§ MR. BAILLIE
said, that having had the honour of being chairman of the Committee appointed to inquire into the late disturbances in Ceylon, he had been instructed by the Committee to move an humble Address to Her Majesty, praying for inquiry respecting the late insurrection at Ceylon. As the Committee had decided that for the present the evidence taken before them should not he communicated to the House, and under these circumstances as it would be improper that he or any other Member of the Committee should make any observations upon the evidence, he would endeavour to confine the few observations he had to make to a simple statement of the grounds on which the Committee conceived it to be their duty to make this application for the means of further eliciting the truth, and forwarding the inquiry which had been 1080 begun before them. He said the Committee had had to contend with various difficulties. These arose, in the first place, from the neglect of the Government of Ceylon to send homo that information to the Colonial Office which would very much have facilitated the inquiry, and which they were hound to have sent home according to instructions to that effect from the Secretary of State. He said he alluded to the minutes of the proceedings of the Council of Ceylon, which they were instructed to send to the Colonial Office every six months, but which the Committee had been informed had not been forwarded for the last twelve months. The Committee were therefore debarred from any information in regard to the proceedings of the Council during the disturbances which had occurred in Ceylon. Their difficulties, in the second place, arose from the neglect of the Colonial Office, or of the military authorities out in the colony, who had not sent home any account of the proceedings of the various courts-martial that had been held. He might state that certain allegations of a very grave character had been made against the Governor of Ceylon, the truth of which it was impossible for the Committee to test without witnesses brought from the colony. Under these circumstances, the Committee found themselves in this difficult position, with the Session about to draw to a close, and with certain statements on their evidence which they were unanimously of opinion ought not to be left standing against the character of the Governor, without affording him the opportunity of confuting them. The Committee, therefore, must have adopted a resolution to the effect, that they had not been able to complete their inquiry from the want of witnesses, and that they recommended that the Committee be appointed again next Session, instructions in the meantime being sent out to the law officer in the colony, the Queen's Advocate, to send to England the requisite witnesses for this inquiry. Instead of such a resolution, however, he had been instructed by the Committee to make this Motion to the House. And he might state that, in adopting that resolution, the House would only be following the practice in the courts of justice; because he understood it was usual for the Court of Chancery, in cases where it appeared necessary, to send a commission to India or elsewhere to take that evidence in the cause which could not otherwise he obtained.
Motion made, and Question put—
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission to inquire on the spot into the means taken for the repression of the late insurrection at Ceylon.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
was of opinion, that in so far as it concerned the good government of our dependencies, it was a very serious question whether a commission should be appointed to inquire into the conduct of the executive officers at the head of one of those dependencies. It appeared to him that commissions might be appointed, and had been appointed from time to time, to inquire into the state of our colonies, their general administration, and likewise their finances, and to get such information as might enable Parliament to legislate. But an inquiry into the means taken for the suppression of insurrection appeared to him as calculated to weaken and impair the authority of any person exercising the functions of government. He did not see how it was possible for any person to go on conducting the affairs of a colony with a grand inquisitor in that colony collecting all complaints, and taking the evidence of every person who might have any charge to make against him with regard to an insurrection which, like most other insurrections, had not been suppressed without the exercise of force, and the application of those measures of coercion which it was usual and necessary to resort to under such circumstances. There was an insurrection in Canada some years ago, which was put down by Sir J. Colborne, who was rewarded with the highest honours the Crown could bestow. Had they sent out a commission of inquiry into the means taken by Sir J. Colborne to put down that insurrection, his legitimate authority as governor of the colony must have ceased. Again, they had had an insurrection in Ireland last year, which was promptly suppressed by the energetic steps taken by his noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant; but had they afterwards sent over a commission to inquire by what means that insurrection had been put down and suppressed, the authority of the Lord Lieutenant and the Executive of Ireland would have been gone. Therefore, he said, that although it might be perfectly right to appoint a commission to inquire into the affairs of a colony generally, a commission to inquire and take evidence on the spot as to how a go- 1082 vernor had conducted himself in putting down an insurrection, would not only be most unjust to him, but also most injurious to the colony itself, as destroying the influence and authority of the Government. He thought, before such a proceeding was taken, the proper course would be, that an impeachment