§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ (3.0.) MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
Mr. Speaker, as this is the only opportunity I shall have, I desire to bring before the House some matters relating to the employment of labour in Indian mills and factories in conformity with the notice which I have had on the Paper for some time past, to the effect that further reforms are necessary in the Law of India dealing with native labour in factories and workshops. Even before the recent Labour Conference held at Berlin labour questions had come to receive more attention, not only in this country but throughout Europe generally, and we have recently ourselves been engaged in discussing a new Factory Act, chiefly made up of amendments to the principal Act of 1878, and a principal object of the new Act is to alter the age at which children may begin to work and the hours of labour for women, and to introduce remedial clauses for their benefit. India, too, has had its Factory Acts, and there has been one recently passed which is to take effect on the 1st day of next January, and one of the main objects I have in bringing forward this question is to draw attention to the inadequate character of this Act to meet the reasonable requirements for the control and regulation of native labour in India. The present position of labour in that country is that it has almost no protection whatever, except in the case of children. Any person above 12 years of age may be worked at any hour night or day, and for as many hours as employers think proper; the sole exception is that children between 7 and 12 years of age cannot be worked in mills more than nine hours a day. It is to remedy this and other conditions that the recent Act has been passed, but its provisions are so inadequate, and the Act deals with such a small percentage of Indian labour, that I have no doubt the House will agree with me in considering 1260 that the recent measure which has not yet come into operation will, before it does so, have to be re-amended and much enlarged in its scope in order to be of any real value to those whom it is intended to protect. No amount of time for which I could at present ask the indulgence of the House would be sufficient to make a fully adequate statement of the case. I shall, therefore, confine myself to a bare recital of a few facts, which perhaps after all may be the most forcible way of presenting a case of this kind. The position I take up being, in my judgment, a strong one, I hope the right hon. Gentleman who represents India will be able to make some statement promising a re-amendment and an extension of the scope of the recent Act in order at least to do partial justice to the labouring classes in India, who are unable to combine for their own protection or create those labour organisations with which we are familiar in this country. It is impossible to urge on the part of the Indian mill-owners that theirs is a declining trade, or one that is suffering from severe competition. Even if such reasons existed they would be entirely inapplicable, because no one dare advocate the employment of men, women, and children under unreasonable conditions, even to make a trade profitable, which otherwise would not be so; but, as a matter of fact, it is so profitable that the trade of cotton-spinning in India has been increasing by leaps and bounds. The first mill was erected as lately as 1854, they had multiplied to 67 in 1883, and between that time and the present, that is to say, in a period of some seven or eight years, the number has more than doubled, and there are now nearly 150 cotton mills in India. In some of the Indian newspapers they have spoken in respect to the mill workers as if they rather liked the long hours and the other existing conditions of employment. Well, Sir, we were told here a little while ago that the children in Lancashire preferred, and that it was beneficial for them, to go to the mill at 10 years of age instead of waiting until they were 12, but we had these views successfully disputed at the time, and they have since been thoroughly exposed by the evidence given a few days ago by Lancashire 1261 schoolmasters before the Labour Commission. If, therefore, we find that little dependence can be placed on statements, made as these were, relating to persons at our own door, how much less dependence should be placed on statements made about operatives so far away as India. On this point, no doubt, under certain circumstances, they would often find workers who would express themselves as satisfied with existing conditions. I have said, Sir, under certain circumstances, as this would make all the difference as to the views which might be expressed by the workers themselves. On this point I shall quote a sentence from the Report of the recent Commission on Indian Factories, where the Commissioners say, in speaking of native witnesses—Operatives who had been answering our questions freely while alone, were in many instances reduced to silence or evasive replies by the accidental presence of their employers.This shows how little dependence is to be placed on statements coming from India to the effect that the workers rather like their existing regulations. The remark from the Report of the Commission, which I have just read, will show that there are certain coercive influences which can easily be brought to bear on operatives in India to cause them to give evidence which might lead those unacquainted with the facts to suppose that they were very well satisfied with their present conditions of employment. I have reason, Sir, I think, to consider the House, also the Government, will be in favour of the view that the Act which has been passed by the Indian Council is insufficient to adequately remove the abuses connected with Indian labour, and I will also say that it is necessary that this House should assist the Government in this matter. The Government themselves must, I believe, be dissatisfied with the scope of the Act, as it certainly does not go anything like so far as they intended it should go; and, indeed, for what has been done in India we have, in my opinion, chiefly to thank the Secretary of State for India and the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Indian Government in this House. The new Factory Act was for a considerable time under discussion, and the Secretary of State for India sent 1262 a Despatch to the Governor General stating that—The general principle of all factory legislation, as already adopted in this country and in India, is that life and limb must be protected, and that the health of all women, young persons, and children must, so far as possible, be assured. To this principle Her Majesty's Government have recently, in the Berlin Conference, declared their adhesion, thus recommending it for adoption by the other Powers of Europe. How far this general principle has been already applied in India is a matter for your consideration. As regards any additional factory legislation in India, due regard must be had to the circumstances of that country, which are in many respects different from those of an European nation. But the same general principle is, nevertheless, applicable, and the object of any such legislation must be to secure without fail for the various classes of operatives in India an amount of protection for life and limb, and an amount of security for the health of women, young persons, and children not inferior to that which is afforded by the law of England.Now, Sir, let us see how far the Indian Council has carried out the views which they were asked to attend to; and, although this could be better shown in tabular form, I will try to make the enormous difference between the Act as passed and the legislation of this country as clear as I can without the advantage of a table. The Indian Act applies chiefly to textile factories, and I shall compare its provisions with those which exist in our own Acts. By the Indian Act children may be worked at nine years of age for 42 hours per week; our limit of age is 11, and the hours 28½ per week. Girls above 14 and women are to work in Indian mills 66 hours per week; our limit is 56 ½; and the intervals for meals and rest are with us two hours, while they are only one and a half in India. In India the rest days for all workers will be 52 days during the year; with us they are 84. The limit of the working day for children is to be from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.—that is, 15 hours' per day; here they are limited to 12. There is no limit to the working day in India for male young persons, for women, and for men, unless the mill is run on the shift system; but where this is not done, women and young persons may be employed at night, which cannot be done with us—a practice which has been condemned by all medical men as particularly injurious for women and all young 1263 persons under 18. In India, as the mill runs from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., it presents great difficulty to the Inspectors—and this branch of mill supervision is notoriously weak in India. In reference to this, I may quote what the Home Secretary said in his speech on the Second Reading of the Factory Bill this year, one object of which was intended to put a stop to the evil of loose limits in working hours. The Home Secretary, in commenting upon them, said that they seriously interfered with the work of inspection, asThere is no process by which the Inspector can detect that women are being overworked, as there is nothing to show when they commenced, when they left off, and when they took their meals.On this account, the Bill recently passed through the House requires a specified period of 12 hours to be fixed by the employers, and the employés are to be given 1½ hours for meals. These loose limits are in the Indian Act, and require to be altered, as inspection with respect to the hours worked by women, children, and young persons will be of no value while such conditions exist. Now, Sir, can it be said the regulations of the Indian Act come up to the standard laid down by Lord Cross in his Despatch? So far from this being the case, they have not in any particular whatever similar conditions or hours for working in India to those instituted by Statute in this country. Lord Cross demands that—Without fail for the various classes of operatives in India an amount of protection for life and limb, and an amount of security for the health of women, young persons, and children, not inferior to that which is afforded by the law of England.Now, Sir, some persons suppose that in India children may be employed at an earlier age than in this country, as they mature at an earlier age. But it is only true that they develop earlier in certain functional ways. So far from their maturing earlier than Europeans, I may quote Mrs. Peachey Phipson, who has practised medicine among women in India, and who, in a recent lecture in Bombay, said—A Hindoo girl of 15 is about equal to an English girl of 11, instead of the reverse, and that statements to the contrary by Englishmen who have no opportunity of being acquainted with family life were totally misleading.1264 The truth is, Sir, that bone and muscle take about the same time to develop in every climate. With respect to night working, it has been defended on the ground that it is cooler and more agreeable to the workers. Why, Sir, the temperature in the Indian mills is 90 degrees or over, whether it is day or night, and the highest medical authorities could be quoted, if I desired to take up the time of the House, to show that night work is as bad for the Indian operative as it is bad for labour everywhere else; and I would call the attention of the House to the fact that every man operative who gave evidence before the late Commission asked that the hours of labour should be from 6 in the morning until 6 at night. I might here point out that the Indian Act does not cover anything like the whole of Indian labour. Many workshops and factories will be entirely outside the Act. Indeed, only a small percentage of the people of India will come within its provisions. But even worse than the condition of the cotton mills, to which it chiefly applies, is the fact which was stated in the House on the 4th of last month by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India, in reply to a question put by myself, that in mines in India women and children are now employed underground. It is more than half a century since this was made impossible in the United Kingdom, and it should not be necessary to wait for legislation to stop it in India. Surely the Council could, by an Order, make such a thing illegal forthwith. Now, Sir, by what arguments do the Indian millowners oppose legislation? Let me appeal to the Times, and read a few lines from the article on this question, in which the writer says—Any readers who will take the trouble to go back to the evidence which was adduced by Lord Shaftesbury in support of the reforms which are inseparably associated with his name will find that opposition to the Factory Acts in England proceeded on precisely the same lines as those on which it is now being conducted in India.That, Sir, spares one the trouble of occupying the time of the House in dealing with the Indian objections to reform, as we have long ago settled them in our own Debates on these questions. Reforms must be insisted on, and I cannot show the necessity of this so well by 1265 any language of my own as by reading another short extract from a leading article which appeared in the same journal last year, which states—It would be an absolute disgrace to this country, the acknowledged pioneer of factory legislation in Europe, if Indian manufacturers were still suffered to practise the barbarities from which our Representatives at the Conference fancied themselves able to denounce from a position of unusual security.It is the Berlin Conference that is here referred to, and I might extend what I have said by some quotations from the speeches of our Representatives at the Conference, but I content myself with quoting but one sentence which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India, who represented this country at the Conference, in which he made the following important and explicit declaration:—We can pledge ourselves for Great Britain that our Government, faithful to its actions in the past, will conform resolutely in the future, if it does not go beyond them, to the benevolent principles of the Conference.Now, Sir, there is hardly one of the principles to which our Representative referred in the words quoted, with respect to the ages, hours, and conditions at and under which women, young persons, and children labour that is not violated by the Indian Factory Act just passed. I have nothing whatever to say against the manufacturers of India. They are neither better nor worse than other classes in every country, as employer treat employés as unjustly as they can or dare so long as the law permits them. In this country combination among employés has done much to improve their position, but the law had first to make combination possible. In India such combination, although perhaps allowed, is, from the nature of the people, impracticable, and consequently the law must at once step in and restrain the action of the employers. Now, Sir, I have finished what I intended to say to the House on this subject. I have read the Despatch of Lord Cross in which he takes up the position that India must have substantially the same labour legislation as the United Kingdom, differing only in such circumstances as are necessary for local requirements. I have also read to the House the words of the Under Secretary for India pledging our Government 1266 to at least conform to the principles of the Berlin Conference, and no one can deny that there is a great gulf between the principles he spoke of and the terms of the new Indian Factory Act. The arguments used in India against a change are the same old ones revived that did duty in Lord Shaftesbury's time against reforms long since agreed to by us, and which are admitted on all hands to be highly beneficial in their effect. I have not, Sir, said a word nor used a quotation with the object of making an appeal to the feelings of this House; and I might have read scores of extracts from the Reports of medical men, Inspectors, and other qualified persons which would have had that effect, but I have refrained and confined myself to a bare statement of the more important facts bearing on the case. I think, Sir, after quoting Lord Cross's Despatch and the Under Secretary for India, it will be unnecessary for me to move the Resolution which stands in my name, or to divide the House. I trust I am right in looking for a sympathetic reply from the right hon. Gentleman who represents India, and that the Government will impose upon the Council of India the terms sent in their own Despatch and, as the Times said in its leading article—He will not permit to exist in India a state of things which would be an absolute disgrace to this country—the acknowledged pioneer of factory legislation in Europe.We are, Sir, discussing the position of people who have no Employers' Liability Act, and politically weak are really unable, although numerically strong, to combine for their own defence as workmen do in Europe. It is not too late to enlarge the scope of the new Act so as to make it of some value, as the Council will meet in October, and the Act does not take effect until the 1st of January. I hope I may also rely on the support of hon. Members on the other side of the House, for this is not a Party question, and as another reason for this I may add that nothing can relieve this House from its responsibility in seeing that reasonable and fair conditions are framed for the regulation and control of labour throughout British India.
§ (4.2.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
I trust that the appeal of my hon. Friend who has brought forward this subject, 1267 and who has urged further legislative restrictions of the Indian Factory-Acts, will not be acceded to by Her Majesty's Government. He has put forward two grounds for a reform; in the first place, he seeks to have them assimilated to the Acts in this country; and, in the nest place, he bases his appeal upon the decision of the Berlin Conference. Now, with regard to the decision of the Berlin Conference, we all recognise that the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India was a most worthy Representative of this country at Berlin, and that he urged upon the Conference the necessity for further factory legislation in all European countries; but we also have to acknowledge the fact that the representations of the right hon. Gentleman and the decisions of the Conference have not been carried out by the Ministry of which he is a member. It would, therefore, be altogether inconsistent if Her Majesty's Government were to endeavour to enforce legislation in reference to factory labour in India, while, at the same time, they are not willing to insist on the recommendations of the Berlin Conference being adopted in their own country. Another point upon which my, hon. Friend urges the Government to take action is that it is desirable to bring up Indian factory legislation to the same level, in all its details, to factory legislation in England. Now, it does seem to me that my hon. Friend, in desiring the House to accept a proposal of this kind, is endeavouring, by means of a discussion, and political pressure, to usurp the functions which are delegated to the legislative authority of the Governor General in Council. If the House were once to embark in such an undertaking, it would be embarking in an undertaking which would be extremely unfair both to the people and the Government of India. I must, therefore, protest against the attempt of my hon. Friend to urge the Government to enter into any legislation of the kind. As far as I have been able to read the Papers which have been laid before the House, what we have rather to complain of is that the Government have in the past brought undue pressure to bear on the Government of India in regard to the Factory Act which has just been passed. My hon. Friend 1268 quoted the Despatch of Lord Cross, of May, 1890; but my hon. Friend did not mention the fact that the Despatch was sent out to cover certain Memorials from the Blackburn Chamber of Commerce, which had been sent to the Secretary of State urging upon him to press the Government of India to adopt the conclusions which the Memorialists had arrived at. Now, with all due deference to the Lancashire Chambers of Commerce, from which the Memorials emanated, I venture to doubt whether they are an impartial body to decide what is good for factory legislation in India. Apart from the Despatch of Lord Cross of 1890, all the information supplied to us is contained in four pages of telegrams from the Secretary of State pressing the Government of India for action. I find that the Bill dealing with the question was postponed for a year, the Government of India expressing their willingness to consult the native Governments; but we find a constant repetition of telegrams urging expedition. Those telegrams convey no information to the House, but express a constant desire that the Viceroy should expedite matters. In the next place, we have a series of telegrams between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy of India by which we are given to understand that the details of the new Factory Act were settled by instructions from the India Office and under protest in regard to several matters from the Viceroy of India. Then we have this telegram from the Secretary of State—Her Majesty's Government have considered your telegram of the 20th inst., and have decided that the Bill must he proceeded with and passed without delay.And we have heard to-day from the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell), that the final telegram to the Viceroy, stating that Her Majesty's Government had decided that the Bill "must be passed without delay," was sent as urgent under Section 26 of the 21st and 22nd Victoria Chapter 106, which makes special provision for cases of urgency. This is a provision which empowers the Secretary of State, but only in matters of extreme urgency, to override the opinion of the Government of India, and also to override the 1269 opinion of the members of the Indian Council. Therefore, I think that my hon. Friend has no ground to complain as to want of pressure being exercised by Her Majesty's Government in securing the passing of the Factory Act. There is one matter of detail to which I must refer, as it was alluded to by my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend, having contended that there ought to be a levelling up of factory legislation in India to that which exists in this country, referred to Mrs. Peachy Phipson as an authority on his side, and quoted articles from the Times. Now, the Times of July 17 contains a letter from Mrs. Peachy Phipson stating that she had seen with surprise the letter of Mr. Holt Hallett in reference to Indian factory legislation, but that her astonishment had reached a climax when she saw words of her own quoted as an argument against the employment of women in the Indian factories. She proceeded to point out that the result of what had already been done by the Indian Factory Act had been to turn women out of the lighter work in the factories and to drive them to the heavy work of agricultural labour. I could quote similar statements on the subject from other authorities; but if the hon. Member will go through the selections from native newspapers in the Voice of India, sent to Members of this House, he will see it repeatedly stated that the Act, in the belief of native Indian opinion, was the result of political pressure at home. As a matter of fact, Her Majesty's Government have undoubtedly put pressure upon the Government of India to pass the Factory Act in the form in which it has been passed. My hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) put a question in February of last year upon the subject. He urged the Indian Government to pass the Factory Act; and, in calling attention to certain details of factory work in India, he based his appeal to the Government to press the Indian Government to embark in factory legislation, among other things, upon the fact that "great indignation was felt by the Lancashire operatives at the competition to which they were exposed." That gives us one of the causes of the political pressure put on the Government. The factory legislation which my hon. Friend 1270 then urged upon the Government to adopt has since been adopted. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Provand) now assumes a different attitude, and urges much further legislation, although my hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire acknowledges himself that one of the principal motive causes for legislation in India was the indignation of the Lancashire operatives at the competition to which they were subjected. I believe that the demand for legislation comes chiefly, if not exclusively, from Lancashire, which is exposed to very severe competition from the Indian cotton mills. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Maclean) has had great experience of India, and he also knows something about factory legislation. My hon. Friend and I were Members of the Grand Committee on Trade when the Factory and Workshops Bill was discussed, and there was no more strenuous an advocate on behalf of the factory operatives of Oldham, nor one who took a more prominent part in resisting the application of the recommendations of the Berlin Conference to labour in this country, than my hon. Friend; yet my hon. Friend takes an entirely different view of the recommendations of that Conference when they are to be applied to Indian labour in competition with Lancashire labour. On the 17th of February last the hon. Member for Oldham pat a question in this House urging that the Indian Factory Act should include the recommendations of the Berlin Conference as to age and other matters, and such was the weight attached to the opinion of my hon. Friend that in one of the Despatches of the Secretary of State for India particular reference was made to the question of my hon. Friend. Without absolutely urging the adoption of the view of my hon. Friend the Secretary of State placed it before the Government of India, and put pressure upon that Government to adopt the views of the Lancashire Members generally. I do not think, after all that has occurred, that it is expedient Her Majesty's Government should give encouragement to Motions of this kind urging them to put pressure on the Government of India. We all know that such things have taken place before, 1271 and it is my belief that on the present occasion an attempt is being made to repeat the experiment. I think the House ought to enter a strong protest against the course which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow is urging the Government to take.
§ *(4.29.) MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
I do not intend to say much upon this occasion, as I have a Motion down in my own name, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) has referred to a question which was put by me last year, it is only right that I should offer an explanation. My hon. Friend only read a portion of my question. What I spoke of was the competition between the Lancashire operatives and those in India who were working for 80 hours a week. I can only say that to some extent I share the feeling of my hon. Friend, and that I fully appreciate the great danger of imposing severe restrictions upon Indian factory labour. It is quite true that I felt that the time had come when we should have some kind of factory legislation in India. Children of seven years old had been reduced to skeletons by the cruel conditions under which they had to work, and I felt it was disgraceful to see a Christian nation standing still and not moving a single muscle to abate abominations which went on in India, and which we stopped in this country 50 years ago. I am not afraid, or ashamed to say, in face of the native population of India, for whom I have always pleaded in this House, that the manufacturers of India are not only native Indians, but largely Lancashire capitalists, and that the Indian factories work to a large extent with Lancashire capital. These slave drivers in India are not only wealthy Indians, but are sometimes wealthy Englishmen. I say that on the ground of justice and humanity legislation of this kind is absolutely called for. I do not believe such legislation will do the slightest harm to trade in India even more than it did in Lancashire. The same arguments are used against it now as were used against it formerly in India. However, I quite believe that it would never do for this country to force upon India legislation which would have the appearance of being suggested by jealousy of her national manufactures. 1272 I would be the very last man to support such legislation. I would not agree to the Home Government forcing legislation upon India in too hasty a manner. I wish to stand, as it were, impartially between those who wish to bring factory legislation in India at any cost to the level of English legislation—which I do not think possible—and those who wish merely to adopt a policy of laissez faire, which I cannot countenance. I hope the House will excuse my intervention in this Debate.
