§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ Clause 7,
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, he rose, in conformity with an intention he had expressed the other evening, to propose an Amendment in clause 7, in reference to the constitution of the council, by proposing to insert at the end of line 20 the words, "and it shall consist of the following persons." His intention was, that the first members of the Council of India should be nominated in the Act of Parliament. He had himself no intention of proposing the names of its members, for it was not to be supposed that any private Member would assume such a responsibility. If it were the view of Parliament that the Council should be nominated in the Bill, then by the insertion of those words the function of naming them would devolve upon the Government; but, of course, the names would be subject to the review of Parliament, and any hon. Member could object to any name he thought proper. If the names so recommended were ultimately accepted, the new Council would possess all that weight and authority which must accrue from the names of its members having been submitted to the judgment of both Houses of Parliament. When he first made this proposition he was not at all aware that the Government entertained any objection to it. He would state his reasons for the proposition. The first reason was derived from the recollection of what occurred in 1853. By the Act of that year, it was provided that the number of the Directors of the East India Company should be reduced, and the duty of making 758 that reduction was imposed on the Court of Directors. The Directors accordingly had to exclude several of their own body. He had always understood that that was felt to be a peculiarly invidious and painful duty. Though he himself was a party to the enactment, he thought it was done hastily and not well. It was obvious that there was an objection on the score of feeling to such a mode of proceeding; but of course, there was no weight in his objection if the Court of Directors themselves said that there was no objection to such a mode of selection on their part. His object in making this Motion, however, was to clothe the Indian Council with all the moral weight and influence that was consistent with retaining intact the responsibility of the Secretary of State. So long as they did not fetter the Minister, everything they could do to increase the moral weight of the Council was so much good done. He submitted to the Committee, therefore, whether they would not add to the weight of the Council if they named them. He did not, of course, mean to say that the Council twenty years hence would enjoy any particular weight or influence from the fact of Parliament having made the first nomination; but, still a good start was calculated to secure for it a good character hereafter. At a moment of transition from one form of government to another, like the present, it was important that the Council should have all the weight they could give to it. There was also a series of precedents for this course. It had been the practice of Parliament to follow this course when it was constituting bodies which were to be invested with subordinate functions of government of an arduous nature; and the more onerous the duties to be discharged, the more weight would be given to those who were intrusted with them if their appointment received the express approval of Parliament. The Commissioners chosen to carry out the reform of the two Universities were specifically named in the Act of Parliament relating to that subject, and the same remark applied to the case of the Charity Commissioners. That very day they had added a third to the number of precedents of that class by inserting in the Scotch Universities Bill the names of the gentlemen who were to form the Commission to legislate for those Universities. He would go further back, and, at the same time, come nearer to the subject in hand. When Mr. Fox proposed 759 his India Bill, he proposed to intrust the Government of India to two bodies of Commissioners, one a superior Commission of seven members, and the other an assistant Commission of nine. Both in the case of the seven and nine he submitted to Parliament the names of the persons to whom he proposed to entrust that duty. It was true that that Bill did not, for other reasons, become law, and that Mr. Pitt did not adopt a similar course; but then Mr. Pitt altered the whole framework of the Bill and did not call on Parliament to appoint a Commission at all. He submitted to the Committee that both on the ground of precedent and on the ground of reason, it was desirable that to do all they could to add to the weight and influence of those who would have to discharge the difficult duties of supporting and advising the Secretary of State at this critical juncture in carrying on the Government of India; and he would not have made such a proposition if it could lead to any interference with the functions of the Secretary of State; but that would not be so, for the functions both of the Secretary of State and the Council would remain exactly as they were. This proposal was not for the purpose of overriding the Secretary of State, for the Members of the Council would still have to submit their judgments to his and give him all the advice in their power. One merit of the proposal, if adopted, would be that it would rid the Court of Directors of that which must be an invidious and irksome task, namely, the choice of a portion of their Members to act on the Council, to the exclusion of the rest; at the same time that it would give satisfaction generally by showing that the name of every individual Member of the first Council had been submitted to Parliament and open to their approval.
said, he thought that it would not be convenient to accept the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman. He proposed to do away entirely with the principle of electing part of the Council by the members of the Court of Directors. Instead of their doing so, the effect of the Amendment would be that the Government should take on themselves to nominate the whole body under a Parliamentary sanction. In constructing a new machinery for the government of India Her Majesty's Government wished to avoid making needless changes, and be guided as much as possible by analogy to existing circumstances. They now found a Council 760 composed partly of nominees and partly of members elected by the Court of Proprietors. They proceeded upon the same basis, only they proposed to increase the number of nominees and reduce the number of those elected, so as to bring the two to very nearly equal proportions. In reducing the number of the elected members, they had preferred to leave in the hands of the Court of Directors the choice of those who were still to continue members of the new Council. The right hon. Gentleman observed that this principle, which was proposed in the measure of 1853, was very reluctantly adopted by the Court of Directors. From the communication which he (Lord Stanley) had had with the representatives of the Court of Directors, he had heard nothing to induce him to believe that if they were called upon to peform this public duty they would shrink from the performance of it for any such reasons as had been alleged. This proceeding was by no means as invidious as was represented. If they were called upon to exclude a certain small number from those offices, retaining all the rest, the proceeding, he admitted, would be invidious; but when they would only have to choose about one-third or one-fourth of their number to act as members of the Council, the process would be one not of exclusion, but of selection. It was obvious that where election was the rule and exclusion the exception the proceedings would be very invidious; but when the contrary was the case, when the great majority was excluded and the small minority returned, there could not be the same expectations on the part of every member that he should be appointed. As to leaving the other appointments in their own hands, that course was adopted simply because they were a body who had acted well together, who were acquainted with each other's powers and capacity for the public service, and it was naturally considered that they were much better qualified to make the proper selection from among themselves than Government could acting on second-hand information. If these provisions of the present Bill were accepted by the Committee—he meant particularly that provision which excluded the Members of the Council from sitting in Parliament—the new body would be placed upon a different footing to the old. As to the suggestion of placing the names of the first nominees in the Bill, such a proceeding would necessa- 761 rily retard the progress of the Bill. The Government could not make the choice in two or three days. They ought to have a much longer time allowed them to do so. The period allowed after the passing of the Act for making that choice was thirty days. And even a week or ten days' delay, at this period of the Session, would be very inconvenient as regarded the general progress of the public business.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, he was sorry to find the proposition opposed by the noble Lord, since he thought its adoption would give a better character to the Council. The Court of Directors consisted, not of twenty-four members, but only of eighteen; and as members of the Council could not sit in Parliament, and as it was understood that members of the Council were to give their whole time to the Government—and there were many merchants and men of business now belonging to the Court who could not do so—the number from which the Court could choose would in reality be a very limited one. It was said by some that it was the intention of the Court not to elect their seven members of the Council from among the nominated members of the Court, who were so well able to transact the business, but from the number who had been elected, and if so they were just as likely to elect the worst men as the best to sit upon the Council. The only objection he had heard was that it would be difficult to elect fifteen good men, and with that he agreed, for he could not select more than six or eight men of marked ability.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 8 (First Members of the Council).
said, he thought that some amendment was necessary in this clause. He wanted to know what was the meaning of the words "Directors of the said Company, or having been theretofore such Directors," and whether it was proposed that the elected members might be elected from men who had ceased to be Directors.
said, it was intended to leave that option to the Court of Directors, hough probably they would elect them from their own body.
