HC Deb 24 June 1852 vol 122 cc1273-7

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate [23rd June], "That there be laid before this House, Copies of the Evidence and Report of a Commission appointed to inquire into a charge preferred against His Highness Meer Ali Moorad, Ameer of Upper Scinde, of having made fraudulent alterations in the Treaty of Nounahar, concluded between His Highness and the late Meer Roostum Khan, and of all Minutes and Correspondence on the Indian Records connected with the charge.

"And, of the Report on Scinde of Sir George Clerk, K.C.B., late Governor of Bombay, dated the 24th day of April, 1848."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.


said, that when the House was adjourned last night he was about to state that the Government of India were taking steps for the purpose of rendering the condition of the Ameers of Scinde as agreeable under their fallen state as it was possible to be. As long ago as the 27th February, 1851, the Governor General of India, the Marquess of Dalhousie, in a Minute reviewing the conduct of Ali Moorad, and speaking of the cession of territory made by that individual in consequence of the forgeries proved against him, noticed, in the concluding portion of that Minute, the fact that this cession would place a considerable revenue at the disposal of the Government of India; and he then observed that, without enter- ing into the question of his guilt, there might be reasons for showing mercy to and raising up from their present destitute condition the members of a once royal family, which he was anxious to lay before the Court of Directors. In their reply to that Minute, the Court of Directors expressed a hope that the Governor General would be shortly enabled to communicate with them on the subject; and on the 10th of November following the Governor General made a communication to the Bombay Government, stating that he was desirous of submitting to the Court of Directors, as quickly as possible, the views which it might be desirable to adopt for the amelioration of the condition of the exiled Ameers. The Bombay Government referred the matter to Mr. Frere, the Commissioner in Scinde; and in his reply, on the 15th of December, 1851, Mr. Frere expressed his opinion that the Ameers might be allowed, with perfect safety, to return to Scinde, but that he should be disposed to recommend a fixed stipend for their maintenance, instead of a grant of land. Mr. Frere also called attention to the fact that the families of some of the Ameers, who had been left under the protection of Ali Moorad, had been ill-treated and plundered while under his protection. He especially called attention to the case to the eldest son of Ali Roostum, who had a very large family, and who, having been plundered by Ali Moorad of his property, had been plunged into great distress, and was in fact in want of the common necessaries of life. Mr. Frere also directed the attention of the Bombay Government to the fact that the mother of Ali Roostum was in the same condition. He suggested, therefore, that power should be given to the authorities in Scinde to afford these parties temporary assistance; and on the 28th of April last the Governor General sanctioned that proposal until the pleasure of the Home Government should be expressed upon the subject. This was the latest information in the possession of the Government. He (Mr. Baillie) thought he had now shown that there was no backwardness or disinclination on the part of the authorities, either at home or in India, to render the condition of the Ameers as agreeable as was possible under their altered circumstances. His noble Friend (Viscount Jocelyn), in the address which he had made to the House, carried away by his own eloquence, had represented the Ameers to be models of virtue and inno- cence; but although his noble Friend had succeeded in showing that one of them was a rogue and a scoundrel, he did not think that he had thereby proved the others to be honest and virtuous men. On that question, however, he did not mean to pronounce any decided opinion. It was very possible that the Ameers might be very much like the average of other Eastern princes; but, under the circumstances of the case, he should be sorry to pronounce any opinion on the subject. So far as regarded the condition of the Ameers, he (Mr. Baillie) sympathised with the object of his noble Friend's Motion. What he found fault with was, that his noble Friend had tried to rake up a question of State policy which was decided in 1844. Such a step might tend to produce an opinion among the natives of India that there was nothing final or secure in the decisions of Parliament. There was no objection on the part of the Government to the production of these Minutes, with the exception of those which referred to past transactions, and for which, in his opinion, it would not be desirable for his noble Friend to press.


said, that he had no authority from the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Viscount Jocelyn) to act upon his behalf; but having heard the debate, and the interesting statements which the noble Lord had made, he thought that the whole of the papers which had been asked for ought to be produced.


said, he did not think it necessary that he should then enter at any length into that case. The Government had not the slightest objection to the production of all the papers which could throw any light upon the subject. But he would submit that it was not desirable that the Report of Sir George Clerk, the late Governor of Bombay, on the state of Scinde, should be laid before the House. That Report was a very voluminous one, and contained references to other Reports, without which it could not be thoroughly understood. He did not think that its production was at all necessary for the purpose which the noble Lord (Viscount Jocelyn) had in view, and he, therefore, believed it would be better not to press, at least for the present, that portion of the Motion which related to that Report. At the same time he should add, that as far as the Government were concerned, they had no objection to furnish the fullest possible information with respect to all those transactions. The Governor General of India had already taken steps for improving, as far as he could, the condition of the Ameers; and he (Mr. Herries) had to state that he also would be ready to afford any assistance in his power towards the accomplishment of that object.


said, that the suspicions which he had expressed in 1842 and 1843 had since been proved by events to be well founded, and showed that the Government had been the dupe of an artful and clever man. He did not mean to cast blame anywhere, but he thought this was a case in which the House ought to call for the fullest information, in order to show how the Government had been deceived. Never had men been so cruelly wronged as were the Ameers of Scinde. He did not say that they were morally pure, but he contended that they had been politically faithful. If they had turned against us when we were engaged in hostilities with Affghanistan, the consequences might have been fatal to our Empire in the East. He was glad to find that a settlement of their claims was now about to be made. It was never too late to do justice. He did not wish to prolong this discussion, because the Government professed a desire to treat the Ameers with proper consideration, and he hoped they would repair, as far as possible, the injuries inflicted by the Indian Government. He hoped, however, that some provision would be made for giving greater publicity to Indian documents than had hitherto been allowed. The garbling of public documents was a serious evil. He had been furnished by Sir Alexander Burnes with a complete copy of all his despatches to the Indian Government, and he had no hesitation in saying that if those despatches had been read at length at home, the Affghan war Would not have taken place. From what had fallen from the Government, however, he had great confidence that what was about to be done would reflect credit upon the humanity of the Government, as well as do justice to individuals. He would only say, on the part of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Viscount Jocelyn) that, knowing the opinions which he had entertained upon this subject for many years, he was quite sure that nothing but the discharge of a most important duty could have kept him away from the House upon this occasion.


said, he wished to make a short explanation in reference to an observation which had fallen from him on the preceding day. He believed that the noble Lord who had brought forward the Motion was under the impression that he (Mr. Baillie) had accused him of inconsistency. Now he had not intended to have advanced any such charge against the noble Lord, because he had been aware that the noble Lord had always entertained the same opinions upon that subject. He had merely expressed his surprise that the noble Lord should have thought it necessary to have made a charge against a Government he had afterwards served under for acts which they had sanctioned in the year 1844.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Copies ordered— "of the Evidence and Report of a Commission appointed to inquire into a charge preferred against His Highness Meer Ali Moorad, Ameer of Upper Scinde, of having made fraudulent alterations in the treaty of Nounahar, concluded between His Highness and the late Meer Roostum Khan; and of all Minutes and Correspondence on the Indian Records connected with the charge."

The House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock.