HC Deb 11 December 1857 vol 148 cc551-2

said, he would beg to ask the President of the Board of Control, Whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been called to the question of transporting a certain number of the mutineers in India to such of the West Indian or other colonies as may signify their willingness to receive such transported offenders and their families, and to contribute to the cost of their removal; also, whether in the event of any measures for the transportation of such offenders being adopted, the Government of India are empowered to carry out such measures under the Acts of the Governor General in Council of May and June last for the punishment of offences against the State, and military offences?


said, that the subject to which the hon. Gentleman had referred was of the greatest importance, and at the same time one of the greatest delicacy, and it had very much occupied the attention of Her Majesty's Government. It would be most desirable, so far as those offenders were concerned who had not been guilty of any massacre—such as robbers, deserters, and the like—that some punishment such as transportation should be devised for them; for in those cases it would be clearly impossible, even if it were desirable, to carry into execution the punishment of death. The punishment of transportation had peculiar recommendations; for it was well known that the Natives—particularly those of high caste—had a great dread of being carried over the "black water," as it caused them to lose all the privileges of their caste. The power of the Government of India only extended to transportation within the limits of the East India Charter, and to such settlements as Penang, and these limits would be clearly insufficient for the present purpose. It would be a matter of extreme delicacy to select the Colonies to which those offenders should be transported; and Her Majesty's Govern- ment would not, of course, entertain for a moment the idea of sending them to any Colonies but those which were actually desirous of receiving them. He had invited the attention of the Governor General in India to the subject, and hoped soon to receive a Report from him in reference to it. Of course, limited as the powers of the East Indian Government were with regard to transportation, it would be necessary when any determination was taken to introduce a measure into the Imperial Parliament, giving the necessary powers.