HC Deb 22 June 1840 vol 54 cc1413-8

Viscount Howick moved for the following returns:— Copy of a minute in council of the Governor-general of India, respecting the issue of pay to her Majesty's troops serving in India, dated May the 7th, 1834. Copy of any warrant, dated subsequently to the 1st day of January, 1840, for regulating the issue of pay to her Majesty's troops serving in the territories of the East India Company; also of any instructions upon the same subject which have been forwarded, since the above date, by the Directors of the East India Company, or tin Secretary at War, to the civil or military authorities in India. Statement showing the quantity of pure silver in the rupee coined by the East India Company, and the value thereof at the present market price of silver. Statement, showing what changes, if any, were made by a warrant of his late Majesty, dated the 20th day of March, 1837, in the rates of pay appointed by previous warrants to be received by his Majesty's troops when serving at home or abroad. He could apprehend no objection to that lotion, and he need, therefore, only say few words. Upon the discussion of the army estimates, considerable difference of pinion had been evinced as to the propriety of the mode of paying the British soldiers in India with rupees; on that occasion there was a general wish for further information, and in compliance with that wish, he made the present motion.

Sir J. Hobhouse

did not think that his noble Friend had shown sufficient cause for he production of these papers. He knew lot why he should now revive the controversy that had taken place between them when the noble Lord had been his colleague, and upon the occasion of discussing the army estimates. All that his noble Friend could want was, to show that he was wrong, and his noble Friend was right. The discussion upon the subject could accomplish no good, and might be attended with much mischief. The Governor-general had some time since, in writing to him, stated that he trusted this subject would not be revived; because all that was done by it was creating very great discontent, which it would be most difficult to allay at a future time. What must be the effect of his noble Friend's motion, if carried? That he then should be obliged to move for other papers that were submitted to the Commander-in-chief on this subject. He could tell his noble Friend that he had the assent of the Commander-in-chief to the present arrangement, and now if those documents were to be had on the one side, he must have documents on the other. What was the use of his noble Friend's motion? What did his noble Friend want? Was it for the satisfaction of showing what was Lord William Bentinck's opinion, who, he admitted, agreed with the views of his noble Friend? Three months ago orders had been sent to equalize the pay in the three presidencies; and these arrangements had been satisfactory to all whose advice was worth taking on the subject. This, too, was the first time that such returns were moved for. To what persons, he asked, were the returns moved to be addressed? Out of what office were they to be received? The fact was, that his noble Friend recollected certain things that had been said in debate, and then he wished to show that his views were right, and those of others were wrong. He must say, that unless his noble Friend could show a good reason for his having the returns, he trusted he would not press his motion.

Mr. Elliott

suggested to the noble Lord that he ought not to press his motion, as no advantage could be gained by it.

Sir J. Graham

considered that it was not at an hour like this (past one o'clock) that such a motion ought to be debated. If the noble Lord would not withdraw his motion, he should move that the debate be adjourned.

Viscount Howick

did not, he said, intend to oppose the motion of the right hon. Baronet who had last spoken. It was only a few minutes before he made his motion that he received an intimation that it would be opposed. He had not brought it forward for the purpose of showing that his opinions were correct, but because he had reason to believe that a regulation existed which did create the utmost and most general discontent in the British army. He felt that a great responsibility rested upon him while he was in office in not having the subject brought to a final decision, and although he was not able to obtain that object as a Member of Government, yet, as a Member of that House, he felt it to be at least his duty to call attention to the subject. All that he asked for was this—that the facts should be fairly laid before the House. Under all the circumstances, he would for the present withdraw his motion.

Motion withdrawn.

House adjourned.