HL Deb 24 June 1912 vol 12 cc138-60

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.— (The Marquess of Crewe.)


My Lords, I have no desire to renew, much less to repeat, the discussion that I initiated on the Second Reading stage of this Bill. By our attitude on the Committee stage, when we moved no Amendments, we showed on this side of the House that we were quite content that the measure, whatever we may think of it, should pass without further delay into law. But there are one or two questions arising out of the discussion in your Lordships' House last week which I should like to submit to the Secretary of State, and which I think he will not regret the opportunity of being able to answer.

The first question is with regard to the site of the new capital at Delhi. I need hardly point out to your Lordships that the question of site is one of considerable importance, because according to the nature of the site will depend the suitability of the new Delhi for the purpose for which His Majesty's Government desire that it should be created. For instance, if you select an unhealthy site it is quite certain that your new city will be doomed to failure and ultimately to abandonment. On the other hand, if you select a distant site, a site remote from the present city of Delhi, it is also clear that a group of important considerations arise. In my remarks a week ago I said that I had been informed that a site in the neighbourhood of Purana Kila, a few miles to the south of the modern city of Delhi had been chosen; and the Secretary of State, in his reply, told your Lordships that no final conclusion had been or would be arrived at until after the rains, and that the new capital would be somewhere to the south of the Durbar Camp but not so far away as I had supposed. I have no doubt, my Lords, in view of what the Secretary of State said, that the final choice of the new site will only be ratified after the monsoon is over, and, so far as it goes, that is quite right. But I speak what is matter of common knowledge in India and what has been confirmed to me by most responsible authority when I say that, subject to this final ratification, the site of the new city has practically been settled; and it is to be, unless I am quite misinformed, the ground that I spoke of a week ago, which will lie between the Purana Kila and the well-known tombs of bygone saints and kings in the neighbourhood.

I do not wish to say anything about the suitability of the site. In all probability, if you are to build a new capital in the neighbourhood of Delhi you do a wise thing in putting it upon a high situation where it is not likely to be waterlogged by the rains. But what I do say is that it is absurd to claim, if the claim be made, that this new city is either close to the Durbar Camp or has any relation to it. As a matter of fact, it is separated from the Durbar site by the modern city of Delhi itself and by the spurs of the Aravalli range, and, as far as I can make out, the new site will be between six and seven miles from the Durbar Camp. If that be so, this emerges: that whereas it was, I believe, your intention to plant the city, in the first place, to the north of Delhi in the neighbourhood of the Durbar Camp—and that is the only inference that can be drawn from the action of His Majesty in laying the foundation stone upon that site—that decision has been altogether abandoned, and we are now going to have a new Delhi on a new site south of the city and miles away from the Durbar site. I must remember, in fairness, that the Secretary of State told us a week ago that the Durbar site would be utilised for purposes of recreation, for parks, and, I have no doubt, polo grounds, and places of that description. That may be quite true; but it does not affect—in fact it confirms—my point, that there are going to be two new cities of Delhi, one to the north of Delhi for purposes of recreation, and one to the south of Delhi, several miles away, for purposes of business. It also lends force, I think, to what I said a week ago, that the bulk of the money that was spent on the Durbar and for the spending of which the Government of India took credit in relation to their future utilisation of the same site will have been thrown away.

There was another point I mentioned last week to which the Secretary of State did not vouchsafe a reply. I said that if his Government were contemplating building a new city out in the open to the south of Delhi he would inevitably require a new cantonment to guard it, and that the cost of this cantonment must be added to the long list of other items of expenditure which I laid before your Lordships. Here, again, I have information that the site of the new cantonment has been fixed, that it has been placed in the direction of the Kutub, that the ground has been taken up, and that at no distant date the prophecy I made when first this policy was announced—that if you put your Viceroy there you must guard him—will have to be fulfilled, the existing garrison being inadequate for the purpose. I do not blame the Government for that, but I simply ask the Secretary of State for information. Do not these facts, if they are facts, throw into additional prominence the reasonableness of the request that was made by Lord Midleton and myself a week ago—namely that the Government should think seriously before they commit themselves to the expense of the temporary transient Delhi which they are setting up for their convenience during the next four or five years on a site removed by several miles from that which they are going to occupy at a later date? The site to which I refer, on which these new buildings are being erected, is to the north of the city between the Ridge and the river. You cannot set up a temporary city for the Government of India there without incurring great expense, needless expense, and unprofitable expense.

