§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE MARQUESS OF CREWE)
In asking your Lordships to read this Bill a second time there is no need, fortunately, for me to repeat any part of the defence of the 76 policy of this measure which was so fully discussed in the debates in the House on the 21st and 22nd of February last. It is, perhaps, safe to assume that the convictions of no member of the House were materially altered by that discussion. Some very divergent views were expressed, and it is probably safe to conclude that those views are still held by those who maintained them. We discussed the question "about and about," and, to continue the quotation, we all of us came out by the same door wherein we went. I assume, therefore, that the noble Earl opposite (Lord Curzon), who was the protagonist on that occasion, maintains his views in the main, and I have certainly no reason to alter mine. I am further absolved from discussing the policy of the question by the fact that, so far as I am aware, there has been no change of opinion in India itself of such a character as to make further discussion necessary. The two principal sets of opponents of the policy—that is to say, English Calcutta and Mahomedan Dacca—I have no doubt retain the objections which they originally took to the Bill. On the other hand, I see, after observing as closely as I can, no signs of wavering in the general acceptance which the policy received in other parts of India; and even among those who were originally opposed to it there are signs, gratifying signs to us, of a tendency towards acceptance of the policy—a tendency which is indicated by a desire to make the best of it, and to obtain such consequent concessions as it is believed can be granted.
The Preamble of this Bill states the various Executive acts which have been performed in this country and in India under the powers that belong to His Majesty and to the respective Governments. It has been argued, although it is not a point, I think, on which it is worth while to dwell at any length, that these Executive acts to some extent suffer from being exercised under ancient and archaic Statutes which were passed in circumstances altogether different. It might be observed that all our British liberties, both as subjects of the Crown and as citizens, depend upon very much older Statutes than those which are here in question; but it is more to the point to remark that, as a matter of fact, all the powers which we exercise in relation to the Government of India, practically all the 77 main powers exorcised by the Secretary of State in Council, are simply transferred and taken over bodily from the powers formerly exercised by tie Court of Directors of the East India Company under the direction and control of the Board of Commissioners who at that time administered Indian affairs. The acts, therefore, which the Secretary of State in Council performs every week at the India Office are, if our critics will have it so, open to a kindred objection to that which seems to be taken to the exercise of the administrative powers which preceded this Bill and are mentioned in the Preamble.
The steps which were taken were five in number. They were as follow. The Secretary of State in Council declared, by the powers given him in the Act of 1853, that the Governor-General should no longer be Governor of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal, but that a separate Governor should be appointed for that Presidency. That having been done, His Majesty was pleased to appoint a Governor of the Presidency in the person of Sir Thomas Carmichael, who up to that time had been Governor of Madras. The three other Executive steps were taken in India. The first was the proclamation by the Governor-General in Council of the new Province of Behar and Orissa under a Lieutenant-Governor; that was done under the Act of 1861. The second was the creation of Assam into a Chief Commissionership under the Act of 1854; and the third was the delimitation of the extent of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal.
I now come to the clauses of the Bill. The first clause declares that the Governor of Bengal should have all the rights, duties, and functions which the Governors of Madras and Bombay possess. The effect of this clause is to give the Governor of Bengal those extra powers given by the later enactments—that is to say, those subsequent to 1853—under which power was taken to apply to any new Presidency the powers which the Governors of the other Presidencies possessed up to that time. Then the House will observe that two provisos are attached to this first clause. Those provisos depend upon the fact that the powers of the Calcutta High Court are not, as matters stand, curtailed, although the area of Bengal is changed and the new 78 Lieutenant-Governorship is created. The power which is pointed to in proviso (a) is this, that the High Courts Acts of 1860 and 1911 give the Governor-General power to appoint temporary Judges for the High Court of Calcutta. Now those Judges, besides administering justice in Bengal itself, will administer it for the Lieutenant-Governorship of Behar and Orissa, and we think that this fact points to the denomination of such temporary Judges by the Governor-General and not by the Governor of Bengal. Proviso (b) also hinges on the fact that for the present we are dealing in no way with the High Court of Calcutta. The Advocate-General of Bengal has hitherto been the Law Officer of the Government of India and also of the Bengal Government; and so long as the two Governments inhabited the same capital it was a reasonable matter that this Advocate-General should be a member of the Legislative Council of Bengal. But now that the separation has taken place, and pending any permanent arrangements which are made in the future with regard to this appointment, that necessity does not exist, and power is accordingly taken in this proviso to absolve, if necessary, the legal adviser of the Government of India from being a member of the Bengal Council.
Clause 2 authorises the creation of an Executive Council for the new Lieutenant-Governorship of Behar and Orissa. As I dare say some of your Lordships may I remember, because the question was one which aroused some debate in 1909, the ordinary procedure for creating an Executive Council is by an Order which lies on the Table of both Houses of Parliament for a period, I think, of 60 days. The object of that, of course, is to give Parliament the necessary control, and, if desired, the power of veto on the appointment of such an Executive Council. But since this Bill is being passed through Parliament it is clearly a simpler proceeding and one which would save time to insert the creation of that Executive Council in the Act rather than go through the more cumbersome procedure of allowing the appointment to lie on the Table of Parliament.
Clause 3 authorises the Governor-General to constitute Legislative Councils for territories under a Chief Commissioner. The prime object of the inclusion of this 79 provision is the appointment of a Legislative Council for Assam. Assam, having been part for the last few years of the Lieutenant-Governorship of Eastern Bengal and Assam, has enjoyed the advantages of a Legislative Council, and I am sure that the House will be disposed to agree that it would be not merely an unreasonable slight but a positive disadvantage to indict upon the inhabitants of Assam, who, as your Lordships know, represent for one thing one of the most important industries in India—it would he a slight upon them if they were to be deprived of this representation. That, as I say, was the prime reason for introducing tins provision. But it is also true that it will be desirable for the Government of India to take power to constitute a similar Council for the Central Provinces—a division which is quite right for such an enhancement of its governmental dignity, if I may use the phrase, and in which the advent of the Council will, as we know, be extremely welcome. Those are, indeed, the two Chief Commissionerships to which Councils are for the time being clearly applicable.
Clause 4 explains the changes and repeals set out in the two Parts of the Schedule. In Part I of the Schedule the Act of 1861 is amended by placing the Governor of Bengal in the same position as the Governors of Madras and Bombay for this purpose—namely, that the senior Governor should replace the Viceroy when for any reason there is no Viceroy. There has not, I believe, been in fact such a case since the lamentable death of Lord Mayo, because when the noble Lord opposite (Lord Ampthill) took the place of the noble Earl on the Front Bench opposite (Lord Curzon) he was not, I think I am right in saying, Acting-Viceroy, but actual Viceroy for the time being. But it is clearly right that the Governor of Bengal should not be placed in an inferior position to that of his two brother Governors in this respect of automatic succession to a momentary vacancy in the Governorship-General. Part I of the Schedule also names the maximum figures for the two Legislative Councils of Bengal and of Behar and Orissa.
Then in Part II of the Schedule there are various repeals. The only one to which I need draw attention is the first—Sections 53 and 57 of the East India Company Act, 1793, which refers to the 80 filling up of vacancies in the Indian Civil Service. It is provided in this Act that Civil servants shall be employed in the Presidency to which they were originally allotted and to which they belonged. In the old days when this Act was passed that was a simple enough matter. All India was, like ancient Gaul, divided into three parts: it consisted of Madras and Bombay; all the rest of British India was included in the term Fort William in Bengal. It was therefore reasonable enough that the various divisions should be self-contained and complete. Now, of course, to confine the newly-formed Presidency of Bengal within such a strict rule as that would be contrary to the interests of the public service. But it is right to inform your Lordships that the effect of the repeal will be a somewhat wider one even than that which I have indicated, because the effect of the repeal is that the Civil servants of Madras and Bombay will also become interchangeable with those of Bengal in a manner which has not hitherto been strictly the case.
Perhaps I might also explain the point, it is a small one, in the second subsection of Clause 4—the power of the Governor-General in Council to make new distributions and arrangements of territories into and among the various Presidencies and Lieutenant-Governorships. There has been some doubt as to what the power of the Governor-General is in these respects. The legal assumption is that, although the Governor-General in Council is empowered to transfer any territory by alteration of boundaries from a Chief-Commissionership to a Presidency, or to a Lieutenant-Governorship, it is not possible for him, owing to the wording of the Act of Parliament, to carry out the reverse process. There seems to be no conceivable object in such a restriction, and it disappears under subsection (2) of Clause 4.
I am afraid I have detained the House at somewhat undue length over those technical explanations, but, although technical, the subject is one of such importance that it is advisable to make clear this measure, which sins even to an unusual extent in modern legislation in respect of being legislation by reference. I am not without hope that one of these days we shall be able to introduce a consolidating measure which will reduce to order the amazing tangle of all these old Acts of 81 Parliament relating to the Government of India. It will be possible, I hope, to do that without introducing any controversial matter, and even I should hope in the main without introducing anything which could be called new matter; and I have no doubt that noble Lords opposite who are interested in India will also agree that it would be a serviceable thing to do. At any rate, it would avoid the long and technical explanation which I have been obliged to give tins afternoon of matters which, though connected with a highly important subject, cannot in themselves be deemed to be of great importance.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Marquess of Crewe.)
EARL CURZON or KEDLESTON
My Lords, the noble Marquess has treated tins Bill, it is true, with respect, but as if it were a Bill of no great importance. The Bill is in itself a very small Bill; it has the appearance almost of being a trumpery measure. It is concerned, as the noble Marquess told us, with the technical details arising out of the policy that has been pursued by his Government in India. There is not, therefore, very much in the clauses of the Bill which apparently it is necessary for us to discuss; but, of course, every one of your Lordships knows that the Bill masks what the Secretary of State himself, in an earlier Despatch, described as one of the most momentous changes that have ever taken place in the Government of India. Consequently it is impossible for some of us, at any rate, to consider the Bill without relation to the policy which it embodies. In the remarks which I have to make I shall, therefore, be compelled to travel rather beyond the ground that has been traversed by the noble Marquess, and to deal with the Bill in a fuller spirit than perhaps the actual phraseology of its clauses would seem to justify.
I think that Parliament has some right to complain of the manner in which it has been treated with reference to this transfer of the seat of Government in India. I am not alluding to the pronouncement that was made by His Majesty the King at Delhi. Whatever I had to say on that matter I said several months ago in your Lordships' House. I discharged my responsibility upon that occasion, and I should not think of repeating what I then said. But we were undoubtedly led by 82 what the Prime Minister said at the beginning of the session to believe that the consent of Parliament would be asked by legislation, not merely to the technical details embraced by this Bill, but to the whole policy in its broader aspect. These were his words—The Government propose to challenge the judgment of Parliament in regard, first of all, to the removal of the seat of Government from Calcutta to Delhi.Such has always been the procedure on previous occasions of great changes in the Government of India—notably, of course, with the Government of India Act of 1858—and such I believe was the original intention of the Government in the present case, for I have been told; on what I believe to be good authority, that this Bill as originally drafted was a very much larger affair than that which we are discussing this evening. But subsequently the Government appear to have modified their policy, and, as the Secretary of State indicated, all the Statutes and Acts of Government—I do not complain that they are archaic, to use his phrase—have been ransacked in order to find in them various sections or subsections which might justify the Government of India in proceeding as far as possible by Executive act—that is to say, by Proclamation and by notification in that country.
