HC Deb 14 March 1856 vol 141 cc172-3

said, he would beg to ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of the Board of Control, whether the President of that Board would sanction the Directors of the East India Company in the prosecution of a law-suit concerning the will of the late Mr. Dyce Sombre, in which judgment had already been given against them, and they had incurred an expense of not less than £30,000; and whether they would be entitled to discharge such costs from the revenues of India, or would carry on the suit at their own risk? By this suit it was sought to establish a will which had been brought forward by an individual Director, Mr. Prinsep, to whom it bequeathed £10,000, and a third portion of jewels, valued at £17,000 or £18,000. It also left to the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury bench (Mr. V. Smith), and to the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, £1,000 a year, and to every individual who held, or had ever held the office of Director £1,000. Of this will, which had been prepared by the private solicitor of Mr. Prinsep, that gentleman was executor, jointly with the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone and Sir H. Eliot, both of whom had refused to take any part in the proceedings. Mr. Prinsep had obtained from the Directors of the East India Company a guarantee that they would pay all expenses which he might incur by sending commissioners to Paris or to India; and on the commission to the latter his brother was employed at a large salary. The Law Officers of the Crown had given an opinion that the President of the Board of Control had a right to restrain this expenditure; and that the right hon. Gentleman ought not to abdicate his functions because the Directors said that they demurred to that opinion.


said, that the Directors of the East India Company were not satisfied with the opinion given by the Law Officers of the Crown, and wished to consult their own legal advisers. The Board of Control had determined to allow them time to do so; and as soon as an answer should be received from them the President of that Board would take what measures he thought proper. Until the opinion of the Law Officers of the Company had been received it was impossible that the Board, the authority of which was disputed, should act. Any steps taken by the Directors of the East India Company were now taken on their own responsibility.

The Motion for the adjournment of the House at its rising until the 31st March was then put and agreed to.