§ MR. C. ANSTEY
rose to move an Address to Her Majesty, on the government and management of the Indian dominions of the Crown by the East India Company. The propositions which he had to submit were two. The first was, that before the Act of 1833, by which the Government of our East India territory was provided for and regulated, should he renewed either in its present shape or with such amendments as Parliament might think proper, it was 970 at once necessary in itself, and consonant with former practice, that some preliminary inquiry should be instituted. His second proposition was, that such inquiry would be fruitless unless conducted on the spot by a commission sitting in India. He had hoped to be able to confine himself to the second proposition; but the announcement made by Lord Broughton, when a Member of this House, in reply to the question put to him early in the present Session, by a noble Lord (Lord Jocelyn) rendered it necessary for him (Mr. Anstey) to go into the reasons, not only for having a preliminary inquiry in India, but also for having a preliminary inquiry at all. The President of the Board of Control had intimated on that occasion, that no preliminary inquiry whatever was contemplated by Government, except in the event of their proposing important changes in the present Act; a contingency not very likely to occur. But he (Mr. Anstey) maintained that, whether the Act of 1833 was to be amended or not, it could not be renewed without a renewed inquiry, if the obligations of policy, precedent, and good faith, were to be regarded. That Act was but an experiment; it had so been styled by its authors; the time was now come to inquire into its working. When Mr. Grant, in the year 1833, introduced the Bill which became the Act under which our East India territories were now governed, he distinctly stated that he called upon the House to undertake an experiment of no ordinary kind; that, at the end of the term of years proposed for the experiment, it would be seen whether the result should or should not warrant its renewal; and that in proposing an extension of the term, contrary to his original intention, from fifteen to twenty years, during which the East India Company and the Board of Control were to be entrusted with the conduct of the experiment, he had in view only those concessions to self-interest which were necessary, having regard to the infirmity of human nature, to render the experiment successful. Upon that ground the House was induced to agree to his proposition, so as that when the next renewal came before Parliament, the East India Company should have no reason to complain that sufficient time had not been allowed them. The measure itself, moreover, was not very maturely considered at the time; and the mode of hurrying it through the House was much complained of by Mr. Wynn and other Members, who then advocated the cause of India in Parlia- 971 ment. It was not brought before the House until the 13th of June, and it then came on in the shape of a preliminary resolution. At that period of the Session there were considerable arrears of public business, and it was impossible to discuss the matter with that calmness and deliberation which interests of such magnitude required. A similar objection existed to the proceedings in the years 1781 and 1793 and 1813, that is to say, on every occasion when the renewal of the Charter Act had to be considered—and when, in every instance, the political emergencies of the epoch prevented an ample consideration of the question. Sir James Mackintosh, on the 17th of June, 1828, had foretold the delay, and also what would be the result of introducing the question at that late period. He said—The question will be taken up in haste, decided in haste, and we shall crowd the discussion into a few weeks, and postpone all discussion until the eve of decision.On the 10th of July, 1833, after Sir James Mackintosh had ceased to exist, and when the Bill was actually in Committee, Mr. Charles Wynn quoted those words, and added, "I regret that Sir James Mackintosh's prophecy has been so closely fulfilled." Were they then in 1853 to be again called on to renew that Charter with the same precipitation, and this time without further inquiry? Yet, if there was ever a case for even extraordinary inquiry, it was the present, for the like case had not existed upon any of the occasions on which the renewal of the Charter had been discussed. Mr. Grant, in introducing the Bill, used these remarkable Words:—Twenty years ago it was never dreamt that in any Charter for the East India Company, we should acknowledge the political existence of the natives. Now, however, it would be unjust, in legislating for the eastern dependencies, to forget the political existence of the natives.Accordingly, by the Act of 1833, the political existence of our Indian fellow subjects was expressly acknowledged. Now Parliament had a right to demand in what way this Parliamentary recognition by the Bill of the existence of 150,000,000 of men had profited in the hands of those to whom the trust was consigned; and the House ought not to hesitate to grant an inquiry on the spot, conducted by men above the suspicion of partiality. By the Bill of 1833, again, the removal of certain grievances was supposed to be provided for. The House was bound to ascertain whether those grievances had been redressed. 972 He, for his part, asserted that there was not one grievance in existence at the time which did not now exist in all its original deformity. Take, for instance, the question of monopolies. When Mr. Buckingham brought that of the land and its revenues under the notice of Parliament in the form of a Resolution on the second reading of the Charter Bill, Mr. Grant said—That is rather a matter fit for the consideration of the Governor General and his Legislative Council, and I trust he will be able, with the accession of power we propose to give him, satisfactorily to dispose of the general question. The particular subject of ryot rent, however, is, I should think, more a subject for the consideration of the Law Commission.On another branch of the same subject, the opium and salt monopoly, brought before the House on a subsequent day by Mr. Wilbraham, Mr. Grant said—I am happy to be able to assure the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wilbraham) that the Government, both at home and in India, have agreed that the taxes on opium and salt shall be removed.And yet, up to this moment the Governor General had not legislated on the land-tenant question—nothing had been done by the Law Commission relative to the ryotwar rent; and the salt and opium monopolies still existed. Parliament had a right to know the reason why. Above all, it ought to be known what the condition of the people now was under this system still extant, albeit condemned in 1833. Yet at the present moment the House was only in possession of the evidence of those whose interest it was to stifle inquiry, and endeavour to obtain the prolongation of their power, and from whose unchanging strain of panegyric, one might suppose that the East India Company was an angelic hierarchy, and the Board of Control a community altogether archangelic. He would, however, draw the attention of the House to the danger of relying on such evidence. He held in his hand a remarkable document, which would show that the natives of India were keenly alive to their grievances. On the 12th of February, 1840, an address, signed by no less than 100,000 of the natives in Madras and its vicinity—a copy of which he held in his hand—was presented to the then Governor of that Presidency, Lord Elphinstone, one of the truest friends that India had, but utterly disabled by the Charter Act, of his good meaning towards her, in which it was said— 973We are the people of this country, inheriting this land for thousands of generations; from our industry its wealth is supplied; by our arms it is defended from foreign foes; by our loyal obedience to the established Government its peace and its safety are maintained.Now, he would ask the House if it was just or right to ignore the existence of such a people? For practically ignored, it still was, despite the recognition of Parliament. Not only did the grievances complained of in 1833 still exist, but the people were in a worse condition than they were at that time. He would not trouble the House with any of the evidence adduced before the Select Committee to inquire into the growth of cotton in India, but would confine himself to the language of the report, notwithstanding that it bore on the face of it to be not so much a decision on the right, as a compromise amongst interests. The report, which was unanimously adopted by the Committee of which the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) was a member, thus describes the condition of the natives of India now under British rule:—The very low and abject condition of the cultivators of the soil, the absence of capital, and the extent of the Government demand for rent or revenue, circumstances which were brought prominently under our notice, rendered it necessary for your Committee to enter at considerable length into an inquiry into the system of land assessment, and to take the evidence of several officers of the Indian Government on the subject. It appears from the testimony of almost every witness, that the condition of the cultivating population of India is one of extreme poverty; and this is stated to be the ease in every part of the country to which the evidence with regard to cotton cultivation specially refers.This was the described condition of the people who had enjoyed the blessings of British rule, under guarantees imposed by the British Parliament in 1833, for the last seventeen years! The Committee lamented the great extent of the Government demand for revenue. Now, how was the revenue of India made up? Of direct taxes, of indirect taxes, monopolies, and of confiscations. The servants of the Company went to India under the pretence of delivering the people from the tyranny of their Mahommedan and Mahratta conquerors. Yet according to the unanimous testimony of all the witnesses examined, and the documents produced before every Committee, the Company in every case had improved even upon the maximum of the exactions that had existed under either the Mahommedan or Mahratta rule. These had never 974 claimed the direct sovereignty of the soil of India; but the Company asserted to itself the right of universal ownership. Mr. Carnae Brown being asked by the Committee to define his notion of a native cultivator of land in India, said, "To me he has always appeared to be a person, the solo end of whose existence has been to raise revenue for the East India Company." To raise this one article of revenue—the rent laid upon the land occupied by the natives—nine-tenths of them were sold up every year, and none were