The result is that this Bill is a mere bantling, consisting of the odds and ends which could not be covered by the most vigilant search in the existing Statute-book. If you look at the Bill you will find no mention of Delhi in it at all. There is no mention even of the transfer of the seat of Government. You might really think, from the title of the Bill, that the important feature of the policy of the Government had been the appointment of a separate Governor of Fort William in Bengal, and that all we had to do was to consider the changes consequential upon that. I imagine that the transfer of the capital is really covered by the phrase "other administrative changes in the local government of India." Well, my Lords, if that be so I would say that so big a policy had never been described by so exiguous a title. This seems to me to be a very strange and debatable procedure. It is really a part of the mystery and secrecy that have attended these proceedings from the start. One might have thought that, with a policy so 83 popular as the Secretary of State has once again claimed the action of the Government to be, they would have sought every opportunity of obtaining public and Parliamentary sanction to their conduct. But that has not been the case, and their one idea seems, on the contrary, to have been to deprive us of any opportunity of saying anything about the matter at all.
This House is placed, therefore, in rather an invidious position. In the first place, we are called upon to give our assent to acts which the Secretary of State has distinctly told us have already been carried out. As he said, the new Governor of Bengal was appointed months ago, long before the administrative boundaries of his Province were determined. The same has been the case with regard to the Provinces of Behar and Orissa and of Assam. The same thing is going on at Delhi, where ground is being bought and the policy is being carried out. We are then in this position. We cannot amend this Bill even if it were desired, because the Bill only touches the fringes of the bigger policy which is behind, and because any amendment we might make would be utterly ineffective. Still less can we reject the Bill, because if we were to throw it out we should, of course, make the Government of India ridiculous, and should be thought to be guilty, although it would be an unjust suspicion, of disloyalty to the King. The Secretary of State did not defend himself with the plea, which has been urged in another place, that what the Government are doing by this Bill is the equivalent of what was done by the so-called Partition of Bengal for which my Government was responsible in 1905. That plea, if he had used it, would only hold good in so far as the readjustment of provincial boundaries was concerned. But you have gone beyond that. You have embarked upon a great policy embodying a transfer of the capital, costing millions of money, and, one may almost say, altering the whole basis of our rule in India. My point is that the whole of the larger aspects of your policy you have carried through without the consent of Parliament at all, and I imagine, whatever be the reception your policy has met with, that as regards your procedure this will stand out in history as one of the most irregular, and, as I think, most unconstitutional proceedings which have ever taken place with regard to the 84 Government of India, and you have created a model which I, for my part, firmly hope will never be imitated in the future.
The Bill, as I have said, deals with details, and I will only allude to two of the details to which the Secretary of State specifically called our attention. The first is Clause 2, which provides for the creation of an Executive Council in the new Province of Behar and Orissa. I regard this provision in the Bill as tantamount to an evasion of the Indian Councils Act of 1909. When we passed that Act the one condition on which your Lordships gave your consent to it—it was really part of a compromise with the Government—was this, that when any new Executive Council was to be created in India it should not be done until the draft Proclamation of the Viceroy constituting it had been laid on the Table of this House and received the assent of your Lordships. It was in the power of your Lordships' House, if you objected, to move an Address to the Crown, in which case, of course, the proposal would have fallen to the ground. What was our object in doing that? I think it was a little more than what the Secretary of State indicated just now. Our object was that each case should be considered on its merits as it arose; that we should have given to us here the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province concerned as to whether he wanted an Executive Council or not, and that we should thus know whether we were really creating something which was required by the needs of the Province. But now, instead of laying the Proclamation on the Table, the matter is dealt with by a clause in this Bill, and the Secretary of State tells us he has adopted this plan because the procedure is a simpler one. Does that cover the whole ground? In my view there is the greatest difference between the two situations. As I have said, under the procedure provided for by the Indian Councils Act it would have been in the power of this House alone, if it so chose, to stop the creation of such a Council, but under this Bill we can do nothing of the kind. We cannot cut out this single clause. Our hands are tied in the matter. We have no freedom. Therefore it does seem to me that the action of His Majesty's Government amounts to a distinct abrogation of the rights claimed only three years ago and enjoyed by this House.
85 May I ask a question about this Executive Council for Behar and Orissa? It is to cost, we have been told in the House of Commons, £13,300 per annum. May I ask who wants it? Has the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province asked for it? Is it required by the needs of the Province? You will have the rather absurd spectacle of Behar and Orissa, admittedly—I do not say it with any disrespect—one of the backward Provinces in India, with the full machinery of a Lieutenant-Governor and Executive Council, and side by side with it you will have the United Provinces, one of the most enlightened and progressive Provinces in India, with a Lieutenant-Governor, but with no Legislative Council at all. That is a real anomaly.
The second point arising out of the Bill is this. The Government state in the title of this Bill that its provisions are "consequential on the appointment of a separate Governor of Fort William in Bengal." But Clause 3, as explained by the noble Marquess, is obviously nothing of the sort. Under this clause you take power to create Legislative Councils, not merely for the Chief Commissionerships of Assam and the Central Provinces, as explained by the Secretary of State, but also for any or all Chief Commissionerships in India. Thus it might be, though I do not say it will arise, that in the future the Governor-General in Council, with or even without the consent of the Secretary of State, will create Legislative Councils in the North-West Frontier Province, or in Baluchistan, or in Ajmer or Coorg, or in the Andaman Islands, though I shudder to think what a Legislative Council in the Andaman Islands, constituted even of the most reputable of the inhabitants, might be. Whether that policy is a right or a wrong one, it is not consequential on the change of capital, it has nothing whatever to do with this Bill, and I venture to say that this clause—Clause 3—ought not to have found any place in this measure at all.
I pass from these smaller details to the much wider issues which are involved in this measure and which it is impossible to ignore. I hope I shall not repeat anything that I said in the debate in this House three months or more ago. I am satisfied with the protest I made on that occasion, and have no wish to renew it. 86 But there is one point arising out of that debate about which I must say something, because it was distinctly raised by a passage in the speech of the noble Marquess just now, and that is concerned with the degree of acceptance and popularity which this policy has obtained in India itself. I dare say your Lordships will remember that when the Government of India penned their Despatch on August 25 last year the writer of the Despatch in India, with all the enthusiasm of a happy parent contemplating his first born offspring—although, of course, the offspring at that time was not yet born—told us that this policy would excite a wave of enthusiasm throughout India, that the Mahomedans would receive it with unbounded gratification, and that unprecedented satisfaction would be the attitude of the bulk of the people. I have never seen a Despatch of the Government of India—they were much more dull in my days—which exhibited so fine a frenzy. Then the Secretary of State followed with his Despatch. He was much more cautious in his handling of the question, but still he will remember that there was one line purple patch in his Despatch about Rome and Constantinople and about satisfying the historic sense of millions; and in this House he taunted me with being a member of a small minority in this country and an infinitesimal minority in India. His Under-Secretary in the House of Commons has gone further than his Chief, because on more than one occasion he has said that the Government's policy has been—welcomed by the overwhelming bulk of the people of India, of all races and creeds, amid has opened up a new era of contentment and progress.I think this last phrase is rather hard upon the noble Viscount, Lord Morley, and upon my noble friend Lord Minto, because your Lordships remember very well how frequently Lord Morley rose in this House and explained to us that he and my noble friend were the magicians who had exorcised discontent in India. Now we are told, on the authority of the Under-Secretary, that it was reserved for the noble Marquess the present Secretary of State to inaugurate a new era of contentment and progress.
I wonder how it was in the power of the Under-Secretary to ascertain what is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the people of India of all races and all creeds. I spent seven years in 87 India in the vain attempt to ascertain what that opinion on any subject was. But here is an Under-Secretary who has never been in India at all, but who, with the confidence of which Under-Secretaries alone are capable, is able to inform an astonished Great Britain of the fact. I venture to hazard the opinion that the vast majority of the population of India of all classes and creeds are absolutely ignorant that there has been any transfer of capital at all, and that of those who know anything about it the vast majority are absolutely indifferent—the fact is, it will not touch them in their everyday lives. But as regards those who do know and who will be affected I believe the state of affairs to be very different from what the noble Marquess has laid down. He said in his speech just now that there had been no wavering of opinion—I think that was the phrase—and that it did not matter what we said in this House, nobody's opinions were affected one way or the other. I think that is to represent the persuasiveness of the noble Marquess himself, not to mention other speakers, unduly low. I venture to say that the debate which took place some months ago did have a material effect, and that this debate will have some effect, though not altogether in the direction which the noble Marquess desires.
Let me ask your Lordships to listen for a moment to what I conceive to be the facts of the case in regard to the matter. What are the communities in India who constitute the "infinitesimal minority" for whom I speak? In the first place, the noble Marquess admitted just now that there is the British mercantile community in Calcutta. They are not a negligible factor. Their attitude with regard to this change has not been dictated by selfish or mercenary motives. They object to it, not because Calcutta will suffer—I do not think it will in the mercantile sense of the term—but because they regard this policy as involving a cruel waste of public money, because they distrust the financial methods by which the money is going to be raised, and because they regard with dismay the effect that will be exercised both upon the Government of India and upon commerce, in their opinion, by the removal of the capital of India to Delhi. So much for them. What about Bengal? As to the attitude of the Mahomedans of Bengal, 88 who after all number more than 25,000,000, there can be no doubt, because they recently passed a Resolution at the annual meeting of their League, in which they expressed their deep sense of regret and disappointment at the policy that had been carried out.
Then I turn to the Mahomedans of all India, nearly 70,000,000 of people, whose representatives, at the annual meeting of the All-India Moslem League in March last, passed this resolution—The All-India Moslem League places on record its deep sense of regret and disappointment at the annulment of the Partition of Bengal in utter disregard of Moslem feeling.So much for Moslem feeling. Now what about the Hindus in Bengal, the very people to placate whom these great sacrifices, the sacrifice even of the pledged word of the Government, were made? Every one who has served in Calcutta knows that there are two principal native newspapers in that city—the Bengali, which is a strong supporter of the changes brought about by the Government, and the Amrita Bazar Patrika, which represents the most orthodox Hindu opinion. What does this latter journal say? It writes—The re-partition of Bengal, instead of appeasing public feeling in Bengal, has only embittered it. The mischief which certain so-called Bengali leaders and their English friends have done to Bengal by supporting these changes is simply incalculable…The Durbar announcements have given deep pain to the entire Bengal nation.And at a meeting held at the town hall in Calcutta Babu Moti Lal Ghose, a very advanced native politician, claimed to voice the whole Bengali nation when he said that—The contemplated redistribution of territories will be a gross wrong to our kith and kin and a sore point to the entire Bengali nation.The entire Bengali nation has over 80,000,000 people, so that if any weight attaches to the spokesman whom I have just quoted, the "infinitesimal minority" for whom I speak is swelling to very formidable dimensions.
