HC Deb 09 December 1857 vol 148 cc410-9

having brought up the Report agreed to by a Committee of the whole House on the previous evening,


Sir, I was unwilling last night to take up the time of the House by making any observations in reference to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Briscoe), that the pension to General Havelock should extend to his successor, for I felt that the matter to which he directed the attention of the Government could not be in better hands than those of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who I felt confident would give every attention to the hon. Member's suggestion. However, had I been aware last night of some of the circumstances attending Captain Havelock, the son of the distinguished officer whose services we propose to reward, I certainly should have felt bound to have risen to support the hon. Member in his appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury. It very seldom happens that the heir of a man who has so distinguished himself in the service of his country as General Havelock has done has had the opportunity of supporting his father in those deeds of valour which have obtained for the General not only the approbation of his Sovereign, but the admiration of the whole world. It was not until this morning I learned that Captain Havelock had participated in all those battles which had secured for his illustrious father undying fame; but I now understand that this young officer has also received the Victoria Cross. I am sure, under these circumstances, even a departure from the usual rule would be warranted in this case. But it appears that in the case of peerages conferred for services in the field the pensions generally extend for two generations. This being so, I do hope that Captain Havelock will be considered by the Government, and secured the same pension which has been provided for his most distinguished and gallant father. This would not be too much for the country to do, considering that the position of Sir Henry Havelock is such that the telegram expected this very day may announce to us that the gallant General has fallen in the service of his country, and that the baronetcy has descended to his son; and I think we must all of us be anxious to place the son in a condition to support a dignity so inherited. I make these observations feeling sure that from no one will this suggestion meet a more ready attention than from the noble Lord at the head of the Government.


begged, on the part of the Irish representatives and the Irish people, to express the very high sense which they entertained of the gallant conduct and glorious deeds of our soldiers in India. He took the liberty of doing so, though a new Member, in the absence of many of the Irish representatives, because he believed that all classes of people in Ireland and of their representatives in that House joined in doing honour to those brave and heroic men, and most cordially concurred with the Government in the reward which they proposed to confer upon General Havelock. His only regret was, that the pension granted to that distinguished soldier was so small, and that it was to last for so short a period, and he hoped that at some future time the Government would see the propriety of extending it beyond the life of its present gallant recipient. He hoped, however, that the gallant General would long live to serve his country and enjoy his pension; and that was the prayer of every Irishman and of every Irish Member of the House.


said, it was perfectly unnecessary for him to say one word in praise of Sir Henry Havelock, who was about to receive the tribute of respect from a grateful country, which, indeed, the House could only regret was so inadequate to his merits; but he must say a few words in reference to another name borne by two of the most distinguished men, he would venture to say, of any age or country—men who had saved us, under God, he believed, from disasters far greater than those we now mourn over. The House must be aware that he referred to Sir Henry and Sir John Lawrence. The former had gone where no earthly honours are of avail, and he could no longer serve his country by his able statesmanship and his unrivalled tact and courage; and he trusted that to him his country would raise a fitting monument. But as far as they knew Sir John Lawrence still lived, and he confessed he should like to see him honoured as he deserved. Who saved the Punjab; nay, our Indian Empire? Who was the main instrument of re-establishing our power at Delhi? Who raised the soldiers which had enabled that vic- torious column under Greathed to restore order where anarchy had reigned on her march south? Sir John Lawrence. He trusted the House would remember this fact, that not a soldier from Calcutta or Bombay had reached Delhi. Had we not had Sir John Lawrence in the Punjab, or one like him, he believed our forces would have been entirely driven out of the North-Western Provinces, accompanied by a terrible loss of life, even if we had retained our hold on Bengal. Difference of opinion had existed, and would exist, as to the wisdom of the measures taken in Calcutta; but there could be no room for difference here. He hoped to see the day when Sir John Lawrence should be in a position more commensurate with his experience and his administrative abilities.


