§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
* My Lords, it will be necessary for me to be-speak the indulgence of your Lordships, and to request your consideration of the subject which I have now the honour to bring before you. It is a subject which has been discussed a good deal lately in writing and at public meetings; and I should not have ventured to direct your Lordships' attention to it had it not been for two recent events of supreme importance. I refer to the famine which has desolated so large a part of India, and the Revolution which has broken out in the United States of America. The famine proves unmistakably the defect of irrigation, and the Revolution shows the great hazard to which we are exposed in depending almost entirely on a single source 372 for the supply of cotton. It is not my intention here to put India in the place of America, and to say that we might safely be dependent on India alone for our cotton supply; I indicate it only as one great source. The subject, confessedly, is worthy of serious reflection, inasmuch as from four to five million mouths (workpeople and their families) throughout the country look for their daily bread to a constant supply of that article; and, therefore, while recognizing West African and Australian sources for a portion of our supply, we may for present purposes confine our consideration to what may be produced by the territory of India. Neither is it my wish to enter upon the inquiry whether the famine might have been prevented, or the short supply of cotton foreseen. The fact is the evils are before us, and we have to deliberate what can be done to avert the recurrence of such formidable mischiefs.
The two great requisites of India are irrigation and inland navigation—irrigation for the purpose of fertilizing the soil, and inland navigation for the purpose of carrying away the produce. In India we want canals for traffic as well as fertility; for unless the ryot has a pretty good assurance that he can easily transport the crop to a place of sale, he will not cultivate the soil; and it has often happened that, lacking the means of transport, a great abundance has been to him a burden rather than a benefit. Here let me remark that in any proposition we may make for the purpose of extending inland navigation we are not, directly or indirectly, acting in antagonism to the railways. Railways must subsist in India; and it is certain that the more you improve the country and increase the wealth of the people the better will be the prospect of the railways. But, whether the railways be remunerative or not, we may fairly say of them that the great development of Indian resources has been coincident with the expenditure on the works, and the partial opening of those undertakings.
Now, India is particularly adapted to the purposes of irrigation. Not only is there a vast quantity of water both for flow and for store, but the conformation of the country offers but few engineering obstacles. An irrigation system has prevailed for many centuries in India. It was undertaken upon a large scale by the Native Princes. They have set an ex- 373 ample which we ought to follow. They have laid down the true principles upon which to provide for the necessities of the country; and it is for us, with our greater scientific knowledge, to carry those principles into effect. No one can doubt the extent of the irrigation system who has read an extract from Reports on Public Works at Madras in1853—The mere mention of the number of works (i.e. works executed under Native Princes) would give no just idea respecting them, as they vary so greatly in size and value, but we may notice tanks and channels in fourteen of the chief Ryotwar irrigated districts. They number 43,000 in repair and 10,000 out of repair. The estimated amount of capital invested in their construction is fifteen millions sterling.The reporters go on to make this strong and just observation—An examination of this list of works suggests humiliating reflections. The ancient rulers of the country, with resources of science and skill immeasurably inferior to what we can command, raised those numberless magnificent and valuable works.… They are due to the enlightened intelligence of Princes whom we are accustomed to style barbarians.Surely it is our duty—in possession, as we are, of far greater scientific knowledge and far greater means of executing such works than the Native Princes—surely it is our duty to the vast country over which we have assumed dominion, to do everything in our power to carry into effect whatever will conduce to the general welfare of the population. Does any one now doubt the value of irrigation? All objections to it were admirably disposed of in the Report of the Commissioners. Let any gainsayer consider the great deficiency of water at times, the character of the soil, and the words of Dr. Watson, asserting that not only water, but river-water is indispensable; and the value of irrigation in India cannot be questioned. In his admirable lecture on cotton in India, Dr. Watson says—Irrigation is essential, not merely as bringing water, but also organic matter, and certain, though small, quantities of salts, such as gypsum and common salt.A new but unanswerable argument in favour of such works. My Lords, they suffer in India as much from excess as from deficiency of water—as much from deluges as from droughts; and, therefore, a great part of the irrigation must be by constructing, according to the system of the Native Princes, large tanks in which the excess of water during a period of fall is stored, and is dealt out by distributing-channels 374 in periods of drought; and, moreover, dealt out in sufficient quantities to render rivers and large canals navigable which in time of drought would otherwise be pretty nearly, if not altogether, dried up. In this way, I am told, water may be so distributed as to keep, not only the surface of India in a constant state of irrigation, but the canals also, and rivers, navigable by boats. It is by the use of their internal waters that the Americans have made those rapid strides which are the wonder of the present generation; but we have advantages in India which the Americans do not possess. By the distribution to which I have alluded—by storing the water in tanks, and by pouring it out at proper times—we may render the rivers of India navigable during twelve months in the year, whereas in America the rivers, being exposed to hard frosts, are, generally speaking, not navigable for more than nine months out of the twelve. Inland navigation, moreover, is peculiarly necessary and peculiarly adapted to India. The water-courses are most easy to arrange or construct. The canals may be easily and cheaply kept in repair. They are best adapted to carry heavy burdens at a low cost, and yet insure a return of the largest possible revenue upon the cost of their construction.
Now, having all these advantages, what is the use which has been made of them by various successive Governments? This Report on Public Works states—In general it may be affirmed that the greater part of the flood waters of our rivers are turned to no account, and vast bodies of water flow annually to the sea which might be made use of to fertilize hundreds of thousands of acres, to feed a vast population, and to add enormously both to the wealth of the people and the revenue of the people and the revenue of the Government.In speaking of the canals, the reporters say—and the remark, though made in reference to the Native Princes, is equally applicable to the British Government—Still less use was made of the canals of irrigation, though many of them were well adapted for water-carriage during six or eight months of the year.We will say nothing just now on the almost equal neglect, for many years at least, of roads and highways. But ought we not to direct our attention more especially to these important matters of irrigation and canals, when we know that it is from the deficiency or excess of water in one way or other that has arisen the greater part of the evils which have afflict- 375 ed India—its famines, its pestilences, its fevers, and all the consequent sufferings? It is impossible to have a stronger proof of this than in what has taken place in respect to the great Ganges Canal, Which runs through a country particularly in need of the agency of water. When it was constructed it was left unfinished; the distributing channels were not connected with it, and it did not, therefore, perform all the purposes for which it was intended. There is no man living who has more to complain of than that great engineer, Sir Proby Cautley. He was the engineer of that work, and he achieved a considerable part of it, but a material part was left uncompleted; and the consequence was that the Ganges Canal for a considerable time was always quoted as a proof of failure and a strong argument against the introduction into India of the canal system. But what is the present state of things? Let us see what its effect has been even in its incomplete state, and while deficient in distributing channels. P. Moss, Esq., the Assistant Secretary to the Government of the North-West Provinces, says—The beneficial effect of the canal during the past season cannot be over estimated.What then, my Lords, would have been its results had the full design been wrought out?
