asked the Under - Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the provincial accounts of the Punjab, of Bengal, and of Madras show heavy and increasing deficits; whether retrenchments in expenditure have been effected, and, if so, to what extent in each case; whether these provinces have imposed additional taxation and, if so, with what result; and whether, in view of the serious condition of provincial finances in certain provinces, he will have the arrangements recommended by the Meston Committee re-examined by another Committee, in the light of experience gained, in the hope that some scheme may be evolved which will save the provinces from financial bankruptcy?
As regards the last part of the question, the whole subject of provincial contributions was debated in the Indian Legislative Assembly on 14th September last, when a motion in favour of a fresh Committee to re-examine the question was rejected by a substantial majority. It has been made clear in despatches recently published that this view is shared by the Government of India and by my Noble Friend the Secretary of State. As regards the first three parts of the question, the answers are, in general, in the affirmative, except that the deficits are decreasing rather than increasing, and Bengal was able, owing to temporary remission of the contribution to the Central Government, to budget for a small surplus in the current year. I am not in a position to supply up-to-date figures. I will, however, endeavour to obtain these from India, if the hon. Member wishes.