spared but those to whom it should please the collectors to show a little mercy. These parties had the power even to imprison persons found in default; and, although this power was said to have been sparingly exercised, the reason was not very creditable. Mr. Williamson, who was for a long time connected with the Presidency of Bombay, said, "The power of imprisonment has, in most cases, fallen into desuetude, because if the insolvent is in prison, he must be fed." The Company, if it imprisoned, must feed him, and the Company did not choose to undergo that expense. It appeared also from the report of the Committee of 1813, that the power of distraint and sale was a much more vexatious and oppressive power, and much more unpopular, than the power to imprison. But retribution for this shortsighted rapacity had already begun to appear; and that, too, in the form most obnoxious to the rulers. Notwithstanding those enormous exactions, the net revenue derived from the 150,000 millions of British subjects and tributaries inhabiting India, never amounted to 20,000,000l. And yet, under the comparatively mild and equable system of finance which existed oven in the worst time of their former conquerors, 30,000,000l. a year were easily raised from a territory far less ample, and a population of a merely fractional amount. The revenue derived from land was in no case less than 45 per cent on the return. The assessment on which this exaction was made, was a one-sided assessment; founded, perhaps, on some data in the archives of the Company, which might have existed long before the present scale of prices; but, even so, they were data of their own choosing, and on which the taxpaying natives had not been consulted, and on such data they had proceeded to calculate the present value of the land. In districts where the assessment was permanent, the persons who are subject to it never get it altered or reduced; and, on 975 the other hand, in districts where the assessment is annual, the most exorbitant levies are raised, and the services of the collector are only valued in proportion to the sums which he succeeds in extorting from the native inhabitants. In estimating the amount of the collection, not the value of the land, but of the coming crop for the year, is taken into consideration, and the smallest possible pittance upon which life could be supported is left to the wretched population. But these are not the only grievances of which the native of India has to complain. He also pays a house tax and a trade tax; and as an instance of the manner in which the latter tax operated, it might be stated that a carpenter annually paid twice the value of his box of tools for licence to use them in his trade. There was also all through India a tax upon water drawn from wells, an article especially needed in the warm climate of India, where it was used by the husbandmen in the cultivation of their land. In short, every necessary of life and every luxury was, in India, made the subject of taxation, so far as British rule extended; for it was not so formerly, nor is it so to-day, under the native Governments. Well might Mr. Macaulay, when Secretary to the India Board, declare that the Indian subjects of the Bristish Crown were "the most heavily taxed people on the face of the earth"—words which, though uttered in that House on the 31st May, 1833, were still more truly descriptive of the condition of that people to-day. And now, coming to indirect taxation, there were heavy duties both on imports and exports. He asserted, deliberately, that the reduction of export duties, so much vaunted by the Court of Directors, was, like almost every one of their professed concessions to Parliament and the Indian people, colourable only. The duties were taken off from "lawful articles of export" only; and "salt and opium," moreover, were expressly excepted. The phrase was conveniently ambiguous, and it would be for the collectors of revenue alone to understand and interpret it. And in addition to all these taxes and confiscations, and indirect taxes levied on imports, and until a recent period upon exports also, the natives had further to endure monopolies of some of the great necessaries of life, which the East India Company retained in their own hands, and which, by a just retribution of Providence, were gradually, but surely, reducing the revenue which those monopolies were ori- 976 ginally intended to enhance, at the same time that they were contributing to the unspeakable misery of the people. The monopolies in question were those of salt, opium, tobacco, bees-wax, turmeric, and other articles. With regard to the monopoly of salt, he need not remind the House that salt was an article of prime necessity to a rice-consuming population like that of India. Now, it could be demonstrated that the price of salt imported from England into India could not possibly exceed one shilling per bushel on the quays of Madras or Bombay. But, by the internal laws of the country, salt was made a contraband article, and the natives were forbidden to import it, or to make it for themselves either on the coast or in the interior. This prohibition was enforced by-tremendous penalties, in regard to which it would be sufficient to mention one provision recognised by the courts of law. By this regulation, any native bringing salt water from the salt springs or from the sea, and subjecting it to evaporation for the purpose of extracting the salt, was guilty of a violation of the monopoly with respect to salt; and he might be conveyed before a collector, who was also a magistrate, and upon conviction might be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term of two months, besides being obliged to pay a fine of some hundreds of rupees if he was considered able to discharge it. Now, what compensation did the Company make in return for this monopoly? They had certain manufactories of salt, one in particular in the Sunderbunds, a district which contained smiling fields and well-peopled villages before the soil was cursed with the presence of Europeans; but now, its embankments having been destroyed by foreign violence, under European rule, had become a waste of sand and jungle, periodically flooded by the waters of the Ganges in the wet seasons, and at all times infested by wild beasts, its only native inhabitants. In this spot was the principal manufactory of salt, where the Company compelled a certain troop of natives, who were bound by tenure to this service, to work in the manufactory. These natives, living in these desolate marshes, in a climate too pestilential to admit of a European residing in it, were carried off in hundreds by disease; they were continually swept away by the winter floods, and it was calculated that from forty to fifty of them were annually carried off by the tigers which infested the spot. Now the salt which might be pur- 977 chased on the quays of Bombay of the importer at 1s. a bushel, could not be made in the Sunderbund under 1s. 6d. a bushel. After it was made it had to be carried to the depots of the East India Company, where the monopoly price was fixed It was a fact that, whatever the prime cost might be, it was always enhanced 280 per cent at the depots of the Company. The salt was then sent off to other depots in the interior, the price being further enhanced on its way, so that by the time it reached the hands of the consumer, the price often rose to 10 or 12 rupees, or from 20s. to 24s. a bushel. An hon. Gentleman behind him said that this was an old story; and the inference was that since 1833 some alteration had taken place with respect to the salt monopoly. It was even true that an alteration was made; but before the hon. Gentleman took advantage of the admission, let him inquire what was the nature of that alteration. From the evidence of the collectors, given before the Committee on Cotton in 1848, it appeared that when, with the view of conjuring away some of the public disapprobation, it was agreed that the tax should be taken off exports, the East India Company demanded an equivalent for the concession, and they accordingly raised the price of salt. Salt, therefore, is now 25 per cent higher than it was in the year 1833. It was a remarkable circumstance that the appearance in India of the mysterious and formidable disease known by the name of Cholera, was simultaneous with the creation of the salt monopoly. They both came into that country at the same time, and they have never since disappeared from the soil. The earliest authentic instance of Asiatic cholera was exactly coincident with the date of the salt monopoly; which first deprived the vegetable diet of the people of its all-essential condiment. Captain Harvey, an officer of the Indian army, had stated in an interesting work lately published as the result of his ten years' experience, that the bad food of the sepoys, and the indifferent state of their dwellings, in a sanitary point of view, was the great cause of cholera amongst those troops. He would now pass from the salt monopoly to that of opium—a monopoly which, he need hardly remind the House, was the cause which plunged this country some years ago into a bloody and disgraceful war with the Empire of China. Now, he found that the East India Company was directly and solely responsible for the monopoly of opium. The natives wished to be rid of it, and they would 978 not cultivate it unless they were obliged to do so; but the collectors had orders to force them to receive the advances and cultivate it, for in every case where a native received an advance of money from the Company, and refused to cultivate opium, he was punished. The cultivation of opium was forbidden to every one except those whom the East India Company employed, and after it had been raised, it was purchased by the Company from the grower, at one-fifth of its real legitimate price in the market. It was then brought to the Company's depôts, where an enhanced price was put upon it; and, finally, it was despatched to the coast of China, where smugglers were employed for the purpose of running it ashore. And what was the result? The monopoly was the cause of scarcity; scarcity promoted competition; and he was happy to see that the grasping avarice of the Company, in this as in other respects, was overreaching itself, for the Chinese, weary of their exactions, were beginning to grow opium for themselves, in spite of their laws, which pronounced its cultivation to be illegal. So that what happened to the pepper monopoly was about to happen to the opium monopoly. Nor should it be forgotten that both these monopolies of salt and opium were maintained at present in spite of an express engagement that they should be abolished. When it was proposed to introduce into the East India Company's Bill of 1833 two clauses, which would have had the effect of putting an end to these monopolies, Mr. Charles Grant stated