HC Deb 25 May 1843 vol 69 cc849-51
Sir R. Inglis

wished to put three questions relating to any encouragements which had been given to idolatrous worship in India. The opinion of the House had been so unanimously expressed on this subject about three years ago, that it was wholly unnecessary for him to trouble it with any observations on it at present. He would ask his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government what steps had been taken in order to separate finally the connexion between the Government of India and the worship of its heathen and Mussulman subjects? He would next ask what steps had been taken to separate the connexion of the company's officers not alone from the interior management of the pa. godas, but also from the management of the lands appropriated to their use? He was glad to find, that partly owing to the exertions of the late, and partly owing to those of the present Government, a great advance had been made in this latter respect. His third question was, what steps had been taken to discontinue the grant of 60,000 rupees which had been made to support the temple of Juggernaut?

Sir E. Peel

said, that previous to the accession of the present Government to office, in the month of August, 1841, the late President of the Board of Control had signified to the Governor-general of India the wish of her Majesty's Government that all connexion between the officers of the East India Company and the ceremonies and worship in mosques and pagodas should cease, and also that all interference on the part of those officers in the management of the landed and other revenues of those mosques and pagodas should be discontinued. Orders to that effect were issued, and inquiries were directed to be made as to the facility with which the connexion referred to might be severed. From the reports of the collectors of eight revenue districts in the Madras presidency, he had the satisfaction of saying that it was their concurrent opinion that there would be no difficulty whatever in separating the connexion between the company's officers and the worship of the natives in the mosques and pagodas, and at the present moment he believed that in consequence of directions from the Home Government, the personal service of the company's officers at those places of worship had been dispensed with. As to the management of the estates destined for the support of those places of Hindoo and Mussulman worship, it was evident that some time must elapse before that management could be transferred to native officers, and some general and uniform arrangement devised, by which the management being left to Hindoos and Mussulmans themselves the connection of the company's officers with them would be completely at an end. With respect to the payment of the annual sum of 60,000 rupees for the support of the temple of Juggernaut, he was aware that a statement on the subject had been published, which, being considered a proper subject for inquiry, the attention of the Governor-general had been directed to it, and the circumstances under which the Government had entered into this engagement were undergoing close investigation. As to the statement that natives had been compelled to draw the car of Juggernaut, he had no means of knowing how the fact stood, but instructions had been sent out to prevent any such compulsory service, and the police had received strict injunctions on that bead. The whole subject was in progress of close investigation, and he assured his hon. Friend, that as soon as he should be in a condition to lay the result before the House, he would gladly do so.