§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
*: Mr. Speaker, I hope, Sir, considering the importance of the subject which it is now my duty to bring before the House, that I shall not be thought unreasonable if I ask for even more than the usual indulgence which on 1093 many former occasions it has been my good fortune to receive. I have had at various times to submit to the consideration of the House questions of considerable importance—at one time, the state of the Navy of this country—at another time, what I believed to be the whole state of Ireland—at another, the condition of our West India Colonies—and on different occasions the state of the finances of this country; but I never have had, and no man can have had for the last twenty years, to bring forward a question of such paramount importance as that of the whole state of our Indian empire—not in one branch, but in all its branches—and to explain every portion of the measure which I shall conclude by asking leave to introduce for the Government of India, and which is one affecting, either for weal or for woe, the destinies of 150,000,000 of our fellow creatures and our fellow subjects. It is no wonder, then, if I feel oppressed by the magnitude of the subject, and I fear that I shall find it impossible, however inadequately and imperfectly I may perform the task I have to discharge, not to trespass on the patience of the House for some considerable time. I have to meet also, first, that opposition which, from the threatenings that have exhibited themselves on former nights, I have reason to anticipate, arising out of a desire for delay in respect to legislation on this subject; and, in the second place, I cannot but anticipate opposition upon the substantive merits of the measure. I must deal separately with these two classes of objections, differing in their character, and to be met with different arguments. I trust, Sir, that the course of delay will not receive any general support in the House; but with respect to the second point I have referred to, I must, of course, expect a difference of opinion, knowing that very opposite views, and of a reasonable character, do exist on so important a subject. I have the satisfaction, however, of entertaining the most perfect confidence that no party feeling will be allowed to enter into the discussion of this mighty question. For differences of opinion—for fair arguments in opposition to his own views, every man must be prepared; but the stake is so great, and the interests of our Indian empire are so vast, that I am certain, whatever differences of opinion may exist, that the discussion will not be allowed by any one to degenerate into a contest of party feeling, or to be embittered by party pint.
1094 Having said thus much by way of preface, I trust, looking to how many topics I must necessarily touch upon, that the House will permit me at once to address myself to the suggestion which has been made for delay in our legislation for India. The House is doubtless aware that the Act which at present provides for the government of India expires on the 30th of April next. It is, therefore, indispensably necessary to legislate in the course of the present Session. No one would risk the passing of an Act of this kind, considering the important business which usually occupies the beginning of a Session, by postponing legislation on such a subject till next year. There is no alternative, therefore, but to propose a measure providing for the future Government of India, or to adopt a course which has been suggested at different times—namely, to pass a temporary continuing Bill, leaving for future discussion in the next Session of Parliament, any measure for more permanent legislation on the great question of the Government of India. Considering what we all must expect to take place in the course of next Session, such a course, I think, would be exceedingly unwise and unsafe. The right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, I recollect, stated, as an objection to the present Act, that it was passed in the midst of the excited feeling which accompanied the Reform Bill, We must now bear in mind that the Government stands pledged to introduce a measure on that subject in the course of the next Session. Whatever that measure may be, it cannot but be one which will fully occupy the attention and interest of Parliament and of the country. What the state of our foreign relations then may be no man can tell: I know not that we can possibly look forward to a period of such quiet and tranquillity as we at present enjoy, in which there exist so few circumstances calculated to disturb the calm and deliberate consideration of this vast subject of the government of our Indian territory. It therefore seems to me not only desirable, but imperative on us, to avail ourselves of this most favourable opportunity of dealing with this great and important question; for, doubtless, no subject can well be more important, or so important, as the determination of the mode in which our Indian empire shall be in future governed.
At the same time, the measure which I have to submit for your consideration is, so 1095 far as legislation goes, comprised in a very small compass. I may have much to state, and I should not he acting fairly by the House, if I did not explain the views of Her Majesty's Government on many questions not comprised in the Bill which I propose to bring in; but, I repeat, that so far as legislation is called for, the Bill will be small in compass, and, with trifling exceptions, confined to one subject only, namely, the form of the government of India at home and in India. That was the branch of the inquiry which my right hon. Friend opposite laid before the Committee last year as the first subject for their consideration—namely,"the authorities and agencies for administering the government of India at home and in India respectively." This subject was inquired into at considerable length by the Committees of both Houses last Session; and so far had that part of the inquiry been, I will not say actually, but apparently terminated, that at the commencement of the present Session the Committee of the House of Commons proceeded to the next head of inquiry; and my right hon. predecessor in the office which I now hold stated, on moving the reappointment of the Committee in November last, that it was his intention to propose to Parliament to legislate on the subject in the course of the present Session. We have heard in the course of the last few weeks four witnesses further on the matter. The evidence of two of them is already in the hands of the Members of this House, and the evidence of the other two was presented yesterday; but I do not think it at all necessary to wait till that evidence shall be delivered. Of course, before the Bill can possibly pass through the House, that evidence will be in our hands, and every Member will be in possession of as much information as the Committee possesses, and will be in a condition, therefore, to decide fully on all matters connected with this question. No person, I think, will deny that it is most inexpedient that any unnecessary delay should take place, and that so great a question as how our Indian empire is to be governed, should be left in a state of suspense even for a short period. Suspense in questions of Government cannot but be a source of evil. It becomes us therefore to see whether there is any argument in favour of delay so unanswerable that we are bound to incur the risk—for that there is risk in delay, no man, I believe, denies. The arguments mostly relied upon in favour of 1096 postponement, though plausible, seem to me, I confess, to be utterly without foundation. We are told that, before we legislate, even with respect to the governing bodies for India, we must wait until we have concluded all the portions of our inquiry—until we have terminated our investigation into the seven other heads, each of great importance, and branching out into various subjects, all requiring, at the rate at which our investigation has hitherto proceeded, no inconsiderable period for their completion. These, however, are not in general matters that require legislation here; but the greater part of them must necessarily be dealt with by measures cither of administration or of legislation in India. I have no wish or disposition to close the inquiry. I think that, for the information of this House and the country, and of the Government, both here and in India, it is desirable that our investigation should be proceeded with; but there is no reason, on this account, for postponing our legislation with respect to that matter on which our inquiry has been concluded, and on which legislation can now, and without difficulty, take place. If, before we legislate on the form of government for India, we are to investigate all the other subjects, and at our present rate of proceeding, I do not see what term there would probably be to the length of the inquiry, or when we should have a prospect of legislating at all. Certainly not for a period beyond that which any reasonable man has hitherto proposed for delay. The hon. Member for Knaresborough the other day urged delay on the ground that the inquiry into many branches was not completed; but I am sure he succeeded in convincing the House that he, at least, stood in no need of information on the matter to which he referred. He went, for instance, at some length into the military arrangements of India, adverted to the small number of officers with their regiments, and called for some amendments in the practice in that respect. It may be, and I believe is the case, that the number of officers with their regiments is constantly too small. That is a subject which, no doubt, requires looking into, and may call for the attention of the Commander-in-Chief or the Adjutant General; but it does not require legislation in this House. It may be necessary to send more officers to the regiments in India, or to withdraw fewer officers from them, when there; but that is a matter, I repeat, not requiring 1097 legislation in this House, but orders from the authorities regulating the military arrangements in India. The Committee has, this Session, inquired into the military branch of the subject, and then we proceeded to the next head, that of the judicial establishments, and the administration of justice. On this head most of the Members of the Committee thought we had taken sufficient evidence, and were satisfied to close the inquiry; but my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Hume) told us that even then we were only on the threshold of that part of the subject. The House may judge, therefore, what prospect of legislation there would be, if it is to be postponed till the inquiries of the Committee are closed, and if these inquiries are to be conducted in the manner and at the rate recommended by those who are the principal advocates of delay.
Again, it does not appear to me that any great advantage would be gained by waiting for evidence from India. I believe that with respect to the subjects which have now been inquired into, and which are the only matters introduced into the proposed Bill—such, for instance, as the relations between the Board of Control and the Court of Directors, the constitution of the Court of Directors, or the abolition of that Court—we are better able to decide than any witnesses who could be brought from India. On many topics, such as the want of public roads, and of irrigation, the tenure of land and the taxation in India, we might perhaps obtain further information from that country; but all these points have been brought before the Committee by witnesses already heard, or by representations laid before the Committee; and I do not sec that any new light or additional information is likely to be obtained, beyond what we have already got in substance, by waiting for fresh evidence from India. At any rate, the information, if any were so obtained, would have little or no bearing on the question which I have now to submit to the House; for, I repeat, those matters are subjects for legislation, or administration in India, and are not subjects which can possibly be settled by legislation in this House. The hon. Member for Poole has asked if Her Majesty's Ministers were prepared to deal with the question of the form of government for India, not being in possession of all the evidence which may be given to the Committee; but, if I am not mistaken, the India Reform Association, of which my hon. Friend is Chairman, has made up its 1098 own mind on this subject of the government of India, and has announced its intention to oppose any plan which is not founded on the basis of what is called "single government," and which does not utterly put an end to the Court of Directors. They, then, require no further information, no further time, to enable them to come to a decision on this question. I do not object to that Association having made up its mind on this point; but, surely, the House, and Her Majesty's Government may also be allowed to have made up their minds; and I trust that, at least, the members of the India Reform Association will not urge any arguments in favour of delay. It seems to me, I must be permitted to say, that whatever plan for the government of India may be decided on—whether"the single government" should be adopted, or "the double government" should be continued or amended—it is our bounden duty to give to India, at the earliest possible moment, the best government which the wisdom of Parliament can devise. Those who attribute more blame than I do to the past government of India, and who are of opinion that much that has been ill done, or altogether left undone, is to be attributed to the existing form of government, ought to be most anxious, at the earliest possible moment, to amend that form of government. Her Majesty's Ministers are prepared to lay before the House the plan of government which, in their judgment, is best calculated to promote the welfare and benefit of India, and also of this country, as inseparably connected with the welfare and prosperity of India. Amend it, if you will; alter it, if you please; suggest improvements, if you can; but let us not refuse to India, as soon as we can give it to her, the best government we can devise for her permanent welfare. In the opinion that we are not likely to obtain much additional information from India calculated to be of service in the present stage of our proceeding, I am' confirmed by the statement of a most intelligent witness, who appeared before the Committee a few days ago—a gentleman who has resided the whole of his life in India, and is better acquainted than almost any one else with the feelings and habits of the people of India—I mean Mr. Marshman. He stated to the Committee his opinion as follows:—For the arrangement of the general government of India, both abroad and at home, I think the Committee has received as much information 1099 as can be deemed necessary, and that nothing is to be gained by waiting for further light upon that subject. I do not think it is at all likely that by postponing legislation we should obtain further valuable information from India. I think that there can be no necessity whatever for waiting in the hope of obtaining further information from India.Well, then, if there be no validity in the argument for delay in legislating on this subject, is there no danger in postponing legislation? I can only say that I have heard no persons connected with India express any other opinion on this point, but that, whatever we do, we ought to legislate as soon as we can. The gentleman to whom I have just referred states his opinion very clearly, "that on many grounds it appears advisable to complete the arrangement in the course of the present year." I have communicated with the Directors, the great majority of whom are connected with India, and the opinion they express is this—Settle it as you will; abolish or deal with our Court as you please, but legislate in the course of the present Session; leave no uncertainty in India. But, what ought to be of far greater importance, is the opinion entertained by the Governor General of India, Lord Dalhousie, than whom no one has ruled India more successfully, or is better acquainted with that country. After a residence of five years in India, and when his rule is nearly expired, he is both a competent and a disinterested witness, and he says, that we ought by all means to conclude our legislation at once, and not to delay: that delay is a source of weakness, and weakness is a source of danger; and, that if the people of India begin to suspect that the rule in India is uncertain and tottering, and that Parliament has not made up its mind how India is to be governed, they may begin to suspect that the existing authorities may be set at nought. That is a risk which I think Parliament would be most unwise to run. In the evidence given by Lord Ellenborough before the Commons Committee, a somewhat parallel case is mentioned, exhibiting a striking instance of the danger, in dealing with native princes, likely to result from a supposed weakness in the governing power. Lord Ellenborough states, that when he was engaged in negotiations with the Government of Gwalior, a rumour respecting the probability of his recall had been circulated in India, and led to increased difficulty in the negotiations in which he was engaged, and to resistance to his demands. Under these 1100 circumstances, and with these views so strongly expressed by men to whose opinions the greatest weight ought to be attached, I think we should have been utterly unjustifiable if we had not, at the earliest possible period consistently with the progress of the other important measures which were already before the House, brought forward such a measure as we thought the best calculated to provide for the good government of India, and promote the welfare of our Indian subjects. There are certainly many reasons of convenience, looking to the time of the year and period of the Session, for delay; but such considerations as these could not for a moment be put into competition with the reasons which I have stated for proceeding at once with legislation on this subject, and I sincerely trust, that, at any rate, the great majority of the House will agree with us in this opinion.
But, Sir, although I do not think that a minute and protracted inquiry into all the detail of the administration, and the state of every part of our Indian Empire is an indispensable preliminary to legislation on the subject of the government of India, I should not be doing my duty to the Indian Government, or dealing fairly towards the House, if I did not attempt to place before the House, as concisely as I can, what has been the result of the administration of India for the last twenty years. The Committee was appointed to inquire into the effect of the Act of 1833; and I fully admit, that if any great abuses were found to exist—if any great crimes or delinquencies could be shown, such a circumstance might affect most materially the question we have to decide. It is due, then, to the House, that I should show, in general terms, how matters have been conducted in India, what progress has been made there during the last twenty years, and how far the governing powers have discharged the duty imposed on them by Parliament. But, in making this review, we must take care that it shall be a fair and impartial review. We must not judge of Indian progress by the English standard of the present day. That would be exceedingly unjust and unfair, as it would be unfair to judge of English progress some time ago by the standard which we adopt at the present moment for measuring our progress. In India we must make allowance for a difference of race and a difference of circumstances. We must look at India with somewhat of an Indian eye, and take into consideration all 1101 those circumstances which ought materially to affect our judgment in respect to Indian questions. In this country we know that there is every possible stimulus to active exertion both public and private—public ambition, private rivalry, large capital, general education, and every motive which serves to make an energetic race urge on, in every way, and on all subjects, progressive improvement at a most rapid rate. No prejudices, no antiquated habits or customs are suffered to interfere. In India, on the contrary, you have a race of people slow to change, bound up by religious prejudices and antiquated customs. There are there, in fact, many, I had almost said all, the obstacles to rapid progress; whereas in this country there exist every stimulus and every motive to accelerate advancement. On nearly all subjects, too, I find there is the greatest difference between the various parts of India. That which is true of one part of the country, is almost sure to be untrue of another. For instance, with regard to the tenure of land, there are three or four different kinds of tenure, and those best acquainted with each invariably think that the one which they know best ought to be maintained and extended to every other part of India. We have had most contradictory evidence upon another topic—the advantage or disadvantage of enlisting in the ranks of the Indian army the high caste or low caste Hindoos. We were told by one officer that nothing is so disadvantageous as the enlistment of high caste Hindoos, while another officer expressed his decided opinion that high caste Hindoos were invariably the best soldiers. We soon found, however, that one of these officers was in the Bengal army, and the other was in the Bombay army. The circumstances of the two services are quite different; and statements which seemed altogether contradictory were perfectly true, in consequence of the different positions of the two armies. This extreme diversity of circumstances and diversity of opinion renders any general conclusion almost totally impossible as to remedies for admitted evils. Besides this, it appears to me that no inconsiderable misapprehension exists as to the progress which India has made during the last twenty years. Petitions have been laid before Parliament—documents professing to be the productions of native associations—and one of them, to which my attention was called some time ago, and which has excited considerable notice, 1102 is a petition professing to emanate from the Native Association of Madras. I should certainly have thought any statements proceeding from intelligent and well informed natives of India, entitled to the most careful consideration; but I must say that I do not believe that this petition was either prepared or knowingly sanctioned by intelligent natives of Madras, who were acquainted with the actual state of things in that Presidency. The statements which it contains appeared to me to be of a very extraordinary nature, and the result of inquiries showed that there has seldom been such a tissue of exaggeration and misrepresentation. Those statements are utterly contradicted, not only by facts, but by documents to which the petition itself refers. For example, an enactment of the British Parliament in 1787, is dealt with as an Act of recent Indian legislation. A Report of 1837 is quoted as containing the last accounts with respect to irrigation in Madras. The petition also states that its promoters were unable to obtain official information upon certain subjects, which information is actually contained in published documents to which the petition itself refers. These misstatements were so important that I wrote to the Governor of Madras, requesting him to make some inquiries on the subject; and he informed me that the first intimation he had of the petition, was, from seeing complaints in the local newspapers that they had been unable to obtain a sight of the document. He also tells me that at Madras, where knowledge on the subjects referred to in the petition does exist, many of the statements contained in it are known to be so utterly untrue that they excite very little attention, and are treated with the utmost contempt, although here, in our ignorance of Indian matters, they are palmed upon us as of the greatest importance. Now, I am far from saying—and I beg not to be misunderstood on this point—that much has not been left undone that ought to have been done. I am far from saying that there have not been many sins, of omission rather than of commission, in the administration of affairs in India; but I think I shall be able to show the House that much has already been done, and that those to whom the administration of affairs on the spot has been entrusted—the local officers in different parts of the country—the Government in India, supported by the Government at home—have not been neglectful of those great material and domestic 1103 intevests—domestic I mean, so far as India is concerned—which have been committed to their charge. The fact that more has not been done, is, I think, in no slight degree attributable to the unfortunate, the continual, and the expensive wars in which India has of late years been engaged. It is not for me now to express any opinion upon the policy and conduct of those wars; but this, no doubt, has been their inevitable result—that means have been wanting to carry further than has been done the material improvement of India. The points upon which the greatest stress has been laid, and which are the heads of the complaints contained in the petitions presented to the Committee, relate to the administration of justice, the want of public works, and the tenure of land. I will proceed to deal with these matters in the order in which I have mentioned them.
First, with regard to the administration of justice, the complaints relate principally to the inconvenience arising from the technicalities of English law, to the alleged incompetency of English judges, and to the corruption of the native judges and officers. So early as 1833 the difficulties of the state of the law in India were strongly felt, and provisions were introduced into the Act passed in that year which it was thought were likely to lead to an amendment of the law. Provision was made for the appointment of a Law Commission in India which was intended to prepare a code amending and consolidating the various laws and regulations in force in that country, and to establish, so far as circumstances would allow, one uniform common law for the different races of people who inhabit our territories. I am sorry to say that the result of the proceedings of that Commission has not answered the expectations which had been entertained. Principally under the care of my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) a penal code was prepared, which was the first complete result of the labours of the Commission. It was submitted to the consideration of the various local authorities in India. This occupied a very considerable time, and the suggestions made by them had to be revised and reconsidered by the members of the Law Commission. The revised code was sent to this country. It was returned to India, with authority to enact it with such modifications as the Government of India thought expedient, but in the meantime my right hon. Friend had come home. Some years 1104 had elapsed since the code was framed. Another Legislative Councillor (Mr. Bethune) had been appointed; he disapproved of much of half of the draft of the code, revised it with different views, and substituted a draft, differing in very essential particulars from that of my right hon. Friend. The Governor General naturally thought that though he had authority to pass the one, it was beyond his competency to pass a totally altered code. He referred it to the Government at home, by which step some further delay was necessarily incurred; and, finally, authority was sent out to the Governor General to pass the code in whatever shape he thought best. In the meantime Mr. Bethune, who prepared the second code, had died in India, and the two drafts had therefore to be submitted to the revision of a third English lawyer who succeeded Mr. Bethune as Legislative Councillor at Calcutta. He (Mr. Peacock) is a man of high character, and who is no doubt perfectly competent to perform the task; but he was naturally, on his first arrival, ignorant of many of the habits and customs of the Hindoos and of other inhabitants of India, with which it was most desirable that a person performing such a duty should be acquainted. He is at present engaged in revising the two codes, and the Government of India has the requisite authority for enacting whatever it considers to be right; but owing to these unfortunate, though perhaps unavoidable, delays, no actual result in the shape of legislation has yet been attained. I believe, however, it will be found that the labours of the Commissioners have not been altogether useless, for in many of the Acts which have been subsequently passed by the Legislative Council, the spirit, if not the letter, of their recommendations has been complied with. So far, therefore, their labours have not been without benefit to India; and I shall state to the House, before I sit down, the measures we intend to propose with the view of bringing to a practical conclusion the investigations which have been carried on for some time into the matters of legal reform, and of giving to India at an early period the benefits of the consideration which the subject has received.
With regard to the complaint of the technicalities of English law, I am afraid there is some truth in the allegation. We carried with us to India that attachment to our own laws, and to our own modes of proceeding, which distinguishes—or rather 1105 did distinguish—the courts of justice, and the lawyers of this country. These laws and proceedings were, however, perfect as Englishmen thought them, totally foreign to the habits and manners of the people of India; and it is remarkable that even now it is proposed by some of the Indian reformers, to establish a class of officers for conducting magisterial business, totally distinct from those who manage the revenue and other business; thus departing still more widely from the native habits and customs, which almost universally place all authority of this kind in the same hands. I am afraid that if we look into our own proceedings at home, we shall see that we have not much right to find fault with the mode in which these matters have been conducted in India. I have now been for more than twenty-five years a Member of this House, and one of the first Motions I heard submitted to Parliament was a proposal to reform the Courts of Chancery—a reform which it has taken a quarter of a century to effect. When I cast my eye the other day over the report of the Law Commissioners, which has been recently presented to Parliament, I found in it a reference to two topics, the consideration of which had been recommended by a Law Commission which sat some twenty years ago, with regard to one of which no remedy has been yet provided, while the other was not dealt with until about two years ago. The one is the necessity of an unanimous verdict on the part of juries; and the other related to the admissibility of some descriptions of evidence, the exclusion of which has frequently tended in no inconsiderable degree to defeat the ends of justice. Probably many hon. Gentlemen may have seen a pamphlet written by a Mr. Norton on the administration of justice in India. No doubt Mr. Norton has succeeded in stringing together a number of decisions and results of trials which appear, as they stand, very absurd. ["Hear, hear!"] The Gentlemen who cheer as if this was a wonderful proof of the defects of the administration of justice in India, may perhaps be astonished when I tell them I have heard that one of the most eminent Judges in this country has declared his opinion, that if you were to take the criminal proceedings in this country from the first proceedings to the verdict of the jury, and the sentence ultimately inflicted under the authority of the Secretary of State, it would not be difficult to string together a tissue of absurdities equal to those contained in 1106 Mr. Norton's work. Why, it is not long since sentence of death was recorded in very numerous cases, although everybody knew that the sentence would not be carried into effect. How frequently have we found efforts made by individuals and associations to prove the innocence, and sometimes successfully, of criminals who had been convicted by the legal tribunals of the country? How often has it been necessary for the Secretary of State to pardon persons who had been convicted of offences when they ought to have been acquitted? I think, then, such cases as are mentioned in the work to which I refer, afford no very conclusive proof of the defective administration of justice in India.