When Lord Midleton challenged the Secretary of State about it a week ago, the noble Marquess replied that really some credit ought to be given to Lord Hardinge for tearing himself away from the charms of Calcutta and that his departure would only be giving a fair chance to the new Governor of Bengal. I am certain that not one of us would wish to deny that this official, who has made a most excellent start, should be given every chance in the world, but I do not think that chance would have been in any way impaired by the presence of the Viceroy in close contiguity with him for the course of the next four or five years. But even if your plea holds good, even if you say that the Lieutenant-Governor has so gained in dignity by being made a Governor that he and the Viceroy could not afford to live side by side in the same place for a short space of time, then why not have left he Government of India for the next few years at Simla, where there are a number of Government buildings which could be utilised? We know that the Viceroy and the Government of India are going to tour a great deal in the winter months. That being so, is it at all necessary to take the Government down from Simla and to incur this expense in building this temporary evanescent capital on the plains? I do not think there can be any doubt that money is being foolishly and lavishly spent on this purpose for which there is no need.

The second point about which I want to ask a question of the Secretary of State is this. Last week the noble Earl, Lord Minto, drew attention to the existence of a number of works of art in Government House, Calcutta, and asked what the destination of those pictures, sculptures, statues, and so on was likely to be. The Secretary of State did not give a very clear or conclusive reply, but it has come to my knowledge that the Government of India have decided that the whole of the pictures in Government House at Calcutta, with, I believe, one solitary exception, are to go to Delhi. Some of them have gone already, and I believe a number—something like fifty—are to come home to this country, to be restored here, I imagine, and to be kept in England for some years and then to go out to Delhi later on when the new Government House is ready for them. Believe me, there is a good deal of feeling about this in Calcutta, much more feeling, I think, than the Secretary of State was prepared to allow. Remember that Calcutta and its inhabitants have grown and lived in the knowledge of the possession of these works of art, and they feel naturally sore about their complete disappearance and about the reduction of their beautiful Government House to something little better than an empty barrack.

The noble Marquess last week justified the removal of these pictures on the ground that they, were the property of the Governor of Bengal in his capacity as Governor-General of India. Technically this is not precisely the case, because, as your Lordships will remember, it was only by the Charter Act of 1833 that the Governor-General of Fort William in Bengal became Governor-General of India, the first Governor-General being Lord William Bentinck. The Secretary of State may reply, of course, "True, but the Governor-General of Fort William in Bengal, created by the Act of 1773, the Regulation Act, was really Governor-General of the whole of the British Dominions," and to this extent it is true that the Presidency of Bengal in those days did have a political supremacy over the other Presidencies in other parts of India. But there are pictures in Government House which were obtained and were put there before 1774, and which, therefore, on the argument of the Secretary of State himself, really appertain not to the Governor-General of India but to the Governor of Bengal. This is not a matter, of coarse, that I can pursue in your Lordships' House, but I hope the Secretary of State will view the whole matter sympathetically and will perhaps allow me to communicate with him privately on the matter.

There is one other point of view while I am dealing with these works of art. It is this. Many of these pictures, particularly those of Governors-General of a century or more ago, are of great historical value. They are practically a record on canvas of our rule of India. During the last century or more, in spite of the humidity of the climate in Calcutta, they have, subject to occasional return to England to he restored, endured on the whole very well, but I wonder if the Secretary of state has contemplated what will happen to these paintings when exposed to the climate of The climate of Delhi has this remarkable combination of features. In the summer it is excessively hot—I believe the mean average temperature in May and June is only a little under 100; in the monsoon there is a very heavy fall of the rain, and in the winter it is excessively cold, so much so that, as any noble Lord who has been out to either of the Durbars in recent years will know, the water freezes in your tents at night. Have the Government of India or the Secretary of State contemplated the effect upon these pictures of being exposed to these extreme vicissitudes of temperature? I am told by an expert that the pictures will be inevitably doomed to destruction. If that is so, as to which I offer no opinion, is it wise that they should he removed to Delhi only to gradually waste away and crack and disappear before your eyes? I hope the Secretary of State will forgive me for introducing a relatively small topic to his notice, but this subject of works of art is of interest to our people in India and is deserving of passing attention in your Lordships' House.