should be directed against the Governor, and the Governor be put on his trial. He did not see that there was any intention of that kind—all that was proposed was, that a commission should be appointed to inquire into the conduct of the Governor, he remaining the Governor all the while the inquiry was going on. Such a course was unprecedented and most improper. The House might have expected that when the Committee called upon it to take a step so extraordinary and so unprecedented, they would give some reasons to show that such a step was necessary; but to do this the evidence should be produced. It was, therefore, that he had asked the hon. Gentleman the Member for lnverness-shire whether he meant to produce the evidence taken before the Committee. It appeared they were not to have this evidence until the House had come to a decision, and they were asked to assent blindly to the course recommended, the Committee refusing them the benefit of the evidence on which that recommendation was founded. The Committee had not given to the House a single word of evidence they had taken. On the contrary, they had by a distinct resolution refused to produce it; and, like the Inquisition in Spain or the Inquisitors of Venice, they condemned in the absence of all evidence. He should have thought, had the originators of the resolution in the Committee considered the proposition a practical one, that they would have given ten days' or a fortnight's notice of their intention to submit it—that they would have summoned all the Members of that Committee together, and said, "We are about to take an extraordinary step—we are about to pass a vote which, if adopted by the House, will paralyse all Government authority in Ceylon. It will most likely be opposed by those who would maintain and uphold such authority, therefore we have called you together to explain to you the reasons why we recommend such a course." No such stop, however, as he understood, was taken by the Committee; but, on the contrary, the resolution was proposed and carried without any previous notice. If he was rightly 1083 informed in this respect, it appeared to him that the Committee had been led without thought to come to the decision they had arrived at; and he could not but think that if due notice had been given to all the Members that such a proposition was intended to be made, they would probably have come to the decision that the course recommended was inexpedient. It appeared to him, then, that the House could not, in utter ignorance of the evidence given before the Committee, and the reasons which weighed with them in recommending this extraordinary step—but knowing only that the Committee had passed the resolution on a sudden, and without notice—that the House could not adopt the proposal now made to it. The hon. Gentleman said—and the statement was an extraordinary one as a justification for the present Motion—that he understood it was a usual course for the Court of Chancery to appoint commissioners, and send them to India or Ceylon to obtain evidence on questions of title. True, that was the practice of the Court of Chancery; but was there any analogy between a commission appointed by that court on a question of property, and that of a charge made against the governor of a colony? In the case suggested by the hon. Gentleman, it would be a dispute between A and B, both of whom claimed a certain property—no guilt attaching to either—the only question being whether, according to certain title-deeds and other documents, A or B was the party entitled, and the Court of Chancery very properly, in such cases, sent out a commission to inquire into the pedigree of the parties, and other documentary and oral evidence which could not be got at here, in order to see who was the party to whom the property of right belonged. There was no excitement occasioned in Ceylon, or where else the inquiry was conducted, by such a course, and no public inconvenience resulted. But what resemblance was there between that and the placing the governor of a colony on his trial, and paralysing all his authority while that trial was going on? Where was the resemblance between the two cases? Take the case of the governor of any colony: send out a commission to the colony, whose affairs he is administering, to inquire into his acts, and how his authority had been exercised in very difficult circumstances, and you destroyed his authority and his power for the efficient government of the colony altogether. At 1084 the same time he quite agreed, if it should be said that the Committee had not been able to complete their inquiries, and that it was desirable further investigation should be made, that either in the present or the next Session the investigation should be prosecuted to its completion. He was informed that his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies wanted to ask certain questions as to the course intended, but was prevented, and was told the business of the Committee was at an end; that he could not examine further, as the inquiry was finished for the present Session. If so, who would have expected that, at the close of their proceedings, without notice, a resolution, which in effect was one of censure, as against the Governor of Ceylon, would have been proposed? He must, for the reasons he had stated, and for the sake of the good government of our colonial empire generally, resist the proposition. If, however, the hon. Member for Montrose would come forward next Session in an open and manly manner—as he knew he would do if he felt that the circumstances justified that course—and move for a Select Committee in order to lay on the table of the House articles of impeachment against Lord Torrington, he (Lord J. Russell) would be prepared to meet him; but he could not consent to a commission which would effectually destroy the authority of the Governor of the colony, without being attended with any particular result.
