§ LORD SYDENHAM
My Lords, I rise to ask the Under-Secretary of State for India when full information in regard to the military operations on the North-West Frontier of India, to the armistice, and to the negotiations with the Afghans, will be made available for the information of Parliament and the public.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (LORD SINHA)
My Lords, the Papers on the subject are now under preparation and will be published as soon as possible. It had been hoped to publish them earlier, but in all the circumstances it was thought best to await the result of the Conference, the proceedings of which have now been concluded. The papers will therefore be published at the earliest possible date.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his answer, and I am very glad to hear that there is a prospect of obtaining this information at an early period. The reticence of the India Office or of the Government of India—I do not know which—with regard to these matters has been unnecessary and deplorable. One effect has been that our gallant troops 870 on the frontier have felt for some time that they are being neglected and forgotten by the Government and by the public at home—
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
Would Lord Sydenham allow me to say that this is a starred Question? The noble Lord is making what is in effect an attack, or a censure, upon my noble friend beside me (Lord Sinha), who has no right of reply.
§ EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, I think I ant allowed to say something on a starred Question. I do not intend making an attack on the Government, but I am going to emphasise strongly the necessity for publishing the Report. I should like to read to your Lordships an extract front a letter which I received this morning from an officer in India—If you want to do the men in India a good turn get someone to raise the question of the Afghan War in the Lords—the Commons are much too busy to worry about us. The whole of this show' is rather worse than 'Mespot' in 1915–16. It is unbelievable that we are supposed to have been preparing for a war with Russia and Afghanistan plus the tribes for forty solid years. Practically nothing has been done. There are good water supplies at various places, but either use has not been made of them or any scheme to use thorn has been so scrimped for money that the distribution has been totally inadequate. The inevitable result has been cholera, which spread suddenly in the most alarming way—sixty to ninety eases a day in Ali Musjid, half that in Lundi Kotal, sixty in three days at Jamrud, same at Kotah, and all from the same cause. I look on every man who died as murdered by the Government of India. The troops have stood the climate wonderfully well tip to date, but are showing signs of crocking up' now. The weather has been vile—115 to 119 degrees every day, and bad nights on top of it. No fans; soda and ice short; and in fact everything typically Indian. Get someone to demand an Inquiry into the whole thing. It is the only hope of the Army in India. I will give evidence with pleasure, and can put anyone on to the right people to do likewise. I came back from 'Mespot' at the end of November. I was off on ninety days to Kashmir when this war started and was given a job on the Khyber line, from Peshawar onwards. It is the most heart-breaking job I ever tackled—no personnel, no cars to get about in, too little M.T., insufficient everything; and all because a lot of men sit up in Simla and will eat any amount of mud from the finance for the sake of being allowed to keep their places. Do what you can for us.I do not even know this officer's name but the letter has been sent to me by a friend who knows, and apparently he thinks this is written by a responsible person who knows about what he is writing. I sincerely hope that, if letters of this sort 871 are being written home, His Majesty's Government will publish the full facts as soon as possible; otherwise we shall be led on to thinking that things are as had as Mesopotamia, whether they are as bad or not.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I can only say that my noble friend Lord Sinha has already told your Lordships that these Papers are going to be published. Here is a letter from a correspondent, whose name Lord Stanhope does not know, who accuses the India Government of murdering soldiers. I suppose that letter was sent to the India Office the day it was received. If not, that would have been the right course to pursue if the noble Earl attaches so much importance to it as to read it to your Lordships without notice.