§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Main Question [8th May],
"That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary that early steps be taken to reduce the expenditure of India."—(Mr. E. Stanhope.)
And which Amendment was,
At the end of the Question, to add the words "and this House regrets the decision arrived at by Her Majesty's Government to cast a further burden upon the Revenues of India in order to meet the extraordinary charges incurred by that Government on account of the Military expedition to Egypt."—(Mr. Onslow.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Debate resumed.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, that in supporting the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Onslow) he was not actuated by any sentimental motive. As his constituents were taxpayers, he could not allow such a motive to influence him. He was guided by a sense of their duty to India in these matters. All he desired was that justice, and only simple justice, should be done to India. He thought justice required that this extraordinary charge should not be thrown on India. When this matter was previously before the House, they were told by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) that the proposed settlement had been accepted by the Government of India. He was sure that the noble Marquess said so in the utmost good faith; but, still, when they came to see the Papers, it appeared that what the Government of India did was not to accept the proposal of Her Majesty's Government as a satisfactory settlement of the question, but to reserve their protest, only thanking Her Majesty's Government for what they got on the principle that half a loaf was better than no bread. The Viceroy and his Council had unanimously expressed, in very strong terms, their view that this charge should not be imposed on the people of India; and, so far as he knew, they still maintained that view. In the matter of Egypt, he contended, India had no interest whatever. The Government of India had in no shape or degree been consulted in this matter, and there was no reason 791 at all why India should be called on to pay. It was quite clear that, as a matter of strict right, it was impossible that we could demand this from the Government of India; and if, as a matter of equity, we said to India that she was more or less directly concerned in the Suez Canal, and we should make that country pay, he would meet that with another plea in equity, and say that India was poor, and that we had already swept away part of her Revenue arising from import duties. Besides, it now turned out in the accounts that India owed this country arrears amounting to £2,000,000. The only possible interest India had in Egypt was in the Suez Canal, and England had a greater interest in that respect; while the Colonies, whom we did not venture to ask to contribute, had equally a substantial interest. The whole of the ordinary charges had already been placed to the debit of India, and would be charged in the same way as in the Abyssinian War. He thought that a sufficient contribution in respect of the Suez Canal. He saw no justice, however, in seeking to lay upon her these extraordinary charges in addition. He was inclined to think, with his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), that the Suez Canal would have been as safe, or safer, if Arabi had been the Ruler of Egypt at this moment. If they were going to have a Native Ruler in Egypt at all, they must go on the Darwinian principle of natural selection, and let the strongest man come to the top. He appealed to Her Majesty's Government, in justice to India, to accept, even at the last hour, the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Guildford
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
agreed that British rule had proved a great blessing to India; but England owed a great deal to India. In his opinion, they ought not to impose upon Indian taxpayers burdens incurred for Imperial purposes. The people of India were not only a poor and highly taxed people, but they were unrepresented in that House. This war was undertaken for Imperial purposes; and as to the keeping open the Suez Canal, that was as important to Australia as it was to India, and yet no contribution had been asked from the Australian Colonies. He heartily supported the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Onslow), because he thought 792 the people of India ought not to be called upon to contribute to the expenses of this war.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
said, he intended to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Guildford, for several reasons. In the first place, he objected to call on the people of India to pay any part of the expense of the Egyptian War, because the Government of India was never consulted as to the war before it was undertaken. It was said that it was impossible to consult them—that there was not time. Still, the fact remained; and he should like to quote what was said by the Viceroy and his Council in the despatch of the 4th of August, 1882. In passing, he wished to say that he could not understand how anyone could read that Paper without feeling how strong was the case of India. It was a most able Paper, and well worth perusal. In paragraph 20 the Government said—We are intrusted with the government of India; we arc in close contact with the Indian people; we are in a position to watch the currents of public opinion in India; we are directly responsible for the tranquility of the country; and it seems to us, therefore, that we are better able than anyone in England, however eminent or experienced, can possibly be, to judge of the financial and political effects and bearing of a measure so important to Indian interests as a sudden and unexpected demand for a large and indefinite war contribution. We can scarcely conceive any subject upon which the Government of India, as representing, however imperfectly, the people of this country, can have a clearer or better claim to be heard.But they were not heard, and that was a strong argument against imposing on them this contribution. Again, he wished to observe that the people of India had no representation in that House, nor in the Government hero, except that one Member of the Cabinet was Secretary of State for India. The interest of India in the results of the war was remote and vague, except so far as respected the maintenance of the Suez Canal. But Australia was just as much interested as India in the Canal, and yet the Prime Minister seemed to laugh at the idea of a subvention from the Australian Colonies towards the expenses of the war. He could not see the distinction. The fact was, he supposed, that they knew that Australia would not pay, and India could not refuse to pay. But that was not all. He considered that the poverty of the people of India was so great that 793 they ought not to impose on them any new burden. So long as they were compelled to put a duty on salt in India he could not help feeling strongly opposed to any such proposal. So thought, also, the Government of India. In their despatch of the 1st of September, 1882, they said, paragraph 13—The poverty of the people of India is a fact which is notorious, and, indeed, has been so frequently discussed that it is unnecessary that we should dwell on it at any length. That poverty is abundantly attested by the prevailing low rate of wages, by the statistics which show the pressure of the population on the soil, by the absence of accumulated capital, and by the rough calculation which has recently been made that the average income per head of population is only Rs27 a year [say £2 5s]. It is clear at a glance that to a population so situated, the maintenance of peace is a matter of vital interest.Again, they say—Practically, therefore, it may be said that only two modes of imposing fresh taxation are open to us. We must either increase the salt duty or impose direct taxes. An enhancement of the salt duty at present is, on every ground, most undesirable. Not only would it involve imposing a tax upon the poorest classes to meet the charges on account of a war, the cost of which should, both in our opinion, and, we believe, in the opinion of most people in this country, be borne by the English taxpayers, but we should, certainly, for the time being, sacrifice one of the objects we had in view in effecting the recent reduction.He would ask the House to consider another proof of the poverty of India. The amount borrowed annually for productive public works was strictly limited to a comparatively very small sum, because it was thought dangerous to run the risk of imposing additional burdens in the shape of interest on loans. And yet the country urgently needed more railways. At this moment there was no doubt that India could send them wheat enough to supply the whole of their requirements, without taking a single quarter from America, were there sufficient railways to bring the corn down from the wheat districts to the ports. As it was, India sent them a greatly increased amount; but the wheat was wasted, and the resources of the country were imperfectly developed, through the want of carrying power. The only excuse was that India was poor; and yet they were imposing on her part of the expense of a war which she had not caused, and as to which her Government were never consulted. He should certainly vote against any such proposal.
