§ MR. CAYLEY
I rise, Sir, to put a question relative to the appointments to the office of Governor General of India which it was my wish to put yesterday, but, in deference to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and out of courtesy to him, as I had not given notice of my question, I waived my privilege in accordance with the public convenience. Before I ask the question, may I ask that the Resolution unanimously come to by this House upon the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lytton) be read by the Clerk at the table?
The Resolution was then read by Sir DENIS LE MARCHANT, as follows—That this House recommends to the earliest attention of Her Majesty's Ministers the necessity of a careful revision of our various official establishments, with a view to simplify and facilitate the transaction of public business, and, by instituting judicious tests of merit, as well as by removing obstructions to its fair promotion and legitimate rewards, to secure the service of the State the largest available proportion of the energy and intelligence for which the people of this country are distinguished.I have now, Sir, to ask the noble Lord 301 whether, in selecting the individual to fill the responsible office of Governor General of India, it is his intention to abide strictly by the spirit of the Resolution lately passed by this House on the Motion of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lytton), and to sanction the appointment of such an individual only as by his antecedents in the public service, and by his experience and success in analogous positions, would be entitled to public confidence as the best administrator that could be chosen for that most important portion of this great empire?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, my hon. Friend and the House are aware that the selection of a person to fill the important office of Governor General of India is by law vested in the Court of Directors, subject to the approbation of the Crown. The Chairman of the Court of Directors, in accordance with the usual custom, gave me notice on Wednesday of his intention to propose on Wednesday next the name of Lord Canning as successor to Lord Dalhousie upon his retirement from the office of Governor General of India. That selection has received the ready approval and sanction of the Crown, and I am convinced that the choice so made by the Court of Directors, in harmony with Her Majesty's Government, will fulfil the Resolution of the House of Commons, by placing at the head of the Government of India a person fully qualified by his energy and intelligence for the discharge of the important duties confided to him. If I required any additional sanction beyond the opinion which the responsible advisers of the Crown entertain of Lord Canning's capacity, and the qualities which suit him for the discharge of that office, I might mention, what will not be regarded as a breach of confidence, that the Government of Lord Derby had so high an opinion of Lord Canning that they were ready to have confided to him the seals of the Foreign Office.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
I wish to know, Sir, whether I have understood the noble Lord to say that the Chairman of the Court of Directors have submitted the name of Lord Canning to the Government. [Lord PALMERSTON: He has given us notice.] Was the noble Lord aware whether this had been done without communication with the directors?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I know nothing of what passes between the Chairman and the Court of Directors. All that 302 I know is, that the usual course has been followed, and that the Chairman has given me notice of his intention to propose the name of Lord Canning to the Court of Directors.
§ MR. CAYLEY
said, I wish now, Sir, that I can do so without infringing the rules of the House, to put another question to the noble Lord. It is the law, no doubt, for the Court of Directors of the East India Company to nominate to this high appointment, the approval of the Crown being subsequently required; but everybody knows that, practically, the approval is given first—that it is the Government who suggest to the Court of Directors, and that it is the Court of Directors who acquiesce in or dissent from the recommendation. The noble Lord said—and I am glad the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. H. Baillie) asked the question which he did—the noble Lord said, the suggestion that Lord Canning should be appointed came from the Court of Directors. No doubt that may formally be the case; but does the noble Lord mean to say the Court of Directors, without any suggestion, passed a Resolution to nominate an individual whom, until his nomination, no one ever dreamt of or thought of for the office? Does the noble Lord mean to say that Lord Canning, from his antecedents, fulfils the conditions of the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire? Does the noble Lord mean to say that no communications or suggestions were made from the Government to any Member of the Court of Directors on this subject? I should very much like to know whether the initiative with respect to Lord Canning's nomination did not begin with the Government, and not with the Court of Directors? No doubt Lord Canning is at the best possible age for taking public employment. Those who have long known him entertain a very high opinion of his ability. His collegiate career gave indications of much future promise, and everybody believes he has been a very able administrator in those departments which he has filled. He has filled the office of Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, and is now Postmaster General. He may be, for anything I know to the contrary, a Heaven-born administrator for India, but this is not the way we can afford to trifle with the interests of that great 303 country. We must have a man educated to the business which he is about to conduct, and the antecedents of Lord Canning do not show him to be a man accustomed to govern distant provinces of this great empire. It requires a perfectly different capacity to govern India from that which does very well for the Post