I would, however, ask hon. Gentlemen to consider the different circumstances in which Courts of Justice are placed in England and in India. Here for the most part truth is told in our Courts of Justice. The Judges are generally justified in believing the evidence given in court. There may be exceptions; no doubt there are; but no man will deny that, as a general and almost universal rule, the evidence given upon oath in our Courts is true, and not false. Is that the case in India? If you believe the evidence given before the Committee, directly the reverse is the case. The chances are that the evidence given in Indian courts is false, and not true. Is no allowance to be made, then, for judges administering the law, and attempting to dispense justice, under such circumstances? It seems to me that every allowance ought to be made, and that, instead of trying to depreciate the administration of justice, or to run down those who administer the law under such adverse circumstances, we ought to extend to them every possible indulgence; for, considering the circumstances in which they are placed, I think it is rather a matter of surprise that justice should be administered with any satisfaction, than that such charges as I have alluded to should be made. Perhaps the House may not be aware to what an extent falsehood, perjury, and subornation of perjury are said to be carried in India. I do not believe that the description can apply to the great body of the people of India; but as regards many of those who appear in the Courts of Justice, we have evidence of the strongest nature showing the prevalence of these crimes to an extent which, I confess, would be utterly incredible if the statements did not rest upon authority so general and so irreproachable. Dr. Duff, a 1107 Christian missionary, made this statement before the Committee:—It is the simple fact that scarcely a single case that goes to a Court in India goes there without bribery and without perjury on all sides. I mean literally what those words denote.A gentleman of high authority, Mr. Baillie, a pleader for many years in the Courts in Bengal, both at Calcutta and up the country, was examined before the Commons Committee; and this, after long experience, is his opinion:—Oral evidence in a case is, generally speaking, plainly and palpably false. To express in the strongest way my own views, I may state that I was a pleader in the Sudder Dewanny Adawlut for twelve years. For a good many of those years I had a very large business, but I scarcely recollect an instance where I thought it worth while to comment upon the evidence at all.Now, what says Mr. Norton, who complains so much of the administration of justice, as to the mode in which evidence is prepared, and the reliance to be placed upon it? He tells us:—Informing a native of a point which it is necessary for him to prove in order to substantiate his case, is almost tantamount to bidding him go into the bazaar, where witnesses to any fact may be procured at an anna (1½d.) a head, and setting in motion all the secret springs of a complicated machinery of forgery and subornation of perjury.It is then, I think, only right that a fair and full allowance should be made for the circumstances in which the judges are placed. Nor is this a new or temporary state of things, produced, as some people would have us believe, by the prevalence of English rule. I referred the other day to a charge delivered by Sir J. Mackintosh to the grand jury of Bombay many years ago, in the course of which he said—Such is the unfortunate prevalence of the crime of perjury, that the hope of impunity is not extinguished by the apprehension of the delinquent. I observe that Sir W. Jones, who carried with him to this country (India) a prejudice in favour of the natives, after long judicial experience reluctantly confesses their general depravity. The prevalence of perjury, which he strongly states, and which I have myself already observed, is perhaps a more certain sign of the general dissolution of moral principle than other more daring crimes. It is that crime which tends to secure the impunity of all other crimes; and it is the only crime which weakens the foundation of every right, by rendering the administration of justice, on which they all depend, difficult, and in many cases impossible.The evidence of the difficulty to be encountered by an Englishman in the administration of justice increases upon us as we look further into the subject. The Madras petition mentions, as an instance 1108 of the maladministration of justice, the case of a man who was convicted before a Zillah judge, but who proved to be innocent. There certainly is no doubt of this fact having occurred; but the man had been convicted, in the first instance, not upon any evidence, but upon his own conviction. You will find, if you refer to the evidence given by Dr. Duff, that he states it is by no means uncommon for persons in India to confess themselves guilty of crimes of which they may be proved to be innocent; but is a judge to be blamed if he convicts a man upon his own confession? I think there is no reason to doubt that justice is fairly and impartially administered by English judges in India; and that, in reviewing their conduct, we ought to make allowance for the circumstances I have mentioned. It was stated that judges were placed upon the bench in India at a very early period of life; that young and raw Englishmen who had just arrived in India were made judges of appeals from the decisions of the native Courts. Sir Gr. Clerk, a gentleman well versed in the affairs of India, and who served for a long time in various parts of that country, distinctly stated that, so far as he knew, such could not be the case. It is, however, true that sometimes gentlemen of no long standing in the service, acting as assistant judges, to try such appeal cases as are assigned to them by the judge, that officer taking the important cases, and assigning the smaller ones to the assistant. The judges themselves are generally servants of twenty years standing or upwards. On referring to the Bengal judicial appointments, I find that the youngest judge on that bench has been twenty-two years in the service of the East India Company. Perhaps the most satisfactory evidence that can be laid before the House on this subject is that of persons who depose to the implicit confidence reposed by the natives in the English judges. It is shown by the decisive testimony of different persons that this is the almost unanimous feeling among the natives. No one who has appeared as a witness before the Committee appeared to be better acquainted with India, and with the Indian service, than Mr. Halliday; and he says:—As far as regards the integrity of the judges, the confidence of the natives is complete; they have little or no notion of the possibility of corrupting an English judge. I know from constant intercourse with the natives, from the very commencement of my service in India, down to a very recent period, that they look upon the incorrupti- 1109 bility of an Englishman, his truthfulness, and integrity generally, as something quite by itself.Mr. Marshman informs us that—The general impression throughout the native community, with two or three exceptions, is that the English judges are absolutely incorruptible.Mr. Baillie, the pleader to whom I before referred, says—The native has a general feeling against the honesty of all judges. I think that general feeling has given way entirely; and I think, as a general rule, the native believes that an English judge is usually honest.Mr. Javenjee Pestonjee, a Parsee merchant from Bombay, says—There is no question about the integrity and the morality of the civil service. There are many civil servants who are quite competent and thoroughly understand the duties of their office; those oven who do not possess a knowledge of the law, are willing to discharge the duties of their office with impartiality.It must be remembered that in this country we have one language and one law, while in India there are many languages and many laws. To each man in India, to the best of the judge's ability, is administered the law of his nation. The Mahomedan law is administered for the Mahomedan, the Hindoo law for the Hindoo, and for the natives of all parts of the world the law of their respective countries, so far as it can be ascertained, is administered; and the House will see at once how infinitely great must be the difficulties of administering such a varied and complex system. As regards the competency of the Indian judges, that is a very difficult question for us, sitting in this House, to decide. Nevertheless, it happens that we are able to test, to some extent, the competency of these judges fitly to discharge the duties of their office, by observing how their decisions are dealt with when they reach this country. A return has been presented to the House of the decisions of the Privy Council in appeals from India. The appeals come from two Courts, namely, the Supreme Court, presided over by Queen's judges, who are barristers of some standing and reputation from this country, and the Sudder Courts, presided over by the Company judges—civil servants who have spent their life in India, and have ultimately been raised to this high judicial office. The appeals camprised in the return to which I refer have been decided since 1833. There have been ninety appeals from the Sudder Courts, of which sixty-three hare been affirmed, 1110 and twenty-eight reversed, being in the proportion of two-thirds to one third. The appeals from the Supreme Court have been thirty-six in number, of which ten have been affirmed, and twenty-six reversed, being in the proportion of one-third to more than two-thirds. The House will observe that in the two cases the proportions are reversed—of the decisions of the Company's judges two-thirds have been affirmed, while of those of the Queen's judges only one-third has been affirmed. Looking at these results, and that the judges of the Sudder Courts are chosen from gentlemen who have sat as judges in the various country districts, I am not disposed to come to the conclusion that the Company's judges are utterly incompetent efficiently to discharge their duties. As regards the native judges, there is, I fear, some truth in the assertion that they are, to a certain extent, tainted with impure and corrupt practices, the remains of the ancient system of administering justice. It, however, is most satisfactory to find, from the evidence of Mr. Halliday, that of late years a great improvement has taken place in the practice of the native courts, and that the Judges are gradually being raised above the temptations to which they formerly yielded. Mr. Halliday says—The (native) Courts themselves, within my observation and knowledge, have manifestly improved in regard to integrity and trustworthiness.This circumstance is of more importance than might, at first, be supposed, because, in consequence of the increased employment of natives in the judicial service, a large proportion of civil suits are decided, not by English, but by native judges. It appears, by the evidence of Mr. Hill, who is at the head of the Company's legal department at the India House, that only six or seven per cent of all civil suits are decided by English judges, the remainder being disposed of by native judges; and, taking original cases only, not more than one per cent is decided by English judges. I say, therefore, that this statement is satisfactory in two respects: first, as showing the great extent to which natives are employed in that branch of public business for which their service seems most available, namely, the administration of justice: and, secondly, as affording evidence that the native courts are gradually improving, and approaching to the purity as well as the ability of the English tribunals. Beyond the very general employment of natives in the 1111 administration of justice, they are now constantly employed in higher situations than formerly. They have been frequently appointed deputy magistrates, and Lord Dalhousie took the unprecedented step of appointing a native to a situation of considerable importance in Calcutta. Mr. Halliday states in his evidence:—Lord Dalhousie appointed a Hindoo of high caste, high family and character, stipendiary magistrate of Calcutta, much to the annoyance of the English applicants for the situation; but the natives especially exhibited their jealousy and dissatisfaction in so many ways, that the person appointed complained to his friends of the bitterness of his position, and the pain and misery which had been brought upon him by the constant attacks, public and private, and the annoying petty jealousy which he had experienced from his countrymen in consequence of his elevation.'It is disappointing to find such results from the appointment of a Hindoo to a higher situation than had ever before been filled, except by an European; but this is no reason for not appointing a native to such an office. I am most anxious that natives should be employed as extensively as possible in situations for which they are fitted; and that they should also be gradually appointed to higher situations than they have generally occupied hitherto; but it is obvious that there may often be difficulties which do not occur to one at first sight. It cannot be agreeable to a native to be placed in an employment in which he becomes an object, not of envy, but jealousy, to those around him, who, had they our feelings under such circumstances, would be proud of their countryman's elevation.
I pass now to the question of public works. This is, certainly, a subject of the greatest importance, as regards not only the welfare of India, but the interest of this country. It has been earnestly pressed, not only on my attention, but on that of those who have preceded me at the Board of Control, by gentlemen interested in one of the largest branches of English manufacture—namely, that of cotton. When these gentlemen did me the honour of waiting on me, they took what seemed to me the unnecessary trouble of apologising lest they should be supposed to have been actuated solely by selfish motives in pressing the matter on the attention of the Government. It certainly never occurred to me that they were actuated by such a motive. It is, undoubtedly, an object of the greatest importance to this country to increase the supply of cotton in every pos- 1112 sible way. It is a great evil—and one to be avoided, if possible—to be dependent; on one country alone for the supply of a staple article of manufacture employing many thousands, I may say millions, of our population. So far from complaining of the gentlemen to whom I have alluded for having stirred this question, I think we ought to be grateful to them for having called the attention of the Government of India and of this country to a subject of such vital importance. I have already explained that, in consequence of the large expenditure caused by the political situation of India for some years past, the Indian Government has been unable to devote as large a portion of the revenue to works of public improvement as—even for the interests of the revenue itself—might be advantageously applied to such purposes. On the whole, however, this subject has attracted, and is attracting, more and more consideration, year by year, and day by day. I hold in my hand some statistical details, which will be laid before the House very shortly, and which afford satisfactory evidence of the increased attention which is devoted to the question of public works. This document shows a great increase in the funds appropriated to public works during the last fifteen years. The average of the first five years of the period was 250,000l.; of the second five years, 240,000l.; and of the last five years, 400,000l. This account, though it affords a fair criterion of the increase of late years, does not, in truth, give a fair representation of the actual expenditure in these years. The total expenditure, including the cost of establishments, convict labour, and other items, not embraced in this account, amounts, for the last year, to upwards of 700,000l. Taking the account as it stands, however, as a measure of the comparative expenditure of former and recent periods, there has been an increase of about 40 per cent in the expenditure on public works in the latter years.
Another great subject of complaint has been the deficiency of roads; and here I must confess at once, that in many parts of India the means of communication are deficient. On the other hand, more has been done in this way than hon. Members are, perhaps, aware of.
Allow me to refer to accounts of what has been done in this respect in the various Presidencies.
The great trunk road to the Upper Provinces, and the furthest extent of our terri- 1113 tory, is already open from Calcutta to Kernaul, 78 miles beyond Delhi, in all 965 miles, and in two years it will be completed to Peshawur—1,423 miles. It is a macadamised road, "smooth as a bowling-green," upon which carriages go at the rate of ten miles an hour; serais and provision depots have been established at convenient distances, and there are guardhouses and police stations every two miles; the road is watched and patrolled night and day, and it is calculated that an officer of some sort is employed for every half mile. Mr. Raikes states that in his district, notwithstanding "parties of wearied merchants are spending the night all along the road under the canopy of heaven," the losses by robbery were nil., and those by theft no more than 4d, per 100l.
In the Presidency of Madras, the great western road to the borders of Salem and Bangalore from Madras has been put into proper repair; the traffic upon this road is larger than that of upon any other road in India, and the cost of carriage has been reduced one-third since 1846.
Three different trunk roads have been made or repaired, opening Mysore and Coimbatore to the west coast. Cotton from Coimbatore now goes to Ponany, a port on that coast, instead of being carried to Madras, and the carriage of it has already been reduced from six to two rupees per bale of 3001b., making in many cases the whole difference between profit and loss in the export. In Canara, where in 1831 wheeled carriages were unknown beyond the town of Mangalore, 508 miles of good road are completed, and six excellent ghauts are now open. The exports of cotton, coffee, & C, have largely increased, and the imports of British piece goods doubled since 1838. A good road south towards Trichinopoly has been formed.
On the other hand, wishing to conceal nothing, I must frankly admit that the great north road is in a very bad state; but 240 miles of canal along the line will be opened in connexion with the Godavery and Kistna works, and Colonel Cotton says, therefore, it is quite out of the question at this moment to waste any money on this part of the road. District roads are generally wanting in this Presidency, but their state varies very much in different parts of it. In Salem, Madura, Tanjore, and Cannra, they are good. In Bellary and Cuddapah, together half the size of England, and growing cotton and indigo, they are altogether wanting, there being 1114 only thirty miles for the whole. A direct line to Cuddapah has been sanctioned, and a pass on it opened; so the want, as regards a great line of communication, will soon be supplied. I do not for a moment mean to say that many public works are not required; but still I declare with truth that much has been done, much is in progress, and that as soon as funds are forthcoming, the Government will apply them to the purpose of opening and improving the communications from the interior to the coast. These are the roads which are much more important for the benefit of commerce, and improvement of the country, than the north line which runs parallel to the coast for nearly all its length, I have here an extract from the Scindian newspaper, which shows that even in this, our last acquisition, great attention is paid to the construction of roads and canals. In the interior of the country, the roads for conveying the produce are by no means so bad as some persons would have us to believe. In reference, for instance, to the great cotton-growing districts in the Bombay Presidency, Mr. Davies, the Collector of Broach, reports in 1849, that—There are no macadamised roads, and no materials wherewith to construct them, yet nowhere throughout the Presidency is communication so well kept up, not only on the great lines of traffic, but between village and village, and nowhere is the number of carts greater in proportion to the population.And Mr. Bell says that in Candeish—There is a passable and often an excellent cart road in many districts from every village to its neighbour. The main Bombay and Agra road is in excellent order; the traffic and travelling on the cart roads is constant during the fine season; the province abounds with fine cattle, and carts for burden and for locomotion are in general use.Such is the account of the ordinary roads in the great cotton-growing districts of the Presidency of Bombay. Great part, however, of the Indian cotton is grown in the interior of the country in native States, and for the purpose of bringing this cotton to the coast at such a cost as would render it profitable to do so, common roads are inadequate. I believe that for the transport of cotton from Berar to the coast, a railroad is necessary. It becomes doubtful, therefore, whether it is worth while to expend large sums on trunk roads. Indeed, it is probable that the great trunk road, to which I have before referred, leading from Calcutta to the upper provinces will, in a great measure, be superseded when the 1115 railroad is completed. In reference, however, to this important question—the construction of railroads in India—I cannot here avoid expressing my opinion that the Indian railroads, although there was, perhaps, some delay in the first instance, were commenced without sufficient consideration. The consequence has been that in the case of both the great railroads, it has been found necessary to change the line originally laid out. In the first instance it was intended that the line from Calcutta should run along the old road through a comparatively wild and uninhabited country; but after it had been carried to a certain point it was wisely determined that it should run along the line of the river, and through the most populous parts of the country. The direction of the line from Bombay was also changed after the works had been commenced. It was planned and commenced on the supposition of its being carried over the Malseg Ghat, which on survey has been found to be impracticable; and it is now proposed, instead of attempting this passage, to carry it over two other Ghats, and to pass the ridge in two places instead of one. This change of purpose has fortunately been determined on before any part of the line, of which the first portion has been opened, had been carried beyond the point where the deviation would commence; but I refer to these circumstances for the purpose of showing how important it is not to begin a line until all circumstances connected with it have been fully and maturely considered. There is no person more competent to form a correct opinion on this matter than the present Governor General of India. He made himself master of everything connected with railroads when he was President of the Board of Trade in this country; and I believe that, as regards several railway undertakings here, great advantage would have resulted from following the suggestions made in the able report to which that noble Lord's name is attached, and which was for our assistance laid on the table of the House. My right hon. Friend who preceded me in office did well, I think, in referring the whole of these questions connected with Indian railways to the consideration of the Governor General, for of all men in Europe or Asia he was the most competent to form a correct judgment on the subject. I expect a final report from the noble Lord by the next mail. Looking to the vast importance of the question, I have thought it right to defer any deci- 1116 sion on the subject until I receive Lord Dalhousie's report. On receiving it I can declare, on the part of the Court of Directors and myself, that no time shall be lost in carrying the railroads through with as much rapidity as the means at our disposal will allow of. It is indispensable that the great lines—I will not speak of them as they have been hitherto called, experimental lines—should be completed as soon as possible to their, proper termini, and no expense shall be spared to effect that object.
Another part of the public work which is of the greatest importance, is the irrigation of those parts of India which require artificial aid to render them productive. This is one of those points on which the statements contained in the Madras petition are most signally false. The petition states that nothing has been done in the Presidency of Madras to promote irrigation, and it quotes "the latest published Report of Captain A. Cotton upon the Tanjore district," as the petition calls it, to the effect, that millions of gallons of water are daily running into the sea, uselessly and wastefully down the Coleroon, which, if properly employed, might bring fertility and plenty to the district; and the authors of that petition would have the people of this country believe that such is the case at the present time. Now will the House believe that the report was made in 1837, about fifteen or sixteen years ago; that works for damming the Coleroon had even then been commenced, and were completed in 1841, twelve years ago, and by which upwards of 1,000,000 acres have been irrigated. The success of that work was so complete that another similar work was immediately commenced on the Godavery, which I believe will be finished in the course of the present year. In the last report on the public works which has been received in England, and which has, I think, been laid upon the table of the House, I find the following passage with reference to the works on the Godavery:—A liver exceeding two miles in actual width, besides the islands, which at that point divide it into four branches, and running over a bed of pure sand of unknown depth, was to be arrested in its course by a dam, 12 feet high, thrown across it, and a large part of its waters was to be distributed over an extent of 3,000 square miles by means of a network of channels; and all this was to be done in a country where such works had never been heard of before on a scale of magnitude, or at least only by tradition, and to be effected by 1117 the agency of workmen who had to be taught almost everything.These works in India are constantly spoken of as if they were on the same scale as those constructed in this country, and constructed with the aid of able engineers and skilful workmen; and complaints are made that they are not executed as rapidly and as well as in England. But let Gentlemen fairly consider such an account as I have just read of the character of these works, and of the difficulties attending their execution. It is most unjust and ungenerous to condemn persons acting under such circumstances for not completing the works intrusted to them as rapidly and substantially as they can he done here. The Coleroon anicut has been finished some time; the works on the Godavery will be finished this year; the Kistna, another river in the Madras Presidency, has been surveyed, the necessary machinery has been removed there from the Godavery, and in the course of three years, when this work will probably be completed, the irrigation works in the Presidency of Madras will have extended to 3,400,000 acres of land, which will be available for the cultivation of sugar, cotton, rice, or other crops requiring irrigation. In the northern provinces the irrigation works are carried on in a different way. Instead of dams, canals are constructed. The Jumna canals, which have been constructed some time, have brought 625,660 acres into cultivation. With regard to the Ganges canals, they were sanctioned in the year 1838, but were unfortunately stopped by Lord Ellenborough on his arrival in India. Some notion was entertained that they were likely to prove prejudicial to the health of the inhabitants; an inquiry was made into this point by order of Lord Hardinge, to whom it was reported that no disadvantage whatever could accrue to the health of the district, and the works were therefore ordered to be continued. They were begun in 1848, and, according to the report of the committee of engineers they will be completed in 1856. By that time 810 miles of irrigating canals will have been constructed, and 1,560,000 acres of land will be watered by the canals in connection with the Upper Ganges. Similar works are now in course of construction on the Ravee in the Punjab, which will also be probably completed about the same time, and about half a million of acres will be watered by canals of 450 miles in length. The total number of acres which will be irrigated by 1118 the canals in the Bengal and Madras Presidencies amount to nearly 6,075,660; but even these figures do not give an adequate notion of the extent of land that will be benefited by the irrigation. As regards the districts to be watered by canals, one third part only requires the actual irrition, although the remaining two thirds derive the greatest advantage from supply of water. The above amount, therefore, is far below that actually benefited, and the total amount of acres benefited by irrigation will be between 14,000,000 and 15,000,000, or rather more than the whole cultivable area of Ireland. I see also that sanction has been given to the construction of two lines of canal from the Indus, one of them being near Shikar-poor, the other near Hyderabad. It is, no doubt, of late years that the attention of Government has boon more and more called to this subject; the officers employed in the administration of the country have seen the great advantages which these works have conferred on the people, while at the time the revenue has been increased, and they are, therefore, encouraged to press them forward to a greater extent and with great rapidity. Their exertions have been approved and seconded by the Government both in India and at home, and the best security the public can have for the prosecution of works of this kind is, that they contribute to the improvement of the revenue as well as to the benefit of the people. Measures have been taken both in India and this country for putting these works on a better system than that on which they have hitherto been conducted. Formerly, they were divided among different boards, an arrangement which created great confusion. In Bengal superintending engineers have now been appointed, who are responsible for the whole of the works in their respective districts. Only the other day a despatch was sent to India, giving instructions that the whole system of public works should be placed upon a better and more general system; that an annual estimate should be prepared for the whole of the public works in each Presidency; and that a considerable portion of the revenue should be annually expended in a systematic manner on those which are the most important. I do not know that I can expect the House to listen with much patience to the details into which I must now enter with respect to the tenure of land in India. Great complaints are made by those who think that 1119 the tenure of land in the Madras Presidency interferes with the production of an article which it is desirable to import into this country—namely, American cotton. In the Madras Presidency the ryotwar system obtains, which is an arrangement made between the State and each cultivator. The land is divided into very small portions, varying from one to ten acres. The opponents of this system desire that it should be abandoned, and a description of landlords created, holding, as nearly as may be, the same position as the landlords in this country. That was a favourite system with the Court of Directors for many years—the Presidency of Bengal was settled upon it in the time of Lord Cornwallis. It is called the "Zemindary system." The Court of Directors desired that it should be extended to the Madras Presidency, and measures were taken for the purpose of doing so. Land was divided into lots, each constituting an estate of considerable size for India, and, to all appearance, landlords of the desired description were created; but, most unfortunately, this scheme turned out a complete failure. The system which now prevails in the Madras Presidency is the consequence of the failure of the attempt to create a system of large landlords. The Zemindary system is now represented as an inestimable benefit to the whole of the population. Lord Hastings did not think so. What was his account? He speaks of the benevolent purpose of Lord Cornwallis, and says:—Yet this truly benevolent purpose, fashioned with great care and deliberation, has, to our painful knowledge, subjected almost the whole of the lower classes throughout these provinces to most grievous oppression; an oppression, too, so guaranteed by our pledge, that we are unable to relieve the sufferers; a right of ownership in the soil, absolutely gratuitous, having been vested in the person through whom the payment to the State was to be made, with unlimited power to wring from his coparceners an exorbitant rent for the use of any part of the land.I quote this description to show that the Zemindary system has its dark as well as its bright side; and indeed each of the systems of local tenure has its advocates, who maintain its exclusive advantages, and condemn every other mode of tenure. It is very difficult to decide on their comparative merits. We may well hesitate before we attempt again to introduce that system into the very district where its failure has been most complete. It appears by the evidence given before the Committee of 1832 by Mr. Lewin, a gentleman very well 1120 acquainted with many parts of the south of India, that the ryotwar system was the natural and ancient tenure of land in that part of India. The person by whom it was more generally extended throughout the Presidency of Madras was one of the ablest of Indian servants, Sir Thomas Munro. There was no desire on the part of the then Government to extract large amounts of rent from the ryots—there' was no imperative order for the establishment of the system; it was established by a man who had the interest of the natives very much at heart, who was better acquainted with them and with their habits and customs than most people, and who, in spite almost of the directions of the Government, established the system, believing it, in his experience, to be most certain to benefit the country. In Madras the Government stands in the relation of landlord to the cultivating ryot, and I think that the most determined advocate of tenant right in Ireland would be charmed to see a relation between landlord and tenant introduced into that country such as that which was established in India by Sir Thomas Munro. It entirely prevented the existence of a middleman; the rent to be paid by the tenant was fixed at one-third or one-fourth below the average payments of the preceding ten or twelve years; and so long as he cultivated the land, and paid his rent, the cultivator possessed an indefeasible right to his holding. Circumstances have, no doubt, changed since that period, and the amount of rent then imposed has, I think, become too high in consequence of the general fall in the price of the produce of the country, and on this ground a revision of assessment may be desirable. The principle, however, of the ryotwar system is what I have described, and what is commonly called the annual settlement is in truth only determining how much of the stipulated rent shall be remitted to the ryots in each year in consideration of adverse seasons or other causes which render them unable to pay the fixed rent.