I wish to say a word or two on this subject. I speak with unfeigned hesitation. I am sure that the sentiments of sympathy and admiration which my hon. Friend has just expressed are common to the whole of this country; but at the same time I would with all respect and deference venture to suggest to him the expediency of our endeavouring to put some restraint on our feelings in this matter. Surely, nothing can be more important than that it should be left to the Crown and the Executive Government to administer the function of reward without being subjected to the constant anticipation of the Members of this House. I entreat Gentlemen to recollect how much is taken from the grace and value of these acts of reward when bestowed by the Crown if they have been suggested by individual Members of this House. Of course I fully admit that it is the duty of this House to watch the conduct of the Executive Government, and to call it to account if any slackness is exhibited in the due reward of merit; but here is a case where I humbly think we are not as yet entitled to say there has been any such slackness. Let us consider the importance of time in these matters, let us consider that we are dealing with transactions still in progress, that the service of Sir John Lawrence and those other heroes to whom we owe so much is an unbroken and as yet uncompleted service, and that the proportion of reward must depend in no inconsiderable degree on the precise time at which it is administered and the ripeness to which events have attained. How is it possible that we who draw our information with regard to these occurrences from the public journals, and who form impressions that are necessarily general, can take into our hands the duty of pointing out to the Executive Government what is the precise moment at which rewards shall be given? I venture to say—without in the slightest degree denying the title and privilege of Members of this House to correct what is wrong, or what they think wrong, in the conduct of the Executive Government—that it is greatly to the advantage of society and greatly for the honour of the Crown that they should leave the Crown some latitude and discretion as to the time, and the opportunity, and the way in which such rewards should be bestowed; because, if it becomes the habit to take into our hands the business of pointing out beforehand the disposal of individual and particular rewards, the ultimate effect will be that the distribution of rewards, which, given wisely, are intended to be a means of strengthening the Executive Government, will, on the contrary, become a source of weakness. I hope I shall not be understood as in the slightest degree censuring those honourable feelings with which Gentlemen have been actuated in bringing these matters before the Government, but I have thought it my duty to point out the important considerations of policy which I think are involved in the question.


said, he had not the slightest idea of dictating to the Government. He had merely given his support to a suggestion which had been brought under the notice of the House on the previous evening.


said, he thought it was the duty of the House to supply any omission made by the Government in the bestowal of rewards. The services of a great General had been brought under their notice, and they were asked to co-operate with the Government in honouring and remunerating him for those services. It was suggested that the pension bestowed on that distinguished General should descend to his son. That was a very simple suggestion, and he thought the hon. and gallant Colonel, as being a member of the same profession as General Havelock, was a very proper person to make it Therefore be did not see the propriety of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford finding fault with such a proposal, and endeavouring to divert the attention of the House from the claims of the gallant young officer whose services had been brought before them.


could not but express his deep and intense admiration of everything that had been done by the gallant General Havelock and the troops he had the honour to command. He entered deeply into every word that had been expressed with reference to the heroism of those men and the privations they had undergone, and having himself a son at Lucknow the House would understand the feelings with which he was animated. Concurring in all that had fallen last night from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he must at the same time agree in every word that had come from the hon. and gallant Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North). He hoped that as the distinction conferred upon the father was conferred also upon the son, the pension would in this case be permitted to descend with the title.


I waited to address a few observations to the House till the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control had entered the House, and he will excuse me when I say we have reason to complain that when such a subject as that of the reward to be conferred on General Havelock stood as the first Order of the Day, the right hon. Gentleman was not in his place to answer any questions which it was so probable might on such an occasion be addressed to him. I believe, now that this question is before the House, the present is a legitimate time for me to put two questions to the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the affairs of India, on which I am anxious to receive some information from Her Majesty's Government. Before, however, I put these questions, I cannot refrain from taking some notice of what has fallen from my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford. Although I admit what he has said has very considerable weight in reference to any honour and reward which may be proposed in future for that distinguished man, Sir John Lawrence, or any man that deserves to be rewarded by the Crown—for I quite agree with my right hon. Friend that the premature interference of this House on such occasions might have the effect of diminishing the race of those favours when distributed—I at the same time think that the question before us, the bestowal of a pension on Sir Henry Havelock, is not one to which the remarks of my right hon. Friend will apply. I therefore hope that those observations, correct as they were as applied generally, will have no tendency to check, on the part of Members of this House, those expressions of feeling, which, in my opinion, do honour to the House, in regard of those great services which have been performed by our army in India. I believe in the truth of an observation made the other evening by my right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire—that no reward these men can receive will be so appreciated as the assurance that their services are estimated by their countrymen; and the most legitimate mode in which they can receive that assurance is by the expression of the feeling of the constituencies through their representatives in Parliament. I am sure, Sir, that the Resolution of last night and the discussion to which it gave rise will be received in India with gratitude and pride, and that our brave soldiers will esteem our proceedings here as the greatest honour which can be conferred on them. I must confess that when I seconded the Motion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government last night I felt that the only doubt which could exist was as to whether the reward proposed was adequate to the services of General Havelock; and that being my feeling I quite agree with what has fallen from my hon. and gallant Friend near me (Colonel North), that considering the very distinguished gallantry displayed by Captain Havelock—considering the advanced age of General Havelock—and considering the fact, which it is no harm to mention in this House, because it is one generally known, that General Havelock is not a man of large private property—as Her Majesty has been pleased to bestow an hereditary title on this illustrious General, it would be only meeting the wishes of Parliament if the Government allow the pension about to be granted to him to descend to his son, Captain Havelock. I only hope that after what has passed in this House Her Majesty's Government will take that matter into consider- ation. Now with respect to the inquiries which I have to make, and which have reference to very different matters. The first to which I shall refer is one of which I gave notice on a former occasion, and relates to what is called the "dive Fund." If the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control wishes to make inquiry on the subject, I shall defer my inquiry to another day. It is probably within his knowledge that in 1765 Lord Clive, on receiving a legacy of £70,000, bequeathed to him by Meer Jaffier, generously paid that large sum into the treasury—


