§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, that he had given notice of four clauses, but he should take the opinion of the Committee on the third and fourth only, embracing the question whether the Secret Committee should not have the power of tendering their advice and opinion, and, if necessary, of entering their protest, with respect to all orders from the President of the Board of Control. The object was to impose something in the shape of a cheek on those wars which had proved so mischievous and disastrous to India. He would propose that the Court of Directors should select the third member of the Secret Committee. The senior Director was now appointed; but the Court of Directors should be able to choose the best qualified person to form, with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, the Secret Committee. The senior Directors was now appointed; but the Court of Directors should be able to choose the best qualified person to form, with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, the Secret Committee. He referred to the Affghan, Scinde, and present Burmese wars, as showing the necessity for a check on the President of the Board of Control. He would now beg to move the third clause of which he had given notice, and which was marked "Clause C," as follows:—That the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors shall consist of the Chairman, Deputy 762 Chairman, and such other Director as shall be selected and nominated by the Court of Directors; and that the said Court of Directors shall select and nominate such third member on the first Wednesday in April, 1854, and shall certify the said appointment, and, in the case of a vacancy, all future appointments, to the President of the Board of Control for the affairs of India, under the seal of the East India Company.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
stated, that his objection to the clause was, that it was the law as it stood now. The Court of Directors did by practice select their senior member, but they might choose any other.
§ Clause negatived.
That the said Secret Committee shall transmit to the Supreme Government in India all orders of the said President of the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India, as by law is now required as to orders emanating, from the said President, except that if the said Secret Committee shall think fit, they may tender their advice and opinion on the effect of any such order and orders, and if they deem it expedient may enter a protest in writing as to the effect of such order or orders, and that such protests shall be duly recorded at the office of the said Secret Committee, and also at the office of the said President; but nothing in this Act shall be Construed in any way to interfere with the power of the said President to issue any order or orders that he may think fit to direct shall be transmitted through the said Secret Committee.
§ Brought up, and read the First Time.
said, that he had given notice of a clause to raise the number of the Secret Committee to four. The principal alteration, however, which he wished to see carried into effect was, that the Secret Committee should be required to keep minutes of their proceedings, and to report those proceedings to the President of the Board of Control. He did not object to a Secret Committee, but desired to see a record kept. He wanted to place the President of the Board of Control, and the Directors also, in a condition to record whenever they differed upon any matters of policy connected with the government of India. He thought the clause was one which, as a matter of precaution, no Government should reject. It was a very small cheek, but it would enable future Parliaments to apply a more effectual remedy.
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
said, he could not, consistently with his sense of public duty, support the clause. It had been asked, why the orders of the President of 763 the Board of Control should be signed by the Secret Committee? The answer was a simple one. It was of great importance so long as the Government of India was vested in the East India Company, that, every order issuing from this country should be issued in the name of the Court of Directors. It was important, also, that the Court of Directors, through the instrumentality of three of their body, should be cognisant of every order that was issued. The President of the Board of Control could not issue orders upon every subject, but was limited by law to the specific subjects of peace, war, and treaties with native princes; and if he attempted to issue an order not connected with those questions, the Secret Committee were entitled to intervene, and demand that the order should be laid before the Court of Directors. So with regard to the expenditure of public money. He did not think, however, that the Secret Committee should have the power of recording their dissent against any order issued by the President of the Board of Control, provided the subject of it was within the province assigned to him by law, Now, his own feelings would lead him to contend for the maintenance of the power and authority of his colleagues, and he should therefore vote for the insertion of the clause if he could take that course consistently with the performance of his duty. Her Majesty's Ministers were responsible for the peace and security of India, and of every part of the Empire; and he could not understand that it would be consistent with the public interests that three gentlemen sitting in Leadenhallstreet should constitute a kind of little Cabinet, controlling, remonstrating against, interfering with, and probably embarrassing the proceedings of Her Majesty's Ministers, who were responsible to their Sovereign and to Parliament for the safety of the Empire. If the Secret Committee, who were pro hac vice Members of the Cabinet, were to enter their records and dissents, they would be called for by that House. But suppose a Cabinet Minister differed from his colleagues, would it be fit that he should place his reasons for dissent upon record, and that they should be liable to be called for by that House? The power must rest where the responsibility was by law imposed. The responsibility was imposed upon Her Majesty's Ministers, and with them, therefore, the entire power should rest. He approved of the President of the Board of Control having the 764 power which he often exercised of consulting with the Secret Committee; but he did not think that they should have the right of entering protests and minutes in opposition to the acts of Her Majesty's Ministers, with whom the responsibility rested.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he rose to make one inquiry of the Government with respect to the opinion which had been laid down by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. W. Hogg). The hon. Director had stated that Her Majesty's Government were responsible for the peace and security of India, and that the responsibility must remain with those who exercised the power. He wanted to know—for he had never yet clearly understood it in the course of these discussions—whether the power of recalling the Governor General of India belonged to the Court of Directors, and was to be continued to them? He did not desire upon the present occasion to enter into a discussion whether that was a power which ought to be left to the Court of Directors; but every one agreed that it was one of the most important exercises of power that could be conceived. If Her Majesty's Government were to be held responsible for the government of India, it appeared quite impossible that they could completely fulfil that responsibility if no difference were made with regard to the power of recalling the Governor General. He had alluded to the subject before; and he should like to know whether it was the intention of the Government to propose any clause in order to deprive the Directors of that power if they still possessed it? Considering the immense responsibility of the Government, he thought that it was one which they should not be called upon to undergo while the power of recalling the Governor General remained with the Directors.
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
said, that he had spoken only of the Secret Committee, who carried out the orders issued by the Government. All the administration orders of India issued with the Court of Directors, and all the administrative duties distinctly differed from those of the Secret Committee.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that the responsibility of peace and war, and of negotiations with foreign Powers, had been for the last twenty years exclusively within the province of the Government of this country, and it was so proposed to continue it. During the whole of that time, as the 765 right hon. Gentleman knew, the Court of Directors had had the power of recalling the Governor General, as well as any other of their servants in India, and of that power it was not proposed to deprive them.
said, one of his objects in supporting the clause was to enable the Secret Committee to communicate their proceedings to their colleagues in the Direction. At present the Secret Committee could not publish their protests without the consent of the President of the Board of Control, so that whatever information they might have would be completely locked within their own breasts. In the case of the war with Affghanistan, the whole Court of Directors applied to the President of the Board of Control to permit the Secret Committee to make known the facts to the Court of Directors. The President refused his consent, and, there fore, whatever was known on the subject was known to the Secret Committee alone.
§ MR. RICH
said, he should support the clause, because it was calculated to give force and reality to the remonstrances which the Secret Committee made. It might happen that the President of the Board of Control might be a little wrong-headed, or rather too eager to engage war, and then the Secret Committee would exercise the useful power of being a kind of drag-chain upon the political eagerness of the Government of the day.
