§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
having moved that the House should go into Committee on the Resolutions on this subject.
§ LORD HARRY VANE
said, he rose, pursuant to notice, to moveThat the change of circumstances since the first proposal of Her Majesty's late advisers to transfer the Government of India from the East India Company to the Crown renders it inexpedient to proceed further with Legislation on the subject during the present Session.He must, in the first place, mention that he would not have taken the subject out of the hands of his hon. Friend (Mr. Gregory), who had given notice of an Amendment similar to his own, had not that hon. Gentleman himself expressed a wish that he should do so. He also felt that he owed an apology to the House for presuming to move the postponement of legislation for India for another year, more especially after the lengthened debates and proceedings which had taken place on the subject. The main arguments, however, which he had to urge in support of his Motion was the state of chaos in which the whole question of the future government of India was now involved. With the permission of the House he would very briefly mention a few facts which appeared to him a justification for the course which he proposed to take. Very shortly before the opening of Parliament it was rumoured that her Majesty's then Government intended to introduce a measure having for its object the transfer of the government of India from the present East India Company to the direct Government of the Crown. He was not wrong, he believed, in staling that some surprise was created in the public mind by that rumour, as it was not expected that such a measure would have been brought forward so early, considering the events that bad recently occurred and were still occurring in India. However, we had 2017 passed through a crisis of an extraordinary nature. The Government at that time in power was in the full plenitude of its strength; that Government having been in office during the whole period of the mutinies in India, had the means of knowing whether any circumstances existed which rendered it expedient to introduce any change in respect to India. They obtained leave, by a great majority, to introduce a Bill. The hon. Member for Huntingdon moved, as an Amendment, that it was inexpedient to legislate at present—a proposition which received considerable support from hon. Members on the other side of the House. He (Lord H. Vane) had voted with the late Government, as he thought, if there was to be any legislation, it should take place at once; and the Government then in office being apparently firmly fixed, there was a prospect that immediate legislation would take place. At that time, however, there were differences of opinion as to the measure indicated by the Government, even amongst those who had voted for its introduction. He had heard liberal Members express their disapproval of some portions of that plan, especially at the exclusion of the elective principle in the mode of constituting the Council, He was inclined to think that such exclusion was wise. There were also some doubts entertained as to whether the number of the Council was sufficiently large, and whether the salaries proposed for the Councillors were adequate to procure the services of the most able men, the more especially as the Members of the Council were to be excluded from seats in Parliament. Shortly afterwards, however, circumstances arose wholly irrespective of India, which brought about a dissolution of the late apparently strong and well-seated Government. He was no party to the Resolution which led to the resignation of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, and his colleagues; but that event occurred, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks, with his friends, entered into office. The new Government, wisely perhaps, thought it was expedient to proceed to legislate for India, and accordingly brought in their Bill. That measure, when examined, did not appear to have emanated from the powerful, vigorous, and practical understanding of the noble Earl at the head of the Board of Control. It was a scheme which would rather have been expected from the fertile and ingenious brain of an Abbé Siéves than from a practical states- 2018 man. He was not mistaking facts when he said that the defence of its main pro- visions, which they had heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, did not procure for the Bill the approval of the House; and, indeed, in no quarter had it met with favour. Even the great towns, whose support one would have supposed it specially calculated to conciliate, were as loud in their disapprobations as the other parts of the community. He had that day read the speech delivered elsewhere on the preceding evening by the noble Earl at the head of the Board of Control; but he should say that that speech, able as it was, like every address that came from the noble Earl, did not, in his (Lord H. Vane's) opinion, establish a satisfactory defence of the measure. be that as it might, the noble Lord, the Member for London, thought it proper to interpose with his high authority, which all acknowledged, and, quoting precedents of former Indian measures, recommended the House to proceed by Resolutions. He (Lord H. Vane) thought the cases not parallel, because the Company, when formerly legislated for, was a commercial Company; still his noble Friend's authority was such, that the recommendation was adopted, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer now invited the House to adopt a series of Resolutions which had been published on the notice paper. Those Resolutions must occupy much time, and months might elapse before a decision could be arrived at. The questions involved were numerous, and would inevitably give rise to repeated and lengthened discussions, so that he saw but little hope of a practical result to their deliberations. In bringing forward the proposition of which be had given notice, he was not influenced by any motive of a party character. He need hardly add that he had not been cognizant of the intention of the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Divett) to bring forward the proposition of which he had given notice; he regretted that notice, but he could assure the House that he had not been in communication with that hon. Member either before or after the appearance of his notice. He (Lord H. Vane) brought forward his Motion perfectly irrespective of all party considerations and in singleness of purpose, upon public grounds. He found that many hon. Members, like himself, believed that the House was entangled in inextricable difficulties, and that there was a perfect 2019 chaos of opinion on the subject, and that it was most desirable, if possible, to withdraw the question of India from the vortex in which it was plunged. He believed that in the present undecided state of the House it was not expedient to proceed with legislation upon the principles of which no considerable number of hon. Members could be found to agree. They had the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman, and then came the Amendments to be proposed by the noble Lord the Member for London, which involved a very essential variation not only from the plan propounded in the Resolutions, but also from the scheme of the late Government; for the noble Lord proposed that the Council should be independent, inasmuch as the Members were to be irremovable during good behaviour. In inviting the House to defer legislation, he did not intend that the House should pledge itself against any legislation for India; but considering that, although the chief seats of the mutiny were now in our own possession, India was still overrun by hordes of a licentious soldiery, and complete tranquillity could not be expected for many months, it was absolutely necessary there should be a vigorous Government to administer affairs in that country. There was no hope that immediate legislation could take place, and the only effect of the discussions in the House would be the continuance of an agitated state of feeling in India. He thought they should look solely to the public interest irrespective of all subordinate considerations, and not continue discussions which would be interminable, without leading to any practical result. It was upon those grounds that he proposed the Motion of which he had given notice. If he could believe that the East India Company thwarted the Government of India, he should not interfere for a moment to prevent its destruction; but he had perfect confidence in the discretion, the calm judgment, and the cool determination of Viscount Canning, and he had no reason to suppose that the East India Company were not acting in concert with the Government. On the contrary, he found from a declaration made in another place by a noble Earl, that at the present moment the action between the Court of Directors and the Board of Control was most harmonious. It was true that his right hon. Friend the late President of the Board of Control appeared, in a few words that fell from him a few nights ago, to indicate that there was a lukewarmness, if 2020 not inattention to their duties, on the part of the Court of Directors now that they were cognizant of the intention to destroy them. Now, that might have been the case; but if the House prolonged their existence for a year they would do away with that motive, and the Directors would exert themselves; if they did not exert themselves now, as his right hon. Friend (Mr. Vernon Smith) seemed to imagine. But he (Lord Harry Vane) should say, that the House ought to legislate immediately, if public opinion out of doors had pronounced itself determinately upon that point. But was that the case? There were three petitions in favour of immediate legislation, and three against it; and he thought he might say, without fear of contradiction, that the House very fairly reflected the doubts which were entertained by the public out of doors. So far as he could judge, the public at large were by no means decided with respect to what ought to be done in India. In the petition from Manchester, the plan indicated was a direct government by the Crown, without Councillors. He believed there were few who would support that opinion. A petition from Liverpool suggested a more complicated scheme, to be brought about by alterations in the present system; but both it and the petition from Manchester prayed for inquiry. These facts showed that in those great emporiums of manufactures and commerce, where this subject was more considered than perhaps in any other part of the kingdom, the community entertained grave doubts on the question, He believed he should not be contradicted, when he said that those doubts still more extensively prevailed in the City of London. If, then, the facts were as he had stated them, he thought it would be unwise for the House, because they had entered on legislation, not to postpone that legislation, when, as he believed, no injury could result from that postponement. It did seem to him, when there were so many opinions offered—when there was so little agreement that no dozen men entertained precisely the same views on the subject, that they had no reason or pretext for proceeding with their legislation. There were two most important points, with respect to one of which the public mind was not quite settled—namely, as to whether the Councillors should be wholly independent or merely nominees of the Crown. Suppose the House repudiated the elective principle—and on that subject he confess- 2021 ed he shared the views of his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell), as, however attached to that principle, he found himself obliged to reject it in this instance from the difficulty of finding a constituency— suppose that principle repudiated, a great and essential difference would exist between those who thought that the Council should be independent, and those who would make them the immediate nominees of the Crown. But there was another subject on which he might be permitted to say a few words. Responsibility had been long a popular topic; and he believed the main ground of the advocacy of a change with respect to the East India Company was, that they would establish by that change greater responsibility in the Minister of the Crown. Now, in theory, the President of the Board of Control could overrule all others, so that that authority was actually possessed by him at this moment. But responsibility was an elastic word, to which people attached different meanings. He recollected having heard some years ago a discussion in the French Chamber of Deputies, in the course of which it was contended by M. Odillon Barrot, that, strictly speaking, no minister was at the present time responsible, because the responsibility of every Member of a Government was shared by his colleagues; those colleagues were themselves supported by a majority of the Legislature, and public opinion was not brought to bear on any administrator until it came too late for punishment. There was no doubt such a thing as moral responsibility, but that responsibility depended on each man's sense of duty and of honour, and must necessarily vary in different individuals, He therefore thought that responsibility was a word without much meaning, a word of an elastic character, and of vague and indefinite meaning. With regard to the double Government, he admitted there were evils in the system of the East India Government, and that for the sake of despatch it might be desirable hereafter to introduce a change; but he was only now urging that the change was not pressing, that there was no absolute necessity for it, and that at this moment no actual impediment arose from the action of the East India Company. Even under the present system a very able despatch emanated from the Secret Committee only a day or two ago, and from that it was evident that the means existed at this moment of giving the necessary orders that might be required. When 2022 he heard people talk of the double Government, it seemed to him that there must always of necessity be a double Government, unless Parliament placed the whole authority in India. He was of opinion that the more despotic they made their Government in India, provided they associated with it a competent Council, the better it would be; because, after all, their Government must be in India. It was much better that it should be so. He would have the Government as much as possible carried on in India; but, as long as they had any Government in this country, it would be really a double Government, even if the traffic between Cannon Row and Leadenhall Street were abolished. He was not opposed to an alteration of the system, but it seemed to him that this was not the proper time to make it. Considering they had little chance for some time to come of passing any measure, that it was not known who the Councillors might be, that at this moment they had competent councillors and well-informed on the subjects that came under their consideration, and that they had no confidence that the best men could be procured for the Indian service, he would ask, was it wise at such a time to part with the present Councillors, who were at any rate well acquainted with their business, and perfectly competent for the situations they filled? No misconduct was attributed to them. He believed the system itself was cumbrous, and therefore he quite agreed that at the fitting time Parliament should alter it; but it seemed to him that there was no urgency in the case which at all rendered it necessary that they should now, when they were not agreed as to what would be the best form of Government, blindly legislate, because they thought they should legislate, whether that legislation was good or bad. He thought, on the contrary, they should take sufficient time to consider this matter. He thought it better to wait than to adopt a system which, after all, might be the fruit of a mere chance division, for no one could say what conclusion would be arrived at in these proceedings, and he must say he very much doubted whether a good measure could be made out of such a medley of opinions as existed on the subject. He thought, therefore, it would be more statesmanlike not to press legislation upon this matter at the present moment, and not by precipitation to commit mistakes which it might be difficult hereafter to remedy. He had brought forward this Motion in 2023 accordance with the opinions of some of his friends, and he counted, of course, on their support. He was aware that it would not receive favour either from the Members of the late or the present Government, or from his noble Friend below the gangway (Lord J. Russell); but still, as he believed that it gave expression to the wishes of a great many hon. Gentlemen of independent opinions, who took the same view as he did, and as he acted solely on public grounds and irrespective of every consideration of party, he had thought it his duty to persevere in bringing that Motion before the House.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "the change of circumstances, since the first proposal by Her Majesty's late Advisers to transfer the Government of India from the East India Company to the Crown, renders it inexpedient to proceed further with legislation on the subject during the present Session," instead thereof.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he owed an apology to the House for the course which he pursued the other night, in moving without notice that they should not go into Committee to consider the Resolutions of the Government this day. Perhaps it would have been his duty to give the House notice of his intention on that occasion, but he was not aware of the full extent — though he was partially—of the modifications of opinion that had taken place on this question. Though he knew that a great number of hon. Members had changed their opinions on the subject, still, till he heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), he did not think that a movement on his part, such as had been made that night by the noble Lord, would have met with the support which he thought it deserved. He certainly did not expect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have done more than formally move that the House should go into Committee on the Resolutions this evening. The right hon. Gentleman, however, made an elaborate speech. That speech produced a debate, and the debate produced the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, and, seeing the favour with which the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was received, he thought he might raise the question as to whether there should not be some delay in legislating upon so important a subject. The noble Lord the Member for London admonished him on that occasion that he 2024 was taking a great responsibility on himself in moving an Amendment of such importance without giving previous notice. He received that admonition with the spirit of deference that it became so humble a Member as himself to feel, coming as it did from so eminent a man. He also listened to the advice of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring), who recommended him to withdraw his Resolution; and, finding this to be the general wish of the House, he asked leave to withdraw it, hoping that on the present occasion the question might be advocated by some hon. Member of more standing than himself, which hope had been gratified by its being undertaken by the noble Lord. He stated the other night that he did not bring forward his Amendment from any feeling of party spirit, and that it was not conceived in hostility to the Government; still they might have considered that as it was directed against the Resolutions, and if those Resolutions were removed, it would have paved the way for the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. He could say with perfect sincerity that that was not his intention, and he trusted the wording of the Resolution of the noble Lord would convince the House that there was no wish to make this a party question. It had been said the House would stultify itself if it reversed the decision of the 19th, of February, when it read the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton for a first time by a great majority; but he did not think that would be the case, and the best way to ascertain whether it would be so or not was to ascertain the considerations which prompted the majority on that occasion. When a Bill was read a first time—an usual concession if it did not embody any particularly objectionable principle—the House reserved to itself the opportunity of discussing the main principle of the measure on the second reading, and its details in Committee. There was one opinion on which most of them were agreed when the India Bill was introduced, namely, that it was expedient to transfer the Government of India to the Crown. There was another ingredient which went to make up that majority, and it was—poor, misguided mortals as they were!—that they thought they were placing the Bill in the hands of a strong, compact, and permanent Government—a most essential consideration in carrying a Bill of such magnitude through the House. In addition to this, they had to look to the position of 2025 affairs in India at that time. We were then in the height of the war, and it was thought that the hands of the Government ought to be strengthened in every possible method. On the 19th of February we had had hardly one rood of ground in the great kingdom of Oude that we could call our own. Lucknow remained untaken, and was defended by 50,000 men; and who could tell what would have been the effect of a single check in such critical circumstances? Without entering into any nice distinctions, as to the meaning of the word "responsibility," the House thought they ought to have some person responsible for what was going on in India, and they believed that the management of the war would be in the hands of a powerful and energetic Minister. They went on the maxim, No quid detrimenti respublica capiat. They thought it right to declare that the anomalies of the existing system should come to an end, and were anxious that the great empire of India should not be frittered away in arguments and counter arguments and rejoinders, passing to and fro between Leadenhall Street and Cannon Row. But it could not be said at this moment that we had got a strong Government. He did not mean any offence to hon. Gentlemen opposite when he said so, for the Earl of Derby himself had confessed to a deputation the other day that his was not a strong Government. But if they had not a strong Government, did any one think it possible for the Opposition to carry out the details of a measure of such magnitude as this? If it was thought by anybody that the Government could on any fixed principle of its own carry out this measure, let them reflect on the way in which the question had been treated by them. Originally the adherents of the Government were almost all of them opposed to the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton; but then came the defeat of the late Government, and the substitution of the present Government in their place. The noble Lord at the head of the Government then, in deference to public opinion and the expressed wish of the House, consented that a Bill should be brought in—a Bill of which he would say nothing except this, that if some future chronicler of the curiosities of legislation should arise, he would find this Bill not undeserving of being placed alongside the Bill for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of the noble Lord the Member for 2026 Tamworth and the famous Militia Bill suggestion of the Home Secretary, and of forming a triad with them as Parliamentary curiosities of no ordinary kind. Then came the celebrated scene of the Resolutions. After two Bills on India had been brought forward, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) laid upon the table a series of Amendments to the Resolutions, which struck out the distinctive principle of the Bill of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston). He could not regard it as reflecting on the dignity of the House, or as evincing any inconsistency, if they altered their decision, when the state of affairs differed from that on which they had based their previous line of conduct. He thought that if those who were opposed to immediate legislation were able to obtain the withdrawal of the Resolutions, there would be ample time for the consideration of many useful and practical measures during the present Session.
