HC Deb 02 August 1853 vol 129 cc1166-207

Order for Committee read.

Question proposed, "That the Speaker do now leave the Chair, in order that the House go into Committee of Supply."


rose to move, as an Amendment— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the case of Jevanjee Pestonjee and Rustomjee Viccajee be referred to the Privy Council. The hon. Member said, that the case which he was about to bring before the House, was one of as much cruelty and injustice, short of affecting life and limb, as had ever been brought under the notice of the Legislature. The petitioners were two Parsee merchants, both Native subjects of the British Empire; and they complained that, having been induced by their reliance on British faith, and on the respect paid to the British Crown, to enter into certain engagements with the Nizam, a prince immediately under the protection of the British Government, they had, in spite of the most solemn declarations and deliberate promises, been plundered of the securities they had received from that Prince for the fulfilment of his part of the engagement, and that not only had the British Crown not interfered to avenge their wrongs or to protect their rights, but that the East India Company, to whom they naturally looked for protection and redress, were actually at that very moment in possession of the lands which they received from the Nizam as security for the advances they had made on his behalf, and as the mortgages upon which the money had been lent: and they further alleged that, though these advances had been applied in a great measure, and, indeed, almost exclusively, to the support of the troops of the East India Company themselves, that body had distinctly refused to acknowledge any obligation on their part to refund the money—so that the grievance the petitioners suffered under was not simply that they had been stripped of their property, and that the Crown of England had not interfered to protect them, but that the East India Company had stepped in and reaped the fruit of that iniquity. The facts of the case were simply these:—The petitioners were originally employed by the Indian Government at Bombay for the purpose of collecting the revenue in certain large districts of the country; and so faithfully did they fulfil that duty, that, by the admission of the Government officials, they doubled the resources of their district in less than seven years, and had received repeated testimonials of approbation from the Government officials. They lost that situation in course of time—not, however, by any misconduct, but simply because a different system of collecting the revenue was adopted, under which their services were no longer required. They betook themselves to the cultivation of cotton, and succeeded in conferring a signal and material benefit on the English people by the energy which they brought to bear in the prosecution of that object, and likewise by their undertaking the transportation of cotton from Berar to Bombay; and in this new undertaking they were equally successful, having increased the quantity transported from Berar to Bombay from 2,500l., its value in 1825–6, to the value of 600,000l. in 1835–6. In consequence of these transactions a correspondence arose between them and the Nizam's Government; and they asked permission of the British Government to proceed into the territories of that Prince, and also that the British Government would act as umpires between them and the Nizam's Government in certain disputes which might arise between them and his officers. Now, Mr. Wilson, the historian of India, described the relations between the British Government and the Nizam, at the particular period in question, as being that the Government of Hyderabad existed entirely tinder British protection; and it was, in fact, in a state of vassalage to the English Government, and entirely dependent upon them—so much so, that they had prevented that Prince from appointing a Minister of his own choice, and had compelled him to accept one of their own selection. The then Minister, Chundoo Lall, had therefore been placed in his position by the power of the British Government; the Government of Hyderabad was, in effect, in the hands of the British Government, and the Minister was protected by the British Government from the caprice or tyranny of his master. Now such being the relation of the Nizam's Government to the British Government, the petitioners asked the latter to act as umpires in their negotiations with the Nizam; and a letter was sent to the petitioners by the British Government accepting the office, a corresponding letter being at the same time sent to the Resident. This was a material fact, as bearing upon the expectations which these Parsee merchants had a right to form of what they were entitled to receive at the hands of the British Government. The consequence was that the petitioners went to Hyderabad and had an interview with Chundoo Lall, the Minister of the Nizam, the dependent of the British Government, who, having heard of their former extraordinary success as the agents of the British Government, at once proposed to them to undertake the management of the chief cotton district in Berar, the terms of the proposal being that they should be put in possession of that district, and be entitled to draw its revenues, provided that in their capacity as bankers they would undertake to make advances to the Minister of the Nizam for the purpose of being paid over to the British Resident, whose duty it was to pay the troops known as "the contingent." Now what was the contingent? Sir Charles Metcalfe described it as being the Nizam's army in name; but they considered themselves as the Company's troops; and he added, that it was true they were more the English Government's troops than the Nizam's who paid them; for they received their stipend through the English Government, were commanded by British officers, and in any crisis would obey the commands of the British Government. They were, in fact, British troops. The petitioners agreed to advance money for the payment of these troops. They paid some part of it, but not the whole. To this proposal of Chundoo Lall the petitioners assented, and were in consequence put in possession of nearly the whole of the valley of Berar, which was mortgaged to them fur repayment of the loans. The petitioners met with the same success in the management of this district as had attended their labours at Bombay—the revenue was increased, waste lands were brought into cultivation, and the Nizam's demands for supplies were regularly met. But the demands of the Nizam became every year more and more serious; and at last came the era which would be long remembered in Oriental story—he referred to the period of the Affghan war, when a body of British troops was marched from Bengal to the Indus, and was there joined by another army from Bombay. By the expenses of these two armies the treasuries of the British Presidencies were drained, and it became of the utmost consequence to obtain money from every quarter. The British Resident in Hyderabad was in consequence directed to enforce certain demands against the Nizam's Government, and, the funds of the Nizam being exhausted, he supplicated the petitioners to make fresh advances in order to prevent the open mutiny of the contingent, which would inevitably have occurred had they not received their pay; and, although advances had already been made far beyond the value of their securities, the petitioners, being anxious to display the utmost attachment to the British Government, did consent to make the advances asked for. These demands, however, still continued to increase, and from 1837 to 1843 the advances made amounted to upwards of 687,000l. for the purposes of the contingent. In 1841 the creditors of the petitioners became greatly alarmed, and for their satisfaction they were anxious to obtain a distinct admission of the justice of their claims upon the Nizam. For this purpose they solicited an interview with Chundoo Lall, who admitted to the fullest extent the justice of their claims, stating his inability to pay the money in consequence of the exhausted state of the Government treasury, but expressing his readiness to give them the best security he could. He offered them a mortgage over certain lands yielding 110,000l. a year, which was accepted, the petitioners in return giving up a large portion of the property already in their possession, yielding nearly 90,000l. a year. The petitioners, as he had said, took the district yielding 110,000l. a year, which was secured and guaranteed to them by mortgage—and what they regarded as of still more importance, though it had proved of no avail—secured to them by the British faith, pledged to them by the Resident of Hyderabad, which, in a moral sense, at least, bound the British Government, and made it responsible—he would not say for their repayment of the money—but at any rate for their undisturbed possession of the territories mortgaged to them by the Nizam, in consideration of the sum they had advanced to pay the troops of the East India Company. In order to give the mortgage greater weight, it was proposed that the transaction should be carried on through the instrumentality of the British Resident at Hyderabad, and that the original document should be formally lodged among the records of the Residency. The Resident, so far from refusing to become a party to the transaction, accepted the document, and afterwards granted an authenticated copy of it at the request of the petitioners and their creditors; and, indeed, the documents relating to the mortgage were now among the records of the British Residency. The petitioners applied to the Resident for a copy of the document, which, with the assent of the Minister of the Nizam, was supplied to them. Now he (Mr. Phillimore) asked, if this document was not intended as a guarantee, for what purpose was it given? Sir C. Metcalfe had expressed his opinion that, although the terms of the arrangement were no doubt heavy, so far as the Nizam was concerned, yet that if he would not supply from his private treasury the money required for the payment of his troops, his Minister must either obtain the amount elsewhere, or the troops must be disbanded. These merchants knew, that if they trusted to the Nizam alone, they had no security for the repayment of their advances; but they were satisfied that, as the Nizam was completely dependent upon the English Government, he would not be allowed to set aside obligations which, in the case of his own subjects, he might safely disregard. Sir C. Metcalfe had expressed a strong opinion that interference in the affairs of the Nizam was not merely a right, but a duty, arising from our position in India; and he had declared that our control over the territories of the Nizam amounted to undisguised supremacy, and that, therefore, the British Government could not, without disgrace, suffer any violation of faith with the public creditor. He did mean to say that all these sentiments of Sir C. Metcalfe had received the assent of the Court of Directors, but he thought that when the petitioners saw the English Government interfering in some cases to enforce the payment of advances, and when they knew also that their advances had been made simply and solely to pay the contingents of the East India Company, who would otherwise have disbanded and plundered, they were justified in supposing that they would be supported by the Government at home. Certainly they could not expect that the British Government would afterwards turn round and say, that they were determined to change their policy and abstain from all interference in the affairs of the Nizam; because it was notorious at the time the petitioners made these advances, that the English Government interfered in the affairs of the Nizam, external as well as internal, and had exercised with regard to his dominions a supremacy altogether undisguised. Fresh loans were demanded and advanced, and so long as Chundoo Lall was Minister of the Nizam, no attempt was made to dispossess the petitioners of the security they held. After the resignation of Chundoo Lall, however, the Minister appointed in his place lavished the resources of the Government on other objects, and the petitioners became alarmed lest their demands should not be met, and it soon turned out that their alarm was not without foundation. The amount advanced by the