And Captain Turnbull, the Superintendent General of Irrigation, states—Had there been no canal there would have been no crop on broad lands which are now covered with wheat and other cereals in large abundance.Observe, too, this remarkable calculation made by Captain Turnbull—According to a rough calculation 339,243,840 lb. of grain have thus been supplied to the market during the recent calamitous season, and, as each pound is an ample quantity for one man daily, or, perhaps, one woman and one child daily, this would be equal to the maintenance of 644,718 men, 464,718 women and children for a whole year; while it will also have produced fodder sufficient to keep from starvation the cattle of the districts through which the canal has passed, and has probably saved the Government from making remissions of land revenue to the amount of £180,000 or £200,000.He adds, as well he may—It cannot fail to produce a very great impression on the minds of the people who will thus have been saved from starvation and misery, and to make them happy and contented.How, then, after this, can we wonder that the Secretary should close with—His honour feels sure that it will be both 376 policy and good economy to push on this magnificent work to completion with the utmost vigour, even though at the risk of some present financial inconvenience.Now consider what an extent of country needing a supply of water has been saved by this work, and you may see what would have been its position without it, by looking to what is the state of those lands which are beyond the reach of the system. Look on the other hand to districts afflicted, in times past, by the other extreme. Take the delta of the Godavery. This formerly was deluged by floods, but now, by the works carried on there, it has become a habitable, profitable, and safe country. But the greatest triumph of all that may be achieved by irrigation, and by opening canals, is to be found in the district of Rajamundry, the wonderful work of Sir A. Cotton. I beg your Lordships to listen to these results, and see how a small expenditure will produce mighty benefits, and in a short space of time too, and how it is that the most remunerative economy at the present moment is to lay out—I will not say a large sum, but even a small sum, to realize these enormous profits. The revenue of this district of Rajamundry has increased within the last year £45,000; the exports in 1860 were £500,000, being an increase of £180,000 over the previous year. The bullion imported by the people, now becoming quite a commercial people, but who were formerly among the most abject and impoverished of India, amounted to £190,000. The total increase of the revenue is £175,000, being an increase since the works began of no less than 90 per cent, and the profit on the expenditure has been 40 per cent, which is mainly attributable to the works. Pray, give particular attention to the benefits which have been derived from the works on the canal, and you will see that while in 1852–3 the number of boats passing down to the seaports was no more than 752, in 1860, a period of eight years only, it had risen to 15,000; and the tonnage of the boats has on an average been fully double. Not having any personal experience of India, it is not possible for me to describe adequately the benefits which this canal has conferred on that district; but I have heard from persons who lived there that it has been tantamount to its regeneration. But your Lordships may, to some extent, judge of them when you consider that it was formerly a district traversed by muddy streams and narrow channels altogether 377 impassable, and that it is now traversed by this great canal, over which pass no less than 15,000 boats in the course of the year. A letter which has just been received contains a most remarkable statement as to the advantages which these works have conferred on Rajamundry. The writer says, speaking, in the first place, of another district—Nothing is more probable than that this tract of country may this very year be visited with famine for want of those works. As it is, even at this moment a great part of the Madras Presidency is on the very verge of famine; rice is selling at 1d. a pound—from two to three times its ordinary price, indicating most terrible sufferings among the poor. In Rajamundry, on the other hand—now observe this—where irrigation works are in operation, the price is just half what it is in other districts, and, while the people are entirely free from all such pressure, they are exporting probably more than 80,000 tons this year to relieve the suffering provinces.So that your Lordships will see that under the operation of these irrigation works Rajamundry, which was formerly one of the most desolate and miserable districts, has not only become as wealthy as I have described, but is actually exporting produce to other provinces. What a proof is here of the value of easy communication! See the important advantage of this canal, that it brings food tolerably within the reach of the people. Formerly, in some cases they would have to travel from 300 to 400 miles in search of food, where now it is brought almost to their own doors.
There are not wanting other strong proofs of the value of these works, and of the necessity imposed on the Government of India of doing all that in them lies to promote undertakings which so materially advance the welfare of the people of India. In the Appendix Z to the papers of 1853 there is a very striking and suggestive statement of the result of expenditure on irrigation works in the fourteen years from 1836 to 1849. Within those years the works were carried on in thirty-nine places; on one point the profit was 77 per cent, on another 91 per cent, on another 197 per cent, on another 259 per cent; but the average profit on the whole, taking bad and good together, was 69 1/2 per cent; and I am told that if the results were brought down to the present time they would give a still larger return. On the other hand, let us see what has been the effect of neglect and omission; and first let me call your attention to the famine which took place some 378 years ago in Guntoor, which lies on the south bank of the Kistnah river, and has an area of 4,700 square miles. In the report on the state of that district we read—The large number of ruined tanks in all parts of the country indicate that formerly the extent of irrigated land was considerable; at present it is only 4 per cent of the total cultivation.Here is a country, which had formerly enjoyed the advantages of a system of irrigation. It has suffered fearfully, the tanks having been allowed to fall into disrepair, probably under the Native Princes, but which were not restored when the British Government obtained possession of the territory. The number of ruined tanks, however, shows what the Native Princes had done, and what they, after the experience of centuries, considered necessary for the welfare of the country. The famine broke out, and vast numbers of persons migrated in search of food. No fewer than 200,000 perished by starvation and fever; and the total loss to the Zemindars, Ryots, and the Government, was estimated at above £2,250,000; all of which might have been prevented by a little providence and the expenditure, at the right time, of not a fourth part of this sum. But what is the condition of Guntoor at this moment? Mr. Bourdillon—whom everybody acquainted with India must know as a gentleman most capable of giving information on this matter—was asked as to the present state of Guntoor. He replies—The works on the Kistnah were suspended by the mutiny, and works of distribution very partially executed.Nevertheless, see what his reply is as to the present state of Guntoor—You ask whether Guntoor is more safe from famine than it used to be. No doubt it is, and why? My Lords, because two talooks"—that is villages or districts—"are partially watered from the Kistnah. The dams are complete," he says, "but the channels for them are wanting, though the cost would be small, and the addition to the revenue immediate.The cost small, the return large and immediate! Are such truths to pass unheeded by the governing Powers? This work is not completed; nevertheless Mr. Bourdillon says that by the irrigation of these districts the production has been so raised as to be not only sufficient for the people themselves, but enabling them in some measure to supply their neighbours. Instances to show the necessity of attending 379 to the distribution of water for the prevention of floods are equally numerous and striking. In Cuttack alone, by neglect in this matter, there were, during a period of twenty-three years, seven years of inundation, and two of very severe inundation; and in 1855, in the Muddea district alone, forming but a small part of the Delta of the Genges, a single flood destroyed no less than 22,000 houses, 8,000 persons, 40,000 cattle, and 20,000 acres of crops, worth at the very least £320,000—all preventible!