§ MR. J. K. CROSS
The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) said that the connection between the Indian Government and the Suez Canal was exceedingly vague and indefinite. If I could allow that such was the case, I should not be standing here now to ask the House to vote against the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite. I think the House will understand why the Expedition to Egypt was undertaken. [Mr. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT: NO, no!] The hon. Member may say "No, no;" but I think it will be in the memory of the House that it was undertaken for the purpose of preserving life and property, of maintaining order, and of preserving the direct sea route from India to Europe.
§ MR. J. K. CROSS
Certainly not. I am speaking of what was the general sense of the community at the time.
§ MR. ONSLOW
Might I ask if the hon. Member can quote any words to the effect that the Expedition was undertaken for the purpose of preserving the short route to India? Could he give me any words of the Prime Minister to the effect that the Expedition was undertaken for the purpose of maintaining our rights in the Suez Canal?
§ MR. J. K. CROSS
I did not say that our rights in the Suez Canal were to be maintained. I said direct communication with the East, through the Suez Canal, was to be maintained. It seems to me that the two things are not quite the same thing. Notice has been taken of the contribution which was made towards the cost of the Afghan War. There is nobody in this House who worked harder, or who did more towards getting that contribution granted, than I did myself. I took that action mainly on this ground—that the war was undertaken for Imperial as well as Indian purposes; and I say that the Egyptian Expedition was undertaken for Indian as well as Imperial purposes. Therefore, on the same ground that I asked that England should be expected to give a solid and substantial contribution on account of the Afghan War, 795 I now ask that India may be charged with a moderate sum on account of this war. It seems to me that the Canal is of infinitely more importance to India than it is to England. It is said sometimes that the Marquess of Ripon and the Government of India objected to this Expedition because they had not been consulted upon the matter. It is true that they were not consulted; but that was simply because there was no time to do so. Things went on very rapidly, as the hon. Member for Eye knows very well. Perhaps he may have forgotten speeches that were made in this House. I remember the lion. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) coming down to the House and getting very excited about the Suez Canal. The hon. Member was so earnest about the question, and he had such a strong opinion about it, that many people believed from his speech that the Suez Canal was a fresh-water Canal, and required to be fed from somewhere near Cairo, or else our ships would be stranded. Major Baring's position with regard to the finances of India was a rather peculiar one. You must remember that it was the first year of his full control of the finances, and that the Viceroy only took his position there in 1880. In the first year of his management the war with Afghanistan was over, and he managed to reduce the Expenditure by £6,300,000; and in his Budget for the next year he proposed still further to reduce the Expenditure by £1,200,000. When the notice came to him that, in all probability, a large sum of money would be required to pay for the Egyptian Expedition, I do not wonder that he wrote the somewhat angry despatch on which so much comment had been made, without thinking out the whole circumstances of the case. If I had been in his place I very likely should have done the same thing; but the fact remained that it was impossible to consult the Indian Government with regard to this Expedition. The main question that I have to put before the House is this—Has India such an interest in the maintenance of that route to England as to justify her in paying a large sum for its continuance? The price of the commodities coming from India are not fixed by the price which articles fetch in India; but by the price at which they sell in Europe. Europe 796 is the great market of the world for grain and cotton, and any interference in the intercourse between Europe and India is not paid for by Europe but by India. We will take the price of Calcutta wheat. Calcutta wheat in England at the present time is worth 40s. a-quarter; and the difference in the freightage, if that wheat had to go round the Cape instead of going through the Canal, would be 2s. a-quarter. Does that 2s. rest with the English consumer or the Indian producer? The price in Europe is fixed, and the price in India is equal to the European price minus the cost of carriage. India, therefore, derives the whole of that advantage from the existence of the Suez Canal. I must, however, go further, and point out that the Canal has been of advantage to India in another way, for it has opened the Southern ports of Europe to the Indian Empire. Previous to the establishment of the Canal, very little traffic passed between India and the Southern ports of Europe. Since the Canal has been opened the increase has been very great indeed. In 1872 the exports from India to the Mediterranean ports were £4,800,000; in 1881 they were £11,900,000. It must also be reckoned that the merchants who carried on that traffic to the Mediterranean ports were able to compete with the English merchants on advantageous terms. It is not only as a commercial advantage to India that this charge has been thrown upon the country; but there are other grounds. I do not know whether hon. Members are aware that the Government of India has to pay a great deal for the carriage of troops from England to India, and from India back to this country. From the day on which our troops leave these shores to the day on which they come back to these shores, they are charged upon India. India brings her troops here, and she brings them, as my hon. Friend says, very dearly. Do not hon. Members see that any shortening of the line of communication between India and this country must be an enormous advantage to India? I was looking at a Parliamentary Paper the other day to try to see what was the cost of taking the troops round the Cape in March, 1865, and what it is now. The cost of conveying troops round the Cape at that time was £23 1s. 9d. per head. In a little time after that we sent the troops 797 by the overland route, and then the cost was