that perpetrated a few weeks ago, and he says the coercion with which Parliament entrusted Mr. Forster was unconstitutional in theory, infatuated in policy, and calamitous in results. This infatuated policy has brought about calamitous results in India, and the sooner Lord Morley, as the last speaker said, introduces peaceful measures and a great amnesty, the better for India and the better for us. Lord Morley also told us that we should not have two consciences, the one for the East and the other for the West. I think his excuse now is that Indians are different from Irishmen. I wish that Lord Morley was a physiologist, and he would know that there is no difference. They are made of the same blood, the same brains, the same livers, and the only difference is a little pigment in the skin. After all, we must recognise that God 2083 did make of one blood all the races of the world and the nations of the earth, and we should give the same measure of justice to the Indian as we do to the Irishman. Mr. Gladstone was very emphatic about coercion in Ireland, and on May 2nd, 1882, we read, that he presented a Memorandum to the Cabinet as follows:—The Cabinet are of opinion that the time has now arrived with a view to the interests of law and order in Ireland, when the three Members of Parliament who have been in prison on suspicion since last October shall be immediately released.That was carried unanimously in the Cabinet with one dissentient, Mr. Forster, the Irish Secretary, and, of course, Mr. Forster had to resign, and did resign, and what we feel is this, that if Lord Morley will persist in being obstinate, and if he will not carry out Liberal principles then it is his duty to consider whether it is not right in the interests of his own party, in the interests of this great country, and of what is the most important of all—it is not right and justifiable in the interests of India that he should resign and let somebody else carry out the policy. We are grateful for reforms in the right direction, but how feeble they are when you consider what the Indian Nationalists were asking for. What they were asking for might be figuratively described by saying that they were asking for "Dreadnoughts" in the shape of Parliamentary institutions, and what has been given them is no better than little scouts, with two-inch guns for firing off questions to the officials, and with power occasionally to move resolutions. What would Ireland say if, when she was asking for Parliamentary institutions, she was offered this. She was offered very much better treatment, and she declined it because it did not come up to her just demand. I hope the Indians are going to accept these institutions and reforms, and will make them the stepping-stone to greater things. I read to-day a challenge from the correspondent in India of "The Times." He says:—It would be interesting and instructive if the friends of India in the House of Commons would offer a solution of the problem.He thinks the problem is almost insoluble. If it were not for that challenge I would not ask the House to consider what I have already stated two years ago in the House, what I believe to be the solution of the Indian problem. It is the same solution that we found for Canada, for Australia, and for South Africa, and that is self-government in 2084 the form of Parliamentary institutions. We have been told, and we are always told, that Indians are not fit for self-government. The hon. Member for East Nottingham (Sir Henry Cotton) has answered that. They never will be fit until they get Parliamentary institutions to show that they are fit. Besides, Parliamentary institutions are educative, and they will enable them to gain experience, and I think they have quite sufficient intelligence and self-control and judgment to work Parliamentary institutions. I am supported in this contention in a way by the Leader of the Opposition. In speaking about the Indian Councils Bill, he referred to Parliamentary institutions, and he said he recognised that they were the best form of Government in the world, but he thought they had limitations, and the limitation was homogeneity of community. Do we find a homogeneous community in Austria or in the Unite States or in Turkey, which is the last Power to try this great and ever-successful experiment of free Parliamentary Government?
