§ MR. HINDLEY
said, he begged to ask the right hon. President of the Board of Control whether it was the intention of the Government, in the event of the passing of the India Bill, that the inquiries of the Committee on India shall be terminated, or whether they should be continued until the Committee agreed to a final report?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he believed he had stated on frequent occasions that he saw no reason why legislation upon the important subject of India should preclude further inquiry in the matter. He saw no reason whatever why that inquiry should not proceed.
§ Order read, for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to be made to Question [23d June], "That the Bill be now read a second time:"—And which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, further information is necessary, to enable Parliament to legislate with advantage for the permanent Government of India; and that, at this late period of the Session, it is inexpedient to proceed with a Measure which, while it disturbs existing arrangements, cannot be considered as a final settlement,"—instead thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, he did not know whether he should have deemed it necessary himself to address the House but for the circumstance of his having served upon the Committee appointed to inquire into the subject of the Government of our Indian territories; but, before troubling the House with the few remarks which he felt bound to make, he should wish to offer an observation on the question which had just been asked by his hon. Friend the Member for Ashton under Lyne (Mr. Hindley). With regard to the conduct of that Committee, allusion had been made to its proceedings during the last Parliament, and it 815 was allowable to speak of that Parliament as one would speak of the Long Parliament, without offence to the House, since it had passed away and was now matter of history; and he felt bound to say that during that Parliament the conduct of that Committee was not such as to entitle it to be cited as an authority, or to inspire any very great degree of confidence. That Committee was appointed to inquire into the important question of the Government of India, and it was divided into eight heads. The first was the question as to the machinery by which the Government of India was carried on. Upon that head the Committee examined eighteen witnesses, every one of whom had been officially in the employment of the Court of Directors or of the Board of Control, or had been in some manner connected with one or other of those services; and, after the examination of those persons, the Committee came to a kind of qualified Resolution approving the conduct of the Government of India. In his opinion, at a future period, if some dusky agitator on the banks of the Ganges should want to find a grievance in the conduct of the British Legislature towards the Hindoo population, he would cite the fact which he had just mentioned, and he would find it potent to raise the indignation of the population, for a more unfair proceeding was never perpetrated by any tribunal calling itself impartial. He would mention, as requested by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), that in that Committee there were two Members who voted against that Resolution. Before the Committee in the present Parliament had proceeded to the extent of half their inquiry, it was announced to the House that the Government measure on the subject was prepared. Now, he would confess that from the time that that announcement was made, he had himself never attended that Committee, for although he always tried when serving upon any Committee to be as assiduous as any member of it, yet he considered that from the moment the Government had taken up this question, it had passed from the hands of the Committee. He saw no good they could do in collecting facts and information for the Government of India, seeing that they were generally obtained from persons who came from India, or who had been employed there, and who were more accessible to the Indian authorities. It was his opinion that the whole case was prejudged, and that a verdict had been brought in without going through the preliminaries of a trial; and he must decline, 816 except under the express order of that House, for the future attending that Committee, or in any way sanctioning such a course of proceeding. The question at issue now was—whether the subject should be postponed, and, if it should be decided that such was to be the course pursued, he would willingly return to his duties in the Committee, and give his constant attention to the inquiry, which should, he must say, be one of considerable importance in deciding the question. The House was now called upon to decide whether the present Bill should pass, or whether the subject should be postponed for two years, leaving the Government of India in the interim just as it was at present. He wished to state now, once for all, that he did not consider it a party question. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) complained that he (Mr. Cobden) and his friends had taken too material a view of the question, as affecting the interests of Lancashire and the other manufacturing districts. Now, if that were true, it could not be said that they had taken up the question in a party spirit; but, as far as he was acquainted with the feelings of the? people of Lancashire and Yorkshire, he believed they were generally in favour of postponement. In his opinion the subject was one which called for further inquiry, more particularly as regarded the Home Government of India. The problem to solve was, whether a single or a double government would be most advantageous, and, in considering that point, he was met by this difficulty—that he could not see that the present form of government was a double government at all. He had endeavoured to find out what were the powers of the East India Directory, which entitled them to be called a Government, and he had looked through the Charter Act to see what controlling power was bestowed upon them, and, with the exception of the disposal of the patronage, there was no power granted to them by Act of Parliament. The Act left the whole controlling power to the Board of Commissioners for managing the affairs of India; therefore, he looked upon the Court of Directors, not as a Government, but as nothing but a screen, behind which the real Government was hid. It was because he wished to get rid of that screen, and that the real Government might stand before the House and the world in its proper character, and take upon its shoulders the responsibility of the misgovernment of India—if there were any—that he wanted to have this matter 817 simplified, and to do away with the double government, that is, to bring into office the Government of India. There had been much misapprehension with regard to this double government. Till the last year or two, he did not believe anybody understood it at all. Lord Hardinge spoke of it as a mystery, and said it was looked upon as a mystery in India; and he mentioned the instance of an officer of rank in India, who had written an indignant letter to the President of the Board of Control in reference to a communication of the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors, expressing his indignation at the conduct of that Committee; and he was only restrained from sending it by Lord Hardinge telling him that the Secret Committee of the Board of Directors was the President of the Board of Control himself. Many persons whose opinions on the affairs of India were most authoritative, in reality did not know what the double government really was. Mr. Marshman, the conductor of the Friend of India, a strong advocate of "things as they are," when fairly probed and pushed on the subject, showed that he, who was instructing them all, and sending pamphlets to all the Members of the Legislature, had very little fundamental knowledge of what this Government was. Part of the evidence given by that gentleman was so illustrative of this, that he hoped the House would permit him to read an extract:—In seeking to acquaint yourself with the form of Government for India, you would resort exclusively to the Act of Parliament under which the present Government of India is constituted?— Yes.Do you find that by this Act of Parliament any discretionary powers are vested in the Court of Directors, except with reference to the disposal of the patronage?— I should think they are responsible to the Board of Control.Admitting that the Court of Directors have no uncontrolled power in the Government of India, how can you make them responsible either to Parliament or to the people of India?—Yet it was the intention of the Act to confer certain powers upon them, and to give a control over the exercise of those powers to the Board of Control.You admit that, unless a party has power intrusted to it, it cannot be responsible for the exercise of its power?—No; I can therefore only say that they are responsible for the exercise of all the powers given to them in that Act.You say still that this Act was intended to vest a certain power in the East India Company? —There must have been some object in view in creating the present Government of the East India Company.You say you believe that the intention of Parliament was to give certain powers to the East India Company; having admitted that no such powers exist, except in the disposal of patronage, you would admit that, if Parliament had such object, it has failed to accomplish it?—That very 818 much depends upon the working of the system. Although Parliament may have exempted nothing from the control of the President of the Board of Control, yet it is certain that the Court of Directors were intended to be a body employed in the administration of the affairs of India.To the extent of the disposal of patronage?—Not merely to the extent of the disposal of patronage, because the patronage of the Court of Directors consists only in appointment to service, and not in appointment to office. The great patronage lies in the hands of the Governor General and the governors of the various Presidencies. All the patronage which the Court has to dispose of is the appointment to writerships and cadet-ships.Will you explain to the Committee what power the Court of Directors have under this Charter Act beyond the disposal of the patronage?—I cannot exactly speak to that, because I have not seen the interior working of the system of either the Court of Directors or the Board of Control.I only wish for an answer founded upon this Act of Parliament for the government of India? —All I can say is, if this Act of Parliament was intended to give them no power whatever except the disposal of patronage, it could not be considered an Act for vesting the administration of affairs in the hands of the East India Company.This great oracle of the East India Company himself admitted that, if there was no power vested in the Court of Directors but that of the patronage, there was really no Government vested in them at all. Now-all this mystery was productive of the greatest evils. They had been simplifying the procedure and getting rid of fictitious forms in their own Courts of Law recently; they had banished John Doe and Richard Roe from their Courts, but here they had still John Doe and Richard Roe in the Government of India. Then what was the advantage of such a system? Was it for the benefit either of the people of England or of India? On this subject he would refer to the evidence of a gentleman the most remarkable for ability of all the able men who had been brought before the Committee by the Court of Directors, who had filled very high offices in India—he meant Mr. Halliday. That gentleman—speaking in the face of the Court of Directors—in the very presence of his employers and masters, having stated that the Charter giving a twenty years' lease to the East India Company was considered by the natives of India as farming them out, he was subjected, on account of the use of this word "farming," to a great deal of cross-examination—You used the expression, 'farming the Government;' do you believe the people of India think the Government of India is farmed to the Company in the same sense that the taxes were farmed at the period you allude to?—They use precisely the same word in speaking of the renewal of the Charter. They will talk with you 819 as to the probability of the 'jarch,' or 'farm,' being renewed, and, as far as I know, they have no other term to express it.Is that not merely through the infirmity of their language; have they any word which signifies 'delegation?'—They may have; I speak of the fact, and their use of the term carries with it a corresponding idea.How would you translate 'delegation' into Hindoostanee; might not 'jarch' be a fair translation of that term?—It would rather signify farm or lease.You said, that, in fact, the government was that of the Crown, and that the natives, as they become more enlightened, will more and more understand it to be so?—It is the case.As they become more and more enlightened, will not the mischief which you consider arises from their notion of a farm disappear of itself?— It may be in that sense, no doubt, and does; and yet there arises a proportionate weakness to the Government from their seeing that the body held up as their apparent governors are not their real governors. Without wishing to speak irreverently, it has somewhat the appearance of a sham.Mr. Halliday, in his opinion, disposed of the whole question as regarded the interests of India, and of this country also, if we wished to govern India cheaply and beneficially. He said—If you were to change the system, and to govern India in the name of the Crown, you would immensely add to the reverence which the people of India would have for your government, and increase the stability of your empire in the Eastern world.Mr. Marshman himself, though he did not speak of carrying on the Government of India under the Crown, distinctly and repeatedly laid it down that the Government of India should be carried on in one office, that the President of the Board of Control, or whoever was the responsible Minister of India, should sit in the same room with those who constituted the Council, now the Court of Directors in Leadenhall-street, and should communicate with them orally, instead of by correspondence as at present. But what where the evils of this delusive form of government? The first and greatest of all was this, that public opinion was diverted from the subject, that that enlightened public opinion was not brought to bear on Indian questions, which would be the case if India were governed in the name of the Crown, just the same as the colonies had been. It might be answered that if India were governed as the colonies had been, it would be governed badly; but if any good had arisen from our government of the colonies, it had come from enlightened public opinion emanating from this country, and chiefly brought to bear on our Colonial Minister in that House. If there were any hope for 820 the amelioration of India, it must come from the same source; and he wanted the Indian Government to have such a tangible, visible form, that the public opinion of this country might be able to reach it, and that there might be no mask or screen before it as now. With an enlightened public opinion brought to bear more directly on the affairs of India, there would be a better chance of avoiding that source of all fiscal embarrassment, constant wars and constant annexations of territory. In other parts of the world, no Minister of the Crown would take credit for offering to annex territory anywhere. On the west coast of Africa it might not be less profitable to extend our territory than in Burmah; yet a Resolution of a Committee of that House, many years ago, forbad the extension of our territories in tropical countries. When an adventurous gentleman, Sir James Brooke, went out and took possession of some territory on the coast of Borneo, the enlightened Government of Sir Robert Peel and his Colleagues resolutely resisted all attempts to induce them to occupy any territory there. Recently, when it was announced in that House that orders had been given to the admiral on that station that on no account should any fresh territory be acquired, the announcement was received with loud cheering. We had arrived at a point when public opinion in that House and the country would prevent any such thing; and he believed that the leading statesmen on both sides would resolutely set themselves against any extension of our territory in tropical countries. Then how was it that this went on constantly in India, to the loss and dilapidation of its finances? With a declaration in the journals of that House, and in an Act of Parliament never repealed, that the honour and interest of this country was concerned in not extending its territory in the East, still these continual annexations went on in India. Why did these things happen? It was because at the present time all the authority in these matters was left virtually in the hands of the Governor General of India. He said virtually, because he believed they rested in point of law with the President of the Board of Control. Nothing could be more conclusive than the distinctness of the avowal of Lord Broughton that he was responsible for the war in Afghanistan; and Lord Bllenborough declared that when he was President of that Board, he knew that he governed India. He was, therefore, astonished when he, heard the right hon. 821 Gentleman opposite (Mr. Herries) state that neither he nor his predecessors in office were responsible for the wars in India, but that the Governor General was the person responsible for them. When there existed such differences of opinion on such an important question—a question which involved not only the fate of India, but of England, was it not high time to come to some definite understanding on the subject? Was it not right, when such differences of opinion existed between men of the highest authority, that there should be a little delay, in order that they might all come to an understanding on so vital a point? Practically he believed that these things were carried on in India, where the Governor General was surrounded by an atmosphere of a warlike tendency—where the mere rumour of war was received with favour by all that constituted public opinion in that country. Even Lord Dalhousie himself had so far given into this spirit as to make the declaration, that—In the exercise of a wise and sound policy the British Government were bound not to put aside such rightful opportunities of acquiring territory or revenue as might from time to time present themselves.Yet this was said in the teeth of an Act of Parliament which declared that it was contrary to sound policy to annex any more territory to our dominions in the East. And this declaration of Lord Dalhousie came out before the declaration of the President of the United States, General Pierce, who made a qualified declaration that the United States would annex territory by every just and lawful means. Now, we could be very censorious when we heard of such a declaration being made by the President of another State, but we did not attach the same importance to what was said by Lord Dalhousie. Now, how was this? If Lord Dalhousie had been in any responsible position in that House, or had stood in the character of a Colonial Minister, he could have been asked for an explanation, and might have been reminded that such declarations were not in accordance with the views and interests of the nation. It was, however, his firm belief that nothing would awaken the people of this country to a proper sense of their responsibility and peril in the East, but a due appreciation of the state and prospects of the revenue of that country. There could be no doubt that in India the extension of our territories there was popular among the servants of the Company. In one of the most influential organs of the Indian Government it was stated— 822Every one out of England is now ready to acknowledge that the whole of Asia, from the Indus to the See of Ochotzk, is destined to become the patrimony of that race which the Normans thought, six centuries ago, they had finally crushed, but which now stands at the head of European civilisation. We are placed, it is said, by the mysterious hut unmistakable designs of Providence, in command of Asia; and the people of England must not lay the flattering unction to their souls that they can escape from the responsibility of this lofty and important position by simply denouncing the means by which England has attained it.When asked if Calcutta was a good central station for the metropolis of India, Mr. Marshman, the proprietor of the above newspaper, stated to the Committee that—It may be not at present, but it will be a good central station when we extend our dominion eastward.This showed the projects which the most influential men in India had in view. He would now refer to the Secret Committee of the India House. He should like to have the cross-examination of every Member of the House, and to ask them what did they know of this Secret Committee. It was composed of three gentlemen from the Board of Directors, to whom all the communications from the Board of Control were made. It was in the power of the President of the Board of Control to sit down and write an order to annex China, and send that order to these three gentlemen, who formed what was called the Secret Committee at the India House; and they would be obliged to send the order to India for prosecution by the Governor General. They might altogether disapprove of the order, but nevertheless they would be compelled to send it to India. Mr. Melvill, Secretary to the East India Company, stated, that in all cases of declaration of war, it is within the power of the Board of Control to act through the Secret Committee, without the concurrence of the Court of Directors—that orders might be sent out by the President of the Board, through the Secret Committee, to annex the Burman or the Chinese Empire to India, without 'the English people knowing anything about the order. The Court of Directors could not know it. On the question being asked—How are the English people to know it, if the Court of Directors do not know it?" his reply was—"Till it comes back from India, till it is a fait accompli, or the result of the orders is ascertained, they cannot know it.Now, what was the practical effect of this stale of things? The Court of Directors 823 were often attacked for not making railways and works of irrigation; and he thought they deserved the charges brought against them so long as they submitted to the humiliation of their present condition. How could they be expected to make railways and other public works, when they could not prevent the President of the Board of Control, or the Governor General, at any time wasting the substance in war which should be applied to those improvements? Suppose that some of the twenty-four Directors should sit down, having the 4,000,000l. surplus which the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) spoke of, and a surplus of 2,000,000l. a year beside, for the purpose of devising plans of railways, and other works for India. Suppose that they had the maps and plans before them, and that they had called in the assistance of such able engineers as Mr. Locke and Mr. Stephenson; at that very-time a letter might come from the office of the President of the Board of Control requiring them to send out an order to Lord Dalhousie to fit out an expedition to Rangoon for the conquest of Burmah; and when that was done, then adieu to the railways and the fabulous 4,000,000l. which the hon. Member for Guildford spoke of. But the most ridiculous part of the matter was, that the gentlemen of the Secret Committee, looking over these surveys, plans, and maps, and knowing the orders sent from the Board of Control, must be perfectly aware that all this was a mere waste of time; and yet they dare not tell their own Colleagues, and they must remain in complete ignorance till they learned how the matter stood by the arrival of the Indian mail. Under such circumstances, they did not deserve the name of a Government. And what could be the motive for inducing these twenty-four gentlemen to endure being taunted with the evils of a system where they were held to be responsible, and yet not trusted with power? The reward which they received for submitting to this humiliation was the patronage of India, and this was another evil arising from the system of double government. Now it was one of the evils of this system, that the patronage was in a great many instances given to Europeans, where it ought to be given to Natives. But as the Court of Directors were paid by patronage and not by stipends, they of course disposed of that patronage to their friends in this country. He wanted to see a larger number of the Natives brought into the employment of the Government. [An Hon. MEMBER: 824 Hear, hear!] Yes, but the same thing was promised in 1833, and it was contemplated in the Act of Parliament, but it was never carried out, and it never would be as long as the patronage was disposed of in its present form. But if they got rid of the double government, and made the Minister for India responsible for the government of India, then public opinion in this country would be brought to bear upon him, and he would be applied to distribute more of his patronage amongst the Natives, because the people of this country would not endure that the vast patronage of India should be in the hands of the Minister of the Crown for distributing amongst his political supporters here. He was particularly struck with the overwhelming evidence which was borne as to the fitness of the Natives of India for high offices and employments. Nothing came out clearer before the Committee than this—that the Natives were well fitted to hold the higher class of offices. It was stated that 97 per cent of the judicial cases was disposed of by them. But they were employed to do the humblest work at low and insufficient salaries. He wished to see some of the offices which were now filled by Europeans at salaries from 2,000l. to 3,000l q. a year, filled by Natives at half that stipend, which would be as much to them qas double the amount to the Europeans who received it. AH the great authorities in Indian matters, Munro, Metcalfe, Malcolm, and Elphinstone, advocated the distribution of patronage to the Natives. He was greatly struck with the answer of Sir George Clork, to a question on this point. He says that the Natives were perfectly competent to decide cases and settle differences. Mr. Halliday also gave evidence to the same effect. The only way of insuring the employment of Natives in the higher offices was to take away the patronage from the Court of Directors. He would now call the attention of the House to a point of considerable importance, which was strikingly illustrated by the facts attending the commencement of the Burmese war in which we were now engaged. It was another point which was a proof of the precipitancy with which the measure had been brought forward, and he believed it was not noticed before in the course of the debate. He wished to refer to the state of the relations between the vessels of war in the Indian waters, and the Government of India; and in illustration of what he meant, he begged leave to state what had taken place on the breaking out of this war. In the month of July, 1851, 825 a small British vessel arrived at Rangoon; the captain was charged with throwing a pilot overboard, and robbing him of 500 rupees. The case was brought before the Governor of Rangoon; and after undergoing a good many hardships, the captain was mulcted in the amount of rupees. A month after this another English vessel arrived, having on board two coolies from the Mauritius, who secreted themselves in the vessel when she left. On their arrival, they said that the captain had murdered one of the crew during the voyage. The captain was tried for this, and he was mulcted also. An application was made to the