§ Order for Committee read.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)
I beg to move "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair" (for Committee on East India Accounts.)"
I am aware there is a regrettable custom, which is not unbroken and certainly not unbreakable, but which is nearly always respected, that the representative of the India Office should only thrust himself and his Department upon the attention of this House once every year. I am conscious of the fact that I have asked the House to listen to me as many as three times in one week, and that at a time when the din of ordinary party strife is running very high and when there are ominous clouds over Europe. I make no apology, for India is and must remain one of Great Britain's chief responsibilities as she is one of Great Britain's chief glories. Her problems and her history demand from us as much time, if not more time, than we can spare. I have nothing personal to say except that I am conscious that last year, with the zeal of an amateur explorer in a new country, I travelled so wide a field that I have increased my own difficulties this year. I can only hope the House will believe, if I avoid subjects with which I dealt last year, that I am trying to avoid no point of special interest. I want further to pay the customary tribute—customary and sincere—to those who have taken part in this Debate in former years, and who, since last year, have passed away. I allude to two of my predecessors. Mr. John Ellis was a respected parliamentary veteran, who showed his interest in Indian affairs by devoting to my office the last years of his parliamentary activity, almost the last years of his life. Mr. Buchanan—whose share in the passage of the Indian Councils Bill through this House will, I hope, never be forgotten by India—won, by his breadth 1665 of view, courtesy and gentleness, the respect and affection of all parties in the House at a time when Indian affairs were more controversial than at present.
Last year, it will be remembered, I gave the House some figures—always poor things at the best by which to try to picture a country—to show the numbers of the peoples with which we had to deal. This year I am able to give them more Accurately, because in India, as in this country, a Census was taken last spring. It covers one and three-quarter millions of square miles. It extended to all the Provinces and Feudatory States forming the Indian Empire—from the Shan States on the borders of Yunnan in the east, to the deserts of Baluchistan in the west, and from the snows of the Himalaya in the extreme north, to Cape Comorin in the tropics. Within nine days of the enumeration the Government of India were able to announce the provisional figures of the Provinces and Feudatory States and principal towns. The corresponding provisional figures in this country were not announced for seven weeks. This is a remarkable instance of most careful preliminary organisation and attention to the minutest details. It would not have been possible if it had not been for the willing co-operation of many voluntary workers belonging to all classes of society, for Census-taking in India is not without its own peculiar difficulties.
I am told, for instance, that, on one occasion, a certain tribe in Central India became firmly persuaded that the enumeration was preliminary to their being sold as slaves, and serious rioting or failure was threatened. The official in charge of the Census operations, being a man of resource, realised that what was wanted was some other plausible hypothesis to account for the enumeration, so he summoned the chief men and informed them that a bet had been made after supper between the Queen-Empress Victoria and the Czar of Russia as to who had the greater number of subjects, and the reputation of the Empress-Queen and her fortune were at stake. All trace of rioting disappeared, and the tribes were enumerated to a man! The total population of India is returned at 315 millions, as against 294 millions in 1901. Part of the increase (1,731,000) is due to the inclusion of new areas. Allowing for this, the net increase in the ten years comes to 6.4 per cent. The rate of increase shown by the recent Census in 1666 the United Kingdom was 9.06 per cent. Of the total population of 315 millions, 244 millions are included in British India, and 71 millions in Native States.
With these figures let me now turn to the real or ostensible purpose of my addressing the House—the description of the Budget, the finances of India. It is here, as usual, that I hope to be able to compress what I have to say. Full information has already been given in the two Blue Books circulated to hon. Members. It may be that some, at any rate, of those here have looked at them. It is certain, that anybody who wants to can do so, so I propose to confine myself to a recapitulation of a few of the more important facts and a brief explanation of certain features. In March, 1910, the Government of India budgetted for a surplus of £376,000. At the end of the year they found an improvement of £5,448,400 on what they had anticipated, but of this improvement £402,000 went automatically to provincial Governments. Thus the amount by which the position of the Government of India was better than had been anticipated in March, 1910, was £5,046,400. Half this excess may, for the moment, be disregarded, because it arose from an exceptional and transient cause—the sensationally high price of opium. Apart from this, there was a saving of £811,600 on expenditure, and an increase of £1,912,900 in the yield of heads of revenue other than opium.
On the side of economy the most important feature was a saving of £358,300 in military expenditure, partly due to a decline in prices. The improvement of £1,912,900 in the yield of heads of revenue other than opium was mainly the result of increased net receipts from Customs, and from commercial undertakings, such as railways and canals. Four hundred and ninety-four thousand three hundred pounds occurs under Customs. I will only mention two items—silver, which showed an increase of £450,000, and tobacco, which showed a decrease of £225,467. When the former duty was being increased last year, a cautious estimate was naturally framed of its probable yield, because it was anticipated the increase would lead to a certain dislocation of trade and consequently a diminution of importation. But, as a matter of fact, diminution was very slight. There was only a very small falling-off from the very high level of the preceding year, and the revenue gained accordingly. It may be added that the fear 1667 expressed during the discussions in 1910 that the increased duty might depress the price of silver outside India, and thus cause some disturbance of international trade has been wholly falsified. The London price of silver just before the increase of the Indian Duty was 23 7–16d. per ounce; the present price is 24⅜d.
The effect of the increased duties imposed on tobacco last year has not been so satisfactory. The duties were fixed at the rates that were thought likely to be most productive, and the Government of India hoped that they would bring in £420,000. They affected the trade to a much greater extent than was anticipated, in fact, imports during the year showed a reduction of 75 per cent. in quality, and nearly 50 per cent. in value. Railways accounted for £1,272,000 of the surplus; irrigation £91,000, and telegraphs £104,000. The improvement in the profit of railways is the result of the increase in the gross traffic receipts—£674,500—and the decrease of working expenses, interest charges, and miscellaneous charges by £597,700. The shareholders who are junior partners with the Government in most of the more important lines of railway have benefited considerably by the improved traffic and cheaper working. The guaranteed companies received as surplus profits or net earnings £100,000 more last year than the year before, and in the period from 1st June, 1910, to 1st June, 1911, although Consols fell from 82½ to 81¼ the general trend of the prices of stocks of the chief Indian railway companies was upward; sometimes as much as 6½ per cent., as in the case of the Bengal and North-Western and the Southern Punjab Railway. The point I desire to make is that the better financial position of the Government of India is not the outcome of the increased burdens on the people, but is the indirect result of the favourable conditions by which the general population benefits much more directly, and to a much larger extent, than the Government itself. The Government of India is not merely a Government; it is really a vast commercial undertaking, sharing directly in the prosperity of its subjects, and directing many of their most profitable enterprises. I do not know how it came about that England—so distrustful of national or even municipal commercial enterprises—at a time when I suppose it was even more distrustful than it is now, gave to those who administered for it in India such wide commercial opportunities. 1668 But not only in railways and in canals, but even in agriculture—the chief industry of Indian—the Government is a large partner, and shares with the people the profits that are made from them.
It is this situation which makes budgetting in India so difficult—the impossibility of predicting the conditions which may lead to large surpluses or great deficits. Empires may rise or fall, but the weather—rather Indian for the moment here, yet little more than a topic of very commonplace conversation—is the most important factor affecting the conditions of the peoples and the Government of India. Of course, the world's harvest is at the root of world trade, but in India failure of the harvest brings misery to millions, danger and difficulty to an overwhelming proportion of the population in her Provinces, and deficits to her Government. Success of the harvest brings overflowing coffers to the Government and prosperity to the people. Last year I was able to tell the House that, after two years of severe drought, the abundant rains of 1909 had re-established the agricultural prosperity of India. The crops of 1909–10 were heavy, the prices satisfactory, and the export trade generally brisk. I am thankful to be able to say to-day that there has been no check to this prosperity. The monsoon rains of 1910 were sufficient, and the harvests reaped at the end of the year and in the recent spring have been normal, or above normal. The predictions that I made last year of expanding trade have also been fulfilled. The exports of Indian merchandise in 1908–9 were £100,000,000; in 1909–10 £123,000,000, and in 1910–11 £137,000,000. A rise of 37 per cent. in the three years is a notable event, and imports of merchandise have increased too, though to a much less extent. Thus, then it is to this general prosperity of harvest and of trade that India owes its surplus.
I turn now to the extraordinary surplus derived from opium as compared with the Budget estimates. It is hardly necessary for me to assure the House that this is not the result of any departure from the arrangements made with China in 1907. It is, on the contrary, the result of strict adherence to that agreement, for the restriction of supply, consequent upon the steady progress of the reduction of exports, has raised prices to an unexampled level. In. 1908–9 the average price of a chest of opium sold in Calcutta for export to China was £92; in 1909–10 it was £107, and in 1910–11 it was £195. The consequence of this extraordinary rise 1669 was to give the Government of India last year £2,723,000 revenue from opium beyond what they expected, and this, added to the surplus with which I dealt just now gave the total surplus of about £5,500,000.
The uses to which this surplus was put are fully explained in the Blue Books. It will be seen that £1,000,000 has been granted to local governments for expenditure on projects of permanent value for the development of education and sanitation—two crying needs of India about which I shall have more to say later. Of this amount £601,200 will be distributed between technical and industrial institutions, primary and secondary schools, colleges, hostels for students, girls' schools, and European schools, and about £400,000 will be used for drainage and waterworks in towns. About £1,000,000 is granted for expenditure in the promotion of various administrative or municipal schemes; for instance, the City of Bombay Improvement Trust gets £333,300, and Eastern Bengal and Assam £183,600 for the reorganisation of the subordinate police. One million pounds has been retained by the Government of India as an addition to its working balance, and £2,000,000 has been set aside to be used towards the discharge of floating debt. Hon. Members who read the report of the discussion on the Budget in the Viceroy's Legislative Council will find that the disposal of the surplus was received with general satisfaction. There was not, indeed, a tame unanimity of approval, because there are some Indian Members who are rather suspicious of large expenditure on the discharge of debt. This House may be inclined to take the opposite view, and the Government may perhaps be thought to have infringed the strictest canons of finance in not using the whole realised surplus for the discharge of debt, but inasmuch as the non-productive debt amounted on the 31st March, 1911, to only £46,000,000, as against £71,000,000 ten years previously, so that, if the same rate of reduction were to continue, the non-productive debt would be extinguished in about eighteen years, the Government of India may claim to have displayed on the whole a combination of prudence and liberality in dealing with the surplus that good fortune gave them. It has intrenched its own financial position, discharged onerous liabilities, and has spent considerable sums on very deserving objects.
I must turn for a moment to the Budget Estimate for 1911–12. Our estimates have 1670 been based on the expectation that harvests and trade will be good, and a surplus of £819,200 is anticipated. I trust that this expectation will be fulfilled, but, as the prospects of the harvests give rise to some anxiety in places, I thought it desirable to obtain from the Government of India the latest information on the subject. The following telegram was received from them yesterday:—Prospects are generally good in greater part of Eastern Bengal and Assam, Bengal. Madras and Burma. In the rest of India, including the dry zone of Burma, sowings appear generally speaking to have been normal, but crops have begun to wither, and if no rain falls during the next ten days or so the autumn crops will be imperilled. The situation (more especially in North-western Deccan, North Gujerat, Berar and West of Central Provinces and in North-west India generally) causes some anxiety, but stocks are in most places considerable, and the condition of the population is reported good and prices show no abnormal movements.The only alteration of taxation that is provided for is in tobacco. The experience of last year seemed to indicate that a larger or, at any rate, a more stable revenue would be derived from a lower duty, and the rates have, accordingly, been reduced by one-third.
But, although taxation has not been reduced, provision has been made for the cost of the Durbar and military review to be held at Delhi in December next, and for other incidents of the King's visit without any extra taxation. The latest estimate of gross expenditure is £942,200 Imperial and £183.000 provincial expenditure. Against this there will be a considerable set-off in the shape of receipts from the Durbar Light Railway, visitors' camps, and sales of plant and material. Most careful arrangements have been made to ensure that the accounts of the cost of the Royal visit shall show the whole of the expenditure of every description. There are few questions of greater difficulty to decide than the exact scale of expenditure on ceremonials when the taxpayers are poor, but when at the same time there is among them a very general desire that the celebrations shall be on an adequate scale. The scale of expenditure on this occasion was fixed after very careful consideration between the Government of India and the Secretary of State, and, when the financial provision was brought to the notice of the Legislative Councils, both Provincial and Imperial, it was received by the Indian representatives with what the Viceroy, in his speech on the 27th of March, described as "a tidal wave of enthusiasm." An Indian member of one of the Provincial 1671 Councils expressed his opinion on the expenditure by saying: "I wish it were more."
The Government of India claims with reason that its decision represents fairly well the mean between the possible mistakes of extravagance on the one hand, and, on the other hand, failure to give suitable expression to the feelings of a great people deeply moved by a great and indeed unique occurrence. I say unique occurrence, but although His Majesty is not going to be crowned again at Delhi, it would not be unprecedented that a King of England should undergo two Coronation ceremonies. There are several instances, as the House no doubt knows. Richard I., who was crowned at Westminster in 1189, was crowned again at Winchester in 1194, much against his will, on his return from captivity in Germany after his ill-starred crusade. Henry III. had to be content with an initial coronation at Gloucester, as the French were in occupation of London—without a crown, too, as the regalia had been lost with the rest of King John's baggage in the Wash—and it was not until four years later that a second ceremony was held in Westminster Abbey. But two centuries afterwards the tables were turned, when Henry VI. was crowned both in Westminster Abbey and in Notre Dame. The two Charles were both crowned in England and in Scotland. Comparison between Scotland and England and India and England is a mark of the signal growth of the British Empire. Nor is it the first occasion upon which Delhi has witnessed the accession ceremony of an Emperor. That historic city has been the scene of many accession festivals, though the ancient ceremonies present points of dissimilarity from those which will be witnessed next winter. We do not, for instance, think it necessary to conclude the festivities, as did Aurangzeb, by the public decapitation of 500 thieves, "thereby," as a local historian quaintly says, "terrorising the perverse." The unique nature of the present occasion lies in the fact that India has never before had the opportunity of receiving in person and doing honour to her British Emperor and Empress.
It may interest the House to hear a brief description of the ceremonies of which the Durbar will consist. Our aim is to make them as popular as possible, and to give every opportunity to the people of India of sharing in them. I am glad to be able 1672 to say that the outbreak of plague at Delhi, which caused some anxiety, has now subsided, and we may hope that there is therefore no probability of any such untoward incident as marred the Coronation of James I., when the plague was raging in London, and the people were forbidden to come to Westminster to see the pageant. On 7th December next their Majesties will arrive at the Bastion of Delhi Fort, where 150 ruling chiefs will be presented. Subsequently they will go in procession, with British and Indian escorts, round the Great Mosque, and through all the principal streets of the town. On the Ridge they will be received by representatives of British India, between 3,000 and 4,000 in number. On the two following days the King will receive visits from the chiefs, and will lay the foundation-stone of the all-India memorial to King Edward in Delhi. The Durbar ceremony itself will take place on the 12th. In order to make it as popular as possible, accommodation will be provided for 50,000 spectators, besides the 12,000 guests officially invited, and the 20,000 troops in the great arena. There will thus be space for about 100,000 people to see the Durbar, and to see it well. On the following day, in the morning, the King will receive the officers of the native Army, and in the afternoon Their Majesties will attend a garden party at the Fort, while a huge popular fete will be held on the open ground below the Fort, to which it is expected that about a million people will come to spend the day in the games and amusements that will be provided for them. On the 14th there will be a review of unprecedented size, in which British and Indian troops, numbering over 90,000, will be present, and I may add that this will have been preceded by four days' manœuvres on a scale never before found possible. Thus the advantage of practical training will be combined with the delights of brilliant display. On the next day, the 16th, Their Majesties will depart in procession through the streets of Delhi, and this historic pageant will be over. We, who have crowned our King this year, will wish him God-speed as he sets sail on his Imperial mission, feeling certain that he will receive a real and heartfelt welcome from all his peoples in India, not only because news of his popularity and devotion to his Imperial duties will have reached their shores, but because they will see in his visit, thus freshly crowned, an earnest that the passage of time and growing knowledge has increased the desire, which 1673 has always animated the British people, to help and serve their Indian fellow-subjects.
I must, however, get back to the subject of finance, because I want the House to look with me for a moment at the future beyond the year with whose finances we are at present concerned. We must now definitely face the total loss, sooner or later, of revenue derived from opium sold for export to China. As the House knows, a new agreement on this subject was concluded in May last between the United Kingdom and China. The Provisional Agreement of 1908, which arranged that the import of Indian opium and the production of Chinese opium should be progressively diminished year by year until, in 1917, import and production will entirely cease, was confirmed. His Majesty's Government have, moreover, agreed that whenever clear proof is given of the complete absence of production of native opium in China, she may claim the cessation of the export of Indian opium into China, either over the whole of China or province by province. Some prophets say, with considerable reason, that this revenue, of nearly £3,000,000 in the Budget of 1911–12, will disappear within the next two years. We have concluded this treaty in recognition of the reforming zeal in China and of the progress made there in the total eradication of native opium. The Government of India will loyally and scrupulously carry out their share of the agreement, and I claim the sympathy and admiration of the House of Commons for all who are working for this end, because they have decided that opium growing and opium trading is an immoral and intolerable industry. First of all, there are the Chinese people, who are showing an almost inconceivable zeal in freeing themselves from the vice which has laid them so long helpless in chains. There are the Indian people, the taxpayers, who are willingly and cheerfully sacrificing a valuable source of revenue. There are the opium growers in the native States, and there are the Government of India and the British Government, who, in 1906, found the opium trade flourishing and unlimited, and who have now succeeded in setting an end to it.
As I have said, we are budgetting for a surplus of £800,000, but there is also the non-occurring item of £1,000,000 for the King's visit. There is therefore a margin of nearly. £2,000,000 of surplus revenue in the present year to meet the deficit which will accrue when the opium revenue dis- 1674 appears. It is not over sanguine, I think, to hope that every future year, as the country develops and its trade increases, will produce a modest increase in the revenue. I am not forgetting that it is possible that a portion of those receipts will be spent on objects which are very much demanded, such as providing better education and sanitation; nor am I forgetting that it is possible that economies may be achieved in other Departments. I want to remind the House of the promise which was made last January in the Debate on this subject in Calcutta, when the Finance Member said that all the members of the Government of India will, during the current year, subject the expenditure for which they are individually responsible to close scrutiny, with a view to effecting all possible economy. I have every reason to believe that this promise is being fulfilled. It has, indeed, given rise to rumours, founded on what information, obtained from where, I do not know. It is said that we propose to cut down the military forces in India. Well, what if we did? Is it seriously suggested that when we are reviewing the expenditure in other Departments in order to justify every item, we should except the military department, and that it should be sacrosanct. If there were no army in India, no one would suggest that the army should be made anything but large enough, and only large enough, for the needs of the situation, but simply because the army was devised and organised at other times it is seriously suggested that no modification should be made and that, even though you are searching for economy in every Department, you should not be allowed to question your military expenditure. I can assure hon. Members that the Government does not share this illogical view, but that nothing is, or will be, contemplated as regards the army in India that will impair its efficiency for defending and guarding the peace of our Empire. However this may be, the question whether the loss of Opium Revenue will involve fresh taxation is one which I hope no one will decide too hastily. The present financial strength of the Government of India, the growth of its resources, and the growth or restriction of its expenditure, are all factors that have to be considered and re-considered as the financial plans for each successive year are made.
I now come to that part of my speech which by tradition is devoted to a more general discussion of the political position 1675 of India. I hope I shall not be considered to have failed in my duty if I say very little about the political situation. I dealt with it very fully last year, and in politics the year has been uneventful. That is all to the good. The North-West Frontier has been singularly free from disturbance. There have, of course, been raids, and there will continue to be raids so long as an increasing population, with predatory instincts, presses more and more heavily upon the soil. There has been considerable improvement up to now, following upon the appointment of a special agent to take charge of our relations with the Waziris. That has, undoubtedly, been successful so far, and it is hoped that the recent Joint Commission of British and Afghan officials, which disposed of an accumulation of cases of border crime, will check frontier raids, especially if the Afghan authorities are firm in carrying out their agreement not to permit outlaws to reside within fifty miles of the frontier. The North-East Frontier, I am sorry to say, was the scene of a deliberate open attack by Abors on a small British party, in which Mr. Noel Williamson, Assistant Political Officer at Sadiya, lost his life. The outrage is one for which His Majesty's Government are taking steps to inflict punishment at the earliest possible moment. Mr. Williamson was a young and energetic officer, who had done good service on the frontier, and to whom the Government of India are indebted for much valuable information about peoples whose confidence it is notoriously difficult to win. The House, I am sure, will wish to join the Government in an expression of regret at the loss of so valuable a life.
In the internal sphere of the political department an interesting event was the constitution of the State of Benares under the Suzerainty of His Majesty, the King-Emperor. This involves no change in the constitutional theories of the Government of India, nor does it betoken any new policy in regard to such cessions in future. Political crime has, I am sorry to say, shown its head once or twice. As long as there are men who lurk safely in the background to suggest these crimes; as long as there are tools, often half-witted, and generally immature, to commit them, under the impression that they are performing deeds of heroism, so long, I am afraid, occasional outrages of this sort may occur. Do not think I am minimising their horror. I can imagine nothing more tragic than that a devoted servant of the Govern- 1676 ment should have a career of utility to India cut short in this way. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the deep regret that His Majesty's Government and the Government of India feel at the deplorable murder of Mr. Ashe, and to tender the profound sympathy of all concerned with the relatives of this promising officer. But, horrible and deplorable as these crimes are in their individual aspect, it is a very common mistake, and a very great mistake, to attach too much importance to isolated occurrences of this sort as indices of the political situation, or to make them the text for long jeremiads in the most exalted journalese. With all respect to the admonition of an army of friendly critics, I adhere to everything that I said last year as to the progressive improvement of the general situation, though I shall probably again be told that my optimism is unjustifiable. I want to protest here against the criticism of Indian affairs one hears so often, such criticism as: "I do not like the news from India," and "India is now in a very dangerous state," and usually there is something said at the end about a Radical Government. I wish the people who talk like this, who write it in the Press, who write it to their friends, and who say it over the club fire, would do something to substantiate these expressions of vague and general alarm. What do they mean, these prophets of woe? Why, all that they mean, so I venture to assert, is that the Indian problem is a difficult one, and a complicated one, becoming, as the country develops, and its people are educated, increasingly difficult and increasingly complicated. There is no need to tell that to us who are concerned with the administration of India. It is all the more reason why we should face the future bravely and thinkingly; all the more reason why we should avoid a mournful pessimism which begets the atmosphere of distrust in which it thrives.
Whatever hysterics may be indulged in by armchair critics in the Press, the House may rest assured that the Indian courts will not be deflected one jot from that adherence to strict justice which has won them the respect of all sections of the community, nor the Executive Government from exercising clemency where clemency will serve the best interests of the country. The policy of Lord Crewe and Lord Hardinge is the policy of Lord Morley and Lord Minto—immovable determination to punish fitly anarchy and crime, with strict sympathy for orderly 1677 progressive demand for the peoples that they govern. Indeed, this is no new principle of Indian Government, for the policy of the Great Mogul was two centuries ago thus described by Manucci:—Liberality and generosity are necessary to a prince; but, if not accompanied by justice and sufficient vigour, they are useless: rather do they serve to the perverse as occasion for greater insolence.4.0 P.M.
I do not want to be dogmatic, but I may say that India is changing as fast as, if not faster than, the West, and our views must keep pace with the change. India has been given peace, unity, and an Occidental education, and they have combined to produce a new spirit. It is our duty to watch that movement, and to lead it, so far as it may be led from without, into right channels. When a change is produced in the political organisation of a great Empire, it must not be regarded as the result of an inspiration of a philosophic Secretary of State creating a new condition of things out of a placid sea, anxious to modify the realm over which he presides in accordance with his whim, his fancy, or even his settled conviction. Political change in any country results from causes very different from this. It must originate from within, not from without. Social conditions, slowly developing, stir public opinion and public demand, which move unformed and uncertain at first, gathering strength and shape later, and it is the duty of those in charge of the machine of Government to lead them into the channels of altered policy by means of Statutes, Orders in Council, etc. These paper elements of Constitution are to be regarded as the manifestation of the development of the country. They do not, of themselves, thrust the country backwards or forwards. They only mark and so help its movement forward or backward with a success which depends upon the equipment and wisdom of those in whom the control is vested. And here lies true statesmanship—to watch the manifold and complex currents, to diagnose aright the signs of the times, to await the moment, and, when the moment comes, to step in and mould into proper shape aspirations and demands which are feeling and groping for expression.
It is for this that the name of the great statesman, who has recently left the India Office, will be remembered in Indian history. Lord Morley, with a keen and liberal understanding of Indian men and affairs, has set such a seal upon Indian progress as can fall to the lot of 1678 few Secretaries of State. The appointment of John Morley to the India Office stirred great hopes in India. He had the good fortune to find in Lord Minto one whose share in the events of the last five years have obtained for him the affection and gratitude of India. The hopes were amply fulfilled. Liberal and generous reform, coupled with unflinching repression of crime, successfully met a situation that might well have broken the reputation of a lesser man. He has put off his armour amid the universal regret of the whole of India, and, if I may take this opportunity of saying so on their behalf, to the regret of all who worked under his leadership. By Lord Morley's reform scheme, I claim that we have successfully marked the political development of India as it is at the moment, and have provided a channel along which India's political history may run, I hope, contentedly and steadily for many years to come. May I say, again, what I said last year, that it is the opinion of all concerned in the Government of India that this scheme has been a complete success, and that the standard of work in the new Legislative Councils is worthy of the highest praise.