petitioners up to 1843 was 687,000l., and, on a balance being struck in January, 1848, long after they were dispossessed of their mortgage lands, in a manner most unfavourable to the petitioners, it was decided that a sum of at least 260,000l. was due to them. They sought an interview with the Nizam, by whom it was intimated to the petitioners, that the amount of their interest was to be reduced; but, although they received 18 per cent interest, they had been compelled to borrow some of the money they advances at a larger interest than they obtained, the interest paid by the petitioners varying from 12 to 24 per cent. This circumstance was urged by the petitioners as the ground for a different arrangement. However, the Nizam being the strongest, they were obliged to submit. Now he (Mr. Phillimore) might mention that, on one occasion, when Chundoo Lall wished to divert part of the sum appropriated to the repayment of the petitioners to other purposes, he did not venture to do so without asking the Resident's permission. The Resident refused his consent, and his refusal to some extent stopped the proposed diversion. It could not, therefore, be urged that there had been no interference in this case on the part of that official. In February, 1845, Pestonjee Merjee had an interview with the Nizam, who assured him of his good will, and that he need entertain no fear on the subject of the securities, and he solicited a further loan of 41,000l., which was given. On the 20th of June, 1845, however, Pestonjee Merjee received intimation that he was to be stripped of the land which had been formally consigned to him as a security for the advances. The Resident again interfered and wrote to the Nizam, communicating also with the Government of India; but, in the course of July, Pestonjee Merjee was dispossessed of his territories, and sixteen of his people, without any aggravation on their part, were murdered by the troops of the Nizam. Remonstrances were made in vain, and all applications for redress were unsuccessful. Indeed, according to the last accounts received from India, a large portion of the territories wrested from Pestonjee Merjee were at this moment in the possession of the East India Company, who had taken this mortgaged territory, and refused to acknowledge the claim of the mortgagees, although the advances were made for the purpose of satisfying their own claim. The Company said they did not think the sanction which had been given by the Resident to the transaction, justified the petitioners in calling upon them to interfere, although the Company had, in fact, derived all the benefit of the arrangement. He would ask the House whether these petitioners ought to be sufferers in consequence of a sudden change of policy adopted by the Company with regard to the Nizam? The Company had repeatedly interfered to procure justice for their subjects when it had been withheld from them by Native Princes, and a regular course of proceeding had been prescribed in order to obtain such interference. If the petitioners had been subjects of a Native Power, the means of redress would have been in their own hands, for they would have had nothing more to do than to keep the Nizam at arm's length, and prevent him from entering upon territories to which he had no legal claim; and it appeared from a letter written by an English officer, that the petitioners were so much beloved by those over whom they held Control, that there could be no doubt, if they had adopted such a course, that their resistance to the Nizam would have been successful. Had they offered such resistance, however, the result would have been that the very troops who constituted the British contingent, and whom they had advanced money to pay, would have been set in motion against them. It was because they were British subjects that they were obliged to sit down under the wrong. The petitioners, finding all applications to the Nizam fruitless, appealed to the Indian Government; but they declined to interfere, on the ground that this was a case of ordinary mercantile speculation, not alluding to the fact that the British Resident had interfered in the arrangement, and that the money advanced had been employed for the payment of the British contingent. The petitioners then came over to England, and applied to the Court of Directors and the Board of Control. After passing some time in this country, they received, in the month of September, 1851, an intimation, amounting, as they alleged, to an assurance, that if they returned to India, they would find instructions had been given that their case should be favourably considered. Relying upon that intimation, they sailed for India; but on their arrival there they found that a letter, bearing the date of August, had been sent out, forbidding all further consideration of their case. He (Mr. Phillimore) must say, he conceived it scarcely possible that a case could be established which was more deserving of the interference of Parliament. With regard to the principle of law by which such a transaction ought to be governed, he could only say, that if, instead of being British subjects, the petitioners had been subjects of the Nizam, and if the territories of the Nizam had been conquered by the East India Company, the Company would have been bound to recognise the petitioners' debt; and, on the same principle, when the Nizam's territory became hypothecated to the English, they, as its governors, succeeded to the duty of recognising and enforcing the rights of their new subjects. To refer to parallel cases in history, when Frederick of Prussia gained possession of the Austrian province of Silesia, he succeeded to the obligations of the previous governors towards its inhabitants. Thus, also, in the case mentioned by Vattel, of the Pays de Vaud being hypothecated to Switzerland by the Duke of Savoy, undoubtedly the Swiss Confederation became bound to stand in the place of the Duke of Savoy to his former subjects. He contended upon these principles that, as the petitioners were British subjects, they had a right to apply to the British Government to redress their injuries. Why, what was the ground of the war which was now in progress in Burmah? It was undertaken to obtain reparation for injuries to the extent of some 700l. which had been inflicted upon British subjects. There was certainly nothing in this case to take it out of the ordinary rule of law. The Directors of the East India Company alleged, however, that they did not want to interfere with the Nizam, although they had been appointing his Ministers, exercising control over his subjects, and obtaining money for the payment of his troops. Having done all this, the extraordinary delicacy exhibited by the Government in respect to the case of the petitioners was certainly most striking. It reminded him of the giant in Rabelais, who fed upon windmills, but was choked by a pat of butter. As far as the public law was concerned, there could be no question that the Government possessed the right of demanding reparation from the Nizam for injuries inflicted on British subjects; and the latter were completely justified in asking redress at the hands of the British Government. Municipal and private law were alike clear upon the point. It was a maxim of equity that the man who enabled another to commit a fraud, was participant in the guilt of the transaction, and must bear his share of the penalty. It was also clear that the conduct of the Resident at the Court of the Nizam had enabled the latter to commit the fraud which had been practised upon the petitioners; any court of equity, therefore, would decide that the British Government had been made a party to the act; and, therefore, according to the maxims of equitable jurisprudence they became liable for the consequences; and he contended that upon every ground, whether of national or municipal law, or of abstract equity, the petitioners were entitled to redress. The East India Company were now in possession of many of the districts which had been mortgaged to the petitioners, but they had refused to acknowledge the burdens upon the land. All laws from the Roman law downwards, recognised the principle that hypothecated property carried its burden with it. That being the case, the Company had no right whatever to make themselves an exception to the law, and deny their liability to pay off the burdens upon the land. He had now stated the grounds on which the petitioners rested their case, and he believed that he had shown it to be unanswerable. It was most extraordinary that at the very time when the Government were carrying on a war in Burmah for the sake of a sum of 700l., they should not only allow two of our subjects to become the victims of monstrous injustice, but actually themselves become parties to the wrong. And now be would ask whether he had not made out a case which justified the interposition of Parliament—whether he had not shown that British subjects had been cruelly wronged, precisely because they were British subjects; that they had been deprived of the redress which otherwise would have been within their reach; that their wrongs, their injuries, their losses, their spoliation, their ruin, had turned to the pecuniary profit of the East India Company; and that whatever might be the opinion of hon. Members as to the formality of the guarantee, the Resident, the accredited Minister of the Company, had led them to believe that he sanctioned their advances of money to the Nizam, and would not suffer them to be dispossessed of the territories mortgaged for it until it was repaid; that these advances were employed to pay the troops of the East India Company, and were made at a period when the political horizon was lowering and ominous, when the fabric of our authority was rocking to its base, and when to have withheld them would, at least, have added considerably to the perils and difficulties by which we were then encompassed; and, to complete all, that the East India Company, so assisted by them, was now in possession of those very districts which were hypothecated to them as a security for the repayment of the money so advanced, and refused to recognise obligations which, according to the law of nations—according to the municipal law of all civilised countries—according to every maxim of equity, truth, honour, and even of gratitude, it was their paramount duty to fulfil. Such were the allegations which these men made, and which they implored permission to establish before a tribunal of this country. They were not reckless and unprincipled adventurers; their fathers settled in the regions they now inhabited, and followed the employments which but for an exclusive policy they would follow then, long before the British flag waved or the British language was spoken in the vast empire for the good government of which the House had made itself responsible. They had rendered good service. Let their spotless character, their tried fidelity be recollected; that they stood by this country in the day of humiliation; that they did not come to the House till after they had exhausted every other means of expostulation and entreaty; till after they had drained the cup of distress to its lowest and most bitter dregs; till after they had sued in vain to those on whom all supplication had been thrown away; till after they had been sent, as if in wanton mockery, from India to England, and from England to India, in pursuit of the ever-receding shadow of British justice. An opportunity was now given to refute the enemies of freedom, who had made our representative system the special object of their attack, to prove that however With too much heat We sometimes wrangle when we should debate, that the defenceless and "he that had no helper" would find that the old English honour and generous hatred of injustice were still what Lord Clarendon told our fathers that they were—the Dii tutelares—the tutelar guardians of the House of Commons. Let the House recollect all these things, and then say whether they would allow these helpless, innocent, unaccused men what they would think it scandalous to withhold from a thrice convicted felon—the privilege of stating their case before an impartial tribunal; or whether they would drive such suppliants from their threshold, stop up all access and passage for them to the shrine of justice, and, instead of giving them a judge, make themselves accomplices in the cruel injustice of which they complained.