Governor General for redress, and a demand was made on the Burmese authorities to the amount of 1,900l. for money extorted, for demurrage of the vessels and other injuries inflicted. The Governor General ordered an investigation of the case, and he awarded 920l. as sufficient. At this time there was lying in the Hooghly a vessel of war, commanded by Commodore Lambert, and the Governor General thought that the presence of this vessel afforded a good opportunity for obtaining redress. The House should understand that there was no other case to be redressed than these two, that the parties in them were British subjects, and that the Governor of Rangoon did not adjudicate between Burmese subjects and British subjects. Commodore Lambert was furnished with very precise instructions indeed. He was first to make inquiry as to the validity of the original claim, and if he found that it was well founded, he was to apply to the Governor of Rangoon for redress; and, in case of a refusal on his part, he was furnished with a letter from the Governor General to the King of Ava to be sent up by him to the capital, and he was then to proceed to the Persian Gulf, for which place he was under orders. He was told not to commit any act of hostility, if redress was refused, till he had heard again from the Governor General. These were very proper and precise instructions. On the arrival of the Commodore at Rangoon, he was met by boats filled with British subjects, who complained of the conduct of the Governor of Rangoon. If the House wished for an amusing description of the British subjects of Rangoon, he would recommend them to read Lord Ellenborough's sketch of them in a speech which he delivered in the House of Lords. Rangoon was, it appeared, the Alsatia of Asia, and was filled by all the abandoned characters whom the other parts of India were too hot to hold. Commodore Lambert re- 826 ceived the complaints of all these people; and he sent off the letter to the King of Ava at once, which he was instructed to send only in case redress was refused, and he made no inquiry with respect to the original cause of the dispute, and the validity of the claims put forward. He also sent a letter from himself to the Prime Minister of the King of Ava, and demanded an answer in thirty-five days. The post took from ten to twelve days to go to Ava, and at the end of twenty-six days an answer came back from the King to the Governor General, and to Commodore Lambert from the Prime Minister. It was announced that the Governor of Rangoon was dismissed, and that a new governor was appointed, who would be prepared to look into the matter in dispute, and adjust it. Commodore Lambert sent off the King of Ava's letter to the Governor General, with one from himself, stating that he had no doubt the King of Ava and his Government meant to deal fairly by them. Meantime the new Governor of Rangoon came down in great state, and Commodore Lambert sent three officers on shore with a letter to him. The letter was sent at twelve o'clock in the day, and when they arrived at the house they were refused admittance on the plea that the Governor was asleep. It was specifically stated that the officers were kept waiting a quarter of an hour in the sun. At the end of that quarter of an hour they returned to the ship, and without waiting a minute longer, Commodore Lambert, notwithstanding that he had himself declared that he had no doubt justice would be done, ordered the port to be blockaded, having first directed the British residents to come on board. During the night he seized the only vessel belonging to the King of Ava, which he towed out to sea. This brought him to the point to which he was desirous of calling the attention of the House. Lord Dalhousie had no power to give orders to Commodore Lambert in that station; he could merely request and solicit the cooperation of the commanders of the Queen's forces, just as we might solicit the co-operation of a friendly foreign Power. See what the effect of this system was. If Commodore Lambert had been sent out with orders from the First Lord of the Admiralty, he would not have dared to deviate from them in the slightest respect, much less to commence a war. Owing, however, to the anomalous system existing in India, Commodore Lambert felt at liberty to act on his own responsibility; and 827 hence the Burmese war. Why had not this blot been hit upon by the framers of the present Bill? Could there be a stronger proof of the undue precipitancy with which the Government measure had been introduced than this, that it left the great defect which he had pointed out—a defect leading to results of immense gravity—un-cured? The Government could not plead ignorance; they could not allege that their attention had not been directed to the matter. On the 25th of March Lord Ellenborough referred to the subject in the House of Lords, and on that occasion Lord Broughton, who had just left office, stated that he had received an official communication from Lord Dalhousie relative to the anomalous character of the relations subsisting between the Governor General and the Queen's commanders, and expressing a hope that the evil would be corrected in the forthcoming Charter Act. But there was nothing on this important subject in the present Bill; and was not this another ground for delay till they had obtained further information? He had now to say a few words on the subject of the finances of India; and in speaking on this subject he could not separate the finances of India from those of England. If the finances of the Indian Government received any severe and irreparable check, would not the resources of England be called upon to meet the emergency, and to supply the deficiency? Three times during the present century the Court of Directors called on the House of Commons to enable them to get rid of the difficulties which pressed upon them. And did they suppose that if such a case were to occur again that England would refuse her aid? Why, the point of honour, if there were no other reason, would compel them to do so. Did they not hear it said that their Indian Empire was concerned in keeping the Russians out of Constantinople, which was 6,000 miles distant from Calcutta; and if they were raising outworks at a distance of 6,000 miles, let no man say that the finances of England were not concerned in the financial condition of India. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), referring to this subject on Friday night, spoke in a tone that rather surprised him; he taxed those who opposed the measure with a readiness to swallow anything, and twitted his (Mr. Cobden's) hon. Friend (Mr. Bright) with saying that the debt of India contracted since the last Charter Act was 20,000,000l. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mangles) said it was only 828 9,000,000l. There had, he said, been 13,000,000l. increase of debt, but that there was 4,000,000l. of reserve in the exchequer. He (Mr. Cobden) would quote the evidence of Mr. Melvill, who signed all the papers that came before the Committee on this point. Mr. Melvill, being asked what the amount of the debt was, says — The amount of the debt is over 20,000,000l. After this answer of Mr. Melvill, what became of the statement of the hon. Member for Guildford? But he must say, that there was a very great difference in the opinions and statements of Indian authorities. The evidence of Mr. Prinsep was different from that of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mangles) — that of the hon. Gentleman was different from the opinion of the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg)—that of Mr. Melvill was different from all of them, and Mr. Melvill was sometimes of a different opinion from his own papers. He wanted to give them an opportunity of making up their minds on this subject, and of correcting the statements that came before them, for they were to judge of the financial results of their management of India. The hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton stated the deficiency at 15,344,000l.; but he had not taken into the account, as he was bound to do, the sum realised by the commercial assets of the Company. Three or four years subsequently to the renewal of the Charter in 1833, the Company's assets, consisting of ships, stock, &c, were sold, and realised 12,661,000l. What people wanted, in taking stock, was to know how much richer or poorer they were as compared with the last time of striking the balance, and yet these gentlemen kept out of view a sum of upwards of 12,000,000l., which they had consumed, exhausted, and spent, and they said that there was only a deficiency of 15,344,000l., when, in fact, there was a deficiency of 28,000,000l., as compared with the former period. [Mr. MANGLES expressed dissent.] The hon. Member for Guildford shook his head; but he (Mr. Cobden) appealed to the House whether those who were intrusted with the affairs of the East India Company, and who could not take stock in a way to satisfy any Commissioner of Bankruptcy in the case of the humblest retail trader, were entitled to manage the vast concerns with which they were now intrusted? The amount, then, of defalcation in the last nineteen or twenty years had been 28,000,000l., and if things were to go on in the same way for the next twenty years, they would have a debt 829 very nearly approaching 100,000,000l. But the worst part of the case was, that whereas in former instances, when this question had been discussed, there was something very bad indeed in the present and the past, yet the House was always told that there was something in the future to be appealed to which would compensate for all previous calamities; but now it was a remarkable circumstance that, while there was nothing satisfactory in the past, still less was there anything consolatory in the; prospects for the future. The hon. Member for Honiton had told the House that with respect to one essential item of Indian revenue—that of opium—he considered it in peril. That hon. Gentleman did not seem to see how he was changing his tone and assuming two characters in the course of his speech, when dealing with the future and the past. The hon. Gentleman, in answering in an indignant tone the remarks of the hon. Member for Manchester, said, with the view of showing that the "constitution had worked well," that—The gross revenue had increased nearly 9,000,000l., yet many taxes had been entirely abolished, and others reduced. Was it not astounding, when the Indian revenue had increased to such an amount, to hear declamation about the misery, the destitution, and the poverty of the country? The debt showed an increase of 15,344,000l, but what was this compared with the increase which he had shown to have taken place in the revenue? The revenue had increased in an infinitely greater proportion, so that the increase of the debt was perfectly immaterial."— [See 3 Hansard, c xxvii. 1254–55 &c 1259.]Now, what would a person think of a steward who came before him with an account of the condition of his estate, and told him that the debt had increased so much, but, as the rents had increased so much more, it did not signify how the debt had increased? Yet the steward might have said, that he had spent the money in improving the estate, in erecting buildings, and making roads. The Directors of the India Company, however, did not tell the House that they had increased irrigation or the facilities of communication in India. All this money had been wasted, and was gone, and the people had no compensation for it. The hon. Member for Honiton argued that it was of no consequence how the India Company got into debt, so long as they had increased the revenue 30 per cent. Was it, then, to such financiers that the fate of India and of England—for the interests of both were connected—was to be intrusted? But, after giving this glowing description, the hon. Member for Honi- 830 ton took the other side when he had another purpose to serve, and then he endeavoured to show that, after all, the state of the Indian finances was not such as to encourage Parliament to assume the possession of them on the part of the Crown. The hon. Gentleman said that—The cultivation of opium was, he believed, about to be legalised in China; and, if that were so, it would have a considerable effect upon the finances of India, and the House ought, under such circumstances, to hesitate before assigning India entirely to the Crown with its liabilities and its debts.And then he turned round and said—Will you, with the Burmese war on hand, and with the prospect of losing the opium revenue, take upon yourselves all the responsibilities involved in governing India?He was sorry to find the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) falling into the same tone:—Seeing," he said, "into what a debt the East India Company has fallen, do you think it would be a pleasant thing for me to announce to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would have this deficit to provide for in his financial scheme?Was there ever anything more utterly indefensible than such a position as that? If they allowed the right hon. Gentleman to have another lease on the plea that the finances had been brought into such a state that it was not desirable for them to assume the management for themselves, what inducement did they hold out to him to do better in future? He thought that House must be very shallow indeed, and the country be greatly wanting in that sagacity for which they had credit, if they allowed themselves to be deluded by such a plea as that. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), in the course of his remarks, took the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) to task on the subject of the Punjaub and its expenses. The hon. Member stated, in the jaunty style to which he had alluded, that the acquisition of the Punjaub had not increased our expenses, because the troops there had been pushed forward from the frontier, and, therefore, constituted no addition to our expenditure. He (Mr. Cobden) on this subject would again quote, from the East India Company's own authority, the statement made by Mr. Kaye in his History of the Administration of the East India Company. Mr. Kaye said—The Punjaub is not yet remunerative. Some little time must elapse before the revenues of the country can be made to exceed the cost of its protective and administrative establishments. The 831 estimated amount of revenue for 1851–2 is 130 lacs of rupees, with about i lacs of additional receipts in the shape of proceeds of confiscated Sikh property and refunded charges. The total expenditure is estimated at about 120 lacs of rupees. This leaves only a surplus of 14 lacs for the maintenance of the regular troops posted in the Punjaub; and as a large reduction of the army might have been, indeed would have been, effected but for the annexation of the Sikh States, it cannot be argued that the military expenditure is not fairly chargeable to the province. It is true, of course, that the possession of the Punjaub has enabled us to withdraw a considerable body of troops from the line of country which constituted our old frontier, and that a deduction on this score of frontier defence must be made from the gross charges of the regular military establishments employed beyond the Sutlej. Still, the cost of the regular troops fairly chargeable to the Punjaub absorbs the estimated surplus, and leaves a balance against the newly-acquired States.Mr. Kaye said, there would have been a large reduction of the army, if it had not been for the occupation of the Punjaub. In 1835, the number of troops, European and native, was 184,700; in 1851, according to the last return, it was 289,500, being an increase of upwards of 100,000. What was this increase for, unless it were that the new acquisitions required an augmentation of force? During the same period the European force was increased from 30,800 to 49,000 men; the ground of this particular increase being, that the Sikhs, being a northern nation, could only be kept in awe by Europeans. Now, if he could treat this question as many persons did; if he could believe that the East India Company was a reality; if he believed that they could transfer India to the management of some other body, and that England would be no more responsible; that we could have the trade of India, and be under no obligations in reference either to its good government or its future financial state, he should not be the person to come forward and seek a disturbance of that arrangement. Other people might not share in his opinion; but he was under the impression that, so far as the future was concerned, they could not leave a more perilous possession to their children than that which they would leave them in the constantly-increasing territory of India. The English race could never become indigenous in India; they must govern it, if they governed it at all, by means of a succession of transient visits; and he did not think it was for the interest of the English people, any more than of the people of India, that they should govern permanently 100,000,000 of people, 12,000 miles 832 off. He saw no benefit which could arise to the mass of the English people from their connexion with India, except that which might arise from honest trade; he did not see how the millions of this country were to share in the patronage of India, or to derive any advantage from it except through the medium of trade; and therefore he said emphatically, that if they could show him that the East India Company was the reality which many persons supposed it to be, he should not be the party to wish to withdraw their responsible trust, and to place it again in the hands of a Minister of the British Crown. But when he saw that this vast territory was now being governed under a fiction, that the Government was not a real one, but one which one of the moat able and faithful servants of the Company had declared to be a sham, he said—Do not let the people of this country delude themselves with the idea that they can escape the responsibility by putting the Government behind a screen. He wished, therefore, to look this question fairly in the face; he wished to bring the people of this country face to face with the difficulties and dangers with which he thought it was beset. Let it no longer be thought that a few gentlemen meeting in Leadenhall-street could screen the people of England from the responsibility with which they had invested themselves with regard to India. Since the granting of the last Charter, more territory had been gained by conquest than within any similar period before, and the acquisition of territory had been constantly accompanied with a proportionate increase of debt. They had annexed Sattara, and their own blue books proved that it was governed at a loss; they had annexed Scinde, and their own books proved that it too was governed at a loss; they had annexed Pegu, and their own authorities said that that annexation also would involve a loss. All these losses must press on the more fertile provinces of Bengal, which were constantly being drained of their resources to make good the deficit. Let him not be told by-and-by that the annexation of Pegu and Burmah would be beneficial. What said Lord Dalhousie? He said in his despatch—and the declaration should not be forgotten— that he looked puon the annexation of Pegu as an evil second only to that of war itself; and if they should be obliged to annex Burmah, then farewell to all prospect of amelioration in Indian affairs. Well, then, believing that if this fiction were destroyed 833 —if this mystery were exterminated — there were already the germs of a better state of things in reference to this question; and, believing that as yet they were profoundly ignorant of what was wanted for India, he should vote for the Amendment, that they should wait for two years; and he hoped sincerely that the House would agree to it.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
I hope the House will allow me to make a few remarks on the question under consideration, as I have long given my attention to the subject, and as I had on the last occasion of the renewal of the Indian Charter the honour to be a member of Earl Grey's Government, and a member, also, of the Cabinet Committee, in which, associated with Lord Lansdowne, Sir James Mackintosh, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), whose voice, in common with the rest of the House, I rejoiced to hear in the present discussion a few nights ago—I assisted in preparing the measure for the government of India at that time submitted to the consideration of Parliament; and whatever may have been the merit of that measure, it was adopted by the united voice of many of the most distinguished members of the Administration of which I have now the honour to be a member. I do not conceive that a more grave, difficult, or important question than the one now before the House can be discussed by any Legislature. Its importance is not to be exaggerated, and I am happy to observe that, though much difference of opinion may exist, there has not, up to the present moment, been mingled with the debate the slightest tincture of party or factious feeling. The gravity of the matter is far too great to allow any paltry motives to obtrude themselves. The question which we, as a deliberative assembly, have to decide, for good or for evil, is, how we shall provide for the government, and the maintenance — I was about to say the preservation—to the Crown of England of one of its brightest ornaments. It has been won by men of pre-eminent talent in a series of years, and it would be a sad disgrace to this country if, by any hasty error or mistaken policy, that jewel should be suddenly wrested from us. We are now discussing a question intimately connected, I think, with the safety and the maintenance of our empire in India. I have said the matter is important—but it is also most difficult. We are legislat- 834 ing for a people distant 10,000 miles from the seat of Government, whose manners, whose language, whose habits, prejudices, and feelings are imperfectly known to the vast majority of this House. And yet we are called upon—the British Parliament is now called upon—to provide institutions, by which the happiness and the good government of that people shall be secured. That is in itself a great difficulty; and though all our honest prejudices are naturally strong in favour of a free government, yet, from the nature of this question, we are about to maintain despotic rule—for it cannot be pretended that free or legislative government is at this moment possible in India.
It has been said that the measure which the Government have proposed, has no character of permanency about it. I admit that the measure, as we propose it, is not, as heretofore, a measure for any fixed period, however extended. It is indefinite on the face of it; but with reference to permanence, this is my opinion—that if the measure be good, with the alterations which we propose, it will be the permanent government of India. If, on the contrary, the alterations which we propose are by experience proved to be defective, it will be open at any lime to the wisdom of Parliament to apply the necessary corrective, whereby we shall have the advantage of permanence in the measure if it be good, and at the same time every facility for correcting imperfections which experience may prove to exist. I must say, although I differ widely from the opinion of the noble Lord whose Amendment we are now discussing, that I heard his speech, in proposing it, with very great pleasure. It was a speech of great ability. It was a speech distinguished by candour, and the absence of anything like party acrimony or party feeling. I think the noble Lord has done well in employing his leisure time in visiting distant continents, and enabling himself to form a correct judgment of different nations in immediate connexion with the Government of this country. He thereby qualifies himself to pronounce opinions, and to sustain that high name which he bears, and that hereditary talent which he would be unworthy of his father if he did not possess. I say I heard his speech with great pleasure; but, at the same time, I thought it would have been more vigorous if it had been less candid, and that the number of admissions weakened the effect of the proposition he main- 835 tained. Let me remind you to how large those admissions are. In the first place, the noble Lord says, that he does not contend there is any necessity for consulting the native population of India with respect to the policy of such a measure as that we are now discussing. That admission is altogether inconsistent with the doctrine propounded by some other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Montrose contended that there ought to be delay, because the people of India have not yet had a full opportunity of expressing their opinion. I demur, however, to that fact, and I should contend, if necessary, that they have had ample opportunity. But, at any rate, I meet the hon. Member's doctrine with the opinion of the noble Lord, that, considering the state of civilisation in India, and the capacity of the people to judge of the measures of the Government, it is not at all desirable to consult the natives of India upon the question now before the House. The next admission of the noble Lord is, that the inquiry by the Committee has been protracted beyond the period expected by those who proposed it. If there were any doubt on that subject when the noble Lord made the Motion, it has been entirely removed by the speech of the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), who was President of the Board of Control under the Government of Lord Derby, and moved the appointment of that Committee. The right hon. Gentleman says that at the close of the last Session of Parliament, when the Committee were about to separate, he himself declared that, in his opinion, with reference to the great question of the Home and Indian government, the inquiry had been carried to that point where it was possible to form a correct judgment, and that as far as he was concerned, and the Government which he represented on that Committee, his mind was made up, and he was prepared on the part of that Government to propose a measure in the present Session of Parliament. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) said, somewhat tauntingly, that if the case were reversed, and hon. Gentlemen opposite sat here, and we sat there, we should have pursued a very different course. It so happened that I attended that Committee, and I believe I was the person who suggested in the Resolution the words, "that the tendency of the evidence was in favour of the government as now constituted, both at home and in India." I was also of opinion, and 836 moved an Amendment, which was carried, that although the tendency of the evidence was as then stated, it would not be prudent to close the inquiry, and that it ought to he renewed in the present Session. And why did I take that precaution? I thought it necessary to move that Amendment because I believed the mind of the President of the Board of Control was so definitively made up, that, on the part of the then Government, he was prepared to close the inquiry, and to legislate upon the subject as it then stood. The noble Lord's next admission is, that the witnesses called before the Committee are chiefly servants of the Company, who have left India not to return. Does that invalidate their testimony? Quite the contrary. I say it is a strong fact in favour of their evidence. Were they about to return, it might be said that they were still subservient to their masters—that they were more or less influenced by personal considerations. But here they are, men who, generally speaking, have won a noble and honourable independence by services in India, and have returned to their native land to enjoy that independence; their opinions are valuable on account of the knowledge they have acquired, and trustworthy from that very circumstance on which the noble Lord particularly dwelt—because they have no intention to return to India in the service of the Company.