§ MR. OTWAY
would also support the clause. It frequently happened in India that officers were recalled by a dispatch, signed by the Court of Directors, when in fact the act was entirely that of the President of the Board of Control, and the Directors, who signed the recall, had strongly protested against it. This led to great practical inconvenience. Allow theta, how ever, to record their dissent, and they would be relieved from a disagreeable position. He thought it very important that it should be known in India which body was responsible for particular acts done.
said, he wished to cal the attention of the Committee to a proposition laid down by Mr. Martin Tucker the accuracy of which the President of the Board of Control ought certainly not to dispute. That gentleman laid it down as one of the first principles of Government, that the responsibility, whether for praise or blame, ought on all occasions to rest on the right shoulders. There was passage in the Memoirs of Mr. Martin Tucker which showed how deeply he felt 766 the humiliation of his position as a member of the Secret Committee in having to bear the official responsibility of transactions of which he strongly disapproved. Mr. Tucker was a member of the Secret Committee during the period of the Affghan war, and though he was all along opposed to that war, orders in favour of it were sent out to India signed with his name; and but for the accidental circumstance of the publication of his Memoirs, his memory would have had to bear the discredit of having lent his sanction to that war, without the possibility of disputing it. The fact was that the practice of a man signing his name to documents which he disapproved, was alien to every English notion of fair play and common justice; and, however the point might be decided there, he felt sure the public out of doors would be opposed to it. He did not think the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) could rely very strongly on the reasons he had urged against the clause. His whole remarks might be classed under two heads. He said it was most important that some members of the Court of Directors should be acquainted with the orders issued by the President of the Board of Control—that no orders should be issued without their having an opportunity of ascertaining and testing their legality; but all that knowledge and acquaintance would remain under the proposed clause. Nor did he think the hon. Baronet could much rely on the analogy he drew between the Secret Committee and the Cabinet, for that analogy would require that there should be a power in one Member of the Cabinet to overrule all the rest; while the fact was, that whereas in the Cabinet the decision lay with the majority, in the Secret Committee one out of four—it was notorious—had the power of deciding in the last resort.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, it appeared to him that his hon. Friend who had just addressed the Committee was mistaken upon one point. He (Mr. V Smith) believed the public were well aware that the orders signed by the Secret Committee in reality emanated from the President of the Board of Control, and that he alone was responsible for them; but he certainly did not admire the constitution of the Secret Committee, and he felt, with Mr. Tucker, that men were placed in a false and humiliating position when they were compelled to sign documents of which they entirely disapproved. For his part he should have preferred a system under 767 which there should be a smaller number of Directors, and under which the existence of a Secret Committee could be altogether dispensed with. He believed that Committee had been originally formed solely for the purpose of ensuring secrecy in questions involving European interests. But by degrees orders affecting the condition of India alone, which ought to have gone through the Court of Directors, had been forwarded through the Secret Committee. He could not help thinking that there was much force in the argument of the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton against that clause. He agreed with the hon. Baronet that much mischief and confusion might arise from the publication of every quarrel or misunderstanding between the Board of Control and the Secret Committee, and he could not, therefore, support that proposal.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, be thought it was necessary to introduce some check upon the Indian wars, and he had merely endeavoured to bring forward some improvements which appeared to him to be called for. The check he proposed might be inconclusive, but, at all events, it was a step in the right direction, and it could never do any harm that a Minister on the eve of a rash and ruinous enterprise should be warned of the consequences of a course he was about to follow. Under the present Bill the power vested in the President of the Board of Control was so despotic, that, if he chose to declare war against China—which, he supposed, would be the next war we should be involved in—he might do it, for at present there was no one to restrain him from it. He felt certain that his proposition was a good one, from the weakness of the reasons urged by the hon. Member for Honiton against it. If the Amendment he proposed were open to any real objection, it was that it was a milk and water one; but, at any rate, to give three gentlemen well qualified to form an opinion the power of coolly mid calmly stating that opinion upon paper, could never be productive of anything but good.
§ SIR HERBERT MADDOCK
said, he thought that, so long as it should be the pleasure of Parliament to continue to govern India, in the name of a Company that had no real existence, it was of very small importance how matters of this description were controlled. He thought the Committee was placing itself in a dilemma with regard to the position in which the Indian 768 Government was to be placed by the Bill; and, feeling a certainty that the measure now to be adopted could be but of very short duration, he confessed he thought it of very small importance to confer upon the Secret Committee the powers contemplated by his hon. Friend. He should not, therefore, support the Amendment.
§ MR. MANGLES
said, he was sorry to be obliged to differ from his hon. Friend and Colleague the Member for Honiton on this question. It was his intention to support the Amendment of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir H. Willoughby); and one reason why he should do so was, that he thought that the Court of Directors, if they were to be a respected and respectable body, ought to be preserved from the obliquy which in popular opinion attached to them from being the agents for carrying out unwise decrees. He did not, however, lay so much stress upon that argument. His main reason for supporting the Amendment was, that it was desirable that there should be such a check placed upon the mere will and pleasure of the President of the Board of Control as the protest of three well-informed officials, which check would only operate, of course, in exact proportion to its justice and reasonableness. He thought it also desirable that in such matters as peace and war, and others involving the stability of the Indian Empire, all measures should be carried out, not by the President of the Board of Control alone, but by the whole Cabinet of the day. It was said that the President of the Board of Control always consulted the Cabinet, and that his measures were always the measures of the Government. But this, at all events, had not always been the case. He believed that the right hon. Baronet, who at present held that office, was too wise and too loyal to his Colleagues to attempt to carry out any important measure, without consulting the other Members of Government; but they had the admission of Lord Ellenborough, in his evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons, that, when he was President of the Board of Control, he never consulted that great statesman, Sir Robert Peel, when he was at the head of the Government. And what had happened once, might happen again. Lord Ellenborough was asked—Is not that a mere mockery as to check and control? Does not the President always conduct the whole business, and is it not the case that the other members of the board never do attend?He replied— 769Never. When I was President of the Board, upon all matters of difficulty, I always went to the Duke of Wellington, who was at the head of the Government, because I knew that he had, not only a practical, but an intuitive knowledge of everything connected with India; and whatever I know, or whatever I think, upon the subject of India, has been very much brought into my mind by constant communication with him. But I never went to Sir Robert Peel, when he was at the head of the Government, to consult him on any matter.For these reasons he should feel himself bound to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Evesham.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause be now read a Second Time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 30; Noes 72: Majority 42.
said, he wished to move the addition of a clause extending the qualifications of electors of the Court of Directors.