In the north-western provinces what is called the Village Settlement prevails, and seems, so far as we can judge at present, to answer there very well, and in consequence we are recommended by some persons to extend it over all India. Certain persons undertake on behalf of the whole village to pay the land revenue which is assessed upon it. Leases are granted for thirty years, which give them a more per- 1121 manent interest in the land, and they are responsible for each other's defaults. Some of the land is cultivated by themselves, some by other persons not named in the lease from Government, The system suits perfectly those districts where it is in accordance with the old habit of the country; but it is a very different question whether it is possible to extend it to other parts of India. In Bombay, which is principally settled on a system more resembling the ryotwar plan, long leases are very generally given to the cultivators, which gives each man an interest of considerable permanence in his land. It might be desirable to endeavour to substitute the village settlement for the ryotwar system; but there are very great difficulties to be overcome in any attempt to do so. When I asked Sir George Clerk whether he thought it possible to change from the ryotwar system to the village settlement, he replied that it would be almost impossible. In the ryotwar system the landlord deals directly with the tenant; in the village settlement a certain number of persons undertake the responsibilities for their neighbours; and if persons willing to do this cannot be found, or if all parties do not agree to the arrangement, it becomes an impossibility. Hon. Gentlemen will see how very difficult any operation of this kind must of necessity be. The truth is, we have in times past committed the greatest injustice and injury by attempting to force on different parts of India a system to which their habits and customs are opposed. We committed great injustice in Bengal when we introduced the permanent settlement system there. We committed great injustice by forcing the same system on part of the Madras Presidency. We committed great injustice in our first attempts to settle the north-west provinces; and at last we have come, by dint of long experience, to this conclusion, that we must in each case endeavour to adapt our system to the local customs and habits of the natives. Everybody acquainted with India knows how exceedingly difficult it is to induce the people to depart from the habits and customs of their forefathers. Sir George Clerk, who knows the north-west provinces, who has been Governor of Bombay, and who had ample opportunities of inquiring into it, has expressed a favourable opinion on the village system; but there are many persons who entertain serious doubts respecting its advantages. All these matters, however, we must leave 1122 to the Administration of India—to the decision of those best able to judge of the wants and feelings of the people, and to ascertain what measures under the circumstances are most likely to promote their welfare. Our object must be to frame our settlements, not on what seems theoretically to be the best, but in such a manner as is most suited to the wishes and habits of the people in their various districts.
Connected with the tenure of land there is a subject to which I wish to refer very shortly—I mean the cultivation of cotton, which is universally acknowledged to be of great importance both to England and to India. Some time ago, as many hon. Gentlemen well know, all the cotton of India was of a coarse description and short staple. It was well enough suited for the Indian and Chinese manufacturers; but it was wholly unsuited to compete with the American cotton in the manufactures of this country. For some years the East India Company have taken pains to introduce the growth of American cotton, and to ascertain whether the climate of India is favourable to its cultivation. I think that happily that point has been abundantly established. For some time they established cotton farms, which, as might have been expected under Government management, turned out exceedingly unprofitable. They then undertook to purchase at a certain price all the American cotton grown by the ryots; and it is now clear that the ryots understand the cultivation of the American plant very well. On this point Dr. Wight, the late superintendent in the Madras Presidency, says—Within the last two years many of the ryots of Coimbatore seem to have become so well convinced of the much greater advantages of cultivating the exotic than their indigenous cotton plant, that (unless I am greatly misinformed) they planted last season from 1,500 to 2,000 acres of ground with it, and seem as if they intended to treble the quantity in this year.It is thus proved that the ryotwar system is no inseparable obstacle, as has been alleged, to the successful growth of cotton. But in addition to this native cultivation, three or four Englishmen have gone out to India to establish cotton plantations. I speak again on the authority of Dr. Wight, who states that—On the coast, within the last three years, Messrs. David and Arthur Lees, Messrs, T. and L. Shaw, both from Manchester, and Mr. Kenrick, of Madras, have embarked in the undertaking. The aggregate extent of land under cultivation by these persons amounts, I think, to 1123 about 2,500 acres, exclusive of smaller patches held by others, whom they have induced to follow their example.Some time back the East India Company having, as I said, ceased to cultivate their cotton farms, they bought up the cotton produced by the ryots, at fixed prices, if not bought up by other persons. But the fact that American cotton can be grown in Madras having been satisfactorily established, I think the interference of Government ought to cease. It is their duty to provide roads and to facilitate the communication between the plantations and the port of embarkation; but the encouragement of the growth of the article ought to be left to private enterprise. I have no doubt that private individuals will be found either to take land or to make arrangements with the ryots for the delivery of the cotton grown at a certain price. The whole question is dependent on the fact whether there will be a certain market for it in this country. If there is a certainty of a market, the cultivation will be carried on. No doubt, the price to be given for this cotton from India depends on the price of the American cotton; but it ought to pay to export cotton to England, if it pays to export it to China. The exportation has increased considerably of late years, and I have no doubt, if steps are taken by the parties who are principally interested in the matter, that good American cotton may be grown to a very considerable extent. On this subject I will read a portion of a letter from a native of India which bears on the question. Speaking in reference to the growth of cotton, and the necessary interference of English capital, this gentleman (Manockjee Cursetjee) says—If they are in earnest, nothing that I can see impedes their acting independently of Government; and, if they would but form themselves into an association, subscribe a sufficient capital among its members, and judiciously lay it out in farming or purchasing from the Company's Government or its allies—the Nizam and other—districts capable of being improved by such outlay, they would not only render England independent of America in respect to their cotton supplies (which appears to be their grand object), and obtain an accession to their imports of other East Indian produce, but they themselves would reap a large profit independently of the consideration of improving the moral and political condition of the people of the place. On the other hand, it can hardly be expected that the natives of India, if left to themselves, would bestir themselves in any such national undertakings, then ideas and prejudices being generally against any innovation." 1124 That is the opinion of a very enlightened native of India, well acquainted with the feelings and prejudices of his own countrymen; and he thinks all that is wanted is that the plant should be cultivated by British capital, that the required capital should be sent out to India, as was done in the case of indigo. [Mr. BRIGHT: Where was that letter written? Was it written in England or India?] It was written in India. [Mr. BRIGHT: What is the date of it?] I am not sure as to the date. I find on looking at the paper that I have no date marked on it. Well, Sir, next comes the subject of the revenue of India. I will trouble the House but very shortly on that subject. The revenue of India is raised almost entirely by what is called a land tax, which is in the strict sense of the word not a tax at all, but is a portion of the rent of the land. All preceding Governments of India have invariably taken different portions of the rent of the land as constituting the main source of revenue, and the English Government have followed their example, and about three-fifths of the whole revenue of India is raised from this source; so that, according to the description of the able historian of India, Mr. James Mill, "the wants of the State are nearly altogether supplied really and truly without taxation." It leaves every person at liberty to cultivate his land as he pleases, and does not affect his industry in any way whatever. And again, to use Mr. Mill's words, "The wants of the Government are mainly supplied without any drain upon any man's labour, or the produce of any man's capital." In Bengal the amount to be paid from the land is a fixed charge, and the revenue is certain; in Madras the assessment varies, as I have stated; in the northwestern provinces the rule has been laid down, which had been found most beneficial, that two-thirds of the net proceeds, after providing for the expense of cultivation, should be paid to the State, and that one-third should go to the tenant. The next main item of revenue is that derived from opium. In Bengal the Government pays a fixed price to the cultivator for the poppy juice, and manufactures the opium. There are then public sales of opium, and the revenue is derived from the difference between the sums realised at those sales, and the price paid for the poppy juice added to the cost of manufacture. The opium grown in the native States of India must of necessity pass through our territo- 1125 ries to the ports of embarkation, and our revenue is levied on the passes granted for the opium so brought down. The revenue has increased to a very considerable amount from this source of late years, and it is, according to our last returns, nearly 3,500,000l. sterling. I have had stated to me various objections to revenue from opium, some from the moral consideration of selling a drug of this kind to another nation; but I hope to receive, in this instance, some approbation from hon. Gentlemen opposite, because we have, according to their principle, succeeded in raising the main portion of this tax from foreigners. There are objections, as I have said, urged against this tax, some of them on moral grounds; but it was inquired into by the Committee of 1832, and their report stated—Although the Government monopoly must, in all probability, like all other monopolies, be disadvantageous, yet it does not appear to be productive of very extensive or aggravated injury; and, unless it should be found practicable to substitute an increased assessment on poppy lands, it does not appear that the present high amount of revenue could be obtained in a less objectionable manner.The next large item of revenue is one to which, no doubt, considerable objections may also be said to exist, and that is the duty on salt. ["Hear, hear!"] Let hon. Gentlemen who cry "Hear" remember what has been the doctrine urged on us by great political economists of the liberal school for some years—that, whatever revenue must be raised, from some source or other beyond direct taxes on property, should be raised on as few articles as possible—that some few arricles should be selected, and the whole amount of our taxation should be put on them, and that all other articles should be left free. That view has been almost completely carried out in India, and every article of consumption is relieved from tax except salt. The customs duties are of very trifling amount, and all other articles of consumption are totally and absolutely free; and though I quite admit that it would be desirable, if possible, to reduce the duty on salt, and when we have a revenue to enable us to make the reduction, no doubt we ought to do so, yet, after all, the tax is not so very heavy as has been supposed. I see by the table before me that the average consumption of salt per head in India is about 121bs. a year, and the duty being ¾d. a pound, the actual amount of duty paid by each person in India amounts to not more than 9d. a head per year. Now, consider- 1126 ing the absolute freedom from all duty of any sort or kind on other articles, I cannot say this is a tax of so very oppressive a nature as it has been said to be. It is hardly worth while going into the other items of revenue, the whole revenue of India being about 26,000,000l, a year. [An Hon. MEMBER: Not so much.] By the last accounts of the revenue, and according to the printed papers to which I have referred, we have for the last year to which the accounts come a revenue of 25,890,000l. a year,
I have now, Sir, referred to those subjects which have been the general topics of the charges against the Administration of India during the last twenty years. I think I have shown that, with respect to public works, considerable misapprehension has prevailed if it is supposed that nothing has been done. I think I have shown that, with respect to the system of land settlement, which is supposed to be most prejudicial to persons holding land in India, any attempt to alter that system of tenure might, if done hastily or rashly, as we have sometimes acted in this manner, be productive of as much insecurity and injustice as has been caused by hasty though well meant proceedings in former times.
If we look to that which has been done by us in the course of the last twenty years, I think there is much on which we may congratulate ourselves.
I find that in the last twenty years, partly by law in our own dominions, partly by influences exercised by us on other States, in the greater part of India slavery has been, in fact, put an end to.
In the year 1829 Suttee was abolished by law in our own portion of the country; in 1840 it was abolished by the Guicowar, and by the chiefs of other adjoining States; in 1846 it was abolished in Jypore by the influence of Colonel Ludlow; and eleven out of eighteen of the Rajpoot States followed the example. In 1847 Lord Hardinge announced that,—"Suttee, infanticide, and slavery are prohibited throughout the territory forming the remotest Hindoo principality of India (Cashmere)."
There was hardly any crime so prevalent among the Rajpoot States as Infanticide; in fact, it was not considered by them as any crime at all; and it is most interesting to witness the influence of a single officer in putting an end to this system of murder. This has been effected by the exertions of one man, Mr. Unwin, in a 1127 State where it prevailed to a frightful extent. In Myupoorie, in 1843, there was not a single female infant left alive; in 1850, 1,400 female infants were born during the year, and were alive at the end of it. Mr. Willoughby has used similar exertions, and with very great success, in Kattywar. When we remember that on this subject the prejudices of the Rajpoots were exceedingly strong, that they conceived it almost a degradation to have female children, we must take it as a strong proof of the influence of a single officer that he should have been enabled to put down a crime of this nature, so prevalent, and so rooted in the habits of the natives. I know there are many persons who have a fancy of looking back to some golden age of Hindostan, before the English foreigner set foot on the soil, when a system of law and order, of tranquillity, justice, and peace prevailed, such as has not been witnessed since; and yet I confess that the more I inquire, the further this age of gold seems to retire from our sight; and when I refer to history and to documents the most ancient I can get, I never yet have been able to discover a period when this universal peace and prosperity prevailed. In no period to which authentic history reaches can we find anything like the peace and comfort which prevail under our rule in India, and I will not go back to the fabulous days when an Indian Apollo piped to his attendant shepherds. It is within the last twenty years that the monstrous system of Thuggee was discovered and put down—a system by which murder was carried on under the sanction of religion. Could anything be more monstrous than this, that a large class of people, believing they were performing acceptable sacrifices to the Deity, should roam from one end of the country to the other, and commit wholesale murders for no object whatever, but the mere commission of the murder? On this question of the state of India in former times, I have found the assertions in some quarters, of the mischief of our rule, so strong that I have found it necessary to look back to records of those former times to see what the facts really were. I have referred not to any English historian, because he might be partial, but to a foreigner, long resident in this country no doubt, as Minister from Sweden, but still to one whose character is well known to those interested in Indian affairs. Count Bjornstjerna, quoting from the History of Hindostan, of Golaum Hoosein Khan, says— 1128At this time (the beginning of the 18th century) all prisoners of war were murdered—all suspected persons were put to the torture; the punishments were impaling, scourging, &c. The people in certain provinces were hunted with dogs like wild beasts, and shot for sport. The property of such as possessed anything was confiscated, and themselves strangled. No one was allowed to invite another to his house without a written permission from the vizier or rajah of the place where he lived, and the people were constantly exposed to the most dreadful plunderings and outrages. Such [continues Count Bjornstjerna] was the situation of Hindostan during the latter part of the dominion of the Great Moguls. It became still worse when Nadir Shah, like a torrent of fire, overwhelmed the country, and was perhaps most unhappy when, after the departure of Nadir, India was left in the power of the Mahrattas, whose only object was plunder and devastation. Hindostan then presented a picture of such unheard of oppression that one shudders at the description. Thousands of examples may be found in the history of these times, of the whole population of conquered towns being massacred by the conquerors: Delhi, which then had more than 1,000,000 of inhabitants, became quite desolate after Nadir Shah's massacre, which continued seven days without intermission. Shah Abdala, Nadir's successor on the Persian throne, also loft it to the pillage of his outrageous soldiery (1761), and it fell a third time a sacrifice (1767), to the power of the Mabrattas, who massacred all who could not save themselves by flight.That is a picture of the period of the administration of the Great Mogul, and that is the period which is always quoted as the time in which Hindostan was so extremely peaceful and prosperous—a state from which it has fallen into degradation under our withering rule! We are told that justice is so badly administered under our rule, that here again the contrast with former times is very much against us. ["Hear!"] Now, I will read the hon. Member who seems to think so an article on this subject from a native paper published at Delhi:—Let us give a specimen of what the English really do for this country. In former times, under our vaunted ancient kings, there were many places in this very city (Delhi) where a poor man could not venture after sunset without the chance of having his turban stolen off his head; and now a weak old man may pass in safety over that same, ground with a bag containing 1,000 rupees in his hand. The roads through the wilderness were so' unsafe in former days, that no one dared to travel without an armed guard, and robberies in the jungle were of constant occurrence. Now the loneliest traveller knows no fear. We often hear the praises of this king, or that wuzeer, who perhaps built a paltry serai, or laid a dawk to Cabul to provide himself with musk melons; but who does not know that our Government, by the construction of good roads, has placed the luxuries of distant places within the reach of the poorest people; then as to the administration of the laws, under the native rulers of old justice was put up 1129 for sale, and this is now unblushingly done in the independent native States; while, under the British rule, rich and poor, black and white, Christian, Hindoo, and Mussulman, all alike obtain equal justice. The kings and rajahs of old defied all religions as they sat on the judgment seat; whereas the British study the religious scruples of every suitor, consulting the Mooftees when Mussulmans are concerned, and the Pundits in the case of Hindoos, and they do their best to discourage litigation by promoting the adjudication of cases in Punchayet.I refer those who speak of the deterioration of the country under our rule to the opinion of a native writer on the subject. The hon. Member who cheers, may know better than any native; but he will forgive me if I prefer the testimony of a native editor to the information he may have on the matter.