But I have a better supporter in the Prime Minister. He says that Parliamentary Government is the greatest instrument of freedom in the world. We should like the greatest instrument of freedom to be tried in India. The situation is so serious in India—more serious than it was in Canada—that, failing other things, I trust the Government will appoint a special Commissioner and send him out to India to report. What we want is a man like the late Lord Durham, who believed and had faith in his Liberal principles, and who did not hesitate to apply them. He was laughed at whim he came back to this country and reported that Parliamentary Government was the safety-valve for Canada, yet within four years Canada got exactly what Lord Durham recommended. I have been laughed at in this House for advocating Parliamentary institutions in India and in Egypt. I am sorry any man on the Liberal Benches should respond in such a manner as my hon. Friend below me did. I cannot congratulate my hon. Friend on the strength and virility of his Liberal principles. We should be prepared to apply them to any portion of the British Empire, and I sincerely trust, for the sake of peace in India, for the sake of our good fame, and for the sake of keeping the British Empire united, we shall strive to meet all the wishes of India, give them their Parliamentary Government, give them an amnesty for their prisoners, 2085 rectify the partition of Bengal, and bring about that bond of love that comes from respect, justice and righteousness.
§ Mr. E. A. RIDSDALE
The hon. Member who has just spoken said the House knew what value to attach to the speeches that the hon. Member (Mr. Rees) made. I am certain the House knows what value to attach to the speeches of the hon. Member for Brentford (Dr. Rutherford). He knows quite well he spent a long period— three weeks, if I am not wrong—
§ Mr. RIDSDALE
It was either three or six weeks. I will not be particular to a day or two. He spent somewhere between one month and three months in that enormous province, with an enormous population, and he came back and delivered a speech in which he undertook to formulate a scheme of government which would right all its wrongs. What I am sorry for is that though this House may know exactly what value to attach to these speeches, I do not think the great Dependency of India, and her population, know what right value to place upon speeches sometimes made by Members in the House. They cannot differentiate between different Members of Parliament. If they see anyone with "M.P." after his name, they think that means he carries an immense weight of public opinion behind him.
§ Mr. RIDSDALE
That is a point on which I beg to differ. I want to make a suggestion. I want to ask my hon. Friend to consider the expediency or otherwise of endeavouring to issue interest-bearing notes in India. Supposing he could get a note bearing a low rate of interest, say 3 per cent., with it clearly stated on the back of the note, to run for a currency of 10 years, that at each period of six months the note was worth just a little more, till, after 10 years, it ceased to bear any further interest. I think, though I know the great conservatism of the Indian people, it might succeed in getting that note taken in lieu of silver. If an experiment of that kind should succeed I will not point out the enormous political advantage which its success would lead to. A man who held your promise to pay would never be an enemy of yours— he would always be your friend, and tell you of any difficulty or political unrest. Once you had these notes out in the coun- 2086 try, the moment you found them coming back in rather more than their normal proportion you would at once know that there was some conspiracy or some form of political unrest in the Dependency. More than that, you would be able to trace from that particular part of India from which the notes came that it was in that spot the trouble was arising. I quite appreciate that it would be a very difficult thing indeed to get these notes once started, but I seriously urge that the experiment is worth making, for if you can get paper notes, with the promise of the Government of India, once largely in the hands of the native population, you will have got a greater lever than any form of political pressure to prevent that people taking any hostile steps against the Government whose promise to pay they hold.
§ Sir JOHN JARDINE
I think it is the desultory nature of this discussion which causes such a paucity of Members on this yearly occasion. As regards the Regulation of 1818, after a long experience of the Indian Service I would say that it is advisable that that Regulation should be kept in force to provide for emergencies that may occur suddenly under the volcanic conditions which exist in many parts of the country. It is difficult to defend it on constitutional grounds. I would partly liken it to the Royal prerogative, which centuries ago gave the King a power above the ordinary law to intervene and protect the State in sudden and great occasions of danger. Doubtless in those days the King's prerogative was used not always for the public good, and sometimes for the Royal pecuniary interest, and strong feeling arose against it, and its dimensions were reduced. But this happens to be Statute. What the Government have done in putting in force this regulation is the very opposite of the vagueness of martial law or some of those things which have attracted the discussion, and sometimes the displeasure, of Parliament where their officers have gone beyond the bound of the law in dealing with individual subjects. Another reason, I think, in favour of it is that it is not much used, and when it is used it is done under restrictions. It is rather difficult in India always to distinguish between disloyalty and discontent. There are a good many officers who are not unwilling to put forth all their powers, and more than their legal powers, on certain occasions. At the time of the Kookas rebellion Lord Mayo was scandalised at the action of a civil officer in removing persons 2087 from gaol in a country where courts were ready to sit. The officer removed a number of persons, some of whom were wounded, and executed a lot of them without any warrant in law. Lord Mayo pointed out that although it was the duty of the magistrates to enforce the law against people who tried to overpower the authority of the Crown, yet he would not allow the law to be broken by subordinates at their own discretion. I fancy that the use of this Regulation would prevent people from suffering far greater injury at times of great disturbance or when disturbance was beginning than they would suffer if it did not exist.