§ MR. HUME
said, that with regard to the Committee being taken by surprise, the first notice was given for the day when the Committee was summoned for special purposes. Notice was given by Lord Hotham that he intended to propose the resolution in question; but another notice was issued by the clerk, in which, by mistake, that resolution was not referred to. The Committee, however, were specially summoned. [Mr. HAWES: No; it was the ordinary summons.] The summons was a special one. Notice of a resolution was given on which the Committee were to meet, and the clerk was directed to insert it in the circular, but, by mistake, he omitted to do so; but the Committee were summoned for other purposes, and they were all there. [Mr. HAWES: No!] He admitted that there were three Members absent—Sir R. Peel, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. Adderley—who were out of town at the time. [Mr. HAWES: There were four absent.] He understood there were four 1085 Members absent. But, now, what were the circumstunces of the case? The noble Lord said that the granting this inquiry would paralyse the functions of the Governor; and that if he (Mr. Hume) would allow things to remain as they were, and next Session bring forward articles of impeachment against Lord Torrington, that would be a manly and straightforward course of proceeding. He could only say that if the evidence now wanting were collected, and it should warrant such a step, if no other person would bring forward such a proposition, he would do so. He was, therefore, anxious for a full and fair inquiry, and that where the necessary evidence could alone be obtained—that was on the spot—there they should endeavour to obtain it. They had not the necessary information at present; for it had been, he would not say purposely, withheld from them; but the charge made against the Governor of the Island was so serious, as shown by the incomplete evidence they had, that the Committee feared to publish it. He had moved that the evidence should be laid before the House, to enable them to judge as to the propriety of the present Motion; but out of ten Members present, when that resolution was moved, not one besides himself voted for it. And why? Because the charges contained in that evidence were of so grave a nature—amounting in fact, to a capital offence—that they did not wish by publishing it in an incomplete state to prejudge the case. But they thought the cause of justice would be better served by a commission proceeding at once to the Island, and there collecting all the information relating to the subject on the spot. The object for which the Committee was appointed, was to inquire into the grievances complained of by the people of Ceylon. And what were those grievances? The inhabitants complained that they had been unjustly oppressed by the Governor, who, they alleged, had exceeded the constitutional functions of the governor of a colony. If the Earl of Clarendon had done in Ireland what the evidence, so far as it went, proved Lord Torrington to have done in Ceylon—if 35 courts-martial had been held by his orders, and 18 persons had been convicted and shot to death, and many others transported for life, or imprisoned under the sentence of those courts-martial—and if, as the evidence wont to prove, that these acts—
§ MR. BAILLIE
must object to the hon. 1086 Member for Montrose giving the substance of evidence not yet laid on the table.
§ MR. HUME
would then state what was not in the evidence. They knew that the Governor of Ceylon was directed by the Sovereign to send once every six months the proceedings of the executive and legislative councils: they had evidence in the statement of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies to show that the proceedings up to December, 1848, which would have given them the official information of the origin, cause, and grounds for establishing martial law, had not been forwarded. None of the proceedings of the Legislature and the Government had been forwarded, and therefore they were in ignorance of the form and manner of the steps which Lord Torrington had taken. Here, then, was a clear breach of the Sovereign's instruction. This also they knew without having recourse to the evidence taken by the Committee—that 35 courts-martial had been held, and that neither in the Colonial Office nor in the War Office were there any accounts of the' manner in which those tribunals had been constituted, or of their proceedings. They knew not the number of officers of which they consisted. All they did know was that no official record of their proceedings had been sent to England. And yet Earl Grey had given his unqualified approval of all these acts. He (Mr. Hume), on behalf of Her Majesty's subjects generally, said where martial law superseded and set aside the law of the land, as it had done in Ceylon, and the Governor failed in his duty to send home the information which he was directed by the Queen to send, and especially the information as to all the proceedings connected with the courts-martial, which ought to have been sent before those proceedings were sanctioned and approved, the House was bound, not only to institute an inquiry, but to pursue the investigation to the end. In this case a full and fair inquiry was absolutely necessary, not only for the sake of the colonists, who complained that their rights as subjects of Her Majesty had been invaded, but in justice to the Governor, whose conduct was called in question. The evidence before the Committee proved that Lord Torrington had exceeded his legitimate functions. [Mr. HAWES: Order, order!] I say yes, we have evidence to prove it. [Mr. HAWES: 1087 No, no!] You may deny it, as you deny everything. ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. HUME
had alluded to the evidence, but had not quoted from it. The hon. Member the Under Secretary denied his (Mr. Hume's) allegation. But the hon. Member was not warranted in denying an allegation which could be proved. [Mr. HAWES: I am quite ready to meet your allegations.] Well, then, meet them now. But with the evidence they had of the sacrifice of life which had occurred, the promulgation of orders which had been issued, and the exercise of powers unknown in any part of the dominions of the Queen, except in Ceylon—when they had evidence of the property of innocent persons having been confiscated and sold at a great sacrifice, and the only satisfaction afterwards accorded to them being the promise of the return of the proceeds of the sale—with the knowledge they had of the sacrifice of life and property which had resulted from the conduct of the Governor of that colony, it behoved that House, for the protection of the lives and properties of Her Majesty's subjects in all her dependencies, that a full explanation should be had. In the absence of the proceedings of the Legislative and Executive Councils, and in the absence of all official details of Lord Torrington's proceedings, except as to one court-martial, the Committee had not the information necessary to enable them to conclude their inquiry. All they knew was, that a number of lives had been sacrificed; and, in his opinion, they had taken a proper course in advising a commission to proceed to the spot to carry out the investigation, and ascertain the real facts, in order to enable the House to form a judgment as to the merits of the case. He knew of no other mode by which justice could be done; and if the noble Lord meant, by refusing this Motion, to say that everything should be done to screen any governor of a colony charged with improper conduct, and that means should not be afforded to those who were complaining of injustice, to establish their case—if that was to be the principle on which our colonies were to be governed, the dissatisfaction would not he confined to Ceylon, but would extend to all. This resolution was perfectly in concurrence with the wishes of the inhabitants of the colony, who asked for a commission 1088 to inquire into the grievances which they alleged they were suffering. What he had now stated was not from the evidence, but from the blue hook on the table; and he contended that, independent of the evidence taken before the Committee altogether, there was ample ground in the information before the House to warrant the passing of the Motion before them.