The third point on which I wish to trouble your Lordships with a word is this. It arises out of the well-known passage in the Despatch of the Government of India of August 25 last, which has on one occasion before been quoted in your Lordships' House. It is the passage in which the Government of India lay clown their views as to the future nature and object of British rule in that country. The words are these— Nevertheless, it is certain that, in the course of time, the just demands of Indians for a larger share in the Government of the country will have to be satisfied, and the question will be how this devolution of power can be conceded without impairing the supreme authority of the Governor-General in Council. The only possible solution of the difficulty would appear to he gradually to give the Provinces a larger measure of self-government, until at last India would consist of a number of administrations, autonomous in all provincial affairs, with the Government of India above them all and possessing power to interfere in cases of misgovernment, but ordinarily restricting their functions to matters of Imperial concern. In my humble opinion that was a very compromising, a very unnecessary, and a very unwise declaration. I cannot see why it was necessary at the moment to make any such pronouncement at all, and, if it was necessary, I should have thought it lay, not with the Governor-General in Council in India to indicate the future character of British rule in that country, but rather with the Secretary of State and His Majesty's Government at home. The passage, as your Lordships know, was at once taken up in India and has played a most important part in the discussions that have since ensued. In our debate here in February last the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, and I both drew attention to the subject, and we invited an explanation from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State. These were the terms in which Lord Crewe replied— It would be unfortunate, and not in consonance with the facts, if a belief were held that we have, or that the Government of India have, any policy in view in the nature of a formal system of federation. I repeat that my noble friend Lord Hardinge was simply speaking of what he takes to be the inevitable trend and tendency of things in India. With all respect, my Lords, the words which I have quoted do not admit of that innocent interpretation. Moreover, if that be the point of view in which they were interpreted by the Secretary of State, we had only a few days afterwards a statement in a public speech made by his Under-Secretary, who represents the India Office with so much ability in the House of Commons, Mr. Montagu. May I read to your Lordships what Mr. Montagu, speaking at Cambridge, had to say about this passage? He said— We have endeavoured to look ahead, to coordinate our changes in Bengal with the general lines of our future policy in India, which is stated now for the first time in the Government of India's Despatch that has been published as a Parliamentary Paper. That statement shows the goal, the aim towards which we propose to make, not immediately, not in a hurry, but gradually. Mr. Montagu then went on to quote the very sentence which I read out to your Lordships just now, and he continued as follows— We cannot drift on for ever without stating a policy. The Moderates look to us to say what lines our future policy is to take. We have put off answering them for too long. At last, and not too soon, a Viceroy has had the courage to state the trend of British policy in India and the lines on which we propose to advance. Nothing, I should have thought, could have been more direct, more explicit, more unmistakable than the interpretation put by the Under-Secretary upon that passage in the Despatch. And this can hardly have been an accidental platform aberration, because two months later in the House of Commons, when this Bill to which we are now about to give a Third Reading was under discussion, the Under-Secretary practically repeated his remarks. This was his observation on April 22— The Viceroy showed that there was some definite aim and object to which, in the opinion of the Government in India, all these changes might be correlated; that we were there not merely to administer but to develop India on a plan which had been thought out by those who had been advising the Secretary of State. That is as I understand the meaning of Paragraph 3, and as such I regard it as one of the most important parts of that historic Despatch. Well, my Lords, I venture to say that this is a very different thing from the conception entertained by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State invites us to believe that His Majesty's Government have no definite policy in view which they have sought this opportunity to enunciate. The Under-Secretary, on the other hand, tells us that there is a definite aim and object on the part of His Majesty's Government, that they have what he describes as a thought-out plan. It appears to me impossible to reconcile these two comments upon the same text.

But what is significant, my Lords, is this, that it is the view of the Under-Secretary and not the view of the Secretary of State that is taken in India, and that immense stress and importance is attached to the paragraph as interpreted by Mr. Montagu on two occasions, and as, I believe, understood by every branch of public opinion in India. A week ago I alluded to the Bengal newspaper which is the most prominent advocate of the advanced views in Calcutta. This is what the Bengali said— It was the prospect of autonomous self-government in all provincial affairs which largely reconciled the Bengalis to the deposition of Calcutta. And in the last mail that came home I read a speech delivered at Bombay by the most capable representative of the Indian Party, himself a member of the Legislative Council of the Viceroy—Mr. Gokhale—whose name must be very well known to most of your Lordships, and who is now, I believe, in this country. Speaking at Bombay, where he was entertained before his departure at the end of May, Mr. Gokhale used these words— As regards their status" [i.e, the political status of his countrymen] "they had to work for attaining in practice that equality with Englishmen which was already theirs in theory, and under pledges solemnly given; and in that connection they could flow take their stand on the memorable announcement of policy made at Delhi— That is the announcement I have just read— a policy to which the word, not only of the Government of India or of the Secretary of State, but in a way that of the King-Emperor himself, now stood committed. That policy was the policy of autonomy for the different Provinces. Whatever attempts might now be made to explain away the passages in the Despatch which bear on the point— He was evidently referring to the remarks of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State— the passages were there, and they in India were entitled to take their stand on them and ask for the realisation of the policy contained in them. I hope that during his stay in this country the Secretary of State may have an opportunity of disabusing Mr. Gokhale of these ideas—that is, if they cannot fairly be entertained.