The Electors of the Court of Directors shall be all persons having 500l. stock of the East India Company, and having had that for twelve months, as by the present law; also all holders of Company's Paper to the value of 10,000 rupees; also, to allow every civil and military servant who has served the Company for twenty years in India, and who shall have retired from the service of the Company, to be entitled to vote for a Director after he shall have been twelve months at home and twelve months after he shall have resigned the service; and all Electors shall be enabled to vote by proxy.
§ Brought up, and read the First Time.
§ MR. LOWE
said, he must object to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, because the clauses which prohibited canvassing for the Directorship had already been struck out of the Bill. It had been urged that, owing to the very onerous nature of the canvass, the persons best qualified for the office could not be induced to offer themselves as Directors; but the clause proposed by the hon. Member for Montrose would greatly augment the difficulty of the canvass by increasing very considerably the number of the constituency. Certainly, if the trouble of canvassing some 1,700 persons was a sufficiently formidable obstacle to deter gentlemen from offering themselves as Directors, that difficulty must be greatly increased by doubling the number of electors. The clause moved by the hon. Member for Montrose would also give the right of voting for Directors to persons who were holders of Company's paper to the value of 10,000 rupees, and to retired civil and military servants of the Company who had served for twenty years in India Now, the principle of this Bill was, until 770 Parliament should otherwise determine, to leave the Government of India to the East India Company and the Court of Directors, subject to the control of the Commissioners for the Affairs of India; but the hon. Member proposed to give the Government of that empire to a number of persons who had no connexion with the Company at all beyond standing towards it in the relation of creditors, or of retired servants. As the House of Commons had already decided that the East India Company should be the governing body of India, he thought the Committee would not consent to take the government of that empire from the Company, and give it to a body of persons, some of whom were merely creditors of the Company, and most probably had never had any connexion with India at all, while others were old servants of the Company who had no connexion with India, except so far as feeling and remembrance were concerned. He therefore felt it his duty to recommend the Committee to reject the clause.
§ MR. AYSHFORD WISE
said, he should give his cordial support to the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, because it would do away with the system of canvassing by rendering it impracticable—because it would tend to break up the close system and clanship of East Indianism—because it would scatter the patronage and increase the interest taken in this country in Indian affairs. The present constituency was composed of 1,785 gentlemen and 411 ladies. The proposal now made would give the franchise to retired military and civil servants—from Bengal 893, Madras 597, Bombay 376; in all 1,866. These, with the others proposed to be added, would create a body of 5,000 electors. He thought the interests of India would be promoted by giving a share of the government to those who had served in that country, and who consequently took a concern in its welfare. Some time ago a numerously-signed petition from the retired servants of the hon. East India Company had been presented to the House, and he found, amongst others, the names of Colonel Morgan, C.B., Mr. J. A. Arbuthnot, and Archdeacon Harper, late Archdeacon of Madras. They stated that a long residence in India had made them practically acquainted with its affairs, and had given them a deep interest in its general well-being, and that having Government promissory notes, they necessarily had a great stake in the financial prosperity of India. They stated that 771 the greater part of the proprietors of East India Stock had never resided in India, and that they thought it expedient that the Directors of the East India Company should be chosen by a constituency more extended in its character, and having a real instead of a nominal stake in the welfare of India. Believing the present mode of electing Directors to be bad, and that the proprietors of Stock, as a body, are as incompetent to govern India as the owners of 3 per cent Consols are to govern England, he would support this extension, as promoting the welfare and rights of the many, instead of the selfish objects of the few.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he was anxious to see the introduction of a new element into the present constituency which should be capable of expansion hereafter. For that reason he was in favour of the clause of which the noble Lord the Member for Lynn Regis (Viscount Jocelyn) had given notice, the object of which was to give to the retired Indian officers of the covenanted service the right of voting in the election of the Directors; and should the clause of the hon. Member for Montrose be negatived, be hoped the proposition of the noble Lord would be adopted.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he thought the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose most reasonable, and he should therefore support it. Nothing could be more anomalous than that 1,374 men and 411 females, who might happen to be the holders of stock, which was to be had every day for sale in the market, should be the depositories of the power of choosing the governors of India; and, therefore, he thought any plan tending to extend the basis of the constituency was a step in the right direction.
§ MR. ELLIOT
said, it would be very desirable to introduce the retired servants of the Company, but that there was so great a disproportion between the members of the two services. The retired military servants now in this country were over 1,400, but the civil were only about 280. The result would be that a large number of military men would be placed on the Board. He would, therefore, oppose the clause. He would not vote for any provision which would have the effect of prolonging the existence of the constituency.
SIR HERBERT HADDOCK
thought that persons who had spent the whole of their lives in India were much more likely to feel an interest in that country, and to select persons fitted for the position of Di- 772 rectors, than ladies and gentlemen who chanced to possess East India Stock, or who had purchased it simply for the purpose of providing for their families through the influence which its possession gave them.
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
would beg to remind the President of the Board of Control that in his great speech on the Bill, he had stated that nothing could be said for the proprietors. He would inquire, therefore, why they were to be kept up? In considering this Bill he was reminded of the old story respecting Pope, who had a habit of saying "God mend me!" which being overheard one day in the street, he was answered, "God mend you, you ugly little brute! Why, it would be easier to make a new one altogether." So he said of the Bill. It would be better by far to introduce an entirely new form of government, and he should not vote for any attempt to mend the present bad system.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, that there were several notices upon the paper besides that of the hon. Member for Montrose, of propositions for extending and improving the constituency of the East India proprietors; and he thought the whole of them ought to be taken in conjunction. They should consider, in particular, the proposal of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), who proposed to introduce a new clement into the constituency, consisting of the shareholders in undertakings for the internal improvement of India. It was said that the present Directors had no interest in the internal improvement of the country; and, therefore, by infusing this new element into the constituency, they would be taking effectual means for wiping away this reproach.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
objected to any increase of the constituency, as proposed by the several amendments. It would be inconsistent with the Charter of the Company and the decision of the House that the government should be vested in the East India Company—namely, the proprietors of East India Stock. If the Committee wished to alter that, they must reverse their previous decisions.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that not 773 knowing the probable numerical addition which the hon. Member's (Mr. Hume's) clause would make to the present constituency of the Court of Directors, he was scarcely prepared to vote for his proposition, although he desired to see the constituency increase. The proposition he himself had to make rested upon entirely independent grounds, which he hoped to be allowed by-and-by to state. As to the argument of the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood), based upon the assumed immutability of the Charter, if that view were allowed to prevail, of course cadit questio; but he entirely dissented from that argument, and thought that it was competent to the House to improve the constituency; his object was to introduce into it a class of persons whose interests would be closely identified with the prosperity of India.
§ MR. T. BARING
said, he could not see the force of the argument of the right hon. President of the Board of Control, who had contended that there was an insuperable objection under this Act to any enlargement of the constituency so as to embrace any qualification except that of the possession of the present amount of the stock of the East India Company. The right hon. Gentleman had, therefore, opposed the proposed reduction of the qualification from 1,000l. to 500l. of Stock; but did the right hon. Baronet forget that he himself had proposed a very material change in this Bill, proposing as it did to take away from the proprietors of India Stock one-third of the power which they at present enjoyed in the election of the Directors, and to vest in the Crown the power of nominating one-third of the Board without appeal to the proprietors of Stock, and without the qualification on the part of the nominees of being holders of Stock? If the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to go thus far, had the Legislature not an equal right, upon the very same principle as Her Majesty's Government sought to impose on the Court of Directors, to improve the electoral body by whom the Directors were chosen? If the principle was applicable to the Court of Directors, it surely ought to be so also to the constituency who elected them. He, for one, saw no impossibility of now forming the germ of such a body of electors of the governing power of India, as in the year 1874, when the functions of the Court of Proprietors might cease, would take the place of that Court of Proprietors, and offer to India and to this country an independent body, free 774 from the influence of party politics; and what he wished to see would be something like what the proposal of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) would provide. He believed that the system of voting by proxy ought to be abolished, because if anything could give the suspicion of jobbing or of promises of future favours, it was the power of proxies placed in the hands of individuals to influence the elections. The advantage of increasing the constituency would not be to do away with canvassing, but to render impossible what he believed did not exist to any great extent, but what might happen at least under the present system—namely, that with a limited constituency there might be clubs of voters formed for the purpose of sharing the patronage and the favours of particular Directors. He thought the present constituency an enlightened body, and the existing qualification gave, to a certain extent, the idea of independence; but he wished to couple with it a body of electors who would give a stimulus to the introduction of capital and enterprise into the internal improvement of India, He was afraid, however, that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) would not meet his (Mr. Baring s) views.
§ SIR JOSHUA WALMSLEY
said, he understood the noble Lord the Member for London had no objection to lowering the qualification, and he would, therefore, suggest to the hon. Member for Montrose to divide his clause, as he had mixed up several Platters into one, and there were many hon. Gentlemen who would vote for one portion of it, but who would be unwilling to vote for the entire.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he wished it to be understood that the Government had no intention of assenting to the lowering of the qualification. As regarded the question of proxies, it was for that House to decide between the evils arising from the voting by proxy and the injurious effect of reducing the number of the constituency which the putting a stop to this system would cause. On the whole he saw no good ground for making the proposed change in the constituency of the East India Company.
said, he would be content to limit himself to the first three lines of his Amendment, which proposed that the qualification of electors should be 500l. stock, instead of 1,000l.
said, that the ques- 775 tion was that the clause be read a second time, and it must be so put.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that before going to a division, he wished to say a few words on what had fallen from the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring). In what he had said, the hon. Gentleman was discussing a question far beyond the present Bill, and far beyond what the necessity of the case required. The East India Company was an anomalous body, which being first a trading company had acquired territory; its trade had been taken away while the territory remained; but it was found to be a body which had worked well for the welfare of India, and it was thought well that it should be continued. That was practically a fair ground for discussion. But if it was proposed, as was proposed by the hon. Member for Huntingdon, to endeavour to create an independent body to stand between the Crown and the Government of India, it was proposing a new and strange authority; and there was no necessity for discussing that question now, but it ought to be left to the consideration of Parliament at some future period to say whether such a body was to be created or not. It was an inappropriate subject to be discussed in that Committee, even if the innovation was not objectionabe in principle.
§ MR. T. BARING
said, if the division was taken on the principle of enlarging the constituency, he should vote for the clause, but not for a mere reduction of the qualification from 1,000l. to 500l.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the said Clause be now read a Second Time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 54; Noes 74: Majority 20.
said, he would now beg to move the following Clause:—And whereas doubts have been entertained as to the extent of the powers granted to the Governor General in Council, by the 43rd section of the said Act of the third and fourth years of King William IV., it, is hereby declared that the said Governor General in Council shall have full powers to enact, alter, or amend any laws for the said territories (subject to the restrictions specified in the said 43rd section of the said Act, as well as to the right of disallowance of such laws vested in the Court of Directors by the 44th section of the same), without any previous sanction of the said Court of Directors, except in the cases reserved by the 46th section of the said Act, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained in former Acts or Charters still in force and unrepealed.776 The clauses in the last Act relating to the East India Company to which this clause referred were, the 43rd, which empowered the Governor General in Council to legislate in India on all matters except such as were mentioned in that Act; and these exceptions were, firstly, any law affecting mutiny in the army. Then, by the 44th clause, it was provided that in case the Court of Directors did not assent to any law passed by the Legislative Council, it was to be repealed; and the 46th clause provided that no law should be made which gave power to pass sentence of death on any European, or the abolition of any Courts of Justice established by former Charters. Those were the points in the former Act to which this clause was directed. Mr. Cameron, a competent authority, in his evidence given before a Parliamentary Committee, stated that it was a matter of doubt whether the Court of Directors could interfere with the Governor General in Council in the exercise of his legislative powers; but that, nevertheless, in two instances—the Small Cause Court Bill, and the Lex Loci Bill—the Government had assumed that power. This was done upon the advice of the then Attorney and Solicitor General. The law upon this subject was very unsound and uncertain. On one side was the opinion of the Attorney and Solicitor General; and on the other there was the opinion of Mr. Cameron. It was a great misfortune that the law upon this subject should remain uncertain, and if the President of the Board of Control refused to solve the uncertainty as to the attributes of the Supreme Council in the manner which he proposed, the right hon. Gentleman would be bound, in justice to the people of India, to introduce a clause to settle it in some other manner. The settlement of the question which he proposed was in full conformity with the intention of the Parliament of 1833; and if the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) were in his place he should appeal to him whether that was not the case.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
opposed the clause on the ground that there was no doubt whatever with regard to the existing state of the law. Both the Attorney and Solicitor General in England, and the Chief Justice in Calcutta, Sir Laurence Peel, had been unanimous in their interpretation of it, and in their view of the power of the Government. His hon. Friend contended that the Government should not have that power; but he asked whether it was better 777 that the Government should have the power of interposing to prevent the passing of a bad Act, or should only have the power of repealing it after it had passed? There was an old axiom that prevention was better than cure. For that reason he thought it right that the Government should possess the power which they did, and he should, therefore, oppose the clause.
§ Clause negatived.
§ MR. RICH
said, he had a clause upon the paper, but before moving it, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) whether he had framed any regulations to provide for the great difficulties which would attend the admission of Natives of India to the college of Haileybury. By this Bill, it was proposed to open Haileybury, but he had heard of nothing as to any regulations for enabling the Natives of India to bear the expense of coming to this country. Provision ought also to be made for their religious observances, and to enable them to keep caste.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, it was impossible that he should have made any regulations of the nature referred to, until he knew whether the House would assent to the principle of the Bill which he had introduced.