Well, Sir, we examined Sir George Clerk, who is well acquainted with the north-western portions of India, on this subject, and he stated:—On the decline of the Mahomedan Empire, every village found it necessary to repair the defences which had existed, or to erect new ones if they had none before. All Upper India was covered with bands of horsemen, Sikhs, dashing at everything, and the inhabitants only repelled them by erecting little citadels in the middle of the villages, with watchmen aloft on a high lookout. The bricks which formed these redoubts are now all taken for the houses of the cultivators. There are no such defences now to be seen in the British territories. The districts are highly cultivated. There is not a vestige of the jungles near villages.I will refer now to the statement that, even at the present time, the condition of our territories is worse than that of those under the rule of their own princes; and I will read the statements in some recent Indian papers with respect to the condition of affairs and of existing society in native States. Let us take the State of Oude. In the Calcutta Englishman we read—The continual warfare which distracts Oude for eight months in the year, is now carried on upon a more extensive scale than ever.Is that a condition of things more favourable to the cultivation of the soil and the prosperity of the inhabitants of the country than exists in British India? Again, as to the Nizam's territories, it is stated in the Madras Spectator:—The state of violence and rapine is such that capitalists do not quit their houses till they have provided escorts from their military friends.That this is not an inaccurate representation of the state of things in the Nizam's territories is certainly confirmed by what I heard from the late Resident there, whom 1130 I saw the other day, and who had the best opportunities for knowing the real state of the case. Now, be it remembered, that it was into this very territory of Hyderabad we were told by one witness that the people of our districts fled for refuge—and when they got there this is what they had to expect. The conclusion of that evidence, however, was not a little remarkable, because we were told by the witness that these people fled to escape the technicality of English law, and it appeared that this was owing to the use of stamped paper, for they thought it would be perjury if any false statement were made on stamped, while it was not so on unstamped paper. I have often heard Rampoor, one of the native States quoted as being much better governed than any part of our own dominions; but it is curious enough that the present Nawab of Rampoor had been a deputy collector in one of our provinces, and has improved the administration of his country in consequence of the knowledge of the methods of doing so, which he had acquired when he was employed in the service of the Company. I have no reason to think that the works which have been executed by native princes are at all superior, or, in fact, can at all compete, with those works—bridges, canals, and roads—which are executed by our Government. No one is better acquainted with the ancient history of India than Sir H. Elliott. No one is better acquainted with the administration of the north-western provinces of India than Sir H. Elliott is. Here is what he says:—To the North-western provinces, at least, cannot be applied the taunt that we have done nothing compared with the Mahomedan emperors with respect to roads, bridges, and canals. Even here, in the very seat of their supremacy, we have hundreds of good district roads, where one never existed before, besides the 400 miles of trunk road, which is better than any mail road of similar extent in Europe, and to which the emperors never had anything in the remotest degree to be compared. In canals we have been fifty times more effective. Instead of wasting our supply of water on the frivolities of fountains, we have fertilised whole provinces which had been barren from time immemorial. The scientific survey alone of the North-western provinces is sufficient to proclaim our superiority, in which every field throughout an area of 52,000 square miles is mapped, and every man's possession recorded. It altogether eclipses the boasted measurement of Akbar, and is as magnificent a monument of civilisation as any country in the world can produce.Why, Sir, really when I read these things I am at a loss to account for the 1131 assertion so recklessly made even by some who, from their acquaintance with the country, I should have thought had been in possession of better information on the subject, that we are disgracefully neglecting our duty in regard to India. Not many years ago there was a system of most odious transit duties through India; there was a custom house at intervals of every eight miles, at which goods were stopped and subjected to a heavy customs duty. Those duties have been entirely abolished. [An Hon. MEMBER: How long since?] They were abolished at various periods in different Presidencies. In Madras, which is the last place in which they were given up, they were abolished in 1844, and the Customs revenue was reduced, in consequence, from 36 lacs of rupees to 18 lacs—a loss of one-half. I must say that I see no evidence from which it can be supposed that the condition of the people of India is not as good as that of the people in most other parts of the civilised world. If hon. Gentlemen will turn to a book of not very recent date—Bishop Heber's Journal—they will find there accounts of the state of the Presidencies, showing a degree of comfort among the people, which, taking into consideration their condition and the requirements of their climate, may be looked upon as superior to what we should find in many parts of Europe. I will not trouble hon. Gentlemen by quoting from that work, with which they are probably familiar, but I will refer to a more recent publication, because it states the condition of the peasantry in that portion of India where it is asserted that the ryotwar system is productive of the most injurious effects. This is a quotation from the work of Mr. Dykes, late assistant-collector at Salem, respecting the condition of the people in that district of the Presidency of Madras. Mr. Dykes says—Agricultural labour can readily be obtained for 1s. 3d. a week, the articles of daily consumption being cheap in the extreme. The Government demand for an acro of dry land (2s. 8d.), scarcely exceeds what a common labourer can earn in a fortnight, about which amount of labour will also find him with an ample supply of salt for the whole year. The signs of improvement cannot be mistaken. When the people throw down the walls of their villages and towns; when the cottage shines out among the distant fields; when the children drive the cattle to pasture, and troops of women pass fearlessly along the public roads, seeking the neighbouring markets—these, surely, are different times from those that saw the ryot go to the plough with his spear or his matchlock 1132 in his hand; when the trade of the country, carried on bullocks, straggled from village to village, guarded ever by armed men, and the merchants feared to engage in cultivation, because then gains could not be hid with sufficient case; the greatly increased fertility of the soil, the increasing traffic, the improved bazaars, the value that land, even under the present system, is everywhere acquiring, all show clearly that capital is accumulating, and that the condition of the people is better than it was.These statements, of course, refer only to particular districts, though I have no reason to suppose they are not fair specimens of what exists throughout most parts of our Indian territory. But we have still more convincing proofs, not only of the increased power of production, but of the increased power of consumption of the people of India, in the returns of their imports and exports. I see, for instance, that the average importation of their sugar and molasses into this country in the ten years ending 1842 was about 444,000 cwt., while the average importation in the last ten years has been 1,369,000 cwt. The average importation of rum has risen during the same period from 233,000 gallons to 600,000 gallons, and has thus been more than doubled. The importation of coffee has risen from 2,358,000 lbs. to 3,256,000 lbs. The importation of cotton wool has increased from 58,000,000 lbs. to 80,000,000 lbs. So much for their powers of production. Now for their powers of consumption. The value of the cotton piece-goods imported into Calcutta in 1833–34—and this will be some comfort to the manufacturers of this country—was 700,000l., while in 1851 it was about 2,950,000l. Surely that shows a power of consumption which proves most completely that the condition of the people must be improved of late years. Well, Sir, I will take now the whole exports and the whole imports of India, and the case is still more remarkable. The value of the whole imports of merchandise in 1834–35, was 4,261,000l., while in 1849–50 it was 10,300,000l., being an increase of no less than 140 per cent. The exports in the same time have increased from 7,993,000l. to 17,312,000l., being an increase of 112 per cent. With all our boasted increase of trade at home, the value of our exports in the same time has increased, not 112, but only 66 per cent, while the improvement in production in India, as measured by the exports, has thus increased in nearly double the ratio of that which indicates the increase of production in this country. Can anybody believe, after these figures, that 1133 the condition of the people of India has deteriorated in the course of this period; and must it not be apparent, on the contrary, that alike in their powers of production, and in their means of purchasing the quantities of goods which have actually been imported into India, ample proof is thus afforded of the vast improvement in the condition of the people.
There are many minor topics which I should be anxious to mention, as affording evidence of the desire on the part of the Government of India to advance the interests of that country. I will only refer, however, to the trigonometrical survey, which is a work of vast importance, not only for scientific purposes, but for the more practical object of facilitating the surveying and laying down the boundaries of villages, and indeed of every man's property and occupation, and of preventing the constant litigation as to the rights of the various owners and cultivators of land. We are establishing lines of electric telegraph for 3,150 miles, connecting all the great towns of the Indian peninsula; and I must say it affords me the greatest satisfaction to read the constant accounts of the attention which is paid to the improvement of the people in various ways, by the establishment of dispensaries, the extension of vaccination, the formation of schools, and various matters of that kind, which in other countries are left to the charity of individuals, but which in India have been taken up by the Government, and which prove, I think, that in every part of that vast empire unremitting attention is paid to the improvement of the condition of the people. I have before stated that many things may have been left undone, many things ought to have been done more completely; but I must say, that I think great credit generally is due to the administrative officers in India for the energy and zeal which they have displayed in their various functions; to the Government of India for supporting them in their administration; and to the Government at home, who have invariably urged upon the Indian Government measures for the welfare of the country—who have sanctioned almost every expense asked for such purposes—and who have encouraged by their approval the exertions of the various officers. I will only allude to the opinion of one of the ablest of modern historians who has written an account of the administration of India in late years—I mean the author of the History of the War in Afghanistan, 1134 Mr. Kaye—who concludes his work with a review of what has been done in India, in which he says that much has been omitted; much more might have been done than has been done, if means had been available; but that, as it was—more good has been accomplished in India, more earnest, serious, and enlightened legislation has taken place for the benefit of the people under the Act of 1833, than during the previous two centuries and a quarter of British connexion with the East.I am afraid I have wearied the House by these details. I have felt, nevertheless, that I should fail in doing justice to the authorities of India, and to the administration of that country during the last twenty years, that we should not have been enabled fairly to judge of the manner in which the Government has been conducted; that we should have been liable to be misled by those representations which have been industriously circulated, and which seem to have met in some quarters with a belief to which I think they were not fairly entitled, if I had not endeavoured to put before the House what I believe to be a true and faithful picture of the state of India and the government of India during the last twenty years.
Now, Sir, I fully admit that it does not therefore follow, because all these improvements have taken place, that the Government of India either ever was, or is the best that can be devised, but I say this—that if we are to test the Government by the results of that administration on the condition of India, there is no ground whereupon to condemn it as being negligent and inefficient. I fully admit that if we are to test the present form of the Indian Governments by any known principles upon which government should be framed, it would be difficult to find so great an anomaly as that form of government, except the still greater anomaly of our whole Indian Empire. I admit that it is almost incredible, that it is fabulous, that such an empire as our Indian Empire should exist—that a country of some 2,000 miles in length, and some 1,500 in breadth, containing 150,000,000 of inhabitants, should be ruled by a mere handful of foreigners, professing a different religion, speaking a different language, and accustomed to different habits—that this mighty empire should be administered by less than 800 civil servants—the number of those servants, be it remembered, not having in- 1135 creased with the increase of our dominion, but having, on the contrary, diminished—it seems incredible that a private nobleman or gentleman should be sent there from this country who for five or six years, as Governor General, exercises a power greater than almost any sovereign in the world—that he again should be controlled and governed by twenty-four gentlemen, elected by a body of men not perhaps the best qualified to judge of the merits of a statesman; and that this body of men should be in their turn controlled by an Indian Minister, who, in the necessary play of parties, is often put into that position without any previous knowledge of the Government of the country over the destinies of which he is called on to preside. No man, if he were to sit down to the task of constructing a Government for India, would dream of constructing a Government upon such a system for so mighty an empire. But it must be remembered that this form of government has grown up along with the growth of our Indian empire. Defects there may be in that Government, imperfect it may be; but surely, whatever its faults in theory, it cannot have been so badly administered, when under it that empire has so grown in extent and in prosperity, and the condition of the people has been so much improved. That it has been made more fit by alterations at various periods for the advancement of the interest of the people, every one knows. That it is not now what it was twenty years ago, and was not then what it was twenty years before, is known to us all; and, the period having arrived when it is necessary for us to deal with the Government of India, and to provide for it after the 30th of April next, it becomes essential to consider in what shape it should be once again remodelled and framed, in order to insure that which it is our bounden duty to look to—in the first place, the welfare of the people of India, and in the second place, and dependent upon that, the interests of this country, which two considerations, however, I firmly believe to be inseparable.
Now, Sir, the Government of India must necessarily be considered under two different branches'—the Government at home, and the Government in India.
I will proceed, in the first place, to deal with the Government at home. Faults of various descriptions have been found with the Government at home. It has been said, in the first place, that there is 1136 no responsibility. In the next place, we were told, in the earlier stages of the discussion, that the Court of Directors was an obstruction to all good government. Latterly a different line of argument has been taken, and we have been told that the Court of Directors is a fiction which ought to be done away with as utterly useless. Great complaints have been made also as to the mode of electing the Directors, and fault has been found with the existence of patronage in their hands, and the mode in which it has been administered. A further fault has been found with the mode of transacting business, as being slow, and leading to unnecessary and mischievous delay. I believe I have stated fairly the principal heads of accusation against the Home Government of India. Now, the House will observe that two of these heads are quite contradictory of each other. It is impossible that the Court of Directors can at the same time be a perfect obstruction to good government, and yet so complete a fiction as to be dispensed with without being missed. We must deal with it as either one or the other, and the arguments on the one side completely upset those on the other. I think that, as usual in all cases of this kind, the truth is to be met with in neither of the two extremes, and that it lies, in this case, as it often does, between the two contradictory propositions. Most of the misrepresentations which have taken place on this subject seem to me to have arisen from considering the Government not as it is practically carried on, but as it might be carried on under the full exercise of those extreme rights that belong to the different members of which the Government of India consists. It would be just as absurd to say that the government of this country could not be carried on because the three branches of the Legislature, if each exercised the rights to which it was entitled, would constantly come into collision with one another, or that business in this House must practically be put a stop to from the power which, by the exercise of his extreme privileges, any individual Member possesses of obstructing public business. What we have to deal with is the practical mode in which the business of the various departments is carried on; and upon this subject I must be permitted to say, with reference to the course which has been taken in the Committees appointed by this and the other House of Parliament, that it is useless to examine persons coming from India, and 1137 persons who, not having had any experience in the mode of conducting business here, really can tell us very little on the subject. Those who have been in one office or the other—the Board of Control, or the India House—and who know how the business of the several departments is conducted, are far better able to give information upon the subject than those who, from want of experience, cannot by possibility know anything of the matter. The home business of the Government of India may be divided into two distinct parts. One comprises the political relations of the Government of India with other States, and questions of peace and war. These questions are decided not by the Court of Directors, but by the Government of this country, and their orders are sent through the Secret Committee of the India House, and for these decisions, not the Court of Directors, but the Government of this country, is entirely and altogether responsible. Upon that point, therefore, there can be no question as to divided responsibility or anything of the kind. The Secret Committee merely acts as an organ to convey to India the directions sent from the Board of Control; and the President of the Board of Control is, in that respect, only the organ of the general Government. A good deal of unnecessary importance appears to me to have been attached to a declaration made by Lord Broughton, that he alone was responsible for giving an order to the Indian Government as to crossing the Indus by the army for the Affghan war. But that order must have been signed not by Lord Broughton alone, but by two Cabinet Ministers; and he was no more responsible for the order than the Secretary of State at the time for the order directing the Duke of Wellington to cross the Pyrenees. The act is not the act of the President of the Board of Control alone; it must be in pursuance of the determination of the Government. There is no mistake, no concealment, about the matter, and it is nonsense to talk of the irresponsible power of the President of the Board of Control, because the Government of this country is as responsible for war in India as it is responsible for war in Europe, Africa, or America. The other great branch of the Government is what is Called the ordinary business of the administration of India, and in that the Directors take a very considerable and important part. Every despatch is addressed to them, all questions are considered by them in the 1138 first instance, and they have the initiative on every question. Grants of money cannot originate in any way with the Board of Control, and in the exercise of patronage, except in some of the higher appointments, the Directors are entirely uncontrolled. In the greater portion of their business, however, they are liable to the check and supervision of the Board of Control. A draft of every despatch is sent up to the President of the Board of Control, is considered and revised by him, is sent back to them; is submitted to a committee at the India House and then to the Court, and is there carefully revised; and it is only just to the Directors that I should say, as far as my experience goes, I have reason to know that the most careful attention has been given by them to every important despatch. It isquite true that the President of the Board of Control has the power of overruling, in the last resort, the Court of Directors. I therefore fully admit that I am responsible to this House for any acts in the administration of India, just as the Secretary of State for the Colonies is responsible for the acts of administration connected with his department. In substance, there is no difference between the two cases, though there may be a difference in form. Hon. Gentlemen seem to treat this question in a very singular manner, for at one time we are told it is impossible to say that the Court of Directors can be responsible, and at another time it is impossible to say they are not responsible; and again that they cannot find out who are responsible for the government of India. The simple state of the case is, that the President of the Board of Control is the person responsible to Parliament for the government of India. But all this is nothing new. It has been stated over and over again to be the case for the last seventy years, and it has been perfectly well known to every one who has thought it worth his while to inquire into the subject. The same fact has been stated, in better language than I can pretend to use, by Lord Grenville, who, in 1813 used this remarkable language:—The law which passed in 1734, the source of all these benefits, the very line of demarcation from which commences the good government of India, did actually commit this whole authority (the political direction of India) to Commissioners appointed by the Crown. In the Public Board, so constituted by the wise and necessary interposition of Parliament, and continued with slight variations by succeeding Acts, has ever since resided a complete and effective superintendence 1139 over every part of the political affairs of India. That Government has still been exercised, indeed, in the name of the Company, as the Company also has used the name of the Asiatic Powers whose misrule it has superseded; but both the control and the responsibility of all political measures are vested by law in the public servants of the State. The commerce and the patronage of the Company are alone excepted, but on all other matters which in any way concern the public interests in India it is the office and the duty of the King's Commissioners, at their discretion, to exorcise a complete and unqualified political control. It is their function to erase, to add, to alter, and, in the default of the Directors, to originate those instructions which by law the public servants in India are bound implicitly to obey.These words seem to me to describe the state of things, as it existed in 1813, precisely as it exists at present. The President of the Board of Control has succeeded to the authority here represented to reside in the Commissioners. I am now responsible to Parliament for the affairs of India. Every person, however, who is acquainted with the course of public business, must know that, although the head of every department is answerable and responsible for the whole business of that department, yet that in great matters he would consult his Colleagues in the Ministry; that in other matters his decision, as chief of his own department, would be sufficient; and that in minor matters, having confidence in the persons in his department and under his authority, he, upon their representation, issues the orders that may be necessary. But there is a difference between the orders so issued by the Secretary of State, and those which may proceed from the Board of Control. Before any despatches are sanctioned by the Board of Control, they must have been carefully sifted and investigated by a body of independent gentlemen, many of them intimately acquainted with the people of India, and most zealous and unremitting in the transaction of business; and so far there is greater security for the good government of India than of our Colonial possessions. It must be obvious, also, to every one that the mere power of originating despatches, must of itself give no inconsiderable share of influence to that body. It is clear that if I did not issue despatches except upon matters raised, and communications made to me by any hon. Member of this House, he could not but exercise a very considerable influence in the decision, whatever that decision might ultimately be. Mr. Mill—than whom there could not be a more competent witness—said, before the Committee of the House of Lords— 1140I do not think the present system is fairly described as a fiction, since it is acknowledged, that not only the Board of Control, but the Cabinet, when of a different opinion, sometimes think it right to defer to the opinion of the Court of Directors, no doubt because they feel that the Directors are more competent to form an opinion than themselves.On these two points, then, I will only say, that there can be no question: first, as to where the responsibility to this House lies; and next, that the functions of the Court of Directors are not that absolute fiction which they are represented by some to be, but, adopting again the words of Mr. Mill, "that they have a full share in the administration." The last imputation against the Home Government of India that I shall notice is, that in consequence of the numerous written communications which take place, and the divided residence of the two authorities—the Court of Directors and the Board of Control—Indian business is slowly transacted. I admit that the tendency of the mode of transacting business is to render it slow; but as to a large portion of Indian business, despatch is not of the slightest importance. The principles upon which the government of India is and ought to be conducted are laid down here; but the government of India is and ought to be administered in India. Good men ought to be carefully selected to carry out the views of the Executive. But then, when a proper selection of the instruments of government has been made, the more that is done in India the bettor; and the object of the examination here is to see that in the exercise of the power of the Governments of India in detail, those principles so laid down in this country have been observed. Orders for executive administration are seldom issued from hence. The greater part of the business consists in revising the acts of the Indian authorities; but that is not business which requires much despatch. Perhaps I should not be far wrong in saying that nine-tenths of the Indian business is to revise and to see whether the administration of India is carried on consistently with the principles laid down. There are cases, no doubt, and sometimes very difficult ones, when most important matters arise which require a more rapid transaction of business. In cases of that kind, immediate and frequent communications take place between the Board of Control and what are called the "Chairs" of the East India Company. I am happy to take this opportunity of stating, that my hon. Friend the late 1141 Chairman, and the present Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the East India Company, have always been most ready and willing to meet me, and have afforded me every facility and assistance that I could possibly require. Whenever it was important to obtain an early decision, they would ask to see me, or come to me at once when I sent for them. A personal communication takes place without delay, and a despatch is sent out immediately. About a month ago I thought it desirable that the interest on the 5 per cent loan should be reduced. The Finance Department reported a probable surplus of 500,000l. after paying for the Burmese war. I thought this an opportunity not to be lost of diminishing the expenditure by making a reduction in the rate of interest. I spoke to the Chairs; they agreed with me; and in compliance with my wishes, a despatch was prepared and submitted to me, and by the next mail the order went out to reduce the interest of the loan. In another case, when the electric telegraph was determined upon, all the arrangements were made in less than one month after the receipt of the despatch of the Governor General, recommending that this step should be taken. With a mail to India once a fortnight, and with personal communications such as I have described, there is no time lost in anything that requires speed; and on this head of delay in transacting business there has been the greatest misrepresentation and misunderstanding. But one great defect in the constitution of the Court of Directors has been pointed out—namely, that, owing to the necessity of a protracted and expensive canvass, the best members of the Indian service are deterred from offering themselves as candidates for the situation of Directors of the East India Company. It is said that it is a bad mode of remunerating the services of the Board of Directors—that they should look only to the distribution of patronage for their reward. I do not think that the imputations which have been made on this latter point are borne out. It has been said that the Indian army and service do not receive a fair proportion of the patronage. The evidence clearly showed that the sons of Indian servants and officers have received a very large and sufficient share of appointments. I think the Directors have taken great pains to preserve their patronage from being improperly applied; but I admit that there exists a general opinion that it is undesirable that 1142 the remuneration of the Board of Directors should consist in their patronage. I have now stated the principal objections that have been made to the present mode of conducting the Indian Government, and how far, in my opinion, those complaints are justified. But I still have to consider what it is desirable the Government of India should be for the future. The hon. Member for Manchester said the other day, at a meeting at Bristol on the subject of India, that nothing could be satisfactory except a single Government by means of a Secretary of State. That also is the view of the gentlemen who have associated themselves together for the reform of the Indian Government. Now, we must consider what would be the effect of a change of this description. The proprietors of India Stock and the Court of Directors will remain a body until 1874, and they will be entitled to receive the dividends upon their stock which are secured upon the territory of India, or to claim to be paid the amount of that stock. They claim to revive as a commercial body, and to carry on their trade with the capital thus reimbursed. The Government, on the other hand, would assume the charge and government of India, and the obligations, liabilities, and debts, of the East India Company; and I am not sure whether my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be pleased to have the debt added to his present obligations, because, although it is true that it is secured on the Indian territory, yet it might be convenient that the same thing should be done for India which we have done for some of our Colonies, and that by giving the guarantee of the Government, a lower rate of interest should be payable on the debt. This has, I see, been already suggested by a noble Lord in another place; and, though in the present state of things I should not think of preferring such a request to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the case would be very different if India was administered as our other dependencies by the Government of this country, and in the name of the Crown. I do not believe that this is an insuperable objection, but it is one that requires to be carefully considered before we make any change.