And now the question which I ask myself is, what of the future? A country cannot develop by political agitation alone. I am bound to say, as one who profoundly sympathises with progressive opinion in. India, that political agitation must not be allowed to outstrip development in other directions. Genuine political agitation must be spontaneous; it must be the inevitable result of causes working within a nation, not fictitious importation from outside. It is not enough to admire and envy Western political institutions; they cannot be imported ready made, they must be acquired as the fitting expression of indigenous social conditions. If India desires—I use this conditional because I know there are some in India who would retrace their steps and abandon Western influence, and go back to autocracy and Oriental despotism—but if she desires, as I believe the majority of educated Indians desire, to attain to Western political institutions, it must be by Western social development. The Indian educated faction with democratic leanings is a tiny faction. It must remove, if needs be by years of work, this inevitable rejoinder to its demands, not by clamour or by political agitation, but by work, however patient, along the lines I am about to indicate. It cannot be removed in any 1679 other way. The measures taken two years ago afford ample provision for the expression of public opinion, and for the more effective control by Indians over the government of their country. Time is not ripe for any further modification of the system of government. I say to India: work out your political destiny so far as you may under your existing Constitution; find out its best possibilities, and improve, if you will, its machinery, but, for the moment, turn your attention more directly to other problems which make a far more urgent call upon your energies. The Government is ready to play her part, but, without you, the Government can do nothing. Indians must turn their attention to organising an industrial population which can reap the agricultural and industrial wealth of the country, and attain a higher level of education and a higher standard of living.
India has developed from a series of isolated, self-supported village communities, where the main occupation was agriculture, carried on to feed the community, where payments were made wholly in produce, and where such industry as there was was mainly hereditary, and the products were distributed among the inhabitants of the village. Justice, law, and order were enforced by the village itself, often by hereditary officials. An idyllic picture perhaps, marred only by the important consideration that such an India was wholly at the mercy of climatic conditions. Drought or tempest meant starvation and sometimes disappearance. In the famines of olden times—far, far older than the British occupation—millions died of hunger, just as thousands died in the seventeenth century in France, where the same causes produced a similar effect. What has altered all this? Why, the same cause as altered similar conditions in France, in England, in Germany, and almost every European country—with this distinction. Whilst they were acquired in Europe by centuries of evolution, they have been imported into India by zealous workers, with the history of their own country as an example by which to profit; so that what has taken centuries in other countries has taken in India only a few years.
The huge development of railways in India—the House is familiar with the figures—is the work of little more than the last score of years. Metalled roads are 1680 only fifty years old. These means of communication, with the post and the telegraph, have shattered the isolation of villages, introduced money as a means of exchange, competition, and national and even international trade. India has thus become a trading country. Her agriculturists till the soil, not merely to provide themselves with food, but to sell, perhaps at the other end of the world, the products, of their labour. India's manufacturers compete with the manufacturers of other countries, requiring, as they do, the latest developments of science and technical knowledge. Enterprise has been facilitated; prices have been raised and equalised. Famine no longer means starvation. Thanks to modern means of communication, and to the greater security given by the irrigation system that the British Government has so largely developed, in times of scarcity in these days the number of deaths directly attributable to lack of food is insignificant.
But there are signs of a further development which also has its analogy in the industrial history of the West. The interdependence of all branches of industry, the concentration of labour in factories under expert management, the strict division of labour, the use of mechanical power, and the employment of large amounts of capital are symptoms of this revolution. We know that these are familiar conditions of industrial greatness, and the process now going on in India is comparable to what occurred in this country when, for instance, our great woollen and cotton industries were developed from the isolated hand weavers. This period in a country's history brings with it many possibilities of evil unknown to a more archaic society, but it brings also possibilities of wealth and greatness. Let us not pause to deplore the risks of evil, for, if the industrial revolution has begun, nothing can stop it. As well try to stop the incoming tide with your outstretched hands. Our task is rather to guard against the evils that our Western experience enables us to foresee.
In support of my assertion that we have clear signs of the advent of this industrial revolution, may I give to the House a few figures. Twenty years ago there were 126 cotton mills, employing 112,000 hands; there are now 232 mills, employing 236,000. In the same time the number of jute mills has exactly doubled, and the persons employed in them increased from 61,000 to 192,000. Altogether there are now about 2,500 factories of all kinds worked by 1681 mechanical power, employing nearly a million persons. The tea industry gives employment to 600,000 persons, and exports annually 250 million pounds of tea, valued at nearly £8,000,000, an increase in ten years of nearly £2,000,000. As regards mineral production, the chief mineral worked is coal. The annual output, which has more than doubled in the last eight years, is 12,000,000 tons, and the industry employs about 130,000 persons. Petroleum also has developed very rapidly. The output is now 176,000,000 gallons, which is quadruple that of ten years ago. Manganese ore is also a new and considerable mining industry. As yet there is no steel-making plant in India, but much is expected from Messrs. Tata Brothers' undertaking, which is nearing completion. If we may add the employés on the railways, who number some half a million, to the numbers employed in factories, tea estates and mining, the total comes to about two and a-quarter million persons. As regards the growth of capitalisation I may mention that there are 2,156 companies registered in India, with a nominal capital of £70,000,000 and a paid-up capital of £40,000,000. These figures have been doubled in ten years. There are also many companies registered abroad which carry on business exclusively in India, mainly in tea-growing, jute mills, cotton mills and rice mills. These companies (omitting railway companies) have a share capital of £30,000,000, besides debentures. Again, the banking capital of India has greatly increased during the last ten years. Deposits have risen from £20,000,000 to £43,000,000. This, of course, means so much increase in the capital available for financing commercial and industrial operations.
If further proof were needed of this industrial revolution, then it is significant that, although four-fifths of the exports of India consist of raw materials and foodstuffs, while four-fifths of the imports consist of manufactured goods, these proportions are being modified. Raw material imports have increased at a more rapid rate than manufactured imports, whilst the rise in the exports of manufactured goods is more than twice as great as the rise in the exports of raw material. From 1892 to 1907 manufactured exports had increased 139 per cent., raw exports 57 per cent., manufactured imports had increased 93 per cent., raw imports had increased 127 per cent. These are my evidences of the industrial transition which means of communication has made possible in India, 1682 and I say that the period of transition will confront India with problems of the utmost gravity, and to solve them she needs, the best and wisest of her sons. What is required in the industrial part of the development in India is the application of modern methods and modern science to Indian industry. We want to see a stream of educated young men entering industrial careers, and leaving alone the overstocked and unproductive professions of the law and the public service. I may quote an eminent Indian economist, Mr. Sarkar, who says:—The supreme need of to-day is managers of firms, pioneers and entrepreneurs. The highest intellect of the nation should be educated for industries, for, remember, the highest intellects are serving the industries in Europe, and capital and business experience are closely associated with brain power there.He goes on to say:—Our recent industrial awakening has created a sudden demand for business managers. Experienced men of this class are not available in sufficient numbers, and so our new ventures are run by amateur managers, such as lawyers, retired public servants, and so forth, who, with the best intentions, are unfit to take the place of the trained business man. For this reason many of our new Joint Stock Companies have failed.I hope that this development of India will not be confined strictly to industries; I hope it will also extend to the new agricultural world which has been formed by the comparatively recent destruction of the isolation of the village. Division of labour has been introduced, the export of produce is growing, and the shares of the landlord, the Government and the labourer are now being paid more and more by the cultivator in money. Government has modified, in the interests of the cultivator, the system of revenue assessment which it inherited from its predecessors, and which represents its. partnership in the agricultural industry. Government has also been sedulous to protect tenants from the exactions of landlords. Its methods of controlling landlords who exercised considerable ingenuity in adding to fixed rents cesses for fictitious services, would, I fear, shock many Conservatives in this country, and whet the appetite of the most advanced agricultural reformers. In Bengal, the Tenancy Law provides that every cultivator who has held any land in a village for twelve years acquires a right of occupancy, and is protected from arbitrary eviction and from arbitrary enhancement of rent. He has got fixity of tenure and fair rent; and in Madras the cultivator is virtually a peasant proprietor, paying a, judicial rent for the enjoyment of his land. But the cultivator has two things always 1683 against him—he is dependent on the seasons, and he is naturally improvident. He will spend, for instance, the equivalent of several years' income on a single marriage festivity. He must, therefore, turn to the moneylender, and, once in his clutches, he is never free. The tale is just the same as the tale in Ireland, in Germany and in France, and 140 per cent., 280 per cent., are not exceptional rates of interest.
I believe Indian agriculture is going to be saved by the Raiffeisen co-operative system, a boon from the West, which is taking hold in India. I believe that even England may have much to learn from India here. You cannot apply capital to agriculture in the same way that you can apply it to industry, for you cannot take your raw material, the land, and lump it together into a factory. The size of an economic holding can never be greater or smaller than the local conditions of market, of soil, of climate make possible. But although aggregation is the essence of the manufacturing industry, and isolation is the essence of the agricultural industry, the principle of capitalisation govern both, but in agriculture you must have recourse to co-operation. The law under which the societies are incorporated was passed in 1904, and some time elapsed after its enactment before the principles of cooperation could be made intelligible to the people by the Government officials to whom the work of organisation was entrusted. The principles, borrowed from Europe, were unfamiliar to the people, who required a certain amount of intelligence as well as a willingness to make trial of a new idea. The initiative had to come from without, and the Government gave it by means of officers and funds. The officers' zeal and interest have repeatedly been acknowledged, but funds have been supplied sparingly, in order to make the movement from the outset a genuine one. Imperfectly though the figures reflect the progress, they are remarkable. In three years the number of societies has increased from 1,357 to 3,498. The number of members has increased from 150,000 to 231,000, and the working capital has risen from £300,000 to £800,000. It is a fair assumption that each member represents a family, and that the co-operative movement has beneficially affected no less than a million people. Of course, the banks vary in detail in the different provinces, but perhaps in Bengal, where there is no share capital and no divi- 1684 dend, and where all societies are organised on the strictest principles of unlimited liability, and members of the society pledge their joint credit, we get the most perfect application of the Raiffeisen principle.
It is from the accounts of the movement given by the provincial officers (and of the twenty-eight officials at the last conference of registrars twenty were Indians), that one realises the capacity of the Indian rural population to respond to a beneficent idea, and their latent powers to work for the common good. The initiative in the first instance had to come from the Government and its officers, but a registrar and one assistant, and two or three inspectors in a province of 20,000,000 or 40,000,000 people could do nothing unless they could count on the assistance of honorary helpers. This has been forthcoming. Men of education and public spirit, animated solely by enthusiasm for the movement, have set themselves to learn the principle of co-operative credit societies, and in their several neighbourhoods have become organisers and honorary managers of banks. Even greater enthusiasm is to be found in the villages among poor and homely men of little education. It has been found not by any means in every village or equally in all parts of India, but to a much greater extent than was anticipated. In one poor village a credit bank was started with a capital of 20 rupees. It has now a working capital—chiefly deposits—of more than £3,000. The bank has also a scholarship fund to send the sons of poorer members to a continuation school, and an arbitration committee for settling local disputes. I have another example of a committee managing a credit bank, which, by denying membership to a man of bad character until he had shown proof of his reform, made a good citizen out of a bad one. We read also of buried bags of rupees, crusted with mould, being produced and deposited in the bank. It seems as if we were in this way beginning to tap the hoarded wealth of India. Several societies have bought agricultural machines, and some are occupying their spare time and capital in opening shops and doing trade in cattle and wood. Others, again, aim at land improvement, repayment of old debts, and the improvement of the backward tenant and even at the establishment of night and vernacular schools. In several districts the village societies have resorted to arbitration in village disputes, and in one or two cases they have taken 1685 up the question, of village sanitation. One can almost see the beginnings of the revival of old village communities.
But there is another note struck in most of these reports. It is that progress is hampered and work retarded by lack of workers. Great as is the zeal of those who have come forward, there is still much to be done, and I can conceive no more important field in connection with Indian progress than this of helping the organisation of agriculture, and I commend it, therefore, to those who have this cause at heart. There is, then, growing in India this great two-sided organisation of industrial and agricultural life. I do not think it can grow healthily far unless serious attention is given to one or two important matters to which I now want to draw attention. The first is education—general and industrial—I regret that I am not in a position to say much in detail on this subject, all the more because I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Sir A. Spicer) has a Motion on the subject on the Paper. The Department constituted last year to take charge of education has been hard at work elaborating a policy, and I hope that the result of their labours will shortly be made public. We have to deal with 16,000,000 boys of school-going age, the bulk of them widely scattered over an agricultural population. There is no general demand at present for education among the people, who have borne their illiteracy very cheerfully. This is no reason, of course, that there should be any relaxation in our efforts to spread education among them. But while it is the obvious duty of the Government to provide better buildings, better equipment, a better curriculum, and better teaching staffs, there is a duty on the other hand for Indian educational reformers to create a willingness to allow children to be educated, a willingness to help to teach, and, be it said, a willingness to help to pay the taxes, or the fees (I do not now say which) by which alone large educational schemes can be financed. By this means only can we bring into the pale the 80 per cent. of children who, I am sorry to say, are now growing up without any education at all.
With education will come, I hope, a higher standard of living for the people, and some reduction in the terrible wastage of human life. The present standard of living is deplorably low. Ignorance of sanitary or medical principles is practically universal. The birth-rate is extremely high, judged by the birth-rate of 1686 Western Europe. The death rate, and notably the death-rate of children, is also, judged by European experience, appallingly high. The death-rate in the United Provinces and the Punjab in 1908, when malaria was very prevalent, exceeded 50 per thousand. The English death-rate is only 16 per thousand. The sickness, disease, and mortality which horrify students of Indian society are, from one point of view, the consequences of a very low standard of living, though from another point of view they are the rude restrictions placed by nature on a population which continually multiplies up to the limit of bare subsistence. At present only 10 per cent. of the Indian people live in towns. The effect of the re-organisation of industry upon capitalistic lines will be to modify this. The concentration of people from the countryside into large towns will occur. The figures of the recent census have not yet been published in sufficient detail to enable a definite judgment to be formed as to how far this process has already taken place, but the tendency is undoubted. The population of Calcutta, for instance, has increased by 10 per cent. in the last ten years, that of Bombay by 25 per cent., that of Karachi by 36 per cent., and that of Rangoon by 18 per cent. This will not be without its good effects. The consequent increase of wealth will provide means wherewith to ameliorate the poverty which at present impedes the progress of India in so many directions. Again, the multiplication of industries will relieve the pressure on the land which now drives down the profits of agriculture, and will thus mitigate the severity of those recurring calamities which follow upon the failure of the harvest, for it has long been recognised that the encouragement of diversity of occupation is the only radical cure for famine. Moreover, in the concentrated population of the towns all those civilising and educational movements, which are summarised in the word "progress," find their centre.
Technical instruction in special trades and occupations is impossible in sparsely populated districts. But, on the other hand, there is danger that all the evils of town life—the overcrowding, the destitution, and all the squalid misery of mean. streets with which we are too familiar—may be reproduced in India, and be even harder to bear than here on account of the suffocating heat. Already we hear of overcrowding and insanitary tenements in 1687 the operatives' quarters in Bombay. Mr. Dunn, late chairman of the Bombay City Improvement Trust, in a paper of 17th February, 1910, says:—The rooms or 'chals,' less than ten feet square, are separated from one another by partitions of wood or split bamboos, plastered with mud. There is no ceiling, only the sloping low roof, which is of rough round rafters, and a single thickness of country tiles. The walls and roof are black with smoke and dirt of many years; the rooms are filled with choking smoke from the wood fires and naked lamps, and there is no exit for this except through the rough doors. The only openings are the doors leading from the rooms on to narrow verandahs, no ventilation, darkness, and a choking atmosphere, and a family of five or six persons, with perhaps a lodger or two. Refuse of all kinds is disposed of by the simple expedient of throwing it outside beyond the verandah, and the condition of the. surroundings of the ' chal' may be left to the imagination.In Bombay a city improvement trust has been working for the last ten years with inadequate means. The Government of India have now given, as I have said, £333,000 to it, and proposals are being considered for providing the trust with a larger income from local sources. A similar trust is now about to be created in Calcutta. In Rangoon, again, land reclamation on a large scale is being undertaken. Elsewhere much attention is being paid to the subject, but the most urgent need is the education of the masses in the principles of hygiene. There is a limitless field, indeed, for private enterprise here. Tolerable though archaic habits and practices may be in the open country, when transferred to the crowded town they become unsupportable. If there were less ignorance and less perversity, plague would never find in the country the lodgment that it has. It is an established fact that persons living under proper sanitary conditions are virtually exempt from the disease. Plague does not attack the gaol population or the native army; it attacks the ordinary civil population, because they live in houses which are not rat proof, because they treat the rat almost as a domestic animal, because large numbers of them refuse to trap or kill it, and because they will not adopt the sanitary precautions which are pressed upon them. In plague we have examples from our own history. England has suffered many times; the most severe epidemic being that in the middle of the fourteenth century, known as the "Black Death," which came from the Levant through Europe. A contemporary writer, quoted in Dr. Simpson's book on plague says:—;At first it carried off almost all the inhabitants of the seaports in Dorset, and then those living inland, and from there it raged so dreadfully through Devon 1688 and Somerset as far as Bristol that the men of Gloucester refused those of Bristol entrance to their country, everyone thinking that the breath of those who lived amongst people who died of plague was infectious. But at last it attacked Gloucester, yea, and Oxford and London, and finally the whole of England, so violently that scarcely one in ten of either sex was left alive" …Outbreaks of plague continued to occur occasionally throughout the next three centuries—notably in London in 1665, when nearly 70,000 persons perished. Towards the end of the seventeenth century it rapidly disappeared from the whole of Western Europe. Plague has now been present in India for fifteen years, and the appalling total of nearly 7,500,000 deaths from it has been recorded. Of this the Punjab accounts for nearly two and a half million deaths—almost a third of the total. The tale of deaths in the last ten years represents 11 per cent. of the population of that Province. When I think of the sensation that was caused in this country a short time ago by what was by comparison a minor outbreak in Manchuria, resulting in only 50,000 deaths, I fear that people in this country do not realise the awful ravages that this scourge is daily making among the Indian people. Scientific research has established that it is conveyed by rat fleas to human beings. The two effective remedies are inoculation and house evacuation. Professor Haffkine has discovered a vaccine by which comparative though not absolute immunity can be temporarily secured. But by an unhappy accident at Mulkowal several villagers died of tetanus after inoculation. Inoculation in India has never recovered from this disaster. It is hated by the people and avoided by them except when the disease is in their midst. House evacuation is easier in villages than in towns. Administrative arrangements by which plague is now fought include the provision of special plague medical officers and subordinates, and they and the district staff are on the look-out for the occurrence of plague, and when it occurs they visit the locality, offer inoculation, give assistance to persons to vacate their houses, advise rat destruction, and so on.
To the prevention of plague there would seem to be no Royal road. The case is one in which lavish expenditure of money is not called for and would be useless. But the provincial Governments have spent, and are spending, a good deal. The United Provinces have expended some—600,000 up to date. The Punjab Government is spending about £40,000 a year. The improvement of the general sanitary conditions under which 1689 the population lives is more and more clearly seen to be essential, and to improve them the Local Governments are devoting all the money they can spare. They have been helped to do so by the grants for sanitation made by the Government of India. The scientific difficulties are enhanced by the difficulty of overcoming prejudice and ignorance, habit and apathy. In some districts there is actually religious objection to rat killing and inoculation. No better work can be done for India than to offer example and instruction in principles of life that appear to us elementary, and to strive to exorcise the foes of progress-superstition and resistance to prophylactics. There are, I am glad to say, signs that the sanitary conscience is beginning to awake among the people. But it is not enough to point out evils to the Government, to urge the Government to do something, and to say that more money is required. Of course more money is required. More money is required for every item in India's programme of development, and we allocate to each item with as lavish a hand as we can, consistently with the other requirements. It is no use to urge proposals requiring the immediate expenditure of money without any regard to ways and means when there is so much to be done by private exhortation, by example, and by devotion to the problems of local self-government. Municipal work in India, as elsewhere, is proving an admirable training ground in public affairs, and the better municipal corporations, such as Bombay, have carried through large drainage and water projects with help stimulus from Government. What is now wanted is to obtain support from the Press and the community for municipal effort, and a public opinion which can be relied upon to control and appreciate the responsibilities of municipal institutions.
I must mention one more danger that the industrial revolution involves. The development of capitalisation is sure to bring forward in India, as everywhere, certain men who, in the hurry to grow rich, will take advantage of the necessities of the poor, and the want of organisation among the Indian labourers. They would work their hands long hours for insufficient wages, exploit women's and children's labour, and reproduce, as far as the law will permit them, the horrors of the English factory system at the beginning of the last century. A Factory Act was passed last year, after a long and exhaustive inquiry by a Committee and a 1690 Commission, giving increased protection to the worker and greater inspecting and controlling powers to the Government. But the Government cannot advance beyond that Indian public opinion which, at the best, is only in its infancy. The leaders of Indian opinion must set their faces against the degradation of labour, and they need to be specially vigilant, because India's working classes, besides being themselves unorganised, are not directly represented on the Legislative Councils, whose Indian Members come almost exclusively from the landlord and capitalist classes. This is not due to any defect in the law, but to the condition of Indian society. Labour, long accustomed to silent drudgery, has not yet found a voice, and it will probably be long before it makes itself heard in the Legislative Councils. All the greater reason that public-spirited Indians should take care that these unrepresented interests are carefully considered and the conditions of labour improved. India may derive one advantage from the fact that her industrial revolution has been so long delayed; she may profit by the abundant mistakes that we made in this country if she does take advantage of our experience, and, with a wise forethought, closes the door to industrial abuses before they have grown strong, and, in that case, she may look back upon her industrial revolution without the shame and regret with which we are forced to contemplate some of the features of our own.
I have spoken of industrial and agricultural organisation and their subsidiary problems of education, sanitation, and a higher standard of living. There remains another subject on which I wish to touch in pointing out to Indians the objects towards which, as it seems to me, their activities should at present be directed. It is a subject of great delicacy, but I feel obliged to draw attention to it on account of its great importance and the intimate connection of one aspect of it, at any rate, with certain of the topics that I have been discussing. Nothing could be further from my intention than to say anything that might possibly be construed as offensive to the beliefs and usages of any religion. Every religion has forms and ceremonies which it is difficult for those outside its pale to appreciate and to understand. If the House will forgive a personal allusion, I was brought up in a denomination which attaches great importance to quasi-religious ceremonial institutions and derives spiritual inspiration from them, and I should be the last to question the 1691 religious usages and semi-religious usages which are dear to our Indian fellow-subjects. But I wish to suggest to the leaders of Hindu thought that they might, if they thought fit, look carefully into certain of their institutions and consider whether they are compatible with modern social conditions and modern industrial progress. Of the 220,000,000 of the Hindu population 53,000,000 form what are known as the depressed classes, who are regarded by the higher castes as untouchable. There are 9,000,000 girl wives between the ages of one and fifteen, of whom 2,500,000 are under eleven, and there are 400,000 girl widows forbidden to remarry. It is the first point that I wish to emphasise, because it is here in particular that I cannot help feeling that Hindu social conditions hamper to some extent modern development, both industrial and political.
The way in which caste principles affect industrial development is this. English industrial history in all its branches shows how supremely important Is the possibility of infusing fresh blood from the labouring classes into the ranks of the captains of industry. In India this is impossible under present conditions. Social distinctions are rigid and permanent; many occupations are still almost entirely hereditary, and there is no fluidity. Even supposing—as I hope will be the case—that young men of education and capacity take to industrial careers, and supposing that the shyness of Indian capital is at length overcome, still the conditions that I have mentioned must inevitably hamper and retard India's industrial progress. In the region of polities the matter came into prominence two years ago in rather a curious way. During consideration of the question of securing for Mahomedans adequate representation on the new councils, the point came up of the numerical proportion borne by Hindus and Mahomedans in the community. The Mahomedans asserted that the Hindus had no right to count as Hindus, persons whom no self-respecting Hindu would touch or come near. It is undoubtedly a difficult point, and there are now signs of a movement among leaders of Hinduism for taking an interest in the condition of these classes, and for devising measures to bridge the gulf between them and the twice born. It is this that has emboldened me to say what I have said on the subject. I would not have 1692 presumed to do so had it not been for the fact that there is evidently a growing feeling amongst prominent members of the community that all is not well with their social organisation. Let me quote to the House the words of the well-known leader, Mr. Gokhale:If, after fifty years of university education conducted on Western ideas, the essence of which is the equality and dignity of man, the condition of depressed classes is practically the same as it was half a century ago, it is a very great reproach to us. There is no greater blot upon us to-day than the condition in which we have allowed 53,000,000 of our fellow-being to continue.If the House will forgive me another quotation I should like just to read the wise words with which Sir George Clark concluded the debate in Bombay on an occasion when it was suggested that the Government should do something for the depressed class:—The fact is that the Government cannot force the pace in regard to social matters. We must leave them to the growing feeling among the Indian peoples themselves, and if politics remain in abeyance for a time, it is possible, and, I think probable, that social reforms will force themselves to the front. That we must leave to the people of India. I do feel that if a real sentiment of nationalism spreads throughout India, as I think it will, the time will come when the Mahars, in common with all other classes, will be treated as brothers.But brotherhood within the Hindu community is not enough. India needs more than that. Heal national feeling cannot be produced, while in the same Province, village, town or street you have Indians side by side learning the national ideal and Indians denying their part or share in the history of the land in which they live. Provincial distinctions do not seem to me to matter permanently. Racial distinctions do not offer a lasting obstacle to confederation. But religious segregations which produce fierce, exclusive patriotism seem more difficult to overcome. In India. Hinduism teaches a fierce love of the Mother-country, which is an example of love of country to the whole world, the love of country produced by worship of God. But Mahomedanism teaches a patriotism equally remarkable, a sort of extra-territorial patriotism—if I may strain the words to describe it—a love of religion which laughs at distance and material neighbourhood, and breathes loyalty and sympathy and fellow-feeling from one Mahomedan to another. The one is spiritual, the other is spiritual—and more. You cannot say to the Mahomedan: "You need abate no single jot of your fervour if you add to it principles of less exalted and more Western desire to help and to share the destiny of the country in which you live." And how can one 1693 say to the Hindu: "Your religious susceptibilities ought not be outraged by practices performed by people who do not share your religion, even if you would regard them as wrong if they were performed by Hindus." I cannot see how these conditions of affairs can but hamper the growth of national feeling in India. It would be criminal to foster this difficult antagonism, but not to recognise its existence is to be blind to facts in a way which must enhance the evil. The last word I have to say to all Indians, and I include in these, people of every inspiration, race, creed and colour—is to unite and join hands for their country's good. I need assure no intelligent critic that the Government would be the first to welcome and to help the co-operation which we all desire.