to the hon. Member who moved the insertion of the clauses, that the Government, both that at home and in India, had come to the determination that the taxes on opium and salt should be removed. That was in 1833. Seven years had passed away, when, on the 8th of July, 1840, Lord Sandon put a question to the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Hobhouse) the President of the Board of Control, which was answered by the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) as a Director of the East India Company. The question was, whether the Directors of that Company had taken any steps to separate themselves from the manufacture of opium in India? The answer returned was, that there had been as yet no instructions sent out to India of the nature alluded to, but that the whole question was under the anxious consideration of the Court of Directors. The hon. Baronet is present and will not deny that down to 979 this moment nothing has been done in the matter, but that it is still where Mr. Charles Grant left it. Why, the only reason ever given for extending the term of the Company's charter to twenty years was for the express purpose of enabling the Company to remove the monopolies; and yet the salt monopoly, the opium monopoly, the tobacco monopoly, in short every monopoly continued to exist to the present moment, except those which had been abolished by the unerring and inevitable course of the great natural laws which govern the commerce of the human race. The tobacco monopoly was again so completely in the hands of the East India Company, that they were able to specify what districts should grow tobacco in any year, and they compelled the unfortunate natives to raise tobacco at a price named by themselves. And after the price had been fixed and enhanced, the tobacco produced was so tasteless and bad, that, to give it some kind of flavour, the collectors were in the habit of steeping it in what was termed liquid ammonia—the vernacular of which designation he would rather not repeat—and even then nobody would purchase it, except the natives who had no choice, and the soldiers who, whether they had choice or no, had not much money. With regard to the minor monopolies, of cardamoms, bees-wax, and the like, it was customary to put them up to sale, and the purchaser, having paid the stipulated price, was entitled to collect the armed police of the district in which the monopoly was held, and to perambulate it at their head in quest of contraband stores. He could even enter into private houses at the head of his force, and make his searches for beeswax, honey, or any of the other articles included in the class of minor monopolies for which he had paid the purchase money, and, when found, to seize them, as confiscated to himself, the Company's purchaser. An English gentleman of large property in Malabar had, in consequence of this state of things, been obliged to abandon his benevolent endeavours to introduce amongst his native tenantry the English system of hiving and swarming bees; for he found that by persisting, he only exposed himself to the insolence of those domiciliary visits, and his people to persecution; whilst of the produce, neither he nor they were allowed to retain the smallest item. It was all "Company's honey," and "Company's wax," and seized as such by the buyer. This fact, he (Mr. Anstey) had had from the 980 gentleman's ownlips. Such were the sources of the revenue of British India, in the raising of which nine-tenths of the population were annually sold up, and ruined, and which never exceeded in amount 20,000,000l., notwithstanding the enormous and growing increase of our territories. In spite of the annexation of Sattara, the absorption of Scinde, the conquest of the Punjab, and the like territorial accessions elsewhere, our Indian revenue, far from increasing, was with difficulty prevented from growing yearly less. And yet these territories, when smaller in extent, and not subjected to monopolies and import duties, and leniently taxed, had yielded under former dynasties a revenue of never less than 30,000,000l. per annum. If these things were true, ought they not to be corrected? and if they were not true, what possible objection could the Court of Directors have to an inquiry into the whole subject? It was not his intention to enter at length into the question of the original cause of so lamentable a failure, further than to make this remark. In the changes which have taken place in the machinery for the collection of taxes since we became seised of the sovereignty of India, we have the key to the great decline of that country under our rule. For what had been the secret of those changes? Had they not all tended towards transferring the villages, the provinces, and the States, from the natives and proprietors, who had an interest in the country, to the hands of foreigners—raw, inexperienced boys—brought up in England, for the most part at an exclusive college, where they were taught to consider themselves superior, not only to the natives whom they were to rule, but even to the uncovenanted servants of the Company with whom they were to act? Into their hands the whole power was given. The natives were, nevertheless, at the very least, quite as fit to manage their own affairs as any other people. Was any one of them who had ever visited this country not fit to compete with the Company's servants, even in the highest offices? Yet it was only to the lower offices that the Company ever appointed these children of the soil. There was a time indeed—and not far distant—when even this paltry privilege was denied them. When the lamented Charles Wynn became President of the India Board under the Goderich Administration, the least taint of native blood was at the India House a permanent disability; and candidates for cadetships and writer- 981 ships and the like, had to undergo a severe scrutiny—aye, even into the colour of the blood that flowed at the nails of their fingers, before their qualification was admitted by the jealous Court. Mr. Wynn (who afterwards, in 1833, only endeavoured to obtain from Parliament the recognition of a great principle which he had made the pivot of his own administrative policy in 1827–8), to his immortal honour, compelled the Court of Directors to abandon that senseless and mischievous system; but all his efforts to obtain the direct and hearty adoption of a liberal policy were powerless against the prejudices and interests of the Court. The Charter Act of 1833 left it in their power to defeat the wise and statesmanlike views of Mr. Wynn, albeit declared and sactioned by that very enactment; and they have defeated it. Well, then, should we, without inquiry, without the appointment of a Commission to visit-India—for he believed that no inquiry could ever avail to effect any redress for local grievances without a Commission being sent out to the spot and armed with full Parliamentary authority—was it right, he asked, without investigation, to re-consign the Government of India into the hands of this East India Company? He might safely rest his case here; but there were yet other considerations. He would not confine the Commission to the subjects he had already mentioned, however important he esteemed them. He would proceed to another and perhaps a still more important one, for if there was one grievance which more than another had claims upon Englishmen for redress, it was a corrupt administration of justice. Some years ago a Commission was appointed to digest the conflicting elements of what was called law in India into a code. The result of that Commission (which had the assistance of an eminent lawyer, with a salary of 10,000l. a year) was the preparation of certain documents called a penal code; but that collection of papers Her Majesty's Government had laid upon the shelf. A further professed object of the inquiries and labour of the Commission had been the experiment, not very difficult, he thought, whether the law could not be made equal for all ranks and colours, so as to elevate the depressed native to the rank of the English freeman, without depriving him of his right to the free enjoyment of his own laws and usages. The only result, however, was the "Black Act," which degraded the Englishman to the level of 982 the native, by taking from him also the right of trial by jury. True to their character, the Court of Directors and their delegates in India, instead of extending the jurisdiction of the Queen's courts to the natives, and thus recognising their ever-growing intelligence and capacity for freedom, in pursuance of the pledge given to that effect, had sought to pursue the reverse course, and to deprive even the European inhabitants of the benefit of that jurisdiction. He rejoiced to say, that the Act to which he alluded had been disallowed by the Government here; but he did not rejoice in their subsequent inaction. Simply to disallow, and then to hold the hand, and to look still to the Council in Calcutta, or to the Court of Directors in Leadenhall-street for a better measure, was to admit at once the necessity of legislation, and their own inability to legislate. Certainly legislation was necessary. A very cursory review of the question ought to satisfy any one of that. Under the existing system in the Moffussil country there was no vivéx00E2; voce examination of witnesses; all the evidence was written; the courts were not necessarily open; the judges were only to appear there when they pronounced sentence. They had the power of life and death, though they might not have been educated at the bar, and in many cases were ignorant of the language of the wretched people subject to their jurisdiction. Native offenders of whatever religion were tried by the Mahommedan law; and a Mahommedan Judge sat along with the English Judge to try an idolater, to whom Islam and Christianity were equally in abhorrence. On one occasion, the evidence given in Malayan, one of the Indian dialects, had to to be translated into English (for the English Judge was ignorant of Malayan), and into Persian (for the Mahommedan Judge thought it beneath his dignity to be less furnished with information than his colleague); and so each question and answer was regularly translated both into English and Persian; and the farce was concluded by the English Judge, who understood not a word of the Indian language, certifying at the foot of the record drawn up in Persian for the information of the Foujdari Adawlut at the Presidency, by whom the sentence of the Hindu criminal remained to be determined, that the translation was correct. It was a remarkable fact, therefore, that nothing had been done to supply the place of Par- 983 liamentary enactments for the better administration of justice in India, and that after seventeen years of reform administration in India, the frightful abuses so ably denounced in Mr. Charles Grant's masterly