HC Deb 27 July 1858 vol 151 cc2171-89

Order for consideration of Lords' Amendments read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the said Amendments be now taken into consideration."


Sir, to put myself in order with respect to the observations which I shall address to the House upon the Lords' Amendments to the India Bill, I shall conclude with a Motion "That the Amendments be read this day three months." Sir, the acceptance of those Amendments would put the seal to the final extinction of that glorious Corporation, which ought to have secured the lasting gratitude of our country, by having added an empire to the Crown of England which would have excited the envy of Alexander the Great and Augustus Cæsar—and that, too, without the cost of a shilling to the Home Exchequer!—a Corporation, Sir, the narrative of the exploits of whose armies will constitute some of the brightest pages in our annals, and the names of whose servants, military and civil, will rank amongst the most illustrious of those of which our country is proud. Sir, the progress of the debates upon the several India Bills has only tended, to strengthen and confirm the opinion I expressed to the House on the proposed introduction of the first India Bill by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, of the impolicy of any change in the Government of India until the existing lamentable mutiny and rebellion had been entirely crushed, and the country restored to complete tranquillity. Sir, this opinion was plainly in unison with that of Her Majesty's present Ministers and their supporters, as was evidenced by their having gone to a division, when in Opposition, upon the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. Sir, Her Majesty's Government are now promoters of a measure which, in its introduction, they vigorously opposed; but I do not attach blame to them for so doing, considering that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton's Bill has been continually suspended over them like the sword of Damocles; they had no alternative but to produce their own measure, backed as the noble Lord's Bill had been by a large majority in a division—a majority produced, however, by some mendacious newspapers, which had misled Parliament into a belief that the popular voice was in favour of immediate legislation for India. Now, Sir, the British public are not slow to make their wishes known, nor to enforce those wishes by public demonstrations, and more particularly so, by addressing petitions to Parliament. The House must learn, therefore, with some surprise, that up to this day 481 petitions have been addressed to the House of Commons upon matters re- lating to India during the present Session; and out of that number, approaching to 500, only four petitions have asked that the Government of India should be transferred from the East India Company to the Crown! It was utterly untrue, therefore, as had been repeatedly asserted, that the popular feeling had been expressed in favour of either the India Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton or that of Her Majesty's present Government; and Liberal Members who support the Bill must bear in mind that they are not only destitute of popular support, but they are violating popular feeling, in crushing the old Saxon principle of representation, which is an essential element in the constitution of the East India Company. Moreover, those hon. Members who clamour for the ballot are, nevertheless, extinguishing the ballot, to which every member of the East India Company has a right in voting, whether in his capacity of an elector or while sitting at a Court of Directors. In closing, also, the Quarterly and Special Courts of Proprietors of the East India Company, the Princes and Natives of India who have hitherto made their wrongs, or supposed wrongs, known to the public through the medium of those Courts, will be driven to appeal to Parliament, to find their complaints neglected, from the constant pressure of public business, or only to be taken up for party purposes. Sir, the withdrawal of confidence from the East India Company, and the consequent introduction of the India Bills, is attributed by a party to a system of mismanagement which has resulted. in the mutiny of the Bengal army; but for that atrocious outbreak the East India Company are no more responsible than they are for the rising at the "Sicilian Vespers," or the massacre on the eve of St. Bartholomew at Paris, under Charles IX. To the Court of Directors and the Governments in India the mutiny was an overwhelming surprise. It commenced in local circumstances, and its immediate cause was the refusal of some soldiers to obey orders which they considered as opposed to their religious convictions; and they preferred death to dishonour, and, unhappily, their spirit and example spread to the Bengal army at large. There is no justification, therefore, for fixing upon the Home Government the responsibility for the mutiny, and crushing the Company for events over which they had no control. Sir, if rumour be believed, there would not have been an India Bill at all, had the universally-expected Reform Bill been prepared, or even intended to be produced, and the occurrence of the mutiny in India permitted of public attention being diverted from a subject of intense interest at home to one of intense interest abroad. But, Sir, no circumstances justify the present measure; for in no point whatever has the East India Company failed in the efficient execution of their great duties. Although taken by surprise, no operation has failed in India, nor has any failed in the hands of the Home Government. Before reinforcements arrived in India, Delhi was stormed and won by a comparative handful of men; and since then the Court of Directors have transmitted from England reinforcements to the extent of 58,399 men, in fifty-five steamers and one hundred sailing vessels, without accident or loss, and with the greatest expedition; manifesting that the efficiency of the Company has continued to the last. Sir, I, who have passed the best years of my life in the military service of the East India Company, should despise myself did I not at the last moment of the existence of that body bear testimony to the uniform liberality and justice with which their servants have always been treated by the Court of Directors; and my position as a member of the Executive Home Government of India for the last eighteen years, enables me further to bear witness to the paternal, just, and forbearing views of the Court of Directors. That body has always been animated by a desire, as their despatches show, to discourage wars—their policy has been one of abstinence from aggression, and it ever has inculcated the maintenance of the rights of the people of India. Wars and annexations have been caused, not by the East India Company, but by successive Governor Generals, whose powers of self-action have always been