§ *LORD CURZON OF KEDLESTON
rose to ask His Majesty's Government in connection with the expedition against the Zakka Khel Afridis, whether the general policy that has been pursued towards the tribes upon the North-West frontier of India since 1899 is likely to be modified or affected by this expedition. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in asking this question I cannot refrain from drawing attention to the fact—the anomaly, as I regard it—that there is no permanent or official spokesman of the India Office in this House. I believe I am to have 1716 the honour of being followed this evening by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and assuredly there is no man in this House who, from the wide range of his experience, has a greater right to speak on the frontier affairs of India; but the accident that the noble Earl is here and is willing and so singularly qualified to act as spokesman surely does not dispense His Majesty's Ministers from giving us a permanent official representative of the India Office in this House. It has been, not the unbroken custom, because there was a short time during which Lord Percy was Under-Secretary for India in the House of Commons, in the time of Lord George Hamilton, but the almost invariable practice for what I may call the great external Departments of the Government, that is to say, Foreign Affairs, India and the Colonies, to be officially represented in both Houses of Parliament, the Secretary of State in one House and the Under-Secretary of State in the other; and for my own part—I hope I do not hold exaggerated views—I regard it as uncomplimentary to India, and almost disrespectful to your Lordships' House, that we should not be thought good enough to have a permanent representative of the India Office here. At present both representatives of the India Office are Members of the House of Commons; but it cannot be contended that the presence of the Under-Secretary is indispensable there, inasmuch as for some months past he has been wandering about India at the head of a Royal Commission, engaged in the endeavour to decentralise the government of India. As he can be so easily spared from the House of Commons, it seems to me that the work of decentralisation of government might very well have begun a little nearer home, and that from the serried ranks of noble Lords opposite, some enthusiastic and enterprising lieutenant might have been selected to hold aloft the banner of India in this House.
Now I pass to the Question of which notice appears on the Paper. An expedition is at the present moment proceeding in the mountainous country that lies to the west of Peshawar on the North-West frontier, against one of the most turbulent and treacherous of the frontier clans—the Zakka Khel Afridis. Every morning we read of the movements of our troops, of the destruction of villages, the 1717 blowing up of towers, and occasionally of a very lamentable sacrifice of British lives. I have little to say about the expedition itself. It is a very small affair, which has been absurdly magnified in the Press. We are only doing upon this section of the frontier what we have been called upon to do scores of times before, and what, so long as there is a North-West frontier and it is inhabited by the Pathan tribes, we shall have to do scores of times again. Under the able commander selected to control the expedition, Sir James Willcocks, and with the military authority and experience behind him, I have no doubt the expedition will be conducted as ably and expeditiously as possible. For my own part I limit my reference to the expedition itself to saying that I wish for it the most rapid, most complete, and most inexpensive success.
I think it would be most unfair to criticise either His Majesty's Government or the Government of India for the policy or the fact of this expedition. If there is a body of men, if there is a responsible Government in the world that is apt to exhibit almost illimitable patience in the face of extreme frontier provocation and to push that attitude to the point of procrastination and almost of weakness, it is the Government of India. It is with the utmost difficulty that, in the face of almost incessant raids, you can persuade the Government of India to act, and the reason is that, as the noble Earl knows so well, even a petty frontier expedition is not an agreeable experience either for the Administration that authorises it or for the soldiers who have to take part in it. We have to go into a country forbidding, difficult, and inaccessible to a degree; we are dealing with an enemy habituated to every form and habit of guerilla warfare in the hills. Nobody, when an expedition is started, can possibly foresee what form or development it may ultimately assume, and, even if attended with the maximum of success, no very striking or permanent results can be obtained. Therefore, the Government of India has always shrunk from, and, I think, rightly shrunk from, embarking upon any policy of this description.