MR. VERNON SMITH
, not having been a Member of the Committee, and knowing nothing of the evidence produced before it, appealed to the House whether they could, in the absence of that evidence, come to a vote such as that now proposed? The hon. Member for Inverness-shire, who had made the Motion, had not entered into any reasons for asking the House to assent to it, for he knew that he could not do so without referring to evidence which, as not having been reported, it would be contrary to rule to allude to. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last, had, notwithstanding that salutary rule, alluded to the evidence, and had most properly been called to order by the Speaker for doing so. But the hon. Member had not thought fit to press his Motion for the production of the evidence, probably out of kindness to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who he knew had that day other fish to fry. There could be no doubt that the passing of this Motion would in effect he a censure on Lord Torrington; and, for one, he would never consent to brand with censure the governor of a colony, unless upon the most satisfactory and conclusive evidence. It was impossible for any governor to maintain his position in times of difficulty without incurring considerable obloquy. He had not, however, risen to defend the conduct of Lord Torrington; and if sufficient grounds should be shown in the ensuing Session to justify his impeachment, he did not mean to say that he would not vote for such a step. But at present—in the absence of all evidence—he knew of no grounds to justify the condemnation of Lord Torrington, which the appointment of the commission proposed would in effect be. It was true that the appointment of a Committee of that House to inquire into the proceedings of the governor of a colony, might, to a certain extent, impair his power, and operate as a censure upon him; but a commission on the spot to investigate his conduct would do away with his authority altogether from the very moment they landed. The Motion was certainly in words—"to appoint a commission to 1089 inquire into the means which had been taken for repressing the late insurrection." But who took those means? The Governor. It was, therefore, into his conduct that the commissioners were to inquire, and the very moment they loft the English shore to proceed to their duties, a direct censure would have been cast on that functionary. If it were necessary to institute such an inquiry, the proper course would be first to recall the Governor, for the inquiry itself was far worse than a recall; it was a brand upon him. He knew not why his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose had given way to the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, for his hon. Friend's Motion for the production of the evidence was the proper one. If they had that evidence, there might probably be in it sufficient grounds for this resolution; but without evidence of any kind it appeared to him that the House had but one course to pursue—that was to reject it.
§ MR. DISRAELI
would not detain the House more than a few moments, and should not have risen to address them at all, had not the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken much misrepresented the true state of the case. The ground of the right hon. Gentleman's argument against the Motion was founded on the fact that the evidence taken before the Committee had not been printed and circulated amongst Members; and the resolution of the Committee had been described by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, as an inquisitorial act, and as indicating a partial and persecuting spirit on the part of those who brought it forward. Now, without entering into the secrets of the Committee-room, or the conduct of the Governor of Ceylon, he thought it right to place before the House all that he was justified in stating as to the proceedings of the Committee with respect to the evidence not having been printed. There was a Motion made in the Committee, by the hon. Member for Montrose to print the evidence. That Motion was resisted, because it was said the evidence was imperfect, and, as it stood, conveyed a primâ facie case—[Mr. HAWES dissented]—against the Governor; and it would therefore be unfair that the; evidence in that condition should be circulated without further investigation. In consequence of that there was an unanimous decision—unanimous with the exception of the hon. Member for Montrose—that the evidence should not be printed and circulated to the House. He was not asking 1090 the House to decide on the wisdom or inexpediency of that decision; he did not even defend it, though he had voted in the majority. But when the absence of the evidence was the only argument advanced against the Motion, and when the conduct of the Committee was described as of an inquisitorial character, and as being worthy of the Inquisition, he deemed it right to say that the withholding the evidence was a