Office department or the Woods and Forests. In the discussions which took place only two years ago upon the India Bill what were we told? A number of Gentlemen were extremely anxious to obtain the best possible Government for India, and the answer given to them by the head of Her Majesty's Government was, "It is impossible you can govern India from this country; you must have the ablest possible administrator, and trust widely to his wisdom and discretion." Are we, then, to put a man in that situation who has had no experience of this kind? Is there such a poverty of experience in our public men that no other person than Lord Canning can be found to be promoted to the post of Governor General of India? Is there not one man in this country to whom public opinion and public expectation for the last few years have pointed with the utmost unanimity? There is. That man is the Earl of Elgin. No one can deny that the Earl of Elgin is the fittest person to fill this high and important office. What are his antecedents? He has been Governor of Jamaica, he has been Governor of Canada, and he has lately passed a most successful treaty with the United States. He found Jamaica almost in a state of civil war; he left it in a state of tranquillity and peace. He found Canada in a state almost of rebellion; he has left it in a state of loyalty to this kingdom and of love to our gracious Sovereign. He found a stream of population flowing from Canada into the United States; when he left, the stream was turned, and was flowing from the United States into Canada. A Minister of this country is reported to have said, it could not have been expected that any man would effect so favourable and excellent a treaty as was effected by Lord Elgin with the United States. And, Sir, in my opinion, no man but Lord Elgin could have done so. I have also been told that it is the general expectation and wish of the people of India that Lord Elgin should be appointed Governor General. Of course, as to that, I do not speak of my own knowledge; but we can all judge, from his antecedents and from his despatches, of the 304 abilities of Lord Elgin. He is a man educated for such business as the government of India. He is a man of imperial mind, and has reached that time of life when, having obtained all the qualifications suited for practical life, he has physical strength to apply the knowledge he has so gained. Why is such a man passed over, and such a man as Lord Canning appointed? I must say it shows on the part of the noble Lord at the head of the Government no great deference to the general feeling upon the subject of administrative reform, or respect to this House and its Resolution, in which the noble Lord acquiesced. I should like to hear from the noble Lord a more ample explanation of the reasons why the Government have thought Lord Canning's name so pre-eminent for the Governor Generalship of India? I should also like to know whether some suggestions did not pass from the Government to the East India Directors upon the subject of Lord Canning's nomination—whether the Government did not, in fact, take the initiative? And perhaps the noble Lord will explain more fully than he has done how the appointment of Lord Canning to this high and responsible situation fulfils the conditions of the Resolution which has just been read.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I am sure, Sir, my hon. Friend has misunderstood what I said, though I imagined I had expressed myself very clearly. I stated that which is the fact—namely, that the appointment does not, as implied by his question, rest with the Crown—that it rests with the Court of Directors, but that the sanction of the Crown is necessary to give it validity; and consequently the invariable practice is, before the Chairman makes choice of an individual to be recommended to the Court of Directors, there is a full and unreserved communication between him and the Members of the Government for the purpose of avoiding those collisions which have taken place in former times with regard to the selection of Governor General. I need not particularise the cases to which I allude. Undoubtedly, that communication did take place between the Chairman and the Board of Control, and, upon full consideration of the persons whose names were mentioned in reference to the vacant office, it was the opinion of both parties that Lord Canning was the fittest person. When I am asked to explain the reasons, the only reasons I can give are that we had a high opinion of the 305 energy and intelligence of Lord Canning, and in the spirit of the hon. Member's notice (which contains, however, a few words not in the Resolution of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire) that we thought the proofs of ability which he had given in various ways, both in Parliament and in office, were sufficient to justify the selection which had been made. My hon. Friend seems to think a third party ought to enter into this selection; that it should be not only a selection between the Court of Directors and the Crown, but one in which the House of Commons should interfere. That which he has said of Lord Elgin does great credit to the warmth of his personal feelings and to his friendship for that noble Lord. I am the last man in the world to underrate the qualities of Lord Elgin. It is, however, a mistake on the part of my hon. Friend to imagine that when Lord Elgin took the Governorship of Canada, there was a rebellion or any sign of rebellion in that country. The hon. Member confounds Lord Elgin with Lord Metcalfe. Lord Elgin administered that Government exceedingly well, much to his own credit, and he was not the only person thought of as the possible successor to Lord Dalhousie. I can only say Her Majesty's Government are perfectly ready to undertake the responsibility for the share they have had in the appointment of Lord Canning, and I think it would be more consistent with due constitutional principles, if my hon. Friend, instead of advocating Lord Elgin's claims as a candidate in the House of Commons, would get some Friend in the India House to state his views when the nomination comes next Wednesday before the Court of Directors.