With regard, however, to this vital question of the nature of the future Government of India, we ought to look to the evidence that has been given before our Committees on this subject. The question whether we ought to have a single or a double Govern- 1143 ment for India has been mooted before both the Committee of the House of Lords, and the Committee of the House of Commons. There are three witnesses whose evidence has been said to be more or less in favour of the single Government. The evidence of the last witness examined upon this subject (Mr. Sullivan) is not yet in the hands of the Members of this House; but it can hardly be said to be in favour of a single Government, because Mr. Sullivan leaves two bodies—one for patronage, and the other for the management of Indian affairs. However, as his evidence is not in the hands of Members, I will not enlarge upon it. The most important evidence on this subject is that of a noble Lord (the Earl of Ellenborough) who has been himself President of the Board of Control, and Governor General of India; and I am bound to bear my testimony not only to his great acquaintance with Indian affairs, but to the singular ability with which he expresses his views on these subjects. I do not know that I shall be charged with having said more than I am justified in saying, if I add that one cannot be surprised to find the noble Lord approaching any consideration which affects the Court of Directors with some little bias. The noble Lord recommends that the Government of India should be as follows:—That there should be a council of twelve, who should be originally named in the Act of Parliament; that one-sixth should go out every year, and that they should be replaced by persons who have filled high situations in India, and who should be nominated on the recommendation of the Governor General, and of the Governors of the Presidencies of India. The noble Lord proposes that the whole patronage should be vested in the Council, and that they should have a veto on the appointment of a Governor General; but, naturally enough, the noble Earl did not propose to give them the power of recalling him. He suggested that these Councillors should be quite independent of the Government, and irremovable for six years. I remember the time when the patronage of India was supposed to create a power in the State of no inconsiderable amount; and a body like that which the noble Earl suggests, and the members of which would be practically irremovable for six years, would constitute an exceedingly independent and powerful body. Therefore, although the noble Lord's professed object is to get rid of the double Government, he does not do so in fact, and 1144 only proposes to transfer to the Council the power of the Directors, and to make them, as indeed he says himself in another answer, "the advisers of the Board of Control, precisely as the Board of Directors now are." But the noble Lord goes further, and says that his only object is to provide for the President of the Board of Control an able body of advisers. The noble Lord states that he should not object to the continuance of the present system of choosing the Court of Directors if he were sure that it would be filled with men like the late Mr. Charles Grant, Mr. Elphinstone, and Sir Richard Jenkins. The sole object, then, of the noble Lord appears to be to obtain good advisers from Indian servants for the Board of Control, and therefore in whatever manner this may be effected, his object would be accomplished; but when he leaves this second body as powerful and independent as he proposes it should be, and acting in regard to the Board of Control much as the Directors now do, this, after all, seems to me to be only a double Government under another name. The noble Earl says, that when he wanted advice about Nagpoor, he went not to the Court of Directors, but to Sir Richard Jenkins, one of the Directors, who had been Resident at Nagpoor, and that, fortified by his opinion, he was perfectly indifferent to the opinion of the Court. I quite concur in the propriety of the course adopted by the noble Lord of consulting the person who was the best able to give him advice and information upon the subject then under his consideration. I should have thought it right, however, even if I had consulted Sir Richard Jenkins, to consult the Directors also, and I should not have thought myself justified in treating the Court of Directors quite so cavalierly as the noble Earl said that he was prepared to do. The next gentleman examined, whose opinion is said to be in favour of the single Government, and who, as regards all matters in India, gave most valuable evidence, was Mr. Halliday, late Secretary to the Government of India at Calcutta; but when Mr. Halliday was examined on the English part of the question, he stated that he was not so well acquainted with the Government in this country that he could give his opinion without very great diffidence. Well, but what was Mr. Halliday's opinion, which was said to be a decided opinion in favour of a single Government? His view was in favour of the appointment of a body of twenty-four gen- 1145 tlemen, elected as at present, or perhaps as vacancies occurred, allowing a portion to be nominated—say one-third or one-fourth as the case might be—by the Directors themselves. This body would form a Council for India, perfectly independent of the Government, exercising the patronage as at present, and discussing all important matters connected with India with the President of the Board of Control, that he might have the advantage of hearing their discussions and weighing their arguments. I believe that most matters are carried on in India under the single responsibility either of the Governors or of other officers who manage the affairs of their districts, without consulting any person; and perhaps one ought not to be surprised at such an opinion from a man who has had little experience in Committees or Councils of many persons. But gentlemen who are conversant with the deliberations of Committees in the House of Commons, and those who are acquainted with the proceedings of Cabinet Councils, can imagine what would be the result of a Council of such numbers meeting to discuss with the President of the Board of Control, or in his presence, all important Indian questions, or, as Mr. Halliday says, for the complete carrying out of his scheme—all Indian questions. Now I must observe that Mr. Halliday proposes to give to the President of the Board of Control the absolute power of deciding as he pleases, whether he agrees with his Council or not. Does anybody practically acquainted with such matters suppose for a moment that such a system could be worked? Does anybody suppose that the business of a heavy department could be carried on with an executive Council of twenty-four members? Even if the President and his Council generally agreed, their numbers would be a practical hindrance to all business, from the variety of opinion, at any rate upon numerous matters of detail, which must necessarily exist amongst so many gentlemen. But suppose that the President in three or four cases overruled his Council, and that an irritated and sore feeling was thus excited, how would the business be carried on? If the President of the Board of Control was bound to attend their deliberations, the time would probably be wasted in endless bickerings and disputes, quite enough to interrupt the progress of all business; and if he was at liberty to absent himself, he would of course relieve himself from so unpleasant a position as this would inevitably 1146 be, by deciding all questions, as he would have a right to do, without reference to his Council, and they would become utterly useless. But in any case to talk of this as a single Government, is an abuse of words. And Mr. Halliday, when he was asked whether he was favourable to a single Government for India, on a question put to him, at his own request, by the Chairman of the Committee, that he might remove any misapprehension as to his meaning, said that he only aimed at improving what he understood to be the present mode of transacting business, without introducing organic changes, which in his opinion were not desirable. He said that he would "reform existing institutions only as far as they needed reform, and would keep them otherwise in all their integrity; that the system of double Government and election by the Court of Proprietors had undoubtedly, whatever defects may be attributed to it, the good effect of keeping out mere party differences and discussions from the Government of India, and that good he would on no account do away with."
But Mr. Halliday, beyond his own opinion, and I have quoted his own words, gives very strong and very important evidence on this subject of single Government. He sees clearly enough that none of these proposals do in fact amount to single Government. He sees clearly enough, and I agree with him, what a single Government ought to be, if we are to have it at all, and he says, with this view—The plain straightforward course would be decidedly to have the Government and the Council nominated altogether by the Crown; but whenever I have spoken of that with well-informed persons, I have been informed, in a manner that I could not possibly resist with my want of experience, that such a measure was totally out of the question; that it was quite impossible; and therefore, driven from that, I fall back upon what appears to me to be the more practicable suggestion, which I have made in the course of my evidence to-day.The witness states distinctly what he thinks would really establish a single Government, and he says he has been told by' every well informed person with whom he has spoken on the subject, that such a measure is totally out of the question. Surely after this statement of his evidence, he can hardly be represented as a witness who has practically advocated the establishment of a system of single Government. Now, these are the witnesses whose evidence is supposed to be in favour of a- 1147 single mode of government. I am aware that we have in this House advocates of that form of government, and I have no doubt that we shall hear from the hon. Member for Manchester and others able and powerful arguments in favour of such a scheme; but, certainly, they cannot claim in support of their views the evidence of those gentlemen to whom I have just referred. But we have, on the other hand, the very remarkable evidence of a person well known to this House, and well known to the world, as one of the ablest writers of the day on subjects connected with questions of government, of taxation, and of political economy. I do not myself agree with him in some of his views on the latter subjects, but I have always borne willing testimony to his ability—1 mean Mr. John Mill. No doubt it may be objected to Mr. Mill, that he is open to the suspicion of having a bias in favour of the East India Company, in whose service he is. But, on the other hand, from his intimate acquaintance with the mode of transacting business in connexion with the affairs of India, which is greater, perhaps, than that of almost any man in this House or the country, he has better means than most men of forming an opinion, and his evidence, therefore, is of the greatest weight; and I will say from what I know of him, and from the high character which he holds in the country, that I do not believe Mr. Mill is one who would express an opinion which he docs not honestly entertain. I think, therefore, that the opinion—and it is not an opinion that is not accompanied by the reasons on which it is grounded—which he has given in his evidence, is entitled to no inconsiderable authority. Though, therefore, his answers are rather longer than I should wish to read, yet they are so well put by him, and are so much to the purpose, that I should be sorry to diminish the effect of them by not giving his own words. Let me, before quoting this evidence, observe that it is obvious, if the Government is to be vested in a Secretary of State, that such Secretary of State must be responsible to Parliament, and to Parliament alone—that, in short, it is only to Parliament that the whole Government of India must be responsible for the good administration of the affairs of that country. On this subject Mr. Mill says—No one will deny that it is necessary that Parliament should be open to appeals on all subjects connected with the government of any part of the British Empire; but, so far as my opinion1148 goes, I should say that the security for the good government of India derived from discussions in Parliament is far short of that derived from the habitual examination of all papers of any importance by persons especially devoted to that object. He is then asked what would in his opinion be the result of more frequent Parliamentary interference, and he answers—I think that many bad and few good consequences would result. The public opinion of one country is scarcely any security for the good government of another. The people of one country, whether represented by the public authorities of this country, or by the nation itself, cannot have the same acquaintance with the circumstances and interests of the other country as they may have with their own. The great security for the good government of any country is an enlightened public opinion; but an unenlightened public opinion is no security for good government. The people of England are unacquainted, or very ill acquainted, with the people and the circumstances of India, and feel so little interest in them, that I apprehend the influence of public opinion in this country on the government of India is of very little value, because there are very few cases in which public opinion is called into exercise, and when it is so, it is usually from impulses derived from the interests of Europeans connected with India, rather than from the interests of the people of India itself.He was asked with regard to the effect of this kind of government generally, and he says—There would be two great inconveniences. In ordinary cases there would be apathy and indifference on the part of Parliament and the public; the Secretary of State for India would be able to do exactly as he liked, and to omit any part of his duty if he were too indolent or too ignorant to perform it; but whenever it did happen that interest was excited in Indian questions, they would become party questions; and India would be made a subject for discussions of which the real object would be to effect a change in the administration of the government of England.The objection, therefore, which Mr. Mill takes to the Government of a single Secretary of State is—first, that it would introduce party considerations into the administration of India; and, secondly, that in the present state of information with regard to India, the experience of persons whose lives have been devoted to Indian subjects is a better security for good government than the sole check to be exercised by the House of Commons, reserving, of course, to the House of Commons that necessary interference on important matters which upon all questions it undoubtedly ought to exercise. Now, it is a remarkable circumstance in connexion with this question, that since the celebrated Bill which decided the fate of Mr. Pox's Administration, party politics have seldom or ever entered into the consideration of In- 1149 dian affairs. Party questions with reference to India are almost totally unknown either in the other House of Parliament or here; and I do not hesitate to say that it would be a source of imminent danger to India if its affairs were again made the objects of party warfare. I have been in Parliament long enough to see that in colonial matters questions have occurred in which the interests of a colony have been neglected in the contests of party politics of this House. But we must not shut our eyes to the circumstance that the case of India is in no respect similar to that of the colonies. In all the colonies belonging to this country there is a large portion of British subjects well acquainted with the principles of representative government; and even if the worst were to occur—if, which God forbid! any of our colonies were to be separated from the mother country—though I do not sec why the connexion, founded on mutual benefit, should not last for a period much longer than we can any of us loot forward to—but even if a separation were to take place, there is hardly one of our colonies which would not be able with more or less success to govern itself. But if a revolution of that kind was to take place in India, will any one say that consequences must not ensue at which humanity would shudder? There is, in truth, no similarity between the probable consequences in the one case and in the other, and therefore it is of the utmost importance not to allow party politics to interfere with the government of that great dependency. There are very few Gentlemen in this House who have been in India, and I believe that even residence in one part of India is by no means sufficient to enable a person to form a competent opinion with regard to other parts of India. I have heard an hon. Friend who sits behind me, and who knows India better than most men, state that what he has learned was not learned from a residence of many years at Calcutta, but has been learned almost entirely from constant and unremitting attention to his duties as a Director at the India House. I believe that those who have been long connected with the India House have a better knowledge of Indian affairs than any of us possess, and therefore I think there is much truth in the opinion of Mr. Mill, that it is a great security for good government that all the details of the Indian administration should be subjected to the careful revision and careful exami- 1150 nation of people who have devoted their lives to the study of Indian matters, and that they should be looked over by those who have spent a portion of their time in India, who, collectively, have a greater knowledge of the subject than we possess in the House of Commons, and whose opinion, therefore, should have the greatest weight. In reference to the very principle on which the double Government is founded, Mr. Mills says—That all Indian proceedings are reviewed by two separate bodies independent of one another, is a much greater security for good government than would exist under a system by which those two bodies were merged into one. The double revision by persons of a different class, in a different position, and probably with different prepossessions, tends greatly to promote a close and rigid examination.Again—If you have a body unconnected with the general government of the country, and containing many persons who have made that department of public affairs the business of their lives, as is the case with the Court of Directors, there is much better discussion and much better sifting of the matters committed to their charge by having such a body in addition to the Minister of the Crown, than by having the Minister of the Crown without such a body, or the Minister of the Crown acting as chairman of the body.And he concludes his evidence upon this question by a distinct opinion that any change from a system like the present "would necessarily be a change for the worse."
I will now refer to the opinion of a noble Lord who himself was a Cabinet Minister in this country, and subsequently Governor General of India—I mean Lord Hardinge—and I may say that no one is better able to give a sound opinion than Lord Hardinge. He was a Cabinet Minister at the time of the differences between the Government of this country and the Court of Directors, when Lord Ellenborough was recalled; as Governor General, he became well acquainted with the administration of affairs in India, and he now stands in a position perfectly independent, both of the Government and of the Directors, and is able therefore to express an unbiassed and impartial opinion. His opinion was expressed as follows:—I think the system of double government is much wiser than bringing the Crown more prominently forward. I think the present plan is the best. For two members elected by the Court of Proprietors, one Director might be put in by the Court itself taken from the Indian service, who had been a member of Council, or who had gained a high reputation for his service in India. I do not think it would be advantageous to have the 1151 Court of Directors filled with men who had served in India; there ought to be in the Court such a fusion of European feelings and talent, as well as Indian feelings and talent, as would not make it too Indian. A body of persons solely impressed with Indian views would not administer the government of India so well as the present Court of Directors.But these opinions are not confined to persons only who are resident in England. I will quote the opinion of another of our witnesses on this subject, and that is the opinion of Mr. Marshman, a gentleman long resident in India, to whom I have before referred, unconnected with the Government, perfectly independent, well acquainted with the feelings of the people of India, and he says—I think that a change, such as the transfer of the whole of the Government of India from the Court of Directors to the Crown, would be much too violent and sudden, and would tend very much to embarrass so vast a machine as that of the Government of India; and I think it would be more advisable to prepare for the change which must take place by gradually remodelling the Government. It might be possible to prepare for the great change by the nomination of a certain proportion of the Directors, so that the public would have an opportunity of seeing immediately how the newly-modelled machine worked. One-fourth or even one-third of the Directors might be appointed by direct nomination from among those who have had long Indian experience.I will only refer, in one word, to the evidence of Sir Charles Trevelyan, himself an old Indian servant, and well acquainted with the affairs of that country, as well as with the machinery of Government at home. He states most decidedly that, in his opinion, "an improved Court of Directors, together with a Board of Control, is the best form of government for India."
I have now stated all the evidence that has been given on this subject, and I must say not only that the preponderance of evidence is in favour of maintaining and improving the present form of government, but that there is no evidence which, carefully examined and tested, supports the views of those who advocate the government of India by a Secretary of State.
It is obvious that one of the objections stated by Mr. Mill—namely, the want of information in this country on Indian subjects, is one that, with increased communication between this country and India, may be expected to diminish from day to day. Mr. Marshman expresses his surprise at the interest which on his arrival he found the affairs of India have excited 1152 in this country; and I may be allowed to express the hope that it is a subject which will excite a still larger and more constant share of the attention of this House and of the country. If, too, by the improvement and education of the natives of India, we can establish a race and a class of men such as Mr. Mill describes as affording the best security for good government, then a great point will be gained for the government of India; but clearly that time is not come as yet. The opinion of such men will have great weight in India, and will be of great service in aiding the formation of sound public opinion in this country on Indian affairs. The time which is passing over our heads, the more ready communication with India, which is increasing so rapidly from day to day, will diffuse a knowledge of the affairs of India much more generally among the Members of this House, and render them more and more able to discuss with advantage the affairs of that country. I am most anxious to forward this object, before the attainment of which the too frequent interference of the House might lead to evil rather than good. I find that notice has been given of a Motion by an hon. Friend of mine to-night upon a subject on which it was my intention to have made an announcement to the House on the part of the Government, namely, that the President of the Board of Control will make an annual statement on the finances of India to the House. This used in former years to be the practice; but it has been discontinued for a long time, for no other reason, I believe, than because no attention whatever was paid to the subject, and when the Minister rose from his seat to give his account of Indian affairs, the other Members of the House walked out of it.
The question then for the Government to decide is, whether it shall continue the government of India as it is—whether it shall assume the government of India to itself—or whether it shall maintain the present form of government, but improve its constitution. I think with the defects that have been stated in the constitution of the Court of Directors, it is impossible to leave the government of India as it is. If, on the other hand, the Government had been anxious to grasp at power; if I had wished to place myself in a position the most powerful, I think, that any Minister could hold, possessing the undivided sway over our Indian empire—a prize well 1153 worthy of any man's ambition—and had obtained to this course the consent of my Colleagues, we might, I have no doubt, have persuaded the House to make that change in the form of government for India.
But we do not think it would be for the advantage of India that this course should be adopted. We think it far wiser and safer to maintain the present form of government, and to improve its constitution in such a manner, that while it will be rendered a more fitting instrument for the good administration of Indian affairs, the change which we propose, will in some respects render it more easy to do, at a future time, what circumstances or an extension of the information on the subject of India, may render fitting, namely, to assume the government of India in the name and the immediate power of the Crown. I will not, on the present occasion, occupy the time of the House by any further arguments in support of this course. I will only say that I agree generally in the views which have been so well expressed by Mr. John Mill, and that they are supported by the authority of those whose knowledge and situation enables them to exercise a sound and independent judgment on the question. What we propose to do is—leaving the relations of the Board of Control and Board of Directors as they stand—leaving the responsibilities of this House, and of the Minister who holds the situation which I now have the honour to fill as they now are—to improve the constitution of the Court of Directors, limiting their patronage, and imposing some check on the higher appointments made by them in India.
The Court of Directors consists of thirty members, but twenty-four only sit at one time, whilst six are always out by rotation; and though the Directors are subject to an election every four years, they are practically elected for life.
We propose to reduce the elective members to twelve, and to add to them six to be appointed by the Crown from persons who have served ten years in India. Six of the elected Directors must also have served in India for the like period. That will make a Court of Directors consisting of eighteen persons. It was suggested that the Court themselves should select one-third of the number; but it appeared to us that the Directors so chosen by a majority of the persons amongst whom they are to sit, would be placed in a position depen- 1154 dent upon those by whom they were appointed, and we thought it better that they should be nominated on the responsibility of the Crown, and named from persons who had been at least ten years in the service of the Crown, or the East India Company in India. The appointment in this manner will obviate the objection that the best of the Indian servants do not obtain a seat in the Court of Directors. It has been shown beyond doubt that many of those most competent to take a part in the Government of India—coming home from, thence, and fully able in this country to take an active and useful part in the administration of its affairs—are deterred by the canvass from trying to obtain a seat in the Court of Directors; and we believe we shall improve the efficiency of the Court by placing in it, without the necessity of going through a canvass, persons of that description. The Government can have no object but that of placing the most efficient men in this situation; and in consequence of their selection being confined to Indian servants, any nomination for party purposes, or from party considerations, is, as far as possible, guarded against. We propose that one-third of this number should vacate their seats every second year, but be eligible, or be capable of being nominated again without the interval of a year. Great inconvenience is now experienced by the intervening year, when Directors are out by rotation, and if they are fit to be in the Court at all, there is no reason why that interval should exist in their service. With regard to the elected members, we do not propose to make any change in the nature of the constituency by whom they are elected. We do not propose, as was suggested by some, to add the holders of the securities of the East India debt, because in that case people residing in India must be included, who, if they vote at all, can only do so by proxy. Neither shall we add, as has also been suggested, all those who have served in India, because the retired officers of the Indian army are so numerous in comparison with all other persons retired from the Company's service, that, as stated in Mr. Campbell's book, if we adopted this course we should throw the whole election into the hands of the Indian officers, and should not, therefore, give that fair share of influence to other parties to which they are entitled. I do not think, from all I can gather upon the subject, that any great advantage could be derived from increasing the number of the persons 1155 entitled to vote in the election of Directors, and I propose, therefore, to make no alteration in that respect.
We do not contemplate to effect the whole of this change at once. We propose in the first instance—that is, on the expiration of the Charter in April next, that the present thirty Directors should select fifteen of their number, and that the Crown should select three persons who have served ten years in India. These will make the eighteen, who will be the first Directors of the East India Company under the new arrangement. Then the first three vacancies that occur in the elected Directors will be filled up by the nomination of the Crown until the full number of six members so named is completed. That once done, all future vacancies in the elected Directors will be filled by election, and all future vacancies in the nominated members will be supplied by nomination, so as to maintain permanently twelve elected and six nominated members. We propose that every Director should serve for a period of six years; one-third of the Court, both of those elected and those nominated, going out every second year, but being capable of re-election or re-nomination, as the case may be. All the persons to be nominated by the Crown, and six of the elected Directors, must have served either the Company or the Crown ten years in India.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
It will be no disqualification of any person that he is in the Court of Directors, if he have the other qualifications that we require; but merely being a Director, is to be no qualification, unless he has served the ten years in India, which we deem the necessary qualification. We believe that this change will effect a great improvement in the Court of Directors. It will be, of course, to the interest of the Crown to name the best Indian servants that can be found; and we shall thus introduce at least six most competent persons of large Indian knowledge and experience. In proposing, however, this form of government, which, in present circumstances, we believe to be the best that can be devised for India, we do not think it fair to tie up the hands of Parliament so as to prevent its making any change that may, in the course even of a short experience, appear desirable. The times change; and in those days no man can say how soon the necessity for 1156 alterations may arise. If the form of government, as we propose it, answers its purpose, and governs India well, there may be no need of change for years: if it fails, the change is rendered easy at any time. We do not propose, therefore, to fetter the power of Parliament for any period whatever, but that this government shall last until Parliament shall otherwise provide. While we believe that this alteration in the mode of constituting the Court, will materially improve the present Government of India, still, if experience should prove that this form of government docs not answer our expectations, or if it should be thought right by Parliament at any future period to adopt, on the part of the Crown, the exclusive government of India, it will be open to Parliament whenever it may think fit to make that change. And as it is the opinion of every man who is at all acquainted with the subject, that the government of India could not be carried on without the assistance of a Council, the nucleus for that Council is to be found in the Directors named by the Crown.
We make some slight alteration in the salaries of the Directors. At present every Director receives 300l. a year, and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, I think, 500l. a year. Limiting the patronage in the manner that we propose to do, we think it fair somewhat to increase those salaries. As their numbers will be reduced, and it will be necessary for them to reside more generally in town, we propose that the Directors should receive 500l a year, and that the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, upon whom a large amount of work will be thrown, should receive 1000l a year. The power, privileges, and qualifications of all the Directors are to be alike.