Now, Mr. Speaker, so far as the Indians are concerned, I hope I have made good my case. Let me now restate it. The opinion most familiarly, but not originally, stated by Mr. Kipling that the "East is East and the West is West and never the two shall meet" is contradicted by the fact that India is now rapidly passing through with our aid, in a compressed form, our own social and industrial development, with all its advantages and some of its evils. She has, however, still a very long way to go and many hard problems to tackle if she desires to acquire as an outcome of her conditions the same political institutions, and there is no other way in which she can, or ought, to acquire them.
And now, if the House will forgive me, I desire, in conclusion, to say a word about the theory of Indian Government. The importance of the subject cannot be overestimated. It affects us all, collectively and individually. India is woven into the very fabric of our being. In a never-failing stream many of the best of our men and women give themselves, and the best of their lives ungrudgingly to the service of India. Their names are honoured and remembered; whether by small groups of our fellow-subjects or by our whole Indian Empire and beyond. These men are inspired by an Imperial patriotism, which I am thankful to say shows no sign of failing, and which will, I hope, be diffused among the people whom they govern. This is no strange thing, this unceasing flow of workers drawn by the magnet of the East. However burdensome and unattractive Indian problems may seem from the outside, I can testify that even the shortest experience of them makes them lastingly absorbing, lastingly interesting, and 1694 lastingly important. I can well understand how men who have fought on behalf of India until they are worn out put on their armour again and enter public controversy; how they even go back to the country in which their life's work has been spent, because of the intimate and lasting effect that India has upon their minds and thoughts. Thus it comes about that almost every street, mean or rich, has someone living in it who has worked himself, or whose relations have worked or are working in India. No better index of the activities of the country is to be found than the front sheet of a newspaper. I never see an obituary column or a births and marriages column which has not got its item of Anglo-Indian interest. Is it not then proper that the House of Commons should ask itself what are its duties towards this question which affects so nearly the life of the country.
I am perfectly confident that when I read my newspapers to-morrow I shall find I have been guilty of the enormous offence of lecturing the House of Commons. But I cannot refrain from speaking out. I am convinced that Indian problems will become more important, more insistent, more-vital, as the years go on, and I see so clearly the danger that we shall incur if they present themselves to a House of Commons which is inadequately equipped to grapple with them. It is only a matter of time for questions of supreme importance in connection with our Indian Empire to come through the outer Lobby into the inner Lobby and knock irresistibly at the door of this Chamber. How many Members of this House are able to say that they are in a position to discuss with knowledge and decide with wisdom the great problems of India—of education, of commercial and industrial development, of military defence, of political concession, of the eradication of political crime? When I think of this House harassed and overburdened by its innumerable domestic responsibilities, which I trust it will not always be persistently unwilling to delegate, I am bound to admit that there is lacking that first requisite for the efficient discharge of our Imperial duties—time for study and mature consideration. May I say—with all respect to those members who devote themselves to the study of Indian affairs—that amongst these Members there is growing up a tendency which I earnestly trust will not grow any 1695 further—to form two parties—the one thinking it necessary to espouse the cause of the governed by attacking the Government, the other constituting itself the champion of the official. The tendency to assume an antagonism between the interests of the Indian and the interests of the official is one which I cannot too strongly deprecate—it is the negation of all we have done, are doing, and hope to do for India. We are there to co-operate with the peoples of the country in working out her destinies side by side with the same object, the same mission, the same goal.
Time was, no doubt, when it was a most important function of this House to see that the theory of government by prestige was not carried to excessive lengths in India. In the extreme form of government by prestige those who administer the country are, I take it, answerable only to their official superiors, and no claim for redress by one of the ruled against one of the rulers can be admitted as a right. If a member of the ruling race inflicts an injury upon a member of the governed race, no question will arise of punishing the former, to redress the wrong of the latter; the only consideration will be whether prestige will be more impaired by punishing the offender and so admitting imperfection in the governing caste, or by not punishing him, and so condoning a failure of that protection of the governed which is essential to efficient government. That illustrates, as I understand the matter, the prestige theory pressed to its logical conclusion. I do not say that it was ever so pressed in India. It has always been tempered by British opinion and the British Parliament. Whatever reliance upon prestige there was in our government of India, is now giving place to reliance upon even-handed justice and strong, orderly and equitable administration. But there is still a great deal of nonsense talked about prestige. Call it, if you will, a useful asset in our relations with the wild tribes of the frontier, but let us hear no more about it as a factor in the relations between the British Government and the educated Indian public. I hope I shall not be misunderstood. I mean by "prestige" the theory of government that I have just described; the theory that produces irresponsibility and arrogance. I do not, of course, mean that reputation for firm and dignified administration which no Government can-do without. I think it necessary to make this 1696 explanation, for I have learned by bitter experience how a single word carelessly used may be construed to mean the enunciation of a new theory of government.
It is, of course, a truism that in Parliament, acting through its servant, the Secretary of State, is vested the supreme control over the Government of India. It is no less a truism that it is the duty of Parliament to control that Government in the interests of the governed, just as it is the duty of Parliament to control the Government of the day at home in the interests of the people of those islands. This House, in its relations to India, has primarily to perform for that country the functions proper to an elected Assembly in a country governed by elected institutions. But that is not all. It is characteristic of British statesmanship that it has not been content with so narrow a view of Imperial responsibilities. The course of the relations between the House of Commons and the people of India has taken, and must take the form of a gradual delegation, from itself to the people of India, of the power of criticism and control of their own Government. You have given India that rule of law which is so peculiarly British and cherished by Britons; you have given elected councils for deliberative and legislative purposes; you have admitted Indians to high administrative and judicial office; and, in so far as you do these things, you derogate from your own direct powers. You bestow upon the people of India a portion of your functions; you must therefore cease to try to exercise those functions, and devote yourselves solely to the exercise of the duties that you have definitely retained for your own. Permit me to say that I see signs that this most important point is not always sufficiently realised. The more you give to India, the less you must exercise your own control.
There are then these two problems always before this House. The one is how much of your powers of control to delegate to the people of India, the other is how most wisely to exercise the powers of control that you retain. It is not only that the powers that you have delegated are no use to those on whom you have bestowed them unless they are entrusted with them unhampered. You must also remember the position of the British official in India. You cannot allow him to be crushed beneath a responsibility to Indian opinion, now becoming articulate and organised; 1697 to be crushed between the new responsibility you have superimposed and an undiminished responsibility to British public opinion. Let the Indian official work out his position in the new order of things, where justification by works and in council must take the place of justification by reputation. I have every confidence in the result.
In conclusion, I want to accept all the blame, which I am fully conscious I deserve, for the fact that I have wearied the House. The subject cannot weary anyone. But I am painfully conscious of the fact that anybody who tackles the subject and makes it unattractive espouses the cause only to do it harm. My main object is to make people think of India. There is enough to think of. I think I have anticipated all the criticisms that I shall be called upon to meet outside these walls. There are the critics who hate the extinction of poetry, of lethargy, of the pictures of the bizarre, which they assert is inseparable from progress, from competition, from industrial development. There are the cynics who, forgetful of the history of their own country, would stop with their pens the revolution of the globe, and deny opportunity to a world force which is beginning to penetrate and stir in the country of which I speak. There are the pessimists who spend a useless life, mourning a past which can never return, and dreading a future which is bound to come. Then there are those who, filled with antediluvian Imperialism, cannot see beyond domination and subjection, beyond governor and governed, who hate the word "progress," and will accuse me of encouraging unrest. I bow submissively in anticipation. I believe there is nothing dangerous in what I have said. I have pointed a long path, a path perhaps of centuries, for Englishmen and Indians to travel together. I ask the minority in India to bring along it—for there is room for all—by education in the widest sense, by organisation and by precept, all those who would be good citizens of their country. And, when at intervals this well-ordered throng show to us that they have made social and political advance to another stage, and demand from us in the name of the responsibility we have accepted, that they should be allowed still further to share that responsibility with us, I hope we shall be ready to answer with knowledge and with prudence.
EARL of RONALDSHAY
It has often been said, not altogether without truth, that the Debate in the House of Commons upon the Indian Budget provides an opportunity for discussion of every conceivable topic relating to India and its administration excepting the Indian Budget itself. If the hon. Gentleman opposite has not laid himself open to that charge in its entirety, he has, at any rate, covered a very wide field. It is a disadvantage to us on this side that we have not among our numbers any hon. Member who has the advantage of having had experience at the India Office. Ever since the regretted death of Earl Percy we have been without that advantage. Had we possessed such a Member, he would no doubt have followed in detail, and perhaps at considerable length, the speech which the hon. Gentleman has delivered, and to which hon. Members in every quarter of the House have listened with the greatest interest and attention. But I do not think it would be desirable that a private Member like myself, who speaks merely as a private Member, should endeavour to travel over so wide a country. I propose rather to devote the greater part of my remarks to one particular topic, namely, the Indian Customs Tariff. Before I turn to that subject, I may perhaps be permitted to make a few remarks upon some of the points raised by the hon. Member in the course of his speech. Both in the ultimate and in the penultimate portions of his speech he dealt with subjects which open up wide vistas of controversy and discussion. I do not propose to enter into those great questions upon this occasion. Rather would I say a few words upon one or two matters to which he referred in the earlier part of his address.
I join with the Under-Secretary in all sincerity in his expression of regret at the death of two hon. Members of this House, Mr. John Ellis and Mr. Buchanan, who have been in the past so closely associated with Indian affairs. Mr. Buchanan himself was always a courteous Undersecretary of State; he took a deep interest in the great questions connected with India with which he was called upon to deal, and it was always a source of regret to me, who had the privilege of taking some part in the discussions upon the Indian Reform scheme of 1909, that he should have been prevented by illness from taking a leading part in carrying through that Bill which I know he had so closely at heart I should like to congratulate 1699 the hon. Gentleman, and through him the Government of India, upon the extraordinary efficiency which they have shown in carrying out their Census. It is indeed a matter of which they may be justly proud that they were able in the short space, I think, seven days, to publish the main conclusions at which they had arrived as the result of taking the Census. It is all the more remarkable when we remember that they had to deal with a population something like seven times the size of the population of the United Kingdom. I would also congratulate the hon. Gentleman upon having once more presented to this House what may be described as a prosperity budget. It does indeed seem that we are returning to that happy state of affairs which obtained during the opening years of the present century, when a large surplus used to fall with a happy regularity into the lap of the Indian Finance Minister. At the same time, I feel constrained to point out that the size of the surplus which the Government of India have enjoyed during the past year was to some considerable extent due to a large under-estimate by the Finance Minister of the prices which would be fetched by the sales of opium. I remember quite well from reading the Debates which took place in the Imperial Council last year that it was pointed out to the Indian Finance Minister by business members of the Indian community that he was very largely under-estimating the amount of money which would be brought in by the sales of opium. I do not blame the Indian Finance Minister for making a cautious estimate. Under the circumstances, I think he was wise to realise that he was dealing with a source of revenue which must inevitably rapidly diminish.
While I am touching on this question of opium, may I say that I yield to no one in my admiration of the great efforts, and the considerable measure of success with which they have been attended, which have been made by the Chinese to put down the evil of opium smoking among their people. At the same time, I would ask the hon. Gentleman not to take this reforming zeal on the part of the Chinese too much upon trust. I admit that a very great deal has been done, but I am also painfully aware that some of the Chinese official reports of what has been done in their respective provinces have proved 1700 themselves distinctly open to question. I do not think any one who has read the very interesting reports drawn up with extreme care by Sir Alexander Hosie and recently published can help coming to the conclusion that there are many parts of China in regard to which the official reports of the putting down of the production of opium in China itself have proved to have been largely exaggerated. I do-not wish to say anything which would be likely in any way to be construed as adverse to the movement for the suppression of the opium traffic, but I venture to throw out these words of caution to some hon. Members whose zeal for reform perhaps sometimes exceeds their common-sense. I say that in no objectionable sense. The Under-Secretary referred to the fact that His Majesty is to visit India next December. He told us that the Indian Government did not propose to celebrate that historic event in the same way that the old Mogul Emperors used to celebrate similar events, namely, by decapitating 500 thieves. But if they do not intend to celebrate the event in that particular way, I would like to ask whether the Government have in contemplation any idea of celebrating the occasion by making some sort of concession to the Indian people generally, which would be construed as a mark of grace upon the advent of the Sovereign among them. I know that the proposition is a very difficult one. I am not sure that it is altogether practicable; but if it were found practicable to mark this great historic event by some material concession to the peoples of India themselves, I am certain that it would be welcomed by all sections of the Indian community, and it would serve in a way in which no other procedure could serve to mark the occasion in the minds of the millions of India who are committed to our charge.
When the hon. Gentleman came to the matter of the Army he touched upon it with extreme caution. He said that as a result of rumour, and rumour only, that the Army in India was to be cut down in numbers, a great deal of Jingo sentiment had been expressed by speakers and in the Press. On the other hand, he said that if any cutting down of the Indian Army was contemplated, they might take it for granted that nothing would be done which would in any way impair the efficiency of the Army for carrying out the purposes for which it is required. These two statements together did not really give us much information. I have been unable in my 1701 own mind to decide from the speech of the hon. Gentleman whether it is or is not the intention of the authorities to make any reduction in the numbers of the Indian Army. For my own part I sincerely hope it is not their intention to do so, for a very good reason. I would ask the House to remember that a very great organiser and administrator, Lord Kitchener, has only recently returned from India, and the great task which he performed while he was in India, for which he received grateful applause of his countrymen and the grateful thanks of the Government, was the reorganisation of the Indian Forces. It really is inconceivable to suppose, in view of the fact that we know only too well that the requirements of economy were sedulously impressed upon Lord Kitchener, that the Government, in carrying through that great scheme of Army reorganisation at the same time left a superfluous number of men in the Indian Army. I think that is a consideration which is really very well worth bearing in mind before this House comes to any conclusion that the existing Indian Army is larger than necessary for carrying out the task which devolves upon it.
I have said I do not propose to follow the hon. Member into those very wide fields of controversy and discussion which were opened out by him in the later stages of his speech. I propose now to take the advantage that is accorded to a private Member of this House once only in the course of the year, of dealing with one particular topic connected with India in which he may take some particular interest. The topic, as I have already said, is the Indian Customs Tariff. The Customs tariff has been a feature of the Indian Budget for many successive years. I do not desire to deprive the Government of India of a source of revenue which is estimated to bring in during the current year something like £6,000,000. But there are customs tariffs and customs tariffs; and I think the particular system which is in force in India at the present day is one which lays itself open to really very grave criticisms. The House will remember that all commodities which are imported into India, with one notable exception, pay a duty of 5 per cent. ad valorem. The notable exception to which I refer is, of course, cotton. There is no import duty whatsoever upon cotton yarns or cotton threads, but there is an import duty of 3½ per cent. ad valorem upon cotton 1702 cloths and other cotton manufactures. At the same time there is an equivalent Excise Duty also of 3½ per cent. imposed upon the products of the Indian cotton mills. It is upon this particular duty that I first of all wish to say two or three words. It may, of course, be very fairly objected that it is no new duty; that it has in fact been in existence for the past fifteen years. That is quite true. The reason why I take this opportunity of raising the question is this the Government of this country have been for the past two years taking no small credit to themselves for having passed their Reform Scheme of 1909 with the express intention of giving the people of India a greater opportunity than hitherto they possessed of making their views upon questions such as this heard.
Indian public opinion is taking every advantage of the Reform Scheme of 1909 for making itself heard. I remember that during the very first session of the New (enlarged) Imperial Council at Calcutta, a prominent Indian public man, Mr. Dadabhoy, in language more forcible than polite, expressed his objection to, and his detestation of, the Excise Duty which was imposed upon the products of the Indian cotton mills. During the spring of the present year an Indian member of the Viceroy's Council moved a motion condemning the Excise Duty, and pressed it to a division. He was supported in his motion, if I remember rightly, by every single Indian member upon the Council. That in itself is quite sufficient to show—if, indeed, it were not very well known already—that the Excise Duty upon the Indian cotton industry is one which is looked upon with feelings of the very deepest resentment by the whole of the Indian people. Why is this Import Duty imposed upon the Indian cotton industry? The official answer, of course, is that it is necessary in the interests of Free Trade—that the Free Trade doctrine demands that an equivalent Excise Duty should be imposed upon the home industry; a duty, that is to say, equivalent to the Import Duty levied upon the foreign products coming into the protected country. I really ask the House seriously to consider what sort of effect an answer like that is likely to have upon an educated Indian gentleman!
In the first place, the educated Indian will want to know why it is that the great doctrine of Free Trade requires vindication in the case of cotton goods only, and in no other case. He would point out very reasonably that boots are made at 1703 Northampton and sent to India, and that they pay their 5 per cent. ad valorem duty; whilst boots are made at Cawnpore and pay no duty at all. He would possibly turn to the admirable tables of trade statistics which the Government of India provide for him, and he would discover, in the course of investigation., that paper, for instance, is imported into India to the value of some £600,000 every year, and that it pays a 5 per cent. ad valorem duty. He would then turn to another Blue Book, also published by the Government of India, for the express purpose of explaining to him the amount of moral and material progress that he is making. He would find in the course of his investigation in that Blue Book that at the end of 1909 there were nine Indian paper mills at work which had produced during the year 57,000,000 pounds of paper, valued at upwards of £500,000. Again, he would ask: "Why, if the Free Trade doctrine requires, in the case of cotton, that an Excise Duty should be imposed upon the products of the Indian cotton mills, is it that the same doctrine does not require that an Excise Duty should be imposed upon the products of the Indian paper mills? He could go on and give case after case. He could point out that in comparison with the 550,000 tons of sugar imported into India paying duty, there are 2,000,000 tons of sugar produced in India paying no duty at all. He could give other striking instances of the way—shall I say the incurably sloppy way?—in which Free Trade is practised in our Indian Dependency.
I refer, of course, to the fact that during last year the Government of India, with the sanction of the Home Government, increased the Import Duty upon petroleum by about 50 per cent.—that is from a 1d. to 1½d. per gallon. The official of the Viceroy's Council who was told off to deal with this question in the course of debate, pointed out that the consumption of the oil in India amounted in the course of the year to 157,000,000 gallons. He went on to say that out of this amount 84,000,000 of gallons were imported, and 73,000,000 gallons were produced inside the Indian territories themselves—that is to say, produced in the Burma oil field. In the course of his speech, in defence of the policy of the Government in increasing the Import Duty upon pretroleum by 50 per cent. he went so far as to say that it was conceivable—he did not say it was altogether 1704 probable, but conceivable—that the ultimate result of the increase of duty upon the importation of petroleum might be that the imported article would eventually be driven out of the market, and that Burma would thenceforth supply the whole demand of the Indian continent. When certain members of the Council moved as an alternative to the increased duty upon petroleum an increased duty upon sugar, the same official, speaking, remember, for a Free Trade Government, said—I quote his own words:—The Burma petroleum industry is surely as worthy of encouragement or even of protection, if yon like to call it so, as the sugar industry.I think there can be small wonder if the educated Indian, whose investigations I have been asking you to follow, were to say to the Government that the Free Trade answer as to the Excise Duty upon cotton would not hold water. It will not. Everybody knows what the real reason for the Excise Duty upon Indian cotton industry is Let us be quite frank about it. The real reason for the existence of that duty is this: The influence which Lancashire and other parts of this country which are interested in the textile industry are able to wield in this House. If we are perfectly frank with one another we are bound to admit that this is the real answer. I quite admit it is a reason—that it is a very powerful and a very serious reason; but at the same time I say it is a reason which can be got round. If Lancashire objects to the abolition of the Excise Duty upon the Indian cotton industry, surely Lancashire would not object to it if it carried with it the abolition of the Import Duty upon Lancashire goods into India? The hon. Gentlemen opposite may very likely retort, "That is all very well, but I cannot give up revenue." My answer to that is this: "We have other sources of revenue in India." We can, for instance, impose considerably higher duties than we already do, and yet not unreasonably high duties, upon the vast and increasing quantity of foreign goods poured into the Indian market at the present time.
Such a policy would have a double advantage. In the first place it would enable the Government to do away with a tax in India which is looked upon with great resentment by the Indian people, and which is really largely a contributory cause to the feeling of unrest which has been permeating India during the past few years. It would have this further advantage: it would give the manufacturer of this country some small prefer- 1705 ence over foreign manufacturers in the Indian market. I very much doubt whether the House realises the rapidly increasing strides which our foreign competitors are making in the acquisition of a foothold in the Indian market. May I give the House a very few figures showing how very considerable, how very rapid, is the advance which foreign countries are making since rather more than ten years ago. In 1899 the whole of the imports from foreign countries into India amounted to £10,000,000. Ten years later, in 1909, they had more than doubled, and amounted in value to £24,000,000. It will probably surprise this House to know that Belgium sells seven times as much bar steel in India as the British manufacturer of steel does; that Japan sells eight times as much hosiery to the Indians as does the British manufacturer of hosiery; and that Japan and Sweden between them sell very nearly fifty times as many matches to the Indian people as does the British manufacturer. And I have a list of purely manufactured goods in very general use among all classes of the population, namely, apparel, furniture, clocks, watches, hosiery, dyeing and tanning materials, glass, hardware, cutlery, jewellery and plate, matches, steel, toys, and woollen goods, and we find that in the course of a single year the demand of the Indians for these goods amounted to over £11,000,000 sterling, and that out of the £11,000,000 sterling the British manufacturers supply very little more than £5,000,000 sterling, and that their foreign rivals supply considerably more than £6,000,000 sterling. These are figures which, perhaps, may be new to the majority of Members of this House, and when it is remembered that as long ago as 1903, when the Government of India was asked to consider the question of reciprocal trade between India and the Mother-country, and when the imports of foreign goods into that country were less than half what they are at the present time, the Government of India declared in an official publication that there were £10,000,000 sterling worth of goods in which effective competition prevailed and in respect of which a substantial preference tariff against the foreign producer would be of material benefit to the British manufacturer, we are bound to come to the conclusion that there is a far larger field now than then for setting up a preferential tariff between India and the Mother-country.
1706 It is quite conceivable that the hon. Gentleman' the Under-Secretary may say: "Even so; granted that there is an increase of foreign goods into India, it would not be possible for me to raise all the revenue I require as a result of the abolition of the cotton duties by increasing the duties upon foreign goods." Well, I say, there are other sources of revenue besides import duties. Export duties, for example, are not unknown to India. The Government of India at the present moment are raising something like £800,000 sterling per annum by export duties upon rice. I am not at all sure that the orthodox free traders find it very easy to defend the principle of that duty. At any rate, it is laid down by strong free traders associated with the Government of India in a financial capacity that export duties should be levied only upon those commodities of which the exporting country has a practical monopoly of production. I do not think anyone would claim that we have a monopoly of production in the case of rice, but, after all, that is not the particular question to which I am directing my attention at the present moment. Rather would I ask, does India possess any commodity of which she has a practical monopoly of production?
The answer is quite simple. India is in the happy state of possessing a commodity for which there is a world-wide demand and of which India possesses the absolute monopoly of production. I refer to the fibre known as jute. There is a world-wide demand for jute to the extent of upwards of 8,000,000 bales, and there was a time when the British Empire not only possessed the monopoly in the production of jute, but also in the manufacture of jute into cloth. There was a time when Calcutta and Dundee supplied the whole of the requirements for manufactured jute articles throughout the whole world. That happy state of affairs was brought to an end by the tariff manipulation of foreign countries, and really the case of jute supplies a very excellent example of the way foreign countries make use of their tariffs to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of this country. No sooner did they realise that the jute industry was an important and a lucrative one than they began to impose high import duties upon the manufacture of jute sent to them from this country and India. They had to go to India for their supply of raw material, but with extraordinary complacency, in spite of the fact that foreign countries were levying high import duties upon the 1707 manufactured jute which was sent to them, we continued to allow them to take as much of our raw material as they liked without any tax or duty. Is not the answer to these tactics obvious? Surely is not this a case in which it would be advantageous to impose export duties upon raw jute going out from India? I doubt if it is a duty that would be objected to by the Indian members of the Viceroy Council. Indeed, I have seen statements to the reverse. I have read a speech made by Mr. Gokhale, who the Under-Secretary declares is an admirable exponent of the Indian view of economic questions, in which he points out that the Government of India have a valuable and easily tapped source of revenue in an Export Duty upon jute. Let me make my position clear. While imposing an Export Duty upon raw jute I would give a rebate in respect to all jute sent from India for manufacture in this country. That is a reasonable and an obvious answer to the tactics of our industrial rivals in endeavouring to stifle out our jute trade by their taxes. Let me tell the House what the effect of our policy of non-interference has been in connection with this particular industry. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee (Mr. Churchill) were here he would be able to bear me out when I say that the jute industry in this country has been going through very serious times recently. I have here in my hand two extracts from one newspaper, namely, the "Dundee Advertiser." I do not know of what political complexion that newspaper may be, and, therefore, I shall not be suspected in quoting it, especially if it is of a political complexion different from my own; but the two reports in that paper to which I refer and which are to be found in the same issue are not dealing with matters from the political point of view, but from the purely commercial point of view, and are concerned with the state of the market. The first report which I will read is as follows:—Textiles upon the Continent.—Jute spinners and manufacturers are obtaining better prices, and the outlook for them seems very good.That refers to the state of affairs in the jute industries upon the Continent. Now comes the other report from the same issue of the "Dundee Advertiser," and it is dealing with the Dundee markets, and it reads as follows:—Whatever may be the ultimate issue the aspect of the position is hardly favourable to those who have Jute to buy. From the impression gained in to-day's Jute 1708 Markets one would be inclined to suggest that the Dundee trade is about to pass through one of the most momentous times in its history, unless a change for the better comes shortly The scarcity of orders for yarns and cloth is nothing short of appalling."I have taken these two extracts from an entirely impartial source to show the effects of the tariff tactics of our commercial rivals upon what was at one time an industry of which we had the monopoly, but an industry, I am sorry to say, in which we are to-day steadily and even rapidly losing our position. Now the answer I feel sure which any Free Trader would make to the proposal I have ventured to lay before the House would be that if we were to adopt any policy of that kind in India we should at once invite retaliation at the hands of our commercial rivals. I believe there was a time when that was a danger which had to be seriously considered, but I believe that time is passed. I believe it is generally recognised now that any fiscal arrangement which may be made between one part of the British Empire and another would be looked upon as a domestic matter and not as discriminatory against any foreign country, and I am strongly supported in that view by the Report of the Royal Commission which went into the question of the trade relations between the West Indies and Canada. In the course of its Report the Royal Commission has the following remarkable statement as one of its conclusions:—It may now be regarded that the trade arrangements between parts of the British Empire are to be considered matters of a domestic character which cannot be regarded as discriminatory by any Foreign Power.I think these words have all the more force behind them when we remember that two of the members of that Commission, perhaps the two most prominent, who signed the report are such strong Free Traders as Lord Balfour of Burleigh and Lord Islington.