There are two other classes which cannot be altogether despised. When we had our previous debate the Secretary of State claimed, with respect to Assam, that the reorganisation of Assam into a Lieutenant-Governorship would be thoroughly popular in Assam itself. Three 89 weeks after he made that statement there was a meeting of the Assam branch of the Indian Tea Association held at Dibrugarh, and at this meeting it was stated that the association—views the effect of this change with consternation and disquietude, as involving a regrettable breach of faith with those who stood by Government at a critical time, whilst the secrecy maintained, and making the King the mouthpiece of a political move, is one of its most discreditable features…The injurious effect of the administrative changes and the set-back to the whole Valley and the tea industry demands special attention.The last section of opinion I will refer to is the European officers of Government in India. I do not venture to speak of the opinion of our officials in Madras and Bombay. I do not suppose that the change of capital will make any material difference to them in the future. I should imagine it to be the case, in view of the feelings with which, as we know, Calcutta has always been regarded by the outside Presidencies, that the bulk of the Civil servants in those two Presidencies regard the removal of the capital to Delhi with satisfaction. They will not, however, be directly affected. But if you take the opinion of all those officials in the other Provinces who will be affected, I venture to think you will find a different result. I am not an Under-Secretary and am not going to dogmatise about the opinion of the vast majority of this community. I can only speak of what is within my own knowledge, but I do say that so far as I have had opportunities, and they have been considerable opportunities, of ascertaining the views of the Service in Northern India, they regard these changes with suspicion and disquietude. I do not desire to labour this point, but I hope I have said enough to show that to speak of those who disagree with the policy of the Government as an "infinitesimal minority." when it is a minority that contains many scores of millions of people, is to place a severe strain upon language. I have shown that Bengal is not over happy about the change, that the Mahomedans regard it with dislike and apprehension, that the European community in Calcutta at any rate deeply resent it, that the Service, to the best of my own knowledge, in Northern India is by no means friendly, and these facts, for what they are worth, do not justify the Government in speaking in the terms they have done of the alleged numerical weakness of their critics.
90 I turn to what is, after all, the policy having been decided upon, the more important question that lies before the Government—that is the question of the cost of transferring the capital to Delhi. Your Lordships will remember the history of the case. In their Despatch the Government of India stated that they could not conceive that a larger sum than £4,000,000 sterling would be necessary, including three years' interest on capital until the works were completed. The Secretary of State, in his reply, with commendable caution did not endorse that estimate, but enjoined thoughtful preparation and continuous vigilance. In my speech in your Lordships' House I ventured to throw extreme doubt upon this estimate, and to say that in the opinion of those most competent to judge the estimate of the cost varied from £8,000,000 to £12,000,000 and that in my view it would be more likely to touch the latter figure. How has the matter progressed since then? It was discussed in the Budget debate in Calcutta at the end of March, and the Finance Minister of the Indian Government made the astonishing confession, then seven months after the policy had been approved, that the Government of India were not yet in possession of any estimates of the cost; but he did admit that the burden would be spread over a number of years, and would amount to several millions sterling—there was no limitation to three years or to £4,000,000. I venture to say that such a position is unprecedented in the financial history of this country or of India, or, I think, of any civilised country. The practice is, when you ask the consent of the taxpayers of a country to the provision of large sums of money, to give them complete estimates of the manner in which that money is going to be spent. But here we are all in the air; the Government of India have not the least idea what this experiment is going to cost; His Majesty's Government have no idea either. It seems to me, therefore, that this is the most gigantic leap in the dark that the financiers of India or of this country have ever taken. We have to consider the cost of this policy, not only in relation to the actual building of the new capital, but in relation to all the items of cost, to use the words of the Bill, that are "consequential" upon this policy. They are the direct result of your policy. India has to pay for them. The money will have to be found. And remember, too, that there 91 will be, not only the initial cost, but heavy recurring charges as well.
I have drawn up a list of the extra burdens that it seems to me will have to be borne by the taxpayers of India in consequence of this change, and I will briefly give them to your Lordships in order that you may form an idea of the tremendous area of financial charge that you are entering upon in accepting this change. First, I will take Bengal. (1) There is the extra cost of the new Governor of Bengal and his staff, which has been stated in the House of Commons to be £13,300 per annum. (2) There will be the cost of the new University at Dacca which the Government of India propose to create as a sop to the Mahomedans of Eastern Bengal. I pass to Behar and Orissa. (3) There is the cost of the new capital at Patna, the provisional estimate for which has been stated in the House of Commons as between £333,000 and £400,000, and which I venture to say, from my experience in India, will be £500,000. (4) There will be the cost of a summer station for the Lieutenant-Governor of that Province, which will cost some tens of thousands more. (5) There is the cost of the Board of Revenue for Behar and Orissa, over £13,000 per annum. (6) There is the cost of the Executive Council which you are being asked to assent to in this Bill, £13,300 per annum. (7) There is the cost of the Legislative Council to be given to Behar and Orissa. (8) There will be at no distant date a claim for the institution of a University at Patna to balance that which has been given at Dacca. (9) There will be before long an agitation for the creation of a High Court for these Provinces at Patna. (10) There is the cost of the Legislative Council which you are going to give to the Central Provinces and which, in the terms of your Bill, though I think they are absurd, you claim as consequential upon your policy. (11) There is the cost of the increase which the Government contemplate in the staff of the Commerce and Industry Department in order to remove the apprehensions excited by the change of capital to Delhi.
Then I come to the capital itself. (12) There is the cost of the ground at Delhi which has already been taken up, and which the Viceroy has stated to be nearly £250,000. (13) There is the cost of the new city at Delhi, estimated by the Viceroy at £4,000,000 sterling. (14) There is the cost 92 of the new cantonment, a matter to which I shall presently allude, which will have to be instituted at Delhi in order to guard the new capital. (15) There is the cost of the temporary Delhi which is now being built to the north of the city in order to accommodate the officers of Government during the four or five years while the new city is being raised, and the whole of which will be sacrificed, because, as we know now, the new city is to be built in another quarter altogether. (16) I have read in the newspapers that a country retreat is even to be provided for the Governor six miles from Delhi in order that he may escape from the torrid and malarial climate of the new city. (17) There will be the loss on the Delhi Durban buildings and structures, the roads, railways, electric light, and water supply, which we were told in the Despatch of the Government of India would be of appreciable value to the Government as permanent works when the transfer was made. Obviously they will be of no use if the site has been changed. (18) Finally, there is the loss on the buildings at Dacca, many of which will no doubt never be used, and still more on the great group of Government buildings at Calcutta, some of them only just completed and some of them not yet finished, the lowest value of which I have seen estimated at £500,000. All of these buildings have been paid for by the Indian taxpayer, and the majority of them will either have to be parted with at a small price or will not be sold at all.
I think I have said enough to show that, whatever your policy may be in point of merit, it will be enormously costly, and that, whether you are giving the Indian taxpayer a boon or not, you are hanging a financial millstone round his neck which will weigh him down for many years to come. I should have thought, in these circumstances, that the least the Government of India could have done would have been to economise in the various directions where economy was possible. For instance, I should be tempted to ask, Why should they not have stayed, during the four or five years while the new Delhi is being built, in Calcutta, occupying the existing offices and buildings? They have been there 150 years. Could not they have stayed there 154? Was it not possible for the Viceroy and the new Governor to rub along together for that limited space of time? And even if you are so sick of Calcutta that you must rub the dust of 93 Calcutta off from the soles of your feet, why should not the Government of India have spent the next four or five years in Simla instead of incurring the enormous expense of going at once to Delhi and building a temporary capital which is going to be swept out of existence in a few years time? I venture to say that these proceedings have been attended by an utter disregard for economy.
Now may I add a word about what is really an equally important matter—the method of finance? When we had the Despatch before us the Government of India contemplated that the money should be raised by a special City of Delhi Loan of £4,000,000, carrying interest at 3½ per cent., to be guaranteed by Government. After a while this idea was abandoned, and we now know, on the authority of the Finance Minister in India, that the scheme is to be financed in the first place out of artificial surpluses and windfalls, and, secondly, out of ordinary loans raised by the Government of India either in this country or in India itself. In his Budget for the next year the Finance Minister is budgeting for a surplus of £1,500,000, purely arbitrary and fanciful, one crore of which is to be assigned to Delhi, and he proposes to devote the Rupee Loan of three crores of the present summer to the same purpose. Those of your Lordships who have followed Indian newspapers will have seen that this decision has met with very severe and authoritative criticism in India, both at the hands of the mercantile community in Calcutta and also at the hands of native opinion. There was even a discussion and a debate about it in Council, in which the opponents of this scheme mustered as many as sixteen as against thirty-nine.
I can very well understand the extreme reluctance which has been felt by His Majesty's Government in embarking upon a Delhi Loan. In this country, for instance, they cannot fail to be a good deal disturbed at the failure of their recent India Loan of £3,000,000, of which only 15 per cent. was taken up, and for which, in consequence of the price they had to pay to the underwriters, they are only receiving something like 91½ or 92 per cent. That is enough to show that the market here is not over favourable. Then as regards India, where your policy is declared by you to be so popular and where we all 94 know large stores of treasure exist, do you mean to say that the Delhi policy is not sufficiently popular to enable you to raise £4,000,000 or £6,000,000? If your pretensions are correct, you ought to have obtained it without the slightest difficulty at any moment. But, my Lords, the refusal of the Government to do so seems to me to throw a rather sinister light on their pretensions. The plans of the Government appear to me to involve very doubtful finance. There is, in the first place, the budgeting by the Finance Minister in India for what I call fancy surpluses—surpluses in excess of the requirements; secondly, there is the point about loans. Will any noble Lord tell me, if the money raised by ordinary loans in India and this country is to be shared between Delhi on the one hand and railways and irrigation works on the other, that the latter will not suffer?
I see opposite me Lord Inchcape, who a few years ago went out to India at the head of a Committee to inquire into the railway system. He proposed that the railway programme should be fixed at £12,500,000 per annum, to be raised partly by Sterling Loans here and partly by Rupee Loans in India. But that figure has never been reached. In 1911–12 the sum given was only £9,500,000. In the present financial year, 1912–13, the allotment is only £9,000,000, and so much of this money is required for existing lines that it is actually the fact that only from seventy to eighty new miles of railway are going to be taken in hand in India during the present year. That is a most unhappy and even deplorable state of affairs. If this money which is so urgently required to carry us up to the limit fixed by the noble Lord opposite for railways alone is to be taken for Delhi, it is inevitable that these works must suffer, and that you will be taking the money of the Indian taxpayer, not for the most remunerative form of expenditure such as railways and irrigation, but for the purely unproductive object of building your new capital on the plains of Delhi. Therefore it seems to me that the financial policy which the Government of India are adopting in this respect is an unsound one and will be injurious to India. It has this further disadvantage, that it leads to obscurity and mystery in the matter. If von had raised a Delhi Loan, either in India or 95 here, we should have known exactly where we stood and what money you were devoting to the object, but with driblets taken partly out of fancy surpluses and partly out of ordinary loans both in India and in England it will be impossible to know at any stage what is being spent on this Delhi scheme.