I rise to order. Is it competent to the right hon. Baronet, on a question concerning the pension to be granted to General Have-lock, to introduce different matter—to ask questions so totally at variance with that which is now occupying the attention of the House?


If I understand the right hon. Baronet correctly that he proposes now to ask questions on matters not immediately relevant to the subject under discussion, and especially questions of which he has already given notice of his intention to put on a particular occasion, I cannot hesitate to say that it would not be in accordance with the rules of the House to take such a course.


I shall of course bow at once when I understand your decision, Sir; hut at present I do not quite see the position in which I stand. I did on a former evening express my intention to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman, and notice of that question was given for last night. However, I did not put the question last night, and there is now no notice on the paper of that question; and therefore I apprehend I am not out of order in putting it now. As I understand our rules, when any question in the nature of Supply is before the House, it is a most legitimate and proper opportunity to raise any question which may require explanation. My first question has reference to the Clive Fund, and my other to what I consider to have been a most improper exercise of patronage by the Board of Control and the East India Directors—


The right hon. Baronet is quite correct, that when a Motion is made for the House to go into a Committee of Supply general observations may be made and questions asked; but we are engaged now on a particular Vote, and the Motion to go into a Committee of Supply stands next in order. With regard to the questions of the right hon. Baronet, I think that, according to the strict rules of the House, on a subject such as this—a distinct Vote for General Havelock—to introduce irrelevant questions—questions not confined to the subject before us—would not be in accordance with the general course of our proceedings.


I bow to your opinion, Sir; and will give notice of my questions for another night.


The right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) began by reading me a lecture—which is rather a habit of his—for not being present when the question of General Havelock's pension came before the House. I certainly did think there was no possible chance of any attack being made on the office I have the honour to represent, seeing that the proposal of the Government met with the unanimous assent of the House last night. It appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman is wroth with me for not being here when he wanted to put two of the most irregular questions ever put in this House. I had no obligation to be here, seeing that no notice was given me that such questions were to be put; but I am ready notwithstanding to state the reasons why I was not here. I was not here, because we had just received a telegram from India which I shall read to the House, and which I have no doubt the House and the country will feel to be of more importance than the questions of the right hon. Baronet. I will only say that in the manner in which he dealt with the question the right hon. Gentleman left it most unfairly. He knew that the answer to the question about the Clive Fund would involve a great array of figures and require very close inquiry. As regards the other question, which involves a charge against me of a most improper exercise of patronage, I never heard a man make such a statement as that without being ready to stand up and substantiate it on the spot. I shall now read the telegram which——


When any hon. Member wishes to make an explanation on any personal matter, the House generally allows him to do so; but the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich having refrained from putting his questions, and having given notice of his intention to put them on a future occasion, I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control that it would be more convenient for him to reserve his answers till the questions are put.


said, he had no intention whatever of prolonging the discussion on the subject of the questions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich; but was about to read the telegrams just received [which the right hon. Gentleman then did].


assured the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) that, in raising the point of order, he had no intention of offering him any interruption in the expression of his opinion. He was actuated only by the belief that the observations of the right hon. Gentleman could be made more conveniently at another time. He had not understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford as wishing to prevent the Members of that House from expressing their opinion as to the merits of distinguished officers; but what he did understand him as saying was, that by putting forward for rewards particular names—and no doubt each Member in that House could select a dozen—they would infringe upon one of the first principles of the constitution, which made the Crown the fountain of honour. With regard to the present Vote, he himself had been anxious to call the attention of the Government to the propriety of making some moderate provision for Lady Barnard, the widow of General Barnard; but feeling that the question was one which should rather originate with Her Majesty's advisers, he refrained from doing so, and would content himself with saying that he cordially concurred in the Report before the House.

Resolution agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. FITZROY, the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, and Viscount PALMERSTON.