The next declaration of the noble Lord was this:—"If you have a measure ready, I say, with Lord Dalhousie, the sooner you legislate the better." We have a measure ready. It is a measure upon which the Government have reflected with the most anxious care and thought; we have propounded this measure as the result of the fullest, most anxious, and most ample consideration we can give to the question. The noble Lord then commented adversely on our conduct in regard to Lord Dalhousie's letter. I can only say that, having the opinion of Lord Dalhousie brought before us, expressed in the strong manner in which he conveyed that opinion, we should have betrayed our duty if we had not told the British Parliament that the person who had the best means of forming a judgment as to the prudence or danger of delay has told us this: he has said, "The question is not what your measure is—I make no inquiry into that subject—but I say this—make up your mind with respect to the course that ought to be pursued, and, having made up your mind, I think there is no safety in any 837 delay." We have prepared our measure, we have risked everything on it, and the noble Lord says, "If you have a measure ready, legislate." I say, here is our measure, we are prepared to legislate; and yet the noble Lord asks for delay—
Pardon me — you have rather misunderstood me. What I said was this—I did not know what were the words employed by Lord Dalhousie, hut I apprehended they came to no more than this—If you have a measure ready and fit to be carried, the sooner it is carried, the better.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Lord Dalhousie says more than that; he says—"It is your duty to propose a measure, and there is no safety in delay in preparing a measure;" but, as I understand the noble Lord, he says—"If you have really prepared a measure, there is no safety in delay in carrying it." I again repeat, on the part of the Government, that this declaration, on the part of Lord Dalhousie, was not in answer to any question put to him by any Member of the Government, but it was an opinion which, in the discharge of his duty, he thought it proper and necessary to give; and, though not in an official shape, yet, in a matter of this description, an opinion from so high a quarter having been conveyed to us, I say we should have greatly failed in our duty if we had not acted upon it, and, acting upon it, if we had not avowed our authority. The noble Lord says there is no insurrection—that there never has been any insurrection except that at Vellore—and that what was asked was only a temporary suspension, which had never before produced any disturbance. I am not prepared to run any such risk, and I will remind the noble Lord that there has never been any such suspension as is now proposed. For seventy years the same system of government, corrected from time to time, has existed. We have invariably been obliged before the time of the limited grant of renewal has expired, to pursue the same course; and now, for the first time, what I think is the dangerous experiment of suspension is to be tried, and we are to take our chance and to run the risk of insurrection. That is a course which I, for one, am not prepared to agree to. Again, the noble Lord says —"I approve of many of the provisions of the Bill." There are, I think, forty-three or forty-four clauses in the Bill, and, so far as I collect from the noble Lord's speech, 838 which was remarkable for its perspicuity and fairness, and which would have been much more telling if it had been less fair, there are only two or three of those propositions to which he objects. I will not press the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, triumphant as I consider it to be, that all that related to the Home Government was secondary, and that that which was of primary and of the highest importance was that part of our measure which related to the Indian Government. My right hon. Friend said that the Indian Government was essential and paramount to everything; that the Home Government was of secondary importance. As to the Indian Government, I have not heard in the course of this long debate any material objections to our proposals—certainly I have heard none on the part of the noble Lord. Now, what are the leading characteristics of these propositions? We give a new character to the Legislative Council, which approaches very nearly to representation as regards the minor provinces, by admitting to the Legislative Council a representative from Bombay, a representative from Madras, and also one from a fourth Presidency, whenever it may be established. We infuse new light and vigour into it by making ex-officio Members of it men connected with the highest position in the Government. We also give the Governor General—a person always sent out from this country—not only a seat but a voice in the Legislative Council. It is quite open to consideration whether the discussions of that Legislative Council should be private or not. I cannot conceive a greater approach made in a Government constituted as the Government of India is, safely, cautiously, and carefully made, to watch over and check the Executive. We propose to place the armies of the East India Company under the command of a general officer nominated by Her Majesty. We propose, as to the nomination of Members of Council, hitherto exclusively in the Company, and not controlled by the Crown, to give a veto to Her Majesty. We propose to bestow on the Governor General a great help, in the shape of a Lieutenant Governor of the Presidency of Bengal. These are some of the great features of the change we propose in the Indian Government. It cannot be said they are slight or unimportant; they are large changes— salutary, as I believe them—changes supported by evidence and general approval, 839 and changes which I have not heard any Member of this House object to—certainly I have not heard any disapprobation of them on the part of the noble Lord. Then the objection mainly applies to the alteration of the Home Government, and with respect to the main provision, the absence of a fixed term, the noble Lord, as I understand, does not object to that great alteration. [Lord STANLEY: Oh, yes, I do.]
Then I come to the next point—the change as to patronage—which is hardly of secondary importance to the absence of a fixed term. To the principle of that change the noble Lord declared himself an adherent, though he doubted whether the mode of general competition without reservation was expedient, agreeing very much with the late Lord Grenville, who thought that there should be some reservation, if not in the whole, at least in part, in favour of the Universities of the United Kingdom and the great seminaries of learning, and who thought some reservation should be made for the sons of civil and military servants of the Company. At the right time, I am quite prepared to go into that question, and argue for the advantage of competition without such reservation; but that discussion should be in a subsequent stage, and if the House will go into Committee, there is no reason why the proposed modifications and alterations suggested by the noble Lord should not be discussed in the most candid possible spirit. The third point of detail is the change in the composition of the Court. That I admit is very important, but still it is a question of degree, and not of principle; and I cannot understand why upon that ground the noble Lord refuses to go into Committee on the Bill.
But the questions really, as it appears to me, which are pending in this discussion are two. The first is the question of delay; and the next is the question of double or single government. These are the real cardinal points to which everything else is secondary; these are the points which I think divide the opinion of the House; and with your permission I should wish shortly to address myself to each of them; and, first, I will deal with the question of delay. I think, in the first place, it is a question of policy. I have already alluded in passing to what the opinions of Lord Dalhousie are on this point; but I cannot exclude from my consideration what my hon. Friend the Secretary of the Board of 840 Control, in his very able speech in resisting the Amendment, glanced at and called to your attention. The subject is grave and important under any circumstances; but the gravity and difficulty of it are, in my judgment, increased by the present state of circumstances with respect to India. Look around that Indian empire— how is it surrounded? There is China on the one side. What is the state of affairs there? A serious revolution, the consequences of which are as yet only imperfectly developed—a great struggle of races, the effect of which is pregnant with matter for anxious consideration. We then come to Burmah. I hope the contest with that country will soon be closed, and that the danger, whatever it may have been in that quarter, will soon be overcome; but still there is some uncertainty about it. I shall have occasion to answer some remarks that fell from my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) on this particular point before I sit down. Then I cannot altogether overlook the state of other neighbouring nations. Although there is nothing of danger, still there is something to be regarded. The state of affairs has been menacing, not from the tone, but from the position of the countries. These considerations, and the state of affairs in the East generally, show, I say, the wisdom of the advice given in another place by the highest authority where India is concerned— I allude to Lord Ellenborough—who said distinctly, within the last six weeks, that the time had arrived when it became us to put our house in order. Have we any other authority upon the same point? Who were the persons most competent to give advice with reference to it? Those who had been Governors General of India, and it is most important to watch the concurrence of their opinions. I have stated what Lord Ellenborough's opinion is. Does Lord Hardinge differ from him? Lord Hardinge, who was one of the bravest defenders of that great empire, and to which he largely added by his triumphant conquests, and the danger of which by his extraordinary exertions he mainly contributed to remove, what does he say? does he counsel delay? He has told you he concurs with Lord Ellenborough, that whatever may be your decision, decide quickly, and at once. Lord Dalhousie has said the same, and Mr. Wilberforce Bird has expressed a similar opinion. These are all parties speaking without reference to party, eminent men who have 841 held posts of high authority in India. But, passing from Governors General of India, what are the opinions of persons who have been most connected with the Government of India? We have the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), who was President of the Board of Control under the Earl of Derby. I have told you what his declaration was before the Committee; and the House has had the advantage of hearing from himself that, so far from receding from that opinion, he, notwithstanding the pain it must have caused him to differ from the son of that statesman under whom he held office, had thought it inconsistent with his public duty, upon a matter of this kind, not to avow his opinion and his purpose, and to state his view of the public necessity of the case, and that he thought we were right in proceeding with this measure in the present Session. What is the opinion of Sir John Hobhouse, a long time President of the Board of Control? He concurs in the opinion of the other authorities I have referred to. What is the opinion of Lord Panmure, who was certainly only a short time President of the Board of Control, but who was still conversant with the affairs of India? His opinion was explicit to the same effect. You have, then, the opinions of Governors General; you have the opinions of Presidents of the Board of Control—all concurring upon this question. And now I will advert to the Committee: and I am happy to see the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Thomas Baring) in his place, the Chairman of the Committee, for never was there a more dispassionate or able chairman. The hon. Gentleman had discharged his duty in the most exemplary manner, and it was impossible for any Member of this House who had the advantage of hearing the speech in which he declared his opinion, to forget the impressive manner in which it told the honest conviction produced on his mind by the evidence before the Committee. He warned you of the danger of delay, and entreated you, if you desired to serve the public, and to ward off danger in a most distant quarter, but which still vitally affected the empire, not to hesitate to legislate, and to legislate without delay. That is important authority. But I would for a moment just glance at what appears to me equally strong, and that is, the reason of the matter. Amid all the anomalies of our empire, it must never be forgotten how slender is the force of our tenure in India; it, after all, is main 842 ly an empire of opinion. If you shake the confidence of this country in the permanence of our rule, in the steadiness of our Government, and in the firmness of the hand that grasps it, you destroy the very foundation of the Indian empire. Is it necessary, is it wise, wantonly to incur such risks? I say wantonly. Let me entreat of you, first, to consider one moment the position of the Government who make to you this proposition. If we had consulted our ease—if we had consulted our party interests—even if we had consulted the convenience of the House, which every Government under this representative system is hound carefully to consider—can you think we should have been desirous of forcing upon you such important legislation at this time? We had before us the prospect of a division among our friends, and it is painful to differ from any Members who give us their general support: we were incurring the risk of opposition, joined to theirs, from our more usual opponents. Could anything but a paramount sense of public duty, in such circumstances, and at such a moment, have induced the Government to incur the risk of prematurely making such a proposition to Parliament? I protest that, if ever a decision was taken by a Government from conscientious motives, and for the public good, that is the decision of the present Government, and that is the decision to which we now invite you when we ask yon to agree to the second reading of this Bill, and to proceed to discuss its provisions in Committee. I now turn to the important question of the double or single government. Upon my part, I admit that the East India Company, in concert with the Government, as an instrument of government, is an anomaly; but then, I say, are we not surrounded by anomalies on every side in respect to our Indian empire? Is not our possession of India itself the greatest of all anomalies? In our representative form of government, are there not anomalies of this very description? It is a system of check and counter-check. The balance of power is surely not objectionable in principle to the British Legislature. Even an apparent conflict of power is quite compatible with the utmost regularity of system; and I contend you have full advantage of long experience —the experience of sixty or seventy years —in favour of this mode of administering the government of India.
But then we are charged with caution and timidity in our course. That was the assertion particularly made by the hon. and 843 learned Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn). Perhaps it may be alleged against me and some of my Colleagues, that innovation, in the abstract, has no great terrors for us. We have been innovators, perhaps we may be innovators again; but I say this—it is incumbent upon innovators to show the necessity of the innovation they propose—the onus of proof in all cases falls on those who ask for change; and in this case, on the same principle, those who ask for more than we propose, must prove the existence of the necessity which gives them a claim to be heard in their demand. The government of India is held by us on a certain footing; we try our ground, feel our way in altering our relations to it. Proceeding prudently and cautiously, we propose to apply remedies for which we do not even claim that they are theoretically perfect, but which we believe are all that are at present shown to be practically necessary. We might go further; but in my opinion those who urge our doing so are bound to show the absolute necessity of the steps they advise, and the changes they wish us to make. Now, the noble Lord made a most important admission on this point, to which I have not before adverted. He said that the tree must be judged by its fruits. I am perfectly willing to test the entire question upon that issue. Upon the whole, has the double government of India worked well or not? First, what says the evidence? What more would you possibly have than you have got already? The noble Lord objects to Indian opinion, to native opinion. What further evidence could you collect, then, if you were to wait for any length of time? My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) seems to wish to cross-examine every Member of the House. But that would lead to endless and unnecessary confusion, for every person in this country most capable of giving advice in the matter, has been called before the Committee and has been already examined.; You have had three Governors General before you—Lord Ellenborough, Lord Har-dinge, and Mr. Wilberforce Bird. Of civil servants of the Company you have had Sir George Clerk, Mr. Millett, Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Prinsep, Mr. Trevelyan, Mr. Halliday, Mr. Marshman, the hon. Member for Rochester, who was a distinguished member of the civil service, and, in addition, two of the very ablest men, second to none, I believe, in point of ability in any public department of this country — Mr. Melville and Mr. Mill. I have not myself had the 844 advantage of serving on the Committee during the present Session. I attended regularly, however, during the last Session; and the general concurrence of the testimony, as I well remember, so far as the evidence then went to this issue—"judge the tree by its fruits,"—was remarkably in favour of the good government of India. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding began his speech by referring to the opinion of Mr. Marshman. I had not the advantage of hearing that gentleman's evidence; but my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) relied upon him very much in his anonymous character as the Friend of India. Now, however, Mr. Marshman appears in print in no anonymous shape, but in a letter to my hon. Friend himself, which is well worthy the consideration of the House. Remember, the tree is to be judged by its fruits. I will not weary-yon by quoting to any great extent; but I will read a short extract from that letter of Mr. Marshman's, in which he tells you, in the most compendious manner, what have been the changes—"the fruits," in the internal government of India in the eighteen years since 1833; and he gives a summary somewhat to this effect:—Small Cause Court established; municipal institutions introduced; cognizance of all suits intrusted to native judges; civilians instructed and examined in native languages; liberty of unlicensed printing established.[Mr. BRIGHT: Hear, hear!] My hon. Friend cannot doubt that. The Friend of India is a proof of unlicensed printing; and I must say, from a pretty good acquaintance with the Indian press, that it is carried to as great an extent there as in any other country in this world. Mr. Marshman goes on to say—Native languages restored in courts of justice; Suttee and infanticide suppressed; State lotteries forbidden; slavery abolished; railroads begun; electric telegraph in progress; uniform and cheap postage introduced.That is the summary of Mr. Marshman's experience of the last eighteen years' government of India, and remember we are now "trying the tree by its fruits." My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding then went on to advert to the authority of Mr. Halliday. I had not the advantage of hearing Mr. Halliday's evidence; but every Gentleman who had that advantage concurs in the opinion that a more able witness was never produced before a Committee; and the very circumstance of that evidence is a proof that the 845 East India Company in the selection of its servants has been fortunate, at all events, in finding some men of eminent ability. Mr. Halliday, upon the question of the changes proposed in the government of India itself, approves in the strongest manner, without exception, of every one of them; and it should be observed that Mr. Halliday, in the execution of the duties of his office, has passed scarcely any time in England for the last twenty or thirty years, but has resided almost exclusively in India. He is, therefore, the best possible witness with respect to the effect upon the Indian Government of the changes desirable there, and he is the least appropriate witness with reference to the Home Government. With reference to the changes in India, then, he entirely approves of them. But with respect to the Home Government, the working of which he imperfectly understands, or has not so fully considered, he hesitates, and it cannot be said that his evidence goes much beyond a doubt. I will not weary you with repetition —there are answers, however, which have been given to two questions, respecting the principle of a single or double government, which appear to me to be so conclusive, so clear, so admirable, that I will put them in opposition to any doubts which may be entertained by Mr. Halliday, as a witness upon this point, who I think is not entitled to the greatest credit, and I ask you to consider what Mr. Mill says, who is the witness peculiarly entitled to be heard upon this point—who has witnessed the working of the whole machinery day by day, and who is the man most competent to give an opinion upon the machinery of the Home Government. I think I heard it said that he is or was a servant of the Company. But surely, there is no one who is versed in the literature of the country, or who has studied the scientific question of political economy, who does not know Mr. Mill, and who, knowing him, can believe that he is not far—very far—above any humble dependence upon the East India Company. The East India Company are much more dependent upon him for the assistance which he has given them, than he is upon them for any emolument he may obtain. I will just read two questions, and the answers given by Mr. Mill upon this point, which convey my opinion in terms so much more clear than any I can use, that I am sure the House will pardon me for referring to them. They touch upon the question of compensation, of check and countercheck, in the system of the Government 846 as now established. He is asked, in Question 3,030:—What are the advantages of the division of the Home Government of India into two distinct bodies, the Court of Directors and the Board of Control?Now, can the question be raised more fairly? It contains the whole matter. Allow me to invite your attention to his answer. He says—It affords, I think, a great additional security for discussion and consideration. By rendering the consent of two distinct authorities necessary, you, in the first place, secure discussion between those two. The initiative being given to one body, and a veto to the other, and the body over which the veto can be exercised having in reality no substantial power except that which it derives from the force of its reasons, it is under very strong inducements to put reason on its side if it can. If the despatches which originate with the Court of Directors are not well grounded in reason, they carry no weight with the Board. The Court of Directors does not and cannot exercise any effective share in the Government, except in so far as it takes care to have reason on its side. Having this instrument of power, and no other, it has the strongest motive to use that instrument to the utmost; and in doing so it is a most efficient cheek upon the body which has the ultimate power, because that body being sure to have all subjects brought before it, with the result of the full consideration and concentrated judgment of a body which, from its constitution, has commonly that special knowledge and information which the President of the Board of Control in general has not, the President is under great inducement not to set aside the judgment of this comparatively well-informed body, unless he can give as strong or stronger reasons on the contrary side.There is exactly the check which I am most anxious to see maintained. It is the check of reason exercised by an independent body over a servant of the Crown really possessing, in the last resort, all the power which any servant of the Crown can possess, or can desire to possess, in this country. The President of the Board of Control, after hearing the reasons of the Court of Directors, if he finds them well founded, has the sole and exclusive responsibility, with his Colleagues in the Cabinet, of deciding the question; and I do not believe that any Secretary of State, really in a moment of emergency, possesses more summary and complete power than is now possessed by my right hon. Friend the President, and has been possessed by every other President of the Board of Control—a power subject only to this check, that if there be, on the part of those who are well informed with reference to Indian questions, any well-grounded objections, he must hear adverse reasons stated with the utmost force which 847 the greatest ability can bring to bear upon them; and I say that his decision is, in fact, morally checked to a considerable extent by the increased responsibility of having had those reasons presented to him, and having had to deliberate over them. Mr. Mill proceeds to illustrate the subject still further. He is asked in Question 3,034—Would the same benefits be realised, in your opinion, if India were to be governed by the two bodies merged into one, and by endeavouring to form a single body which should unite the advantage of both, such as a Council of India presided over by a Minister of the Crown?Is not that question again put in the very manner you would desire? Can it be raised more clearly? If you wished to have the opinion of Mr. Mill, could you put the question more directly, or in a form more likely to elicit a favourable reply?—I think that such a system would be far preferable to a government merely by a Secretary of State; but that the advantages now derived from the division of the governing body into two parts, the one having the initiative, and the other the ultimate control, would not be obtained under the system of a Minister and Council. In the first place, there is now not only an examination by two authorities, but successive examinations by two sets of competent subordinates.You talk of the expense of the subordinates. True, there are subordinates such as Mr. Mill and Mr. Melvill on the one hand, and gentlemen of great experience in the Board of Control upon the other; but if there be an anomaly in that respect, remember always the extraordinary anomaly of the empire you have to govern, and the imperfect knowledge which we have of all its details. If there be a multiplication of subordinates, and some small expense arising from that multiplication, I believe that you have reaped a hundredfold in the Government of India by the advantage of the previous information from competent authorities thus obtained. But it is not the subordinates only. Mr. Mill goes on to say:—If the body were but one, there would be only one set of subordinates; and that is not a trifling consideration, but in practice a very important one. In the next place, if the Minister of the Crown were president of the co-ordinate body, whether it were called Court of Directors or Council of India, he would have, not as at present, substantially a mere veto, but substantially the initiative, as the chairman now has; and in that case the council would not be under anything like the same responsibility, and would not exercise anything like the same power, that the Court of Directors do. When the Council are obliged to consider the subject first, and to make up their 848 minds upon it, and to write, or cause to be written, the strongest justification they can make of their opinion, the mind of this body is much more effectually applied to the subject, and a much more painstaking and conscientious decision is likely to be arrived at by them, than if they were only considered as the advisers of, or as a check upon, another initiating authority. Of course, under the system suggested in the question, it cannot be meant that the power of decision should rest in the Minister and his council jointly. The ultimate decision would rest with the Minister only, and his council would be merely a council. Now, when the Minister had thus both the ultimate power of decision and the initiative, it seems to me that the functions of the council would be reduced to comparative insignificance, and there would be great danger of their becoming nominal.I cannot hope to state to the House the views which I take of the principle of a double government in language half so clear, or with a force so irresistible, as that which I have read from the evidence of Mr. Mill.
