§ Mr. GRUNDY
I beg to move,That, in the opinion of this House, the conditions and wages of labour in India are so serious as to call for such changes in the Indian constitution as shall secure votes for and representation of the workers and peasants of India both in the Assembly and in the various legislative councils.I should like to say that I hope no words of mine will increase the discontent, or help to increase the number of periodic outbursts of the people against their conditions in India. I want to plead with the Government to take a greater interest in Indian matters than has previously obtained. I merely want to deal with one particular phase of the labour conditions in India that appeals to me probably more than any of the rest of the horrible and the appalling conditions that still obtain amongst the working classes in that country. Why I am at this juncture only attempting to deal with a very small portion of the working population of India, that is the mining population, the reason is because I am a miner myself, and I know something of the conditions of mining, whether it is in India or England. I am rather afraid that, in giving the figures, I shall not be able to give them with the fluency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My grasp of figures is very limited, and I may not make myself as intelligible to this House as I desire, but in drawing attention to the conditions under which the miners work in India, I want, in the first place, to point out that, in an answer given in July of last year to the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. T. Smith) by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), we had these very startling figures given in respect of the workers in the mines of India.
1465 We were informed that in the coal mines of British India 65,780 men were employed, 42,000 women, and 11,071 children under 12 years of age. This represented the three provinces of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, practically 90 per cent. of the mining population of India. I think I am quite justified in saying that to allay discontent in India we ought to show that we at least have some interest as the rulers in the conditions of the workers in the mines. Instead of discontent and disturbance we want to show the people that we have some interest in bringing about happiness and contentment amongst them. In the answers which were given on various occasions in the past by the Under-Secretary for India we could get no statistics as to the wages and the hours worked by these poor people in the mines of India, but I have since, learned that the hours of labour vary from 12 to 16 per day.
I ask this House to visualise in regard to mining conditions in India a man and his wife and child going to work in the pit, the child being under 12 years of age—how much under I do not know, but, at any rate, it is such an age that its mother can hardly have ceased singing lullabies to it. I know the hardships and dangers of mining, and I know that such work is only for strong, healthy men and youths. The idea at this time of women, no matter of what nationality, working in mines is a disgusting thing, and I am trying if possible to enlist sympathy in this House in respect to it.
In respect to another question we were told that the total number of accidents for the 10 years ending 1921 was 1,871 killed and 2,306 seriously injured. The figures for slight injuries were not given, and I think that would be fairly represented by many thousands. We have had later figures than that, and those which I shall give may not be quite as intelligible as I should like, but they are of a much later date, and they point out the shocking conditions under which the miners of India work. We are told in the official figures that for the year 1921 there were 240,663 persons working in and about the mines in India. In 1922 there were 228,511 persons working in and about mines in India, or a decrease of 21,152. We shall see how some of that decrease occurred in a few more figures 1466 which I shall give to the House. The 220,000 persons working in and about mines included 137,017 who worked underground, and 91,494 who worked on the surface. Of that total 142,103 were adult workers, 78,806 were women workers and 7,602 were children under 12 years of age. During the year 1922, 243 persons lost their lives in the mines. They comprised 218 males, and 25 females, and, of those 218 males, we have to consider how many were poor little children under 12 years of age. We could get no figures showing how many of these children under 12 years of age had sacrificed their lives in the mines. We have also to consider that, in the year 1921, the total output was 18,358,934 tons. The fatal accident rate was 14 for every million tons raised. That, in comparison with our own rate, which is about 510 per million tons raised, shows the appalling death rate, and the shocking conditions under which these poor people have to work. We find also that, in India, there are 522 coal pits, which are worked by 252 coal companies with a paid-up capital of £5,681,000.
Attempts have been made in this House to ascertain the average dividends paid by these colliery companies in India. No figures could be obtained, but the statement was made in this House that some of the dividends were as high as 165 per cent. As I have said, we could get no official figures, and this was a figure stated by an hon. Member in a supplementary question that was put at the time. It appears to me, if one may say so, that, if these figures are correct, then, when enormous dividends like that are paid, it is time we took some interest in the life and safety of our Indian fellow-subjects. I understand that legislation is to come into force some time in July dealing with some of these conditions, and I am expecting and hoping that the Under-Secretary for India will give us some indication of what that legislation is going to be—whether or not it raises the age of the children, and whether or not it abolishes women's labour in the mines of India. I hope that in his statement, which I feel confident will be received with sympathetic interest, the Under-Secretary will give information on at least some of these matters. It is probable that, in this House of Commons, the statements that I have made may not be altogether believed. It may 1467 be asked, "What does the hon. Member know about India? He has never been there?" All I can say is that I know what mining is, and I have endeavoured to visualise what the conditions of these people are; but I am going to read, from the Debates of the Indian Legislative Assembly on Saturday, the 15th March, 1924, what their own representative, Mr. Chaman Lal, says in reference to the conditions of the miners in India. He says:I have been in the mine-fields, and found more destitution there than probably exists in any other centre in India. I saw women and children going about with bare rags on their backs.… I have seen such utter misery and destitution that unless something drastic is done you are up against a very difficult problem. The huts are ill-ventilated, with barely room for a cot and a fireplace; and all the worldly goods of these poor miners consist of just a few utensils, and hardly any clothing. Everywhere you go in the mine-field you meet the spectre of poverty.I do not think I need read any further. That is what was said by one of their representatives in their own Assembly, and so the whole chapter goes on, pointing out the poverty, the destitution, the hardships, the extraordinary high accident rates in the mines of India, and the exceptionally high profits that have been made by the coal companies.
In conclusion, I would ask the House to think of those poor 25 women that in 1921 lost their lives in the mines, and of those little children that are taken into this most dangerous calling, which, as I have said, is only a calling for strong, healthy men and youths. I ask hon. Members to take into their mind's eye the conditions of destitution that are pointed out by this representative, and the miserable wages that are paid to the people. Probably I have not put their case as well as a more fluent man would, but I do hope that this Government will, as far as it possibly can, use its influence to get legislation brought in that may bring a better standard of life to these people, and, if possible, abolish women's labour, or at least make the age of the children such an age that they are strong enough to go into the mines. If that were done, it would, instead of the periodic outbursts of discontent that I have described, bring about happiness and contentment among the people, and they would be proud that they are under the 1468 British flag and would have faith in the fairness and justice of this House of Commons.
§ Mr. MILLS
I beg to second the Motion. The House is indebted to the hon. Member who has tabled this Motion, not only for a very reasoned and moderate speech, but for a speech which was intensely human from beginning to end. I could not understand the smiles on the very sparsely populated benches opposite—
§ Earl WINTERTON
If the hon. Gentleman is referring to me, let me deny, with the greatest emphasis and indignation, that I smiled at a single word of the well-reasoned and interesting speech that we have just heard. I think the hon. Member ought to withdraw what he said.
§ Mr. MILLS
If it be so, I will withdraw, but I have in mind what was supposed to be a Debate in this House of Commons, initiated at a quarter past eight a few weeks ago, when two hours and five minutes of the two hours and three-quarters was taken up by a very one-sided diatribe from the other side of the House, and, when the speaker from the Front Bench, with three minutes to go, rose to reply, he was not even allowed to put in a personal explanation, and the business closed in uproar. The echoes of that Debate created a very painful impression throughout the whole of our Indian Empire, and for that reason, and because of the facts which are coming through, I think the House is indebted to my hon. Friend for a very reasoned and very human speech, and I hope those who are going to reply will not reply in terms of denunciation of a quotation from someone's speech in 1852 or someone else who ought to be somewhere else at some other time, but will make some effort to reply, because we do not ask merely the opposite side to reply. We want the Government to reply, and we want to know what they intend to do. The advent of a Labour Government raised the highest possible hopes among 320,000,000 people, who for over 70 years have been promised that some day in the 1469 dim and distant future they would be given the right of self government. Now, in 1924, we have the spectacle that the textile workers of Madras have sent a delegate to Britain to ask not for any revolutionary proposal, but merely that if a man earns a magnificent wage, the equivalent of £1 13s. 4d. per month, he might be allowed to vote. I suppose when the speakers attempt to make a case in Britain they will be denounced as some more of the sedition mongers who are coming over to upset the benefits of British rule. It is time a little plain speaking was undertaken.
We ask the first Labour Government that they realise immediately at least some of the economic disabilities of the Indian workers. I refer specifically to the incidence of the Salt Tax. We listened to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a few days ago outlining a Budget which increased the spending values of the workers of Britain, and which reduced the amount of contribution they have been making weekly for years to taxes where in hundreds of cases they were too poor to pay direct Income Tax. We know that the Secretary of State for India, representing a Labour Government, held out some measure of hope that the British Labour Government had some idea of ameliorating the burden of the helpless section of India in reference to the Salt Tax. The Salt Tax has been with us from the days of John Company, from the days of the East India Company's exploitation of the peoples of India as the result of contracts with various Indian princes, and so on. This vicious principle has been carried on, and if one turns to the pages of history he will find as far back as 80 years ago the merchants of Northwich and of various parts of Great Britain protesting to the British Parliament that the British consumer could buy salt at 30s. a ton, whilst the poor devil of an Indian peasant has to pay at the rate of £21 a ton. If we take in for a moment the standard of living in other countries, where salt to them represents a real luxury and enables them to digest some of the most appalling forms of food which they are forced to eat as the result of their economic conditions, one will understand the amount of resentment which has been generated throughout India as the result of the forcing upon the Indian people, in spite 1470 of the Indian Parliament's own wishes, not only the imposition of the salt tax, but the doubling of the salt tax last year in spite of the Opposition of the duly elected people of India in the Indian Government. The late Under-Secretary for India had to defend that last year, and he defended it very courteously and ably from the point of view of the Conservative Government, but, after all, he had to admit to various Members who were questioning him, who are now Members of the first British Labour Administration, that this doubling of the salt tax was necessary because of expenditure incurred largely due to military equipment in India, while in the same month another of his colleagues was glibly telling the House that part of the British reserves are borne by the Indian people, and that if this burden were taken off the Indian people, it would have to be borne by the British taxpayer.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Will the hon. Member be good enough to give his authority for this statement that I said this enhanced Salt Tax was due to military operations?
