§ Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Question [3d June], "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the Government of India;"
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
said, that he felt the disadvantage of following on this occasion the able speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), who had accurately described the position of several hon. Members, when he said they had parcelled out among themselves the various counts of the indictment against the East India Company; though he must say that, able as that speech unquestionably was, it had entirely failed to shake the case against the Company which had been made by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), and for Tavistock (Mr. Phillimore). He quite coincided, indeed, in one feeling which was expressed by the hon. Baronet towards the close of his speech—the desire that every possible information should be furnished to the public in connexion with the affairs of India. Having expressed that wish, he (Mr. Blackett) hoped the hon. Baronet would join with him in urging the strong complaints which, he thought, they had a right to make with respect to the very meagre information which Her Majesty's Government had laid before them. The 114th clause of the East India Company's Charter Act provided that the Indian accounts should be laid before Parliament within the first fourteen sitting days after the 1st of May. His hon. Friend the Secretary for the Treasury (Mr. Wilson), however, told him a few nights ago that for many years it had been found impossible to comply with that provision: that was, he admitted that for many years the East India Company had been in the habit of deliberately violating this Act—
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
remarked that 1301 these accounts had been laid upon the table in the present year within the prescribed time.
said, that he had then great fault to find with his hon. Friend the Secretary for the Treasury, who told him that it was impossible to comply with the provisions of the Charter Act. The hon. Baronet (Sir J. W. Hogg) disclaimed any wish on the part of the East India Company to keep back accounts or documents; but it was nevertheless a fact that certain accounts for the year 1852, to which Mr. Kaye had had access whilst writing his book, had not been laid on the table; and he thought they had a right to complain that the information which was given to the advocate of the Company, was not furnished to the House. Judging, however, from the documents which had been given to Members, the hon. Member for Manchester had not had much encouragement to proceed with his inquiries. It required much charity to suppose that the obscurity and mystification of the voluminous appendix to the second Report was quite unintentional. At page 320, Appendix 2, of the Commons Report of 1852, they had what purported to be the cost of the Indian home establishment. There were eight columns of figures, not one of them added up; the reason for which omission became very plain when they found that the total was 189,477L. 7s. 3d. From page 320 they must go back to page 294 to find the contingent expenses, law charges, and salaries of directors. Then they must go forwards to page 344 for the expenses of the India Board, and to 431 for the item of 4,039L for house dinners and entertainments. He was not, surprised to find this item in such well-chosen obscurity. At page 343 they were promised, according to the index, a statement of Natives as distinguished from the Indo-Britons in the Company's service, but no statement at all of Indo-Britons was given. At page 376 they had what purported to be a classified statement of local officers, covenanted and uncovenanted, in the North-west provinces; they had three tables, and only in the first of them was any distinction attempted; and, as to their salaries, the matter was kept secret by the ingenious device of giving no initial letters significant of the coin to which the numeral referred, till the mention of rupees at the foot of the page let them see that this highly satisfactory account had been kept in two separate currencies. No statement was anywhere given 1302 of the number and pay of the covenanted service. The House would admit that was not very satisfactory. His main objection to the Bill which the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) had asked leave to introduce, rested upon the strong opinion which he entertained against the East India Company being in any degree retained as an organ for the administration of the affairs of India; and he freely admitted that no objection of a less vital character would have justified the House in the very unusual course of debating a Motion for leave to introduce a Bill. He had listened attentively to the speeches of the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood), and of the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), in the hope of learning from them what extraordinary familiarity with the affairs of India the present Parliament was supposed to possess over those which preceded it, that it should be able to legislate upon them without being in possession of that information which every former Parliament had thought necessary. A Committee of that House was appointed as early as 1808, in anticipation of the renewal of the Charter Act, which was to take place in 1813; and in February, 1830, the same course was pursued in anticipation of the renewal in 1833; but, in the present instance, the Committee of each House of Parliament was only nominated in the May of last year, and he confessed he did not know what peculiar resources they possessed to perform a task for which former Parliaments thought five years' and three years' previous inquiry not too much. He was, indeed, well aware of the difficulty into which the Government were driven by the expiration of the Charter Act next April; but he must take leave to remind the House on whose shoulders the blame of this rested:—this difficulty would not have arisen had Sir John Hobhouse, who was President of the Board of Control in 1851, complied with the suggestion of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Jocelyn), to appoint these Committees in the spring of that year. Sir John Hobhouse stated that he contemplated no change; but the political vicissitudes which had since occurred might have satisfied him that change did not depend solely on his will. He could not leave this part of the subject without noticing the point which had been urged at the beginning of the Session by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell), and which had been since repeated by the President of the Board of 1303 Control (Sir Charles Wood), and the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), with respect to the great danger that would arise from leaving this question open to agitation, as tending to shake the Company in the eyes of the Natives. He did not see how there would be a greater danger of agitation if they passed a continuance Bill for two or three years, than if they passed this Bill, which Parliament, if it pleased, might alter and remodel next Session. The right hon. Baronet said, indeed, it would shake what he called the "superstitious reverence" which the Natives entertained for the permanence of the English Government in India. After the answer of the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control that night, that he would not lay on the table the information given to him by Lord Dalhousie, it was impossible for the House to calculate the extent of that danger; but he could refer to such authorities as they had, and he asked the right hon. Baronet if much longer deliberations than any which the opponents of this measure now asked for had not frequently taken place on Indian subjects, and that, too, at times when our empire was much more insecure than at present, without the least shock being given to the stability of our rule over that great continent? If the right hon. Baronet would turn to the renewal of the Charter in 1793, and take the years preceding, he would find they had had a Committee on the subject in 1781, Dundas's Bill in 1782, Fox's Bill in 1783, Pitt's Bill in 1784, a Bill to amend Pitt's Bill in 1786, the famous Declaratory Act in 1788, till the Charter was renewed, with, he was proud to say, the opposition of the whole Whig party in 1793. We occupied barely one-sixth of the territory now under our control; the whole strength of the Mahratta empire was watching its opportunity; the Nizam, with a well-officered and well-equipped army, was on one side of us; and Tippoo Saib, with all the power inherited from his father, Hyder Ali, was ready to pounce upon us on the other; and yet there was not the least feeling of fear for our Indian empire. On the next occasion, when the subject was under discussion—previous to the renewal of the Charter in 1813—they had had a stormy and turbulent deliberation of no less a period than three years in a time of no ordinary moment. The French were seeking to re cover their supremacy in India. We had to deal with the gathering germs which afterwards produced the wars with the Mahrat- 1304 tas, the Pindarees, and the Nepaulese; and yet not a finger was raised against our empire in consequence of these debates. Next time—in 1833—we undertook changes greater than any made before, both in the character and position of the Company; we threw open the trade to China, and transformed the entire character of the East India Company—in fact, it was impossible to do anything more likely to excite suspicion in India that we were going to overthrow the Company. At that time there were hostile tribes dwelling in the Punjaub and the Indus; we had also the Russian intrigues, which, whatever they might think of it now, were then considered sufficient to justify the war with Affghanistan; yet no convulsion took place. Only let the House contrast these periods with the circumstances in which the House had now to deal with this question. It was the first and only occasion in which they had not an enemy in India. From the Himalayas to the sea, India Was enclosed in the ring fence of our power, and the magnificent hyperbole of Burke was now but the expression of a literal fact, "that there is not a peasant in the whole Peninsula who eats his rice without the leave of the East India Company." The chieftains of Poonah, who once would have leaped into the saddle at the head of their bands of freebooters to avenge any imaginary insult we might have offered to them, had now fallen into the practices of constitutional governments, and were absolutely presenting their humble petitions to this House, Well, the greater the security and peace which existed throughout India at this moment, the greater the responsibility which rested upon this Government for approaching the consideration of the future government of India with due calmness and after due deliberation. The hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) had made a great impression on the House by his statement of the valuable exertions of the East India Company and their gallant officers in subduing savage tribes and spreading civilisation in India. He listened to that statement with the greatest respect and attention; but it only proved on the part of the East India Company what might be proved on the part of the most selfish and cruel rulers of ancient and modern times. The most barbarous buccaneer that ever cleared a jungle could boast that he had (because he found it to his interest) drained swamps and exterminated noxious animals. The same might have been the vaunt of the worst Govern- 1305 ments in modern Europe—the government of Louis XV., in France, of George III., in America, and of Metternich, in Austria. The hon. Baronet had prided himself in referring to the illustrious names of our Indian generals, and the brilliant stories of their victories. No doubt there was everything in these eulogies to admit and to admire. There was no story more stirring than the tragic fate of Sir W. Macnaghten; there were no achievements were chivalrous than those of Colonel Outram. But all this only proved that the worst possible system of patronage could not spoil or enfeeble our English race. It was not owing to the East India Company—it was in spite of the Company, that these great deeds had been accomplished. But even admitting the whole of the results claimed by the hon. Baronet, they were not results due exclusively to the East India Company—they were rather due to the East India Government. The hon. Baronet said that the system of double government in India was now on its trial; but he (Mr. Blackett) thought it was more accurate to say that the East India Company was on its trial; and, in his opinion, whether the Government of India were single or double, the East India Company was not fitted to form any part of it. The only way in which it was possible to test the efficiency of the East India Company, was by looking at its management of that department which exclusively belonged to it—the disposition of patronage—and to that point he proposed to confine his remarks; with the exception of a brief notice of two other points—the general state of the Indian revenue, and the abolition of the transit duties in Bengal, which the President of the Board of Control had selected as a matter for special eulogy of the Company. The hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), in the commencement of his statement with respect to Indian revenue, in which he must admit he had produced a picture which told powerfully upon the House, had spoken of the great increase in our territory since the last Charter Act. Now, at page 330 in the Appendix to the Report of the House of Commons Committee of 1852, there was a statement of the revenue and civil charges of the territories and tributaries acquired since the 1st of May, 1834, which would show how much reason we had to congratulate ourselves on this head. From this it appeared that the revenue of the Punjaub was 1,200,000L. and the civil charges of 1306 that territory 900,000L.; while in Scinde the revenue was 260,000L., and the civil charges 460,000L. Then came the State of Sattara, which had been obtained, he thought, by most iniquitous means, and there the revenue amounted to 195,000L., while the civil charges—and he thought it served us quite right that we had got a bad bargain—amounted to 210,000L. [Mr. MANGLES: These figures are erroneous.] Then that showed how little the East India Company's statements were to be relied upon, for the figures were all extracted from the statements they had laid before the Committee. The total revenue of these three conquered territories was thus 1,655,000L., while the civil charges amounted to 1,570,000L., leaving a balance of 85,000l. to set off against the cost of conquest and permanent military charges. What a state of things was this! As to the salt duties, which had been alluded to by the hon. Baronet as a proof of the progress of the people, so far from increasing, he believed that, although they undoubtedly yielded a larger sum in 1852 than in 1833, yet, if a comparative average of two periods of four years each were taken, they would be found to