§ MR. T. R. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the statement made by Sir James Westland as to the cost of the famine and its effects on the finances of India, he can state in what way the Government are prepared to aid in defraying from Imperial funds part of the expenditure on famine relief?
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
The state of things in India is at present as follows. In the face of a famine of almost unexampled extent and severity, the Government of India have spared no expense in their efforts to prevent or mitigate its effects, and, thanks to the means which the foresight of previous Governments has provided, and to the zeal and vigour with which they have been used, those efforts have been on the 1124 whole very successful. In spite of the very heavy charge and loss of revenue, estimated at Rx.11,000,000 net, which this condition of affairs has entailed, the Government of India estimate the deficit for the closing financial year at not more than Rx.1,987,000, and that for the coming year at Rx.2,464,000. They propose to carry on without interruption or postponement all the great public works winch they have begun or have undertaken to begin, and, mainly for this purpose of productive expenditure, which is virtually a further insurance against future famines, they propose to borrow Rx.4,000,000 in India and £3,500,000 sterling in England, besides £1,000,000 temporary debt. With the view of insuring against the financial loss involved by possible famines, a surplus revenue has for many years been raised and devoted to the avoidance or reduction of debt, and the loans which it is now intended to incur form part of the general policy of borrowing for remunerative railway construction, and must not be attributed merely, or even mainly, to the results of the famine. The credit of the Government of India has, I believe, never been appreciably higher than at the present moment. In these circumstances no application for assistance has been made by the Government of India, nor do Her Majesty's Government as at present advised see any reason to anticipate such application by an offer of financial aid.