But in addition to that, if you examine the condition of the Dundee trade, you will find it very unlikely that foreign countries would retaliate against us. I have a case in my mind in which the United States of America adopted a policy almost precisely similar to that which I have advanced with regard to the Indian duties. In the case of the United States of America an export duty of 30s. a ton was imposed upon Manilla hemp leaving the Philippine Islands, but a rebate was given when it is sent in American bottoms for the purpose of manufacture in America. I do not think, therefore, that the United States could 1709 possibly make that as an excuse for retaliation against us when she adopted a precisely similar policy herself, and above and beyond all that we have to remember that the vast bulk of the exports from India are food supplies and raw materials. Foreign countries do not buy their raw materials from India for philanthropic purposes; they buy them because they want them and must have them for their industries, and it would be to their disadvantage to impose additional duties upon raw products that they now receive and secure to such a large extent from India, and which they cannot upon the same terms secure from any other part of the world.
I have occupied as long a time as the House will desire upon this one topic. Let me say any suggestions that I have made for an alteration in the Indian tariff are not made in any partisan or hostile spirit. They are really laid before the House as a serious matter and as a serious contribution to a discussion which has raged for many years past upon this question of Indian trade. I do not feel very sanguine that the hon. Gentleman who is now in charge of Indian affairs in this House will see his way to avail himself of the suggestions that I have made, but I do venture to hope that he may while he is at the India Office turn them over in his mind and give them sound consideration, and not bar out altogether simply on pedantic grounds the possibility of some change such as I have advocated in the Indian tariffs.
§ Mr. THEODORE TAYLOR
I should like very briefly to refer to the topic of opium which my hon. Friend has mentioned only too briefly. There is still a considerable revenue derived from opium in India, and this will continue for a year or two to come. May I draw the attention of the Under-Secretary to the fact that the estimate of revenue last year was put down at £3,500,000 whereas the actual receipts were about £6,500,000. I prophesied last year that it would be found that the opium revenue had been very much under-estimated, and I quoted the figures for the previous six years. I pointed out that for the previous six years the opium revenue had been under-estimated to the extent of 20 per cent., 10 per cent., 29 per cent., 25 per cent., and last year it was overestimated to the extent of 80 per cent.; that is to say, the revenue yielded more than 80 per cent. above the Government estimate. Therefore we have no occasion 1710 to accuse the Indian Government of holding out too rosy an expectation. I have looked back on this point, and I find that the Government are in the habit of rather under-estimating the revenue, and the House should remember that in judging of the validity or otherwise of the Indian Budget.
But while some of this revenue has been spent in the way in which the Under-Secretary has told us, and although it has been well spent, yet I think some of this extra money should have been regarded as a kind of windfall to the extent even of keeping some of it back. In view of the probability that this revenue will cease within two years, it would have been well to have kept some of the money, if not to pay off debt, at all events it might have been put on one side for a possible deficiency during the next two or three years. I congratulate the Under-Secretary upon the fact that some of his new taxes have yielded well; and those that have not yielded well, such as the Tobacco Tax, in consequence of the modifications announced, I believe will have a greater yield during the current year. I think more revenue will come from the. Tobacco Tax this year. The revenue on the whole is healthy, and this was a good opportunity for the Government to make the agreement they have made with China, which was signed on the 8th May last, to enable China to refuse to receive any more of our opium as soon as she ceases growing any more of her own opium.
It has been pointed out to me that a year or two hence there may be a single field or two of some illicit growing of opium in some obscure corner of that great Empire. I have assured my Friend that no British Government ever enters into such an agreement in any niggling spirit. We have never had any moral right to insist that they should take our opium, and we should never think of compelling other nations to take useful goods like cotton, woollen, machinery, and ships. No man in this country would ever dream of forcing any nation to take, at any rate of duty whatever, any of our useful goods. Contrast that with the fact that for the last fifty or seventy years we have been forcing upon China a drug which is ruinous to her people—ruinous not only to thousands, but to millions—and I think hon. Members will agree that it really is time that we put an end to this opium traffic. I notice the hon. Member for Hornsey Division made a speech in reply to one of my 1711 own speeches in which he warned us against the heathen Chinee again, and he said those who have more zeal than common sense—I suppose he includes me in that class—should be still wary of our friend the Chinaman.
§ Mr. T. TAYLOR
I think that both hon. Gentlemen opposite will recognise the truth of what was contained in the report of Sir Alexander Hosie, who says:—As a result, therefore, of my own personal investigation extending over thirty-fonr days travel overland and of the testimony of others, I am satisfied that poppy cultivation has for the present been suppressed in Szechuan.I can only say that though I have believed all along that in this case China would show herself in earnest I am astonished at the enormous progress which has been made in Szechuan. There is no doubt whatever that in the Western provinces, remote as they necessarily are by weeks and weeks from the Central Government of China a very marvellous change has taken place. I do not wonder that those who know most about China have been sceptical as to what would happen there, but I think the case has been proved up to the hilt that China is making gigantic efforts in the direction of reform. I will mention another consideration. I will go back to the time when we made a ten or nine years' agreement, over three years ago with China, to commence at the beginning of 1908, under which we were to sell 10 per cent. less opium in Calcutta. Under that agreement there has been a great advance in the price, not merely owing to our restriction in India of opium production, but mainly to the restriction of China's own production of opium. So great has been the effect that the revenues of India have already risen, and at the end of the last financial year, ending the 31st of March last, the Indian Government had received more revenue than she could calculate upon during the whole of those nine years. If we merely stand to our guns and stand by the agreement made nine years ago we are bound to give China relief from this opium traffic at once.
Both privately and publicly I have pressed this matter upon the Government. I know the difficulties in the way. There is the difficulty of dealing with the Native States. There is still going on this export of opium to other countries, some of 1712 which is legitimate for medical purposes, and others, I am afraid, is an illegitimate trade. What has been the production in. the Natives States hitherto. The Indian Government is quite able to deal with them, and Sir Edward Baker said he saw his way under the ten years' agreement to deal with the financial difficulty. When one remembers that we have already got more revenue in India than we calculated upon for the whole of the nine or ten years' period, the whole of the money case is gone. I say in justification of the Government, the Under-Secretary's statement to-day has been one of prolonged interest. I am almost afraid to take up even the few moments I have taken to direct attention to this one subject, because there are so-many subjects involved in the statement made by the Under-Secretary. I hope when the hon. Member replies he will answer a question or two which I should like to put to him. Would the hon. Gentleman tell us about what area is going to-be planted with the poppy? I think the month of June or July is the time when this is decided. Is there any area of poppy going to be planted in India during the coming autumn or winter for a crop next year? If so, would he give us an approximate idea of the area?
I am glad to see in the Blue Book a reference to the fact that it has not been, very profitable to the cultivator to cultivate poppy. I am pleased to see this statement, because it is a flat contradiction of an assertion very often erroneously made here and elsewhere that by suppressing the cultivation of opium in India we should be doing a great wrong to the native cultivator. Everybody knows that the Government of India take the greater part of the price realised for opium, and the cultivator gets very little of it. I think there is one article which we ought to have cultivated in India instead of opium. Lancashire is crying out for cotton, and that is the article we ought to have been cultivating in India all these years instead of opium. I do not hesitate to say that if during the last twenty years a quarter of the attention which has been given to the growing of opium had been given to the cultivation of the proper varieties of cotton we should have been growing in India to-day those large quantities of cotton which are now required in Lancashire. What have we in India? We have a civilised population, and not a people too lazy 1713 to work, like some of those in Africa and the South Sea Islands, where they have to be trained to work. We have had an intelligent and trained population for generations.
There is just one little item I should like to make public now. I do not think I have ever told the House of it before. It is really worth telling, to show what can be done in this way. A certain friend of mine of the name of Fletcher, who was second professor at the Agricultural College of Cairo when I was there in 1901, was, I think, about 1903 called to the province of Bombay as an agricultural expert to experiment in cotton and other articles. He was there two or three years. While experimenting at an agricultural experimental farm at Poona he grew a crop of cotton. It was not the ordinary Indian sort, which is too short in the staple and not appropriate for the purposes of Lancashire. We want in Lancashire a cotton with a more even and longer staple, a cotton more approximating to the Egyptian type. He grew a crop of 400 bales, quite large enough for practical purposes as an experiment, but, unfortunately, against his advice, it was sold to a very large and well-known firm in Bombay, who gave very little more, if any more, than the current price of Indian cotton at the time. My friend came home the next year, and with a large cotton spinner, a constituent of mine, went round the brokers of Liverpool. They traced this cotton. It was packed in the Indian manner, but it was more approximating to the Egyptian staple. They found these 400 bales, which had been sold in Bombay for a little over 4d. per pound, had been resold in Liverpool for over 9d. per pound. "This," as the Irishman said, "is a fact I am telling you." It is an absolute fact, and I think it illustrates in a most remarkable way the possibilities of India. We have two or three highly-organised, though perhaps not sufficiently highly organised, experimental farms, and useful experiments have been made, but so enormous is the requirements of Lancashire, and so urgent and immediate is the need of the industry for a larger quantity of the staple, that I beg the Government most earnestly to spend more money on this business, to give more time and attention to it, and to get more able experts than we have had yet.
Perhaps the House will allow me to use a further illustration. In a Report which Professor Mavor, of Toronto University, a professor of political economy, made to 1714 our Board of Trade, on the agricultural possibilities of Canada, eight or ten years ago, he reported that by crossing the seed of wheat on the Indian Head and Regina experimental farms in Canada they had produced a variety of wheat which would stand the climate hundreds of miles farther north than before. This has enabled the settlement of that great country in the North-West, because practical knowledge has been brought to bear on the matter. I do press upon the Government that there is nothing which would help the people of India more, and nothing which would help the people of Lancashire more, than if India produced longer staple cotton. I have absolute faith it can be done, because it was done in the case of this one crop. The mischief of that experiment was that cotton was sold for just over 4d. per pound in India and was resold by the merchants in Liverpool for a little over 9d. That was not because the price had changed. That would not be a fair comparison. It was sold almost immediately afterwards. It was not a mere accidental rise in price. It was the real value as compared with the unascertained value in India itself. It figures, of course, in the books and accounts of the Agricultural Department as having yielded a little over 4d. per pound, whereas it ought to figure as having yielded a little over 9d. per lb. That makes all the difference between the practicability and impracticability of the experiment. I press this-upon the attention of the Government as well worth any amount of expense, any amount of trouble, and any amount of perseverance. The gentleman who had this experience was rather disheartened because his efforts were not sufficiently appreciated, and I do think he ought to have been better supported. He is now, I believe, in Central Africa experimenting for some company or growing something on his own account. I merely mention this as; an illustration to show how highly desirable it is that the Government of India, seeing the demand for opium is prospectively ceasing, should devote as much attention as has been paid to the cultivation of opium to the growth of cotton.
I desire very earnestly to press upon the attention of the Indian Government the abuse of opium in some of their own Provinces and in Assam in particular. The liquor licensing system generally is not a great success. When I was in India, I heard several eases of planters who positively objected to the placing of liquor 1715 shops, and, I think, of opium shops as well, near their own plantations. I do not mean to say the Government of India should sell no alcohol, but I do say, now the world has recognised there is no legitimate benefit from opium smoking, that vice which does exist to a small extent in India, should be as rigorously put down by us in India as Japan puts it down, as China is desiring to put it down, and as our own self-governing Colonies put it down in their territories. Opium smoking exists only to a small extent compared with the population, but that is no reason why the vice should be allowed to grow. I hope the Government will keep their eye on the existence of that vice, and will absolutely stamp it out. I say, without any hesitation—I do not think anybody contradicts it now—there is no useful medical purpose to be answered by opium smoking. I am not now speaking of opium taking. I desire again to thank the Under-Secretary most warmly for the decided stand the India Office has at last taken—after all, no other stand could have been taken—and to say how pleased I am that we are now within measurable distance of wiping out the Indian-Chinese opium traffic.
§ Colonel YATE
I am entirely at one with the hon. Member for Radcliffe (Mr. Theodore Taylor) in his desire to have an increased amount of cotton grown in India. The Indian Government is fully alive to the matter, and is trying, by experiments, to increase the supply. The hon. Member, however, whilst saying that what we want in Lancashire is cotton of the Egyptian type, made no contrast between the climate of Bengal and the climate of Egypt, and I am afraid it would be impossible, if we wiped out the opium traffic, to substitute long staple cotton in its place there. I do not think the hon. Member could have studied the problem sufficiently before making that proposition. With reference to the opium question, I should like, first of all, to ask the Under-Secretary what arrangements have been made to stop the importation into China of other than Indian opium. The Under-Secretary, in reply to a question I put to him the other day, said that China had undertaken to reduce progressively the importation of Turkish and Persian opium into China and to extinguish it entirely by 1917.
I asked if there had been any guarantee given for the carrying out of this undertaking by the Chinese Government, but all he could tell me was that the Secretary 1716 of State understood these measures were still in force. I should like to have some more distinct pronouncement on that subject. If the importation of Indian opium is to be summarily stopped, will Turkish and Persian opium be allowed to be imported into China up to 1917? I take it that if Indian opium is to be stopped, Turkish and Persian opium should also be stopped. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs only yesterday, in answer to a question, acknowledged that the Chinese Government had not been acting up to their pledges. He told us that representations have already had to be made to China with regard to the levying of illegal taxes on the import of Indian opium in contravention of the recent treaty. We all know that representations to a country like China are absolutely useless unless they are backed up in some active way.
Are the Indian traders, who are now by this new treaty to be permitted to export opium to China, to be guaranteed their full treaty rights, or are they to be subject to these illegal exacting duties which the Chinese authorities are so clever in putting on? What we require is an absolute guarantee that if we observe our treaty obligations China will do the same. If China does not observe her treaty obligations in full then the treaty itself ought to be cancelled and the previous position reverted to. Our Indian traders must have proper protection. In this matter India is faced with a permanent loss of revenue to the extent of £3,000,000 or £3,500,000. The hon. Gentleman has told us of the windfalls that have come in during the last year. Still the fact remains that India has to face this permanent reduction of revenue, and Mr. Gokhale, when he was speaking in the Budget Debate at Calcutta on 18th March, said that if the opium revenue is extinguished it was as sure as the fact that they were assembled in that room that the Government within three years would have to have recourse to extra taxation to fill up the gap. In other words, extra taxation will have to be put on in India in order to make up for this loss of revenue. I believe the hon. Member for the Radcliffe Division is an active member of the Opium Board. I have never heard from him how it is proposed to compensate the Indian people for the loss of revenue in consequence of the extinction of this trade. I think it was the Chancellor of the Exchequer who the other day said that certain proposals would not have been advanced if the proposers had had 1717 to find the money. I am seriously doubtful if, supposing the hon. Member for Radcliffe Division had to find the compensation, he would have so energetically advanced the proposals for the extinction of this trade as he has done.
We have India expecting, as the result of the forthcoming visit of the King, some large remission of taxation or some great bounty given to the India people, and if they find in lieu thereof that they are to be subjected to extra taxation in order to make up for the loss of opium revenue, I do not think they will be so pleased with the visit as appears probable at the present time, while those who have been so generous at the expense of the Indian, people may have cause to rue their vicarious generosity. There is no doubt we have stopped a great and flourishing industry in India. It is not only the British revenue which suffers, but the cultivators, the merchants, and the native princes of Central India, where Malwa opium forms such an important industry, will also suffer, and largely so. This is no modern industry. This opium was exported to China years and years before England went to India, and I would like to ask who is to compensate these people for their loss? Their country is one especially suited for the production of this opium, and the loss to them is consequently severe. You have in past years compensated innkeepers for the loss of their licences, you have compensated slave owners because you abolished slavery, but who, I want to know, is going to compensate these people for their loss. There is another point which should be borne in mind. Although the opium board advocates putting a stop to these people's livelihood, it has not taken any steps to stop the export from England of morphia, morphine, and cocaine to the east. Yet these drugs do infinitely more harm than has ever been done by opium. They are exported from England, yet India has to pay the piper. I heard even a suggestion the other day that a stop should be put to the practice of allowing little pieces of opium to the coolies on the tea plantations. Indian opium is one of the principal febrifuges, and it is daily used by coolies as a protection against malaria; if they are deprived of it, the effects may be serious. I have seen it used regularly by the Rajputs, the finest and manliest race in India, when accompanying them on shooting and hunting expeditions, and I can assure the Committee there is no more harm in such use of it than, there is in the 1718 afternoon cup of tea. The hon. Member for the Radcliffe Division seems to object to the use of opium in any way.
§ Colonel YATE
The fact remains it is a good thing for use against malaria, and it would be a hardship to deprive the Indians of the right to use it under such circumstances. As to opium smoking, I agree entirely with what the hon. Member said regarding the evils of that practice. I have lived among the opium smokers of Persia; the practice is ruining Persia, and I have seen men reduced to yellow, miserable, dried-up wrecks of their former selves through indulging in the habit, which, when I lived there, was threatening to sap the very vitals of the race. Yet we are doing nothing for Persia; on the contrary, she will apparently be encouraged to increase her growth of opium. She will be able to grow it and export it in still greater quantities into China, and the poor Indian ryot will have to pay more taxes to enable the Persian grower to make more money than ever. Why should all our energies be expended on China? Persia is in a much more parlous condition than China. Opium smoking is the most hateful of vices. In India it does not exist, in Persia it prevails to a serious extent. I hope that when this opium question is settled the whole subject will be settled conclusively, and that not only will opium itself be dealt with, but the trade in morphia, morphine, cocaine, and similar drugs will likewise be regulated, and that the restrctions will not be limited to China, but will be extended to Persia and other countries. Some suggestion has been advanced with regard to the reduction of the Indian Army. We have heard, I am glad to say, no proposal for any reduction of the English Army in India, although the suggestion is that the native Army might be reduced. Honestly I do not think that this is a time for a reduction of the Army in any part of the world.
§ Colonel YATE
No; but the statement was that any proposal submitted by the Government of India on that point would be viewed with sympathy. I trust that it will not receive any sympathy; this is not the time to reduce our Army. But there is one suggestion I would commend to the hon. Gentleman's consideration, and that 1719 is whether it is not possible that the surplus Indian Army, if there is any surplus, should be utilised to increase the small garrisons in our Eastern Crown Colonies. Instead of wiping out our well-trained Indian troops, would it not be possible to enter into negotiations with the Crown Colonies to employ any surplus troops of India in such garrisons as Ceylon, which are far too deficient in their defensive arrangements. I hope the hon. Gentleman will take this question into consideration, and see whether he cannot utilise in Ceylon and other Eastern Crown Colonies the surplus Indian troops instead of reducing the force. I trust the Secretary of State will bear that suggestion in mind.
The Resolution I put down this afternoon had to do with the question of gun-running in the Persian Gulf and the protection of our Persian trade routes and telegraph lines. I need not go into the history of gun-running; we know that at the present time it has been very much reduced owing to the success of the operations carried out by our sailors. In fact, it has almost been put a stop to. But there is the other question of preventing inroads and raids through Persian Baluchistan. The latest returns say that in regard to the arms traffic Belgium had the first place, England and Germany second and third, and France fourth, the last-named country having only a small share indeed, only about 15 per cent. That shows there is no necessity whatsoever for any bargaining with France as to the cession of Gambia or any other of our Colonial Possessions, in order to induce France to abrogate her treaty of 1862 with Muscat, under which arms from various countries are imported. If we can keep the roads in Persia safe, there will very soon be no gun running. I repeat that this is not a question of bargaining with France or of giving her compensation for any loss by cession of land. It is purely and solely a question of civilisation. We look to France to help us in that without bargaining for compensation, France is a good neighbour of ours, and certainly should help us in such a manner, and we certainly do not expect her to behave now as was done a generation ago on the East Coast of Africa when His Majesty's Ship "London" and other vessels were stationed there in order to put down the slave trade. The French at that 1720 time would not allow British men-of-war to search any dhow which ran up the French flag. We do not want anything like that in the Persian Gulf.
Then there is the question of policing the Persian Gulf in order to prevent gun running. I have already suggested that this duty might well be handed over to the Royal Indian Marine. Our ships which are now employed upon it are ill-fitted for the task, and if is an extreme hardship upon our sailors that they should be subjected to the terrible heat which prevails in the Persian Gulf in such very unsuitable vessels. You might just as well lock up several hundred men in an oven as in a modern man-of-war in the hot weather in the Persian Gulf. I am sure I shall have the support of the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord Charles Beresford) in this matter. Our ships ought to be used for their proper work, which is the protection of British commerce and British trade routes, and they should not be called upon to do this local police work when the Royal Indian Marine vessels are well fitted for it. If these vessels were supplied with the guns which are ready for them they could well be entrusted with the task of policing the Persian Gulf and shore, and thus release the British squadron for its legitimate work. I look forward to the day when we shall see squadrons from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, all centred on a British Fleet based on Ceylon and Singapore. There should therefore be no jealousy about the Indian Marine ships, which should be armed, and should take over the duty of running down the gun runners.
I now turn to the question of safeguarding the trade routes of Southern Persia, a matter which is very important to India at the present time. First of all I should like to say there is no such thing as Persian Baluchistan. Hon. Members have probably read with great interest the articles appearing in "The. Times" during the last week or two from their special correspondent, who is a well-known authority on this question, and they will have seen what he actually says about Persia and Persian Baluchistan. I would specially call to their notice the fourth and sixth articles. He describes that portion of Baluchistan as a purely no-man's land. There is absolutely no authority there whatsoever. The only time the Persians ever had authority there was when we sent 1721 same flying columns to help the Persian Governor some ten years ago. As to the trade routes, the "Pioneer" says:—The Consular report on the trade of Seistan and Kain furnishes eloquent proof of the loss caused by the unsafe condition of the roads in Eastern Persia. British trade via Nushki—that is, along the British trade route—increased to some extent, but the Vice-Consul at Birjand states that this does not anything like compensate for the falling on: of imports coining from Baudar Abbas, Kirman, Yezd, and Ispahan. The routes leading to the Gulf ports were practically closed owing to the robberies of caravans.Then take the Consular report for Kirman. Here we see:—The roads between Bandar Abbas and Kirman have been infested by robbers from Fars during the greater part of the year, and their insecurity has adversely affected trade in various ways.With regard to the Bushire and Shiraz Road, the special correspondent of "The Times" I notice said the number of muleteers engaged on the road was reduced from 7,000 to 3,000, and the price of freights had gone up from £4 to £16 a ton. Under these circumstances, all will acknowledge that the roads throughout Southern Persia are absolutely unsafe for British traffic, and it is British traffic alone which suffers. Again, we are the custodians of the world for all the telegraphic communication between East and West.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman's observations will be more suitable on the Foreign Office Vote. The opportunity given to-day is to discuss the internal affairs of India. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is really discussing the affairs of Persia in their relation to general British trade. That is outside the topic of to-day's discussion.
§ Colonel YATE
I was endeavouring to discuss it in its relation to India, but I will not pursue the topic. I have noticed regarding the internal affairs of India that some hon. Members opposite below the Gangway have been rather inclined to ask questions about torture in the Indian police. Torture is a thing that is chronic throughout the East. Think of the tortures there are in China, Afghanistan, Persia, and other countries. If these questions were asked with the idea of helping the British officers of police in India to put a stop to these practices one would sympathise thoroughly, or if hon. Members would go out and take up some of the heat and burden of the day and try to stop these practices, but hon. Gentlemen, as far as I can see, are simply putting questions which have been drafted and sent to them by some secret society in Calcutta 1722 about a subject on which they have very little, if any, real knowledge, and I would beg them when they put these questions to remember that all the time they are making dupes and catspaws of themselves for a certain number of men in Calcutta who have no wish to stop torture. They are simply being used to further the interests of these men in Calcutta who are trying, for reasons of their own, to bring discredit on the British Government. If they come to realise that they will see that in taking up this question they ought to have more knowledge of the subject before raising the subject in the House of Commons. We have a grand body of British officers of police in India doing their best to put down these things. The hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) the other day said the Indian Government had a mania for prosecuting political prisoners, and he referred to the disquieting amount of political prosecution in India. The only disquieting thing about it is the number of times the Indian Government have had to resort to it. Far from putting a stop to it I hope the Indian Government will go on, and by every means in their power do their best to bring these criminals to justice. I am speaking now, not only of the British officers who have been murdered, good men who were liked toy their Indian fellow subjects, but also of the Indian officers who have been done to death in the discharge of their duty. Not a word of pity has ever been said about them. The actual murderers, when caught, will pay the penalty of their crime, but the man you want to catch is the dastardly and dangerous criminal who by his words and writings incites these men to do these murders, and I trust the British Government will never cease till they bring the last of these men to justice in any way they can, and will not be deterred from bringing them to trial simply because they fail to get sufficient evidence to convict in one or two cases.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I should like, first of all, to offer my very heartiest congratulations to the Under-Secretary for the tone and spirit of his speech. He, however, may thank his stars that he made the speech he did in the House of Commons as Under-Secretary for India and not as a suspect in Bengal. There are men imprisoned to-day for saying less strong things about Nationalism than the hon. Gentleman has cordially indulged in. Anything I may have to say concerning his 1723 speech will be more in the nature of comment than of criticism. One noteworthy part of his speech was the splendid, if indirect, testimony to the capacity, the honesty, and the ability of the Indian people. He referred to the great success which has attended the operations of the Provincial and Viceregal Councils with their enlarged powers and membership. The educated classes who have been admitted to these are, on the admission of the India Office, proving themselves successful in the arts of government. The powers are very limited but their capacity, not merely for criticism but for constructive legislation, is abundantly proved in the speeches they have delivered in their respective councils. Then with regard to the more humble classes of India, the success which has attended the establishment of the agricultural co-operative banks proves not merely their honesty, which has never been doubted by anyone with the slightest knowledge of them, but also their administrative capacity. The Under-Secretary told us that as a result of these banks, village government was again becoming a reality wherever the powers had been given to the people.