speech remained still unredressed. The administration of justice was still a mockery; trial by jury had no existence; and orality of procedure were denied in the Company's courts of justice. One remarkable instance of how justice was administered in India under this atrocious system, he would state to the House. Information had recently been received, that an important action had been commenced against the Company for an enormous sum by one Jotee Persaud, a Government contractor, who supplied our armies with carriages and beasts of burden during the Affghan campaigns, but whose bill of charges had never been paid; and for the amount of that bill he sued them in the Queen's Court. The Company immediately commenced, not a cross action, but a prosecution against him, in their own court, for forgery and falsification of some of the accounts so presented by him. He sought the protection of the supreme court at Calcutta, but the chief justice was compelled to surrender him—being a native, and domiciled within the Mofussil jurisdiction of Meerut—to the Company's court there. His counsel—a leading member of the Calcutta bar—followed him to Meerut, but was not allowed to plead; the Company's Judges of the Court—although Englishmen—insisting that he should not address them in the English, that is to say, in his, their own, native tongue, but in an Indian tongue, with which he was entirely unacquainted. The man is accordingly now undefended, and another day has been fixed for the solemn farce of trial under such circumstances; "and I," concluded the hon. Member, "do not fear to express my conviction that, at the moment I am now speaking, he has been tried, convicted, and condemned; and perhaps has shared the fate of Nuncomar, by way of an example to their countrymen not to dare to cite the Company or its officers for justice." He wished to have an inquiry instituted as to what the natives thought of such a system, and whether it was popular in India; for he believed that neither the planters nor the natives of India could be more incompetent for the administration of government than the East India Company had shown themselves. Another head of his proposed in- 984 quiry into the system of the Indian Government should be its foreign department. The House had a right to know what the natives thought of the policy of the Government in this particular—what they thought of such despatches as that memorable one of Lord Dalhousie refusing to be bound by the Company's treaties with the native States, or to recognise their laws or their institutions regulating the right of succession by the adoption of an heir, or free election of the people, where a prince had no regular lineal descendant. This native custom, many times solemnly confirmed and sanctioned by the British Government, had of late been violated in the celebrated Sattara case, and other flagrant instances; and he wished to ascertain from the sovereigns of the native States of India what they thought of their own rights in this matter. He should like to know from the natives under our rule whether they still continued so much impressed with our good faith and our scrupulous observance of treaty obligations in this respect, and, indeed, in other respects, as they were in the days of Lord Amherst. The last native who had visited our shores, Mir Shahamut Ali, had told us that the only security for attachment to our power, in the hearts of the millions of India, was their confidence that we at least respected justice and the claims of solemn obligations. But what was the course of the Indian Government? Any act of aggression, however flagrant or iniquitous, insured impunity from the Court of Directors if it only satisfied one condition—that it increased the revenues of the Company, and added to its territory—that it helped to keep up the dividend of 10½ per cent guaranteed to the proprietors of East India Stock. Another branch of the inquiry under the head of the foreign department related to those wars, those monstrous, secret, and aggressive wars, which England, for the first time in her history, had engaged in since 1833. The war in Affghanistan, which was one of these instances, had been the natural consequence of the Act of 1833; for in that case there was an express clause conveying extraordinary powers to the Board of Control directly tending to that end; and the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors appointed by the same Act, had lent themselves as an instrument for promoting the scheme of aggressive and unwarrantable conquest. In a moment of frankness, not misplaced, Lord Broughton had himself 985 admitted, before a Committee of this House, that he alone had made the war in Afghanistan. But for that admission, we should have been still as much in the dark respecting the causes and authorship, as we were in 1841, and during the intervening period. The Court of Directors had afforded neither the means of control, nor the clue to detection. Bribed by the hope insidiously held out by Sir Robert Peel, that the cost of the war would be borne by Great Britain, the Directors had even frustrated their efforts, who had laboured to obtain inquiry. He rejoiced to say, however, that the price of their subservience, to which the Court of Directors had looked, had never been realised by them. The expenses of the war had fallen upon their finances. Their debt amounted to 44,000,000l. in 1848, and since that date there had been no account published of Indian finances. Now, he wished to know the feeling of India on these transactions, and whether or not they were regarded by the native population as redounding to our national character for honour and probity. Even the covenanted servants of the Company themselves had disapproved of their proceedings. Sir Alexander Burnes and Sir Claude Wade, indeed, both, appeared, from the extracts of their despatches printed in the official papers, to have been in favour of the Affghan war; but he could show that they were all along against it, and would pledge himself to prove his assertion. He bad shown on a former occasion, that the despatches of Sir Alexander Burnes had been systematically falsified, in order to pervert their meaning. He was now ready to show that the falsifications of the despatches of Sir Claude Wade, our Resident at Loodianah, had been still more frequent and systematic, and for the same end. The considerations to which he had as yet adverted were merely those of justice and humanity. But he knew that there were minds which were not capable of being moved by such considerations when they approached political subjects. Of such he begged the attention (although he was almost ashamed to reduce the question to such miserable dimensions) to the analysis prepared by Mr. Carnac Brown, and read by Mr. Montgomery Martin, of the customs accounts, and other accounts of a public nature, laid before Parliament, from which it was demonstrated in a most masterly manner so long ago as 1839—and it had never been contradicted—that, according to the present system of administration in 986 India, under the head of revenue alone, 20,403,901l. sterling was annually lost to England on the price of only eight of those commodities, which, if India had but justice done to her, would be supplied to us from that territory. These eight articles were sugar, cotton, silk, rum, coffee, tobacco, linseed, and flax. And he had also read to the Court of Proprietors, without contradiction, a statement from the same authority, showing that the natives of India, if only they were so impoverished by the Company's fiscal system as not to be able to consume British commodities in the proportion of but one-tenth per head of the amount now consumed by each member of our negro population in the West Indies, that alone would give us an annual increase of our export trade to the amount of 72,000,000l. This was an estimate of the price which the British people annually paid for their remissness to coerce the Government to the doing of justice to their fellow-subjects in India. Uninterfered with by Parliament, the Government was all-powerful in this matter. By the Act of 1833 a compromise had been effected between the two governing bodies of India. That compromise gave the Court of Directors absolute power within the Indian territory, the Board of Control being expressly prohibited from meddling with the internal patronage of India. On the other hand the Foreign department, as it was called, was left to the absolute discretion of the President of the Board of Control, unfettered by the interference of the Court of Directors. Nor was this all. The provisions of the Act did not prevent the President from monopolising all the functions of the Board, and indeed the Board itself was virtually defunct. Mr. Holt M'Kenzie had retired from it in disgust. Sir Charles Cockerill, who had now been dead many years, was nominated to it only upon his expressly pledging himself to the late Earl Grey, that he would never cross the threshold of the Board, but leave all to the President. The President had been for many years past the sole representative of the Board; and, in that capacity, he was sovereign master of the destinies of British India, and the Secret Committee was his blind and unscrupulous instrument. That was the nature of the compromise effected by the Bill which the House, in 1833, so hastily and improvidently passed. The enormous patronage of India, again, was divided between the President of the Board of Control and the 987 Secret Committee of the Court of Directors; and, in fact, nobody in the world exercised such influence as the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) as Deputy Chair, and Lord Broughton, as President of the Board of Control, exercised in our Indian Empire. He asked the House whethei1 they would not institute an inquiry before they renewed such a compromise as this? It was time that this matter of patronage should also receive consideration. For his part, he would recommend that the wise suggestions of the late Mr. Wynn should be adopted, and especially that the Government at home should be compelled to reserve one-third of the patronage for distribution among the sons of officers who had served in India. He did not think it would be at all difficult to abolish the Court of Directors, the Court of Proprietors, and the Board of Control, and to administer the affairs of India much more efficiently than they were now conducted. Should he have the honour of a seat in that House when the Charter came on for renewal, he would be prepared to support measures of the extreme character which he had indicated. At present, however, he asked hut for inquiry. He demanded of the justice of the House that nothing might be done without taking the opinion of those whom their deliberations would chiefly affect. The interests and happiness of nearly 150,000,000 human beings depended on that issue.