I come now to the Godavery, to which it is right that your Lordships should give more than ordinary attention. The full navigation of the Godavery would open, perhaps, the finest cotton district in the whole world. "The valley of the Godavery"—this is the report of Captain Haigh—"has an area of 130,000 square miles, or about four times as large as Ireland." The population of the valley is estimated at eight millions, and this valley alone contains a cotton field larger than that of America: America having but four million acres under cultivation—an area not much larger than that of Yorkshire. The products of this district are various and abundant. There is wheat unsurpassed by any in India in quantity and quality; Indian corn, millet, peas, beans, rice, sugar, hemp, oil, seeds, chilies, safflower. But there are two products of especial value at the present time—I mean flax and cotton—to which I will return by and by. Yet this mighty country, capable of such immense products, and of meeting almost every demand which could be made by Great Britain, is pretty nearly locked up by defective means of transit, and through the want of canals, of railways, and of every means for the easy conveyance of goods. What a discouragement this is to production may be conjectured from the fact that the time occupied in the conveyance to Bombay or Calcutta of goods on the backs of bullocks—which is the only mode of conveying the products of the country to different ports—is two months. I need hardly say that when goods are conveyed on the backs of bullocks, they are exposed to great hazards, being subject to the influences of weather, to bad roads, and, perhaps, to be plunged into the rivers which it is necessary to cross; and thus the quality of the article is much deteriorated, while the cost per ton upon the cotton or the flax would be about 160s. How splendid an opening would be se- 380 cured by the improvement in the navigation of the Godavery may be judged of from the description given by an engineer who has surveyed the district—The river (says Captain Haigh) runs for 100 miles through the finest cotton-fields of India, and may be said to direct its course in a very direct line from the chief cotton centre to Coringa, the best and safest port on the eastern coast.Another authority, speaking of the Godavery, saysThe river, with its numberless tributaries, may one day become the Missippi of the Indo-British empire.Now the estimated cost of rendering this river navigable for 473 miles, so that goods might be conveyed down to the port, from the port into the interior, is £292,000, being at the rate of £618 per mile; and if the works were rendered more complete, so as to make the transit still cheaper, the estimated cost would be £360,000, And what would be the result? Why, that the cotton, instead of spending two months on the backs of bullocks, and exposed to every hazard, would go down in boats to Coringa in eight days and that the cost per ton, instead of being 160s., would be only 24s. This great result would be obtained with the small outlay of public money I have mentioned; and when you consider the great interests which are at stake both in India and in England, there can surely be little hesitation as to the course to be pursued so as to open the finest fields which can be found for the cultivation of flax and cotton, for the export of Indian products, and the import of British manufactures.
But I cannot altogether omit another point, the consideration of which will show how many services would be performed and how many interests consulted by rendering the Godavery navigable. In the first place it must be regarded as a military work. Colonel Balfour, the Inspector-General of Ordnance observes onThe large pecuniary saving which will ensue not only in the conveyance of stores, but in the preservation of human life by reducing the risks that now attend our soldiery during long marches.He adds most truly,European lives in India are more valuable than ever.Colonel Balfour gives details to show the saving which might be effected by opening up the Godavery—The march from Masulipatam to Nagpore is very circuitous, and traverses one of the most notoriously deadly jungles in India. The march occupies, I believe, a month and a half. It might be reduced to seven days by the river.381 Thus, instead of sending the troops, whether European or Native, from one place to another by a tedious and fatiguing march of six weeks through a most unhealthy country, they might be sent in a week by the river. Dispatch, health, humanity, and policy, would be alike consulted. Then, a saving would be effected in the transport of stores. "On that line," says Colonel Balfour, "the transport of stores and cart hire alone amounts to £18,000, per annum;" which £18,000, let me observe in passing, would more than cover the interest of the £360,000 to be expended in opening the communication.
Again, there is another point materially affecting the welfare of the Natives and the revenue of the Government. The Indian Government derives a large revenue from the salt tax. Whatever may be the objection to such a monopoly existing in such an article, the fact is that the price exacted by the Government under its monopoly at the place of manufacture does not by any means constitute in itself an onerous tax. The great pressure upon the Natives arises from the difficulty of transporting the salt from the place of manufacture into the interior. The Indian Government clears, by its monopoly, on every ton of salt two pounds sterling. Now, wherever salt is cheap—that is, wherever it can be bought at a small advance on the cost at the pans, it is estimated that every Native of India consumes annually about 20lbs. But the price of salt—and this shows how severe must be the pressure upon the people of the interior—the price of salt in Nagpore, Berar, and generally throughout the Deccan, is £6, £7, £10, and even £16 per ton. Here then, in consequence of the high price, it is estimated that the Natives do not consume more than 8lb. per head. The cost at the pans is raised to the consumer, by the difficulty of transport, from three to six fold; but the opening of the navigation of the Godavery would reduce the cost to one-fourth of its present amount. Now, my Lords, if salt is a necessary in this country, how much more is it necessary in the sultry climate of India; and how important then it is to reduce the cost of so essential an article! In effecting this, by reducing the cost of transport, you benefit yourselves and the Natives alike; for the result would be that, at a very moderate computation, in this one district alone, the Government revenue would be increased by £64,000 a year. Calculate, hence, the financial re- 382 sults of similar facilities in all the salt factories, and we shall see that the Indian Exchequer would be replenished; and great advantage would be simultaneously conferred upon the entire people.
Now, it has been doubted whether India possesses great capability of production. I will show you what are those capabilities of producing; and first, as to cotton and to quantity of it. A high authority states that as much cotton is wasted in India as the whole quantity grown in America. At the present moment there are, according to the calculation of Dr. Royle, under cotton cultivation in India about 24,000,000 acres. The number of the population that is clothed in cotton, from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, must be estimated at probably 200,000,000. Then see the many purposes to which cotton is turned by them; it is used for almost every purpose to which textile fabrics can be applied—for ropes, tents, saddles, stuffing, carpets—for almost everything. Guzerat, Broach, and adjoining districts, forming hardly one-hundredth part of the surface of India, will this year give us one-third of the ordinary supply we receive from America; but why? Because Guzerat has the ports of Gogo and Surat, and other small ports. Dharwar will probably do as much, so soon as the port of Sedashevagur shall have been completed, and the ninety miles of railway to connect it with the producing territory.