From these facts one may infer that the more rapidly extended powers are given, both to the Indian peasant and to the Indian educated class, for administering their own affairs the better it will be for them and probably for us. The Undersecretary spent some considerable time in a very interesting description of the growth and development of the industrial system in India and he seemed to indicate that it was bound to go on until India had become a great industrial country such as Great Britain now is and as Germany is becoming. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman meant that. If so, I hope he was wrong. I do not believe in the possibility of his being right. A certain amount of industry is bound to develop in India, but by the very conditions of the country India is always bound to be in the main an agricultural country. Its industries will be subsidiary to its agriculture. There is still something far more important for India than the training of capable capitalists and managers of ordinary industry. The question of technical education in regard to the proper work of the land and encouragement to those who cultivate the land is our first duty.
1724 I wish to say a word or two about the opium question. In common with most other people I rejoice that at length the British Government has reached the level of morality of the Chinese Government. There have been some questions from the opposite side of the House, and especially from the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Yate) about the amount of trust that has been reposed in the Chinese in connection with the carrying out of the agreement with regard to the suppression of the opium traffic. He should remember that opium, in the form we know it now, had to be forced on China at the point of the sword, and from the date of the 1864 war down to the present time the best Chinese opinion has been consistently and persistently in favour of an agreement on the lines of that to which we have now come, and, therefore, it is most unfair to begin to assume now that those men are wanting to deceive us, wanting to grow the poppy themselves, or wanting to import it from Persia, or some other country. The Under-Secretary laid great stress upon the need for technical education, and he in this, as in many other respects, sought to bring home to educated Indians a sense of their responsibility. No educated Indian seeks to shirk this responsibility, but everyone will ask what is the Government doing in the matter? Technical education cannot be left to voluntary effort, and when the Government puts itself right by giving greater facilities and more encouragement for technical education they will be better able to blame educated Indians for not doing their share.
As to elementary education, I do not think the Under-Secretary was quite right in his facts. He said there was no demand for it among the poorer classes, who were not ashamed of their illiteracy. As a matter of fact, those who have had the opportunity, even for a short time, of seeing the villages in parts of India, cannot have failed to be struck by the fact that nearly every one of these contained a school largely supported by voluntary effort. The subsidies from the Government were totally inadequate even to pay the modest salaries of the teachers. The peasants send their children long distances to attend the schools. As I understood the statement of the Under-Secretary, he referred more to the children of what he called the untouchable classes, not those of the ordinary Hindu peasants. May I remind the hon. Gentleman of a few facts? The first is that in Bengal, where education is more advanced, the 1725 educated Hindus have established a school for the children of these untouchable classes. The old class feeling is breaking down and passing away, and the way in which the Government encourage this and help the educated Hindus in Bengal is to suppress meetings held for the establishment of these schools. There were two cases where meetings of Hindus were called to arrange for the establishment of one of these schools for the lower caste—the sort of outcasts—and they were prohibited by the Government because they were afraid that they might teach sedition. In the native State of Baroda all classes of children, not merely the children of peasants, but also those of the outcast classes, are being taught free by the State. The Gaikwar of Baroda, like some of the other native rulers in India, including the Maharajah of Mysore, has established compulsory free education for all classes of children within his State, and he has gone further than that, and made it part of the regulations of the State that recruits for the lower grades of the Civil Service must contain a certain percentage of the children of those so-called outcasts and untouchable classes. If the Government of India, instead of pointing to the duty resting upon educated Indians, would themselves follow the example set by the State of Baroda, they would then be able to appeal to those educated Indians, and I know that the appeal would not be made in vain.
I was very much impressed by the plague figures which were given by the Under-Secretary. The fact that 7,500,000 people died from plague in the last fifteen years reveals a state of affairs which is truly alarming. But here again if the Government, instead of calling upon educated Indians to do this, that, and the other, would take people who are willing to help more into their confidence and invite their co-operation more than they do, they would find that the difficulties in the way of sanitary administration and preventive measures would tend very much to disappear. So far as evacuation is concerned the Under-Secretary must be aware that as far back as any records can be traced it appears that so soon as disease of any kind breaks out the first step taken by the inhabitants is to evacuate their houses and to go and form a new village. As to the statement that plague is carried by the rat, the flea, and so on, I thought by this time that theory had been exploded. I promise to send the Under-Secretary a statement containing not only 1726 an exposure of the rat and flea theory, but also a much more tenable theory, and I hope when he receives the statement he will read it and benefit from it. But the point not to be overlooked is this. The real cause for the perpetuation of plague is the poverty of the people. It is in the most poverty stricken districts where plague is permanent, and just in proportion as you come to places higher in the scale, so do the figures with respect to plague tend to dwindle and grow less. However desirable the extermination of rats and fleas may be on its own merits, no mere remedy of that kind would ever get rid of plague in India so long as poverty continues so rampant as it is at present. An hon. Friend reminds me that the killing of the rat and flea in India in order to cure plague is like the building of sanatoria here to cure consumption, which is caused by poverty and bad sanitation.
I was pleased to hear that the plague figures as to the United Provinces are lower now than they had been. I hope that no false security is going to be built up on that announcement. In the United Provinces during May the deaths were 25,314, and in June they had fallen to 893. In the Punjab during May the deaths were 48,292, and in June they had fallen to 16,909. From January to June, 1911, the deaths in the United Provinces were 109,950, and in the Punjab 179,003. These are alarming figures, and the Under-Secretary will agree that the tendency always is for the figures showing the death-rate from plague to go down during hot weather, the reason being, so I am advised by men who know, that during hot weather people sleep outside, while in the cold weather they are driven once more inside the houses to sleep. While in the open they are away from the plague-infected houses, but when driven in by cold weather they are in the midst of infection, and so we get a large increase in the death rate. It is worth bearing in mind that the visit of His Majesty to India will be at the beginning of the cold season, and if his visit, with its magnificence, splendour and glorification, is going to coincide with tens of thousands of his subjects dying around him through sheer poverty, that will not tend to add to the glory of the British throne.
Now I come to refer to two or three points which were left out of the speech, because, after all is said and done, the most remarkable feature of the speech was that some things were untouched. We had 1727 not one word about the police and the action of the police in torturing innocent people in order to compel them to give evidence in police cases. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down spoke of the crime of those who put questions as to the conduct of the police, and he seemed to think that we invent these things out of the depths of our own wicked imagination. He forgot that a Commission appointed by the Government of India some years ago inquired into the question of torture and presented a report containing recommendations much stronger than any person would venture to suggest on the floor of the House of Commons itself in order to suppress torture. During the closing months of last year or the beginning of the present year there were three cases which were supposed to be of first-class importance. They broke down because the evidence on which the authorities relied was evidence extorted by torture by police agents. Surely that is a very serious state of affairs? Of late we have heard with considerable satisfaction that the Government of India is going to prosecute some of the worst malefactors of this kind, but in order to eradicate this form of torture in India prosecutions will have to be much more extended than they have been and the punishments meted out to the offenders much more severe.
There was no reference whatever in the Undersecretary's speech to the Press law. Educated Indians seek to express through the Press their honest opinions, and demand that they shall be allowed to share in the public life of their own community. The Press which seeks to assist them to do these things is under restrictions and regulations that make its very existence all but a farce. I know nothing of the affairs or of the ad- ministration of India which creates more discontent and is more resented by the educated people of India than the continual misrepresentations of the sayings and doings of honest men indulged in by the Press on our side and on their own side. Reuter's agency is the mouthpiece of the most reactionary elements in India, and that it should be allowed continuously, day after day and week after week, to send over false, distorted, and exaggerated reports of perfectly innocent happenings in order to make people here believe that India is inhabited by a band of robbers, liars, and swindlers is calculated to do more harm to British prestige than almost all other 1728 causes put together. I hope that the Government of India will take this matter into their serious consideration.
My last point is the expenditure on the Durbar which is to be a mean between niggardliness and extravagance. The official expenditure is to be one million sterling. How much the native princes are going to spend in addition to that, no man knows or will know. Four hundred of them are to receive the King as he enters Delhi. They will go there arrayed in all their magnificence and splendour, and then they will return to their native States to impose fresh levies upon their poverty-stricken subjects to pay for all the display and all the grandeur. That is not calculated to increase the loyalty of the people out there. Forty thousand pounds have been spent in one province in trying to fight the plague, which is carrying off hundreds of thousands a year, and a million is being spent in the same province on this military display. If the Durbar is to leave any permanent results of a good kind behind it must be something more than show. It has been said more than once in this debate that on all these occasions great boons are expected by the people at large, and if His Majesty goes to India with all this display, and receptions by princes and all the rest of it, and comes away again without leaving substantial boons behind, his visit will do harm instead of good.
What form can his boons take? There are two which would undoubtedly impress the imagination of India, and tend to restore peace to that distracted country. The first will be an amnesty for all political prisoners. Some of these, as the hon. Gentleman knows, are men of great erudition, great influence, and great ability. They are imprisoned now for saying things, I repeat deliberately, not one whit more strong than my hon. Friend has said to-day. These men are imprisoned for long terms of years. Whether we agree or disagree with their teachings we cannot dispute the fact that they have endeared themselves to the people of India by their championship of the national rights of India, and to restore them to their homes would without doubt have a most healing influence among the peoples in all parts of the country. Another point on which imagination would come into play is some arrangement whereby the more aggressive portions of the partition of Bengal could be withdrawn. It is now admitted on every hand that the partition was a mistake, 1729 administratively and financially. It lay at the root of the whole of the agitation which led to the Seditious Meetings Bill being passed and the Press Law being amended. Take away from the Hindu people of Bengal the sense of injustice under which they labour, a sense which is shared by Hindus in every part of India, and then the visit -of the King to India, despite all the foolish expenditure which it entails, will be worth the time and worth the effort. So long as the partition of Bengal remains in its present form there can be no peace in India.
I was glad to hear the views of the hon. Gentleman, as to the relations between Mahomedans and Hindus. May I remind him once more that one of the chief grievances connected with the partition of Bengal is that it gives Mahomedans a privileged position not only in Bengal but all over India. Competitive examinations have been suspended to allow the Government to appoint Mahomedans to offices for which their qualifications do not fit them. If we are to have harmony between the two religions the cause of discord should first be removed by taking away the more objectionable features of the partition. I do not ask for the complete abrogation of the partition, but if the more objectionable features were removed, a long step would be taken towards restoring harmony between Mahomedans and Hindus, and making for peace in India. The experiment has been tried of the enlargement of the powers of the provincial councils. Has not the time come when the village Panchazet in some modern form should once more be established? We have had a eulogy pronounced upon the working of the agricultural banks, and if we can give the villager his own village council invested with certain responsibilities and based upon a popular form of election, he could do no harm, and he would be able to prove his capacity for dealing with the many problems which present themselves for solution. Give the village council powers over education and administration of local lands, etc., and the villager once more as in the past will prove his capacity for looking after his own affairs well and efficiently. If the tone and spirit of the hon. Gentleman's speech could be infused into the press of India, and into the whole of the administration of India, the Indian people would feel a confidence and a sympathy with British Government, which everyone admits has been largely alienated 1730 during the past eight or ten years. If the spirit running through the whole of the hon. Gentleman's speech could be reproduced in every village bazaar in India it would do more to restore confidence in British rule than almost all the promises made of reform of administration.
§ Sir ALBERT SPICER
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word, "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "in the opinion of this House, there is urgent necessity for the provision of educational facilities, primary, secondary, higher, and technical in India, and that the Government of India should supply the funds necessary for a comprehensive programme."
I frankly confess that I should not have ventured to bring forward this Motion had it not been for two circumstances. The first is that I believe the moment is opportune for a forward movement in connection with education in India. The second is that for thirty-five years I have taken an active part in the administration of the old missionary societies that have been at work in India all through the last century, and in connection with this I visited India some years ago, not on an ordinary pleasure visit, but simply to inspect the work that was going on. On that visit I inspected schools in the Bombay Presidency. We were all through the Madras Presidency, in the native State of Mysore, the native State of Travancore, in Bengal, in two large cities in the central provinces, and in some towns on the lower ranges of the Himalayas. Though I do not profess to be an educational expert, one cannot have seen all the work that was going on in all those different places without having learned something and being able to look at figures in Blue Books with a meaning, which is very different from that conveyed to anyone who has not visited these various places. On this question of education we as a nation have taken upon ourselves a tremendous responsibility. Le me remind the House of what was said at the Court of East India directors in 1854:—It is one of our most sacred duties to be the means as far as in us lies of conferring upon the natives of India those vast moral and material blessings which flow from the general diffusion of useful knowledge, and which India must, under Providence, derive from her connection with England.Those sentiments have been emphasised again and again, notably by the Commission appointed during the Viceroyalty of the late Lord Ripon, and I would read one 1731 short sentence from that report. It recommended that:—an attempt be made to secure the fullest possible provision for an extension of primary education by legislation suited to the circumstances of each Province.I want to ask, in the next place, what is the actual position to-day in connection with education? By the census of 1901 there was a population of 294,000,000. The children of school age amounted in round figures to something like 36,000,000. Public and private educational institutions numbered 168,129, and in those institutions there were 5,981,000 scholars. Practically, we will call it in round figures, 6,000,000, divided into about half males and half females. The institutions for the males, however, let me remind the House, number 154,018; the institutions for females number 14,111. We have 5,197,000 males in our schools, and only 783,000 females. Out of every 100 boys we reach 33; out of every 100 girls we at present reach only 4. I think we may say, without exaggeration, when we think of this enormous disparity between the education of boys and girls, that we are wasting a certain proportion of the money that we spend on the education of our boys. These institutions are divided amongst primary schools, 117,000; secondary schools, 6,277; special institutions, 4,511; technical and industrial schools, 182; commercial schools, 21; agricultural schools, 3; public institutions (University branch), 172; and a balance of some 605,000 scholars are in private institutions, unaided. Our expenditure in India is something like £77,000,000 a year. In 1908-9 we spent on education £4,397,000. Those, I admit, are large figures, unless we consider them in relation to the magnitude of the problem we have to solve. By way of realising how far short at present we fail in the obligation we owe to India, let us look at the question of attendance at schools generally. What; ought it to be? In Great Britain and Ireland we expect it to be somewhere about 20 per cent. of the whole population. Japan has in her schools 11 per cent. of the whole population. Russia, which is not looked upon as specially forward in this question of education, was 4.5 per cent., and British India has only 1.9 per cent. I ask the House to bear in mind that figure 1.9 per cent. Let us look at how we compare with other countries, not, of course, entirely similar to India, but still comparable to some extent. The modern educational system of Japan dates only from 1872. They have 1732 built up their education system in Japan at the same time that they were building up their army and their navy. In 1872 a Rescript was issued by the Emperor, in. which the following words occur:—It is designed henceforth that education shall be so diffused that there may not be a village with an ignorant family or a family with an ignorant member.Ambitious words, but Japan has fulfilled them in the course of about thirty years. In 1872 only 28 per cent. of the school going population were at school. In 1900 these numbers had risen to 90 per cent. Let us look at another part of the world, the Philippine Islands. They came under American rule thirteen years ago. Under the Spanish rule there was no system of education. The United States have aimed to make primary education universal and free. The education authorities devised a compulsory system, but at present no compulsory system has actually been. enacted, but many of the municipalities have exercised compulsion under local ordinances. There has been a very great advance in that system from 1903 to 1908. In 1903, there were 150,000 children in their schools; in 1908, 360,000, and the proportion of those children to the whole population of the Philippines was nearly 6 per cent., as against the 1.9 of British India. Let us get a little nearer to India, to Ceylon. You would not know any difference between the Tamils of Ceylon and the Tamils of the Madras Presidency; they approach very nearly to the natives of Southern India. The Government have-one-third of the schools under their control, and the other two-thirds are granted aid. In the Government schools a system of compulsion has been long in force. In 1908, sixteen districts were proclaimed for compulsory attendance, the boys for a period of six years—that is to say, they should be at school six years. The girls were not put under compulsion, but every effort was made to secure their attendance. It is hoped that this year all the districts-will be under compulsion. The figures as to the pupils now in the schools are 237,000, or 6.6 per cent. of the population, as against 1.9 in British India.
My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) has already referred to the native State of Baroda. Just let me give the House a few definite particulars with regard to that State. The Maharajah of that State began his first experiment by introducing compulsory and free education eighteen years ago in ten villages. Finally, in 1906, primary education was made compulsory and free for 1733 boys between the ages of six and twelve, and for girls between the ages of six and ten, and the age limit for girls since has been raised from ten to eleven. In 1909 the total number of scholars in the schools of Baroda amounted to 165,000, or 8.6, as against the 1.9 in British India. Then, may I ask the House to look at the question of compulsory and free education. We know, of course, that in Great Britain and Ireland we have that system, and that all the European nations have it. Japan has it. If we look at the nations that have free education and only partly compulsory, we find Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Servia, Roumania, and Turkey. British India is neither free nor compulsory. Then let us take the question of expenditure. The expenditure per head of the population of the United States is something like 16s.; England and Wales, 10s.; Spain, 1s. 10d.; Servia and Japan, 1s. 2d.; Russia, 7½d.; and India, barely 1d. I think those figures show at any rate that whilst we have done much in India, there is a tremendous leeway to make up. We know that whilst this state of things in India continues, we make ourselves liable to a great danger as our foremost statesmen in India have pointed out. Lord Minto, a former Viceroy, said that ignorance was subversive of good government and conducive to crime. Lord MacDonnell, in a recent conference at Allahabad University, said what the Government was afraid of was not education but the ignorance of the masses! Lord Curzon, during his Viceroyalty, used these words:—What is the greatest danger in India? What is the source of superstition, outbreaks of crime, yes, and also of much of the agrarian discontent and suffering among the masses? It is ignorance. What is the antidote to ignorance? Knowledge. In proportion as we teach the masses so we shall make their lot happier, and in proportion as they are happier, so will they become useful members of the body politic.Then I should like to ask the House the question: What is going on in India at the present time in connection with this movement? A year ago, in the Viceroy's Council, a resolution was introduced that a beginning should be made in the making of elementary education free and compulsory: It was suggested that a mixed Commission of officials and non-officials should be appointed to frame definite proposals. That proposition was not accepted, but the Government appointed a Minister of Education in the Viceroy's Council, and those proposals were referred to the various provincial councils. Again this year another step forward has been taken. 1734 As recently as March, 1911, leave was asked to introduce a Bill for the better provision of elementary education, and out of the £3,000,000 of the surplus of which we have been told by the Under-Secretary of State to-day, it is proposed to devote £600,000 out of the special opium revenue for the expenditure in connection with education during this year. In the Viceroy's Council it was suggested, in addition to this £600,000, that the £2,000,000 to be devoted to the redemption of the debt should also be appropriated to education. That proposition under all the circumstances seems to be worthy of very serious consideration. In the vote which took place in the Viceroy's Council, the proposition was defeated by thirty-nine to fifteen, but it is interesting to note that out of the fifteen votes, no less than fourteen of those votes were given by the native members of the Viceroy's Council, showing very clearly that there is a movement going forward in connection with the great effort being made to overtake our educational deficiencies in India. I quite admit that in referring the proposition of 1910 to the various local governments, there was a great difference of opinion. Local governments were against giving up fees which they said were very low, that ample exemptions were made, and that the money was required for school extensions. I quite admit that it is recognised, by at any rate some of the British officials, that there is not such a popular demand for education as we should like to see. But I ask where was the popular demand in this country by those who were practically outside the schools? The demand for education does not come from those who do not know the value of education. We have to create the supply, and in creating the supply we shall produce the demand.
I do not in the least wish to minimise the difficulties of the position, but looking at our obligations to India which we have undertaken, realising how far short at present we have come of what it is necessary to do, and looking at the opinion of those whom we have chosen from the natives of that country to strengthen the various Councils both of the Viceroys and of the Government, it does seem to me that the moment has come when we should lend a listening ear to their appeal, and when this. House should at any rate express a definite opinion that the time has come for a movement forward. I do not know whether the House realises how India is made up. I had the opportunity of going 1735 through some parts of that country where there were no railways, and I had to drive distances of many hundreds of miles. What struck me so much was that India is not a great country of towns, but a great country of villages. The official figures from the Blue Books show that the difference is simply enormous. British India has 1,601 towns and has no less than 580,433 villages. Therefore, on this question of primary and elementary education we feel the claim of those villages. While it is perfectly true that in a great many of those villages there are primary schools at present, yet in four out of every five villages they are without them. Let me say a few words in connection with another branch of the subject, that is, as to the schools that are supported partly by outside sources and partly by grants-in-aid. Those schools were established by a dispatch, of 1854 on these lines. Grants-in-aid are given on the report of Government inspectors, so far as relates to secular education. But there is a feeling in some of the Presidencies at the present time that the Government is inclined to run a larger number of their own schools, which must be, from the nature of things, entirely secular schools, and that they are prepared to do less for schools supported by outside bodies than, not only Christian, but Hindu and Mahomedan, where a certain share of the cost is borne by those representing those various faiths. I think it would not only be unfair to those who have put large amounts of capital into those schools, but it will prejudice education if that system is at all minimised in the future. After all, Hindus and Mahomedans, with Christians, are perhaps more positive to-day in their demand that the schools of the country shall have some religion taught to them. It was remarkable in a series of very interesting letters by "The Times" correspondent, which were published recently, that he so completely emphasised that position. He said:—The obstacles to the raising up of loyal and honourable citizens for the welfare of the State cannot be overcome unless a moral and religious element be somehow woven into ordinary education.And with just emphasis he points out:—how largely the evils which have lately come to a head in some portions of the educated community are due to the fact that education has hitherto in the main been secular alone.With a real understanding of the case he adds:—Elevation of character cannot be looked for except in scattered instances, without a moral element in ordinary education, and, further, whether in western lands or not, at all events in India, moral instruction must be based upon religion.1736 I have, tried in these few observations to point out and to emphasise the obligations that we as a nation bear to India in connection with education. I have tried to point out what we have already done and how poorly our efforts compare with what has been done in other countries not more favourably situated than ours, and what the representatives of the Indian nation are asking at the present time, and to express the hope that the Government of India will see the necessity for prompt action, and also that in working out the new problem they will utilise help from all the different faiths, giving liberal aid for good work, subject, of course, to the strictest Government investigation and inspection.
§ Mr. ROBERT PEARCE
I beg to second the Amendment.
I approach this subject with the greatest possible diffidence, having but really only some slight acquaintance with the country itself; but no one can read the Blue Books upon the subjects without feeling that this is, as the hon. Member who preceded me said, an opportune moment for a forward movement in relation to education in India. The speech of the Under-Secretary was full of hope, and it gives us good courage, because of the masterly way in which he expressed all his views upon the general question. He made some observations, however, in relation to this question of education which seemed to me to render particularly necessary the remarks which have just been made by the hon. Member for Central Hackney (Sir A. Spicer). The Undersecretary expressed the view, whether his own or that of Indian officials I could hardly gather, that it was necessary that the people of India—that is the non-official people of India—should themselves stir up the inhabitants to a greater demand for education. That kind of official shifting of the burden has, I think, been completely disposed of by the facts and the figures and the illustrations that have been given by the hon. Member for Central Hackney. All those figures and all those statistics and all those facts and comparisons with other civilisations, not more advanced than the Indian civilisation, must have convinced him that there is a great lack of effort in respect to education, and particularly primary education. I confine all my observations to the question of primary education, for the other is a comparatively small matter having regard to the numbers of those who are able to avail them- 1737 selves of either secondary, technical, or other institutions.
The great problem, of course, is the illiteracy of the people of India, a thing beyond all experience, so far as I am able to judge, in any other country in the world. The figures have been given, but I should like to supplement what has been said with reference to the efforts that have been made in India on this subject to show that the heads of the Government from time to time have been well aware of the whole nature of the problem. What we have to examine is whether, being aware of the nature of the problem, they have made sufficient efforts in the course of time to grapple with unquestionably the great difficulties and complexities of the situation, and produced a proper and effective advance in education. Reference was made to the East India Company and the celebrated despatch of 1854 which Lord Curzon's report of 1904 carefully sets forth. The East India Company set out the broad outlines of a comprehensive scheme of national education first determined and followed ever since. The Governor-General in Council in 1904, Lord Curzon being Viceroy, passed in review in a celebrated report on the subject the history and progress of Western education in British India during the fifty years that had elapsed since 1854. It states:—The system thus extended makes provision in varying degrees for all forms of intellectual activity which appeal to a civilised community.The report adds:—It rests with the people to make use of the opportunity offered and realise that education in the true sense means something more than so much positive knowledge, something higher than the passing of examinations, that it aims at the progressive and orderly development of all the faculties of the mind, that it should form character and teach right conduct, and is in fact a preparation for the business of life.Very brave words those in summing up what has been done during the past fifty years, and in directing attention to what should be done in the future. I may add that there is a quotation in that report of a statement by Lord Lawrence in 1868 that bears also upon the fact that the high officials of India were alive to the necessity of this particular question of education of the illiterate people of India. It is an amazing thing that only one person out of ten can either read or write or do anything in arithmetic, and that only one woman in 144 can either read or write or do anything in arithmetic. Lord Lawrence, in 1868, said:—Among all the sources of difficulty in our administration, and of possible danger to the stability of our Government there are few so serious as the ignorance of the people.1738 That is a very grave warning. It has not been wholly unheeded. It is not new, for Pope said more than a hundred years before:—There never was a party, faction, sect, or cabal whatsoever in which the most ignorant were not the most violent. The bee is not a busier animal than a blockhead.Our business is to speed up the educational machinery; to put some more steam into it, to accelerate the pace so that it shall not be, as it is stated in the Report of 1904, that many generations will elapse before the boys of school age are all in the schools. There is no question that the educationalists in India have striven at this subject, but the curious lack of result must, I feel, be accredited to the disinclination of the officials of India to press education upon the people. The reluctance of the people to have the advantages of education is partly financial, partly because of poverty, and partly because of ignorance of the value of knowledge. These are matters which we have had to encounter in every country under the sun, and it seems somewhat a slur upon the wonderful administration of India that in this particular manner we should lag, as it has been proved by the hon. Member for Hackney, behind countries which are certainly not in a higher grade of civilisation than the British Empire. There is nothing which attracts the visitor in India so much as the extraordinary administration of that country by a few Europeans. There is no greater wonder in the world in the way of administration, and there is no greater subject of administration with those to visit India, and take an interest in it. The more they understand it, the more they admire the power with which the administration is carried out. But in this particular subject there seems to be no fruits. We should now make a further effort.
