§ Mr. Robinson
presented a Petition from the maritime officers late in the East-India Company's service, praying the House to take their case into consideration, with a view to their speedy redress. The hon. Member said, that the informality in the petition which was withdrawn the other day was in the present petition removed, and he, therefore, hoped the House would take the petitioners' very hard case into their consideration. The exclusion of the petitioners from the compensation allotted by the East-India Company, in consequence of the arrangement with the House, to their other officers, was most unjust. The hon. Member stated in conclusion, if he were unable to obtain redress by the present step, he should bring the subject before the House either this or next Session in a substantive form.
Mr. Vernon Smith,
in the absence of the right hon. Baronet, the President of the Board of Control (Sir John Hobhouse) thought he would briefly state what had been done by the Board of Control, and what were their future intentions. The hon. Gentleman had neglected to state what the specific redress was which the petitioners desired. He had described the decision of the Company as faulty in respect to compensation; but he thought that it was so on the side of extravagance. As to the rule adopted, it had been laid down by Lord Glenelg, and supported by a great quantity of evidence and the Committee had determined not to open it afresh. It was not a question now whether the rule was good or bad; it had been necessary to adopt some one rule of compensation, and this had, after the most serious deliberation, been deemed the most advisable. The Company had already paid 250,000l. in gratuities, and granted annuities to the extent of 40,000l. a year more; so that the whole amount they had expended was not less than 696,000l. The Committee had no doubt recommended the Company to reconsider certain cases which had been exempted, and this had been done, though perhaps 1278 the result of the reconsideration had not been so favourable as the petitioners or those hon. Members who so efficiently supported them might have wished. The Company had at the same time agreed, that if cases should be found of peculiar hardship, or in fact of distress, that such cases should be remedied out of the Charitable Fund. It had been complained by some of the excluded officers that the refusal had been communicated in harsh terms. He could assure them that they had formed an erroneous view of the matter. They certainly had met with no harshness on the part of the Board of Control. He would again state, that unless some fresh proposition was made on the subject from the Company, the Board of Control had neither the intention, nor indeed the power, to do anything further.
§ Mr. George F. Young
said, that the petitioners did not come before the House, or the Board of Control, or the Company, in forma pauperis; their claim was one of strict and substantial justice; and when the hon. Gentleman, as it was now rendered incumbent upon him, should bring forward their case in the shape of a Bill, it should have the same hearty support from him which he now gave this petition.
§ Mr. Buckingham
thought, the Board of Control ought sometimes rather to be called the Board of "Obedience," from the readiness with which it accorded with the views of the Court of Directors. He considered, the case of the petitioners one of peculiar hardship, recollecting what valuable services they had formerly rendered to the East-India Company.
§ Mr. Robinson
observed, that if the Court of Directors had no power to alter their decision, the appointment of the Select Committee was a mere mockery. He would venture, however, though no lawyer, to give an opposite opinion; and could assert that the Directors had still 500,000l.. at their disposal for the purpose if they thought fit so to apply it. He contended, also, that the Directors had been guilty of a gross misapplication of money in awarding compensation to some officers, although this was not a ground taken by the excluded officers who did not wish to murmur at the better success of their brethren. The petitioners only came to the House as a last resource, and were willing to leave the whole to the Directors as their legitimate masters, if they saw a disposition to do them justice. Failing 1279 in every application they had been driven to lay their case before Parliament.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
admitted, that many of the cases of the excluded officers were extremely hard, but must repeat his doubt as to the power of the Directors.
§ Petition to be laid upon the Table.