HL Deb 11 March 1897 vol 47 cc430-2

asked the Under Secretary of State for India whether he could give any information as to the manner in which the Mansion House Fund had been and would be expended in India; and whether there was ample scope for the beneficial application of the money if the amount subscribed were to reach a figure considerably higher than the present total. Their lordships were aware that the Lord Mayor of London had started what was known as the Mansion House Fund, and had appealed to the public to assist him in raising money for the relief of the distress in India. The public had responded most nobly to the appeal, but it appeared to him it would be a very good thing if the information he asked for could be given, not only for the satisfaction of those who had already responded to the appeal, but of those who were still withholding their subscriptions.


As to the second question of the noble Lord, I can at once answer that there is abundant scope for the employment of such funds. But the noble Lord asks me whether I can give him any information as to the way in which the money has been spent by the Committee in India. The noble Lord will perhaps have observed that in the Blue Book of famine Papers which has been presented, the Government of India have laid down the objects to which it is proposed to apply this fund, and we are informed that the Central Committee has applied the money in the manner specified. They have allotted 21 lakhs to provincial committees for urgent demands, and they will make further large distributions shortly. The provincial committees are understood to be working on the lines defined by Government, but are being asked to report their working for the information of the Secretary of State. With regard to the amount which may be required as compared with the amount which has been subscribed, the noble Lord is no doubt aware that the Mansion House Fund now amounts to about £411,000. In addition to that considerable sums have been remitted direct from Lancashire, Glasgow, and other places, and besides that large subscriptions had been raised in India. Subscriptions had also been started in the United States, in Canada, in our Australian colonies, and elsewhere. We do not know what amounts those have reached, but no doubt a considerable sum will be collected. But really the whole question of how much is likely to be able to be profitably utilised by the Central Committee depends entirely upon the nature of the next monsoon. If the next monsoon is, as we all hope, a good one, the amount of the funds which will be provided will be adequate to deal with the emergency. But if it should be otherwise, it is almost impossible to exaggerate or overstate the amount which may be required to provide for so lamentable a contingency. I ought to add that there has not, in these considerations, been taken into account what may be required by the native States, but, excluding that, the Central Committee believe that with a good monsoon 140 lakhs—that is, something between £800,000 and £900,000—ought to be sufficient to enable them to cope with the immediate requirements of the situation. But I need hardly assure your Lordships that every sixpence which is subscribed by the public, either at home or in our colonies, will be utilised by the Central Committee in India in the re-establishment of some of those unfortunate people, who, after their immediate and pressing necessities have been relieved by the Government of India, will have to be started again in life to pursue their ordinary avocations.


asked whether any special effort would be made to secure the co-operation of the missionaries of the various denominations. At the end of the last famine missionaries were asked to undertake the care of orphans. Would anything similar be done on the present occasion?


understood that the Central Committee would gladly welcome the assistance of missionary societies.