I am desirous, however, to revert to the test which the noble Lord laid down, of trying this tree by its fruits. It was my fortune to be associated with a right hon. Friend of mine, now no more (Sir Robert Peel), and with the Duke of Wellington, in the government of India, at a moment of very great difficulty and danger. There had been a failure, almost for the first time to any extent, of the British arms in Affghanistan. The fate of the future movements of the advancing army was held in the balance; and what was the proud result of the proceedings which then took place? I have heard something about a question put elsewhere, as to whether the sons of horse-dealers might not be sent out to India. See how it applies here. At the time of which I speak, the Queen's army had met with a great disaster. There were two distinguished officers at that moment in command of two armies upon opposite sides of Affghanistan; one, General Pollock, the other, General Nott. I do not think that even on this occasion, and in this assembly, when we remember that the Queen's officers had sustained a great disaster, and by whom that disaster was retrieved—I do not believe, I say, that General Pollock will condemn me if I recall to the recollection of this House that he is the son of a humble shopkeeper in the city of London, and that General Nott was the son of a publican from a remote corner of South Wales, How did they retrieve the honour of this country? One was told either to retreat from Affghanistan, or to advance and recover Ghuznee, as he considered 849 best. It was open to him either to retreat or to advance. He hesitated not. His decision was taken in the course of one night, and General Nott, by his noble decision to advance, retrieved the fortunes of the war, and saved the honour of his country. What was the decision of General Pollock? He found his army dispirited. Their fate was hanging in the balance. He had the moral courage, far higher than any other courage of the most brilliant description, to resist all pressure and inducement to advance until the feeling, and spirit, and morale of his army were fully restored. Never was the saying better exemplified. Cunctando restituit rem. He hesitated not when the proper moment arrived, and the glorious consummation took place, that those two generals of the East India Company's service sustained and even exalted the glory of the British arms, and saved from destruction our empire in the Bast. Is this system lightly to be set aside? Is this form of government to be hastily rejected? We have the advantage of the opinions of Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington in favour of that system of government. They never hesitated or doubted amid all our difficulties that those difficulties would be overcome; and if they were now alive I am satisfied that they would counsel and entreat you, as I now do, not rashly or hastily to tamper with such a system. What took place afterwards? Though the disasters of Cabul had been retrieved, we had to encounter that which I will not say was appalling; for British hearts, even in India, are never appalled by any danger. Still, the circumstances were such as might have daunted most men. Our forces were not in the best possible condition. It had been found necessary to retreat; but there followed the two great battles of Moodkee and Feroze-shah. After that, we had the triumphant victory of Sobraon, when it fell to the lot of my noble friend, Lord Hardinge, to exclaim, like a hero of old——"Super at Garamantas at IndosProferit imperium.He carried his successes even beyond his famed rivals the conquerors of ancient times, whose progress was arrested by the Hydaspes, and it was his pride and joy to have added another province to our Indian empire. I have told you of the successes of the Company's officers in war. Great as were their achievements in war, even more has been accomplished, if possible, by their civil service for the good government and 850 the promotion of the happiness of the people of India. I remember that my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) referred to the beautiful speech upon the subject of India, delivered by Lord Grenville. I had the advantage of hearing a speech delivered by my right hon. Friend himself twenty years ago, and there is a passage in it equal in force and beauty to anything ever delivered in this House. Speaking of trying the system by its fruits, he said (not in these precise words of course)—"Under this system you have had men administering the government of millions of subjects; you have had them leading victorious armies; you have had them in times of peace and in days of conquest; you have had them administering the revenues of mighty provinces; you have had them residing at the courts of tributary kings; and yet those men have returned to their native country with little more than a scanty competency, and sometimes even in circumstances scarcely removed from want." That was the boast of Malcolm. That is still the noble, independent boast of Elphinstone; and, again I say, trying the system by its fruits, "Prune that tree if you please, dig a trench round about it if you will, but I implore you to pause and to hesitate before you cut it down." I believe it to be sound at the heart. I believe it to be a system, on the whole, of good government. It is not incapable of improvement. We have endeavoured to improve it. In India itself I have shown you how extensive those alterations and improvements are.
I will not waste your time by going into all the details of the alterations which we seek to introduce; but I should like before I sit down to offer some observations upon a portion of the remarks which fell from my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding. My hon. Friend instanced the Colonies. Why, Sir, I am confident that no colony could be adduced in which improvements in their internal government have taken place within the last eighteen years at all to be compared with those indisputable improvements which have been effected in India He talks of constant war. Upon that point I can speak with authority. It has been my fortune to know intimately five Governors General of India. My earliest friend—my most valued friend —to whom I owe much, and to whose memory I should be most ungrateful if I did not pay a ready tribute—Lord William Bentinck—went out to India with a strong 851 determination not to engage in war. Providence blessed his designs. He was enabled to adhere to his intentions, and his policy was pacific. But I have known four other Governors General. I had the honour of knowing Lord Auckland; I know the Earl of Ellenborough; I know Lord Hardinge; and I know Lord Dalhousie. I can speak positively of all these four, that their intentions were the same as those which actuated Lord William Bentinck. They wished to avoid war, to be pacific administrators of the Government of that great country which they were called upon to undertake, and to spare it from the curse and the evils of war. I entirely agree with the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Hemes) on this point. I say again, I believe their object was to avoid war; and it was not the Home Government, it was neither the Queen's Ministers nor the Court of Directors, that urged upon these Governors General the policy of departing from their pacific intentions. It was not British policy; it was Indian necessity. One and all of the wars in which they were engaged were undertaken from a sense of coming danger, by the Governors General—danger such as completely to override their preconceived intentions and policy; but in the discharge of an overwhelming public duty they did not shrink from incurring the responsibility of reversing their own intentions, and by the necessities of the empire they ruled they were driven to war. Then my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding talks of the declaration of Lord Dalhousie in favour of annexation. Well, it is the very circumstance to which I have before adverted of Indian necessity that, notwithstanding all your self-denying ordinances, notwithstanding the most fixed intentions or the part of the Governors General themselves, it is inherent in the nature of an empire so large as India, with boundaries so exposed, and with hostile States on every side—it is inherent, I repeat, in the nature of that Government, that, with the strongest desire to avoid war, the strongest desire, on considerations of abstract policy, not needlessly to add to the extent of an empire so unmanageable, the preconceived notions of the rulers of that empire should be shaken, and their previous resolutions should be reversed. My hon. Friend was shocked at the annexation of Pegu. But I will ask him if this question of annexation is one 852 confined only to India? Has he not heard of annexations by other Governments not absolute or despotic? Has he not heard in America of declarations in favour of an annexation quite as large from the citizens of a country who live under a Government, not despotic, but absolutely free? Has he not heard of any intention there of annexing without bounds the whole continent of North America — of their determination not to allow any independent nation to exist on that great and mighty continent? These are not questions of narrow policy; they are the unavoidable necessities of empire. What is true of America is equally true of Asia. There is a very great difficulty in declaring you will not annex any additional territory; and that brings me to the subject of the Burmese war. My hon. Friend (Mr. Cobden) thinks the facts relating to the disputes with Burmah of no great importance, and he relies upon certain narrow facts—namely, the misunderstanding between the commander of the Fox frigate and the Governor of Rangoon. Now, I contend that the view taken by my hon. Friend is a narrow and unfair one. He referred to an isolated transaction which was only the culminating point of many others. It was the last insult which had been added to many former insults; and in the eye of the Asiatic, tame submission to insults studiously offered, would have been fatal to that empire, which, again I say, rests mainly upon opinion. My hon. Friend says that the control of the officers of the fleet does not rest with the Governor General. All I can say is, that if Her Majesty had disapproved of the conduct of Commodore Lambert, he would have been instantly recalled and instantly reprimanded; and if any Member of this House thought the Executive Government, which is responsible to this House for what it does, had failed in its duty, it would have been open to him to make a Motion on the subject. Let me ask another question. Will the existence of a single government be a check of any value in respect to war? The case put is that the countereheck of the East India Company is inefficient; but supposing that counter-check were removed, and nothing were left but direct government, and the will of the Executive were conveyed in a positive order to the Governor General, there might be somewhat greater promptitude, but surely no additional check against war. But have we proposed no check? We are about to reintroduce a system, the adoption of which 853 will, I think, serve as a very great check —namely, an annual statement by the responsible Minister of the Crown, of the state of the finances of India, which will give an opportunity to Members in this House to challenge every transaction; and my hon. Friend observed that this matter of Indian finance was intimately connected with British interests and with the question of Indian war.
I do not wish to weary you with the details upon finance, but again I say, try this question—try the merits of the system by its fruits. I will just glance at this matter of finance. As I understand it, my hon. Friend is quite right when he says, that after the last renewal of the Charter a large balance was appropriated to extinguish the debt—rightly appropriated, as I think — but with the knowledge and consent of Parliament, for it was in pursuance of an Act of Parliament, But, after all, that does not materially affect the figures. The debt of India in 1833 was 38,000,000l.; the debt of India is now 53,000,000l. The addition to the debt upon the face of the account so stated is 15,000,000l. But then there were in 1833 only 8,400,000l. of balances in the Indian exchequer. There are now 15,000,000l. of balances. Therefore, that difference of 6,600,000l. subtracted from the 15,000,000l. of apparently additional debt, leaves standing only an addition of 8,400,000l. of Indian debt, and this after the war with Affghanistan, after the war with Burmah, and after the Punjaub war, and the war in Scinde—all wars most expensive and most important, which have been conducted, one and all, to a successful conclusion, with an addition to the debt of only 8,400,000l. Now, the weight of the debt must bear some relation to the income of a State on which it is charged, as the homely illustration of my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding will have shown. If an agent brings to you a statement showing an increase of debt upon your estate, and says this has been profitably incurred, you say to him—"Show me the other side of the account. What is the balance to my credit?" We will do that in this case. At the time of the passing of the Charter of 1833 the debt of India was, as I have stated, 38,000,000l., and the revenue was 18,500,000l. The debt now is 53,000,000l. But what is the revenue? Is the revenue still 18,500,000l.? On the contrary, the income—the territorial income and the revenue of the East India Company at this 854 moment in India is 29,000,000/.; so that while the debt has increased 40 per cent, the revenue has increased 55 per cent in the same time. You will say, this is nothing in proof of the improved condition of the people of India. That would be most true, if you could show there was any increase in the taxation during that period. Is it so? On the contrary, one of the taxes which pressed most heavily upon the people of India has been reduced 25 per cent; and, next in importance, the whole town taxation, which acted like the octroi in France—the whole of the transit duties have been swept away. So much in reference to finance.
But my hon. Friend went on to remark upon the patronage of the Directors. I have already told you how that patronage has been exercised. My hon. Friend the Chairman of the Committee will correct me if I am wrong; but I think I may boldly state, that with every desire to hear evidence of malversation in the distribution of that patronage, no well-authenticated case has been produced before that Committee. On the other hand, I have mentioned to you what has been the case with regard to many of the men sent out to India—-men, be it remembered, not selected from the flower of the aristocracy, but men who have been brought from the middle class. Of them it may indeed be said—Curibus parvis at paupere terraMissus in imperium magnum.That has been the character of Malcolm, of Monroe, of the most distinguished servants of the East India Company; and I say again that you may change your system—alter it as you please—remove the imperfections if you can—but my firm belief is, that greater and better men will not be sent out to India under any other system than have gone out both in the civil and the military service under the system which now exists. But, now again I feel a difficulty. It will be said, if the system as regards the exercise of patronage is as you describe it, why alter it at all? Well, I do think that the system of canvass, as it has existed, has not been conducive to the welfare of the country. And why do I say so? I think some of the most distinguished men have been excluded from the Court of Directors by not being willing to submit to that canvass. The system has been condemned by Captain Shepherd, twice Chairman of the East India Company, and an hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir H. Maddock) as 855 a proof of unwillingness, on the part of able men, to submit to that canvass. Mr. Willoughby has declared against the system; Mr. Wilberforce Bird has declared against the system; Mr. Robertson has declared against it; and upon the whole, the weight of testimony is decidedly opposed to it. If there be anything unworthy in this system of canvassing, it is the offer of patronage as a consideration for the promise of support. Now, what do we do? We strike at the very pabulum which feeds that system. Our plan of open competition for the civil, the scientific, and the medical appointments, will go to rectify the evil to a very considerable extent. It is said you will still have the military patronage. But, as was argued by my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Board of Control (Mr. Lowe), there is a great difference between the character of the military service and the scientific appointments to which I have referred; and I do think that the disposal of the patronage with reference to the army may be safely left in the manner proposed by this Bill. The hon. Member for the West Riding says, this is fatal to the extended employment of the Natives in India; and he mentioned the names, I think, of Elphin-stone, and Malcolm, and Munroe, with reference to their opinion as to the desirability of employing Natives. In the first piace, I would remark that Lord William Bentinck partook of the opinion, when he went out to India, that the Natives were not sufficiently trusted and employed; and, with that firmness and honesty of purpose which characterised him, he took upon himself, upon his own responsibility, to give effect to the means of their further employment. Bid the Bast India Company interpose their authority, and reject that employment of the Natives as proposed by Lord William Bentinck? Far from it. The hon. Member for Honiton (Sir James Hogg) the other night read to the House a despatch of the East India Directors, in which they highly commended the system which Lord William Bentinck had introduced. Then I revert to the names, the honoured names, of Malcolm, of Munroe, and Elphinstone. I confidently believe that, if it had been predicted to them in the year 1833 that the Natives of India would be employed to the extent they are now employed in 1853, their most sanguine hopes would not have allowed them to believe that so great a change would quietly have been effected in 856 so short a time. I will not weary the House—thanking them, as I do, for the patience with which they have already listened to me —I will not weary the House by now arguing in favour of the distinction between the covenanted and uncovenanted service. I attach the greatest importance to the maintenance of it. I do not believe you can depart from that distinction in the civil service, and maintain it in the military. This is a proof of the value of experience, and of proceeding gradually in steps of this kind. I know not that, â priori, one would have drawn that distinction which exists between the covenanted and the uncovenanted service; but finding it there—finding it in existence, and maintained up to the present time—I hold that it would be the greatest indiscretion, the most wanton incurring of needless danger, to break down that line of demarcation. I do not believe that you could open the covenanted service to the Natives in respect to civil appointments, and not greatly disturb it with reference to the military. I will not push that topic further; but I will leave it to the good sense and discretion of every Gentleman who hears me, whether his conscience does not tell him that we ought to be careful before taking a step of that kind. What more has been done? I believe I am quite accurate when I say that with respect to the judicial appointments 99 cases out of every 100 are adjudicated upon by Native Judges—99 out of every 100 of all cases in the first instance, ordinary cases, and 95 of the general summary of all the cases. In 1833, these Judges were very inadequately rewarded. Now, however, the stipendiary magistrate of Calcutta, who is, I believe, a man of colour, receives a salary of 1,500l. a year; and the great body of the native judges, except those of the lowest class, are in receipt of from 1,500l. as a maximum, down to 360l. as a minimum; whereas in 1833, with one or two exceptions, very few of the Natives received salaries so high as 400l. a year. Upon the whole, I am persuaded that the desire on the part of the British Government and of the Governor General—their sincere desire—is gradually to introduce more and more into the service of the people of India, as their fitness by education shall render the extension of the system expedient and safe, the Natives of that country. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, that no apprehension of 857 imaginary dangers should induce us to act with injustice to the people of that country in withholding from them that fair share of power for which their education fits them; and that the jealousy of their own fellow countrymen ought not to furnish us with a pretext for not giving them that share. But, on the other hand, from no fanciful notion of liberality, altogether un-suited to the circumstances of the case, will the House, I hope, sanction any innovation of an untried and dangerous character, however specious.
Again I say I hope that this House, upon the whole, will consent to the second reading of this Bill. There is, on the part of the Government, every disposition to meet any objections with reference to its details in a spirit of the most perfect candour; but I am satisfied that no more dangerous course, in the present critical situation of affairs, could be taken than for this House to reject this measure; but remember, the rejection of this measure would be the effect of adopting the Amendment of the noble Lord.