reduced to £16 18s. 8d. per man. By an Admiralty Paper, issued on the 9th of February, 1883, upon Indian troops, I find that the amount per head has decreased to £10 19s. 7d. If anyone will reckon what the advantage to the Indian Government is upon the 11,500 troops who are sent each way between England and India in the course of a year, they will find that it amounts to a very large sum. Indeed, the advantage of the Suez Canal 'to the Government of India in the carriage of troops alone is no less than £138,000 a-year. That is not all the advantage. The time taken by the transport of troops by the Canal is very much less than that taken in going round the Cape. The average time taken by a voyage round the Cape is 47 days to Bombay, and the average voyage by means of the Canal to Bombay is 30 days. You, therefore, have fewer men on the water at one time. Now, if you reckon these 23,000 men going to and fro each year, and the saving of time for them being 17 days, you will find it is equal to a saving of £100,000 a-year. You can, therefore, do with 1,000 men less on the Indian Establishment than you could if you had not the Suez Canal, and as each man costs £100 a-year, there will thus be a saving of £100,000. As £138,000 is also saved in the carriage in those two items alone, the Indian Government saves by the maintenance of the Canal no less a sum than £238,000 a-year. The hon. Member for Cambridge departed very considerably from the scope of the Resolution when he went into the question of public works; and I should have very much liked to have followed him to-day a long way into that subject; but it is scarcely germane to the question. It has been stated that most extraordinary taxation is placed upon the people of India; but things are not nearly as bad in India as my hon. Friend (Sir George Campbell) thinks they are. The hon. Member seemed to think that the people of India are very poor. Well, Sir, as far as I can understand the finances of India, after a somewhat careful examination, I should say they are in a very different position to what they have been in times gone by. Some time ago India was oppressed by war and famine, and the loss by exchange seemed a terrible 798 evil. Happily war has passed away, and, it is hoped, for a long time to come. I do not wish to enter into controversial matters, or say why it has passed away; but the Government has managed its affairs in a way which will prevent us from getting into war, I hope, for a long time. We have managed to reduce the finances of India by nearly £3,000,000 a-year; and still I may inform the House that, notwithstanding, there remains in the coffers of the Government of India £4,500,000, which they have laid aside for famine and famine assurance, only £73,000 of which has been spent in relief, and the rest has been spent on productive works and in the reduction of Debt. In spite of the expenses of the Egyptian Expedition there was a surplus last year of £224,000, and, in the present year, India anticipates a surplus of £457,000. In the last few days I have received a telegram to say that, not only will the surplus be £457,000, but it will be a good round £1,000,000 in addition. This was besides putting aside good round sums for famine assurance, and paying off Debt. I cannot refrain from telling the House what the taxation of India is at the present moment. If we take the rent and taxes of India, what do we find? The rent of the land, the salt tax, stamps, excise, provincial rates, customs, and registration, these are all the taxes that are raised in India. In 1882 they amounted to £42,000,000, and in the next year £39,000,000. If you take off from these figures, as above given, the land tax, which is not a tax but rent, you will find that the taxes of the whole of that part of British India which is under our rule stood in the last three years at £22,700,000; it then fell to £17,900,000, and is now at that figure. The hon. Gentleman opposite my Predecessor in Office the late Under Secretary of State for India (Mr. E. Stanhope) proposed a Resolution some time ago asking the House to declare its determination that the expenditure in India should be reduced. I proposed an Amendment upon that which the House has not thought fit to carry, although I would rather that my Amendment had been carried. I must confess I am not satisfied that the effect of the Resolution which my hon. Friend opposite proposes would be to the advantage of India, and I simply make my per- 799 sonal disclaimer against it. But right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen who sit on this Bench have accepted that Resolution. We have accepted it loyally, mind; and we intend, as far as we can, to carry it out. I have endeavoured to show that in the process of carrying out the expenditure of the first year of Major Baring's authority there has been a diminution of £6,300,000. The gross expenditure in his second year of office resulted in a further diminution of £337,000. This year we are Budgeting for a further reduction of £913,000. This being the case, I think we have something in anticipation of the statement of the hon. Member opposite. But there is one thing which I want the House to do. Next year I want to ask the House very early to give its consent to the appointment of a Special Committee to inquire into the expenditure of India, and report upon the recommendation of the Famine Commission, so far as it refers to the extension of railway communication in India. I do not think that I can enter upon this question now, but I wish before next year that all those who were interested in the subject would take the trouble to read the Reports of the Famine Commission; and if we want to prevent famine, we must not only lay by money to relieve distress when it comes, but we must make railway stations in various parts of India, which will enable us to bring food from the districts where there is abundance to the famine-stricken districts. Those who have the direction of the affairs in chief of India in hand have a very great responsibility to India upon them. I do not wish to shirk that responsibility myself. I am somewhat diffident in urging my opinions upon the House; but I hope that by the appointment of a Committee of this kind next year we may be able to come to some definite conclusions, and that we may be able to prevent that vast number of deaths from accumulating again. I have to thank the House for the patience with which I have been listened to, and I trust that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Guildford will not be accepted.