§ MR. RICH
must say, that he thought this statement most unsatisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) ought not, he thought, to have introduced this portion of the measure at all, unless he was prepared with the details necessary to carry it into effect, The alterations in the law would affect the Natives of India at once, although, strictly speaking, it did not take effect until the end of about a year and a half. Although he was certain his clause would be rejected, he felt bound to press it to a division, in order to show the sense entertained of what was due to the Natives not in word but in deed.
Whereas it is enacted by the Act 3 & 4 Will. 4, c. 85, s. 87, that no native of Her Majesty's Indian Territories, nor any natural born subject of Her Majesty resident therein, shall by reason only of his religion, place of birth, descent, colour, or any of them, be disabled from holding any place, office, Or employment under the said Company; and whereas, notwithstanding such enactment, no such persons have been admitted into the covenanted service of the said Company, and that religious, pecuniary, and other difficulties must always greatly impede or entirely prevent such Natives of India from competing for admission to the College of Haileybury, now thrown open to them; be it Enacted, that it shall be lawful for the said Board of Commissioners, at any time immediately alter the passing of this Act, and from time to
time, to frame and make regulations for the due admission within Her Majesty's Territories in India into the covenanted civil service of the said Company such natural born subjects as aforesaid, subject to the provision that such admissions shall be in the proportion of not more than one to three of those admitted to Haileybury.
§ Brought up, and read the First Time.
§ SIR HERBERT MADDOCK
hoped, if this Bill passed, that no Native of India would think of coming to England and attempting to become a student at Haileybury. No man who knew him could have a doubt of his friendly feelings towards the Natives of India, or of his desire to see them employed in every situation for which they were fit; but the Act of 1833 already sufficiently provided for that. That that particular provision of the Act referring to this subject, was not immediately carried out to so great an extent as some seemed to have desired, was naturally to have been expected; but the numbers employed in different situations had been yearly increasing, and the nature of the offices were becoming higher and higher since 1834. He conceived it to be a great error in the present Bill to propose to admit the Natives of India to an equality with a class of civil servants with whom they could never amalgamate. The attempt, he was sure, would only result in embarrassment and difficulty. He feared that when the Native civil servants were raised to any high position, so as to have under them highly-educated and spirited young Englishmen, it would be found difficult to keep the latter in due subordination. Besides, it appeared to him that it would never do to have two scales of salary for officers holding the same situation and doing the same duties; and yet there was abundant evidence before the Committee that it would be sufficient to give the natives one-third of the salary allowed to Europeans of the same rank. These being his views, he could not support the Motion.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that the Motion now before the Committee involved the question which had been raised before during these discussions, but which had never been fairly met by the President of the Board of Control, namely, whether the clause in the Act of 1833, which had been so often alluded to, had not, up to this time, been altogether a nullity. If any doubt had been entertained with respect to the object of that clause, it would be removed by reference to the answers given by the then President of the Board of Control to the hon. Member for Mon- 779 trose, and to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the present Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), in both of which it was distinctly declared that the object was to break down the barriers which were supposed to exist to the admission of the Natives as well as Europeans to high offices in India. And yet there was the best authority for saying that nothing whatever had been done in consequence of that clause. He (Mr. Bright) did not know of a single case where a Native of India had been admitted to any office since that time, more distinguished or more highly paid than he would have been competent to fill, had that clause never been passed. To show the Committee the dreamy notions which were entertained by some of the high officials of the India House with respect to this subject, he begged to remark that Mr. Melville, when asked before the Committee of the House of Commons to name the time when he thought the Natives might be fit to hold high office, actually put it so far ahead as to be coincident with the period when the Natives should be converted to Christianity. As a proof of the attention which was being paid by the Natives to this question, he would read the following extract from a pamphlet recently published by a native of the Presidency of Bombay, named Nowrozjee Furdoonjee. The style and tone of this little work was highly creditable to its author, and he would point therefore to one or two facts mentioned in it, touching the matter now before the Committee. In the Bombay Presidency there were nineteen European and eighty-six Native Judges. The nineteen European Judges had on an average in 1849 decided 313 cases each, while the Native Judges had decided 654 each. The salaries of the European Judges averaged 1,730l. each per annum, and those of the Native Judges 266l. per annum. That was to say, that the Native Judges did double the work at one-seventh the salary. The writer then proceeded to say—The pay and allowances granted under the present unjust and invidious system to the whole body of moonsifs, Sudder Ameens, and principal Sudder Ameens, or native judges of the people, 'the original arbiters in 19–20ths of all cases of litigation' in this presidency, do not exceed the aggregate sum drawn by eight of the covenanted or European Judges. Ought so monstrous a disproportion to continue any longer?He wished also to call the attention of the Committee to a book recently published, entitled, Evidence relating to the Efficiency 780 of Native Agents in India, published under the superintendence of a Native society in Calcutta, containing the testimony of more than fifty persons, including almost every person at all distinguished in the Indian service. It was, indeed, impossible to have any evidence more convincing. But the interest on this question was not confined to Bombay and Calcutta. The following were extracts from the supplementary petition from the members of the Madras Native Association and other native inhabitants of the Madras Presidency:—That your petitioners have already requested the continuance of the councils at the minor presidencies, and they now respectfully reiterate their prayer to have them constituted on the precedent of the council in the island of Ceylon, in which your petitioners' countrymen have enjoyed seats for a series of years; and as your petitioners understand that constitutions have been or are on the eve of being granted to the settlements of the Cape of Good Hope and New Zealand, admitting the Natives there to the same electoral and municipal privileges as the European colonists, they humbly and anxiously trust that your hon. House will not deem the barbarians of the former and the cannibals of the latter colony more deserving or more fitting to be intrusted with a share in the management of their own affairs, than the inhabitants of a country which for scores of centuries has been renowned throughout the world for its civilisation, literature, and commerce, and which had its own Sovereigns, Governments, and codes of law, long before the English nation had a name in history, That your petitioners will consider themselves and their community deeply humiliated and deeply aggrieved, if, after the open acknowledgments of persons high in office in this country and in England that they are as capable to hold responsible employments as the members of the now exclusive civil service—that they are their equals on the bench, and successful competitors in the study of European arts, science and literature—they are longer shut out from the offices for which they are