§ Mr. MILLS
I do not say the Noble Lord admitted that it was due to military operations, but I want him to deny that it was. Perhaps I am not putting my point very clearly. I have never yet heard a Conservative Government tell a Conservative working man that a vote for them meant a payment of 6d. in taxation on every ounce of tobacco that he bought. It is only when he is up against the proposition of denying it that we have any kind of sport at all. Here is an article, written by a candidate for the Nobel peace prize, His Highness the Aga Khan. I do not suppose the Noble Lord would denounce him as a Bolshevist agitator from the backwoods of Madras. He won a race the other day, and is hoping to win another. This gentlemen, one of the greatest ruling princes in India, has contributed to one of your big Sunday papers a four-column article. Here is what he says:I do not write in defence of the Parliamentary Members of India, but I would point out that the core of the Indian case is this. The greater part of the expenditure of the central authority being for military purposes, and the Legislature having no control whatever over this expenditure, 1471 it was felt that the whole budgetary provisions should be rejected in the spirit of the man who says, 'you have taken the cream and we do not want the skimmed milk.'He goes on to say:The Indian argument is that excessive defensive insurance is imposed upon her willy nilly in time of peace, and that she is required to make her preparations on a much wider wale proportionate to her resources than is made in Great Britain.It is an article which ought to have been read by every Member of the House who is attempting to understand what are the basic causes behind the unrest in India. I do not want the sneer levelled at me that I have never been in India. It has been levelled at me and at others, and we have lived to see that those who claim to be experts on other countries where people are struggling to be free have had to admit that, in spite of all their martial law, in spite of all the burdens put upon the British taxpayer to keep order by martial law, they have found that on the withdrawal of martial law and with the autonomy of the people, as occurred in Egypt, there has been a cessation of rioting, and there is peace now where you never had it any day or at any moment under the imposition of martial law. Therefore I have not any great faith in a person who says. "I know all about it because I have been there." I want to ask either the representatives of the British Government or those who wish to defend the imposition of the Salt Tax to answer the points that have been put. My hon. Friend has put a series of figures dealing with the standard of living of the Indian miner. I have given a few figures dealing with the standard of living of the textile workers. If it were necessary I could give further figures proving what exactly is the standard of living and what exactly is the rate of profit. I do not want to do that, but there are many reasons that could be adduced as to why the wages are low. One very relevant reason is given in an extract from a financial paper published in Calcutta.Labour troubles have moderated considerably. The Gurkha is an immediate cure for all labour troubles. The desire of evil-doers, even in our own Legislative Council, to get rid of them (the military) is a great tribute to their efficiency.Wherever there is an attempt to raise the standard of living, the Gurkha is brought in. That is the evidence from 1472 the financial paper of Calcutta. There are other financial journals which we could quote if there were time and need, and we will recite the quotations if any hon. Member opposite desires to make out that the British capitalist in India is striving against loss, and merely continues his investment in order to provide food and shelter for the Indian workers. The potential investor in India, like the investor in British railways in pre-War days, is always referred to either as a widow or an orphan urgently in need of dividends.
I hope that when a reply is made to the indictment put forward by my hon. Friend who moved the Motion, we shall get down to relevancies. The immediate urgency of the argument is that the British Labour Government are in a position to wipe out the doubling of the salt tax resisted by the whole Indian Parliament, and only imposed upon them by the act of authority expressly provided for by the Coalition Government in the framework of the Government of India Act, 1919. By the doubling of the salt tax there has been put upon the shoulders of the Indian people a burden of indirect taxation out of wages. They are paying Income Tax out of the miserable amount of £,1 13s. 4d. per month, and even out of the miserable wages of the miner of 7d. per day. When they buy their salt they have to pay out of these miserable wages double the amount of tax that they paid before the War. Every manifestation of protest on the part of the people is denounced as a Bolshevik tendency which ought to be put down.
I want to draw attention to the phenemona of latter-day politics. During the War the Indian soldier, the Sikh, the Pathan, and all the men who are now denounced as murderous revolutionaries were taken to France, and for the first time in the history of British rule they were taught to fight as white men and were taught that they were equal to white men. They were taught to suffer and die in France and Flanders like white men, and for the first time in the history of the Indian soldier they were given to understand that they were as good as the white men with whom they were fighting. There are photographs, which can be produced, of Indian soldiers coming back wounded and being taken to Brighton and sent to convalescent homes for Indian soldiers. 1473 After being treated on terms of equality with white men, after fighting and dying on terms of equality with white men, you ask these men to leave Western ideas and customs aside, to forget all the glimpses that they had of an advanced status, and to go back to the old conceptions and the old ideas of pre-War days. It cannot be done, and it will not be done. Chains are bursting all over the world, and the people who stand in the way of those chains are likely to be hurt.
My best wishes go out to the Indian people, not in any attempt to achieve anything by violence, but in a reasonable attempt to get from the British Labour Government an immediate examination of the conditions of those who work for wages, and, as a result of working for wages, what is the amount of their contribution to the upkeep of the military commitments in India. That is the least that the British Labour Government can do. We hope that it will follow out what the Secretary of State for India said in the other House in relation to the Salt Tax. He said:The Government of India decided that it was necessary they should, balance their Budget and that they could not balance their Budget without doubling the Salt Tax. When the Assembly threw out the Resolution doubling the Salt Tax, the Government of India had to certify, as is provided in the case of certain Crown Colonies as well as India, that this was essential in the public interest and that that Resolution must become law. That produced an unfortunate effect in India, as that kind of action always does. In my own experience, whenever it has been had recourse to in the Colonies, it has been held to be a direct slap in the face and stultification of what the elected Members in India and elsewhere consider to be the first principle of democratic government, that you shall not have taxation without representation and that the representatives of the people should decide in matters of taxation.Here is something which the Under-Secretary of State for India might very well answer. We feel very anxious about the continued bearing of these burdens by our comrades in India, for this reason, that we know that whether it be in Germany, in Japan, in India, in France or elsewhere, if the standard of living of the workers in any part of the world is cut down it inevitably leads to the standard being cut down here. I would ask hon. Members opposite, whether they would refute the authority of the Presidential address at the 7th Indian Economic Conference 1474 held in Bombay in January, 1924, delivered by the late Sir M. Visvesvaraya. This gentleman, giving an idea of what is happening, said:The monthly income of the Indian people, I have just stated, is rupees 5 per head, or an equivalent of 7s. 6d. per head. This is the average, but the income of the poorest classes is of course much lower than this. The masses of the population are steeped in poverty bordering on destitution, poverty to which there is no parallel in Western countries. You will agree that a people with so low a record of literacy as 6 per cent. and so poor an income as rupees 5 per head per month cannot be said to be equipped for the struggle for existence, and yet our late Governor, Sir George Lloyd, in a speech he made in November last, before a meeting of the Associated Chambers in Bombay, read the situation in a very different light. Said Sir George: 'The more closely the situation is examined, the more amazed does the student become, not at India's poverty, but at her prosperity and wealth!'I should like at this point to read an apt quotation from a speech made at a meeting of the Burmah Oil Company held at Glasgow. The meeting had been convened to discuss the iniquities of the Capital Levy, and Mr. G. L. Moore said:I have come all the way from London to be present at this meeting, and I should feel myself full of ingratitude if I had not come, because I have made a sum of £20,000 within the last few months out of the Burmah Oil Company alone. (Laughter and applause.) And, Mr. Chairman, with the four shares that you give me now for every five shares held by me, I have about 900 shares that have cost me nothing. (Laughter.) I study a thing and work in scientific fashion so that loss is impossible.[An HON. MEMBER: "A system!"] Systematic exploitation. Therefore, I hope the Under-Secretary will deal with all this evidence and give us some indication that the Secretary of State for India or the Government have under consideration the calling of this Royal Commission to inquire into the working of the Act and, if necessary, to make some alteration before 10 years. Mr. Montagu himself laid down that it would be possible within the framework of that Act to take action before 10 years. I submit that the problem of to-day is pressing. You are driving men into the action which is always taken by men in despair. When they have no articulate voice in the counsels of the nation they are driven into all kinds of assemblies which may be regrettable but which none the less are legal. I have no sympathy with the Communist movement in any part of the 1475 world. The Communists are striving for my defeat in the Dartford Division of Kent unceasingly, but the Communist party of Great Britain, or Germany, or Russia or India are perfectly legal assemblies. I want the Under-Secretary of State for India to bear in mind the answer which he gave to a question, not orally, on which he could be further questioned, but in a written answer to the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). The Noble Lord asked:What are the actual terms of the charge in the cases now being heard at Cawnpore against certain persons accused of sedition and in what Court is the case being taken?The Under-Secretary of State for India replied:The accused persons are charged of conspiracy to deprive the King of the Sovereignty of British India, an offence punishable under Section 121A of the Indian Penal Code. I would like to make it quite clear that the accused persons are not being prosecuted merely for holding Communist views"—I would ask the Under-Secretary to analyse that sentence. Does he mean that part of the prosecution is because they hold those views, and if not why did he make that statement?or carrying on Communistic propaganda. They are charged with having conspired to secure by violent revolution the complete separation of India from Imperialistic Britain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1924; col. 944, Vol. 173.]9.0 P.M.