The last branch of the subject to which I must turn is Delhi itself and the site at Delhi. When we discussed the matter before, the speakers on the Government side expatiated on the historic associations of Delhi, and we were led to believe that the new city would be placed in close proximity to the ancient capital of the Moguls. His Majesty the King was even invited to lay two Coronation stones in the Royal Camp near the site of the Durbar. I ventured on that occasion to say that this was a very premature proceeding, and to point out that that part of the environment of Delhi is liable to be flooded in the monsoons and to be a hotbed of malaria when the rains had passed away. We now learn that the committee of experts which has been reporting on the subject has advised the Government of India to leave altogether this region of swamps to the north of Delhi and to transfer the new capital to the region of stones and snakes several miles to the south of Delhi in the desert. This is another illustration of the heavy price which has to be paid for the extreme precipitancy with which the Government have acted in the matter. This change of site makes absolutely ridiculous that part of the Despatch of the Government in India in which they stated that the costly works that had been undertaken for the Durbar would be valuable permanent works. Clearly they will have no such effect owing to the change of site. Upon this point may I ask whether the Secretary of State can tell us to-night where exactly the new site is—how far is it away from Delhi, and has it been finally determined? We were told that the committee of experts were to inspect the Delhi site first in the dry months of April and May; secondly, after the monsoon had broken; and, thirdly, when the rains had subsided; but as far as we can gather they have made up their minds without waiting for the second and third investigation.
EARL CURZON or KEDLESTON
I am glad to hear that. I was relying upon a statement which has been made and not contradicted in the newspapers. The inclination of opinion in India is, however, in favour of moving the capital from the proposed water-logged site to the stones and sands south of Delhi. It is therefore quite clear that your new Delhi will not be the Delhi of the Moguls; it will not be the Delhi of British associations; it will not be the Delhi of the Mutiny or the Ridge. It will be an entirely new Delhi, and there will be none of those associations to which we were led to attach so much importance. Your capital there will, in proportion to its distance from Delhi itself, be an artificial and isolated city, very much like the Summer Palace of the Emperor of China five or six miles away from the walls of Peking. There is another point which should not be overlooked. How about defending it? The gravest apprehensions have been expressed in many quarters as to the military and strategical vulnerability of the new Delhi. I say nothing as to that to-night. But I do say that you cannot plant down your Viceroy and your Government on a site several miles distant from the existing Delhi without protecting them. That means that, in addition to the Civil cantonment which, as it seems to me, you are going to set up, you will want a military cantonment near it in order to defend and protect it. For that purpose, so far as I know, the existing garrison of Delhi will be insufficient, and if the garrison of Delhi has to be increased this is an item of expenditure which His Majesty's Government must bear in mind.
And now I come to the last question which I will venture to put to the noble Marquess. I have endeavoured to show that public opinion in India is far from unanimous about these changes, that the Government of India themselves have so far no idea as to the cost, that their ideas have changed as to the question of site, and that it is doubtful whether the new Delhi that will be built can properly be called a Delhi at all. Now I ask the noble Marquess this question—What is there, then, to justify this great experiment and this enormous and costly expenditure? Who are to be the gainers by it? That is a question I am always putting, but I receive no reply. Who are to inhabit the new Delhi when you have built it? Of course, there will be the Viceroy and his 97 bodyguard and staff, the members of the Legislative and Executive Councils, the secretariat and the clerks of Government; there will be the Press and the Post Office, and all the paraphernalia of a highly organised administrative system. There will also be all the hangers-on of Government, and the persons who minister to the needs of a European community. Who else will there be? I believe His Majesty's Government attach great importance to the presence of the Princes at Delhi, and that it is contemplated by these potentates that they will purchase plots of ground and erect palaces or residences for themselves in close proximity to the Government buildings. I have even heard of intentions to found a Club of Princes with all the forms of entertainment to which we are used in great European cities—a race course, a golf course, and even an aerodrome. I should be the last person to deny the value of the close association of the Princes of India with the head of the Government. In an intimate and friendly association between the two lies one of the surest guarantees of the tranquility of India and the security of our rule. Nothing that I will ever say will in the smallest degree impair the weight that ought to be attached by every one to that fact. But, my Lords, is it altogether wise to contemplate in the creation of your new capital, if it is contemplated, that it shall become a sort of pleasure resort of the Princes of India, thereby taking them away from the responsibilities and duties which are naturally theirs in the states which they rule?
I am sorry, in the observations that I have made this afternoon, to have been so critical. I can truthfully say to the Secretary of State and to your Lordships that I would far sooner never say another word about this matter. It is a most distasteful thing to any one who has been at the head of the Government of India to get up and criticise the policy of a later Government, more especially if that Government happens to be presided over by a personal friend. But I should not be doing my duty as an ex-Viceroy if I did not take this and every opportunity that presents itself to me of protesting to your Lordships against that which I believe to be a great error of policy. There is one analogy which occurs to me. When I was at Lahore I was taken out to see the cantonment of Mian Mir, and I was 98 told the story of how an impetuous Commander-in-Chief more than sixty years ago had galloped out into the country and when asked by his staff where he would fix the cantonment of Lahore, he pulled up his horse and said "Here," and there it was placed. And since then many lacs of rupees have been wasted in attempting to make that site healthy for the soldier. I do hope that that analogy will not be in any sense repeated in this case. I am confident that in so far as expenditure and care will avoid it, you will do nothing that will be in the least degree injurious to the health and comfort of those who are going to serve you in the new capital, but I do say that the selection of Delhi in the manner in which it has been made has been almost equally precipitate in its character, and I say, further, that you are going to place upon the shoulders of the Indian taxpayer a very heavy burden for which, so far as I know, no adequate justification has yet been given.
THE EARL OF MINTO
My Lords, I have no intention of attempting to inflict a long speech upon your Lordships. It was only the other day that I expressed my views fully on the recent administrative changes in India, and I have no wish to repeat what I then said. Moreover, my noble friend Lord Curzon has dealt so fully with the Bill now before your Lordships, or rather with the momentous issues which lie hidden behind the Bill, that I shall limit myself to a very few remarks. The administrative changes themselves, I am afraid, we must accept as settled facts. We are still, however, entitled to safeguard as far as we can the working of the new machinery which is being introduced; to call attention, as my noble friend has done, to the vast expenditure which is about to be incurred; and to ask His Majesty's Government what means they propose to adopt to obtain the necessary funds. I therefore very fully associate myself with all the remarks that have fallen from my noble friend Lord Curzon.
I can hardly believe that His Majesty's Government still adhere to their estimate of £4,000,000 as the probable cost entailed by the change of capital. I cannot but think that the growth of experience must have led them to acknowledge that the expenditure will very much exceed that estimate. I understand that the idea of a Delhi Loan has been abandoned, and that 99 the money is to be raised by what has been aptly described as "fancy surpluses." But what I am most afraid of is that various Departments, upon the success of which the future of India so largely depends, may be stinted in order that this money may be obtained. How else is the money to be got? Is India to face the growing demands of future years with a millstone round her neck? She cannot. Her hands are sufficiently tied now by many things that have occurred. She is about to lose her opium revenue, and there is always the chance that famines and outside circumstances may make heavy calls upon her; and if the revenues of the great Departments are to be curtailed in favour of Delhi expenditure, all I can say is that the result will be most unfortunate for the people of India.
As regards the Bill itself, my noble friend has alluded to Clause 2, by which an Executive Council is to be conferred on the new Province of Behar and Orissa. I have a pretty distinct recollection of the discussion which occurred in your Lordships' House upon the Indian Councils Act of 1909, and my recollection is very clear that the decision arrived at then was that in the case of the Government of India proposing to grant an Executive Council to any Local Government, that proposition should lie on the Table of your Lordships' House for sixty days before it received official sanction. It may be argued that Clause 2 fulfils these conditions in that the Bill itself has been before the House for the stipulated time, but I cannot admit this, because the incorporation in the Bill of the clause in question really deprives Parliament of that separate consideration of the grant of a provincial Executive Council which was no doubt intended by the Councils Act of 1909. Personally I was always in favour of the extension of Executive Councils, but, of course, on the distinct understanding that the Local Government to which such Council was to be granted, and, above all, the Lieutenant-Governor of that Province, should be directly consulted and that they concurred with the Government of India as to the desirability of such a Council. Now we have no knowledge whatever as to whether the Lieutenant-Governor has been consulted. We ought to have that information before us. It is impossible to discuss the clause fairly without knowing the views of the Local Government and 100 the Lieutenant-Governor of Behar and Orissa; we should like to know whether they have expressed any opinion as to the desirability of a Council being granted to them.
There are other smaller matters which will be brought about by the change of the capital to Delhi which are hardly perhaps of Imperial concern, but to which, as a retired Viceroy, I may be allowed to make some allusion. As far as I know, we have never been told definitely what is going to happen in regard to Government House at Calcutta hitherto inhabited by the Viceroy, or what is to become of its contents. Government House is full of pictures of great interest largely connected with the history of Calcutta, commencing with the time of Warren Hastings. There is also a very fine collection of marble busts of Roman Emperors, said to have been taken from a French man-of-war during our war with France, and there are magnificent, chandeliers which formerly belonged to General Claude Martin, one of the old. French adventurers. All these articles have been of great historical interest to the people of Calcutta, and it seems to me that they have some right to inquire how they are going to be disposed of. Are they to be placed, to use an Indian term, in some "go down" until the new capital arises on the plains of Delhi? Again, what is to become of Barrackpur, the beautiful home of many Viceroys, full of stories of the past, with its magnificent park and grounds, laid out by Wellesley, where Lady Canning lies buried? I am told that the gardens have already become a picnicing ground for holiday makers. I think, my Lords, that the Indian public is justly entitled to know something as to these old Viceregal residences, fill as they are of British traditions.
I cannot agree with the noble Marquess opposite in what he told your Lordships as to the general satisfaction which exists throughout India in respect to the great administrative changes which are being made. I believe that during the King's visit Indian criticism was restrained by a chivalrous feeling of loyalty towards His Majesty. There was an earnest desire throughout India to avoid anything in the nature of criticism of the acts of His Majesty. But now that the glamour of the Durbar has begun to fade away I am bound 101 to say that from what I hear doubts are every day increasing as to the wisdom of these changes. I can assure your Lordships that I am still in very close touch with Indian opinion, both native and European, and I am afraid it is not too much to say that my information tells of an increasing wail of sorrow on the part of many who have been proud of India's past and who have been accustomed to look seriously into her future. I say so with very deep regret. In conclusion, I can only repeat what I said on the last occasion upon which addressed your Lordships—that owing to the methods adopted by His Majesty's Government, all we can now do is loyally and faithfully to avoid adding difficulties to the administrative changes we have felt it our duty to consider.
LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
My Lords, I am an inexperienced member of your Lordships' House, but I have been an attentive student of the course of procedure in this House and in another place, and I venture to say that never before has a Second Reading debate followed the course which this debate has followed up to the present. The criticisms that have been made upon the Bill before your Lordships' House are slight and not very much to the point. But the whole policy of His Majesty's Government, which had been so fully canvassed a short time ago, has been once more brought to your Lordships' notice. To those who are supporters of his Majesty's Government in this matter it seems that somewhat less than justice has been done in the absence of any intimation to them that the general question of policy would be again brought under discussion; otherwise some of us who are not ready speakers and have not been accustomed to take part in great debates would have been glad of an opportunity of marshalling the arguments which we know exist in support of the policy which has been carried into effect.
I propose, however, to follow as far as I can the course of the arguments of the noble Earl, Lord Curzon. But before I enter into the subjects which he has discussed and which do not pertain directly to the Bill, I may be permitted to make one or two remarks upon the Bill itself. The only point of criticism to which the Bill appears to me to be open was that which was referred to by the noble Earl on the Cross 102 Benches (Lord Minto)—namely, the withdrawal of the opportunity for this House to discuss the question whether an Executive Council should be created for Behar and Orissa. It is, perhaps, known to some of your Lordships that when the Councils Bill of 1909 was before this House I took strong exception to the provisions for the creation of Executive Councils in Lieutenant-Governorships. I am of that opinion still. But I recognise that there is a radical difference between a proposal referring, let us say, to the United Provinces, and this proposal which refers to Behar and Orissa. Behar and Orissa and Chota Nagpur formed part of the Province of West Bengal, for which you Lordships agreed that a Council should be created. That Province of West Bengal is conterminous with the existing Province of Behar and Orissa in all respects, if the Burdwan and Presidency divisions be excluded. It would surely be taken as a breach of faith, as a withdrawal of a privilege conferred upon them by both Houses of Parliament, if the inhabitants of Behar, Chota Nagpur, and Orissa were now to be denied the advantages, if they be advantages, which flow from the creation of an Executive Council. It seems to me quite impossible that your Lordships could take such a retrograde action as that. Therefore, although I do not in the least waver in my opposition to the creation of Legislative Councils for Lieutenant-Governorships, I think your Lordships' House is bound to accept the Bill as it stands upon this provision. That is really all I have to say in regard to the Bill, which seems to me a suitable and appropriate instrument to carry into effect a policy which has been already approved.
I pass to the remarks which were made by the noble Earl. He states that the policy which has been carried out or is being carried out is unpopular in Bengal and throughout India. I have had opportunities of keeping myself informed of the progress of opinion in Bengal, and I would call your Lordships' attention to this salient fact, that the unrest with which we were troubled in the earlier years has entirely disappeared, and that at the present time the discontent which exists, or is said, to exist, really centres about two questions. One cause of discontent among certain sections of Bengalis is that in the delimitation of Behar, Orissa, and Chota Nagpur from Bengal certain Bengali- 103 speaking tracts have been included in the new Province. But these tracts have formed an integral part of the new Province for the last 150 years; they have formed an integral part of the Province ever since Bengal, Behar, and Orissa came into the possession of the British Government; and the idea that, because certain people speak the Bengali language in a district which is a Hindi-speaking district as a whole, these people should be excluded is merely an exaggeration of Bengali patriotism. Representations have been made, I know, by important men to their English friends on this subject, and the the latter have counselled their friends in Bengal that agitation on such a question as that would not commend itself to the judgment of Parliament or the Government. The next point upon which agitation exists in Bengal is that of the creation of a University at Dacca. The idea is that if a University is created at Dacca, the power of the Calcutta University over East Bengal will be lessened and the people of that part of the Province will become less amenable to influences from Calcutta, in educational matters at all events, than they would be if they remained under the University of Calcutta. That also is a matter of small importance, and one which will disappear when settled Government prevails, as I have no doubt it will throughout the Province.
As regards the discontent of the Service, I am able to speak with a degree of knowledge which I think is not inferior to that of the noble Earl, though I readily admit that his knowledge of this subject is great. It is certain that there is considerable discontent among the. Civil servants of the lower Province, and the reason is that they will no longer have a chance of a change of climate, after serving in Bengal, to the better and drier climate of Behar. But that is inherent in the nature of the division that was made. Besides, it is to be remembered that Bengal, although the climate is not so pleasant and salubrious as that of Behar, is not so had as the climate of many parts of India in which Civil servants serve. I myself have served in Eastern Bengal for several years, and I have served in the Central Province, and I prefer the climate of Eastern Bengal. I know of many civilians who never left the lower Provinces of Bengal but who served there with fair health 104 through their entire period of service. After all, India is not made for the Civil Service, but the Civil Service is made for India. They must take their chances, and there are many parts of the British Empire in which men work and reap honour and distinction which do not possess a climate so good as the climate of Bengal. As regards Delhi, I am unable from any degree of knowledge to speak of it. But when the noble Earl stated that there is throughout India, throughout Mahomedan India especially, no regard or appreciation for the historical reminiscences that attach to Delhi, I am afraid I am of a different opinion.
LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINPORD
If so, I beg the noble Earl's pardon. I understood him to say that the removal to Delhi would not appeal to any great patriotic or historical associations to which the Mahomedans of India paid attention or had regard. If he did not say that, then my remarks are inappropriate. But if that was his meaning, then I wish to say that even in conversation with a Mahomedan gentleman in India, when he desires to say that a thing is unattainable he says "Delhi is far from here." The idea of Delhi clings to the Mahomedan mind in India, and in my opinion the establishment of the centre of British power at Delhi will have a powerful effect upon the Mahomedan population in India. It is quite true that the All-India Moslem League, to which reference has been made, appears to be discontented, but the All-India Moslem League seem to exist in London in greater vitality than in other parts of the world. How was it that some time ago when this Mahomedan agitation had shown signs of increase the president of the League, the Agha Khan, desired to dissociate himself from the attitude which the All-India Moslem League was assuming? I think too much importance is attachable to the declarations of exotic associations which find their centre in London. If we pursue the policy that we are now pursuing—a policy which has for its object the equal treatment of all classes in India—we shall be able to carry through to its legitimate conclusion the policy which was declared by His Majesty at Delhi.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
My Lords, the debate that we have had to-day, though it has not been a prolonged one, has sufficiently shown the difficulty under which your Lordships address yourselves to this Bill. The speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down was devoted mainly to making good advice which he had given on previous occasions with great effect, and to justifying a change the principle of which was discussed in your Lordships' House a few months ago. But I think there has been a marked difference, in the interest taken in this discussion, between the part which is prospective and that which has already been settled by the policy announced by His Majesty's Government. My noble friend Lord Curzon put before the House in detail, and in a manner which even members of the Government who may disagree with his conclusions must have regarded as extremely forcible, the arguments which he brought forward four months ago when he first called your Lordships' attention to the apparent want of preparation, precaution, and foresight with which this vast change in regard to the capital of India had been introduced. I must say, unless the noble Marquess the Leader of the House has something to tell us which we have not heard up to now, that everything which has passed this evening and everything which has reached us either through the newspapers or through more confidential sources has borne out to the fullest extreme the apprehensions which were expressed on this side of the House by three ex-Viceroys that the Government had not realised the extent of the operation into which they had entered, that they had not calculated the cost, that they were not aware of the difficulties which would beset them after they undertook it, and, especially in regard to the finances of India, that the burden was one which was not merely of great magnitude but one which might prove almost intolerable.
In my recollection nothing was said in the debate in February last by the Government which suggested to us that the demolition, as it were, of the Viceregal edifice at Calcutta was to begin in preparation for this move which cannot possibly take place finally for five years to come. I cannot help thinking that what was said by Lord Minto does require some recognition from the Government. The Viceroy cannot have any permanent abode in the 106 plains for possibly five or six years. Government House at Calcutta, we understand, is being dismantled. Furniture is being sold which one would imagine would be required for the next occupant of the Lieutenant-Governorship of Bengal, who is to occupy the house. Everything has been rushed forward, and at a moment when, as Lord Curzon pointed out, even the site on which His Majesty planted the stone for the new Delhi has had to be abandoned, and when apparently the Government have not the smallest idea at what sort of cost they will be able to proceed on the new site six or seven miles distant.
I do not know whether the noble Marquess opposite faced the money difficulty. If so, I think we have some right at all events to have cleared away the position which has been set up by attempting to mix up this great change with the finance of the year. Lord Curzon spoke of fancy surpluses, and I will not amplify what he said on that point; but what I do wish the noble Marquess to remember is that this financial question is having a most damaging effect on the credit of India in the Stock Market. It is true that the whole finance of His Majesty's Government has caused a heavy fall in Government securities, which is not the case with other securities of the same character. Take the securities of the London, County Council, the largest borrower in this country and possessing the largest Budget except that of His Majesty's Government. The London County Council 3½ per cent. Stock five years ago stood at 97; to-day it stands at about 100. At the same time Government of India Stock, which stood at about 99½ when London County Council Stock was 97, is now down to, approximately, 91½. There must be some reason for that fall. The security of India is as good as ever it was; there is not even unrest to account for the drop. The security of London has not improved in the smallest degree—except by the better administration of the Unionist Party which now prevails on the London County Council. Yet there has been this remarkable change in the value of the two Stocks. I do not say it is going to ruin India if she has to erect the whole of these buildings at 4 per cent. But at the same time I do think it is an enormous increase on what was imagined when in the Despatch in August last we were told that £4,000,000 would approximately cover the whole of 107 this expenditure. It now appears that it is more likely to be £10,000,000, or £12,000,000, or even £15,000,000.
Unless the Government of India are prepared to do something very drastic the whole of the other services must be clipped in order to carry out the change to Delhi, against which encroachment I venture to record an emphatic protest. The Report of Lord Inchcape's Committee, referred to by Lord Curzon, has not been able to be acted upon. That Report, in my judgment, was made five or ten years too late. If the noble Lord and his colleagues had been sent out before and the policy had been taken up earlier we should have had many results, and I think the Finance Minister of India would probably tell us that we should have had many results which we are not likely to have now. I cannot contemplate without extreme apprehension the idea that for the next ten years the development of Indian railways is to be hampered in order to provide money for a change of capital, the advantages of which have been so freely challenged on this side of the House. I look upon it as a departure from the whole principle of economy on which we have been engaged in Indian finance for the last twenty years. The pace of the forward movement in the direction of railways and irrigation works requires to be quickened rather than retarded.