I now come to the limitations of the exercise of patronage by the Directors. At present, the House is aware that all the appointments to the civil service in India, to the College at Addiscombe for the engineers and artillery, to the army, to assistant surgeonships, and, in fact, all the appointments to India, are made by the Court of Directors. Practically, they are divided among the several Directors, and a certain portion by courtesy is allowed to the President of the Board of Control. The number of vacancies is determined by the demand from India. The Governor General reports how many persons are likely to be wanted in the course of each year, and the admissions to Hailaybury 1157 and Addiscombe, and to the army, are regulated by that demand. I have already stated the objections which have been said to exist to the use of the Directors' patronage; but when we look at the persons whom the Indian service has produced, I think there can he no great fault to find. Several of the most distinguished men in the employment of the Crown have been taken from the Indian service. It would be invidious for me to mention names, but distinguished names there are in abundance; and it is a remarkable feature in the government of India, as stated by Mr. Mill, that it is carried on chiefly by what are called the middle classes, as distinguished from the aristocracy. Mr. Mill was asked by some Member of the Committee in the House of Lords, if he thought it a fitting thing that the son of a horsedealer should be sent out to India; and he very properly answered, that if he were fitted for the situation, he did not see why he should not go as well as anybody else. I quite agree with Mr. Mill. Lord Ellenborough stated his wish that a greater number of the aristocracy should be introduced into the Indian service. I see no objection to that proposition; I should be glad to see members of the aristocracy taking their share in the Indian service: but they must be introduced into it by merit, and not by patronage. With regard, then, to appointments to Haileybury, we propose altogether to do away with nomination—that no person should be admitted by favour to the civil service of India. We propose that, under such regulations as may be framed by the Board of Control, subject to the approval of Parliament, the admission to Haileybury shall he thrown open to unlimited competition. If the aristocracy are able by their merits to introduce themselves to the Indian service I shall be exceedingly glad. If the son of a horsedealer can introduce himself in that way, I wish to see him also in that service. But there is to be no exclusion, and no favour. Merit, and merit alone, is to be the door of introduction to the civil service of India. We propose to take a similar course with regard to the scientific branch of the Indian army. That is to say, that the admission to the College of Addiscombe shall in like manner be thrown open to competition. The same course we propose to take, also, with regard to the appointment of assistant surgeons. These are the three branches of the civil and military service, which are of a scientific 1158 character, and to which the test of an examination can be applied. Various modes have been suggested in which this rule for admission should be framed; some persons have proposed that a certain number of admissions should be reserved for competition among the sons of Indian officers; and other schemes of different kinds have been suggested. I do not wish to bind myself as to the details of this or of any other plan; but what I mean is, that whatever mode of accomplishing the end may be ultimately determined upon, admission shall be by open competition, and not by favour or nomination. This is, I admit, a great experiment, and by many able persons doubts have been expressed as to its success. This, at least, will be secured—the experiment will be tried in the face of this House and of the country, in whoso power it will be to reverse it if it should be found to fail. For myself, I fully believe that it will succeed. There are no doubt, many very necessary qualifications for employment in such important situations as those in India are, which cannot be tested by any examination. Nevertheless, those qualifications which are so requisite more often than otherwise accompany intellectual acquirements. We shall have at least as good a chance as we have now of obtaining those other qualifications in the candidates, and we shall secure intellectual superiority; and I believe we shall find that by these means we shall raise still higher the character both of the civil and military services, and obtain for the benefit of India such a service as the world has never yet seen. At any rate a field of employment will be opened to the people of this country such as never has yet been unreservedly open to competition and merit.
With regard to what are called the direct appointments to the army, I do not think that they are fit subjects for competition. Most of the qualities required in a soldier are of a very different character from what may be termed book learning, and I do not know how to apply any test to ascertain the existence of such qualities in a youth as may in maturer age render him a good soldier or great commander. The cadets will be subject to examinations of the same nature as those required of officers in the British Army, which are as high as those of the best Continental armies, and these appointments will continue in the hands of the Directors. The other point in which we interfere with the power of the 1159 Directors, is, that we subject to the approbation of the Crown their appointment of the members of Council in all the Presidencies in India.
I think that I have mentioned the material changes which we propose in the Government at home; and I will now advert to the changes which we propose in the Government in India.
I need not trouble the House with any lengthened remarks upon the subject of the position of the Governor General, because, according to the concurrent testimony of all the witnesses, there is not much change required. Lord Dalhousie is of opinion that no change is necessary. The questions that have arisen on more than one occasion as to the relative powers of the Governor General and his Council have been settled by the opinions of the law officers here, and the orders which have been sent from the Court of Directors; and it seems quite unnecessary to make any change in this respect. The only alteration in the position of the Governor General which we propose to make is this. It appears from the whole of the evidence, that, entrusted as he is both with the Government of India and the Government of Bengal, he has more duties to attend to than he can fairly discharge. We propose, therefore, to relieve him of the administration of the province of Bengal. But we do not propose that any change should be made in the general control which he exercises over the whole of the Indian Government. Complaints have been made by some witnesses on behalf of the other Presidencies, of the unnecessary check on useful expenditure which they say is imposed upon them by the Governor General. But this does not appear to be borne out by the facts. If the Governor General was likely unfairly to favour one Presidency more than another, it would naturally be the one under his own immediate superintendence—that of Bengal. But the very reverse is the fact. It seems from a return which was prepared of the comparative expenditure for public works (and this was the question as to which the complaints were made), that the greatest expenditure for this purpose was in the North-western Provinces, the next in Madras, the next in Bombay, and the least of all in Bengal. I do not think, however, that under any circumstances this is a matter for legislation, but is clearly a matter of discretion, which must be left to the Government in India to settle. Perhaps the existing limit on the 1160 expenditure to be incurred by the Governors of the minor Presidencies might be somewhat extended; but it should not be forgotten that the wasteful expenditure of these Presidencies before the Act of 1833, was one of the main reasons stated by Lord Glenelg for the change in the Government of India, rendering absolutely necessary the control on the part of the Supreme Government.
Another point has been raised as to the absence of the Governor General from Calcutta without his Council. That, again, I think, is a matter for discretion, and not for legislation. There are cases where it is desirable that the Governor General should leave Calcutta. When Lord Hardinge, for example, went up with the army, it was clearly for the benefit of India that he should do so; and when Lord Dalhousie went up to the Punjaub, it was also clearly for the interest of India that he should be there and not at Calcutta; and there can be no doubt that his presence on the spot contributed essentially to the speedy and successful settlement of those districts. When the Governor General goes away from Calcutta on such occasions, he generally takes with him, as it is called, the political and military powers, which enable him to direct the political movements in India; but he leaves with his Council at Calcutta all the powers necessary for conducting the general administration of India. This portion of the duty of the Supreme Government they are perfectly competent to perform, and the inconvenience and interruption to business is avoided, which would inevitably result from moving the Council and all its attendant functionaries from the permanent seat of Government at Calcutta. No doubt, it is desirable that the Governor General should be as much at Calcutta as possible; but this is a matter, as I before said, which must be left to the discretion of the Governor General and Council, for no fixed regulations can be laid down which might not subject both the Governor General and the Empire to considerable inconvenience.
With regard to the Executive Council, we propose no change except that the members shall be named by the Court of Directors, with the check of the approbation of the Crown; and that the fourth ordinary member, or the "legislative councillor," as he is called, shall sit and vote upon all subjects brought under the consideration of the Council.
The evidence is uniformly in favour of 1161 the establishment of a permanent Lieutenant Governor in Bengal. The interests of the Presidency are stated in many cases to have suffered from the want of a permanent officer superintending the various matters counected with its administration; and as it is desirable to relieve the Governor General of the labour of this duty, and will clearly be to the advantage of the district, we propose that power should be taken to appoint a Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. The evidence is, I think, in favour of maintaining the other Presidencies as they are at present. I think there is considerable advantage in sending out to these governments statesmen from England. The position of the Governors there is very different from that of the Lieutenant Governor in the Upper Provinces. There is a large European population both at Bombay and Madras, a separate civil service, distinct armies, separate courts of judicature, and it is essential, I think, that the Governors in these places should be in a somewhat higher position than that of a Lieutenant Governor, and therefore we propose to leave these Presidencies with their Governors and their Councils as they stand, the appointment of Governor being open, as now, either to Indian servants or to statesmen from this country. Lord W. Bentinck, one of the best of our Governors General, had the advantage of having been at an early period Governor of Madras. We propose to continue the present power of having a Governor, or a Lieutenant Governor in the North-western provinces; and we propose also to take power of creating, if it should hereafter be found desirable, a new Presidency or Lieutenant Governorship in India; and power also to regulate and alter from time to time the boundaries and limits of the respective Presidencies or Lieutenant Governorships. In taking this power, I am looking, of course, to the large districts of the Punjaub and the provinces on the Indus, which have been added to our territories since 1833; but I wish to leave it open to the Government to make any arrangement of the Provinces which may, after full consideration, be found most convenient for their due administration. I believe that this is all I need say about the Executive Government of India, except that the evidence, as far as it has been taken, is, that it would not be desirable to place natives in the Council.
I come, now, to matters of legislation and legal reforms. With respect to the Law Commission appointed in 1833, I 1162 have stated that no practical result followed from their labours, and that there are great defects in the law of India as it now stands. We think it very desirable that the mass of Reports and partly framed Acts which remain of the labours of that Commission should be put into a shape to be practically useful. We have the advantage of having in this country three or four gentlemen who took an active part in that Commission; and we propose, in the first place, from those gentlemen and two or three members of the English Bar, with other gentlemen who have kindly volunteered their services, to appoint a temporary Commission, whose labours shall be limited to two, or at most to three years, to digest and put into shape the Reports and Drafts which have emanated from that Commission. Of course I do not propose to invest them with any legislative power. The legislation of India must take place in India, and for that purpose we propose to improve and to enlarge the Legislative Council. We think, however, that the greatest advantage will be derived from having this mass of matter properly digested here by competent persons, put into the form of Draft Acts, and then sent out to be finally considered and passed by a competent Legislative Council in India.
Upon the manner of improving the Legislative Council, the witnesses are unanimous. We propose to constitute a Legislative Council in this manner:—The Governor of each of the Presidencies, or the Lieutenant Governor of each of the Lieutenant Governorships, will select one member of the civil service of his own district. These gentlemen, and also the Chief Justice and one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, or of the Court which, as I shall by and by explain, we propose to constitute, to be chosen by the Governor General, will be members of the Legislative Council. These persons, in addition to the Executive Council as it is now constituted, will make a body of twelve, which we think will be sufficient for the purposes of legislation; but we propose to take a power of adding two civil servants, to be selected from all India by the Governor General, if it should be found desirable. It was stated by Lord Ellenborough, in his evidence, that great inconvenience frequently arose in consequence of there being no member of the Legislative Council at Calcutta who knew anything of the manners and customs of other parts of India. This inconvenience will be removed by the selection of mem- 1163 bers from the other Presidencies; and although it is not proposed that these members shall have seats in the Executive Council, there will be this further advantage, that they will supply information to the Governor General and his Council in their executive capacity as to all matters connected with those parts of the country from which they come. The members of the civil service will bring with them that intimate acquaintance with the manners and customs of the people of India which is so requisite towards promoting sound legislation. There will also be the advantage of having in the Council three persons of legal education from England, two of the Judges of the Supreme or other Superior Court, and the Legislative Councillor. I hope that the result of this will be to introduce that improved spirit of legislation with which it is probable all those going from this country to India will be thoroughly imbued: and with this admixture of English legal knowledge and skill, and of the intimate acquaintance possessed by the Indian civil servants of the customs and manners and wants of the different parts of India, we trust that a legislative body will be constructed fully equal to the discharge of its high and important duties. We propose to give the Governor General a veto on their legislation, which he possesses indeed now when absent from his Council, but not when present.
I come, now, to another subject of great importance. I mean the improvement which we propose in the administration of justice in India. We propose, in the first place, a considerable change in the course of education at Haileybury, and in the examination to which the students are subjected before they proceed to India. At present there is an examination by independent examiners on the admission of the student to Haileybury; but, with regard to persons leaving the college for the purpose of proceeding to take up appointments in India, the examinations are conducted only by the Professors of the College. A great deal of time, it is believed, is needlessly occupied at that institution in the study of the Oriental languages, which it would appear, from all the evidence taken before the Committee, could be much more easily and speedily acquired in India. It is obvious that the time devoted to the acquisition of those languages is necessarily taken away from subjects which we believe to be of far greater importance for the education of 1164 persons intended for the civil service. We propose that the examinations at the entrance of students at Haileybury shall be such as to establish, that wherever they have been educated—whether at London, Dublin, or Edinburgh—they have received a good education, such as is to be acquired wherever they may have been, and that they have shown themselves capable of profiting by it. We propose, also, that there should be a considerable addition made to the legal education at present given at Haileybury. It was recommended by some of the witnesses that there should be a distinction made at the outset between the legal and what I may call the revenue branch of the civil service, and that the education and career of the persons serving in the two branches should be altogether distinct. One witness, indeed, proposed that the judges of India should be chosen at once from the English Bar; but all the other witnesses of Indian experience were unanimous in their opinion that this was impracticable. It clearly appears, from the evidence of the most competent witnesses, that there is great advantage gained towards rendering a judge competent to perform his judicial functions, by his having commenced his service in the collector's department. He is there enabled to acquire that knowledge of the manners, and habits, and dispositions of the people of India, without which he would be unable adequately to discharge his duty as a judge. Indeed, the fact is, that no inconsiderable part of the duties even of a collector are of a judicial character. Most of the suits connected with land, for instance, are decided by the collectors, and they also exercise large magisterial functions. We propose, then, that at Haileybury the students shall all receive a sound legal education—I do not mean in the mere technicalities of the profession, but in the principles of jurisprudence—which will enable them to administer any law, whether English, Mahomedan, or Hindoo—in the principles of the law of evidence, and in the more general branches of legal knowledge. We propose that an improved education of this kind should be conferred upon every person going to Haileybury. I am in hopes that the present term of two years will be found sufficient for this purpose—at least, such is the opinion of the heads of the college; but; if upon experience that period should be found to be too short, it will be extended, so that no person going thence out to India 1165 shall go without having had a thorough legal education. We propose to insure the utmost fairness in all the examinations—and that the examinations on coming out of Haileybury, as well as on going in, should be conducted by independent examiners. I do not mean to say that any undue favour has hitherto been shown in the examinations on coming out of the college; but, at the same time, I think it far better that the examinations should be conducted by independent examiners rather than by members of the college. I may mention that there is at present a most severe examination of the civil servants in Bengal before they are appointed to important situations. This examination has only been recently introduced, and is of a very stringent character, as the following statement will show:—After this apprenticeship of several years, the assistant to a collector and magistrate is regarded as a candidate for promotion. He is then subjected to a further examination, with the view of testing his knowledge of the languages and the laws of the country, and his promotion is made dependent on the success with which he passes the test. Of twenty civilians who came up in 1852, seven only were passed. A successful candidate is then deemed qualified for the office of collector or magistrate.I hope that the result of these examinations will be, that all future members of the civil and judicial services will be found duly qualified for the execution of their duties. We propose that, after a time, they shall be obliged to select which branch they will follow; and that, if they select the judicial branch, they shall not afterwards be removed into the collector's department. We propose, also, an improvement in the constitution of the Superior Courts of India. At present there is the Queen's Court in each of the Presidency towns for the administration of justice to the English inhabitants; and there is also the highest of the Company's Courts composed of the Company's judges, selected from the civil service, called the "Sadder Adawlut," being substantially the same Court for civil and criminal justice, under different names. We propose to consolidate these two Courts. We believe that the constitution of both will be improved by this amalgamation; we believe that the addition of the Queen's judges will introduce the improved law and knowledge which they carry from this country into the Company's courts, and that the addition of the Company's judges sitting with lawyers from this country will give those 1166 English lawyers what they want—an acquaintance with the manners, and habits, and laws of India. We propose that this Court shall be the ultimate court of appeal in each of the Presidencies from all other courts, and that minor courts for the administration of English law, shall be instituted in each of the Presidency towns, subject to an appeal to the Superior Court which I have mentioned. We propose, also, that in certain cases this Superior Court shall have original jurisdiction, and that the judges shall be occasionally employed by special commission to try causes in any part of the country. We believe that these reforms will be the means of introducing an improved practice and tone into all the courts of the country; and in every part of the country there will be the advantage of trials conducted on fitting occasions before judges of the highest Court of Judicature. There must, under careful restrictions, be an appeal to the Privy Council. I was exceedingly anxious that this improvement should have been embodied in the Bill which I mean to ask leave to introduce; hut, after consulting with members of the late Law Commission of India, who are the persons most strongly in favour of this change, I found that in consequence of the necessary arrangements connected with the forms of procedure, it is necessary to postpone any legislative measure till we shall have received a Report of the Commission which we propose to institute, and whose first duty will be to prepare forms of procedure applicable to the new Court. With respect to the native judges, I do not know that much more can be done but to continue the practice already commenced. They are at present subjected to severe examination at every step of their promotion. We think, however, that the salaries of the lower class of judges should be raised. It appears from the evidence which we have received, that in every rank above the lowest the salaries of the native judges are quite adequate. I really do not know that there is any other mode of removing the temptation to perpetuate the old practice of admitting undue influence into the administration of justice than by improving the moral tone of the judges, and by fairly and adequately increasing their salaries.
There are other topics of vast importance which I might refer to, and perhaps there is none of more importance than that of native education; but, as we have not entered upon any inquiry with respect to 1167 that subject yet, it would be premature to address many observations to the House upon it, and I am very sensible of the length of time for which I have trespassed on the patience of the House. But I may say that there has been a great improvement in this respect in the course of the last twenty years. We used to spend considerable sums and to take considerable trouble in educating a largo body of the natives in Oriental literature, which was of little value to them; but, chiefly owing, I believe, to the exertions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), European literature has been in a great measure substituted for antiquated Sanscrit and Arabic, or other eastern studies; and if hon. Members will take the trouble to refer to the Appendix of the Lords' Report, they will see abundant proofs of the proficiency to which the natives have attained in this respect. At a college founded at Roorkee, we are educating native youths to take their place as civil engineers in the great works which have hitherto been carried on exclusively by Europeans. The natives have also made great progress in the science and practice of medicine. They have been induced to forego their old national prejudice against touching a dead body; and the skill with which they use the scalpel is equal to that of many Europeans. I will not at present say anything of the Government schools for the education of the natives, which are hereafter to be the subject of inquiry. But I may mention that we have satisfactory accounts of the Missionary schools, in which the Bible is ordinarily used with the full knowledge of the Hindoos. I believe that no great number of the native children ultimately become Christians; but we have strong testimony in favour of the improved moral habits which have followed from their attendance at the schools, and from the education they receive there. There is strong evidence, moreover, to this fact, that the spread of Christianity among the more educated and enlightened class of natives is in many quarters sapping the foundations of their ancient faith. It is perfectly well known that the Government interfere in no respect with the religion of the natives, and carefully abstain, as a Government, from promoting conversion. No person is more convinced than I am that that is a wise and beneficial course, because I believe that if we attempted to do otherwise, we should unjus- 1168 tifiably shock the feelings of the people of India, and, moreover, should only impede the progress of Christianity. It may not be uninteresting to the House to know that by the last mail we have accounts of the baptism of Dhuleep Singh, a descendant of Runject Singh, a prince of high rank, which ceremony, it appears, took place at his own request—not ostentatiously, but privately and without the slightest parade, at Benares. I have said that we do not interfere, and I think rightly, in the propagation of our religion among the natives; but, on the other hand, I am bound to express my opinion that we have been perfectly right in taking care that those who profess Christianity shall incur no loss in consequence of doing so. Strong opinions have lately been expressed against the passing of the Act which prevents the forfeiture of the property of Hindoos on their becoming Christians; but I think that this Act is perfectly right, and that no change of faith to any religion professed in any part of the Queen's dominions should entail the forfeiture of property. I quite agree, therefore, in the propriety of passing that Act. I think the Government are perfectly right in abstaining from attempting to make proselytes among the Hindoos, though, at the same time, I think we ought not to allow them to be subjected to penalties when they do embrace the Christian religion. I hope and trust that the education they are receiving will gradually lead to the reception of our own faith in India; but that result we must leave in the hands of Him who will, in His own good time, bring about that which He desires to come to pass. In so far as improved education enlightens and enlarges the mind, we are preparing the population of India for the reception of a purer faith. But I am anxious to say that I differ from the opinion which was expressed in his evidence by a noble Lord, to the effect that we ought not in any way to promote the education of the natives, as tending to diminish our hold on India. I should be sorry to think that such was the case. No doubt our empire of India is an anomalous empire. Englishmen seldom or ever permanently settle in India. There is no mixture of English population with the native population. We go, we govern, and we return. I do not believe, however, that we shall endanger that empire by educating the natives of India. I believe, on the contrary, that if the great body of the natives were educated and enlightened, 1169 and not only educated and enlightened, but still more if bound to us by the ties of a common faith, we should increase rather than relax our hold upon the Indian empire. But, be that as it may, it seems to me that the path of our duty is clear and plain—to improve the condition and to increase the enlightenment of the people. I believe, as I have said, that by so doing we shall strengthen our empire there; but even if the reverse should be the case—even if the result should be the loss of that empire, it seems to me that this country will occupy a far better and prouder position in the history of the world, if, by our agency a civilised and Christian empire should be established in India, than if we continued to rule over a people debased by ignorance and degraded by superstition.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the Government of India."