Motion made, and Question proposed—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, representing that it is now necessary that the true condition of the territories under the government or management of the East India Company, and the real feelings and wishes of our fellow-subjects inhabiting those territories, as to such government or management, should be fully ascertained; and for that purpose, praying Her Majesty to take measures for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, with full powers to take evidence in India as to the operation and results of the laws now in force, touching the government and management of the said territories, and to report such evidence, together with the opinions of the Commissioners thereon, to Her Majesty in Parliament.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
thought the House was hardly in a state to enter into this question, either as to the various measures upon which the hon. and learned Gentleman had touched, or as to the whole question of the government of India. He considered that the hon. and learned Gentleman had clearly mistaken the position 988 of the Government and the House upon this subject. That position was this: A noble Friend of his had stated that it was not the intention of the Government to move for a Committee in the present year to consider this important subject; and he said at the same time that all the information that could be obtained would be laid before the House previously to any renewal of the Act of 1833. His noble Friend also said that the Government had no intention of proposing any such alterations as were proposed in 1812 and 1833, which would lead them to deem it necessary to appoint a Committee with a view to consider the proposed alterations; but that if the House, previously to the settlement of this great question for another period of years, should think fit not only to have the papers before them, but to inquire by all the means within their power into the mode of governing India, there would certainly be no objection on the part of the Government to such an inquiry. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had gone considerably into detail with regard to various measures relating to the finances, the laws, and the government of India; and he thought, if the statements of the hon. and learned Gentleman were carefully examined, it would be found that many measures to which he had alluded had been altogether abandoned, that some of the exclusions to which he had referred no longer existed, and that many reforms had already taken place. It was not of course desirable that the House should come to a decision with respect to all the various subjects that had been referred to, without more information than they at present possessed. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the best mode of obtaining that information was to send out a Commission to India to inquire upon the spot as to all these matters. Upon this point he (Lord J. Russell) entirely differed from the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he believed that it would be most unadvisable to send out such a Commission. With Regard to the present Government of India, the hon. and learned Member had stated nothing to show either that the Marquess of Dal-housie was incompetent to conduct that Government, or that any measures had been recently taken with which he found fault, or which he considered ought to be the subjects of inquiry. He (Lord J. Russell) was satisfied that if they were to send out Commissioners to India to inquire into the salt monopoly, the opium question, 989 and, in short, into the finances, the laws, and the government, they would produce very great excitement throughout India, and would for a time destroy all authority in that country. He conceived that it would be far better, if the House thought fit to institute an inquiry, that that inquiry should be conducted, as had been done on previous occasions, by a Committee of that House, and that at all events the House should not assent to the proposal to pray Her Majesty to send a Commission to India. A question relating to a much less subject, the growth of Cotton in India, was under the consideration of the House last year; but the House did not then think fit to assent to the proposal for a Committee; and, although there were many objections to that proposition, he thought the objections were tenfold greater to the proposal now before them. The hon. and learned Gentleman, as an encouragement to them to assent to his Motion, had said that India might be governed without the Court of Directors, the Court of Proprietors, or the Board of Control, and that he would suggest that some entirely now system of governing India should be established. [Mr. C. ANSTEY: On the contrary, I did not propose anything of the kind.] Well, he considered that that was not a question which should be submitted to any Commission; and it was a question the House could not now consider; but when Parliament was called upon to legislate with regard to the renewal of the Act under which India was now governed, then would be the time for the hon. and learned Gentleman to propose his substitute for the present mode of government. As far as his (Lord J. Russell's) opinion went, he believed that whatever might have been the case in former times, the present Government of India was a very enlightened Government, and that the Court of Directors were a body of very able and very experienced men; and for his part he could not approve of that total change in the mode of governing India suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he could not assent to the Motion.
§ MR. HUME
said, that although he was obliged to the hon. and learned Member for bringing forward the subject, he did not agree in many points adduced by the hon. and learned Gentleman; but, looking at the immense interests of India, its population, and situation in connexion with England, he could not help thinking that 990 there appeared to be some disposition to treat India as a minor colony not worthy a moment's consideration. Like the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown, he (Mr. Hume) would be the last man to consent to the abolition of the Court of Directors, though he did not deny that there were errors that required alteration, He had taken part in the two last renewals of the Charter; and in 1833 he recollected a very important inquiry took place into the commercial and financial interests of India, on which occasion gentlemen of the very first experience and talent were examined. The change that took place in 1833—by the abolition of the commercial character of the Company, with little exception—was a most important one, and one for which he was a warm advocate. Now, he wished to know, was it not proper that inquiry should now take place with a view to ascertain what had been the result of the Company being no longer traders but sovereigns? Was it not right that they should know to what extent changes had taken place in the judicial establishments of the country. he believed that, comparing the courts of law as at presented constituted with those that previously existed, immense progress had been made. However, he also believed there was still great room for improvement. Had he seen the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman before it was committed to the paper, he certainly should have discountenanced the idea of a Commission to India, as some of the ablest men that ever; controlled the affairs of India were at hand, and from whom could be collected information that must be of the greatest importance. Certainly there was one point upon which better information might be obtained in India, namely, the relative positions of the Company and the native Princes. It was of great importance that the character of the British Government should be maintained, and that it should not lose that prestige which invariably attached to them of keeping good their pledges. But he; feared they were going on in a way that would lose them much of that character, inasmuch as acts of injustice had taken place that would be certain to have an injurious effect. He did not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Anstey) that all the native chiefs were alarmed at the proceedings of the English; but he believed matters were progressing in a direction that would lead, ere long, to that conviction amongst them. He was rather doubtful that, even in time of peace, the present 991 practice of allowing the Governor General to proceed into the hills and remain isolated there for some six or eight months, even for purposes of recreation, apart from his officers, was a wise one. At present he understood that the Marquess of Dalhousie had gone into the mountains towards China, an immense distance; and he perceived from a paper which had been put into his hand, that that movement of the Governor General required the services of 11,000 coolies, brought a distance of 80 miles, and all to convey the noble Marquess a distance from the seat of his authority and government. It was a mistake further to entertain the project of the military road to Chinese Tartary to the neglect of the road in the Punjab. There was a sufficient number of coolies engaged that might more beneficially be employed in making a military road from Kurnaul to the Punjab, an improvement which was almost indispensable. It was not on the ground of expense merely that he objected to this, but because the Marquess of Dalhousie was thereby removed from the neighbourhood of functionaries filling highly important offices, with whom he should be in communication. The Commander-in-Chief, too, was said to be following the example. He had great doubt whether it was wise to allow their officers thus to absent themselves from the scene of their duties. There was the Governor of Bombay, too, who was away for half a year at a time. In saying this, he did not wish to offer any opinion or to cast blame; he merely mentioned them as matters deserving serious consideration. Many matters enumerated by the hon. and learned Gentleman had not much practical bearing on present circumstances. There was Mr. Montgomery Martin's theory, for example, which would not bear a moment's examination. He was not in any way censuring the Marquess of Dalhousie, because the noble Marquess was only following the example of his predecessors, perhaps exceeding them by a trifle. These were questions that came fairly under consideration. He thought if anything required consideration, it was whether the Board of Control had acted as a board of control or not. The present system, no matter what the talent of the men who controlled it, was sufficient to ruin any country. There was the Affghan war, which had been begun, conducted, and closed, without the knowledge of the Court of Directors, who were required to pay 12,000,000l. sterling, though they knew nothing about it until after all the 992 mischief had been done. Then there was the Burmese War, which entailed a debt of 9,000,000l. on the Company, owing to an improper and incompetent person being sent out. The Secret Committee, consisting of three of the Directors, might at any time send out orders to commence a war, which would be carried on at the cost and risk of the Proprietors, and all this done without the matter ever being brought before the Court of Directors. After such acts as these were done, the Government considered themselves bound to support those who did them, and thus the great and important interests of India were sacrificed, and the Proprietors ruined. Let them profit by experience, and prevent the evils which had arisen from former proceedings of the Home Government and the Secret Committee. The Company now had relations with from fifty to an hundred native States; if any dispute arose between them, there was no power to settle it, and the only resort was to Parliament. What profit could be gained by that might be seen from the manner in which Parliament had acted in reference to the case of the Rajah of Sattara, one of the best princes in all India, who after twenty years of loyal service was turned out of his possessions, which were confiscated, and himself compelled to go into exile, where he terminated his existence. The widow of the unfortunate man, after three long years without receiving a shilling, only had her condition recognised in a manner very lately, and even then not until she consented to relinquish her claim. He had no doubt that individually the Court of Directors were anxious that India should be well governed; therefore they were to suppose that all they required was sufficient information. He hoped the Directors would open their doors to inquiry and information, and put and end to secrecy. Time was precious, and therefore should not be squandered. They were in a condition to avail themselves of every information, and could by degrees be prepared to bring in a well-digested and well-considered Bill. He cautioned the House not to be led away as they were on the last occasion, when the Bill was passed without receiving the due consideration it deserved. Let them, on the contrary, be prepared, and give the Bill the consideration it deserved; and with that advice, he would then leave the matter in the hands of the House to be dealt with as they might think proper.