I have stated what is the producing power of India as to quantity; now look at its capability as to quality. I have spoken with many gentlemen on this subject—among others to Mr. Bazley, himself a cotton spinner, and on this subject one of the highest authorities; he states that, with all the imperfections, Indian cotton is at present equal in quality to 75 per cent of what is now required for the fabrics we manufacture. But it may be asked what guarantee have we that India will produce the finest sorts to compete with the American supply? Hear Dr. Forbes Watson on this head. He states, in his valuable writings, that in Dharwar the cultivation of American cotton is increasing at the rate of from 30,000 to 40,000 acres a year; that the acreage last year under this kind of cotton was 180,000; and the quality of the crop is quite equal to the New Orleans, or the American cotton. Then take the article of flax, which is becoming one of great demand and necessity in this country; one sample of In- 383 dian flax imported last year was valued at £64 per ton, and the Punjab and other districts exceed, we are told, Russia in the capability of producing it. And I wish your Lordships to weigh this important consideration—that when we talk of cotton in India we are not talking of a new cultivation which we are going to introduce for the first time; we have not to clear the land, or send the seed, or teach the people what they have to do; they have cultivated cotton for many centuries; all that they require are roads, canals, the means of transport and communication, markets, easy access to ports, and vigilant purchasers. Give India these; and her productiveness, both as to quantity and quality, will far exceed all our expectations. But until we do give those facilities of transport, some of the most rich and fertile regions of the world will remain altogether impoverished and useless.
Again, it has been asked whether India is capable of producing speedily, and according to our wants. Just look, my Lords, at such a statement as this—first, of jute, an article of great importance, and particularly so now in Dundee, there were imported from India in 1814, 3,000 tons; but in 1859 the quantity imported was 53,000 tons. Take, then, the article of wool—in 1852 there were imported from India about 5,000,000lbs.; in 1860 the quantity imported was upwards of 20,000,000lbs. And observe, as a proof of the energy of the people, that the greater portion of this wool was brought on camels' backs from distances varying from 200 to 600 miles. Down to 1851 the largest quantity of linseed imported from India in any one year was 6,000 tons; in 1854 it had increased to 35,988 tons; in 1855, owing to the Russian war, it rose to 66,687 tons, and in 1859 it was 96,000 tons, or nearly equal to the supply from Russia and all other countries combined. I cannot but direct attention particularly to this point. If the Russian war did so much to stimulate the production of linseed, what may not the revolution in America be expected to do for the production of cotton? That event is likely to deliver us from our perilous habit of depending on a single country for our supply, to relieve us from much hazard and annoyance, and, above all, from that incubus on the hearts of hundreds of thousands—the necessity of purchasing the produce of slave labour. The cotton grown in India will be grown by free labour; and this issue, I 384 believe, will go further to abolish slavery in America than all our writings, speeches, and combinations.
Having thus shown the capability of India to produce, I now wish to show its capability to consume. In 1851 the value of the cotton manufactures, including twist and yarn, imported into India from Great Britain was £5,220,194; the value of other articles was about £2,022,000, making a total of £7,242,194. The proportion, therefore, in reference to the rest of the world, of British cotton manufactures taken by India at that time was 18 per cent. In 1859 the value of the cotton manufactures taken by India from Great Britain was £14,713,812; the value of other articles taken by India was £5,131,108, making a total of £19,844,920. The proportion of British goods, therefore, taken by India, relatively to the rest of the world, was in 1859 more than 30 per cent. But 1859 may be considered a year of forced export; look, then, at 1860, and it appears that India took British cotton goods to the value of £12,000,000, and other goods to the value of £5,000,000, showing a total value of £17,000,000. Now, all this shows a wonderful progress; and we must bear in mind that it has been made in spite of all kinds of difficulties—of war, of the mutiny, of the difficulty of transport, of deluge, of drought, of famine, and pestilence. Yet, so great are the resources, so strong the elasticity of India, that, notwithstanding all her obstacles and all her dangers, India has nearly reached the point of being our best and safest customer.
Another doubt has been expressed as to the character of the people, and whether they will respond to the efforts we may make in their favour; it is said they are generally listless and idle, requiring another people to think and act for them. But let us see how the stimulus of gain and self-interest acts on this population. In Dharwar, where the American cotton is grown, it has been found necessary to introduce the saw-gin, it being an instrument particularly adapted to cleansing purposes. The Government set up a factory for these machines; and so great became the demand for them by the ryots, that the manufacture was, for the sake of despatch, transferred to this country. These machines cost from £11 to £16 each, and yet the Natives have already purchased them to a considerable amount—about £12,000; and they expend on an average in this manner about £2,500 yearly. And this 385 has been done by the ryots themselves, of whom it has been said that no stimulus can induce them to look beyond the day. The fact is, my Lords, I believe we have been governing India for nearly a century, and have never yet arrived at a proper estimate of the character of the people. They are, I believe, a people eminently commercial, active, and intelligent. It may not be a very amiable consideration, but it is, I believe, a true one, that, if you only make it clear to the ryot that a thing will pay, as the phrase is, there is nothing on earth, or below it, that the ryot will not at least attempt in the hope of money. I have been told that persons will travel hundreds of miles, carrying on their heads the articles they have to sell; and should they succeed in obtaining the profit of a few rupees, they believe themselves amply rewarded for their trouble. Now with respect to the cultivation of cotton in Dharwar, there can be no doubt that, if you open to the people a certainty that they shall obtain a speedy and fair payment for their productions, no effort will be spared on their part to supply the demand. In that way we can, I am assured, open a great field without having recourse to the objectionable system of advances. Nothing, it is clear, can be worse than such a system. It is most injurious to the man who makes the advance, inasmuch as it produces a despotic and domineering habit, while it leaves the ryot in a state of dependence, and wholly deprives him of any character of manliness and self-respect.
I cannot conclude the instances which I have ventured to bring before your Lordships' notice, without adducing one which, more strongly than any preceding, proves the immense advantage resulting to the country from works of irrigation and internal communication. I will take two districts, Cuttack and Tanjore, which are of about equal size, both situated in deltas of great rivers, and both of equal fertility. The revenue from Cuttack is £85,000, while that from Tanjore is £470,000. The land in Cuttack is worth 30s. per acre, but in Tanjore it produces £5. Cuttack has by far the best natural supply of water; and yet in twenty-three years there have been three years of famine, four years of drought, seven of inundation, two of severe inundation, and only seven of moderate seasons. During that period there was expended yearly in Cuttack upon water-works £2,400, and in Tanjore £11,600; and yet, in these two countries of equal 386 natural advantages, the aggregate excess of revenue from Tanjore over Cuttack during the twenty-three years was no less than £6,970,000. To what, I pray you, is this to be ascribed? Is there no argument here for public works? Here is a very important paper, a report of the Madras Board of Revenue to the Madras Government in 1859. The reporters, although just and true, are not over partial to Sir Arthur Cotton's plans; and thus this paper, dispelling as it does all doubts of accuracy, shows unquestionably the character of what has been done. They say—The Board now approach the third branch of the subject, the cost of the two Coleroon anicuts, and the net amount of revenue which they have yielded to the State. The sums expended on these works, and the percentage which the net profit yielded by them bears to the original outlay, underwent careful scrutiny by the Department of Public Works and the Mahramut Commissioners, and the result at which they arrived after examining the bills and revenue statements was that for an outlay of £21,738 the Government have received a clear gain of £412,052 in sixteen years, or a profit of 118 per cent per annum.My Lords, here is the deliberate opinion of those gentlemen, arrived at after most careful consideration. What more could be desired? I have heard it said of Sir Arthur Cotton's works that his estimates were always exceeded by the actual cost. That may be so; but then it is also true that, in all instances, the expenditure has been followed by enormous and almost fabulous profit; and that, with such results, he may have sometimes made insufficient estimates, can hardly be regarded as much of a reproach. It has also been said that most of his works have been carried out in the deltas of great rivers. That is, no doubt, true; but if all the deltas of India were brought into the same condition as that of Tanjore, the revenue of the empire would be now nearly double what it is, and the people proportionately flourishing and secure. When Sir Arthur Cotton first set his schemes on foot, he was told they were impracticable; but now that he has carried them to completion, he is told, with equal assurance, that the results are incredible!