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he felt a considerable disadvantage in rising to address the House after having listened upwards of five hours to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. But the question was one, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, of first-rate importance; and, as he (Mr. Bright) happened from a variety of circumstances to have paid some attention to it, and to have formed some strong opinions in regard to it, he was unwilling even that the Bill should be brought in, or that that opportunity should pass, without saying something, which would be partly in reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and partly by way of comment on the plan which the right hon. Gentleman had submitted to the House. There was, as it appeared to him, great inconsistency between the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and that which he proposed should be done; because) really, if one took his speech as a true and faithful statement of the condition of India, and of the past proceedings of the Government in that country, the conviction would be that the right hon. Gentleman would be greatly to blame in making any alteration in that Government. At the same time, if it were not a faithful portraiture of the Government, and to its transactions in India, then what the right hon. Gentleman proposed to do in regard to the home administration of that country was altogether insufficient for the occasion. He (Mr. Bright) could not on the present occasion go into many of the details on which the right hon. Gentleman had touched; but the observations which 1170 he had to make would refer to matters of government, and those would be confined chiefly to the organisation of the home administration. He was not very much surprised that the Government should have taken what he would call a very unsatisfactory course with regard to the measure they had propounded, because they evidently did not seem exactly to know what they ought to do from the very first moment that this question was brought before them. He did not allude to the whole of the Treasury bench, but he referred particularly to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), because he was at the head of the Government when this question was first brought before them. Lord Broughton, then Sir John Hobhouse, was, at that time the President of the Board of Control, and he was not in favour of a Committee to inquire into the past government and present condition of India. Shortly afterwards, however, it was considered by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that it would be desirable to have such a Committee appointed. A Committee was appointed, and it sat. But at the commencement of the present Session the noble Lord intimated very distinctly, in answer to a question which he (Mr. Bright) put to him, and which seemed to make the noble Lord unnecessarily angry, that it was the intention of the Government to legislate, and in such a way as to leave the Indian Government almost entirely the same as it had hitherto been. ["No, no!"] Well, he thought that the noble Lord said so, and in corroboration of that he might mention that the noble Lord quoted—and he believed that it was the noble Lord's only authority the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), who considered that no material change was required in the constitution of the home Indian Government. Well, when the noble Lord made that announcement, considerable dissatisfaction was manifested on both sides of the House, some hon. Members speaking in favour of a delay of one, two, or three years, or declaring themselves strongly against the present constitution of the Indian Government. However, from that time to this, various rumours were afloat, and everybody was confident one week that there would be no legislation, or only a postponement; in another week it was thought that there was to be a very sweeping measure (which last report, he must say, he never believed); and the week after that people were again led 1171 to the conclusion that there would be a measure introduced such as the one that night submitted to the House. Again, it was understood so lately as last Saturday that there would be no legislation on the subject, excepting a mere temporary measure for a postponement, and he confessed that he was himself taken in by that announcement. On Monday the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Danby Seymour) gave notice of a question on the same subject, and he was requested not to ask it till Tuesday. On Tuesday there was a Cabinet Council, and whether there was a change of opinion then he knew not, but presumed that there was. The opinion that was confidently expressed on Saturday gave way to a new opinion, and the noble Lord announced that legislation would be proceeded with immediately. All this indicated that there was a good deal of vacillation on the part of the Government. At last, however, had come the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control. There were some good things in it, no doubt. He did not suppose that any man could stand up, and go on speaking for five hours, without saying something that was useful. But as to the main question on which this matter rested, he did not believe that the plan which the Government proposed to substitute would be one particle better than that which existed at the present moment. With regard to the question of patronage he admitted, so far as that went, that the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman would be an improvement on the present system. But he did not understand, from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that the particular arrangement of the covenanted service was to be broken up at all. That was a very important matter, because, although he might throw open the nominations to the Indian service to the free competition of all persons in this country, yet if, when these persons got out to India, they were to become a covenanted service, as that service now was constituted, and were to go on from beginning to end in a system of promotion by seniority—and they were to be under pretty much the same arrangement as at present—a great deal of the evil now existing would remain; and the continuance of such a body as that would form a great bar to what he was very anxious to see, namely, a very much wider employment of the most intelligent and able men amongst the native population. The right hon. Gen- 1172 tleman had, in fact, made a long speech wholly in defence of the Indian Government; and he (Mr. Bright) could not avoid making some remarks upon what the right hon. Gentleman had stated, because he (Mr. Bright) wholly dissented from a large portion of the observations which the right hon. Gentleman had made. But the right hon. Gentleman, above all things, dreaded that this matter should be delayed. Now he (Mr. Bright) would just touch upon that point. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he had not met any one who did not consider it highly desirable that the House should legislate upon the subject of the Government of India this year; and that it would be a great evil if such legislation were postponed. In support of this view the right hon. Gentleman produced a private letter from Lord Dalhousie upon the subject. Now he (Mr. Bright) did not consider such evidence as by any means conclusive because they all knew Lord Dalhousie had been connected with the system that now existed. That noble Earl was also surrounded by persons who were themselves interested in maintaining the present system. From his elevated position also in India—he (Mr. Bright) did not mean his location at Simlah—but from his being by his station removed from the mass of the European population, and still more removed from the native population, he (Mr. Bright) did not think it at all likely that Lord Dalhousie would be able to form a sounder opinion upon this question than persons who had never been in India. In his (Mr. Blight's) opinion, no evil could possibly arise from creating in the minds of the inhabitants of India a feeling that the question of Indian Government was considered by the House of Commons to be a grave and solemn question; and he solemnly believed that if the decision on the question were delayed for two years, so as to enable Parliament to make due inquiries as to the means of establishing a better form of government in India, it would create in the minds of all the intelligent natives of India a feeling of confidence and hope, and that whatever might be done by them in the way of agitation would be rather for the purpose of offering information in the most friendly and generous spirit, than of creating opposition to any Government legislation. However, the question of delay was one which the House in all probability would be called upon to decide on another occasion. But passing from that sub- 1173 jcet, he now came to the principle upon which the right hon. Gentleman founded his Motion. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was throughout that of an advocate of the Indian Government, as at present constituted; and, if Mr. Melville had said everything that could possibly be dragged into the case, he could not have made it more clearly appear than the right hon. Gentleman had done that the Government of India had been uniformly worthy of the confidence of the country. His (Mr. Bright's) view of this matter, after a good deal of observation, was, that the Indian Government, composed of two branches, which the right hon. Gentleman did not propose to amalgamate into one, was a Government of secrecy and irresponsibility to a degree that should not be tolerated in a country like this, where they had a constitutional and Parliamentary Government. He had not the least idea in any observations he made either in that House or elsewhere of bringing a charge against the East India Company—that was to say, against any individual member of the Board of Directors, as if they were anxious to misgovern India. He never had any such suspicion. He believed that the twenty-four gentlemen who constituted the Board of Directors would act just about as well as any other twenty-four persons elected by the same process, standing under the same circumstances, and surrounded by the same difficulties—having to act with another and independent body—the Board of Control, he was not hostile to the Board of Control either, because he thought that the duty imposed upon it was greater than any such body could properly perform. The right hon. Gentleman, the enormous labours of whose office could not be accomplished by any one man, coming into office in December, and having to propose a new Government for India in the month of Major June, must have found it extremely difficult to make himself master of the question. But beyond this the House should bear in mind, that during the last thirty years there had been a new President of the Board of Control every two years. Nay, in the course of last year there were no less than three Presidents of the Board of Control. Thus that Board seemed framed in a manner to make it altogether impossible that any one man should be able to conduct it in the way it ought to be conducted. Beyond this 1174 the President of that Board had to act in conjunction with the Court of Directors. Without saying anything which would impute blame to any party, it must be obvious that two such bodies combined could never carry on the government of India wisely, and in accordance with those principles which had been found necessary in the government of this country. The right hon. Gentleman had been obliged to admit that the theory of the old Government of India was one which could not be defended, and that everybody considered it ridiculous and childish; and he was not at all certain that the one that was going to be established was in any degree better. It was in 1784 that this form of government was established amid the fight of factions. In 1813 it was continued for twenty years longer, during a time when the country was involved in desperate hostilities with France. In 1833 another Bill, continuing that form of government, passed through Parliament immediately after the hurricane which carried the Reform Bill. All these circumstances rendered it difficult for the Government, however honestly disposed, to pass the best measure for the government of India. But all the difficulties which then existed, appeared to him (Mr. Bright) wholly to have vanished; and that never had any question come before Parliament more entirely free from a complication of that nature, or one which they had the opportunity of more quietly and calmly considering, than the question now before them. He should have been pleased if the right hon. Gentleman had given the House the testimony of some two or three persons on his own side of the question. But, as he had not done so, he (Mr. Bright) would trouble the House by referring to some authorities in support of his own views. He would first refer to the work of Mr. Campbell, which had already been quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. It was a very interesting book, and gave a great deal of information. That writer said—The division of authority between the Board of Control and the Court of Directors, the large-number of directors, and the peculiar system by which measures are originated in the Court, sent for approval to the Board, then back again to the Court, and so on, render all deliverances very slow and difficult; and when a measure is discussed ire India, the announcement that has been referred to the Court of Directors is often regarded as an indefinite postponement. In fact, it is evident that (able and experienced as are many of the individual; directors) twenty-four directors in one place, and 1175 a Board of Control in another, are not likely very speedily to unite in one opinion upon any doubtful point.That, he (Mr. Bright) thought, was likely to be the opinion of any man on the Government of India. There was another authority to which he would refer, Mr. Kaye, who had also written a very good book. It was actually distributed by the Court of Directors; he had therefore a right to consider it a fair representation of their views of what was done, especially as the Chairman of the Court had given him a copy of the book, Mr. Kaye, in referring to the double Government which existed in Bengal in 1772, made use of these expressions—when he (Mr. Bright) first read them, he thought they were a quotation from his own speeches:—But enlightened as were the instructions thus issued to the supervisors, the supervision was wholly inadequate to the requirements of the case. The double Government, as I have shown, did not work well. It was altogether a sham, and an imposture. It was soon to be demolished at a blow. …ֵ The double Government had, by this time, fulfilled its mission. It had introduced an incredible amount of disorder and corruption into the State, and of poverty and wretchedness among the people; it had embarrassed our finances, and soiled our character, and was now to be openly recognised as a failure.This was only as to Bengal. The following were the words he used in respect to the double Government at home:—In respect of all transactions with foreign Powers—all matters bearing upon questions of peace and war—the President of the Board of Control has authority to originate such measures as he and his Colleagues in the Ministry may consider expedient. In such cases he acts presumedly in concert with the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors—a body composed of the chairman, deputy-chairman, and senior member of the Court. The Secret Committee sign the despatches which emanate from the Board, but they have no power to withhold or to alter them. They have not even the power to record their dissent. In fact, the functions of the Committee are only those which, to use the words of a distinguished member of the Court (the late Mr. Tucker), who deplored the mystery and the mockery of a system which obscures responsibility and deludes public opinion, could as well be performed 'by a secretary or a seal.'Further on he said—In judging of responsibility, we should remember that the whole foreign policy of the East India Company is regulated by the Board of Control; that in the solution of the most vital questions—questions of peace and war—affecting the finances of the country, and, therefore, the means of internal improvement, the Court of Directors have no more power than the mayor and aldermen of any corporate town. India depends less on the 1176 will of the twenty-four than on one man's caprice—here to-day and gone to-morrow—knocked over by a gust of Parliamentary uncertainty—the mistaken tactics of a leader, or negligence of a whipper in. The past history of India is a history of revenue wasted and domestic improvement obstructed by war.This was very much what he (Mr. Bright) complained of He admitted the right of the East India Company to complain of many things done by the Board of Control; and he was of opinion, that if the House left the two bodies to combat one another, they would at last come to an accurate perception of what they both were. The East India Company accused the Board of Control of making wars and squandering the revenue which the Company collected. But Mr. Kaye said that Mr. Tucker deplored the mystery and the mockery of a system which obscured responsibility and deluded public opinion. It was because of this concealment, of this delusion practised upon public opinion, of this evasion of public responsibility and Parliamentary control, that they had a state of things in India which the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) had described, when he said that the Company managed the revenues, collected the taxes, and got from 20,000,000l. to 30,000,000l. a year, and nobody knew how much more, But, whatever it was, such was the system of foreign policy pursued by the Board of Control—that was to say, by the gentlemen who dropped down there for six or eight or twelve months, never beyond two years—that, whatever revenues were collected, they were squandered on unnecessary and ruinous wars, till the country was brought to a state of embarrassment and threatened bankruptcy. That was the real point which the House would have to consider. With regard to some of the details of the Government plan, they would no doubt all agree; but this question of divided responsibility, of concealed responsibility, and of no responsibility whatever; that was the real pith of the matter. The House should take care not to be diverted from that question. [Mr. MANGLES: Produce your own plan.] An hon. Gentleman had asked him (Mr, Bright) to produce his plan. He would not comply with that request, but would follow the example of a right hon. Gentleman, a great authority in that House, who once said, when similarly challenged, that he should produce his plan when he was called in. He believed that the plan before the House to-night was concocted by the Board of Control and the hon. 1177 Member for Guildford and his Colleagues; he should, therefore, confine himself at present to the discussion of that plan. Some persons were disposed very much (at least he was afraid so) to undervalue this particular point he was endeavouring to bring before the House; and they seemed to fancy that it did not much matter what should be the form of government in India, since the population of that country would always be in a condition of great impoverishment and much suffering; and that whatever was done must be done there, and that after all—after having conquered 100,000,000 of people—it was not in our power to interfere for the improvement of their condition. Mr. Kaye, in his book, commenced the first chapters with a very depreciating account of the character of the Mogul Princes, with a view to show that the condition of the people of India was at least as unfavourable under them as under British rule. He would cite one or two cases from witnesses for whose testimony the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) must have respect. Mr. Marshman was a gentleman who was well known as possessing a considerable amount of information on Indian affairs, and had, he presumed, come over on purpose to give his evidence on the subject. He was editor of a newspaper which was generally considered throughout India to be the organ of the Government; and in that newspaper, the Friend of India, bearing date 1st April, 1852, the following statement appeared:—No one has over attempted to contradict the fact that the condition of the Bengal peasantry is almost as wretched and degraded as it is possible to conceive—living in the most miserable hovels, scarcely fit for a dog-kennel, covered with tattered rags, and unable, in too many instances, to procure more than a single meal a day for himself and family. The Bengal ryot knows nothing of the most ordinary comforts of life. We speak without exaggeration when we affirm, that if the real condition of those who raise the harvest, which yields between 3,000,000l. and 4,000,000l. a year, was fully known, it would make the ears of one who heard thereof tingle.It had been said that in the Bengal Presidency the natives were in a better condition than in the other Presidencies; and he recollected that when he served on the Cotton Committee, the evidence taken before it was confined to the Bombay and Madras Presidencies, and it was then said that if evidence had been taken about the Bengal Presidency it would have appeared that the condition of the natives was better; but he believed that it was very much the same in all the Presidencies. He must say that it was his belief that if a country were found possess- 1178 ing a most fertile soil, and capable of bearing every variety of production, and that, notwithstanding, the people were in a state of extreme destitution and suffering, the chances were that there was some fundamental error in the government of that country. The people of India had been subjected by us, and how to govern them in an efficient and beneficial manner was one of the most important points for the consideration of the House. From the Report of the Indian Cotton Committee it appeared that nearly every witness—and the witnesses were nearly all servants of the Company—gave evidence as to the state of destitution in which the cultivators of the soil lived. They were in such an abject condition that they were obliged to give 40 or 50 per cent to borrow money to enable them to put seed into the ground. He could, if it were necessary, bring any amount of evidence to prove the miserable condition of the cultivators, and that in many places they had been compelled to part with their personal ornaments. Gentlemen who had written upon their condition had drawn a frightful picture, and had represented the persons employed to collect the revenue as coming upon the unhappy cultivators like locusts, and devouring every thing. With regard to the consumption of salt, looking at the Friend of India, of April 14, 1853, it appeared that it was on the decline. In the year 1849–50, the consumption was 205,517 tons; in 1850–51,186,410 tons; and in 1851–2,146,069 tons. Thus, in the short period of three years, there had been a decrease in the consumption amounting to 59,448 tons, which would involve a loss to the revenue of 416,136l. [The Friend of India was incorrect in this statement: the real decline in the consumption of salt was about 12,000 tons.] Salt was one of those articles that people would use as much of as they could afford, and the diminution in the consumption appeared to him to be a decided proof of the declining condition of the population, and that must affect adversely the revenue of the Indian Government. Now there was another point to which the right hon. Gentleman had slightly alluded; it was connected with the administration of justice, and he would read from the Friend of India a case illustrative of the efficiency of the police. The statement was so extraordinary that it would be incredible but for the circumstance of its having appeared in such a respectable journal:—The affair itself is sufficiently uninteresting, A native Zemindar had, or fancied he had, some 1179 paper rights over certain lands occupied by a European planter, and, as a necessary consequence, sent a body of armed retainers to attack his factory, The European resisted in the same fashion by calling out his retainers. There was a pitched battle, and several persons were wounded, if not slain; while the Darogah, the appointed guardian of the peace, sat on the roof of a neighbouring but and looked on with an interest, the keenness of which was probably not diminished by the fact of his own immunity from the pains and perils of the conflict. There has been a judicial investigation, and somebody will probably be punished, if not by actual sentence, by the necessary disbursement of fees and douceurs, but the evil will not be thereby suppressed or even abated. The incident, trifling as it may appear—and the fact that it is trifling is no slight evidence of a disorganised state of society—is an epitome in small type of our Bengal police history. On all sides, and in every instance, we have the same picture—great offences, the police indifferent or inefficient, judicial investigations protracted till the sufferers regret that they did not patiently endure the injury, and somebody punished, but no visible abatement of the crime. The fact is, and it is beginning at last to be acknowledged everywhere, except, perhaps, at home, that Bengal does not need so much a 'reform' or reorganisation of the police, as a police, a body of some kind, specially organised for the preservation of order. Why the change is so long postponed, no one, not familiar with the arcana of Leadenhall Street and Cannon Row, can readily explain.Mr. Marshman used the expression, "the incident, trifling as it may appear;" but he would ask the House if they could conceive a state of society in a country under the Government of England, where a scene of violence such as had been described could be considered trifling. The right hon. Gentleman had, while admitting that the want of roads in some districts of India was a great evil, endeavoured to show that a great deal had been done to remedy the deficiency, and that on some roads the mails travelled as fast as ten miles an hour. Now, be believed that if the speed were taken at five miles an hour, it would be nearer the truth; and he would beg the House to excuse him if he read another extract from the Friend of India of April 14, 1853:—The Grand Trunk, however, is the only road upon which a good speed has been attained, remarks being attached to all of the remainder strongly indicative of the want of improved means of communication, From Shergotty to Gyah, and Gyah to Patna, for instance, the pace is four miles and a half an hour; but then 'the road is cutcha, and the slightest shower of rain renders it puddly and impracticable for speedy transit.' From Patna to Benares the official account is the same, but the rate increases at one stage to five miles and a half. The southern roads arc, however, in the worst condition, the mails travelling to Jellasore at three miles an hour, or less than a groom can walk; and even between Calcutta and Baraset the rate rises to only four miles and a half an hour, 1180 while everywhere we have such notices as road intersected by numerous unbridged rivers and nullahs,' 'road has not been repaired for these many years,' 'road not repaired for years,' the road in so bad a state, and so much intersected by rivers and nullahs, that no great improvement in the speed of the mails can be effected.' And yet the surplus Ferry Funds might, one would think, if economically administered, be sufficient to pay at least for the maintenance of the roads already in existence. New roads, we fear, are hopeless until Parliament fixes a minimum, which must be expended on them; and even then it may be allowed to accumulate, as the Parliamentary grant for education has done at Madras.The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the subject of irrigation; and beheld in his band an extract from the Report of the Commission which inquired into the subject. The Report stated that—The loss of revenue by the famine of 1832–33 is estimated at least at 1,000,000l. sterling; the loss of property at a far greater amount; of life, at 200,000 or 300,000; and of cattle, at 200,000 at the lowest, in Guntore alone, besides the ruin of 70,000 houses. The famine of the Northern Circars in 1833, and that of the north-western provinces of India at a later period, prove with irresistible force that irrigation in this country is properly a question, not of profit, but of existence.The right hon. Gentleman bad also quoted from a Report by Colonel Cotton on the subject of the embankment of the Kistna. Now, the embankment of the Kistna bad been recommended as far back as the year 1792, and from that time bad been repeatedly brought forward. The whole estimate for it was but 155,000l., and it was not until September, 1852, that the preliminary operations were commenced. He found this officer stating with respect to the district of Rajamundry, that if a particular improvement that had been recommended above twenty years ago bad been carried out, it would have saved the lives of upwards of 100,000 persons who perished in the famine of 1837. He said that such facts as these were a justification of stronger language than any in which be (Mr. Bright) had indulged in reference to the neglect of the Indian Government whether in that House or out of it. The right hon. Gentleman candidly informed them that this very embankment had been recently stopped by order of the Madras Government, because the money was wanted for other purposes—the Burmese war, no doubt. In the year 1849 it was reported that Colonel Cotton wrote a despatch to the Madras Government, in which, after mentioning facts connected with the famines, he insisted, in strong and indignant language, that the improvements should go 1181 on. He (Mr. Bright) believed that there was an allusion in the letter to the awkward look these things would have pending the discussions on the Government of India, and he understood that it was agreed that the original letter, which countermanded the improvements, should be withdrawn, and that then the remonstrance from Colonel Cotton should also be withdrawn. A gentleman who had been in the Company's service, and who had for some time been engaged in improvements, chiefly in irrigation, wrote in a private letter as follows:—From my late investigations on this subject, I feel convinced that the state of our communications is the most important subject which calls for consideration. I reckon that India now pays, for want of cheap transit, a sum equal to the whole of the taxes; so that by reducing its cost to a tenth, which might easily be done, we should as good as abolish all taxes. I trust the Committees in England are going on well, in spite of the unbecoming efforts which have been made to circumscribe and quash their proceedings. Woe be to India, indeed, if this opportunity is lost! Much will depend upon you (the letter was not addressed to himself) and others now in England, who know India, and have a single eye to its welfare. It behaves you to do your utmost to improve this most critical time, and may God in his mercy overrule all the efforts of man for its good! What abominations, villanies, and idiocies there still are ill our system! Is there no hope, no possibility, of infusing a little fresh blood from some purer source into these bodies (the ruling authorities)? It is quite clear that no radical improvement can take place till some influences can be applied to stimulate our rulers to more healthy, wholesome action; health can never be looked for in a body constituted as the Court of Directors now is; nothing but torpid disease can be expected as matters now stand.With respect to the administration of justice, he should not go at any length into that subject, because he hoped it would be taken up by some other Gentleman much more competent than himself, and be trusted that a sufficient answer would be given to what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman. However, as far as he was able to understand, there appeared to be throughout the whole of India, on the part of the European population, an absolute terror of coming under the Company's Courts for any object whatever. Within the last fortnight be had had a conversation with a gentleman who had seen a long period of service in India, and he declared it was hopeless to expect that Englishmen would ever invest their property in India under any circumstances which placed their interests at the disposal of those courts of justice. That was one reason why there appeared no increase in the number of Eu- 1182 ropeans or Englishmen who settled in the interior of India for the purpose of investing their capital there. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to make an excuse on the ground that the Law Commission had done nothing. He was not in the House when the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) brought forward the Bill of 1833, but he understood it was stated that the Law Commission was to do wonders; yet, now they had the evidence of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, that the Report of the Law Commission had ever since been going backwards and forwards, like an unsettled spirit, between this country and India. Mr. Cameron, in his evidence, said, he supposed it was slumbering somewhere on the shelves in the East India House; that the Court of Directors actually sneered at the propositions of their officers for enactments of any kind, and that it was evident their object was gradually to extinguish the Commission altogether. Yet the evidence of Mr. Cameron went to show the extraordinary complication and confusion of the law and law administration over all the British dominions in India. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control also referred to the statistics laid before the public; but he (Mr. Bright) wanted to know why Colonel Sykes' statistical tables were not before the House. They were at the India House; but a journey to Leaden hall street seemed to be as long as one to India, and one could as soon get a communication by the overland mail as any information from the India House. What did Colonel Sykes say, with respect to a subject referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, who had given the House to suppose that a great deal had been done in respect to improvements in India? Colonel Sykes stated that in fifteen years, from 1838 to 1852, the average expenditure throughout the whole of India on public works, including roads, bridges, tanks, and canals, was 299,732l. The northwest appeared to be the pet district; and in 1851 the total expenditure was 334,000l., of which the north-west district had 240,000l. In 1852 the estimate was 693,000l., of which the north-west district was to have 492,000l., leaving only 94,000l. in 1851, and 201,000l. in 1852, for public works of all kinds in the three Presidencies of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, with a population of 70,000,000 souls. The right hon. Gentleman then referred to the exports from this country, and the increase of trade with India; and a kindred 1183 subject to that was the mode in which Englishmen settled in India. What he (Mr. Bright) wanted to show was, that the reason why so little was done with India by Englishmen was, that there did not exist in that country the same security for their investments as in almost every other country in the world; and he recollected receiving from Mr. Mackay, who was sent out by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, a letter expressing his amazement that he found that in the interior of India an Englishman was hardly known, unless he now and then made his appearance as a tax collector. The following Return showed in what small numbers Europeans resorted to India:—British born subjects in India not in the service of the Queen or the Company—
§ "In the interior of the country, engaged in agriculture or manufactures—
He could not believe, if the United States had been the possessors of India, but that where there were tens of Europeans now in that country there would have been not hundreds, but thousands of the people of America. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the exports to India, and wanted to show how large they were. Certainly they had increased very much, because they started from nothing at all, and before the opening of the trade the Court of Proprietors, by resolution, declared that it was quite a delusion to suppose it possible to increase the trade with India. In 1850 the total exports to India from Great Britain and Ireland were 8,024,000l., of which cotton goods alone amounted to 5,220,000l., leaving 2,804,000l. for the total exports from Great Britain and Ireland upon all other branches of industry other than cotton. Now, let the House make a comparison with another country with which a moderately fair comparison might be made. Brazil had a population of 7,500,000 souls, half of whom were reckoned to be slaves, yet the consumption of British goods was greater in Brazil, in proportion to the population, than in India—the former country with a population of 7,500,000, taking British goods to the amount of 2,500,000l. If India took but half the quantity of our exports that Brazil did in proportion to her population, she would take more than five times what she now took. Yet Brazil was a country upon which we had imposed the
payment of exorbitant duties, which we had almost debarred from trading with us by an absurd monopoly in sugar, while India was a country entirely under our own government, and which, they were told, was enjoying the greatest possible blessings under the present administration, even compared with what it enjoyed under its former rulers. Our exports to India in 1814 were 826,000l.; in 1832 they were 3,600,000l.; in 1843 they were 6,500,000l.; and in 1850 they were 8,000,000l. India consumed our exports at the rate of 1s. 3d. per head; whilst in South America, including the whole of the slave population, the consumption per head was 8s. 8d. These were facts which the right hon. Baronet was bound to pay serious attention to; and for himself, representing, as he did, one of our great seats of manufacturing industry, he felt himself doubly called upon to lose no opportunity of bringing such facts before the House, satisfied as he was that there was no Member of that House so obtuse as not to comprehend how materially the great manufacturing interests of this country were concerned in the question—what should be the future Government of India. Another subject requiring close attention on the part of Parliament was the employment of the natives of India in the service of the Government. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), in proposing the India Bill of 1833, had dwelt on one of its clauses, which provided that neither colour, nor caste, nor religion, nor place of birth, should be a bar to the employment of persons by the Government; whereas, as matter of fact, from that time to this, no person in India had been so employed, who might not to have been equally employed before that clause was enacted; and, from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, that it was proposed to keep up the covenanted service system, it was clear that this most objectionable and most offensive state of things was to continue. Mr. Cameron, a gentleman thoroughly versed in the subject, as fourth member of Council in India, President of the Indian Law Commission, and of the Council of Education for Bengal—what did he say on this point? He said—
The statute of 1833 made the natives of India eligible to all offices under the Company. But during the twenty years that have since elapsed, not one of the natives has been appointed to any office except such as they were eligible to before the statute. It is not, however, of this omission that I should feel justified in complaining, if the Com-
pany had shown any disposition to make the natives fit, by the highest European education, for admission to their covenanted service. Their disposition, as far as it can be devised, is of the opposite kind.