seconded the Motion, because he was most desirous of hearing From the Government, or from the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), or from the hon. Member for Guild-Ford (Mr. Mangles) some explanation of the extraordinary circumstances related to He House by the hon. Member for Leominster. He should not have taken this step if he had not devoted much time and pains to the subject, and done his best to ascertain the truth of the facts alleged in the memorial. Having made that examination, he should think himself deficient in candour if he shrunk from the avowal that the facts contained in the petition were incontestably accurate; and, further, that these facts developed a history of violence and wrong rarely, if ever, exceeded. They also proved that there existed in India a strange misconception as to the relations which ought to exist between the Governor and the governed. He would call the attention of the House to a brief outline of the case. Certain Parsee merchants advanced a large sum of money to the Nizam, which was secured to them by the mortgage of large tracts of land in the valley of Berar. This was done with the knowledge of the Resident at the Court of the Nizam, and the deeds securing the mortgage were deposited in the hands of the Resident. After a time, without any notice, and without any cause being assigned, the Nizam dispossessed the petitioners of the districts so mortgaged to them, with violence and cruelty destroyed many of their servants, and repossessed himself of the land. The East India Company, through their representatives in England and in India, had been applied to in every possible form to obtain for the petitioners protection and redress. This had been denied them—all interference had been refused, on the alleged ground that the invariable policy of the Company had been not to interfere in money transactions between Native Princes and their subjects. But they themselves had money transactions with the Nizam, originating in precisely and identically the same cause, the payment of the contingent, and which the Nizam was equally unable to repay. Finding it was impossible to obtain the moneys from the Nizam, the East India Company, by threatening forcible proceedings, induced him to give them security for the debt in the shape of a mortgage on the very districts mortgaged to their own subjects, the present petitioners. The character of the petitioners was, he thought, beside the question at issue. What the House had to consider was, whether the case deserved the interference of the Government or not; and though he desired to dismiss the character of the petitioners from consideration, he still thought it would be a not unimportant element in their case. He wished to avoid all personal imputations, and de sired to rest his case on general grounds alone. Now, although he could not think the facts connected with the mortgage amounted, as the hon. and learned Member for Leominster argued, to a legal guarantee, yet he could not refrain front observing that the conduct of the Resident at the Court of the Nizam was a moral guarantee which both the Ministers of the Nizam and the petitioners, at the time of the mortgage, considered to be a legal and efficient security that the latter should enjoy quiet possession of the lands assigned to them. That this was really the case, was, he thought, established by the fact that as regarded the Nizam, though nominally an independent Sovereign, in reality nothing could be more complete than his dependence on the East India Company. In a despatch of the Court of Directors, written in January, 1824, they said— We agree with Sir Charles Metcalfe, that a system of non-interference, granted on a regard for the rights of an independent Sovereign to protect his subjects, from our intimate connexion with the Nizm's Government, would have great and decided advantages, and it is one which we must endeavour to establish; provided always, that the irresistible strength which our protection affords to his Government be not converted to the oppression of the people. And the concluding observation was important— And constituted in our minds the strongest possible objection against the withdrawal of all interference with the acts of a Government which we are hound by treaty to protect, however tyrannical or oppressive it may be. He wished to say a few words with respect to the Resident. It was undoubtedly true, that in all his relations with the petitioners, General Fraser had given them the most friendly and courteous assistance, but it was also true that he had studiously avoided giving anything like a guarantee. It was obviously dosirable that those who took an interest in this question should know the opinion of General Fraser, and he would, therefore, take the liberty of reading to the House a letter which the petitioners had received from that officer. It was as follows:— Salterton, July 9, 1853. My dear Sirs—I much regret to hear that the authorities to whom you addressed yourselves have not thought proper to interpose in your behalf, as I was induced to hope that a more favourable view might have been taken of your case. I am of opinion that, under the peculiar circumstances of your claim, as British subjects, upon a Prince in close alliance with ourselves, and over whom we assume the right of exercising a paramount influence, this might have been done with- out any danger of making an inconvenient precedent, or any violation of treaty, and any necessity for saying a word that could have been offensive to his Highness's feelings, and regarded by him as an undue interference in the affairs of his Government. I may, perhaps, be under an erroneous impression in this matter; and I, of course, do not pretend to pronounce a positive judgment on the resolution adopted by Sir Charles Wood, as I remain ignorant of the grounds on which he has taken it.—Believe me, dear Sirs, yours, very sincerely, "J. S. FRASER. To Jevanjee Pestonjee, Esq., and Rustomjee Viccajee, Esq., London. He appealed to the House, whether this letter did not afford a full justification to the House for interfering in the case? But, after all, the question turned upon the policy of the Indian Government with regard to their non-interference in money transactions between their subjects and the Native Princes. He confessed be was utterly at a loss to understand how the relations which existed between a Government and its subjects—relations, as he understood them, which called for exact obedience and subjection on the one hand, but which implied, with no less certainty, support and protection on the other—he could not understand how these relations could be maintained, if an invariable policy of non-interference in all transactions of which money was the object, was to be the line to be pursued. It would throw the door open to every species of fraud, violence, and wrong; for the wrong-doer would have nothing more to do than to plead that he had had money transactions with the subjects of Her Majesty in order to escape with impunity. If the Government were right in laying down non-interference as the principle of their policy, he took it for granted that exceptions to that policy must frequently occur; and he believed that the past history of the Indian Government was full of such exceptions. If this were so, then be maintained that the case of the petitioners was one paramountly entitled to be considered an exception. It ought to be an exception for three separate reasons: first, that it was in fact not a money dispute, but a case of admitted debt—admitted in the most formal and careful manner, under and with the knowledge and the cognisance of the British Resident at Hyderabad; secondly, it ought to be an exception, because these Parsecs might have been able, had they not been British subjects, to pay themselves, by resisting the Nizam's occupation of the districts. If it were possible for him to lay before the House one tithe of the evidence which had been submitted to him on this subject, he could show that in the Lower State of the Nizam's dominions it would not only have been possible, but morally certain, that if the petitioners had not been British subjects, they would have been able to receive from the estates which they held in that district belonging to the Nizam the money owing to them. It was not an unimportant fact, that since 1845, when these persons were dispossessed by the Nizam of the land they held within that territory, there bad been no less than ten separate instances of successful resistance to the Nizam by subjects who had grounds of claim against him. But the result of any such resistance by these petitioners, it was obvious, would have been violence and bloodshed; and it was not a little important, as bearing on this fact, that General Fraser had himself declared that, though he admitted the wrong done—though he acknowledged the violation of all right on the part of the Nizam—yet if these men, as British subjects, had attempted to resist the orders of the Nizam, he would have felt himself justified in ordering out the troops of the British contingent to enforce those orders. But Iris (Mr. Smith's) last and strongest claim to make this case an exception was this—that the East India Company never had been asked to obtain the repayment of this money; what they had been asked to do was to obtain a restitution of the mortgage; to exert their influence with the Nizam, which was certain and paramount, to reinstate the petitioners in possession of those districts from which they had been expelled. The mortgage, it was to be remembered, was executed clearly with the cognisance and knowledge of the British Resident, and no one who knew the character of that gentleman, could doubt for one moment that he would have refused to lend his name, either directly or indirectly, to sanction such a transaction, if he had not known that the transactions were honourable and just. He confessed, if the case rested here, he should with confidence have appealed to the House on behalf of the petitioners. But the case did not stop here. The East India Company, with full knowledge of the existence of this mortgage, after having received repeated notice of its existence from the petitioners, had thought fit to take possession of these very districts in open violation of every rule of private property, of which these petitioners had been dispos- sessed. They had not only rendered it impossible for them ever hereafter to protest against similar wrongs, but they had also rendered it impossible for the Nizam, if he wished it, to do justice to those petitioners. He should conclude by expressing his earnest desire to hear some explanation of this extraordinary transaction, and some justification of conduct which, he confessed, appeared to him to be perfectly inexplicable. At all events, he believed that a primâ facie case had been made out for inquiry; and most sincerely should he regret if the result of that evening's division should prove, that there were subjects of the British Crown who had been the victims of cruelty, of violence, and of fraud; and that they must leave that House with the conviction and the knowledge that every door for redress was shut against them. Their names might be uncouth to our ears, but they were the subjects of our Queen. He implored hon. Members to recollect that these petitioners had no hope except from the justice of that House, and no chance of redress except from that indignation against cruelty and wrong which had ever so honourably distinguished the English House of Commons.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to cause the case and memorial of the Parsee merchants Jevanjee Pestonjee and Rustomjee Viccajee to be referred for the examination and direction of the Judicial Committee of tier Majesty's Privy Council,' instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


