HC Deb 29 April 1852 vol 120 cc1383-8

MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY moved for copies of papers and correspondence in connexion with the case of Colonel Outram. That officer having discovered the existence of corrupt practices on the part of several of the officers of the Bombay Government, had been removed from his situation, in order to stifle inquiry into the subject. What he (Mr. C. Anstey) desired was, the production of papers which would throw light on the transaction. The papers were now in the possession of the Board of Control and the Board of Directors, and they ought to be produced.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That there be laid before this House, Copies of the Papers and Correspondence concerning the investigations made by Colonel Outram, C. B., into the existence of corrupt relations between the Guicowar or his subjects and certain officers of the Bombay Government; and also concerning the removal of the said officer from his post of Resident at Baroda.


said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman was entirely mistaken, if he believed that the Board of Directors and the President of the Board of Control were in possession of all the documents relating to this question. Not only had he (Mr. Herries) not had an opportunity of forming a judgment of those documents, but they had never yet come into his possession; and he doubted very much whether the Board of Directors, before whom they would have to be laid in the first instance, had yet had time to consider the case, and judge of its importance. Under these circumstances he thought that the hon. and learned Member was premature in moving for those papers; but he might rest assured that, whenever they should be in a fit state to be presented to the House, there would not be the slightest indisposition on the part of the Government to produce them. The charge of corruption against public officers could not be passed over.


trusted, that after What had follon from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, the hon. and learned Member for Youghal (Mr. C. Anstey) would not press his Motion. He thought that the mode in which this Motion had been brought before the House, was hardly fair to Colonel Outram. The question was one which deserved the serious consideration of Her Majesty's Government when the papers were before them, for it was one on which the honour of our Indian Government was deeply implicated, and in which the natives were deeply interested. A charge of corruption had been made against a subordinate of the Bombay Government, and an inquiry having been instituted, he thought it was due to Parliament and the country, that as soon as the papers had been considered, they should be laid before the House.


said, he must complain of the course which had been pursued by the hon. and learned Member for Youghal, in reiterating his accusations against the officers of the Bombay Government, and in again pressing this Motion upon the House, although he was informed by the Secretary of the Board of Control, when he brought it forward a few nights ago, that some of the papers which had arrived a short time ago were under consideration, but that the most material, including the memorial of Colonel Outram, had only reached England two or three days previously. He (Sir J. Hogg) could give the most positive and absolute denial to the statements which the hon. and learned Gentleman had made on a former evening, and repeated that evening. He (Sir J. Hogg) denied that any officers high in the service of the Bombay Government, if by that was meant civil and military servants of the East India Company, had ever been convicted of corruption, or had ever had it imputed to them. And the hon. and learned Member should know this, because he (Sir J. Hogg) had on a former evening read an extract from a letter of Colonel Outram's, stating distinctly not only that no such imputation had ever escaped him, but that he did not believe in its justice. Colonel Outram said— I was made aware, during my official career at Baroda, that a belief existed that high officers of the Government were open to corruption, and that such belief was promoted by the native subordinates for their own interested purposes. Fully convinced there were no grounds for such dishonouring imputations, I laboured earnestly to trace out and bring to punishment the delinquents through whose corruption the good name of the British Government was tarnished. It was an honourable avocation, and the gallant officer laboured in it zealously and successfully. He did bring the greater part of these miscreants to punishment. The case of the unfortunate widow, to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had formerly referred, was one of as great oppression and iniquity as ever occurred, even in the East; but the delinquents in that case were discovered by Colonel Outram and were signally punished. The whole proceedings of Colonel Outram were comprised in seven or eight folio volumes, irrespective of his memorial and his report on the allegations of corruption, which only came by the last mail. He had not yet, by any diligence which it was in his power to bestow, been able even to read Colonel Outram's memorial; but as soon as possible the Court of Directors would take it, and the documents appended to it, into careful consideration. Let the hon. and learned Gentleman bring forward distinct and specific charges against the officers of the Bombay Government byname, and he (Sir J. Hogg) would meet them; but he was not prepared to meet the dark and vague surmises and insinuations in which the hon. and learned Member had indulged. He would, however, tell him, that when public servants were discharging their duty honourably to their country, it mattered not at what distance, they would always receive a generous support from that House when they were unjustly assailed, and that, too, more particularly, without there being a document before the House to support the imputation.


said, that, in justice to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Youghal, he should state that he had himself on a previous evening understood the Secretary to the Board of Control to say, not only that the documents in question had arrived, but that they were before the Board.


said, that he had then most assuredly been misunderstood, for he certainly stated that the papers had not reached the Board of Control, and that they had only reached the Court of Directors upon the day on which he spoke.


said, he must express a hope that, as soon as the public business would allow, these papers would be laid before the House, in order that they might be able to form a judgment for themselves upon the transactions to which they related.


said, that after the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, he would not press the Motion, relying on the promise that the papers would be produced.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn; as was also a Motion of the hon. and learned Member relating to Indian territories.

The House adjourned at One o'clock.