(4.34.) SIR G. CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,
When we made the change in the procedure of this House, which enables all sorts of Indian subjects to be discussed before we come to the Indian Budget, I ventured to express doubt and dissent as to the expediency of the alteration. It seems to me that the proceedings of this evening are a justification of the doubts I then expressed. The Legislature has not contemplated that India should be administered in this House, but no doubt the finances of India are very closely connected "with the interests of this country, large sums of money being borrowed by India from this country. Therefore, Parliament in its wisdom thought fit that there should be an opportunity for this House to deal to some extent one evening in the Session with the finances of India. We have now departed from that arrangement. There is very little doubt that the finances of India will not be discussed at all this evening, and the result will be that the object of discussing those finances will be lost, and we shall be treated instead to a Debate on all sorts of subjects. I have rather prophesied that the subject of factory law reform in India would be a matter of close interest in this country. I am very ready to admit that the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) is not actuated by personal motives in this matter, as we all know him to be a man of wide philanthropy. At the same time, I must take exception to what he has said. I ask him where is the evidence of the abominations which he says have taken place in the Indian factories? No doubt some precautions are required for the fencing of machinery, and for providing that the health of the operatives is duly eared for. But as to children being 1273 reduced to skeletons by the overwork to which they are subjected, I believe the evidence conclusively shows that there is nothing of the kind; they have a system of voluntary shifts by which the labour is shifted as they like, and two or three persons do the work which is done by one in this country. The evils against which we have to guard are evils of another kind. As regards the greater part of what has been said by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan), I believe that the representative Lancashire manufacturers are not the people to deal with this matter. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Provand) has an interest in mills in Manchester—
§ MR. PROVAND
Permit me to make a personal explanation. I have no interest whatever in mills. I have not sixpenny worth of interest in any Manchester manufacture. I have never been spoken to on the subject by anyone interested in Manchester manufactures. The only interest I have is a tripartite interest. I am interested in a limited company, formerly a private firm, which sells Indian spinnings in China, which sells large quantities of American cotton goods in China, and which also sells cotton goods in China. I have moved in this matter for no reason whatever except that I believe the accounts that have come from India respecting the barbarities perpetrated in factories there—
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I must apologise to my hon. Friend. I always thought that he had some Manchester business—
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I never said my hon. Friend had some mills, but I said he had some cotton interest. He tells us that he has such an interest, and that he does export Lancashire manufactures for sale in India.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I thought he said to India. Well, Sir, I will not be personal to my hon. Friend, but I will say that it is Lancashire cotton people who press on the Government the necessity of restraining the manufactures 1274 of India. I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Oldham is not in a hurry to take part in this Debate. He pressed on the Government the obligation of imposing on the people the Resolutions of the Berlin Conference, from which India was really exempted by the distinction that was drawn between Northern and Southern manufacturers. On the other hand, my hon. Friend has been from the very first one of the most extreme in pressing the Resolutions of the Berlin Conference upon India; yet he was one of those who objected to applying them to Lancashire. But I think my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) has already dealt with that point, so I will not say more about it. But although I admit that there may be something in the position taken up by the Lancashire manufacturers, that they were subject to some restrictions, while their Indian rivals were not, I say that they ought honestly to speak as rival manufacturers, and not in the character of philanthropists, because I think that all the agitation has arisen from rivalry and not from philanthropy. I do not think any case has been made out of atrocities with regard to the work and labour of Indian men, and women, and children, to which allusion has been made. I have no wish to enter into the details of these matters; but it seems to me that the Government of India have gone as far as they could reasonably go, and the Government of India, in my opinion, are the best judges in this matter. [A cry of "No!"] They have approached it in a fair, candid, and honest spirit. They have looked to the interests of all parties. They have gone as far as they should go. They have done all that it is necessary to do, and the question is, whether they have not gone a little too far in regard to the women of India? The hon. Member for Edinburgh has suggested that this legislation may have an injurious effect upon the women of India. I say that that would be an enormous evil to India. Of all things we should try to bring forward the women of India: to give them an opportunity of getting work at fair wages, and thereby to raise themselves to a higher position in the social scale. Such an opportunity they have been getting in the Indian factories, and it is 1275 one which we should endeavour still more to develop. What I say is, that at the instigation of jealous Lancashire manufacturers to put any clogs or hindrances on such employment would be to do a very great injury to the people of India. I am free to admit, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh has said, that if the Government of India has not done more, it has not been for want of urging on the part of Her Majesty's Government. I do not think it was right or proper that Her Majesty's Government should have gone so far in the direction of the representations of the people of Lancashire in urging the Government of India to go further than the Government of India desired to go. The Under Secretary of State for India shakes his head; but I think, looking to the correspondence and the telegrams which have been quoted by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, especially in view of the statements made by the First Lord of the Treasury and others, it is the case that Her Majesty's Government, who very much depend on Lancashire votes, did urge the Government of India to do a great deal more than they were willing to do. But a great deal of good has been done by the firmness of the Government of India in doing their duty to the people of India rather than accepting the views of Her Majesty's Government. There is only one point in the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow which I should like to correct. He said that the people of India do not know how to combine. Why, the people of India knew how to combine long before the people of this country. Trades Unions, combinations, strikes, are a far more highly developed institution there than in this country. We who have known India for the last 50 years know that these strikes have long continued there, and that nowhere in the world have they been better organised. I was reading the other day the Life of Sir Thomas Munro, and there I saw that in one case, when the people were not satisfied with the land revenue assessment, they combined together, and that so thoroughly that the Governor of the country and his family were almost starved, because they were so effectually boycotted that they could not get food. Therefore, it is not for my 1276 hon. Friend to run away with the idea that these strikes and combinations had not been developed in India. I think the people of India in this respect are pretty well able to protect themselves. Well, Sir, as I have said, I will not go into details. I decline to discuss the details in this House. But what I do say is this: that the conditions of India are totally and entirely different from the conditions of this country, and of every country in Europe. I say that the Conference of Berlin, wise as they were, feeling and knowing that they knew nothing about the conditions of life in India, entirely abstained from laying down any rules applicable to that country; and we, who know a good deal less than the members of that Conference, should not take that duty upon ourselves. Therefore, while not entering upon the details, I protest against our occupying this evening in the discussion of matters which are matters not for this House but for the Government of India to decide.
§ *(4.50.) MR. MACLEAN (Oldham)
I had not intended, Mr. Speaker, to make any remarks on this subject, because on other occasions I have spoken sufficiently about it already. But the flattering references made by hon. Members opposite to the part I have taken in the discussion of the question make me desire to say a word or two. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell) has suggested that I have been playing something of a dual character with regard to this question—that I took one view in respect to India and a different view in regard to Lancashire. Now, I have never pretended to have taken up this question of factory labour as a philanthropist. On the contrary, I have invariably advocated the restriction of the excessive hours of labour that factory operatives in India have to work on the ground that it was unfair that the operatives of this country should be exposed to competition of that kind. It is quite true that I pressed the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State to take action in this matter—not on my own account so much as that I represented a large body of employers and factory operatives who had brought this matter in successive years to the notice of the Secretary of State. And I certainly thought that as a certain standard 1277 was being set up at the Conference of Berlin, it was desirable that it should be set up for India as well as for other countries. But what was it that actually took place? We did not obtain from the Government of India the acceptance of the regulations laid down at the Conference of Berlin: and, therefore, I was perfectly free, when the question of the regulation of the labour of children in Lancashire was before this House, to take the line that it was impolitic to raise the age and reduce the hours of labour there when the Indian Government would not concede what had been laid down at Berlin. I do not think there was anything inconsistent in my action, therefore, in that respect. With regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Glasgow, which he has not moved, I confess I think it is inopportune for a Motion of that kind to be brought forward. I know a good deal about the way in which this movement has been conducted in England, and I have had no protests from the working men or the employers of Lancashire, since the new Indian Factory Act was passed, to amend that Act and carry on a fresh agitation. And I may say that my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Manchester and myself, who have taken a most active interest in this matter in this House, consulted together when that Act was passed, and we determined that it was better to wait and see how it works before renewing the agitation for further restricting the hours of labour in India. Because, I desire to say, I have no unkindly or ungenerous feeling towards the mill industry of India. It would be most ungrateful of me, looking to what I owe to India, if I had any such feeling. I only ask for fair play for our own operatives. But I could not help considering, after that Act was passed, that there was a political aspect to this question. We know that the concessions which have been made—and they are very substantial concessions—have been wrung from the Government of India against their will. I do not hesitate to say boldly that the Government of India behaved very badly in this matter—["No!"]—and that they encouraged the agitation of the millowners in India. But we are face to face with this declaration of the Government of India: that if they were called upon to make larger concessions than they had 1278 made they would not answer for the consequences, as a strong feeling of animosity would be thereby aroused in India against the English people. Well, now, that would have been a real danger, and I considered, and my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Manchester considered too, that it was better to be satisfied with the concessions we had already obtained, and to wait until the working of the new Factory Act showed both the mill-owners and the operatives of India that this improvement of the hours is better both for them and for the industry in which they are engaged, and then we may hope that further reforms will be made. Having made these remarks, and as I think the only Motion before the House is that you, Mr. Speaker, should leave the Chair, I shall be in order in calling attention to the subject of the Motion which stands in my name.
§ *MR. S. SMITH
But may I submit, as a point of order, that I simply rose to make an explanation in reference to an allusion which the hon. Member for Edinburgh made to a question of mine? I merely rose under the belief that I was quite in order in alluding to it, and that it would not debar me from bringing on the Motion standing in my name.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is a well-established rule. The hon. Member is quite out of order in speaking again on the Main Question. The hon. Gentleman spoke, and I was surprised at his intervening, knowing that he had a Motion on the Paper; but there is no rule for his speaking again.
§ *MR. MACLEAN (resuming)
I will now proceed, Mr. Speaker, to make some observations on a very important question really affecting the financial position of India. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy said he hoped this night would not be wasted in discussing all sorts of extraneous questions, so that no question really affecting the finances of India could be brought before the House. I wish to call attention to a very important matter really affecting the finances of India. I would point out, 1279 in the first place, how very serious a burden the present great military expenditure is upon the people of India, and then I would suggest a way by which, in my opinion at all events, any increase of that very heavy expenditure would be avoided. Now, at the outset, I should like to soothe any alarm that might be created on the opposite Benches, or amongst the Liberal Party in the country, at the mere mention of the name of Candahar. I have no intention of suggesting more than that it is desirable to extend the railway as far as Candahar. I have no intention of reviving old controversies, still less have I any aggressive purpose in my mind. But I think that in the interests of commerce, not only of India and of Afghanistan, but of this country also, it would be extremely desirable to extend the railway system as far as Candahar. That is the simple motive of the Resolution which I have put upon the Paper. Now, I daresay many Members are hardly aware of the extraordinary burdens which the present system of frontier policy imposes on the taxpayers of India. No doubt the state of the Indian finances is at present excellent; and I do not think that anybody could improve upon the way in which the accounts are submitted to this House. There is especially, in the explanatory statement of the Secretary of State for India, a balance sheet presented which is most satisfactory to all who are interested in that country, because it shows that there are actually in India tangible assets representing the whole of the liabilities of that country, with the exception of about£38,000,000 sterling, or rather less than one year's revenue. We may, therefore, say that the condition of India is now very flourishing, and that is further shown by the very large revenue now derived from the railways, whose total revenue has yielded an interest of about 4¾ per cent. on the whole of the capital invested in the railway lines. We also see from the Budgets presented by Sir David Barbour to the Legislative Council that the surpluses increase from year to year far beyond his Estimate. There is a most remarkable instance in the Revenue Accounts for the year which has just expired—1890–91. In March of last year the surplus was estimated at 1280 £270,400. I use the word "pounds," because it is a more familiar notation to this House than tens of rupees. Last August the Under Secretary told us that the estimated surplus had increased to £1,870,000. In March of this year it was estimated to be £2,787,100, and in August of this year the surplus for the financial year just expired has risen to the very large sum of £3,665,000, instead of about £270,000, as originally estimated. I see also that the Budget Estimate for this year, which showed a surplus of £115,000, has already increased, in spite of the Manipur events, to £395,000. These are very remarkable figures, and I think that they show that the Finance Minister has systematically underrated the flourishing condition of the revenues of the country. If I may offer a suggestion, possibly his reason is this: that he is afraid that if he told the Legislative Council of India what was the real state of the finances of the country, the whole of the surplus would be seized and swallowed up in the devouring gulf of military expenditure. That military expenditure has increased since the close of the Afghan War, and has been almost entirely due to the extraordinary expenses incurred in securing what is called a strategical frontier on the North West of India. I find, from figures given on pages 40 and 41 of Sir D. Barbour's Financial Statement, that the average military expenditure before the Afghan War might be taken at about £17,000,000 a year. The total since the Afghan War is £216,124,000, so that we have an increased expenditure since the Afghan War, in 11 years, over the normal expenditure of about £29,000,000. Then there are the special defence works, which amount to £4,663,000, and the amount expended on strategic railways amounts to £9,500,000, so that we have got an extra expenditure in 11 years of £43,287,000. You have to add to that about £1,000,000, which has been paid in subsidies to the Ameer of Afghanistan, so that you get a total of £44,000,000 for the 11 years, or about £4,000,000 a year increased expenditure for military purposes since the Afghan War. This average would have been greatly increased had it not been for the fact that there was a reduction in two or three years after the war up to 1885–86, when a great increase suddenly took 1281 place, and has since been maintained, in consequence of the outlay on the plan of frontier defence adopted by the Indian Government. At the present moment we may assume that the increase is £6,000,000 a year over the expenditure which was experienced before the Afghan War. This is as near an estimate as I can form of the total sum spent by the Indian Government on these purposes. We are forced, then, to this conclusion: that the armed peace which we have now is very nearly as costly as the Afghan War was, which was condemned as an extravagant waste of money. This policy which is being pursued in India was not deliberately adopted by the Indian Government, but it was forced upon them contrary to Indian opinion by the feeling of the people of this country. We know that the Indian Authorities "were anxious when they were once established at Candahar to remain there. The opinion of the Military Authorities in India was that if we had a force constantly stationed there, and connected by railway communication with India, that no invading Army would venture to pass that force without risking an engagement. The force would be stationed there on the flank of an invading Army, and it would be necessary for the invaders to turn aside and defeat this strong advance guard of British India, before they could continue the work of invasion. The opinion of this country forced the Indian Government to abandon Candahar, and I am not going to become a judge of that action. But look at the consequences that ensued. We have formed a vast camp at Quettah; we have made roads and railways through various Passes along the frontier, and every year this expenditure goes on. Naturally, the appetite for that sort of expenditure grows with what it feeds upon. The military engineers no sooner make one Pass secure than they discover another by which they can be taken in flank, and then an immense outcry is raised about the necessity of further defence, and so they go on from year to year. There are probably 300 Passes through this range of mountains, and we can see what an enormous military expenditure would be involved if we were to defend this immense extent of frontier. It is a far more for- 1282 midable task than France has taken in hand in fortifying her Eastern Frontier against Germany. This frontier from Kashmir down to the Persian Gulf covers in a bee line, I should say, fully 1,000 miles. Where are you going to get the troops from to defend that immense frontier line? It would take four or five times the troops we have in India to accomplish a work of that kind. The Indian Government, knowing this to be the real state of the case, are actually resorting to the hazardous experiment of allowing levies to be made by Native Chiefs under British officers to supplement the Native Army under our own control in India. I say that is a very hazardous experiment, because you have troops of very inferior quality which could only be employed in keeping the communications open, and in time of danger, if any disaster were suffered, these troops would be the cause of infinite mischief to our rule in India. But even when all this is done, I find that the Indian Military Authorities still believe that, if any hostilities were to break out on the frontier, they would be obliged to send a force in advance to Candahar; that they could not allow the enemy to approach this frontier, which is such a marvel of scientific strategy. No doubt whatever that is what would have to be done. Where have we gone with this wonderful railway system of ours? We have pushed it forward not only as far as Quettah, but we have just pierced the range of mountains with a tunnel which is about 70 miles from Candahar, and there the splendid system of Indian railways ends in what is literally a hole in the wall. It is almost incredible that the policy should have been adopted by a strong and far-seeing Government, such as the Indian Government, of not carrying forward this railway. They pierce a range of mountains and get to the frontier line on the other side, and there is then only 70 miles of intervening country between the end of that tunnel and Candahar, but the Government will not advance a single mile further towards that natural terminus of the railway. I remember the speech of my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India two or three years ago, in which he assured the House that he would welcome with the greatest gratitude the proposition that not a 1283 single soldier should be allowed to advance through the tunnel until war was declared. Look at the feeling which the Ameer of Afghanistan must entertain towards the people who act in this way. We have materials actually stored to carry the railway as far as Candahar, but the Ameer is told that this project will only be carried out if war ensues. If the Russians, for instance, invade Afghanistan, or if Afghanistan should in any way act against our rule, we should then take the course of constructing this railway to Candahar. The natural consequence of a policy of that kind is that the Ameer looks upon the railway as a standing menace. It seems to him a vast military engine always held in readiness to crush him if he shows the smallest symptom of independence. Why should we not make some attempt to show him that, instead of that, the railway is a beneficial institution which will develop the resources of his country, and make him a much richer man, and his people much more prosperous and contented than they now are? This is the change which I ask to be made in the policy of India towards Afghanistan. I say that we are making a very great mistake indeed when we shut ourselves in, as it were, behind a Chinese Wall on our North-West Frontier; when we say that we will never carry civilisation beyond those mountains; and that we will leave the Afghans in a state of anarchy; and that this country, which has been formally given over as a part of our sphere of influence by Russia, shall never be invaded by a single English merchant or trader. I say that that is a pusillanimous and short-sighted policy, which can do no good to our Empire in India. It was not by a policy of that kind that we gained India, and it is not by a policy of that kind that we can hope to retain it. The motto of the men who created our Indian Empire was always that of Danton—Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace. This Empire was built up first by the efforts of daring adventurers, who, when once they had planted their foot in a country, obtained the support of the Government for carrying out their de signs. Although private individuals have done the beginning of the work, still we have always seen that popular 1284 opinion in this country, moved by a strong commercial instinct, has supported with its Armies and its Fleets those private individuals until we gained the complete control of India. This commercial spirit has lasted from the spacious times of great Elizabeth down to our own day; it has been the strongest power in the government of this country. I dare say that, of late years, a change has taken place in that respect: the commercial spirit has been superseded largely by the industrial spirit. Looking back to a generation ago, I find that a Committee of the House of Commons—a very strong Committee—had no hesitation in proposing that a guarantee should be given for the construction of a railway right across, from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, and this vast design was approved of by the men of a past generation. But nowadays political power is transferred almost entirely into the hands of the working classes; and the majority of the men who live by manual labour, of course I except the intelligent artizans, who know how much depends upon the extension of trade with foreign countries, and how largely and immediately their own interest is connected with that extension; but the majority of the working men who live on weekly wages naturally want the foresightedness or courage to undertake vast or comprehensive designs for the extension of our Empire, or for the benefit of trade. The horizon of their hopes and fears extends a very short way beyond their own cottage doors. No doubt it is very desirable in many respects we should give attention to the improvement in the condition of the working classes; but, at the same time, we ought not to abandon those great commercial designs which have always been the source of the wealth and the power of England. Now, I maintain that if we were to approach the Ameer of Afghanistan in a very different spirit to that in which we have dealt with him in the last 10 years, we should find him open to reasonable representations as to the advantages of developing commerce between his country and India and England. Though I daresay hon. Members are not aware of what is the present condition of trade between India and Afghanistan, it shows very little signs of developing in any direction, and 1285 the risk is great, because the Russians on the north of Afghanistan push their railways right through that part of the country which falls within their sphere of influence. The region of Merv is becoming already, under their influence, as prosperous and fertile as it was in the old days, because railways in Asia carry with them everywhere cultivation and population; and you will soon see, under the rule of Russia, those countries become, as they were in former days, flourishing, and once more worthy of their old reputation. What is the position of England in the face of a competition like that? Russia can take down her goods cheaply to the very frontier of Afghanistan; we pause at our own frontier, and refuse to adopt the means available for carrying out the development of our trade. If the railway were completed right up to Candahar we could carry goods to Afghanistan as cheaply as can Russia, and as cheaply as we can place them in the capital of the Punjaub. If the Ameer were approached by the Indian Government he might be induced to relax the differential charges put on English goods, and not continue to give preferential duties to Russian goods. Mr. O'Connor, the very able head of the Statistical Department in India—really the Board of Trade in India—referred to this subject in his Report for last year on the Indian Frontier Trade, which, he says, the Ameer is ruining by the excessive duties levied on English merchandise, while very light duties are levied by him on competing goods from Russia. This is the action of our subsidised ally, whose foreign policy is supposed to be entirely under our control. He gives the preference in every way he can to Russian trade, and shuts out English goods as far as possible. How can you rely on a man who does that when the day of trial comes? I say that unless we can establish improved relations with the Ameer of Afghanistan we had better beware, for the time will come when he will turn out to be our enemy rather than our friend. To show that the views I hold are not merely those of a Member of the Conservative Party, perhaps I may be allowed to quote a passage I came across this morning in reading the very excellent book of Sir Charles Dilke—Greater Britain. Sir C. Dilke in his chapters on India deals with 1286 this question of the relations between India and Afghanistan, and the House will remember that at that time he was the guest of Sir Frederick Roberts, and enjoyed his entire confidence. In the observations, therefore, which he makes on the subject his views are not at all antagonistic to the real wishes of those who are in authority in India. Sir C. Dilke says, speaking of the strong desire of Indian soldiers to occupy Candahar, that he deprecates an advance to this place before the Russians have taken Herat. But he adds that, of course, if the Ameer could be brought to see either for trade or other reasons that the railway to Candahar should be completed, then that line should be made at once. That is all I ask the House to say, and I am very much mistaken if the Ameer himself would not be inclined to listen favourably to any advance of that kind, because he is a man with keen trading instincts. The Afghan race are not mere brutal savages; they are men of a high type, and, if they are not actually the lost tribes of Israel, certainly possess the money getting propensities of that people, with whom they are akin. The Ameer lately has taken some steps of his own accord to show that he is alive to any business relations with people who can show how to make his country more prosperous, and therefore more productive of revenue to himself. Sir C. Dilke mentions in his book that he welcomed the captain who was sent out by the Government of India to report on the mineral deposits of his country. Recently he has taken a still more decided step. An English resident in Bombay was sent by the Government of India to Cabul to initiate the Afghans into making cartridges and rifles, and after he had been there a short time the Ameer expressed a wish to enter into much wider business relations with him. Eventually the Ameer invited to his capital the representatives of the English firm—Messrs. Welsh and Martin—who were treated with the greatest kindness and distinction by the Ameer's officials en route to Cabul on their way to establish friendly relations there. I think that shows that there is an opening in Afghanistan for the development of peaceful commercial intercourse with that country. I hope that the Indian Government may be induced to open negotiations for the 1287 purpose of improving such intercourse. I desire that this railway should be extended to Candahar, and that it should be placed if necessary under the Ameer's own control when it enters his territory, so that he need not be afraid in any way of English designs. I hope that this railway will be constructed not only in the interests of trade with Afghanistan, but that it may be the first step towards opening up inter-communication by land between Europe and India. This is a design which will have to be entered upon some day, if not under English auspices, then under the auspices of some foreign Power. While we have three or four different lines—trans-Continental lines—crossing the "whole of the New World of America, from East to West, the Old World still remains undeveloped, although the route from Candahar to Herat and Bagdad and up to the confines of the Mediterranean is one of the most ancient and famous highways of commerce in the world. I hope that what I have said to-night may have some influence with the commercial people of this country, and that it may move them to take action in the matter, and that the Imperial Government of India may be induced to adopt a policy in regard to Afghanistan worthier of a nation which has always been regarded as the first commercial country in the world. I move the Resolution which stands in my name.