could assure his hon. Friend that nothing was further from his intention than in any way to disparage the character of the petitioners who now made their appeal to the House; and if he did not feel that he had to discharge what he believed to be a public and paramount duty, be should experience considerable pain in taking the course he was about to pursue. But he thought before he sat down he should be able to show the House that there were grounds for resisting the claims of these petitioners—grounds which had not been touched upon, or even alluded to, by either of the hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House—grounds of such paramount importance, that he should most seriously neglect his duty if he did not urge the House in the strongest manner to resist these appeals to their feelings rather than to their sense of justice, and call upon them to maintain a policy which he believed was sound, and by which our Indian empire had hitherto been mainly upheld. With regard to the facts stated by the two hon. Members, he (Sir C. Wood) had no disposition to dispute the facts; he only disputed the colouring which those hon. Gentlemen had put upon them. The hon. Member for Leominster said be would not go into the general question as to the Nizam's debts; and he (Sir C. Wood) thought, considering the time which had been occupied by this subject, that he should best consult the feelings of the House if he, too, abstained from going into any general accounts, and confined himself to the case immediately before them, and that more strictly than either of the hon. Gentlemen had done. The hon. Member for Leominster had said that the whole case turned upon the pledged faith of the British Government to support the claims of these petitioners. Let him here just remark that the claims raised by these persons was against the Nizam—the person who was alleged to owe the money was the Nizam. The question, and the sole question, for the House to decide was, whether the British Government was to be called upon to compel the Nizam to pay a debt to these persons. The British Government (and in using that term he spoke of the Government generally, as well in India as in England) owed no money to the petitioners, had done no wrong to them; and the simple question was, were they to interfere or not to compel the Nizam to pay to them that which was alleged to be due from him? He had no doubt the Nizam owed money to the petitioners. The Nizam himself denied it, and maintained that the parties had received from his territories more than he owed them. It was, therefore, a disputed question between the petitioners and the Nizam. He did not pretend to say who was right; but, for the sake of clearing the ground, he would assume that, in all probability, the Nizam did owe these persons more than he himself admitted. Well, what were the grounds on which the interference of the British Government was asked? It was claimed, first, on the special ground that a specific guarantee had been given on the part of the British Government, through the acts of the Resident at Hyderabad, to enforce the payment of this debt. His hon. Friend had, a little unfairly, concluded that this was an undisputed fact. The first ground he stated was, that when these persons, in the first instance, proceeded from Bombay to Hyderabad, they applied to the Bombay Government, requesting that in any dispute between the Nizam and the petitioners, the British Resident there might act as an umpire; that the Government of Bombay entirely complied with that request; and that they went to Hyderabad under the distinct assurance that the British Resident was to act as umpire between them and the Nizam. He held in his hand a paper submitted by those gentlemen to him as a memorial, and he would quote from their own paper the words of the letter addressed by the Government to the Resident, to show what it was they requested that the Resident should do:—"We request that you will be pleased to extend such attention to the petitioners as you may think proper." He thought those words could not be said in any way to bear out the assertion that the Resident at Hyderabad was requested to settle all disputes between the Nizam and the petitioners. The petitioners were put into the management of a certain district in the Nizam's territories, and made large advances as bankers to the Nizam. They state in their memorial that, beyond paying over the revenue of the territories, they had advanced money for the pay of the contingent, and other State purposes. This was in the year 1836. In 1841 a separate banking account was opened between them and the Nizam, and it appeared again from their own statement that in 1843 they had advanced in excess of any receipt from the territory under their management nearly 700,000l. at a high rate of interest. In 1841 some question arose between the parties, and an arrangement was made to the effect that they were to give up possession of a considerable portion of the land under their management, and were to receive as security for the money advanced an assignment of a portion of land previously occupied by them, and also of certain debts due from other persons to the Nizam. A copy of this assignment was simply deposited with the records at the Resident's house; but it was not true, as the hon. Member for Leominster had said, that the Resident had taken any part whatever in these proceedings, or had distributed copies of it to other persons. The petitioners asked for an authenticated copy of the document, and at the request of the Nizam's Minister it was given to them. The hon. Gentleman had quoted a letter from General Fraser in favour of these gentlemen. He could readily conceive, that in the ordinary intercourse between those persons and the Resident, a favourable opinion had been created towards them. But General Fraser had distinctly stated that no guarantee—legal, virtual, or moral, of any kind or sort—was ever intended to be given by him, and that no such guarantee could be supposed to exist from anything he did. He (Sir C. Wood) had thought it right to see General Fraser himself on the subject, and he most distinctly stated that there was nothing of the kind. But, to put this question beyond doubt, he would read a paragraph from the letter of General Fraser:— The Minister (Chundoo Lall) informed me that from certain districts assigned to the Parsecs I should receive a portion of the monthly payments due on account of the contingent; but this was a matter entirely between the Minister and myself, and involved no intercourse, negotiation, or question whatever between the Parsees and the Resident. The main object of what I said (to Mr. Smith and Sir C. Wood) was to show that our interference, if called for at all, was so on the exclusive ground of that protection which is due by any Government to its subjects, when seriously aggrieved by the act of another Government. I have stated distinctly the ground, and the sole ground, as it appears to me, on which our interference could be justified; and this would extend no further than to suggest to the Nizam that it would be but an act of justice to the Parsecs to cause their complaints to be inquired into, with a view to their being redressed if well founded. The present Minister by no means assents to the correctness of their accounts. Well, was there any other reason for supposing that these persons were led to believe that they had, or would have, the guarantee of the British Government? One of the Directors of the East India Company, Major Moore, was Military Secretary at Hyderabad during part of these transactions, and he bad distinctly stated to the parties that no guarantee would be given by the British Government. This gentleman said, in a memorandum on the subject— I have a strong impression on my mind of having advised the Parsee not to take the talookhas from Chundoo Lall, and warned him at an interview, in the presence of the Resident, that they would not, and could not, get any direct guaransee from the British Government. And he went on to say farther— I can positively say that I more than once warned them of their ruin, and I was astonished that cautious merchants, like the Parsees, were so rash as to risk their money in such transactions. Surely this was ample warning against any expectation to be grounded on a supposed guarantee of the British Government. A further proof of the existence of a guarantee on the part of the British Government it said to be found in the circumstance that, on a subsequent occasion, General Fraser refused to sanction a transaction proposed by the Nizam's Minister, because it was breach of the agreement guaranteed by him. Such was not the case, and what he did was simply refusing to order a British officer to divert to another purpose money which he had been directed to pay to the Parsees. Amongst the securities given to them was an assignment of a payment due from some Rajah to the Nizam. Rajah died, leaving an infant heir. During the minority his territory was administered by a British officer, who made this payment regularly to the Parsecs in pursuance of the assignment; and when the Minister proposed to General Fraser to direct this payment to be made to somebody else, he simply refused to do so, proving it to be due to the Parsecs. I think he was quite right; but out of this simple circumstance it is utterly impossible to extract a guarantee of the Whole transaction on the part of the British Government. After all this, however, which might have operated as a warning to the Parsecs, they made still further advances to the Nizam on his simple promise, and without even the pretence of a guarantee by the Resident. I come now to the closing transaction between the Nizam and these gentlemen. It was the habit of the Nizam to borrow money and assign territories to the lenders on account of that money; and then, when he thought they had got as much out of it as they were entitled to, he called on them to give up possession of the districts so assigned to them. This is precisely what occurred in the present instance. But tint had occurred in so many other instances that they could not but be aware of what they might actually have to expect. The parties feeling themselves aggrieved, presented a petition to the Indian Government asking for their interference; and the Resident, before he sent that petition to the Government, laid it before the Nizam, in order that he might have an opportunity of making a statement on the subject, which might also be submitted to their consideration. General Fraser took an interest in these parties, and in his individual capacity did what he could to promote their interests. At an interview which took place with the Minister of the Nizam, the latter proposed to pay the parties through the Resident; but General Fraser positively declined having anything to do with the transaction in his official capacity, and plainly told them that, without the authority of the British Government, he could not interfere. Now there can hardly be a clearer proof of what the opinion of the Resident was as to any guarantee, or as to what was his duty in cases arising between the Government of the Nizam and private persons lending money to them. This was the first instance in which he was asked to take any part in them, and he at Once refused to do, saying, as he was bound to do, that he had no authority of himself to meddle with such transactions. Indeed, it has always been the principle as well as the practice of the East India Government to refuse to interfere with enforcing the payment of the debts of Native Princes. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated that these gentlemen were informed that a favourable consideration of their claims would be ordered to take place at Calcutta; but no such expectations were ever authoritatively held out to them. All they were told was, that it was the practice that such communications should be made to the Government of India in India, and that whatever answer was given to their claims would be given not in this country, but in India. The case was fully considered by the Indian Government; it was decided against the petitioners both by Lord Hardinge and Lord Dalhousie; and the Home Government on both occasions were clearly of opinion that these decisions were right, and that they would not be justified in interfering. But to return to the order of events. In 1845, the Nizam sent troops to take possession of the districts which were in the hands of the petitioners. The hon. Member for Leominster said, they could not, as British subjects, resist the Nizam's troops. All that took place on the occasion he did not exactly know; but it did not seem to be quite so peaceable a transaction as had been represented. According to the statement of these gentlemen, their people in possession had orders not to yield to the troops, or to any one on behalf of the Nizam, and not to quit their posts unless driven from them by actual force. The result was, that sixteen people were killed, and fifteen wounded, while several of the Nizam's troops were killed. The hon. and learned Member said, the contingent could have been called in to put down this opposition to the Nizam, which could not have been the case if the petitioners had not been British subjects. He was mistaken in that statement. The contingent could have been equally called in to put down resistance to the Nizam's authority, whether that resistance proceeded from British subjects, or persons who were his own native subjects. The fact, however, was, that the contingent was not called in, and the Nizam resumed possession of the land, and has retained it ever since 1845. The last ground on which our interference is called for, is, that we are now in receipt of the revenue of part of these lands. The circumstances under which we were put into receipt of that revenue are the following:—There had been a claim on the Nizam for the contingent which was kept up for his defence and support, and this claim being in arrear for some time, an arrangement had been made within the last three or four months, for the discharge of those past arrears, and for the future payment of the fund. To secure the payment of the contingent, the revenue of certain districts had been put in our possession, and among the districts so put into our hands was a portion of the land which was formerly assigned to these parties. Those lands have been in possession of the Nizam for eight years, and now, along with others which were situated in the western and southern part of his dominions, they were put into our possession; but did that materially alter the case? If the case is to rest on this ground, it cannot be supported for a moment, for supposing the whole of the district assigned to the Government had been the southern territory of the Nizam, the whose case, as now put, would have fallen to the ground. The case, therefore, so far as it rests upon an assumed guarantee, appeared to him to fail altogether. None had been given by General Fraser, the Resident. That officer's letter completely negatived any such inference, and Major Moore's statement went very far in a directly opposite sense. No act of the Resident could be construed into anything like a pledge of enforcing the claim; and the view which lie himself took of his position, is clear enough from his conduct when the Nizam's Mister proposed to him even a very slight increase of interference in the transactions between the Nizam and the Parsee brokers. The hon. and learned Gentleman based this claim further on the fact that these parties were British subjects. He laid clown certain doctrines relative to the protection of British subjects, with which, as a general rule, he (Sir C. Wood) had no disposition to object; but before that protection was given, the previous question had to be settled whether these British subjects were engaged in transactions that were consistent with the laws and policy of the country whose protection they claimed? Now, these gentlemen said they were British subjects; and his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. J. A. Smith) spoke as if there had been a departure from the past policy of the Indian Government in their case. But if there was one subject more discussed than another by the great authorities on all questions connected with India, when Indian questions were of greater importance than they now were, it was the danger of loans of money to the Native Princes of India by British subjects. These loans had been the cause of almost every abuse in India. His hon. Friend said, if they refused this claim, the door would be opened to every species of fraud, violence, and wrong; but if he were to select words to describe the consequences, from 1783, downwards, of interference on the part of Government to procure the payment of debts front Native Princes to British subjects, he could not find words more appropriate than those employed by his hon. Friend. Did the hon. and learned Member for Leominster, who so frequently quotes from old speeches of great statesmen, know that in Mr. Fox's celebrated Bill, in 1783, there was an express provision prohibiting, on the part of any Native Prince, the assignment of land to any British subject, and, at the same time, prohibiting any British subject from receiving such assignment? Mr. Pitt omitted that clause in his Bill, and on that occasion Mr. Burke denounced the omission in these terms:— He expunged this essential clause, broke down the fence which was raised to cover the public property against the rapacity of his partisans, and thus, levelling every obstruction, he made a firm broad highway for usury and oppression to renew their ravages throughout the devoted revenues of the Carnatic. Mr. Pitt obtained his Bill without the insertion of that clause; but no long time elapsed before the country, and Mr. Pitt, and the House of Commons, became convinced of the evils arising from the practice. The consequence was an alteration of the law; and did his hon. Friend know that by the law applicable to their case, these persons were guilty of a misdemeanour? For by an Act of 1797, it was declared to be a misdemeanour for a British subject to lend money to a Native Prince. The Act of 37 Geo. III., c. 142, contained the following clause:— And whereas the practice of British subjects lending money, or being concerned in the lending of the same, or in transactions for the borrowing money for or lending money to the Native Princes in India, has been productive of much mischief, and is the source of much usury and extortion; and whereas the wholesome orders of the Court of Directors of the United Company of Merchants trading to India have not been sufficient to restrain and repress the same; and whereas it is highly desirable that such practices should be prevented in future, &c., persons lending, borrowing, &c., without consent of Government to be guilty of misdemeanour; and bonds, &c., to be null and void. It might be argued that this Act only applied to Europeans. He would not stop to discuss that question, general as the words of the Act were. He was not anxious to prove that these gentlemen had committed a misdemeanour. What he wished to show was, that the constant policy of the British Government and of Parliament was to discourage loans to Native Princes, payment of which the Government might be called upon to enforce. These gentlemen claimed the interference of the British Government as British subjects. Then they had done what it was clearly the policy of the British Government to prohibit and prevent. The avowed policy of the Act was to protect Native Princes from extortion by the interference of the British Government, and the danger of this extortion is just as great whether the interference be in favour of Europeans or Natives. Mutatis mutandis, this transaction was precisely similar to the celebrated case of the Nabob of Ascot's debts, which was eloquently denounced by Burke in these words:— The Nabob pleaded inability to pay the troops their arrears. Here was a difficulty. The Nabob had no money; every public supply was empty. But there was one resource which no season has ever yet dried up in that climate. The saucers were at hand—that is, private English money-jobbers offered their assistance. Messrs. Taylor, Majendie, and Call proposed to advance the small sum of 160,0001. to pay off the Nabob's black cavalry, provided the Company's authority was given for their loan. This was the great point of policy always aimed at, and pursued through a hundred devices by the servants at Madras. The Presidency, who themselves had no authority for the functions they presumed to exercise, very readily gave the sanction of the Company to those servants who knew that the Company, whose sanction was demanded, had positively prohibited all such transactions. The Nabob immediately handed over to these gentlemen the receipt of a territorial revenue, of which, it seems, they continued as long in possession as the Nabob himself continued in possession of anything. About two years after the assignment of these territorial revenues to these gentlemen, the Nabob receives a remonstrance from his chief manager in a principal province, of which this is the tenor:—'The entire revenue of those districts is, by your Highness's order, set apart to discharge the assignments granted to the Europeans: their agents are there in order to collect those assignments; and as they receive all the revenue that is collected, your Highness's troops have seven or eight months' pay due, which they cannot receive, and are thereby reduced to the greatest distress.' Here, Sir, you see how these causes and effects act upon one another. One body of troops mutinies for want of pay; a debt is contracted to pay them, and they still remain unpaid. A territory destined to pay other troops is assigned for this debt; and these other troops fall into the same state of indigence and mutiny with the first. Bond is paid by bond; arrear is turned into new arrear; usury engenders new usury; mutiny, suspended in one quarter, starts up in another, until all the revenues and all the establishments are untangled into one inextricable knot of confusion, From which they are only disengaged by being entire destroyed. He could not more accurately describe the probable course of events if we were to interfere in this case. If we should interpose in the way suggested by the hon. Member, it would be impossible to maintain the Nizam in a state of even quasi independence—there would be no alternative but the immediate annexation of his territories. But we could not suppose that the mischief would stop here if we interfered in this ease. Other claims had been mentioned in the course of the debates on Indian matters. One had been specifically brought before the House: how could we avoid taking them up also? Should we enforce payment in the present case, a Lost of other claimants would spring up, and natives would find no difficulty in transferring their debts to British subjects. The enforcement of the present claims was directly opposed to the policy which the Indian Government had pursued since 1797, and to the Statute to which he had already referred. We should be taking a very decided step towards arresting that wise and just policy which had been enforced by he great authorities whom he had quoted, which had been sanctioned by successive Parliaments, and had been consecrated by he provisions of an Act of Parliament. Should the House be prepared to accede to the request of these petitioners, the first step to be taken must be the repeal of the Act of the 37 Geo. III.