be on the decline. Taking the average of the four years ending 1847–48, these duties amounted to 1,587,8452., while the average revenue derived from them in the four years ending 1852–53 was only 1,366,312L.; showing a falling off of 221,5532. per annum. Next he came to the statement of the hon. Baronet respecting the great increase which he alleged had taken place in the exports and imports of India. As to the exports, he had not a word to say in contradiction of his statement; but, with regard to the imports, taking the last two periods of four years each, he found from a paper in the Appendix to the Report of the Commons Committee, that in the four years ending 1845–46 the average imports into India from the United Kingdom and elsewhere amounted to 12,637,000l. per annum, while in the four years ending 1849–50 they only averaged 12,163,000l., showing a decline of 463,000l. a year. With regard to the general state of the Indian revenue, taking the two terms of 1833–34 and 1849–50, the accounts of the latter term being more convenient for reference, and more intelligibly and fully given than those of 1850–51, he found that the total net produce of the revenues of India in the first period was 13,765,425l., and in the second period 1307 19,576,089l., showing in the intervening period very nearly an increase of 6,000,000l., or, in exact numbers, of 5,811,664l. But how was this increase made up? It was made up of 2,581,000l. from opium—the precarious character of which the hon. Baronet himself admitted;' of 710,000l. upon salt; of 101,845l. upon tribute money, which could not be calculated upon as an ordinary branch of revenue; of 100,000l. upon stamp duties; and of 2,445,000l. upon land revenue. From this there must be deducted a falling off in the Customs duties amounting to 120,000l. Would the House believe that the cost of collecting this 19,576,089l. amounted to the enormous sum of 5,810,664l., being 25 per cent on the net total? As he had just stated, the hon. Baronet (Sir J. W. Hogg) himself admitted the unsatisfactory state of the opium question; and, with regard to the small increase on stamps, what did Mr. Prinsep say on the subject of this tax? He stated that it was a tax on exhibits, petitions, and witnesses—a tax on law proceedings—and that it was wholly of European origin, nothing of the kind having existed under any native Government. After opium the main article of increase was that of land revenue; and was that the result of improved management, or did it arise merely from confiscations and an increase of territory—an extension in the area of taxation? Upon the answer to that question the whole merit of such an increase depended, as showing the excellence of the present system of Indian administration. Mr. Prinsep stated that not less than 1,500,000l.. of that sum arose from fresh territory, and that 500,000l. more was the result of resumptions or confiscations in Bengal alone. Then looking into the accounts, they found 211,367l.. included under land revenue, which should in fact have been placed under the bead of tribute—from Nagpoor, 60,000l..; from Rajpootama, 127,999l..; and from Cutch, 23,368l..—in addition to the 101,000l.. he had just quoted under this head; and the result of all this stood thus: Total increase inland revenue, 2,445,720l..; of which new States contributed 1,500,000l.., the resumptions in Bengal made up another 500,000l.., and tribute money from the States he had mentioned 211,367l.; making altogether a total of 2,211,000l.. This left little more than 200,000l.. out of the 5,000,000l.. or 6,000,000l. increased revenue which could be set down as the results of good manage- 1308 ment and improvements, including the unexplained and indefinite items for resumptions elsewhere than in Bengal, and without, as the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) had suggested, making any allowance for the enormous increase of population. He noticed among the statistics given in the Appendix a statement of the arrears of land tax, from which it appeared that in the sixteen years from 1834 to 1849 inclusive (the account not being completely made up for 1850), these arrears amounted to no less a sum than 60,191,167l.; there was then an amount greater than the entire annual revenue of Great Britain included under the head of uncollected arrears within the period mentioned. Surely this must be some tremendous blunder; and yet, although it had been noticed by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. J. G. Phillimore), the hon. Baronet had given no reply upon this point. He came now to another subject to which he wished to call the attention of the House, because it had been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control as showing the excellent administration of the East India Company—he meant the transit duties. He (Mr. Blackett) confessed he was astonished at the tranquillity—to use no stronger term—with which the right hon. Gentleman had permitted himself to quote this as an instance of the Company's wise and beneficent administration; because if there was anything more than another which showed how the Government of the bureaucracry in Leadenhall Street had been the means of paralysing and preventing the execution of the liberal intentions of the Board of Control, it was the history of these transit duties. The right hon. Gentleman told the House that the transit duties had been abolished by the East India Company, but he quite forgot to state that first of all they had been imposed by that Company. The Indian transit duties were probably the most detestable arrangements that ever disgraced the dominions of what called itself a civilised Government. Under the native princes tolls were levied on every act of transport, and the country was consequently studded with these tollhouses. In 1788 they were abolished by Lord Cornwallis; but it pleased the Company to re-establish them in 1801. These transit duties were collected at a series of tollbars stretching all over India, which were appropriately denominated "chokeys;" and the effect of them might 1309 be estimated from the fact that Sir Charles Trevelyan had stated that no less than sixty of them existed in a circuit of twenty miles around Calcutta, and the expense amounted to a sum of from 600,000l. to 800,000l.. annually. In 1808 the Indian Government appointed a Committee to revise the duties, and they recommended their "consolidation"—that is to say, supposing that an article would have been chargeable with 11. duty when it got to the end of 100 miles, it was now to be charged with 11. at starting, no matter how small a distance it was to be conveyed. With inconceivable perversity, the Committee retained the main grievance, and provided that the various tollhouses should still be kept up, and a search instituted at each to see if the goods corresponded with the rowannah or certificate given by the custom-house at starting. In 1825 this system was brought before the Court of Directors by Mr. Holt Mackenzie, who expressed a strong condemnation of these duties, and urged their abolition at once. The Directors condemned the system very decidedly, but still nothing was done. In 1833, Sir Charles Trevelyan issued his celebrated report on this subject, in which he declared that it was impossible to conceive the extortion, pillage, and misery consequent on this system, the terror inspired by the custom-house officers, the insults offered to merchants and women by them, and the general corruption consequent on the necessity of bribing these miscreants. To show the then existing state of things, he alluded to the fact before mentioned, that in a circuit of twenty miles around Calcutta there were no fewer than sixty tollbars; and the mere direct outlay Sir Charles Trevelyan estimated at from 600,000l.. to 800,000l.. For a year, however, in spite of all this, nothing was done. In March, 1834, however, Lord Ellenborough was most fortunately at the Board of Control, and his Lordship wrote a masterly letter, urging the Directors to take steps for carrying out the recommendations contained in Sir Charles Trevelyan's report. The Directors sent back word that they preferred leaving the matter to the Governor General of India; and this drew forth a short and sharp missive, with the signature of Mr. Sidney Herbert, then Secretary of the Board of Control, now Secretary at War, peremptorily desiring the Board to direct the Governor General to take measures for abolishing these duties. In the meantime Mr. Ross, 1310 a well-known civil servant of the Company, who happened to be Lieutenant Governor of the North-west Provinces, had taken upon himself, of his own mere motion, to abolish these tolls in his own government; and in consequence, Sir Charles Metcalfe, then acting as Governor General before the arrival of Lord Auckland, very strongly rebuked Mr. Ross for his presumption, but said he had no alternative but to follow his example, and abolish them in Bengal. The Court of Directors were very angry, but the work was done, and there was no help for it. In spite of all this, however, he found that the transit duties were not abolished in Bombay until 1839, nor in Madras till 1845; and yet the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Board of Control could quote this as a signal example of good government on the part of the Company. He asked how the House could sufficiently condemn the machinery of a Government which did not abolish so frightful a nuisance till twenty years after it had been pointed out by Mr. Mackenzie, and then took four additional years to abolish it in Bombay, and ten additional years in Madras. The evil was greater than any which Turgot had to deal with in France, and which tasked the genius of Alberoni in Spain; and yet the Court of Directors succeeded for that length of time by mere vis inertiæ in thwarting a reform dictated by the statesmanlike liberality of Lord Ellenborough and Mr. Sidney Herbert; and it was very doubtful if it would have been achieved to this day but for the fortunate insubordination of a self-willed and refractory official. His great ground of objection to the East India Company was, that the direction of our Indian empire was vested in the hands of a private corporation, which had no more interest in the affairs of that empire than the Great Western Railway Company had. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control declared that our Indian empire was an anomaly; but he (Mr. Blackett) denied that it was so unprecedented a case as to be removed from the ordinary rule of political experience. He feared the confession that the present system was an anomaly, was only a confession of cowardice in refusing to grapple thoroughly with the subject; and the right hon. Gentleman, when he made this avowal, only showed, not, indeed, his incompetence, but, at any rate, his reluctance, to rise to the height of the argument, and his 1311 indisposition to grapple with the subject as boldly as it required. If there was an anomaly anywhere, it lay at our own doors, and was to be found in our determination to govern 150,000,000 of Asiatics by a handful of officials, and to persist in administering the affairs of a great empire by the machinery of a joint-stock company. But the greatest anomaly of that government was displayed by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood), who could discourse for five hours on a theme that was calculated to swell the heart with the strongest emotions, and coolly tell them at the close that they were going on as well there as they could possibly wish. The speech of the right hon. Baronet was filled with details respecting the good administration of the Company, and with lavish praises of the Directors; but the Directors would prefer a little solid pudding to all this empty praise. The right hon. Baronet had failed to discover any signs of the love and affection which he professed for the Indian Government. He said the Government was working well, but still he proposed to introduce six nominees in that Government. He expressed his approval of the Directors, yet he asked the House to suppress one-half of their number. If there was a statesman who entertained a great dislike for the East India Company, but was restrained by salutary fears from openly attacking it—"willing to wound, but yet afraid to strike"—he could not introduce a measure that was more calculated to unsettle the foundation of that Government. If he had the felicity to agree with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control in the opinion he entertained respecting the Company, he had also the felicity to agree with the Company in its opinion of the Board of Control. They had heard the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton, and they had never heard a fuller or more able statement; but he did not say one word in praise of any single alteration that had been recommended by the President of the Board of Control. He did not express any very hearty welcome for the six Government gentlemen who were to be invited to join them, or for the change that would take all the civil patronage from them; he did not express his intention to share in the great suttee which the President of the Board of Control had invited the Directors to celebrate in Leadenhall Street, or offer his thanks for the 4l. a 1312 week which the right hon. Baronet coolly offered him in return for his patronage. Taking the measure of the President of the Board of Control, and the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton, he could not think the two parts of the double government would go on happily together. He agreed with the President of the Board of Control that the Company had too much power; and he said so from the way they had exercised their absolute and undivided power in the department of patronage. He could not help thinking that the hon. Baronet's opinion of the East India Company was, at the bottom, very much the same as his own. On the other hand, he had observed that the hon. Baronet (Sir J. W. Hogg) had not said one word in praise of the Government Bill, and that he did not admit the propriety of one single alteration recommended by the right hon. Gentleman. Now, first, he wished to say a few words as to the constitution of the Board of Directors, who exercised this patronage. If four gentlemen could be pointed out, who, by their eminent services in India, and their high character, were qualified to fill the post of East India Directors with honour, they were Mr. Willoughby, who had been a member of their Council in Bengal; Sir II. Haddock, the hon. Member for Rochester, who had been Deputy Governor of Bengal, and President of the Council; Mr. Millet, who had been a member of the Law Commission and of the Supreme Council; and Mr. Wilberforce Bird, who had been a member of the Supreme Council, five times Deputy Governor of Bengal, and once Governor General. These gentlemen stated before the Select Committee that-they would gladly have placed their services at the disposal of the Company, but that they were deterred from soliciting seats in the Direction by the intolerable humiliation of canvassing such a body as the proprietors. At the last election of a Director, it would have been expected that if anything could have induced them to make a change in their system, they would have done so; but at the last election, a few weeks ago, Mr. Carnac Morris, an East Indian civil servant of thirty years' standing, was rejected in favour of an hon. friend of his (Mr. Blackett), of whom he would be the last person to say anything unkind or disrespectful; but it must be allowed that the result of that election was calculated to show that official services 1313 were not a great recommendation to the favour of the proprietors. Great expectations were held out when the last Charter? was granted as to the mode in which the Indian civil service would be administered. Mr. Macaulay, in 1833, said—One word as to the new arrangement which we propose with respect to patronage. It is intended to introduce the principle of competition in the disposal of writerships, and from this change I cannot but anticipate the happiest results. …It is proposed that for every vacancy in the civil service four candidates shall he named, and the host candidate be selected by examination. We conceive that under this system the persons sent out will be young men above par—young men superior either in talents or in diligence to the mass."