To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the present relations between India and Afghanistan are of an unsatisfactory character; and that, in the interest of the trade of both Countries, it is desirable to extend the Indian Railway system as far as Candahar."—(Mr. Maclean.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ *(5.30.) SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
I rise to second the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, and I think both India and England are grateful to the hon. Gentleman for bringing this question before the House, and for pressing it very seriously upon the attention of Her Majesty's Government. I do not quite agree with some of the remarks in which my hon. Friend has indulged with regard 1288 to the increase in our military expenditure of late years. It must, of course, be admitted that since the close of the Afghan War the military expenditure of India has shown a certain tendency to increase. Bat I must remind my hon. Friend that the true date of that increase is not since the Afghan War, but from the period when Lord Dufferin's Government determined that there should no longer be a sense of unrest and disquiet with regard to our North-West Frontier, but that the North-West Frontier should be put at once and for ever in a secure position. I think the Indian Government was quite right in taking that most important decision. I think that the people of India, equally with the people of England, entirely approve of that decision. The expenditure is not in the nature of an aggressive expenditure, or of an ordinary military expenditure, but it is strictly in the nature of an insurance expenditure. It insures us not only from the possibilities, but I might even say the probabilities, of aggression and invasion. It insures us, and, further, insures the Government of India also, from those periodical scares which we all know have occurred from time to time, and have become more and more frequently recurrent within the memory of every one of us. Sir, I think the expenditure which is laid out on these frontier railways, and upon the securing of the frontier, is an expenditure that will in future lead to a reduction of expenditure. It is a wise expenditure which leads to economy in future. Having said that much with regard to the military expenditure on our North-West Frontier in. India, I do wish to express my entire concurrence with my hon. Friend in what he said with regard to the extension of our great Indian railway system into Afghanistan as far as Candahar. There can be no doubt whatever that at the present moment we have brought up the terminus to what my hon. Friend calls a hole in the wall. We have constructed, at very great expense, this magnificent tunnel through the range of mountains that separate us from the province of Candahar, the capital of which is not far from the mouth of the tunnel on the other side. The end of the tunnel is within easy reach of some of the most fertile portions 1289 of Afghanistan. Yet after constructing this tunnel, after making this hole in the wall, we have left our railway to end in nothing and nowhere. I think it is obvious that we should carry the railway on to Candahar. And I would ask the House to remember that Candahar is not' merely a place of arms; but it is, and has been from time immemorial, a place of trade, and in earlier times it was a place where there was a very great trade to all parts of Central Asia. I say that if the railway is carried on to a place of this immense strategical importance, and also of immense commercial importance, the Government of India will have deserved well not only of its subjects in India—which is, of course, the first consideration, and rightly the first consideration, with them—but will also deserve well of the commercial community of this country. And I am glad, Mr. Speaker, that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham has to-night impressed upon the commercial community of this country that it is of the very greatest importance to the trade of this country, always needing new outlets, that the trade of Central Asia should be secured, and it can be secured, by the comparatively small extension which has been advocated by my hon. Friend. I hope that the commercial community of this country will take notice especially of the figures which have been indicated by my hon. Friend with regard to the present earnings of Indian railways. My hon. Friend pointed out that their average earnings is something like 4¾ per cent. on the capital invested in them. If that is the amount of their present earnings we all know that the future earnings of these railways must surpass the dreams of avarice, for many of them pass through a country as thickly populated and as fertile in resources as any country in the world. Railway extensions, not only in the direction indicated by my right hon. Friend, but railway extension in general, is needed in India. The hon. Member for Hythe asked some very pregnant questions the other day on this point. And I was glad to observe that Her Majesty's Government, without pledging themselves as to any particular concession, did appear to lend a favourable ear to the representations of the hon. Member 1290 for Hythe. The point to which the hon. Member for Hythe drew attention was this: that there are enormous tracts of territory in India, each separately served by railway systems on the narrow gauge, that are at present separated from each other by short lines on the broad gauge. The hon. Member for Hythe pointed out that by simply laying down a third rail these lines could be made available for an interchange of traffic between every part of India. Such a development of railway traffic would be an important means of preventing famine. The Report of the Famine Commission drew the special attention of the Government of India to this subject The hon. Member for Hythe's is only one of a number of similar suggestions that have been made. I submit that this railway extension is entirely justified by the finances of India; and that if carried out while the finances of India will permit of it, it will produce the most valuable effects for the future in enriching the country. I should like to quote from a pamphlet lately issued by a very distinguished ex-member of the Public Works Department of India. Sir Arthur Cotton is known as the father of irrigation works in India. He is also known as a distinguished authority on Indian railways and their extension.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is not the question of the public railways of India which is now before the House, but only the North-West extension.
§ *SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE
I will leave that part of the question, and I will merely venture to indicate the connection that I was endeavouring to draw between the general extension of the railways of India and the Motion before the House. I will net pursue that branch of the subject further, except to say that Sir Arthur Cotton's opinion entirely justifies the views put forward by my hon. Friend as to the extraordinarily gratifying results that ensue from railway extension. As soon as a railway is constructed in India trade follows, the land is tilled, the population increases largely, and that would happen, I venture respectfully to suggest to the House, in this particular extension to Candahar, just as it happens in India itself. I rose to second the Motion, not so much from the military as from the commercial point of view. I 1291 hope that Her Majesty's Government will receive the suggestion that has been thrown out by my hon. Friend, and will do their best to give it consideration, when they see that commercial results of the very highest importance both to India and to this country are likely to result from the construction of this extension.
§ *(5.38.) SIR R. TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
The Motion is limited to the extension of the railway to Candahar—that means from the mouth of the tunnel, through the Khwaja Amran range at Chaman on the British border in Pushin, to Candahar. Between the mouth of the tunnel and Candahar there are about 70 miles of flat country. Though I do not rise to support the Motion, yet I wish to speak of it sympa thetically. I know every inch of the ground over which it is proposed to extend the line. In 1879 I made a rough survey of that section of the railway to Candahar, or it was made by my officers under my supervision. The line is extremely easy to make, and it could have been made well in the year 1880–1. In fact, if my memory serves me rightly, I submitted proposals in 1879, under instructions from the Viceroy of India, whereby the first engine might enter Candahar by May, 1882. But a General Election came in 1880, and with that a change of Government, and a change of policy and opinion. The railway hung fire for a short time—that is, the entire railway project from the Indus Valley to Candahar. But soon afterwards it was re sumed, and as far as the range of mountains near Chaman it was completed, and instead of making a circuit to skirt the mountains, ray anticipations were exceeded by the making of the tunnel. Thus England has completed a great enterprise indeed; moreover, it will be a grand factor in the policy of the future. Now, my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham proposes the prolongation of the line from the end of the tunnel to Candahar, a distance of 70 to 80 miles, according to our original design, for military, financial, commercial, and in dustrial purposes. I quite admit this is a project of great consequence. But when I first proposed it we were in occupation of Candahar, whereas we have now retired. The case is in the 1292 hands of the Afghans, and if the hon. Member could succeed in inducing them to agree to the undertaking, he will have effected a great alteration in the manners and customs of that people. I hardly hope to live to see that accomplished, though discussion in this House and this country may indirectly tend to bring about the accomplishment of the desirable object. The trade, of course, is important in itself, though insignificant statistically compared with the external trade of the Indian Empire. But if the enterprise is to be undertaken, who is to find the money? Will the Indian Government? Will private enterprise? Certainly not. If the Government of India is not prepared to undertake the enterprise, still less will it offer a guarantee. And supposing the reluctance of the Ameer were overcome, would he be able to afford the money? I suppose there are very few Treasuries so poor as that of the Ameer of Afghanistan. Then, what would be the moral effect on the mind of the Afghans on seeing this railway entering their territory? Would not the Ameer be likely to regard the approach of the iron horse as the harbinger of our authority, the Pegasus that is winged with political power, and would not he say, "It is all very well, but what is to become of me and my authority?" But with regard to the strategic advantage of this extension, I am sure that its importance is not exaggerated. All that remains is to traverse a tract of country some 80 or 90 miles broad, which is comparatively level, and across which a railway could be laid for temporary military purposes. Undoubtedly, if war were to break out between England and Russia in a struggle for empire in Asia, the first step taken by British commanders would be to run a temporary line to Candahar as part of our military operations. If we were to extend the railway to Candahar, we must always remember that some further extensions would be proposed. Will the House kindly bear in mind that, as we have been extending towards Candahar, Russia has already been extending towards Herat, and any further movement of ours to Candahar would provoke Russia to move still nearer towards Herat. Whether she could penetrate to Herat 1293 without affording a casus belli to us may be a question; but, at all events, they could have some sort of approach to the Herat border from the Russian end if we approached to Candahar. These are difficult questions, and exactly the sort of sleeping dogs of polities one is anxious to let lie for a time. Heaven knows how long they will remain dormant they might at any day be excited into activity. I would only point out that when you propose an expansion of the British Empire you must expect a similar expansion on the part of our rivals. I admit fully that Candahar is one of the most important positions in India. It has enormous advantages. In the first place, it is surrounded by land in splendid cultivation, and with the most perfect irrigation in the world. Therefore, it is a place which can feed and support a large Army for an indefinite time. It has also the most beautiful water supply possible from the River Argandab. Above all, it is one of the most commanding positions in all Asia, because it lies on the very high road from North Asia to India; and it has been the highway for ages of all the conquerors politicians, and armies from century to century. Now, Candahar, being the key to this main line of communication—a communication that has lasted for thousands of years—must be deemed in itself as of great strategic value. On its left is a desert, by which it cannot be approached; and on its right is the line of the mountains. On neither side can its flank be turned. On the left the attempt would be hopeless; on the right it could not be made without giving the British commander a decisive advantage. An army marching from Central Asia to India must pass Candahar, and, therefore, the British point to keep in view is to have a powerful position in Candahar. We might, during the time of peace, endeavour to lay the foundation of the policy of making Candahar not only a stronghold, but an outpost of the British Empire against the coming day of Imperial danger.
§ (5.58.) MR. G. N. CURZON (Lancashire, Southport)
Both the Ameer of Afghanistan and the Indian Government stand in a position of very great delicacy. The Ameer is, undoubtedly, a remarkable man—of haughty, imperious, and truculent character, and very jealous indeed of 1294 outside interference. His rule over his people is a rule of fear, and not of love. The very fact that his life has been attempted more than once shows that he is not popular with a large number of his people. Still, it is by no means clear that this method of carrying trade to his country is not the best for him and his people. During the 11 years of his rule he has consolidated the Afghan dominions to an extent which was thought at one time incredible During that time he has crushed and stamped out insurrection, and I am not aware that in the whole period he has shown any disloyalty to the British Crown. He is in a very difficult position. He has to fulfil all his engagements to the Indian Government, and at the same time to feel that he is treating on equal terms. But I believe the relations between the Ameer and the Viceroy are, on the whole, satisfactory. In the 11 years we have saved Afghanistan from intestine disorder and from insurrection. Now, I wish to say a few words with regard to extending the railway to Candahar. In the first place, as the hon. Member who has just spoken has justly pointed out, it would immediately excite the jealousy of the Ameer, and would be followed immediately by a corresponding movement by Russia on the other side. The Ameer has looked with the utmost jealousy upon the extension of our railway as far as Chaman, and the present does not seem to be the proper time' for pressing upon him proposals for further extension. As regards the larger question of our trade relations with Afghanistan, I am not quite in agreement with what I believe to be the position of the hon. Member. Occupying the position we do in Central Asia we ought to have under our control at any rate a very large trade. We ought to be enabled to import the chief part of our products into Afghanistan and afterwards into the surrounding territory. It is no doubt true that we should meet the competition of Russia, backed up by prohibitive tariffs; but, at the same time, it should be remembered we could bring in goods in which they could not compete with us. The figures, however, indicate a very unsatisfactory state of things. The Returns of the export 1295 trade to Afghanistan and Central Asia show a decrease of about 3,000,000 rupees in three years. Although the figures of the past year show an increase in another direction, yet the trade in this case has not increased within the last four years, whilst the trade in India and China tea—almost the whole trade being in China tea—is smaller than it was in the past. To what is that due? It is due no doubt, to a certain extent, to Russian competition pushed from the direction of the Caspian. But more than anything else, it is due to the illiberal fiscal system adopted by the Ameer of Afghanistan. Would it be believed that the Ameer of Afghanistan charges £2 2s. upon every cwt. of tea carried from India? The Ameer also levies a tax of 80 rupees, or £5 13s. 4d., on every camel load going through, The whole of Central Asia is dependent on tea passing through from China or Assam. This cumulative system of tariffs is an intolerable barrier, checking progress between India and Central Asia, and its effect is to open up for Russia traffic which but for this illiberal policy we would be able to enjoy. H the Ameer were an independent Sovereign negotiating a Commercial Treaty with India on the same terms as he might do with Germany, or France, or Spain, I could understand he would have a perfect right to decide what he as Sovereign would desire. But as Ameer he is not in a position to take that line of action. Afghanistan is not an independent State. The Ameer of Afghanistan is a British vassal. He owes his Throne and position to us. We supply him with a yearly salary of 12 lakhs of rupees, and we have supplied him, further, with munitions of war which have enabled him to hold his position. We have given him that moral support without which his tenure of the Throne would not be worth six months' purchase. I say his is an illiberal and intolerable system, and, with due regard to certain susceptibilities, the very strongest pressure ought to be brought to bear upon him by the Indian Government to relax this fiscal system which I have been describing, and give fair play to Indian commerce. I would say, in conclusion, that the policy which I have been advocating is a policy of no oppression. It is 1296 only part and parcel of the policy which has been pursued all along the North West Frontier. Along that frontier there is a belt of mountains inhabited by wild, savage tribes, who are not Afghans. They have never expressed allegiance to the Ameer; they are independent tribes. We ought to have free play in our endeavours to establish commercial relations with these people.
§ (5.15.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
In the former part of the speech of the Member for Oldham I felt that I agreed with him, but when the hon. Member for South-port came to speak of the new Indian frontier, I felt I must differ from him. He tells us there are tribes there "who, are not Afghans at all. I venture to tell him that in every sense of the word they are the purest Afghans. In fact, the greater part of the real and true Afghans, in language and character, are those tribes that lie between our frontier and the frontier of the Ameer of Afghanistan.
§ MR. CURZON
The tribes of which I spoke are not, and have not for years been, subject to the Ameer of Afghanistan. The fact is, the majority of them are not Afghans in sympathy, and, at the present moment, the Ameer has no more power over these tribes than the hon. Member himself has.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Well, we will not dispute about words. It is true they are not subject to the Ameer of Afghanistan, but the Ameer rules over the larger number of Afghans, and those tribes from the Black Mountain and far below are of the purest Afghan type. It is said that we are now attempting to establish relations with those tribes by voluntary and pacific means. A curious commentary is afforded on that statement by what is now taking place in that country. Does the hon. Member call the Black Mountain Expedition and other military expeditions voluntary and pacific agencies by means of which the tribes may be brought under our control? What I complain of is rather that we are advancing by military means, and endeavouring to bring these Afghan tribes under our control by force of arms. The Afghans are a very independent race. If you attempt to bring them under control by force you may make them rise, and will 1297 probably in every way defeat the object which the hon. Gentleman sets forth. As regards the Ameer of Afghanistan and those frontier tribes, I very much agree with the hon. Member for Oldham. Our relations with Afghanistan are extremely unsatisfactory at the present moment. I am not disposed to complain that I have had no opportunity of moving the Motion which stands in my name, because the hon. Member for Oldham has not only given me an opportunity of speaking on the subject, but has proved my case. What is the remedy the hon. Member has spoken of? He would need to go further back, and learn by the lesson on which we spent so much money that we had better not try the same thing again. Our relations with Afghanistan are most unsatisfactory, and they are unsatisfactory because we cannot let the country alone. It is one of those countries like the hedgehog, the more you touch it the more it bristles, and the more trouble you will have. I believe if, instead of giving facilities to Russia to approach us, we have that natural barrier which God has given between ourselves and Russia, if the Russians attempt to advance to us they will have to advance through difficulties so great, and will find the Afghans so inhospitable, that if they reach our frontier they will do so in a diminished and very weak condition. No doubt we are a very commercial people, and have created a magnificent commerce, which it is desirable should be promoted; but I say all the commerce you can get into Central Asia is worthless and trumpery, and unworthy of the attention of this country. I believe that the idea of penetrating through those Afghan countries, between the Indus and the Oxus, is a delusion and a snare, which would lead to a great expenditure of money, and possible political complications. To wipe out and obliterate that barrier which God has placed in front of our Indian Empire might enable Russia to attack us, instead of enabling our troops to attack Russia. Therefore I, for one, desire to deprecate very much the measures which have been taken to advance the Indian frontier into the territory of those Afghan tribes. I am afraid that the Governor General of India has not succeeded in exercising that amount of control over his military advisers which 1298 used to be exercised in former days. I should like to see some vigour and independence displayed on the part of the Government of India in controlling the military policy which appears to be so predominant. In my view, it is a mistake altogether, and it will be much better to keep our old frontier; to make the best of the rich and splendid country we now possess; to make the Indians an industrious and docile people; to restrain our troops, and not send them amongst those tribes; to restrain our commercial men, who wish to develop their commerce there, and who wish to appropriate to their petty trade all those countries.