I would have liked the Under-Secretary to allude a little more to what I think is the greater danger of the corruption of the police. I would have liked that he had given some attention to the state of the judiciary in India, and the requisition from Rangoon for higher judicial institutions. Passing from these matters, I would briefly refer to the question of education. There are always hon. Members here and excellent gentlemen outside who would like to dig up the well-established system by the roots, and dictate to the universities as to what these great bodies ought to teach. Education in India of the higher sort was almost begun by the missionaries. They thought it was their duty to confer on the people of India the highest gifts that we could possibly give them, and among them was high education. The Government took that view, and universities were established, and their endeavour has been to train the mind with a high notion of what a university is in all those studies which interest mankind, and which have a good and elevating effect upon the intellectual character. The battle between British education and the old Oriental education based on Sanscrit and Arabic books, very ancient and generally of a religious character was fought long ago. A generation of distinguished men has passed away since then, and the universities have gone on increasing in usefulness and therefore they ought not to be lightly disturbed. Let alone the greater benefits which we speak of in regard to the training of the intellect, it is by this means of higher education, carefully controlled by the Universities, that the natives have now at their disposal gentlemen as lawyers, judges, engineers, and medical men, who are very much wanted among the poorer classes, besides many others who became pioneers of every sort of useful culture, and join 2088 heartily with us in every sort of reform. Having had myself much to do with those who have received this higher education, and especially in the management of one of those universities, I would say that it is in that society that Europeans and natives meet on the best of terms, I think on the best terms of equality that there can be, and co-operate most heartily for the general good. The strife went on. There were those who thought that the Indian mind was too much wrapped up in speculative sciences, with, for instance, philosophy and metaphysics, and that it ought to get turned more in the positive direction, more to science and to mathematics and applied physics, and all those things that are useful in material development. But that is being done. We can safely trust that to the men who govern the universities. There is no need to speak as if there was no culture of that kind. Where the deficiency has been felt, careful endeavours have been made to remedy it, and to give as good training in the mechanical arts and sciences as in the humanities. I think that the effect of those pioneers of culture has been to add a number of most useful and loyal men to help the British officers in their endeavours; and it would be quite impossible— it is too late in the day now—to say that their brains should be compressed into compartments, aid that we should exclude, for instance, political economy or polemics, or any of the other Indian subjects that are taught at the universities. The time has passed for all this. As regards the critcism of Lord Morley, I would like to express my opinion that the reforms which he projected, with the sanction of the Government of India, and which have received very general attention from both parties in politics, are likely to create very beneficial and very quieting effect. I daresay there will be plenty in India who would like to go many steps further, exactly as there are within this realm. But everything cannot be got in a day, and the Act is likely to be a landmark in the history of India, and in the course of time it will have the quieting effect which we all desire to see.