weakness on the part of the Committee—an amiable weakness—and was adopted in accordance with the wish of the Government, and with a view not to prejudge an absent man. The case was simple; and the right hon. Gentleman's whole argument and the noble Lord's argument amounted to this: that the moment you began to inquire into the conduct of the governor of a colony, his legitimate influence was destroyed. That was equally an argument against the appointment of a Committee of the House of Commons; and if that was the opinion of the Government, they ought not to have consented to such a Committee. But the Government assented to the Committee; and the moment they did so, and appointed a Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the insurrection in Ceylon, and the conduct of the Governor in suppressing it, they destroyed the legitimate influence of the Governor as effectually as though they had appointed a commission; and any argument against further inquiry, therefore, was futile, if based only on the ground taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton. Well, the Committee had commenced their investigation into the alleged grievances of the people of Ceylon; and now when Parliament was about to be prorogued; they found that they had not been able to conclude their inquiry, and that they suffered great inconvenience for want of information. Without giving any opinion as to the conduct of any individual, the Committee found that the gravity of the circumstances elicited in the inquiry, was such that it was impossible their investigation could remain in abeyance during the ensuing six months; and the only means of prosecuting it satisfactorily and efficiently, was to come to a vote that a commission should be sent out to continue and prosecute the investigation on the spot. He was told that that was a precipitate and partial resolution; but let them look to the circumstances under which it had been passed. In the first place fair notice was given. ["No, no!"] The fairness of the notice 1091 was proved by the fact that every Member of the Committee who was in London at the time attended on that day. True, four were absent, and of these four one who had subsequently been in the House of Commons had stated that if occasion had offered, as was expected yesterday, he was prepared to say that he adhered to the resolution which had been come to by the majority of the Committee. Look at the materials of which that majority was composed. Were they men of the same political party? Why, every grade in the House was represented in that majority—every shadow of political opinion. With regard to himself, he had taken no violent part in the Committee; for he suggested a middle course—a compromise—to the Government which he still thought they were not wise in refusing. They must, however, take the consequence of not assenting to that compromise, namely, that a principle must now be asserted without any qualification. The question simply was, would the House of Commons support their Committee, who had conducted, with strict impartiality, a protracted and painstaking investigation? That was the question now to be decided. The whole argument that they would be destroying the legitimate influence of the Governor by consenting to this Motion, fell to the ground; for that influence was struck at by the Ministers themselves when they assented to the inquiry by a Committee. All they had to do was to ensure a complete investigation into some of the most important circumstances that had ever transpired in a British colony. That was the real question. They lived at a time when they heard a great deal about colonial reform, and when great sympathy with colonial provinces was expressed. Here was an opportunity to show that in the metropolitan Legislature there was a disposition to come forward and do justice to our fellow-subjects in the colonies. Here was a golden opportunity to test the sincerity of these assertions. He gave no opinion on the merits of the case. If the noble Lord at the head of the Government turned round and said, by assenting to the Motion for investigation, they were condemning the conduct of the Governor, his (Mr. Disraeli's) reply was that they had already done that by assenting to the Committee of the House of Commons, to which the noble Lord himself had been a party. He gave no further opinion on the conduct of Lord Torrington by assenting to this com- 1092 mission, nor did any other hon. Gentleman who should vote for it, than he had already done by assenting to the Committee of the House of Commons. The question was, should they act on the recommendation of the Committee, and complete this inquiry? That was the point they had to decide, and the only point; and he trusted, for the sake of colonial justice, and the efficient conduct and character of Committees of that House, that they would support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire, which, by the desire of the Committee, he had been obliged to bring forward.