§ SIR HERBERT MADDOCK
said, there was some portion of this measure which he thought a vast improvement upon the existing system. He approved of the proposition for depriving the individual Directors, he might say, of the right of nominating the actual administrators of the Government of India, and for throwing open to public competition the appointments in the civil service. That, he was convinced, was a step in the right direction. It met the great difficulty which had been apprehended of the patronage of India, if taken from the Directors, becoming a dangerous instrument in the hands of a corrupt Minister of the Crown. But he should be glad to see the system proposed by the Bill carried much further, and a larger portion of the military patronage than the scientific appointments in the army taken from the Directors; and he thought that one-half of the military appointments might be thrown open to public competition. It was said that if appointments in the civil service were given to studious perons—mere bookworms—they would be found deficient in the energy of mind and activity of body essential to the performance of the duties of civil servants in India. But he confessed that he saw no likelihood of any difficulty herein. It was the fashion with some to eulogise the civil service of India more than it probably deserved; by others, in- 858 stances of incapacity had been paraded, as if they were a sample of the general administration. It was impossible that among 800 men sent out to India by the favour of individuals, there should not be some who were incompetent. In fact, a service so selected could not, upon the whole, fail to be characterised by general mediocrity. There would be sure to be in such a body some superior men, others of moderate capacity, and some decidedly unfit for responsibility. And it was difficult to deal with this latter class. There were now no sinecure appointments—no official situations, as informer days—to afford an asylum for the reception of inferior civilians. When a civilian had served eight or ten years, and had not acquitted himself to the satisfaction of the Government, it was not a very easy thing to dismiss him, with all his prospects blighted, and turn him adrift penniless. The Government of India was beset with such difficulties, and the Governor General had not the power of dismissing a man, however incapable he might be; the utmost power he could exercise was that of suspending the individual from public employment, the Court of Directors reserving to themselves the right of dismissal; and he regretted to say that there had been instances where they had failed to dismiss unworthy individuals after such suspension. As he had before said, the general character of such a service must be that of mediocrity; and no one could expect to find a large majority of its members distinguishing themselves as public administrators; but it could not be denied that, as a body, they were highly distinguished. This, however, was not attributable to the form of appointment, but to the circumstances in which each civilian was placed at the commencement of his career. A young man of twenty-one or twenty-two—at an age when in Europe he would fill none but subordinate situations— found himself in India placed in a situation of the highest trust and responsibility. The happiness of thousands, of tens of thousands, and even of hundreds of thousands, was committed to his care, and that young man must be void indeed of feeling who did not exert all the talent that he possessed to acquit himself honourably in the "great trust imposed upon him." And thus, of these men who, in talents and natural abilities, were on the average not above mediocrity, a very large portion turned out most distinguished public servants. But, if that had been the 859 case under the present system of selection, he believed that, under a system in which none but men who should prove themselves superior in attainments and intellectual power were appointed to the civil service of India, the Legislature would insure a far more able race of administrators than India had ever yet seen, and a better government than the British possessions had ever yet enjoyed. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macaulay) said, that whatever weight might be given to arguments as to any peculiar form of home government given to India, in reality the government of India was carried on, and always had been carried on, by the local Government on the spot. He must say that his own experience in India had taught him that great measures, good or bad, with few exceptions, originated with the Governor General, and had been carried out without any previous knowledge or sanction of the Home Government. As to those unfortunate wars which had been spoken of, they had been carried on by the Government of India, and neither for them could the home authorities be blamed. There was one point to which he thought it most desirable that the attention of Parliament should now be drawn, and that was the numerous checks put upon the power of the Governor General, who, he was of opinion, might be more uncontrolled—more free to act than he had hitherto been in all matters of administration — in all measures affecting the internal improvement of the country. The Governor General, although possessed of the power of entering on a war which might involve the expenditure of 10,000,000l. or 12,000,000l., it was well known, had not the power to expend on his own authority, or to commence any public work if the expense exceeded 5,000l. People complained that so little was done for the physical improvement of India; but, while the Governor General, who drew a salary of 24,000l., and who was assisted by five councillors who drew 10,000l. a year each, was unable to originate any public improvements that would cost more than 5,000l., what other result could be expected? All works involving a larger expenditure had to be referred for the sanction of the home authorities; and he could assert, of his own knowledge, that if the Governor General had not been under these unnecessary and unworthy trammels, there would not be so much cause of complaint, as was now made, that such small sums were expended in India upon works of a 860 beneficial character. The same might be said with regard to education, and of every expenditure of a useful nature calculated to develop the resources of the country. Whatever other changes were made, it was indispensable that the power of the Governor General should be increased, and that he should not be kept in such strict subordination to the home authorities as he was at present, in respect to expenditure or works of public utility. With regard to the increase in the number of members of the Legislative Council of Calcutta, the proposal of the Government would assuredly be attended with a serious increase of expenditure. It was impossible that there should be such an amount of business transacted by the Legislative Council as to justify the maintenance of an expensive machinery of this character for framing laws. The Government proposed to give every member of the Legislative Council the highest rate of payment given to civil servants in India —namely, 5,000l. a year. He doubted whether there would be sufficient business to justify such an expense, unless the members of the Legislative Council were required to discharge other duties also. He regretted that no mention had been made of the appointment of any Native members of the Legislative Council. He thought the Council would not be complete without, some Natives being members of it. He did not propose to place them exactly in the same position as the members of the civil service, or as the covenanted servants, or to give them an equal salary; but in all questions affecting the religious feelings or prejudices of the Native population, their advice would be required; and if Parliament wished to maintain the loyalty and attachment to the Government that now prevailed among the natives of India, they must take some steps to prevent any legislation on the part of the Governor General that could infringe their religious rites or prejudices. He should prefer three Native gentlemen should be added to the Legislative Council, either which, or the opinion of the native community, ought first to he obtained upon these points before the Government were authorised to legislate. He thought there ought also to be an appeal for redress of grievances upon such points to some other authority in this country than the authority of the Court of Directors. They could not pretend that the people of India should not be parties to the framing of laws for their own government. With regard to education in India, he did not un- 861 dervalue the study of Bacon, of Locke, of Milton, or of Shakespeare; yet, what he thought was most wanted in India was a knowledge of useful arts and sciences, which had hardly made a commencement in India. He trusted that when such matters came to be considered in Committee, some of the suggestions which had been thrown out would meet with attention. He had himself always been an advocate for delay in legislation upon this subject, and had always felt that Parliament was bound to pay some attention to the representations of the natives of India themselves, and that it was also bound to complete the inquiry which it had itself directed before proceeding to legislate for a term of years, or, indeed, at all. His opinion in that respect was altogether unchanged; yet, when it was urged that there was plenty of information as to the form of government required in India, he would allow, as far as the argument applied to the Home Government, that there was a great deal of truth in it. If, at the present moment, Parliament proceeded to legislate, it was quite clear—and the very Bill itself was evidence of the fact—that the legislation would be very imperfect, and of a very partial character. The present Bill did not embrace above one-third of those matters which ought to have been made subjects of legislation. The result of passing the present measure would only be to establish the form of government; 6ut a great deal would still be left for inquiry and investigation. It did not appear to him that in 1854 Parliament would be asked to adopt any further measures for India, but that all that was left undone by the present Bill would then have to be done at the discretion of the President of the Board of Control, and he did not think that that was a very satisfactory course. These being his sentiments, it might be supposed that he was prepared to vote for the adjournment of this measure. If the question were one as to whether leave should be given to bring in a Bill, he certainly should have voted against its introduction; but as the Government had been allowed to introduce the present measure, he considered that, if it were rejected by a vote of the House, it would have a very prejudicial effect upon the minds of the people of India—prejudicial, not as far as the strength of any particular party in that House was concerned, or to those who at the time were admitted into Her Majesty's Councils; but 862 the Queen's Government would be brought into disrepute in India, if Ministers were to be beaten upon a question of such vast importance to that country. He spoke with some knowledge of the feelings of the people of India. On ordinary occasions they cared little and knew little about the result of debates in that House; but of the present debate they would study every word, if not in English, in translations, and also the evidence which had been brought before the Committees of both Houses on this subject. As a measure in which the people of India were so deeply interested had been introduced by the Ministry, he feared it would be attended with prejudicial consequences in India if this Bill were rejected; but he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, and the House, would be willing to discuss the suggestions which had been thrown out, and on this understanding he should himself be prepared to support the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he felt impelled by a strong sense of duty, which he hoped he shared in common with all those Gentlemen who had endeavoured to master this great subject, to express his views on the present occasion. It would not, therefore, be true if he were to tell the House that his motive in rising was to reply to the perpetual allusions which had been made to the speech which he had made on this subject on a former occasion, or to point out the misrepresentation of it which had been made by the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg). No personal consideration of any kind mingled with the desire he felt to prevent the House, if possible, from perpetrating what he could not but consider a course of injustice to the Natives of India. With regard to the speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), who had spoken that night, he had never heard a speech more calculated to mislead the House from the consideration of the subject really before them. The right hon. Gentleman, with great acuteness, and with all the aid which sophistry could impart, had endeavoured to turn the attention of the House from the main point at issue by dwelling on the abilities and achievements of some of those distinguished men who had adorned the Indian service. But, he would ask, could any man doubt that in a great service, and one opening a large field for the display of capability, out of 800 persons chosen from 863 the tipper and middle classes of society, that some would not be found who would prove equal, and more than equal, to the duties which they had undertaken? When the right hon. Baronet dwelt upon the capacity which some of those gentlemen had displayed, in order to prove the general advantage of the system, and referred to the careers of Generals Nott and Pollock, he might as well attempt to defend the revocation of the edict of Nantes by bringing forward instances of men who adorned the Court of Louis XIV. Such considerations as those were entirely beside the question, and he hoped that the House would not suffer itself to be led away by any such attempts, but would exercise its own judgment on the real question at issue. The right hon. Baronet said "that a tree ought to be judged by its fruit;" and he was prepared to meet him on that ground. Let the right hon. Baronet look to the condition of the inhabitants of the different provinces of India. He would quote an extract from the Friend of India, for September 16, 1852:—A whole century will be scarcely sufficient to remedy the evils of that perpetual settlement, and we have not yet begun the task. Under its baneful influence a population of more than 20,000,000 have been reduced to a state of such utter wretchedness of condition and such abjectness of feeling as it would be difficult to parallel in any other country.It had been stated that in a more recent pamphlet Mr. Marshman had contradicted himself; but, if that were the case, the only inference that could be drawn was, that his testimony was unworthy of credit. Another distinguished writer upon the affairs of India said—We shudder to contemplate the condition of the tenants in Bengal, who are given over to worse than Egyptian bondage. The truth is, the power of coercion placed in the hands of zemindars is in the highest degree oppressive.Such were the opinions which prevailed with respect to the condition of a large portion of the people of India. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) had stated to the House that zemindars occasionally possessed as much as 1,000l. a year. But did the hon. Member think to impose upon the understanding of the House by such an argument? Could any one doubt that in a large population it was possible that individuals could possess such fortunes? But surely that could be no valid argument calculated to disprove a statement as to the state of misery to which the population were reduced. With 864 regard to the administration of justice in India, a gentleman well versed in Indian affairs, and one whose natural bias would not have led him to feel any very great sympathy for the Natives, speaking of the judicial system, said that the collectors when they grew old were made judges, without exception. It seemed to be considered, that if at that time of life a man were fit for anything at all, he was fit to be a judge, and, without control, to discharge judicial duties. The general opinion, according to the same authority on this subject, was, if a man was fit for nothing, make him a judge, and so get rid of him, for no man appointed to that office would have any further claim for promotion. These were some of the fruits by which the tree ought to be judged. Another evil had been pointed out by Sir Charles Metcalfe, in his evidence before the Committee of the House of Lords, which was, that for some offences the Native was liable to be tried in the King's Court, while for others he was liable to be tried in the Company's; and, indeed, in some cases he was liable to both, and there was no defined limitation by which the Native might know by what Court he was liable to be tried. Such had been an evil pointed out some years ago, but which still remained unchanged, and it was not confined to any particular Presidency. There was no question which required consideration more than the working of the judicial system in India. He would give the House an instance of a judicial decision in India. The Sessions Judge of Surat having recently convicted a Brahmin of deliberately murdering three children, by making them drunk, and then burning them alive, sentenced him to two years' imprisonment. Such were some more of the fruits by which this tree was to be judged. The police agents were notorious for the commission of acts of the grossest cruelty. A shocking case of this kind was recounted in the Calcutta Review, for May, 1844. It was extracted from an official report by a magistrate, and the proceedings detailed were so atrocious that it was desirable they should be brought under the notice of the House, in order that Members might be aware of what was done under the Government which the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton so much lauded. The Calcutta Review introduced the case thus:—With one more case from this report of the superintendence, we must close our string of offi- 865 ial evidence against the police. The case is one of unexampled monstrosity, notorious enough in Bengal; but of so convincing a character that we desire it should be read in all parts of the world. The horrid event occurred in the Moor-shedabad district, and is thus officially narrated by the superintendent of police. Comment needs it none from us:—' One of the cases here entered is that dreadful case of torture by Bholanauth Gungolee Daro-gah and others, the police officers of Thannah Mirzapore, to extort a confession from one Ram-doolub Raie, of a dacoity which bad never been committed, in which, from the consequences of the horrid treatment which he received, and the subsequent detention at the Thannah to evade detection, the toes and fingers of the poor victim rotted off, and he is left a cripple and a pensioner on the bounty of the Government for life. The fingers and the toes of the man were first tied together, and wedges being driven between them to the greatest extent of tension, he was laid out on his back in the sun. This not producing the desired effect, his bands and feet were dipped into boiling water; then the ligatures were unloosened, and bandages dipped in oil tied round the fingers of both hands and the toes of the left foot, and lighted; and this not forcing him to confess, be was, as if to prevent any hope of his recovery, detained several days at the Thannah, without any remedies being applied, and when brought in by the orders of the magistrate to whose knowledge the ease had been brought, his hands and feet were in a state of mortification, and ultimately his fingers and toes rotted off. This is, perhaps, an extreme case of torture, and I am happy to say that all the police officers, though not the others concerned, have been severely punished. But acts of torture by Bansdollah, and other brutal and indecent means, are of frequent, too frequent, occurrence by the police; and what can be said of that system of total want of check and control which could admit of a Daro-gah, with other police officers, adopting such measures towards a party falsely charged, to his knowledge, of being engaged in a dacoity, with any hope of non-detection and escape? Before the poor victim was sent in, he was compelled to sign a paper, stating that his hands and feet had been injured by severe binding, without the knowledge of the Darogah. Only the cases of oppression and petty assault which have been carried through, have been entered under the misce-laneous heading, and in these 105 persons were brought in, thirty released, fifty punished, and seventeen remained.'It might be doubted whether the poor wretches who had been so inhumanly treated would derive any consolation from hearing of the exploits of Generals Nott and Pollock. The hon. Baronet had thanked God because the President of the Board of Control had not attempted to deal with the question of land tenures. Seeing that this question was intimately connected with the happiness of millions of people, it was not easy to understand why the hon. Baronet should rejoice that it was ignored in a measure which was introduced professedly for the good government of those millions. 866 The question of land tenures, taken in connexion with the raising of the revenue, exercised the most baleful influence upon the native population. Mr. Marshman, in the Friend of India, after referring to some necessary reforms, said—All these precautions, however, would be of little effect in securing the happiness of the people, if they were not accompanied by a corresponding degree of liberality in the actual settlement of the amount of yearly assessment. We know of nothing more wonderful in the history of taxation, and of nothing which to our mind so perplexes the whole question of land assessment, as the sudden and almost irremediable ruin which overspreads an Indian district when an over-assessment has been placed upon it. A few turns of the revenue screw, the change of a moderate for a rigid commissioner, will convert a flourishing province into a desolate pauper warren. The people of Bundelcund have scarcely yet forgotten the hated name of Warin Saheb,' whose 'settlement' actually reduced the population of the province; and even in our own day Chittagong has suffered most severely from the injudicious severity of an honest commissioner.The right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) had unintentionally corroborated this statement, and at the same time passed condemnation on the existing system, when he said that the character of a government official might be read in the countenances of the population of the district in which he happened to be employed. Though he had listened with delight to the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he was bound to state that it was hardly possible to conceive a weaker defence than he had offered for the Government. The inhabitants of India had some right to expect that that right hon. Gentleman's great abilities would have been exerted in their behalf and against this Bill, seeing that the promises he himself had made them had all been violated—that the hopes he had held out had proved delusive—and that the clause which he insisted on having introduced into the last Act had been treated as if it had never existed. Under these circumstances, he repeated, the people of India had reason to expect that the right hon. Gentleman would have endeavoured to prevent their being leased out again to their oppressors. Nothing could have caused him more astonishment than the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman referred to the salt tax, unless, indeed, it was his allusion to what had been done with respect to the transit duties, as a proof of the wisdom of the Company. The Calcutta Review for March, 1853, gave the following account of the effects produced by the salt tax:— 867We take up the salt revenue as presenting an evil by which the health and lives of the community are seriously affected. Salt is a main essential of health and life in a tropical climate; to deny it to the human frame, or to deprive it of the necessary supply, is as certain an evil as the want of food or water. In Indian languages, to 'eat one's salt' has the same import as in English to eat one's bread …ֵThe curse which this tax thus proves to the country is manifest to every one intimately acquainted with the condition of the poor; not only do they suffer from the ruinous price at which it is sold, but from its deleterious character. They eat, but they are not satisfied; they heap on salt, for which they have paid dearly, but there is no savour in the rice; and those who cannot afford to purify it are compelled, in violence to their habitual cleanliness in diet, to consume a large proportion of injurious sand and filth. Disease is the inevitable result, especially in a low country, and where vegetable diet is the universal food…ֵWe object, then, to this monopoly from its inhumane operation upon the lives of the people. We cannot, however, politically see the necessity or expediency of the tax. It chiefly works for the advantage, not of the revenue, but of an iniquitous trade, the Company having only 300 per cent, and the trade 800 or 1,000. But even did the Government gain the whole nine millions a year, which the people probably pay for salt, it would ill compensate for the human misery and loss of life now entailed. But it is objected that the important tax raised from salt is necessary for the maintenance of the revenue. It is granted that the necessary revenue must be raised; but would it not be wiser to obtain such revenue from any other source, which does not affect the health and lives of the subjects?Mr. Marriott, who had held high office under the Company, and been a member of the Council, declared that in some districts the population was verging on pauperism, and that a large portion of the revenue was paid out of capital, consisting of the personal property of the natives, such as ornaments and jewels. The mass of evidence to the same effect which was before the world justified him, and those with whom he was acting, in receiving with some degree of distrust the glowing accounts of the condition of India with which the right hon. President of the Board of Control, and the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg) had favoured the House. In reply to the charges made against the Company, the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton had referred to some philanthropic passage in one of the despatches of the Court of Directors. Why, the worst of Governments might vindicate the worst of its acts by such a process of reasoning as that. Gulliver narrated that, when the king of Lilliput was about to commit any act of unusual severity upon his subjects, he invariably prefaced it by a declaration of lenity, so that his faithful 868 subjects never failed to be filled with consternation the moment he dropped a hint of his paternal regard for them. Without going so far as to say that the tale of the satirist had been realised in India, he had a right to demand that the government of that country should be judged by what it had done, not by what it had said. Let us not act like the man described by the great Italian poet, who carried a lantern to warn others of danger, while he blindly rushed on destruction himself. If the people of India could not claim free institutions, they, at least, had a right to responsible government. Parliament was now on its trial, and it would be judged by the latest posterity. Let us, then, hope to see the reverse of a picture which every Englishman who had the honour of his country at heart must turn from with feelings of shame and indignation.