So far as I and my friends are concerned, they know full well that the man who is despised in India because he is moderate is laughed to scorn in this House as an extremist. The men whose candidature in India was met by the native population with the counter-candidature of goats with things tied to their tails, as symbolising the kind of candidate they thought fit to oppose these men because they were constitutionalists and loyalists and wanted a gradual evolution within the framework of the British Constitution, are, when they come here or speak or write, condemned as irresponsible agitators by people who play into the hands of the extremists by every damping down of national aspiration. We have been turning out for two generations at Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow and Edinburgh young men who have graduated in every 1476 kind of science. They go back to India and they find the same thing that we found in Egypt, that always the best jobs are reserved for those eldest sons of certain people, and that always national aspirations are repressed, and always it is said that India or some other country is not ready. You may as well say to a young mother that she must not put her firstborn on the ground, because the baby is bound to fall over. Her reply would be, "If I do not put him on the ground he will never learn to walk."
The Indians, like every other race, are bound to make mistakes in their evolutions towards self-government, but it is our duty to help and not to hinder but to take, such action as will rob them of any incentive to go in for those short cuts which lead nowhere. The kind of propaganda that is going on in India, the alternative to the kind of plea that every representative man is making, can only end in disaster, and ultimately, not only in disaster to India, but in putting tremendous expense on the taxpayers of Great Britain, and in the losing of an enormous number of valuable lives in putting down disorder. It is because I feel, and all my colleagues on this side of the House feel, that this is a subject which should be met promptly and wisely, and, above all, with the entire certainty that it will give the Indian people confidence in the first British Labour Government, that I desire to second this Motion.
§ Mr. WARDLAW MILNE
I listened with the greatest interest to the speech of the hon. Member who moved the Resolution, and I wish to join my hon. Friend who seconded it in saying how indebted all Members who are interested in questions regarding India are to him, not only for taking this opportunity of raising this matter in debate, but also for the moderate and helpful manner in which he put his case before us. I rather wished, however, that the hon. Member who seconded the Motion, if he will forgive me for saying so, had associated his remarks a little more with the actual Motion upon the Paper, because I wanted very much to find out what was in the minds of hon. Members opposite in reference to this Motion when they suggest that a remedy for these troubles of which they speak so feelingly and 1477 earnestly—with many of their statements I agree—could come about by the mere extension of the franchise in India. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion in advance asks us to be very careful, and not to say that he had not been in India. I may assure him that I have no intention of making that statement, but, if he will forgive me saying so, it is not, therefore, wrong to suggest that perhaps to those who have been in India, and have been there for a considerable number of years, the problem is not so simple as it appears to the hon. Gentleman.
Perhaps the House will allow me to give one or two facts regarding India, which probably all Members know, but which some perhaps may have forgotten. India comprises three-fourths of the British Empire. It has an area as large as the whole of Europe, excluding Russia, and a population as thickly spread as Europe. It is not one nation. It is a multitude of nations. It is not one people. It is a vast variety of peoples. When Members recollect that there are no fewer than 220 definite distinct languages in India, and that of the minor languages 23 are spoken by no fewer than a million people each, and when they further recollect that in parts of India the Indians themselves are unable to communicate with each other, except those few who can communicate in English, it will be realised that you must not deal with the conditions in India as the basis of any comparison with conditions such as exist in Great Britain. Not only have you a vast variety of languages and religions, but the peoples of India are divided among themselves to a far greater extent even than the peoples of Europe. There is no more of racial kinship between, let us say the Sikh or the Gurkha and the Madrasi or the Bengali, than there is between the Scandinavian and the South Italian, or just as little as there is between hon. Members opposite who, like myself, come from North of the Tweed and, let us say, the Spaniard or the Portugese. There is an absolute difference in every possible way.
Then there is the great question of caste. You cannot ignore it. You have over 2,000 castes. Caste has grown up through hundreds and hundreds of years, and if any of us has the idea that caste can be removed by a stroke of the pen or 1478 by an Act of Parliament, let him put that idea aside at once. Caste has grown up probably through thousands of years, and it will certainly take hundreds of years to pass away. I hear an hon. Member say that it is passing, and no one will contradict him. But it must take a very long time. I would draw attention to a recent report of the conditions in the native State of Travancore, where attempts have been made—this is not in British India—to open the roads near the temples for the use of the depressed classes. That scheme, supported presumably by the State itself, has had to be abandoned and the State troops called out to keep order. You will see that it is a problem which the educated part of India has to face long before we have to face it. If you can visualise an England in which neither the brewer, nor the agricultural labourer, nor the charwoman, nor the fisherman, nor many others, can send a child to school, or use certain public roads that are respectable, or enter a church, you will get some idea of the bar in India. It is essential that we remember those conditions when we deal with the vast question of labour in the factories and on the land of India.
We constantly see in the Press, and occasionally here in this House, the expression "The voice of India," There is no voice of India. The only voice of India, apart from that expressed by the Government of India, is the voice of a few educated men, partially educated or very highly educated in some cases. I do not suggest for a moment that that voice should not be listened to; far from it. In every case the educated must lead the uneducated. But it is foolish to talk about the voice of all India. It is not very clear from the speeches in support of this Motion, except in the case of the Mover, who dealt with mines, whether hon. Members opposite wish to confine their suggestions particularly to mines and factories, or whether they are dealing with labour conditions as a whole. The first point to consider is this: The population of India has grown since 1872 from 206,000,000 to 319,000,000, which does not look as if British rule was such a bad thing after all. If that population is to be considered as a whole, it is well to remember that 72 per cent. of it is on the land. India is pre-eminently an agricultural 1479 country, and the first factor in the prosperity of India is the prosperity of the land.
I will come to that in a moment. As I said, 72 per cent. of the people live on the land. The conditions of the agriculturists in India are very difficult, perhaps, for some of us to understand. The greatest drawback to the agriculturist is the land system. Division and sub-division of land has been carried to an almost incredible degree. In a recently published report—it is published by the Government of India and is public property—it is stated that the average agriculturist does not work on an acreage above three acres, that he does not work more than about 150 days in the year, that he is busy during his ploughing and during his harvest, but that for the rest of the year he has little or nothing to do. That state of affairs is caused, partly, by the tremendous sub-division of land. It would not be in order now to go into details which I could give as to divisions which I have seen, but they are almost incredible in their minuteness. There is a great attachment to the land, but that sub-division has a great deal to do with the poverty of the agriculturist.
Let us bear in mind the true proportions of the case. The agriculturist in India is not the agriculturist at home. His wants are very few. It is probably right, to say that in time his wants may be more and should be more; I do not deny that. But his wants to-day are very few. He knows very little of the amenities of life. He has, certainly, no education, or, practically, none, and, being in that condition, wants none. I do not say that that is right, but there the fact is. You cannot expect a person who has never had any education and has never seen any advantages from it to want it. The Indian agriculturist lives in a totally different country, under totally different conditions of climate, food and everything else. The most that we can hope to do in the immediate future, with the great mass of the people of India, is to try to help them gradually to get out of debt. The great curse of the Indian people is the fact that the marriage and the funeral services and all the ceremonies connected therewith 1480 are so deadly expensive, according to their standard of living. The consequence is, that you have men who were born and who have lived and died in debt. They have taken on the debt of their fathers before them; they carry it on and increase it and die in debt. They know no other conditions. That is the first move which we can make towards bringing about better conditions. It will mean the very slow spreading of education.
It is possible that the Seconder of this Motion was more concerned with the conditions in the factories of India. Only 10 per cent. of the people of India are concerned with the factories. Of course, of 320,000,000 people that is a large number, but it is a small proportion of the population. The factories question is a totally different one from that of agriculture. In the great jute mills of Calcutta and in the cotton mills of Bombay, which are the largest groups of factories, there is no settled permanent labour at all, speaking generally. The labourer who works in the factories of India is first and foremost an agriculturist. He is driven into the towns, or goes there in the hope of greater gain, and as a result he gradually becomes a townsman. But in many cases he remains a countryman. At some period or other in the year he goes back to his native village, tills his own bit of soil, and still retains an interest in his own plot of land. That puts him in a category totally different from that of the factory worker in this country.
I am not going to suggest that, compared with English workers, the factory worker in India is as well off, because any such comparison is ridiculous. I am not even going to suggest that the factory worker in India should not be much better off under Indian conditions than he is, but let us look at the facts as they stand. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion spoke of a lowering of the standard. It is not the case that the standard has gone down at all. The standard has gone up very considerably, as is proved by the Government publications which are accessible to all Members of the House. The fact of the matter is that since pre-War days the standard of wages in India has gone up, and the real wages have gone up by over 17 per cent. Of course, the cost of living has gone up, 1481 along with the wages, but the wages have gone up higher, making a real gain of 17 per cent., which is material. To-day, a weaver in a Bombay mill earns from 40 to 70 rupees a month. Hon. Members may take it that these figures are quoted officially. I admit that is not a very large sum. Of that sum he spends roughly 52 per cent. in food, because food has gone down considerably in India in the last year or two. Strangely enough, that is almost exactly the same proportion as is spent on food by the worker in this country.