MR. VERNON SMITH
observed that made their duty more invidious still. He should therefore propose to omit the words "or having been theretofore such Directors."
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 146; Noes 71: Majority 75.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, that the other night the Motion of the hon. Member for Nottinghamshire (Mr. Barrow) raised a somewhat general discussion on the 3rd clause. He had himself, then, ventured to call the attention of the Committee to the unlimited transfer of the power over the expenditure and patronage of India to the Government. That discussion had been censured. He was, however, glad to say that that discussion had been productive of great advantage; for the noble Lord, during that discussion, was enabled to ascertain the views of hon. Members in different parts of the House, and, in consequence, had given notice of extensive Amendments, which, in his humble judgment, removed all the objections which he had entertained in reference to patronage and expenditure. It would be quite premature to enter further into details. His object in rising was to state that he should wish, immediately after the words which they had just passed, to insert the words "not to be nominees of the Crown." If this were not done, it appeared to him that the elective principle of the measure would be much impaired. Of the entire body of the Court of Directors five were nominees of the Crown, and it was supposed that out of the seven members of Council which the Court of Directors were to choose, they would elect the five nominees of the Crown. The Crown would then appoint eight nominees to the Council; and the first vacancy would be filled by another nominee, so that fourteen out of the fifteen members of the Council might soon be nominees of the Crown. He thought that that would be reducing the elective principle to its minimum. He wished, on the contrary, to avoid that chance. He wished that the choice of the Court of Directors should be limited to those who had been elected. His principle would be no hardship on the five nominees of the Crown, for after the election had taken place the Crown was to exercise the prerogative of nominating eight members of Council, which was a majority of the whole body.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 26, page 3, after the word Directors to insert the words "not to be nominees of the Crown."763
said, he cordially agreed with the right hon. Baronet that the discussion the other evening upon the 3rd clause, so far from being premature, had been productive of much advantage, inasmuch as it had shown the necessity of providing some further security than existed in the Bill against financial abuses. The Government would be ready at all times to receive any suggestion from the right hon. Baronet with that respect to which it was entitled; but the proposition which he had now made did not seem to be calculated to carry out the object for which it was intended. It was said that if this Bill passed in an unaltered state, the Council, though nominally elective, might contain fourteen out of fifteen nominees. The answer was, that if any of the five were elected they would cease to be nominees from the moment of their election. Because a man had been once nominated by the Crown to a certain office it did not follow, if he were subsequently elected by an independent constituency to fill the same office, that he would remain for life a nominee of the Crown. He would sum up what he had to say briefly thus—that if the Government had not thought that the Court of Directors were to be trusted with the exercise of this power, if they had not thought that, irrespective of any preference they might have for elected over nominee members, they would choose those whom they thought fittest to perform the duties of councillor—if they had not thought that, they would not have given them the power. Having that opinion, they thought it right to give them the power and to leave it as unfettered as possible.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, he could not but express his regret that the Government had not adopted the proposition of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham), providing for the election of three names by the Council, and the nomination of one of the three by the Crown, subject to certain rights of the House of Commons. That proposition would have given them a more homogeneous, and therefore more harmonious; body, and moreover would have prevented that mass of abuses which were likely now to grow out of this Council, not the least of which was the number of vested interests and retiring pensions which it would create. Perhaps the best thing would have been to take the short term proposed by the noble Lord the Member 764 for Tiverton, as there would then be time and opportunity to settle the conditions of retirement. It appeared to him that the tenure of good behaviour, although it might work well in the case of the Judges whose whole conduct was before the country, would hardly do for men who were constantly employed in the recesses of their own offices. In the case of the latter, he feared the tendency would be, unless they were carefully watched and guarded, to lapse into sinecure. The theory they were now proceeding upon seemed to assume that there was a balance in the Council between the elected and the nominated members; but the plan adopted in the Bill might tend to the appointment of a large preponderance of nominees, since vacancies were to be filled up alternately by nomination by the Crown and by election by the Council, in which the nominee members constituted the majority. To regain something like the balance referred to, he should propose that instead of seven members elected by the Directors, the number should be ten; and if that proposition were agreed to, he should afterwards move that five members should be nominated by the Crown instead of eight.
§ Amendment proposed in line 26, to leave out the word "seven" in order to insert the word "ten."
said, that they could not properly consider the proposition without remembering the peculiar nature of the system by which the vacancies were to be filled up. If the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment were agreed to they would have comparatively a very small minority nominated, and the great majority elected by a process of self-election. The right hon. Gentleman said, that as matters stood at present they would have always a majority of Crown nominees. No doubt that might be so, as far as the first appointments went; but as years went on it would be difficult to say whether mortality would be greater amongst the nominees or the elective members. The ultimate proportions of the two branches of the Council would depend upon the accident as to which would live the longest. But when those nominees of the Crown were once nominated, and their nomination being for life, there was no ground for supposing that they would not be as independent in their position as the elected members. The object of the Bill was to strike a balance between the nominated and elected members, and he did think that object would 765 be attained by the division of the Council into ten elected and five nominated members.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
observed, that of course the desire of the Committee was to have, as far as possible, an independent Council. Now there were two modes of rendering the Council independent, either by election or by making the tenure of their office for life. The system of self-election adopted by the Government could scarcely he called the elective principle, controlled very much as it was by the Ministers of the Crown. For his own part, he thought that seven was too large a number to be elected; but as so large a number was to be appointed upon the principle of election, he thought the best protection that could be afforded was the tenure of office for life. He should support the Government upon this part of the Bill, his only regret being that so large a proportion of the Council was to be elected.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that being in favour of the principle of nomination by the Crown, he trusted that the Committee would not consent to increase the number of the elected members. Indeed he did not understand why the noble Lord retained this fragment of the principle of election.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, he hoped that the noble Lord would clear up the doubts arising from a statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the effect that the members of the Council were to devote their whole time to their office. There was no provision for it in the Bill, and many of the present members who were to be eligible were otherwise engaged in various occupations.
said, that the members of the Council would receive a large salary, each £1,200 a year, together with a considerable amount of patronage. It was therefore reasonable to expect that they should devote their time to the performance of the public duties assigned to them. With that understanding, he should not propose to insert anything in the Bill restricting the choice of the Directors. With regard to the members to be nominated by the Crown, their nomination would rest upon the understanding that they would give up their whole time to their duties.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
suggested a mode by which the intentions of the Government and of Parliament in this respect could be effected—that the Government should take 766 power in the Bill of reducing the vacancies that might occur in the Council, in case they thought that the business to be done would not require so many hands.