said, this was no common case of debtor and creditor, nor was the position of the firm, as regarded the British Government, to be regarded as the ordinary position of a British subject. The parties in this case were in the proud position of an ally of the East India Company, who had come forward at a moment of great peril to give assistance to the British Government, and in that character the whole case ought to be viewed. If the debt was incurred contrary to the law of the country, how was it that the Government was silent upon the conduct of the Resident during the many years that these transactions were carried on with his connivance and approval? The firm advanced money to the Nizam by bills, which were banded to the British Resident, who for warded them to the different British officers commanding the contingent, who were empowered to receive the money. This was proof sufficient that the advances were sanctioned by the British Government. Would the transactions have been sanctioned by the Resident, unless countenanced by the higher Indian authorities? The constant silence maintained by these authorities was a tacit assent to the justice of the claim. That was an answer to the strong argument that the law was broken in making these advances. With respect to the assertion that this was an affair between the firm and the Nizam only, he would say, was honour to be ignored in such transactions? Were not obligations of honour equally binding between a nation and individuals, as between two individuals? These were not the only benefits the firm had conferred on the British Government. The firm had improved lands which they had been invited to settle upon, had extended cultivation, and opened out lines of road, and that was conferring a benefit of no small character. The very unjustifiable way in which the British Government withdrew their protection from this firm, added no small force to their claim upon Parliament fur protection. Now these persons came forward at a critical period, and assisted the British Government when they could not obtain assistance elsewhere; yet the British Government had not hesitated, in order to satisfy claims of their own upon the Nizam, to take possession of the very districts which these gentlemen had improved, and which formed part and parcel of the mortgage solemnly executed in their favour by the hand of the Nizam himself. This unfortunate family had been bandied about from England to India, and from India to England, and when they last went back to India they were under the impression that their case would receive favourble consideration. That had not been done, and the firm had been obliged to return again to England in pursuit of justice; and he implored the House, as this was the last chance of obtaining redress, to give the case a favourable and impartial consideration. With respect to the question of the policy of non-interference, he could not understand the force of any argument which would assert that the British Government was not bound to step in and protect these parties. If a British subject received an outrage in a foreign country, the Foreign Minister interfered to obtain redress. No one could deny that these respectable persons had been outraged, their dependents murdered, and themselves reduced to the lowest condition. They had suffered wrong, not at the hands of a rival nation, but of a nation which the British Government controlled, and he could not understand why hey should be received with such coldness and apathy. He had hoped to hear stronger arguments in defence of the part that had been taken by the British Government, than had been used to-night. He remained of opinion that this was a case of excessive cruelty, in which it was the bounden duty if Parliament to interfere.