—[3 Hansard, xix. 524–25.]He would say nothing respecting the talents or intelligence of the young men that had been sent out, but he would ask, did the House know how the clause on that subject in the Act of Parliament had been carried out? It was deliberately violated year after year for four years; and at length, in 1837, a short Bill was smuggled through Parliament, permitting the Directors to suspend the provisions which they had broken up to that time whenever they found it convenient. It was mainly on the faith of that provision that the Company had obtained a renewal of the last Charter; and it was rumoured, in reference to this important provision and its repeal, that not one single scrap of correspondence existed between the Board of Control and the India House, and it was said that the matter was arranged by private conversation between the Chairman of the East India Company and the President of the Board of Control. The most important point with regard to the exercise of patronage had reference to the promotion of the native Indians. For the purpose of showing the description of office to which the Directors were pledged to introduce Natives of India, he would read an extract from a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay). That right hon. Gentleman said, in 1833—There is one part of the Bill on which I feel myself irresistibly compelled to say a few words. I allude to that wise, that beneficent, that noble clause, which enacts that no native of our Indian empire shall, by reason of his colour, his descent, or his religion, be incapable of holding office. At the risk of being called by that nickname which is regarded as being the most opprobrious of all nicknames by men of selfish hearts and contracted minds—at the risk of being called a philosopher— I must say, that to the last day of my life I shall be proud of having been one of those who have 1314 assisted in the framing of the Bill which contains that clause. We are told that the time can never come when the natives of India can be admitted to high civil and military office. We are told that we are bound to confer on our subjects— every benefit which they are capable of enjoying? no—which it is in our power to confer upon them? no—but which we can confer upon them without hazard to our own domination. Against that proposition I solemnly protest, as inconsistent with sound policy and sound morality.…. Are we to keep the people of India ignorant in order that we may keep them submissive? or do we think that we can give them knowledge without awakening ambition? or do we mean to awaken ambition, and to provide it with no legitimate vent? Who will answer any of these questions in the affirmative? Yet one of them must be answered in the affirmative by every one who thinks that we ought permanently to exclude the natives of India from high office."—[3 Hansard, xix. 534–35–36.]—Not from subordinate office, but from high office; and he believed that Lord Glenelg, in answer to a question put to him, stated that there was nothing in the clause alluded to by Mr. Macaulay to prevent a native of India from being made a member of the Supreme Council. Of course he (Mr. Blackett) did not say that Lord Glenelg pledged himself to appoint them to such offices; but the answer given by him showed the spirit in which the House of Commons expected the Court of Directors would act upon that clause. The hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton had charged his hon. Friend with stating that no native of India had ever been made a judge; but he misunderstood his hon. Friend, for no man in his senses could say that: the question was what kind of judge he was made, and the hon. Baronet had evaded the charges which his hon. Friend made on that point. They were told that 96 per cent of the cases were disposed of by native judges, and that was true; and in the debate in 1851 the hon. Baronet had expressed his pride and satisfaction on the subject; and his pride and satisfaction would be indefinitely increased when he heard the quotation he was about to make from the statement of Colonel Sykes. Colonel Sykes had drawn up a paper on the administration of justice by English and natives, from which it appeared that in the Presidency of Bombay, from 1845 to 1848, the total number of cases decided were 366,968, of which 6½ per cent were decided by European judges, and 93½ by native judges. Of these no less than 663 per cent of the decisions of the European judges were reversed on appeal, and only 5.4 per cent of those of the native judges. In the North-western provinces the total 1315 number of cases was 431,679. The European judges did 5½ per cent of the work, and the natives 94.14; of these there were reversed on appeal from the European judges 79 per cent of the cases appealed against, and from the native judges 27.2 per cent. With regard to the remuneration of the covenanted and uncovenanted service, he found in the appendix to a report of the House of Commons a statement that in all India only 216 natives held office of a value exceeding 360l. a year, while in the single province of Bengal, it was stated by Mr. Sullivan, a gentleman of the highest probity, that 327 Europeans held offices varying in value from 6001. to 25,000l.. a year, Mr. Cameron, in his great work on India, speaking of Clause 87 of the Charter Act, said—The present Charter Act has now been in force for 16 years, or four-fifths of its term, and no single native of India has been appointed to any of the covenanted services; the consequence is that the promise of the Charter Act is regarded by the natives of India as a mockery. It was not so intended by those who framed the Act.It should be recollected that that was not his (Mr. Blackett's) language, and that it was not young India declamation, but the opinion of a man who knew India well, and had known it long. The hon. Baronet said that even though they should admit them to the civil service, they should exclude them from the military service; but great masters of the art of war, like the Duke of Wellington and Sir Charles Napier, held the contrary opinion, and Sir C. Napier liberally promoted Beloochee gentleman to the command of native corps of cavalry, in which he confessed one of his greatest securities rested. But the civil and military services were not the only branches of the covenanted service of India to which the natives wished to obtain access. In 1844 Dwarkanauth Tagore sent over some native young men of ability to be educated in England, so that they might be competent to hold office in India. One of them, Mr. (afterwards Dr.)Chuckerbutty, attained the highest distinction as a medical student in this country; and Mr. Cameron and Sir E. Ryan addressed a letter to the Court of Directors requesting them to nominate him to a situation in the covenanted medical service. One might have supposed, remembering the liberal views of Parliament on this subject, that the Directors would have gladly availed themselves of this loophole to show the natives of India that they were not permanently ex- 1316 cluded from office, when no serious inconvenience could be expected to result from their appointment. The Court of Directors evaded giving a reply to the application to appoint Dr. Chuckerbutty to the covenanted service; but they sent back word that they had appointed him to a situation of equal if not superior value in the uncove-nanted service—showing that nothing but the direct compulsion of Parliament could force them to carry out the solemn trust that had been reposed in them. They were told, as a justification of this conduct, that, after all, the main body of the people was happy, and that it was only the native gentlemen who were excluded from office; but that was exactly the sort of argument which they repeatedly heard when the Catholic disabilities were discussed. The case of a gentleman in Calcutta had been cited, who was disliked by his countrymen because he was selected as the recipient of English patronage. He knew nothing of this unfortunate case of the gentleman in Calcutta—he could not say if he had any scruples to swallow, or antecedents to efface; but he understood that some of the Irish officials were not very popular with their own countrymen, and he did not expect to hear such a circumstance quoted as a reason for excluding Catholics from office. If the people were happy under the Government of India, it would be no reason for excluding the higher classes from office; but he denied they were perfectly happy. The lower classes of Hindoos certainly enjoyed the blessings of equal justice, as between them and the superiors of their own class in the English provinces, and escaped the barbarous mutilations to which they might have been exposed by the Mahomedan law; but he believed the English civil law was at present as vexations in India, on account of its delays, as it was at the time of Warren Hastings. It had been said that the natives of India enjoyed the blessing of being under the protection of English law; but was it no drawback that that law was administered by people differing from them in feeling and in custom? There was more similarity of habit between the Frenchman and the Englishman than between the Englishman and the Hindoo, and the Code Napoleon was in many respects more simple than the English law; but enjoyment of the blessings of that law would scarcely reconcile Englishmen to a Frenchman's rule. We were charged to form India after our own image; and surely we might think of training up 1317 the native youth to something like that spirit of emulation which animated our own Englishmen, But the natives of India had been led to consider themselves excluded from any practical share in the government of the country, and instead of having been trained up to emulate and compete with the Europeans, they were naturally induced to regard them with some degree of jealousy. He would read to the House a statement which was made to the Court of Proprietors by Colonel Sykes on the 25th of April, 1849, which would explain partly how such a feeling on the part of the Natives had originated. Colonel Sykes said—I state honestly and sincerely my conviction that it is most dangerous, with reference to our power and even financial prosperity in India, by our constant appropriations and resumptions of enams and rent-free lands, to lead the people at large to fear that we are really only anxious to make a government of officials on the one hand, and a nation of serfs on the other.Another eminent authority, Sir Thomas Monro, had expressed a similar opinion, and in a letter, bearing date August 12, 1807, he stated that—The strength of the British Government enables it to give to its subjects a degree of protection which those of no native Power enjoy. Its laws and institutions also afford them a security from domestic oppression unknown in those States; but these advantages are dearly bought. They are purchased by the sacrifice of independence, of national character, and of whatever renders a people respectable. The natives of the British provinces may without fear pursue their different occupations and enjoy the fruits of their labour in tranquillity; but none of them can aspire to anything beyond this mere animal state of thriving in peace; none of them can look forward to any share in the legislation or civil or military government of their country. The effect of this state of things is observable in all the British provinces, the inhabitants of which are certainly the most abject race in India. There is, perhaps, no example of any conquest in which the natives have been so completely excluded from all share of the government of their country as in British India.The point to which he particularly wished to call the attention of the House was the manner in which the East India Company had distributed its patronage, because it had in that respect used its own discretion without any limit or control, and it was upon that alone that it could found any claim for a renewal of the confidence which had been reposed in it. He had, he believed, shown that this vast prerogative had been exercised by the Directors in a manner most calculated to benefit their own family connexions, and least calculated to economise the resources of this country, or 1318 to strengthen the attachment of the natives' to the English rule. He had shown, first, by the abolition of the clause in the Charter Act which had reference to competition for writerships, and, secondly, by the system of excluding natives from covenanted office, that they had deliberately betrayed the; trust reposed in them by the Parliament of 1833, and broken the engagement upon; which they permitted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh to ask for a renewal of their last lease of power. He was told the privileges of the Directors were limited by this Bill; but surely it was not enough to withdraw the mere possession of the patronage which they had shown themselves so grossly to have misapplied. Surely it would be intolerable that the administration of the humblest native village should be left to the discretion of men who had shown themselves incapable of distributing a few writerships a year without yielding to such melancholy and humiliating temptations. Those were the main-grounds on which he objected to the Bill. He objected to it because it combined the contradictory disadvantages of precipitancy and delay, and because it continued the system of double government, which, under the pretence of multiplying checks, only succeeded in neutralising responsibility; but most of all did he object to it because it continued the East India Company as the prominent organ of the Government of India. And he would say, in conclusion, be the share of influence which that Company might be permitted to retain great or small, he was convinced that its continuance could only tend to retard progress, to foster nepotism, and to impede the elevation of the Indian races into a community of which England and Englishmen could have any reason to be proud.
