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Volume 218: debated on Thursday 26 March 1874

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asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to move for the appointment of a Committee on Indian Finance to continue the investigations of that which sat during the last Parliament?

said, he wished to put another Question of which he had given private Notice. In 1871 a Select Committee was appointed, consisting of 32 Members, of whom 13 had now ceased to be Members of the House. Under these circumstances he would ask whether Her Majesty's Government would consider the expediency of appointing a Royal Commission, under the direction of the Viceroy in Council, to inquire from Native witnesses in India into the present system of taxation and land-holding in that portion of the Empire?

, in reply, said, that the Committee alluded to by the hon. Member sat for three years, and was composed of 31 Members. Of those 31 Members three had, owing to recent Ministerial changes, accepted posts which would not enable them to give their personal attendance on the Committee, even assuming that it was possible to re-appoint it. Of the remaining 28 no fewer than 13 had unfortunately lost their scats at the General Election, among them being the well-known names of Mr. Ayrton, the Chairman of the former Committee, Mr. Fawcett, Mr. Eastwick, Mr. Crawford, and Sir Charles Wingfield. Under those circumstances it was not possible for the Government to re-appoint a Committee, a large number of whose Members were no longer Members of the House. At the same time, it was under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government whether or not it would be advisable to appoint a smaller Committee with a more limited reference, directing their attention to definite and tangible points connected with East Indian finance. In answer to the Question put to him by the hon. Member for Finsbury he had to say that Her Majesty's Government did not think it would be advisable to issue a Royal Commission to take Native evidence, as the hon. Gentleman had suggested.