§ (6.28.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir J. GORST,) Chatham
I should be sorry to attempt to act as arbitrator between two such authorities as the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and the hon. Member for Southport on the question of the ethnology of the tribes on the North-West Frontier of India. The hon. Member or Kirkcaldy is wrong, however, when he speaks of the policy pursued by the Government of India towards the Afghan tribes. The policy of the Government of India is not to interfere with the independence of those tribes, not to attempt any territorial aggression, not to attempt an extension of the frontier of India further than it is at present, but to bring the independent tribes, with full respect for their independence, into friendly relations with the British Empire, so that they might become guards and protectors of our frontier. It is quite true that, in pursuance of a policy of this kind, occasional outbreaks on the frontier will take place. In the course of last year there were outbreaks of that kind in the Black Mountain, to which the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy has alluded. But these are the necessary and natural incidents which happen in the pursuit of our policy. [Sir G. CAMPBELL: Hear, hear!] Well, the hon. Member utters an ironical "Hear, hear!" but you cannot carry on a policy on a great frontier like that, with a number of independent, half-civilised tribes, without occasional outbreaks and occasional differences; but the policy which is pursued is a policy not of war but of peace. These frontier wars are the failures, the occasional failures, of 1299 our policy; and the true representation of the character of the system pursued by the Government of India upon the North-Western Frontier is that it is one of pacification and friendship. But I suppose that episode was introduced by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy rather in pursuance of the Amendment of which he had given notice, and it is only partially germane to the question which has been raised and debated during the last hour. That question I understand to be, whether it is expedient that some attempt or other should now be made by the Government of India to extend the Scinde-Pishin Railway to Candahar. Now, I am not at all insensible of the strategical advantages of Candahar, and I do not want to raise the old controversy of many years ago as to whether it was wise or unwise to retire from Candahar when we occupied it. That is a matter on which a good deal was said at the time, and I do not know that I need express any repentance for the opinions which members of the Government, in common with many other Members on this side of the House, expressed upon that occasion. But it is one thing to remain at Candahar when you are there, and when you have a military right to its occupation; it is another thing to attempt to return there when you have surrendered the position when you have retired to a frontier 60 or 70 miles away, and when it would be represented with great truth that anything like a forcible attempt to return to Candahar would be a great breach of faith. I should be very sorry were the House to assent to the Motion which my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham has made, if it was only for the statement that the "present relations between India and Afghanistan are of an unsatisfactory character." I understand that to mean, and I suppose people generally will understand that to mean, that the relations of the Government of India with the Ameer of Cabul were now of an unsatisfactory character. Nothing could be further from the real facts of the case. I do not think that the relations between the Government of India and the Ameer of Cabul has at any time during the last seven years been of an unsatisfactory character.
§ *MR. MACLEAN
I beg my right hon. Friend's pardon. I did not mean to 1300 say that the personal relations with the Ameer of Cabul were unsatisfactory, but that the permanent conditions of our policy in relation to Afghanistan seem to me very unsatisfactory, and ought to be changed.
§ SIR J. GORST
I am glad that the hon. Member has made that disclaimer, because I am afraid that the language of the Resolution is equivocal; and I should be very sorry that it should be given out to the world at large that any Party or section in this House thought that these relations were of an unsatisfactory character. Now, whatever complaint other persons may have a right to make against the Ameer of Cabul, the British Government has none. He has kept faith with us, and as far as his stipulations in the relations which have existed between us go, he has been perfectly true to his engagements. I was rather sorry to hear in the admirable speech which was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Southport, with almost every word of which I agreed, that he should have thought it necessary to attack the Ameer's fiscal policy, for the House has nothing whatever to do with that policy The Ameer is not a vassal of the Queen Empress. The Ameer has always been recognised by the Queen-Empress as an independent ally, whom we protect and whom we assist, but over whom, and over whose territory, we have no right to exercise any jurisdiction whatever. It is quite true that he is subsidised by the Government of India. Why is he so subsidised? In order that he may be militarily strong. The object of the money which is given to him is that his military strength should be kept up, and I believe that the funds which he receives from the Indian Exchequer are applied to the purpose for which they are given. Then we have no right whatever to interfere with his fiscal policy. The fiscal policy which he pursues may, from the enlightened Western ideas of political economy, be an extremely unwise one. We in the West know the folly of transit duties, and I do not expect that we will ever have these in our country; but the levying of transit duties has been the universal experience among Oriental races, and if we have succeeded in putting down transit duties in India it has only been by friendly agreement with the 1301 independent Native States, almost all of which did at one time levy them. But so far as the fiscal action of the Ameer is concerned he is independent. He is only bound to consult us in reference to his foreign policy, and we have no right whatever to meddle with his fiscal policy, or with the internal policy by which he governs his dominions, however much we may disapprove, in our supposed greater enlightenment, of the policy he pursues. But the Ameer is directing his attention at the present moment to commercial enterprise. I am very happy to be able to confirm the hon. Member for Oldham in his statement that the Ameer is making great efforts to start manufactures at Cabul. It is very interesting to watch these attempts of the Ameer, who has greatly improved in health, as I daresay the whole House will be glad to hear. He has appointed as many as seven Europeans residing in his capital for the purpose of promoting manufactures. An enterprising commercial Potentate, such as the Ameer is, no doubt will find out the value of a railway from Chaman to Candahar as an addition to his resources; but I am not at all sure that an expression of opinion by this House that such a railway ought to be made, or that an expression of opinion from the Government of India that it is desirable that a railway should be made, would not in many ways prevent the accomplishment of that purpose. The character of the Ameer has been described, and it is quite true that he is extremely jealous; and that he has shown extreme jealousy of anything like an interference with his independence. There could be no better instance of that than that alluded to by the hon. Member for Southport, the negotiations that took place with respect to the extension of the railway. The Government of India never dreamed that they had any right to extend the railway into Afghan territory; on the other hand, the Ameer never pretended that the Government of India had not the right to extend the railway to the very verge of their territory, and the negotiations that went on and the correspondence that took place related to the particular point at which British Indian territory ended, and Afghan ter- 1302 ritory began. The railway is now made to Chaman, for the Ameer was at last persuaded to recognise it; but the whole of the railway is in our own territory. But if we were to attempt to carry the railway a little out of our territory and into Afghan territory, there would no doubt be the very strongest remonstrance, if not more, on the part of the Ameer, and he would be able very justly to say that, though he had kept faith with us, we had not kept faith with him. If anyone wants to see a railway made to Candahar, as a matter of commerce or as a matter of defence, I am afraid the only way in which it can be made is by patiently waiting until the Ameer sees its advantages. I was rather surprised to hear the hon. Member for Oldham complain of the tunnel having been made. I should have thought that he would have considered that the Government of India deserved the very greatest credit for having made that tunnel. He says it leads nowhere. It leads to the fertile plains of Candahar, and there is at the present moment the door of India open to Afghanistan and the whole of Central Asia. They can readily come into that door for commercial purposes, and the construction and opening of the railway adds greatly to the facility of access which all the tribes of Central Asia have to the commerce of India. I hope I have made it sufficiently clear to the House that my objection and the objection of the Government to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Oldham is, first, that we do not like to express so equivocal a sentiment as that "the relations between India and Afghanistan are now of an unsatisfactory character;" and that we do not consider it would be good policy in the interests of the British Empire, which the hon. Member for Oldham himself confesses is his object, that this House should take upon itself to express an opinion that it is for the interests of both countries that the Indian railway system should be extended as far as Candahar. For these reasons, I must oppose the adoption of the Amendment.
§ (6.45.) Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ SIR H. HAVELOCK-ALLAN (Durham, S.E.)
It is with the very 1303 greatest reluctance, at this late period of the Session, and at this hour of the evening, that I desire, in accordance with the Notice I have placed on the Paper, to call attention to the case of Colonel George Jackson, commanding 5th Bengal Cavalry, with reference to certain very contradictory Reports made with regard to him by certain general officers, some of which have been suppressed; and to move—That inquiry should be made into his position as an officer of the "Indian Local Forces," protected by the "Henley Clause" which guarantees all then existing rights and privileges—and that this case be further considered next Session before he is compulsorily retired. I desire to lay stress on the concluding part of the Resolution for this reason, that if we had been able within the last few days, or even within the last few hours, to have some satisfactory assurance, as I had hoped we should have had from the Under Secretary of State for India, acting under the authority of the Secretary of State for India, that this case should not be finally closed at the present time, but should, as I think it undoubtedly ought to be, be held over during the period of the Recess during which the House will not be sitting, so that it should be again considered at the beginning of next year, then I should have been very glad indeed of the opportunity offered me of not taking up the time of the House at all with this Motion. But I regret very much, and I am sure the regret is shared by many Members on both sides of the House, that we have received no conciliatory or satisfactory assurance from the Under Secretary of State. I understand that in this matter he is acting not in accordance with his own wishes on the subject, but in accordance with the instructions which he has received from the head of his Department, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India; and the difficulty really in this matter is that circumstances do not permit of making reference to the noble Lord to get the assurance which we seek, as at present situated; and if that be so, if I have correctly interpreted the wishes, intentions, and instructions of the Under Secretary of State for India, I trust that even now this Debate may be cut short by an assurance being given to the 1304 desired effect. The case of Colonel George Jackson is one of such peculiarity, and, I may say, unprecedented hardship, that it has already been made the subject of debate in another place by Lord Northbrook, late Governor General of India, than whom no person whatever is better acquainted with the merits of this case, because it happened that at an earlier stage of Colonel George Jackson's career he served for a long time as aide-de-camp on the personal staff of Lord Northbrook himself, then Governor General of India. This officer has possessed an unblemished reputation for military services for more than 33 years. During that period he served on the personal staff of three Governors General—Lord Northbrook, Lord Lytton, and Lord Mayo. He has also during his tenure of office as aide-de-camp been employed in several quasi-diplomatic situations, which are in themselves sufficient guarantee of the tact, temper, and judgment with which he has been called upon to perform his duty. He has not only during that time been employed on the personal staff of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at the Delhi Camp of 1865, when he received the assurance of His Royal Highness that he was satisfied with the manner in which the duty was performed, but he had also been appointed in personal attendance once upon the Prime Minister of Nepaul, Sir Jung Bahador, and on another occasion on General Ulysses Grant, ex-President of the United States. The satisfactory performance of the duties which devolved upon him in these situations is in itself a sufficient guarantee that—at all events, till 1889—no charge whatsoever of want of tact, temper, or judgment could have been brought against an officer who was specially selected for the discharge of these important duties. In addition to these, Colonel George Jackson has served in the field, first with the 11th Bengal Cavalry under Sir Dighton Probyn, and afterwards with Lord Napier in the Magdala campaign, which ended in the disruption of the military power of Abyssinia, and on both these occasions he acquitted himself with credit and renown. Since then he had been with the 12th Irregular Cavalry, also acquitting himself most satisfactorily. In July, 1887, Sir Frederick Roberts, who was 1305 always well affected to this officer from his personal knowledge, selected Colonel Jackson for the command of the 5th Bengal Cavalry, for 18 months' service in the field had so deteriorated the quality of that regiment that General Roberts chose Colonel Jackson because of his character, knowledge, and efficiency, for the difficult task of bringing this regiment into better condition. There is no reason to suppose, if circumstances and opportunity had allowed, that this task would not have been fully and satisfactorily completed; but immediately on Colonel Jackson assuming the command of this regiment, and before any time had been given him to remedy the defects in its arms, equipments, horses, and the worn-out condition of the men because of the service in which they had been engaged—though scarcely credible it should be so—this regiment was ordered into a camp of exercise at a moment when their condition was described as being so deplorable that 200 men were sick out of 536, of whom 60 were deficient altogether. Indeed, their state was such that, instead of being sent into a camp of cavalry exercise, they ought to have been sent to some sanatorium or place of rest. It was under these circumstances that Colonel Jackson did not finish the task so well as he would have done had he been allowed to treat the regiment as it required; but, in spite of that, it came under the inspection of General Sir Hugh Gough; and I will ask the permission of the House to read an extract from his Report dated the 12th March, 1888, for it is an entire contravention of the charge that Colonel Jackson left his regiment in an inefficient state, and that he was himself inefficient to discharge his duty. General Gough said—The Major General is, on the whole, satisfied that progress is being made in the drill and efficiency of the 5th Bengal Cavalry. It will give the Major General much pleasure to make a satisfactory Report of the state of the regiment.A year afterwards the regiment was inspected by another distinguished officer, Sir Charles Gough, and in his Inspection Report, dated 5th March, 1889, he says—At his recent inspection of the 5th Bengal Cavalry the Major General was satisfied generally with the interior economy and drill 1306 of the regiment. The 5th Bengal Cavalry is generally in a good state of drill and efficiency. The duties of cavalry in the field are well understood, and the men ride, on the whole, well; in fact, the whole regiment rode over a series of jumps which few other regiments would face without much training.Now, these are extracts from the successive Inspection Reports of two of the most distinguished officers that we have in the Army of India. One of them, Sir Charles Gough, had himself acted with this regiment at a former period of its history, and before it became inefficient in consequence of the campaign I have referred to, and I further, without the slightest fear of contradiction, assert that, so far from the regiment being deficient in any respect, so far as Colonel Jackson had time given him to bring back the regiment to a state of efficiency and completeness, no effort was wanting upon his part. Coming to the unfortunate occurrence which has led to the compulsory retirement of this officer, General Luck, the Inspector General of Cavalry in India—of whom I desire to speak in nothing but unqualified praise—came in 1888 for the first time in contact with the Bengal Cavalry, he having been recently appointed to the Inspectorship of the whole Cavalry—British and Native—of India. Unfortunately, he had no previous experience either of the drill system or of the interior economy of the Bengal Cavalry regiments. From this arose all the misfortunes of the distinguished officer, Colonel Jackson. Speaking from my own experience, having in 1848 done similar work under Sir Colin Campbell, afterwards Lord Clive, namely, to renew and to put in a state of efficiency a regiment of Bengal Cavalry, I know the difficulty and the arduousness of the task, and I think it tends to explain entirely why an officer like General Luck, distinguished as he is by a spirit of duty, should have been led by want of knowledge of the particular circumstances of the Bengal Cavalry to make an unfavourable Report. The circumstances of the Bengal Cavalry are totally different from those of any British Cavalry regiment with which General Luck had been acquainted, for, whereas with regard to the British troops, the equipment, the arms, the horses, and the entire paraphernalia are provided by the Government, in the Bengal Cavalry all these 1307 things have to be supplied by deductions made from the pay of the men. That was the difficulty which Colonel Jackson had to contend with, and for which sufficient allowance was not made. When Colonel Jackson was asked why these defects could not be remedied immediately, he explained that the cost, which would be something like 60,000 rupees or £6,000, would have to be obtained by deductions from the pay of the men, and he pointed out that under the orders of the Government there was a limit to the deductions to be made annually or monthly. It appears that General Luck, being then unacquainted with a system with which I admit he is now better acquainted, thought that these explanations on the part of Colonel George Jackson were in the nature of obstruction or unnecessary delay, and he, in consequence, formed an unfavourable opinion with regard to him. I believe that all that is necessary to put this painful matter right is that Colonel George Jackson should be allowed the opportunity which he so warmly seeks. I believe his petition is that instead of being compulsorily retired he should return again and take up the command which is his right and privilege, and from which nothing, so far as I know, has been proved to justify his removal. Misconduct is not even alleged or proved. Incapacity is alleged against him, but not proved. The proper remedy of allowing him to return would, I believe, give a satisfactory solution to this matter, because I have no doubt that in only a very few months he will show himself brilliantly to be that able and efficient officer which his previous record abundantly shows him to be considered by all those under whom he has served. Now, even at this late hour we receive some assurance from the Under Secretary of State that this shall be done we shall be satisfied. Colonel Jackson would again rehabilitate himself by showing that he was the good officer that he was always supposed to be, and that he ought to be allowed to serve the remainder of his time and to retire on the large emoluments which his service in India had entitled. That is all the request this gentleman makes, and I believe a more reasonable and moderate one could not be preferred by any man injured—I will not say 1308 by false, but by mistaken Reports. He alleges nothing in respect of the officer who reported on him—General Luck—except that he did so through a misapprehension, not knowing the full circumstances and difficulties of the case. He asserts that on it being represented to him in July, 1889, that these unfavourable Reports were made, he personally waited on General Sir Frederick Roberts, the Commander-in-Chief in India, and expressed his willingness and wish to be allowed to take his regiment in the spring of 1890, for the express purpose of vindicating his character from what he believed to be unjust impressions. General Roberts at that time told him that he did not consider it necessary. At that moment Colonel Jackson was undergoing a great domestic affliction, namely, the death of his father, which necessitated his return to this country, and General Roberts gave him to understand that he did not desire to put him to any further test, that he was completely satisfied with him, and that he might without detriment to his future prospects proceed to England to arrange his private affairs. Under these circumstances, in July, 1889, Colonel Jackson returned to this country with the full assurance that when his leave had expired and he came back he would be allowed to take up his command and finish his career. He had not, apparently, calculated on the malign influences at work in his absence, and I think what occurred affords sufficient grounds to justify us in asking that this case shall be referred back again to India, and shall not be decided until explanations have been received. I allude with great reluctance to the fact that a certain amount of personal feeling is said to have arisen between General Luck and Colonel George Jackson on account of some difference of opinion arising some two or three years before when they together filled positions in the Cavalry. Knowing the high reputation of both the officers concerned, I believe there can be no intention on the part of General Luck except to do justice to those under his command, and I am reluctant even to give credence to such report, but I think it deserves full investigation. When an officer of unblemished reputation, of high distinction, and of 33 years' service, like 1309 Colonel Jackson, finds cold water thrown on the balance of his career, he is entitled to receive a full inquiry into the allegations made against him, and the sense of justice of this House will demand that these allegations should be fully investigated, and that any further action should be deferred till the matter is cleared up. This gentleman asks no favour. He says that, on account of the circumstances I have mentioned, mixed with a matter of personal difference of opinion, unfavourable Reports have been circulated against him in his absence which have not in themselves sufficient foundation, and which if put to the test of practical experience will be shown to have no foundation at all. That this is more or less considered to be the case by the highest military authorities in India is shown by the fact that twice over the Governor General has referred back to General Hugh Gough Reports made on account of contradictory expressions which, he said, deserved attention and ought to be cleared up. Surely the Governor General would not adopt such a course as that without sufficient foundation. I would beg to be allowed to point out that the Governor General of India upon the second occasion referred back General Sir Hugh Gough's Report to him. He stated that the discrepancies between one statement and another—one favourable to Colonel Jackson, and the other unfavourable—were in his opinion not sufficiently explained; that they were contradictory, and, in fact, one of his notes on the case goes so far as to say that this discrepancy in the Report was most unsatisfactory. In dealing with this case in the other House the other day the same unfortunate indistinctness of statement pervaded the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India. He stated that the object this officer had in view was that he should be allowed to retire on his pension without serving the balance of his time. To that statement a full and complete categorical denial was made by Lord Northbrook, who first took up the case, and by Lord Chelmsford himself, an officer of high military distinction and of great experience in command. I think from that circumstance the case calls for delay. The concluding remarks of Lord North-brook were to this effect:— 1310The noble Lord (Viscount Cross) had stated that one of the reasons why the Commander-in-Chief in India thought that this officer should not be allowed to return to his regiment was that he himself (the Commander-in-Chief) had on two occasions seen his regiment, once at Delhi and once at Lucknow, and that he had formed an unfavourable opinion on it.That was a total misapprehension on the part of General Sir Frederick Roberts. General Roberts, as we know, has, during the last five years in India, exercised a most arduous and difficult command had under his personal observation four times over, I should think, roughly speaking, 200 regiments at various times and dates. It turns out that this unfavourable opinion expressed by General Roberts is based upon a total misapprehension, and Colonel George Jackson will conclusively prove, beyond any power of denial, that the memory of Sir Frederick Roberts has failed him in this respect, and that he did not see the regiment at all on the second occasion on which he alleges he saw it. Lord Northbrook has stated that, categorically, in reply to Lord Cross, that statement has never been traversed, and no attempt has been made to meet that point, which seems to me to be the most essential point of the question as to whether this officer can or cannot be discharged for inefficiency. I have to thank the House very much for the patience with which they have listened to my tedious statements; and I say, without the slightest hesitation, that the request respectfully made by this officer is one which deserves investigation; and, if the Government inadvisedly bring this matter to a sudden conclusion by refusing this officer the request he makes, to allow him to return to the command he already holds, and to be allowed a fair and proper mode of showing there is no ground whatever for the charge or inefficiency made against him, then I say this House not only will have failed in its primary duty of enforcing justice in every alleged case of grievance, but that the Government will also have taken a step which, hereafter, on more mature consideration, they will thoroughly regret. I shall be followed, I believe, by several other gentlemen on both sides of the House, experienced in military and 1311 Indian matters, and as well acquainted with the circumstances of the case as myself. I leave this respectful and firm request with the fullest confidence in the hands of this House and in the hands of the Under Secretary for India, from whom I hope it will receive sympathetic and generous treatment.