§ MR. T. BARING
said, that his excuse for rising to trespass upon the attention of the House would be, that it was his wish not to detain them for any long time; for he felt that he had not the power which the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Blackett) seemed to think requisite to enable one to speak upon such a subject-— namely, "to swell the soul, and fire the imagination." As, however, it happened that he occupied the post of Chairman of the Committee which was now sitting upon Indian Affairs, he felt it his duty to offer some observations to the House. In the first place, then, he would state, that though the very last petition presented to that Committee prayed that legislation might 1319 be delayed, he himself was most anxious that no such hesitation should take place. He rejoiced, therefore, to see the Bill introduced, although he must confess he had doubts as to the policy of some of its provisions. Those points, however, would undergo discussion at a later stage, when his doubts would either be removed, or be confirmed and strengthened. He certainly admitted that it would have been desirable that the Committee should have been appointed at an earlier period—if it had been nominated the year previously; but still, with regard to the statement, that because a Committee of Inquiry into Indian Affairs was still sitting, that therefore the House of Commons should adjourn the discussion of any Indian question until the report of that Committee should be agreed upon— such a conclusion appeared to him wholly unjustified by the circumstances of the case. There were quite sufficient data for the House to go upon in discussing the question of the form of government of India; and the Committee would still continue its inquiries into subjects affecting the administrative departments. Delay in legislation seemed to him unnecessary, because, although the Committee would have to continue its labours, still they were in a position to judge of the general nature of the evidence, and, what was of great importance, of showing to the natives of India the anxiety of the House of Commons to inquire into their condition and situation. The danger of delay did not rest upon any letter of Lord Dalhousie's, but was apparent; for it was evident that if they weakened the power of the present Government by delaying the settlement of this question, by hanging up authority in abeyance as it were, and by advertising that there was going to be a new system, they would excite both Englishmen and Indians to agitate for two or three years, in order to determine the character of that new system, and would thus inflict an injury which no subsequent good government could rectify; for it was, in his mind, impossible to inflict a greater curse upon a country than at one and the same time to denounce its government as bad, and to announce its continuance. The announcement that this country was going to support for three years a government which it allowed to be bad, and was then going to introduce a new form of government, could not fail to produce considerable agitation. It was the duty of this country to provide the best possible government for India, but not to continue 1320 for one day longer than was actually necessary a government which had failed in satisfying the expectations which had been formed of it. He could not, then, for these reasons, agree with the opinion that it would be advisable to wait for the report of the Committee, and postpone legislation for India for two or three years. But suppose the government were to be left as at present for three years, what would be the effect upon the existing authorities in India? Would the Governor General take the trouble, or even consider himself justified in making any change, to better a government branded with condemnation? It was sometimes said, why should not nearly everything be endured for the sake of tranquillity in India? But he would ask any hon. Member who entertained such a view, what was the reason of that tranquillity? It was, that from the disposition of the natives of India, and the faithfulness of the 200,000 brave men who served under our banners, there was no danger that any commotion could be apprehended, or, if any such existed, that there could be any fear of checking it; but the House might rely upon it, that because the contentment and fidelity of the people were incontestable, it was no reason why there should be any delay in giving them the best possible government, or for continuing one which was notoriously unfit to rule over the country. Immediate legislation, therefore, appeared to him to be the course that Parliament was in duty and in policy bound to pursue. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) had denied that the British rule in India was an anomaly; but if he had read the whole of the speech from which he quoted, he would have found a long description of anomalies in our proceedings in India. He (Mr. Baring) accepted the illustration. It was perfectly true, as he had stated, that other countries had made conquests; but while the native inhabitants of countries over which other Powers had ruled had become degraded, the natives of India, whatever had been the government, had occupied a position of security and of freedom from intestine dissensions. The hon. Member for Manchester had stated that he had less objection to a double government itself than to the East India Company having any share at all in the government. Well, the institution, he would confess, would not, he believed, have proceeded from Mr. Bentham; but it still had an advantage, and that a great one, which was that of being engrafted in the 1321 minds of the people, and of having, in his opinion, saved the native population from all the horrors of international warfare and dissensions, and also from foreign attack. He wished to see the government of India, not in the hands of the Crown, uncontrolled by some independent and differently elected body—not in the hands of the Crown, as we had seen our colonies and other possessions—but he wished to see by the side of the government of the Crown—because no one could imagine that they could separate the general policy of India from that of England—a government so constituted as to be independent of political influences and associations, and which should not earn its position by political services rendered to one Minister or another. He should wish to see such a state of things that the security and the welfare of India should not be secondary objects, as compared with some ephemeral party triumph. With regard to the education of the natives, he was desirous of promoting any system which would encourage education in India, and was prepared to support every act which had that tendency; but he must say that, looking into the vista of futurity, he could see no prospect of the native population ever being fit to exercise a government of their own, which would afford security from dissension at home and from foreign attack, and that on account of their differing among themselves in such a way that the union of the various tribes would seem to be impossible. On the question of the government of India, he would not confide it to any person in the country itself without his being under the immediate control of the Home Government; for if such were the case, the welfare of the natives would, in his opinion, be jeopardised. As a friend to India, he wished to see a form of government established which, while it exercised all the powers of the Crown, would be still advised and controlled, as controlled it would be, by the moral influence of a body of men well informed as to the state of India, independent in their own position, occupying a station in society, and thoroughly acquainted with the subject, which must exert an influence upon any Minister, and check every attempt to make India the means of obtaining a party triumph. He would ask the House to look at the other colonies, such as Ceylon, the Cape of Good Hope, and Australia, and to remember the party struggles which every colonial question had given rise to; and he would express his hope that India might not, in company with them, become a word 1322 of challenge to be bandied about from one side of the House to the other. He wished to guard against that. He wished to keep India, because he, desired not to see the empire dismembered, the power of England broken, and her influence diminished; for in his heart he believed that our rule tended, not only to the welfare and glory of the British nation, but to the development and expansion of civilisation and freedom throughout the world. Keep India, then—keep it by good government— keep it by guarding it against itself, and those who were dangerous within it. This could be done only by keeping India out of the vortex of party politics, and there were no better means of effecting that object than by governing her by a body acting with the Crown, but whose election was independent of the Crown. He differed in one respect from the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright); he (Mr. Thomas Baring) believed they could not have a worse Council for India than one composed entirely of men who had spent thirty or forty years of their lives in that part of the world—
§ MR. BRIGHT
explained, that he had said he preferred nominees only without elected members; but that it would be unfortunate to have a Council entirely composed of persons who had resided in India.
§ MR. T. BARING
was glad to find the hon. Member had discovered that bankers and brewers, "and persons of that sort," were not as bad as he had once supposed them to be. It was gratifying to find that the hon. Member agreed with him in thinking there would be no wisdom in forming an administration from one class. Many persons would hesitate before giving in their adhesion to a government of lawyers; exception might even be taken to a mercantile administration; and, with due deference to the hon. Member for Manchester, he must express a doubt whether a cotton-spinners' administration would obtain general confidence. Persons who served in India for a considerable period usually returned with certain fixed ideas. They might have great knowledge of Indian, matters, but they lacked the knowledge which was essential in such a council—namely, of English affairs and English feelings—and sound sense, which could be acquired only by contact with English society and bodies of intelligent men in this country. If we were about to constitute the East India Company's electoral body, it, doubtless, would be possible to improve it; but, at any rate, it was not swayed by 1323 one political feeling, and was not under the influence of the Crown. The system of canvassing was probably objectionable, and might, perhaps, be discontinued with propriety; but this might be looked upon as certain—that when a man came forward as a candidate for the directorship—however defective his qualifications might be in other respects—his integrity was untainted, and his honour unstained. He was not there either to defend the East India Company, or to bring charges against it. It must be acknowledged that in some respects the country had reason to complain of the Indian Administration. There appeared to have been unnecessary delay in providing a code of laws for India. Then, the judicial administration had not undergone the improvement of which it was susceptible. Public works also should have received greater attention. Still, it must be recollected that these objections were fairly met by the answer, "Look at our revenue." How had the revenue been spent? In war. It could not be said that the Indian wars were always undertaken at the wish of the Company, nor that they would be less frequent if the Company should be deprived of all power and influence. A word with respect to the distribution of patronage. There might be individual cases of abuse; but it was impossible for any one who had sat on the Indian Committee, or read the evidence given before it, to deny that the patronage of the Company generally had been bestowed on a body of men of whom any country might be proud. To his mind the system which produced these men, which placed them in these offices, and which subsequently listened willingly to the severe criticisms which they passed upon it, could not be the worst in the world. No doubt, there were defects in the system. The judicial business was not administered in a way to please an intelligent Englishman; but an intelligent Indian would have little difficulty in pointing out defects in our judicial system, and it might be asked whether the reforms which had been made in our system of justice dated from a very remote period. We complained of anomalies in the Indian Government; but surely a native could easily refer to what he might think anomalies here. Would he not hold up his hands in amazement at our Government of three powers, at the veto which was never used, and the rejection by one branch of the Legislature of a measure which had passed triumphantly through the other? If a Native, struck by these 1324 apparent anomalies, should say to Us, "You must get rid of all these things before you effect any improvement in your laws and the administration of justice," the law reformer would reply, "No; let us apply practical remedies to acknowledged evils—let us reform, not revolutionise—let us satisfy the real wants of the country at the risk of leaving ungratified the ephemeral wishes of a passing agitation." Apply the same rule to India. Improvement was what he desired, but he thought it would be attained with more safety and assurance through the agency of the existing machinery than by commencing operations by revolutionising the whole Government. He felt strongly that the existing machinery was best calculated to develop the resources of India, to improve the condition of the people, and to retain the country in connexion with the British Crown. Among all his differences with the hon. Member for Manchester, there was one point on which he was happy to agree with him—namely, that this was no question between Manchester and Essex, or between the Church and Nonconformity. Let it be hoped also that it would not become a question between parties. The point at issue was one of too great importance to be made a theme of party contention; and if he had on this occasion spoken with more decision than, perhaps, he was justified in doing, it was because he felt strongly on the subject. In listening to the able officers of the Company who had given evidence before the Committee, he had become fully sensible of his own ignorance; but he had derived yet another lesson from the same source—he had learnt the importance of caution in making changes in India, and, above all, the necessity of preserving this great question from the blasting influence of party triumph, for party objects.
