13 FEBRUARY 1904, Page 2

The Secretary for India invited the Indian Government last August

to contribute observations and suggestions on the Resolution passed at the Colonial Premiers' Conference in 1902 in favour of preferential tariffs. The result is to be found in the Blue-book published on Monday, in which Lord Curzon and the members of the Finance and Commerce Department of the Government of India unhesitatingly condemn the preferential system. The two alternative schemes for including India in a scheme of inter-Imperial preferential tariffs are discussed. For India to join on the same footing as the self-governing Colonies, with freedom to tax British as well as other imports, is dismissed as impracticable. On the other hand, to have two tariff walls would only help the United Kingdom, and force India to adopt a policy which would expose her to serious retaliation. The general con- clusions, therefore, are that India is best off under a system of free exchange, and stands to lose or risk a great deal under the new policy. As regards retaliation, the despatch affirms that any actual measure should only be adopted in the last resort. "All that we seek is that we shall not be pledged in advance to accord equal treatment to the imports of all countries alike, irrespective of whether they penalise our exports or not." The signatories also express the hope that the mere announcement of this freedom ought to suffice to maintain India in the enjoyment of that considerable measure of free exchange she already possesses, and from time to time even to extend it.