I cannot help asking the noble Marquess whether he has gone too far to make it impossible for him, not to change his policy, but to stop this, as it seems to us, gratuitous destruction of the existing system before it has been fully realised what the cost will be. I do not desire to go back on the policy announced by His Majesty the King in any respect; but so long as the buildings at Calcutta stand, so long as the various heads of Departments do not have their retreat to Calcutta cut off, it is possible to reconsider anything which may be found to be inadvisable and impossible to carry out. As we stand at present, however, the possibility of Calcutta being used as a residence for the Viceroy is being done away with, while the likelihood of supplying permanently what is required seems to be in a very nebulous future. I am certain that it is not only more loyal on our part but more far seeing to endeavour to secure that His Majesty's Proclamation is carried out economically, 108 rather than allow the change to Delhi to lie like a millstone round the neck of the other services in India. It must be so if the Government insist upon carrying it out at whatever cost, without regard, as we feel, even for healthy conditions and with the very probable result, which was indicated by my noble friend behind me, that ultimately Delhi may be only available for a very short period of residence, and the Government may be forced to the very thing which they must desire to prevent—namely, a great prolongation of residence at Simla rather than that the Government of India should be brought into greater contact with the people in the centre of the Dependency.
I appeal to the noble Marquess to say whether it is not possible to stop further operations at Calcutta until he is able to present to the House of Commons a real estimate of the cost and some memorandum which will make it clear that it is possible to carry out the change, that a site which is really satisfactory has been resolved upon, that the barracks which will have to be built as well as the public offices have been resolved upon—in fact that we have, what apparently we have not had up to now, a real scheme for making good this great change—a scheme the presentation of which ought, in my opinion, to have preceded the Proclamation rather than follow it, and a scheme which can be proved to us as likely to be of benefit to India in the future and not a handicap to the other services.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Earl who followed me and who started out upon the wider field of discussion should have maintained the tone of entirely unrelieved pessimism which we observed in the speech that he made in the month of February. Before I attempt to enter upon that wider field I will say one or two words upon the few points in relation to the Bill itself which were mentioned by the noble Earl, and, I think, touched upon by one or two other noble Lords who have spoken. In reply to the noble Earl I may say that it never was our intention to ask Parliament to do anything by this Bill which could properly be done by Executive act—that is to say, by Proclamation. He seemed to think that we had originally 109 intended to frame and introduce a much larger Bill, apparently covering the whole ground of the changes that have been made. I can assure him that that is not at all the case, but that we always intended to confine the Bill strictly to the points for which Parliamentary sanction was needed. Our object in doing so was this, and it is one which I should have thought would appeal to the noble Earl above all people in the world. If you create a precedent to oblige the Government of India to come to Parliament for sanction or for confirmation of their action whenever they take an Executive step which can be described as large or important, you thereby, of course, curtail and cut down what I venture to consider the quite reasonable and legitimate powers of the Government of India. Supposing we had taken Parliamentary sanction for those things which we were able to do by Proclamation. The next time that the Government of India, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, and, of course, with Parliament always in the background—because Parliament can get rid of the Viceroy and the Secretary of State and the Government to which the Secretary of State belongs and therefore exercises control—the next time the Government of India wanted to take a step of much importance they would be taunted with the action that was taken in this case, and they would be told, "Why don't you come and ask leave of Parliament? It is true that in the technical sense you have Executive power, but who are you that you should venture to take a step of this kind without the leave of Parliament?" I hold a strong view on this point and I am certain that in limiting the Bill to the narrow path, as we have done, we have taken the right and proper course.
The noble Earl asked when has a change of at all these dimensions been made before without the leave of Parliament—such a change as a change of capital. The political capital of India, to all intents and purposes, for the last thirty or forty years has been Simla. The effective official Government of India for many years past has been at Simla. But where does the name of Simla occur in an Act of Parliament? The gradual visits to Simla, which began by the visit of the Viceroy to a health resort, turned in the process of years into the erection of Simla as the real political capital of India, and yet, so far as I know, 110 the name of Simla occurs in no Act of Parliament, and those changes were taken by the same Executive authority with which the transfer of the headquarters of the Government of India is now made to Delhi. The fact is, there is in reality no such place as the capital of India. The capital of India for political purposes is the place at which the Viceroy holds his Council, whether he be in camp or at Calcutta, or whether in the future he may be at Delhi. Therefore I think the noble Earl was travelling outside the political record of India when he laid blame upon for not having made the actual transfer to Delhi the subject of an Act of Parliament.
The two points in the Bill which were mentioned by the noble Earl, and upon one of which stress was also laid by the noble Earl, Lord Minto, appear in Clauses 2 and 3, and the complaint of both noble Earls was that we had evaded the provisions of the Councils Act of 1909, which enjoins the laying upon the Table of this House for sixty days of a Proclamation appointing an Executive Council, by inserting in this Bill a clause by which such a Council is created. The noble Earls argued that we are in reality evading the provisions of the Act of 1909 because, although it is apparently competent for them to deal with this clause in the Bill, yet all the circumstances, the well-known circumstances, of the declaration of this policy make it impossible for them to do so. But I would put this to both noble Earls. If this is so, if it is impossible to move an Amendment, which I have no reason to suppose they desire to do, in respect of the clause instituting this Executive Council, would it not be equally impossible for them, supposing the Proclamation were laid on the Table, to take exception to it and to prevent its becoming law? As it seems to me, the real objection of the noble Earls is to the fact that the Lieutenant-Governorship of Behar and Orissa was created and to the way, as they have stated, in which it was done; but that having been done, I confess I cannot see the faintest difference between the creation of the Executive Council by this clause in the Bill or by the alternative method of making the Proclamation and laying it upon the Table, because, if noble Lords think that their hands are tied, they would be tied in one case surely as much as in the other.
§ EARL CURZON of KEDLESTON
The difference is very obvious. If the Proclamation had been laid on the Table of this House, it would have been in the power of the House, had they desired to do so, to resist it by an Address to the Crown. In the present case it is not in their power to do so, as this Bill has been passed by the House of Commons. In the circumstances we know very well that, whatever action we might take, the clause would be reinserted in its present form in the House of Commons. Therefore our hands are tied. The difference between the two procedures is substantial.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Even if the House of Commons reinserted the clause it would be competent for the noble Earl to go on resisting, not the whole Bill, but that particular clause, and create, if he could, a great political crisis on the subject.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
That I understand; but I confess I do not see that the difference between the two methods of procedure is a serious one. Then the noble Earl treated Clause 3, dealing with Chief Commissionerships, as an excrescence on the Bill. I do not deny that in one sense it is an excrescence in that it gives some extra powers, as pointed out, to the Government of India over and above what is required by the Executive acts described in the Preamble, but I am not aware that we ever said that this Bill was to be entirely confined to the particular acts described in the Preamble. In those circumstances I cannot see that the addition of this not very formidable power can be held to constitute anything like a grievance either for the noble Earl or for this House generally.
Then the noble Earl very briskly combated my assertion that; the degree of acceptance with which this policy is met in India is not a discouraging one for us, and that, although in certain quarters there was still a dislike to the whole change—quarters which are quite familiar to us all—yet so far as India as a whole is concerned I take the liberty of believing the policy continued in favour. Both the noble Earls say that they have information to the contrary. I would by 112 I no means depreciate the means which either of them has of obtaining information from India, but I cannot help thinking that in a case like this you are very apt to obtain the kind of information you want, and I suspect that the people who correspond with both noble Earls on this matter are people who from the first were opposed to this policy, and that they have not seen much reason to change their mind, and that they do not, as a matter of fact, represent any new body of opinion on this subject. I say, my Lords, that you are apt in a case like this to get the sort of information you want. I see on the Front Bench opposite the noble Earl (Lord Selborne) with whom I had the honour and pleasure of co-operating with regard to the Union of South Africa, and I cannot help thinking that, if there had been anybody in England—I hope and believe there was nobody—who mistrusted and disliked that policy from the first in the manner in which these two noble Lords mistrust and dislike our policy in regard to India, he could have collected a number of individual opinions in South Africa, by no means all unimportant, to the effect that the policy of the Union carried with it all kinds of disadvantages, that it had positive dangers, and also might lead to a great expenditure of money. Consequently I cannot help to some extent discounting what the noble Earls tell me of the information which they receive.
The noble Earl opposite, I thought, somewhat hardly commented on the observation of my hon. friend Mr. Montagu in another place, to the effect that the great majority of the people of India were in favour of the change. The noble Earl spoke of the confidence which an Under-Secretary is apt to show. Well, the noble Earl himself was one of the most brilliant and eminent of Under-Secretaries, and he ought to take a kindly view of the tribe. I think that my hon. friend, who does not profess to know India at first hand, far less to know it as the noble Earl does, was justified in using this expression from the general information which he had received. It, of course, is true that there are millions of people in India to whom the transfer of the capital, or, indeed, almost anything else that happens, is of no serious moment, and the noble Earl is therefore entitled to say that the positive approval of all the hundreds of millions in India may not be extended 113 to this particular piece of policy. But when he is talking of the objections the noble Earl takes an entirely different view. Be counts, not merely as positive but as violent objectors, all the members of particular races or bodies whose spokesmen he is aware are opposed to this policy. He talks as if every Mahomedan in the Whole of Eastern Bengal, all these millions, was actively and poignantly concerned in the fact that the Lieutenant-Governorship of Eastern Bengal and Assam is abolished. What is true of one is, of course, equally true of the other—you will find that the spokesmen of the different bodies and races and of the different districts take a strong view, which is entertained, no doubt, in varying degrees by those who are not spokesmen, but there exists behind the spokesmen on both sides, both the majority who, as I hold, approve the policy on the whole, and the minority who object to it, a large body who are not very deeply concerned. It, of course, is the case that no referendum has been taken on this subject or is likely to be, and even noble Lords opposite who so cordially approve that device would not suggest, I take it, that a referendum should be held in India. It would be a long and an expensive business. I have seen and heard nothing, from a very close study both of the European and of the native Press, or from any other source at my disposal, which makes me think that any change of opinion adverse to this project of ours has taken place since His Majesty left India in January.
I am bound, however, to take rather strong exception to one observation which the noble Earl made, and which, if he will forgive my saying so, was really not a fair observation for him to make. He spoke of us as having created a University at Dacca in order to placate the Mahomedans. I will deal with that later; but he spoke of us as having placated the Hindus by the line of partition which we made, and he quoted one of the Hindu papers, the Amtrita Bazar Patrika, as showing that we had not succeeded in our work of placating them. It is quite true that that newspaper has from the first opposed the policy; but the fact is that there have been a certain number of extreme people on both sides who have disapproved of the policy because it is riot entirely worked out in their favour. What those who agree with that organ 114 would have liked would be not merely that Bengal should have been differently partitioned, but that it should have been so partitioned as to include in the new Bengal every village where the Bengali language is spoken. On the top of that they would have desired, no doubt, to retain the Viceroy in Calcutta, and they would also have liked to have a Governor of the type of Lord Carmichael, not a Civil servant but a Governor from England, in order to bring Bengal on an equality with Bombay and Madras. That was an altogether impossible policy, and I am quite certain that the noble Earl would himself agree. That being so, the mere fact that our policy is objected to from different ends for different reasons, and objected to in parts simply because different races and places find something which they do not consider entirely in their favour, I confess does not give us any serious uneasiness.