§ SIR J. W. HOGG
could assure his hon. 993 Friend (Mr. Hume) that no one was more anxious for an open and searching inquiry into every thing relating to the administration of India than the Court of Directors. The question was one of vast importance; and it would ill become the House to continue the administration in the Court of Directors, unless they were satisfied that, in doing so, they advanced the interests, not only of this country, but still more of the people of India. Had the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the Motion pursued the course of his hon. Friend who had just resumed his seat, he (Sir J. W. Hogg) should have remained silent. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had endeavoured to impress on the House the necessity of inquiry—and he did not need to use any efforts to impress a conclusion on the House, with respect to which there was no difference of opinion, the only point of difference being as to the best mode of conducting that inquiry—if the hon. and learned Gentleman had confined himself to recommending a peculiar mode of conducting the inquiry—if he had said the returns from India, the information in the India House, were not sufficient, and that nothing would accomplish his object but a Commission in India—and if he had accompanied the expression of his opinion with a statement of the grounds on which he maintained it, the course he would have adopted might have been understood. But the course he had adopted was unfair and uncandid; because, when professing to advocate inquiry, his observations embraced a range extending from almost the first time a British foot was planted in India, and he cast imputations of the vilest character on every authority and every individual that came under his notice. The hon. and learned Gentleman said every thing connected with India was secret; that there were no means of obtaining information. The hon. and learned Gentleman was quite mistaken. The hon. and learned Gentleman went through the commercial policy of India; but his statements were unsupported by history, by documents accessible to every person, or by any of the returns to that House. He said the great grievance of India was unredressed—the non-recognition of the natives, and their not being employed in the public service. It was quite true that, previous to the last renewal of the Charter in 1833, there was scarcely a native employed, except in the most subordinate situations, or who re- 994 ceived salaries exceeding 100l. a year. The number employed was limited; the offices were of the humblest character. What was the case now? There were numbers of natives holding offices with salaries of 600l., 700l., and 800l. a year. In Calcutta, the S udder Dewanny now could adjudicate in the first instance, without a limit as to amount, without a limit as to the religion or colour of the plaintiff or defendant, and whether the plaintiff or defendant were native or European; and the appeal lay not to the district judge, but direct to the Sudder Dewanny Adawlut, the highest tribunal in the country. It was scarcely speaking too strongly to say, that the administration of justice in the Bengal Presidency was, in the first instance, almost in the hands of the natives. He stated, with pride and satisfaction, that the appeals from decisions of the native judges did not exceed the appeals that were formerly taken from the decisions of the Company's European servants. The experiment, therefore, had been made, and successfully made. But why had it been successfully made? Because it had been cautiously and gradually conducted. The natives were first intrusted with the administration of justice in causes involving small amounts; but it was found that the higher they were raised in position, the better they were paid, the more confidence they had reposed in them; their services became valuable; and the result of the arrangements which had been made was, that the Sudder Ameens received 600l., 700l., and 800l. a year. Was the House, then, now to be told that the great complaint in 1833 was unremoved—the non-employment of natives in the collection of the revenue or the administration of justice? [Mr. ANSTEY: I never said so.] He was sorry he should have misunderstood the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of the land tax. He said it was imposed at so much with reference to the value of the crop of sugar, opium, or indigo, and so much with reference to a less valuable crop. The land tax was imposed on the productive powers of the land, and not on the produce. A contrary, and very reprehensible, system of imposing the tax according to the nature of the crop, prevailed, about fifteen years ago, in Madras and Bombay; but now the system was universal of imposing a tax with reference, not to the crop, but to the productive powers of the soil. The hon. and learned 995 Gentleman spoke also of monopolies. With respect to salt, he (Sir J. W. Hogg) had himself controverted certain statements made by Mr. Wilbraham, and satisfied the Committee, which considered that question, by letting them know that all the world might carry salt to India—that Mr. Wilbraham and his Cheshire constituents might have done so, provided they paid a duty equivalent to the excess of the charge made by the Government over the cost of protection. There was no prohibition against the importation of salt into Bengal; and, so far from its being "contraband," as the hon. and learned Member had said, it was actually imported from the Straits of Malacca, Bombay, Madras, and Ceylon; and it might be imported from Cheshire on the same terms. Whether the Government put too high a tax on salt, or whether they should manufacture salt at all, was quite a different question. The hon. and learned Member had next charged the Indian Government with laying a tax upon wells; but the very book from which he had quoted showed the great encouragement which they had given to the construction of works of irrigation. Then, too, it was not correct that the growth of opium was a monopoly, or that the Ryots were compelled to cultivate it. It was principally grown in Central India, by persons who cultivated it voluntarily, sent it to Bombay, and paid the transit tax. Was it thus that the hon. and learned Gentleman was to stand up and illuminate the House on Indian matters? The hon. and learned Gentleman had also assailed the civil service in India. The hon. Member for Montrose paid that service a just and well-merited compliment. There was no class that had ever been more distinguished for talent, and remarkable for integrity, and integrity in the midst of scenes of great trial and temptation. Corruption or depravity scarcely required to be weeded out; for an indignant sense of what was due to their own character so influenced the civil service, that an offender could not be screened. The hon. Member for Montrose made a complaint respecting the Sattara case—that the House of Commons would not listen to it. The House of Commons not listen to the Sattara case! They had done so for many long years. Many a weary night had he (Sir J. W. Hogg) attended there on Motions relating to that case. Many a dinner had he lost. Sometimes his hon. Friend had a Motion on the Paper; but one could never learn 996 whether it would come on or not. Then there were Motions by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets. The hon. Gentleman who had a Motion the other night on the subject, was poaching on the manor of an absent proprietor. The desolate and disconsolate, widow had 2,500 rupees per month, and she had not had it before simply because she had bad advisers when she refused to take it. Having got a little sense of her true interest, she bad thought it better to recall her friend the gentleman in the red cap who used formerly to come to that House. He (Sir J. W. Hogg) did not like to hear imputations cast on the Marquess of Dalhousie. There never went to India a man to whom this country and India were more indebted for his energy, humanity, and extraordinary talents for administration; and the hon. Member for Montrose, who knew the state of disorder in which the Punjab had been, would be delighted to hear that it was almost one uninterrupted garden; that peace and tranquillity reigned through the country, without exception of any part; that works of irrigation had been reopened; and almost the last despatch he (Sir J. W. Hogg) had had the happiness to sign, with the approbation of the President of the Board of Control, was one which authorised the expenditure of 500,000l. for fresh works of irrigation. The extent to which education had been carried already in the Punjab, would exceed the belief of his hon. Friend. With regard to the absence of the Marquess of Dalhousie and his predecessor, Lord Hardinge, from the seat of Government, would any one affirm that during the disturbances in the north-west provinces, Calcutta was the place for the Governor General? Why, the north-west provinces were the place for a Governor General under such circumstances—if he were a Governor General, such as our Governor Generals usually were, such as Lord Hardinge was. But was it only during disturbances that the presence of the Governor General was required in the northwest provinces? The work began at that point, the carrying out of arrangements relating to jurisdiction and revenue. It was when the sound of the trumpet had ceased that the advantage of a man of such administrative talents as the Marquess of Dalhousie appeared. The House would be astonished at the small number of civilians employed in the Punjab. The principle was to pay a man well, but to work him well. Not a single person had 997 been added to the service in consequence of the occupation of the Punjab. With respect to information on India, the fullest information was to be obtained at the India House. He denied the imputation, and indignantly denied it, that collectors were estimated only according to the amount of revenue they produced. A return would be laid on the table of the House in a week giving the fullest information with respect to every matter relating to India. It would form an abstract of the history of India political, military, commercial, and statistical. He hoped that he had been able to satisfy the hon. Member for Montrose that the absence of the Marquess of Dalhousie from his presidency was not uncalled for. He quite admitted that the Governor General had better reside at the seat of Government, except in the case where a vast extent of new territory had been annexed; and he could say, that the Marquess of Dalhousie had accomplished more in the organisation of the Punjab than could possibly have been accomplished by any man, however able, supposing he had been residing at Calcutta, a distance of 1,800 miles. The Marquess of Dalhousie was also obliged to absent himself from the seat of Government on account of his health, for he was not a man of a strong constitution even before he went to India; his physical was not equal to his mental vigour, and at one time the greatest possible apprehensions were entertained that he must be compelled to return. He (Sir J. W. Hogg), however, hoped that his Lordship might be able to remain in India to accomplish the great objects in the promotion of which he was now engaged. He hoped that the House would call for information of the fullest and most searching character; and he ventured also to add the expression of a hope that when that information was obtained, the country would be of opinion that the East India Company had not been unfaithful stewards and administrators of a country which was the richest, greatest, and most valuable possession of the Crown.