Now, after what I have stated as to the success of such works, can your Lordships wonder at the favourable opinion which has been expressed by those authorities who are most acquainted with the facts? Lord Dalhousie, in a despatch to the Court of Directors, wrote—Everywhere I found evidence of the wonderful effect produced by irrigation, wherever the means could be obtained; everywhere I found lands of 387 vast extent, fertile properties, now lying comparatively waste, but wanting only water to convert them into plains of the richest cultivation; and everywhere I found among the people the keenest anxiety to be supplied with that by which alone they could be enabled to turn their labour to good account.I find in a speech delivered by Lord Stanley in 1859, himself at one time Secretary of State for India, the following statement:—With regard to the public works in India, I have seen some doubt expressed whether the returns from these works were accurately given. I have since gone through the figures and verified them from official documents, and I find they are strictly accurate.The noble Lord was speaking of these very works in Tanjore. The Hon. W. Elliot, a member of the Council of Madras, says—In irrigation-works the physical impediments are generally few and easily met, the returns are sure, always considerable, often immense; they have increased the wealth of the inhabitants in a remarkable degree; and with property the people have acquired habits of independence, a desire for knowledge, and for the extension of useful schemes of every description.Sir Charles Trevelyan, in a report upon the state of Madras in 1859, states that—Works of irrigation create new value by an immediate and positive process, with a profusion of which there is no other example. They add from three to six fold to the annual productiveness of the land. This is better than the annexation of new territory.… The Natives are encouraged to a life of peaceful industry.It is, indeed, far better than annexation; for if only one-tenth part of the Presidency of Madras were cultivated after the fashion of the districts I have mentioned, it would more than double the revenue and quadruple the comforts of the people. The words of Dr. Johnson might be realized; there would be "the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice." A large addition would be made to the exchequer; and that, not only without pressing hardly upon those who contribute to the revenue, but with an increase of their resources. We should improve the condition of the people in all senses. We should enable them not only to meet the demands of the Government, but also to become large consumers of British manufactures, thus benefitting our own countrymen and adding to the well being of our own people. In whatever light we consider this question we cannot fail to be convinced of its deep and lasting interest. If we regard it financially, we see the means of largely increasing the revenue, and at the same time extending the means of those who furnish that revenue. If we regard it commercially, we 388 see benefits on both sides; we perceive the means of stirring the industry of Great Britain to the greatest extent, and, at the same time, of enabling India to return to us by her produce what we require in exchange for our manufactured goods. Politically it is of manifest importance that we should adopt all measures that may add to the contentment and happiness of the people, and thereby give honour and security to our rule. If we regard it morally, is it not, I would ask, a great matter that the Natives of India will be induced to look with favour upon the laws, the language, the civilization, and the religion, of a race of men who exhibit such powers of science, and turn them to such high and beneficent purposes? I have heard that, in one of the improved districts, it was said to a missionary, "Until you Christians came among us we never had anything of this kind." By elevating socially the condition of the people we create feelings of independence and self-respect. Instead of a servile, down-trodden race, they will become able to assert their rights, to exercise their privileges, and to stand erect in the dignity of free men.
My Lords, when the late famine broke out in India, the people of this country properly and liberally subscribed to relieve the distress. It was right and humane to do so; but I venture to say that if a sum, equal to that contributed for the relief of the famine, had been expended in earlier days, upon the construction of works, it would have prevented that calamity, and have rendered those districts fertile and productive for many generations to come. My Lords, what do we not owe, in the position we occupy, to ourselves and to British India? By the seizure of the territory we have assumed the many and various responsibilities of empire. By the conquest—no doubt the beneficial conquest—of the country, we have torn from the Natives all means of improving their own financial condition, of regulating their own internal concerns, or of advancing, unaided, their own interests. Our duty, then, is clear. But, above all, we owe these efforts, in gratitude and obedience, to Almighty God, who has been pleased to place under the rule and protection of Queen Victoria the most magnificent empire that ever yet figured in the annals of mankind.
Moved,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty to assure Her Majesty that this House 389 has regarded with great Satisfaction the Progress of Public Works in various parts of India; and to beseech Her Majesty that, with a view to confer further Benefits on that Country, She will be pleased to take into Her immediate and serious Consideration the Means of extending throughout it, as widely as possible, the best Systems of Irrigation and internal Navigation.
EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
said, he was confident their Lordships had all listened with the greatest interest to the able, eloquent, and forcible speech of the noble Earl who had just sat down, and he could assure the House that if he rose to follow his noble Friend, it was with no intention of contesting in the main the principles which the noble Earl had endeavoured to impress on their Lordships. He entirely agreed with his noble Friend in regarding the extension of works of irrigation and of internal communication as of the first importance to the welfare of the people of India. He was glad to find that the noble Earl had not been led, by the great attention he had paid to the subject, to enter upon any hostile criticism of the acts of the Indian Government, either of an earlier or later period. For himself, while not unwilling to confess that a great deal still remained to be done in that country in the direction just pointed out, he had yet the satisfaction of being able to say that at no previous epoch in the history of India was its Government more fully alive to the vast importance of this subject than at this moment. It was well known that the works of irrigation which had been begun and were in progress at the outbreak of the late mutiny were of necessity, from financial and other reasons, suspended during the continuance of that revolt. But since its suppression the Indian Government had set itself heartily and in the right spirit to the prosecution of this great task. That Government was as fully convinced as the noble Earl could be that it owed it to the people of India to devote itself as far as possible, within the limits of its resources, to the development of public works of the description under discussion. He could not better convey to their Lordships the spirit in which the Government of India was now acting, or in fewer words place before them the course which it was intended to pursue in this matter during the coming year, than by quoting a few sentences from the speech recently delivered by Mr. Laing said— 390The next head of expenditure in my Budget shows an increase, not a reduction; but I think you will pardon this when I say that it is for civil public works. The Imperial assignment for civil public works is £3,121,129 in 1861–2 against £2,897,671 in 1860–1, or £223,458 increase; in addition to which £230,000 more will be spend next year than this from local funds, and the amount required for repairs is smaller, so that on the whole the expenditure on new works of improvement will be about £500,000 more in 1861–2 than 1860–1. Of this a large portion will go in making roads, which I believe to be, as a general rule, the most advantageous way of spending money in most parts of India. In addition to roads, we shall spend more money on canals, and especially in developing those works of irrigation in connection with our great canals which have proved of such infinite value in averting the consequences of the famine.Such being the spirit in which Mr. Laing stated that it was the intention of the Indian Government to proceed in this matter, since the speech of which that was an extract came to this country it had been his duty carefully to go over the Budget-orders, as they were called, of the Indian Government in regard to public works in the different provinces, and he had risen from their perusal with the strongest conviction that the endeavour of the central Government of India had been to stimulate all the local and provincial Governments to devote their energies to the carrying out of works of this character. He might add an important statement—that the sum to be devoted to public works this year would be appropriated almost exclusively to civil and industrial works. The principle on which the Budgets of this year had gone was to reduce, where it was possible, the items for public works relating to barracks and other military requirements, and to increase — and in many instances largely increase — the sums allowed for works of irrigation and communication—the very kind of works advocated by the noble Earl. The amount taken this year in the general budget of India for internal improvements was £1,500,000, of which no less than £1,400,000 was to be applied exclusively to works of irrigation, and the communications by land and water; and he believed that even that sum did not entirely represent the money that would be expended by the Indian Government this year in that manner. His noble Friend had called their Lordships' attention to the great results derived during the present famine from the works already executed in connection with the Ganges Canal. However much England might have fallen 391 short of its duty to India in various respects, he was persuaded that that great undertaking, the Ganges Canal, would always form a most creditable monument of the liberal spirit of our Government as well as of the skill of the engineer who had constructed it, Sir Proby Caultey. No doubt the full benefit of that work could not be derived by the people of that country until the smaller distributive canals to be fed from it in every direction were completed; the Indian Government were quite aware of that fact, and accordingly in the Budget of the North Western Provinces for the present year a sum had been allotted, which was the largest, in the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor of that district, that could be expended during one year in the construction of distributing canals in connection with the great Ganges Canal. And it should be borne in mind that the making of these distributive canals involved a very large proportion of scientific labour as compared with the unskilled labour as compared with the unskilled labour required in the mere excavation of the larger channels, because each of the smaller canals must be laid out with care and skill by officers of engineering experince. The result was that the amount of this description of work which could be executed in a given time was, of course, limited by the supply of skilled labour that could be obtained. But the central Government of India, while it had approved the Budget of the Government of the North Western Provinces, and had consequently agreed to the sum intended to be devoted to the distributive canals, in connection with the Grand Canal, which were not precisely in the position of distributing canals, but were large channels although of a secondary character, should be proceeded with to a greater extent than was originally proposed, so as to give the whole surrounding country a participation in the benefits and advantages of the canal. The result was that a larger expenditure than was at first intended would be sanctioned, and that a canal would be executed in the Bolundshuhur district, with which the noble Earl was, no doubt, well acquainted. That work had been ordered to be completed to the extent of three lacs; and it had been possible to combine during the present famine the employment of the people with the prosecution of the works which were designed to prevent the recurrence of the very evils from which 392 they were now suffering. The noble Earl had referred to the famine as a proof of the necessity for such works; and he (Earl de Grey) fully concurred in the observation. Great as, no doubt, had been the distress of the population of various parts of India, he was happy to be able to state that the information which reached him from different sources tended to show that, comparing the present famine with the similar calamity in 1837, the people were found in a much better condition by those who came in contact with them than during the previous severe visitation. It was also to be observed that a vast amount of emigration from the famine districts had taken place into those where the famine did not prevail. Of this emigration a great portion was spontaneous on the part of the people, although to some extent it had been encouraged by the Government. This showed that the intelligence of the people had been developed, and that they were more able, as their condition was raised, to meet the difficulties of the time. The noble Earl had touched on another large subject, which, no doubt, was of very great importance—he meant the opening up of the navigation of the Godavery. That subject had occupied the attention of the Indian Government. Unfortunately, the mutiny had interrupted the works; but at the end of the last year a sum was voted for proceeding with them, which was as much as could be spent up to the termination of the last financial year. The Government of India, in the Budget of the present year, had also allotted a considerable sum for that purpose. With regard to the views expressed by the noble Earl on this subject, he (Earl de Grey) should be the last person to under-rate the importance of opening up this district by means of these works. When the navigation of the Godavery was opened up— when they provided water communication for a district of that description—they would greatly cheapen all the products of that district. And similar advantages would, no doubt, result from the Indian railways. Before leaving the subject of the Budget for public works in India, he could not help referring to the great assistance which the Government had received from the present Secretary in that department, Colonel Yule. The Government of India were strongly impressed with the merits of that officer. He had discharged his duties with eminent ability, and the public would derive 393 great advantage from his services. The noble Earl, in his speech, did not make any specific recommendation as to the mode in which these works of irrigation and internal communication should be carried out. For these purposes, he (Earl de Grey) had already stated that the Government of India had allotted in the present year for this purpose the largest sum they could consistently with the present condition of their finances. They had reduced other branches of expenditure, and ordered increased expenditure in this, and they were determined, within the necessary financial limits, to carry out these works as rapidly and as fully as possible. But if his noble Friend intended to imply that it was the duty of the Government of this country to raise funds in the money-market for the purpose of carrying on works of irrigation and water communication thoughout India at once and immediately, he must say he differed from him in that respect. As all their Lordships were aware constant calls were being made upon Government for expenditure on public works in India, not indeed, of the description referred to by the noble Earl, but for the construction of railways; and during the present year no less a sum that £8,000,000 was required under that one head. Those sums were raised either by the railways themselves or under the guarantee of Government in the money-market of this country; and he believed, from the best information he had been enabled to procure, that there was very great doubt whether the money-market in this country would be able to raise a much larger sum than that very considerable amount for that particular purpose. The market might get sick of securities of that description. Until the railways were completed the Government had no means of reimbursing themselves the large sums they were paying for guaranteed interest, and it was, therefore, their first duty, in order to relieve the Indian Exchequer from this