I would not like to say that the Government of India has not been a success. When one considers the immense area, the vast population, the number of peoples, vastly different from each other, and the many difficulties of climate, health, and disease with which the British have had to contend, I would like to give my opinion that, taken on the whole, the 2089 Government of India is not at all a bad Government, and that it has been one of high endeavour, and I would say successful endeavour, considering the great difficulties. All that has not been accomplished without great sacrifice. We talk of conciliation. I would like to have as great a bond of union as possible; but it is vain to expect all that without reopening the differences of national character. There was a great man who had to deal with the Government of the Deccan in the year 1817—I refer to Lord Mountstuart Elphinstone, Governor of Bombay, who was twice offered the position of Governor-General and declined it. In regard to the Government of Bengal in his day, he saw its deficiencies, and he wished to make the Deccan come under an Administration more harmonious with its customs, laws, and sentiments, but he recognised that when the time came in which officers would be promoted, not by virtue of special selection, but from seniority, with their own British characteristics and with their own sort of British ways, there would arise the difficulty which we shall always have, though I think it has been largely met by the new Act for the Government of India. As regards conciliation, I have one more suggestion to offer. I think, with reference to the speech of my hon. Friend that he referred too much to the English in respect of the institutions we have planted in India. I believe, considering the conciliatory disposition of the Scots, that the more Scotsmen we can send to India the better will it be for the bond of union between this country and the Dependency.
§ Mr. G. P. GOOCH
In regard to the reform scheme of Lord Morley, my chief feeling about it is not that it does not go far enough, but that it ought to have come some years before. However, we may disagree as to whether in certain parts it goes too far or not far enough. I believe most of us agree that if it had been introduced and carried five, six, or ten years ago we should not be confronted with the very grave difficulties which we have now to encounter. There are two points on which I wish to touch. The first has reference to some remarks made by the Under-Secretary, remarks put with great urbanity and great kindness about questions that some of us feel it our duty to ask in this House. It seems to me that the attitude of the Under-Secretary, and the attitude of the Secretary of State for India are very natural attitudes, but, if carried 2090 to their logical conclusion, they would shut off the asking of almost any question in this House, either about India or about foreign affairs. I can quite understand that it is exceedingly annoying to men who are giving their lives, and very often their health, in India to feel that they are being nagged at, but I do not think that that is a correct feeling or description of the majority of the questions which are asked; or still less of the spirit in which they are asked. I venture to assert that the Members of the House of Commons, who for the last forty or fifty years have specially interested themselves in India, such as Bright, Fawcett, Bradlaugh, Caine, and Sir W. Wedderbum—I do not mention the present Members—have in their criticisms not been misleading, and have, on the whole, been a force making for progress and making for good government. Therefore I venture to protest very sincerely and very humbly against the doctrine which, as far as I could understand it, the Under-Secretary of State for India enumerated to-night.
I wish to refer to one or two aspects of the deportations which have not been so fully touched upon. Some of us desire that the Begulation of 1818 should be abolished completely; others would be content that instead of being abolished it should be modified. I do not think it is an unfair criticism to say that the Under-Secretary of State referred only to those Members here and elsewhere who desired complete abolition and abrogation. He did not deal in the least with the desire of some of us for modification. He seemed to speak as if the only two alternatives were the maintenance of the proclamation in its present form, or entire abrogation. I venture to say that those are not the only alternatives. There is a third, in the maintenance of the power with consider able alterations in the method of applying it. I venture to express the hope that the Under-Secretary of State will look at the question of the 1818 Regulation not from the point of view of abrogation, but from the point of view of possible modification. In that connection I may read an answer which the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made to me only a day or two ago in reference to a measure—I do not know whether I should call it a law or not—which has just been promulgated in Egypt. The Egyptian Government found it necessary, or are finding it necessary, to establish a sort of black list of dangerous characters who should be put under police super- 2091 vision. I asked the Foreign Secretary whether those people who are to be put under police supervision would have any opportunity of answering the charges against them before any effective action was taken. The following was the answer, which I venture to commend to the Under-Secretary for India:—Before any person can be placed under police supervision in virtue of the measure referred to, he must be cited to appear before a Commission composed of the Mudir or Governor of the Province, the President of the Native Court, the Native Chief do Parquet, and two Notables. The Commission will hear witnesses, and the accused will be heard in his defence. He will be allowed legal assistance.I plead to-night not for the abolition of the Regulation but for its modification. I do earnestly and sincerely ask the Under-Secretary to consider whether it would not be possible, while maintaining the substantial power which the Executive has under the Regulation of 1818, to introduce a modification on the lines of this Order in Egypt. He did not deal in the least or at all with what many of my Friends feel most dissatisfied about, and that is, the method of applying the Regulation, namely, that a man is deported and is not told. He may sometimes be told, but there is nothing in the Regulation to say that he shall be told what he is charged with. The consequence is that he has no opportunity whatever of meeting the charges which are brought against him. The Under-Secretary stated that there might be a difficulty in getting witnesses into open court, and he quoted a case. We are not asking in all cases for public trial, so that his objection about the danger of witnesses falls entirely to the ground. We are asking for a private communication to the deportees as to the charges, if possible, as to the witnesses, and the sources on which these charges are based. Therefore, I hope he will use his influence in the India Office to secure, at any rate, that slight modification of the deportation ordinance, which, while leaving the Executive all the power it now has, would go far to modify the injustice of the ordinance, and to some extent the opposition which some of us feel bound to offer to it. The serious thing about the deportations is that, by common consent, some of the men who have been deported are of the highest character. They are entirely different from the men to whom the Egyptian ordinance is to apply. Many of the latter have been in and out of prison, whereas, I believe, none of the nine men who were deported last November had ever been before a court of law or had any charge preferred against 2092 them. I want, in conclusion, to read a few words from a very statesmanlike speech delivered in the Budget Debate at the end of March:—I know Krishna Mitra and Aswini Dutt very well personally. They are undoubtedly persons of the highest character, and it is incredible that either of them should have been even remotely connected with crime.The speaker went on to say that under these circumstances he earnestly pleaded that they should be released. I ask the Under-Secretary not, at present, for the abolition of the Regulation of 1818, but for its modification in the direction I have indicated, and I would add my plea to those already put forward for an amnesty for the men who have been deported.
§ Mr. ARNOLD LUPTON
One of the arguments in favour of conciliation in India seems to be this: The present Secretary of State and Under-Secretary are in their present position because of the enthusiastic efforts made by a considerable section of the Liberal party to win the general election and to place the present Government in power. If one of the results is that India was governed in exactly the same way as she would be if hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power, it will take away from Liberals the enthusiasm they have exhibited. We shall no longer be able to think that we are working for Liberal principles all over the world. When the Minister in charge of India is put into the House of Lords, out of our reach, he may treat the people worse than if he belonged to the party opposite, because the mouths of a large section of the Liberal party are closed when their own Government is in power. But if a Conservative Government were in office, and anything like this were done, they would be attacked, not by a dozen enthusiasts, but by the whole Liberal party, and they would feel that some concession was due to the Liberal sentiment of the country. With regard to the deportations and sending men to prison without trial, why should such powers be used? The reason is obvious. It is well known to those who advise the Government that if these Gentlemen were put on trial before the High Court at Culcatta, they would be honourably acquitted. The authorities dare not put them on their trial: there can be no other reason. There are laws enough to deal with the slightest sign of sedition, but there is no evidence which will stand examination; therefore, the Government try to strike terror into those who are in some respects opposed to 2093 them by deporting men without trial. And then, what is the object? Why do the people want some consideration? We know that the death rate of India has increased by 30 per cent. in the last 20 years. We know that taxation has been increased by 50 per cent. on the average. That is cause and effect—the starvation of the people. What could be more striking than the statement of the hon. Member for Walworth? He showed how in some districts the Land Tax had been increased eight-fold; that in some districts the people had been driven to despair. When we have this enormous increase of expenditure without any increase in the area of the land from which the taxes are to be got, an increased death-rate, and the