I have only brought the matter before your Lordships' House because it is one of supreme importance affecting the whole conditions under which we rule India. I venture to think we ought not to have the Secretary of State in one House and the Under-Secretary in the other House giving different interpretations to a great State document. I further would venture to say that we ought to know, we are entitled to know, whether this pronouncement is merely the opinion of the writer of the Despatch or of the Governor-General in Council, because the Despatch was signed by him and his colleagues, or whether it also represents the views of the Secretary of State and of his Majesty's Government. I do not think that is an unfair question to ask, and upon its answer I think a good deal will depend both in this country and in India in the future.


My Lords, I certainly have no complaint to make of the fact that on the Third Reading of this Bill the noble Earl opposite has desired to call attention to one or two matters in connection with the whole subject with which this Bill is concerned. Before I attempt to deal with the particular points raised by the noble Earl there is one other matter in regard to which some misconception has existed in India which I desire to put right in a formal way. It arises out of proviso (a) to Clause 1 of the Bill, which reserves to the Governor-General powers now exercisable by him in relation to the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal. As sometimes happens when legal language has to be interpreted by those who are not lawyers, I am given to understand that it is believed by many that some obscure but formidable powers are thereby reserved to the Governor-General as against the Governor of Bengal, and that in this respect he is placed in a somewhat inferior position to his brothers of Bombay and Madras. I therefore desire to state quite categorically that such is not the case. We have been at great pains to secure for the Governor of Bengal precise equality in all respects with the two other Presidency Governors. The sole power which the I Governor-General in Council obtains under this proviso is that, at any rate for the present—that is to say, until a change is made with reference to the High Court of Calcutta—the Viceroy goes on appointing acting Judges to the High Court, which now, as the noble Earl knows, covers the area of the new Lieutenant-Governorship of Behar and Orissa, and, as I explained, it was for that reason thought desirable that such appointments should be made by the Governor-General and not by the Governor of Bengal. That is the sole operative effect of this proviso; it has no other of any kind, and I am desirous that this should be clearly understood.

I now come to the various matters on which the noble Earl has spoken. He first drew attention to the position of the new buildings at Delhi. Since we last debated this subject I have received some further information upon it, and, although it is true that an absolutely final decision involving expenditure must be postponed for a short time, vet it is not too much to say that the Government of India, after consulting with the local experts and the experts who came out from this country, have made up their minds as to what the best site would be. I do not think that the noble Earl has been quite correctly informed as to that site. So far as I was able to follow his description, he has placed the new city and the new cantonment almost due south of Delhi. The site provisionally decided is rather more, I might say considerably more, to the west than that indicated by the noble Earl, and it is also much nearer to the old city of Delhi than the noble Earl seemed to fancy. Speaking without prejudice and provisionally, if the noble Earl will allow me to do so, I understand that the general idea of the new city is something of this kind, that drawing a line a little more west than south-west from the Jâma Musjid—perhaps south-west by west would be about the proper description—the main Government buildings and the Government House would be placed on high ground, having between them and the walls of Delhi a park of somewhere about 1,000 yards in width. On the edge of that park some of the new buildings would be erected, and Government House would stand on higher ground further back. But if the noble Earl will do me the honour one day to come to the India Office I will show him such information as I have received by the last mail from India. I am able to say that as regards the provision of open spaces, as regards the provision for development and extension, as regards the drainage, and as regards the water supply, this proposed site is considered satisfactory by the experts who have examined it. The criticism which the noble Earl made as regards the distance from the Durbar Camp is, as he will note, somewhat modified by the correction which I have ventured to make in his I conception of the new city. It is true that the site of the camp will not, so far as present intentions go, be utilised for any of the Government buildings, but whether some part of the site of the camp may not be, not, a separate new Delhi, as the noble Earl seemed to indicate, but an extension of the main part of the new city, I am not at present in a position to state. It is also true, as the noble Earl stated, that provision has been made for a military cantonment. I have no reason to suppose that it will be one of any extravagant size, and, as I said on the last occasion, the new accommodation which will be required by the removal of the troops from the Fort at Delhi, to the vast improvement of that structure, ought, as funds available admitted of it, to have been provided in any case.