confessedly qualified, while the savage Hottentot and New Zealander are preferred before them.He did think that this was an argument very likely to strike the mind of a native of India; and he thought that the petitioners had an undoubted right to use it, seeing that twenty years ago the House had passed a Bill admitting the principle which they now contended for. He wished also to quote the writings of a gentleman who had been examined before the Indian Committee—he meant Mr. Marshman, an undoubtedly great authority on Indian matters, who, in speaking of the administration in India, said—The disorders which have, in many instances, crept into the provincial administration, are such as even the press must be very wary in exposing. If every case of total incapacity and gross negligence and crassa ignorantia on the part of the bad 781 bargains of the Court of Directors were to be placed on the records of the Parliamentary Committee, it would startle even the optimism of Leadenhall-street. It would be considered incredible in England how public business could get on at all with such instrumentality.He (Mr. Bright) had no doubt that one of the great grievances of India was that the districts of collectors and magistrates were much too large. He would have all the districts divided into two, and Natives appointed to fill the additional places, by which means he believed they would be able to concentrate individual supervision over subordinate offices in the interior of the country, so as to get rid of an enormous amount of peculation, jobbing, and corruption of every kind. He also begged to call the attention of the Committee to the following statement of facts, which he had found in the Calcutta Review, with reference to Bengal; and he put it to hon. Members whether they thought such a state of things could exist without increasing the discontent in India? In the Presidency of Bengal there were four Members of Council with salaries of 10,000l. a year each; four other officers with 6,000l. a year; twenty-three with 4,800l. a year; twenty-three with 3,900l. a year; seventy-eight with 2,800l. a year; six with 1,900l. a year; twenty-eight with 1,800l. a year; six with 1,400l. a year; seventy-two with 1,200l. a year; and seventy-seven, with from 600l. to 1,000l. a year, making three 323 officers with salaries varying from 600l, to 10,000l. a year; while the Natives, of whom there were 43,000,000, had only 105 offices, with salaries of 360l. a year. He did not speak of persons employed at weekly wages. Mr. Campbell showed that it was necessary to pay Europeans in India eighteen times more than it would be necessary to pay Natives for performing the same duties. He (Mr. Bright) considered, therefore, that it was the bounden duty of the Government to admit a much larger number of Natives into the public service in India, for the purpose of saving expense as well as of adding to the efficiency of the administration. The question they had to consider was, what should be the policy of this country with regard to the future Government of India. That Empire had been won by the sword, and there were two ways of keeping it. It might be kept by the sword, or it might be retained by doing justice to the people, and by a wise and judicious administration, which would convince he educated Natives of India, that 782 although there was some humiliation in being governed by a foreign country, yet that under the circumstances in which India was placed, she derived enormous advantages from her connexion with this Empire, where Government was based upon experience, civilisation, and justice. He had been informed by a gentleman who was a Professor in the Elphinstone College in Bombay, that there were in that institution about 100 Natives of India, who were making great progress in the study of English literature and of every branch of science. He also believed that, similar progress was being made in educational institutions for Natives at Madras and Calcutta. It must be remembered that there was a free press in India; the number of native newspapers was increasing, and, as he believed the Indian Government was now very considerably reducing the postage upon newspapers in that country; there was no doubt that the circulation of newspapers would materially increase. Now, did not the Committee conceive it possible that, if the facts he had mentioned were known in India, a feeling would be excited which, though it might smoulder, would still exist and spread, and that there might come—though he hoped there would not—some opportunity when the growing feeling of discontent might prove most formidable to the connexion between this country and our Indian Empire? He believed that justice might be done to the Natives of India without diminishing the sources of employment for Europeans in that country, or even reducing their emoluments. He was convinced that arrangements might be made which would render the Natives of India just as well satisfied with British rule as the Europeans in India, were themselves; and it was because he believed that the proposition now before the Committee was just in itself, and consistent with the interests of both countries, that he asked the Committee to assent to it, and to force the President of the Board of Control to insert it in the Bill.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that the object of Her Majesty's Government was to do justice to all classes in India, and to extend the employment of the Natives, not only with regard to the numbers to whom employment was given, but also by promoting them to higher situations than they had hitherto filled. The hon. Member for Richmond (Mr. Rich) had stated that the clause in the Act of 1833 had been a perfect nullity—
§ MR. RICH
said, he must explain that what he had said was, that that clause was a nullity so far as the covenanted service was concerned. It was true that Natives had been admitted, under the Company's authority, to minor situations, but they then reached a wall which, by the rule of the covenanted service, was impassable.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
proceeded to say that the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) had stated that the clause had been an entire nullity, and that the Natives had not been admitted into the service of the Company.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he must also beg to explain that he had said that Natives were now only employed in offices which were just as accessible to them before the clause was passed, and the barrier which that clause was supposed to throw down still existed.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, the object of the clause to which the hon. Member referred was to promote the general employment of Natives in India, and if the Natives had been generally employed, the clause was not a nullity. The hon. Member for Manchester had complained that much higher salaries were given to Europeans than to the Natives of India; but in the evidence taken by the Committee it was distinctly shown that a much higher salary was required to induce a man of ability to leave this country to undertake office in India, and to expose himself to the climate of that country, than would be received for the performance of similar duties at home. It was necessary that European superintendence should be maintained in India, and large salaries must be paid to officers who occupied high positions and who were called upon to discharge important duties. He must observe, however, that Natives of India had been admitted to much higher offices than had heretofore been open to them; and Lord Dalhousie had given to a Native the appointment of magistrate at Calcutta. Reference had been made to the petitions which had been presented to Parliament from India; but it was well known that those petitions were not wholly the production of the Natives, for they were partly got up by the English editors of newspapers. He would undertake to say that on of the petitions was written and got up by the editor of a newspaper at Madras, and was not, as it was represented to be, the spontaneous production of the Natives. It was not necessary, in order to insure the ge- 784 neral employment of the Natives, that they should be largely admitted into the covenanted service. The door was thrown open to them, practically, to a far greater extent than before by the general admission of Natives to Haileybury College; and, for his own part, he believed that Natives might thus be admitted safely and advantageously into the covenanted service.