burden, to complete the railways as fast as possible. It was, therefore, necessary to raise these loans for railway purposes, but he did not believe that the money-market would be able to raise a much larger sum than he had stated, or that the finances of India would be able to meet any increased charge for interest. As regarded the importance of the question which his noble Friend had so ably brought before their Lordships, there was no difference of opinion between his noble Friend and 394 the Government, or, indeed, any Member of their Lordships' House. Her Majesty's Government and the Government of India were firmly determined, and never were more determined, to proceed with works of this description as fast and as fully as they could consistently with the financial condition of that country; but until the finances of that country were restored to their natural equilibrium—which he hoped soon to see—their condition imposed a necessary limit which they could not overpass. But while the Government entirely concurred in the principles laid down, he must put it to his noble Friend whether, as the Government of India were acting in the very spirit he recommended, it would be convenient to ask the House to agree to a Resolution such as the House to agree to a Resolution such as that with which he concluded his address? He understood that his noble Friend did not mean to imply any blame on those charged with the duty of carrying out and superintending works of this description; and there was always a danger in passing a Resolution like this, of raising hopes which might not be realized both in India and elsewhere. He, therefore, ventured to hope that his noble Friend would content himself with the discussion he had raised by his able, complete, and thorough exposition of this important question.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
said, he entirely agreed with all that had been said as to the importance of this subject and the value of ample details which had been submitted to their Lordships by his noble Friend; but he complained that, while the noble Earl who had just sat down had replied out of the Budget speech of Mr. Laing, that Budget speech their Lordships had not yet seen, although Mr. Wilson's had been presented at once. He regretted the absence of all documentary information upon Indian subjects. The noble Earl (Earl de Grey) informed them that £1,500,000 was to be expended on the public works of India; but he believed that a much larger sum used to be annually devoted to that object previous to the mutiny. If the Government were going to spend merely what they could spare from the surplus income of India they might as well say at once that they had resolved not to proceed with works of irrigation—for with such dribbling sums no great or useful effort could be made. He was not quite, perhaps, prepared to urge that a loan should be raised for the purpose, but it was due to the House that they 395 should be informed of the exact position in which the Government at present stood. They could not have a better opportunity of establishing a good system in India and of rendering the British Government popular among the inhabitants than that which was now presented to them. He would not enter on a discussion of the merits or demerits of previous Governments in India; but he might say that it was generally believed by the Natives of India that the East India Directors did not carry on the public works, and especially those for irrigation, with sufficient Zeal. If the Natives found that greater attention was paid to these matters under the new rule they would be disposed to regard it as a blessing; but the popularity of Her Majesty's Government would be much diminished if they showed any unwillingness to promote those improvements which the Natives deemed essential to their welfare, and knew to be so considered by their Mahommedan rulers. Without resorting to a loan, there was another mode in which these works might be carried out, and that was by means of private companies, who would undertake them in the hope of deriving a profit from them. He had never looked with favour on the system of giving large subsidies to companies; he understood, however, that an unguaranteed company had been set on foot, and he thought that such companies were entitled to the utmost encouragement from the Government. Some check should be imposed on them to prevent fraud on the public; and a system of supervision should be established which would meet Sir Arthur Cotton's recommendation—"inspection, but not interference." He believed that any company which embarked in a speculation of that kind would not only reap reasonable remuneration for themselves, but confer a great benefit on the country. Their Lordships were much indebted to the noble Earl opposite for bringing forward the subject; but, in the present state of the House, he might think it advisable not to press his Motion against the opposition of the Government. He hoped, however, that it would serve as a stimulus to the Government to exert themselves more zealously in the promotion of public works in India, either by the encouragement of private companies or by raising annual loans of considerable amount, and devoting them to that object.
§ LORD OVERSTONE
said, that this was 396 unquestionably a subject involving most important considerations both with regard to India and Great Britain, and the House was under obligation to the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) for the manner in which he had brought it under their notice. At the same time, however, he must say that it appeared to him that the noble Earl on the Government bench (Earl de Grey) had given the noble Lord a complete answer. While acknowledging the justice of the principles and the accuracy of the statements of the noble Earl, the noble Earl (the Under Secretary for India objected to the adoption of the proposition which he had submitted to the House, as being altogether unnecessary. The object of that proposition was to give expression to the feeling that the Government had not applied themselves with sufficient zeal and energy to the development of the resources of India, and to imply that the Government wanted stimulating. In that opinion he (Lord Overstone) did not agree. It was a very grave question, under what circumstances, and to what extent was it safe, wise, and, therefore, beneficial to the country itself, for the Government to undertake the development ot Indian resources, instead of leaving it to the energy and enterprise of private individuals and companies. Further these seemed to him to be a great omission in the speech of the noble Earl who introduced the subject. The noble Earl described in strong terms the importance of the measures he advocated, and the benefits to be derived from them, but he unfortunately neglected to inform them whence the funds were to be drawn for defraying the expense of the various works he wished to be undertaken. His noble Friend the former Secretary for India (Lord Lyveden) followed in the track of the noble Earl who opened the discussion, in omitting to state where the money was to come from. If it was intended that a loan should be raised by the Indian Government on Indian credit then he shared the view that had been expressed on behalf of the Government, that Indian credit was taxed to a sufficient extent already, and that nothing could be more essential to the effectual development of the resources of India itself than that Indian credit should be maintained intact. It would be a most suicidal policy to overburden Indian credit for the purpose of pushing on public works in that country. Perhaps, however, it might be proposed to provide funds 397 by means of loans in this country, and under British guarantee? In that case, he would direct the attention of their Lordships to the consideration that such a measure would go far to precipitate that danger which he had always apprehended from recent legislation in regard to the Government of India. Having once undertaken to govern India under the direct authority of the British Crown, and through Ministers holding office under the approval of the British public, he could not see how they could long keep the Indian revenue separate and distinct from that of Great Britain. If that danger was necessarily inherent in the political relations which had recently been established between this country and India it would be rendered far more imminent if they proceeded to raise money under the Imperial guarantee to carry on these works in India. Then, again, the noble Baron (Lord Lyveden) had referred, in somewhat ambiguous terms, to the agency of private companies in carrying out public works in India. As he understood the noble Lord these companies were to rely entirely on their own resources and responsibility in carrying on their own operations; but while they were not to receive a subvention from, they were to be under the inspection of the Government. He had had some experience in matters of that kind, and he was utterly unable to comprehend what could induce any company to submit to the supervision of the Government unless they received some direct pecuniary assistance from them. The whole proposition, therefore, resolved itself into the question—In what manner and from what resources the works were to be carried on? He held that the view taken by the noble Earl who spoke for the Government was sound and practical; and he trusted that by persisting in that course which they had already pursued, they would succeed in developing those resources which were of such vital consequence to the interest both of Great Britain and India. There was another point raised by the noble Earl who commenced the debate, which deserved notice. In his enthusiastic estimate of the resources of India, the noble Earl pointed out their extraordinary development from the moment when the breaking out of the Russian war caused a demand for produce which we had hither-to received from Russia. It seemed to him that that part of the noble Earl's speech answered the other part of his ar- 398 gument. If the pressure of a war with Russia, checking the supplies from that part of the world, produced at once such a vast development of the resources of India, upon the same principle, and through the same process, why might they not look for a large increase in the supplies from India of those products which were now subject to similar influences owing to the American war? It certainly appeared to him that the whole of the arguments of the noble Earl on that point tended directly against his own recommendation; and were inconsistent with the great principle of political economy, that the extent of the supply will in the final result be determined by the extent and intensity of the demand. Under these circumstances, and especially directing attention to the great question of how means were to be found for carrying out these great works, he has no hesitation in expressing his satisfaction with the view expressed on behalf of the Government and his confidence in their policy. He thought that the most proper and courteous course which the noble Earl could follow would be to withdraw his Motion, and thus to avoid expressing, by an indirect vote, any want of confidence in the sound policy or the discreet energy of the Government in this matter. In case the noble Earl did not consent to do so, he must move the Previous Question.