§ MR. BLAKE
contended that the national people of India were the most miserable of all peoples; and he ventured to say that in that opinion he would be corroborated by everyone who had had the same opportunities of see- 800 ing the condition of India as he had had; they were ground down to the very utmost, hopeless of the future, and completely at the mercy of the Mother Country to impose any taxation she might think proper. It had been said that English rule had benefited the condition of India; but, so far as the national people of India were concerned, he denied that, and he took for his authority, not his own statement, but those of official authorities, among whom was one whose flame he was sure would be received with very great respect in the House—namely, the late Lord Lawrence. He had said that the national people were so miserably poor that they had barely the means of subsistence, and that it was as much as a man could do to feed his family. Sir James Caird, too, who was sent out to report on the state of the country, also bore him out in his Report. What they had to consider, then, was, what was the cause of this misery; and, in his opinion, it was the large sums of money which this country exacted in taxation. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India had said that the taxation of India was of a very light character; but it amounted upon the ryots to about 6s. a-head. Another cause of the great poverty of the national people was the circumstance of polyandry. ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is wandering from the Question before the House. I must ask him to confine himself to the Amendment.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, he was contending that the people of India wore in such a condition that they were not able to meet further taxation, and that any further taxation would increase their misery to a very great extent; and, therefore, with very great respect, he did not think he was wandering from the Amendment before the House. In many parts of India the people were half starving; their dwellings consisted of miserable roofless huts; and the uttermost farthing was already exacted from them by the landlords, who, in their turn, had to pay tribute to the Crown. The disgraceful and profligate expenditure by the Government of India was a by-word in the country; and, under such circumstances, it would be grossly unjust to place an additional burden on the people.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said people of India were very poor 801 when hon. Members compared their returned income of 508. a-head with that of the people of other countries the comparison was misleading, because the conditions of climate and the standard of comfort were very different. He had no hesitation in saying that there were people in England, Scotland, and Ireland who had to contribute to the taxation of the country, and who were just as poor as the people of India. He was glad to find that the Under Secretary of State had promised a Select Committee on the subject; but he hoped that the efforts in the direction of economy would not be limited to that. It had been urged that India ought not to be called on to contribute to the War expenditure in Egypt, because the passage of the Suez Canal was net placed in danger during the recent troubles; but if those hon. Members would take the trouble to read the Parliamentary Papers on the subject, they would find reason for coming to a different conclusion, and they would see therein a fact of great importance which had not yet been quoted. It was contained in a statement by Earl Granville to Lord Lyons, that the Egyptians at one time had three ships in the Canal prepared to destroy it. That statement, made to Lord Lyons, and conveyed by him to the French Government, had never been impugned or contradicted. There was not a man of business in that House at that time who would have guaranteed the safety of a vessel containing his fortune through that Canal at the rate of £5 per ton. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: I would.] He (Mr. Arnold) would not; and he said that against the opinion of the hon. Member for Carlisle. The question arose whether India should make this contribution. It was said that other Dependencies of Great Britain should make a contribution. For himself, he had no doubt that if the Australian Colonies sent a cheque for £500,000 to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would receive it thankfully. He thought it proper that they should do so; but this country had no power to exact such a contribution. In his view India was as much interested in the Suez Canal as this country; and the contribution which she was asked to make to the Egyptian War was wise and reasonable. He believed that the government of India—and lie spoke from personal observation—by this country had been fraught with benefits to the 802 people of India. He recognized it as a beneficent despotism; but, at the same time, he looked forward to the time when an independent Parliament would be established in India. He regretted, however, that the Under Secretary of State for India had not referred in his speech to the question of military expenditure in India, a question which had been repeatedly brought under the notice of the Government, which ought to engage their serious attention, and in connection with which great economy and saving were to be secured.