people driven to despair, they may well think that anarchy and civil war are not worse than the Government that is slowly, but surely, starving many millions of them to death. I would like to say this: that the enormous military expenditure has been gradually increased. What reason can there be for this military expenditure? There is only one reason for it: that is the desire of the military to have money spent upon themselves. What reason can there be for provoking the people by the partition of Bengal, the deportations, and many other things calculated to irritate and annoy? The military feel that if they can provoke sedition, and provoke the people to unrest, they will be able to show that a large army is necessary, and that will justify the expenditure upon themselves. I have not the slightest doubt that behind the Chief Secretary and the Governor-General the military party are pulling the strings. They do not in the least mind if there is an active feeling of sedition shown in the country, because then all the great armies and cannons might be of use. Soldiers are made to fight. It is their business and duty to fight. But it is not their duty to govern the Empire. We know that the present Commander-in-Chief is master of India. We know that he insisted on having his own way, and we know that the authorities in India and at home were not strong enough to resist him. What is the object of this vast military expenditure? We have not now to count on the hostility of Russia. Is it to use the Indian Army for our home projected wars? Is it to send that Army on foreign expeditions? If it is for service in India, why so many troops? Do they expect a rebellion? I think we ought to seriously consider this matter. I have absolutely no confidence in military 2094 government. The only way is to get more representative government in India. During the Indian Mutiny attempts were made to stop the rebellion by all sorts of cruel things. It was not until the then Governor-General issued a merciful and conciliatory proclamation that the rebellion came to an end. Now if the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary wishes to have a peaceful and a happy India, let him adopt a conciliatory tone and reduce the present ruinous military expenditure, which is starving the people to death.
The MASTER of ELIBANK
I think it is desirable now that I should make some short observations in reply to the interesting speeches to which we have listened this afternoon. And may I take this opportunity of thanking the House for the very kindly references made to myself and of expressing my appreciation of these references, coming from so many Members of the House, and especially coming from Members who differed so profoundly from the views I expressed I When I was speaking of the decentralisation of the Army in India, I felt my observations were being watched by my right hon Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir Charles W. Dilke) with a most careful eye. The payment of £300,000 to the War Office by the Indian Government was most carefully considered, not only by Lord Morley and the Secretary of State for War, but also by two very distinguished Indian officials, one a member of the Secretary of State's Council, Sir John Edge, and Sir Beauchamp Duff, who is at the present moment head of the Staff in India, and likely to know the feelings of the people. I believe, so far as the decentralisation movement is concerned, that at the time to which the hon. Member refers, it had not actually taken place. It is only within the last few months that the altered conditions have come into operation with increased usefulness to the central organisation, because it has allowed the Commander-in-Chief a great deal more time to attend to the necessary duties of the Army, and I am assured, on the very best authority, that since this decentralisation scheme came into effect the Commander-in-Chief has had considerably more time to make himself acquainted with every unit of the Indian Army. It is a very large question, and I do not propose to discuss it now, especially with such an authority as my right hon. Friend (Sir C. W. Dilke).
The Noble Lord, Earl Percy, and the Noble Lord, the Earl of Ronaldshay, very 2095 naturally raised the Mahomedan question in connection with the approaching Indian reforms. I am afraid I can only give a very unsatisfactory reply to the speeches of the two Noble Lords, because the whole matter is being very carefully considered at present by the Secretary of State. And I think the Noble Lords will be inclined to agree with me that it would be premature at this moment to make any statement on behalf of the Secretary of State. I can assure the Noble Lords that the views they so ably expressed, not only in this House, but also in the Press, will have the very careful attention of the Indian Government of Lord Minto and of the Secretary of State also. The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Mackarness) disagreed with the statement I made this afternoon in regard to the Seditious Speeches Act. I can assure him that at the conclusion of my speech I was at pains to find out whether I was in error or not, and I find that, as I said this afternoon, in no case in India at the present moment is this Act in force. It was passed two years ago, and it was then applied by proclamation to one district in East Bengal and Assam, and at the expiry of its term it has not been renewed. I think that also is an answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie).