§ Motion objected to, and a Question being thereupon stated—
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
said, he thought the management of the resources of India under the late Company was extremely bad, but he had never taken so gloomy a view of Indian finance as seemed to be entertained by the noble Lord who had just spoken; because, if he rightly understood the noble Lord, he was of opinion that the credit of India was so low that, no matter what inducements were held out, it was impossible to raise money for profitable investment in that country at the present moment. In the able, lucid, and powerful speech of the noble Earl who opened the debate they were told, and he believed no one disputed it, that money laid out on works of irrigation in India had returned a profit of 69 1/2 percent. He, therefore, very much doubted the assertion that no money could be raised, either in England or India, for investment in works which immediately returned that large interest. The real question was whether those works were 399 rapidly and undoubtedly profitable to the Government and to the country? Without attempting to raise the vexed question respecting Government by the Indian Council here, he ventured to say that at the present moment India was governed more in England and less in India than it had been for years. The noble Earl the Under Secretary of State, in referring to Mr. Laing and his Budget, clearly showed that it was the opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers that no money should be laid out on public works in India, except money from the annual income. He submitted that that was not a sound principle, or the principle upon which they acted at home. When money was wanted for profitable works in England or even for fortifications the Government did not hesitate to ask for a loan; and the cost of these reproductive works in India might be easily defrayed by loans, as the outlay would be gradual, and the return very rapid. He thought that extraordinary means might be found, without rashness, to enable companies or the Government to finish some of these works, and that their completion would be a great advantage to the country as well as an addition to the resources of the State. A letter from the Secretary of State to the Madras Irrigation Company, dated June 2, 1860, showed that he did not consider it impossible for the Government to connect themselves in some way with private companies, and to afford them facilities for carrying out these works, for Sir Charles Wood proposed to allow them to take land in the first instance free and ultimately to pay a rent to the Government. As to the works on the Godavery, he condemned the postponement of their completion for fourteen years, if, as he believed, they could be finished in three or four, and he reminded the Government that they might occasion the deaths of half a million of people by famine, should a famine occur in the interval, to save the difference of cost in raising the money at once. He did not underrate the benefit of railways, but in such a country as India the benefit of canals for traffic was nearly equal, and when irrigation was added very far superior to them. Indeed, the immense value of such works had not been in the slightest degree exaggerated by the noble Earl who had so ably opened the debate. In Italy, especially in Lombardy, there were noblemen whose chief incomes were derived from streams of water used for irrigation purposes: how much more easy 400 would it be for the Government to make works of irrigation in India a source of revenue? He agreed that there was little use in coming to a vote upon the Motion; but if the noble Earl divided he should certainly support it.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, that the noble Marquess had misinterpreted the meaning of the noble Lord who moved the previous Question. He did not understand the noble Lord to lay down the doctrine that such works ought never to be undertaken by means of loans, but merely to say that there was already a sufficiently heavy charge for public works on the revenues of India, without undertaking new responsibilities till the schemes already guaranteed had become reproductive. The noble Marquess and other noble Lords seemed not to be aware of the enormous extent to which the credit of the Indian Government was pledged. Before the mutiny the debt was between£40,000,000 and£50,000,000. It was now closely verging on£100,000,000, besides£56,000,000 which was the amount to be expended on railways. Of the latter amount about£30,000,000 had been actually raised and expended, and as£8,000,000 more would be expended this year, at the end of the year the Indian Government would be paying 5 per cent interest on£38,000,000, to be increased in a very few years to£56,000,000. The Indian Government was receiving only about£500,000 in relief of the full amount of interest, and the charge on that account would be£3,000,000 or £4,000,000 annually for several years. With this prospect he thought it unwise and impolitic to pledge Parliament or the Government to raise any very large additional sum even for such important works as those to which the noble Earl had referred. Railway communication was the first essential; and after that was completed they could proceed with works of inland navigation and irrigation. The progress, however, in works of irrigation and inland navigation had not been so slow as was represented. Up to 1815 hardly a farthing was spent on those works; but since 1815, and particularly during the last twenty-five years, their progress had been even rapid. The amount of canal communication actually opened in India was, he believed, 1,840 miles; and that was a very large amount of public works of that kind to have been effected within twenty-five years. As to the question whether these public works should be car- 401 ried out by private companies or by Government, there could be no doubt that where works of any kind could be effected by private enterprise it was better that they should be so carried out. In this country that would undoubtedly be the case; and in any country peopled by the Anglo-Saxon race these great works were far better left to the enterprise of individuals or companies; but it was almost certain that in India they would not be undertaken by Native enterprise, and it was doubtful whether they would be undertaken by English enterprise without some assistance from the Government. When Lord Hastings began these public works he distinctly intimated that offers had been made to him from private companies, and he gave a curious reason for declining them—that they were works of such dignity, of such benefit to the people, and of such magnitude, that they ought to be carried out by the Government only. This was a principle of very doubtful expediency; but it had been carried out from that time. He could not agree that the proposed expenditure for this year was so unsatisfactory as the noble Marquess seemed to think. The sum proposed to be spent on public works was£270,000, in addition to certain works which it was intended should be supported from local funds under the new powers of local taxation which it was proposed to give the Presidencies. Of this only half a million was applicable to military works. Certainly, in the present state of the Indian finances, it would not have been safe to devote a larger sum to that purpose. He quite concurred in all that had been said of the extreme interest and ability of the speech of the noble Earl. He deserved the thanks not only of the public, but of the Indian Government, for having brought the subject forward; but as the Government did not dispute a single principle which he had laid down, but simply contended that the adoption of such an abstract Resolution would be inconvenient, he hoped the noble Earl would agree to the previous Question.
, referring to the sum which it was proposed to spend on public works this year, said, that when the new Public Works Department was established it was desired, of course, to commence as many large works as possible, and for three or four years the Budget for the Presidency of Madras amounted to between one and two millions, but he found that the staff at the command of the Govern- 402 ment was so weak that it was uttely impossible to get the expenditure up beyond £500,000, so that really if the Government of India attempted to spend more than the sum they proposed—from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000—they would be utterly unable to do it, except they threw their money away, because they could not get a sufficient number of officers of experience to superintend the works. Having seen the works which the noble Earl had so well described, he fully concurred in all he had said as to their success, and he had said as to their success, and he had no doubt that when money could be found to continue them their further progress would be equally successful.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
, in reply, said, that as he should probably have to go into the lobby by himself, if he divided in the present state of the benches behind him, the best thing for him to do would be to accept the proposition of the noble Baron below (Lord Overstone). He had, however, the satisfaction of knowing that he had in favour of his Resolution the concurrent opinion of the Government, of their Lordship's House, and, he believed, of the public out of doors. Previous Question put, "Whether the said Question shall be now put?"
§ Resolved in the negative.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Eight o'clock till Monday next, Eleven o'clock.