§ SIR HERBERT MADDOCK
said, that notwithstanding the arguments which had been urged, and the high authorities that had been cited, he had heard nothing that had shaken the conviction he had formerly expressed, that it would be more advisable to postpone legislation on India, at least until next year, than to pass such a measure as the right hon. Gentleman had proposed. From communications he had had with persons connected with India, especially with the British Association of India in Calcutta, in reference to the appointment of a fit person as their agent to promote their views, he satisfied himself upon this point—that there was no expectation 1325 amongst the intelligent part of the community that there would be another Act passed for India during the present Session. The delay, so far from being dangerous, would have shown the people of India that the Legislature was disposed to proceed in this important matter with due deliberation. He would not, for himself, however, make any objection to the introduction of the Bill proposed by the Government, although he entertained some strong objections to many of its provisions. He was decidedly opposed to the system of a double government; notwithstanding all that he had heard in favour of the system of a double government; he was of opinion that by means of sufficient inquiry and consideration some plan might have been arranged which would have enabled the House to have avoided the necessity of that form of government. This point, however, not having been gained, he was bound to confess that the Bill now proposed to be introduced contained many points of improvement upon the existing system. The principal point which he wished to impress upon the House was, that even though it might be admitted that the name of the East India Company was to be continued, and that the proprietors of the East India Stock were still to be allowed to elect a certain proportion of the Directors, still, it was not proper or just that India should continue to be governed in the name of that Company. Every witness who had been examined on that point before the Committee had expressed himself of opinion that justice should hereafter in India be administered directly in the name of the Crown; and it would not be compatible with such a state of things that the Governor General should carry on the administration in the name of the East India Company. He disapproved of the continuance of the distinction between the civil and military services of the Crown and of the Company. It was true that the military servants of the East India Company received their commission from the Crown; but this was done only for the sake of convenience, in order to fix their relative rank, when serving in the field or at court-martial, with the officers of the Queen's army; and while he admitted that in the military service the rewards were distributed with equal liberality to both services, still in the civil service it had so happened that since the institution of the civil class of the Order of the Bath, only two of its members 1326 had been considered worthy of the consideration of the Crown. Hitherto no evil had resulted from governing the country in the name of the East India Company, in consequence of the absolute ignorance which had prevailed among the Natives of India as to the position and power of that body. There was something of the igno tum in magnifico connected with it. The discussions, however, which had recently taken place had rent asunder the veil which had shielded the real position of the Company from the public eye, and it was not now to be conceived that the people of India, who considered themselves the subjects of the Queen, would in future consent to be in subjection to a Company which possessed no real power. It was now high time, for many reasons, for the Crown to be directly represented in India. Among other reasons, he believed that the fidelity of the troops could not long be relied upon if they were to consider themselves merely as being subjected to the East India Company. The failures in the administration of justice, and in other matters which had been referred to, might, he believed, be attributed at times to the conduct of the Company, and at others to that of the Crown, while some of the most illustrious names connected with India, including those of Cornwallis and Monro, were associated with the greatest failures and errors. The proposal of the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control contemplated the formation of a new Legislative Council in Calcutta, a large proportion of which were to be permanent members. He doubted whether there would be sufficient business of a legislative nature to occupy much of the time of those officers. There was, however, one omission which he hoped to see supplied—no allusion had been made to the employment in that Council of any of the Natives of the country; and he had not the slightest hesitation in saying that if there was any position in which the most distinguished of the Natives could be placed with honour and advantage, it was that of legislating for their fellow-countrymen; and there were many Hindoo and Mussulman gentlemen in Bengal and other parts of India who were fully competent to take part in the discharge of such duties. He regretted to hear so accomplished a classical scholar as the right hon. Baronet speak as he had done in a tone of disparagement of the study of the ancient languages of India. The right hon. Gentleman spoke with apparent triumph of the 1327 Approaching extinction from the literature of the country of the antiquated Sanscrit and Arabic languages. He was surprised to find such an attack coming from so classical a scholar as the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the petition which he (Sir H. Maddock) presented some nights ago from the Hindoo inhabitants of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, which was signed by 4,000 or 5,000 persons. Now, that petition complained of a Court of Calcutta which was composed exclusively of Englishmen, who had no sympathy whatever in point of religion either with Mahomedans or Hindoos; they also complained of the Act of 1850, which they called the Missionary Act, and which they alleged was passed in utter violation of all engagements which had been made with the people of India since the time of Lord Cornwallis to the present day. The object of the Act they asserted to be to encourage converts from the Hindoo religion to Christianity at the expense of the rights of the Hindoos, who continued faithful to their original faith. By the Hindoo law, when a man died intestate the eldest son succeeded to his property, on which was entailed the performance of certain duties of a religious character which he alone could discharge. It was the firm belief of all Hindoos that much of their happiness for the future depended upon the faithful observance of this law. Before this Act of 1850 came into operation, any of the Hindoo relatives would have a share in all other property except this particular kind of property. The Act, however, to which he referred made the convert to Christianity entitled to a share of this ancestral property, the rights and duties pertaining to which he was no longer qualified to perform. This Act had given the greatest dissatisfaction to the natives of India, and they viewed it as a violation of all former engagements entered into with them, and a direct assault on their religion in favour of those who apostatised from it. He heard with regret the right hon. Gentleman give so decided an opinion that the principle of such a system was right, and that the Government should exercise the part of missionaries in proselytising the natives. As he understood the right hon. Gentleman, he bad defended the policy of this measure on the ground that when a Hindoo became a Christian it was right that he should enjoy every advantage he would otherwise have possessed, forgetting that the advantage conferred upon him was only his right 1328 so long as he remained an Hindoo. He asked the House whether it was becoming that a Government so constituted as the Government of India was, should make itself a partisan in legislating upon a subject of this kind? Was it right that the chief Minister of the Crown in India, in his place in that House, should express an opinion confirmatory of the apprehensions of the Hindoos, that this was the first step in their present policy, and that it was probable it would be followed by other steps of a similar character? He most sincerely trusted that the House would consider the question as one apart from all party considerations, and under the sole feeling that it was the duty of this country, to which by the inscrutable decrees of Providence a mighty empire had been given, so to regulate our councils as that they might be best adapted for promoting the benefit, happiness, and prosperity of India.
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
said, that he could not help feeling that from the course adopted with respect to the inquiry and proposed legislation, and from the little attention that had been paid to the various petitions from India, it would be thought throughout that country that sufficient care had not been taken of their interests and happiness by the British Government. In connexion with the question before them, he could not help looking at the composition of the Committee appointed to inquire into the Affairs of India. The Committee consisted of thirty-nine members, of whom thirty-one were either connected with the Government or with the East India Company, while of independent members, not connected with either, there were only eight. They had heard that night what were the views of the Chairman of the Committee with regard to this question; and everybody knew that when the Chairman of a Committee expressed decidedly a particular view, in which he was likely to be supported by a majority of the members, it was quite useless to bring witnesses before that Committee. It was an extraordinary fact, in connexion with the labours of this Committee, that having last year finished the question of the Home Government, it had been opened again, only three weeks ago, by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control. That certainly seemed to indicate that sufficient evidence had not been obtained on the subject of the Home Government; and yet the right 1329 hon. Gentleman brought forward his Bill before the Committee had reported on the subject, and before the evidence had been printed and had been placed in the hands of Members. Was the commonest Railway Bill ever treated with such disrespect? And yet this was a measure of the most transcendent importance, and one likely to influence the welfare of the human race more than any other that could come under the consideration of the House. As to the line of policy which should be pursued in the government of India, he had been able to form a very decided opinion from the opportunity which he had enjoyed of witnessing the beneficial effects produced by the liberal and impartial policy followed in the Russian Asiatic possessions. He had visited those countries while the old system, which we were still determined to pursue, was in existence, and also when the new system was introduced by the most able administrator of the time in Europe ten years ago. The latter had been crowned with the greatest success; and the result had been to increase the Russian influence throughout the whole of Asia. When he first went to the Caucasus, the nations subject to Russia, nearly fifty in number, were treated very much as we treated the people of India. There was the greatest discontent; and it was thought necessary to have a large army to preserve quiet. So careful had been the organisation of conspiracies, that they were prepared to assassinate every Russian officer in the capital; and information of the conspiracy was received the week before, not from any part of the country where it took place, but from St. Petersburgh. Prince Woronzow, who governed the whole of the province there, introduced an enlightened system of treatment, which it was to be hoped our Government would imitate; the excellent effects of this policy were abundantly evident, for the people had become so attached to him, that they would lay down their lives for him. Russia was now seeking to extend its power; and there was not a native of intelligence in India who did not know that he had a great deal more to hope from the policy of Russia than from the present policy of England. In the Russia dependencies, a chief who had sent in his submission but a short time, was invested with the highest offices of the State, and command in the army; and at this time, one of the most distinguished generals on which Russia counted was an Armenian—a man whom we should not 1330 admit to have an ensign's commission. His son might enter the Russian civil service, and might aspire to the highest offices-of the State; everything was open to him; there was no difference of creed, colour, or class; everything was thrown open with a generous policy, very different from ours. When the time came to choose between these two nations—which Sir John Macneil said would go on extending their circles till they must necessarily touch, and the same feeling prevailed throughout Asia, could we doubt which would be the succesful one? He had the strongest conviction on this point; and he knew that it was shared by many distinguished servants of the Company in India. No man could pass through a certain amount of experience and study the character of that people with his eyes open, without arriving at this conclusion. He could not conceive, therefore, a more important subject than, this; and that was the reason why he had deemed it his duty to direct towards it a larger share of his attention. He must say he had never heard such a continuation of misrepresentation from beginning to end in all his life as had fallen from the right hon Gentleman the President of the Board of Control and the hon. Member for Honiton on this subject; and he could not help observing that they were calculated to give a very false impression to the people of England, who, however, he hoped would study the subject for themselves, and not be guided by a Whig Minister whose policy in 1839 had brought neither success nor glory to this country. In answer to the taunt of the hon. Member for Honiton, that they did not consult the papers laid before Parliament, he would answer, in the first place, that with reference to the evidence taken before the Committee, it was evidence taken before a partial tribunal, and was treated in India as a mockery. He would, in the next place, quote from Kaye's History of Affghanistan a passage to prove in what way Indian papers were treated, and to show that no man in his senses could put any confidence in papers that came from the East India Company. Everything that told against their case was suppressed, and therefore he would never consent to consult their papers, but would draw information relative to this great "mystery of iniquity," as he must call it, from every quarter whence he could obtain it. It was well known that Russia and England were very near going to war for the possession of Affghanistan; and 1331 Sir Alexander Burnes was sent there to promote our interests. Dost Mahomed was favourable to the English; and when the Russian embassy came to Cabul, he was not well received, and his mission was notified to Sir Alexander Burnes. Sir Alexander represented Dost Mahomed as favourable to us; and his despatches and Dost Mahomed's letters were transmitted to the East India Company's Government. But they actually cut out everything that told against their case when the Affghan expedition was undertaken. They cut out everything that represented Dost Mahomed as favourable, and all Sir Alexander Barnes's representations