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that he had, the last Session of Parliament, brought a Motion before the House of a different form to that which was now under its consideration. That Motion was confined to the proposition that a Commission ought to be sent to India for the purpose of inquiring into the obstacles that prevented the growth of cotton in that country, and collecting information as to its economical 998 and industrial condition. He felt that he ought to avoid everything connected with politics as far as the Motion itself was concerned, though it was impossible to leave polities entirely out of view in the speech in which he introduced the Motion. That Motion was rejected by the influence of the Government; and the persons in whose interest—namely, the commercial and manufacturing interest of Lancashire—he made that Motion, undertook to make the inquiry at their own expense and cost by despatching to India a gentleman of high character, of considerable experience, and unimpeachable integrity. They were, therefore, doing that for themselves which, he thought, the Government might and ought to have done for them. The Motion now before the House was of a different and much wider character. On the necessity of a full and searching inquiry before the renewal of the Charter Act, if it was to be renewed, they were all agreed, though it was open to grave question whether the inquiry into the political condition of India, and into the government of India, would be so well conducted in India as in this country. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had referred to the answer given by the President of the Board of Control to a question put to him by a noble Lord, whether it was the intention of the Government to afford any opportunity for inquiry through a Committee. He (Mr. Bright) understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that it was not the intention of the Government to have any such Committee; upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who sat near the right hon. Gentleman, attempted to correct him by saying "this Session." The right hon. Gentleman did not need the correction, and the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were not heard, he believed, by the reporters, although they were heard by those who sat near the right hon. Gentleman. He took it, therefore, that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Anstey) proceeded on the fair assumption that it was not the intention of the Government to have any inquiry at all. He was not at all quite certain—it was not at all easy to know—what conclusion they should come to on this question. It appeared to him that the cause of this was, that if they had an Indian Government, they never knew where to put their hand upon it—that there was no such thing as one board or individual which they could call the Government of the Indian empire. They had one au- 999 thority in Leadenhall-street, and they had another in a narrow street in the neighbourhood of that House; and persons seeking for information were directed from one to the other. The consequence was, that there was the confusion arising from two governing bodies, and a conflict of circumstances was constantly arising, which made it impossible that anything like a real or good government of a country so distant from them as India could exist. The Board of Control undertook the political department—that was to say, everything that was not connected with revenue, the internal administration, the courts of law, and patronage. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Anstey) alluded to the Secret Committee. That was the most extraordinary body in existence. It was composed of the President of the Board of Control, the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and the senior Director of the East India Board. That body had all the powers of war and peace, and the great political events connected with India. But the President of the Board of Control was absolute over all his colleagues. The question was not decided by a majority, and if Lord Broughton were to say there ought to be war, the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) and his colleagues could not prevent it. Nay, he believed the hon. Gentleman was bound to sign with his own hand the despatch declaring war, although he might not have consented to it, and might be of opinion that it would be followed by calamitous results to the country. This was a most monstrous state of things to exist with regard to any country. The hon. Gentleman might give glowing accounts of the Government of India; but it was contrary to nature that any country could be well governed under an arrangement of this description. The receipt and expenditure of the revenue and the administration of justice were under the management of the Court of Directors; and with regard to, the enormous patronage which the Government of India gave, he was sure that matter was arranged between the Court of Directors and the Board of Control, with extreme comfort to all the parties concerned. There should be a searching inquiry into this patronage. It had been said some sixty or seventy years ago, that the enormous patronage of India would be ample enough to corrupt every public man in this country; and he doubted not it would corrupt as many under its present administration as under former administra- 1000 tions. [Sir J. W. HOGG: No, no!] The hon. Gentleman seemed to doubt this; but it was a thing that was likely to take place. He believed it had taken place, and though the full particulars seldom came before the public, enough oozed out to lead him to believe that the use of the patronage of India was not so pure as the hon. Gentleman thought, although it was not more impure than, under the circumstances, they might expect. The hon. Gentleman would lead them to believe, that there never was such a Government as the East India Government, and that they were an extremely disinterested Government. Now he believed that, except the interest which we all took in anything with which we were in the habit of intermeddling, the Court of Directors had no more personal interest beyond that of their patronage, in the Government of India, than if they were the directors of the Great Northern or Great Western Railway; and that the Court of Proprietors had no more of that kind of interest on which a Government should be founded, and on which the responsibility of Government should rest, than if they were the shareholders in a railway having a capital of 12,000,000l.—in fact not so much, because in the railway company the dividend must depend upon the management, but the dividends of East India stock did not depend upon any such thing. The hon. Gentleman would lead them to believe that there was great improvement going on in India. The hon. Member could not have forgotten the Report of the Committee of which he was a Member in 1848, nor could he have forgotten the statements made by the witnesses, almost all of whom had been servants of the Government, and who were able and honest men—statements to the effect that the cultivating population of India were in a state of the most abject poverty. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not exaggerate at all—he used the very words of the witnesses; and he was not to be told, in the case of a country which had a fertile soil and an industrious and docile population, and which had been governed in some cases for half a century, in others for a century, that it could have been governed well, when it was now in a state of abject poverty. Comparisons had been made with regard to the state of Ireland, which every one knew was not only a disgrace to this country but to the civilisation of the age; and the state of the population of Ireland was owing to the same causes that had produced the present con- 1001 dition of the population of India. In Ireland the people had no ownership in the soil of the country, and in India the people had no interest whatever in the ownership of the land of their birth. To that circumstance was to be attributed the state of things that at present exists. The hon. Member for Honiton had also spoken of what was doing in the Punjab with regard to irrigation. After all the attacks which had been made on the East India Company for years past—after the remonstrances of almost every commercial association—after the remonstrances of the Marquess of Dal-housie, when he was there last year—it would be hard indeed if some attempts were not made to promote the construction of roads and irrigation in that empire. The hon. Member for Guildford had stated a fact in the Committee of 1848, which was a complete answer to the statement of the hon. Gentleman opposite. He stated, having got his facts from the India House, that from 1834 to 1848, or within fourteen years after the passing of the last Charter Act, the whole sum expended by the India Company out of the revenues of India in the making of roads, in the construction of works for irrigation, banks, bridges, and so forth, was only 1,400,000l., or just 100,000l. per annum; and the hon. Gentleman stated further, that in these fourteen years the East India Company had, to use the expression of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. W. Hogg) realised a revenue of not less than 300,000,000l., sterling. Why, there was not a Government in the world except that of the East India Company against which such a fact could be stated. They raised 22,000,000l. or 23,000,000l. per annum in taxes from the impoverished people of that country, and yet they had expended only 1,400,000l. in fourteen years on improvements that they deemed necessary for the prosperity of the country. It should be borne in mind that here was a people who had no mechanical contrivances, no steam-engines, none of those means of creating wealth which were possessed in this country. The population was purely agricultural. There were no means of improvement except those possessed by the Government. The condition of things was such, that unless the work was done by the Government, it could not be done at all; and, on the other hand, unless