MR. VERNON SMITH
observed that most of the Directors had some other business to attend to, either being bankers or connected with public companies. With regard to the salaries of Members of the Council he thought those Members who were nominated, and who devoted their whole time to the duties of their office, would fully deserve £1,200 a year, while the elected Members, who would probably be engaged in commercial occupations, would be overpaid if they received that amount. In his opinion some rule should be laid down as to the time which the elected Members should devote to their duties, instead of leaving the matter entirely to the honour of individuals. He wished to know, if two or three Members of the Council died, how the vacancies were to be supplied? because under the system proposed the proportions of the Council might for a time be disturbed.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he believed that there was no statutory regulations which prohibited persons in public offices from engaging in other occupations, and his impression was that the only influence which could be brought to bear, in case of any misconduct in this respect, was that which was exercised by Parliament upon the Government, and by the Government upon the persons who held public offices. If an attempt were made to prohibit persons in official positions from engaging in other pursuits, it might be held that a man who wrote an article for a newspaper was violating the rule, and he thought the better plan would be to have the Members of the proposed Council upon the same footing with other officers employed under the Crown. This Bill would confer extensive patronage upon the Government and he thought it would be satisfactory to the House and to the country, if Her Majesty's Ministers would declare that none of the appointments at their disposal would be bestowed upon Members of that House, with the exception of hon. Gentlemen who were Directors of the East India Company, but that they would be conferred upon individuals who were acquainted with the affairs of India, or who were otherwise, by their personal qualifications, fitted for official positions. He believed that by pursuing such a course they would best 767 provide an efficient and independent Council for the Secretary of State for India.
said, that he thought, that the Act should contain some clause compelling the Councillors to devote their whole time to their public duties. If that were not so, they might have gentlemen who received these appointments becoming directors of half a dozen companies; and in that case the salary of £1,200, which a Councillor was to have under the Bill, would be excessive. He thought it would be well if after Clause 13 a clause was introduced declaring that no Member of the Council should be capable of engaging in any trade or profession.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that the number of offices under the Crown held during good behaviour was very small. The principal class of officers were the Judges, with respect to whom it was quite absurd to suppose—from their exalted position, the character of their duties, and the fact that they were performed in the presence of the Bar—that they would engage in other occupations to the neglect of their offices. The other civil servants held their offices during pleasure, and if they engaged in other occupations they would be quickly brought to a recollection of their duties by a hint that if they did not devote their whole time to the performance of their duties they would be discharged. But now that they were going to appoint a new class of officers who were to hold the offices during good behaviour, but with respect to whom we had not the same guarantees as they possessed in reference to the Judges, he thought it might fairly be doubted whether they ought not to take some further guarantee than a mere understanding for their sedulous devotion to the discharge of their duties.
said, that the understanding would be that those who accepted these offices did so on the implied condition that they were to devote their whole time to the performance of their official duties. He should not object to put such a provision in the Bill if he could satisfy himself of the possibility of framing a clause that would cover all that was wanted and nothing more. There was, however, a well-known case not merely of a subordinate officer of the Government, but a Minister holding an important position, who was a partner in a mercantile establishment. He probably took no active part in the management of the concern; 768 the partnership was no doubt nominal, but he was a partner in such an establishment and he (Lord Stanley) did not know what right that House would have to say that such a nominal connection should not exist in the case of a Member of Council, while it might exist in that of a Member of the Government. But he apprehended that there was already in the Act a remedy for evils that might be expected to arise in this respect. Those who entered the Council would do so on the under, standing that they were to give to the duties of Councillor their whole time, and if they notoriously and openly violated that understanding, they could be removed for official misconduct; for he had no doubt that such conduct, being a breach of faith with the Government, would be held misconduct under the terms of the Act. A suggestion had been made, that if hereafter the number of the Council should be found too large, power should be given to the Government to reduce it; but he thought it would be better to leave the subject in the hands of Parliament. Nothing would be easier than for the Government at any time to propose the reduction of the number of the Council. They had been also told that they ought to insert a proviso in the Bill, or, at any rate, make a declaration that the appointments of Councillors under this Act should be limited to those not Members of that House. That was not necessary on the one hand, while on the other it would be an inadequate security against the abuses which it was intended to guard against. Assuming that there was an intention on the part of the Government to use these appointments for the purpose of patronage, it was not only, or perhaps mainly, in that House that that kind of patronage was likely to be used. There had at all times been within the walls of that House many men of great ability and Indian experience, well qualified to be members of such a Council, and to whom any Government, on which ever side they sat, would be glad to look for assistance in the formation of a Council. He (Lord Stanley) wanted to be free to choose the best men for the Council. No Government could do otherwise without suffering in the opinion of the public and of that House, and, as a mere matter of political loss or gain, the loss by such an abuse of patronage would be greater than the gain. As to the objection that no provision had been made for nominated and 769 elected members of the Council dying alternately, all he could say was, that the Government had secured that their numbers should be as nearly equal as possible in the outset, and that, supposing the present arrangement should be permanent, they would again become equal on the death of the last of the original members of the Council. The arrangement was fair at the outset; it would be perfectly fair some years hence. And he did not know a way to provide, nor did he think it important to provide, for the numbers being equally balanced in the intervening time.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, he understood clearly that it was the understanding and desire of the Government that those who accepted the office of Councillor should not engage in any other business, and that a breach of faith on that point would be considered such a violation of official duty as would subject the offending party to a loss of office. [Lord STANLEY: Hear, hear!] It had been said that it was impossible to draw up an account securing the devotion of the whole time of the Councillors to their duties; but a similar object had been pursued and attained with respect to the servants of the East India Company by the Act 33 Geo. III., which forbade any one connected with the administration of the affairs of India, from the Governor General down to the lowest officer, from engaging in a trade or traffic.
SIR GEORGE C. LEWIS
repeated that the Act to which the hon. Member referred applied merely to the officers of the company as a company of traders. If any provision were inserted on this point in the present Act of Parliament, it would be better to employ something like the language of the orders of the Poor Law Commission, which required not that every union officer should abstain from trade or traffic, but "should give his whole time to the union." Those words had proved effectual for the attainment of the object in view.