thought his right hon. Friend the Member for Northampton must he satisfied that his observations were uncalled for and unjust, for he had reflected upon the Committee without knowing its proceedings, and imputed objects to them for which he had no grounds, and for which no one had afforded him any reason. He (Mr. Villiers) begged to say there was no intention on the part of the Committee of impugning the conduct of Lord Torrington, or of embarrassing the Government by the vote which had been arrived at. Nor, indeed, was such the necessary consequence of it. Far from it. The vote had been arrived at really upon the ground of justice to Lord Torrington. The Committee voted for demanding further information, instead of publishing the evidence as it stood, without that further information. That alone was the spirit in which the Motion was proposed and carried—that further information was desired. The statements were very conflicting, and the Committee felt it would not be fair to allow serious imputations upon the Governor of an important colony to go forth without being assured of further information. Ultimately the present Motion was carried, because, he was sorry to say, his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies would not assent to any compromise. If he had, this Motion would not have been made. The Motion to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had referred in his observations was, that the Committee should ask leave to sit again next Session, and that the Secretary of State for the Colonies should be communicated with stating the desire for further information. That was proposed by the hon. Member; and he (Mr. Villiers was instrumental in inducing the hon. Member to strike out of it some severe words. But even to that his hon. Friend would not assent. 1093 He (Mr. Villiers) then asked him to assure the Committee that further information should be procured; but he could get no assurance of the kind from him. And then when the noble Lord the Member for the East Riding proposed that a commission should be moved for, and it was carried, it was only with the view of obtaining further information. He (Mr. Villiers) assured the House, that when the evidence was published, they would see that in justice to Lord Torrington, it was desirable that a commission should go out. His own impressions were not unfavourable towards Lord Torrington; indeed, they were less unfavourable as the inquiry had proceeded, than when he first entered the Committee, for he saw the difficulties in which the noble Lord was placed, and the great embarrassments he was under, and he had also read the instructions he had received. The noble Lord was placed, as the House would find, in a most difficult and delicate position; and he could not deny that he had received some confirmation from the authorities in the island of what he had done. Within the last two days certain persons had been called, who had thrown great light upon the state of the island; their statements had been laid before the Committee, and they were found to be of great importance. He believed that before those witnesses gave their testimony, the Committee would not have been disinclined to publish the evidence; but after it had been given, the Committee thought it right to call for further inquiry before consenting to publish it.
§ SIR J. W. HOGG
thought, as a Member of the Committee, that nothing could be more inexpedient and unjust than to consent to the appointment of the commission. The House would naturally expect that the recommendation to pursue an inquiry at Ceylon into the conduct of the Governor, would be supported, at all events, by a large majority of the Members of the Committee. But what were the facts? The Committee consisted of fifteen Members. Four of these, Sir R. Peel, Mr. Stuart Wortley, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. Adderloy, were absent at the time the recommendation was agreed to. The noble Lord the Member for the East Riding having intimated his intention to submit the recommendation on a particular day, it was naturally to be expected that that intimation would have been inserted in the notices sent out to all the Members of the Committee; but it was omitted in the 1094 notices, and of that omission his Lordship had very properly complained. Five Members voted for the commission, and five others voted against it, and eventually the Motion was carried by the casting vote of the chairman. It was exceedingly important for the House to hear these facts in mind. The House had a right to expect that in a matter of this nature the resolution appointing the commission should state specifically what the charges against the Governor consisted of. Besides, any Motion which should have the effect of paralysing a governor, was one which a Committee were not justified in recommending, because, if the misconduct of a governor had been such as to justify the issuing of a commission, he ought to be recalled. The House had heard of roving commissions; but what was the one now proposed? Was this a roving commission to obtain evidence? It was not. It was a roving commission to ferret out charges, because there was nothing in the report of the Committee to acquaint the House with the nature of the charges against the Governor. He hoped, therefore, that the House would not listen to the application. It had been complained in the course of the discussion that the evidence had not been printed. There were nine to one in the Committee against the printing of it, and he had voted with the majority on that subject. He had proposed that the Committee should reassemble next Session, and that a communication should be made to the Secretary for the Colonies to afford them further information relative to the pending matters. He objected to the publication of the evidence in the interim, although he did not believe that as yet a primâ facie case even had been made out against Lord Torrington. He was of opinion that unless protection were granted to governors, who were discharging their duty abroad under difficult and trying circumstances, we should not, and we deserved not, to be well served.