I pass to the strictures of the noble Earl on the question of cost—strictures which have been pressed with not less vigour by the noble Viscount who spoke last. The complaint, as I understand, is made that we do not produce quite complete estimates of the cost of the new capital or of the new seat of Government at Delhi—estimates which, unlike some other Indian estimates with which both noble Lords are as familiar as I am, are on no account to be exceeded by a rupee when the actual work is done, and meantime, while those estimates are being prepared—because I conceive that some time will be given to us for their preparation—the Government of India ought in their opinion to remain at Calcutta and carry on its business there in spite of the fact that Bengal has been raised to the status of a Presidency. I think it is only fair to point out that if my noble friend Lord Hardinge had merely considered his own comfort in the matter, that would have been undoubtedly the easiest course to take. It is very much pleasanter to live at Government House at Calcutta and amid those delights at Barrackpur, upon which the noble Earl on the Cross Benches laid such stress, pleasanter from the point of view of his personal comfort to continue there than to make his headquarters in a Circuit House at Delhi; and if my noble friend did not make the suggestion that that should be the course taken, you may be sure that it was a sense of duty only by which he was prompted. I have no doubt that one of the main 115 reasons which confirmed him in taking the course he did, in which I most entirely agree and which I should probably have suggested if it had not been suggested by Lord Hardinge himself, was that it would give no fair chance to the new Governor of Bengal or to the new system of government in Bengal if the Viceroy was to remain hanging on for two or three years until such time as his new quarters in Delhi were entirely ready for him.
While I am on that point I might, perhaps, answer the question which the noble Earl, Lord Minto, asked me about Barrackpur and about Government House at Calcutta. I understand that the arrangement is that Barrackpur will remain as an extra residence for the Government of Bengal. I have heard nothing about its becoming the prey of cheap trippers, and I sincerely hope that that will not be the case. The park, as I dare say noble Lords know, is the home of a golf club, but that is not a matter to which any occupant of the house is likely to take exception. As regards the contents of Government House at Calcutta, without knowing what details have been decided upon I do know that the most friendly arrangement as to their disposition has been arrived at between the Viceroy and Lord Carmichael. There has not been, so far as I am aware—in fact, I am not putting it forcibly enough, because I know as a fact that there has not been—any kind of friction or difference of opinion between those two gentlemen as to the present disposal of the contents of Government House or as regards their final disposition, and it is certainly not the case that any of the valuable contents will be neglected or stored, as the noble Earl said, in a "go down," where they might be damaged, until they are required. It is true that a certain part of the contents are the property of the Government of India and ought to be so treated and ought in time to be removed to Delhi. The Governor of Bengal was the Governor-General of India, but it was in his character as Governor-General rather than as Governor that at any rate a large number of those works of art came into his possession, and we think that they ought to follow the Governor-General when he changes his seat of Government. But that does not mean that Government House will be altogether emptied or turned into a barrack.
116 I come back to the general question of cost, and I turn once more to a remark, to which I said I took exception, of the noble Earl—the mention of the foundation of the University at Dacca as a sop to the Mahomedans, shortly to be followed, as he prophesied, by the institution of a University at Patna, which I presume he would regard as a sop to the Beharis. I am sorry the noble Earl should have taken that view of the institution of a University, and I cannot help thinking that it was from a quite natural desire to obtain those dialectical victories which he is so competent to secure that he mentioned the foundation of a University at Dacca in that strain. I have nothing whatever to conceal about the University of Dacca. It was my wish, and it was also Lord Hardinge's wish, that on going to Dacca for the first time since these changes were made he should inform the Mahomedan community there and the inhabitants of Dacca generally of the foundation of that University, but I altogether resent the imputation that the foundation of Universities in India, whether at Dacca, at Patna, at Rangoon, or anywhere else, is to be regarded as a sop to the inhabitants of those particular districts and done on political grounds, whereas they are placed there on educational grounds and no other.
EARL CURZON or KEDLESTON
There would have been no University at Dacca if it had not been for this re-partition.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
The noble Earl is good enough to conduct my Indian policy for me. I am obliged to him. It is one of the matters which I have at heart, and which Lord Hardinge also has at heart, that as far as possible—and, of course, matters cannot all be done at once or in a year or in two years—there should be a multiplication of residential Universities throughout India. I could name other places, but it is not worth while to enter into a discussion of this matter.
§ THE EARL OF CROMER
I presume that the cost of the University will be met in the ordinary manner out of revenue, and not out of the special loan?
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
The cost of the University will be met in the usual manner in which, when Universities are founded, the cost is met.
§ THE EARL OF CROMER
The loan which I understand is to be made to bear the cost of the removal to Delhi.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Oh, no. The question of this University has no bearing whatever on the expense of moving to Delhi. I can reassure the noble Earl on that point. There is no connection whatever between the two things. I was glad that the Viceroy, on paying his first visit to Dacca, should be able to announce that the first fruits of the policy of multiplying Universities would be made at that place, where, as I am sure on the merits the noble Earl will agree, the foundation of a University is a good thing in itself.
Then as regards the site at Delhi, the House knows that we have been able to secure the advice of several gentlemen who are competent, either as engineers or as architects or as having a general knowledge of town planning, to give it with reference to this new site at Delhi which we have been examining. No final conclusion has been reached on the subject. It is desirable that they should see Delhi during or immediately after the rains in order to observe what the precise effect is in making certain portions of the land water-logged and what are the lands that escape. It is, I think, most probable that what is called the Durbar site—that is to say, the site of the camp over which the noble Earl presided as well as that in which His Majesty stayed—will not be used for the main buildings of the new Delhi. The actual site of those main buildings is not yet determined. There have been, as your Lordships may imagine, a great number of suggestions. I heard one distinguished military authority assert that there was no reason whatever why the most historical part of the Ridge should not be used for the erection either of a Government House or Government offices. He pooh-poohed the idea that it was anything but a military position, and held that if 118 it was the best site for the purpose it should thus be employed. On the other hand we should all, I suppose, agree that there is a vast body of both military and Civil opinion which regards all that part of the Ridge, which was so famous in the Siege, as sacred ground which ought not to be tampered with or interfered with in any way. The site, as I have mentioned, has not yet been decided upon, but I have little doubt that it will prove to be somewhat to the south of the Durbar camp. How far it may be desired to start it along that continuation of the Ridge, which, as the noble Earl will remember, skirts the whole of old Delhi on that side, I cannot possibly say, but I am told that the experts are well satisfied with the sanitary and drainage prospects of some site in that neighbourhood. There is no reason whatever to suppose that a site will be suggested at all as remote from the city as the noble Earl seemed to think possible, nor do I know of any reason why it should be so chosen.
I am not able, unfortunately, to give the noble Earl any information as to what is proposed in the direction of strengthening the garrison at Delhi or of providing cantonments for them, but I trust that one result of the change will be this, that in course of time, though not immediately, it will be possible to clear away from the Fort the whole of the barracks which now disfigure it—a change which ought to make it entirely what now is almost one of the finest monuments of its kind in the world. The noble Earl touched on one or two other points with regard to the future society which the Government of India would have at Delhi and the possibility that some of the Princes would have houses there. I take it that very little has been decided on this last point. It is, of course, possible that some of the native Princes whose States are in the more northern direction may like to have a house, large or small, in the neighbourhood of Delhi, but that is a matter upon which it is impossible to speak at present; and even if some of them do, I should hope that Delhi would not prove to be a Capua to them, as the noble Earl seemed to think likely to be the case, and that no disastrous consequences need necessarily happen.
A further word on the question of the cost and the means of meeting it. The noble Earl mentioned some figures in 119 relation to Behar quite correctly. The figures which were given were between £333,000 and £400,000. That was the provisional estimate that was adopted, and it would be safe, I think, to assume the ultimate cost as working out to something in the neighbourhood of the £500,000 which the noble Earl mentioned. The recurring cost is, of course, somewhat enhanced by the creation of an Executive Council, whose members, as noble Lords know, receive considerable salaries; but it is only fair to mention that the creation of an Executive Council, besides having its own merits for administrative purposes, also serves the purpose of giving opportunities for reward to meritorious public servants which to some extent may be diminished by the changes we are making. As regards Bengal, the figures as I have them, though I do not pretend that they are completely accurate, work out to a rise from £40,500, which was the cost of the Government of old Bengal, to £53,800—an excess of slightly over £13,000 a year in respect of the change from a Lieutenant-Governorship to a Presidency. I am sorry that I have not got the figures for the outlay for temporary quarters at Delhi. It will not, I am sure, reach a formidable total, and as soon as I know what they are I shall be happy to inform noble Lords opposite who are interested of the amount which is estimated. Before I leave the question of the site I might say that the noble Earl, Lord Curzon, thinking as he did that the new capital was about to be removed to a distance of several miles from the town, concluded therefrom that the whole of the Durbar facilities—the roads, electric light, and so on—would be wasted. That is not the case, because I understand that in any event it is contemplated that a part of that area will be laid out for purposes of public parks and recreation. It also seems to me probable that a part of the area, at any rate, is likely to be found quite fitted for a certain amount of building.
As to the method by which the money will be raised, our plan of raising it partly by way of ordinary loan and partly from revenue has been severely criticised on different grounds and from entirely different quarters. There are some people who say that we ought to have done all this financing from revenue, that we ought to pay our way as we go along, and that that is, indeed, the only honest method of 120 carrying out a transaction of the kind. But, my Lords, the Government of India were not prepared to take the risk of debiting the whole of the cost upon Delhi to current revenue. As noble Lords opposite very well know, you can never venture to speak with certainty of what your available revenue may be in India for a year or so hence. To promise, therefore, that you would pay these varying sums as you go along would have been too bold a step for the Government of India to take. But the method which appears to be favoured by noble Lords opposite is the precise contrary of that course. They think that we ought to have raised the whole of the money by means of a loan. I see that the noble Earl, Lord Cromer, does not agree. But that was the gist of the argument advanced by the noble Earl opposite, and it is a course which might have been pursued. We might have borrowed the whole of the money, and, if it was desired, extinguish the debt by means of a sinking fund.
We again go to South Africa for a parallel. There was the Transvaal Loan, which was raised all at once; there was no question of meeting that charge partly from revenue. But it does not seem in itself, apart from all other considerations, a very wise piece of economy to raise a large sum of money at once for transactions which must necessarily be spread over a number of years. What are you going to do with the money when you have got it until it is spent? Are you going to reinvest it somewhere? If so, that would be a rather strange and unusual operation for a Government to take. We venture to think, therefore, that the plan we are adopting, the combined method of paying for the annual expenditure so far as we can from surpluses, and, where the surplus is insufficient for that purpose, by an addition to the ordinary loans which we make every year, is the most sensible and feasible plan of any that could be suggested. And it has this advantage. The exact amount of revenue it is difficult to foretell for any year. The revenue from opium, for instance, is a transient revenue, a revenue which, if it does not in due course disappear altogether, is bound to diminish very greatly, and we are not, I think, doing anything unfair or unreasonable by the people of India in saving that this charge, which is to a great extent of a nature which might fairly be placed upon posterity, yet should be met so far as you 121 are in a position to do so from these transient and, if I may say so, fortunate sources of revenue which exist at this moment. There is, of course, the further argument, to which noble Lords have alluded, that if we were to go to the market now for a large sum of money—noble Lords opposite would probably make it £12,000,000 or £5,000,000 at least, holding the views they do with regard to these changes—if we were to go to the money market in England or in India for a sum of that kind we should have to pay dear for it. Well, that might not in itself be a matter of so much moment as the fact that we should be seriously crippling our own ordinary powers of borrowing, which, as noble Lords know, are none too active at this moment.