In the case of clothes, perhaps naturally, the worker in India spends considerably less. Reference has been made to these people being in rags. I do not for a moment suggest that they should remain in rags and I think it very desirable that they should be properly clothed, but I ask hon. Members to recollect that the climatic conditions are somewhat different, and I do not think there would be any great expenditure on clothing above what is carried on at the present time, oven if the wages were raised very considerably. There is this further curious fact that in housing, the Indian worker spends almost exactly the same proportion as the English worker. The housing conditions are very bad indeed. The housing conditions in Bombay, as I very well know, have constituted one of the greatest problems which the Bombay Government have had to face in the last 30 or 40 years, but very great works are being carried out in that connection, and the Development Directorate, the Improvement Trust and the Municipality hope by 1929 to have erected chawls or tenements for 200,000 workers, which is one-sixth of the total population of the city.
In the case of the Bombay Port Trust, who employ something like 11,000 workmen, they have provided housing for nearly half that number, so that there is a great movement going on. The mill owners have also done a great deal to help the solution of the problem. The housing conditions are extremely bad, owing to the congested nature of the island on which these great factories have been built up. This great problem can only be dealt with on a huge scale, but it is now being dealt with in more than one direction. In the Report recently submitted by the Government, there is the 1482 curious, though perfectly correct, statement that an increase in wages does not necessarily mean greater efficiency. Strangely enough in India, possibly for want of education, there is no desire to save, and there is no particular desire to do any more work than is absolutely necessary—a desire which I admit is shared in other lands. The consequence is that where you have increased payment at present very often you have a condition in which the workmen will only work for four instead of six days and idle the rest. It is usually said that the art of living in idleness is very difficult to acquire, but I think I am not exaggerating when I say that the Indian native has not so far found any difficulty in acquiring it. He has not been trained to work in the same way as the workman at home, and the consequence is one finds that during a working day in the factory there is a great deal of time for various reasons spent outside the actual workshop.
In addition, there is a great deal of absenteeism, the last figures being 17 per cent., which is a very large figure. That is no doubt caused by climatic conditions in which the work is carried on, and to some extent by the want of training. But if we compare these conditions with those of a country like Japan, we find that the workman in India is better paid, that there is much less female labour employed in India, and that his hours of work are much shorter in India. The hours of work are laid down under the Factory Act as 60 per week, and a holiday must occur within every 10 days. These hours are longer than at home, but it is interesting to note that in a Report just published at Simla on the working of the Factory Act, it is stated that a large number of factories are only working 48 hours a week, and in the case of children, whose hours are limited to 36 hours a week, many are only working 36 hours a week. Conditions are gradually improving. The next point which I bring to the notice of the House is that the factory worker is not so efficient as the worker in Great Britain, and cannot hope to be, although perhaps he will be in 100 years. In India one male weaver in a cotton mill minds two looms, while a girl in Lancashire will mind six. It will be found—and this fact was quoted by an Indian who was a colleague of the hon. Members opposite in the last 1483 Parliament—that the ratio is something like 2½ to 1 or, in other words, 2½ people are required in India to do the work which one person does in this country.
It is a totally different standard, and I only point out these facts to show that we cannot possibly compare conditions in Lancashire or Dundee with conditions in Bombay and Calcutta. The condition of the worker, if we compare his income and expenditure on the essentials of life, is not so materially worse than the condition of the workman in other countries. It is no use comparing the £ with the rupee, or the earnings in this country with the earnings in India. It is a truism that wealth is not what you have in token money, but what the money will buy, and the Indian worker's expenditure pro rata on essentials compares not unfavourably with this country and France, and I do not think they are so very much below the conditions of the worker here. I do not mean to suggest by that that their conditions should not be improved. I now desire, to say a word on the question of mines. I am not as well acquainted with the mining position in India as the factory conditions, but I know something of mining, and I have here an extract from a report published in Simla by the official who is, I think, termed the Mining Superintendent under the Government of India. He states that in the United Kingdom, in 1921, the death rate per 1,000 was 1.36 among people, employed underground. The corresponding Indian rate was 1.46. This is the point where I entirely agree with my hon. Friend opposite. He proceeds:But per million tons raised it was 11.50 in India compared with 5.19 in the United Kingdom.Then he goes on to say:It is estimated that about one-third of the accidents in India are caused by the fault of the people injured and only 9 per cent. due to the fault of the management of the mines. The Indian suffers from his stupidity.It is natural it should be so if you realise that those people have not been trained to mining from their childhood. Very often it is imported labour; above ground labour in many cases. They go into the mines knowing very little about them, and are in a different category from the highly trained people of this country. There is the greatest necessity for increasing 1484 the safeguards that can be taken. It is well to realise that there are great difficulties owing to the fact that the people themselves are entirely unacquainted with mining in many cases. This Resolution is to associate with the conditions described to-day a desire for an extension of the franchise, presumably with the idea that, if you extend the franchise, these conditions will improve. Is there any ground for that belief? It is not that I oppose an extension of the franchise, but it is useless to suggest that the people of India are in the position in which we can give them widespread franchise. The franchise to-day in India is a mere flea-bite. There are 6,000,000 voters out of 319,000,000, but as far as the property qualification goes it is not very I high, about £2 per annum. It is rather interesting to notice that this very question of the representation of the wage earners was dealt with by a Committee of the Government of India. I wish to refer to only one part of their Report. They decided that it was useless to go on extending the franchise to the wage earners, immediately at any rate—In arriving at this decision I share the belief of the Government of India that the steady rise in prosperity of manual workers in India, and the rapid improvement of their housing conditions, will automatically and without undue delay result in qualifying the great majority of their numbers for the ordinary vote in the ordinary constituencies. No other solution than this could be regarded as satisfactory.
As far as I know it did. I am not absolutely certain on that point. This question which has been raised tonight brings up again the whole question of the present, franchise condition and of the Act under which India is at present governed. I want to draw attention to the fact that we had one of the most eminent Indians speaking in the Empire Parliamentary Association just a year ago, the honourable Mr. Srinivasa Sastri. Mr. Sastri began, his speech by saying this:Let me say, to begin with, that these reforms have, in my judgment, worked well; they have gone far to reconcile India to Great Britain and they have further shown that Parliamentary institutions, if adapted with care, can be worked to the great benefit both of India and of the Empire.1485 Later on he dealt with the feeling of regret in India that things were not moving faster. But if we are going to consider the future, I think it is fair to say that there are two views, one held in India and one held in Great Britain, both of which are entirely and utterly wrong. Some people in this country hold the view that India is in a state of seething unrest, that the people of India are desirous of getting this franchise, and if they get it they think everything will be well. There is no such condition. There is a very strong moderate opinion in India, which it is the duty of this country to back up in every possible way. In India, on the other hand, there is a curious view of the reforms in the Act of 1919, that they are not intended to be anything but a sham, that there is something behind it all, and that we do not intend to go ahead in granting India the reforms set out in the Preamble to that Act. I would like to make perfectly clear that for my part, and I believe on the part of the whole House of Commons, and, indeed, of the British people, there is no intention of this country being stampeded by any action which may be taken by a few extremists in India, or by many extremists if you like. The great number of people in India have no desire whatever to see the pace go faster than is safe. Our duty lies, not with the few educated, but with the vast number of people who cannot speak for themselves. I am most anxious that we in this House should make it clear, first, that no amount of opposition to the Government of India, no attempt to wreck the reforms by constant obstruction in the Councils, will have the slightest hope of success.
I also want to make it perfectly clear—90 per cent. of the House of Commons will agree with me—that we do not wish for one moment to stop India's progress towards self-government in the end. We have no business whatever to put any stone in the path of the legitimate aims which the Indian people rightly hold. The idea that a scheme of constant obstruction will jockey the British people into going faster than they think right and necessary is doomed to failure. Many Members have probably seen in the "Daily Telegraph" to-day the statement from India that apparently Mr. Ghandi, I am glad to say, seems to be considering 1486 the necessity of working in co-operation with the British people to bring about aims he has so long advocated. The greatest school for responsibility is responsibility itself. You cannot go faster in this matter than the Indian people will let you. The rate of progress in the question of reforms in India is not laid down in the end by the British people, but by the Indian people, and I feel certain that those of you who, like myself, do not like dyarchy, will feel that this is not a time to raise the question of whether we did right in 1919, or whether we did wrong. We have to accept the fact that the Act was a signal of co-operation, a gesture, to use the now common word, of co-operation and good will to the Indian people. The British people to-day are still holding out a hand to India. All we say is you must co-operate. You must work with us in such a way as will encourage us to believe that you are ready for a further step. Ten years is nothing in the life of a nation, especially in the life of a nation like India. The idea that the European will leave India, or should leave India, is ridiculous. India, owes a very great deal to the British race, and the Indian people as a whole know it quite well. I think it is marvellous the spirit in which the Indian Civil Service and the members of the other services in India have done their utmost to work in the spirit and the letter of the reforms laid down by the Act of 1919. They have had immense difficulties, very little understood in this country.