§ LORD HOTHAM
was desirous of placing beyond all dispute the question of notice or no notice of his intention to bring the Motion for a Commission before the Committee. When the Committee met on Tuesday last, two letters of a very important character were read. The importance of them was deemed by the Committee to be so great that they refused to allow them to be published with their ordinary Minutes. After that refusal, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies applied 1095 to the Committee for copies of the letters, in order that they might be submitted to the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Department. Several hon. Gentlemen objected upon the score that it was not the business of the Committee to grant letters to the Chief Colonial Secretary which they refused to print with their Minutes. It was stated in reply, by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the colonies, that it would be a great hardship if the noble Earl at the head of the department was not to be made aware of what had taken place. He (Lord Hotham) said, that although he decidedly objected to granting copies, to show that his objection did not depend upon any wish that the noble Earl should not know their contents, he would pledge himself to move an instruction for an Address to the Crown similar to the present Motion, and that if that were carried, the letters should be given to the noble Earl. At the close of the day's proceedings, however, the hon. Under Secretary gave notice, that, on the next meeting, he should formally move that the letters be transmitted to Earl Grey. On hearing the hon. Gentleman say that, he (Lord Hotham) begged to be informed whether it was absolutely necessary that a notice of what was to be done should be entered upon the summons sent to each Member. Some said it was, others said it was not; but he stated distinctly to the clerk, that if the notice of the hon. Gentleman the Colonial Under Secretary was inserted in the summons, his notice must be put there likewise. Was it possible for him to have taken more pains to secure its insertion? But when he found it did not appear, he was early in his attendance at the next meeting of the Committee, and the first Words he spoke to the clerk were, "Mr. Whittam, you have done me an injustice, for you have given the notice of the Under Secretary for the Colonies in the summons, but you have omitted mine." Mr. Whittam knew well that he (Lord Hotham) had given the notice; he expressed his regret for the omission, and there the matter ended. No doubt, therefore, his notice was not upon the summons; but he had not heard of any one Member having been kept away from the Committee in consequence of it. The four Members referred to by the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton had been absent for six, five, and four days previous to the meeting; and it was pretty well known that they had left town for the remainder of the Session. He trusted 1096 that these explanations would show that no surprise had been intended, and that none had been practised. He concurred almost entirely in everything that had fallen from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. The hon. Gentleman had stated that his impression was less unfavourable towards Lord Torrington than it was when the inquiry began. He (Lord Hotham) entered upon it without any unfavourable impression whatever towards Lord Torrington, and with no other feeling than a desire to do his duty honestly. Personal feeling he had none. He found himself, then, upon the Committee, placed in this peculiar situation, that it was impossible to fulfil the duty imposed upon him without having further information than the Committee had been able to obtain. The Colonial Office, represented by the hon. Under Secretary, professed a readiness to give the Committee all the information at their disposal; but upon several points, which appeared to him most material to the inquiry, affecting the character of the Governor and other individuals, no information was given. Was it, then, right that the Committee should separate without either giving an opinion on the subject referred to them, or prosecuting their inquiries to the full? When he made the proposition from which the present Motion proceeded, he stated that his only object was, that information should be elicited, and it appeared to him that inquiry upon the spot would be best; but that if it were thought investigation at homo would be preferable, he was ready to agree to that course, or to any other which would place in a proper light the conduct of the individuals into which they were inquiring. He was deeply sensible of the importance of giving the Governor of a distant colony every support under the difficulties which, in troublesome times, he had to encounter; but was it not essential to show that Lord Torrington did not deserve what had been said of his conduct? Was the matter to stand over, or the Committee to be content with the assurance of the hon. Under Secretary, that Earl Grey was perfectly satisfied with all that had taken place? He believed that Earl Grey had no more information to give; but he must ask if it were not extraordinary that upon points of such a nature no more information had been received from Ceylon? Under the pressure of this difficulty, the only alternative presented to the Committee was the proposition which was now made to the House. As to the suggestion 1097 of the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton, that Lord Torrington should be recalled, the hon. Baronet would be the first to turn round upon it and say, "What! would you recall the Governor of a colony before you have heard all the evidence?" He considered that they were the worst friends of Lord Torrington, who, when accusations were made, did not afford the earliest, the best, and the fullest means of placing his character, if it had been maligned, in the point of view which it deserved.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
was quite sure it was the wish of the House that this discussion should be brought to a close as soon as it could be, consistently with justice. The House would remember that they were sitting in a judicial capacity upon the character of a nobleman performing high functions in a distant colony, a nobleman representing the Sovereign, and conducting the affairs of the country. He was, therefore, certain that there could be nothing of party or of personal feeling in the matter now before the House. Their wish could only be that the strictest justice should be done in a manner the least conducive to the excitement of heated or angry feelings. He knew nothing of the question except what he had heard in the course of this discussion. But after the speeches of his hon. Friends the Members for Wolverhampton and Honiton, he had formed a strong opinion as to what the justice of the case demanded. He thought the opinion of the Committee, in the proportion of nine to one, that it would not be consistent with justice to publish the evidence, quite binding upon the judgment of the House. He was also of opinion, after what he had heard, that it was not possible the inquiry could close as the matter now stood. Admitting these two facts, in which the House appeared to him to concur generally, he must be permitted to state that