HC Deb 21 July 1856 vol 143 cc1103-7

said, he would beg to move the adoption of the Report of the Standing Orders Committee, who had proposed certain alterations:— Of late a practice had grown up of moving long Amendments and new clauses on the third reading of Bills. During the present Session that practice had been carried out to such an extent that the principle of Bills had at the last moment been completely changed. The Committee on Standing Orders proposed, therefore, that no Amendments, except of a merely verbal character, should be introduced on the third reading of a Bill. Another and more important alteration which they proposed had reference to the revenues of India. By an Order, which dated from the Revolution, no Money Vote could be considered by the House unless it was recommended to them by the Crown. It had, however, been discovered in the recent discussion on the case of the Nawab of Surat, that no such rule existed with regard to India; and as the Indian revenues stood on precisely the same footing as the land revenues of the Crown, he did not see why such an exception should be allowed. The Committee therefore proposed the new Standing Order— "That this House will not receive any Petition or proceed upon any Motion for a charge upon the Revenues of the East India Company, without the recommendation of the Court of Directors, sanctioned by the Commissioners for the Affairs of India." He believed the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Perry) objected to the proposal, because he conceived that it would interfere with the right of the Indian subjects of Her Majesty to appeal to Parliament. That, however, he apprehended was a mistake. The natives of India would have precisely the same right as that possessed by the natives of this country. It would be open for any hon. Member to move on their behalf for a Committee of Inquiry or an Address to the Crown. The only other proposed alteration in the Standing Orders which he need mention was one to the effect that Committees might sit on Wednesdays or during morning sittings without obtaining the formal permission of the House.

On the Question being put, "That no Amendments not being merely verbal shall be made to any Bill on the Third Reading."


said, he would beg to ask what was to constitute a "verbal" Amendment?


said, the Committee intended by that term anything which would make the least alteration in the meaning of a Bill. The Committee had only determined by the casting vote of the chairman to admit of any alterations at all; but it was thought that cases might arise in which there might be some little inaccuracies which it would be desirable to correct. He would beg at the same time to suggest that this alteration should not come into operation till next Session.


said, he thought the time chosen for the alteration of the Order was very unfortunate, seeing that the House had not long since had to reconsider its decision at the last moment. Under the proposed Order a Bill might be passed through Committee without Amendment, and reported the same night, and there would then be no opportunity of altering it; but the House, if it discovered any mistake, must reject the measure altogether.


said, the Lords had of late years refused to receive Bills after a certain date; but they had themselves, no doubt accidentally, sent down important measures with in a very short period before the close of the Session. He would therefore suggest that it might be desirable for the House to pass a Standing Order similar to that adopted in the other House —namely, that after a certain date they would receive no Bills from the House of Lords.


said, he was sorry the Committee on Standing Orders had not taken some steps to prevent the waste of time which occurred every week, in consequence of Members moving Amendments on the Motion for the adjournment. Ordered, "That no Amendments, not being merely verbal, shall be made to any Private Bill on the Third Reading. Resolved, "That the several Standing Orders relating to Private Bills, as amended by the said Committee, be agreed to. Ordered, "That Standing Order No. 84, relating to Private Bills, be repealed. Ordered, "That no Amendments, not being merely verbal, shall be made to any Bill on the Third Reading. Ordered, "That on Wednesdays and other Morning Sittings of the House, all Committees shall have leave to sit, except while the House is at Prayers, during the sitting, and notwithstanding any adjournment of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed,— That this House will not receive any Petition or proceed upon any Motion for a charge upon the Revenues of the East India Company, without the recommendation of the Court of Directors, sanctioned by the Commissioners for the Affairs of India.


said, he should move that this Order be rejected, for he thought it ran counter to the whole course of recent legislation with regard to India, and which he considered would involve the denial of justice. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel W. Patten) said that natives of India would be placed in precisely the same position as the rest of Her Majesty's subjects. That, however, would not be the case. A native of this country, having a claim against the Crown, would not come before the House of Commons at all—he would have his petition of right; therefore, the natives of India were not advantageously situated even with regard to Motions in the House of Commons for an Address to the Crown. The inconvenience of the proposed Standing Order was exemplified by the difference of opinion which had arisen between the Board of Control and the Court of Directors as to the claim of the Nawab of Surat. The right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) had expressed his opinion that, if some order of this kind was not adopted, the purity of that House would be tainted; but, although he (Sir E. Perry) was most anxious that the honour and character of the House should not be impeached, he thought the natives of India ought not to be deprived of the power of appealing to Parliament when they had suffered wrong. For those reasons, he should therefore move the omission of the Order.


said, he considered that the Standing Order was necessary for the protection of the Indian revenues, and would beg to remind the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Perry) that it had received the approval of all the Members of the Committee except himself. He hoped it would not be supposed that the adoption of the Order would deprive the natives of India of any power of appeal, for they would have the same means of access to that House to represent any wrongs of which they had reason to complain as were enjoyed by any of Her Majesty's subjects.


said, he was willing to substitute for the words, "without the recommendation of the Court of Directors, sanctioned by the Commissioners for the Affairs of India," these words, "without the recommendation of the Crown."


said, he wished to remove a misconception which existed, that natives of India could not sue the Government of India. The fact was, that the Indian Government possessed no privileges of exemption from legal proceedings, and that any individual could sue the Government of India, not only in the Supreme Court, but in any subordinate Court, the same as any individual, except in the case of a political matter.


said, he understood that the Nawab of Surat could not sue the East India Company.


said, there could be no doubt that, whenever the East India Company performed any act in its capacity of a private corporation, it was liable, like any other corporation, to be sued; but whenever the Company, as representing the British Crown, did any act —as, for example, becoming a party to a treaty—it was entirely irresponsible in any court of law. When a native Prince of India was either coerced or persuaded into a treaty with the East India Company, and when he gave up his dominions and his Sovereign power, he had no remedy in a court of justice, should he deem himself an injured party. He lost all the power of a Sovereign, and did not acquire the rights of a subject. It was a very important question, whether the revenues of the East India Company should or should not be affected by any Bill brought in without the assent of the Crown; but, as this Standing Order was altogether new, and as it could not receive that consideration at that period of the Session which it deserved, he would, if a division took place, vote against it.


said, he thought the Order, as amended, a very wise and just Resolution. It would give to every subject of India that remedy which was now possessed in this country of appealing to the House of Commons, if he thought he had a claim on its revenues. If the rule was not merely a technical but substantially a wise and beneficial rule in this country, it was equally so with regard to India. The revenues of India were held in trust for the Crown, and he held that the charges on those revenues should be fenced about with the same checks and cautions which were thrown around the revenues of this country. The Bill relating to the Nawab of Surat, which had passed that House by a large majority, had been rejected by the House of Lords because it was introduced as a private Bill. So far, there was a denial of remedy. He should certainly support the Order.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Resolved, "That this House will not receive any Petition, or proceed upon any Motion for a Charge upon the Revenues of India, but what is recommended by the Crown. Resolved, "That the several Standing Orders relating to Public Matters, as amended by the said Committee, be agreed to. Ordered, "That the said Orders and Resolutions be Standing Orders of this House, and do take effect at the close of the present Session of Parliament. Ordered, "That the Standing Orders of this House be printed.

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