My hon. Friend who has just sat down has made what I think a very able argument on the subject of this Motion—an argument with which I entirely coincide. But, nevertheless, I desire to ask the attention of the House for a short time at the present moment, because there is a branch of the subject which he, and almost every preceding speaker, has overlooked, and which naturally might not appear to be one of very great importance, or to be very prominent in a discussion of this kind, but which, to a Member of the Government, may naturally appear to be of very considerable importance indeed. At all events, I venture to anticipate a general assent when I say that it is a portion of the subject which ought not to be wholly and entirely overlooked, but ought to be clearly in the view of Members, and not merely with regard to the speeches which they may make, but with regard to the vote which they give when we come to a Division, as I suppose we shall come, on this subject. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) has chosen to combine together two matters which are perfectly and absolutely distinct. One of them is the expression of an opinion that no charge ought to be made upon the Revenues of India in order to meet the expenses of the Expedition to Egypt. That is one of the propositions; but the other proposition is, the Government having thought differently, that the Government ought to be censured and dismissed from Office for having entertained that different opinion. The hon. Gentleman has adopted a form perfectly well understood in this House—namely, "That this House regrets the decision arrived at by Her Majesty's Government." Now, Sir, in the relations between a Government and the House of Commons, 803 it is perfectly well understood, by, I believe, unbroken usage, that when the House reaches a point at which it finds it necessary, by a formal Vote, to record its regret for the conduct of the Government in a particular question, that is a notice to quit to the Government, and that notice to quit is uniformly and promptly obeyed. It has happened to me, in the course of my life, that Motions of different characters have been made which have led to the dismissal of the Government, and that after the Government have resigned in consequence of these Motions, various gentlemen have written to me myself, when I have happened to be in that position, to state that they did not at all understand the character or effect of the Motions, and did not at all take into their view the consequences by which they were to followed. I think it very hard upon gentlemen that they should be placed in that position. Evidently this little expression of regret has escaped the notice of many Members. I wish to set this forth in language that cannot be mistaken, and at the same time in perfectly good-humoured language, free from any tone or feeling of resentment. For, I do not know that to me it would be a matter of personal dissatisfaction if the regret were to be felt; but it is well, at any rate, that the point should be thoroughly well understood. The hon. Member has exercised a right which he was perfectly entitled to use. I make no complaint of his having exercised it, and it is possible that his having exercised that right may, in the eyes of many Members of the House, be an additional recommendation in favour of the Motion; but I repeat that it should be well understood that this Motion is a Vote of Censure, and a Vote which must be followed, if adopted by the House, by the natural consequences. Having said this much—I make no complaint of it whatever, but only endeavour to expound the language of the lion. Member in accordance with Parliamentary usage—I pass on to other portions of the question, for we do not agree with the hon. Member for Guildford upon either part of the question. We do not agree that the Government ought to be dismissed for what it has done, and we do not agree that what has been done is improper. I will go very shortly over the arguments—without repeating what has been so well said by 804 my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Indian Department—I will go shortly over the arguments that have peen touched in the course of the present debate by Gentlemen who have given their support to the hon. Member For Guildford. As respects the reference to the Australian Colonies, which appear to be a popular topic with some hon. Members, I am quite content with the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold). Sir, it would be no hardship to the Colonies of this Empire if they did contribute to those Imperial wars in which they have a distinct interest. It might even be said that it is some hardship upon the people of this country to have to bear, without assistance, the whole cost of wars in which the whole of the Empire may have, and in some cases has, an interest. But then we have an understanding with our Colonies according to which we have undertaken to defray the whole cost of these wars; and that being so, although we should be prepared to receive, with a perfectly good conscience, a contribution from the Australian Colonies for the war of last year if it were to arrive, I cannot say I confidently expect it; and I say if we were to make a demand for it, we should be committing something like a breach of faith with the Australian Colonies, according to the understanding by which their relations to the Mother Country have long been regulated and known to be regulated. Well, Sir, my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) said—"At any rate, we have got a claim against the English Government—allow this to go as a set-off." Will my hon. Friend allow me to say that it is impossible to put in a more objectionable form upon every economical principle the proposal which he desires to convey? If there is one proposition more clearly established than another for the good financial administration of the country, it is that every transaction shall stand upon its own legs, and shall be settled upon its own merits. But if you come to say—" I have had an indifferent transaction with you yesterday, in which I behaved shabbily to the people of India, but I have another transaction in which I will now, in order to make up for the wrong I inflicted upon you, behave shabbily to the people of England," you not only do not gain 805 any conceivable object by that indirect method of proceeding, but you render all responsibility impossible; and I am quite certain that no one acquainted with financial administration would hesitate for a moment to say that none of these transactions ought to be mixed up with any other, but that every one of them should be settled upon its own merits. My hon. Friend said that one of the reasons adduced in support of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) is that the Indian Government never were consulted in this matter. Well, it is admitted that it was impossible that they could be consulted—it was absolutely impossible. It would have been entirely absurd. The military operations in Egypt could not stand or fall according to the assent of the Indian Government; and the moment of those operations would have been lost, and the burden of them greatly aggravated, if the Government at home had done anything so absurd as to divide the responsibility with the Government of India by a previous consultation. But the Indian Government has been consulted after the fact, and has been consulted with the effect of giving very great weight to its representations, for those representations, having been received by us, were weighed by us, and the decision at which we arrived as to the arrangement we should ask the House to make was a decision materially influenced by the advice and the desires of the Indian Government. We have proof of that in the Papers before us. My hon. Friend says that the Indian Government reserve their protest. Sir, that is a matter on which he appears to have more knowledge than we have; but we have no sort of protest from the Indian Government against the arrangement as it now stands. We had a protest from the Indian Government against the arrangement, as originally it was projected in a provisional manner, and subject to future consideration; but as regards the arrangement as it now is, all we have is a telegram from the Viceroy, dated 19th January, 1883, and in these terms—We have received your secret telegram of the 16th, relating to the cost of the Indian Contingent in Egypt. We thank Her Majesty's Government for the consideration given to our representations, and for the important assistance they are willing to afford us.806 That is the communication, and the only communication, we have received in their names; and it is upon the concurrence of the