HL Deb 21 August 1860 vol 160 c1632

in moving that the Bill he now read a first time, stated that its object was to enable the Secretary of State for India to raise in this country by loan a sum of £3,000,000. There would during the current year be a deficiency of the revenue of India as compared with the expenditure, of £7,472,000, which, however, included a sum of £1,276,000 which the Government might have to pay on account of their guarantee for railway interest. It was, however, hoped that it would not be necessary to exercise the power thus given. He sometime ago stated his opinion that the only means by which a balance between the revenue and expenditure of India could be established was by a considerable reduction of the military expenditure, and he was happy to say that the reduction during the last and present year upon that account, amounted to about £6,000,000. Unless, however, that reduction went much further, there was no prospect of establishing a balance. In consequence of the mutiny the debt of India had increased by nearly £40,000,000. In the years 1855–56 it amounted to £59,442,000, the interest upon which was a little more than £2,500,000. At present the debt was £97,851,000, with a prospect that it would soon reach £100,000,000, and the interest paid was £4,461,000, Thus the annual increase of charge due to the mutiny was about £2,000,000. He would now only express a hope that, by further reductions on the part of the Government of India, we should before long see the income and expenditure of that country brought near to a balance, because it was manifest that if the present adverse state of things continued it would not be many years before India would be burdened with a debt which it would be difficult to meet. He ought to add that in the statement he had just made no credit was taken for the produce of the new taxation—namely, the income tax and the licence tax, both of which, to some extent, come into operation during the current year. Although there was much cause for anxiety relative to the finances of India, yet he was happy to avow his firm conviction that there were also many encouraging symptoms. He was informed by Sir Charles Trevelyan, who had lately returned from Madras, that the price of all agricultural produce in that Presidency was rapidly rising—that a great increase had taken place in the cultivation of the soil there, owing in a great degree to the measures actively carried out by Lord Harris for the reduction of the land rent while Governor of Madras—that the discharged soldiers in that Presidency were easily absorbed into other employment, and that the entire aspect of the country gave token of a very general prosperity. Bill read 1ª.

House adjourned at Six o'clock, to Thursday next, a Quarter before Five o'clock.