But, in the present instance the case for the expedition seems to me to be absolutely unanswerable. When a tribe 1718 that is inside the British political frontier, which is in receipt of subsidies supposed to be an acknowledgment of its good behaviour, which has no legitimate cause of complaint, which is not at enmity with ourselves, nevertheless out of "sheer cussedness," or what the late Mr. Gladstone would have described as "original sin," persists in attacking and killing British subjects, destroying British villages, driving off British cattle, and even executing a most daring and successful raid into the great walled town of Peshawar, I say that when such a combination of circumstances occurs, any Secretary of State and any Government of India that did not immediately undertake reprisals would have been unworthy of their position and name. The only criticisms I should be at all disposed to offer upon events so far as they have taken place would be, first, that it seems to me that the police arrangements on our side of the frontier which admitted of these daring and successful raids must have been rather defective; secondly, that the cup of the Zakka Khel, now regarded as brimming over, has in reality been full for the best part of a year, and that, in all probability, the Government, instead of striking now ought to have struck nearly a year ago; and, thirdly, that the expedition was unfortunately so thoroughly well advertised in advance that all chance of a surprise must have vanished even before our troops marched out of Peshawar. My own experience in India was that the success of reprisals was in proportion to the speed and unexpectedness of the attack delivered. Possibly there may have been circumstances unknown to me in the present case which rendered a rapid concentration of troops, or a sudden dash across the frontier, impossible; but the fact remains that there has been no element of surprise about the matter at all. Subject to these criticisms, which are of a very minor character, I have nothing whatever to say against the expediency of this expedition; it seems to me thoroughly justified, while, on the military aspect of the case, I am quite content to leave the matter to the judgment of the expert authorities in India, who know just about as much of the tactics of the tribes and the geography of the frontier as we in this House know 1719 about the tactics of the Whips and the lobbies of your Lordships' House.
A much more important question is however raised when we proceed to consider the part this expedition is intended to play, or is likely to play, in the general scheme of frontier policy in India, and the degree to which its consequences have been thought out by those who authorised it. This question can be considered in a narrower and in a wider aspect. The former is almost entirely strategical in character. I gather from the papers that the expedition has entered the Bazar Valley, a valley lying to the south of the Khyber Pass, where the troops are engaged in the demolition of stone breastworks, in the destruction of towers, and generally in making things as uncomfortable as possible for the Zakka Khel. But the Bazar Valley where the troops are is not the main or the largest place of settlement of the Zakka Khel Afridis. As the noble Earl knows very well, their settlement extends over the greater part of the Bara Valley south of the Bazar Valley, a much larger area and much more inaccessible because of the difficulty of the passes. Not only so, but the Zakka Khel settlements extend over the whole of Tirah, the region in the mountains on the frontier which gave its name to the campaigns of 1896–7. I have no knowledge of the plans of the Government or of the military commanders responsible for the expedition, and I should be the last man to press for information which the noble Earl may consider it undesirable or inexpedient to give. I am sure that His Majesty's Government must be as anxious as any one can be to contract the area of their responsibilities in this case, for everyone familiar with frontier warfare in India knows that the further afield you go the greater is the chance of extending the area of conflagration with its dangerous consequences. All I ask the noble Earl to tell us (if he thinks it desirable to do so), therefore, is whether His Majesty's Government have found it in their power to place, or are likely soon to find it in their power to place, any geographical limits to the operations of our troops.
