HL Deb 20 March 1885 vol 296 cc36-8

, in rising to call attention to a telegram from the President of the Committee of the Landlords of Bengal, said, he was desirous that there should be no misunderstanding on this matter, and the landlords were anxious that there should be no mistake as to the views they held. The noble Earl, after reading the telegram which he had received, said it protested in their name against the Tenancy Bill as being unjust in principle and contrary to the policy laid down by Her Majesty to her Indian subjects, by which she agreed to perpetuate their rights. It further protested against the Bill as proceeding on entirely untrue allegations, and on the assumption that the Zemin- dars were rack-renting and oppressive landlords, whereas the general opinion was, that they had exercised their rights in a conspicuously moderate manner. They alleged that while the Bill would deprive the Zemindars of their rights, it would reduce the actual cultivators to the position of mere cottier tenants rack-rented by usurers, as in the Deccan. They further alleged that the Bill had been passed by persons who had no interest in its provisions, but who were forcing it upon 60,000,000 of unwilling people. Out of 20 Members of the Council which had passed the Bill, 15 were in the service of the Government. Moreover, the Bill had been entirely recast; but, notwithstanding the great changes which had been made in it, it had been passed without being republished. They therefore humbly prayed Her Majesty not to allow the Act to remain on the Statute Book. He might add that he had received a letter from Mr. Miller, an Englishman, and the Vice President of the Indian Constitutional Association. In that letter he said that there had been already introduced into the Indian Council two Bills supplementary to the Bengal Tenancy Act. That sort of legislation was bearing the same fruit as the Irish Land Act. It was earnestly hoped by the Committee to which he, had referred that the Royal Assent would be withheld from the measure which had just been passed by the Legislative Council.


said, he wished to say that he had received a telegram from the same quarter of very much the same purport as that read by the noble Earl (the Earl of Wemyss). He did not wish to make any observation upon it; but he could not think it a convenient arrangement that communications should take place by telegram between Natives of India and Members of the two Houses of Parliament having for their object the modification of the action of the Government in India. Whether this action on the present occasion was right or not he did not know; but the noble Earl the Secretary of State for India (the Earl of Kimberley) would, doubtless, have an opportunity of considering the measure, and determining whether it was his duty to advise Her Majesty to disallow it. The noble Earl stated the other night that the Act would become law without any further action on his part, unless within a certain time he advised Her Majesty to disallow it.


said, that while he fully concurred in what had fallen from the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) respecting the undesirability of communications taking place between Natives of India and Members of that House with regard to legislation in India, he had nothing to add to what he stated the other night—namely, that the Bill had not yet reached him, and that it could not do so for a certain time. When it did come before him he had no reason to believe he should look upon it unfavourably; but there was not the least probability that any action would be taken in the matter before all the Memorials on the subject had been received and considered. He wished to take that opportunity of correcting a slight error in the telegram from Lord Dufferin which he read on the previous occasion. In the words of Lord Dufferin's telegram of March 11, instead of— First Motion in Council was for suspension by Zemindar Representatives, which was lost by a majority of 18 to 2, it should have been"17 to 2."