As for the great business houses in India, they have their part to play, and, after all, we owe India entirely to the spirit of the merchant adventurers who brought our occupation about. They have great possibilities, and they are doing an immense work in India, just as is being done by these great Parsee industrialists in Bombay and elsewhere. An hon. Member opposite referred to the great dividends paid by some of these mines, but I think there are plenty of Members, on this side of the House, at any rate, who could point to years in which the Indian mines have had very poor times indeed. That applies to every industry. I could tell you of times in which the cotton mills of Bombay have been extremely prosperous, and I could tell you of times when they have been in the depths of depression. It is useless 1487 to take one dividend and to say, "This is an example of what the Indian mines are doing."
India to-day has a debt of £500,000,000, the total debt of an area the size of Europe, excluding Russia, with a population of 319,000,000, after, I suppose, 100 years of occupation. Something like 4s. 10d. per head—not in the £, but per head—is the taxation of India, and out of that £500,000,000 practically two-thirds of it is immediately productive debt, works of great value to India. She is in the most wonderful financial position of any country in the world. Based on national standards of finance, the position of India is unassailable; she is in as strong a position as, if not in a stronger position than, any country in the world. I have no desire that anything I say should ever be construed as an obstacle in the way of India moving forward in the path that certainly lies clear ahead. I want her to do that. I want to find this spirit of unrest, provided it is expressed constitutionally. Provided it is expressed constitutionally, it will do good and not harm. We have to listen, and rightly, to the voice of those who claim to speak for India, even although, as I have said earlier, it is impossible to hear the real voice of India at all.
If I may give one personal story, I shall never forget the first morning I spent in India, now a good many years ago. I had as "my guide, philosopher, and friend" on that morning what I suppose to-day would be described as a good old hard-baked colonel of that wonderful corps, the Indian Staff Corps, and I remember that he led me out to where, outside the suburbs, in the fields, there were working men bent double, working on the ground. He looked over these people, and he said, "Do not forget, my boy, that these are the real people of India. These are the people you are responsible for, whether you are in the Government service or in any other service; as a European, these are the people you have to think of." It would not be right, perhaps, to tell the second part of the story, but, with the indulgence of the House, I will do so. When we got back, he said, "Now, as to yourself, you will be told that you must not do this and you must not do that in India. You must not make a friend of the sun"— 1488 that is quite true—"and do not make an enemy of him, either. Also, you will be told what you must eat and what you must drink. Take my advice, drink only whisky and soda, and drink as much of that as you can get." There is some sense in it, too, because there are great dangers from drinking things there that would possibly pass muster in this country.
I want to end on this note: We have to realise that those people for whom we are responsible are moving forward very, very slowly. The path is in front of them, and we want to encourage them along it. We do not want to stop their progress, but we want to make it perfectly clear that it is only by co-operation with this country, it is only by working together, it is only by showing us that they have profited by the stage of evolution to which they have arrived, that these reforms so far given can be worked to the advantage of Great Britain and of India, that the people are gradually being able to take a greater share in their own Government, that we can possibly look for that development which I, for one, believe lies in front of India, as still the greatest and most wonderful jewel in the English crown.
§ Mr. HERBERT FISHER
From every quarter of the House Members will, I am sure, agree with me in expressing my congratulations to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Milne) for the extremely interesting and well-informed contribution which he has just made to our Debate. The House always listens with peculiar pleasure to Members who can bring so much first-hand knowledge to bear upon the subject under discussion. I cannot pretend to vie with the hon. Member in his extensive and profound acquaintance with Indian matters. I merely intervene in this discussion because, having been associated with Mr. Montagu in the passage of the Government of India Bill through this House, I have a not unnatural interest in its fortunes. I do not wish in any way to quarrel with the interest which is displayed by Members of the Labour party in industrial conditions in India. I think that interest is very natural, I think it is very wholesome, and for myself, if I may be allowed to say so, I admire the tone and the sincerity of the speech of the hon. Member for the Rother Valley (Mr. 1489 Grundy), who introduced this Motion. He has obviously been affected, as we all are affected, by the spectacle of poverty, wherever it may present itself, and it is very natural that he should desire to draw the attention of this House to the condition of a population in whose fortunes we Englishmen are all so deeply interested.
But, as I listened to the speeches of the hon. Proposer and Seconder of this Motion, I began to wonder whether they were a ware of an agency which at present exists for the purpose, not only of drawing attention to industrial conditions in India, but of toning up the industrial legislation in the Indian Government. I allude to the International Labour Bureau, which is associated with the League of Nations, and which has already drawn the attention of the Government of India and of the Provincial Governments to the condition of the factories in India, the conditions under which the factory hands work, and, as a result of this intervention and of these representations, very considerable improvements have already been effected in the industrial legislation of this great dependency. I would suggest to hon. Members on the Labour Benches that if they wish to bring further pressure to bear in any direction for the purpose of improving Labour conditions in India, they should direct their attention to the International Labour Bureau at Geneva.
Let me pass from the earlier part of this Motion to its concluding passage. I think, if I may say so, that nobody reading the Motion before the House would have inferred from its terms that the conditions and wages of labour in India had recently experienced an improvement. I think we should all have gathered from those terms that things were very serious, and much more serious than they have hitherto been, but as we have just heard, on the unimpeachable authority of the hon. Member opposite, that is very far from being the case. There has been a substantial improvement; not, indeed, an improvement to the extent and in the measure we should all desire. Still, there has been very substantial improvement of late, and there is no reason to suppose that that improvement will not continue. But when we come to the concluding passage of the Motion, we are brought up against the remedy which is proposed 1490 by the hon. Member. What is that remedy? It is that, in order to improve industrial conditions in India, representation should be secured for the workers and peasants of India, both in the Assembly and in the various legislative councils, and, in the speech of the Seconder of this Motion, we were adjured to hasten up the reforms.
§ Mr. FISHER
To establish a Royal Commission to inquire into them. May I, first of all, observe that the reforms themselves were very substantial in character? I was travelling round India just before the War. I was there in two successive years as a member of a Commission to examine into the public Services of India, and we found wherever we travelled a very great deal of interest, both among Hindus and among the Moslem communities, in the Indianisation of the Services, and we had considerable pressure put upon us to provide for a larger admission of Indians in the higher branches of the Services of India. But if anybody had told us that within the course of a very few years the principle of responsible government would have been extended to India, that we should have a Legislative Assembly at Delhi with a non-official majority, that in all the Provinces of India very important Departments of Government would have been handed over to Indian Ministers, I think that would have been regarded as almost beyond the dreams of avarice. What happened? The War came. India came forward and made a splendid contribution in the War, and the loyalty of India was warmly and deeply appreciated all over the British Empire. One of the results of that was the famous Cabinet announcement in favour of the extension of responsible government to India. We thought then, and I still think, we were right, that it would be fairest to India, it would be most to the advantage of India, that the process of developing the principle of responsible government in India should proceed by gradual and well-marked stages. After all, when we interrogate our own history, it was many centuries before we developed our Parliamentary system, our system of Party government, our system of Parliamentary Convention. It was a very long process, and it was a very difficult process. 1491 And hero we were asking India—India which only lately had been introduced to the methods and ideals of Western civilisation—to accept from us one of the most complicated and difficult products of Western civilisation, and to work it effectually for the good of India.
I say that it was to the interest of India that this great experiment should be gradually and safely developed. The hon. Member who moved, and the hon. Member who seconded, desire a Royal Commission in order to accelerate the progress of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms. There has been a good deal of criticism as to the working of those reforms. There has been a good deal of disappointment both in India and in England as to the effectiveness of this great scheme of Parliamentary government. But let me remind the House that the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms were carried out at a very critical and very difficult period of Indian history. There was the Caliphate agitation. There was the Turkish War. There was the War taxation. There was the revolt in the Punjab. There was the terrible and melancholy calamity of Amritsar. There were the difficult economic conditions which were created by the War. Those circumstances made the atmosphere as difficult as possible for this great constitutional development, and I say we must not judge of its success by our experience during the last few years. I have read a good many of the Debates in the Legislative Assembly in India. I think there is a great deal of first-rate political promise displayed in it; but do not let us go too fast. There is at present a Committee in India, appointed by the Government of India, which is engaged in examining the working of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms. It is true it is not a Royal Commission; it is an Indian Government Committee. Let us wait, at any rate, for its Report. Then, again, there has been another very important Commission working in India. There is the Lee Commission on the Public Services. The Report of the Lee Commission is not yet published, but rumour says that it is a unanimous Report, that, in other words, it has received the assent, not only of the English members of the Commission but also of the Indian members of the Commission If that, 1492 indeed, be so, I trust that a Report, supported by both sides unanimously, by Indians and Englishmen, will be put into force.