against going to war with Affghanistan; and they garbled the evidence in such a way as to make it appear to the House and to the country that they had been forced into the war. It was only from a letter that was got after Sir A. Barnes's death, and a copy of his despatches that were in the hands of his father, and published, that the truth came out. He could not sufficiently express his abhorrence of the men who made these garbled statements, and who wilfully, elaborately, and maliciously bore false witness against their neighbour. The character of Dost Mahomed had been lied away, and the character of Burnes had been lied away. For these reasons he (Mr. Seymour) put no faith in any document sent forth to the world either by the Government or the East India Company. He would now turn to the misrepresentations of the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) in reference to the police. The hon. Baronet had sneered at the hon. Member for Manchester for having read the report of a case of two indigo planters who quarrelled together, and had said it was unfair to represent a common police report as showing the normal state of affairs in Bengal. He (Mr. Seymour) would, however, quote a short extract from a petition of the inhabitants of Calcutta, showing the state of things there, and, though the President of the Board of Control had treated such petitions with con-tempt, yet he could not conceive that three gentlemen of high respectability like Sir Maddock, Sir E. Ryan, and Mr. Cameron, would have taken charge of a petition of this kind unless they believed it contained the truth. The petition stated that the police of the lower provinces totally failed in preventing crime, in apprehending offenders, or protecting life and property, but had become an engine of oppression, 1332 a means of injuring rivals and destroying enemies. The hon. Member for Honiton, who sneered throughout the whole of his speech, taunted the hon. Member for Manchester, also, for not quoting from Mr. Marshman's evidence, instead of from the Friend of India, Now, if the hon. Member for Manchester had quoted from Mr. Marshman's evidence, he would have found in it something better for his purpose than any extract he had read from the Friend of India. Mr. Marshman was asked, "Are dacoities (gangs of robbers) very frequent in Bengal?" His reply was—Very much so; more especially in the districts immediately around the Presidency. There used not to be, and perhaps at the present time there is scarcely, a night in which there are not two, three, or four dacoities perpetrated, and they are almost always committed with impunity. Two or three years ago the magistrates in five or six of the districts around Calcutta were obliged to confess that no man possessed of property to the value of 20l. or 30l. could retire to rest with a certainty of not being plundered of it by the dacoits before the morning. There is, therefore, a great insecurity of property, and property is felt to be exceedingly insecure by the natives themselves in the districts around Calcutta.Was this a proper state of things? These occurrences took place, be it observed, in the oldest of their Indian settlements, and this was the state of things which the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Honiton vaunted so highly. He (Mr. Seymour) had been through almost every district and country from this island to the beginning of Central Asia; and he was not acquainted with any one district where property and life were so insecure as they appeared to be under the Government of India in Bengal, or where criminal justice was so ill administered. He heard the President of the Board of Control deny, that any gentlemen were appointed under twenty-one years of age as judges, and quoted the authority of Sir G. Clerk in support of his denial. When the right hon. Gentleman was making that statement Sir Erskine Perry was sitting under the gallery, and Sir E. Perry sent a message to an hon. Member stating that his experience differed from that of Sir G. Clerk on the point. Upon this subject Mr. Marshman said—That the youth of the magistrates; who are called 'boy magistrates' by the natives, from there being many of them under twenty-five years old, certainly was one cause of the inefficiency of the police in the lower Provinces, and that the natives have not the same confidence in them as they have in men of greater experience.[An Hon. MEMBER said, that the quota- 1333 tion referred to magistrates, and not to judges.] Well, if the hon. Member thought that magistrates might be appointed under twenty-one years of age, he entirely disagreed from him. It was atrocious in India, where the authorities had such enormous power, to place the property of any of Her Majesty's subjects at the control of sons and nephews of directors who had not yet reached the age of discretion. Mr. Marshman again said, that when the sessions judge and the magistrate happened to be at variance, the decision of the latter was regularly appealed against, and in most cases reversed; but when they happened to be on the very best terms, the appeal was almost a farce; but in both cases the interests of the country suffered. And this was the government which was to be continued without alteration by the President of the Board of Control. One might go on quoting for ever in reference to the failings of the East India Company, for every part of their administration seemed equally bad. The statements made as to the general ill condition of the Indian population had been disputed; and he would recall to the recollection of the House how, in like manner during the discussions on the Corn Bill, the wretched state of the agricultural labourer in England, living on 7s. a week, was denied. The fact was, that when men's interests were concerned, it was unsafe to take them as witnesses. But the India Committee had heard witnesses of no other character, and the evidence of Mr. Sullivan was rejected a few months ago because his opinion was known to be adverse to the Company. He had heard of witnesses leaving the Committee with indignation, and with their opinion of public men lowered, because questions which seemed likely to turn against the Company were not put to them. A friend of his engaged in commercial transactions had informed him that money in the limits of the Supreme Court was to be had at 5 or 6 per cent, but that out of those limits, and the moment the Company's jurisdiction began, the interest was 12 or 14 per cent. These were facts, and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control might have made himself acquainted with them if he had liked; but he did not choose to bring forward anything except what was favourable to the East India Company. It was well known that the noble Lord the Member for London determined two years ago to continue the Company without any inquiry at all, and it was only in consequence 1334 of the questions of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) that he consented to the appointment of a Committee. It was the fashion to sneer at the hon. Member for Manchester for the pains he had taken to inform himself on this subject, and to look at the hon. Member as a discontented Radical, who sought nothing but the subversion of established authorities. But that was not the light in which the hon. Member was regarded by the late Sir Robert Peel. That statesman knowing the interest and the information acquired on the Indian question by his hon. Friend, had the good sense frequently to consult his hon. Friend; and yet he was excluded from sitting on the Indian Committee. The Members of that Committee were for the most part safe men, on whom the Government could rely. The Bill was not likely to be palatable in India, any more than it was palatable in this country, where of the metropolitan press only two newspapers, the Globe and the Morning Chronicle, approved of it. Ever since the East India Company had become possessed of India, their government had been one continued system of maladministration: and as the noble Lord, on a previous occasion, said that India had been well governed for seventy years, he begged to read the following quotation from Mr. Macaulay, Life of Olive, in reference to Bengal:—The misgovernment of the English was carried to a point such as seemed hardly compatible with the existence of society. They forced the natives to buy dear and sell cheap. They insulted with impunity the tribunals, the police, and the fiscal authorities of the country. Enormous fortunes were thus rapidly accumulated at Calcutta, while 30,000,000 of human beings were reduced to the extremity of wretchedness. They had been accustomed to live under tyranny, but never under tyranny like this. They found the little finger of the Company thicker than Surajah Dowlah's loins. Under their old masters they had at least one resource;— when the evil became insupportable the people rose, and pulled down the Government. But the English Government was not to be so shaken off. That Government, oppressive as the most oppressive form of barbarian despotism, was strong with all the strength of civilisation. It resembled the government of evil genii rather than the government of human tyrants.That was in 1763. Nevertheless, he would presently come to more recent information; and he would read an account which particularly applied to the present day, because the Indian civil service still remained, and India was exploited for the sake of 800 sons, nephews, and relations of the Directors. [The hon. Gentleman 1335 here quoted a passage from Burke, to the effect that the English in India were nothing but a nation of placemen; and that the fundamental principle of the whole of the East India Company's system was monopoly in some sense or other. Referring to later authority, the hon. Member quoted an extract from Kaye's History, in which that writer observed that the servants of the Company for nearly two centuries had regarded the natives of India as so many dark-faced and dark-souled Gentiles, whom it was their mission to overreach in business, and overcome in war.] That was a pretty picture of this paternal Government! There was a circumstance noticed in Mr. Kaye's book which showed the estimation in which the English were held by nations in India not under our rule. That writer stated that there was a race in India who worshipped devils, among whom was an Englishman, and upon his altar they offered spirits and cigars. Mr. Shore, who was referred to as a high authority both by Mr. Mill and Dr. Wilson, writing in 1834, stated that there had been a diminution of the kindly feeling between the natives and the English, and he said that the chief object of the British administration appeared to have been the exaltation of the few upon the depression of the many. The hon. Gentleman quoted from Mr. Shore passages in which the exclusion, as far as possible, of natives from all share in the government, and the idea that the natives were not fit to be trusted, and were almost incapable of performing any but the most inferior duties —an idea arising out of the desire of sending as much money as possible to England, and consequently of not employing natives of respectability, to whom it would be necessary to give a liberal salary, was spoken of, and Mr. Shore said that the reason why the Company kept things so secret was, that they dreaded exposure, well knowing that if the people of England were aware of their proceedings, they would not sanction them for a single day. That was the account Mr. Shore gave some time ago; and as to the present system of the Government, and the necessity of altering that which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control thought such perfection, there was an excellent observation recently made by a very talented writer, Mr. Chapman, who said—The Government of India is like a splendid team, every horse excellent, but altogether so abominably harnessed as to be deprived of half 1336 its strength; insomuch, indeed, as hardly to be able to draw home even the harvest on which it is itself to live.And he said, speaking of the Government of India, after an eloquent passage about its being nothing but paper, paper, paper, which was a check on the improvement of the soil of India—Vast heaps of humanity, festering in compulsory idleness, encumber the soil of India.…Idle India, let alone, may change in time to a mountain of gunpowder, which any wild spark may ignite.…Idle India, set to work, would be our treasure, our glory, our inseparable friend.Several things had been asked, but no answer had ever been made to anything brought forward against the Company. Now, he wanted to know whether Mr. Kaye's book had been paid for directly or indirectly out of the funds of the Company—that was, out of the taxes of the people of India?—for there was a rumour to that effect. There was a gentleman— Mr. Mountstewart Elphinstone—who wrote an excellent history of India. He afterwards wrote a continuation of that history, which lay now in his closet finished, but not published; and what was the reason? He could not vouch for the fact himself; but the reason, as reported, was, that the East India Company having heard that it was not so favourable to them and their views as they could have wished, employed another gentleman (Mr. Thornton), whoso name had never been heard of before, to write a history of India, which was thrown into the market in anticipation of Mr. El-phinstone's work, at the expense of the Company, and to be disseminated throughout England and India to prevent Mr. Elphinstone's history from being read. It was stated that the Company expended 7,000l.. in disseminating that work, which was so bad that it was now a drug in the market. In consequence of this the public was deprived of the satisfaction of having the continuation of Mr. Elphinstone's work, because he was a poor man, and could not afford to publish his history at a loss. Such was the mode in which the patronage of the Company was distributed, and such was the way in which the money of the natives of India was spent—namely, in getting up and diffusing works at their expense for their calumniation. He might go on to quote instance after instance of the like character, but he would forbear. He thought the House of Commons had never been condemned to hear so low a 1337 tone taken on Indian affairs as that which was taken by the right hon. Gentleman. Nothing was said by the right hon. Gentleman of the 100,000,000 of persons affected by this legislation;—he looked at it as if the only interests concerned were the House of Commons, and the single room of the Board of Control, and as if everything that did not concern these was totally foreign to his office. When he contrasted the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with the high moral tone of Lord Glenelg in 1833, he felt ashamed of the difference. [Sir CHARLES WOOD: I am much obliged to you.] The right hon. Gentleman need not feel under any obligation to him; for the present was an occasion on which he felt bound to state facts, and he could not help contrasting the material tone adopted by the right hon. Gentleman when he addressed the House, with the enlightened spirit which animated Lord Glenelg, whose mind seemed filled with those noble aspirations which sprang from an enlightened Christianity, and who expressed a hope that the gates of that country which had fallen into our hands by the gift of Providence as was said—though he (Mr. Seymour) was afraid not a little by our crimes—would be opened, and the Natives and Englishmen might unite together in exalting those vast seats of civilisation, where the human race might be as happy as they were in the infancy of the world. But the right hon. Gentleman never went through any such question in his speech; and, if time allowed, he (Mr. Seymour) could show that hardly did the right hon. Gentleman observe upon anything that had