To pursue a point that was not further developed by the noble Earl to-day but which was dwelt on by him on the former occasion and also by other noble Lords—namely, that of the vagueness of the estimates of expenditure—I must point out that to decide at this stage what you are prepared to spend either upon your Government buildings, upon your municipal buildings, or upon your Government House would be, as I venture to think, unwise. After all, you can build a Government House or Government buildings no doubt for a comparatively moderate sum. On the other hand, it is possible to spend upon them—and in one sense the money might be well spent—an enormous sum, and it surely requires the fullest consideration and the nicest balancing of advantages and disadvantages, after you have been able to get the best plans and the ideas of the best minds at your disposal, as to whether you are prepared to go into a scale of what might be called extravagant expenditure in order to get a building which, besides being serviceable, would also be of the nature of a great national monument. As it is, I have no conception in my mind at this moment as to what any particular building ought to cost. The whole matter will no doubt be carefully thrashed out in all its bearings, one of the most important of its bearings' being the amount of available money from balances or from the revenue of the year which may be forthcoming during the years when the building is going on. If, which Heaven forbid ! we were to be in for a series of some of the disastrous famine years of the past I have no doubt, without expressing any opinion whether it would be right or wrong, we should be disposed to look very sharply at the estimates of an expenditure of this kind. On the other hand, if we should be blessed with very bountiful seasons—again I do not say whether it is wise or foolish to do so—we should probably be disposed to spend something more on ornamentation and appearance than we should do in the other case. I venture to think, therefore, that to ask us to present now anything like a close estimate of what the expenditure on our public buildings is to be is hardly a fair demand to make.


I quite agree with what the Secretary of State has just said. But if the matter is in as much doubt as he has just explained to your Lordships, why did the Government of India give us that ridiculous estimate of £4,000,000 sterling? It was they who gave the estimate which we have been criticising.


The Government of India, I take it, named the round sum of £4,000,000 sterling as one about which they would expect to have to work, but they have always been careful to explain that they do not bind themselves to that limit. It was not named either as the highest or the lowest figure, because at that time they were in possession of scarcely any data at all. We are all aware of the reasons—to which I know noble Lords object, but they seem conclusive to us—which prevented us making a series of inquiries beforehand. Consequently at that time they were altogether without data. Now they have more data although they have not complete data. The particular data which I have just mentioned, and I am glad to find the noble Earl thinks me not unreasonable, cannot of course be forthcoming for some little time, but I have no doubt that if and when the Government of India see reason to revise their estimate in either direction they will lose no time in informing us at the India Office.

Then the noble Earl once more raised the point as to whether the Viceroy and his Government ought not to have remained in Calcutta and to have transferred them- selves so soon as the new buildings at Delhi were ready but not before. I mentioned in the previous discussion that one of the main difficulties which we desired to avoid in making these arrangements—namely, that of the confusion of powers and responsibilities between the Government of India and the Government of Bengal—would have had to continue under a more difficult condition of things than had existed even up to last year; but I am bound to say that there was a further reason which would have occurred to me had it been suggested that no change should be made, and that was the character of the reception which the inhabitants of Calcutta, particularly the European inhabitants, gave to our proposals for the changes. We knew, of course, that they would not be acceptable to Calcutta or to any of its inhabitants, either European or Indian, and we were not disappointed to find that they were not liked; and that dislike was, if the noble Earl will forgive my saying so, greatly fomented and encouraged by the tone which he first took with regard to these changes. If the Viceroy had remained on at Calcutta one of two things would have happened—either his presence there would have been distasteful to the Calcutta people and a condition of bad feeling would have existed between him and the inhabitants of Calcutta, which would have been exceedingly unfortunate, and for which we should all agree there would be no real reason; or, what might be more likely, remaining in Calcutta would have been taken as an evidence that the change was not intended to be anything but what is called a setting up of a political capital, that all the social side of the Viceroy's activities would still be exercised at Calcutta, and also that the extreme, and, as some might think, excessive influence which the commercial and other circles of Calcutta had had upon the Government of India in former days was going to be continued at the same level. And therefore, even though a certain amount of money has to be spent —not a very large sum, but still a considerable sum—in making the temporary arrangements at Delhi, I think the conditions are such that that particular outlay is altogether inevitable.

Then the noble Earl spoke with some apology, which I venture to think your Lordships regarded as quite unnecessary because the subject is one of great interest, about the pictures and works of art in Government House at Calcutta. It is, as I said before, the view of the Government of India, and it is not, I think, improbably that of the Government of Bengal, that the Governor-General has a right to have at his main official residence the portraits of those who preceded him in his office of Governor-General; and ingenious though the noble Earl's argument was that some of the quite early portraits or other works of art may be conceived to have come into the Viceroy's possession more in his Bengal character than in his India character, in spite of that fact I should venture to think that public opinion generally would support that view.


I was not alluding to portraits of Viceroys; there are a good many others.