We have had in the course of the Debate this afternoon very grave reflections made upon the police in India. So far as I have been able to make researches into these matters, I do not find myself at all in harmony with my hon. Friend the Member Newbury and other Gentlemen who agreed with him in regard to the police. I find that my hon. Friend was in error when he spoke of Lord Curzon's Commission being constituted in 1905.
The MASTER of ELIBANK
It reported in 1903; my hon. Friend will find that it was constituted in 1902 and reported in 1903. A considerable time has elapsed since the Report of that Commission, and the authorities in Calcutta and India generally have been putting forward their best endeavours to act on the findings of that Commission. I should like to read to the House an extract from the speech of Sir Harvey Adamson, who said:—It must be remembered that the reforms cannot be expected to produce their full effect at once. It takes time for police officers to be trained and gain the necessary experience, but considerable improvement has already been made, and if the right class will come forward for the rank of sub-inspector we may expect, a 2096 I marked change for the better, The success of the police, however, depends even mere upon the assistance given by the people themselves than on the abilities of the police officers. The iniquities of the police are a favourite theme, but it would be well sometimes to remember that one of the difficulties they have to encounter is owing to the absence of that civic spirit which co-operates with the police in other countries and helps them to bring offenders to justice.I attempted in the course of my speech this afternoon, although in less eloquent language, to express the views of Sir Harvey Adamson. I therefore appeal to the hon. Member for East Nottingham (Sir H. Cotton), who has such a very great knowledge of India, at any rate upon this question, to use such language as may encourage the officials who have to administer the law upon which the whole of the Europeans in India and the Indians have to rest for their security. My hon. Friend the Member for Newbury, in the course of his speech, quoted the case of the torture of a woman. I inquired into that case, and I find that a Special Commission has been appointed to inquire into it. The court gave her the benefit of the doubt, but I would suggest to my hon. Friend that on a case like that, which has not yet been completely decided, it is not quite fair to base a whole series of charges against the police and accuse them of being a corrupt force. I am sure my hon. Friend will appreciate what I say, and I make this criticism in no hostile spirit.
§ Mr. MACKARNESS
The hon. Member has evidently got hold of another case. It is not a question of the woman, but of the police. It is a different, case altogether.
The MASTER of ELIBANK
I do not think I am in error. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Keir Hardie), in a very moderate speech, asks whether the demonstration which is to be held tomorrow in Calcutta is likely to be stopped. I can only assure my hon. Friend that we know nothing about this at the India Office; and I am certain if the Indian Government take any action, such as the hon. Member suggests, they would only do so if they found there were real grounds for their intervention. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr, and also, I think, the Member for Bath (Mr. G. P. Gooch), in a speech of most studied moderation, criticised the Police Amendment Act in Calcutta. May I point out to my hon. 2097 Friends that this Act is, in fact, a reproduction of the Act which has been in effect for the last seven years in Bombay. I will not trouble the House with the details of this Act; in fact, I answered a question yesterday very fully on the subject. I will only mention for the information of my hon. Friends that when the Bombay Bill was passed in 1902 it was received with general approval by the Indian members of the Council. For instance, at the second reading one of the native members of the Council said:—The Bill emerges from the Select Committee shorn of all those objectionable features—and they were not many, I admit—which characterised it as it originally stood. A Bill of this sort is not a Bill with regard to which there is any general or common principle to be discussed,I think if my hon. Friend were to examine the provisions of this Bill he would not find it was such a formidable document as his speech would lead us to believe. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr also asked if there was any possibility of an amnesty being granted when the Indian Councils Act came into effect. He would not, of course, expect me to make any reply. I would only say that, under the existing regulations, these sentences come up for revision every six months. Perhaps that meets the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath, who spoke about modification. We know from the Prime Minister the decision at which the Government has arrived, and we can only be guided by the reports which the Viceroy makes in connection with these cases.
§ Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.