§ *(7.15.) VISCOUNT BARING (Bedfordshire, Biggleswade)
I rise to support the case presented by my hon. and gallant Friend, and I do so with some reluctance, because I regret the growing practice of making this House a Court of Appeal on military matters involving questions of discipline. But, Sir, Colonel Jackson has been treated so harshly in this case in India and so hardly in this country that I think my hon. and gallant Friend was perfectly justified in bringing the matter before the House. As my hon. and gallant Friend has said, Colonel Jackson is an officer who distinguished himself very much in two campaigns; he has been thanked in Despatches, he has served on the Staff of Governors General, he has been employed specially in matters requiring great tact and great temper, and his superior officers have always been satisfied with the way in which he carried out the duties entrusted to him. After that he commanded the body-guard, and then went back to his regiment to serve some two years as second in command of the 12th Bengal Cavalry, and during that time he performed his duties satisfactorily, and Sir Frederick Roberts formed such a high opinion of his capacity that he selected him as being the officer to take command of the 5th Bengal Cavalry, which at that time was in a not very efficient state. Six months after Colonel Jackson had been in command of the 5th Bengal Cavalry that regiment was inspected by Sir Hugh Gough, who gave a very satisfactory Report upon the regiment. That was the result of six months' trial of Colonel Jackson in command of the regiment. Then there comes upon the scene General Luck, of whom I also wish to speak with every respect, because we know there is no smarter Cavalry officer in the Service. Well, unfortunately, General Luck's first Report is extremely adverse to Colonel Jackson, and on the 31st March, 1888, General Luck, in his Report, stated that 1312Colonel Jackson wants dash; that he is deficient in tact, manner, temper, and judgment.It is difficult to understand how Colonel Jackson could have deteriorated in such a short time to this alarming extent, from being one of the best officers in the Service. Now, Sir, it has not only been proposed that Colonel Jackson should be removed from the command of his regiment, but it is also proposed that he should be compulsorily retired from the Service. Colonel Jackson is one of those officers known as local officers in India. He was originally in the East India Company's service, and he came into Her Majesty's Service under certain conditions laid down in the Act of Parliament. These conditions are that these officers are entitled to serve 38 years when they got their colonel's allowance, and it has always been understood that they should not be compulsorily retired from service except for three reasons, namely, misconduct, mental or physical incapacity, or proved inefficiency. Well, the question of misconduct does not come into this ease at all. There is no misconduct alleged against Colonel Jackson. The question of mental or physical incapacity does not arise, and the only question we have is this: Has Colonel Jackson shown such proved inefficiency as to justify the Government of India in removing him not only from the command of his regiment, but from the Service, by which he forfeits his colonel's allowance, after serving 26 years? What is the proof of his inefficiency? My hon. and gallant Friend has alluded to the contradictory Reports passed on Colonel Jackson by different inspecting officers. General Luck's chief allegation against him is that Colonel Jackson is wanting in tact and temper. Well, "tact" is a very small word, but it is not a very easy matter to define what "tact" is. It may be, possibly, that General Luck is himself wanting in this very quality, and I think I may be justified in referring to that distinguished General, Sir George Greaves, who was appealed to on this question, and reported that, in December, 1888, General Luck found fault with Colonel Jackson, and his voice and manner were more harsh than was usual in the Service, especially as junior officers were present; but Colonel 1313 Jackson's demeanour was calm and respectful. There was, he added, personal feeling between the two officers, and, thinking the matter over since, he had come to the conclusion that Colonel Jackson had more reason to complain of the ground which had been assigned to him for his camp than General Luck to find fault with him for the use of it. I think that testimony coming from General Greaves is very strong; and the question is, whether it was the officer inspecting or the officer of the regiment who showed want of tact on that occasion? Well, as to the question of efficiency, my hon. and gallant Friend has pointed out that General Sir Hugh Gough's Report of March 12 was distinctly in Colonel Jackson's favour; and it was only when General Luck inspected the regiment 11 days after that General Gough gave a contradictory Report, for which he was censured by the Governor General in Council, in January, 1890. We have the Report of General Sir Charles Gough, which was also in Colonel Jackson's favour. My hon. and gallant Friend has referred to the Report of the Commander-in-Chief, and I noticed that Lord Cross gave particular prominence to that Report of the Commander-in-Chief in India, in which he said that he could speak of this matter from his own personal experience, as he had seen the regiment himself on the two occasions. It is now made perfectly clear that the Commander-in-Chief of India was mistaken, and that, as a matter of fact, the Commander-in-Chief never was present at the time the 5th Bengal Cavalry was at Lucknow. I do not think that inefficiency is to be proved by such conflicting statements as these. Let me take, for example, the very last Report made upon Colonel Jackson before he left India. That was the Report of General Sir Charles Gough, in March, 1889, and Sir Charles Gough on that occasion says, "Colonel Jackson does not possess any real ability as commanding officer, but is about a fair average officer." I should like to know whether "a fair average officer" is one of proved inefficiency, or whether an average officer of a Local Army is at the mercy of the Secretary of State, and may be retired from the Army without being allowed to continue to serve his time and earn his colonel's allowance? I venture 1314 to say no local officer was ever retired in a similar manner, and I should like to challenge the Under Secretary to produce any similar case in which a local officer in India has been compulsorily retired from service. Lord Cross said there were several instances, but he did not give details of them. He gave one, in which he said there was a case of an officer who had command of a regiment which, when taken over by him, was in good order, but which got in bad order under his command, and he was removed and retired on pension. I am quite sure the logical mind of the Under Secretary will see there is no similarity whatever in the case of an officer obtaining the command of a regiment which was then in good order and which he got into bad order, and the case of Colonel Jackson who took over a regiment which was in bad order; and it is admitted that though he did not make as great progress as the authorities would have liked, he at any rate succeeded, to some extent, in getting the regiment into a much more efficient state than it was when he took it over. I think Colonel Jackson has been treated in a manner no local officer has been treated before, and I am quite sure treated in a manner in which no officer has been treated in the British Service. If I may refer to a rather painful case—that of the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards—we find a commanding officer removed from the battalion. That officer was not sent out of Her Majesty's Service; he was continued; and not only that, but he has been since employed, and at the present moment is commanding a district in Ireland. I do not wish to go much further into this matter, but I should like to mention that Colonel Jackson's inefficiency was not considered by the Commander-in-Chief in August, 1889, to have been proved, because at that time, and when Colonel Jackson left India, the Commander-in-Chief was perfectly prepared to give him another trial, although that fact was not made known to Colonel Jackson at the time. Colonel Jackson had no idea it was contemplated to retire him until he received the semi-official letter, in which he was called upon to send in his papers at the expiration of his leave, and I think there can be no doubt he was hardly treated in this sense, that he left India altogether under a misappre- 1315 hension. I think the Under Secretary objects to that statement, and I would ask him this: The other evening, in the Debate in the House of Lords, Lord Cross referred, in his argument against Colonel Jackson, to a certain correspondence that had recently taken place between him and Lord Lansdowne on the subject. I believe it is customary, if a Minister of the Crown refers to correspondence and uses it for argument in a case, for him to lay the correspondence on the Table of the House, and I should like to ask the Under Secretary whether he is prepared to give us that correspondence? May I ask him one further question, and that is, whether he will deny that the telegram from the Secretary of State for India to the Governor General of India conveyed the impression that Colonel Jackson came home from India under a mispprehension? I do not know whether the Under Secretary will furnish us with any information, and I think we have really to complain of the Secretary of State for India making use of a correspondence, and using it as an argument against Colonel Jackson's case, when we are not allowed to see what this telegram contained. I venture to say if that telegram had been produced it would have told strongly in Colonel Jackson's favour, and that the impression on the Secretary of State's mind at that time was that there was a certain grievance on Colonel Jackson's part, and that he had come home from India under a misapprehension. I will not occupy the time of the House longer; but I will say that in face of these many inconsistencies, many inaccuracies, and very contradictory Reports which we find in the case, that surely it would be more satisfactory to the Secretary for India that he should avoid any appearance of harshness in this matter; but that he should agree to the suggestion of my hon. and gallant Friend and postpone the further discussion of this case to nest Session, when we believe that Colonel Jackson will have more evidence to support his claims.
§ *(7.30.) GENERAL FITZWYGRAM (Hants, S.)
I have only a few words to offer in reference to this subject, the facts with regard to which are exceedingly simple. Colonel Jackson was in his younger days a man of some distinction, but, at the 1316 same time, it does not always follow that a man of education and other high qualities is always the most fitted for the command of a regiment. I regard command of regiments as the most important post in the Army; such as are your regiments, such will be your Army; if your regiments are bad, they will fail in war; if your regiments are good, you will have success in war. Colonel Jackson's regiment was inefficient, and since his removal it has improved in a marked manner. What I now have to ask is that the regiment shall not be sacrificed for the benefit and advantage of an individual
§ *SIR J. GORST
I think it is a matter of regret that the time of the House should be taken up by the discussion of the grievances of an individual officer. We have been asked what were the qualifications of Colonel Jackson, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down is well qualified to express an opinion on that point; but inasmuch as this matter has been brought forward, it is necessary that I should offer a few words in reply. No one pretends to say that the old East India Company retained an officer in its service if his military superior pronounced him to be unfit. I venture to say that Sir Frederick Roberts is a far better judge as to the fitness or unfitness of a man to retain the command of his regiment than any of us can be, and Sir Frederick Roberts arrived at the conclusion that Colonel Jackson was not fit for the command of his regiment. I do not say whether this conclusion was right or wrong. It was a matter which came entirely within the province of General Sir Frederick Roberts as Commander-in-Chief, and the decision which he gave is one that cannot be impugned, unless we impute something in the nature of corrupt motives. The hon. Member shakes his head, but I submit again that General Roberts is a far better judge than this House. The House of Commons is not a competent tribunal to overrule the Commander-in-Chief in such a matter. General Luck reported that—Colonel Jackson has had an opportunity, which few men get, of bringing an inefficient regiment into a state of efficiency. This, after six months, he has failed to do. I recommend his removal from the command at the end of 1317 the year, unless a very marked improvement takes place in the meantime.Upon this General Sir Charles Gough reports—This is a very unsatisfactory Report, and I regret to observe the small progress that has been made.In 1888 there was another unfavourable Report from General Luck. He stated that Colonel Jackson, although well meaning, did not go the right way to work; that his officers were not happy, and that many of them would he glad to be out of the regiment. He added, "I fear that the regiment cannot improve while under his control." In 1889, after having inspected the regiment, General Gough reported that "Colonel Jackson did not possess any real ability as a commanding officer." I think it would be most inconvenient and highly subversive of Army discipline if this House were to take upon itself to reverse a decision upon a military question of this kind, especially when that decision has been arrived at after careful inquiry by the Commander-in-Chief, by the Government of India, and by the Secretary of State, acting in accordance with the advice of his military advisers. I think the time of the House would be much better occupied in discussing matters of more importance to the interests of our Indian Empire.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
I think it necessary to point out that the punishment meted out to Colonel Jackson is of a character which might justify a little further inquiry into this matter. Colonel Jackson has not only been removed from the command of this particular cavalry regiment, but from the Indian Military Service. I think that some consideration should be given to his case in order that we may ascertain whether, in view of the former good service of that officer, and the high character he has always maintained, some means may not be found for retaining his services. I appeal, therefore, to the Under Secretary to withhold the final decision in regard to Colonel Jackson's case until some further consideration can be given to it.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
I have known Colonel Jackson in former days, when he was in command of a force marching through a mountainous and difficult country, and I am quite satisfied that at 1318 that time, at all events, that gallant officer was possessed of tact, temper, and judgment. I hope that Her Majesty's Government may be able to see their way to extend some consideration to Colonel Jackson in view of the character, reputation, and popularity which he possessed in former days. It is perfectly true that it is inconvenient for the House of Commons to take upon itself the office of a Court of Appeal in these matters, but at the same time it must be remembered that this House is the Grand Inquest of the Nation; and if there be any doubt as to the advisability of the decision that has been arrived at, I hope Her Majesty's Government will, at all events, suspend their final judgment with regard to it until next Session.
§ SIR W. PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
I hope Her Majesty's Government will not hastily endorse a decision that must necessarily entail upon Colonel Jackson a heavy pecuniary loss. I may venture to suggest whether the Government may not very well be appealed to to reconsider their decision in this matter, and to consider whether, in removing this officer from a position which he may not be competent to fill, they ought to inflict further punishment upon him by removing him from the Service.
§ *(8.1.) GENERAL SIR L. PELLY (Hackney, N.)
I wholly deprecate the intervention of this House as between a Commander-in-Chief and the administration of the Army under his command; and I agree with the hon. Baronet who spoke just now, that everything depends upon having efficient officers commanding regiments. The regiment is the unit of the Service, and I would be the last to say one word as intervening between General Sir Frederick Roberts and any officer commanding a regiment. But there ape two points to be considered. One is that Sir Frederick Roberts is alleged to have erred in supposing that he twice inspected this regiment, and I think he would desire to correct that error if he has made it; secondly, is it right that an officer with such a record as Colonel Jackson should be removed not only from the command of a Cavalry regiment, but from the Service altogether, under such circumstances? I have known this officer many years. 1319 Colonel Jackson has served with me on the Staffs of three Viceroys, and his services should not be forgotten. But it is for the Secretary of State to determine the question, and to resolve whether or not it may be possible to find him employment elsewhere.
§ (8.4.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir J. FERGUSSON,) Manchester, N.E.
It ought to be borne in mind what is involved in the suggestions which have been made. No one likes to be hard on an officer who has done good service, and has won the respect and friendship of those with whom he has served. But those who are responsible have to consider the efficiency of the Army, and justice to other officers and to the public. Colonel Jackson has been removed from an appointment for which he was deemed unfit, and it is suggested that he should be retained in the Service for six years, until he is entitled to a retiring allowance of £1,100 a year. Now, that provision is intended for officers who have discharged their duties satisfactorily, and to say that a man shall be entitled to earn that allowance by nominal duty seems to be trifling with the interests of the Army, and with the public interests, as well as doing an injustice to officers who have performed their duties satisfactorily.
§ *(8.5.) COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
I think there must be something in this case that has not been communicated to the House. Colonel Jackson appears to have been selected for the purpose of restoring efficiency to an inefficient regiment, and in that task he seems to have failed. I contend that, while it is perfectly right to remove him from the regiment on such a ground, it does not appear to be a sufficient cause for turning out of the Army an officer who was actually chosen for this very difficult duty on account of his supposed efficiency. While I deprecate making the House a Court of Appeal in such matters, I would still urge upon the Secretary of State that the case appears to require further investigation before a final determination is come to.
§ *(8.7.) VISCOUNT BARING
I wish to ask the Under Secretary whether he will produce the correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy, 1320 which has been quoted by Lord Cross in the other House? I also wish to know if he is aware of the existence of a telegram sent by the Secretary of State to the Viceroy, in March of this year, in which he said he was not altogether satisfied with the propriety of retiring General Jackson.
§ (8.9.) MR. KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)
I have on the Paper a Notice of Motion in favour of giving the people of India a voice in the raising and administering of their own revenues; but, in view of the enormous importance of the questions which are raised by it, I think it is impossible that the subject can be adequately discussed at this time, and in order to suit the convenience of the House I shall defer my remarks to a future occasion.
§ Question put, and agreed to. (8.10.)