I now turn to the much larger issue, the bearing of this expedition upon our frontier policy as a whole. The question I have put upon the Paper is "whether the general policy that has been pursued 1720 towards the tribes upon the North-West frontier of India since 1899 is likely to be modified or affected by this expedition." It is now twelve years ago since the first of these risings took place on the frontier, which spread like wildfire north and south, and presently involved the whole frontier in a conflagration which was only extinguished by the long series of military operations described as the Tirah campaign. When I went out to India and took over from the noble Lord at the beginning of 1899, the campaign was at an end, and he will remember that the first duty which devolved upon the new Government of India was to endeavour to construct some rational plan of settlement which should be in accordance with the lines laid down by the then Secretary of State, Lord G. Hamilton, and which should, if possible, rest on general principles of more than transitory application with regard to the frontier. The question that confronted us at that time was one of the most difficult any Government could have to deal with. In the case of the Indian frontier you are dealing with tribes that differ very materially in racial and personal characteristics, and the degree of civilisation or non-civilisation they have attained; but they are united in certain common features, every man of them from boyhood upwards being inured to a life of blood feuds, of rapine, of murder, and of disorder. Raiding to them is not merely a hereditary pastime, but owing to the sterile and forbidding character of the country in which they live it is often an economic necessity. Finally, however quiet they may appear to be, there is scarcely any one of these tribes that is not capable of being carried off its legs and swept away by some tornado of passionate emotion or some influence of religious fanaticism which we can neither foresee nor control.
Further, my Lords, these tribes not merely inhabit a country which, as I have already described, is unusually rugged and difficult of approach, but they are in the peculiar and almost paradoxical position of both being inside and outside the frontier of India. Let me explain what I mean. They are outside the frontier of India in this sense. They are outside the administrative border of India—that is to say, those territories 1721 over which we exercise full administrative control, and from which we draw revenue. But they are inside the political border of India—that is, the line drawn by Sir Mortimer Durand when sent by the noble Marquess (Lord Lansdowne) to Kabul in 1893 to come to an arrangement with the Ameer of Afghanistan as to the line of division between his dominions and ours. That line, ever since known as the Durand line, was drawn by him, and it constitutes the outer political frontier of the British Empire in that part of Asia. Up to that line all the tribes are within the British Protectorate, although the degree of control which we exercise over them varies much in individual cases, according to the character of the country and the importance of the roads and passes in it, and the degree of order and civilisation prevailing among the tribes. Still, up to the line we have a perfect right to deal as we please with the tribes, and our right is limited only by considerations of policy, prudence, and caution.
The general principles which we laid down in India in 1899, which we sent home to the Government and which were accepted here, were the following: In the first place, we decided to withdraw from the territory lying outside the administrative frontier as many as possible of the Regular troops who, partly owing to the Tirah campaign and partly owing to the military arrangements existing at that time, were cantoned beyond the border. We held, and I think rightly held, that that was work for which our Regular troops were neither recruited nor suited; and so effectively was that policy carried out that whereas when I went to India there were as many as 15,000 Regulars across the frontier, when I left there were little more than 4,000, almost entirely placed in the important positions of Samana and Chitral. Secondly, in place of the Regulars whom we withdrew, we placed in this tribal territory for the military protection and security of the country, forces of tribal Militia, levies and police, recruited from the tribesmen themselves, and commanded and disciplined by young English officers, the very best that we could get for the work. When I left India these tribal forces amounted to 10,000 men. Thirdly, we did our best to improve and perfect 1722 our system of roads and railways and communications behind the frontier in order to be able to reinforce any point that might be threatened by rising in the future. Then we proceeded to create out of the districts of the province of the Punjab lying adjacent to the frontier a separate Administration known as the North-West Frontier province, under an officer specially selected for his knowledge of the frontier and of the tribes, and directly responsible to the Government of India. I believe that was a policy not altogether favoured by the noble Earl when in India, but I am sure he will be the first to admit that in its execution it has been a complete success, and that neither his Government nor any other Government, either in India or here, is for the present, at any rate, at all likely to depart from it. Then we continued to the tribes the system of subsidies and allowances which had existed before, endeavouring to fix tribal responsibility to the best of our power. Lastly, and this is the most important point of all, our policy was to interfere as little as possible with the internal organisation and independence of the tribes, and by a policy of steady persistence in conciliation to endeavour to win them over to our side. I think that is a fair summary of the policy that was accepted in 1899.