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he should confine himself in his remarks to such information as he had been able to derive from the best works on India, having no personal knowledge of the country. He felt that the general question was an immense and complicated one; but the one now before the House was, whether they had had sufficient information to enable them to make up their minds. He was of opinion that the House was in possession of sufficient information to enable it to legislate, and that no case had been made out for changing the present Government of India, for, after all, that was the question which they were called on to decide. They found in the history of the British administration in India a continual series of lessons that ought to inspire them with the deepest humility. They found the best men constantly exerting themselves to bring about the happiest results; and yet how often were their transactions doomed to disappointment. In a letter from Sir John Malcolm to Mr. Barlow, soon after the permanent settlement of Bengal, there was a most favourable account of the condition of the country, and the system under which it was ruled was described as the most benevolent plan that ever had been devised. In a memorandum of Sir Thomas Munro, a similar opinion was expressed with regard to the ryotwar system; but it was found that both the systems so lauded had very great defects. They should be careful, therefore, not to form any rash judgment on the matter. The English Government of India was the only instance in the world of the westward 869 tide of civilisation being thrown back upon the East. In this attempt the French, Dutch, and Portuguese, had all failed, and we alone remained the governors of 150,000,000 of Orientals. Owing to the mixture of races their government was a matter of great difficulty. With regard to the land assessment, all that they found on record as to the history of the origin of this impost showed that the Directors had been anxious that it should be prudent, and just, and humane. And this was what might fairly have been expected; for he could not suppose that the Government of India had any motive or desire to act severely or harshly towards the natives of India. As to the particular form of government, he would say but little. He demurred somewhat to the use of the term "double government," as understood by those Gentlemen who were opposed to it. He believed it would be found that the real double government was the government by the Directors and the Governor General of India. He did not think they would find that in the administration of India there had been anything peculiar or remarkable as regarded the action of the Company on the Government, or that did not naturally flow from the peculiar circumstances of the case. In all our Colonies, there existed the same condition of double governments; and the difference with regard to India was little more than that the circumstances of the case rendered it imperative for the administrative government of India to be established in London instead of Calcutta. He believed there had been a great deal of sophistry employed on this matter; and that if they looked at it in the simplest light in which it could be viewed, it would be found that the East India Company exercised legislative and administrative duties independently of politics. As to the canvass, which was said to be so extremely derogatory, he could see no reason why it should be more derogatory than the canvass required for admission to that House. It was said, some of the best Indian servants were excluded from the Court of Directors; hut so were many of the best men excluded from that House. With regard to public works, that was, no doubt, a matter of great importance; but when they spoke of the want of roads in India, it should be recollected that in Portugal (our most ancient ally) there was but one great public road; and in many of the countries of Europe a simi- 870 lar want existed. On one point he differed entirely from the Bill before the House, and, when that point came before them in Committee, he should freely express his opinion regarding it. He was sorry to find himself in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh on that subject, namely, the system of open competition. He did not believe the Government would find any advantage from that system; but when the Bill was in Committee would be the proper time for the discussion of that question.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, the question before them was one which, as much as possible, they ought to adhere to; but he suspected that the hon. Member for Pontefract had been indulging in a little of that fancy for which he was distinguished, in dealing with what ought to be a practical question. The question was, whether they would take the Bill offered by the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control, or delay all permanent legislation for India for two years—that was to say, pass a mere Continuance Bill, extending the duration of the present Act from the 30th of April, 1854, to the 30th of April, 1856; for that was practically the result of the noble Lord's (Lord Stanley's) Amendment, if it was adopted by the House. He was not himself less strongly of opinion than before, after all he had heard, that it would not be wise in them to refuse agreeing to the proposition of the noble Lord, rather than to the Bill before the House. He was not at all certain, even though the Bill were less objectionable than it was, that it would not be desirable to have such delay as the noble Lord proposed; and he put it to the House whether, the week before the right hon. Baronet brought forward his measure, it was not the general opinion that legislation should be put off for two years, and whether this was not also the opinion of the country, so far as that opinion could be gathered from the expressions of the public press? There could not be a doubt that the great majority of the most widely-circulated and most ably-written newspapers were in favour of delaying legislation for the present; and he believed that had been the opinion of the Government itself, for there was strong reason to believe that a week before the right hon. Gentleman brought in his Bill, they had come to the conclusion that legislation this Session should only be temporary, and that a permanent measure should be put off till Parliament had time 871 fully to consider the question. If they went to India, what was the opinion of the people there, as expressed in the petitions from Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay, whether of the Christian, the Mahomedan, or the Hindoo population? These petitions made statements either asking directly for delay, or such as fairly left it to be inferred that they were in favour of delay. But if they wanted to know the opinion of a great authority in India, he would quote from a paper which had been often referred to during the debate, and which might be fairly quoted from as a paper strongly in favour of the Indian Government, because its editor and proprietor, who was now in this country, had been made use of as one of the most powerful instruments for inducing Parliament to pass this Bill during the present Session. He must say he was well pleased to meet with the quotation he was about to read in such a place, because it could not be said that it was only one of those mistaken notions which they were said to put forth on that side of the House. Within twelve months from this time there appeared in the Friend of India this paragraph with regard to this very question of legislation:—But it will be impossible to obtain a sufficient body of evidence, in so brief a period, on all the various and complicated questions connected with the administration of India; and it would be an act of superlative injustice to legislate for this country for twenty years to come, without a searching and complete investigation of the present system. The natives of the country, who have made greater strides in knowledge during the last twenty years than in the 1,000 years which preceded them, ought to be fully heard before the Committee. The great interests at stake in this magnificent dependency of the Crown require that mature examination for which there will be no longer any adequate leisure or opportunity before the expiration of the old Charter. The most advisable course would be to pass a brief Act, extending the present arrangement for two years longer, with the exception of one measure—that of appointing a separate Governor for Bengal, and then to appropriate 1853 and 1854 to the collection of evidence by a Committee, and the year 1855 to the calm and deliberate discussion of the improvements required in the Government.The House would observe that reference was here made to the establishment of a Government for twenty years; and the editor of the Friend of India stated, that, if the Bill was not to be for twenty years, he would not object to legislation during the present Session, as great questions would probably arise next year. However, he (Mr. Bright) thought they were likely 872 to know as much of the great questions next year as this gentleman, and therefore that might be fairly left out of the question. He confessed he did not like this Bill better because it did not fix a period. In the last Act a clause was inserted by which it was to terminate on the 30th of April next year; and if that Act did not so terminate, by a Resolution of that House, adopted in 1833, this very Government of India, with the many faults that all must acknowledge to belong to it, might have gone on for ten or fifteen years hence without any sensible change. And when he considered the great difficulty they had in calling the attention of the country and of Parliament to such a distant dependency as India, and that they could not hope in any year to have a complete investigation into its condition, he was not certain, if this Bill passed in its present shape, that, however feeble in conception, and however unstatesmanlike it might be, it might not have an existence quite as long as the one which was now about to expire. Well, they had to set against the arguments in favour of delay a letter of Lord Dalhousie. No, not the letter—that was not produced, notwithstanding the conclusive argument of the hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne (Mr. Blackett) the other night, as to the constitutional doctrine and Parliamentary practice, that the Government had no right to use despatches, documents, or private letters from any of their correspondents or agents abroad without laying them before the House. Nevertheless, they had had to-night, he believed, from the First Lord of the Admiralty, another argument based on the fact that the present Governor General of India in that letter asked that legislation on India should proceed during this Session. Why, he dared say that the right hon. President of the Board of Control, or the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg), signified to Lord Dalhousie that it would be desirable that such an opinion as he had expressed should be ready to be laid before the House when this question came to be discussed. He did not say that that was the case, but it was remarkable that the letter should be concealed. The House would be giving up its prerogative to act on great questions like the present, if it were to have no voice on the question of delay, simply because it was told that somewhere in a private note from Lord Dalhousie there was advice given to legislate during the present Session. It was probable that Lord Dalhousie 873 himself was not in favour of the present Bill, and very likely his letter did not say that the present measure was the particular measure that ought to be passed. He suspected, indeed, that nobody in the House or out of it was in favour of the Bill except the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control. Even the right hon. Gentleman's secretary (Mr. Lowe), in speaking in answer to the noble Lord who moved the Amendment, appeared to have avoided, in the most ingenious and purposed manner, any approbation of the Bill; and he complimented the hon. Gentleman on the judicious course he had pursued. The hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg), who made a speech three hours long on the bringing in of the Bill, did not say a word in favour of it, though he called upon the House to legislate now, and to have the double government. Of course, everybody who was connected with a system like the one existing would say, "Legislate now." Nobody more than the hon. Member for Honiton was convinced that, if this matter were delayed for two years, not all the Lord Dalhousies or Boards of Control in the world would persuade Parliament to pass a measure of this kind. Therefore, the hon. Member called for immediate legislation, and the preservation of the double government—which was conducted by the right hon. Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) in Cannon-row, and by the hon. Member for Honiton in Leaden-hall-street. For it was not to be concealed that the hon. Member for Honiton, by his great capacity, his subtle ingenuity, untiring energy, perseverance, and, without offence be it spoken, by his ambition, had made himself in great part master of the India House; and he (Mr. Bright) never saw an unfortunate Director of the East India Company, but he fancied he saw him with the hon. Member for Honiton astride on his shoulders. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) was anxious to make a crushing speech against him (Mr. Bright); but he thought that the hon. Member found that most of his positions were invulnerable. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis), though he intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill, appeared to be more against it than he (Mr. Bright) was; and the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries) was understood to speak most decidedly against the measure, though he objected to vote for the Amendment. Then, with regard to the hon. Member for Mon- 874 trose (Mr. Hume), that hon. Member in desiring a double government had a principle, for he wanted the Court of Directors to be a real body, and to constitute a valid check on the Board of Control. He differed with his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose; but he could comprehend his principle, and if the double government were to be continued there could not be the slightest doubt that the hon. Member for Montrose was right in the course he took. It seemed, then, from all that he had observed, that the House was called on to do that of which really nobody approved, and to leave undone that, which from all he could collect, everybody desired. Under these circumstances he should say that delay was wisdom. Two Sessions hence they would have fuller information and a more ripened public opinion. There was, he considered, gross inconsistency in the conduct of the chief speakers in favour of the present Bill. The right hon. Members for Halifax and Carlisle, and the hon. Members for Honiton and Guildford, had all spoken at length; but no one could affirm, from what they said, that the Bill in its principle as affecting the Government at home had been either examined or in any degree defended. Their speeches had been taken up with an elaborate panegyric of the Government of India as it had existed for the last twenty years, and that had been taken to be a defence of the present Bill. In point of fact, that course of proceeding gave up the case that any material alteration or any bonâ fide change was being made in the proceedings of the Home Government. If he bad thought the past so very good, he should certainly vote against the present Bill, on the ground that it would not be desirable to make any change. But he altogether denied the facts and repudiated the con-elusions put forward with respect to the past. He believed that the Home Government was neither correct in theory nor advantageous in practice, as might be shown by the condition of the people over whom it had rule. The hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg) sneered at him for reading extracts from newspapers, and then he himself read extracts from the Calcutta Review. Now, the Calcutta Review was, he thought, entitled to as much credit for its statements as any respectable periodical published in this country. And the last number of that Review which arrived in this country, whilst these discussions were going on, contained the following statement:— 875There can be no doubt upon the mind of any unprejudiced person, that the wealth of the country is fast and visibly declining, and that the temporal circumstances of the poor are wretched in the extreme; and this decline is especially marked in its most fatal results upon the industry of the country and the condition of the peasantry.After alluding to various causes, the Review proceeded—These combinations of causes, working for many years, have brought one of the richest countries of the world into the very extremest state of poverty, which finds a kind of relief in the devastations of periodic famines.It was impossible to turn to any publication connected with India, or to converse with any individual who had been in that country, without coming to the same conclusion; and he believed there had been given before the Parliamentary Committee of that House, only yesterday or to-day, evidence from a disinterested gentleman connected with the planting interest quite as conclusive with respect to the condition of the population. It was said that the Government of India had preserved India in tranquillity. As far as outward violence was concerned, there was no doubt that that was true, and that was a great advantage; but it was the duty of the Government to keep the country in tranquillity not only from external enemies, but from internal violence. On the last occasion of his speaking he had quoted the case of a hostile conflict between zemindars and their followers, in some part of Bengal; and he would state another case of the same kind— perhaps a more grievous case—and this showed that these events were almost of daily occurrence. There was a fight between the retainers of two zemindars, in which 500 persons were engaged. Guns and pistols were used, and lives were lost. The paper in which this riot was noticed, stated—It is not impossible that the the report of this engagement may be somewhat exaggerated; but there is nothing in the known and acknowledged condition of native society in the interior to render it improbable that two zemindars should bring a large body of armed men into the field to fight out their quarrels, and that the casualties should be heavy. These events are of such constant occurrence, that they have long ceased to attract any attention, except when, as on the present occasion, the combatants introduce the innovation of guns and pistols. The peace of districts is broken at night by organised dacoits, and in the day by the armed retainers of the zemindars. There must be something radically vicious in our institutions when we cannot prevent the assemblage of armed bands to break the peace, in districts so pacific as those in the lower provinces, and at the bidding of men so utterly pusillanimous as Bengalee zemindars.876 The writer went on to state that the British Government was as much bound to protect its subjects from internal marauding as external violence; that in the latter duty it was successful, but in the former it signally failed. In the same paper there also appeared the following statement:—We will venture to assert, without the fear of contradiction, that more dacoities are now committed in Bengal in a single year than were perpetrated in five years of Aliverdy's reign a century ago.He therefore could not conceive how eulogiums on a Government could be justified when, in its oldest possession, where the population was most docile, such occurrences could with truth be said to have taken place. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) had taken a course which he found that many friends of the East India Company had pursued—that was, they had defamed the people whom they had oppressed. The hon. Member for Guildford denied that the natives were competent to take office, and he said that the great proportion of the evils complained of were to be attributed, not so much to faulty administration as to the inherent depravity of the people; that perjury and lying were something inherent in their character, and not to be attributed to the faulty system of the Law Courts. Now, he asked the House to listen to the statement he was about to read. Mr. Campbell said—The longer we possess any province the more common and grave does perjury become, and the more difficult to deal with.There is a great deterioration in course of time, and hence I infer that the lying and perjury so much complained of are quite as much due to our judicial institutions as to the people.Only two days after the speech of the right hon. President of the Board of Control, he (Mr. Bright) received a letter from a gentleman who had been for thirty years in the north-western provinces of India, and the following was an extract from his letter:—It may, perhaps, in answer to his (Sir Charles Wood's) observations on the excellence of the Courts, do to ask him how it comes that the people of the hill provinces of Kumaon and Gurhwal, who were remarkable for telling the truth, have become since, and in consequence of, the introduction of our Courts, as bad as the rest of India for giving false evidence. It is well for Sir Charles Wood to talk of the mendacity of the natives; but much of it is created by our Courts, and any good revenue officer will tell you that he can get the people to tell truth enough out of the Courts and in the villages, which same people, as a matter of 877 course, hide truth and utter falsehood before our Courts.The fact was, that such was the corruption of the system, that every man found, on going into the Courts, that by relying merely on the goodness of his case he had no chance, and therefore the people were driven to that frightful immorality which was so prevalent, that lying and perjury were common in almost all the courts. Those hon. Gentlemen who represented the East India Company had dwelt with great complacency on two public works, so that he fancied the House would never cease hearing of the great trunk road and the Ganges Canal. This road ran from Calcutta to Benares, through a jungle for half the distance; and however excellent a road—and he did not deny its excellence as compared with any other—it was purely a military road, serviceable for military and government purposes. It was not a road extensively used for commercial purposes; and it could not be, as it ran for more than 200 miles through jungle. It was not used for agricultural, commercial, and economical purposes, and therefore the statement that the road existed was no answer to the complaint that he made, that the Indian Government had not made roads in India, He thought that Mr. Melvill was asked whether the Governor of Bengal took journeys through the province; and that gentleman replied, that, during the last half century, he believed no such journey had been taken, the only excursions being short ones for tiger shooting and purposes of that kind. Mr. Marshman was asked whether it would not be beneficial for the Governor to travel through the Presideucy; and his answer was that there were no roads on which the Governor could travel. The East India Company had spent only 5,000,000l. on public works since the year 1833, whilst in this country there was an expenditure for railways alone of 102. per head for every man, woman, and child in the kingdom. In Lancashire, with its 2,000,000 of inhabitants, there were 20,000,000l. expended for railways alone; whilst the East India Company, with its 29,000,000l. of revenue, did not spend more than 5,000,000l. in twenty years for its 100,000,000 of inhabitants. Colonel Sykes, who was a very dangerous champion of the Company, said that the Company expended 300,000l. a year on public works. But the people of Manchester had expended more for their internal improvement than the East India Company with their vast 878 empire. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) moved some months ago for a copy of the Report presented to the Government of Madras respecting the whole question of public works. He (Mr. Bright) was told that a copy had been in the India House for the last six weeks, but it was not yet laid before that House. No; but it would doubtless be presented as soon as the House had settled the present Bill, for it contained the most conclusive evidence with respect to the scandalous neglect of the Government in the Presidency of Madras. In 1850 Lord Dalhousie, when at Bombay, received a remonstrance from almost every merchant there, complaining of the neglect of public works, and stating that the produce from the interior could not be got to the port. In the year before last the Manchester Chamber of Commerce sent a gentleman of intelligence and respectability to collect information in India, and he would trouble the House with a small extract from Mr. Mackay's report, which corroborated all his (Mr. Bright's) statements on the subject. Mr. Mackay, unhappily, did not live to finish his reports; but they were now, so far as they had been completed, in the hands of the printer, and he (Mr. Bright) hoped they would soon be in possession of the public. The province of Guzerat, from which cotton was obtained, was about as large as England; it contained a population of 5,000,000 or 6,000,000, and it yielded a revenue of not less than 500,000l. a year. Now, it appeared from Mr. Mackay's statements with regard to this province, that all the roads in it measured only twenty-three miles and three quarters. Mr. Mackay's statement was—We have thus, within a province larger than all England, a province which is drained annually by Government of half a million sterling in the shape of land tax alone, and part of which has paid its full proportion of that half million for the last fifty years, but about twenty-four miles of made road—an aggregate length scarcely equal to the distance between London and Gravesend. And, as if all the more forcibly to illustrate the great sin of omission in this respect of which the Government has been guilty towards the province, the whole of this miserable pittance of made road, which so ludicrously contrasts with the crying wants of the country, has, with the exception of the four miles of rough causeway from Surat to Variow, and the three quarters of a mile between Keemchokee and the Keem, been constructed either with a military object in view, or for the mere purposes of pleasure. As for a bridge, with the exception of the wooden one already alluded to as spanning the narrow deep stream near Kaira, such a thing is not to be met with along the line of any highway in Guzerat.879 With Guzerat might be contrasted the island of Java. It was about the size of England, containing 40,000 square miles, with a population of 10,000,000, and, since 1810, there had been made more than 900 miles of excellent road travelable at all seasons of the year; and yet the climate was as hot as that of India, and they were governed from a distant country. But in Guzerat there were only twenty-four miles of road, after a possession of fifty years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) spoke in favour of the Government, not in favour of the Bill. He had expected to hear from the right hon. Gentleman all that could be said in favour of the Bill, and he was not disappointed. There was one thing to which he turned the attention of the House, perhaps without seeing the whole bearing of the observation. The right hon. Gentleman told the House that a collector was actual governor of a large district, with, it might be, 1,000,000 of inhabitants; that his power was so enormous and despotic that he could wither up the prosperity of a district, banish cultivation, and bring back the jungle where cultivation had taken place; but that was not an original idea, for in 1850 he (Mr. Bright) had said the power of the collector was such that he could either make or mar a district, and he quoted from some evidence of a collector given before the Cotton Committee in 1848. But, if that were so, was it not infinitely more important they should take care that the Government from whom those persons emanated, and by whom those duties were intrusted to them, should be a Government as theoretically correct as they could make it, and calculated, not only to appoint good men, but to establish sound principles, and to keep a constant watch and supervision over all its servants in India? He could quote the case of Bundelcund, where a collector, between 1820 and 1836, made a prosperous province a desert and a wilderness— where for twenty years a system of extortion and ruin continued; and, although he would not say for a moment that the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg) or his Colleagues would countenance such a state of things, if they knew it, yet it went on for twenty years, until the province was almost destroyed and depopulated, and received no check, no correction, no remedy from the Government at home or in India. But, take the province of Guzerat. There was the evidence taken in 1848 of Mr. 880 Davis and Mr. Stuart, both of them collectors in the province, in which they showed that the Government assessment took from 60 to 90 per cent of the gross produce of the soil; and that, if it could have been extorted from the people, it would not have been less than 90 per cent. The hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton made use of a very flimsy, and—he did not mean it offensively—a very foolish argument. He said, if they could only have Manchester intelligence in India, great results would be accomplished as to the matters of which complaint was now made. He (Mr. Bright) was trying to tell him some of those results; and he was, he believed, speaking almost the unanimous sentiments of the merchants and manufacturers of Manchester. But how were Englishmen to be tempted to settle in India? Mr. Melvill, in his evidence—and he was not disposed to say anything unnecessarily unfavourable of the Company— said there were not more than 317 Europeans in the interior of the country engaged in agriculture or manufactures, in Madras, Bombay, and Bengal, and that he believed the number of Europeans in India had not increased since 1834; that indigo or sugar planters had not increased more than they were about fifty years ago. If Englishmen were clamorous to go to India for twenty or twenty-five years, for salaries for which they were willing to give 3,000l. or 4,000l.