§ MR. A. MILLS
said, that as one of those who had voted for the introduction of the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, he was anxious, with the permission of the House, to state the grounds upon which he considered it his duty to oppose the present Motion, He had listened to the arguments of the mover and seconder of this Motion, hut he was utterly at a loss to understand what the circumstances were that, according to the noble Lord the Member for Durham (Lord H. Vane), precluded them from proceeding with the consideration of the question of the future government of India during the present Session. The speech of the noble Lord might well have been made in support of the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring), and entertaining the opinion that the noble Lord did, he was surprised that he had not voted in favour of that Amendment. Looking at this subject in the interest of England as well us the interest of India, he believed they should proceed to legislate, He believed that delay in this matter would imperil our Indian empire, and that so far from circumstances having arisen rendering it advisable to postpone legislation, such change as had occurred had tended to beat down whatever arguments might have been advanced in favour of delay when the Bill of the noble Lord was introduced. It was possible that those who supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for Huntingdon might have had some reason for their fears, nor was he dispesed to question the justice of some 2027 of the arguments they advanced; but seeing that the noble Lord abstained from touching in his Bill the question of the local government of India, he (Mr. Mills) could not consider that there was any sufficient ground for opposing the introduction of that Bill. If the noble Lord had attempted to dabble with the land tax, the salt tax, and the opium duty, or any of the various questions connected with the local government of India—if he had proposed to interfere with the authority of the Governor General, or the government of the subordinate presidencies— he could not have supported him; but it was because the noble Lord's measure was confined to the home government of India, and did not affect any of those questions, that he had felt it his duty to vote in its favour, not as a measure which he considered afforded a perfect solution of the problem which it was their duty to solve sooner or later, but as a step in the right direction—a stop which it was their duty to take—and he confessed that he felt much disappointed when circumstances arose to prevent the prosecution of that measure. But it was said that they had now arrived at a period when it was not desirable to legislate for India, and that circumstances had arisen that should induce them to delay proceeding until a more favourable moment arrived. He had listened to hear what those circumstances were, but in vain. When the noble Lord brought his Bill forward, it wa3 urged as a reason for not proceeding with it that there was a mutiny in India unquelled. But if they now stopped short, and showed that for some reason they were afraid to legislate, the people would say it was not because there was a mutiny unquelled in India, but because there was some mutiny unquelled in the House of Commons. It was not for him to say who was the "Nana Sahib" at the bottom of that mutiny, or how it arose— hut this he said, that in the interest of Parliament and of the people of the country, and for the honour and dignity of the House of Commons, it was of immense and paramount importance that they should not stop short in their course of legislation for any consideration such as had been urged. The late President of the Board of Control, on the last occasion that the subject was under discussion, used an argument which had struck him very forcibly. He said, that at that time there existed a circumstance which in his mind would make delay more prejudicial than it would have been 2028 when the hon. Member for Huntingdon brought forward his Amendment. That circumstance was, not only that the minds of the 180,000,000 of people in India would be unsettled, but that we had but a limited body of men possessing Indian experience, to form the practical body by whom the Anglo-Indian government was carried on, and that we could not afford to disgust or put them out of humour with their work, or keep them in suspense for twelve months while we were arranging the government at home as to what would be their position. We could not afford to tell them that the House of Commons had voted no confidence in them while we still entrusted to them the duty of carrying on the Government. As he had said, it was dangerous to the interests of the House of Commons, and inconsistent with its dignity, that it should be deterred from legislating by any such arguments as had been adduced by the mover and seconder of the present Motion. It was sometimes said that the less the House of Commons interfered in the affairs of India the better. In one sense this was true. He admitted that it would be undesirable to make Parliament the arena for hearing the complaints of Indian Rajahs and questions between the Indian Government and those who were subject to them; but, on the other hand, it would be most unfortunate if, from any feeling of indolence or party spirit, the House of Commons should say, "We will not legislate for the country that has been committed to our care—a country to which we cannot grant a representative government—and for a community that has not the power to legislate for itself." He held it to be the duty of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for the home government of India; and he would support any proposition, come from whatever side of the House it might, that was calculated to ensure an efficient home government for our Indian empire in the course of the present year.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he feared he was one of those whom the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had been pleased to characterise as mutineers. Upon a question of such importance he held it to be a misfortune that he was compelled to differ with some of those who held a high position in the House; but be did not understand why, therefore, he and others who took the same view as he did upon a question which they were told and believed was not one of party, but which They knew to be one of the most important 2029 that had ever been brought under the consideration of Parliament, should not advocate the opinion they entertained. Any hon. Gentleman who had listened to the speech of his noble Friend (Lord H. Vane) must feel that this Motion was not brought forward in any spirit of party or with any factious object. It expressed the conviction of many hon. Members that it was at least open to considerable doubt whether it was not advisable to postpone proceeding with this great question of the future government of India, at least for the present. The House must bear in mind that this was after all no easy question. Nor had they been so lucky in their legislation upon colonial matters generally as to justify them in taking up such a subject as that of Indian legislation in a rash and hurried manner. He should be warned, probably, by his right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer not to speak disrespectfully of the wisdom of Parliament; but a great historian, Mr. Hume, in one of his most remarkable essays, in which he dealt with the question of politics as a science, stated that a free Government always managed its dependencies worse than an arbitrary Government, and as proving that it was so, he compared the conduct of Franco towards its distant provinces with the conduct of England towards Ireland. Mr. Hume wrote before we had lost our possessions in America, and before we had found out by long experience that the best mode of governing a colony was to leave it to govern itself. But we could not leave India to govern itself. We must have an arbitrary government there; and was it a trifling matter—was it so easy a thing to frame a government for India of itself? But much more, was it an easy matter to dovetail an arbitrary government into a free constitution? He spoke of the House of Commons with respect, for our home government and for our home purposes there was no more admirable instrument of government than the House of Commons. But why? Because it represented the country, and governed the country it represented. But the moment they began to legislate for distant colonies and for a country of which they could know comparatively nothing, the charm of that government was lost. Then as to "the wisdom of the House of Commons," he was far from saying that it did not contain within it many Gentlemen of high character and of great ability; but why was it that 2030 it could not legislate for Canada or any other colony, as well as the Colinists themselves? Was it because the Canadian Assembly contained men of greater ability and higher talent than the British House of Commons? No one, he imagined, would contend that; but the reason was that the Canadian Assembly, by their very position, felt and knew all the wants and opinions of their fellow-countrymen, of which the British House of Commons were perfectly ignorant. If then this was the case with regard to a colony inhabited by a people of our own blood—a people of our own religion and language —if we found that even there we failed, were we to treat it as a light and easy matter when we were called upon to legislate for the government of a people with whom we had no community of feeling— no interests in common—a people of a different language and a different religion? The hon. Gentleman said there was no reason why they should not proceed to legislate at once, and had talked of the inconsistency of those who, having voted against the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon, now proposed that they should stop short for the present. He (Sir F. Baring) could feel no difficulty upon that point, for he happened to be one of those who voted against proceeding to legislate when that Motion was before the House. He had voted in favour of delay when those whom he usually followed were in power, and he had seen no reason since that had led him to change his opinion, although it would appear that many hon. Gentlemen opposite had done so. But he thought that circumstances which had occurred fairly justified an alteration of opinion in those who had originally voted against delay, and who now voted to postpone legislation. He wished to avoid any allusion of a party character, but he must deal with the facts as they were, and it was impossible to escape the consideration of the position in which the House came to the discussion of the question, He would not stop to inquire whether it was a light or a wrong proceeding that a Government which did not possess the confidence of a majority in that House should hold office; but this he might be permitted to say, that the Government in its present condition was not able to perform the functions usually falling to the duty of Ministers, and essential to enable the House satisfactorily to consider so great and important a subject. Now, what were the duties and the func- 2031 tions of the Government—he meant a Government that had a majority in the House? A number of Gentlemen enjoying the confidence of the majority necessarily had great control over the proceedings of the House, and, whether in or out of office, exercised great influence over their decisions. When these Gentlemen were, in consequence of their possessing the confidence of the majority placed in executive office, and charged with the heavy responsibilities of Government, and being a Government possessing in addition the confidence of the Crown, they formed a most important part in the deliberations of the House, especially on subjects of a great and important character upon which the hon. Members of the House were not individually or personally interested— such as foreign and colonial questions. Well, could it be said that that was the position of the Government at present? Could it be said that the Government were in a position to advise the House with weight upon this question of the Indian government, and guide them to a wise and a safe conclusion? He would not go through all that had taken place, but it would be recollected that right hon. Gentlemen on the other side, now the Government, first objected to legislating; that they next brought in a Bill themselves, and then again they abandoned it and proceeded by Resolutions. He did not charge them with anything like vacillation on that account, even "hypothetically;" but this might be fairly said, that—not because of any change of mind on their part, but because of the difficulties of their position— they had been driven to take the course they had adopted. No one who had heard the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night could doubt what his opinions were. So far as he (Sir F. Baring) understood him, he maintained that it would be better not to legislate at all; but that if they did legislate, the best Bill they could have was, that which he had brought forward, and after defending that Bill at great length he concluded not by a Motion for its adoption but that the House should on a certain day go into Committee with a view of proceeding by Resolution. Now he could not suppose there was any Member in the House so young and so "green" as to suppose that the right hon. Gentleman in recommending that course gave that opinion he would have given, if he thought he had any chance of carrying the measure he had 2032 himself introduced. He did not, however, complain of the right hon. Gentleman. His position when he took office was one that compelled him to meet many difficulties and to undergo many mortifications which had he been brought into office by a large majority he would not have had to encounter. But the result was they had not that assistance from the Government in this case which was essential in order to guide the House of Commons to a right conclusion. A great deal had been said about the wisdom of Parliament, but he did not know what other hon. Gentlemen were in the habit of hearing out of doors about the position in which the House of Commons was placed in relation to this question—and few of us had "the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us;" but he (Sir F. Baring) heard, however, in every quarter the exclamation, "What a precious mess the House of Commons has got itself into on this India question." And was not that the opinion, too, of many Members themselves, when they were out of the House, and came to talk the matter over after having put off, for a time, "the humbug of the wisdom of Parliament"? He was sorry to say that the public out of doors did not attribute it entirely to their wisdom that the House had got into this difficulty. These were some of the reasons that induced him to vote for this Motion. But the hon. Gentleman urged that it was beneath the dignity and the honour of the House, having decided to legislate, to agree to this Motion. Now he (Sir F. Baring) thought their honour and dignity would be best consulted by getting out of this difficulty as well and as soon as they could. It was not a wise course to persist obstinately in a blunder from a notion that it would be undignified to retreat. Besides he was afraid the argument came somewhat too late, for if the hon. Member looked at the course of business during the present Session, he thought he would find the dignity of the House already gone. The Assassination Bill had been brought in by a larger majority than even the India Bill, but what had become of it? It was buried with their dignity. That was not all. An hon. Member moved an Amendment upon that Bill, which was not even pressed to a division. A subsequent Amendment was moved by a right hon. Gentleman, the author of all mischief. He wished not to dwell upon these events, and would touch upon them as lightly as possible; but if any hon. Gentleman would 2033 refer to the two Motions he would find the difference between that Amendment and the other was of the slightest, and that there was (as was sometimes the case in that House) the greatest ingenuity exercised in the endeavour to say the same thing in different words, so that the two things which wore alike might not appear to be alike—and "the dignity" of the House rejected the one, and "the dignity" of the House adopted the other, and by so doing turned out the Government. Then as to the India Bill—they voted in the first instance that a, Bill should be brought in, and that they did by a large majority. Then they voted that another India Bill should be brought in—and then again, at the instance of his noble Friend the Member for London, they voted that to proceed by Bill was not the proper course—and thus, after voting twice that they ought to legislate by Bill, they put their dignity into their pockets and determined to proceed by Resolutions. But he was told, that having gone so far, if they did not proceed to legislate they would leave India without a government, and that the greatest confusion and danger would arise, and he had heard, as everybody else had hoard, that upon the receipt in India of the intelligence of the vote on the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon, and the change of Government confusion would reign from one end of that country to the other. ["Oh!"] He was only speaking the language which every one who had access to the usual channels of information had read, but as to which his mouth was shut. Now this was a serious and important question. He quite concurred with those who regretted that any Bill on the subject had been introduced in the present Session—for he feared that the effect would be to unsettle men's minds in India. But when he was told of the fear of the consequences of not legislating, he wanted to know what were the consequences they had to expect from legislating? How would legislation such as shadowed out by the Bills before them tend to settle men's minds? He supposed there was no danger of revolution on the part of the East India Company. Cannon Row and Leadenhall Street, he presumed, would go on without a pitched battle, notwithstanding there should be no legislation. But what were they going to do? And this was one of their great difficulties in so far as India was concerned, that they raised questions, hut settled no- 2034 thing. Who were the parties in India they had to consider, in making any change in the Government of India? First, there was the civil service. What did they propose to do with the civil servants? They made great alterations at home; but with regard to the civil servants in India they settled nothing. Did the House suppose that the minds of these civil servants were not unsettled by what had taken place? When a Bill was introduced which would greatly affect them, by which the whole Government was to be changed, were they not to know what their position was to be under the new order of things? Would the Bill settle this danger? Everybody know that the noble Earl at the head of the Board of Control was supposed to look with no very great favour upon the civil service of India; and what would be the position of that service, under the new form of Government, must naturally be a subject of great anxiety, therefore, with those who belonged to it. But there was a much more serious question to be considered. We had an army in India. In whom was the administration of that army to centre? Was it to be under the Horse Guards or the Local Government of India—or the President and Council? Was there no difficulty in respect to the army? Did they suppose that the officers of that army, who were now fighting our battles so gallantly, would not look with anxiety to the great change which they were told in some quarters was to be the means of introducing such great economy into the government of India? Did they suppose that those officers would not be anxious to know how that economy would affect them? Was this pacifying India, or was it not rather making "confusion worse confounded" to introduce a system which said nothing as to the mode in which the rights of parties were to be secured for the future, but threatened all parties with future changes? But was it the officers only? To whom was the military oath given? With whom was the contract made, both by the European and the Native soldier, when he entered the British service? It was the Company, and not the Crown, that the soldiery had contracted to serve; They could hardly propose to transfer an oath by Act of Parliament. Was it wise, then, in the present state of India, to raise a question which would release the soldier from his contract? But was that all? What did they say of the Native popula- 2035 tion? Would their Bill produce confidence in them? If he had heard of anything, or if he had dreamed of that which was so popular among a certain class of Englishmen in India, it was that India was henceforth to be governed for the English. Would not the knowledge of that demand have any effect when they passed a Bill which made no provision for the manner in which the people of India themselves were to be dealt with? Had they heard nothing of the petitions which had been presented against caste, and the connection of the Government with the religion of the Natives? Did they suppose that that would produce no effect on the minds of the Natives. Did they suppose that the Native population would no took to these matters, and that confusion and uneasiness could not be raised in their minds? And did they suppose their Bill, which settled some small questions and was founded upon the difficulties that had arisen in getting from Leadenhall Street to Cannon Row, would produce quiet upon all those subjects? The Bill might settle the East India Company, it was true; but the parts of the subject that it left untouched he believed to be the most dangerous and difficult with which they had to deal; and he regretted when they proceeded by Resolution they did not endeavour to remedy the evils, and pacify and soothe the feelings and doubts that a Bill for the change of the Government of India would naturally create. He was not there as the advocate of the East India Company. From both sides of the House they had heard praises of the East India Company's Government, and he thought hereafter there would be but one opinion as to the remarkable fact that a Company of that nature and constitution, whatever they called it, had been able to build up an empire such as they had acquired, and administer a Government of such extent, and so nobly. But there was another subject to which posterity would look with curiosity, and that was why, after seventy years of good government, the East India Company had been condemned by Parliament, they would then read the speech of the Minister who brought in the Bill to put an end to that Company, and find that the grounds of that Bill were that there was some small distance between Leadenhall Street and Cannon Row, and that there was a good deal of money spent in cab hire and steam boats inconsequence—that there was a double government (though right hon. 2036 Gentlemen on the other side of the table knew very well that there was not an office in the country that had not a double government)—such were the petty reasons which posterity would find with astonishment were the grounds considered sufficient justification for the abolition of a Company that had governed with so much ability and so much advantage to the empire at large.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that he should not have ventured to trespass upon the time of the House upon this Motion, seeing that they were almost prepared for a division, had not his right hon. Friend who had just spoken given him the very peculiar title of the "author of all mischief." He certainly never felt more gratified in his life than when he found that he had successfully accomplished that piece of mischief which ended in the destruction of the Conspiracy Bill of the late Government. He was opposed to that Bill, and he took the course which he thought best calculated to defeat it. The course which he adopted was successful. No doubt other consequences ensued also, but his object was the defeat of that measure, and in that object he succeeded. His right hon. Friend seemed to yearn as it were after a species of dictatorship in that House; but he (Mr. Gibson) was not inclined to complain of a Government for deferring to the opinions of Parliament and consenting occasionally to take advice from others, instead of insisting that their will without question should be the only guide. He thought that the time was approaching when Parliament would more and more advise Ministers, and when Ministers would less and less dictate to Parliament. He regarded it as a subject for congratulation, that the Government of the day showed themselves willing to take the House of Commons into their councils; and he could tell his right hon. Friend that the Government of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton would not have fallen if they had adopted that principle. Until he heard the speeches which had been delivered in favour of the Motion before the House, he thought, perhaps, that something might have been said for it; but he declared positively that he had not heard one good argument in favour of the particular proposition under consideration, which was, that they were not to change the Government of India, that they were not to legislate, that they were not to attempt to do anything at this precise moment—it being the month of April, and there being 2037 before them four months of a Session of Parliament. But there were reasons, no doubt, for delay in legislation—such, for instance, as a total absence of information, and an ill-constructed measure. Those reasons had not been assigned in the present instance. No one could assert that it was not in their power at that moment to obtain all the information necessary for legislating with a view to a reconstruction of the home Government of India, not of course the local Government; but that power in England, which exercised a controlling jurisdiction over those in India to whom authority was intrusted. He was a Member of the Committee that sat in 1853 upon Indian affairs, and was confident that if hon. Gentlemen would refer to the evidence given before it they would find even there all the information necessary to guide them to a sound decision with regard to the government of India. He thought the noble Lord the Member for the City of London had suggested a course which, of all others, was the best calculated to prevent precipitate legislation. Why had Bills to pass through the several stages of a first reading, a second reading, Committee, and a third reading? In order, of course, that opportunities might be afforded for a minute and adequate examination and a full discussion of them. When a measure was of great importance and very complicated, another stage was added, and a further opportunity was given to discuss it, with a view to wise legislation. He, therefore, thought that the course suggested—namely, that of proceeding by Resolutions, inasmuch as it furnished another stage in which all the points might be discussed seriatim, was the best and most practical that could be adopted for arriving at sound legislation this Session. He did not consider it an evil that the Government had made a change in their course of proceeding on this question; and inasmuch as they had been publicly informed by the right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Control that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London suggested that course previous to the introduction of the India Bill of the late Government, and as he still retained the opinion that it was the wisest and most proper course, he (Mr. Gibson) was induced to think with increased confidence that it was one that would lead to successful legislation. He wished to ask one question, and that was, why had hon. Gentlemen advocated delay? Was it not because they 2038 wished to prevent the abolition of the East India Company? Was it not their object to defeat the India Bill? A great writer upon political fallacies, Mr. Jeremy Bentham, said that he never knew an instance of a demand made for delaying the passing of a measure in which the person making that demand was not desirous of defeating it altogether. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth had dealt in another species of argument besides that of procrastination—namely, that mentioned by Jeremy Bentham as the hobgoblin argument, for he had introduced much extraneous matter to frighten them from a calm consideration of the subject. He (Mr. Gibson) hoped that the House would early arrive at a division on the Motion, in order that they might proceed without delay to the main business—namely, the discussion of the Indian Resolutions.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I presume that as those who sit upon this bench were the first to introduce a Bill upon this subject, and those who sit upon the opposite side were the first to object to our proposal, so ought we also to be the first to express our intentions with regard to the Motion of my noble Friend. I have no hesitation, therefore, in saying, that I intend to oppose the Motion of my noble Friend. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. A. Mills), that it would be inconsistent not only with the interests of the country, but with the honour and dignity of this House, if, after all that has passed, we were to retrace our steps, and to do nothing upon the subject of India this Session. My noble Friend puts his Motion upon the ground of a change of circumstances. Many circumstances certainly have changed; I address the House from this, instead of from the other side of the House. That change of circumstances may have its results, but I cannot admit that that is any reason why we should not go on with the measure for the government of India. Hon. Gentlemen may have move or less confidence in the Government that now occupies the Treasury bench. They may think with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that the more the Government needs, from its own inherent weakness, the assistance of Parliament, and the more it is therefore compelled to take Parliament into its councils, the better. Well, that is no reason why we should delay this measure. I may observe in passing, with regard to my right hon. Friend's com- 2039 plaint, that the late Government did not sufficiently take Parliament into their councils, that if he will only look back to the division list, he will see that upon great questions we had as large majorities (implying that Parliament was of the same opinion as ourselves) as have fallen to the lot of any Government in modern times. Sir, I will not enter into the question, whether the course adopted by the Government was the best. My opinion undoubtedly was and is, that when they withdrew their Bill, it would have been more fitting for them to bring in another Bill, instead of calling upon the House to go into Committee upon Resolutions. But, as things now are, I am perfectly ready to go into Committee upon the Resolutions, and to consider them with a sincere desire to make them as consistent as possible with what appears to me at least to be sound legislation upon the subject. But I do entreat the House to consider what would be the consequences of agreeing to the Motion of my noble Friend. The speech we have just heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) is not a speech in favour of that Motion—which is to delay legislation for this Session—nor is it a speech in support of the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring), who wanted to put off legislation this year. It is a speech against legislation at any time. His arguments might be as reasonably employed in opposition to any change at any time during the present arrangements of the homo government of India. My right hon. Friend will therefore, I think, excuse me if I forbear from answering arguments which do not apply to the question before the House, but which go far towards a result which I am persuaded no one who heard him is at all disposed to approve. Sir, the ground upon which the present Government, when they came into office, determined to alter their intentions with regard to the government of India is perfectly sound and reasonable. A noble Lord in another place stated that, originally, they were adverse to legislation, but as Parliament by a large majority affirmed that legislation should take place, the authority of the existing Government in India would be so shaken by that vote, that he felt it right to give up his own opinion, and to concur with those who thought legislation should take place. I entreat the House to consider what would be the consequences of our leaving India in its present disturb- 2040 ed state, with a system of government condemned not merely by one, but by two Administrations, and not only by an immense majority of the House of Commons, but by public opinion generally. I entreat them to consider how weakened in its moral strength the Indian Government is, by all these circumstances, and how hampered it must be by its own doubt as to the duration of its authority. I am persuaded, from all we hear, that a change from the authority of the East India Company to that of the Queen would have a most salutary and powerful effect upon the native mind of India. I am convinced that the Natives would regard with infinitely greater respect and attachment the authority of the Queen than that of a company of merchants, however respectable. And I venture to say, that there is not an officer or a man in the Indian army who would not feel prouder, if he were told he was in the immediate service of his Queen, than he now feels in serving the Company. In fact, we know very well that the local army of India does entertain a certain sense of inferiority on comparing itself with the Queen's army, with whom it serves in the field. These facts alone are sufficient justification for the proposed legislation; but there is another consideration which I think ought not to be forgotten. The mutiny is nearly suppressed. Those acts of severity and vengeance which were necessarily incidental to the state of things in India, we may hope will soon terminate. The period is fast approaching, when it will be the duty as well as the pleasure of those who administer India to allow clemency to take the place of punishment, and to make a distinction between those whose offences are unpardonable, and those as to whom a different system ought to be pursued. That change would come with more grace and effect from the Sovereign of this country than from the present authority. It would be a most fortunate thing, I think, when these occurrences are brought to a close, to be able to announce to the people of India that the Government had been changed, and that they were then under the beneficent sway of the Sovereign of England, and that to that authority their allegiance would henceforth be due. I concur entirely with my right hon. Friend in the hope that the House is prepared to come to an early division upon the subject. There can be no doubt what that division will be, and I am only anxious to hear 2041 that Her Majesty's Government share the opinions which I have just expressed, and that they are prepared to stand by the measure which they have proposed, and to resist the Motion of the noble Lord.
Sir, I think that I am hound upon the part of Government to acknowledge, in the first instance, the perfect fairness and the entire candour with which the subject has been brought before us by the noble Lord. It must have been evident to every one who heard him —as it was to me—that to him, as I hope to all who possess and who deserve to possess influence in this House, the question presented itself, not as one out of which political capital could be made or upon which a party discussion could be raised, but as one which involved a result no loss momentous than the safety of an empire. When, however, I turn to the arguments which were adduced by the noble Lord, I confess that I am utterly unable to appreciate their value or their weight. What has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) is, indeed, intelligible enough. From the tenour and spirit of his speech it is clear that he considers, and, in fact, he has told us in express words, that we are unable and unfit to legislate for India. [Sir F. BARING: Hear, hear!] He has told us that the dependencies of free countries are badly governed, and he has said something, with which I cannot wholly disagree, as to the difficulty of connecting an absolute Government like that of India with a free constitution like that of England. That, Sir, may be so, and, as the right hon. Gentleman says, there may be difficulty in so doing; but the difficulties of 1858 are not greater than will be those of 1859, so that if on that ground there is an objection to legislate for India now, there will be equal objections in any future year. Then, again, we have been told of the general difficulty and perplexities involved in an attempt to change the government of India. Now, no man who has considered this question, however slightly and superficially, can deny that it is one of the most complicated and difficult questions which has ever been brought before Parliament. But are the difficulties likely to be diminished by delay? Is the Indian question one which will settle itself if it be left alone? Is not delay likely to increase rather than to diminish the difficulties and complexities already existing, and to increase the magnitude of any danger which may impend over 2042 us at present? Well, then, it is said that great differences of opinion exist upon this subject, and that is urged as a reason for delay; but I fear that if we wait until there shall be, I will not say absolute unanimity, but an approach to unanimity of opinion upon the subject among the leaders of this House, we shall have to wait a very long time for any reform in Indian administration. Why, Sir, there was no such unanimity in the year 1783, when the Board of Control and the double Government were first established, and when the question of its establishment was at issue between the two great Parliamentary leaders of that day. There was no such unanimity of opinion in 1833, when the Company ceased to be a trading body, nor yet in the debates upon the government of India which took place five years ago. Then, again, it is said that this is one of those questions with which only a strong Government is qualified to deal. Now, that is rather a delicate topic to touch upon, and, perhaps, at the present day it would be difficult to say what constitutes a strong Government; but there is one distinction which I may be allowed to draw, and that is that it is very possible that a Government strong as regards domestic affairs might not be able to inflence the House of Commons to an equal extent upon an Indian question, and for this simple reason—for strength a Government depends upon the support of those who agree with them in political opinions, and in most questions of home administration the principles upon which parties are formed are brought into play; but that is not the case with regard to the administration of Indian affairs. We have reason to believe—indeed we have proof of it in the events of the last few years—that there has existed and does exist a wide difference of opinion upon Indian subjects among those who upon English questions generally think alike, and so conversely as regards Indian affairs there may be general agreement between those who upon home questions generally differ from each other. I think, therefore —and I use the argument without reference to any particular case—that we should not be justified in laying down the general rule, that no Government but one which can command a large majority upon English subjects has a right to deal with large subjects of Indian policy. We are told, again, that public opinion has not yet declared itself upon the question. Now, let us consider fairly what we are to expect, 2043 and what is meant by public opinion declaring itself on a question relating to India. We know that on questions of domestic policy, which affect the interests of large numbers of persons out of doors, popular opinion is expressed by petitions to this House, by public meetings, and through the press; and that this House in most cases wisely follows, instead of attempting to lead, the general opinion of the community. But the manner in which India is governed does not personally affect a very large number of persons out of doors, and I do not think that it is at all likely that strong popular pressure will ever be placed upon any Government or upon any Parliament to compel them to take up Indian reforms. No doubt, at the present moment, great and wide interest is manifested in regard to India; but that interest has arisen partly out of recent debates, and to a much greater extent out of the late occurrences in India itself, which have turned all eyes and thoughts to that country: and, if we may judge of the future by the past, that feeling of interest is only temporary and will be greatly diminished when the circumstances which created it have passed away. I think, therefore, that the fact of there being at present a greater interest felt in Indian affairs than there was two years ago, or there is likely to be two years hence, is a very strong reason why we should not delay legislation. As to further inquiry being necessary, I do not think that anyone who served upon the Committee of 1853, or who remembers how long that Committee sat and how carefully the investigation was conducted, or who recollects the huge volumes which were placed before them for their assistance, the result of the labours of former Committees—I do not think that any one who hears in mind the duration of the debates of 1853— they lasted, to the best of my recollection, over twenty nights—or the minuteness with which all the details of the measure brought forward in that year were discussed, can be of opinion that we stand in need of further information. I may be told, Sir, that petitions have been presented to which we are bound to pay respect, and that those petitions pray for delay and further consideration; but to that my reply is, that those petitions themselves contain plans for a new Government for India, and what the petitioners ask for is, not that they may have more time to make up their minds—for their minds are made up—not that they may avail them- 2044 selves of farther information, for they are quite satisfied with the information they have already—but they ask that the House will consider the principles laid down in their petitions—which I for one shall be ready to do—and that having considered, it will act upon them. Well, Sir, I now come to what I have always considered the most serious part of the question—I mean the presumed danger of unsettling men's minds and thereby creating disturbance and confusion in India. I don't treat that as a purely imaginary risk. I confess that, if I had had the honour of being a colleague of the noble Lord opposite when he introduced his Bill, the sense of that danger would have weighed very much with me; and, although I did not take so desponding a view of the matter as was taken by some hon. Gentlemen — for I voted with the noble Lord—at the same time I was much inclined to think that if the question had never been stirred by the Government of the day, it would have been better not to interfere with the government of India until the mutiny should be suppressed. But that, as it seemed to me, was a plea no longer available from the hour when the late Government brought forward their plan. It was even then too late for Parliament to interpose. The question had been mooted — men's minds had been unsettled—the existing administration of India had been formally condemned by the highest authority in this country; and I felt then, as I feel now, that to maintain the prestige of an administration so condemned was out of the question. The same reason which would have led me, had I been a member of the late Cabinet, to hesitate before moving in this matter in the first instance, leads me now, when the whole question has been opened and unsettled, to wish to see it settled again as quickly as possible, and in the only possible manner. As to the feelings of the people of India, I do not think that any man in this House can pretend to know what is the real effect produced upon the Native mind by any discussion which takes place here. I have heard it argued —and no doubt the argument appears very plausible—that great encouragement would be given to the insurgents now in arms against the British Government, if they were led to believe that the Company against which they were contending had lost its power. But I think that a more disastrous effect would be produced in the minds of those insurgents if they heard, not, indeed, 2045 that the power of the Company was taken away, or its authority transferred to the Crown, but that an attempt had been made by the Government of this country to take from the Company the government of India, that the Company had resisted that attempt—that the Company had powerful friends—that a struggle was taking place —that parties were nearly balanced—and that the Company was holding its own against the authority of the Executive, and against the expressed intention of the Minister of the day. That is the aspect in which these proceedings will be viewed by them. I say, Sir, that if we are seriously to consider the effect which our legislation may have on the Native mind of India, we must recollect this—that the one greatest danger we can incur is that of producing upon the Native mind the impression that disunion and division exist in the British Parliament. That was, no doubt, a fair argument for not raising this question at first. But the question having been raised, and it being notorious to India, as to Europe, that it has been proposed to transfer the Company's power to the hands of the Crown, I confess I think that the only safety and the only wisdom lies in completing the undertaking which we have begun. When the right hon. Gentleman says that, however simple might be the changes we propose, they would be regarded by persons in India, both Europeans and Natives, and particularly by Natives, as intended to lead the way to much greater changes; that it would be supposed, if we were to legislate now, that we meant to legislate in the spirit of those with whom I own that I have no sympathy—whose object is to govern India for the benefit of the English in India, and of the English alone—I say that if any such apprehension, any such vague alarm pervades the native mind of India, the only way to allay that alarm is to show what your Bill really is, and to make it plain what kind of legislation you mean to adopt. Carry out that legislation, I do not say as rapidly as possible, but as rapidly as is consistent with sound reflection and mature deliberation; and, having passed your measure, send it forth to England and to India with the assurance that, so far as your present intentions are concerned, the change is meant to be final. There is only another point which I shall touch, and it is a very obvious one. We must look a little to the state of the country and of this House in considering what is the best time to en- 2046 ter upon so large a work as that of legislation for India. There is not now before the House any proposal for great organic reforms of a domestic nature; there is no excitement or agitation in the public mind; there is peace in Europe; and we are still at a comparatively early period of the Session—at least six weeks earlier I believe than when the right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Control introduced his India Bill five years ago. The best part of the present Session is still available; and I need not tell the House that, whatever may be the political events of the season, it is not, and cannot be, certain that we shall have an equal amount of leisure at our disposal in any other year. I think I may say in conclusion, that if the Government had simply consulted their own case—if they had desired merely to save themselves trouble, and to avoid the difficulty and embarrassment which must necessarily attend the carrying through Parliament of a measure of this description—their plain and obvious course would have been to accept the Resolution of the noble Lord, and thereby to relieve themselves of a responsibility which, be it observed, they did not originally take upon themselves, but which they inherited from those who preceded them. Sir, we have not adopted that course. We thought we had a duty to perform—that a responsibility had devolved upon us; that from that responsibility, though Parliament, if it so pleased, might release us, it was not our right, nor was it in our power, to release ourselves; and, having undertaken the task, we will, with the favour of this House, acquit ourselves of it to the best of our ability.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: — Ayes 447; Noes 57: Majority 390.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, it had been suggested to him that the Amendment of which he had given notice upon the sixth Resolution, that the Members of the Council "should be appointed by Her Majesty, and, with the exception of the Secretary of State, should hold their offices during good behaviour," would raise two questions—first, that of appointment; and secondly, that of tenure. That objection he thought just; and, as he only wished to raise a simple and direct question with regard to the mode of appointing the Council, he would put his Amendment in this form—
2047 "That it is expedient that the Members of Council should be appointed by Her Majesty;" and it would then raise the question, whether all the Members of Council should be appointed by Her Majesty or not.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee; Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the first Resolution he had to submit to the Committee embodied a principle which he believed would be recognized by a vast Majority of hon. Members. It was—That, as the Territories under the Government of the East India Company are by Law to remain under such Government only until Parliament shall otherwise provide, this House is of opinion that it is expedient that the transfer of such Government to the Crown should now take place, in order that the direct superintendence of the whole Empire may be placed under one Executive authority.He need not remind the Committee that, by the Act of 1853, the authority of the East India Company was continued under the condition referred to in the Resolution, and he had endeavoured to frame the Resolution in such a manner as clearly to express its object. The right hon. Gentleman then moved the Resolution.
said, that he feared he undertook a hopeless task in opposing a Resolution which he believed, with the right hon. Gentleman who had moved it, would obtain the concurrence of a great majority of the Committee. He felt it, however, incumbent upon him to vindicate, to the best of his humble ability, the character of that form of administration with which he had been connected, either as a servant or as a member of the Court of Directors during many years. He asked, therefore, the indulgence of the Committee, as, during the debates which had taken place on this subject, he had never had an opportunity of speaking upon the general question, except when he had been provoked into rising, perhaps unwisely, at a late period one evening, in consequence of some statements made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Radnor (Sir G. C. Lewis) which appeared to him to be wanting in the calm philosophy, as well as in the equity and candour, which usually distinguished the right hon. Baronet. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had not fairly represented the conduct of the Government of India before it fell under the more immediate control of the Crown, and he then endeavoured, very 2048 imperfectly, to reply to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, without entering into the general question. He would now state the reasons which, as it appeared to him, should lead the Committee to pause before they took the administration of India out of the hands of the great corporation which, as it had been truly said, won that vast empire for England, and had, as he conscientiously believed, administered its affairs with wisdom and advantage. He would take, as his text, a passage in the speech of the right hon. Baronet, made on the occasion to which he referred: —It is not at moments of calm and prosperity that defects in our institutions are discovered. It is only when the stress comes that we are able to try the strength of the vessel—it is in times of difficulty that we perceive the defects of our institutions, and I cannot conceive how hon. Gentlemen find it hard to comprehend that an institution should escape attention and be suffered to continue in a defective state at times of peace and quietude, but that the Government charged with the responsibility of affairs having discovered the weakness in the governmental system of India should come forward and ask that it should be strengthened in moments of danger."—[3 Hansard, cxlviii. 1343.]Now, he confidently joined issue with his right hon. Friend upon the question whether the Government of India, during the last year, in a season of the greatest emergency, in a crisis of unparalleled difficulty, had shown the weakness which the right hon. Gentleman had alleged as a sufficient—and almost the only justification of the course proposed by the late Government. He thought the right hon. Baronet, who, although he had not himself been a Member of the Administration which had the conduct of affairs during the Crimean campaign, was connected by office with those that were, had taken a somewhat bold position in asserting the weakness of the Government of India, as a sufficient cause for cashiering it. He (Mr. Mangles) would ask the Committee to mark how the Indian Government had sustained the shock of that fearful hurricane which had suddenly burst upon it. If they looked to the siege of Delhi they would see that the greatest arsenal of India had fallen into the hands of the mutineers. The question was, not how that arsenal fell into their hands, or whether it should not have been better protected in the first instance; but if such a question were raised he would be prepared to meet it. He thought, however, it was sufficient for him to say that the Commander in Chief in India, who was more especially respon- 2049 sible for the safety of the arsenals and fortresses of that country, was always appointed by the Crown, without any interference on the part of the Court of Directors. As he had said, the great arsenal of the North-Western Provinces was in the hands of the mutineers. Every soldier brought by the Indian Government before Delhi, was in India when the mutiny broke out. There was therefore no assistance from without. Now, he appealed to the Committee, and to every man conversant with the history of the period, whether the operations before Delhi were conducted in a manner which indicated weakness or inefficiency on the part of the Indian Government, or of its military system. Was there any insufficiency of money for the pay of the troops, or in the munitions of war? Before Delhi, it was true, the troops had not to face the inclemency of a Crimean winter; but they had to fight under the burning Indian sun during the hot season, at probably the hottest station in the North-Western Provinces, and during the whole of the rainy season, when Delhi was proverbially unhealthy. The public had not heard of any green coffee before Delhi; of any cavalry horses eating each other's tails for want of proper provender, or disabled for active service by sore backs; of whole regiments of dismounted dragoons, their horses having perished for want of proper forage; and of whole regiments of shoeless men. They had not heard of any of that neglect which marked the administration of affairs in the Crimea. He challenged contradiction when he said that from the beginning to the end of the siege, though their greatest arsenal was in the hands of the mutineers, there was no deficiency in any one article of the munitions of war, and that there was even superabundance of provisions. Then, look at the events which followed the siege of Delhi. With what rapidity the columns of Greathed, and Showers, and others traversed the country. Was there any deficiency in the means of carriage and transports for furthering the march of those troops? Why, some of the marches of the two brigadiers he had mentioned were the admiration of the military world for their extraordinary rapidity. Hon. Gentlemen, too, must recollect the rapidity with which the Guides came up from Peshawur to Delhi, marching, even in the hottest weather, at the rate of forty miles a day. Then, again, did the state of the Punjab during the siege of Delhi 2050 indicate any of that weakness in the Indian Government which would justify the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman? Had the administration of the Punjab in the hand of Sir John Lawrence been weak or inefficient? Could this be said, either, of the frontier of Peshawur in the hands of Colonel Edwardes and General Cotton, or of Lahore, administered by Mr. Montgomery? With the exception of a petty insurrection in a jungly part of the district near Mooltan, not a finger had been raised against the Government throughout the enormous Provinces so lately annexed to our empire. In a letter from Mr. Montgomery which reached him by the last mail, that gentleman said, under dale of the 12th of March, 1858, that all was perfectly tranquil in the Punjab, and the people were never so contented. Seven hundred cart loads of plunder from Delhi—perhaps this was one reason of their contentment—were said to have entered the country of the Sikhs within the last three months. Mr. Montgomery added that there was a prospect of a most abundant harvest, and corn was so cheap that for one rupee a person could get sufficient for a month's consumption. He would now ask the House to turn from the Punjab to a province acquired still more recently—he meant Pegu. Necessarily denuded by Viscount Canning of a great part of its English troops, which were called to scenes of greater danger, that province had remained in a state of uninterrupted repose from the first outbreak of the mutiny to the present hour, though it was surrounded by wild tribes, and the Burmese, its old masters, were in force on our frontier. Again, to return for a moment to the Punjab, the Committee must not suppose that the only dangers of that country arose from the possibility of discontent among the population within its borders. On the northwestern frontier of the Punjab there were wild and ferocious tribes always ready to plunder their more peaceful and prosperous neighbours. During the whole period of the mutiny, however, through the ability of Colonel Edwardes, and the great skill and high reputation of General Cotton, these tribes were kept in check, and the country had been held in peace without the assistance of a man from England. Did that indicate any weakness on the part of the Government? The state of things in Scinde, with the wildest tribes all around it, had been precisely the same, 2051 thanks to Mr. Frere and his coadjutors. Then, with respect to the Doab, the Chief Commissioner (Colonel Frazer) said:—Popular feeling, especially amongst the Hindoo population in the old trans-Gangetic districts, is represented to be strongly in our favour.Mr. Muir said—The collections are coming in wonderfully. Already one and a quarter lacs have come in, and the collector expects to have cleared off the whole balances of May and June for the division. The country is settling down.With regard to the great city of Muttra, he said—Muttra is a marvellous instance of loyalty to us. Not a soldier of ours has it seen since the mutiny broke out, excepting the two companies of the 44th and 67th, which mutinied and went off to Delhi; yet, whenever the actual pressure of the mutineer forces has passed away—our officers have been recognised as rulers of the submissive city.Was that state of things a proof of weakness on the part of the Indian Government? He would too, with the permission of the Committee, quote a letter from an officer of high reputation in the Bengal Horse Artillery, who possessed this remarkable distinction—he commanded a troop of Native Horse Artillery, almost every one of whom was a Mahomedan. He was in England on sick furlough when the mutiny broke out; but, like a true soldier, instantly returned to India, and his troop remained faithful during the whole siege of Delhi. Although deprived of their own field guns as a measure of precaution, they volunteered to go into the trenches to serve the heavy ordnance, and when the storm of the city took place they entered and fought throughout the terrible six days of street combat with the utmost fidelity, and without the desertion of a single man. The officer in question was Lieutenant Colonel Smythe; and as be thought the testimony of one who possessed such an influence over his men deserved to be listened to with respect, he would read his letter, dated from the camp near Roorkee, Feb. 22:—The telegraph will convey to you much later news than I can give you, so I will only tell you what I have seen during my passage through the country. I last wrote to you from Cawnpore. Thence I was sent as chief staff officer with a column of 2,500 men, under Brigadier Walpole, to clear the banks of the Jumna and reoccupy Etewah and Mynpoorie. We had really quite a triumphant march through the district. Brigadier Walpole (brother of the ex-Minister, and by far 2052 the most able officer sent out to India) instinctively saw what was required to re-establish the civil power and restore confidence in the minds of the people; and the consequence of keeping his troops from plundering and preserving a strict discipline was, that our camp was supplied with everything required, and the disaffected and those who had been in arms against us, given up to the magistrate. On one occasion, when 300 men were sent to seize some rebels at a certain town, the whole inhabitants were seen deserting it. The magistrate (Captain Bradford) galloped into the place to explain what we had come for, and in the course of half an hour the shops were all open and the inhabitants had returned; the latter brought out to the soldiers milk and sweetmeats, and in many cases refused payment. Old men came on the roadside to see us pass by, saying they had never seen a European soldier before, though they had heard their fathers talk of them in Lord Lake's time, and also when the cholera first was known. To any unprejudiced mind there cannot be the slightest doubt that the re-establishment of order and our rule is hailed with pleasure by the mass of the population, and by the most respectable part of it. The revenue has never been so easily collected. It seems as if every village wished to show its loyalty by bringing in at once the half year's rent. This desire of giving pecuniary help—for we may call it so—I observed also in Behar. About Gya the opium cultivators refused to take advances, but bound themselves to produce the usual quantities.Such was the testimony of an officer who was a thorough linguist, who had had considerable experience of India, and he should again ask his right hon. Friend, whether it furnished proof of the weakness of the rule of the East India Company in that country? And how stood the case of Bengal, the oldest of our provinces? He recollected that last Session a very animated debate— arising out of the presentation of a petition From the missionary body representing the state of Bengal as most perilous, and dwelling upon the hostility of the ryots against the Government in consequence of the oppression under which they suffered—had taken place in that House. He had then ventured to deny the justice of that statement, and it bad since appeared that, although there was not an English soldier — except in Fort William — between Calcutta and Patna, the population of that district had refrained from breaking out into rebellion, which must have been the case had it been ill-disposed towards the Government, inasmuch as there was no force except a very weak police in the proportion, perhaps, of one policeman to 20,000 of the inhabitants, by which it could have been restrained. He had also upon another occasion, and in another place, ventured to express it as his opinion, that the state of feeling among the Natives 2053 of Bengal was favourable to the Government, and the consequence had been that Dr. Duff, one of the missionaries (and a gentleman for whom he entertained an unaffected esteem and good will), had published a letter in the newspapers, in which he had attacked him in the severest terms for having given utterance to that opinion. He had begun by addressing him in the most respectful manner; but before he had come to a conclusion, his tone had become altered, and he had styled him by such titles as "the Magnate of Leadenhnll Street, and the Potentate of the Banks of the Thames." Dr. Duff had referred to the cases of Dacca and Chittagong, remote districts of Bengal, by way of refutation of what he had stated, and had observed that the opinion to which he (Mr. Mangles) had just alluded, had scarcely been expressed when an insurrection had broken out in those districts. Now it was, he admitted, true that the detachments of Sepoys which had been stationed at the two places in question had mutinied; but then they had not been in the smallest degree supported by the sympathy of the people, whoso aid, upon the contrary, had been afforded to the authorities at Dacca in driving them from the spot. And that was the whole question. He (Mr. Mangles) had said, "where no Sepoys, there no insurrection." Dr. Duff directly contradicted this position; and then proceeded to substantiate his own opinions by citing two cases in which detachments of Sepoys had mutinied. Dr. Duff went on to state, that at Patna, had it not been for the great energy which had been displayed by the Commissioner, Mr. W. Taylor, there would have been a terrible insurrection. Unfortunately there was a rising there one night, and one officer lost his life; but the affair lasted but a few minutes, and was not at all of a very serious character. A relative of his (Mr. Mangles) went down with a few Sikhs in a short time after, but the whole affair was over in a quarter of an hour. There were some, however, who maintained that it would have been a wiser policy on the part of Mr. Tayler to have left the inhabitants more to themselves and not to have exercised in their regard such extreme rigour. Be that as it might, he thought that the conduct of the inhabitants of Bengal clearly proved that they were not disposed to be hostile to the Government. Then in two of the districts of the province of Behar, the native population kept the prisoners and preserved the treasury 2054 when all the civil authorities had been withdrawn; and, on their return after several days of absolute interregnum delivered over everything intact to the company's officers. Was that a proof of the weakness of the Company's rule? Then, with regard to Madras; they were told that the Company's tyranny at Madras was unendurable, and that the amount of revenue derived was so great that it could only be obtained from the ryots by torture. Now, was it not remarkable that people so oppressed and tyrannized over should not have taken the opportunity of a mutiny to rise and shake off a Government so cruelly oppressive; but from one end of the Madras Presidency to the other, there had not been to his knowledge a single insurrectionary movement. He asked again, whether that was a proof of the weakness of the Government which should cause the House to take it out of the hands of the East India, Company? Then look at the Deccan, look to those territories not immediately under British rule. Look at Hyderabad, with a fierce Arab soldiery. The Pathans and Rohillas, and the Arabs of Hyderabad and their descendants wore, he believed, as fierce as any races that existed on the face of the earth. But that whole country had been kept in order by the Prime Minister of the Native Prince—great honour to him and to the British Government!—the strength of which had been shown by the fidelity which so many of the Native Governments had shown to it. His right hon. Friend near him (Sir C. Lewis) seemed to be of opinion that the rule of the government of the Company had been characterised by perfidy and rapacity; but as a proof that it was viewed in the opposite light by the inhabitants not only of India, but of neighbouring countries, he might mention that in a passage taken from a book of travels, written by a late lamented friend of his, Captain Connolly, he found it stated that there was not a town in which a British officer travelling through Central Asia might not obtain any reasonable amount of money for the payment of his expenses from the Native bankers, the only security which they required in return being a bill upon the Company. He doubted, however, these ready lenders would not read the speech which his right hon. Friend had made in that House, as, in that case, they would certainly not be disposed to make similar advances. He thought that the Committee would be of opinion that he 2055 had proved that the Government of British India, so far from exhibiting weakness under such a pressure upon them, had manifested most extraordinary strength in bearing up against the calamities it was their lot to experience. He must say that the comparison of a ship in stress of weather, which his right hon. Friend had indulged in, would have been nearer the truth if he had supposed the gallant ship, after being thrown by a terrific hurricane on her beam ends, righting herself, by her inherent, buoyancy, as the Government of India had done, wherever their soldiers and civilians were placed, and bearing herself, like a thing of life, on her course over the waters. In another part of his speech his right hon. Friend said, that the Company were very much in the habit of praising and overpraising themselves and their officers. Perhaps there might be some admixture of truth in that statement, for the Company had been so much and so unjustly assailed that there might be some degree of reaction. But there was one remarkable circumstance which he desired to mention as a lesson to those Smelfunguses, who thought all was barren from Dan to Beersheba, and that there was nothing but oppression from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas. Hardly one intelligent foreigner—not a single one to his knowledge—had written about India but had spoken of the East Indian Government in terms of the highest commendation. Burckhardt, who performed the pilgrimage to Mecca in the disguise of a Mahomedan, said that he met with many Indian Mahomedans who ridiculed the English very much about shaking hands, dancing with their friends' wives, and drinking wine, but they were unanimous in stating that the Government was just and good. This testimony was valuable, for Burckhardt had no motive to misrepresent the matter, and, appearing as a Mahomedan, was likely to have the truth told him. M. Jacquement, the young Frenchman, who fancied that good old Lady William Bentinck had fallen in love with him, remarked that during his travels in Upper India, he could tell when he was out of the territories of the Indian Government by the difference in the condition of the cultivation and in the state of the people. Huron de Richemont, formerly Governor General of the French dominions in India, who had travelled in Upper India, bore the same testimony. And within the last year or two, a gentleman well known and highly celebrated, M. Michael Chevalier, speaking 2056 of our most gracious Queen, and of the glories of Her reign, said—One of the greatest glories and advantages of Her reign are those conquests in India, those annexations of territory at which not only England, but the whole civilised world may rejoice, because it is taking the people from under the arbitrary rule of their former masters, and transferring them to a government in the van of civilization.Then, M. Fevrier, who had travelled through Persia and Afghanistan said—The Affghans, after exhausting all their praises of the English, would finish up by saying, 'What a pity it is that they were not Mussulmans like us, we would never have had any other masters.' After hearing such observations is it not allowable to regret, in the name of humanity and civilization, that the British power was not consolidated in Afghanistan, whatever means might have been employed to attain that end?Baron Von Hugel spoke in still stronger terms of eulogy with regard to the administration of India. He would read another extract on this subject, taken from an article in the Journal des Débats some months ago, which was particularly worthy of notice at a time when they were discussing a resolution by which it was proposed to transfer the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown. But he must first observe that it was a mistake to suppose that the government of India was not now under the Crown. The Company were merely trustees for the Crown, and he believed as trustees they were able to govern India in a better manner than it would be governed under the direct administration of the Crown. Let the House listen to the opinion of an impartial French writer on this subject. The Journal des Débats stated —It is scarcely necessary for us to seek to prove that the Company would have failed had it depended on an absolute Government. The history of our several Indian companies, that of Dupleix and of the unhappy Lally, show the fate of such enterprises when placed under the guardianship and direction of such Governments. Under a free rule like that of England there exist greater guarantees; there is less cause of fear inspired by famished courtiers, by the gentlemen of the back stairs, by the favourites—or, worse than all, by the favourites of the lady favourites—the Generals of Madame de Maintenon or of Madame de Pompadour. But even under a free rule, where individuals of character and talent almost alone rise to the bead of affairs, the East India Company would have been at times endangered, if not ruined, had it not been endowed with an independent existence which preserved it from the changes of the home policy. Had the English Parliament wished to exercise, through its delegates, the Crown Ministers, a direct action on the affairs of the Company, the latter would have been exposed to frequent changes of system and of officials, which would have given rise to unconquerable difficulties. How many persons would have 2057 considered a post in India as a stepping-stone to a more brilliant position at home.He hoped the House would take warning from those expressions, and consider the danger to which the administration of India would he exposed if taken under the immediate direction of the English Government. The Journal des Débats went on to say—Should we then have seen the admirable and rigorous generations of officials who, being convinced that their future depends exclusively on their zeal, have proved the heroic and laborious architects of the unheard-of fortunes of the hon. Company? No, certainly not; and, without that independence so long enjoyed by the Anglo-Indians, it is impossible to believe that the wondrous acts of heroism, perseverance, and daring, which strike the imagination rather by themselves than by their results, would ever have been recorded. While in France the absolute Government basely sacrificed and persecuted Dupleix, who was certainly as great a man as any who figured in the history of British India, the House of Commons defeated the Ministry of Fox in 1783 for having presented a Bill the chief characteristic of which was to deprive the Company, in favour of the Crown, of the right of nominating the principal officials of the Indian Government.That was the unbiassed opinion of an intelligent Frenchman as to the merits of the Company's administration, and the dangers to he apprehended by a direct transfer of the government from the Company to the Crown. He remembered a passage in an article which appeared in The Westminster Review some years ago, speaking of the mode in which the Company's administration had been carried on, and especially with reference to their practice of sending out youths to India to learn their business there, and to rise in proportion as their knowledge and merits increased—a practice which was so much condemned by those who advocated the plan of sending out only grown men. That passage said, that, with all the faults of the Indian Government, there was one quality which almost redeemed them all, and that was the system to which he had referred, which had preserved India from the Lord Charleses, the right hon. Tom Shuffletons, from Royal favourites, and other unfit persons. Unless great care were taken to introduce sufficient safeguards the transfer of the government of India to the direct administration of the Crown would lead to the dangers hinted at in the article to which he had referred, and men who had disappeared from Newmarket and St. James's Street, would turn up, in high office at Lucknow, Lahore, or elsewhere;, to the supersession of our Lawrences and Outrams. He hoped 2058 that, whatever scheme of administration might be adopted, sufficient safeguards would be introduced to prevent what was much desired in some quarters—an unlimited increase in the numbers of the uncovenanted servants. He regretted to have to trouble the House at such length, but the form of administration of which he was an humble Member having been made the subject of no small amount of slander and misrepresentation he felt bound to vindicate it as far as his abilities would permit. The three points upon which the Government of India had been most villified were the administration of justice, the state of the police, and the condition of the public works. He admitted frankly that the administration of justice in India had not been exactly what could have been desired, but he at the same time declared that the greater part of the defects which existed arose from the inherent difficulties of our position, from the character and habits of the people with whom we had to deal, and from the utter impossibility of making the Natives instruments of good Government all at once. But the Indian Government had gone on a principle which he maintained was a sound one, although it had been much misrepresented by those who were in favour of sending out English banisters for the administration of justice in that country. The principle they had adopted was that of selecting the best qualified Natives for that purpose. He had a statement which showed the enormous disproportion between the number of causes decided by Native and those decided by European Judges, the former being ninety-nine per cent, of the whole. The Indian Government had gone upon the principle of selecting the best Natives to hold those offices and to administer justice in the first instance, employing English Judges to overlook them in the performance of their duties. That was the only way in which the people of India could be gradually educated into a fitness for self-government. The system advocated by the hon. Member for Devenport (Sir E. Perry), of sending out English barristers knowing nothing of the language, of the habits or customs of the people, was simply the very worst that could be adopted. Sir T. Munro said, no man was fit to be a Judge in India who was not acquainted with the agricultural habits and practices of the people of the country, and that, therefore, no man ought to occupy the seat of a Judge in India until he had served the 2059 office of a collector. Many of the defects which existed in the present administration of justice arose from the character of the people, in confirmation of which he would mention two or three instances. Upon a former occasion, when he had quoted the first instance he should mention, he had been charged by an hon. Gentleman not now a Member of the House, Mr. Cobden, with vindicating the Company by slandering the Natives of India; but he thought that late events had enabled, the people of this country to arrive at a better appreciation of the Indian character. The first case he would mention was stated in the Report of a Judge of circuit in Bengal, that, in a particular district, of the murders charged only one, and of the gang robberies not one, took place, the remainder being false charges, got up by landowners, merchants, or individuals who, being deprived of the use of arms, made use of our Courts to fight their enemies. What did the Committee think of the state of society which that Report evidenced? The next instance to which he should refer had come under his own observation when Under Secretary in India. A Judge on circuit reported that upon a gang robbery there were plenty of witnesses as to identity, but it was impossible to convict upon that evidence alone, without the confirmation of circumstantial evidence, for if personal identification were to be received as decisive, every man would be convicted against whom any zemindar in the district entertained a spite. The third case he would cite was upon the authority of a gentleman then a district magistrate, but afterwards a member of the Supreme Council. He was preparing one evening to leave his office for a ride in his gig, when he was informed a murder had been committed in the course of an affray between two great zemindars in the neighbourhood. The body was brought to him upon a charpoy, but fancying that he perceived in it more symptoms of life than a corpse ought to display, and knowing the Native character, he thought a few cuts of his whip could do no harm. He accordingly applied his whip once or twice across the stomach, whereupon the supposed corpse leaped up and ran across the country with the speed of a deer. He had asked the magistrate what would have happened if the discovery had not been thus made; and the reply that he received was, that the body would have been carried to some place whence escape was easy and would, of course, have been 2060 missing next day: whereupon it would have been said—the friends of the accused bad removed it in order to destroy the evidences of the crime. The historian, James Mill, in a spirit of candour which it was to be wished all opponents of the Company would imitate, had admitted the extreme difficulty of distributing justice to a people without the aid of the people themselves, and the utter impracticability, under the present circumstances of Native education, of deriving such aid. he believed that, under all the circumstances of the case, the Company had administered justice to the people of India to the utmost of their ability, and he did not think the judicial system was open to the condemnation with which it had been visited. But there was one great exception, which was—and it was a melancholy fact—that both in civil and criminal justice our oldest provinces were those in which there were the most chicanery, perjury, and general maladministration of justice. That might seem strange, and to imply some censure on the Government. The fact was, that in our earlier administration of India we did not know the genius and character of the people. We gave them an elaborate and complex system of judicature, which they did not even understand, much less appreciate. It had raised up hosts of native attorneys and led to perjury and corruption in our Courts. What the Natives of India understood and desired was the system which had been introduced into the Punjab, Pegu, and our more newly acquired territories. They did not understand the division of authority which was the ruling principle of the system introduced by Lord Cornwallis, and followed up by his immediate successors. They would rather wish to return to the system which prevailed of old, when the king sat in the gate to administer justice. In many cases, in such a state of society, speedy injustice was really better than justice so tardy, so delayed by forms and appeals, that a man's life was worn out before be could obtain it. They did not understand our complex forms, and the result was that the evil-disposed and the bad took advantage of them to injure the good. In the Punjab and in our newly acquired territories we had a simple system of judicature, which worked well, and the simpler the system the better. To send our barristers from England to administer justice in India was a. step in the wrong direction. The fact was that they had already too much law and 2061 too little justice. Sir William Sleeman in his recent work gave it as his opinion that, however great had been the anarchy the people of Oude had suffered under the old dynasty, 99 out of every 100 of them would prefer to remain in that state of anarchy than be subjected to our revenue and police system. On the other hand, Sir William Sleeman said, 99 out of every 100 of them would welcome the introduction of such a simple system of judicature as prevailed in the Punjab, and he (Mr. Mangles) verily believed he was right. He hoped, therefore, the House would not be led away by the dulcet arguments of the hon. Member for Devon port (Sir E. Perry), who would have them send out shoals of English barristers to administer justice, for which they were totally unfit. In spite of all the defects in our administration, let it be remembered that almost all those defects were known to that House and the country by the frankness with which the Company's own officers had spoken of them from time to time. That could not be a bad Government the servants of which had exhibited so much candour. It was the proud distinction of those officers that whenever they had had occasion to find fault with their own Government they had expressed their opinion in an open, honourable, and fearless manner. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London, spoke with some severity last Session of Mr. Dorin's Minute on the Bengal police system, in which it was stated that the faults of the Bengal police were mainly attributable to the character of the inhabitants themselves. Notwithstanding the censure of the noble Lord he (Mr. Mangles) thought Mr. Dorin was very much in the right. The truth was that the people were incapable of defending themselves, and it was impossible for any police to protect a whole people. To what an extent would crime prevail in this metropolis, and still more in the rural districts of this country if every man dishonestly inclined were perfectly well aware that, if seen in the act of crime, no one would arrest him but the police. That was the case in Bengal. Yet, after all, much improvement had been effected. The police system had put down Thuggee—infanticide was being suppressed—human sacrifices had altogether ceased—gang robberies in the North Western provinces were comparatively rare—and the mounted highway robber of earlier times had altogether disappeared. But the Company was accused 2062 of having done too little in the way of public works, and they were charged with having suffered even those great works which had been bequeathed to them by their predecessors to fall into decay and ruin. No doubt more might have been done; but he would still maintain that it was the "res dura et regni novitas," which were the real causes of what had been called the neglect of the Company in the earlier part of their administration. He still, however, maintained that very great things had been done by them. They had been driven into in wars that had eaten up their surplus revenue, but in spite of that, he repeated, great things had been done. There were two great and palpable fallacies involved in the comparison instituted between their works and those of their predecessors. "Look," it was said, "at the great aqueducts and tanks which were made by those who went before you." But it was forgotten that their predecessors had twenty centuries in which to execute those works, whereas the Company could not be fairly said to have had half a century. The second fallacy was, that it was taken for granted that these public works were placed in the Company's hands in a state of efficiency. It was forgotten that a century of misgovernments and anarchy had elapsed between the fall of the great Mahomedan dynasty and the rise of the Company. Colonel Wilks stated in his history of the Deccan that throughout the south of India there was one word, "wulsa," to express what could not be conveyed in any other language in the world without resorting to a long periphrasis. The wulsa of a district meant the flight of the whole population into the jungle before an invading army; and Colonel Wilks remarked on the misery which the inhabitants of Southern India must have endured in the century and a half of anarchy which elapsed before the rise of the Anglo Indian empire, before they coined a word to express the flight of an entire population into the jungle, to face tigers rather than their oppressors. In that period of anarchy, plunder, and disorganization, the great works of antiquity had fallen into decay, and it was thus incorrect to say that they were bequeathed to the Company. The public tanks and the canals of the Jumna and Ganges had all become choked up; and hon. Gentlemen would perhaps recollect how beautifully Bishop Heber records the fact that the whole people of Delhi went 2063 forth with garlands to welcome the restoration to them of the stream which had formerly conveyed water into the city. The canals to which he had referred had been reopened at a cost probably not much less than that of their original construction. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ayrton) said he was sick of hearing of the Ganges Canal; nevertheless that was a public work which deserved commemoration, as being the most magnificent scheme of irrigation that had ever been carried out. That canal, with its branches, was 898½ miles in length, and the two Jumna canals were 445 and 500 miles respectively, making in all 1,843½ miles, besides the subsidiary streams belonging to them. The Government had also constructed great embankments across the rivers in southern and other parts of India, with channels from them to carry the water into the interior. Then, again, the canal in the Baree Doab in the Punjab was 450 miles, the Scinde Canal was 31¼ miles, the channels from the Godavery were 480, and those from the Kistnah were 290 miles. Another charge against the Company was what the hon. Member (Sir E. Perry) called chronic deficiency of revenue. But was that a just charge if he could show that more than the whole of the deficit had been expended in public works? They had been called upon year after year to expend greater sums in works of utility. They were told that they were in the position of landlords, and they were asked why they did not spend more on the improvement of their estate? It was said to them over and over again, "If you have not money for the purpose, why don't you borrow it?" Well, that was precisely the course he had himself recommended. In his evidence before the Cotton Committee, ten years ago, he had argued that if it was right to borrow money to carry on a war, it was a fortiori much more right to borrow money for public works. And yet the hon. Member(Sir E. Perry), after urging the Company in one breath to undertake expensive works, turns round and in the next breath taunted them with a chronic deficiency. The statement he (Mr. Mangles) was about to read to the Committee undoubtedly contained some military works which were not of a remunerative character; but on the other hand, nothing was charged for repairs or for the salaries of the engineering officers by whom the whole had been carried out. The one might therefore be set against the other. 2064
Thus in the last five years upwards of a million sterling had been expended in public works more than was required to make the revenue balance, and yet the company was taunted with its "chronic deficiency." The Resolution before the Committee proposed to transfer the government of India to the Crown. Now, he would ask the Committee—though he knew how vain it was to strive against numbers—what reason there was to suppose that India would be better governed by the Crown than our Colonies had hitherto been? The Colonies of England had always been ill-governed until they were allowed to govern themselves. He believed there was not an instance of a colony being governed to the satisfaction of the colonists till they had been left to themselves. Another point of importance was the frequent—the almost incessant—changes which took place in our Cabinets, and still more in the individuals at the head of departments. During the time that he had been a Director of the East India Company there had been from ten to twenty Colonial Secretaries. What chance would there be of good government for India with so great a fluctuation in the Administration at home? Debates bad recently taken place in that House upon the annexation of Oude. The members of the present Government, who were not then in office, found fault with that measure, and blamed the Ministers who sanctioned it. They were now transferred to the Treasury bench, and nothing was more likely than that Natives of India had written to their countrymen since the change of government, telling them that the oppressors who had annexed Oude were no longer in power, that certain benevolent individuals like the hon. Member for Inver-ness-shire (Mr. Baillie), the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord J, Manners), and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), had come into power; and that now Oude would no doubt be restored to the King. We knew that nothing of the kind would take place; that the present Government would just as soon think of restoring Gibraltar as Oude; but the people of India would think otherwise. They believed that 2065 the Attorney General held a retainer from the King of Oude at the present moment, and would assuredly jump to the conclusion that their own paid counsellor having come into the possession of power, as the chief law adviser of the Crown, at no distant date he would see ample justice done to them. Such expectations were, of course, entirely erroneous. He, for one, would like to see the face of the Earl of Ellenborough when the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord J. Manners) deliberately proposed in the Cabinet to restore Oude to the King. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was sure, would never consent to give up the revenue of Oude. But the people of India would believe quite the contrary, and, though it had been stated that it was a slander upon the House of Commons to suppose that it could not govern India, we might depend upon it that unless the House became more forbearing than it had hitherto been when a Minister was to be attacked, or a Government to be turned out, hon. Members would not be very scrupulous as to whether it was an Indian, an American, or a French subject which they used as a weapon of offence. Unless the Government of India was placed in the hands of a really efficient and independent Council, Indian subjects would be continually brought before the Mouse as instruments of party warfare, and the greatest mischief might thus be done to the interests, not only of India, but of England. A great outcry had been raised against the "double Government," and he believed that nine-tenths of the hon. Members of that House who desired a change were in favour of an efficient and independent Council. But would a Council not be a double Government? There would not, it was true, be that expenditure in cab-hire to which such frequent allusion had been made; the distance between Cannon Row and Leadenhall Street would no longer exist; but, nevertheless, a Council would be as much a double Government as the present. Our own Government was not a double, but a triple Government. He believed that since the reign of William III. the Crown had not negatived an Act of Parliament; but look at the contests between the two Houses! What measure of Indian administration had ever been so long delayed as the admission of the Jews to Parliament? He contended that India had been well governed in spite of the difficulties which were to be encountered; and if they wished 2066 to see it well governed still, they must have an independent non-political body to stand as a fender between the political action of that House and the Government of India. Unless this were done, the affairs of India would be constantly dragged into discussion in that House, and from such discussions he feared that its interests would suffer. It was impossible not to see that it was the determination of the House to place the government of India directly under the Crown; and his earnest prayer was that, in order to secure the good government of that great empire, an independent and efficient Council should be established.
Revenue. Public Works. 1852–3 surplus £424,257 £592,516 1853–4 deficit 2,044,117 952,103 1854–5 deficit 1,707,364 1,818,978 1855–6 deficit 972,791 2,279,539 1856–7 deficit 1,981,062 1,839,575 Total deficit £6,281,077 £7,474,711
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he wished to move the postponement of the first three Resolutions, and he was anxious to take the earliest opportunity that presented itself of explaining the reasons why he took that step.
said, the hon. Member could not now, in accordance with the forms of the House, move the postponement of the clause.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he would not in that case take the course he had pointed out. It would, however, be competent for the house hereafter to consider under what circumstances they would desire to transfer the government of India to the authority of the Crown. He must, in the circumstances in which they were placed, enter his protest against transferring the authority now exercised by the Court of Directors to the Crown till they had before them the nature of the Council by which the Secretary of State was to be assisted and the powers with which he was to be intrusted. With every respect for that House, he must say that he had a very strong sense of the danger that would result from a direct transfer of authority to the Crown, if it was to be controlled only by the House of Commons. It had been said the other day that gentlemen from India had very little confidence in the Court of Directors, and none at all in the Board of Control. If the hon. Gentleman who made that observation had gone a step further and asked what confidence persons coming from India had in the House of Commons, he would have found that their confidence was entirely of a negative quality; that there was among them, not only a want of confidence, but a positive distrust; and that they had a strong sense of the danger that would arise to that great empire if we trusted only to the watchfulness of the House of Com- 2067 mons in checking the power of the Secretary of State. Taking this view of the case, he thought the House should maturely consider the step they were about to take. It was none of the least of the inconveniences they had to encounter that they were called on to decide upon Resolutions, which in themselves contained no complete system of government—they were so vague and general that it would be possible for the Government, after having passed every Resolution, to bring in a Bill the absurdity of which would exceed even that of the last. The first Resolution declared that there should be a direct transfer of the government of India to the Crown; and the second went on to say, that all the powers and duties now exercised by the East India Company were to be exercised by the Secretary of State. If the House confirmed the second Resolution, they might appoint a Council, but it would be one only in name, for any authority such a Council could exercise would be worse than nothing. He would rather accept the direct transfer of authority to the Secretary of State, without any Council, than take the assistance of a Council so weak and feeble as this Resolution would pledge the House to. Let the House consider the position which the Court of Directors now occupied. It was very true that the power of the Court of Directors was chiefly a moral one, because it was in the power of the President of the Board of Control, when he had a despatch submitted to him, to alter it if he pleased, or to reject it altogether, and to compel the Court of Directors to send out a new one, drawn up by himself. Still he thought the House would do well to consider the nature of their influence, so that any Council that was appointed might be placed in a position to exercise, as their predecessors had done, the trust reposed in them. Their authority arose, in the first place, from their being a permanent body as opposed to a fluctuating Government, and also from the independent and non-political body by which they were elected. It was not enough to say that the system of election was anomalous, or that those intrusted with the duty did not always select the best and ablest public servants. The real question was, whether in the main they did not make a fair selection, whether they did not bring forward many eminent public servants, and whether these did not discharge their functions with public spirit and integrity. It was for the Government 2068 to give the House some more information than the Resolutions conveyed of the manner of electing the Council, the individuals to whom that duty was to be intrusted, their numbers, and the qualifications under which they were to act. In the next place, the influence and authority of the Court of Directors arose from their being an independent body, having independent powers of action, separate powers of deliberation, the power of appointing their own officers, and above all, from their having the initiative in all great questions connected with the government of India. He concurred in the statement put forth in the able State document which emanated from the East India Company, that on these independent powers no small portion of the influence of the Directors rested. But it was proposed in both the Bills that had been brought forward to place the initiative in the hands of the Secretary of State—a course which would reduce the Council to a condition of utter insignificance. When the House came to consider that part of the question, he should move that any Council named should possess the independent powers of action now exercised by the Court of Directors, have the appointment of their own officers, the initiative in all matters except those that belonged to the Secret Committee, and the initiative in all matters of finance.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
Sir, after the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford, I wish to say a few words in regard to some observations I made on a previous occasion. I had hoped, however, after the very full discussion which the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring) received, and after the vote of the House by a large majority in favour of bringing in the Bill of the late Government, that the decision of the House that the reign of the East India Company should cease would be taken to be conclusive. That vote was so understood and so accepted by the members of Her Majesty's present Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, in stating the grounds why he adopted the measure of the late Government, said that the East India Company could not be considered as any longer endowed with vitality, and all that remained was to perform their obsequies with decency. The President of the Board of Control, when asked whether he had submitted the Bill of the Government to the Court of Directors, said that after what 2069 had taken place he did not consider them as public functionaries, but as private gentlemen. I confess I had hoped that the House would consider this question as decided, and that we should not find it necessary to listen to the revival of a do-bate about retaining the Government of the East India Company. Yet that was the drift of the speech of my hon. Friend the late Chairman of the Company (Mr. Mangles), and such was in effect the drift of the able speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring), because in advocating delay he, in fact, recommended a perpetual renewal of the lease of the Company. These dilatory arguments, however they may begin by insisting upon the argument of time, always resolve themselves into an eulogy of the merits of the Company, and a recommendation to the House to continue the present system in perennial existence. They remind me of a saying quoted by Lord Bacon, who says that an ancient sage being asked the proper time for marriage replied—"A young man, not yet; an elder man, not at all." Such is the practical result of the advice tendered to us with respect to legislation upon the East India Company. We are told that the disturbances in India ought to prevent any legislation this Session. But if we delay legislation this Session and wait another year, we shall be told things have returned to their natural state, that everything is quiet, and that we ought not to disturb India when all is going well. Therefore, whatever may be the state of things, the advocates for delay will always find a pretext for prolonging the power of the East India Company. I do not wish to revive the question of the policy of retaining the East India Company, because the vote of the House is decisive of that question, and I shall best consult the wishes of the Committee if I assume that we are about to consider the best substitute for the Company, and that we are not assembled to deliberate whether the Crown or the East India Company ought in future to govern India. But I wish to remove a misconception on the part of my hon. Friend relative to the remarks I made on a former occasion. He has attributed to me an argument against the double Government of the East India Company, that it is characterised by weakness, and he appeals to the military operations of India, which have been carried on with great vigour and success, as a proof to the 2070 contrary. What I did say was that the experience of the late Government during the mutiny in India impressed forcibly upon. our minds the defective constitution of the home Government in regard to the elements of procrastination, delay, and perplexity— that the necessity for rapid action showed those faults in the home administration of Indian affairs—and that it was in those defects, inherent in the constitution of the East India Company, and not in any want of vigour in the Governor General of India, or in the administration of the commissariat or military resources which were placed at his disposal, that I found reasons for the change I recommended. If the House will allow me, I will read a statement made many years ago which characterises the defects of the present double Government of India. It is extracted from a speech of Mr. Burke upon the Motion for going into Committee on the India Bill of Fox, made before the present system of double Government was established, and those who admire the prophetic foresight of Mr. Burke may find in this passage a confirmation of that view of his powers. This speech was made before Pitt's India Bill was introduced. Mr. Burke said—Since the year 1773 and the year 1780 the company has been under the control of the Secretary of State's Office, and we had then three Secretaries of State. If more than this is done, then they annihilate the direction which they profess to support, and they augment the influence of the Crown, of whose growth they affect so great a horror. But, in truth, this scheme of reconciling a Direction really and truly deliberative with an office really and substantially controlling is a sort of machine that can he kept in order but a very short time. Either the Directors will dwindle into clerks, or the Secretary of State, as hitherto has been the course, will leave everything to them, often through design, often through neglect. If both should affect activity, collision, procrastination, delay, and, in the end, utter confusion must ensue.Now, Sir, that is the view which Mr. Burke took of the probable working of such a system as that of the double Government, and it is to that working of the system, to its inevitable procrastination, the multiplication of unnecessary forms, the writing of unnecessary letters, the delay that impedes every portion of the business, and not to the weakness of the executive authority of the local government of India that I referred. With regard to the Resolution before the House, I trust that its wording has been carefully considered, because in the existing statutes, the sovereignty of all the territories of India is declared in the clearest terms 2071 to be vested in the Crown. The true character of the home Government of, India is not that the sovereignty resides or has ever been supposed to reside in the Court of Directors and the East India Company, but that they are a proprietary Government, holding their sittings in London and acting under the control of the Parliament and the Crown of England. That proprietary Government it is perfectly competent to Parliament to sweep away, and to place the Crown in direct executive and administrative relation with the territory of India. Our colonial history has afforded many instances of proprietary Governments similar to that of the East India Company. The majority of the American colonies were at their first foundation under proprietary Governments, formed under charters very similar to that of the East India Company, only that the American charters authorized the grantees to found new settlements instead of merely carrying on trade. In other respects they were perfectly similar, but they were one by one put an end to, and, by the action of the free settlers of the American colonies, that change was effected which it is now somewhat tardily proposed to effect by the agency of Parliament. I have never ceased to regret that Mr. Fox's Bill of 1783, by which the power of the Company was annihilated, did not pass the Legislature. I regret also that when the Company's monopoly was extinguished Parliament did not put an end to their governing powers; but whatever excellence was imputed to the government of the Company came from the superintendence of Parliament and from that of the Board of Control, and was not duo to any excellence in the constitution of the direction of a joint-stock company. That direction, if left to its natural action, would not have been very different from that of any joint-stock company established for different purposes. I hope the House is of opinion that the time has arrived when this superanuated structure may be put an end to, and when we need not hesitate to come to a vote by which this complicated constitution may be simplified, and the last vestiges of the executive powers of the government of the Company may be obliterated.
§ MR. LINDSAY
said, that they all seemed to be of opinion that the government of India should be carried on in the name of the Queen, and that the double Government should cease. The points upon which the differences of opinion existed 2072 were those relating to the number of the Council, to the qualification of the Councillors, to the mode of election, and to the disposal of the patronage. One important point had not been taken notice of, he meant the finances of India. At the proper time he should propose that all reference to the number of the Council should be left out of the fourth clause, and that words should be substituted to the effect that the Council consist of the present members of the Court of Directors. This would got rid of the three following resolutions. He would also suggest the insertion of another resolution after the fourteenth, by which that Council should be continued in office for two years, with the view of ascertaining by the inquiry of a Commission in India, before the expiration of that period, the best mode of electing the Council, or the propriety of having no Council at all. By adopting the course he proposed, he believed they would obtain the best chance of ensuring legislation during the course of the present Session.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, that if the House had adopted the course which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Radnor (Sir G. C. Lewis) had wished it to adopt, if it had acquiesced in the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring), or in that of the noble Lord the Member for South Durham (Lord H. Vane), he should not have revived the discussion. But as the hon. Member for Lanarkshire (Sir T. Colebrooke) had determined to take a division on the question, he was unwilling to allow the opportunity to pass without staling his opinion as to the mode of making the proposed transfer of the Government from the Company to the Crown. He had to protest against the course of legislation proposed, for the perils it would provoke, for the injuries it would inflict, and above all for the dangerous obligations which they were now called upon in blindness to undertake. The plea of dilatoriness, on which the right hon. Baronet had just descanted with so much force, had nothing to do with his opposition to this proposal. In the outset, he might observe that he (Mr. Horsman) had no sympathy with the East India Company, nor had he shown any in the course of these proceedings. When the Committees of 1853 reported in favour of the maintenance of the double Government, he was of opinion that they had come to a wrong conclusion, and when the Government brought in a Bill to continue that 2073 Government, he had refrained from voting. Then as now he was in favour of the Government of India by Parliament under the Crown, but the Bill for the renewal of the Charter was carried by a Ministerial majority. This year the Government had brought in a Bill to overthrow that which five years ago had been so highly extolled, and on that occasion he had taken the same course as he did on the former occasion. It was impossible that the House of Commons could have been right in both their decisions. He was of opinion that they were wrong in both. They were wrong in not carrying out this change of Government in 1853, when India was in profound peace, and they were wrong in precipitating the change in 1858, when India was in a state of war. The House of Commons ought to have taken into consideration what effect any act done in England would have in India. The cry in England when this change was first proposed was, "the Company's Raj is over;" exactly the cry with which the rebel chief, Nana Sahib, recruited his ranks. To re-echo that cry here was a most unwise triumph to give him, and it was, above all, most dangerous to run the risk of creating an impression that as the first rising had destroyed the Raj of the Company, so the second might destroy the Raj of the Crown. To select this moment to put an end to the Company was an unwise and ungenerous policy—unwise because it associated in the Indian mind rebellion with success, and ungenerous because in the English mind it associated the Directors with disaster. In defiance of all principles of English justice, the Government proceeded to accuse and condemn them by a mode so summary that the termination of that great Corporation seemed to be more like the execution of a criminal than the surrender of a trust. His great objection to these Resolutions was, that they did not touch the real difficulties of the case. Let the House look at the state in which India had been for some months, and was likely to be for some time to come, and then say whether it was prepared to make Resolutions like these its measure of the emergency and of its own responsibility? Was its legislative responsibility to begin and end in throwing two offices in London into one? But that was all the necessity that the Resolutions indicated or acknowledged. Was there ever a malady of such magnitude prescribed for by a remedy of such infinitesimal proportions? What was the 2074 origin of these Resolutions? No one could deny that if there had been no mutiny there would have been no India Bill; but could any one point out the relation between the Resolutions and the mutiny? It was not pretended that the loss of a week in carrying a despatch between Leadenhall Street and Cannon Row, had made 80,000 of our soldiers revolt in India, nor was it pretended that the saving of that precious week would bring the Sepoys back to their allegiance. If there had been peace in India, and a civil war raging between two offices in London, then these Resolutions might have had some bearing, but unfortunately all our difficulties were in India. It was in India that our army had revolted, our Government had been disorganized, our revenue had failed, our native population been deeply stirred by a religious panic, our countrymen slaughtered, and our Empire of opinion shaken to its foundations; and the authority of the Governor General, if he had been a man without courage and capacity, would have crumbled between the Native assault on the one side, and that of his own countrymen, who had harassed and denounced him, on the other. What sense of these lamentable occurrences did they exhibit by their proceedings? Would any one imagine that by the proposed Resolutions they were legislating for an empire in which there existed the most formidable organization of our own army and of our own subjects against us; or were they so sanguine, as to believe that the crisis was over? It was natural, perhaps, that those who had been slow to credit its approach should rapidly arrive at the conclusion that it was over; but he believed that our future tenure of India would be one long continued crisis, unless we learnt to know and to govern that country better than we had done hitherto. That crisis had not come on in a year, and it would not pass away in a year. For a long time it had been impending and predicted. "A mutiny of your Native army," said the fiery but sagacious Napier, "is the most formidable evil that threatens your Indian Empire, and it will burst upon you like a thunderbolt." "Our tenure of India," said Metcalfe, "is so precarious that the world will be surprised one day, not less at the suddenness with which we lost an empire than at the rapidity with which we gained it." "Beware of exciting religious distrust in the Native mind," 2075 said Munro, "for if you do you will do more mischief in one year than you can repair in a hundred." In fact, ever since the revolt at Vellore, which was of a religious character, our Native army in India had been in a state of smouldering mutiny. Remarkable as was our national inability to foresee and provide against danger, still more remarkable was the energy with which we met them when they did come upon us, yet he should have thought, if anything could have awakened the British Parliament to a sense of its past heedlessness, culpable as it had been, that it would have been appalled by the perils which had shaken our Indian dominion to its foundation, and that it might have set their true value upon those impressive warnings by which so many of the wisest and bravest of our own people had appealed to us in accents of earnestness and almost of despair. But even now, when the tears and the tortures of our martyred countrymen and women testified to the truth of those appeals; when the dangers which had been long impending had at last fallen on our heads; when the cloud so long hovering over us had at length broken; when we knew that all the ramifications of the existing mischief would continue to exist though not one Sepoy were left alive; and when the eyes of all the world were fixed on India as a source of surpassing interest, when England's place and name among the nations had been at stake, what happens? Parliament meets, the benches were thronged, the galleries were crowded, the Minister rises, and with dignity and eloquence proposes a measure which the right hon. Member for Kidderminister (Mr. Lowe) had so happily described as a measure "to prevent the future administration of India being transacted in cabs and steamers." The House is satisfied—India is saved, and India's legislative guardians rush home to dinner, each after his own kind, grateful and rejoicing—religious men who have discharged their conscience — patriots who have discharged their duty—and statesmen who have saved an Empire. The hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. A. Mills), objected strongly to their going into any question connected with the government of India in India; but there was one pressing, homely question which he should wish the right hon. Gentleman opposite to answer before they agreed to transfer the Government of India to the Crown, and we took upon ourselves all the obligations and liabilities consequent upon that step, and it 2076 was this: Did they really intend, or did they expect that India under the government of the Crown would pay its own expenses? He apprehended under the transfer now proposed that, if the revenues of India should not suffice for the expenditure of India the taxes of England would become liable for the deficiency. That was a point which he should like to have cleared up, because his own impression was, that after the transfer the Crown would be as much liable for the payment of the naval, military, and judicial establishments in India, in the event of the revenue not being sufficient, as it was for the payment of similar establishments at homo. We began with a deficiency of £2,000,000 in the revenue. Our expenditure was not likely to be reduced, and there was no probability of the revenue being increased; on the contrary, a large portion of it was certain to fail. The deficiency of £2,000,000 was up to the year when the mutiny commenced. He did not know what it was last year, but he knew that it had been anticipated by a loan of £8,000,000. The disturbing causes of the mutiny would not cease to operate for some time to come, and the chances wore that the borrowing process would have to be continued next year, so that we began with a deficit of £2,000,000 plus the accruing interest on the debt. From land, which was already very highly assessed and which yielded £16,000,000, and from salt, which was excessively heavy and pressed mainly on the poor, no additional revenue could be anticipated; while the opium revenue, even in the hands of the Company, was known to be the most precarious of all, because the Chinese might at any moment legalize its growth, or the Americans might grow it in some of their possessions in the Pacific, and in either case our monopoly and our revenue from that source would cease. Moreover, when the government of India should be transferred to the Crown and Parliament become the growers and cultivators of opium, the matter would assume a different character, and certain moral and legal obligations come in for consideration which a Company could ignore, but which a Government could not; and he might remind the Committee that the questions which had been submitted to the law officers of the Crown with respect to the legality of the growth of opium and the nature of the treaty with China had elicited opinions adverse to the Company. [Expressions of dissent.] At all 2077 events, they elicited a recommendation that the Company should place their trade with China upon a different footing. It was quite obvious that when the legality of that traffic came to be discussed year by year, the Government would be obliged to put an end to it, and, therefore, one of the first effects of this transfer to the Crown would be a surrender of this opium revenue, that was to say, £3,500,000 per annum. As they began with a deficiency of £2,000,000, that would make a deficiency of £5,500,000, and, if the revenue of India in its present state should fail, the taxpayers of England would have to make up that deficiency. The Chancellor of the Exchequer could hardly dispute the correctness of that view, because, in the earlier discussions he indicated very plainly that he shared the apprehensions to which he (Mr. Horsman) was now giving expression. He should like to be informed by the Government that had, no doubt, considered this subject, whether they had in contemplation any mode by which the revenue of India could be so far increased as to meet that certain deficiency. We might go on, for a while, with loans, but that would soon have to come to an end and the burden, unless our system of Indian finance was revised, would fall upon the taxpayers of England. How long would they bear it before a cry was raised that India must pay its expenses? Some Chancellor of the Exchequer would be compelled to yield to that cry. The experiment would be repeated of England laying taxes on an unrepresented people, and we should only be reminded of the manner in which we lost one dependency when a repetition of crime was followed by a repetition of disaster. There were other material points of which he would not at present say anything. He objected to this Resolution because, by transferring the government of India to the Crown, it would impose upon the people of England liabilities which had not been duly considered. Hon. Gentlemen were contenting themselves with a mere shuffle of offices in London, and leaving the future of India to mere chance. They were legislating precipitately, and therefore exposing our Indian empire to greater peril than could accrue from delay.
said, he believed the time had come when the government of India ought to be transferred to the Crown. But he could not assent to a Resolution framed for the attainment of that object 2078 if he did not hope that the result of the deliberations of the House would be to constitute an Indian Council composed of men of knowledge and experience, who should be wholly independent of the Ministry of the day in this country. Without such a Council the government of India would be transferred to that House under the proposed change, and he was persuaded that the House would not be enabled efficiently to conduct that government. He would appeal to those who frequented the Clubs of London or moved in political circles whether they were not aware, that what gave rise to the great interest which was felt about India, at the present moment, was not the consideration that upon the result of their deliberations it depended whether the present Government were to remain in office, or whether the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was to be reinstated in power? That was the real cause of the full benches which he saw before him, and with such considerations predominant in the House was it not manifest that they must be very unfit, wisely and impartially, to conduct the administration of our great Eastern empire? He feared that the affairs of India would attract little interest in that House, except with reference to party contests for place and power. He earnestly hoped, therefore, that if the Resolution then before the House should be adopted, they would afterwards take care to provide for the formation of an independent Council for India, which would not degenerate into an assemblage of mere clerks and puppets. There was one other point to which he wished to advert. It appeared to him that there was much truth in the statement made by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton on the occasion of his introducing the Indian Bill of the late Ministry, that the name of the Queen would give increased power to our Government in India. There was a passage in the writings of Bishop Heber which seemed well calculated to confirm that view. Bishop Heber related that an Indian prince who met the Governor General and some of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Calcutta, appeared to entertain a greater reverence for the Judges than for the Governor General himself, from a belief that as they were the King's Judges, they must directly represent the sovereign of this country, while he was hut the servant of the Company. It appeared, however, to him (Mr. Bowyer) that in order to obtain 2079 the full benefit of that feeling of profound respect for the Crown, natural to all Oriental races, India ought to be added in some way or other to the style and title of the Imperial Crown. Thus India would be connected with the Crown by the closest relations.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he would not trespass on the House, but that the gravity of the question compelled him to express his opinion on the first Resolution. That Resolution proposed to transfer the territories now under the government of the East India Company to the Crown. Now the fact was that the territories to which it referred were not under the government of the Company, but under its administration only; so that the first part of the Resolution contained a misnomer to which he objected. The Resolution went on to say—That as the territories are by law to remain under such government only until Parliament shall otherwise provide, this House is of opinion that it is expedient that the transfer of such government to the Crown should now take place, in order that the direct superintendence of the whole empire may be placed under one executive authority.He would ask why was it expedient? Where was the expediency? How was it manifested? Had the Government in India broken down, or had there been any break down in the executive functions of the Court of Directors in this country? There was no valid reason adduced for adopting so momentous a change in the present state of the Indian empire, as the transfer of the government from the Company to the Crown. No one could say that it was expedient on grounds which had any substantial basis. It might perhaps be said that the mutiny had first called attention to the necessity for a change, but what were the facts? Why, that before a single reinforcement reached India from any quarter the neck of the mutiny was broken, and Delhi taken. So far, therefore, as the immediate danger was concerned, there was no necessity for the change. What had happened since? There had been a succession of successes without one failure, under the administration of that Government which was supposed to have broken down. The next point in the Resolution was that it should be transferred ''now." Why now? — why not next year? The hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. A. Mills) had said that since the House had affirmed the necessity of legislation there were no new circumstances to induce them to alter their decision. 2080 But, were there no new circumstances? When the Government Bill was introduced there was the greatest danger of India being lost; the danger had passed away; was not that a new circumstance? Again, it was supposed—and no argument had been more pressed by the noble Member for Tiverton—that the popular voice was against the continuance of the Company's administration, and that therefore it was necessary to take the administration from the Company. But that had been a delusion, more known to the House than to the country. What was the fact? He found that by the twenty-fourth report of the Committee of petitions, 327 petitions had been presented up to this morning; this showed that the people of England were not indifferent to the state of things in India, or to its future. How many of those petitions did the House suppose prayed for the transfer of the administration from the Company to the Crown? When he spoke on the subject some time back there had been three — there were now four. So much therefore for the argument of popular opinion. Three months ago it was said there was some doubt and hesitation in the public mind, but a revulsion had taken place, and opinion was tending the other way. Was not this a new circumstance, and a reason for delay. It was a grave and solid reason at least why they should not legislate in haste. His hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) in his able and elaborate speech had quoted the opinions of English and foreign travellers with regard to the government of the Company. He would quote the opinion of a person much better able to judge—an intelligent educated native of position. Last month he had received from India two little books, one of them in the Mahratti, the other in the Guzeratti tongue. He put them in the hands of a Parsee gentleman to be translated, and would read some extracts from one of them. The original was in the Guzeratti language, and was written by a native gentleman, the manager of the Bombay Times newspaper in Bombay, and holding an entirely independent position. This little book was called, "British Rule contrasted with that of its Predecessors: and comprising an Inquiry into the disastrous Results of the Rebellion in the North-Western Provinces in relation to the future position of the Natives of India." The writer states in the preface: 2081More than three generations have now passed away since the empire was transferred to the British Crown. The steady expansion of British dominion had been followed by the establishment of peace in the land,—a firm, upright, admirable administration of the law, and a security of life and property which India had unhappily been a stranger to from the remotest time.In another place he said: —Let it not be thought he was insensible to the defects of that rule, but those detects would pass away as the rule became consolidated. He was deeply sensible of the debt India owed to England, and he wished to revive that feeling in their hearts in a season of adversity and rebellion. Woe would be the day to India when the British rule should pass away. It was the only Government which had shown itself hostile to any interference, direct or indirect, with the religion of the people.And he ended his preface: "If I shall have succeeded in steadying the faith of the wavering, and confirming the loyalty of the steadfast, I shall have accomplished my object." Such was the opinion of an intelligent Native altogether independent of Government influence, and yet these results were consequent upon the administration of the Company, which it was sought to abolish. But there was a great outcry against the double Government; the administrative power being in Leadenhall Street, and the controlling power at the West end of the town; but was there any evidence of such a conflict between the two, that the machine of government had been injuriously impeded? He could only say he had been a member of the Court of Directors for eighteen years and had passed through the chairs, and he had never heard of such a difference as had damaged the public interests, and he could appeal to his right hon. Friend below him (Mr. Vernon Smith) whether during the two years that he had held office there had been the slightest difficulty between them. The two powers had existed for seventy-five years and had never come to a lock which had led any statesman to say that he found it necessary to suppress them. The Government of this country was a treble Government; every constitutional government, every government where there was a check on the Executive, necessarily partook of the nature of a double government; even in the Cabinet itself there was double government, for the Prime Minister could not proceed with a measure of foreign or domestic policy which a majority of his colleagues disapproved of. He did not, however, suppose that the double Government would any longer be used as an argument 2082 for the abolition of the Company. There were many important points raised by the Resolution, but he would confine himself to the reasons why they should not legislate at the present moment. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) said, that because certain steps had been taken towards progress in legislation they should now carry it out. He (Colonel Sykes) would give some good reasons why they should not legislate at this moment. No fewer than 150 petitions had been presented to that House praying for the removal of the system of caste in India. Were hon. Gentlemen aware of the probable consequences of carrying out such an object as that, or even of allowing the Native mind to suppose that the Government intended in any degree to sanction it, involving as it did the suppression of the religion of 160 millions of Hindoos? In addition to that, there were ninety-seven petitions for the extension of Christianity in India. At present there was nothing to prevent pious and zealous men from traversing the length and breadth of India, and propagating Christianity in all its forms without opposition. What, then, did the phrase "extension of Christianity" mean in the sense of these petitions? It implied action; and, being addressed to the House of Commons, it obviously contemplated the interference of Government. Let it not be supposed that these petitions were unknown to the Natives of India. There were upwards of 300 Native newspapers, into which very few things connected with India did not find their way. Imagine, then, the panic impression which the prospect of the Government putting down caste must produce upon the minds of the inhabitants of India. What would be thought of that House passing a Resolution to put down the Roman Catholics of Ireland? Yet that was very like what they were asked to do in India. Caste was part of the religion of the Hindoo; but the propagation of Christianity by authority would probably encounter even more resistance from the Mahomedans than from the Hindoos. At this moment an ominous distrust was growing up among the Natives as to the intentions of the British Government, and they associated in their minds the carrying out of the rash projects of wild zealots with the administrative changes that were being proposed in that House? Surely, then, the House ought to pause and first remove this 2083 brooding distrust from the minds of the people of India. So great was the alarm of the Hindoos at those prospective measures, that in Bombay a widening gulf was now fixed between the Europeans and the Native population which had never been known before. The hon. and learned Member for Devonport had the other night told them of a passage in a newspaper published in India—the organ of a Christian denomination—in which the writer declared that he was not a man of blood, but he thought that justice could never be satisfied without the sacrifice of 200,000 lives at least in Bengal alone. No wonder that the Natives of India were horror-stricken at the prospect before them when they found such sentiments deliberately penned by professed Christian teachers. Although in the course of the debates they had heard the opinions with regard to the East India Company of gentlemen in and out of the House, he would venture to give some more. The first he would cite was, "We want a body independent—the tool neither of the Minister nor of the Opposition; such a body are the East India Company." That was the opinion of Lord Macaulay. The Marquess of Lansdowne said the advantage of the East India Company was that it disposed of the patronage which would otherwise be scrambled for by the gladiators of Parliament. Lord Metcalfe said the real danger to India would be when party spirit was allowed to interfere. During the whole discussion, no reflection had been made on the Court of Directors. They were admitted to have done their duty. Why then were they to be condemned? The Earl of Ellenborough himself in 1853 had borne the highest testimony to their conduct. He (Colonel Sykes) would wish he still retained the same sentiments. Lord John Russell, on the 5th of May, 1853, said that, in his opinion, nothing would be more dangerous than to give the Crown the whole control over those millions, and Sir James Graham expressed himself not less strongly. Surely the House would allow such authorities to have due weight and prevent hasty legislation. What he wished to urge on the Committee was to refrain from legislation at the present time. Let them wait until next year, until the disorders in India were put down, until hanging, shooting, and blowing away from guns were no longer necessary. The Native mind would then be able to look calmly upon any Measure the Government might 2084 propose, and the Queen's name would then go to India as that of an angel of mercy, healing the wounds [of the past by an amnesty, and offering peace, confidence, and prosperity for the future.
§ MR. WYLD
said, he was rather surprised at the arguments advanced against the Resolution. The first was, that the Crown must take on itself the responsibility of any deficiency of the revenue of India. That was what the argument of the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) really amounted to, but such deficiency must be met somehow. In any way, the people of England would have to be responsible. He thought, indeed, that this was a most opportune moment for making the transfer proposed. Many questions would soon have to be settled, especially with the Nepaulese and Sikhs, for the assistance they had rendered in the war, and these could not be settled by the Company as well as they could be by the Crown. He did not apprehend that the adoption of this measure would increase the danger of the abuse of patronage, because one-half of that patronage was already in the hands of the Board of Control, and a third of the remainder in those of the Directors nominated by the Crown.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
Sir, in the few observations which I am going to make upon this Resolution, I wish to pay all due respect to the argument which has been urged by my right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to admit that, to a very great extent, the two important divisions which have taken place in this House, although they had immediate reference to the question of time, yet substantially referred to the transfer of the East Indian Government, as it is called in this Resolution, from the East India Company to the Crown. I therefore do not intend to enter at large into the policy of that measure, upon which, indeed, the use of words of this rather vague description renders it extremely difficult to make a clear exposition of one's views. I wish, in the first place, to advert to one or two difficulties which arise from the form in which this Resolution now stands; and, in the second, to remark upon a difficulty which has as yet attracted little or nothing of the attention of the Committee or of the House, but which I am quite certain must receive a great deal of consideration before the plans of the Government, or of any other projectors, are matured in the shape of an Act of Parliament. The Re- 2085 solution appears to me to be unfortunately drawn. In the first place, it seems to recite the undoubted fact that the powers of the East India Company are made terminable by law, as if that were the reason, and the sole reason, why we are now going to bring them to a termination; whereas, as we all know, it has no such effect whatever, although it may be a perfect answer to those who might otherwise have objected that we were interfering with chartered rights. It appears to me that, to give to this Resolution a rational and consistent form, it ought to recite some general statement of public policy or expediency upon which it is evident that the step which we are going to take ought to be founded. I also think that that was a perfectly sound criticism of the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes), as to the use of the word "Government" in this Resolution. A difficulty may, I grant, arise from the circumstance that that term appears in the Act of 1853; but there is no reason why, if inaccurate words happen to have been employed in a previous Act of Parliament, we should create new embarrassments and new misunderstandings by making them our own, and by purporting to do by a Resolution that which I apprehend, according to the proper sense and signification of the terms, we are not going to do, because the territories of India are at this moment under the Government of the Crown. The only thing which can be alleged, and even that but doubtfully alleged, is that they are not under the administration of the Crown. The distinction between the two things is clear. At any rate, we use language inaccurate in itself, and very inconvenient as regards its consequences, when we state that it is expedient that a transfer of the Government to the Crown should now take place. Then, Sir, I confess I see still more objection to the closing part of this Resolution, "in order that the direct superintendence of the whole Empire may be placed under one executive authority." In order to justify those words it is plain that you require the existence of a slate of things in which all the rest of the Empire and its dependencies are subject to the direct superintendence of the Crown, and the East Indies alone exempt from it. Is that the state of facts with which we have got to deal? On the contrary, it appears to me that there is at this moment a very much more direct superintendence of the Crown over the territories of the East India Company than 2086 there is over other large and important portions of the Empire. No executive act, with the exception of one, important in itself, but quite isolated—I mean the recall of a Governor General—can be performed by the East India Company without the concurrence of the Crown. How, then, is it possible to say that the territories of the East India Company are not under the direct superintendence of the Crown? Compare those territories with the province of Canada, and with those Colonies to which you have given representative institutions and a free development of the principle of self-government. Can you say that the executive authority has a direct superintendence over the province of Canada? Why, as regards Canada and British North America generally, I apprehend there is no such superintendence at all. There is a power of refusing the sanction of the Crown to Acts of Parliament, and in certain cases, and those rare and limited ones, there is a superintendence by the executive authority. But the difference is this—that in the East Indian territories there is already as a general, as an almost universal rule, direct superintendence by the executive authority; whereas in your free colonies with Parliamentary Governments there is no such direct superintendence at all, and no intervention of the executive authority except in rare and occasional instances. If that be the state of the case the recital in this Resolution is not only very doubtful, but I should say most inaccurate. This clause of the recital is entirely unnecessary; and why should we not shorten by a few hours a debate which threatens to be very prolonged, by dropping that line and a half which states that the purpose is "that the direct superintendence of the whole Empire may be placed under one executive authority?" I therefore venture to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that they should adopt that course. But I want, without entering upon the general question of policy, briefly to submit to the Committee one difficulty in point of strict and dry right that confronts us and requires very mature consideration in the handling of this question—a difficulty which arises in some degree, at least, out of the great breadth of the language in which we are describing the enterprise which we are now about to undertake, calling the project which we are now going to mature into a Bill, a transfer of the government of the territories of the East Indies from 2087 the East India Company to the Crown. Now, I do trust that even at this early moment the Committee will begin to consider, what I am afraid has not been sufficiently considered either by Her Majesty's late or present Government, the position in which an Act of Parliament thus described places us with regard to the creditors of the East India Company. Some £50,000,000 has been borrowed by that Company. I am not sure that the instruments are perfectly uniform, but I understand that they are either altogether or nearly so. The fifty millions of money which have been raised, and which constitute the territorial debt of India, are borrowed as loans to the East India Company. The Governor General in Council is the person who contracts the loan, and he contracts it on behalf of the East India Company. Here is the form of the promissory note given for the loan contracted on the 31st of March, 1836:—The Governor General in Council does hereby acknowledge to have received from A B the sum of Company's rupees, as a loan to the East India Company, and does hereby promise for and on behalf of the said Company to repay the said loan by paying the said sum of Company's rupees to the said A B, his executors, or administrators, or his or their order, on demand at the General Treasury of Fort William, after the expiration of three months, notice of payment to be given by the Governor General of India in Council in the Calcutta Gazette, and to repay the interest accruing on the said sum of Company's rupees at the rate of 4 per cent per annum by half-yearly payments at the General. Treasury of Fort William to the said A B, his executors, or administrators, until the expiration of three months after such notice of payment as aforesaid.It is clear, therefore, that in this instance the Governor General is the borrowing agent, but the East India Company is the borrowing principal. When a man lends his money he usually docs so upon two considerations, and certainly in a case like this he always does so. One has reference to the person to whom he lends, and the other to the security upon which he lends. Now, so far as I am able to understand the plan before us developed in the Resolution, important changes are made in the security of the East Indian creditor, and it is proposed to make those changes without his consent. I think if you choose to deal by public authority with the case of a creditor, and to alter his securities without his consent, it is not enough to say, "We are doing him no harm," because when you adopt such a course you are taking into your own hands the deter- 2088 mination of a question which it does not belong to you, but to the creditor, to decide. He is to judge whether you are doing him harm, and as far as I understand the case you have no right to stir an inch in the alteration of his securities until he, and not you, shall be satisfied that you are doing him no harm. I will not dwell upon that part of the proposal which relates to the alteration of securities; but I may remind the Committee that a day or two ago I presented a petition on that subject, signed by a very large proportion of the holders of Indian debt now in England, setting forth what they consider to be their rights in terms to which it will be found necessary that the attention of the Committee and of the House should be drawn. I may observe, however, that the distinct proposal in this case is to change the borrower. At present the borrower is the East India Company. Hereafter, by Act of Parliament, the borrower will be the British Government without the security of the Consolidated Fund. That is to say, the security of the Consolidated Fund will not be given by the measure you are asked to pass. But do not let the House or the Committee be too sure that, merely because we do not bring the Consolidated Fund in question at the first moment, the course we are pursuing has no influence on the liability of the Consolidated Fund; for on the contrary, if by a proceeding, not grounded upon public right, you give the Indian creditor a title to complain, although I don't say that you even subject him to a practical grievance—if you violate his dry legal rights, and if he shows you have done what you were not justified in doing, without asking his consent, it is only too probable that you will find yourselves involved in such a controversy that the only way to satisfy and pacify him will be by making over to him the security of the Consolidated Fund. Her Majesty's Government are about to transfer the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown; they are about to erase the name of the old borrower from the instruments upon which £50,000,000 of debt are now secured; they are apt to substitute the name of a new borrower, but they have not obtained the consent of the creditor, and I wish to know from them, and not only from them, but from all who support this measure, whether they mean to offer the Indian creditor the option of being paid off according to the terms of 2089 his loan? If they do not intend to do so, I venture to submit that, apart from all questions of policy, into which I shall not now enter, they are adopting a proceeding which is beyond their legitimate competency as a legislature, and which, even independently of any hardship that may be inflicted, is dangerous to the principles upon which pecuniary transactions with public creditors are uniformly conducted, and the strict and rigid maintenance of which is necessary to the safety and efficiency of those transactions. I hope, therefore, that we shall have some declaration upon this subject which, as the Committee will see, is strictly relevant to the Resolution before us, inasmuch as that Resolution effects the change of the person who is the borrower of the Indian debt. I am sorry the forms of the House preclude us from entertaining at this moment the suggestion of an hon. Member opposite (Sir T. Colebrooke) for the postponement of this Resolution, which is vague and general in its terms, and is in itself of no legislative efficacy whatever. I should far rather have preferred discussing this general declaration after we had considered in the subsequent Resolutions what we really meant to do, instead, by passing this Resolution before us, of making a somewhat abstract promise, the redemption or non-redemption of which will depend upon steps hereafter to be taken, and upon proposals the issue of which is quite uncertain. I beg to ask for an answer to the question I have put, and to suggest that the form of the Resolution will be greatly improved by the omission of the last line and a-half.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the Committee, although they have evinced a thorough knowledge of the subject, have rather entered into the general question of the policy or impolicy of this great change, instead of referring particularly to the precise language of the Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman who last spoke has, however, very properly applied his critical powers to the language of this Resolution. He says it is a Resolution which has no legal efficacy. Why, we don't pretend that it has any legal efficacy. It is a Resolution which is simply intended, if carried with the other Resolutions of which I have given notice, to form the basis upon which we intend to found a measure. It appears to me that it is a very proper step in the first instance, 2090 when this House is endeavouring to lay down the general principles upon which it may act, that we should begin by attempting to describe in a Resolution the policy we recommend. The right hon. Gentleman complains of the language of this Resolution in so far as we talk of the "government of the East India Company," and he has adduced some reasons for doubting the accuracy of that expression. Now, I don't believe it is possible in dealing with subjects of this nature to use language which is not open to the criticism of a refining and acute intellect; but the question the Committee have to decide is, whether, upon the whole, the expression we have used is not a proper and practical expression. The true test of that is, in my opinion, to see whether it does not substantially give all the information required by the Committee with regard to the general scope of the plan to be brought forward by the Government. The expression, moreover, is taken from the Act of 1853. That Act is entitled an Act for regulating the territories, which, to use the term of its title, are "under the Government of the East India Company." It appeared to us, therefore, that we should be acting regularly, and using language which would be intelligible to the House and to the country, if we availed ourselves of an expression which was sanctioned by an Act of Parliament. I cannot help thinking, notwithstanding the criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Committee will be of opinion that, upon the whole, this is a right expression. When it is remembered that our proposal is virtually to repeal the Act of 1853, it seems to me that the proper course was to use the very language which was employed in that Act. The right hon. Gentleman has also objected to the expression in the last line and a half of the Resolution —"in order that the direct superintendence of the whole Empire may be placed under one executive authority." We are only so far responsible for that expression, inasmuch as we made, what I cannot help thinking, a happy selection of language which is, I believe, that of Mr. Pitt. I maintain that the expression is perfectly applicable. The change we are proposing is one from the direct superintendence of the East India Company to the direct superintendence of the Crown, and the expression is one to which nobody can ascribe an ambiguous meaning, and it 2091 conveys distinctly and perspicuously, and with sufficient precision, what is really our object. I therefore cannot agree to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that either with reference to the expression "the government of the East India Company," which I think is not only popularly, but even technically, correct; or with regard to the last part of the Resolution, which conveys an idea of the intention which, so far as that Resolution is concerned, we wish to accomplish, any alteration is desirable. The right hon. Gentleman has, however, opened a subject of much greater importance, though it appears to be not so germane to the Resolution before us as to a subsequent one. But I am at a loss clearly to understand what is the point of the right hon. Gentleman's objection. He would seem to insinuate that in this transfer of the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown the security of the public creditors in India is changed. But I maintain that by the transfer proposed that security has not changed. The public creditor in India has exactly the same security as he had before. Before, it was the trustee who was responsible to him; now, those for whom that trustee was employed will be directly liable. His security will be, as before, upon the revenue and the territory of India; and that security will not be limited by a transfer of the government of India from the trustee to the person for whose benefit that trustee acted. I am not at all surprised that the right hon. Gentleman and another right hon. Gentleman who addressed us in the course of the evening (Mr. Horsman) should view with natural apprehension the influence which a change like this may have upon the finances of the country. It becomes us all to examine with great caution all the steps we may take in that respect, and I am quite sure there is no one who can address the Committee with more advantage on this subject than the right hon. Gentleman. But I have not heard anything yet, either from the right hon. Gentleman or from the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), which amounts to more than this—that the finances of India form a subject of great importance and of great anxiety to public men, and that in dealing with Indian subjects we should take care that the liabilities of this country should not be in any way increased by the change we are recommending. That, without any change whatever in the Go- 2092 vernment, a possible liability, very much to be deprecated with respect to Indian finances, may be incurred on the part of the people of England is no novelty in our debates, and is a truth which has impressed itself on the minds of those who have deeply considered this subject. But no course that we can take with regard to this present project of legislation can diminish a possible liability which existed years before. No doubt, as has been said by the highest authorities in this House, there is an intimate connection between Indian and English finance, and however you may seek to divide them, so long as India remains the principal dependency of this country, we must all be deeply interested in its finances, knowing full well what are the possible consequences to England if those finances are badly administered. What I wish to impress upon the Committee, however, is the true and common-sense view of the question, that the change now contemplated will not increase the possible liability in this respect which existed before. As I mentioned to the Committee just now, it is in the 14th Resolution that this point is really contained, and there you will find the words "for continuing the charge on the revenues of India alone" specifically introduced. I do not know that I have any further observations to make upon this Resolution, because the subject of it has been so long in our minds, and has been treated of late in so many modes, that we in this House have pretty well arrived at a conclusion upon it. There are other Resolutions as we proceed, which, no doubt, will lead to very great controversy and to protracted discussion. But it appears to me that, upon the whole, this Resolution expresses the intentions of the Committee in language not justly liable to criticism. That it has no legal efficacy we are, of course, all aware. But if it conveys, as I maintain it does, in clear and precise language, what is the intention of those who propose it, and what I believe is also in the mind of hon. Members, I trust the Committee will pass this Resolution, and, I hope, without a division.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he was willing rather to consider the language of this Resolution in its popular sense, and as embodying the opinion of the House, than to go very closely into its precise meaning, which might be deferred until the whole subject was considered in the form of a Bill. At the same time, it was desirable not to assert anything actually contrary to 2093 the fact. Now, he wished, in no captious spirit, to point out one part of the Resolution which seemed liable to this imputation. He referred to the words alluded to by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), that the transfer was expedient, "in order that the direct superintendence of the whole empire may be placed under one executive authority." Now, there was one very large part of the empire which was as completely out of the direct superintendence of the Crown at this moment as the territories of the East India Company— he meant the whole of that portion of British North America held under a charter by the Hudson's Bay Company. If the words he had quoted were allowed to remain, they would assert that which was actually contrary to the fact; and, as he believed, they could be omitted without weakening the force of the Resolution, he thought it would be desirable to do so.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not mean to say it is absolutely necessary that these words should be in the Resolution. There are, probably, a great many words in these Resolutions which might be omitted, but I think it would be a great pity to strike these out. The Resolution would be more meagre, and would not, I think, express our meaning so well without them. I am not surprised that the only exception throughout the wide dominions of Her Majesty, which can be brought forward in order to prove the inaccuracy of the Resolutions, is the case of the Hudson's Bay Company. The fact is that, for the moment, I thought the Hudson's Bay Company had been put an end to. But that is the only instance which can be adduced, and I still therefore retain my opinion that the expression in the Resolution conveys more fully and accurately what I believe to be the intention of the Committee than it would do if altered in the mode suggested.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Resolved—"That as the Territories under the Government of the East India Company are by law to remain under such Government only until Parliament shall otherwise provide, it is expedient that the transfer of such Government to the Crown should now take place, in order that the direct superintendence of the whole Empire may be placed under one Executive authority."
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The second Resolution embodies the principle that there should be one great officer of State responsible for the administration of India, and specifies his title. It defines generally the powers and 2094 duties of that officer, who we suggest in the Resolution should be called a Secretary of State. The Committee will, of course, decide whether they think he should be called a President or a Secretary of State. It is our opinion that, on the whole, it would be more convenient, though it is a matter of no great moment, that the Minister who is responsible for administering the government of India in England should be a Secretary of State; and we have attempted to express the powers and duties which will devolve upon him in consequence of the change we propose. The Resolution is:—That for this purpose it is expedient to provide, that Her Majesty, by one of Her Principal Secretaries of State, shall have and perform all the powers and duties relating to the Government and Revenues of India which are or may be now exercised and performed by the East India Company, or by the Court of Directors or Court of Proprietors of the said Company, either alone or with the approbation of the Commissioners for the Affairs of India.That would concentre all the powers exercised by the Board of Control and the Court of Directors in the principal officer, whose style we have defined as Secretary of State; and I hope this Resolution may pass.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That for this purpose it is expedient to provide, that Her Majesty, by one of Her Principal Secretaries of State, shall have and perform all the powers and duties relating to the Government and Revenues of India which are or may be now exercised and performed by the East India Company, or by the Court of Directors or Court of Proprietors of the said Company, either alone or with the approbation of the Commissioners for the Affairs of India.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that he would suggest the expediency of postponing further discussion upon the Resolution at that hour of the night (a quarter to twelve o'clock).
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, he would suggest that it would he better to defer the discussion with regard to the denomination of the officer who was to superintend the affairs of India, until they came to the substance of the Resolution. He might observe, however, that he was of opinion that it was an error to constitute a new Secretary of State, and contended that the arrangement proposed upon that point in the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was preferable, upon all the principles of constitution and analogy, to that embodied in the Resolution under the notice of the Committee. It would, under 2095 those circumstances, he thought, he advisable for the present to substitute some such general words as "responsible advisers" for the words "Principal Secretaries of State."
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had no objection to comply with the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), and should therefore move that the Chairman report progress. He should postpone any observations which he might wish to make with reference to the Resolution to a future occasion, simply observing that he could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, so far as the question of constitution and analogy was concerned.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again on Monday next.