In matters of finance, and the disposition of the money, it is not for an inexperienced person to prescribe. But in view of the fact that in the present Budget arrangements, there is a gift of a. million out of opium money, and further dispositions of moneys amongst the provincial councils, in relation to education, I may say that we agree that all that is admirable. But it does not satisfy the feeling of responsibility which I am sure this House will have in relation to the backwardness of the general education of Indian people. I think I need say no more in support of the Motion.
§ Sir G. SCOTT ROBERTSON
I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, can I speak on the general question, or must I confine such few remarks as I have to offer to this specific Resolution?
The Debate must now be limited to this Amendment, but, when it has been disposed of the Debate may become general again.
§ Mr. R. PEARCE
In the absence of the hon. Member for Hackney, if I can allow this Motion to pass without being submitted to the House, I would be glad.
The Government obviously cannot allow the Amendment to pass, otherwise the House could not go into Committee on the East India accounts.
§ Sir G. SCOTT ROBERTSON
The few remarks I have to make must be restricted to the Motion now before the House. I would like to add a tribute to the speech of the Under-Secretary. He began in a very high key, which I think he sustained to the end. Many of the words which he uttered were possibly intended to reach as far as India itself, and I hope, in the result, they will do so. Concerning this question of education it has been mainly, I think, discussed from the point of view of primary education. I should just like to say a word or two of some practical importance on which we may obtain some instruction from the Under-Secretary. What is to be the cost of it? Has it been estimated how much it will be, and where are we to find the money? These are very important points, and, of course, they are practical and possess less interest than speaking at large upon a subject. I am not aware of what is the estimate as to the cost of introducing compulsory primary education into India. I suppose it would be about £15,000,000 a year, and I suppose there would be initial expenditure of not less than £18,000,000. This is a very serious consideration, especially in view of the falling off of revenue in other respects—especially in opium—which will have to be made up in another way and is of the gravest importance.
There is another point besides the actual cost of primary education which we must consider very seriously, and that is, how, if you are going to initiate this method which has been suggested of primary education, will it be done? Is it to be done by the Government of India, or is it to be done by the localities' local bodies them- 1740 selves. I wish to point out that in my opinion the method to be adopted must be very carefully considered, for it might, in certain eventualities, be fraught with great dangers indeed. Is it not revelant at this point to ask the House to remember that one of the great causes of the success of the disaffection in Bombay was known to initiate from the Government of India in furtherance of social reform. I daresay hon. Members know that at that time there was a great competition between the moderate reformers and the extremists. The moderate reformers at the time succeeded. Then the Government of India, with most praiseworthy motives, brought in a Bill to raise the age of consent. In 1891, I think, it had become an Act. The result of that was that the extremists, using this reform most skilfully, drove the moderates out altogether, and sedition became rife. As we all know what happened in Bombay, we can all understand the excessive danger there is in giving any appearance of interference in India with the long-established customs of the people. The Act of 1891 gave great power to the extremist party, and the result was terrible sedition, which, until comparatively recently, was not properly or adequately met. I have this suspicion, that if we were to try, as a Government, to introduce primary education into India, and if it were known by the people that this was a Government measure you might land in difficulties not perhaps very much less than those which were experiences when the extremists were able to explain to the people of Bombay how, from their point of view, the Government were trying to subvert the old Hindu customs and habits of the people. I think that is a very great danger, which ought to be borne in mind if you initiate this scheme of compulsory and primary education, which is most important, and with which we all, I think, have the greatest sympathy.
It is absolutely necessary, I believe, that the initiation should, seemingly or actually, be made by the localities themselves. Mr. Gokhale, I imagine, recognises the danger, and I think he even goes so far, if my memory is to be trusted, as to say that it should only be tried in those districts in which already 33 per cent. of the boys of school age attend school. This is really an important question which I wish to press upon the Under-Secretary. I have no doubt at all that in his country he will give some attention to it. Primary education is, I am convinced, more important at the present moment in India than almost 1741 any other form of education. The secondary education, with the University education, has been much and very justly criticised. We are conscious now of the grave faults we committed in the past. From the time of Lord Macaulay's famous Minutes, when European education became the standard in India for all Government appointments, there has been the very greatest trouble in getting anything like a really satisfactory result from secondary and university education in India. The Grant-in-Aid system has failed, I think very greatly, and the State must be more directly concerned in the supervision of education generally. The inspectors of schools who have to decide whether the grants shall be paid or not are far too few in number, and I am not prepared to say they are sufficiently efficient. Their social status is not what it should foe, and any impression of that kind on the in and of an executive official is to be deprecated. We know the standard in this class of schools is very low. We know that the questions set are very fair questions, but then the difficulty is that the candidates have to get far too low a number of marks in order to pass. It is actually considered by some of the newspapers in India that, low as is the standard at present, it ought to be still further lowered in special cases by the gratuitous giving of what they call "grace" marks, to enable young men otherwise quite in-competent to pass their examinations. The wastage at present is most deplorable. Affairs have altered since 1904; there has been a great improvement beginning at the universities and the senates of those universities, and the way in which they fix their standards of examination. But a great deal more requires to be done.
The technical schools also are only now beginning. There is a most fascinating subject which one would like to embark upon, namely, the question of industrial versus agricultural industries, but I should be ruled out of order if I attempted to do so. In some respects the same question arises with regard to the quality of the teachers and the standard to be obtained. Going back to the primary schools, the quality of the teachers is absolutely deplorable. No man who has obtained any success in his university examinations would dream of remaining as a teacher in a primary school except as a mere stepping-stone-to something else. So that you have the inefficient and half-educated being employed as instructors. Their pay 1742 is absolutely miserable. It is hardly more, in some districts it is less, than the pay of a coolie—nine or ten rupees a month. With all these difficulties it is not at all surprising that education should be is such a backward state in India. It is all very well to affirm that the boys are so shockingly uneducated, that only one in seven or eight is able to read or write, or knows sufficient arithmetic to be able to circumvent the money-lender. But the boy in India has a special and very peculiar education; he is, so to speak, the priest of his father. He has, as a Hindu, to apply the torch to the funeral pyre and to perform those other ceremonies which are absolutely essential to the Hindu religion. So that he is always with his father; from his youngest days he is his father's companion, and his education, although unfortunately it does not always include the power to read or write or to do simple arithmetic, is in its way very peculiar and special. I admit that he has two great enemies now, more than ever—on the one side the landlord, and on the other the moneylender. Land is increasing in value in India to an enormous extent, and the landlords and the moneylenders are always trying to get hold of any land which the law allows them to take. Hence money is forced upon the cultivator. It is hoped that he will get into debt, so that his land may be taken by the lender of the money. It is therefore more important than ever that the boy should in self-defence, as well as for other reasons, be placed in a position, if possible, in which he will be enabled by a certain amount of knowledge to defend himself from these powerful and hostile forces which are working against him.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
It is not possible for me, on behalf of the Government, to accept the Amendment, in the first place for the reason which Mr. Speaker has given, namely, that it is necessary for us to go into Committee on the East India Revenue accounts, which would be impossible if this Amendment were carried; and, in the second place, because of the phrase in the Amendment itself calling upon the Government of India to provide the necessary money. The hon. Member (Sir G. Scott Robertson), who spoke with intimate knowledge of the subject gained by long years of experience in India, asked what would be the cost. The Motion is so vague that it is very difficult to say definitely how much it would cost, but it would certainly be over £10,000,000. Under existing cir- 1743 cumstances schools are financed in India from three sources—from the Government of India to a certain extent, from Provincial revenues to a much larger extent, and from district boards and municipalities. The Amendment suggests that the Government of India should pay it all. Therefore, both for that reason and for the technical reason to which I have referred, I hope the hon. Member will permit the Amendment to be negatived.
On the subject itself the Government is absolutely sympathetic, and realises thoroughly the need for good education throughout India. The figures which have been brought to the notice of the House are, even allowing for the fact that India is not comparable with other countries, enough to make us all see how very much needed education is. I would take this opportunity of protesting against the misunderstanding of words which I used in my earlier speech in reference to there being no demand for education. I was careful to state at the time that that would be no excuse for the Government of India in not providing facilities for education. I do not mean that it shifts the burden from the shoulders of the Government. There is work for the Government in providing facilities, and there is work for those who are interested in India to spread among the people the desire to be taught. Frequently when schools are opened they have to be closed because no children go to them. That is the other side of the question. The hon. Member for Hackney (Sir A. Spicer) asked me not to put on one side the possibility of voluntary-aided schools. If we are going to proceed by voluntary-aided schools there must be some voluntary schools, which mean voluntary effort on the part of Indians themselves. That is the side to which I wanted to call attention, but not from the point of view of escaping the responsibility which lies on the Government to do something in the way, as suggested by the Amendment, of producing a scheme of a comprehensive character dealing both with primary, technical, and higher education. The Education Department has been at work on a policy, and it will not be very long before that policy is made known. When that time comes I believe that everybody interested in the subject will agree that the scheme will go a long way towards bettering the system of education in India. To-morrow afternoon my Noble Friend, the Secretary of State, is to receive a deputation, in favour of Mr. 1744 Gokhale's Bill from many Indian educationalists and Members of this House. That deputation was postponed from today in order that my Noble Friend might be aware of the arguments brought forward by the hon. Member for Hackney and those who took part in this discussion. Therefore, if my hon. Friend will adopt the course I have suggested, and permit the House pro forma to negative the Amendment, he may rest assured that the action he has taken will be productive of good for the cause which he has at heart.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
The Debate has every appearance of fizzling out, and I do not propose to check that process for any length of time. My only reason for rising is to reply to a remark made by the Noble Lord, the Member for Hornsey (Earl of Ronaldshay). The Noble Lord is not present, nor are many other Members, but Debates are read as well as listened to and the remark of the Noble Lord will be read in India. It is for that reason I wish to reply to it now. The Noble Lord stated, as far as I recollect, that in view of the organisation of the Army in India so lately completed by Lord Kitchener, it would not be proper for the Government of India to take any steps to reduce the Army below its present establishment. Very much the same argument was used by "The Times" a few weeks ago in discussing this very question. The argument, as I understand it, was, that because a certain establishment was fixed for the Army in India some few years ago, there should, under no circumstances whatsoever, be any modification of that establishment. Those who give utterance to arguments such as that take no account whatsoever of changing circumstances and varying conditions. They pay no attention at all to the fact that an establishment which may at one time be ample, but not more than sufficient, may possibly at another time be very much more than sufficient. They often talk as if no reductions had ever taken place in the Army in India. But reductions of the Army in India are by no means unknown.
What happened, for instance, after the Afghan War in 1880? It was found by the authorities at that time, by the Government of India, that the establishment of the Army of India at the close of the war was more than sufficient for the purposes 1745 for which the Army was required. For that reason a reduction was promptly effected in the Army in India to the extent of eleven or twelve regiments of the Bengal Army. I do not for a moment suggest in my remarks that at the present time it is necessary to reduce the Army in India. The Undersecretary this afternoon said that if it were necessary to reduce the Army in India, why should not the Government of India, or the Secretary of State, as the case might be, do so? I venture to support his remarks in that respect. I do not suggest to those hon. Members who are alarmed at the prospect, that it is necessary at the moment to reduce the Army in India, but I do protest vigorously against any statement to the effect that under no circumstances or no possible conditions might a reduction not be necessary. What is the position, and what has been the position, in India during the last ten or twenty years? It is common knowledge, and need not now be disguised, that the policy of Army headquarters in India, certainly between 1880—that is after the Afghan War—to quite a recent period, was directed mainly towards the North-West Frontier, in view of the fact, as was well known, that there might possibly be on the part of what I am now glad to say is a friendly Power, encroachment upon Afghanistan, and through Afghanistan upon our flank in India. That position is now altered. During the years to which I have alluded it was necessary to keep upon that flank of India an enormous Army sufficient at any time to cope with any force that might be directed, from what is now a friendly Power, upon the further border of Afghanistan. That position is now altered, and in considering whether or not it is necessary to reduce the Army in India, it is necessary at the same time to take into consideration the altered position in that particular respect on the North-West Frontier.
We must also consider the situation as it is affected by the tribes beyond the frontier of India. I cannot myself for a moment suppose that anyone in this House, or out of it, would say that the many tribes across the border, the Afridis and so on, are a real and serious menace to that portion of India. It is doubtless necessary to keep in stations bordering upon that frontier a sufficient and efficient force to cope with any raid that may be made, or to undertake any expedition that may be necessary. But I 1746 do think that that also is a factor which might be taken into consideration in dealing with any possible reduction of the Army in India. Again, we have to consider the North-Eastern frontier. I have heard statements put forward to the effect that it is necessary to increase our garrisons on the Assam and Burma frontiers in order to cope with a possible invasion from across the borders. It is said that one of these days a countless-horde of Chinamen will descend upon that frontier of India, and unless we increase-the forces now there that we shall run very serious risks. I for one do not think that is an argument which need be taken, seriously. Any one who is cognisant with that particular part of the Indian frontier knows very well that it would be impossible for the Chinese, even if they had an army within a thousand miles or so, to make any sudden raid; and knows, moreover, that sufficient time would elapse before a possible raid upon that frontier to allow any necessary strengthening of the army on that particular border.
We also hear about the Persian Gulf. We hear that it is necessary not only not to reduce our army in India, but to increase it, in order to be in a position to deal effectively with matters there. I am not going to-night to deal with international politics; it would be out of order, but any quarrels in the Persian Gulf that we are likely to be engaged in would possibly be settled, I venture to say, not so much in the Persian 'Gulf, but in the North Sea and nearer home. I have addressed these few remarks to the House in view of what was said by the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey (Earl Ronaldshay). Rightly or wrongly, I do not consider that those remarks should go unanswered. As I have said, I do not suggest that a reduction in the army of India is necessary at the moment. But I do venture to express the opinion that it might be a subject of inquiry, and that if it should happen to form a subject for inquiry, the factors to which I have alluded should be taken into consideration by those who inquire.
§ Sir JOHN JARDINE
It is not a very late hour of the night and I am confronted literally, I may say, by empty benches on the other side of the House. It is with extreme regret that I note that a deeper interest is not taken in the affairs of our Indian Dependency. I listened to the interesting speech of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary last year, and again this year, and I have also listened to the in- 1747 teresting discussion, which followed. I happen to be one of those who in order to prepare myself for so great a task as that of discussing these matters, have actually taken the trouble to look right through this Blue Book [indicating a large Blue Book]. There are some things in it of extreme interest. It is admitted by the financial member of the Governor-General's Council, that they have had much to be thankful for in the circumstances of the year that is past. The harvests have been bounteous, and in that way the people have been well to do. And it has shown that there is a great extension of trade and a great deal more railway travelling and both in customs and railway receipts the Indian Exchequer is said to have benefited largely. In Bengal and Calcutta there is less political unrest than in the months previously, and that also is a matter of great satisaction. In this Blue Book there are a number of other things which show that our Government in India has been successful in dealing with the real needs of the people. Those of us who have spent long years in that country know that there are seasons of drought followed by seasons of dearth, and famine, and disease, and I find in irrigation work that there were 50,000,000 acres to which irrigation applies in the year in which the Budget was framed. There were 21,750,000 new acres brought into productive irrigation. These are facts that speak well for themselves, and are pleasing to all those who take the view of economics which some call the practical view of life, and to all who know that agriculture is the great industry of India and who know that by means of irrigation and canals we are increasing that employment which is most congenial to the people out there.
When I was in India it was an annoyance to the officials and a grievous inconvenience at the time to the trading community, that when you went about three hundred miles away from the railway the money that you had in your pocket was not currency in the district into which you went. You got into a province that would not take them. In the course of years the Financial Department dealt with that, and I am pleased to say that what they call universal notes—the bank-notes—are now current right through India, and have been ever since. That is a great convenience to the trading people. Let me express complete agreement with the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil in the com- 1748 pliment he paid to the members of the various legislative councils. Reading this Blue Book one cannot help but feel convinced of the assistance of these Indian gentlemen, prominent Hindus, and some of them Buddhists of Burma, who speak in the Indian Council and in the Viceroy's Council, and who give the greatest help to the authorities. They touch upon points and give information on matters they understand from personal experience and which the British official can naturally but know in a second-hand way. For instance, when there is a discussion raised as there was on the tariffs on petroleum and tobacco, it was explained that there is a great extension of the consumption of petroleum in India, so that it might now be looked upon as one of the necessaries of life, whereas the heavy tax upon tobacco had reduced the import of tobacco into Calcutta, which made them conclude that the Indians are not eager always to be smoking but that they do want light. I think if Adam Smith heard a speech of that kind he would approve of the tenour of it.
I now come to what has been done with some of the surpluses. It seems to me that they have been very well arranged in financing local government with pretty big sums of money and in carrying out great improvements which, but for such large windfalls, the Government would not have been able to carry out. It is a great thing to carry out such works as the Bombay Improvement Trust, and doing these great things in one of the northern provinces, such as supplying £100,000 for sanitation, for as it was pointed out at the Council of Calcutta, sanitation requires very great measures to deal with it. It is stated, in fact, that the death-rate is thirty-eight per thousand, and that is a thing which we should do our best to stop. Again we find them eagerly pressing for expenditure upon education. I am speaking now of what the Indian gentlemen themselves demand. Some went the length of insisting that there should be compulsion, and those brought forward the good example appertaining to the experience of a very cautious prince and who knows his subjects and who has paid great attention to their circumstances. He has been induced to apply compulsion and to make education free, and in his opinion the results have been entirely beneficial. I would not go the length of advocating how much the Indian Government ought to spend, or when and where they ought to spend it, but I think I can go the length 1749 of fairly insisting that the views of those members would appeal to the democratic feeling in this country, and that their views have been proved by experience' to be perfectly sound in their application.
We hear people speaking of the education of the rural classes as levelling them all up to one- standard and making them all clerks or gentlemen—a kind of talk very common in this country, and often found in the mouths of people who have been raised in life by the education they got in their boyhood days. I say, after thirty-three years of Indian service, that time after time I have discussed with other Indian Civil servants greatly interested in the execution of their high duties, the problem of how to protect the small farmer from the exactions of moneylenders, who are often foreigners, and often lawyers, having great advantage over them. Some of these men to whom I spoke, most thoughtful and experienced men, would say to me, "There is no remedy for it until the time comes when education is diffused over the length and breadth of the land, and when men following behind the plough and gathering cotton are able to read and write, to cast up addition of rupees, to do addition and subtraction, and to calculate simple interest and compound interest. Then they will be able to understand what amounts of money the moneylenders have supplied them with, and they will be able to accurately estimate their debts. Therefore I have very great satisfaction to-day in saying that a gentleman, who is now in the City, the Hon. Babu Behupendranath Basu, who is respected both by the British in Calcutta and by his fellow-subjects, advocates the extension of that sort of education to his poorer fellow-countrymen on the ground that it will enable the farmer, the ryot and the zemindar to get on fairer terms and secure an easier position than has confronted them for many years. This shows what an excellent thing free speech must be to our Empire out there. I would like to mention certain native aspirations which we complain have not been fulfilled. This subject comes up in the present Debate because it is a matter associated with the Budget in Calcutta. They are matters for which revenue had (o be found. One of the members of the great Province of the Punjab, where they have an institution called the Chief Court, complained that the Government of India refused to listen to them when they made a request for a High Court. Surely they might have struck some item out to allow for this. That is constantly done as Budget year 1750 goes on. When there is such an aspiration for the highest form of justice, when a Province demands it instead of an inferior sort of institution, why should their wish not be gratified when it is expressed by the native councillors? I press this point because the same refusal has been made before, and it was made in reply to one of my questions by Lord Morley when I asked about the demand which originated in Rangoon for a High Court for Burma, and he replied that he did not think it would be worth while.
In matters like that, bound up with the greatest notions of justice and proved by the experience of the older Provinces to be what the people expect and ought to get, I say the Government would be well advised if, in these little matters, instead of refusing they would say "We agree with you, and you shall have what your representatives have asked for in the ordinary constitutional manner." Speaking as one who has long been connected with Burma, I know that the people of that part of the Empire have been wishing for a university in Rangoon for a long time, and they complained when this Budget was introduced that they cannot get it, and they have still to depend on Calcutta. That is like saying to the people of Italy that they must go to Lisbon, in Portugal, in order to get a university education. It has been for many years necessary to give the highest education to those that can afford it in the Indian Empire, and without that higher education we could not get sufficient people to man the bar, and we should be deficient in native judges and Indian Civil servants. Burma has long been in bondage, and its best minds are looking forward to the granting of this boon. They desire to have a university for those who inhabit that peninsula, and why should their wish not be gratified? Why should their desires not be met when they ask for High Courts, which have proved to be excellent institutions ever since the year 1857?
It was in the dark days of the Mutiny that we laid the foundation of the University in Bombay, and why in these times of peace and quiet should we not institute such a seminary in the great Province of Burma? In Bengal, the Government no doubt, after taking serious advice, have subsidised a newspaper, which is a new kind of thing, so far as I am aware, and is certainly very costly. One of the gentlemen on the Viceroy's Council at Calcutta 1751 has got something to say about that. I will quote something as showing the high level of debate that prevails there. The debates there show the same culture which we would expect in a discussion at a university centre. One gentleman takes objection; he thinks that an entirely free Press is needed to show up the various phases of Indian life that would not come to our notice at all otherwise. The hon. Babu Bhupendranath Basu, speaking on the subsidy for the vernacular newspapers at a meeting of the Council in Calcutta, said:—For I may Bay, without any disrespect, that the members of the Government—I speak in the presence of puissant members of that body—live in an artificial atmosphere from where currents of outer life are sedulously kept away by the impenetrable panes of official infallibility. They do not move, as we move, in the busy haunts of men where thoughts converge from diverse ways and move in eddies, carrying with them the hopes and aspirations lying scattered in the bypaths of human life.He goes on to speak of the danger of this proposal, and says that it may be quite futile to set up a newspaper, that is really a Government newspaper, and expect people to believe in it and read it in the way they would read the ordinary journal. He says:—I am drawing no fanciful picture, for in this case I have the misfortune to be able to appeal to experience, even to the experience of officials. Borne years ago under official advice, I will not say official pressure, the Universities of India adopted—credit is due to the University of Madras which resisted that pressure—a book which I believe you all know—Lee Warner's 'Citizens of India.' That book was intended to teach loyalty to the rising generations of our young men. There was a note of warning in many local Senates that it would have a directly contrary effect, that Lee Warner's conclusions were not accepted by the majority of our countrymen, and that when the conclusions were placed before" immature youths they were sure to be controverted by other people, and young men would accept with a great deal of hesitation, if not suspicion, conclusions and facts which were placed before them by the Universities through official pressure. The result was amply justified, and I believe after five years time the Government and the Universities dropped this book, if I am permitted to use a homely expression, like a hot potato. … I appeal to the English Members present hereto bear in mind the great traditions of their country—traditions which will not suffer for a day any Government to enter into a bargain with the Press of the country. I will appeal to my own countrymen to see new dangers are not to be added to newspapers, whose life is already under a great menace, and I appeal to you in confidence that you will help to persuade the Government of Bengal to undo, to rectify, the great error into which it has fallen, and in doing so you will uphold the fair fame of your own Government in the eyes of an Oriental nation, for mind you it will be on the tongue of everybody that the Government is seeking, after it has passed an Act to check the liberty of the Press by means which will never be regarded as fair to win over the small remnants of that Press which are still left to guide public opinions, and to offer criticisms upon Government measures.I think that account, coming from such a source, demands a good deal of consideration. At any rate, so long a tether as five 1752 years should not be allowed. The results, considering the sum of money which is given as a subsidy, should be examined every year. I know from my own experience and the observations of my friends in India that some officials are much too given to setting up as moralists over the native races. Sometimes a high civilian will go to deliver a speech at a missionary institution or a college, and he will draw a picture of the perfect man—Totus teres atgue rotundus—and then call on the young native to be like that. I think all this endeavour to introduce ethical philosophy by means of subsidies is likely to end in narrow-mindedness, and to bring a dangerous sort of contempt for our rule. I was very much interested to hear of the great progress that has been made with the system of agricultural banks. They have been talked about for years and years. I remember many years ago Sir William Wedderburn, well known in this House for his attention to Indian matters, brought forward this question of agricultural banks, but he was really crying in the wilderness. They have now been taken up, and men have been found in the Service to look after them. Apparently, from what the Under-Secretary says, they have been started with a very small number of officers—about three or four in a province containing 20,000,000 of people, on their good and successful way, and are leading to many other improvements. I think it is worth while repeating the figures. The number of these banks rose from 1904, in three years, from 1,357 to 3,428, and they have got altogether about 1,000,000 people, counting families, interested in them as depositors. I think that is one of the most hopeful facts brought to our notice regarding the economic condition of India, and I join with the Under-Secretary and the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil in feeling extremely pleased that so much of this benecial financial work—the setting up of these little banking institutions all over the country—is due chiefly to those natives living in small villages and towns. It is a great advantage, and will, I think, be recognised by the people as a very good thing that has been brought about in the profound peace and under the shelter they get under our rule.