MR. T. BARING
said, he would submit whether it would be wise, expedient, or practicable to exclude any member of the Council on account of transacting "any other species of business whatever." The 770 end of such a provision would be that they would be obliged to select men who could do nothing else. Another important question was, whether the members of the Council were to be excluded from Parliament or not. He had entertained some doubts, but upon the whole thought it was better they should be admitted. But if they admitted them to the House, then they would have other business to transact besides that of the Council. The great object ought to be to have a Council of intelligent and independent advisers, and not a mere Council of clerks. Would they exclude men because they wrote for the public papers or reviews? They would not be able to carry into effect any such provision. If they would have none but men who must give up their whole time for £1,200 a year, then he must say, they were going in a very fair way to emasculate the Council. His own opinion was, that it was better to leave it to the sense of honour of the members, and their sense of duty, than to impose any such rigid restrictions.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that in the course of the discussion two things essentially distinct had been confounded. It was one thing to say that the whole time of the person appointed should be at the disposal of the Council, and another that he should not engage in any trade or traffic whatever. The two things were quite distinct. What his noble Friend had said was simply this—that it was expected that the time of every person who joined the Council should be at the disposal of the Council. But to frame a clause by which every member of the Council would be bound to be engaged in no trade or traffic whatever was a very different matter. Such an arrangement with regard to the Government would have deprived the country a few years ago of the services of one of its most able men, inasmuch as he was a member of a mercantile firm at the same time that he was a member of the Government. If it should be found that a member of the Council did not devote sufficient time to the Council the Government could take steps to remove him for misbehaviour. Then, again, it was always in the power of Parliament to address the Crown for the removal of any Councillor who did not perform his duties, so that there was a double check—one in the hands of the Executive, and the other in the hands of Parliament. Every one must desire to see the Council formed of 771 men of the greatest experience and practical ability, and it might in some cases be that their very connection with some other pursuit was a guarantee for the possession of those qualities, and he could not therefore consent to the proposal.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he could not understand the application of a principle to members of the Council which it had not been considered necessary to apply to Ministers of State. Speaking with accurate knowledge, he had known Cabinet Ministers in both Houses of Parliament, and hon. Members holding high position, who were partners in breweries or insurance companies, or who were connected with some commercial pursuit. He saw no reason for introducing any such principle as absolutely to prohibit members of the Council from being engaged in any other occupation. They would be always under the review of that House, and they would be actuated by a sense of duty, and any such restriction would probably interfere to prevent persons of the highest qualification from undertaking the duties of Councillor. The duties of the office need certainly not occupy the whole of a man's time, and he should certainly deprecate the insertion in the Bill of any such provision as that members of the Council should be absolutely bound down not to follow any other occupation. If a Councillor neglected his duties, that would be a gross offence, amounting to a misdemeanour, for which he might be removed from his office.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he wished to point out that the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir E. Perry) had placed a very strange construction upon what had been said by his noble Friend. His noble Friend had stated, what was the unanimous opinion of his colleagues, that those Members of the Council appointed by Her Majesty would be expected to place their whole time at the disposal of the Secretary of State, but he did not at all intend to say that the whole of their time should be devoted to the duties of their office, or that they should not be allowed to do anything else. As regarded those Members of the Council appointed by election, his noble Friend would not for a moment lay down the principle that they should be required to spend the whole of their time in the fulfilment of their duty as Councillors. It was very possible that persons might be elected from their connection with the Court of Directors, who at the same time would be occu- 772 pied with public or private interests, but he did not think that any disadvantage would result from that; but, on the contrary, the election of such men might be the means of introducing into the Council a great deal of practical knowledge and experience. In effecting a transition from a Government of an anomalous character to one which in time would assume a more regular form, it would not be wise to adopt a principle which would negative a practice which had in the Government that was about to be abolished been productive of beneficial results, and it would be highly impolitic, in his opinion, to define by a clause in an Act of Parliament what time the members of the Council, who would of course be bound by their own sense of duty, should devote to the duties of their office.
§ MR. RICH
said, he understood from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that an East India Director carrying on the business of a banker in the city might be appointed a Councillor by the East India Company; that while he so acted he would have £1,200 a year; and that after doing some occasional duties for a few years he might retire on a pension of £500 a year. He thought that if the Committee sanctioned that arrangement they were entering upon a most prodigal expenditure.
intimated, that the discussion which was going on was most irregular, the real question before the House being whether ten or seven Members should be appointed by election.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY,
on the ground that the East India Company and stockholders would still have important rights, involving £110,000,000 of money, which might be influenced by the acts of the proposed Council, urged the importance of appointing persons upon it who would command their confidence. With that view he should support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he thought it would be better to have two-thirds of the Council elected and one-third nominated, instead of the proportions fixed by the Bill. If the nominated were to the elected members in the first place as eight to seven, the former, if they hung together—which, however, they were not likely to do—might secure a continued preponderance of nominee members. He certainly thought also that when a person accepted an office, who himself intended to do his duty, he would not engage in multifarious occupation which 773 would interfere with the performance of those duties, but at the same time he would not bind persons by a strict rule in an Act of Parliament. It was absurd to say that men engaged in literary or scientific pursuits should not be eligible for the Council. Such a rule might exclude some of the best men. Moreover, he thought it would be most unwise to exclude the business element. There were many subjects, as finance, exchanges and other matters, which came before the Secret Committee of the Directors, with which he confessed he was not competent to deal, and he thought it would be most injudicious in the proposed Council to debar the Government of the assistance of those who particularly understood those questions.
§ MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
remarked, that both the noble Lord the President of the India Board and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle were beginning to show signs that they thought the Council too numerous; and he did wish the noble Lord would at once act upon his better judgment and reduce it. He had no objection to gentlemen engaged in literary occupations being Councillors, but it would be most improper that persons engaged in trade or traffic of any kind should be so, as they would have to deal in public contracts. At present the Court of Directors expended £4,000,000 of the public money annually upon contracts in the City of London, and therefore it was that although all the great towns had petitioned against the continuance of the Company, the City of London had at all times upheld it. When the proper time arrived he should move the insertion of the words.
§ MR. HUDSON
suggested the propriety of confining the discussion to the question before the House, namely, whether the number of elected members should be ten or seven.
§ Amendment negatived.
said, he would move to add the following proviso at the end of the clause:—Provided always that if the Court of Directors of the East India Company shall refuse, or shall for such fourteen days neglect to make such election of such seven persons, and to certify the names of such persons as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, by warrant under Her Royal sign manual, within thirty days after the expiration of such fourteen days, to appoint from among the said Directors seven persons to make up the full number of the said Council.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, he wished to inquire what provision was contemplated 774 in the event of those elected refusing to serve.
§ MR. LINDSAY
said, he would propose that the words "or other duly qualified persons," should be added to meet the difficulty.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
explained that the Court of Directors were required to certify the readiness of their members to serve as well as to elect, and the proviso gave power to the Crown to appoint if Members were not ready to serve within the time. He would, however, undertake to introduce words to obviate the objection, in case any member, who might be elected, should unexpectedly refuse to serve.
§ Proviso agreed to.
§ Clause 8 agreed to.
§ Clause 9 (Vacancies in the Council how to be filled up).