I quite understood that the noble Earl included the interesting series of portraits of Indian Princes of the Mogul family and many other important pictures—


There is a much more interesting case than that. There is the case of two pictures of Louis XV and his wife, Marie Leczinska, which were taken by Clive. After Clive had come up to Calcutta and redeemed the tragedy of the Black Hole he went up the river to Chandarnagar and captured, in the French Residency there, two pictures of the French King and Queen. By the way, it was left to me to discover this while in India. What have those pictures got to do with Delhi? They were captured by Clive when he was Governor of Bengal and should remain in Calcutta now as they have done for the last 150 years.


I should be glad to discuss with the noble Earl opposite the details of these works of art whenever he is good enough to give me an opportunity of doing so, and to convey his views on particular points both to the Government of India anti to the Government of Bengal. The matter is one rather for friendly arrangement between the two Governments and their representatives, and I have no reason to suppose that there is likely to be any serious matter of friction between them. I quite agree also that the views which the noble Earl has expressed on the relative merits, or I am afraid I must say the demerits, of the climates of Delhi and Calcutta with regard to particular paintings ought to be carefully weighed and considered. I am afraid it is not too much to say that there are very few, if any, places in India which are really suitable for keeping valuable oil paintings. They are one of the purely British importations which, like some other British importations, do not go very well with the changes of temperature and the climate generally. But I confess I am a little surprised, although I listened with great respect to the noble Earl's opinion on such a subject, to hear him say that he considers that the climate of Delhi would be such a far worse one for oil paintings than the climate of Calcutta. The variations of temperature at Delhi are, as we know, extreme—from the most blazing heat to a temperature sometimes of uncomfortable coldness. But, on the other hand, during the time of that extreme heat the weather is dry, and I should have thought that such a climate would not have been so seriously detrimental to pictures as the consecutive months of damp, clammy, steamy weather which they have to meet at Calcutta. But I quite agree that that is a subject on which we ought to get the best expert opinion, and if the noble Earl is so vindicated that certain pictures have to remain at Calcutta instead of being transported I certainly shall not offer a word of complaint.

The last point on which the noble Earl said a word—and I have to thank him for informing me that it was his intention to do this, because it only arises in a very indirect way out of the Bill as printed—is the question of the phrase, which has now become almost famous, in the Despatch of the Government of India with regard to the future devolution of power to be conceded, as the Government of India said, without impairing the supreme authority of the Governor-General in Council. May I quote the words of Lord Hardinge once more— The only possible solution of the difficulty would appear to be gradually to give the Provinces a larger measure of self-government, until at last India would consist of a number of administrations, autonomous in all provincial affairs, with the Government of India above them all and possessing power to interfere in cases of misgovernment, but ordinarily restricting their functions to matters of Imperial concern. A certain degree of gloss has been put upon that statement by a section of public opinion, and that gloss—in spite of the statement which I made in this House that I could see no reason for it—is supposed to have received some support from a speech which my hon. friend Mr. Montagu made at Cambridge. It is open to anybody to say—as the noble Earl has more than hinted, I think he almost stated—that it would have been wiser for the Government of India not to attempt to prophesy about the distant future at all. It is open to noble Lords opposite to take that view, but it is important to remember the context in which those words come. The Government of India had to explain, and I had to explain in reply to them, that we were anxious to remove the Government of India from a close connection with any Provincial Government, and in arguing for that necessity the Viceroy went on to say that the time would come some day, as the tendency showed and as the general drift of our policy indicated, when in local affairs Provinces would tend to become more and more independent.

The noble Earl himself, when he was in India, made observations which involved a somewhat similar forecast, perhaps on a more limited scale, but still a somewhat similar forecast. I have here a volume of the speeches which he made in India, and in those I have found two passages which make it clear that in his mind there was at that time a feeling that a further extension of local autonomy was possible. In his sixth Budget speech, which was delivered in March, 1904, the noble Earl was talking about the new provincial settlements, and he ran through the steps that were taken for giving the different Provinces a more permanent instead of a temporary interest in the revenue and expenditure under their control. He went on to say— This we have succeeded in doing in the cases of Madras, Bengal, the United Provinces, and Assam, and have thereby laid the foundation of national autonomy which I hope will steadily develop and enable the local Governments in the future to undertake enterprises from which they are now debarred. And he said he mentioned the matter because he knew that the Government of India had at that time been accused of a tendency towards excessive centralisation. He explained that— So far is that from being the case that if the occasion has anywhere arisen where it was possible to develop or depute powers it was taken. This new settlement constituted a most important step…and will. I hope, be the forerunner of others in the future. The noble Earl, it is true, was then only speaking of finance. But if a local or subordinate Government has in any strict sense financial autonomy, it has something very near complete autonomy. Of course, we all know that there are subjects of a certain kind which, even under the most complete system of federation, are reserved to the superior power, whatever it may be, but if you are going to give a country or a province real financial autonomy you have gone a considerable length towards giving it a system of political autonomy.