been said by preceding speakers without misrepresenting it. The case of Mr. Kaye, referred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, the right hon. Gentleman had totally misrepresented—of course unintentionally, and he seemed disposed to turn everything into a sneer; and, although one hon. Gentleman said his hon. Friend had made up his speech of scraps and patches, taken from magazines and newspapers, yet his hon. Friend had not quoted so many as the right hon. Gentleman; and, moreover, he had always quoted the highest authority, such as Mr. Campbell, Mr. Kaye, Mr. Cameron, the Friend of India, and the evidence taken before the Indian Cotton Committee. As to the state of the law, too, in India, what would be thought of the state of the law in this country if the hon. and learned Member for Southampton could write such a passage as this—that "through the 1338 length and breadth of India those who occupied the judicial bench were totally incompetent to the decent fulfilment of their duties; and, so long as the present system continued, there was no hope of amelioration. Matters must go on from bad to worse, until in the lowest depth there could be no lower bottom still." Yet such was the evidence before the Indian Committee given by Mr. Norton, Vakêel, or Attorney General, of Madras. Mr. Prinsep, himself an East India Director, acknowledged before the Committee that the administration of justice in India admitted and required improvement. "It is impossible to deny," said Mr. Prinsep, "that these complaints have much foundation in fact, and are supported by the general opinion of the Native and European community in India; and yet, to his astonishment, the right hon. Gentleman greatly extolled the statement, and wondered how anybody could, after it, denounce the administration of the law in India. Before the Committee, Sir George Clerk, in giving his evidence, said that the idea of Europeans being corruptible was thought impossible in India; but by the next mail arrived the news that one of the judges of the Sudder Adawlut had been dismissed under very suspicious circumstances, to say the least; and that afforded an example of the way in which the servants in the civil service were treated. However gross might be their delinquencies, they were scarcely ever dismissed the service. The judge to whom he referred was dismissed on the ground of debt; but there was a serious accusation against him, and until it was cleared up it was allowable to suppose there were other grounds of complaint against him. But he was not dismissed altogether; he was removed to another office in the country. He did not think the government of that Company had been a good one. It was stated that the Madras petition was full of inaccuracies; but, supposing it were so, when a complaint of so grave a character was made, a statesman anxious to go to the bottom of the question, instead of turning a deaf ear to the petition, ought to have said something to alleviate the anxious feelings of the Natives of India; he might have said he was well aware of the settlement system in Madras being open to very serious objection, and it would be his earnest wish to do everything for the happiness of the people. That would have removed many an anxious feeling on the part of the Natives. Sir G. Clerk was asked before 1339 the Lords Committee whether it was true that pauperism universally prevailed in the Company's dominions, and his answer was, "only where the ryotwar system prevailed;" but that system prevailed over a district containing 30,000,000 of inhabitants. And Colonel Sykes said the land was over-assessed, and that it was of little or rather of no value at all in Madras. But what must be the state of the people when that was the case? They must be in a degraded state; and when that was so it was impossible to praise the goodness of the Government. The hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Thomas Baring) said that one of the great blessings the people had under the British Government, at least, was the security to life and property; but it appeared that in Madras they had no property, and in Bengal it was not secure. Great credit was taken for the East India Company that nothing besides salt was taxed; but in point of fact the people had nothing else that could be taxed. The hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg) objected to quotations from newspapers; but as he had set the example of quoting from the Calcutta Review, he (Mr. D. Seymour) would venture to refer to that publication. He would preface that, however, with a reference to the Cawnpore statistics, issued on the authority of the Government itself, as to the state of the North of India. Now, on the general average there were 7,500,000 acres at 18s., and 500,000 at 24s., producing altogether 14,868,588 shillings, for the maintenance of 583,460 persons, besides the cost of cultivation, and that gave only 11. 5s. 6d. per head. That was the average in the most favourable district of India, and which was sometimes described as the paradise of the Company's dominions. Mr. Campbell said it was absurd to suppose that the people of India did not want money as well as the people of other countries; adding that they were very fond of rich clothing and ornaments, and that early travellers spoke of the women and children whom they had seen in the villages as adorned with such appendages. But he must touch upon the question of irrigation. He would admit that the Ganges Canal was a great work; but he thought the principle upon which that work was undertaken was false. English capital was required, and he had not the least doubt, that if the system of government at home were simplified, and there was only a controlling power here, the government of India being left to be carried on 1340 there, English capital to a very large amount would find its way to that country, and the aspect of Hindostan would be changed enormously before ten years had passed. He should like to know whether it was or was not the case that two reports which Colonel Cotton had written condemnatory of the Government, had been required to be withdrawn. Here was a very grave imputation upon the Government. It had been continually represented to them, from 1792 down to 1852, that the outlay of a very small amount of money would have executed those works which would have prevented a famine; yet, until a few years ago, they had not been completed. He knew very well what Colonel Cotton thought of that matter. There was another most important subject to be touched on, which was the civil service; and he must say that he thought some attention should have been paid to the Bombay petition. It began with the old complaints about the bad education of the persons engaged in judicial employments—their not being required or expected to prepare themselves for the judicial office by any previous study. They said, that even in cases of extreme misconduct they were exempt from all fear of punishment; that as they were regarded as the privileged governors of the country, the gravest errors were only visited with expostulation, or, at the utmost, with removal from one office to another; and that while the present exclusive system was continued, it would be impossible to secure efficiency in any department'—and so on. These were the hackneyed complaints, so he dismissed them: but they were most important ones; and any person but the right hon. President of the Board of Control, and the hon. Member for Honiton, would consider that they should be entered into fully and seriously, and should not be sneered at and passed over. A well-informed writer in the Calcutta Review, upon this subject, said—Out of an expenditure of 20,000,000l. sterling, 6,800,000l. is the annual disbursement for the European agency, civil and military, employed in the Anglo-Indian empire. The 3,500,000l. civil service the higher classes and more intelligent natives feel would all have flowed into their own hands had the government not been in ours; and accordingly it is this part of our system which excites both most observation and most ill-will among the aspiring.Upon this, let him observe, that people always aspired when they thought they suffered injustice; and he asked the noble Lord the Member for London to compare 1341 the present state of things at this time in India with the condition of this country prior to the passing of the Reform Bill. He would ask the noble Lord whether the Dragoons and the Six Acts, or the Reform Bill, had done the most to quiet this country? The conduct of the Government at that time, which had been so much influenced by the noble Lord, might serve as a model now; and he entreated the chief of the Liberal party, or rather him who had been so (for he thought that it was very much owing to the conduct of the noble Lord that the Liberal party had been much divided), to think of his early life, and to bring in a measure of reform for India such as had proved so eminently successful in this country. They no longer heard complaints that seats in this House were not open to the aspiring. The same writer, who he thought could be no other than Mr. Kaye, from the acquaintance which he displayed with his subject, went on to say—The Natives see 3,500,000l.. distributed among a class very limited in numbers, not amounting to 2,000 for all India, which enjoys a monopoly of all posts of trust and power, and which, if an average were struck on the total of civil employés, covenanted and uncovenanted, costs the State 1,1501. annually for each man of the favoured body. Each European officer costs a trifle upwards of 412l.. per annum, not one-fourth the civilian. It is true, by Act of Parliament the highest offices are open to all; but though the law Imperial imposes no disabilities, the law Directorial of patronage is in complete antagonism to the Act of Parliament in this respect; and, practically, a Native cannot hope for anything higher than to be admitted to compete with the European uncovenanted servants for the charges of Amin and Sudder Amin.It was given in evidence also by a Native, the only one who had been examined by the Committee, that, while the covenanted civil servants received pensions, there were none given to native functionaries, many of whose widows and families were in consequence in great distress. He regretted having been obliged to trouble the House with so many extracts; but upon a subject of this nature much must depend upon authorities, and as many had been cited on the other side, he was anxious to show that there were others, equally important, who could be quoted on his side of the question. And when the Government saw such men as Mr. Cameron and the hon. Member for Rochester (Sir H. Maddock) advocating the change which they saw must come, it ought to have some weight with the Government. He believed that 1342 far more than half of those upon the Government benches saw that this was only a temporary measure—that it was intended merely to break the fall of the Directors— and that the policy of the Government was to keep them up as a "buffer" as long as possible. When this measure should be granted, however, public opinion, led by those high moral responsibilities which were being asserted among the nation, and by that acquisition of knowledge which the country were acquiring upon Indian questions, would not permit the Court of Directors to be retained for a much longer period. If these changes, then, were seen, to be inevitable, he asked, would not the agitation go on just as much to get rid of the measure which the right hon. Gentleman was now introducing, as if he had delayed legislation for a year? Had the right hon. Gentleman done that, however, he would have avoided the agitation in England which would infallibly take place until an institution was removed which was thought to be unconstitutional, and until the Ministry which enjoyed the power of governing the Indian empire should be obliged to take upon themselves that responsibility which they had been at so much trouble to evade. [Mr. HASTIE: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member for Paisley had better address the House in support of the views he took; but he assured the hon. Member that no town in Scotland would benefit more from a satisfactory settlement of this question than his own constituents. His constituents, indeed, ought to oblige him to take a greater interest in this question than he seemed willing to do, for a change would be indirectly of great benefit to them. He had endeavoured to show his reasons for differing from the right hon. President of the Board of Control in the opinion that the government of the East India Company had been successful during the last twenty years. He found a Government which had neglected the administration of justice; which had debarred the Natives from employment; which had done its best to prevent the fusion of races which ought to follow when one nation was settled among another; which was responsible for defects of police, and a contracted state of internal trade; and which had placed obstacles of every description in the way of the progress of British commerce; and he thought, upon all these grounds, that the Government of India had not been a good one, and he had done his best to take the hon. Member for Honiton at his 1343 word when be said, that if it could be proved that the Company had not done their utmost for the country, he would admit that they had not a leg left to stand upon.
§ MR. ARCHIBALD HASTIE
said, that as direct allusion had been made to him for having interrupted the hon. Gentleman, he would say he had done so because be had never heard such a tirade of fault-findings. But all he meant was to ask the hon. Gentleman what be intended to do, or what he wished to recommend, in order that India might be properly governed? Everything it was possible to say against the government of India for the last twenty years had been said, but no remedy had been suggested. As he represented a large manufacturing constituency, be was anxious, before the existing government was withdrawn, to understand the machinery that was to be substituted; but not a word had he heard upon the subject. Hon. Members had read tirades against the Indian Government, which came mainly from disappointed aspirants—some from lawyers, and others from editors of newspapers, who wrote to gain a livelihood; but not a single proof had been given. He was old enough to remember the first throwing open of the trade to India. In the year 1812 he was one among those who were called agitators and discontented, because they wanted to throw open the trade. It was thrown open in 1813, at which period the exports of cotton manufactures to India from this country amounted to only 130,000l. a year. At present they amounted to upwards of 5,000.000L. It was said that the East India Company had been the cause of throwing millions out of employment; but the real cause of millions being thrown out of employment was the constituency of the hon. Member for Manchester. They kept a duty on the importation of Indian manufactures into this country of 60 per cent, while they obliged India to receive theirs at 5 per cent. The hon. Member might well tell the House that his constituents were deeply interested in this question: they were interested in underselling the Natives. Dr. Bowring once stated in that House that the effect of throwing open the trade to India had been, that the plains of Dacca were blanched with the bones of the poor handloom weavers. But he had risen mainly to say that before destroying the existing Government, from which the people of India had derived enormous advantages, the House ought to know what was sug- 1344 gested in its stead. Hon. Members opposite proposed nothing. He should be extremely happy to see their plan, and certainly, if he found it better than that of Her Majesty's Government, he would adopt it.