§ MR. ELLIOT
suggested that it would be better that vacancies occurring in the number of the nominated members should be filled up by the Crown, and those occurring among the elected ones by the Council—a course which would keep the proportions as originally constituted.
§ LORD ADOLPHUS VANE-TEMPEST
said, he regretted that the Amendment he was about to propose had not fallen into abler hands; but having waited for a long while to see whether any other hon. Member would place anything of the kind upon the Paper, and finding that no one else did so, he felt compelled to do so himself. The Amendment was strongly in accordance with the sixth Resolution, to the spirit of which it had been understood the Government would adhere; and he could not understand how it was that the spirit of that Resolution had come to be departed from; nor upon what principle it had been decided to form the Council in a way which must result in the Council—at first, partly elective and partly nominative becoming completely nominative. It was desirable that such a Council should neither be the tool of the Treasury bench by being completely nominative, nor the tool of the Opposition by being completely elective; and to secure the complete independence of the Council his Amendment had been framed.
Amendment proposed in line 4, after "filled up," leave out to the end of the Clause, and add,
By persons, to be elected as hereinafter mentioned, from among persons who have been ten years, at least, in India, in the service of Her Majesty, or of the Government of India, in any department, whether legal, civil, naval, or military, or who have been fifteen years resident in India; and the persons qualified to vote in the election of such members shall be proprietors of capital in Indian Stock, or of paid-up capital in Railways or other public works in India, of the amount of £1,000; or of persons who have been ten years in the military, naval, or civil service of the East India Company, or of Her Majesty: Provided always, That no person shall be entitled to vote in the election of such members as aforesaid unless he shall have been qualified as aforesaid for six months before the election, and be registered according to the regulations hereinafter to be mentioned.
said, that this question had been several times argued at great length, and he did not wish to re-open it. If a constituency could have been obtained which would have efficiently discharged its duties, he should have preferred an election by such a body to the plan proposed in the Bill; but no such constituency could be obtained, and therefore he should oppose this Amendment.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, that when he voted that a portion of the Council should be elected he certainly intended, and he believed most other Members intended, that there should be a constituency. It would, no doubt, be difficult to obtain one, but he thought that a Government which set itself seriously to work might effect that object. The constituency provided for in this Amendment was too numerous. He should prefer one of about 1,000 persons, to be divided into panels in the mode sketched out by the Earl of Ellenborough.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 10 (Major part of the Council to have served or resided ten years in India).
§ LORD ADOLPHUS VANE-TEMPEST
said, that although the right hon. Gentleman in the chair had not observed him, he had said "No," when the question was put on his Amendment on clause 9, as he wished to take a division, in order to test who were in favour of an independent election of the Council.
said, he wished to propose the insertion of words providing that the major part of the persons nominated by the Crown, to form the first Council, as well as those elected by the Court of Directors, should have resided or served for ten years in India. With this view he should move as an Amendment in line 2 776 to insert the words "or major part" after the word "and;" and also in line 7 to omit the word "eight," and insert "nine."
§ Amendments agreed to.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 11 (Tenure of Office of Members of Council).
§ MR. GREGSON
said, he should move to leave out the words "good behaviour," in order to insert the words "five years, and to be eligible for re-election."
In page 4, line 10, to leave out the words "good behaviour," in order to insert the words "five years, and to be eligible for re-election.
said, that the Amendment raised the whole question of the dependence or independence of the Council, which had been discussed on the Resolutions, and with regard to which the opinion of the House was decidedly expressed for the longer term. He thought that by the tenure laid down in the Bill the best guarantee for the independence of the Council was obtained.
§ MR. LINDSAY
begged the Committee to observe the effect of the clause as it stood. It had been determined to have a Council for India now, but some few years hence, when the present state of things in that country had subsided, the House might come to the conclusion that it would be better to have no Council, and the consequence would be that those gentlemen who were elected during good behaviour, that is for life, would hold vested interests, and could not be dispossessed without burdening the revenues of India with an intolerable amount of compensation. If the hon. Gentleman divided, he would support his Amendment.
§ MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
said, that some explanation was wanted from the Government on this subject. Suppose that the noble Lord thought it right hereafter to diminish the number of the Council from fifteen to twelve, were the gentlemen who were reduced to have compensation for the loss of a life office. It was advisable, at this stage, to look to this possibility. He was opposed to a Council, for he could not understand that it would be of any assistance to the Minister. If members were appointed for life, a man who was appointed at thirty might live to be eighty, and every one knew how invidious a task it was to deal with an official who had outlived his capability. What good advice could a man give the Minister who had not been in India for fifty years? The best 777 plan for the Minister to adopt would be to take as Council the men who returned from India year by year, who were well acquainted with the local circumstances of the country, and who were uninfluenced by Parliamentary intrigues.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that it had been urged that if it was considered hereafter advisable to abolish the Council, there would be a difficulty in knowing what to do with members who had been appointed for life. But it was thought that the best security for the independence of the Council was that the members should hold their office for life and during the continuance of the Council. If the Government thought that the Council would exist only for two or three years they would not appoint the members in the manner proposed; but in their opinion the establishment of a Council was the proper mode of governing India, and would be permanent. All that the noble Lord, the President of the Board of Control, had said was that, if hereafter the Council should be considered too numerous, certain vacancies would not be filled up.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that he should vote for the Motion of his hon. Friend, to omit the words "good behaviour," as that would be consistent with a subsequent Amendment which he (Viscount Palmerston) intended to propose, "that the members of the Council should be appointed for ten years." This was a very important question. The point at issue now with regard to the Council was of the greatest importance in reference to the whole Bill. If he understood the object of the Committee, it was to make the Council independent. They were all agreed that there was to be a Council. He regretted that it was so numerous, and he believed that out of fifteen members holding the office of Councillor one-half at least would hold sinecures, but as the House had determined on that number he should not ask them to re-consider it. Nevertheless, he was sure that it would turn out that they had created seven or eight sinecure offices, with salaries of £1,200 a year, and retiring pensions. That was what he wished the Committee not to do. What was the object in view in reference to the formation of the Council? It was that it should be independent. Very good. Independent, not for action—no one maintained that; for when he, on a former occasion, used the words "Executive Council," the Chancellor of the Exchequer de- 778 nied that it was an "executive," but simply an "administrative" Council. It was to be a Council of advice. The principle was, the Secretary of State was to be responsible; and the members of the Council should be independent enough to give him honest advice. He thought that the Government had taken a cumbrous way to obtain that. In order to make them independent it was proposed to make them hold their offices practically for life; or if they should become incapacitated by age or infirmity, they were to have retiring allowances varing from £600 to £800 a year. He (Viscount Palmerston) proposed a shorter and cheaper method of getting an independent Council, and that was by causing them to hold their offices for a fixed period of ten years, and that they should not be capable of being re-elected or reappointed. Surely a Councillor holding office in that way was as independent as he could well be, for he had no hope by currying favour with the Government of getting re-elected or re-appointed. Could anything be more objectionable than appointing Councillors for life? The main object was to have the advantage of Indian experience, but