§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ *(8.35.) SIR J. GORST
, rising at a quarter to Nine o'clock, at which time there were only three Members in the House, said: As I have had the advantage of issuing a Memorandum which those hon. Members interested in the subject have, no doubt, seen, the remarks I shall make will be as brief as possible. As the Committee is aware, there are three years which come under review—the year ending on the 31st March, 1890, the year ending on the 31st March, 1891, and the year ending on the 31st March, 1892. In regard to the first of these years, I have nothing whatever to add to the observations I have made in my Memorandum; it is the year which is alone technically before the Committee. All I have to say as to the year ending on the 31st March, 1890, I said in August last year. The surplus which was then predicted has been practically realised, and the variations in the revenue and expenditure as then estimated have been so infinitesimal that they are not worth troubling the Committee about. The most remarkable feature in connection with the year ending on the 31st March, 1891, is the great and extraordinary growth of the surplus every time it comes under review. At the time the Budget Estimate was made—in March 1321 last year—the surplus was estimated at Rx.270,000. When I made the statement in this House in August, 1890, it had grown to Rx.1,870,000. When the revised Estimates were stated in Calcutta by Sir David Barbour in March of the present year it was Rx.2,787,000; and to-night I am able to announce that the final surplus will be no less than Rx.3,665,000. The greater part of that increase is due to the alteration in exchange. When the Estimate was made in March of last year the sudden inflation of the rupee by the legislation in America was not anticipated. The Committee will remember that about a year ago the price of silver was extremely good owing to American legislation, and the effect of that was greatly to raise the exchange value of the rupee, and to save the Government of India from a very large expenditure, amounting to more than Rx.2,000,000. That really practically accounts for the surplus as predicted in March last by Sir David Barbour. The rise of nearly a million that has taken place since that date is attributable to a general increase of revenue in almost every item except opium, and a reduction of expenditure, which is not altogether a matter of congratulation, because it is merely a postponement of certain large items of expenditure which were expected to fall within the year ending March 31, 1891, but which have practically been carried over to the following year, and the; ear ending 31st March, 1891, is therefore enriched at the expense of its successor. With regard to the year ending March 31, 1892, the year now current, and which, although it forms no part of the official Resolution before the Committee, is one upon which the interest of the Committee is mainly concentrated, the surplus which was estimated by Sir David Barbour was only Rx. 115,600, and I am able to announce that the surplus is now estimated at Rx.396,000. Even if the more favourable estimate I announce is realised, it is a very considerable reduction from the surplus of Rx.3,665,000. I account for much of the falling off in the Indian Revenue—for Rx.1,156,000 of it—by the fall in the rupee. The rupee in 1890–91 realised 1s. 6.11d., and in the present year it is estimated at 1s. 5¼d. Besides the fall in the rupee, there is a fall 1322 in the net opium revenue of no less than Rx.361,500, and, although in the very latest accounts from India that falling off in the opium revenue will be compensated for in a great measure by the reduction of Rx.300,000 in the opium expenditure, that is not from a revenue point of view a subject of congratulation, though it may be from the point of view of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith). It means a much smaller crop grown in Bengal; therefore, the opium revenue will be still further depreciated. Another great item of reduction is the cessation of the grant from provincial revenues. In the previous year a sum of money was taken from the provinces for the needs of the Imperial Government, and that sum is paid no longer. What is meant by that is that a larger portion of the revenues of India is spent locally on local improvements and for local interests, and a smaller part is spent on Imperial objects—on the maintenance of the Army and other less advantageous expenditure in the immediate interests of the locality. It is very satisfactory to find, notwithstanding the general deterioration of the financial position which I have called attention to, that the land revenue continues steadily to increase, and in the current year the estimate of the increase of the land revenue—whose results are seldom less than the estimate, and very often more—is Rx.307,000. The expenditure has increased. The general items of expenditure, as will appear from the figures I have laid before the Committee in the printed Memorandum, have increased all round. I have always told the Committee, in all the statements I have ever made since I have been Under Secretary for India, that a general increase of expenditure all round is to be looked for every year. As the civilisation of India increases, so your expenditure upon useful works continues. The Government does more, and therefore there is greater expenditure. The only thing to take care of in Indian finance is that your expenditure—though it may be expected to increase all round—shall not increase faster than your revenue. If you keep the increase of expenditure within the increase of revenue, you may regard the financial condition of the country as satisfactory. And there is one more great increase in 1323 expenditure which I wish the late Mr. Charles Bradlaugh was present to congratulate me on, that is, the restoration in full of what he used to be pleased to call the famine fund, and what I have always called in this Committee famine surplus. The history of this famine surplus I have very often stated to the Committee, but the name "famine fund" has always been too much for me, and I believe that an erroneous idea prevails, and always will prevail, in the world as to the exact nature of that famine surplus. What it really is is a surplus of revenue over expenditure, kept up by the Government of India from year to year for the purpose of lessening the strain which is caused in any particular year by the expenditure consequent on famine. That surplus was fixed in former years of financial prosperity at Rx.1,500,000. It has of late years fallen below that amount, because the Government of India did not feel justified in putting on additional taxation for the purpose of realising surplus, but in the year I am now speaking of the surplus of Rx.1,500,000 for famine insurance was restored in its fulness. Now, I should like to call the attention of the Committee to some figures which are to be found in pages from 9 to 12 of the printed Memorandum which has been circulated. These figures are a contrast between the revenue and expenditure for the year ending 31st March, 1889, and the estimated revenue and expenditure of the current year. Although the actual sterling payments of the present year are greater than in the year 1888–89, yet, inasmuch as the exchange value of the rupee is estimated higher than in 1889, it so happens that the actual number of rupees the Government of India have to pay by reason of silver instead of gold payments, is almost the same, and therefore the gambling element of Indian finance, by variations of exchange, is eliminated for these two years. Now, if the Committee will compare the figures of 1888–89 with the figures for the current year, they will see that the revenue has increased by Rx.2,408,000, and that the expenditure has increased in the same period Rx.2,329,000, thus showing an improvement in the financial position by Rx.79,000. If the Committee will 1324 examine the items which make up the increase of revenue, the result will be found to be unusually satisfactory. There has been an increase in every single item of revenue, with one exception—opium. Though the gross increase is Rx.2,408,000, there is a decrease on the opium revenue of Rx.646,000. Of all the increase in the various items, that of the land revenue is most satisfactory; it has grown by Rx.1,010,000, and it is to this sustained and continuous growth of land revenue we must look for signs of the general soundness of Indian finance. Now, turning from the increase of revenue to the increase of expenditure, amounting to Rx.2,329,000, the Committee will observe that the expenditure steadily increases, as I always said it would, in nearly every Department. The only Departments in which there is no increase, but a decrease, are also eminently satisfactory. There has been a great reduction in the payment of interest on debt, owing to the conversion of the debt some years ago by which the ordinary debt is subject to a much lower rate of interest. Under the head of interest on debt there is a reduction of Rx. 810,000. There is another decrease equally satisfactory on the railway revenue account, of Rx.732,000. Earlier in the evening some hon. Member, referring to the extension of railways, said the railways are profitable to the country, and said truly that Indian railways return 4¾ per cent. on the capital invested. That is perfectly true upon the capital invested in India, but, inasmuch as most of the money with which these railways have been constructed has been borrowed in England, the interest has to be paid in gold; and, owing to the fall in the rate of exchange, the profit of 4¾ per cent., which would be otherwise realised by Indian railways, is turned into a loss, and every year the revenues of India are charged with a certain sum in respect of the excess of railway expenditure over railway receipts. I do not know that this is altogether to be considered a loss to the country, because the gain from railroads, not merely in a military point of view and not merely as a protection against famine, but the stimulus to the commercial prosperity, is quite worth some charge on the Indian Exchequer; but it is satisfactory that this charge has 1325 been reduced by no less than Rx.732,000. All other items of expenditure have slightly increased, and I do not know that there is much to be said upon them except with regard to the military expenditure. This has been very large, owing to the necessity of a great outlay upon special defence works, and to the re-arming of the Indian Army, due to the discovery of improvements in the efficiency of weapons. One other thing I must call attention to, and that is to some rather curious figures on page 21 of the Statement I have circulated, which gives the figures of Indian trade for 1890–91. This year, 1890–91, was remarkable for the extraordinary fluctuations in the silver market, owing to the fact of a Bill being introduced in April into the Congress in the United States making it compulsory upon the United States Government to coin a certain amount of silver. Subsequent to the introduction of that Bill—I do not say in consequence of it—the price of bar silver in London rose from 43⅞d. per ounce in the beginning of April to 54⅝d. on September 3rd. This was the culminating point; then there was a breakdown, and the price fell to 45d. in the beginning of November, and has remained at something like that price since. Now, again, I will not say that this was in consequence of what had happened in America, because I do not want to involve myself in the controversy which arises from this silver question; but it is worthy of remark that, contemporaneously with the rise in the value of silver, there was an extraordinary check in the exports from India. In April and May these exports had been higher than in any previous year, and the imports of merchandise into India at the same time were stimulated, the imports of treasure into India being enormously increased. Taking a survey of trade during the months June to January in the last five years, the following are the results. The figures are interesting. The surplus of exports over imports, which had been Rx.18,173,000 in 1889–90, and which had averaged Rx.13,726,000 in the four years ending with 1889–90, fell to Rx.9,939,000 in 1890–91, and the net imports of treasure which had been Rx.8,763,000 in 1889–90, and which 1326 in the four years previous averaged Rx.6,791,000, rose to Rx.13,635,000 in 1890–91; and, in consequence of this, instead of a surplus of total exports in these months, which had been Rx.9,410,000 in 1889–90, and which in the four years averaged Rx.6,935,000, there was a surplus of imports in 1890–91 amounting to Rx.3,696,000. Now, the exchange on India, which had risen from 1s. 4.31–32d. per rupee at the beginning of April, was 1s. 8.29–32d. at the beginning of September, and fell again to 1s. 5.9–32d. on November 19th. If hon. Members will look at the table on page 21 they will find some explanation of what might excite surprise, that even at so low an exchange trade should justify any demand for bills on India. The explanation is, in some measure, to be found in the fact that, whereas in 1889–90 rupee paper was sent back from England to the amount of Rx.67,000; in 1890–91 it was exported from India to England to the amount of Rx.5,138,000, owing to the higher value, measured in gold, which securities payable in silver were bearing in London at the time. At the same time, and during the winter, the rate of discount was very low, the bank rate never rising above 4 in Calcutta and 5 in Bombay, as compared to 12 in the two preceding years. Another phenomenon was the increase in the circulation of currency notes, which rose from 1,577 lakhs at the end of March, 1890, to 2,766 lakhs at the end of January, 1891. Apparently these notes are not used for ordinary circulation, but only retained by the banks as a convenient mode of holding a reserve. I do not want to enter into the question further, but these facts are worthy of note in connection with fluctuations in the silver market, consequent upon or following the American legislation. Now, the Committee will see, from the figures I have given, that the position of Indian finance is hopeful and prosperous. No doubt, the finances of India are exposed to perils from which even the finance of this country is not altogether exempt. There is, first, the danger of war; but I am happy to say that at the present moment there is in India no prospect of any great war, and I hope no probability of any of those small frontier expeditions 1327 which excite the condemnation of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, and which are undoubtedly regrettable, and to a Finance Minister most disconcerting. But in Indian finance there is always that uncertain, that gambling element, the possible fall in exchange, the fluctuations in the price of silver. No precautions can possibly provide against this danger. I do not know that the fall in the value of the rupee is a disadvantage to India itself; it is rather to the finances and the Government of India that the danger arises. I know that some hon. Members suppose that a Finance Minister habitually underestimates his receipts and over-estimates his expenditure. No prudent Minister can do otherwise than leave a large margin, for, with the possibility of a fall in exchange, which no prudence can foresee, it would be most disastrous if a very close estimate of receipts and expenditure were made, so that a fall in, the value of the rupee brought about a financial crisis. The Estimates are cautiously framed, because of this uncontrollable element which the Government cannot eliminate from Indian finance. Then, from the financial point of view, there is the disadvantage of a probable loss of opium revenue. I do not expect that the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) will sympathise with me in" that, but, as I have pointed out, it is an element which has to be met and provided for in Indian finance, and, with this revenue steadily declining, as it has for many years, it is impossible to feel any confidence that the moderate estimate of the present year can be relied upon. Then there is the danger of an increase in military expenditure. I hope the excessive military expenditure in India has now entirely come to an end. The special defence works are almost completed, but besides these special defence works there is always the danger of having to spend large sums in India on additional and fresh ordnance stores. It seems that no sooner is one weapon settled and adopted for the Army than, within a few years, this weapon is superseded by another, entailing the necessity of constantly re-arming the troops in India, and the probability of being called upon unexpectedly to incur large expenditure on this account is one of the 1328 great trials of a Finance Minister. Last, and not least, the Indian revenue is always liable to be disturbed by famine. If I had had to address the Committee a fortnight ago, I should probably have had to draw a somewhat gloomy picture of the risks which the revenue of India would have to meet in the current year for this awful scourge. But in the last ten days the danger of anything like a general famine or of scarcity which would affect the finances of India and cause a large increase of expenditure has, thank God, disappeared. At the moment I am now speaking, there is no probability of any such famine or scarcity in India as will, to any appreciable extent, influence revenue or expenditure. There is some scarcity likely to occur in Chingleput and other districts of Madras, and in some districts of the North-West Provinces, where, no doubt, relief expenditure will be required in the course of the year, and some loss of revenue from scarcity; but, though I deplore the sufferings of the people, this scarcity will not be likely seriously to affect the revenue of India. I think the Committee will probably like, in connection with this statement, to have the latest intelligence which could be procured about the present prospects. It is contained in a telegram received from the Viceroy to-day, which is dated Simla, and was sent with a view to being read in the House on this occasion. It runs as follows:—Agricultural prospects. Present position as follows:—Madras.—No change of any importance since my telegram of July 28 last. Prospects critical in parts of five districts; prices rising slowly; present monsoon is turning to continuous light rain. Relief measures sufficient. No grounds for apprehension of widespread distress.Bombay.—Good general rainfall, except in parts of Deccan, where sowing operations suspended. Prices stationary.Bengal.—Good rain has fallen throughout the province. Prospects of autumn crops good; winder rice crops backward. Prospects improving in Orissa, where there has been deficient rainfall.North-West Provinces and Oudh.—Good rain has fallen throughout the province. Prospects greatly improved. Agricultural operations generally progressing satisfactorily. Prices fluctuating.1329Punjab.—Good rain has fallen throughout the province. Dry lands in need of more rain for sowing operations. Prices fluctuating.Central Provinces—Assam, Coorg, Lower Burma.—Prospects continue favourable.Berar, Hyderabad.—Cotton in good condition. Agricultural operations generally progressing satisfactorily. Parts in need of more rain.Mysore.—General prospects continue good. Parts in need of more rain.Central India, Rajpootana.—Prospects greatly improved, except Bikanir. Agricultural operations generally progressing favourably. Improvement in fodder.Upper Burma.—Prospects continue favourable. Young crops sufferiug for want of rain. Prices not higher.I think the Committee will agree with me that, upon the whole, this is a favourable and reassuring Report, and the Committee may feel some confidence that, whatever partial distress there may be in certain less favoured districts, the revenue prospects of India are, on the whole, not unsatisfactory.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it appears by the Accounts laid before this House that the total revenue of India for the year ending March 31, 1890, was Rx. 85,085,203; that the total expenditure in India and in England charged against the revenue was Rx. 82,473,170; that there was a surplus of revenue over expenditure of Rx. 2,612,033; and that the capital outlay on railways and irrigation works was Rx. 3,173,390."—(Sir J. Gorst.)
§ *(9.23.) MR. S. SMITH
I think the Committee must have listened with much interest to the statement just made, and more especially to the last part containing very important intelligence with respect to the agricultural prospects in India. It will certainly be a great relief to the House and the country to know that the great disaster which threatened India a short time ago has, by the providence of God, passed away for the present. Of the statement just made I may say it was of a somewhat optimistic character, and I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee on the fact that for the last two years there has been a considerable surplus in India. But I must express my great dissatisfaction with the 1330 exhausted and empty state of the House in which that statement was made. It is a most extraordinary thing that at the extreme end of the Session, and at a late hour at night, a handful of Members should be called upon to deal with matters affecting the welfare of 220,000,000 of British subjects. I regret that at this late hour we should begin a discussion of such profound importance to our vast Indian Empire. Our previous discussions this evening were of little value, so far as the people of India are concerned; they dealt with mere fragments of the question, or with personal matters, or with subjects of no importance to the vast masses of the population, and only now at 9 o'clock do we take up the question of taxation, which concerns this enormous population. By a mere accident on a point of Order I was debarred from bringing before the House a Motion of very great importance, in regard to which I believe I represent the feelings of the mass of the Indian people, and I know there will be great disappointment in India that the Motion has not been discussed. I ask the indulgence of the Committee while I deal with two or three points which fall within the consideration of the finances of India, which raise questions of very great importance to the people of India, and which they look to the House to give attention to. I do not at all share the optimistic views put forward by the Under Secretary. Looked at merely from the point of view of an English Finance Minister, I can understand that the finances of India seem in a tolerably sound state; but looked at from the point of view of the oppressive taxation the Indian people have to endure, looked at from the point of view of Indian public opinion concerning the injustice of the taxation and the expenses of our system of Government, I do not think there is any room at all for the self-congratulation we have heard. Throughout India there is great discontent with the amount of taxation, its nature, the manner in which it is levied, and with the enormous expenditure of the Government of India. There is one tax which stands out above all others as exciting the largest amount of odium, and which is most oppressive, as it affects the physical 1331 welfare of the people. I mean the Salt Tax. Since the beginning of the century this tax has increased by leaps and bounds, and it now stands all over India at five times the amount it stood at in Bombay at the beginning of the century. At the beginning of the century the tax in Bombay was half a rupee a maund; it is now 2½rupees; in Madras it was 9 annas, or just over half a rupee; it is now 2½ rupees, almost five times as much. When you consider that salt is one of the most absolutely necessary articles of diet, that it is the only article with which to season the otherwise tasteless rice, that it is absolutely necessary to keep human beings in health, it is a most serious matter that we should raise its price from time to time. But Mr. Pringle Kennedy stated at the last Indian Congress that—There are millions of men and women and children who have their lives shortened, their physique stunted, their moral and intellectual faculties blunted by lack of cheap salt.I am told the present tax on salt amounts to 16 times the prime cost of production. [An hon. MEMBER: Twenty-six times.] My Friend says 26 times. I have come across a statement that it amounted to 25 times the prime cost of production; but from what I have been able to gather I imagine it is a fair average to take it at 16 time., the prime cost of production. I would ask the Committee what the people of England would think if salt, or sugar, or coffee, or milk, or any article of necessity were taxed here in the same manner, and I "wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) to this point, as I know he is a great financial authority. The fact is that these poor people in India have to reduce their consumption of salt to the uttermost possible point. The result is that the consumption of salt in India is 10 lbs. per head, whereas in this country it is 80 lbs. per head, and 50 lbs. per head in France, showing how severely this article of necessity is reduced in consumption by the monstrous tax that is placed upon it. I hold that upon the very first opportunity we ought to take off the last addition of eight annas which was made to the Salt Tax some three or four years ago, and 1332 which brings in a little over £1,000,000 to the Revenue. I will pass from the Salt Tax to what is the most important source of revenue—to what may be called the sheet-anchor of Indian finance—I refer to the Land Tax, which brings in a little over £20,000,000 net annually, and I wish very specially to lay before the House the strong and unanimous opinion of the Indian National Congress that our mode of assessing it is fatal to the prosperity of agriculture. Representations were made to me when in India as to the ruinous effect upon cultivation of assessing and raising the Land Tax every 30 years. In only one portion of India (in Bengal) is the tax permanently settled. No doubt hon. Members are aware that Lord Cornwall is made it permanent in Bengal so far as the Zemindars are concerned, but unfortunately when that was done the large mass of the cultivators were shut out, but the fact that Bengal has a permanent settlement has, naturally, conduced to the creation of wealth in that part of India; it is the only part of rural India in which you find a wealthy middle class. But in all the rest of India it is liable to be re-assessed and enhanced every 30 years, and the knowledge of this is fatal to any real improvement. The cultivating class live in terror of their rents being raised on their own improvements, just as we used to see in Ireland; you have very poor cultivation, as the natives are afraid to make those permanent improvements that alone can render the country tolerably productive. In fact, there is a great analogy in the conditions under which the Indian peasantry live and the Irish peasantry before the land legislation of the last 10 years. My belief is that we shall never see India protected from the danger of famine until we encourage permanent irrigation all over India. What is the best means of irrigation in India? The best method is the ancient native one of wells and tanks, the work of the ryots. Wherever you have a well or a tank in India you see a belt of prosperity around it, and the object of our Government ought to be to give every encouragement to these simple methods of irrigation, and the indispensable condition of securing them is to give a 1333 permanent settlement all over India. To a great extent, instead of doing this we are standing in the way of those improvements. I believe such a policy would do more to attach India to this country than all other measures put together; it would do more to draw out its agricultural wealth and to limit in the future the destructiveness of those awful periodical famines. Let me tell the Committee that Lord Canning recommended this policy 30 years ago. He was one of our greatest Viceroys, and he came to the conclusion that there ought to be a permanent settlement of the Land Tax. He accordingly wrote home to Lord Halifax, who was then Secretary for India, and he elicited from Lord Halifax the celebrated Despatch of 1862. In that Despatch he said—After the most careful review of all these considerations, Her Majesty's Government are of opinion that the advantages which may reasonably be expected to accrue, not only to those immediately connected with the land, but to the community generally, are sufficiently great to justify them in incurring the risk of some prospective loss of revenue in order to attain them, and that a settlement in perpetuity, in which the conditions required are, or may hereafter be, fulfilled, is a measure dictated by sound policy and calculated to accelerate the development of the resources of India, and to ensure in the highest degree the welfare and contentment of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects in the country.This wise policy has not been adopted. A short-sighted desire for more revenue has blinded our Indian officials to the true needs of the country, and I do earnestly hope that the anxious time we are passing through may force the Government of India to face this most urgently-needed reform. And I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and of this House and the Indian Government to this vital question. If we really wish to make something like a provision against famine; if we wish to make the people of India thoroughly loyal and permanently interested in the soil; if we wish to provide for the enormous growth of population—and it is an alarming fact that we have added 29,000,000 to the population of India in the last 10 years—then we must give them every inducement to improve their impoverished soil, which 1334 is clearly over-cropped, under-manured, and very badly irrigated. Over the most of India a terrible struggle for existence is going on, and the land which is not tilled is mostly but poor, miserable jungle. That is the condition of India at the present time. ["No, no!] My hon. Friend opposite does not believe it, but I make this statement on the authority of the best judges in India that it is correct, and that this is the view-held by the intelligent natives of the country, namely, that if we are to make provision for this enormous increase of population and prevent them being liable to recurring famines we must give them a permanent interest in the soil, and give them every possible encouragement for making wells and tanks and all other improvements. When the land is irrigated it yields 10 times as much as in a state of nature, but those costly improvements will not be made by the cultivators on any great scale for fear of the enhancement of the Land Tax. In British India there are about 190,000,000 of cultivated acres at the present time, and I question if it produces, on the average, crops of the value of £1 an acre. Therefore, I say the question of questions, the question between a country with a poor starving peasantry and a country of prosperous and well-to-do peasants, is the difference between India abounding in irrigation works and India as it is to-day. I have one more remark to make about the agriculture of India. The people now are almost wholly thrown upon the land. There was a time in former days when many industries prevailed in the villages. Even some 30 years ago, when I was first in India, there were prosperous village industries, but what has happened since then? We have flooded India with cheap goods and nearly killed the village industries. The terrible problem of India is how to feed 285,000,000 of people, of whom 220,000,000 are in British territory. As I have said, nearly all the good land is used up, the old village industries have decayed under cheap imports of European goods, throwing nearly all the population on the land, and the question of questions is how to make that land produce enough food for the people, and yield a surplus to pay for their manufactures imported from 1335 Europe. The only sure way to deal with the question is to grant a permanent settlement of the land, subject to a small perpetual Land Tax. Then the cultivator would feel the land was his own, and he would become extremely industrious and bring out of the soil all it would yield. Our permanent hold upon India depends upon the well-being and happiness of the people, and whilst their condition is bad we have no right to expect them to show us any real loyalty. Let us administer affairs so that they would have much to lose and little to gain by any change of rulers. I will now pass to another large source of revenue, but one which causes much dissatisfaction. The House I dare say will at once surmise I am going to refer to the Abkari or Excise Revenue which yields nearly £5,000,000 a year. The House has so decisively condemned the system, both as regards drink and opium, that I will not do more than say that I acknowledge with thankfulness that in some parts of India, notably in Madras, there has been an honest attempt to reduce the consumption of strong drink. Great praise is due to the Government of Madras for having in one year reduced liquor licences by 7,000, and this year another 3,000 will be taken away, the result being that about 25 per cent. of the total number will be suppressed. I think the Committee ought to express its satisfaction that in this part of India, at least, the decision of this House has been given effect to. In Bengal, also, I understand, there has been a bonâ fide attempt made to do away with the outs tills. Some parts of India have set the House at defiance, and amongst these is the Presidency of Bombay, where the consumption of liquor is rapidly increasing under the stimulus of the Government. And I wish to bring before the Committee a very serious and bitter cause of complaint amongst the population of the Bombay Presidency. I have done so on former occasions, and will repeat again what I have said regarding the levying of taxes on the toddy palm. The natives are prevented drawing off the harmless juice of the toddy palm in order to force them into the Government liquor shops, where only the strongest distilled spirits are sold, corresponding with our London gin. I have presented many Petitions on this 1336 subject, and I wish to say it is a piece of gross tyranny in my opinion to make it impossible for a poor native to tap the tree that grows in his own garden and draw a wholesome liquor there from, and which, before it ferments, is absolutely unintoxicating. The tax placed on these toddy palms is perfectly enormous, and the result is that these poor people are driven to the liquor shops, where they get highly distilled spirits that are immensely more harmful and more likely to cause intoxication. With regard to opium, I only wish to make one observation, and it is this. The discussion on opium is so recent that I will only say this: The Government have not denied that the licence to sell opium contains a stipulation that a fixed maximum quantity must be sold, and a heavy penalty is inflicted if the licensee fails to drench the natives with this deadly drug to the uttermost extent. I can only call this provision diabolical, and I hope the exposure in this House will put an end to it for ever, as well as to the power of selling those poisonous drugs bhang and ganja. These two drugs are so bad that no Government, even in the most degraded country, can be found to make profit out of their sale. I will not deal further with any of the other sources of taxation in India, but I will now ask the Committee why it is we require to have such an oppressive system of taxation? And the answer I give to that is that the Government of India is far too costly. This country judges everything by an English standard, by the standard of the richest country in the world. We cannot comprehend the excessively small taxpaying power of the natives, therefore let me give the House an illustration by the measure of the Income Tax. In this country, now, 1d. in the £1 raises over £2,000,000 sterling, and 6d. produces about £13,000,000 sterling. In India a 6d. Income Tax raises about Rx.1,500,000, so that each million of people in England yields 60 times as much Income Tax as the same number in India. I wish now to say a word upon the military question, which is at the root of this excessive expenditure. On our military in India we spent last year, in a time of profound peace, £21,000,000, the largest sum ever known to be paid for this purpose in India in a time of 1337 peace. And this does not include what we spent on special defences and strategic railways. I have examined carefully the Accounts of India, and I have not been able to find any entry of the expense of these strategic railways, and I wish to ask what right hon. Gentlemen think of this system of strategic railways, which have not, and never will, pay the working expenses. So far as I can make oat, the cost is carried to the Capital Account of the railways of India, and not treated as military expenditure at all, though they are as much military expenditure as are the fortifications. So far as I can make out, the Accounts are mixed up with other railways, and put to the Capital Account, and then we are told that the Indian railways still leave a loss. These strategic railways are of no mercantile value. There is no traffic on them, and they will never be of any use at all except in time of war. I say that if we kept honest accounts we should show a total military expenditure in India of £24,000,000, and I am sorry to see that Sir David Barbour states that he quite expects a further increase in this military expenditure. He says—The best conclusion I can form is that the permanent cost of the Army is likely to increase, but though it is impossible to fix any limit, we may hope the increase will not be very great at least for a time.I am sure it is time that this House should express an opinion with regard to such a dreadful state of things as this which now prevails in India. We have a military expenditure steadily increasing in time of peace, we have a starving population whose tax-paying powers have been so strained that at last the burden has become intolerable, and it is impossible to squeeze any more out of them. Yet the Military Authorities go on spending money in a most lavish manner. Let me draw the attention of the Committee to one item of expenditure which, I think, will rather startle it. According to page 14, the Indian Pension List has swelled to £6,000,000, of which no less than £4,250,000 is for Army pensions and furlough allowances. No Army in the world sustains such an 1338 enormous dead weight, and I believe that in no country is it possible to find a state of things anything approaching this. So far as I can make out, the pensions of military officers in India come to more than double the whole pay of the Native Army of 145,000 men. The Pension List swallows up nearly the whole of the Salt Tax, and I allege that no Army in the world has such an enormous staff of expensive and unemployed officers. The colonels of the Indian Army retire on a salary of £1,100 or £1,200 a year. The time of the House has today been taken up for several hours with the discussion of the case of one of these officers, whereas there are 220,000,000 of people, on whom we are imposing an intolerable burden, for whom not a word has been spoken. It is on behalf of these millions that I am now speaking; they have to bear an intolerable load, and on their behalf I claim an entire change of policy. I have closely studied this question for many years, and I say that if we do not put a check to this wasteful expenditure in India we shall some day find ourselves in an abyss. We need for India a far more economical Government. The people of India are about the poorest people in the world—I do not think that that statement will be disputed—a well-known authority, Sir Evelyn Baring, puts the average income of the natives at 27 rupees per head per annum. That figure is considered by native authorities to be too high; they say the average is only 20 rupees. Mr. Giffen puts the average income for this country at £34 per head a year, or 17 times the average income of the Indian native. The average income of the Russians is calculated at £10 per head, or five times that of the natives of India, and yet Russia is looked upon as one of the poorest countries in the world. The natives of India, as a matter of fact, are only just able to keep body and soul together. I am convinced of the truth of this. When this state of things is borne in mind it need not be wondered at that great discontent exists. India is, in many respects, like what Ireland used to be; we long shut our ears to the cry of that island as we do to-day to that of India. She is suffering from an excessive expenditure squeezed out of a semi-starving 1339 population. Look at the enormous salaries we pay to Civil servants. In 1878, according to a Return ordered by John Bright, the Civil Service salaries in India amounted to £11,000,000; I believe they now amount to £13,000,000, and of this enormous sum 80 per cent. goes to Europeans. It is not a matter for surprise, then, that the people of India think they could devise a cheaper method of Government, and that they could administer the country at much less expense. They believe that a great portion of the duties discharged by Europeans might be equally well performed by natives. I agree with them. I think that natives should be more largely and more freely introduced into the Public Service. I am glad to think that some slight improvement has already been effected in that direction, but much remains still to be done. I feel I ought to apologise for the length at which I have spoken. But these matters are of immense importance to the people of India, in fairness to whom they ought to be discussed at a more convenient period than the close of the Session. There is, I believe, but one remedy—one effective remedy—for these manifold grievances, but it is a remedy which, by the Rules of the House, I am not permitted now to ventilate. Had I been able to speak earlier in the evening I should have brought forward the unanimous claim of the Indian people to a moderate share in the government of their own country. When this is conceded to them, I believe a great step will have been taken towards relieving India from the danger of ruin in which it now stands.
*(10.14.) SIR ROPER LFTHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
I desire to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India on the very pucid and interesting explanation he has given to the Committee of the Memorandum which has been circulated to all the Members of this House. That Memorandum, Sir, is a very great convenience, and I hope that in future years it may be widely distributed through the medium of the Press. I would suggest that it might be circu- 1340 lated to the Press throughout India, and England also, in its present form, as it leaves very little to be desired in the way of explanation of that very difficult, complicated, and complex subject—the yearly Financial Statement. In looking through this Memorandum, there are many points that have struck me as worthy of attention. Some of them have already been dealt with by my right hon. Friend, and by the hon. Member who has just sat down. Perhaps one of the most interesting features which has not yet attracted the attention of any speaker to-night is the remarkable improvement which has become manifest in the financial arrangements of Burma—our latest acquisition. We have had a good many gloomy predictions in the past as to the future of that province. It will be within the recollection of many Members of this House that at the time of the annexation of Burma it was predicted that the country would prove a serious drag on the Indian Empire for many years. The Memorandum of the right hon. Gentleman, however, shows us that this year there has been a steady improvement in the revenue of that province, and a distinct diminution in the expenditure. The improvement in the financial arrangements of Burma is, as I have said, a general one. There appears, indeed, to be a reduction in the receipts in one branch of the revenue, but that is a matter which will be eminently satisfactory to my hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire. I refer to receipts from Excise, for there seems to have been a diminished consumption of alcoholic drinks in this newly-annexed Province. Then there is another point to be noted in regard to the increased revenue. There has been a large export of rice, which shows that not only have there been good crops in the country, but that the country is becoming rich enough to send large supplies of the food grain of the people to other parts of the world. There is also a largely increased revenue from the Salt Tax. That is a tax which my hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire deplores on every occasion on which he speaks on Indian finance. I have no doubt that he does so with the best possible intentions, but I may point 1341 out to him that, notwithstanding the increase of that tax, which occurred some two or three years ago, the figures presented to us to-night show that the revenue is increasing, and not only the revenue, but the actual consumption also of this most necessary article of food. And I would ask him, in reply to his censures upon the Salt Tax, what tax he would propose to substitute for it? I believe there is no other tax which would answer the purpose, and reach the masses of the people; and if the Salt Duty were abolished enormous numbers would practically escape taxation. Further than that, I believe there is no source of revenue which would be less open to extortion. Turning to the expenditure of the Province of Burma, there is a considerable diminution, I may point out, in the charge for police. There is, no doubt, an increased expenditure in some provinces in regard to the Excise Duty; but that increase, which is especially marked in Bengal, is simply a temporary increase, and one that this House will most certainly approve of. For during the past year or two there has been a large transfer of the manufacture of spirits from those outstills which were so indignantly denounced, and so rightly denounced, by the hon. Member for Flintshire some years ago. There has been a large transfer of the manufacture of spirits from those outstills to large central distilleries, which has cost a considerable amount of money in the first place, but which will not continue to be a charge on the revenues of the country. There is another increase of revenue upon which the right hon. Gentleman has been congratulated, but about which I am not quite so certain, I confess, that it is an unmitigated gain—I mean the general increase in the land revenue. I have indicated that I do not sympathise with the hon. Member for Flintshire when he decries the Salt Tax, and I do not sympathise with many of the other ideas he has put forward. I do not think that India is so heavily taxed as he makes out. I am quite sure that the condition of the poor in India is not as he described it—worse than that of the poor in this country. In my opinion, it is not nearly so bad. But I am quite sure of this: that the remarks of the hon. Member for Flintshire on the danger 1342 likely to arise from periodical changes in the incidence of land revenue are well deserving the serious attention of the Committee and of the Government. It is quite true that these periodical settlements must militate against the increase of tanks and against irrigation generally. There is little doubt that these periodical increases of land settlement give rise frequently to extortion, which is much to be regretted. I confess I should like to see the adoption throughout India of the system introduced in Bengal by Lord Cornwallis of a permanent settlement. I venture, however, entirely to traverse the statement of the hon. Member for Flintshire, that that Permanent settlement had transferred the land to the tax collectors. The Zemindars were never tax collectors in the accepted sense of the term; they were only tax collectors so far as they were owners of the soil, and were responsible to the Government for the revenue derivable from it. I do not see how Lord Cornwallis could have done anything else than give a permanent settlement to those who were the actual owners of the land. It was impossible to give it to the cultivators, because that would have been confiscation, and would have split the land up into too minute portions. The next point on which I would touch is with regard to the extension of the railways. We have had this evening some slight discussion with regard to the extension of the railway to the North-West Frontier—lines which were described as to some extent mlitary railways. But I should like to point out that there has been a considerable extension of railways in India itself, and I would venture to impress upon the Government that of all forms of famine protection this form of railway extension was the one most strongly insisted upon by the Famine Commission, which declared it was the only way in which the Famine Insurance Fund could properly be applied. I venture to urge the Government of India to take the opportunity of these years of prosperity to protect the country from famine in the future by making these lines. I see in the Budget Estimate for 1891–92 there is a considerable allotment for the construction of the East Coast Railway. That is described 1343 as one of the protection railways against famine, and the sum of Rx.975,000 is set apart for it. Now, of course, the Government of India and those on the spot are the best judges of what are the most suitable lines to be chosen as famine protection railways. It is quite true that the East Coast Railway will be of much advantage in many ways. It will give connection for the first time between the great centres of Calcutta and Madras. But I venture respectfully to doubt whether it can really be called a famine protection line. It must travel very near the coast; it must cross the great water systems which flow out to the east coast of India, and it must compete to a large extent with the sea-borne coasting traffic. It is hardly a line, therefore, that I should consider suitable for famine protection. What is the main use of railways for famine protection? It is that corn may be poured into a country affected by famine which otherwise could not be sent into it. In the 1866 famine the greatest difficulty was experienced in getting food into the isolated Province of Orissa, because there were no railways for conveying it. In the Bengal famine there were facilities for bringing down grain from the upper provinces by rail, and from Burma by sea, so that the famine could, therefore, be satisfactorily dealt with. It does seem to me, therefore, that in choosing a line for famine protection purposes, the great consideration should be to place it where there are no other competing means of access. I should like, with reference to the few remarks I have ventured to offer to the Committee on the subject of railway extension, to read a short extract from a pamphlet by Sir Arthur Cotton, as follows:—In judging of the weight of taxation in India we must also take into account the vast benefits of our great public works. The railways' gross receipts are Rx.17,000,000, and the old modes of carriage would cost, at least, three times that, and the irrigation increases the produce by Rs.20 an acre, giving Rx.16,000,000 on 8,000,000 acres, together Rx.50,000,000, or, by these two things alone, a saving of more than the whole taxation, and this, beside all the multiplied benefits from other works, and by the Post Office, &c. delivering a letter at 2,000 miles distance for a penny, for instance. So that certainly, ii we had abolished all taxation, and not spent Rx.300,000,000 on public works, India would 1344 have been immensely poorer than she is now.And, again—All that is now wanted is that the Indian Government should have an annual loan of Rx.5,000,000 or Rx.6,000,000, at, least, to cover all public works expenditure, and supply the place of the opium revenue, which it is clear now that England has determined to abolish.It is clear from these extracts that these public works are calculated in a special degree to enrich the country and protect it from famine. I think the provision made during the last year is such as we should congratulate the Government upon, but I do urge them to consider the immense importance of still further extending the railways in those districts of India which are most likely to be threatened with famine.
§ (10.33.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
I propose only to touch upon one point, and that is the increase of military expenditure in India. That was alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman himself in his Explanatory Statement, in which he pointed out that the Expenditure for 1891–92 is exceedingly high. Sir David Barbour has pointed out that the increase of Expenditure in India of late years has entailed, from broad results, an increase of the Salt Duty, the imposition of a duty on petroleum, the absorption of the Famine Fund, and the appropriation of certain revenue at the disposal of the local Governments. The Under Secretary of State has pointed out that the increase of military expenditure is due principally to the special defence works and cost of ordnance stores. These two increases of expenditure are, I take it, directly due to the connection of the Government of India with the Home Government; they are owing to the association of the Indian military administration with the Home Army. That subject was brought forward in the early part of the Session with regard to one particular point connected with the administration of the Army of India, and we then got an assurance 1345 from the Secretary for War that the matter should not be lost sight of, and that the Home Government would endeavour, as far as possible, to secure further economy in connection with the amalgamation of the Home and Indian Forces. The distribution of the charges for military expenditure between India and the Home Government has been frequently discussed, and was the subject of an inquiry by a Committee presided over by Lord Northbrook. I cannot gather, however, that any definite settlement has been arrived at; and I should have been glad if the Secretary for War had been present and able to inform us if there were any prospect of such a settlement, and one more favourable to the finances of India. As my hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire has pointed out, of the charge put on the Government of India in connection with Army expenditure more than one-fifth is paid for pensions and retiring allowances. Now, if the Indian Government had had absolute power of managing its own Army according to its own ideas of economy and efficiency, it never would have kept up such a system of enormous pension allowances as now prevails. As to the increase of expenditure on ordnance stores, that is, I believe, the fault of the Home Government rather than of the Indian Government. I should like to know as near as possible, with regard to the magazine rifle, what has actually occurred between the Home and the Indian Governments? I believe the Indian Government did not want this new rifle at all, and considered it was not an efficient weapon. Further than that, the Home Government demanded what, in their opinion, was an excessive price for it. I should like to know how the dispute was settled. I regret, again, the Secretary for War is not in his place to give this information, but I hope we shall have some explanation of the non-supply of the rifles to the Indian Government and the non-completion of the armament of the Indian Army. Finally, I should like to congratulate the Under Secretary of State for India and the Indian authorities on the prospects which have arisen during the last 10 days of averting the famine which threatened the people of India.
§ *(10.44.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
I regret that the hon. Member for Flintshire did not have the opportunity of bringing forward his Motion to-day, dealing as it does with matters which were before the Indian Congress last year. We are now fortunately better able to understand Indian affairs than we were, because for six years the Indian people have held Congresses. It may be claimed that we on this side the House represent the Indian people here, while hon. Members opposite represent the official classes, to whom are paid the millions of which we have heard so much. I gather from the excellent Report of the last Congress—
§ *MR. MORTON
Of course, Sir, I bow to your ruling. I suppose I shall be in order in referring to matters of finance. One is as to the request which has been made for the reduction of the Salt Duty. So far as I can understand that tax, it appears to me to be very similar to what the Corn Duty was in this country, and it is being treated as that duty was treated 50 or 60 years ago. The general opinion of those who understand Indian affairs is, that this Salt Duty should be greatly reduced. I think that would be only wise and fair to the Indian people, and I hope the Government will soon adopt that policy. I am in favour of the Income Tax minimum being raised from Rs.500 to Rs.1,000. It is, in my opinion, most unjust that £20,000,000 a year should be spent in India for military purposes, while only £1,000,000 is spent for educational purposes. I hope that soon the Government will see its way to give the people of India more extended powers of Local Government, and I trust, too, that next year the Indian Budget will be discussed at an earlier period of the Session. I am very sorry the people of India have lost a good friend in the person of the late Charles Bradlaugh, 1347 who took a deep and active interest in their welfare, and I trust that there may arise other Members of this House to fill his place, and to endeavour to promote the better government of India in the interests of our great Empire.