May I say at once that this policy was undoubtedly open—I have never denied it—to possible objections, and oven to positive risks. There was the risk involved to the individuals concerned. Every one of these young British officers to whom I alluded just now, who went out into the far country in the hills to act as officer of a half-trained, half-disciplined body of native Militia, carried his life in his hands. He was perfectly willing to do it. He esteemed it an honour for the sake of his country to do it. But he ran that risk, and in a number of cases—a regrettable number of cases—he fell a victim to the knife or the bullet of the fanatic on the border. That is no doubt a heavy price to pay, but it is the price we have to pay inside the border as well as outside it, and it is a risk which nobody who has served on the border of India is not at any time willing to incur. The policy undoubtedly involved a considerable element of confidence in the tribes, because, supposing 1723 the tribesmen refused to join the Militia, or that the best and most law-abiding among them having joined the Militia and taken our pay, the remainder of the tribes continued to pursue their policy of lawless depredation upon British subjects on the frontier, it is obvious that from that moment the scheme would be imperilled, and if it broke down there would be no alternative but to resort as before to force and to compel the people to a reluctant submission. All these arguments were urged against the policy at the time. They were carefully considered by the Government, but they did not deter us from adopting it. But after all, is not the main test of any frontier policy in India the degree of peace and tranquillity that it gives to the areas concerned? On this point it is quite easy to reassure your Lordships, and by that test let our frontier policy be judged. Whereas, in the fifty years that elapsed between the annexation of the Punjab and the frontier campaign of 1897, to which I have referred, there were no fewer than forty expeditions across the border, during the ten years that have elapsed since that date, with the single exception of the punitive counter raids which we undertook in order to finish up the blockade of the Waziri tribes, there has been no warfare of any description on the frontier. The Militia, to the institution of which I have referred, have been, on the whole, successful—so successful, at any rate, that the Commander-in-Chief in India has twice recommended an increase in their numbers, and in the range of their responsibilities, and most important of all, I think we have really convinced the majority of the tribes that the British Government has every desire to respect their religion, their country and their independence.
In spite of these considerations, it is fair to admit that there has always existed, and I daresay there does now exist, a party in India, backed by the highest military authority—although I believe it to be a party dwindling in numbers and in importance—which does not agree with the views I have put before your Lordships this afternoon. They hold that that policy is an unwise one, that it is certain sooner or later to break down, and, in fact, that it ought to be abandoned now. Their argument, in so far as I can do justice to it, is as follows: They say 1724 that it is unwise and undesirable to have these indeterminate relations with the tribes, that so long as you have a frontier which is the outer line of British influence you ought to hold with full power and full assertion of administrative and executive authority up to that line; that in the event of our ever having to make a military advance into Afghanistan it would be a terrible danger to have this great force of half-disciplined, half-armed and possibly hostile men upon our flank; that the real policy should be to get round these tribes to surround them, so to speak, with a military cordon, and that only in that way can we solve the frontier question and obtain permanent tranquillity on the border. This scheme of policy, which I have ventured to describe to your Lordships, is perfectly intelligible. It is logical in structure, it is forcible and indeed most drastic in its methods, and the results which it might obtain, if they were obtained, are, indeed, such as it would be worth paying a considerable price for.