as his hon. Friend (Mr. D. Seymour) had said, Indian experience, if it was to be of any value, must be experience of the India of the day. Experience which had become obsolete would be worse than useless, for it might lead to error. India was in a state of transition and advancement from its present condition, and the experience of a man who left India ten or fifteen years ago would be of little value compared with that of a man who had recently left that country, and knew the changes that were going on and the matters that were in progress. He knew he should be met by the objection that the Council would get more knowledge of India by transacting the business of that country at home than they would get in India itself. If that were so, why tie up the choice of the Government to persons who had Indian experience? In fact this came to the adoption of the principle of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), who, instead of a Council, would have permanent Under Secretaries of Indian experience. By making the office for life they would get men of obsolete experience of India, and of growing age and infirmity; and it would become an effete Council, many members of which would hold sinecures. Let the Committee consider how, in this way, they would debar 779 the Government from taking advantage of the services of men of ability) who would be constantly coming home from civil or military service in India, in possession of all the current knowledge, but whose advice would be unavailable, because the Council would be full of old men whom you could not get rid of, and who would prefer their full Salaries of £1,200 a year to a retirement on £800. Then look at the question of the accumulation of retired allowances. It might be said that that was nothing to their constituencies, as it would only be a charge on the Indian revenue; but he trusted that no such argument would be urged in that House. If they wanted independence in the Council, it would be equally secured by fixing a final limit to the service of the Councillors, say ten or twelve years, while the Government would have from time to time opportunities of infusing fresh blood and recent experience into the Council, and thus making it more valuable and useful. There was another question to be considered. It was stated, and it was admitted by the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control, that in course of time such improvements would be made in the transaction of business, that fifteen members might be found too large a number for the Council, and that a smaller number could do the business required of them. According to the plan proposed, however, every member would have a vested interest and a Parliamentary title to compensation or a retiring pension. If he might be allowed to use the expression, without meaning anything offensive, but which really designated the proposed Council, he would say that it was the most gigantic job which was ever proposed for the sanction of Parliament. There were hon. Gentlemen in the House who prided themselves on being administrative Reformers. He claimed their votes, for he was sure none of them could agree to such a Council as the Bill proposed to create. He also claimed the support of the Government; for surely, as a body, they could not think this a proper arrangement, and the strength they had gained in recent divisions ought to make them feel independent of the support they had hitherto been so solicitous to catch. In the short voyage which they had hitherto made they had trimmed their sails to catch every breeze which might fill their sails from whatever quarter it might blow. But now they ought to feel themselves strong enough to act upon their own opinions.
780 He was sure they could not suppose that the best mode of securing the independence of the Council was that proposed by, the Bill, but that they must admit such an object would be more certainly and cheaply attained by limiting the period of service to ten years, without re-election or reappointment. At all events, if he could not claim the support of the whole Government, he would claim that of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, for he recollected a few years ago that that right hon. Gentleman, in his desire for economy, wished to reduce at one fell swoop, the salaries of all the hardworking clerks in the public service by 10 per cent. He was sure, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman could not support such an unncessary expense as this plan would cast on the Indian revenue, and which would be an obstacle in the way of the future retrenchment which the Government and Parliament would have to consider. He should support the Motion of his hon. Friend for striking out the words "good behaviour," in order to insert the words "for ten years, without being capable of re-election or re-appointment."
§ MR. A. MILLS
said, that the example of the noble Lord afforded a good argument against turning away men who had faithfully served them. The noble Lord had served the public a great many more than ten years, and he afforded a signal instance of the fact that vigour often remained to considerable age in gentlemen who were engaged in the public service. He thought that it would be a most ungracious thing to turn out the Councillors after they had served ten years.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, the question raised by the noble Lord was a difficult one, but on the whole he was in favour of the proposition of the Government. The object desired was to obtain the independence of the Council combined with the complete efficiency of its members. That object might be gained either by the proposition of the Government or of the noble Lord, but he thought it could not be obtained by that of the hon. Member (Mr. Gregson). It might be possible that Members of the Council might be prevailed on to give up their emoluments as Councillors, but they might not be so ready to give up their patronage.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, it was most unfair of the noble Lord to call on Administrative Reformers to support this Amendment. The question of expense was not before 781 them, and it was a little remarkable that members on the chief Opposition benches were always asking hon. Members below the gangway to vote on something else than that which was under discussion. When the financial question was before them it would be time enough to consider it. The real question they had now to consider was when the Council were to retire. He thought it would be highly inexpedient to be constantly shifting the Council. The noble Lord had said he hoped to see great changes in India in fifteen years, but a great nation which had remained unchanged for 2000 years was not to be changed in fifteen years, and it was the attempt to change India in one man's life time that had caused the destruction of the present system of government. He believed that the most likely change they would see in India in the next fifteen years would be the expulsion of the British from it. It was the want of a Council of advice which enabled the Government to carry on a war with Persia through the Indian army which was a main cause of the insurrection. An executive Council was a phantom which had long flitted before the eyes of the noble Lord, and had reduced him to the pitiable condition in which he now was. By the course he had pursued his majority of 400 had given place to a minority of 149 on Indian questions. He would suggest to Her Majesty's Ministers to consider whether they could not provide that after a certain period one member only should retire from the council in a year, so that no violent change should take place, while at the same time new blood would be constantly added.
§ MR. W. EWART
said, that in order to have an efficient Council it should be subject to renewal. He could not agree with the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton), that no change should be looked for in India. Education, the diffusion of intelligence, and the introduction of railways, had already produced a great change, and it was an antiquated and antediluvian notion that there was to be no further change. He strongly adhered to the proposition of the hon. Member for Lancaster, for he thought that in five years the Councillors would have every opportunity of qualifying themselves for renewal of office; but if they accepted the Council proposed by the Government the members would be so long in office that it would become effete. He should support the Amendment.
§ MR. RICH
said, the question was how they could ensure steady progress in the government of India by providing a scheme for the periodical admission of new blood into the Council. A Council elected for ten years, and not re-eligible, would have all the elements of independence. Those persons who held office for a certain term of years generally showed more zeal and energy than those who held office for life. He believed, upon the whole, it would be found that the duties of the Council would be light. If the Council were appointed for life it would not be so independent as if appointed for a definite period. But it was said they would not be able to procure the services of such good men. Now, no one could deny that the gentlemen who had been nominated under the Act of 1853 were not eminently qualified for the duties they had to perform, and yet those gentlemen only had £500 a year, and held office for five years. It was proposed by the Government to nominate the Council for life, with salaries of £1,2000, with retiring pensions of from £500 to £800, and leave them a large patronage. The present inducements which they offered were quite sufficient, and why, therefore, should they run into this wasteful extravagance?
