HC Deb 04 March 1856 vol 140 cc1855-7

before moving for certain returns of which he had given notice, observed that, although he was conscious of the impatience with which the House habitually listened to adverse criticisms upon the theory and practice of annexation to our dominions in India, he yet could not refrain from warning them against the monstrous doctrines broached on this subject by the press of that country, and also of England. The principle of annexation was objectionable, as the returns to which his Motion referred would show, even in a financial point of view; but he was anxious to learn what possible ground of right could be alleged for our most recent transaction of this kind—namely, the annexation of Oude? The Indian press openly asserted that India existed for the sole benefit of the British, and that whenever any native ruler was found to abuse his functions, we were perfectly justified in absorbing his territories. Would the President of the Board of Control lend any sanction to such monstrous doctrines? The leading journal of Europe also applauded the annexation of Oude, supporting that act by gross exaggerations, and at the same time suggesting the most immoral motives for the conduct of our Government. Impartial witnesses, acquainted with the state of Oude, testified that, in regard to the condition of its peasantry and the cultivation of its soil, it would not suffer from a comparison with the adjacent territories under British sway. To talk of the native Sovereign of that State, as though he were equal to a Caligula, and to represent the misgovernment of his dominions as being only paralleled by that of the Lower Empire, was wholly fallacious. His system of administration might, indeed, be far from the best that could be devised, but that was hardly a sufficient justification for despoiling him of his dominions. He (Sir E. Perry) therefore hoped that the outrageous principles to which he had adverted would be authoritatively repudiated on the part of the Home Government by the President of the Board of Control.


asked the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Vernon Smith), before he answered the hon. Member's question, whether, in the dispatch which had been sent out to Lord Dalhousie, relative to the settlement of the disturbances in Oude, the annexation of that province formed any part of the instructions of the Governor General?


thought the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Perry) most uncalled for, as the returns for which he moved could alone furnish the information required to enable the House to form a correct judgment on the question he had so prematurely introduced. In the course of last summer Lord Dalhousie sent home for the opinion of the Court of Directors and the Government as to the best mode of dealing with the affairs of Oude, which had long occasioned apprehension and disquietude to the Government of India. After much deliberation the home authorities forwarded to Lord Dalhousie a dispatch, detailing different methods of proceeding to be resorted to according to his own discretion; but he (Mr. V. Smith) must forbear entering further into the question until the whole of the papers relating to the subject were ready for presentation to Parliament. A premature expression of opinion on the part of that House might instigate the King of Oude to throw difficulties in the way of a satisfactory adjustment. With regard to the articles to which the hon. Member had alluded as having appeared in the newspapers of India and this country, he could only disclaim responsibility for any opinions that might have been promulgated through such channels, and the more especially so if those opinions were really of the "monstrous" character imputed to them by the hon. and learned Gentleman. At the same time the maladministration of the Government of Oude was a question which had been agitated for years, and it was impossible for any Government calling itself civilised to permit such a state of things to continue. In answer to the question put by the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners), it would be a mere play upon words for him (Mr. V. Smith) to deny that the alternative of annexation was implied in almost every one of the modes recommended by the Home Government in their despatch for dealing with the difficulties of Oude. He had no objection to the production of the returns moved for.


protested against the course we were about to pursue in annexing Oude. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, having borrowed several millions from the King of Oude, which we coerced him into lending us, and for which we forced him to accept in exchange a worthless bit of territory belonging to the Rajah of Nepaul, the East India Company were going to repay the King of Oude that money? The question had been put as a mere money question, but he believed it would be found that the new territory would be an increased cost to us, since we should have to employ troops to collect the revenue. The people of Oude had no wish to come under our dominion. It was essential that this question should be discussed, and an opportunity given for the House of Commons to say whether such immoral acts should be carried on in the name of the people of England.


had great confidence in the judgment of the Governor General, who had so ably conducted the affairs of India for eight years.

Motion agreed to.

Return orderedEnumerating the several Territories which have been annexed, or have been proposed to be annexed, to the British Dominions by the Governor General of India since the close of the Punjáb War, stating the grounds of annexation or proposed annexation, with the cases in which the assent of the Court of Directors has been withheld, and stating the area, population, gross and net revenues of such territories, so far as the same have been estimated or ascertained: And, like Return giving an abstract of the revenues and charges of India, including the charges disbursed in England for the years comprised in the first Return, and showing the surplus or deficit in each year, so far as the same has been estimated or ascertained.