observed, that in Committee on the India Bill it was proposed to add a clause for the creation of a special tribunal to consider cases such as the present, the President of the Board of Control (Sir C. Wood) took upon himself lie responsibility of saying that the existing tribunals were sufficient. Here was a case which had been sent to India and sent home again, and now came to that House as the last Court of Appeal; and, there fore, he thought the President of the Board of Control, instead of having recourse to subtle, ingenious, and artful objections, for the purpose of overthrowing the Motion for a Committee, would have acted a part more consistent with the course he took in opposing the proposition to which he had referred, if he had said at once that this was a question open to inquiry. The case was me where the ordinary tribunals were evidently insufficient, and the Legislature was the only Court of Appeal. It had been advanced as a reason against entertaining the proposition before the House, that, if the present case were entertained, numerous others would be brought forward also. It was unfair to prejudice the House by reference to other cases that were not before it; but he could only say, that, if such should be the case, he hoped the House would be able to treat those other case with justice. The question was contained within a very small compass, if clearer from the mists which the ingenuity and special pleading of the right hon. Gentle man had cast around it. Two native gentlemen proceeded to the territory of the Nizam, where they acquired considerable property. The Nizam was compelled by treaty to furnish to the East India Company a contingent of 4,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantry, and, being unable to do so, was compelled to borrow money, and that money was advanced to him by the petitioners in the present case. Various sums were advanced, until at length the total amount was nearly 700,000l. From this statement it was clear that the East India Company had received the benefit of these sums of money. Certain lands had been mortgaged to those native gentlemen to secure the return of the money which they had advanced, and those lands had since been taken from them without that money having been returned to them; their agents had been slaughtered in defence of their rights, and these very lands were now in the possession of the East India Company. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control to refer to an Act of Parliament to prove that the whole transaction was illegal; but as the right hon. Gentleman read the extract it appeared to him that that Act was only intended to apply to British subjects living in India, and not to the natives of India subject to this country. He held in his hand an opinion, signed with the three names—Giffard, Copley, and Bosanquet, which confirmed him in that conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman said, that by that Act of Parliament, it was a misdemeanor for a British subject to advance money to a Native Prince; but even if that law did apply to the natives of India, he would beg the House to observe that this money had been advanced upon a mortgage which received the sanction of a responsible agent of the British Government in India, and it had been enrolled in their records; and, therefore, if it were a misdemeauor, the Government was certainly particeps criminis, The case thus assumed a serious character, and the House was imperatively called upon to see justice done. The simple question to be considered was, that two native gentlemen, subjects of this country, had advanced money upon the mortgage of lands, and that those lands had been forcibly taken from them, and were now in the enjoyment of the East India Company. It was a case that appeared to him well worthy of the consideration of the House, and he hoped that those native gentlemen would not be compelled to return to India with the conviction that to they had trusted us and been deceived—with the small consolation that two or three Members had exerted themselves on their behalf. The defence set up was only worthy the petty chicanery of an unscrupulous attorney.