If we have in this Report, as I hope and trust we shall have, a solution of the public service problem quite acceptable to the English public and to the Indian public, surely we may leave the matter to rest there for a little? I think really hon. Members on the Labour Benches, after what we have heard from the other side of the House to-night, must realise that there is no immediate prospect of an amelioration of industrial conditions in India likely to flow from an extension of the franchise. Such an extension may be a very good thing. I hope, indeed, that the franchise may, in due course, be extended in India. I hope that in due course these liberties may be widened in India, but I do submit in all confidence that there is no necessary or probable relation between an improvement in Indian industrial conditions on the one hand, and such an expansion of the franchise as is contemplated on the other hand, in this Motion. If you wanted to throw the apple of discord into India to paralyse the progress of moderate, sensible, industrial legislation, I cannot conceive any method more efficacious than the expansion of an electorate of 6,000,000 into an electorate of 300,000,000. That is a revolution which really no sane man can contemplate. Those are the few observations which I wish to offer.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Richards)
The House will agree with me in welcoming an opportunity of discussing on this occasion matters connected with India. I should like to join my tribute to that already paid to the hon. Member who opened the Debate on his speech of this evening. I am afraid I cannot extend the same tribute to the Seconder. The hon. Member said that we might at least be relevant, but it is a long time since the House listened to so delightfully irrelevant a speech as that of the hon. Member who seconded the Motion. I think the explanation is that the speech was prepared for another occasion to that on which it was given, and that the hon. Member considered that this was an opportunity of bringing it out, and having intended to give it, he brought it down to the House. I should like to point out also that he 1493 is a little bit unjust in his criticism of the Salt Tax, because I would remind the House that, although it is true that the Salt Tax was certified last year, hon. Members will be aware of the fact that the Salt Tax is now back to its former figure. That has taken place quite recently under the certification powers exercised by the Viceroy.
It seems to me that the Resolution, as has been pointed out by the previous speakers, divides itself into two parts, one dealing with the conditions of labour in India and the other with the extension of the franchise as a means of the amelioration of those conditions The Government has every sympathy with the motive, as I am sure has every Member of the House, that has prompted the Resolution as emphasising the desire, universal in this House, for an improvement of industrial conditions in India, and as showing a new interest in the very intricate problems of Indian representation. I should also like to add that the India Office particularly welcome the increased interest in Indian industrial matters, as shown by the large number of questions now appearing on the Order Paper, sometimes, perhaps, to the confusion and discomfiture of the Under-Secretary who has to give the answers.
I would remind hon. Members that the introduction of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, have had this important result, that amongst the transferred subjects industry must now be included. I remember in a speech I made in this House on a previous occasion I tried to make it clear that certain subjects are now transferred to the Provincial Governments in India. Amongst the subjects so transferred is this difficult question of industry. This means the administration of the Factory Acts, the settlement of labour disputes, housing, and the general welfare of the labourers is entirely the concern of the Provincial Governments. The Minister, in addition, is responsible for the policy which is to be pursued in the matter of granting assistance to industry generally, and the development of technical and industrial education. So that the Minister of a Provincial Government in India, at the present time, has his hands pretty full. If these subjects have been transferred, 1494 as they have to the Indian Minister, it means that the Secretary of State in Council neither receives reports on these questions, nor is he in a position to give effective instruction in regard to them, and the Under-Secretary knows this very well, because he occasionally finds that Members of this House know unofficially a great deal more than he himself knows officially. I think it will be generally agreed, according to the terms of this Resolution, that the hon. Members who moved and seconded have in mind chiefly industrial conditions in India. I think it is important, as the hon. Member who spoke from the benches opposite pointed out, that we should realise that industry, after all, plays a comparatively unimportant part in the life of India at the present moment. I have comparative figures. They are very instructive, and possibly the House will bear with me while I give some of them. Let me give comparative figures of the percentages employed in industry in India and the percentage of those employed in this country.
If we take the United Kingdom, first of all we find that 58 per cent. of our population is engaged in industry, against 12 per cent. in India. On the other hand, if you take agriculture you find that only 8 per cent. of our population are engaged in agricultural pursuits, whereas in India nearly 72 per cent. are engaged in agriculture. When we come to the particular question of mining, which has often been referred to to-night, we find the percentage of the population in India engaged in that industry is not really a percentage: it is two per 1,000 of the total population. It is, I think, important that we should put the problem of Indian industry in its right perspective, and when we speak of the conditions of labour in India, we ought, as one hon. Member who spoke on the other side suggested, to visualise this fact: that India is predominantly an agricultural country, and, secondly, an industrial country. That is to say, the unit of economic life in India is not the factory or the mine, but the self-sufficing village, where almost every craftsman is represented by his caste. It is interesting to find that we have an almost complete analogy in the history of our own manorial villages in the early middle ages, where you have almost every craftsman 1495 represented by what was virtually a caste, although generally known in this country as a guild system.
If we look into the figures with regard to India, we find that, out of the total population of 318,000,000, 217,000,000 are concerned with agriculture. There are 8,000,000 landowners; there are 167,000,000 tenants or occupying owners; there are 41,000,000 farm servants, nearly equal to the total population of these islands, and, more or less 1,000,000 estate agents and managers. It is true, as some hon. hon. Members remarked, that this village autonomy is gradually breaking down, and there are various and very interesting reasons for the breakdown of village autonomy in India. First of all, there is the growth of individualism, as we call it, that indefinable something which we sometimes, I suppose, call Liberalism: and, secondly, there is the gradual growth of the money economy, that is, the substitution of money payment for the perquisites that the craftsmen originally enjoyed for doing their work. Thirdly, as you can imagine, there is the introduction of Western manufactured goods. The interesting thing is, that the breakdown of our own village communities can be traced to almost exactly the same causes as are beginning to operate in India at the present moment. But I notice one interesting fact which the figures bring out, and it is that, curiously enough, owing to an increase in the price of agricultural produce, there is a tendency for the village craftsman to take, up agriculture. There is a movement in India from the village on to the land, instead of, as in this country, in many cases, from the village to the towns. I was very much interested in what the hon. Member said with regard to the question of the growth of co-operation. It is quite obvious that, if we are going to get an improvement in the productivity of Indian agriculture, it can only come through the increase of co-operation.
I have detained the House in order to try to give a picture of the native economy of India—the self-sufficing village, whose economy has been threatened by the introduction of Western methods. It is in that kind of environment that Western industrial methods have been recently introduced. I am sure all of us in this House hope that the Indian peasant will 1496 be spared the uprooting policy—which was nothing but theft, in my opinion, masquerading under the guise of law in the supposed interest of a more efficient system of production—which has practically robbed our peasants in these islands of every right which they formerly possessed to the soil which they cultivated. It is to be hoped, at any rate, that the breakdown of the Indian village economy will not result in the robbing of the peasants of their right to the very small holding they have, to which reference has been made to-night, and which so tremendously increased the tragedy of industrial revolution in these islands. It is to be hoped, in the second place, that India, at any rate, will be spared some, at least, of the horrors of the industrial revolution as we knew it in this country. If I may say so respectfully, one has very much sympathy with Mr. Gandhi's backward look in the interests not only of his own people but of the Western people as well. But if India is to become a great industrial nation, and I believe she will—indeed she is that already for we have heard to-night from the right hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher), she is recognised as one of the great industrial nations of the world—I am sure that the industrial experience of this country will prove invaluable to India when she comes to accept Western industrial methods.
There is one other thing to which I should like to make reference when one studies Indian problems generally, that is the amazing poverty of the workers in India, to which sufficient reference has already been made to-night. The potentialities of India seem to me to be incalculable, but the poverty is almost inconceivable. Let me give a few figures that will bring this out. The average wealth of the population per head in India, dividing the total wealth of the community among the number of inhabitants, is something like 180 rupees; in Canada it is 4,400 rupees; in this country it is 6,000 rupees. The same thing is borne out by a comparison of incomes. The average annual income in India, taking the average income of the whole of the inhabitants, rich and poor, is just 60 rupees, five rupees per month, as we have heard to-night. In Canada it is something like 550 rupees. In this country the average income is 720 rupees. It would take me too long to attempt, even if I 1497 could, to explain the causes of the excessive poverty of India, but I would like just to make this one remark: that people living in this way on the verge of existence, so to speak, can very easily be depressed below it, and that is the almost continual experience of India, because, unfortunately, nature does frequently depress these unfortunate people below even the margin of subsistence. There are one or two other considerations with regard to the excessive poverty of these people, which tends rather to perpetuate itself. First of all, there is the great lack of capital in India. There is no doubt at all, if you examine these figures, that there is a close co-relation between the amount of wealth in any country and the average earnings of the individuals living there. It seems to me that the standard of living in India cannot be very greatly improved until the amount of capital available there is very greatly increased. [Interruption.] I am not suggesting, of course, that the capitalist system, as we know it, should be introduced into India; but there is a fundamental distinction, it seems to me, between the necessity for capital, and the introduction of the abominable capitalist system. [Interruption.] There is no denying the fact that with conditions such as you get in India, where men depend on the cultivation of the soil particularly, some means must be found for setting a much larger amount of capital than is available at the present time. I thoroughly agree with the suggestion made that the question of debt is another very serious matter and ought to be tackled immediately. The standard of living in the rural parts of India is really so low that the people are driven almost against their will to work in these factories. I want to point out that the excessive poverty naturally drives a large number of these people willy-nilly to the factories. The tendency is to perpetuate low wages, and under these conditions the owners will not pay higher wages while they can get these people to come in and work in their factories.
Turning to the industrial population, India has 14,000,000 people still engaged in the cottage industry, and the lot of these people is even more tragic than the people who are actually working under factory conditions, because they are attempting to work by hand and to compete with modern machinery. It is 1498 the old story of the Lancashire weaver over again, who finds that his hand labour has to compete in efficiency and speed with the work of modern machinery. The position of these 14,000,000 workers is parlous in the extreme.
I now come to industrial wages, of which we have heard a great deal this evening. It is very difficult, in my opinion, to give any statistics of wages which are satisfactory when the conditions are so diverse as they are in different parts of India. The only scientific statistical inquiry that has been carried out in any particular industry was the one carried out in 1921 in Bombay into the cotton industry. The Returns in that case refer to 194,000 employés, that is to say, more than 80 per cent. of the total number of people employed in the industry. I will give the weekly earnings in English figures, although I quite agree that they are somewhat misleading, because it is impossible to compare them with the standard of living in India with which they ought to be compared.
§ Mr. RICHARDS
I have attempted to divide the question in this way, because I wish to deal with wages first, and then I will deal with the conditions of labour, including the hours. In May, 1921, the weekly earnings, in English money, in the Bombay factories, according to this very careful investigation, worked out as follows: A man, on an average, earned 10s. 3d.; a woman, 5s. 1d.; big lads and children, 5s. 3d., the average being 8s. 10d. a week. As I have suggested, these figures are very interesting when they are compared with pre-War figures and the figures obtaining in other countries, and when they are compared with the increases that have taken place in the cost of living in the meantime. We get this as a result, that the nominal wages in 1921 in Bombay were 196, compared with 100 in 1914, while the nominal wages in the United Kingdom were 211; that is to say, in the United Kingdom in 1921 they had more than doubled as compared with 1914, while in Bombay they had not quite doubled. But if you take the cost of living in the two countries, and correct these figures, you will then find that the wages in Bombay, corrected by the cost of living, were 117, as against 1499 110 in this country. That means that, if you compare the position of the average wage-earner in this country with his position in 1914, he is only 10 per cent. better off, despite the increase in wages that he has had; and if you compare the position of the Bombay worker, you find that he is 17 per cent. better off. That, I suggest, is the only scientific comparison that you can make. Taking France, which is exceedingly interesting, the nominal wages in France are more than five times what they were in 1914, but, again, the cost of living has gone up so enormously in France that the real wages are only 116; that is to say, the French worker is a little better off than the worker in this country. In Germany the nominal wages are 1,590, as compared with 100 in 1914, but the worker is not a bit better off, although his nominal wages have increased. The result of this comparison—which is the only scientific comparison that can be made—as between wages in the different countries in 1921 and in 1914, is that you have in this country 110, in France 116, in India 117, and in Germany 100.
I want now to say just a word about the miners, to whom reference has been made. The number of miners has already been given, namely, 228,511. Of these, 137,000 are employed underground, and 91,000 above ground. There are 142,000 males employed, 78,000 women, and 7,602 children. I have no figures with regard to the earnings of miners which are at all comparable scientifically with the earnings in the factories, but these facts may be interesting. In 1900 the earnings per month per man were 6.82 rupees; in 1910 they were 10.36 rupees; and in 1922 they were 19 rupees—that is to say, in 22 years the earnings of miners in India have increased threefold. There is no need for me to refer again to the statistics of accidents, which were given by my hon. Friend who opened this discussion; but I find, according to the Report of the Mines Inspectors during the period to which my hon. Friend's figures related, that is to say, between 1910 and 1919, that the number of accidents per 1,000 was 1.46, as against 1.36 in this country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYLER
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us the average age of the 7,000 children employed there?
§ Mr. RICHARDS
I want to say a word now about conditions of labour. The conditions of labour in India at present are more or less controlled by the International Labour Conference at Geneva, and India is one of the nations which is represented at that Conference by her own representatives. The labour conditions, consequently, are largely subject to the control of that body, and since 1919, when it was instituted, India has co-operated heartily in the work of that Conference. She has ratified more draft Conventions than almost any other country, and is one of the few countries in the world which have ratified the Washington Convention regarding the hours of labour. Our own country, I understand, has not ratified it as yet. India is the only country of chief industrial importance which has ratified the Convention. She has brought in a new Factory Act in 1922 and a new Mines Act in 1923 in order to give effect to the provisions of that Convention, and the Government of India have gone even further than it was necessary to go in order to give effect to the Hours Convention of 1919. That Convention does not apply to China, Persia or Siam, and there are special provisions both for Japan and for India. In the case of India the Convention prescribes a working week of 60 hours, a minimum age for night work of 14, and a minimum age for employment of 12. India, although she is entitled to have a 60-hours' week, has adopted a maximum of a 54-hour week for work below in the mines and a minimum age of 15 for night work, and has prohibited the night employment of women altogether. It is no exaggeration to say that the conditions of employment in India, speaking generally, are superior to those in Japan, and M. Thomas, the director of the office 1501 at Geneva, in a report presented to the Geneva Conference of 1922, said:The new social legislation of India is certainly a splendid result of which, the International Labour Office may well be proud.There is also under consideration by the Government of India a proposal to remove women as well as children from the mines altogether, and consultation is taking place between the Government and the Provincial Governments with a view to giving effect to this as speedily as possible (to the provisions of that Bill). Everyone understands that it would cause considerable dislocation if an improvement of that kind were made immediately, and negotiations, I understand, are proceeding on the assumption that the removal should be complete within the next, say, five years. There is also a Bill for the registration and protection of trade unions which is prepared by the Government, and a new Workmen's Compensation Act which is to come in force on 1st July of this year, and they are contemplating the introduction of new machinery for conciliation. Of course, one cannot conceal the fact that, despite those "ideal conditions," occasionally we do have strikes in India. We had a strike of that character, and a very serious one, at the beginning of this year. I should like just to refer to two very regrettable causes in connection with that strike. First of all, there was the question of the payment of bonus. That question was investigated by a Committee set up by the Governor of Bombay, and, although I think the labourers were entitled to expect a bonus, seeing that they had had it for a good number of years, on the other hand, we must recognise this fact that the bonus was paid in previous years because these mills had been enjoying extremely high dividends, but during 1923 no such dividends had been paid.
§ Mr. RICHARDS
A very regrettable feature of that strike was this. Wages in the Bombay mills are supposed to be paid monthly, but they are paid on the 15th of the month following that when 1502 they fall due. This is very unsatisfactory, and there is no apparent reason why the Bombay millowners should not follow the Bengal jute mills, where payment is made weekly. I am sure if that were done it would be a great boon to the very poor workers of Bombay, who have to come into the factories many miles from the country and are held up there for six weeks waiting for the money due to them. Just a word with regard to the other part of this Resolution. I was interested to find, for example, that the All-Indian Trade Union Congress passed a similar resolution in March this year urging on the Government the necessity of extending the basis of the franchise for the election of members of Local and Central Legislatures, and I should like to remind the House of Commons again, as was done by the right hon. Member for the English Universities, that this question was very carefully considered by the Joint Select Committee of the two Houses and I find that they made definite recommendations on three points. First, that there should be a more adequate representation of the rural community; secondly, that there should be a better representation of the wage-earning classes, particularly of the rural workers; and thirdly, which is one of the most difficult problems in connection with the extension of the franchise in India, that the representation of the depressed classes is really very inadequate. This is a very large question to enter into in any detail, but any one interested can find the remarks made on this question by the Government of India, pointing out that, although they were very anxious that the franchise should be extended, it is at bottom, as we all feel, a question of education. That is to say, it is not merely a question of constituencies. It is quite as much, in my opinion, a question of constituents. This question of the franchise extension is one which must necessarily arise in connection with any steps which may in due course be taken to revise the form of the Constitution and the powers of the Provincial Governments of India, and such questions may naturally be expected to arise in the inquiry, to which reference has already been made, which has been initiated by the Viceroy into the working of the Act of 1919, and which is already in progress, the Report of which we are shortly expecting to receive.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I think everyone on this side of the House, and I hope most hon. Members in other parts of the House who desire to see in Indian affairs a continuity of policy between one Government and another, will have heard with considerable pleasure the speech which the hon. Gentleman has just made. He has given, on the second occasion on which he has spoken in the House, an effective reply to the complaint which had been made from the benches behind him. I only regret that the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills), who seconded the Resolution, was not in the House to hear the arguments of the hon. Gentleman. In answer to the point made by the Mover of the Resolution, I am going to refer to what has already been done to improve labour conditions in India. The hon. Member, who made a most striking speech, to which testimony has been paid from all quarters of the House, made a reference to the Government of which I was a Member, and said that questions had been put to us about the conditions of labour in India, and that some of the answers which we had given showed an appalling state of affairs. It suffices now to say, and I think that it is a fact which he should know, that those improvements, to which the Under-Secretary has just referred, which have placed India in a better position, from the point of view of modern industrial hygiene, than any other Asiatic country, were initiated when a wicked Conservative Government was in office in this country.
It is true that the matter was primarily a matter for the Government of India. It is true that the Indians themselves, through their Ministers and representatives, have more than the major part of the control over these matters, but it should be noticed that these improvements which have taken place—and it was an honest mistake of the Mover to suppose that nothing had been done—were done when the late Government were in power in this country. The Under-Secretary stated, and it is a fact, that, after all, the real problem in India was the problem of the land. India is an agricultural country, and an agricultural country to a greater extent almost than any other country, at any rate any other country of its size, in the whole world to-day, and he referred to some of 1504 the reasons why the problem of the land is so difficult and why the poverty of the people is so great.