But, my Lords, this scheme, like many schemes very symmetrical in character, drawn up in official bureaux, suffers from the incurable defect that it is wholly impracticable. It is impracticable for this reason. Before it could obtain the results I have described, you would have your frontiers in India ablaze from one end to the other. You would have not merely one Tirah campaign, but a succession of Tirah campaigns. It would be the experience of Russia in the Caucasus, which I think lasted for twenty or twenty-five years, over again in India. At the time when there is or has been a certain amount of unrest in India—an unrest which I believe to be happily subsiding—it would be surely a most unfortunate and gratuitously unwise thing to add to our responsibilities the burden of possible complications and fighting upon the frontier. You could not carry through that plan without adding very largely to the Indian Army; and if you not merely increase the Indian Army, but throw in the cost of the campaigns that would be entailed, you would impose not only a considerable but an almost intolerable burden on Indian finances. Once started upon this plan you would not be able to stop at any definite point; you would have to go on until you had 1725 subjugated the entire frontier, from north to south. And, above all, there would be the risk, the not inappreciable risk, of complications and possibly of collision with the Ameer of Afghanistan. Therefore it seems to me to be imperative that we should dismiss the ambitious but too perilous programme which I have described, and restrict ourselves to the steady pursuance of the more modest policy which I have endeavoured to place before your Lordships. I think the day may one day come when we shall be driven out of this attitude by the tribes themselves, but if that be so, let us not be impelled by any act of our own or before the compulsion becomes irresistible. I do look forward to a distant future, when the whole of these frontier tribesmen will fall completely under British control. It seems almost impossible to contemplate that for an indefinite period, viewing modern standards of order and civilisation, these wild and lawless men can be allowed from birth to the grave to pursue upon the British frontier their career of rapine and crime. Should the day ever come when they are definitely incorporated within our system there would, I think, be one invaluable result, viz., they would constitute the most splendid recruits for the Indian Army of the future. But that day is not yet. We must not even look for it in the near future. For the present we must, I think, confine our view to a narrower horizon and to less substantial results. We certainly ought not to exhibit any weakness or fear on the frontier. We must strike hard and strike rapidly when the provocation occurs, as I understand His Majesty's Government are doing in the present case. But let us continue as long as we possibly can to pursue our policy of respect for the independence and sentiment of the tribes.
I think it may fairly be said that the omens in favour of such a policy are most encouraging. In the first place, there is the ten years peace to which I have referred. Now, my Lords, ten years peace on the Indian frontier constitutes a very solid and very valuable asset. As I have already pointed out, it is an experience that we have not been able to point to for fifty years. Every year gained for peace is a year taken away from the forces of violence and disorder. 1726 Every such year means a saving of so many lakhs of rupees and so many valuable lives. Every year so gained is a step forward towards an ultimate solution of this question, which will be a pacific and not a violent solution, because the more experience the tribesmen have of peace and its advantages, and more particularly its economic advantages, the more will they turn away and be averse from the pursuit of war.
Finally, there is one illustration which I should like to mention of the concrete results of the policy which I have described. There is a part of the frontier which the noble Earl will remember, known as the Swat Valley. It was a name of very sinister omen in his day, because the people of the Swat Valley were one of the most formidable and dangerous of our antagonists in those campaigns, and because from the Swat Valley starts that road which we made through Dir to Chitral, which was the source of so many bitter contentions and such gloomy prophecies ten or twelve years ago. Now, if I might make a personal reference I would say this: There is no more unwise or unedifying experience than to look up one's old speeches; nobody else ever does it for you, and the less you do it yourself the better. But somebody the other day called my attention to a speech which I made as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the House of Commons exactly ten years ago on the frontier campaign, just before I went to India. On looking up that speech, which I had completely forgotten, I found that I committed myself to a prophecy, indeed I said that I would stake all I possessed, that within ten years of that date there would be peace and tranquillity upon the Chitral road Everybody, I am afraid, regarded that as a wild and fantastic exhibition of extravagance on the part of an ambitious and illtutored mind. But standing here to-day, almost exactly to a day ten years later, I am able to tell your Lordships that that prophecy has been strictly fulfilled. Not only is the road running from Swat to Chitral safe, but the Swat Valley itself, which was a storm point on the frontier in 1897, is now almost the most peaceful section of the border. What is my point? Why has this change been produced? It has been 1727 produced, I say, for three reasons and three alone. In the first place we did not annex the country of the tribesmen; secondly, we have ever since given them well-paid occupation as levies, and in other