—if it were lawful to buy the appointment, and to come back with pensions of 1,000l. a year, 500l of which was deducted from their salaries—he wanted to know how it was that energetic men, competent to all matters of business, did not go out to that country to settle for fifteen, or twenty, or twenty-five years; for, if the climate was no objection to the civil servant or the soldier, it would not be so to a commercial man, if he could make a return equal to that of those who were engaged in the service of the Company. He thought there were obstacles that made it impossible for an Englishman to invest his capital in India with advantage, and for himself to settle there permanently. With respect to the debt of India, the hon. Member for Honiton made a very amusing answer when he (Mr. Bright) said all their dividends had been paid out of borrowed money. The hon. Baronet said the dividends were the first charge upon the revenue, and that the borrowed money was spent in some other way. That was puerile. What he (Mr. Bright) meant was, they 881 had borrowed an amount equal, for the last twenty years, to the whole dividend of the proprietors; and, if they had spent as much as they had spent, and had not borrowed money, the dividends of the proprietors would not have been paid. He said the prospect of Indian finance was gloomy. The hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton said it was not; he said that with an increased debt they had an increased revenue. But he (Mr. Bright) should have thought the test of good government was, with an increasing revenue they should have a diminishing debt. Why should they copy the example of a great country, and, because we had a debt of 800,000,000l., say that India should have a debt of 50,000,000l.? But the unhappy circumstance of Indian finance was this— there was no elasticity in it. They could not increase the land tax. The hon. Member for Honiton said there was a large increase, but did not say how much was to be claimed for those districts which were only recently brought under our Government. He would not speak of the salt tax, for that had been alluded to by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. J. Phillimore); but he must say, that if there was not elasticity in the finances, there was little chance of getting rid of a tax that was one of the most cruel in existence. The hon. Baronet admitted that he (Mr. Bright) was quite right about the precariousness of the opium revenue. That was a very serious matter. What would be the style of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood)—would it be so jaunty or so long, when he should come to the House and say, that with an increased debt there was an increased deficit from the failure of the opium trade? Then, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman would think it convenient to consider this subject more at length, and not in the hot nights of summer to thrust a measure before the House at the close of the Session, and insist upon the House passing it. If that were the result and the fruit of the tree, he should ask the House to look to the constitution of this Government, for he was not going to shirk the examination of the Bill. None of its defenders would undertake to advocate the beauty of its proportions, or the smooth working which was likely to be expected from its machinery. It was a violation of every principle of representation—it was a representation where the constituents had not the slightest interest in the country 882 they were about to govern. He was told that a banker in the City of London commanded 300 votes of the East India Company, whose word for the election of Directors was almost absolute law. He need not name him; but the hon. Members for Honiton and Guildford could easily tell the House to which he alluded: he did not say that individual had exercised his power improperly—he charged it not against him; but such was the fact, or he was greatly mistaken. A highly intelligent Member of that House related to him a fact as to a relative of his, who had made himself acquainted with everything in India, and had returned to this country to become a member of the Court of Directors; but when he found the channel through which he was to pass—the canvass he would have to undergo—the supplications he must make—the pledges he must give—he declared there was no crossing in London he would not rather sweep for a livelihood, than get into the Direction under such circumstances. All persons were not so particular. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), if he would but unbosom himself, could keep the House alive for hours with amusing stories of what took place in canvassing to become a member of the Court of Directors. But there were 2,000 persons who took no interest in India who elected twenty-four persons, or, as the right hon. Member for Halifax now determined they should henceforth be, only twelve, and upon those persons so elected there was no individual responsibility. Mr. Melvill told the Lords Committee—he did not say it was the hon. Member for Honiton, though he (Mr. Bright) was sure Mr. Melvill had him in his eye—that the cleverest of the Directors managed the proprietors in such a manner that if the proprietors were likely to propose anything troublesome, he always got rid of it; but there was no responsibility in that way. The proprietors were dead for all purposes for which they once existed as the governors of India, and yet they were proposing to keep up a system which was rotten and abhorrent to the feelings of the people of India. Mr. Melville said they ought to have a quorum; that so little interest was taken in matters that they could not get the proprietors to attend; and that it was deplorable to see four or five proprietors sitting there, and if some person took an interest in such an unfortunate individual as the Rajah of Sattara, to hear him haranguing the Court until perhaps twelve o'clock at night. But the 883 Court of Proprietors had no control over the Court of Directors, and the Court of Directors had no control over the Secret Committee, and the Secret Committee had no control over the Board of Control, for the right hon. Member for Halifax could do what he pleased as regarded that Committee. The press had no control over that body, and Parliament itself was deluded and baffled whenever it attempted to lay hold of anything connected with India. After ten years' experience he defied any Member of that House, unless he was a Member of the Government, or acted with the Government, to grapple with any question that took place in India—to lay hold of it—to fathom it—to remedy it if it were a grievance, as he would any question at home or in the colonies. That was the grievance he complained of as to the Government of India as at present constituted; and no Government or Bill that continued that subterfuge—that put that mask on a great empire, would ever meet from him any other opinion than that which he had expressed of the present Government, and the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax had introduced. The hon. Member for Honiton spoke of war, and the ruinous expense, and said to him, "Why not give us back the 15,000,000l. spent in the Affghan war?" He (Mr. Bright) cheered that, and could not see why that money should not be given, for nothing more infamous could be conceived than that the innocent and helpless people of India, whom our soldiers had conquered, should be taxed to carry on that inglorious war, in which, if we had been successful, they would have had no interest, and which he understood was undertaken to gratify some stupid notion of some Minister in this country. It was fair that should be paid from the English Exchequer, and then, perhaps, Englishmen would consider this question in a different light. But he would ask the hon. Baronet, did the Court of Directors protest against that war? Mr. Melvill said he never heard of it. They saw the ruin that was impending, the expenditure of the money, the injustice of the war, the increase of the debt, the embarrassment that would follow, the impossibility of slackening the screw on the ryot cultivator; but the Court of Directors, who were to be a check upon the Minister of the day, never protested against that grievous and infamous transaction; and there were far too many transactions of that character. He was not the defender of the 884 Board of Control; but the men who sat in Leadenhall-street as the accredited rulers of India, holding the government of a great empire, and saw these things going on, and never told their grief, but sat there with their 300l. a year, revelling in the corruption of their patronage, and sheltered from the public opinion of the United Kingdom or the English press, had no right to stand up and charge anything against the Board of Control. He would mention one proof how little they had done. He had heard the speech of the hon. Member for Rochester (Sir H. Maddock) with great pleasure, barring the last sentence of it, and the hon. Member said he appreved of some things in this Bill—he approved of the alterations proposed in the Government of Bengal. Only three years after the last Act was passed, did not the hon. Member for Honiton come down to Parliament to overturn a very important clause of it, and to get rid of the examination of candidates for the civil service of India? Why did they wait so long, then, before they came to Parliament to alter the Government of Bengal? There was nothing in the last Act to make it impossible for Parliament to remedy any abuses in India; it would have died out in 1854, and in the meantime Parliament might have legislated for India in peace. But one of his great objections to this Bill in its present shape was, that it had no termination—that it was to be passed for an indefinite period. He was very much afraid that in the multitude of questions that would come up, Indian questions might go to sleep again; for the saying was as old as the time of Mr. Burke, that the people of England paid no attention to India, unless there was some great emergency or a great calamity, which made it impossible for them to avoid giving their attention to it. He, therefore, did not like the Bill a bit better because it did not terminate in five or ten years. In fact, if it had terminated in five years, he should have liked it much better than he did now. He asked, why should they re-enact this Bill in the shape which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control proposed? He thought the House had fair reason to complain that the Government proposed a Bill like this, and said nothing in its defence—that was, they did not show wherein it differed from what had existed before, and why it differed, and what was the advantage to be derived from it. We had still got a Court of Directors, but it was a different Court. 885 There was still a power in Leadenhall-street, but they had shorn it of some of its dignity, and had done much to degrade it, by avowing their opinion that its constituency was not fit to elect the whole body of Directors; and, that in order to check it and to thwart it, and to put better men into it, the Crown should select six persons whom it, or its Ministers, pleased. If he were in favour of a double government, he should not be in favour of this Bill, because, while it continued all the inconveniences of the double government, it impaired all that there was in the Court of Directors which could possibly be of any advantage in the Government of India. The Court of Directors existed as a check upon the Board of Control; but this Bill impaired the power of that check, and made no increased responsibility to that House. The consequence would be that the President of the Board of Control would continue to baffle them as his predecessors had done, and would shuffle them out of every charge that was made. Instead of having the affairs of a great Empire brought to the table of the House, they would have to be sought for through the by-streets and lanes of London, and would never be found, just as they never had been found in times past. There was a portion of Mr. Halliday's evidence which had not been referred to; and with regard to Mr. Halliday he would observe, that he believed no one who had come from India was entitled to greater respect; and he alluded to it because it showed that Mr. Halliday was clearly of opinion that there should not be one body sitting in Leadenhall- street, and another in Cannon-row. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had mentioned the name of this gentleman, and had attempted to show, in a rather unfair way, that while Mr. Halliday knew everything about India, he did not know anything about England. Mr. Halliday was a modest man; but the fact was, that he had been Secretary to the Government in India, and was, no doubt, destined to fill a still higher office in that country. He said, in the evidence given by him on the 5th May last: —Some people attribute every evil to the Court of Directors, and some to the Board of Control; but there is a notion certainly in India that the one is hostile and antagonistic to the other, and that by their mutual antagonism obstructions and difficulties are thrown in the way of good government. I think among tolerably informed persons in India there is a wish that the two could he made to net with greater harmony and unanimity—as one 886 body instead of two, as one constitution of government, instead of two antagonistic bodies.He went on to say—If brought into contact, if writing were abolished, Government would acquire greater weight and authority; that the decisions would be more instructed and weighty decisions; and, instead of being occasionally open to the imputation that they are dictated or suggested by irresponsible persons in one or other of the two offices of the Indian Government in London, they would be looked upon as the result of careful deliberation and full information, possessed by the one Government acting in harmony and with the authority also of the Crown.He added—I speak entirely as the opinion in India, and the view taken of the Government in India, and, so speaking, I have no hesitation in saying that the acts of the Government thus constituted would be received in India as of much greater weight and authority than the acts of the Government as it is constituted at present, by natives as well as by Europeans.It is now being more generally known in India—That those three important members of the Court of Directors do, in fact, in signing those despatches, perform what is apt to be considered as a somewhat degrading office, for they certainly are made to sign what they never wrote, as if it was theirs; and it has become notorious, or is supposed necessarily to follow, that in a number of cases they sign what they actually disapprove of. The prevalence of such a notion in India with regard to an important function, in an important department, of the three most important members of the Court of Directors, cannot fail to lower those members, and through them the Court, and through them the Government, in the eyes of the natives of India. The truth in these matters will become more and more known every day.Then, he went on—I should wish that the Government should be carried on avowedly in the name of the Crown." "I think it would very much increase the weight and authority of the Government in India.Uninstructed natives consider themselves farmed out to a company of merchants. This idea has a tendency to lower the Indian Government; and the notion of fanners in connexion with matters of government, is contrary to exalted opinions of the Government under which they live.He thinks there is a practical loss of power to the Government of India by its being carried on in the name of the Company." "Every day is seen, in India, among the natives, a disposition to exalt anything which belongs to the Crown over anything that belongs to the Company. Officers are proud of being in the Queen's army. Queen's Judges and all officers belonging to the Crown are looked upon in a higher light than officers belonging to the Company.Was there a man in that House who disbelieved that? Was is not natural? Should 887 not we, were we in their place, and if we were to be conquered and ruled by another nation, prefer to be ruled under a mild Sovereign, and the dignified power which prevailed in these kingdoms, to being handed over to eighteen or twenty-four gentlemen, who accepted the offices they held, because many men were too delicate of feeling to accept them, and who were elected by a body of proprietors who had not a particle of sympathy with the people whom these Directers governed? Mr. Halliday's evidence was the evidence which any one of us, sitting at home calmly, might have given; but what we should have said, philosophising upon the subject, he said with the authority of a man most distinguished in India for his services to the Government of that country. He should say no more about this Bill. He believed they were losing a great opportunity. It was an unhappy circumstance that the measure had fallen into the hands of a Minister who did not appear to be capable of comprehending the vastness of the question which belonged to his department. He wished that the right hon. Gentleman had had the ambition even to have connected his name with a great, good, and comprehensive measure for the government of our Indian possessions. By the course which Parliament were now taking, they were ignoring our own constitution, and depreciating the representative institutions which we professed to value so highly. The Crown, the Courts of Justice, the highest interests of this great nation, and those of our great dependencies, were amenable to the high Court of Parliament. But this Indian Empire was so vast, so distant, so dangerous, so mysterious, that it could not be brought upon the table of that House lest it should become the victim of faction on one side or the other. He did not believe a word of it. Whatever evil faction did in that House, yet from the contests which they waged, there came the vast superiority in many things which was to be found in this country over most other countries in the world; and if matters in the Colonies were now better than they had been, or were rendered more secure to the people of those Colonies, it arose from the constant assaults of Members of that House upon the Government of the day, and from the constant appeals of the press to the judgment, benevolence, and intellect of the people of this country. With regard to the Indian Empire, if it were said that having been conquered by force of arms it was to be 888 kept only by force and terror—if it were to be governed by a Government in a mask —if the people and Parliament of Eng-land were to be shut out from all consideration with regard to it—why, then the glory of that House would have departed, and we should have proved ourselves a nation which, having conquered a country, had maintained the conquest by force of arms, while we had not the intellect, the benevolence, or the ability to govern it as it deserved.
§ MR. HARDINGE
said, after the eloquent speeches which had been addressed to the House that evening, it would be presumptuous for him to detain them above a very few moments. He should vote cordially in support of the second reading of this Bill, because it proposed to continue the system of double government, and to legislate immediately. He was strongly in favour of the double government, because he believed that the interposition of the Court of Directors between the Crown in this country and the Government in India, had proved a bar to Parliamentary and political influence in that country, which was much to be deprecated, as Mr. Halliday had stated in evidence. He was also in favour of immediate legislation, because he had great faith in the opinion of Lord Dalhousie, great faith in the opinion of one whose name he was proud to bear, and -great faith, also, in the opinion of Lord Ellenborough, who had expressed his belief that it was high time to put their house in order, and to legislate immediately. The effect of postponement would be to occasion a most mischievous agitation; and on this subject he found that Mr. Marshman, in his pamphlet, addressed to the hon. Member for Manchester, said—It is difficult to overestimate the mischief of keeping open the question of the future government of India for two or three years, and thus unsettling the minds of men in India, and encouraging that feeling of excitement which cannot fail to weaken and embarrass the Government.With regard to the Amendment of the noble Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), Mr. Marshman added—Parliament is, therefore, sufficiently in possession of the views of the Native community, as well as of the opinion of Europeans acquainted with Indian subjects, regarding the construction of the future Government, to be justified in proceeding at once to legislation.In these views he entirely concurred, and it was on these grounds that he should support the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government. There had been a 889 number of petitions presented to that House. He could not say whether they reflected the opinions of the people of India; he believed that they were much exaggerated, and he begged to remind the House that Lord Ellenborough had said, in a recent speech, with reference to them—He thought there was much exaggeration and misunderstanding in some of the statements in the petition. The petitioners stated that India had been left by its present Government in a state of extreme misery, which was utterly disgraceful to its rulers…But that which was considered misery in England, particularly at Manchester, was not perhaps considered misery in India…The petitioners stated that under the British Government the progress of the people in industry and wealth had been retarded, When any of our provinces in India had come under their dominion, he apprehended that none of them could be considered to be in a state of progress; at best, they were in a stationary state."—[3 Hansard, cxxvii. 309.]Mr. Robert Bird, too, when asked—Do you think the statements we sometimes hear made of the abject poverty of Natives of India are exaggerated, or otherwise?Replied—I am perfectly certain they are invented, not exaggerated, speaking of the people with whom I am acquainted.Mr. Mangles, Mr. Edwards, and other witnesses, had given similar evidence. An intelligent Native of the Nizam's dominions, at that moment present in the gallery of the House, had likewise stated that the ryots in the Nizam's province were infinitely worse off than the ryots in our own provinces. He might allude to the Punjaub as a brilliant illustration of the conduct of our Government there, as exhibiting great moderation in the first instance, and an earnest desire to ameliorate the condition of the people. Upon this subject the Calcutta Review said—The last two years have been fertile in measures for the physical improvement of the country. The administration of civil justice has been simplified, technicalities have been abjured, reference to arbitration has been resorted to under sufficient checks and regulations, and, to save both time and money to the parties, Native local officers have been extensively vested with judicial power to try petty suits.The public works, he found, were attended to, and 85 lacs of rupees were about to be spent upon them, 20 lacs of which had already been laid out. As to the Punjaub not paying its expenses, on which the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had remarked, it was stated in the Calcutta Review that the Punjaub and its dependencies did, for the first two years, yield a surplus of 2,000,000l., after pay- 890 ing its civil and military expenses. Against this must be set items of additional military expenditure, such as batta and additional Queen's regiments, amounting to about 30 lacs, so that in fact the surplus for the old and new territory amounted to about 54 lacs. It was not fair of his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) to charge the Punjaub with the expense of the whole force occupying it, as not a man of the regular Bengal army had been increased in consequence of the annexation. Besides this, the East India Company had done much for the Native army, halting money and pensions for wounds had been given to the sepoys, and they were, in consequence, much attached to our rule. He very much doubted the propriety of introducing competition into the scientific branch of the service. He did not object to it in the civil service, but in the Horse Artillery and Engineers, they wanted something beyond mere bookworms. With regard to the employment of the Natives, he felt that that was merely a question of time, and that, as the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) had remarked, as the real Government of India ought to be in India, it should be at the discretion of the Governor General to promote Natives when he thought fit, unfettered by any special rule laid down in that House. He quite approved of the proposed change of government with reference to Bengal, and of the new system of furlough, which would prove a great boon to the army. With regard to the amalgation of the Sudder and Supreme Courts, most of the legal authorities advocated such a change, and believed the changes in India, as proposed by the Government, would be most beneficial. He begged to thank the House for the attention they had paid to the few remarks he had ventured to address to them; and again to repeat his conviction that under existing circumstances the double system of government should be continued—a system by which, to use the words of the noble Lord the Member for London, absolute despotism was tempered by the spirit of representative institutions.