When four students (added Mr. Cameron) were sent to London from the Medical College of Calcutta, under the sanction of Lord Hardinge, in Council, to complete their professional education, the Court of Directors expressed their dissatisfaction; and when a plan for establishing a University at Calcutta, which had been prepared by the Council of Education, was recommended to their adoption by Lord Hardinge, in Council, they answered that the project was premature. As to the Law Commission, I am afraid that the Court of Directors have been accustomed to think of it only with the intention of procuring its abolition.
Under the Act of 1833 the natives of India were declared to be eligible to any office under the Company. No native had, in the twenty years which had since elapsed, been appointed to any office in pursuance of that clause which he might not have held before the Bill passed, or had it never passed at all. There might not, perhaps, have been so much reason to complain of this circumstance, had the Government of India meanwhile shown a disposition to qualify the natives for the covenanted service; but the fact was that the Government had, on the contrary, manifested a disposition of a totally opposite character. The House must be very cautious not to adopt the glossed and burnished statement of the right hon. Gentleman, as exhibiting the real state of things in India; for it was essential, in the highest degree, that in the present critical juncture of things the whole truth should be known. The right hon. Baronet, towards the close of his speech, had gone into the subject of education, and not so much into that of ecclesiastical establishments in India, but somewhat into that of religion. Now, with reference to education, so far as could be gathered from the Returns before the House—he had sought to obtain Returns of a more specific character, but to no purpose, having received the usual answer in these matters, that there was no time for preparing them—but from the Returns they had before them he found that while the Government had overthrown almost entirely the native education that had subsisted throughout the country so universally that a schoolmaster was as regular a feature in every village as the "potail" or head man, it had done next to nothing to supply the deficiency which had been created, or to substitute a better system. Out of a population of 100,000,000 natives
we instructed but 25,000 children; out of a gross revenue of 29,000000l. sterling, extracted from that population, we spent but 66,000l. in their education. In India, lot it be borne in mind, the people were not in the position with regard to providing for their own education which the people of this country enjoyed, and the education which they had provided themselves with, the Government had taken from them, supplying no adequate system in its place. The people of India were in a state of poverty, and of decay, unexampled in the annals of the country under their native rulers. From their poverty the Government wrung a gross revenue of more than 29,000,000l. sterling, and out of that 29,000,000l., returned to them 66,000l. per annum for the purposes of education! What was our ecclesiastical establishment in India? Three bishops and a proportionate number of clergy, costing no less than 101,000l. a year, for the sole use of between 50,000 and 60,000 Europeans, nearly one-half of whom, moreover—taking the army—were Roman Catholics. He might add, that in India, the Government showed the same discrimination of which the noble Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) seemed to approve so much the other night, for, although they gave to one Protestant bishop 4,000l. a year, with 1,200l. a year more for expenses and a ship at his disposal, and to two other Protestant bishops between 2,000l. and 3,000l. a year, they gave to the Roman Catholic bishop a paltry sum of about 250l. a year. The East India Corn Company were not, perhaps, herein so much to blame, seeing that they did but follow the example of what was going on in this country. There was another question—perhaps the most important of all—the question of Indian finance, which, some how or other, the right hon. Baronet had got over in so very lame a manner, in so particularly confused a style, that had he not known something of the matter previously, he should have learnt very little from the right hon. Baronet's statement. A former Director of the East India Company had, on this subject, issued a book—of course, in defence of the Company, Here were two or three facts extracted from this book:—From 1835 to 1851—six-teen years—the entire net taxation of India had produced 340,756,000l.; the expenditure on the Government in the same period having been 341,676,000l.—an amount somewhat in excess of the revenue.
During these sixteen years there had been also expended on public works of all kinds 5,000,000l., and there had been paid, in dividends, to the proprietors of East India stock, 10,080,000l.; making a total expenditure of 356,756,000l. In the same period the Company had contracted loans to the extent of 16,000,000l., every farthing of which had gone to improvements, the stated extent of which he believed to have been greatly magnified, and to pay the amiable ladies and gentlemen whose votes returned to Leadenhall Street those immaculate Directors whom the Government seemed so desirous of cherishing. All expenditure for improvements of every kind, and all dividends to stockholders, have been paid from loans contracted during the last sixteen years; so that the whole revenue had been expended, leaving nothing for improvements and nothing for the Company's dividends. This seemed to him a formidable, an alarming state of things. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Indian debt coming upon the people of this country, expressing the opinion that if the Government of India were transferred to the Crown—which assuredly it ought to he—the debt ought so to be transferred. The debt was not in the present Budget, indeed, but it would certainly come before the House. He had already referred to a memorable speech of the late Sir Robert Peel on this subject, in 1842, just after the right hon. Baronet had come into office, and, finding the country left by the Whigs with an Exchequer peculiarly discouraging to a Chancellor of the Exchequer, was about to propose that temporary income tax which had since become permanent. He said, after referring to the affairs of Canada and China—
For the purpose of bringing before the House a full and complete view of our financial position, as I promised to do, I feel it to be my duty to refer to a subject which has of late occupied little attention in the House, but which I think might, with advantage to the public, have attracted more of their regard—I refer to the state of Indian finance, a subject which formerly used to be thought not unworthy of the consideration of this House. I am quite aware that there may appear to be no direct and immediate connexion between the finances of India and those of this country; bat that would be a superficial view of our relations with India which should omit the consideration of this subject. Depend upon it, if the credit of India should become disordered, if some great exertion should become necessary, then the credit of England must be brought forward to its support, and the collateral and indirect effect of disorders in Indian finances would be felt extensively in this country. Sir, I am sorry to say,
that Indian finance offers no consolation for the state of finance in this country. I hold in my hand an account of the finances of India, which I have every reason to believe is a correct one. It is made up one month later than our own accounts—to the 5th of May. It states the gross revenue of India, with the charges on it; the interest of the debt; the surplus revenue, and the charges paid on it in England; and there are two columns which contain the net surplus and the net deficit. In the year ending May, 1836, there was a surplus of 1,520,000l. from the Indian revenue. In the year ending the 5th of May, 1837, there was a surplus of 1,100,000l., which was reduced rapidly in the year ending May, 1838, to one of 020,000l. In the year ending the 5th of May, 1839, the surplus fell to 29,000l.; in the year ending the 5th May, 1840, the balance of the account changed, and so far from there being any surplus, the deficit on the Indian revenue was 2,414,000l. I am afraid I cannot calculate the deficit for the year ending May, 1841, though it depends at present partly on estimate, at much less than 2,334,000l. The House, then, will bear in mind, that in fulfilment of the duty I have undertaken, I present to them the deficit in this country for the current year to the amount of 2,350,000l., with a certain prospect of a deficit for the next year to the amount of at least 2,470,000l., independently of the increase to be expected on account of China and Affghanistan, and that in India, that great portion of our Empire, I show a deficit on the two last years which will probably not be less than 4,700,000l.—[3 Hansard, lxi, 428–9.]
Now, this deficit had in the period since 1842 been growing every year, with the exception of two years, when, from accidental and precarious circumstances, a surplus of between 300,000l. and 400,000l. was made out. The course of deficit had now, however, been resumed, and there was probably no one in that House or in the country but the right hon. President of the Board of Control who did not perceive that the Burmese war would materially aggravate the amount of that deficit. Where was this to end? When the Board of Control was first established, the debt was 8,000,000l.; in 1825 it was 25,000,000l.; in 1829 it was 34,000,000l.; in 1836, 37,000,000l.; in 1843,36,000,000l.; in 1849,44,000,000l.; in 1853, 47,000,000l.; and, now, including the bond debt at home and the debt in India, it was about 51,000,000l. The military expenditure of India had increased since the last Charter Act from 8,000,000l. a year, to more than 12,000,000l. a year, and now formed no less than 56 per cent of the whole expenditure. He believed that if the Indian Government would endeavour to improve the condition of the people by attending to economic principles, by establishing better means of communication, by promoting irrigation, and by affording facilities for
education, the Indian population would at once be convinced that there was a feeling of sympathy entertained towards them on the part of their rulers and conquerors, and the idea—which he believed prevailed very extensively—that we held India more with the object of extorting taxation than of benefiting the people, would speedily be removed. When he came to consider the amount of the revenue, and its pressure upon the population, he thought he could show a state of things existing in India which could not be paralleled in any country in the world. The evidence of Mr. Davies and Mr. Stewart, collectors in Guzerat, showed that in that district the actual taxation varied from 60 to 90 per cent upon the gross produce of the soil. Mr. Campbell calculated the gross revenue of India at about 27,000,000l.; and Mr. Kaye, a recent authority, who, he (Mr. Bright) presumed, wrote his book at the India House, stated that the gross revenue was 29,000,000l. The land revenue was 12,000,000l. or 13,000,000l.; and although the Government took, or intended to take, all the rent, it was not half enough for them, and they were obliged to take as much more from other sources in order to enable them to maintain their establishments. He mentioned this fact to show the enormous expense of the Indian Government, and the impossibility of avoiding a great and dangerous financial crisis unless some alteration was made in the present system. Mr. Campbell, speaking of the Indian revenues under the Mogul Princes, said—
The value of food, labour, &c., seems to have been much the same as now—that is, infinitely cheaper than in Europe; and, certainly, in comparison to the price of labour and all articles of consumption, the revenue of the Moguls must have been more effective than that of any modern State—I mean that it enabled them to command more men and luxuries, and to have a greater surplus.
He (Mr. Bright) would ask the House to imagine that all steam engines, and all applications of mechanical power, were banished from this country; that we were utterly dependent upon mere manual labour; and what would they think if the Chancellor of the Exchequer, under such circumstances, endeavoured to levy the same taxation which was now borne by the country? From one end of India to the other, with very trifling exceptions, there was no such thing as a steam engine; but this poor population, without a steam engine, without anything like first-rate tools,
were called upon to bear, he would venture to say, the very heaviest taxation under which any people ever suffered with the same means of paying it. Yet the whole of this money, raised from so poor a population, which would in India buy four times as much labour, and four times as much of the productions of the country, as it would obtain in England, was not enough to keep up the establishments of the Government; and during the last sixteen years the Indian Government had borrowed 16,000,000l. to pay the dividends to the proprietors in England. The opium question had been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood), and he (Mr. Bright) must say he did not know any one connected with China, or at all acquainted with the subject, who was not of opinion that the opium revenue was very near its termination. Even the favourite authority of the President of the Board of Control, Mr. Marshman, declared his opinion that India was on the verge of a great financial crisis. Whether the present Chinese Government retained its power, or the insurgents were successful, and a new dynasty was established, the scruple against the importation of opium into China from India having once been removed, the transition to the growth of the drug in China was very easy, and there could scarcely be a doubt that opium would soon be as extensively cultivated in that country as ever it was in India. This might very soon produce a loss of 3,000,000l. of revenue to the East India Company. There had already been an annual deficit in the revenues of the East India Company for the last fifteen years; they had to bear the cost of a Burmese war; and the annexation of new territory would only bring upon them an increased charge, for Pega would never repay its expenses, and yet they had the prospect of losing 3,000,000l. of their revenue within a very few years. Now, what would the Chancellor of the Exchequer say if the President of the Board of Control came to that House and proposed to raise a loan upon the credit of this country for the purpose of maintaining our territory in India? Would it not be better at once to ascertain whether the principles and policy on which they had hitherto proceeded had not been faulty? Should they not rather endeavour to reduce their expenditure, to employ cheaper labour, to increase the means of communication in India, which would enable them to dispense with a portion of their troops, and to make
it a rule that the Governor General should have more honour when he came home, for not having extended by an acre the territory of our Indian possessions, than if he had added a province or a kingdom to them. The plan proposed by the President of the Board of Control appeared to him (Mr. Bright) very closely to resemble that which existed at present. He certainly thought there never was so great a cry and so little wool. The result, so far as regarded the real question, about which the public were most interested, was this,? that the twenty-four gentlemen who were directors of the East India Company, were, by a process of self-immolation, to be reduced to fifteen. He (Mr. Blight) thought this reduction would be one of the most affecting scenes in the history of the Government of India. As the East India Company kept a writer to record their history, he hoped they also kept an artist to give us an historical painting of this great event. There we should see the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J, W. Hogg), one of the hon. Members for the City of London, and the other directors, meeting together, and looking much like shipwrecked men in a boat casting lots who should be thrown overboard. To the fifteen directors who were to remain, three others were to be added, and the result would be that, instead of having twenty-four gentlemen sitting in Leaden hall-street, to manage the affairs of India, there would be eighteen. The present constituency was so bad that nothing the President of the Board of Control could do could make it worse; but as that right hon. Gentleman found it impossible to make it better, he let the constituency remain as it was. The right hon. Baronet proposed that the Crown should appoint six members of the Board who had been at least ten years in India, so that there might at all events be that number of gentlemen at the Board fit for the responsible office in which they were placed. But this was an admission that the remaining twelve members of the Board were not fit for their office. They had two ingredients—the one wholesome, the other poisonous; but there were two drops of poison to one of wholesome nutriment. The right hon. Gentleman mixed them together, and then wanted Parliament and the country to believe that he had proposed a great measure. As regarded the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he must say he had never heard so great a one—he meant as
to length—where the result, so far as the real thing about which people wished to know, was so little. The twelve gentlemen appointed by the present constituency were degraded already by the right hon. Gentleman's declaration, that they were not elected in a satisfactory manner, and that they were not fit persons for the government of India. They were, in fact, bankers and brewers, and men of all sorts, in the City of London, who found it their interest to get into the Court of Directors—no matter by what channel—because it, added to the business of their bank, or whatever else might be the undertaking in which they were engaged; but they had no special qualification for the government of India. If the Government thought it right to have six good directors, let them abolish the twelve bad ones. Then it appeared that the Secret Department was to be retained. Speaking of this, Mr. Kaye, quoting the authority of Mr. Tucker, a distinguished director, said it was no more than a secretary and a seal. Next came a most extraordinary proposition. Hitherto the directors had undergone all the hardship of governing India for 300l. a year; but the right hon. Gentleman now proposed to raise, their wages by 4l. per week each. Why, he must say, that if this body was to be salaried at all, and was not to have the profit of the patronage enjoyed by the present Government, nothing could be worse economy than this, with a view to obtaining a body which should command the respect, and have the amount of influence, requisite for conducting the Government of India. Sixteen of the directors, receiving 500l. a year each—why, they would have to pay their clerks much more!—and the chairman and the deputy-chairman 1,000l. a year each. The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme seemed to bear the marks of—he was almost afraid to say what; but he seemed to have tried to please every one in framing his great proposition, and at last had landed the House in a sort of half measure, which neither the East India Company nor India wanted. If he (Mr. Bright) had made a speech such as the right hon. Gentleman had delivered, and believed what he said, he would leave the Indian Government as it was; but if he thought it necessary to alter the Government, he would do so on principle essentially. The right hon. Gentleman was afraid of bringing the Government of India under the authority of the Crown. What, he would like to know, would have been
done if India had been conquered by the troops of the Crown? We should then never have sent some thirty men into a by street of London to distribute patronage and govern a great country. The government of India would then have been made a department of the Government, with a Council and a Minister of State. But it appeared that the old system of hocus-pocus was still to be carried on. This was no question of Manchester against Essex—of town against country—of Church against Nonconformity. It was a question in which they all had an interest, and in which their children might be more deeply interested than they were themselves. Should anything go wrong with the finances, we must bear the burden; or should the people of India by our treatment be goaded into insurrection, we must reconquer the country, or be ignominiously driven out of it. He would not be a party to a state of things which might lead to the writing of a narrative like this on the history of our relations with that empire. Lot the House utterly disregard the predictions of mischief likely to result from such a change in the Government of India as that which he advocated. When the trade was thrown open, and the Company was deprived of the monopoly of carrying, they said the Chinese would poison the tea. There was nothing too outrageous or ridiculous for the Company to say in order to prevent the Legislature from placing affairs on a more honest footing. He objected to the Bill, because—as the right hon. Gentleman admitted—it maintained a double Government. In the unstatesmanlike course which the right hon. Gentleman was pursuing, he would, no doubt, be especially backed by the noble Lord the Member for London. He only wished that some of the younger blood in the Cabinet might have had their way upon this question. Nothing could induce him to believe, after the evidence which was before the public, that this measure had the approbation of an united Cabinet. It was not possible that thirteen sensible gentlemen, who had any pretensions to form a Cabinet, could agree to a measure of this nature. He was more anxious than he could express that Parliament should legislate rightly in this matter. Let us act so at this juncture that it might be said of us hereafter—that whatever crimes England originally committed ill conquering India, she at least made the best of her position by governing the country as wisely as possible, and left the records and traces of a humane and li
beral sway. He recollected having heard the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) deliver in that House one of the best speeches he ever listened to. On that occasion the noble Lord gloried in the proud name of England, and, pointing to the security with which an Englishman might travel abroad, he triumphed in the idea that his countrymen might exclaim, in the spirit of the ancient Roman, Civis Romanus sum. Let us not resemble the Romans merely in our national privileges and personal security. The Romans were great conquerors, but where they conquered, they governed wisely. The nations they conquered were impressed so indelibly with the intellectual character of their masters, that, after fourteen centuries of decadence, the traces of civilisation were still distinguishable. Why should not we act a similar part in India? There never was a more docile people, never a more tractable nation. The opportunity was present, and the power was not wanting. Let us abandon the policy of aggression, and confine ourselves to a territory tea times the size of France, with a population four times as numerous as that of the United Kingdom. Surely that was enough to satisfy the most gluttonous appetite for glory and supremacy. Educate the people of India, and govern them wisely, and gradually the distinctions of caste would disappear, and they would look upon us rather as benefactors than as conquerors. And if we desired to see Christianity, in some form, professed in that country, we should sooner attain our object by setting the example of a high-toned Christian morality, than by any other means we could employ.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he proposed to take the third reading of the Income Tax Bill on Monday, and he would put this adjourned debate next after it, in the hope that the House would then allow it to be brought in. Of course, it was important that the House should have a knowledge of the details from the Bill itself. He should, therefore, be sorry for there to be a lengthened debate before the House was acquainted with the details of the measure. In the hope that the adjourned debate would not be of great extent, he would put it for Monday next.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he hoped that the noble Lord would allow the House time to consider the Bill before they were called upon to approve its principle.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he meant to oppose the introduction of the Bill. If they were to have a debate of a week or ten days on the introduction of the Bill, the House would be kept all that time from a knowledge of its details.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, the East India Company had been put upon its trial. Heavy indictments had been preferred against it; and it was important that the opportunity should be given of answering them before the Bill came before Parliament.
said, it was most important that they should know the truth, in order that they might remove the abuses existing in connexion with the Company. Many of the statements of his hon. Friend (Mr. Bright) were unanswerable. There were others which did not apply at all to the Company. He was, therefore, very anxious, not simply to adjourn the debate, but to give the fullest opportunity for discussion. He considered the question of the utmost importance.
said, this was a preliminary discussion, which could not so well be taken at any other stage.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, it would depend on that whether the introduction of the Bill was postponed or not.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock till Monday next.