Then I turn to another speech—a most interesting speech—which the noble Earl made later at a dinner given to him by the United Service Club at Simla in December, 1905, before he left India. There he dwelt again on this question of centralisation, and said he did not believe that any great measures of devolution could produce better results than those which had actually occurred. He then went on to say that this question of settlements had been solved in favour of local Governments, because his arrangements had given them the means of extending themselves. And he said— There cannot be much autonomy whore there are not financial resources. Then the noble Earl went on to say some words with which I agree. He said— I am not in favour of removing altogether or even of slackening the central control. I believe that, with due allowance of the astonishing diversity of local conditions, it is essential there should be uniform principles running through our entire administration, and nothing could be worse than that the country should be split up into a number of separate and rival units. There I am in agreement with the noble Earl. The most distinguished man, so far as I know, and probably the last, who held the view that the future of India under British rule was that very division against which the noble Earl protests—that is to say, the division of India into a number of States presumably under a Governor-General but in most respects quite independent of each other—was Mr. Bright; he looked forward to it, I believe, as the future destiny of India under British rule. But, like the noble Earl, I do not believe that that is the direction in which we ought to tend or in which we are tending.

The noble Earl went on to say, on the occasion I am referring to, that he believed in a strong Government of India holding the reins, but it ought to ride the local Governments "on the snaffle and not on the curb." He added— I would do all in my power to consult their feelings, to enhance their dignity, and to stimulate their sense of responsibility and power. Those last words might; have aroused something of the same kind of alarm in the minds of those who heard them or read them which the words in the Despatch, according to the noble Earl, have aroused, if not in his mind at any rate in the minds of many. If you say that your duty is to stimulate the sense, not merely of responsibility, but of power in the minds of a local Government, the local Governments will undoubtedly think that what you desire to do is to enlarge within the limits which you have stated the actual measure of those powers. Therefore when my hon. friend Mr. Montagu said that this ideal of larger provincial autonomy, or however you may like to describe it, was being put forward for the first time he showed himself, I am afraid, not quite so well acquainted with the noble Earl's speeches as I admit he ought to have been. In fact, if we could collect the various allusions to this subject in the speeches of former Viceroys, and possibly also former Secretaries of State, we should often find, I am inclined to believe, the expression of hopes that, as education spread and as the sense of responsibility grew, more influence and more actual power should be placed in the hands of local Governments and of local bodies than it is possible to place at present. Whether that be called a policy, which seemed to shock the noble Earl, or whether it be called as I called it when I was speaking on the subject before, a trend or a tendency, I do not think very much matters; because the tendencies in India are, and, as things are, can only be, the policy of the Government; of India and of Parliament here.

The noble Earl spoke of the general view taken in India of the proper interpretation to be put upon these words. We know quite well—it is just as well known to the noble Earl as it is to any of us—that there is a certain political school in India of Indians who are altogether free from the taint of disloyalty—a term which is sometimes loosely applied to them and their friends, but, as I think, most unfairly—who, while admitting that for a period so far as any man can venture to look ahead India must remain and should remain under British rule, yet look forward to the inception in India of something approaching the self-government enjoyed by those Colonies which have of late years received the name of Dominion. It is vain to deny the existence of such a school. I say quite frankly that I see no future for India on those lines. I do not believe that the experiment—for it would be an experiment quite new, so far as my knowledge of history goes, in the whole world—of attempting to confer a measure of real self-government, with practical freedom from Parliamentary control, upon a race which is not our own race, even though that race enjoyed and appreciated the advantages of getting the best services of men belonging to our race —I do not believe that that experiment is one which could be tried. That being so, standing here as Secretary of State for India it is certainly my duty to repudiate altogether that reading of this Despatch which implies that anything of the kind is the hope or goal of the policy of His Majesty's Ministers or of the present Government of India working with them.