The subject of the police has been debated, and instead of feeling any indignation, as an hon. and gallant Member expressed it, at the number of questions. that have been asked about the infliction of torture by these paid public servants, the police, to induce the natives to con- 1753 fess, I cannot feel anything but gratification that such infamous practices are constantly being brought to the notice of the people here. I know the Government of India would like to put them down. I know that judges and magistrates comment on misdemeanours of that, sort, and I hope it is not true that in one of the Provinces the Lieutenant-Governor sent some intimation to the magistrates that they ought not to comment in their judgments on facts coming out against the police. In a case tried before a distinguished judge of the King's Bench here it was laid down that it was quite within the right and competence of magistrates to comment on the misdemeanour of officials whose acts had been brought out in evidence. We must not, therefore, allow the judicial mouth to be stopped in dealing with the conduct of the police where such fiendish and malignant crimes are brought under their notice. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil appealed for an amnesty for political offenders on the occasion of the visit of their Majesties to India. There is, I think, a great difference between men who resort to crimes of bloodshed and to attacks on property and persons, and especially those murderers of public servants whose deaths we all deplore, and whose deaths ought not to be passed over in silence—the nation ought to bewail the loss of public servants like that collector at Tinnevelly who was shot the other day—and those whose only crime has been the putting forth of a number of political and, it may be, seditious views. In such cases, though the sentences may have been reasonable at the time, a wise Government would treat the offenders with mercy after a part of the punishment has been completed. After all, one ought to make allowances in times of political excitement.
Only the other day we here had almost unchecked the word "traitor" banded about this place, sacred to the observance of law and order. When a man writes in an Indian newspaper or magazine in the vernacular at a time of political excitement he may use words, not so bad as that, not implying treason, perhaps the biggest crime known to the Statute Book of this realm, but words that may seem in their application to dignitaries of the State dangerous to the State, and which may be held to be infractions of Statute law reasonably punishable. The men who have been convicted in the trials for sedition, I am told by those who ought to know, outside that phase of their character, are most 1754 exemplary men, held in high respect. It is quite a usual thing in the administration of India for the Crown to exercise over a wide area and in a large measure its prerogative of mercy. I think it might justifiably be used on such an occasion as their Majesties' presence at the Durbar, to be held in the great city of Delhi, with its ancient Imperial traditions. It is desirable that the King's visit should not take place without offering some boon of that sort. I should like to remind those who may not be aware of the fact that after the fearful experiences of the Indian Mutiny, after the many horrors of those times, the then Governor-General (Lord Canning) and the then Commander-in-Chief (Lord Clyde) insisted on a policy of amnesty in the case of Sepoys not guilty of murder. They pressed it on the authorities at home, and the result was before eighteen months had passed Lord Canning was sitting in grand Durbar at Lucknow, in profound peace, with the native barons of the country round about him, and that peace has lasted from that time till now. At all times I raise my voice, if I can, for the exercise of mercy as well as of justice. I am glad that this matter has been mentioned.
I do not think there would be any advantage at this time of night in my wearying the House by discussing that very interesting question, the duty of the higher classes in India, or by following out the remarks which have been made on the subject of the different religions, I think that the British governing classes have generally acted wisely in these matters. They keep their convictions in their pockets, because they realise that the Indian people are very conservative in their nature, and do not like to have their manners, customs and religions roughly brushed aside by a number of gentlemen hailing from an island so far away and not well acquainted with the condition of their ordinary life, which are often the reason for the continuance of customs in so old a land. Nor do I propose to dwell on the question of prestige. I think that would hardly come within strict limits of a discussion on these great financial matters. My plea for speaking so long is that the opportunity comes only once a year, and sometimes one is completely shut out from that opportunity by various causes, among them the natural desire of more experienced men and better speakers to have their say. Another excuse I may put forward is that, on the subject of the finances 1755 of so great an Empire, dealing with such manifold questions as have been debated to-night, and which naturally, having around a great Budget like this, it is human nature, at least it is the human nature of the retired Indian service man, to wish to say something on as many points as he can reasonably get within the compass of a speech which will not be so unfair in its length as to keep out other hon. Members from having their say. It is also very desirable in the interests of India that the Government should hear as many voices as possible on these matters.
Sir HERBERT ROBERTS
I think everyone who has listened to this Debate will be of opinion it has treated of most interesting questions in regard to Indian affairs, and has discussed problems of vital importance to the future welfare of the Indian people. I desire at the outset to associate myself with the universal tribute of praise which has been accorded to the Under-Secretary of State for India in regard to his notable and important speech. As one who has for many years been particularly interested in all phases of Indian affairs, I welcome the speech. I believe it will be rich in benefit to the future of India, and it expresses, I believe, the spirit of the policy of this Government and of the Government of India with regard to the immediate development of the Government of the Indian people. There is one topic which I wish specially to refer to, and I do not think a Debate dealing with Indian affairs would be, under existing circumstances, complete without a reference to it, and that is the present condition of Excise administration in India, with special reference to the consumption and sale of intoxicating liquors. I recognise that advance which has been made in reforming the Excise system in India and the machinery of the present administration. Many reforms of great importance in regard to Excise matters in India have been carried out since 1906, and I wish to express my appreciation of what has been done in this direction. But a very serious problem continues to exist in regard to the consumption of liquor in India. The revenue derived from the consumption of drink has, during the last thirty-five years, increased from the annual sum of £1,500,000 to £6,750,000. I do not say for a moment that this very striking increase is altogether due to increased consumption, but in the main it proves a decisive growth in the consumption of 1756 liquor during the last twenty or thirty years. This is corroborated by those who have an intimate knowledge of the habits and customs and actual conditions of life of the people. I attach considerable importance to the evidence of missionaries in regard to this point, and, almost without exception, reports from missionaries during the last few years have been to the effect that there is a constantly increasing growth in the drinking habits throughout India generally. This proposition is confirmed by educated Indian opinion.
I was very glad to hear the Under-Secretary laying special stress upon the importance of having regard to the opinion of educated India, in regard to the future development of the Indian people. It is a significant fact that when this question of excise has been brought up by way of resolution in the Legislative Councils since there has been placed in them a larger proportion of Indian members, almost without exception every Indian member of these Provincial Councils has voted in favour of reform in the direction of restricting the liquor traffic. I feel I am on perfectly safe ground when I say that the united opinion of educated India is in favour of practicable, reasonable, and effective temperance reform. There are three main points upon which I think educated opinion in India concentrates in regard to these reforms. First of all for many years it has been contended that there should be separation in regard to licensing administration between the executive and the licensing and the Revenue authorities; in. other words, that the officer who is responsible in the various districts for the revenue in those districts should not have control of the conditions regulating the granting of drink licences in those districts. Secondly, I think educated Indian opinion is also united on the abolition of the auction system in regard to the granting of licences. The Excise Committee which inquired into the system of Excise and reported in 1905 recommended that this reform should be carried out. The Government of India at that time were unable to confirm the recommendation. Further experience of its usefulness and importance may enable the Government of India to carry it into effect. Lastly, there is another point of considerable importance, the application to India upon practical conditions of the principle of local option. Anyone who has even the most superficial knowledge of India knows that it is not practicable at the present time to carry 1757 local option in regard to Excise administration into full effect, but steps can be taken, I believe, in this direction, and the Excise Committee made a recommendation of great importance in reference to the establishment of an Advisory Committee in municipalities having a population of over 20,000, for the purpose of advising the officials in charge of this function in reference to the granting of licences in this district.
These Advisory Committees have been set up, and have done some good work. I have moved for a return which will, I hope, give fuller information as to the constitution and the work of these Committees in regard to licensing matters, and I trust that within a very short time the Government of India will be able to define a little more clearly than at present the duties of these Advisory Committees and will enable them to do the work which, I am sure, the Government intended they should do in giving effective advice to the authorities concerned in regard to the number and location of shops at which drink is sold. It seems to me that if these Committees were made effective and were made general, and if the Government were to see to it that there was an adequate representation of Indian opinion upon them they would bring about considerable and very useful reforms with regard to licensing matters. I feel that no Debate dealing with Indian administration can or ought to pass by without the attention of the Government of India being called to the fact that there is this increasingly important problem concerned with the moral welfare of the people of India in regard to their drinking habits now very prominently before us and before the Indian people. I desire to associate myself with the expressions which have fallen from many speakers to-night of the hope that in connection with the visit of the King-Emperor to India there may be something done which will unite this country to India by still stronger bonds than those which, happily, exist at the present time. I feel that this appeal will not be made in vain. The time has not come for any announcement to be made on the subject, but I think it is well it should be known that we, who have for a long period taken a deep and anxious interest in Indian matters, lay very great stress upon having something done in connection with the King's visit which will show the Indian people that we really in our hearts desire their welfare.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I cannot allow this Debate to close without saying a few words in regard to certain matters in connection with the administration of affairs in India. I want to pay my compliments to the Under-Secretary for the magnificent speech he made in opening the Debate. I am sure that the effect of that speech in India and in this country will be great, and that it will do much to influence the feeling which has become very strong in India in regard to certain matters of nationality. I trust the India Office will do all that they can to assist in the passing of the Bill for the institution of primary education in India. During the past five years, when I have taken advantage of joining in these Debates on Indian-affairs, I have come to the conclusion that the most important reform which the Government can institute in India is in relation to the question of compulsory primary education. I thought at one time it could be done by a stroke of the pen, but I discovered that there were very great difficulties to be overcome. The measure to which I refer is the Permissive Bill of Mr. Goghale. It is a very small Bill, and does not involve a very large amount of finance, tout still I say it would be a step in the right direction. I understand that a very important deputation is to wait upon the Secretary of State for India in connection with this matter, and I thought it wise at this particular moment to try to get the India Office and the Secretary of State to take an interest in it.
The second point which has been mentioned in the Debate has reference to the visit of their Majesties to India. I do appeal that an effort should be made on behalf of political prisoners. I understand that there are about sixty men in prisons in India—no one knows where. They were deported under old Acts. I remember an Indian official who used to sit in this House, one of the greatest friends of the-Indian people, told me that there were about twenty of these men condemned while he was there, and he himself did not know where they were. They have been in prison for about twenty years, and their relatives and friends do not know where they are. I have been told that nearly the whole of the sixty have been committed for political offences. When you consider the hardship of the law with regard to political offences in India, I think it is not too much to make an appeal to-night on behalf of these men. They are-supposed to have been guilty of sedition. 1759 I think a judge has described sedition as a want of affection for a government. I have often had a want of affection for governments. I do not think that governments always do the things that are right. During the last ten years there has been in India a growing spirit of nationalism which has tended to break down all the old barriers which used to divide the people. Over the greater part of India there is a very considerable and, I believe, a sincere desire, which is quite right, that Indians should participate more in the government of their own country, and that they should be governed on lines which harmonise with Indian ideas. There is no harm in such a desire, and I am perfectly certain that there are Members of this House who have indulged in expressions on political affairs which would almost, in India, have involved hanging. I would suggest that on the auspicious occasion of Their Majesties' visit the amnesty should be as complete as possible. We do not suggest that men who have been guilty of shooting or murder should be liberated, but that men who have been convicted of purely political offences should have their sentences remitted.
The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) referred to the partition of Bengal. I hope something will be done in regard to that matter. I know that Lord Morley has said that this is a settled fact. I believe that is a policy of despair. It means that when a wrong is done it should never be righted, it is well known that great tumult has existed in India. I venture to say that the greater portion of the political offences committed in India recently have arisen out of the partition of Bengal. I believe it was a great mistake when made, and I think it is a greater mistake to continue the partition in its present form. I have spoken to a number of Indians on this matter—men of standing and culture, and they all agree that something should be done to modify that partition. They agree first of all that there should still remain two separate Bengals. I understand that all they ask for is that there should be one Lieutenant-Governor for the two Bengals. That would allow the Mahomedans to retain their power, prestige and influence, and the one Lieutenant-Governor would consolidate the people of Bengal again and lessen the friction which exists among the adherents of the two great religions, the Mahomedans and 1760 the Hindus. I venture to suggest, humbly and deferentially, that something should be done in that direction when His Majesty is in India. As to the question of plague, I think the figures are appalling. I go further than the Under-Secretary, and state that something like 9,000,000 of people have been wiped out in the last fourteen years in India by plague alone. I do not accept the doctrine that the spread of plague arises from rats, and that sort of thing. I have attempted to study the question, and I think it arises from the fact that the people lack physical resistance, and that the lack of physical resistance arises from poverty itself. I hold that if a person is placed under certain economic conditions which involve bad food or little food, and bad surroundings in the home life, insanitary conditions and so on, disease will always get at that person. After all, the great cause, if not the main cause, of the spread of plague and of the high death rate is the poverty of the people. The Government are doing something in the direction of minimising poverty, and I am glad to know that efforts are being made to give the people more instruction with respect to sanitation, the tilling of the land, and the development of credit banks. I believe that those steps are the most important for the purpose of minimising the awful death rate from plague in India.
Two points were missed by the Undersecretary—one with respect to the police and the other the Press laws. I hope that the conduct of the police will continue to be the matter of further inquiry. If I mistake not, the Under-Secretary, in reply to questions of mine, indicated that another inquiry would be placed on foot. I do not think that anything can justify the police in the way in which they have been obtaining evidence. The various cases submitted by myself showed that the police officers pursued brutal methods for the purpose of extracting evidence, and that many persons were convicted upon the evidence of ex-convicts and informers. Then, when evidence is not got, the police set to work by the methods I complain of to pursue the persons who are charged. I think, if the methods pursued to obtain evidence were made the subject of inquiry by the India Office, it would have a good result. With regard to the Press law, I have to complain in the strongest possible terms of the way in which it is applied. It appears it is used only for the purpose of hauling editors of native Indian papers before the 1761 courts and sentencing them to long terms of imprisonment. As far as Anglo-Indian papers are concerned, they are quite outside the law altogether. This cannot be justified, and I know from my own. knowledge that this fact creates a great amount Of dissatisfaction throughout the whole of India. For instance, the "Pioneer," an Anglo-Indian paper published the other day a letter which said that Lord Morley was practically as guilty of the murder of Mr. Ashe as if he had held the revolver. That is sedition under the Act, and I am certain that if it had been allowed to be published in a vernacular paper the editor would have been hauled before the court and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment and the whole of his printing plant would have been confiscated. But as regards the publication of this letter in the "Pioneer" no action was taken.
Here are the exact words: "The death of Mr. Ashe was surely the work of Lord Morley, as if his hand had held the revolver, and it is well that the fact should be stated; "and then the letter goes on to insultingly comment upon Members of this House and other public-spirited men who have taken a keen interest in matters of Indian administration. This is not the first complaint I have had to make on this subject. Reuter's have been repeatedly sending telegrams to this country which prove to be absolutely incorrect. When the Government got tired of complaints about Reuter's, the "Daily Mail" was brought into requisition, and £1,200 subsidy was paid for a certain time to the "Daily Mail" people to send erroneous telegrams. I am glad to say I think that that contract was wiped out when representations were made. With regard to Anglo-Indian papers, 50 per cent. of them have been guilty of the practice of which I have complained in the case of the "Pioneer." On one occasion I had to state in the House that Mr. Lajpat Rai was about being arrested on certain statements made in an Anglo-Indian paper of a whole series of extracts pinned together, which made out a case of sedition on which the man was liable to be arrested. I believe if it had not been for the action taken in this House that he would have been arrested. That is the kind of thing of which I have to complain. As long as the Press laws do exist they should be applied impartially, both to vernacular papers, Indian papers, and Anglo-Indian papers. I conclude by paying a tribute to the speech of the hon. Gentleman. Having 1762 heard it, I shall be glad to read it with greater zest to-morrow, and I believe that its result will be to give the Indian people hope, and to encourage educated Indians to go on with the beneficent work which they have been doing, and that the net result will be that the Government of India will get greater help in the work that they are pursuing in trying to govern India along right and just lines.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I also would like to congratulate the Under-Secretary for India on the statement which he has made. I am sure that it is one which will give profound satisfaction in its general tone to those in this House who have been pleading the cause of the Indian people, and also that it will equally give satisfaction in many circles in India. The most admirable feature of the speech was its breadth of view and its openness of mind. There was no stone wall of obstruction against influence, advice, or information from outside. If that openness of mind and breadth of view prevail, as I am glad to think they are prevailing in increasing degree in the Indian Government, I have no doubt that in course of time that feeling of unrest which is growing in India, and which is a most dangerous symptom, will be allayed by wise and provident legislation. I am glad also to think that in the India Office and in India there are powerful administrators, men like the Viceroy and the Secretary for India, who also give indications of that same openness of mind. If that only continues I think we may look forward with confidence to the future.
I want to comment on a class which is growing up in India, a powerful, compact, united class, a class of highly educated men, men who are the intellectual equals of any man upon the Front Bench on either side of this House, men who outside India have crossed intellectual swords with the best men of this country. They are men of the highest intellectual calibre and training. A class of this kind is growing up in India, is increasing in numbers, and is becoming more powerful and more united. This class are unjustly and illegally denied their fair share of honour and advancement in the government of their country. The Indian bureaucracy is a powerful machine, having behind it the great force of tradition and vested interest, the tremendous vis inertiae, and it is difficult to move it even by the Home Government. It is difficult to overcome and master that machine. I do not wish to say a single 1763 word in disparagement of the bureaucracy of India, I believe that it is an upright and just bureaucracy according to its lights. I believe, as bureaucracies go, that it is fair and pure, and is not corrupt. I believe it is a bureaucracy which has benevolent intentions. But in very many respects the Indian bureaucracy is to be compared with the bureaucracy of Russia. It is a despotism imposed upon the people, and not responsible to the people—a. despotism with absolute power. Why is it that we find it differs in certain other respects from the bureaucracy of Russia? The bureaucracy of Russia, in many respects, is an incompetent and corrupt one.
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member in order in discussing the bureaucracy of Russia?
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I think the vast majority of the people of Russia will agree with me. The bureaucracy of Russia has in many respects those characteristics, and why is it that the Indian bureaucracy has not got those characteristics. It is because in one important particular the Indian bureaucracy differs from the bureaucracy of Russia—in that it is responsible to a great democracy across the seas. It is responsible to this House, and I maintain that we who criticise the bureaucracy of India and the administration of India, as generations before us have criticised it, and brought it to the bar of public opinion in this House and in the country—I maintain that it is we who are entitled to claim a large share, a profound share, of merit for the purity, for the competence, and for the benevolence of the Indian bureaucracy. If that criticism were relaxed, if the bureaucracy of India were not held in check by democratic opinion, even though it be thousands of miles away, it would inevitably go the way of all irresponsible bureaucracies, and therefore, for that reason I think we should criticise it in this House, and, in doing so, We are performing a patriotic act, one which those who are responsible for the Government of India ought to be grateful to us for performing. I for one feel the weight of this responsibility. I feel that it is a great and overwhelming responsibility that we who sit in this House should 1764 have to bear the burden of the Government of these teeming millions over seas. I dare say some will say, "Why take up the burden?" To refuse to take it up would be a confession of cowardice and incompetence. My desire in any word that I may say about the Government of India in this House or elsewhere is to maintain the strength, power, and glory of the British Empire, and to strengthen, to confirm, and to extend those great principles of liberty and freedom which are the strongest props of the British Empire, and which, if neglected, will lead to its ruin, decay, and downfall.
As I pointed out, this class, which is growing up in India, this strong, powerful, and well educated body of opinion, is unjustly denied practically all participation, or just participation in the administration of their own country. These men are growing in numbers every year, and they are becoming very powerful. The balance of power, whether we recognise it or not, is gradually shifting in India. The balance of potential power is shifting out of our hands. You cannot permanently govern a nation against its will, and the balance of opinion, aye, even the balance of physical force, as the people learn habits of union and combination, is shifting against us, and unless we can take steps in this House and in India to enlist in support of the administration in India, and on behalf of the Government of India, that powerful class which is growing up, sooner or later the floodgates will open and the deluge will be upon us. There is one most dangerous symptom that I observe about the present growth of the higher education in India. It is this: While those Indians who are coming to this country to be educated are increasing in numbers, there is a still more rapid increase of those Indians who are going abroad to France, to Germany, to the United States, and, still more, to Japan, for this higher education. The consequence of this is that an alien turn is being given to this Western civilisation which the educated classes in India are acquiring. We are imposing upon those highly skilled and educated men, those who are of inferior intellectual calibre, merely because their skins are white. Men who have been bracketed first in the universities here with men some of whom have sat on that Front Bench are given inferior posts, and, after serving years, they are denied the fruits of their education and labour, and the higher positions 1765 are given to some young academicians from a university here, to whom these men in India are in every respect superior.
It is these men who are being denied the fruits of their labour, culture, and intellectual abilities. They are now going abroad. Hitherto the Western civilisation, or the Western education they have received have been of an essentially British character,, of a British tone. But if they go abroad in future years in increasing numbers it will assume a foreign tone, a non-British tone, I do not say necessarily a hostile tone, but a non-British tone. The Government, if it desires to maintain the strength and the power of British Government in India and of the Indian Government, ought to strain every nerve to keep those men within the Indian Government, to make them pillars and props and supports of it, and not drive them abroad to seek an alien nurse. I have referred just now to the highly educated classes, men who are men of position, men of wealth, men of social position, men who have money to send their sons abroad, to obtain this education, but I want to come to another danger in India. Thi3 class, this highly educated class which is becoming so powerful in India, for the present is identified with the people of India as a whole, for the present, but not necessarily always. It is identified with those people now, because it has a means of approach to them through the open gate of language and national sympathy and tradition, and so long as it is fighting, and I use the word fighting in the Pickwickian sense, so long as it is striving to bring the Indian Government into closer relations with the Indian people it will have with it, and behind it, the masses of the people of India. Its interests will not always be identical. They come from one class, the wealthy and the powerful class, whose economic interests will not always be identical with the economic interests of the masses of the people of India.
The Under-Secretary, in a sentence in his speech, referred to this and to the fact that we have no representative, and, indeed, I do not see how we could under the present circumstances, of the vast masses of the Indian peasantry in the great Indian councils. What is the Government doing to equip those people to hold their own in the future! What is it doing to call into being the power and the information among the masses of the Indian people which will hold the balance against 1766 this powerful higher educated opinion in India. Is it doing what it ought to do to promote primary and elementary education throughout India? I have some figures here which seem to me deplorable and alarming. In our own country we have something like proper appreciation of the value of education. We make it compulsory and free, and, if I am right, we spend in Imperial Grants, not counting rates, something like £16,000,000 per year for a population of 45,000,000. In addition to that we spend in England and Wales alone in rates £11,000,000. How much is spent in India, with its 240,000,000 people. In India they spend something like £2,250,000 sterling upon education, and that is all education, secondary as -well as primary, or something like about l½d. per head of the population per annum. In India the military expenditure alone is nine times the amount of the educational expenditure, or £20,000,000, as against £2,250,000. What a prodigious lot of sack to such a little bread. Take the number of schools. There is one primary school for boys for every 5.7 towns and villages, and the ease of girls is much worse, where you have one school for forty-six villages and towns. Seventy-five per cent. of the boys in India never go to school at all, and 96 per cent. of the girls. Then let us look closely at this modicum of education that is given, and how this £2,250,000 is spent. Most of it is thrown away in giving education that cannot in the nature of the circumstances be worth it. You have miserably-paid teachers, paid worse in many cases than the coolies. What does the Indian native teacher get? He gets, in the vast majority of cases, five or six rupees per month, or about 8s. per month. You could not get an officer's servant at that; even the police get more than that. The ordinary native constable, who is in many cases illiterate, gets a higher wage than those who are entrusted with the education of the young in India. In order to show that I am not exaggerating, I would like to quote two passages from the Fifth Quinquennial Review of the Progress, of Education in India, 1909.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present,
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
In order to confirm what I was saying about the quality of the primary education and the nature of the teachers and their miserably insufficient pay I propose to quote two passages from the Fifth Quinquennial 1767 Review of the Progress of Education in India, 1909. The first refers to Bengal:—The monthly pay of teachers in schools under public management, which are very few. is stated to range between four rupees and eighteen rupees, and in schools under private management, which are very numerous, between three rupees and fifty rupees. Figures such as these, however, convey no information at all. If the whole of the recorded expenditure of the Bengal schools were equally divided among the teachers in the form of salary, nothing being reserved for any purpose of school maintenance, the average pay of the schoolmaster would be six rupees a month, about 8s. per month.The other passage is introduced with these words:—The following quotation from a letter describing the condition of affairs in Eastern Bengal is also applicable to Bengal. The village guru settles in any place where he thinks he can eke out a livelihood. He is lent or obtains as best he can a hut, a verandah, or the shade of a tree; he collects around him a few children whose parents pay him a small money fee and occasionally presents in kind, and he finally receives a dole, which may amount only to one or two rupees per month, from the public funds, granted to him in the hope that he will improve his methods and follow the course of instruction laid down by the Education Department. His average earnings are such as would hardly attract a coolie and cannot be termed a living wage.That is a condition of affairs which does not reflect credit upon any Government. I am glad to recognise that the Indian Government is making some progress. It is spending more on education—a little more—but. before it is entitled to take credit for its educational work it will have to multiply its expenditure on education over and over again. And this work is urgently needed, not merely for the benefit of the Indian peasant himself, but in the best interests of India and the Government—in the interests of establishing a balance of power in India—in the interests of calling into existence some educated popular opinion, so that, when the day comes when the transference of power is necessary, there may be this educated popular opinion to hold its own against the more powerful, better organised, and more highly educated class interests in India. In conclusion I would like to refer to two points. In the hon. Member's speech he exhorted patriotic Indians to do what they could to eliminate the terrible caste prejudice which exists in India with regard to the so-called depressed class—the untouchable class. I do not think he gave quite credit for the efforts which are already being made in that direction in India, and which have not received the encouragement from the Indian Government which one will have a right in the future to expect, after the speech which the Under-Secretary has delivered. There is a movement in Bengal to eliminate this class prejudice.