Indian Government in this arrangement that we found a portion of our claim for the approval, and not the disapproval, of the House of Commons in regard to it. The hon. Member has pleaded the poverty of India in support of his Motion. But if the poverty of India is any reason why we should depart from the lines of policy that would, on general grounds, be followed, you cannot possibly stop here. You must go a great deal further. If you want to make up for the whole evil of the poverty of India by putting a charge upon the people of England that they would not otherwise have to bear, it is obvious that you must do a great deal more than this. The fact is, Sir, that the question that you have to ask yourselves is not whether India is a poorer country than this, but whether it is for the benefit of India that she should be attached to this country, and whether we are, or are not, endeavouring conscientiously to govern India for her own benefit. If we are not endeavouring to govern India for her own benefit—if we are endeavouring to make her resources auxiliary only to the greatness of this country, or if we are allowing any regard for the greatness of this country to interfere with the true welfare of India—why, then, we cannot make up for so gross an iniquity as that by any such trumpery proposal, as it would then be, as that of giving £500,000 to India. We ought to walk out of India, and the sooner the better, unless we are prepared to manage the affairs of India for the benefit of the people of India. But that is the very thing that we are trying to do. Only, if we are so trying to act, do not let us think it is a good argument for laying this burden on the shoulders of England, that India is not self-governed. She is not at this moment a self-governing country. Can you make her a self-governing country? Can you at this moment make her a self-governing country? Would it be for her benefit to try? Every one of you would answer "No." Well, then, Sir, if it is not for her benefit that such an effort should be made, it is your business to govern her, and it is your business to govern her on the principles of justice, and to hold the scales evenly between 807 the people of England and the people of India. Has India, then, an interest in this question? Had she an interest in the Egyptian operations, or had she not? The hon. Gentleman quoted me—and I daresay he quoted roe accurately—as having stated that our interest in the Suez Canal was not the immediate cause of the war of last year. I believe he was quite accurate in his reference; but what I said—what I wanted to convey—was this—that the warlike operations of last year had assumed a character higher than that of any question of mere interest. It had become a question directly involving the honour and fame of the British Government; and, consequently, there was a justification and a call for those operations, quite irrespective of any interest that we might have in the matter. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State was perfectly correct in saying—at least in my opinion—it may be a matter of opinion—that the interest of this country in the great waterway of the East lay at the root of the whole question; because I must assume that such arrangements as those which we found subsisting in Egypt at the time when we came into Office were arrangements that never could have been adopted, if it had not been for the vast interests of the country and of the Empire in the waterway of the Suez Canal. Well, Sir, is it possible to deny that India has an enormous interest in the question, and if in the question, then in the operations of last year? Not that I expect any support, or countenance, or quarter from Gentlemen like the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) on questions of this kind. He condemns the operations root and branch. He lets fly upon them—if I may use the expression—upon every occasion that presents itself. With him any stick is good enough to beat the Government. This, in his view, is a mode of inflicting punishment upon the Government for having committed what he thinks a great wrong. Therefore, I do not expect to get anything from him. I am perfectly contented that he should turn us out to-morrow morning for this monstrous iniquity that he thinks we have committed. It is perfectly consistent in him. I have no doubt he has in view the object I have described. [Sir WIL- 808 FRID LAWSON: Hear, hear!] But is it possible for a man to have listened to the speech of my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State, and to deny the vast interest that India has in these operations? The Suez Canal has a totally different interest for India from what it has in respect to England. For England the Suez Canal is a most convenient waterway, invaluable for the extension of its commerce, and opening up an easier and shorter road to all parts of the world. But for India the Suez Canal is a connecting link between herself and the centre of power—the centre of the moral, social, and political power of the world. It is a totally different thing to connect England with India, and to connect India with Europe. Then, if I go down to grossly material objects, and to separate items, my hon. Friend, in his excellent speech, has set forth as one item alone that we are now disputing about the question of £500,000 — one-seventh part, I think it is, of the expense of the Egyptian War—which has been laid upon India with the consent of the Indian Government. You are disputing about that; but what is the fact? Why, that my hon. Friend showed you, as regards the Suez Canal, that every year £250,000 is saved by the Suez Canal in respect of Indian military establishments—due to the Suez Canal, and nothing else—so that in two years alone the whole of the subject-matter of this debate and dispute disappears from the simple benefit conferred, not upon England, but upon India, in military expenditure, through the operation of the Suez Canal. If I look again to the general trade of India, and attempt to estimate the relative importance of the Suez Canal to the trade of England, and to the trade of India—I will not enter now into that very interesting and very curious question, by which it has been developed that naturally enough a great deal of trade from India, which used to pass through this country for the supply of Europe, has now been, I may say, lost to this country, and has taken the form of a direct trade between India, and especially the Mediterranean countries—I do not hesitate to say I am extremely glad of that, because any loss we have suffered in respect to that trade is far less than the benefit that India has obtained by the increased facilities 809 that she now enjoys from the shorter passage to the markets of the Mediterranean countries. But surely it is impossible to deny the vast pecuniary interest of India, as well as the moral and social interest of India, in the Suez Canal. I will just take two years. I would not trouble the House with a single figure, except to exhibit the relative importance of the Suez Canal to India and to this country in respect to trade. I know it may be said that the foreign trade of India represents a smaller proportion of its aggregate industry in exchange than the foreign trade of England. I have no doubt it does, and some allowance ought to be made on that account; but, at the same time, it is impossible to over-estimate the importance of the foreign trade of England to India. It is not only a matter of trade; but a matter of civilization, and a matter of her relations to the world. Therefore, to reduce to insignificance the foreign trade of India would he to inflict the heaviest blow that could be inflicted upon her. But the imports which we get through the Suez Canal form 8 per cent of our total imports, and the exports which we send through the Suez Canal form 9½- per cent of our total exports. The imports which India gets through the Canal form 75 per cent of her total imports, and her exports-£26,000,000 in value—form 39 per cent of her total exports. Now, Sir, I do hope that it will not be said after this that India has no interest in the Suez Canal, and that no one will attempt to prove that the question of communication does not stand in the most direct relation to the military operations which we reluctantly undertook last year. I see that the hon. Member has resumed his seat. When I commenced these remarks, I pointed out that he has done what he was perfectly entitled to do by proposing his Amendment. But the effect of that Amendment is not merely the expression of opinion as to a certain arrangement; but it forms a Vote of Censure on the Government. That is a matter entirely within his own option and discretion.