said, the question resolved itself into this, whether the case was or was not one of an exceptional character. As stated by his right hon. Friend, the claimants were men of high character; he could bear testimony to that himself. They were engaged in trade at Bombay, and being desirous of establishing a mercantile concern in the territory of the Nizam, they went there, and were employed in collecting the revenue, receiving a commission for their trouble. It was very is well understood in the native States that it those who were employed in collecting the revenue were expected to make occasional pecuniary advances. The Nizam called upon these native gentlemen to make him an advance, and in their petition they stated that, not having the money themselves for this purpose, they were obliged to borrow it in different parts of India, for which they had to pay high rates of interest. Having borrowed the money themselves, they advanced it to the Nizam, charging a still higher rate of interest. At last their creditors insisted upon payment; they therefore went to the Minister of the Nizam, and they received some land by way of security. This was the old story of the Nizam. He borrowed from everybody, and paid nobody; and ever and anon, when creditors were importunate, he assigned some territory, of which he left them in possession just so long as he thought sufficient to enable them to repay themselves. As soon as that time arrived, he assembled his Rohillas or Arabs, and turned the party out. This was always the case. Now, these parties had been warned by the British authorities; they knew the danger they incurred, and also the advantage they would obtain provided they succeeded according to their anticipations; and they incurred all the risk with their eyes open. This really was the whole case. They had not been paid, and the Nizam said, they had been in possession of territory long enough to repay themselves. A large sum, they said, was due to them; and from their respectability he believed it probable that a considerable sum was due; and he should be happy if, either publicly or privately, he could, consistently with his sense of duty, take the view of their claims which had been presented to the House this night. He was quite of opinion that the case was one of great hardship. It was an appeal to sympathy and benevolence; but the question was, whether, consistently with public duty and policy, the House could give vent to those feelings, and compel the Nizam to pay these gentlemen in preference to hundreds, he might say thousands, of others whom he had treated in the same way? There was no difference as to the authority given to these parties by the Bombay Government when they proceeded to the territory of the Nizam. If General Fraser had anticipated that on such a letter as was given to them, this claim would have been founded, he could not have written more diplomatically; for what did he say? Why, in his letter of May, 1835, all that he said was— The Governor in Council being of opinion that any interruption to the trade should be removed, as far as practicable, will comply with your request, so far as to grant you a letter to the Resident at Hyderabad, requesting him to use his endeavours to obviate the evil complained of; and you will do well to deliver the letter personally, in order to explain matters to the Resident, so as to enable him to represent things in their true light to His Highness the Nizam's Minister. Afterwards he returned to Bombay, and when again proceeding to the territory of the Nizam, they presented another petition to the Bombay Government, soliciting a further letter of introduction to the Resident. This was the second and last letter of the Bombay Government. The petition was transmitted to the Resident, and the Bombay Government wrote this letter:— In transmitting to you the enclosed copy of a petition from Pestonjee Merjee, dated 30th July last, stating that he intends proceeding to Hyderabad on a mercantile speculation, and soliciting your aid and support in furtherance of his objects connected therewith, I am directed by the Honourable the Governor in Council to request that you will be pleased to extend such attention to the petitioner as you may think proper. This was the foundation of the present application to the House: nothing but a direction from the Bombay Government to give these gentlemen, then proceeding to the territory of the Nizam, just so much assistance as the Resident might think proper. They went; and now he came to the point upon which the hon. and learned Member who made this Motion chiefly relied. It was said they had a mortgage. It was not a mortgage they possessed; it was only an assignment of certain lands, of which the Resident at the time knew nothing. It was not alleged in the memorial from these parties that the Resident was even aware that there was going to be such an assignment. They went to the Minister, and they represented to him how they were pressed by their creditors. The Minister said, that he could not assist them in giving any assurance to their creditors; but he would assign some of the lands to them; and in order to show that the assignment was in good faith, he agreed that the assignment should be deposited with the Resident. But the Resident himself knew nothing about the matter. Then the question that arises is, why should this document find its way into the possession of the Resident at all? That question was answered by the memorial. The parties were pressed by their creditors, and they had to consider how to silence them. Their object, then, in getting the assignment placed with the Resident was, that they might get a copy of it attested by him, to show their creditors—not that the British Government had anything to do with their debt, but that the British Resident verified the transactions between them and the Minister of the Nizam. But the Resident knew nothing at the time of this. When these gentlemen asked for a copy of the assignment, the Resident declined it. Then they went to the Minister. The Minister interfered; and then General Fraser, upon the application of all the parties interested, gave a copy. This was the main point relied upon. The next point relied on was, that the Resident had interfered to prevent payment of the money due, and diverted it from the proper course. He (Sir J. Hogg) begged to say that the Resident had not interfered. An application was made to the Resident, and why was that application made? Because that money was to be collected by the commanding officer of the station, and by that officer it was to be paid to these gentlemen by order of the Minister. The Resident said, "I will not interfere in matters which do not concern me. I will not be instrumental in giving orders by which an act of injustice may be commit- ted." And he refused to interfere unless he received an order to that effect from his Government. Again, when they were turned out of their ands, he expressly told them he could not interfere without instructions from the Government. It appeared, then, that the assignment was not granted until all the money had been advanced and paid. How, then, could it be pretended that the execution of the document had anything to do with the money which had been advanced long before? They sent a petition to the Governor General through General Fraser. Genera; Fraser sent this petition to the Nizam, hoping that he would pay attention to it; but he regretted to say this act of kindness had not the desired effect. The petition then went to Lord Hardinge, who said he could not interfere to compel a Native State to repay money advanced by private parties under the rule of British authority. No State in Europe would interfere with another State to enforce repayment of money advanced by its subjects. This was well understood in European policy, and it had been acted upon by the noble Lord now at the head of the Home Office. No interference whatever had taken place in the case of Spain, Portugal, Michigan, Mississippi the South American States, and in other instances, beyond a civil note and request that attention might be paid to the claims of British subjects. If this was the policy in Europe, where the States are nearly on a par with each other, how much stronger must it be in India where the British authority is paramount, and where interference becomes dictation. His hon. Friend had read to the House a paragraph from a despatch from the Court of Directors but he did not say that the despatch was written by the Court without that paragraph. Mr. Canning put in that paragraph. It was inserted in the case of the house of Palmer, who founded their claim upon being British subjects. The Court of Directors entertained a different opinion from the Board of Control with referent to this claim. The Board of Control said that the British Resident had suggested the payment of the debts, and that this amounted to a kind of tacit recognition that would justify the British Government in interfering. The Court of Directors however, refused to sign the dispatch, although ordered to do so, and said the, would go to the Court of King's Bench rather than sign it. It had been asked what was the remedy in such an extreme case? Lord Grey was then Minister; and upon communication with the President of the Board of Control, the case was regarded by the Government as one that ought not to be entertained, and the despatch was never signed. Other cases had been mentioned by his hon. Friend, who had quoted a great many expressions from Lord Metcalfe. It was with profound astonishment that he heard his hon. Friend represent Lord Metcalfe as the advocate of interference. No man protested more strongly against interference than Lord Metcalfe. Was the case of Hyderabad like the present? It had been stated that the 37 Geo. III. prohibits British subjects from making advances to Native subjects. The law says that money shall not be advanced without the consent and permission of the British Government. Palmer's house had not that sanction and permission; but the transactions which they carried on were of that character of exorbitancy, and so oppressive to the country of the Nizam, in the opinion of Lord Metcalfe himself, that he interfered, notwithstanding that they bad the permission of the Government, and put down that establishment which be thought injurious to the interests of the country and of the Nizam. He regretted that the argument of the President of the Board of Control had been entirely misunderstood and misrepresented. What the right hon. Gentleman had said was, that the petitioners, having founded their claim upon the fact of their being British subjects, were put out of Court by the 37 Geo. III. which rendered it penal for a British subject to advance money to a Native Prince. But suppose they were not British subjects. He hoped the House were not going to direct the Indian Government to compel Native Princes to repay money advanced to them by gentlemen not subjects of the British Crown. Let them remember what took place in the case of the Nabob of the Carnatic. The debts of that Prince were alleged to amount to about thirty millions. When the East India Company took possession of his territory, a Committee was appointed to investigate the claims against him, and the result was, that little more than two millions and a half were substantiated. The rest of his supposed debts were repudiated as utterly unfounded, consisting of charges of commission and exorbitant interest of 20 and 30 per cent. Suppose that one of these fraudulent creditors had come before the House with a bond for the amount of the debt due to him—for they all had bonds—the House would probably have been asked, as in the present case, to interfere, and to saddle the Nabob with the whole thirty millions. He entreated the House not to give its sanction to flu doctrine which bad been so strongly urged upon its attention that evening. It was opposed to the uniform policy of the Indian Government during the last sixty years Every Act of Parliament relating to India condemned it, and the Governments of Lord Hardinge and of Lord Dalhousie, as well as two successive Presidents of the Board of Control, had agreed to oppose it. It had been said during the course of the debate that some vague hope or expectation had been held out to the petitioners that if they returned to India, their chain would receive the favourable consideration of the Indian Government. He did no believe that either Lord Broughton or the former Chairman of the Court of Directors had ever trifled with the petitioners in such a manner; and for his own part he cold only say that, while he had received then with that courtesy, kindness, and sympathy, which their respectability, their talents, and their misfortunes, deserved, he had never held out to them the slightest expectation that their claims would be favourably considered by the Indian Government.


said, that no person could have listened to the able speeches which had been made upon either side without coming to the conclusion that this was case well deserving consideration, and one which the House, although it might not find itself in a position to decide as to what should ultimately be done with it, at all events would not hesitate to refer to some judicial and competent tribunal. They had heard from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, ant from the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) most conclusive testimony as to the character and services of the petitioners; and it was only fair to infer that gentlemen of such respectability would no bring forward a fraudulent or an unjust claim. The petitioners had come to this country twice, and had travelled from 25,000 to 30,000 miles in the prosecution of their claim, the facts of which, he might venture to say, were not disputed at all. He thought that the statement of the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) was, on the whole—unlike some of his state- ments in that House upon Indian subjects—a very fair one; and it showed that the Facts brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for Leominster (Mr. J. G. Phillimore) were for the most part admitted to be true. The case lay in a very narrow compass. They were not asked to decide whether the East India Company should pay the money due to the petitioners out of their own coffers, or whether they should go to war in order to compel the Nizam to pay it—but simply to refer the whole case to a tribunal of high character, where men of the highest legal attainments would preside, and where no decision would be come to which could be dictated by any feeling adverse to the interests of the East India Company. It was not denied that the petitioners were British subjects, though not born in this country—that they had lent large sums of money to the Nizam—that some portions of those sums had been expended in a service tending directly to support the policy and interests of the East India Company—that the Nizam gave them such security as was commonly given in India under such circumstances, namely, an assignment of certain portions of territory, out of the revenues of which they were to be paid the principal which they had advanced, and the interest which had accumulated upon it. The hon. Member for Honiton rather stickled at the term "mortgage," because he knew it involved a legal and permanent claim on the part of the petitioners upon the territory assigned to them, until their debt should be entirely satisfied, and because he felt, also, that it was impossible for the East India Company justly and in equity to lay hold of property already in pledge, and to satisfy their own debt out of it, when other parties had a legal and equitable claim upon it. It was not denied that after this security had been given, and had been possessed and enjoyed for a considerable period, it was withdrawn by the Nizam by force. The hon. Member for Honiton admitted that the Nizam assembled his Rohilla, or Arab bands, and turned the Parsee merchants out of their lawful possessions by force of arms. But whilst all this was going on, there were other claimants upon the Nizam besides these gentlemen—among whom were the East India Company themselves. In the year 1851 the debt owing to the Company by the Nizam had amounted to upwards of 600,000l. But the position of the Company was entirely different from that of the Parsee claimants. The Company had a large army, and the whole power of the Government at their backs. They accordingly proceeded to wrest from the Nizam payment of the debt owing to them; and the security which they seized for the balance was a considerable portion of territory, in which was included some part, if not all, of the territory which had been previously assigned to the petitioners as security for their debt. Now the President of the Board of Control (Sir C. Wood) had rested a great portion of his argument upon the assumption that these gentlemen had been guilty of a breach of the law in lending money to a Native Prince; but the hon. Member for Honiton, who came so valiantly to his rescue, had entirely rejected that argument, and had admitted that the petitioners had not been guilty of a breach of the law in lending their money to a Native Prince. He was only astonished that the President of the Board of Control should have endeavoured to mislead the House by an argument which, if he had looked at the question at all, he must have seen was not a sound argument, or one which he should have offered to the House. But, even if it were true, they should bear in mind that the condition of the Nizam was one of a peculiar character. He was scarcely in any sense what might be called an independent Native Prince; he was, in point of fact, a puppet monarch, maintained on his throne entirely by the Indian Government—his Prime Minister had been in several cases appointed by that Government—the Indian Government had the power of making him observe his engagements—and his Government was so execrably bad, that, if it were not for the support given to him by the Indian authorities, he would long ago have been dethroned, and somebody else would have reigned in his stead. If he understood the position of those Parsee gentlemen in this country, it was this. They did not assert that they had a legal claim against the India Company for the money due to them from the Nizam; they did not insist that the India Company should go to war with the Nizam for the purpose of forcing payment of this debt; but, considering that they were subjects of this country—subjects of the Indian Government—and considering the relation in which the Nizam stood to the Indian Government, there could be no doubt whatever that the Indian Government had it in its power, without doing injury to any one—without in any degree violating the policy which they had constantly pursued towards the native States whenever it was for their own interest—to insist on the Nizam continuing the security which he had given to those gentlemen until their debt and the accumulated interest had been paid. He said there was, in the character of those gentlemen, in the opinion of General Fraser, in the facts admitted on all sides, and in the course they had taken in appealing to the Indian Government in the first instance, in their having come to this country to appeal to the Indian authorities here, in their having been sent back to India by the Court of Directors with the impression that their claims were to be favourably considered—and in having again returned to this country to make a final appeal to the House of Commons—a prima facie ground for a fair and impartial inquiry before any tribunal in this country competent to consider a case of this nature. The House knew that a vast number of officers and troops had recently perished in the swamps of Pegu for the satisfaction of a claim of 900l. He did not seek that these gentlemen should be recompensed in that way; it was not necessary; but he did say that if the Indian Government were to intimate to the Nizam that he should repay what had been advanced to him for his and their own service, it would be paid. This case was a proof of the necessity of that which he had lately importuned the House to grant—the appointment of some tribunal to which reference could be made for the decision of cases like the present. If these gentlemen, who had advanced money which had been used for the service of the State, and had spent large sums in promoting cultivation, and against whose character and conduct no suspicion rested, were to come here for justice without being able even to obtain an hearing, that fact would produce an unfortunate effect in India; and the Indian Government would lose more thereby than they could possibly lose by any decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. He was afraid there were many things to make the intelligent Natives of India feel that the Government was not so careful of their interests as it should be. But if the House rejected the fair and moderate proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Leominster, no intelligent Native could any longer look for a fair investigation of the grievances he might complain of. These gentlemen did not now ask to have this claim of 300,000l. paid either by the Government of India or the Nizam. All they asked for was that the case should be investigated by eminent and learned Judges, who could not be adverse to the Indian Government, but whose sympathies would be for justice; and when it had been so investigated and considered by them, no doubt such recommendations would be made to the Government as would settle the matter for ever. If the Judicial Committee should say that the Indian Government could take no steps in the matter, then these Parsee gentlemen would return to their own country satisfied that they had had at least a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal, and the case would be set at rest for ever. They had not now to consider what was to be paid, or the persons who were to pay; but when they remembered that these gentlemen had travelled over 30,000 miles to get justice—that they were their fellow subjects—the subjects of the same Queen—that they were made Her subjects by the force of English arms, and that as such they asked to have their case referred to a tribunal entrusted with the decision of great cases like theirs; let it not be said that they made such an appeal to that House in vain.