§ An Hon. MEMBER: It cannot be both.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
Then it is caste prejudice. There is a movement among educated Indians in Bengal to eliminate this feeling, and in recent times many Pundits have declared this depressed class should no longer be regarded as untouchable. Meetings have been held to disseminate these views. Two very large meetings were called for this purpose, and they were both prohibited by the Indian Government. The reason the Indian Government had for this was that they believed there was some political motive behind these meetings. But these prohibitions have much discouraged this movement in Bengal. My only object in referring to this was to make clear there was a movement amongst educated Indians in India in this direction, and that the impetus did not come solely from the Indian Government. The other subject to which I refer is to the plague and malaria. Here in education you have one of the most powerful instruments of fighting plague and disease. The sanitary precautions and regulations of the Government will ultimately fail if you are dealing with an uneducated, illiterate and superstitious people. By promoting education you will do more to root out the plague than by any expenditure of money which can be devised. Therefore, I make this appeal to the Indian Government. If it can do nothing else to meet the views of the Indians it should do what it can to promote the cause of elementary education in India.
§ Colonel J. W. GREIG
I just wish to raise one point A Motion in my name is directed to it. I do not intend to move it, but I wish to bring it before the Under-Secretary so that a little more attention may be paid to it. I believe it is a most practical question which will have to be decided in a few years. We have heard with sympathy from various quarters of the House the appeals for the improvement of education. With that we are heartily in sympathy. But we have lost sight of the question which was mentioned earlier in the Debate—I mean the loss owing to the disappearance of the opium revenue. All parties are agreed that is a good agreement, and no one would go back upon it, 1769 even in India. There are statements which appear in the press and elsewhere which show that all the intelligent people who know the condition of India regard this as a step which we could not go back upon. But we are faced with this, that the revenue from opium will be lost in a few years, and £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 is the lowest figure at which it is placed. A financial member of the council, in his remarks, showed that he anticipates the matter will be a very serious one. He says:—One cause for anxiety is the heavy loss of income which at no distant date we shall have to face through loss of the opium revenue. I have no desire to deal with the bitter controversy which in the past has raged round the opium traffic, except to say that we are loyally carrying out the policy which may have great financial and ethical considerations. The Indian people will he called upon to make sacrifices in the interests of humanity; they are a sensitive, sympathetic race, and I dare prophesy will not shrink from bearing their share of the burden which will contribute to the uplifting of a sister nation.I think that this House will have to face the situation and see that no undue burden falls upon our Indian fellow subjects. The matter will have to be met in one of three ways—by an increase of taxation, by a subvention from the Home Government, or, and I think this is probably the source from which the amount ought to be derived, by reductions of expenditure in certain directions. If one looks over the accounts of the Indian Revenue, one sees that the Government themselves have within the last few months effected an enormous saving in one Department. In the Department of stationery, in which the expenditure both here and in India seems rather excessive, they have in one year reduced the expenditure by £35,000. That is a small amount in comparison with the large deficit that will have to be made up, but a number of these savings, spread over the whole expenditure of India, will make an enormous difference. The railway system has, without any infringement of the efficiency of the system, been made to produce this year a much larger sum, and the Finance Minister of the Council attributes that to a careful check of the Railway Board and railway administration over the expenditure. What I plead for is that the Government should, by the means at their disposal, institute a careful check over the different items of Indian expenditure. I notice that at home the expenditure connected with the Government of India is something like £19,000,000, or £20,000,000 a year. That expenditure is made largely in this country. Could not something be done to reduce the amount of some of 1770 those items? I admit that many of the payments could not possibly be reduced, but I think that a careful overhauling of all the items of expenditure might lead to some assistance towards the shortage which sooner or later is likely to occur.
Although I would not for one moment take a penny away from military expenditure in India, so far as it is necessary for the efficient defence of that Empire, at the same time one knows that a careful check on military expenditure often leads to considerable saving without affecting efficiency. In that direction also, I think that something might be done. Every one of us would regret if we had to impose further taxation on India. With a view to this deficiency and to other requirements of the Indian Government, last year and the year before, certain new taxes were imposed. From the reports we have had before us I think it has been amply proved that these particular taxes have not pressed unduly upon the people of India, except in the case of the tobacco tax, which seems to have reached the point where the revenue has fallen. But we do not wish to increase the taxes. What we desire to do is to look to the growing sources of revenue, such as they are, at the present time. The reports, as a whole, seem to show that the present taxes in India are fairly productive, and do not need much alteration. It would be a fatal mistake to increase the salt tax in any way. That we must leave alone. Our efforts in future must tend rather to its reduction. Therefore I submit for the consideration of the Indian Government that a careful review of all the items of expenditure, not in a niggardly spirit, but with a view to cutting off what is absolutely unnecessary, might lead to such reductions of normal expenditure as would, when the time comes to face this deficit which must arise, enable us to do so with equanimity, and with the assistance of the growing revenues of India from other sources, which are not pressing hardly on the people, to carry out without any unfairness to our Indian fellow subjects a great moral reform, in which all of us would be glad to have a share, but which we do not wish to have carried out merely at the expense of our co-citizens on the other side of the Indian Ocean. I hope the Government will consider the suggestion which I have put before them.
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
I wish to say a few words about the opium tax, because everyone who knows India—and I 1771 may claim to have some knowledge of that country, because I served there twice as a soldier—must realise the very great difficulties that will face the Government when the opium revenue of £3,000,000 ceases to flow into the Exchequer. How is the deficit to be met? If it is to be met by fresh taxation, great difficulties will arise. We all know that His Majesty the King is shortly to visit India. If the result of that visit in the opinion of the ryots of India were seen in fresh taxation the inference they would draw would be disastrous. Whatever happens, we must prevent that, and all sides will join in helping the Government to do so. It would be deplorable and disastrous, and must be prevented at all costs. It may be claimed that the natives of India will be glad to help their sister nation, and will rejoice to see the Chinese relieved of the temptation to partake of that drug. That is all very well; but the native of India will think of himself and his own pocket if you impose taxation upon him. How is it to be prevented? As the last speaker very rightly said, there are no doubt in the various departments possibilities of economy. But if you effect economy by the reduction of the forces of India, you will make a very grave mistake. I would protest with all my power against any reduction of our troops in India. We do not know when we may want them. Things are not so rosy all round the world that we can afford to lose one man, or one gun, or one bayonet. This is not the time to reduce our troops in India or anywhere else. I trust the Government will lay that to heart. An hon. Member just now made some remarks about "class" or "caste." If he referred to "class," I have nothing to say. We all have a right to our opinion about class. But if he referred to "caste," I do not know whether he has travelled in India, but if he has, he will know that caste is akin to the religion of the natives of India, and we dare not, and must not, meddle with it. Leave caste alone. If you meddle with the caste of the Indian, you will have revolution in India, and that must be avoided. Leave the caste of the Indian alone. Treat the Indian fairly and justly; rule him well. Remember that India was taken by the sword, and India must be kept by the sword. There is no other way of keeping it. But let the sword be sheathed as long as possible. Treat the Indian fairly, and you will find him as loyal and as good a man as you are yourself.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
At this late hour I hope the Under-Secretary will take as read all the compliments I meant to pay him upon his speech, and allow me to start at once with my criticism of it. I will only say that I wish the speech had been three hours instead of two hours long, because I wanted to hear a great deal more upon matters about which he said nothing.
He omitted to mention one word as to the police in regard to the torture inflicted by them in certain cases. He omitted to say a word about Press law, or about the five repressive Acts, and we have no word about those two vitally important questions at the present time—vitally important because when the Durbar is held action on these two points is expected to be taken—I mean the partition of Bengal and the amnesty to political prisoners. As to the latter point, I do think that everyone in this House before they judge these people harshly should try to put themselves in the place of Indians under the present circumstances. Suppose that the Indians ruled here and we were the subject race? Is there one man in this House who would not be doing what these Indians are doing, and who would not be in prison at the present moment? We are perfectly justified in shooting them or putting them in prison, but, for goodness sake, do not let us be hypocritical, and say that these people are criminals and are beneath contempt from a European point of view! Whatever happens at the Durbar, one thing must be done: the political prisoners should be set free. If they are set free I do not believe we shall have as much unrest in the future as in the past. Do not let us have this amnesty a partial affair. Tilak of Poona must come out. If you do not let out the most prominent political prisoner you may let out the others, but you will still have bitterness. Do it completely! And you will earn the gratitude of succeeding generations of Indians.
As to the partition of Bengal, I must explain that, unfortunately, I have never been in India, and I do not know much of the partition so far as administration is concerned. But no doubt the Under-Secretary will note from the fact that most of the Debate has taken place from these benches that we have had the advantage of being thoroughly well coached. Therefore, we do know something indirectly about the partition of Bengal. Whatever be the rights or wrongs of that partition as at 1773 first carried out; whatever be the advantages administratively, or disadvantages financially, there is one thing we can say without hesitation, and that is that it was against the wishes of the people of Bengal. It is, of course, our custom, in our superior way, to say that we are dealing with India for the good of the Indians—that we do what is good for the Indians, whether they like it or not. But I think it is about time we adopted a different line and said to those concerned: "If you want the partition done away with or modified, we may think it will be bad administratively and financially, but, in spite of that, if you want it you shall have it. "The arguments I use for Home Rule for Ireland is that whether it will lead to the greater prosperity of Ireland or not, the people there have the right to go to whatever place they like in their own way. That argument might be applied in this case to the people of Bengal. There is one argument used against thispartition—that of Lord Morley It is that our prestige is involved in the partition of Bengal. British prestige does not arise. That prestige rests upon the fact that we are a democratic country, that we do in the long run consider, not our own immediate gain, but the gain of the people over whom we rule, and the freedom and emancipation of the human race. Our prestige is of old standing in the world, and to say it will be destroyed or injured in the slightest respect by acknowledging a mistake and doing that which the people of India want is nothing less than an insult to English history.
I want to pass on now to what I regard almost with a personal interest. Last year I made a speech in this House principally devoted to the Press Law. I saw a notice in an Indian paper afterwards explaining that, while they would like to print my speech in full, and while they did not really think it possible for the Government of India to object to any part of it, but that the whole tone was such that the paper could not print it. I quite sympathise with the Government in not having my speech printed in India, but it gives me a peculiar and personal objection to that Press Act. This Act is a monstrous thing for a Liberal Government to continue when it is not absolutely necessary. When you have the politicals set free, as I expect they will be after the Durbar, we shall be able to see in six months whether the whole tone and temper of the unrest in India is not changed. I think the opportunity is then afforded to 1774 repeal this most iniquitous Act, which in. Lord Morley's words, was calculated to produce "a mute, sullen, muzzled, lifeless India." My hon. Friend alluded to the growing class of Indians, educated abroad even in greater numbers than in this country, who are rising in influence in India. These are the people whom you deliberately insult by the perpetration of such an Act as the Press Act of 1909. The repeal of that Act cannot but help in the long run to redound to the credit and renown of this country. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds suggested it might be applied to some of the English papers as well. By no means let us have anything of the kind; it is bad enough to have Indian papers censored, without having English papers censored. We do not want to have a censorship extended to English papers. The other day I got hold of a book entitled, "Home Rule for India," by Mr. Gandy. He is a man who has done infinite service to the whole of his fellow-countrymen in South Africa. I do not know him myself; he is known probably to the Under-Secretary and the whole of the India Office. He wrote this book and it was put upon the Index Expurgatorius, and prevented from circulating in India. I can imagine what happened. The ordinary officials saw the title of the book and said, "This will never do; we must put him on the index." That is what I thought when I saw the book first of all and read its harmless pages. The book is devoted entirely to the denunciation of violence and to pacifist methods. It is almost an Indian edition of the works of Tolstoi. When I read of the action taken in regard to this book I wondered what had come over the Indian bureaucracy. In the book assassinations are denounced and armed insurrection ridiculed, and yet the book was banned. It simply advocated not interfering with other people's business, a method, it is true, which might be more deadly in the long run to our rule and to this so-called civilisation. The Under-Secretary took pride in the fact that 1,000,000 people in India were working in 2,500 factories. If he thinks that is anything to be proud of, I am sure no Indian is proud of it. Driving the Indian people into factories is one of the results of civilisation, but this has not the same attractions to the Indian has it has to the European mind. I do not appeal to the Under-Secretary to remove the ban on this book.
1775 I prefer to keep the fact that it has been banned as an argument against the Press law. The law is bad, and not the exercise of the law. You give any bureaucracy such an Act to administer and you will find it will be administered unjustly to satisfy petty spites and jealousies. I voice the feelings of every Liberal who knows anything about the Act when I say that I want to have it removed from the Statute Book of India, so that we may say the Liberal Government has done more than any Conservative Government that preceeded it to free public opinion in India. The Indian Budget only comes on once a year, and we have a chance on that occasion of trying to keep some check upon the bureaucracy of India. May I beg the Under-Secretary to remember that he is the only means of communication we have between the Members of this House and the bureaucracy in India, and that all we have to say must go through him. We urge him to keep his end up in this struggle with the bureaucracy.
I have known him for a long time, and it is obvious from what he has said this afternoon that the Under-Secretary is a Liberal, and wishes to administer British rule in India on Liberal lines. We know that the bureaucracy of India and the members of council out there are by nature, instinct, and education Tories, and the only way in which we can hope to get any liberation of India is that the Under-Secretary should force his own personality upon that bureaucracy and get something done. Let him remember that he is supposed to be supreme, and not the permanent officials in the India Office or in India. We rely upon him for deeds, not merely words. I think the position of Under-Secretary of State for India when there is no Secretary of State for India in this House is one of the most responsible posts in the Government. As the hon. Member values his Liberalism and the traditions of his country, I urge him to try and get even into the India Office and the Viceroy's Council really Liberal and Radical views such as he would hold himself in regard to the Government of this country.
I should not have satisfied my own feelings if I had not added my thanks for and admiration of the admirable speech we have had from the Undersecretary. In my view, the Indian Budget, with him explaining it, has become 1776 an annual treat; and I look forward to years to come, hoping he may still occupy for the benefit of India and for the advantage of this House, the position he now occupies. I would like to call the attention of the House to one remarkable fact. We are constantly being told by obscure journals and even by some important journals, and by obscure orators and even by some orators who think themselves important that the Empire is not safe in the hands of the Liberal party. What do we observe to-night? The House has been discussing for one day in the year the destinies and administration of our great Indian Empire. Only three Gentlemen have risen to address the House from the opposite side while there have been fifteen speakers on these benches, indicating, I think, that the amount of interest taken on these benches in the great dependencies is five times as great as that which is-taken on the other side. During the whole of the afternoon we have never been privileged to see more than one occupant of the Front Opposition Bench at one time. That is really most encouraging to the Liberal party. Without wishing to be provocative, I may say this is indeed evidence of the general satisfaction which is felt in regard to most points of administration in the Indian Office at the present time.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I understand it is only by leave of the House I am able to answer the arguments which have been brought, forward this afternoon. If the House will give me that leave I will try and deal with the points that have been brought up with. as little delay as possible. I have, first of all, to thank every Member who has taken part in this Debate for the very kind way in which they have spoken of what I have been privileged to say to them to-day. The Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey (Earl Ronaldshay) made a very interesting and well-argued speech in favour of Tariff Reform for India. I invited the House to discuss the industrial development of India, and, therefore, it did not need much power of prophecy to realise that the first hon. Member to address the House for those benefits would prescribe for India their favourite homoeopathic medicine for everything—Tariff Reform. I would not think of detaining the House to-night, whilst I go through the arguments, with which, I am sure, the Noble Lord is familiar, in favour of Free Trade. I will only say, on behalf of the Government, we have no intention of 1777 departing from the Free Trade system in India. I will go further, and say that, as and when opportunity offers, we shall take steps to make the fiscal system of India more nearly in accord with what we believe to be the only sound economic doctrine. The Indian industries are developing and progressing, and to try and make them develop still further by means of a protective tariff would, in my opinion, lay India helpless, exposed to some of the worst evils of Western civilisation. —the accretion of huge "wealth in the hands of a few people, the tyranny of capital over labour, and the oppression of the working classes and consumers. Does the Noble Lord propose a preferential tariff for India; you are going to rope her into the scheme which will always be associated with the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham? It is, or was, a scheme for binding together the Empire, but when it was advocated India was usually forgotten, and by the Empire were meant our great Self-governing Dominions with a total population hardly larger than that of a great feudatory State in India such as Hyderabad. If anybody still believes in that policy as applied to any part of the Empire the case for Colonial Preference as applied to India was absolutely demolished by Lord Curzon as Viceroy for India when he wrote a despatch which I earnestly trust he has not forgotten, and which I commend to hon. Members interested in the case for Free Trade, together with the argument advanced by Sir James Mackay before the Imperial Conference in 1907—arguments which have never been answered and which contained a complete presentation of the case on behalf of Free Trade.
It is sometimes said that educated opinion in India is in favour of Tariff Reform: why not give them what they ask for? I hope I shall not be misunderstood when I say that India, industrially, is a very, very young country, and although a number of Indian publicists may be in favour of the doctrine of Protection, Mr. Gokhale, toy no means a whole-hearted Protectionist, and another leader of Indian opinion, Mr. Bhupendranath Basu, recently said that they did not want India to be exploited by the capitalist class in the same way as America had been exploited by great capitalists. He added that while small classes would benefit by protective duties on the industries of Lancashire 300 millions would suffer. That is our 1778 case. You propose to protect Indian industries by a protective duty on imports from Lancashire. But you cannot abrogate one part of your responsibilities. So-long as it remains our duty to govern India politically we must also do it fiscally, fiscal and political autonomy go hand in hand, and when you want, in deference to what you think to be public opinion, to give over your responsibilities for conducting her fiscal policy while keeping your responsibility for maintaining her political policy you are embarking on one of the most disastrous morasses a politician can enter.
I would most respectfully call the Noble Lord's attention to an utterance by Lord Minto, who, in view of his great services and great responsibility, must know that any speech delivered by him would be read with great interest in India. We all know the important position he occupies among Conservative statesmen-He takes the first opportunity as ex-Viceroy and makes a speech about India to advocate Protection. I hope he or some responsible Conservative politician will take an early opportunity of making clear what he means. It is bad enough to keep, the English voter waiting without defining exactly the tariffs by which you are going to bring about agricultural or manufacturing prosperity, though we who do not believe in the policy can draw the other picture. But when you are talking to an Indian audience it is almost criminal not to tell them what you mean. Our policy is Free Trade. Is it your policy simply to rope in India into a preferential system, or is it one of the planks of your programme to remove the Cotton Duties as at present applied to Lancashire? The Noble Lord has given his views. I hope he will not think me impertinent when I say I could have hoped that his interesting speech would have been delayed for a few minutes while we had the views of some Leader of the Conservative party speaking with all the weight which attaches to a position on the Front Bench. The question I have asked has awakened great interest in India, and many people are awaiting an answer to it.
The hon. Member (Mr. Keir Hardie) accused me of Swadeshi sentiments. If Swadeshi means buying the products of one's own country in preference to those of a foreign country, then I regard Swadeshi as the only rational form of Tariff Reform. It seems to me the very best way of practising the principle of 1779 supporting home industries. So far as Swadeshi means that I do not complain of the label which has been applied to me, but I think he is really taking a distorted view, for which there is not a shadow of foundation, when he says that anyone who delivered the speech that I delivered today in India would have found himself in prison. When he goes on to say that there are people in prison for delivering speeches no worse than mine, I should be glad if he would give me particulars, for I should do my best from selfish reasons to procure their immediate release. It is perfectly true that agriculture in India will remain for very many years its principal industry. There are 191,000,000 people engaged directly or indirectly on agriculture. However much industry develops, the agricultural side will always remain profitable. What I hope for India is that the two sides will develop together, neither the one nor the other being exclusively prominent.
With regard to plague the hon. Member airily waived aside the theory and scientific diagnosis of the cause, and so did the hon. Member (Mr. O'Grady). They believe that poverty, a low standard of living and low resisting power are the causes. So they are. They are the causes which make anybody prone to any disease, but the most recent and careful scientific investigation has proved that the bacillus of plague, isolated in the Hong Kong epidemic in 1894, finds a home in the rat. The death of a rat in a house is dangerous, because the bacillus goes from it to the human being. If the man is in a good resisting state his chances of immunity, or at any rate of recovery, are, of course, greater. That is why I say that there is a duty not only on the Government, but on the Indians to work side by side in improving sanitation and giving opportunities for inoculation, and in urging the people to live under cleaner conditions. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil and the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme say that I have left out of my speech many things to which I ought to have referred. I warned them of that almost as soon as I began. The things I left out were things I referred to last year. The Press Act was one. It was in existence last year and I gave such a defence of it as I believed then, and as I believe now, to be sufficient. I regret that I have not carried with me in my argument the hon. Member for New-castle-under-Lyme. At that time he com- 1780 plained, and complained bitterly, of the Seditious Meetings Act. To-day there was no mention of the Seditious Meetings Act, because, although it has been renewed, it does not apply to any district.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Does the hon. Gentleman mean that at present meetings can be held without anyone asking any authority to do so?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
There are other regulations for maintaining law and order. The hon. Member, in the Amendment he moved last year, complained of the recent repressive legislation, and among the measures to which he referred was the Seditious Meetings Act.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that two meetings were proclaimed which were called for the purpose of considering means for providing education for the lower classes. Can he explain why?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
On the facts which the hon. Gentleman gives me, I cannot. If the hon. Member would supply me with more information, I will investigate the matter. I say that the Seditious Meetings Act is not now in force in India. The hon. Member for East Leeds (Mr. O'Grady) asks that the King's visit to India shall be celebrated by an amnesty of political prisoners, and other Members have made various suggestions for a boon or gift from His Majesty when he goes there. It would not be right for me to make any pronouncement. I can only assure hon. Members that all the suggestions will be brought to the notice of the Secretary of State on the conclusion of this Debate. The hon. Member for East Leeds mentioned political deportees. I would remind him that there are no political offenders in prison under the Regulation of 1818. There are people in prison now, but they are not political prisoners. They are nearly all not British subjects, but people who have been deported from their own countries as the result of war in some distant parts. I do not understand whether the hon. Member asks that they should be released, or whether he thinks that under the Regulation of 1818 there are still political prisoners. They were all released when the Indian Councils Act came into operation.
1781 The hon. Member called my attention to an article in the "Pioneer," and said that if the Press law applied to Indian newspapers, why did it not apply to Anglo-Indian newspapers? The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme said that no Act such as the Press law can be administered fairly when you give the power as it is given in India. I differ from both. I believe that the Press Act is being administered fairly and squarely, and to their very best ability by men whose chief attribute is their scrupulous fairness. With regard to the particular article referred to, I need hardly say that it is my own personal opinion, as it is the opinion of everybody who read it, that it is a disgusting piece of writing calculated to do an infinite amount of harm. Whether it does or does not come within the meaning of the Press Act is for the legal officers of the Government of India to decide. I can only say that the attention of the Government of India has been called to the matter. But I will remind hon. Members that they are the first to protest when the Government of India embarks on a political prosecution and fails to get a conviction. The hon. and Gallant Member for Melton (Colonel Yate) asked me why the Royal Indian Marine do not police the Persian Gulf and so set free the Royal Navy. The Admiralty have never objected to supply ships for patrolling the Persian Gulf. After all it is the duty of the Admiralty to protect British Interests wherever they find them, and India has not got a separate Navy. The suggestion for having a separate naval force for India was abandoned so long ago as 1862. The Indian Marine is used for the transport of troops, for hydrographic surveys, and work of that kind. The arguments of my hon. Friend the member for Glasgow (Mr. MacCallum Scott), powerful as they were, had already been dealt with by me and other speakers in the Debate on the Education Amendment this afternoon, when I think he was out of the House. The Secretary of State is going to receive a deputation to-morrow, and I can assure the hon. Member that there is every desire to do something to improve the lamentable condition of education. The hon. Member for Wales has asked me for a Return, and as soon as it is forthcoming I will lay it upon the Table. Now I hope that the House will allow you, Mr. Speaker, to leave the Chair, out of which you were moved in the early part of the afternoon. We have had a discussion which has been more harmonious and more hope- 1782 ful than any Debate on Indian affairs that I can remember, and I can only congratulate the House upon the message that we have been able to send to our Indian, fellow-subjects as the result of our Debates.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Unfortunately, I was not in the House during the greater part of the Debate, but I think the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) seemed to be very annoyed that these benches during the evening had not more than one occupant upon them. There seems to be no pleasing hon. Gentlemen opposite. If these benches are full and we indulge in criticism of the measures of the Government, then it is said that we are obstructing, and that the guillotine is necessary. If we absent ourselves, we are then ridiculed because we are not in our places. The hon. Gentleman has not been very long in this House or he would have known the chief attitude of the Conservative party is one of loyalty to the Empire, and when the question of India is under discussion we have no desire to bring party bias or party feeling into the matter, and we are willing to leave, as far as possible, a free hand to whoever may be in charge of that Department of His Majesty's Government. That is the chief reason why the Debate has been restricted to hon. Members on the other side of the House, who, I am not at all sure, are always animated by similar feelings of loyalty to the Empire. With regard to the few remarks we heard from the hon. Gentleman, the Under-Secretary for India, I am rather sorry he introduced the subject of Tariff Reform. I understood him to say, Lord Minto ought not to have deceived the people in India in the same way that the people of England had been deceived. I have always admired the manner in which the hon. Gentleman has handled the subject given him to conduct, but I desire to repudiate the assertion of the hon. Gentleman that Lord Minto meant in any way to deceive the people of India.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I certainly did not mean to use the word to which he refers. I must have used it in the heat of debate, but in no offensive sense. What I wanted to suggest was that, as I am quite sure Lord Minto himself would realise, that the word "protection" should be defined.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I may have mistaken the hon. Gentleman, but I think on referring to the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow 1783 he will see that he did use the word, though, as he states, it was in the heat of debate, and was meant in no offensive sense. I am glad to have intervened for a moment in order that the hon. Gentleman might make that statement.
§ Question put, and agreed to.