My hon. Friend well knows that if he will look up a Parliamentary dictionary he will find that probably among the various senses 810 of the word "regret," the very first would be that which I have ventured to give to it—namely, notice to quit when it is used with regard to the operations of a Government. Against that notice to quit I enter an extremely humble and exceedingly mild, but, at the same time, an intelligible protest. On the merits of the question, what we have done is this—that, with the final consent of the Indian Government, after we had greatly reduced the original proportion, we have charged to India one-seventh of the expenditure. The other six-sevenths are to be paid by the people of this country; and I do say that, unless you are prepared to say that the expenses of every war external to the Frontier of India—however deeply interested India may be—shall be charged exclusively on the people of England, you cannot refuse to acknowledge that there is some reason in the very moderate and limited arrangement which we have made, and which the Indian Government has accepted on the present occasion.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
commented on the extraordinary action of the Prime Minister in making a question of Want of Confidence of the Amendment; but he supposed the Prime Minister had been informed by the Whip that unless something of the sort was done, many of his own supporters would vote against him. Hitherto, the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues had not shown much delicacy with regard to hostile votes in that House. They had been seriously defeated three times; yet, in a comparatively thin House, the right hon. Gentleman had taken that extraordinary proceeding. For his part, he did not regard the resignation of the Ministry with any very great apprehension. The arguments, both of the right hon. Gentleman and the Under Secretary of State for India, had been founded on two very serious fallacies—on two assumptions which hon. Gentlemen holding the opinion he did would altogether dispute. The first was that the Egyptian War was a necessary or a justifiable war; and the second, that it was net possible to consult the Indian Government upon the policy of that war. He denied that the war was necessary because of our interest of the Suez Canal. The slightest forethought and decision would have averted it. The war was, to use the 811 language of the right hon. Gentleman about the Afghan War, "an unjust and wicked war," the responsibility for which entirely rested with the Ministers of the Crown. Instead of maintaining peace, it had destroyed the National Party in Egypt, had thrown the country into a state of anarchy that was a shame and disgrace in the eyes of the world. Another result—at least, it was an indirect result—was that the Government had granted to a French Company the exclusive right over the Canal, if not in perpetuity, at least for 100 years. The Under Secretary of State stated that Major Baring had written his despatch protesting against India being charged for the cost of the Egyptian War in a fit of indignation; but it was signed by the Marquess of Ripon, Mr. Ebert, and all those academical Radicals who were governing India at present. As for the statements that there was no time to communicate with India, it must be borne in mind that for nine or ten months previous to the bombardment of Alexandria, Egypt had been in a very disturbed state, and during that period it would have been easy and practicable to consult with the Indian authorities. He had listened with the deepest interest to the right hon. Gentleman's striking demonstration of the value and growing importance of British and Indian trade through the Suez Canal. It was unfortunate that the Prime Minister had not thought of all these facts before he concluded that portentous Agreement with M. de Lesseps which had just perished of universal ridicule. The telegraph was always available. And then the Under Secretary of State promised a Committee next Session to inquire into certain portions of Indian Finance. But what had that to do with this charge? It was very much like the promise of the Prime Minister, when he went out of Office in 1874, to remit the Income Tax an ineffectual bribe to public opinion; it had nothing to do with the question. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, who in times past used to convulse the country with his passionate advocacy of oppressed nationalities, was the Minister who now came down to the House and, affecting to assume high moral ground, defended this charge upon the people of India, a charge respecting which neither they nor 812 Their "despotic rulers"—the phrase was not his, but that of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold)—were consulted. The act was one of extraordinary and unprecedented inconsistency.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he had always understood that Indian questions should not be made Party questions; and it was, therefore, with extreme regret he heard the declaration of the Prime Minister, a few minutes ago, that this was distinctly a Party question.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
observed, that he had always thought that Votes of Censure were Party questions. But whether it was a Party question or not, it was a question of the greatest importance that could be brought before the House. He agreed that after the despatch of the Marquess of Ripon, protesting against saddling India with any of the extraordinary expenses of the Egyptian Expedition, there was really nothing more that need be heard on the subject. All their attacks on the proposal of Her Majesty's Government were merely elaborations of that most able State document. The only question they had to trouble themselves with was — Was this expenditure for the good of India, or was it not? What had they done for the people of India in return for this money? Before the debate was adjourned the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, who never spoke about the Egyptian Expedition unless compelled, said that it was desirable this money should be brought from India, because she had benefited by the military operations carried on for the pacification of Egypt, and for the security of the Canal. In the first place, he had to say that there was no disturbance in Egypt till they sent their Fleet there, and began meddling in affairs. They were the amalgamated anarchists who caused disturbances in Egypt. In the second place, he would ask who it was that protected the Suez Canal? Lord Wolseley the other day said that if Arabi had blown up the Canal he would probably have been in Egypt still. Arabi did not infringe upon the Canal rights; but we did when we sent our ships into it. Until the despotic Member for Salford 813 (Mr. Arnold) discovered three ships laden with explosives in the Canal somewhere, no one heard of the danger. But probably the three ships were only three black crows. As to the rights of the people, he should have thought they were self-government, and that that would satisfy the Radical Member for Salford.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