§ *(10.55.) SIR R. TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
In the first place, I should like to point out to the Committee that when the hon. Member for Flintshire produced the extraordinary document which appeared to compel a licensee to sell a certain quantity of opium, the manner in which he read it out conveyed a wholly erroneous impression. Of course, nothing could have been farther from the hon. Member's intention than to misrepresent the facts, but, nevertheless, he unconsciously did so. This form of licence is in use only in particular districts on the frontiers of certain Native States, over which considerable quantities of the drug are smuggled. The object of inserting in the licence provisions as to the licensee taking a certain quantity of duly taxed and licensed opium is to prevent his obtaining and selling smuggled opium, and to put a check on this unlawful traffic. It is not intended to force the consumption of the drug; but if the licensee is compelled to buy a given quantity of lawful, he will be the best agent for the prevention of smuggling. The fact is, that the consumption of opium in British India has always been extremely limited. I entirely concur in what has fallen from the hon. Member for Flintshire as to irrigation. "Irrigate, irrigate, irrigate," should be the policy of Indian administration, and I contend that hitherto we have done our duty in that respect. Our irrigation works in India are the grandest to be found in any country or in any age in the world. We are now spending about £3,000,000 annually on public works—that is, on railways and canals—the money for which is mostly raised in India itself in order to avoid the difficulty of the exchange. The only portion of it raised in England is for materials, which must necessarily be obtained in this country. 1348 Having thus adverted to specific points, I must turn to the general tirade which the hon. Member has levelled against India and her government. The hon. Member has seen the country in the carpet bagger's style, no doubt; still he has been there. And it is a marvel that an hon. Member of such high culture and large experience should visit that magnificent Empire, with its vast sheets of cultivation, and see the expanding commerce, the harbours crowded with shipping, the rivers presenting a spectacle of busy navigation, such as would even astonish the dwellers on the Thames, the vast numbers of passengers crowding the railway stations, the religious ceremonies, the numerous hives of humming busy industry, the people working in the fields with happy and comparatively comfortable homes, free from the squalor which is to be seen in these northern latitudes—I say it is a marvel that the hon. Member could go and see all these things and then come back to this House and tell the story he has told this evening. And as to the temper of the people, there is no sign of disloyalty. The signs are all the other way. Witness the loyal efforts made by the Native States to provide against any possible invasion by Russia. Any agitation there is comes only from a certain class, and that class, no doubt, had primed the hon. Member with all his so-called facts and arguments. But who are these men? They are not really discontented. They are, for the most part, undergraduates of our own Universities, the alumni of our own schools. I desire to speak of them with the utmost courtesy and consideration. Whatever they are, we have made them. They were originally Oriental; but we have brought them up in the paths of European progress, and imbued them with Western civilisation and ideas. Naturally, they learned our language and acquired our modes of thought; they are nurtured with our intellectual food; and thus they have been able to indoctrinate some hon. Members of this House with such views as have been expressed to-night. But it is really nothing more than a sham public opinion. It is only a limited class that is concerned—most respectable, I admit, but very limited. To say that they represent the public opinion of 1349 the masses of the people of India is the merest pretence. The hon. Member poses to-night as a kind of modern Cassandra. But the House will be able to see how this kind of process is conducted. We have had a specimen of it at home. Most of us have heard of a book entitled Darkest England and the Way Out of It. But to present that book to a foreigner and to say "That is a true picture of Merry England "—of our happy, beautiful England in which we have been born and bred—would be a farce. Well, I say that the absurdity would not be greater than to present the speech of my hon. Friend this evening as a picture of our Indian Empire. My hon. Friend asks what remedy there is for all the evils he has conjured up. He may well ask. The one remedy would be for us to quit the country, to scuttle out of it, and leave the railways to be sold for old iron. He speaks about the people of India as having nothing to be grateful for to us—they are so poor. But I may tell him that they have a greater margin of actual income over their necessary wants than a large part of the people of London. There is less absolute poverty in India than in many parts of the United Kingdom. What have the people not to be grateful for? They have this: That while before our time they were liable to be ravaged and devastated and to suffer by fire and sword, they now have Roman peace—I should say British peace. Every man is safe in his own home and free to secure the fruits of his own industry. I can remember the time, at all events, when they were grateful for these blessings—before the new generation had sprung up—because they could remember the evils of revolutions, and constant wars, and ravages to which they were formerly liable. They had something in their memories with which they could contrast the calm and prosperity of British rule. The new generation may have forgotten these things, still, they would dread the thought of any change! We who know India, at least, know, and this House should know, how great the benefits are to the people of India which our rule has conferred on that great and teeming population. The hon. Member says that even a British Bureaucracy 1350 will never introduce improvements, and that more power should be given to Native Congresses—such seems to be his meaning. Apparently he wishes that all power should be taken from the hands of those who supply the nerve, the power, the energy, and the trustworthiness of the administration, and be conferred on those who could not bear the burden, the danger, the pain of defending—that is, transferring power from the responsible to the irresponsible. That is an absurdity in itself. The hon. Member says that all the industries, the elegant, beautiful arts of the people of India are now perishing in the cold shade of British rule. Now, would anybody be surprised to hear that instead of any falling off, the beautiful, the artistic manufactures of India are flourishing in the highest degree; that India produces works of art equal in merit to, and in quantity superior to, those of Japan, and more examples of dexterity and skill than, perhaps, all the countries of Europe. Moreover, new industries have sprung up in India. How about all the cotton industry of Bombay, the tea industry, the indigo industry, the jute industry, and many others which are even talked of as rivals, and growing rivals, to our home trade? The hon. Member speaks of the British public, and says that if they only knew all the circumstances of the people of India they would insist on the sources of revenue being revised. Well, I think if the British public really took the matter up, they would remember that India is not exactly to be played or trifled with, because they have vast interests there, and they would ask themselves who is to provide the interest on all the £400,000,000 or £500,000,000 of British capital invested there. The hon. Member lastly urged that the true remedy would be a better representation of the Indian people by some electoral system. It would be out of order were I to dwell on that point; but I, for one, as a concession to his views and to the views of the late Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), would be prepared to say this much, that the members of the Legislative Councils in India instead of being appointed might be elected. In the great municipalities of India this plan 1351 has been already tried with success. And, lastly, referring to that which is at the bottom of all our financial prosperity, I would point to the results of the late Census. Why, Sir, in 10 years our Empire in India has increased in population by a good 30,000,000, by natural increment, irrespective of the increases derived from the acquisition of Upper Burma, and other annexations. Now, I would ask, has a greater result ever been known in the history of civilisation? It is vain to speak of the population being crowded on the land. On the contrary, in many parts the population is sparse rather than dense. Examine the Returns, district by district, and you will find that while there is a moderate increase in the old inhabited and cultivated tracts, there is a larger increase in the new tracts where cultivation is spreading. And all this time the people, whose poverty the hon. Member for Flintshire has proclaimed to-night, are increasing in numbers fast, while at the same time their means are growing, their cultivation expanding, their trade advancing. In the export of wheat they are proving a rival to America and are alarming the British farmer; they are exporting rice enough to supply all Northern Europe, and oil seed also in vast quantities. If they are capable of sparing all that for other countries, it can hardly be that the people themselves are so badly off as has been represented.
§ *MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
I congratulate the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Temple) on one distinct advance which he has made, inasmuch as he has just told us that he has joined the ranks of those who consider that the elective principle should be extended in some degree to India.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE
May I interrupt the hon. Member for one moment? I have always said so, both in this House and elsewhere.
§ *MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
I am all the more glad, then, to hear that the hon. Baronet's conversion is not new. At the same time, I cannot help recognising in him the same official optimist whom we always expect to find representing the 1352 Anglo-Indian Services. I have not a word to say against the hon. Baronet personally. I have the greatest admiration for his career, as an official career, in the various high positions he occupied in India. At the same time, I cannot help recognising in him merely a first-class official who ought not to be looked to as an authority in regard to the condition of the people of India. The hon. Baronet has alluded to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, who, he says, have been primed with certain views belonging to the National Congress. Now, though it is true that the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India in the Debate last year did me the honour of insinuating that I was primed by some Association, I do not think that the hon. Baronet will join him in that view. He, at all events, well knows that in all the views that I may express to the Committee I have not been primed by any individuals whatever, except those whom I have met in long and personal intercourse and observation daring the many years I have spent in the Empire of India. Last year the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India told us in his Budget speech that he had little to tell, because there had been nothing but "a dull level of prosperity "shown in India during the year. The right hon. Gentleman has said much the same to-night. On that former occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India was followed by the hon. Baronet, who made an optimist speech just like that which he has made to-night. Well, Mr. Courtney, I had the honour to follow the hon. Baronet last year, and I commented in a few words, as I have done now, on the optimist character of his speech, and ventured to suggest that hon. Gentlemen who had occupied, and in many cases worthily occupied, high positions in India, and had reaped advantage, honour, and prosperity from 1353 the well paid offices they had themselves filled, did unconsciously reflect that personal prosperity on their view as to the condition of the people of India. It may perhaps amuse the Committee to hear that a comic paper in Calcutta took up the matter on that occasion. Apropos of the Debate in question, it narrated a story of an Oriental potentate who did not know or care much about the wants of his people, but who thought it his duty to have some kind of information; and so he was accustomed to ask his barber every morning when he came to shave him: "Well," he said, "barber, how are my people getting on?" The barber had a good appointment, and was saving money; and so he was accustomed to reply in these words—" Sire, it is ray duty to inform you that your people are rich, and happy, and prosperous." Well, it occurred to this Oriental potentate one day quietly to abstract from the pocket of this barber the gold pieces which constituted his savings out of the salary he enjoyed. He did that, and awaited events. The barber came next morning, and the Oriental Prince risked him the usual question—"Well, barber, how are my people to-day?" "Sire," said the barber "it is my duty plainly to tell you that your subjects are steeped to the lips in beggary and starvation." A cartoon was added in which the barber was depicted as the hon. Baronet opposite, and the Oriental potentate was the Under Secretary of State for India. I think the Committee may apply that anecdote for themselves. Well, Mr. Courtney, there are a hundred ways in which, if it were admissible in this Debate, I could prove the growing and increasing poverty of the people of India, in spite, not only of the increase of population to which the hon. Baronet has called attention, but in spite of all the optimist views of the Under Secretary of State and the fact that the Public Treasury is full. I could prove this, for example, from evidence showing the exhaustion of the soil from the over cropping of the fields, the comparative absence of fallows, and the alarming reduction in the number of cattle, in which nine-sevenths of the little capital of the Indian ryot is invested. But I will restrict my remarks on this head to a 1354 few words respecting the enormous foreign drain to this country that takes place; a foreign drain, I hold, which is such as of itself to suggest the certainty that the people of India must be extremely impoverished. I say that history presents no instance in which any country in the world has been subjected to such a gigantic foreign drain as we make, and which has yet remained in any degree prosperous. I have heard it stated in this House and elsewhere that this foreign drain is an old affair, that it has existed for long, and that the natural inference would be that it might safely exist for a considerable time to come. But I desire to impress on the Committee that this gigantic foreign drain is not an old matter, but that it is comparatively new. I have not got the figures with me, and I would not desire to trouble the Committee with them if I had, but from memory I think I am right in saying that this gigantic drain to England has practically, and in serious magnitude only, arisen since the year 1870. Now, 20 years is not much in the life of a nation consisting of nearly 300,000,000 souls, and I hold, therefore, that the argument is totally unsound which would assert that because the drain has been going on for 20 years it is compatible with the prosperity of the people. To make my meaning clear, I will ask the Committee to allow me to compare the imports and exports of India at this moment with those of any other European country. It is hardly necessary for me to remind the Committee that the imports of England are in excess of her exports to the amount of 33 per cent. That figure, therefore, roughly speaking, represents the profit England gains upon her foreign trade, a profit of about 33 per cent. Well, the profit in the same way—that is, the excess of imports over exports in France—is at this moment 22 per cent. I am aware this also comprises interest on foreign investments. But take a State which has none of these. The excess of imports over exports, even in such a State as Turkey, the most backward of all States in Europe, is at this moment 13 per cent. The excess of imports of all Europe as against the exports of all Europe amounts to 19 per cent. 1355 What is the case with regard to India? Here we have the lamentable fact that instead of there being a corresponding excess of imports as compared with exports, the imports into India are actually less than the exports from India by nearly 25 per cent. Now, Mr. Courtney, I say fearlessly that history cannot be adduced to show a single instance in which any other country in the world has been able to sustain such a drain. Let us consider the matter in this way. Last year the exports from India amounted to—I shall speak of tens of rupees for the sake of convenience as pounds on both sides of the account—£108,000,000. Taking the average profit of all Europe at 19 per cent., what should be the corresponding imports to India according to the same low average? Taking the exports from India at £108,000,000, the imports to India ought to have amounted to no less a sum than £128,000,000. But what were the actual imports to India? Instead of being £128,000,000 last year the actual imports were only £86,000,000, leaving a loss as compared with the foreign trade of all Europe of no less than £42,000,000 on the operations of last year alone. But that even is not all; it is a well-known law, which will not be disputed on either side of the House, that in all cases where National Debt is being incurred you are bound, as a matter of ordinary economic truth, to deduct the amount of that increase of debt from the imports; in other words, to add the debt incurred to the loss I have stated, so that, as a matter of fact, if we view the trade of India in the same light as we do that of the whole Continent of Europe, we have a loss to India during the last year on her foreign trade of no less than £47,000,000. Now, Mr. Courtney, I hold that that of itself is sufficient to justify what I have said regarding the ever-increasing poverty of the people of India. But we are always met by a statement by the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors in office, namely, that if it be the case that the people of India, the cultivators of India, are getting poorer and poorer every year, how is it that the Treasury is filled and the land revenue is still collected with punctuality? I quite 1356 admit that to an English audience this is a very plausible argument, but it does not hold water when the reason of it is considered. What is the reason why, in spite of what I hold to be the increasing poverty of the people, the land revenue, which is of course the main revenue, is so punctually collected that, as the right hon. Gentleman said last year, the arrears were only 3 per cent? I will tell the Committee the reason. It is that, unknown to this House, there is going on—I will not say from year to year—but from decade to decade, from period to period, a system whereby the laws which are made in India are altered from time to time, and made to operate with ever-increasing stringency for the purpose of making arrears impossible. Now, at this late hour I am anxious not to detain the Committee, but I think this is a matter both new to them and of enormous moment, and I propose, with the indulgence of hon. Members, to illustrate my meaning by a reference to the last enactment of the hon. Baronet who has just spoken (Sir R. Temple), when he was Governor of Bombay. I am sorry the hon. Baronet is not at the moment in his place. One of the last acts of the hon. Baronet as Governor of Bombay was to pass a Land Revenue Law, which at this moment obtains as the law not only of the whole of the Bombay Presidency, but elsewhere where it has been copied. I will mention one or two provisions of this law in regard to the collection of revenue, and the Committee can judge whether these provisions explain how the money is punctually collected from the starving ryots. The collection was made in Western India up to 1879, under a law introduced by Mountstuart Elphinstone in 1827. Now, let me compare one or two of the provisions under which the land revenue was collected up to 1879, with the new provisions inserted by the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham, which obtain to this day, and are the source of that plethora in the Treasury upon which the Under Secretary congratulates himself. In the first place, until 1879 there was an appeal allowed to every cultivator to a higher authority against the revenue collectors' claim, whatever it might be. The hon. Baronet withdrew that right of appeal, and under 1357 his Draconian Code the ryot is cut off from all appeal. Up to 1879, the law provided that a penalty was to be inflicted on the occupier of the holding if he cut without permission any of the corn over which the Government had the first lien for the Land Tax, but that penalty was merely the forfeiture of half the corn actually cut. But the hon. Baronet provided that the penalty for unlawfully reaping a single sheaf should be double the amount of the whole of the Land Tax for the year. Now that, I think, I may call a Draconian provision, but there is more to come. It must be remembered that these previsions are actually in force at this day, and this is how the Land Tax is now collected over the greater part of India. A third provision enforced up to 1879 was as follows—and I think everybody will admit that it "was an equitable provision—that the cultivator of the holding should be responsible for his own Land Tax, and for that alone. That was so up to 1879. But the hon. Baronet changed all that, and by the Land Revenue Act now in force he has actually ordained that the whole holdings, perhaps of a thousand cultivators in the village or district, are held responsible for the single arrear of one individual. Not only so, but the crops of the innocent villagers may be attached for these arrears, and even their persons imprisoned. Now, I boldly say that nothing more inhuman than this was ever enacted, and I think the Committee will admit that I have not exceeded my duty in taking this opportunity of bringing these matters before them. How, I asked, are arrears possible under such conditions, which demand that before the arrears can occur the life-blood shall first have been drawn, drop by drop, from the farmer of capital and solvency, as well as from the insolvent? And yet the Government and the hon. Baronet go about pointing to the smallness of outstanding arrears, and boasting of it as a proof of the mild incidence of their taxation, and of the ease with which it is met from the well filled purses of a happy and prosperous community. But I am sorry to say the climax is not yet reached; there is worse still to come. Up to 1879 the Act ordained that the cultivator could only 1358 be proceeded against for the actual amount in arrear. This again was changed in 1879, and it is now ordained that if a ryot is in arrear to the extent of a single rupee, he can be proceeded against at once for the whole Land Tax of the holding for the whole year. He can be charged not only for the instalment due, but for the remainder which is not due, and not only for the principal, but for interest, at a rate unnamed, and a penalty to an amount absolutely unspecified, and which can be increased from time to time at the discretion of the Government. I will only mention two other points which are still worse than those I have given. I dare say all this is new to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Gorst), or I am sure he would have taken steps to impress on the Government of Bombay the necessity of revising this hideous Code, as I must call it. Up to 1879 the cultivator could only be foreclosed upon after default had been committed, but now the collector is endowed with the power, if he has "reason to apprehend" that any single person in the village may be likely to make default, at that moment, without default at all, to foreclose, not only on the expected defaulter, but upon the whole district of solvent ryots. Up to 1879 the collector was empowered, in case of default, to seize for arrears only half the crops on a holding; and this, I need not say, was a humane provision. These village communities have existed for many generations. They are, as it were, peasant proprietors under Government. The idea of their being evicted from their holdings or left to starve never entered into the policy of former rulers, or even of the East India Company. Half the crop only was accordingly allowed to be seized for arrears. But from 1879 to this day, on account of any arrears, the whole of the crop of the miserable cultivator is liable to instant seizure, and his family are liable to be left to starve, without a grain of corn to feed them during the next winter season. There are many more points in the Code of the hon. Baronet which I could mention, but I think I have sufficiently shown the Committee how seriously this law affects scores of millions of our fellow subjects. I will only add, therefore 1359 one crowning instance of the iniquitous character of this measure. Up to 1879, under the old Act, the occupier was, practically speaking, a peasant proprietor under Government, subject only to a revision of his assessment every 30 years. He had, at all events, a practically secure property in his holding, on which he dug wells and made plantations and improvements. So it was until 1879, when this new, and altogether merciless, Code enacted—and the provision is in force at this moment—that, if the tenant of a holding be in default to the extent of a single shilling for a single day, that man is liable to have his entire holding, with his 30 years' lease, together with all his crops, his plantations, his improvements, his houses, and even his very implements of agriculture forfeited to the Government, and himself and family evicted and thrown upon the world absolutely without grace or notice. I think that after hearing these things, my Irish friends may be inclined to say that the little finger of the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham has proved thicker than the loins even of an Irish landlord. I see the hon. Baronet has returned to his place. He got £10,000 a year from these half-starved peasants of Western India for filling the office which enabled him thus to reduce them to slavery, by hanging around their necks the millstone of the Land Revenue Code, some of the provisions of which I have mentioned. It is not for me to find the reasons which to his own mind justified him in doing so, but I do ask him this: How does he reconcile his roseate statement to-night with these acts of his own as Governor of Bombay? He has spoken of the increase of prosperity of the people, the multiplication of the population, and other things, but how does he reconcile his idea of increasing prosperity with the fact that he, when he filled the office of Governor of Bombay, found it necessary to pass this inhuman, this more than Draconian Code which I have described? The fact is, that the hon. Baronet takes nothing whatever but the mere official Anglo-Indian view. I am not blaming anyone, least of all the hon. Baronet, for whom I have always entertained the highest respect, but I say his position to-day proves that the official eyes in India see all 1360 these things through rose-hued glasses. They are in the habit of contemplating with deep emotion the wisdom and beauty of their own performances, and they are totally unfitted to pose as authorities on the condition of the people whose affairs they have administered. They are, after all, only very human. Absorbed in the good they have done, they never look on the other side of the question, never take off their coloured spectacles and see things as they are. Looking on one side of the account—the credit side—undoubtedly great benefits have been conferred upon the people of India. I do not deny it, but I say, Look also on the debit side of the account, and you will find, unfortunately, that it contains much larger figures than the credit side. The evils, some of which I have exposed, are nothing more nor less than exemplifications of the fact which we independent Anglo-Indians have long known, but which we have not yet been able to get the House to believe, namely, that there is no hope whatever of bureaucracy ever reforming itself from within, or avoiding the evils and abuses which its self-interest tends to establish under all such unchecked systems.
§ (11.50.) Question put, and agreed to. Resolution to be reported to-morrow.