I do not know that I can put the matter more forcibly than that. As I say, I do not complain if some men hold this ideal, which is not in the odious sense a revolutionary ideal and is not a disloyal ideal in the sense of its involving a desire to break the British connection. I do not complain if some men, whether they be political theorists or versed in the practice of politics, hold that view. I can only say that I hold it in no sense myself. But I do feel—and I have no reason to suppose that in expressing such a feeling I shall be contradicted by the noble Earl—that it is our duty as a nation and as the Government for the time being of that nation to encourage in every reasonable and possible way the desire of the inhabitants of India to take a further part in the management of their own affairs. I am quite sure that when the noble Earl was there he never attempted to throw cold water upon the hopes or aspirations of any individual for the opportunity of doing more work in the public service. I know the noble Earl far too well to suppose that he would do anything of the kind. I say this because, as the colour which has been put upon these very sentences show, men are apt to put upon any phrases used by a politician, either in writing or in speech, the colour which suits the particular views which they hold. I therefore will never have it said of me that I am indifferent to, or could be unmindful of, the ambitions of Indians with the capacity and distinction to serve their country in the fullest degree and to the best advantage; and the furthest that it is possible to go in that respect I should be prepared to go. But when we are confronted with that totally different ideal to which I have alluded, I consider it to be my duty to explain that no such view is in my mind, nor is it in the mind of the Government of India.


Your Lordships will have listened with pleasure to some of the latter observations of the noble Marquess. It is, I think, extremely important that the natives of India should understand that, however liberal are the concessions which may from time to time be made, there is not the Smallest intention on the part of His Majesty's Government to relax the paramount hold of the British power in India. But it was not to make these remarks that I have risen. I wish to say one word upon what is really a financial detail. The noble Marquess has told us to-day that he could not give any reasonably accurate estimate of the cost of the movement to Delhi. I can quite understand that, and I confess I was not surprised to hear the statement. It is really part and parcel of the system—as I think the most pernicious system—which exists nowadays of incurring large expenditure in the first instance, then looking about to see how much the whole thing is going to cost, and lastly considering how the liability is to be met.

But there is one point about which I confess I had hoped that we should receive some more detailed information, and that is the cost of the temporary, buildings at Delhi. The noble Marquess explained to us that it would be very inconvenient if the move could not be made at once. I can quite understand that from many respects there would be great inconvenience, but the inconveniences have to be balanced against the cost. I think that the Government of India, although it may not have been able to make an estimate of the total cost of the permanent buildings, might by this time have made an estimate of the temporary buildings, and then one would be able to judge how far the weighty arguments which have been advanced by the noble Marquess could be balanced by the cost. The noble Marquess said the cost, be thought, would not be a very large but still a considerable sum. "Not very large" and "considerable" are relative terms; and when you come to locate such a great machinery as the Government of India even for three or four years, with all the requirements of a hot climate, I cannot help thinking that the term "not very large" will eventually be translated into a figure which some of us would think a great deal. But even if the figure is not large I do not know that the explanation altogether satisfies me. I remember that a good many years ago one of the right rev. Prelates who then adorned the Episcopal Bench either preached a sermon or delivered an address upon the "Sinfulness of Little Sins." I think that the sinfulness of even wasting a small sum of money might be pressed on the Government of India, and, unless it is absolutely necessary, that the cost of this temporary change might be economised. I confess I can hardly reconcile myself to thinking that the money is really required. In any case it ought not, in my opinion, to be charged to the Loan Fund but ought to be paid out of revenue.


May I say one word in reply to something that fell about myself from the Secretary of State? The noble Marquess charged me, I think with unfairness, with having by my attitude and speeches here in this country been in some measure responsible for the strong view that has been taken about his policy in Calcutta. My Lords, the dates alone are unfavourable to any such charge being sustained. The Delhi Durbar announcement was first made in this country on the date of the Durbar, in the middle of December. From that date till February 21, when I raised the matter in your Lordships' House, I did not say one word in public either by speech or by letter expressing an opinion unfavourable to the change. By February 21, which was the first occasion on which I spoke publicly on the matter, the attitude of Calcutta had been definitely taken up, and was not influenced in any way by me. That charge I have asked the liberty to deny because it is really without any foundation.

The second point to which I wish to refer is that arising out of the famous passage in the Government of India's Despatch. The Secretary of State paid me the compliment, to which I am sure I was not entitled, of quoting portions of some ancient speeches of my own which I confess I had altogether forgotten. I do not know whether I ought to regard it as a compliment to myself, or whether I ought to congratulate the noble Marquess on the researches of his private secretary. However that may be, it must be quite clear to any one of your Lordships who heard the passages read that I was talking about an entirely different matter. I was referring to financial decentralisation. There is no question of financial decentralisation in this Despatch. The passage in the Despatch refers to political autonomy and nothing else; and so it has everywhere been interpreted. I do not wish to pursue the matter, and will only say about it that I was very glad—I am sure we were all glad—to receive the perfectly clear and distinct statement of the Secretary of State. It was a most emphatic and unmistakable repudiation of the interpretation which has in many quarters been put upon that sentence in the Despatch. That repudiation we acknowledge; we shall remember it, and I have no doubt we shall often have good occasion to use it in the future.

On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed.

House adjourned at twenty minutes past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.