, like his hon. Friend who had just sat down, wished, before the present Government was destroyed, to see what was to be substituted for it; and he contended also, that the House ought to be informed of the result of the measure of 1833. The question, indeed, was, whether the Government established by the Act of 1833, which vested the management of India in the Company, had produced the results which were expected. Prior to that be did not want to go, because he regarded any observations relating to an earlier period as wholly inapplicable. He believed that much that had been said with regard to the past government of India was true. Much that might have been done had been left undone; but in his opinion much more had been done than some parties were willing to admit. He considered the present attempt to legislate for the government of India, while they were in perfect ignorance of all that had taken place since 1833, was premature and unstatesmanlike. It would have been wiser if they had followed the course pursued in 1831–32–33, and inquired closely into every department connected with the government of India. There ought to have been an inquiry last year and the year before. The Government had been asked twenty times since the Session commenced as to their intentions with respect to India, and until the 1st of June they refused all information, giving only evasive answers. He construed that evasion to mean that they would defer permanent legislation, and merely bring in a continuation Bill to 1854 or 1855, to enable full inquiry to be made by the Committee appointed on the subject. He could hardly believe that the Government had any serious idea of legislating permanently for India. On all other occasions the Government of the day had consulted with the Court of Directors before adopting any measures to be laid be-fore the House; but on this occasion the first communication made to the Court of Directors was only made on the 1st of June. In the letter of that date the Government informed the authorities in Leadenhall-street that it was intended to bring in a Bill entirely to change the nature of the Court of Directors. What the answer of the Court of Directors to that communication had been, 1345 the House did not know, for, departing from the rule which was generally so strictly observed, the Government had neglected, or wilfully refrained, to lay the correspondence on the table of the House. He deprecated strongly the bringing forward a measure of this character suddenly, as though some great emergency had arisen. No paltry parish Bill was ever attempted to be passed through Parliament with such a degree of precipitancy, for a parish would require notices, and here no notice had been given. With regard to that Court he differed very much from some of his hon. Friends, for he had been taught by experience that they had conferred very great benefits on the Natives of India. In former years a good deal was said about the wealth of India, but now nothing was talked about but the misery and wretchedness of the people. The cause of that misery and wretchedness ought to be inquired into, for the purpose of showing whose fault it was. If misery had been caused by misgovernment, time ought to be given to ascertain by whom that misgovernment had been committed—to use a common phrase, to put the saddle on the right horse. He had no hesitation in stating that the Committee appointed to make those inquiries was not a fair and impartial Committee. He would only select one of many instances to prove that assertion. It was his desire that every complaint alleged against the Company's government, either here or in India, should be inquired into; and knowing, as he did, how important it was that the Natives of India should not only be well treated, but satisfied that their complaints were not disregarded, he moved that the parties from Bombay and Madras who had presented petitions to Parliament should be advised that the Committee were ready to receive evidence in support of these various allegations. Out of 17 Members in the Committee, only one supported his Motion. The Committee, it was true, decided that they would hear any evidence that might be adduced on the matters referred to in the petition; but of course one man would not interfere with the facts stated in another man's petition, and these parties were not likely to come forward without being summoned; and as these gentlemen lived in a distant country, that was another ground why there should be no hasty or premature legislation. He was glad to find that the hon. Member for Rochester (Sir H. Maddock) concurred with him in the opinion that the Natives of India would not be satisfied un- 1346 less they were heard; and as that hon. Member had been Deputy Governor of Bengal and President of the Council of India, he could not be supported by any higher authority. He wished to know what emergency had occured to prematurely hurry on this measure. He regretted deeply that Her Majesty's Government should have taken that course, and he still hoped the House would establish its character for fairness, and not allow themselves to be led blindfold into hasty and ill-digested legislation. He had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, and it appeared to him to be most laudatory of the Court of Directors, and of the benefits which they had secured for the people of India; and yet the right hon. Gentleman concluded by proposing to destroy the system he so highly approved of. Some hon. Members seemed to desire to place India on the same footing as our other colonies; but no one could have attended to the history of the last twenty years without observing that, whilst in almost every one of our colonies there had been open rebellion in consequence of misgovernment and mismanagement, in India peace and order had been maintained. Was that accident, or was it the result of good management? For his part he attributed it in no small degree to the care and attention of the Court of Directors, and he should be sorry indeed to see the colonial system of government applied to India. One of the greatest faults which could be laid against any administration was charged against the Directors of the East India Company—namely, financial difficulties. But that was one of the great reasons why he was not prepared to legislate; for he was most anxious to inquire how those financial difficulties had arisen, and why the debt had increased 28,000,000l. since 1833. He believed that an inquiry would establish the fact that the debt had been contracted by the interference of Her Majesty's Government, who had done their best to waste the resources of India. He considered the step they were about to take a most important one, It involved the interests of the country to an incalculable extent, and it touched very intimately the character of that House. Once taken it could not be recalled. We had lost territories of importance before; it was not impossible we might lose them again; and if the same principles of government were applied to India, which had been applied to Canada, the Cape, and other Colonies, he would not give ten years' 1347 purchase for our possession of that country. He believed inquiry would show that all the causes of financial difficulties, all the waste of treasure, and all the abuses so loudly condemned, could be traced to the Board of Control—the same authority to which it was now proposed to transfer the greater part of the government of India, abolishing altogether the check which the Court of Directors at present constituted. The Court of Directors were by law guardians on behalf of the proprietors of India stock, and as one of those proprietors, he said, if India were lost, the revenues of India were lost also, and the Government of England stood pledged to provide by 1874, the repayment of a capital of 12,000,000l.., towards which 2,000,000l.. were set aside to accumulate in 1833, and, if he read the Act aright, to provide also for the payment of dividends up to that period. In publications he had seen, it was suggested that the Government should borrow, at 3½ per cent, and pay off the East India proprietors, who were receiving 10½ per cent; but that could not be done. The Act of 1833, in consideration of the Company giving up all its possessions and property to the public, secured not only the repayment of the capital, but the 630,000l.. which he believed was the amount of the annual dividend. He defied the Government to dispense with the Board of Directors, and, therefore, he was surprised at the proposal to degrade them; for it was a degradation to take away the patronage, which was one of the great objects to induce the Directors to devote themselves to the government of India, and to add 200*. a year to their salaries. He hoped there was not a Director but would spurn such an insult to them—such an insult to the people of India—that they should continue to pay their servants 3,000l.. or 4,000l.. a year, and their masters 500l.. a year. If the right hon. Gentleman had desired to effect a beneficial change in the constitution of the Court, he should have extended the right to vote to all holders of 5001. of stock. There might have been cases of partiality, favour, and abuse, and probably malversation might have been tolerated by the Court of Directors, but that was not the general rule; and he took it on himself to say the whole tenor of their despatches was to govern India wisely, honestly, and for the benefit of India. The Court of Directors was divided into committees upon different questions, such as the army, the navy, law, and finance, and 1348 not a single paper came home but was submitted to the committee specially appointed to watch and control that branch of government to which it referred. To that system of circumspection he attributed the regularity and order which reigned in India; but this system was to be swept away instead of amended. If he had been asked to suggest a new scheme of government, he should not have taken that course, he should have advised them to give to the Court of Directors more power and more influence. He would have enacted that no Director should be appointed that could not give his whole time to the duties of his office, and that he should possess qualifications only to be acquired by a lengthened residence in India. He would have removed the gross abuse which enabled a clique to elect any one they pleased, bankers and others, who were wholly incompetent for the office; and he would have extended the number of electors, by giving the 500l. stockholders the power of voting. Changes like these would certainly prove highly beneficial; but the right hon. Gentleman proposed instead to extend the authority of the Board of Control, the said board being generally appointed without any reference to the acquaintance of its members with the affairs of India. The Board of Control had incapacitated the Court of Directors from doing much that they had desired to do for the benefit of the people. Still he said time was wanted to acquire more complete information. India had been made a political football. It had been made use of for political purposes. He could prove that, but for the wars, India would have had a surplus revenue since 1835, and those wars had been undertaken and prosecuted because the Court of Directors had not that check upon the Board of Control which they ought to have had. The Court of Directors were kept in perfect ignorance until the money had been squandered, and they were called on to pay the bills. From the evidence of Mr. Melville, the secretary to the Court, they appeared to have received no information concerning the Affghan war until it was both begun and terminated. Not one of the Directors had approved or given their sanction to the war in Scinde, and that province was conquered and annexed before they knew anything about it. In the third instance, the war in the Punjaub, Lord Hardinge deferred hostilities as long as possible; but they came at last, and the Court of Directors 1349 knew nothing until it was all settled. He wished hon. Gentlemen had the opportunity of reading the secret correspondence of 1833. They would there find some very able papers, making demands on behalf of the proprietors that would have checked and controlled this extravagant expenditure. But the great evil in the management of Indian affairs was secrecy. After giving up the China trade, publicity was assured to the Company. But this Bill would make things worse. It would keep all the means of doing evil, and none of the means correcting the abuses which already existed. By the wars which he had enumerated no less than 26,000,000l.. of money had been wasted by the Board of Control, over which the Board of Directors had no power whatever, although they were made by the Act of Parliament trustees for the proprietors to see the payment of the dividends. The dividends had been paid by them, although he doubted whether they ought to have been, there being no surplus revenue in consequence of the debt that had been incurred. It was, therefore, clear that the Court of Directors had violated the Act of Parliament in paying the dividends. India had, in fact, been ruined by wars, and it ought not to be permitted to any single man to have the power to involve the country in war. The first Burmese war, under Lord Amherst, cost the Company 13,000,000l. of money. His hon. Friend near him said all this was the result of a bad system. It was so, and now was the time to correct it. On the 7th of June, 1833, the Court of Directors came to the following resolution: —That this Court desires to express the opinion they have so repeatedly expressed, that some measure of publicity, to be exercised as a rule, not as a privilege, is necessary to preserve to the Directors, in the altered state of things, that degree of independence which they regard as necessary to perform their part in the government of India; and the Court entertain the confident expectation that Parliament will make suitable provision accordingly.Lord Glenelg said, "I agree that should be the case; you have it secured already, and you may rest satisfied." But publicity was not secured. The Secret Committee, consisting of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and senior Director, were consulted upon questions of peace and war by the President of the Board of Control; but an oath was administered to them not to divulge to another member of the Court what transpired without permission of the President of the Board of Control, and as he 1350 never gave his permission nothing could be known. The consequence was that the twenty-one other Directors were kept in utter ignorance, and orders were sent out to waste the resources of the Company, contrary, perhaps, to the express advice of the Secret Committee, and without their sanction. How it was the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) did not propose to alter such a state of things, was to him quite incomprehensible. It was that system of secrecy which had been the bane and ruin of India. Wars had occurred that had absorbed the revenue, and prevented all beneficial public works—such as the formation of canals, the irrigation of the land, the construction of roads, &c. The capabilities of India had consequently never been brought forth. He contended that no single man —-irresponsible as was the President of the Board of Control—ought ever to have the power of destroying the resources of a great country like India. In India itself the Governor General had to take the advice of every one of his Council, and if they differed from him in opinion they registered the reasons why they differed, to be sent home and judged of here; but if, after hearing all their opinions, the Governor General still entertained the same views, he was at liberty to carry them out upon his own responsibility; and the same system should be established in the Home Government between the President of the Board of Control and the Court of Directors. The President of the Board of Control ought to be the Minister for India. He would raise his position. His emoluments should be equal to those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were worth a salary of 5,000l. a year, the President of the Board of Control ought to be worth as much. He would raise his position in the eyes of the world, and make him responsible for his administration, with the Court of Directors as a council and a cheek upon him. He had now stated the principal grounds on which he rested his objection to the whole of these proceedings. They would be doing injustice, not simply to the Court of Directors, but to the people of India, by allowing a system so mismanaged in India to go on without check or control. They had been allowing a debt to be contracted and gradually increased until it had amounted to 35,000,000l. If they allowed India to be managed by political agency, like other colonies, that 1351 empire would soon be lost to us. It was on that account that he was anxious to remove the abuses now existing, in order that he might preserve India to this country. He would therefore remove such power of abuse, and take the benefit of the Court of Directors as a council, though he might be told that, there being thirty of them, they could not keep a secret. Did they not, he asked, keep a secret of the recall of Lord Ellenborough for a whole year? Did it ever transpire in that year? He denied, then, that this objection would hold. But at the same time he did not want secrecy—he wanted publicity. By publicity many errors would be avoided, and it was only owing to secrecy that the Court of Directors were charged by many intelligent persons with those abuses and negligences which were in truth attributable to the baneful influence of the Board of Control. Where irrigation had been stopped, it was by reason of the conduct pursued by the Board of Control; where the formation of roads and other public works had been interfered with, it was by the authority of the Board of Control, and not by the Government of India. The Court of Directors had been anxious to carry out all those public works. Great undertakings had been stopped by Lord Ellenborough, in order to wage that useless war which was now a millstone around the neck of the country. And now they were about to throw the proprietors into a position of doubt as to whether India could even he kept, and of course, therefore, whether they would or would not lose their dividends: their principal they would get out of the guarantee fund. He said that this was too hasty a measure, and that they were bringing in a Bill ignorant of all the facts charged against them with regard to the administration of justice. He protested against what was to be done to continue the exclusion of natives; the best part of the evidence taken upstairs showed that natives might be, and ought to be, trusted with offices. He thought the measure ought to be opposed in every stage. He thought it was a mad proceeding. He held that natives ought to be heard, and the people of India who complained ought to be heard, and he was confident that, whilst there was no fear from delay, there was great fear from such a crude measure as this.
After a few words of explanation from Mr. BLACKETT,
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir Charles Wood, Lord John Russell, and Sir James Graham.