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
hoped, that after the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester, in which he had been so often personally alluded to, he might, even at that late hour, claim for a short time the kind indulgence of the House. The hon. Member had commenced more mildly and in somewhat a more piano tone than was usual with him. He stated that he should confine himself strictly to the provisions 891 of the Bill, and would abstain from all extraneous matter; yet as he proceeded, he warmed with the subject, got into his usual acrimonious style, and assailed every part of the Government of India, and every individual coonected with it, at home or abroad. The hon. Member, unhappily for himself, had again alluded to the proceedings of the Secret Committee. After the blunders which he had so lately made, and the manner in which he had confounded the proceedings of the Secret Committee with those of the General Court, he (Sir J. W. Hogg) confessed his astonishment that the hon. Member should have again ventured on that subject. He had read extracts from the evidence of Mr. Halliday, and had endeavoured to show that the Members of the Secret Committee were powerless instruments, and that men who possessed any spirit would not condescend to place their names to orders of the nature of which they were, perhaps, ignorant, or from which they might entirely dissent. Let the House see the strange inconsistency of the hon. Member. He had addressed himself to him (Sir J. W. Hogg) personally, and had said, "Is it for you to raise your voice against the President of the Board of Control? Is it for you to say, restore me the 15,000,000l. for the Affghan war? Why did you remain silent and not remonstrate against that war?" Why, the hon. Member had himself told the House that the Court of Directors did not know, and could not have known, anything about that war. The Directors must be either one thing or other. They must either be regarded as approving of the orders of the Secret Committee, and responsible for them, or as ignorant of them, and free from all responsibility. But that would not satisfy the hon. Member, who in the same breath declares their ignorance and asserts their responsibility. The hon. Member for the West Riding, adverting to the Secret Committee, had said, "Here are means whereby the President of the Board of Control may send orders to India, of which neither this House nor the Court of Directors may be cognisant." That was perfectly true. But could not the Colonial and the Foreign Secretary do precisely the same thing? And was it not essential to the public interest, that orders so sent, should not be known till after they had reached their destination? The hon. Member for Manchester adverted to Bombay and Broach, and again got on the old subject of cotton and roads. He had stated 892 no the authority of Mr. Davies, that there were not more than twenty or thirty miles of road in Broach; and yet that same gentleman, while admitting that there are not more than twenty or thirty miles of metalled roads, states that throughout the whole district of Broach there are roads traversable during the whole year, excepting for three months during the rains. During these three months, while the rain was falling, the cotton was growing, and transport for it could not be required. Besides, he begged to tell the hon. Member, that cotton from Broach to Bombay was sent by sea, and not by roads; and it was stated at a recent meeting of the Cotton Committee at Bombay, that the freight of cotton from Broach to Bombay did not exceed the freight from Hull to London. He must ask the hon. Member for Manchester why on this subject he did not produce the best evidence within his power? He would tell the House what that evidence was, and leave it to the hon. Member to explain why it had not been produced. About three years ago, the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester, with reference to the present discussions, had sent a gentleman to India to collect information, and get up a case against the East India Company. He admitted that they had made a most judicious selection for that purpose; they selected a gentleman of high character, great attainments, and of great literary eminence — Mr. Mackay, whose work on America was well known. He (Sir J. W. Hogg) deeply regretted that Mr. Mackay died on his way home, about eight or ten months ago; but as he had completed his labours, his papers were forthcoming. Why, he would ask, had not these papers been given to the public? Why had the hon. Member made use of the name and authority of Mr. Mackay, both in that House and at Manchester, by reading from his papers such extracts as suited his purpose, instead of giving in extenso the whole of the papers to the public? He (Sir J. W. Hogg) could not tell what might be the contents or purport of these papers; but he had a shrewd suspicion that they would have seen the light long since, if they had substantiated the case of the hon. Member. He hoped that when they were produced, they would be accompanied by a declaration such as the hon. Member required from Her Majesty's Ministers when the Burmese papers were laid upon the table—a declaration that they were the whole and entire papers without suppression or mutilation. He 893 also hoped that the hon. Member would produce the letters of Mr. Mackay, stating whether the authorities at Bombay had not afforded him every facility in making his inquiries, and access to all requisite sources of information. The hon. Member for Manchester had next alluded to the system of patronage, and in terms that were most offensive. He had been pleased to speak of Court of the Directors as luxuriating or revelling in their corruption, or some such choice and characteristic expression; and he thought that the hon. Member having made use of such expressions ought not to have left his place. He should liked to have asked the hon. Member how he dared to make U3e of such expressions towards the Court of Directors? For himself he repelled the imputation with the scorn and indignation which it deserved. For some time past, discussions had been pending in the House, and inquiries had been instituted in the Committee, and in no friendly spirit; but not one case had been adduced in which the patronage of the Directors had been bestowed in a manner discreditable to them, or any member of their body. There was no want of inclination to bring forward any such case if it existed; and he defied any hon. Member to bring forward any instance in which improper motives could be assigned for the bestowal of patronage. He knew that vague statements had been made with respect to the canvass for the Direction, and corrupt bargains; and he could only say, that if any proprietor had been base enough to make such a corrupt proposal, and if any candidate had been base enough to get votes on such terms, he hoped they would meet with the exposure and reprobation they deserved. Misstatements from Members who had not held office were of leas importance, but he had been surprised to hear the statement of his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire, who had been Secretary to the Board of Control. He understood him to say, that, speaking from his own knowledge, there were persons who were in the habit of collecting fifty or sixty proxies, or any number that might be sufficient for the purchase of an appointment—
§ MR. BAILLIE
I said nothing of the kind. I said that bankers received the proxies of their customers; and a friend of mine told me that he had been solicited by a gentleman who had received fifty or sixty proxies to join his vote with theirs for the purpose of stipulating for patronage.
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
had understood 894 the hon. Member to say, that gentlemen were in the habit of leaving their proxies with their bankers. [Mr. BAILLIE: Yes.] Well, that was quite enough for him. The statement of the hon. Member, if it meant anything, must imply, that the bankers, by possessing the proxies, had the control of the votes. Such was not, and could not, be the case. Surely the hon. Member must know, that by statute the proxy must be signed within ten days of the election, and moreover that it must have inscribed on it the name of the person for whom the vote is to be given. The person, therefore, holding the proxy has no control whatever over the vote, and is a mere agent for the purpose of delivering it in. He would ask permission to expose and correct a few of the more prominent errors and misstatements that were calculated to mislead those who had not examined the voluminous documents before the House. The hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne stated that the Directors had not only sent in their accounts in a confused manner, but he was pleased to intimate that they had done so intentionally, in order that hon. Members might not be able to understand them. That was a grave imputation, and he would see how far it was well-founded. He admitted broadly, that the hon. Member did not understand the accounts. The hon. Member had called the attention of the House to the account containing the home establishment, and had alleged, that the columns were not added up in order to conceal the enormous expense of the home establishment, which he stated was 189,477l. Now, what were the facts, as apparent on the face of the very accounts to which the hon. Member had referred? The expense of the home establishment was 100,250l.; and the amount mentioned by the hon. Member included not only the home establishment, but the pensions of 1,179 persons who had been reduced or superannuated under the provisions of the 3 &c 4 Will. IV. The hon. Member had also said that the state-made by him (Sir James W. Hogg) as to the increase of the land revenue, was incorrect. But what had the hon. Member done? He had deducted the gross amount of revenue derived from new territory from the net produce of the whole. He need hardly say, that by this process of deducting gross receipts from net receipts, millions might be reduced, not only to thousands, but to hundreds. He regretted that the lateness of the hour compelled him to pass over many other flagrant errors; but 895 he must call attention to one blunder, a leviathan blunder, of the hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne. That hon. Gentleman alleged, that the arrears of revenue during the last sixteen years amounted to 60,000,000l., and, in order to give weight and dramatic effect to his statement, he exclaimed, "Just think of a Government which has an arrear of revenue equal to the whole revenue of Great Britain." He would amuse the House by telling them the foundation of that statement. An hon. Member had moved for an account of the arrears of revenue left outstanding in each year. This account was accordingly furnished; and, incredible as it may seem, the hon. Member concluded that, because the revenue of each year was not paid within the year, it was not paid at all; and he deliberately adds up these arrears for sixteen years, making the preposterous amount upon which he founded his preposterous statement. He (Sir J. W. Hogg) did not think that any Gentleman need be ashamed of not being familiar with Indian accounts, and he did not cast any imputation on the hon. Member for Newcastle- on-Tyne on that ground; but he did say, that when any hon. Member volunteered as a public prosecutor, he ought to make himself fully acquainted with the circumstances of the case: under such circumstances, ignorance was no palliation, it was rather an aggravation of the offence. He had been taunted with not having replied, when he last spoke, to the imputations cast upon the administration of justice in India. He had then spoken at such length that he did not think he need apologise for any omission; but he would now briefly advert to the subject, which was one of vast and paramount importance. He would not pretend to maintain that the administration of justice in India was perfect. On the contrary, he freely admitted, and deeply lamented, its many imperfections. He freely admitted, that among the many public servants engaged in the administration of justice in India, there were some perhaps incompetent, and many indifferently qualified for the performance of their duties. All he desired was, that the House should arrive at, and understand, the truth, and should not be deluded and carried away by statements made in this House and out of this House, founded upon a pamphlet written by Mr. Norton, a barrister at Madras, and to which he would call the attention of the House. That gentleman states as follows:—I start with two simple propositions—first, 896 that throughout the length and breadth of the whole of this Presidency, those who occupy the judicial bench are totally incompetent to the decent fulfilment of their duties; and, secondly, that so long as the present system continues, there is not only no hope of amelioration, but, on the contrary, things must go on ever from bad to worse, until in the lowest depth there is at least no lower bottom still.He then professes to support these sweeping allegations by cases which he alleges that he has taken indifferently from published reports. He must say, that, after such a startling announcement, it was a real relief to his mind to find, as regarded the criminal trials, that there was not a case in which it was alleged that an innocent person had incurred the penalty of guilt. The imputation is quite the other way, and is comparatively easy to be borne. The complaint of the learned gentleman is that the sentences are too merciful. It was easy to explain why the sentences did not always seem to be adequate to the crime. In this country the power of mitigating a harsh sentence rested with the Secretary of State, who frequently exercised it, in communication with the Judge who presided at the trial. In India, that power rests by law with the Court itself. Reg. 1, of 1825 provides that, when the law may render the prisoner—"liable to more severe punishment than, under the evidence and all the circumstances of the case should appear to the Foujdarry Adawlut to be just and equitable, they are empowered to mitigate or remit the punishment, as may appear to them proper.He must also observe that the reports of criminal cases, and the decision of the Sudder Adawlut were not like law reports in this country, which were mainly intended to lay down principles and precedents of the law, as administered in the superior courts. On the contrary, the object of the reports in India was to point out and correct errors of law, practice, or fact in the inferior courts. He must also particularly mention that nearly all the civil cases cited by Mr. Norton are what are termed "special appeals." In every suit above a limited amount the losing party was entitled to an appeal, ex debito justitice, to the next higher tribunal. The losing party in such an appeal may apply for a further appeal to the Sudder Adawlut, which is termed special, and cannot be granted unless where on the face of the proceedings there is some flagrant violation of law or practice. Of these applications for special appeals, about five-sixths are rejected, so that the remaining one-sixth which are 897 granted must be the very worst cases of all that are alleged to hare been ill decided. All the cases mentioned by Mr. Norton were special appeals, with the exception of nine. Suppose that from all the cases badly decided on the inferior cases at home, you were to select one-sixth being the very worst, and suppose that from these you were to make excerpta, you would then have such a fair and candid exposition of your judicial system as is afforded by the pamphlet of Mr. Norton of the administration of justice in India. He hoped the House would pardon him for entering into a dull detail of explanation which was essential to the due understanding of the nature of the cases, to some of which he trusted he would be permitted to advert. If he made a selection, it might be supposed that it was not impartial, and he had therefore gone carefully through the first ten of the civil cases, and the first four of the criminal cases, and was prepared to maintain and prove that Mr. Norton was not justified in the comments he had made. He held in his hand the reports from which the cases cited by Mr. Norton were taken, and they were at the service of any hon. Member of the legal profession that would do him the favour to peruse them, and state his opinion to the House. The first case in the pamphlet was when the plaintiff sued on a bond for 55,270l., and having been nonsuited, was fined by the Judge in the same amount for bringing a false suit. The case was appealed to the Sudder Court, where the fine was remitted. It is paraded in italics that the plaintiff was fined for bringing his suit; but Mr. Norton, with all his profession of candour, does not apprise the reader that in India a Zillah Judge has by law the power to fine a plaintiff who brings a vexatious and groundless suit "in such amount as he may think proper upon a consideration of the nature of the case, and the situation and circumstances in life of the offender, and to commit him to close custody until he pays the fine." The Judge was of opinion that the plaintiff had been guilty of fraud and perjury, and ought to be punished. He (Sir J. W. Hogg) admitted that the amount of the fine was excessive and extravagant, and could not be justified; but the Judge seems to have thought that he was justified in fining the plaintiff to the same extent as he would have defrauded his neighbour. In the second case the alleged error is, that the Judge admitted in evidence the copy of a deed, and Mr. Norton supposes 898 it would not be credited that any judge could receive such evidence. Now what would the House say when he told them that the document thus derided was a copy regularly attested by the collector, of a document recorded in his office. In the third case, it is alleged that no notice was taken of a plea by the defendants, that they had been in possession for forty years. He found, on referring to the report, that the possession was not questioned. The point at issue was, whether or not the possession was as a member of a joint and undivided Hindoo family. In the fourth case he saw nothing to notice except that the Sudder Ameer and Judge had taken different views of the evidence in a very complicated case, and that the Judge had used the informal expression of "affirming the appeal." He would pass over the fifth case, in which there was no prominent point to which he could briefly advert. He had read the report, and saw nothing in it discreditable to the intelligence of the Judge. The sixth case, however, was introduced by Mr. Norton with a special flourish of notes of admiration, and had gone the round of the public papers as peculiarly absurd. It was alleged that the plaintiff sued for money, and that the decision of the Judge was for oil. It appeared from the report that the money was advanced by the plaintiff to the defendant for the supply of oil, and that the defendant, when sued for the money, pleaded that he had always been ready to fulfil his contract, and supply the specified quantity of oil. Under these circumstances the Judge gave his decree for the oil; and provided the plea of the defendant was supported by sufficient evidence, which does not clearly appear from the report, he (Sir J. W. Hogg) thought the Judge in so deciding was perfectly right. He dwelt upon this case because it had attracted unusual attention, and was regarded by Mr. Norton as one of the most absurd in his selection. He confessed he rejoiced that no more unfavourable specimen of the administration of justice in India could be adduced. In the seventh case Mr. Norton alleges that the Judge exhibited his ignorance of the law that a minor cannot bind himself. The report shows exactly the reverse. The Judge did know the law, but was of opinion that the minor, after attaining his full age, had recognised the debt. In the eighth case Mr. Norton alleges that the defendants were held liable in their representative capacity, without any evidence that they had possessed themselves of as- 899 sets. A reference to the report shows that the real question was, whether a Hindoo widow was entitled to maintenance from the relatives of her deceased husband if she lived separate from them; and he must add that he considered Mr. Norton's note of the case as most unfair, and wholly unsupported by the report. He would now ask leave shortly to advert to two or three of the criminal cases, taking them in order, as he had done the civil cases. The first case was that of four prisoners tried for stabbing a man, which caused death. One was convicted, and sentenced by the Judge to transportation for life, and the Judge, when passing that sentence, adverted to the darkness of the night, and "the fact that the deceased might possibly have survived had his wound been dressed without loss of time," as reasons for not recommending capital punishment; and it appeared that neither the dresser nor the surgeon had attempted to replace the intestines. Mr. Norton's comment on this explanation was, "The train of reasoning is scarcely conceivable; but most assuredly such a mind is not fit to be trusted with the adjudication in cases affecting life and death." He (Sir J. W. Hogg) was of opinion that there was more of reason and justice, and of a judicial mind, in the explanation than in the comment; and he believed that under similar circumstances a similar mitigation would have been made at home. The next case is that of three prisoners convicted of having beaten and kicked the deceased so as to cause her death. The criminal Judge, when reporting the case to the Foujdarry Adawlut, said, "As water was thrown on the deceased in order to revive her, it does not appear they intended to kill her; the offence is, therefore, in my opinion, culpable homicide, and not murder." The prisoners were sentenced to fourteen years' imprisonment with hard labour in irons. In India there was a regulation which provided, that "the intentions of the criminal, either evidently or fairly inferible from the nature and circumstances of the case, shall constitute the rule for determining the punishment;" and under this rule the Judge had decided. The sentence, however, of imprisonment for fourteen years with hard labour in irons, did not seem to satisfy Mr. Norton's sense of public justice, and he appends significant notes of admiration to the observations of the Judge, and the decision itself. In the next case, the third in the pamphlet, the sole question was, whether the injury was inflicted in a sud- 900 den fit of resentment, or whether sufficient time had elapsed to afford the prisoner time to cool. The next and last case to which he would refer was, when the prisoner was convicted by the Sessions Judge of having killed his concubine by one blow with a heavy piece of wood, the Foujdarry Adawlut mitigated the sentence of death to transportation for life, on the ground that the crime had been committed on a sudden impulse. The reasoning which led to that merciful result was held up to ridicule by Mr. Norton in these terms: "Mr. Morehead remarks there is no proof of premeditation of malice. The remarks of the senior Judge are peculiarly naive, and, were the subject less serious, might excite a smile." If such comments had been made, or such a spirit evinced by an Indian Judge, he should indeed have felt ashamed of the administration of justice in India. He would make no further comment on Mr. Norton or his book, and would only repeat, that the reports from which Mr. Norton had extracted his cases were at the service of any hon. Member who required them. He would now apply himself to the Amendment of the noble Lord the hon. Member for King's Lynn. The noble Lord had adverted to the proceedings of 1813 and 1830, and to the period of the Session when the measure was then introduced, and the consideration that had been previously given to the subject. He could assure the noble Lord, that if he would renew his inquiries to-morrow, and look to the number of sittings of the Committee, and to the number of witnesses examined on the occasions to which he had referred, he would find that, in the present case, the Bill had not only been introduced at an earlier period of the Session, but that the subject had never engaged more attention than at present. In 1813 the number of witnesses examined before the Lords and Commons was fifty, of whom thirty were officials. The China trade then formed the chief subject of inquiry, but official witnesses only were examined upon the question of government. In 1830–31 the Commons Committee confined their inquiries to the subject of trade. In 1832, upon the different departments of Government, eighty-eight witnesses were examined, of whom sixty-two were, or had been, in the service; sixteen were in the home service, and ten consisted of merchants and others. Before the Lords in 1830, there were fifty-three witnesses examined, of whom thirty were official. The inquiry related to trade as well as government; 901 but official witneses only were examined as to the government. Upon the present occasion forty-six witnesses had been examined before the Lords Committee, and they had had forty-six sittings. Before the Commons Committee fifty-eight witnesses had been examined, and the Committee had had forty-five sittings. Both Committees had reported favourably as to continuing the Government of India in the East India Company as trustees of the Crown. What more could the House require before legislating? It was true that the hon. Member for the West Riding had designated the proceedings of the Committee as scandalous and disgraceful, or some such strong expression. It was true that the hon. Member opposed the report of the Committee; but when he ventured to use such strong language towards the proceedings of the Committee, the House would hear with surprise that the division of the Committee on the Report was 19 to 2. The hon. Member for Montrose, who voted with the hon. Member for the West Riding, distinctly stated that he agreed in the terms of the Report, but was of opinion that it was objectionable to make any report at all. So that substantially the proceedings commented on with such severity by the hon. Member, had the approval of the whole Committee, with the exception of the hon. Member himself. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn had argued at some length, in order to show that it was not the intention of the late Government to have legislated this Session. He said that Lord Derby had stated in another place that the Government would be guided by the Report of the Committee; and he also referred to the statement made in that House by his right hon. Friend the Member for Stamford when moving for the Committee. Now, why all this argument and deduction? Whether the late Government did, or did not, intend to legislate that Session, was a matter of fact and not of inference. How was that matter of fact to be determined? Why, by the statement of the Minister who presided over Indian affairs in that Government; and what did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford say? When the subject was discussed in the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman stated in the presence of the noble Lord, that it was his intention to have legislated this Session, and that such was the intention of the late Government. He admitted that the noble Lord and his right hon. Friend the Member for 902 Buckinghamshire opposed present legislation in the Committee; but he concluded that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, then President of the Board of Control, was conclusive on the subject. The noble Lord, when contending that there need be no apprehension as to the consequences of delay, said that there had been no disturbances in India. He had heard that statement with great pleasure, and at the time intimated his assent, which drew from the noble Lord the remark that there was a vast army in India. It was true there was a vast army in India; but when speaking of the danger of agitation, let it be remembered that that army was a native army, and that there may be agitation injurious to the public peace and tranquillity without amounting to open insurrection. The noble Lord had said that no doubt the Directors of the Bast India Company were anxious for immediate legislation, and would support the Bill. He (Sir J. W. Hogg) did not think that the Directors had any reason to be enamoured of the present Bill. The remark of the noble Lord, however, seemed to indicate what, at the moment, was passing in his mind. It was as much as to say to the Directors, "If you don't get this Bill from the present Government, you will get something much worse from us." He had abstained from discussing the alterations made by the Bill in the Home Government of India, but would ex-press his approbation of the changes made in the local Government. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, that the good government of India always had mainly rested, and must continue to rest, with the local Government. He did not approve of the alterations which had been made in the Home Government, and had not heard any satisfactory reasons assigned for making them. That, however, did not affect the main principle of the Bill, which was the continuance of the East India Company as the governing body, intervening between the Crown and India. He believed that to be essential to protect India from the blighting influence of party feeling and party conflicts. He admitted that the great struggle in this debate had been between the principle which was popularly called double government, and the direct transfer of India to a Minister of the Crown. He hoped that this would be clearly and distinctly understood, and that every hon. Member would fully understand, that by voting against the second reading of the Bill, he would declare his opinion to be in favour of the transfer of India to the 903 direct government of the Crown, and for the extinction of the East India Company, or any other intervening authority. That? was the great principle involved in the Bill. Everything else was either matter of detail or matter personal to himself, and the body with which he was associated. He would not then go into such matters. There would be ample opportunity for discussing them in Committee. Here he took his stand, upon what he regarded as the great principle of the Bill. He did believe in his conscience that the principle of the intervention of some body between the Crown and India was necessary for the advancement and happiness of the people of India, and was necessary to retain in security to the British Crown the greatest, the richest, and the mightiest of its foreign possessions.
§ Debate further adjourned till Thursday.