One of the reasons, undoubtedly, is the pressure of population which has been growing year by year, and which has grown especially since the British connection with India, because since that British connection steps have been taken to deal with the appalling famines and diseases which formerly devastated that country. Then there is the fact, which it is as well should be known to some Indians and to other extremists who would deny to this country any share in the benefits to India during the last 100 years, that some of the poverty is due to the terrific taxation, and to the draining away of the rights of the cultivators which went on in India before the days of British occupation, from which the land has never recovered. But the condition of affairs is primarily due to what the Under-Secretary very frankly stated, having regard to his position and to the position of his Government, as the lack of capital on the land in India. It was with the greatest pleasure that all of us on this side of the House heard such an admission from a member of the Government, and realised that, at any rate, capital is sometimes considered by some members of the Government to be an advantage. Some hon. Member opposite said that it was remarkable how with responsibility there comes a sense of responsibility. Never has that very true statement been better exemplified than in the frank and very sincere admission of the Under-Secretary of State to-night.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Hundreds of Socialists have done so, and they are standing at the street corners to-night. You have only to go to these street corners to hear the statement made. I was very glad to hear the Under-Secretary say that one of the great difficulties connected with the position of the workers in India is the lack of capital in agriculture and in the agricultural machine generally in India The result of that is to be found in a matter to which reference was made either by the Under-Secretary or by an hon. Friend behind me. I 1505 believe it was made by an hon. Friend behind me, who made a very able speech on a subject which so often obtains very little recognition in the Press, inasmuch as there is always a tendency to regard deliberations on Indian affairs as tedious. It was a speech which showed that there are Members in this House who really are competent to speak on Indian affairs, with a life-long experience of India behind them. The hon. Gentleman said that one of the features of agriculture in India was that a vast number of people working on the land, farmers and others, were in debt from the day of their birth to the day of their death. That is true, and it explains why in the East the moneylender, and particularly certain races which provide the majority of money-lenders, are so feared and hated because of the immense power which they have over the land. There, again, in justice to what this nation has done in India, and in every other Asiatic country with which we have had any connection, it should be stated that we have done more in 100 years to help the cultivator, and especially the small cultivator, the peasant, to free Himself from the clutches of the money-lender, than India, when under its own rule, did in 1,000 years. That is true of Egypt also, but particularly so is it true of India, I hope that the system of helping the cultivator by means of land banks and co-operation and in other ways will be continued.
All of us are agreed that much still remains to be done to raise the status of the ordinary peasant and labourer in India. What, after all, is the real bar and hindrance to the improvement of the great mass of the people in India? It is undoubtedly the existence of a system which produces 50,000,000 people out of something like 320,000,000 in British India who belong to the out-caste and depressed classes. I doubt if the House as a whole realises the position of these people. A statement was made the other day by a member of the Madras Council and a representative of one of the depressed classes. He gave evidence before the Royal Commission presided over by Lord Lee to show how out-caste children are excluded from schools and have to sit outside the schools and learn what they car of what is going on inside in that way. He gave examples of the quashing of 1506 sentences by Brahmin Judges on men whose only offence was that they had used the same public roads as those used by the higher castes. It is a fact that in parts of India to-day, especially in Madras, a large number of these out-castes are not only debarred access to all temples, but are actually liable to physical attack if they make use in certain towns of some of the principal streets, or if they draw water from a well from which the higher castes draw water.
It has always been the policy, not only of successive British Governments but of every Englishman who has held office in India, from the days of John Company onwards—it has always been our national determination—to have the utmost regard for the religious scruples of the various peoples of India. We have carried out that policy probably to a degree that no other country coming in touch with Oriental peoples has ever carried it out—a deliberate policy of having the most scrupulous regard for religious customs widely differing from our own. I may say at the same time, that when these religious scruples go directly against the ideals of equality, which are at any rate aimed at in every democratic country to-day, it is very hard to see how, if they are persisted in, India can ever enjoy self-government on an equitable basis. I do not see how the problem is to be solved. It was, I think, the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Wallhead) who in an interruption to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Milne) said that the caste system was not now as rigid as it had been, but I can assure him, from my personal knowledge and from my experience in an official position as Under-Secretary, that the amount of improvement is infinitesimal compared with the disabilities from which the out-castes suffer. Mr. Gandhi, who has a disarming way frequently of saying things which go against his own political faith, admitted with a frankness and fairness to which I, at any rate, pay tribute that they would not begin to get on to the road towards the universal brotherhood which he preached until the highest castes were prepared to embrace the lowest. What advance has he made in that direction, since Mr. Gandhi made that statement a couple of years ago, on the part of the Indians themselves, who are the only people who can effect a change? The British Government cannot do it, and no 1507 Government in India could for a moment insist on the Indians doing it of their own accord.
I wish to mention an incident which occurred to me personally. A very distinguished Indian friend of mine came to see me when I was at the India Office about a certain matter connected with the disabilities of Indians in Africa. I said, "You talk to me of these disabilities in Africa. It is an unpleasant and painful reminder, but I have to give it, and I have to tell you that public opinion in this country, irrespective of politics, feels you would be in a stronger position to talk of these disabilities were it not for the existence of the disabilities from which, as a result of the religious system in India, 50,000,000 people suffer in that country." My Indian friend turned to me and said—and this part of the story appears to be against myself, but I will give the answer to it—"You talk about disabilities. Are there none in this country?" He pointed dramatically towards the street and said, "Are you prepared, as a blue-blooded Tory, to treat as a brother one of the unemployed or one of the newspaper sellers out there?" The answer I gave was this:Whether I am prepared to do so or not is a matter of individual taste; but there is nothing in this country, and there are no disabilities in this country which prevent a man who starts as one of the unemployed in the street, from attaining to the highest offices in the State.My words would have had even greater point to-day when we see—and it is a credit to the Government, to this House, and to individuals in this House that it should be so—the rapidity of the journey from the footplate of an engine to a Court suit. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) makes a remark, but it is almost as difficult for me to understand his vernacular as it is to understand Indian dialect. I assure the hon. Member that what I said was intended to be quite complimentary. [Laughter.] I am rather surprised at that laughter. Is there anything that is not in the highest degree creditable to a man who can rise from the lowest position and attain to the position of a Minister of the Crown?
§ Earl WINTERTON
If there be anything that offends hon. Members opposite in my reference to Court dress, I shall be glad to withdraw it and merely to refer to the Treasury Bench. [Interruption.] I hope that hon. Members will allow me to continue, because this is a serious matter in which the House is interested, namely, the position of the people in India. I do not see that in the present state of affairs that exists in India, between the depressed classes and the highest castes, respectively, you can ever have under a purely Indian administration, assuming that such an administration be possible, a proper representation of these people unless you have an alteration of the whole basis of society in India, an alteration which can only be brought about by the Indians themselves. I should be interested to hear on other occasions, when we have longer time for debate, what is the answer on that point of those hon. Members who to-night have urged that there should be an extension of self-government in India.
I should like to say that to do the Indian public man or the Indian politician justice, the people in the Councils, especially the extremists, the men who hold the most advanced views and who are in favour of India's freedom from British control, no longer quote, as they used to do, Macaulay and Burns. They no longer say they want to build up a system in India similar to the system advocated by reformers in this country 50 or 100 years ago. They no longer talk like that. They say: "What we are asking for is Indian self-government," and they never talk of democratic Indian self-government, which is a very different thing. In other words, the extremist opinion in India to-day, so far as it is vocal, is the opinion which represents the point of view of a talented but very small and narrow oligarchy, mainly composed of journalists and lawyers.
I agree fully with what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher). I am at one with him in saying that those of us who, like him and me, were responsible either for the inception or for the working of the reforms have always contemplated the advance of India, through successive grants of self-governing power, given freely by this House, to the goal of 1509 what is loosely termed Dominion self-government, but let it be clearly understood that no Government in this country, in my opinion, whether Liberal, Labour, or Conservative, will ever succeed in carrying through this House such a proposal unless the rights of the depressed classes and the outcasts in India are guaranteed under it. There are 50,000,000 of those people, out of 320,000,000. They have been among the best friends of law and order and British rule in India, they supplied in the War no mean contribution to India's effort in that War, and I say most emphatically that I do not believe that any Government in this country would have the power, even if it wanted to do so, to carry through a Bill conferring, in the future, anything like Dominion self-government in India unless in that Bill the lowest caste man enjoyed, in an electoral sense, equal rights with the highest caste man. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!'] That is really the gist of the problem. We are really all at one in this, and I am glad to have the assenting cheers of hon. Members of the Labour party. What should, therefore, be the advice which this House—not the Government, nor we on this side, nor any section, but the House as a whole—ought to give to the Indian peoples—I use the word advisedly—and especially to the leaders of public opinion in the Assembly? It is this: We should say: If you want the day to come when there is to be something like Dominion self-government in India, you have to prepare the ground yourselves by removing educational and other disabilities from the depressed classes and from the outcasts, by removing their grievances, and by generally treating them as human beings ought to be treated in every community that calls itself civilised.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MEYLER
I should like to congratulate the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) on the moderation with which he has dealt to-night with the interests of one-fifth of the people of the globe, in whom we have a trusteeship. The difference between his remarks to-night and the unfortunate heat of his remarks on a previous occasion is as the difference between the footplate and the Court suit, and I hope that, when we are dealing with this question on another occasion, all speakers will 1510 remember the vast importance of what is said here to the people in India. We shall have no opportunity to debate this matter out fully, and I should like to have had the chance of giving experiences, which are possibly unique, concerning Indian labour that I have had, but I have seen Indian labour imported into another country, and then I have seen the results on that labour of living under different social conditions and getting better advantages. The labour that was imported from India into Natal was of a low class, but those who remained in South Africa and brought up their children there have now developed into a far better type of person. We shall find that in India also, if we give them better economic conditions, the whole race will improve. I think that we should bear that in mind, and watch what happens to the people when they have had better opportunities.
§ It being Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.