The noble Viscount, Lord Midleton, could not resist the allusion which I have often heard him make before to the usually wild-cat character of our Treasury finance, which, as he maintains, reacts upon us in the Indian market. It is true, and I have no desire to attempt to discuss the reasons now, that the market for all gilt-edged securities is a bad one, and Indian Loans are no exception to that rule. But when the noble Earl, Lord Curzon, inquiries how it is, if this policy is so popular in India, we do not ask for the money there and get it in the twinkling of an eye. I cannot help feeling that again he was thinking of a dialectical score over my unhappy self, because nobody knows better than the noble Earl that it is one of the unfortunate facts, and also to sonic extent, I think, one of the mysteries of Indian life, that in India the capitalists do not come forward with large sums for Government security. As the noble Earl knows very well, the amount of holding in many of the Indian railways by Indian capitalists is almost nil. That is a large and an obscure question, and I am quite sure that the noble Earl knows very well that if we were to try to raise the money in India we should have to do one of two things—we should either have to treat the loan as an ordinary Government loan, which would have its inconveniences because it would not be easy, I fancy, to arrange for holders to transfer from one to the other, or else we might have to invent some new kind of financial arrangement in India in the shape of terminable bonds to be paid off by drawings or some arrangement of the kind foreign to the habits of 122 the Indian investor and liable to be regarded, therefore, with suspicion by him. That being so, I venture to think we are adopting a commonsense course in finding as much money as we can from our balances for the purpose of these annual payments and adding the rest to the ordinary loans, whether in India or here, which we raise every year for our current outlay.
I think that I have touched on the various points which have been mentioned by the noble Lords who have spoken. I am sorry, too, like the noble Earl opposite, that they thought it their duty to continue to adopt so critical a tone with regard to all these proposals. How far this debate may do good or do harm in India I have no desire to prophesy. I think it will be regarded there as exemplifying the truth of what I ventured to say at the beginning of my observations, that we none of us have seen any material reason to change the opinions which we formed in a close examination of this matter; and I can only express the final hope that the gloomy predictions of sonic of the noble Lords opposite may be falsified, and that it will be found that this great change will come about, as it will, gradually and without disturbance, and that in all its features it will prove to be for the benefit of His Majesty's subjects in India.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Mac Donnell, who has left the House, complained of us for having allowed this debate to travel so far afield. He seemed to regard it as going beyond the scope of the Bill on the Table. I was glad to observe that the noble Marquess did not support that complaint. Indeed, it would have been difficult for him to do so, for, of course, this Bill, although in appearance it is limited to some technical alterations in the law, really is inseparably connected with the whole of the great question which was raised by the speech of my noble friend behind me, Lord Curzon, and as he reminded the House we were distinctly promised, certainly by the Prime Minister and I think by the noble Marquess himself, that His Majesty's Ministers would challenge the judgment of Parliament in regard to the removal of the seat of Government from Calcutta to Delhi. I therefore make no apology on behalf of my noble friends who have spoken on this side of the House for the scope of their 123 observations. Still less am I moved by the argument winch fell from the noble Marquess just now when he told us that one of the reasons of His Majesty's Government for doing as much as they could without legislation was that it would be a bad thing in the interests of the Government of India that their action should require what he called "constant Parliamentary confirmation." Surely the noble Marquess will not contend that this is an ordinary case. The changes which have been initiated by His Majesty's Ministers have been described by them in the most magniloquent language as constituting—a bold stroke of statesmanship which will give unprecedented satisfaction and will for ever associate so unique an event as the visit of the reigning Sovereign to his Indian subjects with a new era in the history of India.This surely separates the whole of these proposals entirely from ordinary administrative and Executive changes for which the concurrence of Parliament might perhaps not be considered indispensable.
With regard to the question of change of capital, nothing that we have heard to-night has removed the misgivings which we expressed at first and which we still feel. We still regard it as a change of doubtful expediency and one decided upon without sufficient consideration. I am not going at this hour of the evening to enter into details. But surely the proper test for the suitability of the site of a capital is not whether it happens to occupy mathematically a central position on the map, not whether it is regarded with approval by one section of the community or another, but whether it is a site the use of which is compatible with the efficient administration of the Government. In our view that test is not complied with in the case of an arrangement which requires that the Government of India should divide the year between the hill station of Simla and the brand-new official headquarters winch are going to be constructed in the neighbourhood of Delhi, out of the main current of public life and remote from all those surroundings which have given so much importance to the presence of the Government of India in the great city of Calcutta. Then with regard to the popularity of the change. I freely admit that there is a conflict of evidence upon that point. But do not let us be told by the noble Marquess that 124 the evidence is all one way. The noble Marquess suggested to us that some of the evidence which had been furnished to us was, as it were, made to order. He said you can get the kind of evidence you like. But is the noble Marquess quite sure that, particularly in an Eastern country, this does not apply even more strongly to evidence collected by Government officials?
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
May I correct the noble Marquess in one respect? I was far from hinting that any of the evidence which had reached noble Lords opposite was of a manufactured kind. What I ventured to point out was this, that where there exists a difference of opinion and the distinguished correspondent here is known to hold one set of views strongly, he is likely to receive only letters of agreement and not letters of difference.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
The noble Marquess admits at any rate that there is a difference of opinion. We have always believed that that difference of opinion was a considerable one, and that those who hold our view of the case were not, as the noble Marquess has once or twice suggested, an "infinitesimal minority." The opinions which have been cited are not what the noble Marquess called merely individual opinions. They are the opinions of great bodies of the community having their official organs and their official spokesmen, like the All-India Moslem League and like the organisations which comprise the Mahomedans of Eastern Bengal. There is one section pf public opinion of which perhaps hardly enough has been said—the opinion of the commercial classes of Calcutta. I wonder if the noble Marquess carries in his mind—I am sure he has seen it—a paper that was published a few days ago by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce upon the question of the location of the Department of Commerce and Industry and the location of the Currency Department. They think it almost superfluous to point out that a Commercial Department which is permanently located at a distance of 1,000 miles more or less from the two chief centres of trade and industry cannot be a Commercial Department in the true sense of the term; and then they point out that they are not by any means consoled by some ingenious arrangements, which I understand are proposed, under 125 which officials of these two Departments are to tour during a certain part of the year in the Provinces. They go on to say—For nine months of the year the Department will be completely cut, off from the commercial centres of India. What merchants want is ready and convenient access to the responsible financial, commercial, and railway officers of Government, the officers who are in authority and with whom the decision in important cases rests.That is, I think, a very weighty expression of opinion from a body entitled to every respect.
Then only half a dozen words with regard to the vexed question of the site. One proposition which has been affirmed from these Benches has not been disputed—I mean that the site was selected without consultation, or at any rate without sufficient consultation, with those who were best qualified to give advice to the Government of India on such a matter. Not only was our statement not denied, but I remember quite well that the noble Viscount, Lord Morley, who is not here this evening, gave us the reason. He said the Government could not consult freely because if they had consulted people and the news had leaked out there would probably have been an agitation, and the Government did not want to have an agitation and therefore they kept the secret. It is not quite easy to read between the lines of the noble Marquess's statement as to our precise position with regard to the Delhi site. The noble Marquess told us that no final conclusion had been arrived at, but we gathered that at any rate the Durbar site was not likely to be adopted. The noble Marquess does not contradict me, and I therefore assume that it is so. Is that not rather a serious condemnation of the course which was taken in this matter? Was it quite wise to invite the Sovereign with so much formality to lay a foundation stone until you knew whether the place where that stone was to be laid was likely to be suitable or not for the new capital?
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
It was quite clear to everybody, including the illustrious layer of the stone, that it was not certain or even I may say probable that the place where the stone was laid would be the actual site of Government House or of the Government buildings, but that it would form part of the new capital. Of that there is no reason to doubt.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Not the actual site, but the approximate site. Surely the point was that His Majesty was invited to designate a particular spot, and upon that particular spot or in the neighbourhood of it, at His Majesty's command, the new capital was to arise. That is the way it would be looked upon by an Eastern people. It now appears that the capital might arise at any point within an area of 35 square miles. As to the cost, we have again and again expressed our entire disbelief in the figure of £4,000,000, and the noble Marquess did not attempt this evening to assure us that £1,000,000 would be anywhere near the mark. We are perfectly certain that it will not be. The noble Marquess said he would not tell us that it would not be exceeded by a rupee. That is not what we ask. We want to know whether it may, as some people have told us, be, not £4,000,000, but £8,000,000 or £12,000,000. The noble Marquess, I thought, did not follow very closely the extremely carefully conceived statement of my noble friend behind me when he dwelt upon the incidental expenses which would be inseparable from this change of capital; and we are quite right to call attention to these incidental expenses, because I remember that in the Government of India's Despatch they took credit to themselves for the incidental savings which would be made in consequence of the alteration in the site of the capital. Arty one who has had experience of building operations knows what a deadly thing the charge for extras is when you come to get your bill, and I feel convinced that the Government of India will have a very bad quarter of an hour over their extras when the day of reckoning comes.
I am not going to detain your Lordships longer at this hour. I will only notice one point in the Bill itself. May I venture to say that I entirely agree with what was said by my noble friend Lord Curzon when he insisted upon the significance of the change under which these new Executive Councils are to be called into existence in virtue of the powers conferred by this Bill. The operation is an entirely different one from the operation of the present law. Under the law as it, now stands you are required, before you can create a new Executive Council, to lay your Proclamation upon the Table of both Houses of Parliament, and it would be open to this 127 House, by carrying an Address against the Proclamation, to put an absolute stop to the whole transaction. That, of course, it is impossible to do when you come to a Bill. If we were to fall back upon our strict rights and throw out the second clause of the Bill the noble Marquess knows quite well what would happen. There would be the usual conflict between the two Houses; we should be accused of obstruction, and we should probably be confronted in the end with the choice of either withdrawing our Amendment or of seeing the Bill abandoned by His Majesty's Government.
There were other points about which I should have liked to say a few words, but I feel that the ground has been sufficiently covered by my noble friend behind me. Let me say once more that I think we have acted not only strictly within our rights, but that we have fulfilled what was a duty which we could not avoid by drawing attention to these points. We have done so. We have made our protest; it remains on record; and, as my noble friend who spoke just now said, we shall be well pleased if our misgivings should prove to be exaggerated, and if these changes when carried into effect produce results conducive to the contentment and well-being of the people of India.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.