HC Deb 09 February 1808 vol 10 cc410-2
Lord Folkestone

moved, That the several Papers presented to the house in January, Feb. March, June and July, 1806, and in Feb. 1807, relative to the Affairs of the Province of Oude, be taken into consideration on Monday the 22d inst.

Mr. Creevey

took this opportunity of expressing his opinion, that the best mode of proceeding would not be that which the noble lord had stated, but that it would be better to refer the papers to a committee, to arrange and make their report. The papers already printed were so voluminous, that it was difficult indeed for the house to understand the subject, unless the necessary papers were selected in this manner. The subject was very comprehensive, extending to the whole system of policy in India for a considerable time. It would be recollected, that with respect to the policy of the marquis Wellesley's government, the East India directors had, with an unanimity unprecedented against the opinion of government, decided by a majority of 23 directors out of 24, against the noble marquis. When government afterwards sent marquis Cornwallis to succeed him, they evidently disapproved of his administration. He thought it was necessary that the dispatches of marquis Cornwallis, expressing his opinion of the conduct of his predecessor, should be before the house.

Mr. R. Dundas

thought it was unusual to interfere with any hon. member in the manner in which he might think proper to bring forward any business before that house. When the noble lord should bring forward his Resolutions, that would be the proper time for offering such observations as occurred to any hon. gent. on the subject. It appeared to him, that as those papers had been already nearly four years before the house, it would be the best way to proceed to a vote upon those papers. The general policy of the system of government in India would be brought before the discussion of the house in another shape.

Sir A. Wellesley

said, that it had always been his wish, and that of all the friends of the noble marquis, that the house should come to a decision with as much speed as was consistent with due consideration. His noble relation was in a most unpleasant situation. Four years had now elapsed since the subject was first introduced, and it was nearly two years since the noble lord had moved for papers. It must be painful to the feelings of any individual to have such charges hanging over his head for an indefinite length of time; and the consequence which he thought would be likely to proceed from appointing a committee would be, that the house would be four years longer before it came to a decision.

Mr. Lushington

observed, that the right hon. general was under a mistake, in saying, the business had been four years before the house, as it had been introduced in May, 1806.

Sir A. Wellesley

admitted, that he had not been exactly correct, but the hon. member was less so; for instead of May, 1806, it was May, 1805.

Earl Temple

said, he felt still the anxiety that he had always expressed, that this business should be brought to a speedy vote. He thought it injustice to the feelings of any individual to have such charges hanging over his head for a great length of time; and therefore he wished that the question should be put to rest, and that lord Wellesley's character should be settled one way or the other. It would be recollected, that he formerly pressed anxiously for a decision, but was at that time opposed by the friends of the noble marquis, gins on the other side of the house.

Mr. Windham

said, it appeared to him that the best way of understanding the whole of the subject, was to refer it to a committee, to select out of the voluminous papers which had been printed, those which were most necessary for the consideration of the house.

Mr. Wellesley Pole

expressed some surprise, that gentlemen opposite should now propose to go into, a committee upon this subject, as if the topic never had been before the house: was it forgotten that it had been in discussion repeatedly, ever since 1805? He heartily approved of the mode proposed by the noble lord, and, concurred in his motion for the papers he had moved for; but he was averse to the mode of proceeding by a committee.

Lord A. Hamilton

spoke in favour of the committee.

Lord Folkestone

lamented the unfortunate predicament in which he stood, in having those only to approve of his plan of proceeding who, he knew, were against bins on the merits, while, again, those who were with him on the merits of the question, objected to his mode of bringing it forward. He must, however, adhere to the mode he had laid down for himself.x2014;The motion was then put and carried.

Mr. Creevey ,

with a view to the general discussion of the affairs of India, moved, that there be laid before the house copies of all letters sent by the late marquis Cornwallis to the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors, subsequent to his arrival in India in 1805. These letters contained the opinion of the noble marquis on every prominent part of the administration of our Indian empire, and the information they would give would be most important in directing the judgment of the house on a subject that every day called more loudly for a general, and particular investigation.

Mr. R. Dundas

consented to the production of all the letters but the last, which was not signed by the marquis, and from that and some other deficiencies, such as want of date, unfilled blanks &c. could not be considered as a fit document to be laid before parliament. The committee which he meant to move for shortly, was merely to consider the Financial Affairs of the East India Company.—After some conversation, it was agreed that the Papers should be produced, with the exception of the unfinished letter.

Mr. Creevey

then gave notice, that as the right hon. gent. meant to call the attention of the house to the Financial affairs of the East India Company only, he would move for a general inquiry into the state of our Indian empire, territorial and political.