hoped that whatever course the House might deem it desirable to take with reference to the question before them, they would not at all events consent to refer it to the consideration of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, because that tribunal was constituted with the special view of entertaining cases of appeal, and could not efficiently or conveniently deal with complicated cases such as that they were then discussing. With respect to cases of that character it would be much better that interference should take place directly from their own conviction, after inquiry, by means of a Bill—a mode of dealing with such subjects for which the records of Parliament furnished more than one precedent. He apprehended, however, that the real question for their consideration was, whether they ought to attach any weight to the investigation which had been made both by Lord Hardinge and Lord Dalhousie, with reference to the claims of those Parsee gentlemen. He was strongly of opinion that the greatest reliance ought to be placed upon the decision at which those noble Lords had arrived relative to the matter; nor did he think it would be sound policy upon the art of that House lightly to interfere with hat decision. The present case resolved itself into this question—whether they relieved there did exist, on the part of the petitioners, a demand either against the Indian Government personally, or against the territory of which the Indian Government was said to be in possession? He thought there could not be a pretence for saying there was a legal guarantee; neither did he think there was a moral guarantee, for as to the deed in the Resident's office to which his seal had been attached, he apprehended that the seal had been attached for the purpose of identification, and not for the purpose of making himself a party; and as to the claim of a personal demand against the Government, the case was really unfounded; and to this conclusion he arrived upon the allegations contained in the petition of those gentlemen themselves. By far the better case of the petitioners was that which had been suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. J. G. Phillimore), when he said that these gentlemen had a lien upon the property which the Indian Government had adopted. If there were any substance in their case at all, it was that. But, even so, the proper place for deciding upon their claim was a court of justice; and he (Mr. Wigram) should certainly be glad to find they had a remedy there. Upon a consideration of the whole of the Circumstances, he should say that the general policy of the House in reference to interfering with cases of this sort, was one that ought to be exercised with the utmost delicacy; and not seeing any grounds for interfering in the present instance, he should, if they divided, vote against the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Leominster.


concurred with the hon. Member for Manchester in thinking that provisions should have been made in the Bill recently before the House for a tribunal to inquire into all cases of grievance. He would assume, for the sake of argument, that the House would vote in favour of this proposition; but could the petitioners obtain—he would not say a verdict or a decision—but even a hearing? The Judicial Committee of Privy Council was a Committee of Appeal; it was not a committee of original jurisdiction; and he ventured to predict that if the Motion was carried, Her Majesty could not by Her mere writ authorise the Judicial Committee to take on themselves such an inquiry as alone could be satisfactory.


begged the House to remember that under the law which established the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, that body was empowered to entertain any question that Her Majesty might think fit to refer to it. It had been said that it was a very inconvenient tribunal for taking evidence; but in the present ease it would not be called upon to take evidence, but only to pronounce an opinion on documents already in the possession of Members of that House. He thought it was incumbent on the Company to satisfy the claims of those gentlemen, seeing that the Company had knowingly become possessed of land which had been previously pledged to them; and he should, therefore, certainly give his Vote in support of the Motion.


thought no one could have listened to this debate from the commencement, as he had done, without being satisfied of the absolute necessity for inquiry in this case. The opinions upon it were so various that even the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control differed with the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton, while the hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram) differed from both, so that the matter was all uncertainty, and all these contradictions fully proving, as he had remarked before, the absolute necessity for a further investigation of the whole case. But the hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge argued that neither this House nor the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was competent to decide upon the case. Well, but if that was so, which he (Mr. Hume) would not believe, who could decide it then?


The hon. Member for Montrose had misapprehended his argument. What he said was, that if the House could be satisfied with the justice of the case, it was perfectly competent to deal with the claim at once.


observed that then came the absurdity of that position, for how could they be satisfied with the case without an impartial and fair inquiry into its merits, when they all differed about it? The fact was, the House could not be sufficiently informed and satisfied in cases of this nature without full inquiry; and it was to be regret- ted that advantage had not been taken of the Government of India Bill to relieve the House of these discussions by creating a tribunal as he (Mr. Hume) had proposed should be established, to whom all these disputes and claims could be referred. This was not the debt of the East India Company, but of the Nizam, or it could have been enforced in the ordinary courts of law in India; but although it was not the debt of the Company, yet it was secured upon property of which the Company had since got possession; and no possession of property could be claimed without taking the burdens and liabilities upon it. The Company had not done so; but they were to all intents and purposes morally bound to see it repaid. The Company, however, admitted the wrong, but refused to apply the remedy where it could only be obtained; and it was this ground chiefly that induced him to support this Motion for inquiry. He trusted the House would never admit an injustice without providing means for redress. Such ought to be the course of a great Company like the Government of India.


had listened attentively to this debate, and with an anxious desire to arrive at a just conclusion upon the case, and he must say, that upon the whole he saw no reason why the claim of these gentlemen ought not to be satisfied. They were, in his opinion, cruelly treated when they were sent back to India under the expectation that their case would receive the consideration of the Company. That was conduct which no honest individual would have been guilty of; and in matters of this nature, he, for one, could recognise no distinction between a public Company and a private individual. It was the duty then of the Company to have seen that this claim was satisfied before they obtained possession of the land upon which it was received; and he trusted the House would make good that deficiency by granting the inquiry now asked for.


thought the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball) had entirely mistaken the conduct and functions of the Home Government. The reason why these gentlemen were told that their claim would be entertained by the Government of India, was not for the purpose of getting rid of them, as the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire seemed to suppose, but it was because the Home Government made it a practice not to interfere primarily in these matters. How could the Home Go- vernment have held out any hope to these gentlemen, when it was ignorant of the merits of their case? No expectation either one way or the other was held out to them, but they were simply told that their case must originate in the first instance with the Government in India. With regard to referring this ease to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, he could see no advantage that would result from such a course, because even if the Council decided in favour of these gentlemen, there was no legal power to enforce the decision. But supposing the case was referred to this tribunal, who was to be the defendant? Certainly not the East India Company, for they clearly were not the debtors, while inasmuch as the loan was made to the Nizam in his capacity of a sovereign and independent prince, how was a decree against him to be enforced. To interfere at all in the matter, would be contrary to the recognised foreign policy of the British Government of India, and he hoped it would not be entertained for a single moment. A word upon one other point, and he should have done. These gentlemen were to have received interest for their money at the rate of 18l. per cent; and he put it to the House whether it was at all likely that, stipulating for such extravagant interest as that, they could possibly have been under the impression that they were to receive the security of the East India Company for the repayment of the money, besides that of the State to whom the money was advanced, the lawless condition of which, involving extreme risk of loss of principal, was the sole cause of the very high rate of interest?

Question put, That the word "now" stand part of the Question.

The House divided:—Ayes 111; Noes 69: Majority 42.