in his opinion the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies had not in the Committee exercised a wise discretion in rejecting the alternative of a compromise. [Mr. HAWES: I did not.] He had understood the hon. Members for Buckinghamshire and Wolverhampton to say the hon. Gentleman was not willing to accede to any arrangement—that if there was a pledge given on the part of the Government that the Committee should reassemble next Session, to proceed with the inquiry, and that steps should in the meantime be taken to obtain from the colony such information 1098 as the Committee might require, on communication with the Secretary of State, otherwise this Motion would then not have been pressed in the Committee, or brought before the House. Under the circumstances in which the House was now discussing the question, he must say that the carrying of the Motion for the appointment of a commission of inquiry would produce one of two consequences. Either the moment the commission arrived in Ceylon civil government under Lord Torrington would be impossible, and confusion would necessarily ensue, or the Government, to avoid that, would be driven into recalling the noble Lord immediately, the inquiry affecting his honour and character being admitted to be incomplete, and thus a deep and most cruel injury would be inflicted upon him. He, therefore, could not support the Motion now before the House; and, indeed, he did not think that his hon. Friend would press it, if the noble Lord at the head of the Government would give the House an assurance, on the part of the Government, that at the commencement of the next Session he would consent to the reappointment of the Committee, for the purpose of pursuing the inquiry. In that case the Committee could meet on Monday, and communicate, through their chairman, with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, both with respect to papers and to additional witnesses that they would think necessary, when the Committee met again at the commencement of next Session. He was bound to say that in the exercise of the best judgment he was able to form on a dispassionate view of the whole case, this course appeared to him to be the most advisable one to take.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
When the hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness-shire made his Motion, I said, if I recollect rightly, that if the evidence before the Committee be incomplete, as the hon. Gentleman says it is, and if the inquiry be not carried to the full extent that it ought to be carried, then let the evidence be completed, and let the inquiry be fully carried out. And I certainly meant to convey that the only way which I think that could be done, would be by the reappointment of the Committee at the commencement of next Session, and by its being then enabled to have before it such witnesses as could give further evidence on the subject. I certainly said very clearly at the commencement of the discussion, that there might be witnesses who could not have 1099 been brought from Ceylon in time for the Committee this year, and that there might be time to procure their attendance before next Session.
§ MR. HAWES
thought it necessary to say just one word in explanation. With regard to the meeting of the Committee to which allusion had been made, it was right to mention that no notice had been given of it. [Cries of "No, no!"] He begged to state distinctly that in the circular no notice was given, and that he did not expect the Motion would have been made. He had understood the noble Lord the Member for the East Riding to say that he, or somebody else, would make the Motion, but not seeing it in the circular or in the summons, he did not expect it to be made that day. He had then moved as an Amendment that the Committee do adjourn, and that notice be given on the subject; but, in consequence of their being so near the end of the Session, the noble Lord voted against his proposition. He then asked for time to consult with his noble Friend the Secretary of State on the suggestions that had been thrown out, but even that was not conceded to him.
§ MR. BAILLIE
said, the reason the Committee did not agree to the Motion of the adjournment was, that it was understood at the time that the House should adjourn over from Friday evening until Tuesday. Out of the four Members of the Committee who had been absent, he had himself given notice to two. He believed, also, that Sir R. Peel was aware of the matter, and that the only Member of the Committee who had not notice of the meeting was Mr. Gladstone. If the Committee were to be again called together next Session, and if the noble Lord engaged that Government would take measures to procure the attendance of witnesses required from Ceylon in the interim, he could have no objection to withdraw his Motion, but he would do so only on that understanding.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that if the Committee were to meet again and propose 1100 to summon certain witnesses from Ceylon, there could be no difficulty in summoning those witnesses, and, unless there was some physical impossibility—which was not likely—having them in attendance when the Committee met next year. But this Motion having been made, he could not consent to its being withdrawn. He must ask the House to negative it. He could not do otherwise; it was a Motion affecting the honour and character of the Governor of a distant colony.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, that if driven to a division he certainly would feel bound to vote with the noble Lord; but at the same time, as the hon. Member for Inverness-shire was willing to withdraw his Motion, and as the Committee were to meet again on Monday, he thought the substantial object in view would be attained, and the honour of all parties secured, by not dividing. He would, therefore, earnestly entreat of the noble Lord to consent to a withdrawal of the Motion.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, it was not necessary that the hon. Gentleman should divide; but the Motion having been made, it was necessary that the Government should ask the House to negative it,
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
observed that the noble Lord himself clearly admitted the necessity of further inquiry into the conduct of Lord Torrington, and yet he would now divide the House against, or negative, a Motion, the object of which was to secure further inquiry. One of two constructions would be put upon the course persisted in by the noble Lord—either that by his own admission of the necessity for such inquiry, he cast imputations upon the conduct of the Governor, whilst he opposed the readiest means of investigating it; or, that he wished the House to come to a vote that would look like a vote of confidence in Lord Torrington after a Committee had been appointed to inquire as to certain acts of his government, and that Committee had declared that further evidence was required.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
having remarked that he could not attach either of the constructions of the hon. Member to the course proposed by his noble Friend as to this Motion,
§ The House divided:—Ayes 33; Noes 90: Majority 57.1101
§ The House adjourned at half-after Six o'clock till Tuesday next.