capacities in connection with the road; and, thirdly, in the ten years of peace that have intervened the country has grown fat and prosperous, and the tribesmen themselves have turned to trade and irrigation, and their present position is in itself the strongest incentive to them to turn away from their previous career of predatory crime. I regard that as a very encouraging illustration of the success that is capable of attending the policy I have described. What we have done there I think we may do—at any rate we ought to attempt to do—elsewhere. Anyhow, I hope we shall not be hurried, and I am convinced His Majesty's Government are not at all likely to be hurried, out of a policy of patience and conciliation by any incidents, however mortifying or exasperating they may be. It is because I am hopeful—indeed I am confident—that the views I have ventured to express will be endorsed by His Majesty's Government, and that while pushing this present expedition to its legitimate conclusion, and extracting from it the maximum profit they can, they will yet continue the steady development of the policy that I have described, that I have ventured to call your Lordships' attention to this question by the notice which I put upon the Paper this afternoon.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (The Earl of ELGIN)
My Lords, in reference to the opening criticisms of the noble Lord respecting the representation of India in this House, I would remind your Lordships that, although we have not got the Secretary for India or the Under-Secretary here, we have as a general rule found a representative of the India Office in my noble friend the Lord Steward, whose ability, I am sure, is recognised by the House. Moreover, in addition to myself, we have with us in the Leader of the House, my noble friend Lord Ripon, another ex-Viceroy of India who is pre-eminently qualified to deal with Indian questions. It is quite true, as the noble Lord said, that Mr. Hobhouse, the Under-Secretary for India, is absent in India. But it must be remembered that Mr. Hobhouse 1728 undertook the chairmanship of the Commission because the chairman originally chosen failed at the last moment, and therefore, it was not at first intended to send the Under-Secretary on that mission.
With regard to the Questions which the noble Lord bas put on the Paper, I have to say at once that His Majesty's Government do not intend to make any departure from the principles of the frontier policy which were laid down by the Secretary of State ten years ago. The purport of those declarations was that there should be no extension of our responsibilities in tribal country, and no interference whatever with the tribes if it could possibly be avoided. Those principles were re-affirmed in 1904 by the then Secretary of State, and have been pursued by successive Governments since that time. For reasons which it would be inimical to public policy to mention, the general arguments against any reversal of this policy in the present case, though they are very strong, cannot very well be stated in detail.
The object of the expedition against the Zakka Khel is limited to the punishment which they so justly deserve for the long series of outrages against the lives and property of those who dwell within their sphere of operations. Therefore the Government, of India have been instructed to take no steps leading in any way to the permanent occupation of that country, and orders in that sense have been issued to the general in command of the expedition. The noble Lord is so great an authority on all matters relating to the frontier of India that even I, though one of his predecessors in the Viceroyalty of India, have some hesitations in differing from him; and indeed I have no intention of doing so in this particular instance. It has always been my contention that the government of India is too great a thing to allow of the introduction of purely personal or individual interests, and that, on the contrary, it must be considered as a continuing administration. This is particularly the case in regard to the frontier policy. In that case we all felt that we were under the disadvantage of having to deal with the excessively vagrant dispositions in the tribes along that frontier, 1729 and I must confess that I have some hesitation in accepting the principle that any system could be depended upon in all circumstances to obviate difficulties or to prevent disasters.
I venture to think that the experience of the noble Lord and myself differs chiefly, if not entirely, in this—that I met most of the storm. But I should like to remind him, and I am sure he will admit it, that if he ever studied the papers which were recorded in the time preceding his assumption of the government of India he found that I also advocated reforms, and reforms on lines not so very different from those which he afterwards pursued. I remember, after the wars of 1897, dealing with questions regarding the posts which ought to be occupied by the Regular military forces, regarding the Militia and the levies. He was in a more fortunate position, and he was able, therefore, to make change, some of which he has described to your Lordships this evening. So far as I know, that scheme holds the field. At the same time, I think it would not be disputed that there have been difficulties under that scheme, if not as great, at any rate as well as under other schemes. In fact, the noble Lord has referred to some, he has referred to the painful incidents of the murders that occurred in connection with the levies, and therefore I do not think it is possible to speak too positively with regard to the endurance of the system as a whole. I do not suppose the noble Lord would wish me to pledge the Government to anything of that nature. All that I can say, therefore, is that, so far, there are no proposals before the Secretary of State for any modification of the scheme which the noble Lord proposed.