said, he insist say the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control had not shown himself aware of the full importance of this Amendment. Upon it turned the whole question whether or no the Natives of India were to be admitted to the civil service of the Company. For himself, he thought the proposal of the Government, which professed to throw open the civil service to unlimited competition, but which at the same time absolutely excluded Natives of India, was a retrograde step. He did not say that because he approved of the old system of patronage, but because, while the old system could not have been permanent, the present plan would not be felt to be an abuse in this country, whatever it might be in India, and it would therefore be allowed to continue without improvement. He confessed he did not think it at all likely that many of the Natives of India would come over to be educated at Haileybury; but that was the less to be regretted, because the educational establishments in Calcutta and other large towns in India were of a very superior character. Let them suppose, for instance, that instead of holding those examinations here in London, that they were to be held in Calcutta. Well, how many Englishmen would go out there—or how many would send out their sons, perhaps to spend two or three years in the country on the chance of obtaining an appointment? Nevertheless, that was exactly the course proposed to be adopted towards the Natives of India. Now it struck him that it they wished to increase the eligibility of the Natives to the higher offices of the country, they could only do so in one of two ways—either by incorporating them with the civil service, or by admitting them to such offices without making them pass through the civil service at all. As far, however, as he could learn, the abstract principle of admitting Natives to high administrative offices was not contemplated on either side of the house, therefore it was not necessary to argue that question; all he would say was, that he believed they were bound to do so 785 —that they might simply do so, and not the slightest possible damage would arise from their doing so. For they must recollect that they did not entrust them with the power of the sword, which was still wisely maintained in the hands of Europeans. Now, before concluding, he wished just to make an observation with regard to the education which the Natives were to receive. He believed it had been stated more than once in the evidence before the Indian Committee, and indeed he might take it on himself, from his own personal knowledge, to state the fact—that so far from there being any deficiency of educational establishments in Calcutta and other great towns of India, there would not be the slightest difficulty in any Native properly qualified by nature, obtaining, without the necessity of a voyage to Europe, every kind of knowledge that was necessary in order to render him fitted for office in India. And he did not believe that in point of intellect or ability, there would be found the slightest difference, speaking generally, between those who received their education at Haileybury, and those who were educated at those establishments in India. He would only say that the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite should receive his most cordial assent.
§ MR. LOWE
said, he could not conceive on what grounds the hon. Gentleman who had moved the clause now under discussion could complain of the provisions of the present Bill with regard to the employment of Natives; he would beg to call his attention to the words of the 87th clause of the date of 1853, the effect of which was, that no Native was disabled from holding any place, office, or employment under the Company by reason of his religion, colour, or place of birth. But let the Committee see how the matter stood before this Bill was introduced into the House. It stood in this way:—The Natives were legally admitted, but practically excluded from the military service, while they were wholly excluded from the civil service. For the military service there was no claim made, and the noble Lord who spoke last was satisfied with their having been excluded; but the 87th section of the Act, if taken in its literal sense, applied just as strongly to the military covenanted service as to the civil covenanted service; and there was no reason, if they took the Act of Parliament and applied it logically, why they should not admit the Natives to the command of regiments, as well as to the high offices in the civil ser- 786 vice. It appeared to him to be inconsistent to base the clause on that section of the Act, and yet introduce in it an exception to that clause, and apply it to the military service, which was by far the greater part of the covenanted service of the Company. Waving that, he considered that the Bill as it then stood was not open to the objections which had been raised on this point, for the present Bill was framed in the very spirit of the 87th clause of the Act of 1833. What did the Government propose? They proposed to carry out the principle of the 87th section of the former Act. The doors of Haileybury were to be thrown open, the civil service of the East India Company was to be thrown open to the Natives of India. Colour, race, religion, descent, were at present disqualifications. But when the present Bill should have become law, they would fall to the ground, and cease to exist. Whatever disqualifications might have existed, there would then be no difficulty in the Natives of India serving Her Majesty in any service, whatever their race, their colour, their religion, or their descent. It seemed to him, therefore, to be most inconsistent to attempt to amend the Bill by the proposed clause. It might be true, as had been said on more than one occasion during the present discussion, that many of the Natives would not at first be able to avail themselves of the competition thrown open to them. But that did not arise from any wish or intention on the part of the Government. It arose from a totally different state of circumstances—from want of education, from the difficulty of finding Natives qualified for the service, and capable of competing with the young men brought from Haileybury College. He took a totally different view of this subject from that of the hon. Member for Manchester, and of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley.) He considered it was the duty of the Government not to go out of its way to give office to the Natives. It was the duty of Government to take the persons who were most efficient, and they were bound to the Natives of India to provide the men most qualified to serve them. If it was found that the Europeans were better qualified than the Natives, then it was their duty to the Natives themselves to appoint those Europeans to administer the affairs of the Natives. If the principle of competition was taken up, they were bound to carry it out. It was said that their poverty would interfere to prevent the Natives from obtaining sufficient education; and the hon. Member for 787 Richmond (Mr. Rich) proposed to avoid the consequence of that by introducing a system of partial competition, by giving two-thirds of the offices to Europeans, and one-third to Hindoos. The result of that would be that for every two qualified Europeans they would have one qualified Hindoo in the service—a result which would certainly not be answering the principle of appointing the very best men; and the people of India would be deprived of their right to expect good government at the hands of England. He had one further observation to make. The hon. Gentleman proposed also that one-third more or less of the civil servants should be drawn from the Natives. Why did he make that limitation? If it was possible to find, according to the hon. Gentleman's proposal, one-third, why not extend it to one-half or two-thirds of the offices? Why should they stop at one-third? When he took up a principle, he liked to carry it out to its utmost extent. The principle of the Bill was, that if Natives could be found to enter into competition, and to undergo the test of examinations with the educated youth of Haileybury, they were to be allowed to do so. But the express object of the clause proposed by the hon. Member for Richmond was to vitiate that competition. That was not the intention of the Government. What the Government proposed was to throw open the whole of the service to every Hindoo, to place him in a position to compete with the other subjects of Her Majesty, whatever his religion, his colour, or his race. In doing this they were only acting in accordance with the true spirit of the 87th section of the Act of 1833. By this clause the Government had, for the first time, broken down the monopoly, and rendered it possible for the Natives of India to obtain as much power, as much influence, and as much employment as their own merits enabled them to deserve.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he thought that the Bill was highly objectionable in this respect, that while it pretended to lay down the generous principle that no condition of colour, creed, or caste was to be regarded as a disqualification for office, it hampered the principle with such regulations and modifications as would render it all but impossible for the Natives to avail themselves of it. The Bill in this respect was a delusion, and would prove a source of chronic and permanent discontent to the people of India. Before the next Session of Parliament the principle of competition 788 would have to be greatly modified or entirely abandoned.