§ MR. LINDSAY
said, he would merely ask whether, if the Amendment or the Motion was carried, there ought not to be a proviso to prevent the Council claiming compensation?
§ Question put, "That the words 'good behaviour' stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided—Ayes 154; Noes 118: Majority 36.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he would suggest the propriety of omitting all the words in the clause after the words, "upon an address of both Houses of Parliament," on the ground that nothing ought to be inserted in the Bill that would imply a stigma or reflection upon the character of the Council. If any Member of the Council were guilty of criminal conduct the criminal law would be sufficient to deal with him; and with regard to "disgraceful conduct" he would not define the meaning of the phrase.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, that as the Committee had determined that the Members of the Council should hold office during "good behaviour," he wished to direct attention at the words which were adopted in the Act of 1853 with respect to the nominees of the Crown, who under 783 that Act held their offices for a much shorter period. This matter was then very carefully considered, and in Section 11 of that Act, regulating the tenure of the nominees of the Crown, these words were inserted, "that they should be removable by Her Majesty from inability or misbehaviour." He would suggest to the Government, therefore, whether they might not adopt the recommendation of his right hon. Friend (Sir G. C. Lewis), and use these words in the 11th section of the Act of 1853.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, if he remembered rightly, certain persons were, on the occasion referred to, appointed by the Crown, not to be servants of the Crown, but Directors of the East India Company. If special power had not then been reserved to Her Majesty the Crown could not have removed such parties under ordinary circumstances. The present case, however, was very different from that. Those Members of the Council were only to hold office upon the tenure of good behaviour and they were removable upon an Address to the Crown from either House of Parliament. He proposed to omit all the words after "Houses of Parliament," believing them to be wholly unnecessary.
§ Amendment proposed in line 12 to leave out from the words Houses of "Parliament to the end of the clause."
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he must express his opinion that some other words ought to be adopted, so as to give power for the removal of Members of the Council who were ineligible for their office by misconduct or otherwise.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that the case referred to by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle was not parallel with the present. In the former case the Directors were not removable by the Crown nor by an Address of either House. They held their offices independently as Directors. The present case resembled rather that of the Judges, and consequently, if any Member of the Council misbehaved in his office, it was competent for any Member of that House to come down and move an Address for his removal. The same rule would also apply to cases of inability.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
wished to know how the noble Lord intended to treat the case of a Member becoming bankrupt or insolvent.
§ MR. WARREN
said, that the County 784 Court Judges were removable on the ground of inability or misbehaviour.
in reply to the hon. Baronet (Sir H. Willoughby) said, if any Member was guilty of any conduct disgraceful or discreditable, the Bill gave power for the removal of such party by means of an Address from either House of Parliament. As to any removal on the ground of inability, there would be a great difficulty in putting such machinery in force, as there was an indisposition to take harsh proceedings under such circumstances. He apprehended that in the case of ineligibility the removal of a person might be effected by negotiation.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he apprehended that some individuals occupying the position of Judges might be induced to remain for a much longer time than they ought, if they were not induced to retire from an apprehension of an Address being moved in Parliament for their removal. He apprehended in the present case that the same feeling would exist among the Members of the Council.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, there was nothing so difficult to punish as incapacity. By making an attempt to define incapacity, they would be raising an obstacle to the independence of the Members, which it was the object of the clause to secure. He therefore hoped that the Committee, on consideration, would not sanction the view which the right hon. Baronet, who had offered so many suggestions worthy of their attention, had taken in respect to this matter.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause as amended agreed to.
§ Clause 12 (Members of the Council not to sit in Parliament.)
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, it was desirable that the members of Council should not be engaged in trade. He had understood that this was the opinion of the Government; if so, a provision to that effect should be introduced into the clause.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, if a member was appointed on the understanding that he should give the whole of his time to his duty, and if he did not do so, it would be a breach of the understanding, and would come under the definition of misbehaviour.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, that notwithstanding what had been said, he must still urge that the words "or concerned in any trade or traffic whatever" should be introduced into the clause. It was well known 785 that a late President of the Board of Control had been engaged as a sleeping partner in a large commercial concern; and he wished to prevent anything of this kind occurring with the new Council.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he had a prior Amendment to make, which was in line 22, to leave out the word "no," and to add the letters after the word member. He thought that the members of Council ought to be allowed to sit in Parliament. The presence of the Directors of the East India Company had been found most valuable in times past, and surely in future it was to be expected that the presence of the members of Council would be eminently conducive to the success of their deliberations, especially on matters connected with Indian finance. They had laboured for months to establish the independence of the Council, and he asked them to give to that independence one more bulwark, by allowing to the members the liberty of a free statement of their opinions in Parliament. He might add that in the course of nearly three-quarters of a century there had been only one instance of a conflict of opinion between a member of the Court of Directors in Parliament and a President of the Board of Control.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 4, line 22, to leave out the word "No."
§ MR. ELLIOT
said, that they wanted information as to what had been going on for years back in India, and they could not get it from any quarter so well as from the members of Council who were employed daily in transacting business connected with the subject. Great benefit would result to the House from the presence of some of the members of the Council, and he hoped they would not be shut out as was proposed in the clause.
§ MR. GROGAN
said, he thought that the proposition made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Liddell) was well worthy of consideration. Now that the House was about to assume to itself so large a share in the management of Indian affairs, the knowledge and experience of those gentlemen who were to be members of the Council would be very valuable to the Legislature. No doubt the same arguments as those Gentlemen would use on any particular question could be conveyed by them second hand, if the clause passed in its present shape, but not at all with the same force or the same amount of responsibility as if they themselves had seats.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, 786 he also thought that the matter was well deserving of the serious attention of the Committee. For his own part he thought that it would prove advantageous to have in that House—and the benefit would also be experienced in Committees up-stairs—Gentlemen practically acquainted with Indian affairs. It would also add weight to the newly constituted body, and give them strength, in which he was sure they were likely to prove very defective.