It would be inopportune, probably, to go into arguments, as I might perhaps have done if I desired to follow in detail some of the references of the noble Lord, before we have specific questions before the Government which are under consideration to be dealt with. But I should like to say just this further. If in the question of system changes from time to time may become inevitable to meet the varying cicrumstances or the varying attitudes of the tribes with whom we have to deal, surely that makes it all the more 1730 desirable to maintain the principles upon which the policy of the Government has been based, and especially those principles which have stood the test of time. In these discussions the despatch which has been referred to is that of 1898, and it has been stated that that has been reaffirmed by more than one Secretary of State. I think I may say that no other principles than those which were stated in that despatch were the guiding directions of the Government over which I had the honour to preside; and I should almost be inclined to venture the proposition that the noble Marquess opposite, who preceded me, would say very much the same thing. If so, we have a period of years even longer than that to which the noble Lord has referred, as a justification for the maintenance of the policy in which, as I understand it, both he and I are agreed.
The noble Lord has said that he dislikes reading his old speeches, and so do I, and much more do I dislike quoting thorn, but there are two incidents that I would refer to for a moment in order to make good what I have just been saying. It so happened that it was at the very beginning of the military proceedings on the frontier that I met a large assemblage of the chiefs of the Punjab at Lahore, in 1894. Indeed, one of the pieces of business which made that an exceptionally heavy week was the necessity of settling with Sir William Lockhart the conditions under which he was to undertake his expedition to Waziristan. In addressing the chiefs I ventured to say to them that the policy of the Government was to leave to the tribes the entire occupation of their country, the fullest measure of autonomy, and the most complete liberty to follow their tribal customs. It happened in 1898 that the last visit I paid in the Punjab was to the State of Patiala, in order that I might invest the Chief of that country with the decoration of the Star of India in recognition of his services in the frontier expeditions. On that occasion I referred to the profession which I have just quoted, and I added that—Whatever else may have happened, to this declaration I claim that I have adhered, so that no tribe or section of a tribe has since then been compelled against its will to surrender any territory or any right of self-government which it desires to retain.1731 I have troubled your Lordships with these extracts to show that both in profession, and, I think, in execution, the Government of India in my time did act upon the principles which were stated in the despatch of Lord George Hamilton. I well remember, of course, that despatch, and I also well remember the support which we received in the House of Commons from the noble Lord who has just spoken. I think what I have now said shows that I was within the mark when, in the Legislative Council of the Viceroy in Calcutta, on the discussion of that despatch, I maintained that we had, as a matter of fact, carried out our obligations on the frontier with the minimum of interference with the internal affairs of the tribes, and the avoidance, so far as was possible, of direct administration where it was not desirable.
The noble Lord referred to the Swat Valley and the Chitral road, and I welcome very much from him the statement that that has been in effect so successful in promoting the well-being of the peoples through whose country the road passes. But I should like to say on my own account that it always was a road on which we exercised no direct administration after it passed beyond the limits of the garrison of Malakand. That, therefore, I think, is an illustration that goes a good long way to show that even without operations for containing territories we may do a good deal, by helping the promotion of trade and communications, to bring the people to a state of mind and body in which they will not be so liable to make sudden attacks on our posts and garrisons.
One other thing I should like to say in reply to the noble Lord. He said that the last ten years has been a remarkable period in the recent history of India because it would be almost impossible to find a similar period of peace. I can only say that when we were forced—because it was against our will—into these operations on the frontier, the one consolation to us was that the expectation was held out that a period of peace must almost inevitably follow, or could be reasonably expected at any rate. And, curiously enough, my recollection is that the period which was held out as a reasonable expectation was a period of ten years. I do not know that I can 1732 give any further assurance to the noble Lord than I have given, but I hope what I have said will not be wholly unsatisfactory to him.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter before Six o'clock, till Tomorrow, half-past Ten o'clock.