Oh, yes. Everybody hoped that; but the time never came. It was always in the future. He believed in self-government now. The fact was, as he had often said before, the war was a bondholders' war, and had been no benefit to the poor Indian people, who were now asked to pay. Those people were so poor that 40,000,000 of them were said to go through life without sufficient food; and yet they talked about the blessings they had conferred upon the people of India. They all remembered what was said by the Postmaster General (Mr. Fawcett) in regard to burdens which were imposed on the wretched ryots of India; but that was before the right hon. Gentleman degenerated into the Government man that he was now. Where, also, was the Judge Advocate General (Mr. Osborne Morgan) that he was not present to make a speech in support of the Amendment? He wished the Prime Minister would lend him two or three men from the Treasury Bench to discuss this question from the old standpoint. One short afternoon of freedom would be enough. They might go back to slavery on the Government Bench the next day; but, meanwhile, the Postmaster General, the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), and one or two others, would make such a debate that it would be impossible for that House to assent to the Government proposal. Having quoted the declarations of the Members referred to on the subject of placing charges on India, the hon. Baronet said he wished to quote a few words of the Prime Minister himself. They were to be found in Hansard, which generally was correct. What did he say?—Can I bring myself to vote that the expenses of this struggle, which is wholly our act, shall be placed upon India P I say 'No;' and I will go freely into any assembly of Englishmen and tell them I say 'No '814 —[Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!]—and appeal to them whether they will not say 'No' also. Nay, I am persuaded—such is my opinion of their generosity—that when they thoroughly understand the facts of the case they will say distinctly that those who make the war should pay for the war."—(3 Hansard,  904.)He thought he had quoted enough. What he maintained was that the Egyptian case was far stronger than the Afghan one, on which the right hon. Gentleman spoke so strongly. Why should they go to the wretched Indians for any of the cost? We had had all the fun, and fame, and folly, and glory of it to ourselves. How delighted the English people were at one great victory! There we were five times as numerous as the Egyptians, and 50 times as strong; and we licked them, like five big bullies licking a little fellow in the street, and everybody was delighted. There were banquets, Peerages, and processions, and addresses; and now, when we had all this intense pleasure and rejoicing over the slaughter of our fellow-creatures, we called upon these wretched Indians to help us to pay the bill. Reason, equity, and justice demanded that the people who made the war should pay for it. It was, in his opinion, to be regretted that the Prime Minister had treated the question in a way to frighten hon. Members from voting according to their conscience. It would be extraordinary if the Government felt themselves called upon to resign because the Representatives of the people of this country agreed to pay the money instead of getting it from another quarter he was not to be frightened by the right hon. Gentleman. Let them be just, and. fear not—not even the Prime Minister. The people of England would give the money. All classes would vote for it; the Nonconformist ministers, who wrote that the war was a policy of righteousness; the Archbishops, who made a prayer thanking God for the slaughter of the Egyptians—["No, no!"]—the middle classes and the working men, whom the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) called upon to support the war. Let them pay for what the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) called a violation of international moral law. Do not let them go to these wretched Indians and make them pay by extracting from them their wretched earnings. 815 We ought to pay for our own folly and our own pride.
, in explanation, said, he did not at all dispute that at the time of the Afghan War he stated that it would be unjust to lay the charge on the people of India; and so he admitted that the hon. Baronet, who believed the Egyptian operations were unjust, was quite consistent in saying the expenses should not be laid upon the Indian people. But the hon. Baronet appeared to him to be generalizing, and putting upon him in that statement the laying down of a general principle, that because we were the authorities who made the war, therefore we should pay for it. That was not correct.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
said, the statements which had been made about the poverty of the people of India were much exaggerated. Hon. Gentlemen had sought to excite commiseration by describing the dwellings of the people of India as mud huts with thatched roofs; but in a hot climate no place was so comfortable as a mud hut with a thatched roof. It must be remembered, too, that of the £70,000,000 which constituted the Revenue of the Indian Government, only £20,000,000 was, in the strict sense, taxation, and that was not very exorbitant with a population of 250,000,000. He would have been glad if the whole of the war expenses were charged to the English Exchequer; but, at the same time, he could not, as a matter of principle, support the Amendment.
The House divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 210: Majority 155.—(Div. List, No. 237.)
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (who spoke amid cries of "Oh, oh!")
said, as the House wished to proceed to the Business, he would not make all the observations upon the Motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanhope) which he would have liked to have done; but he could not allow to pass without a protest a Motion which implied a Vote of Censure upon Lord Ripon, a conscientious, faithful Viceroy, who had been doing, was still doing, and would continue to do, all in his power to reduce the Expenditure of India. If this Motion were passed, he, for one, wished to say that it was only a Motion of the same character as the Motion of his hon.
816 Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) which had lately been moved with regard to English Expenditure.
Main Question put, and agreed to.Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary that early steps be taken to reduce the expenditure of India.