MR. J. G. PHILLMORE
said, he also feared that the Bill would prove delusive, and that although it professed to do justice to the Natives, the spirit of monopoly would still blight the hopes and break the spirits of the Indian people. While such a state of things continued, India would be attached to this country by no bond of affection, but would be retained by the power of the army and the terror of the sword. He implored of the Committee not to allow such an Empire to be governed in the miserable spirit of monopoly and exclusion.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the said Clause be now read a Second Time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 47; Noes 173: Majority 126.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
then rose to move the following Clause:—At every ballot for the election of Directors of the East India Company, the proprietors of stock or shares in any company or association of persons established by authority of Parliament, or of the Government of India, for the purpose of effecting or carrying on by means of joint stock any undertaking of irrigation, drainage, railway or other communication, or other object of internal improvement in India, under the supervision of the Government thereof—such proprietors being qualified as hereinafter mentioned—shall be entitled to vote in respect of their paid-up stock or shares, according to the scale following, that is to say: one vote in respect of 2,000l.; two votes in respect of 4,000l.; three votes in respect of 7,000l.; four votes in respect of 10,000l. and upwards.He (Mr. Newdegate) said, that he would not trouble the House by reading his remaining clauses, which were intended to effect the plan, of which the clause he had read, contained the principle; the other clauses had been in the hands of hon. Members of Parliament for some time on the notice paper, and were intended to secure, that the persons he proposed should be qualified, should be British subjects, have been resident for a certain period in the United Kingdom, before voting, be bonâ fide possessed of the qualification required, and duly registered by the officers of the East India Company. The President of the Board of Control had maintained that the East India Company had, as though he intended that they should retain, an exclusive right, under their Charter, to be the governing body of India. Now that was rather a startling proposition to come from the Minister who had proposed the introduction of 789 nominees into the hitherto elected Court of Directors. The object of his (Mr. Newdegate's) proposition was, to make an addition to and to strengthen the constituency of the Company; whereas the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, by the introduction of nominees among the Directors, aimed at supplanting the power of the electoral body. His (Mr. Newdegate's) wish was, that certain proprietors of shares in undertakings for the internal improvements of India, should have power to vote at the election of the Directors of the East India Company. It was admitted that the constitution of the East India Board was not perfect; and there was every reason why it should be rendered as much more perfect as was practicable. If it was seriously intended that the Company should continue the functions it had hitherto performed, no ground should be left for the imputations upon the motives of the Directors, which militated against the utility of their administration. It might be objected to proposition that the constituency of the East India Company had property which was their own to manage, and had peculiar privileges, and that no persons, not directly interested in the property and privileges of the Company could be admitted. His answer to that was, that the Government had themselves proposed to appoint nominee Directors, who were not even required to have a qualification by holding any stock in the Company. He was told that the Government proposed to alter that portion of their plan. Still, their admission of that scheme in the first instance, showed that to the principle of amending the constituency by the introduction of another element, they had no very real objection. The Directors had been subjected, in the course of the discussions in that House, to the gravest imputation upon what he (Mr. Newdegate) considered utterly insufficient grounds; but all the charges against them resolved themselves into two—namely, first, that the Company consisted of mere debt-holders, who had no other interest in India than the payment of the interest upon and the security of their capital, the debt which they held; and the second charge was, that they had not devoted a sufficient portion of the revenues of India to the internal improvement of the country. He was afraid there was some ground for the latter charge, because it was in evidence that not one percent of the revenue upon an average 790 of a considerable number of years had been applied to local improvements. That was a primâ facie case against the Court of Directors. That Court had, however, an answer to that objection—namely, that they had not had the means of effecting internal improvements—that the revenue of India was completely exhausted by the maintenance of the establishments, the payment of the interest on the debt, and, above all, by the expensive wars—for which latter, the great cause of extraordinary expenditure, the Directors were not responsible—because the question of making war, or of maintaining or of making peace in India, did not rest with them, but with the Governor General and with the Board of Control. That answer he (Mr. Newdegate) believed to be a valid one. Well, what he proposed was, to bring in, in aid of the development of the resources of India, that great and powerful instrument, the application of private capital, under regulations dictated by the Government, and having the force of law—the means by which all great improvements, such as canals, works of drainage, and for irrigation, railroads, and other public works, had been effected in this country. His proposal would strike at the two main defects in the action, the ability, and the constitution of the Company, to which he had referred; first, by providing the means for the internal improvement of India from a source which could not be drained by demands for war expenditure; means, in aid of, and in relief of, the best application of revenue; means, the use of which would increase the power to bear taxation, while it diminished the necessity for levying taxes; and, secondly, this same plan would, by enfranchising the owners of capital, permanently invested in the internal improvement of India, introduce into the Company and the Court of Direction an interest in the improvement of India, in the development of her resources and the advancement of her people. He feared that the chief objection to his plan would arise from the intention which appeared to be entertained to withdraw from the East India Company all their administrative powers. He thought it should be borne in mind by those who professed to be political economists, that Mr. Mill had stated that although the existing form of government for India had been the result of accident, the Government had worked well; and they should not overlook his advice that if any alteration were to be made in it, 791 regard should be had to the circumstances in which it had originated, and to the fact of its successful working. Exactly upon that principle it was that he had framed his proposal; he believed that by giving to those who had embarked their capital in India a vote in the election of Directors, a stimulus would be given to the development of the resources of that country. In fact, his (Mr. Newdegate's) plan was to renovate the East India Company on a principle strictly analogous to that upon which the Company was originally embodied and subsequently empowered by charter, as persons having a direct interest in the development of the resources of India, with this difference, that whereas the East India Company had been chiefly interested in the external trade of India, his plan would intrust with power those who were directly interested in the internal improvement of India. He (Mr. Newdegate) begged the House to believe that his was no wild scheme, of which he had not attempted to ascertain the immediate effect upon the constitution of the East India Company. The estimate he had formed of the increase to the constituency which his proposition would cause, was as follows:—The railway projects which the Indian Government had already sanctioned were three, namely, the East Indian Railway Company, the Indian Peninsular Railway Company, and the Madras Railway Company. The aggregate paid-up stock of these companies was 1,690,020l. According to the scale which he proposed, of giving one vote in respect of 2,000l., two votes in respect of 4,000l., three in respect of 7,000l., and four in respect of 10,000l. and upwards, there would be constituted 148 voters with one vote each, seventy-five with two votes, thirteen with three votes, and fourteen with four votes, or an increased constituency of 252 persons having 401 votes. At present the constituency consisted of 1,765, having 2,322 votes. His proposition would add one-seventh to the number of the constituency, and one-sixth to the number of votes. At present, however, only one of these railway companies had the whole of its stock paid up, so that the constituency of the Court of Directors would be a constantly increasing body, consisting of persons deeply interested in the material interests of India—the safety of whose property would depend upon the maintenance of the connexion of India with this country. He (Mr. Newdegate) would not further trouble 792 the House, nor would he press his Motion to a division; for he knew, that in the present state of the House, and of parties in the House, he could not hope to carry his Motion, since the Government, he feared, intended to oppose it. He would, therefore, withdraw his Motion, because he did not wish the House to reject a plan, which he honestly believed, if adopted, would tend to the improvement of India, the advancement of her people, and to the retention of our Indian Empire by means analogous to those by which this country had obtained and retained that vast dependency.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
thought that the decision of the Committee upon the previous question had determined that there should be no addition to the present constituency of the East India Company. If at any future period it should be found necessary to consider in whose hands the government of India should be placed, and whether the double government should be continued, or a single government substituted, then would be the proper time to take the proposal of the hon. Gentleman into consideration.
§ Clause withdrawn.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
had no objection to that course being adopted, but as it was most desirable to get through with this measure as soon as possible, he should propose to go on with it at 12 o'clock tomorrow, before the other Orders which stood on the paper.
§ House resumed. Committee report progress.