§ MR. CLAY
said, he was far from undervaluing the advantages that might result from the presence in that House of gentlemen thoroughly conversant with Indian affairs; but at the same time, from the number of gentlemen of position who were continually returning from India and obtaining seats in Parliament, he believed the House would never be without hon. Members capable of giving them advice on Indian questions. There were classes of people whom that House always had excluded, and always would exclude from sitting among them; and there could be no class more justly excluded than the members of the new Council. He did not in the abstract defend the principle of exclusion, but he thought that to admit members of the Council into that House would have the effect of renewing those discussions which had taken place elsewhere, and that the House would, in point of fact, be called upon to review the proceedings of a deliberative body. He would therefore oppose the Amendment.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, it was difficult, perhaps, to support a proposition that had been condemned by two Governments, but nevertheless he thought it right that the Committee should have fully before it the whole question before they decided the matter. It had been said that generally speaking it was not desirable to restrain the choice of electors. Without a strong necessity they would not say, "Here is a man you desire to elect, but there is a law which restrains you from so doing." There had, however, been an inclination to press the principle of exclusion too far, for some years ago there was a proposition before the House which would have deprived them of the advantage of the experience and knowledge of a man like Sir W. Grant. A similar thing was now urged against these Indian Councillors; for it was said, "If you accept of office, you shall be excluded from Parliament," and that would probably deprive the House of the greatest experience they 787 could acquire in Indian affairs. The hon. Gentleman who had last spoken appeared to be afraid that if the members of the Council were admitted to that House there would be a renewal of discussions which had taken place elsewhere, and that it would be better that the conduct of Indian affairs in that House should rest in the hands of the President and Vice President of the Council. Now, he had heard a story in which it was related of a Welsh magistrate, that after listening to the statement of counsel on one side he stopped the statement of the opposing advocate, telling him that he had made up his mind upon hearing one side, and if he heard the other it would only confuse him; and the hon. Gentleman appeared to think that that House would be in the same position if they heard both sides of the case upon Indian affairs. Even if the Minister for India should find a member of his Council taking a different view from him in that House on an Indian question, no doubt that Minister would be able to maintain his own opinions, and to enforce them with his eloquence and the weight due to his authority. But, appealing from mere hypothesis to actual experience, it was found that the members of the Court of Directors who had seats in that House generally lent their influence in favour of the Government. It tended to temper the heat of discussion in that House, that in the chances and changes of parties any man might in his turn be called upon to assume official responsibility. But under this Bill the most violent Indian agitator who might sit in that House would know that, by virtue of his seat there, he was excluded from the Council, and would thus have no motive for moderating the force of his invectives. No doubt, in questions of this kind they had to balance the probable advantages of any particular course against its disadvantages; but it seemed to him that, though the presence of a particular member of the Council in that House might be inconvenient to the Government, the public benefit that would accrue from certain members having seats in Parliament would more than counterbalance any such inconvenience. An eminent Indian statesman, on returning to this country, might have a preference for a seat in that House, and at the same time be willing, if allowed to do so, to promote the welfare of a distant country, to which he was heart and soul attached, by acting as a member of this Council. His exclusion would be 788 most inexpedient, and abhorrent to the general spirit of our law.
said, he quite agreed with the noble Lord that in this case they had to balance opposite benefits and opposite inconveniences; but he could not admit that the preponderance of advantage was in favour of members of the Council sitting in that House. He was, however, quite ready to allow that there was much to be said in favour of that proposition. But when the noble Lord told him that it was not desirable to restrict the choice of the electors, he (Lord Stanley) would remind the noble Lord that already many classes—classes of high consideration too—were excluded from that House, for no other reason than the supposition that the duties which they performed out of the House were incompatible with the duties which they would be called upon to perform in it. The Judges and the permanent officials of the various public departments were now excluded from that House; so was the whole clerical profession; and therefore the extension of this exclusion to the fifteen members of this Council involved no new principle, and no considerable extension of the one existing. As a matter of personal inconvenience, there was no class on which it would press less harshly than on men who had passed their lives in India, and were bound by no political tie to any constituency. The object of the House in framing such a Council as that which had been agreed on was, that gentlemen who had resided in India, and who might therefore be considered most competent to deal with Indian affairs, should sit on the Council; but if they were admitted to that House, was there no fear of the patronage put into the hands of the Government being abused for political purposes? Might not the fittest candidate be rejected in favour of an inferior man on an understanding that he should obtain a seat in that House, and give his support to the Government, though such understanding might never come before Parliament or the public? He did not affirm that any Government would take such a course as that, but they ought to keep the Indian Council not only free from a transaction of that nature, but free from even a suspicion of the kind. Again, what was to be the relative position of the Council with the Minister with which it was to deal? With seats in that House, the Councillors of the Indian Minister would be his critics rather than his colleagues. Association 789 with the Minister in office and criticism of his conduct in Parliament were functions necessarily incompatible. The Minister might consult with great advantage a member of his Council whose views were opposed to his own; but if the former knew that whatever passed between them in confidence was likely to be afterwards used in that House, and for his disadvantage, the mutual confidence which might otherwise be perfectly reconcilable with differences of opinion would be wholly destroyed. He did not imply by this argument that the supposed member of the Council would make an improper use of his information. If a man were to argue at all he must make use of all the information he possessed, no matter in what manner he might have acquired it. The result would be, that a member of Council having a seat in Parliament, knowing that he was about to differ with the Minister upon an important question, would decline to argue it at the Council table, but would say when the matter came before Parliament he should there oppose the views of the Minister. There would be a risk of the duties of one character or the other, as members of Council or Members of Parliament, being performed in an unsatisfactory manner. He admitted that those who had acted in a somewhat analogous character, as Directors of the East India Company, had generally maintained very fair relations with the Minister with whom they acted, but those relations had arisen from accident; but, in creating a new Council, he did not think it was advisable that the system should be continued.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE,
said he thought that this was one of the most important clauses in the Bill, and that it would be a great misfortune if the very limited Indian information which the House possessed should be still further contracted by the disqualification of members of the Council. There had always hitherto been a standing Council for India, in the shape of Directors who were Members of the House. He had never known a case in which a Director had been guilty of an indiscretion in the discharge of his Parliamentary duties. He should therefore support the Amendment.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, although something might be said in favour of this Amendment, the preponderance of the argument was against it, for what the House required in the Council was indepen, 790 dence and non-obstruction. But the Members, if introduced into Parliament, would either be dependent on the Minister or obstructives. Surely it was a small amount of independence they were looking for, if they were to be satisfied with a gentleman who committed no indiscretion in debate. He was sure the result of such an experiment would be an unseemly and inconvenient opposition to the President of the Board of Control by members of his own council in that House. And as for Indian information in that House, there would be no want of gentlemen returning from that country who would be found in Parliament. The adoption of the Amendment would be to make the House and subserviency to the Minister the high road to the Council on the part of members of the House.
§ MR. PULLER
said, he had heard nothing on the opposite side which at all weighed with him against the arguments of the noble Lord the Member for London.
said, he could not see why if Members of the House of Lords were eligible, Members of this House should be disqualified.
§ Question put, "That the word 'No' stand part of the clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 245; Noes 121: Majority 124.
§ On the Question that Clause 12 stand part of the Bill,
said he wished to suggest that the wording of the clause should be so altered as to admit of persons who received peerages for services in India serving on the Council.
said, there was no necessity for the provision alluded to, as it was very unlikely that persons who had obtained peerages for services in India would seek seats in the Council.
§ Loan JOAN RUSSELL
said, that an instance in support of the proposition might be found in Lord Elphinstone, who would on his return from India be a valuable member of Council if not legally excluded.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again To-morrow at twelve o'clock,