improvements were carried out, nothing like prosperity was to be expected. From the speech of the hon. Baronet it would appear that no part of this 1002 empire was governed so admirably as British India. He (Mr. Bright) maintained that the contrary was the fact; and he thought it was the duty of the Government to ascertain whether some government could not be formed for India which would be more responsible to that House. The hon. Baronet said they might have any information that they wanted at the India House. They had all heard of seeking needles in haystacks, and other proverbs of the same kind. Whenever a return relating to India had been moved for in that House, it had been very difficult to obtain it. They could send a letter to India in five or six weeks, and get an answer in the same period, yet they could not get a return from the East India Company in less than about two years. When it came it presented as great a variety of weights and coins as were to be found in British India; and in that he could see no other object than that of making the thing incomprehensible to those who had asked for it. The most trifling difficulty caused the matter to be referred back to that House. An application made to that most imbecile Government which existed at Bombay, must be sent to Calcutta, from Calcutta it had to be sent to the Marquess of Dalhousie; six months, perhaps, elapsed before it was returned, because his Lordship was far from the seat of Government; it is then sent to the Court of Directors, and by the Court of Directors it is forwarded to Lord Broughton in Cannon-row. He did not know what Lord Broughton might have been in his younger days; but he must say that he never saw a man in such a state of preparation for the House of Lords as Lord Broughton had been for some time past. That was precisely the mode in which the Government of India had been carried on. They had heard of thimble-rigging, but the fact was, they could never in this case tell under what thimble the pea was; they could never find out who was responsible, or who was the authority whom they might ask to do anything. It was, he believed, the general complaint of the most able and honest servants of the East India Company—it was certainly the complaint of many with whom he had held communication—that such was the dilatory character of the East India Company, that practically there was no responsible government. Perhaps it would be cruel to ask the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to consider anything, seeing that it was doubtful whether the noble Lord, or some other noble Lord, 1003 would soon be at the head of the Government; but he hoped that when the noble Lord came to consider the Charter Act, he would consult, not Lord Broughton or the East India Company, but some of the most intelligent men connected with India. There was at that moment a score of men returned from India, who were as able as any to be found in the metropolis, and who could give the noble Lord the most valuable suggestions with regard to this matter. Let them take the opinion of these men; let them frame a government which would be free from that great evil, the want of proper responsibility; which would get rid of the meddlesomeness of the Board of Control; and which, while it was responsible to that House for the principles which governed all its great acts in India, would, at the same time, be sufficiently free to exercise its discretion with regard to the vast amount of details which must ever attend the Government of a great country like that. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had given them some reason to expect that an inquiry of some kind—an inquiry, he presumed by a Committee of Parliament—would take place, and, that being the case, he would recommend the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Anstey) to rest satisfied with the expression of opinion which he had elicited from the noble Lord, and he believed that was the most likely way to attain the object.
§ MR MANGLES
begged to say, that, on his examination before the Committee, to which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had referred, it would appear that everything he had said, which might appear unfavourable to the Government of India was credited and relied upon, while the testimony he bore to the proper administration of that Government seemed to be entirely discredited. He had admitted frankly that they had not done all that should have been done for the improvement of the country; but still that they had done a great deal, and were doing more. There was an enormous expenditure on the embankments necessarily kept up for the protection of the country from inundation; and when the hon. Gentleman talked invidiously of the vast revenues of the Government, and the small sum they laid out, did he really know what the expenditure of the country was? There were the expenses of the police, and of the judicial administration, and the expenses necessarily incurred in giving every other benefit resulting from good government to 1004 the country. Important as were public works, they were not the only things that were necessary, but important public works had been undertaken. There was the great Ganges Canal, which would cost 1,000,000l.or 1,500,000l., and would be the most magnificent work of irrigation that ever had been carried on. It would carry water through the whole of the immense plains that lay between the Ganges and the Jumna, being at the same time a Source of irrigation and canal for navigation in that district. The hon. and learned Gentleman who brought forward this Motion had spoken of some unfortunate man who, as he alleged, was prosecuted in the courts of the Country, and said he had no doubt but that by this time he had shared the fate of Nuncomar; but did not the hon. and learned Gentleman know that Nuncomar was tried and Condemned in one of the Sovereign's courts, and executed Under the sentence of one of the Sovereign's Judges? Let the Company be tried by the evidence of the English statesman who now governs India, and it would be seen whether his testimony would not entitle the Company to claim a verdict in their favour.
§ MR. ANSTEY
had no objection to the proposed Committee, but he was still of opinion that no inquiry into the operation of the Charter Act of 1833 could be effectual, unless conducted by a Commission sitting in India. The Indian authorities themselves—as the newspapers of that very morning told us—were setting the example. The strongest and most important of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Cotton Committee of 1848, was as to "the propriety of losing no time in remedying past neglect in returning to the people in the form of suitable means Of internal communication a fair portion Of the revenue derived from them." There were more useful public works surely than the gaols of which the hon. Member for Guildford had been speaking with So much rapture. Two years have now elapsed, and what is doing by the Indian Government to carry out this recommendation? They have only now begun to stir themselves, and their first measure is a Commission of Local Inquiry. The hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton had misrepresented some of his (Mr. Anstey's) statements, and had not attempted to answer others. His statement of the Salt monopoly was not that no change had taken place, but that it was merely colourable; and his complaint as to that of opium was 1005 that nothing had been done by the Company to separate themselves at least from that great iniquity; and he would add that, when that separation was once made, the monopoly was also extinguished. Neither had he denied that those wretched revenue posts to which the hon. Baronet had referred, were sometimes given to natives; but his complaint was unanswered by the hon. Baronet, that in conferring such posts the Court of Directors appeared to suppose that they sufficiently responded to the intentions of the Legislature, and that their obstinate exclusion of natives from the higher and more worthy objects of an honourable ambition might be connived at. The hon. Baronet's magnificent portraiture of the recent doings of the Company in the department of public works was presented only to mislead, not to direct their attention. Two rows of figures were worth all the statistical embellishments in the world. He held in his hand an account printed by the Cotton Committee of 1848 of the amount of increased debt and receipts of net Indian revenue, and that of disbursements on Indian public works (including the so much belauded gaols of the hon. Member for Guildford), during the period of 1831–1846–7. The former amount was 186,000,000l. sterling, the latter only 1,446,400l. sterling, or about an 180th part of the sum received; and it was, nevertheless, true that during the same period there had been disbursed in London, out of that amount, by the Directors, not less than 36,109,052l. sterling, or about one-fifth part of the whole. He would not re-state what he had said of the tendency of the revenue to retrograde; but when he heard hon. Members talk of twenty-one or twenty-five millions sterling of revenue being received within one year, it was clear that they meant the gross and not the net amount, for the latter was always greatly less than twenty millions, and that in every year since 1833, there had been a deficiency below expenditure. True it was that for the present year there had been laid on the table a hastily-prepared abstract of accounts not due until next June or July (a most suspicious instance of official readiness for inquiry !) from which it appeared that in the current year there would be a balance in favour of the Indian treasury. But when that paper was examined, it would be found that the pretended increase was made up of Punjab prize money, of the estimated proceeds of the sale of the spoils of war, and of Runjeet Singh's 1006 crown jewels (which had not realised the amount so estimated), of the profits of an accidental good year in that most precarious and ruinous speculation, the opium monopoly, and other casualties; and that, when these deductions were made, there was again an enormous excess of expenditure over income. He agreed with the hon. Members for Montrose and Manchester in thinking that this debate had been productive of much good; and he thought that in yielding to their suggestions, and not pressing his Motion to a division, he was consulting the interests entrusted to his charge. He had heard with great satisfaction the announcement of the Prime Minister, that there should be an inquiry into these subjects before a Committee of the House; although, for the reasons he had stated, he regretted that there was not also to he granted a Commission of Local Inquiry to proceed to India. He was contented to ask leave of the House to withdraw his present Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.