too great and unchecked, and who, supported by the Board of Control, whose nominees they were, left the Court of Directors the only alternative of acquiescence or fruitless remonstrance, an acquiescence, however, which has exposed the Court during the debates upon the India Bill to the invectives of the hon. Members for Radnor (Mr. Cornwall Lewis), Birmingham (Mr. Bright), Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), and to undeserved odium in England, and particularly on the Continent. Sir, what is the present state of India? There are no armies of rebels in the field to contend with, no fortresses to be besieged and taken; nevertheless, resistance springs up on all sides. In our conflicts we have crushed our opponents; but the results are like the attempt to place the finger upon a globule of quicksilver; we think we have it under the finger, but it is only to find it in numerous globules all around: and such is the present state of our warfare. And why is this? Because that which was a mere military mutiny is converted into an infinitely more formidable danger, by the recent universal distrust of the people of our intentions in the change of Government with respect to religious questions; and by the animosity engendered by the manifestations of our vengeance. We have, therefore, now more dangerous enemies to deal with than the mutineers, namely, a distrustful and exasperated people. Nor are the grounds wanting for distrust. 481 petitions have been presented to this House upon matters relating to India. 126 of those pray for the removal of the system of caste in India; eighty-nine are against idolatry; and 145 are for the extension of Christianity; so that 360 petitions pray for some action of the House of Commons or of the new Government of India touching religion. Now, the notices of these petitions, the phraseology of which admits of but one construction by the people of India, however harmless may be the views of the petitioners, find their way into the hundreds of Native newspapers, and touch the deepest feelings of the people of India, whether Hindoos or Mahomedans, and excite their alarm. This alarm has been increased by the numerous proclamations of the disaffected, who have asserted that the British Government propose to make the people of India Christians by force. Incendiaries, too, are fanning the flame of distrust in districts where there has hitherto been little disquiet. We read in the Calcutta Englishman, received by the last mail, an article headed "Eastern Bengal:— There can be no doubt that rebel emissaries are scouring all the districts of Bengal, north and south of the Ganges, which have hitherto remained quiet, and with these scoundrels have originated the different reports, calculated to discontent the Natives, which have been in circulation for some time past. The Natives generally have all been told that Government intend taking away their caste; some probably believe it; nearly all fear it. A few days since, in the Furreedpore district, a Mussulman Fakeer was overheard to say that he had been through Burdwan and Rungpore; and when at Burdwan, he met another Fakeer, who, accompanied by many people, came from upcountry, and remained about fifteen days consulting his book, with a view to discover when and where it would be advisable to fight for the faith. In the Jessore district, very lately, a gentleman's servant told the children that they would soon all be killed. Another cause for distrust is the remarkable fact, that in all the discussions which have taken place in Parliament respecting the transfer of the Government of India from the India Company to the Crown, the feelings, wishes, and rights of the twenty nations who were to be transferred from one authority to another, have not only not been paramountly considered, but have not been discussed at all. The people, therefore, may well think that they are out of sight; and that a scramble for patronage between conflicting political parties is a more important matter than their interests. The people also see that in the present India Bill there is an omission of that clause or those clauses which characterized all former India Bills—namely, legislative protection for their rights, usages, and religion; an omission which they may construe as significant of the future. One of the chief features of the hon. Mountstewart Elphinstone's proclamation on assuming the sovereignty of the Deccan, was the guarantee to the people of their rights, usages, and religion, as far as was reasonable and just. But another great cause of the present distrust of the people is the European cry for indiscriminating vengeance. The able correspondent of The Times, in his last letter, says, the cry is "Kill, kill, kill! blood, blood, blood!" and I read in last Saturday Review the following passage, which chills one's blood with horror: A Baptist up-country newspaper elaborately demonstrates the lawfulness of taking away life, and adds, the reason why we have attempted to show that the shedding of blood is in itself no sin, except where it is expressly forbidden is, that a contrary opinion leads to that wishy-washy policy which produced the Rohilcund proclamation. Does Lord Canning ever reflect that by his tenderness to murderers he is actually disobeying the commands of God? Whoso sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed,' is as much a precept of God as 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.' Again, the up-country editors argues— That 1,000 Hindoos ought to be put to death for every Englishwoman killed. Are the lives, he asks, of 1,000 of those beings, whose life is mere sense, to be compared with the agonies of mind of a delicately nurtured and educated woman condemned to such a fate? Are not such statements, Sir, sufficient to produce permanent and ineradicable feelings of animosity and dread in the minds of the people? and would ten times the amount of the European troops England could possibly supply be sufficient to keep in subjection peoples justly exasperated against us? No, Sir, a very different policy must be pursued. Let missionaries pursue their praiseworthy objects unostentatiously. There are now 460 of them, of various denominations, labouring in various parts of the country to which they have unrestricted access; but let them be kept free from Government patronage or association; for working with the suspicion in the Native mind of official prestige, they would prove the greatest enemies to the holy cause they are advocating. Let Native education be vigorously pursued and extended, and the edifice of superstition, which now obstructs progress, will be silently and unsuspectingly undermined and fall, without damage to our Government; let all religions be tolerated and, their ceremonies uninterfered with, where they do not offend public decency and propriety; let the chiefs and gentry of India be maintained in their estates and immemorial rights—for there can be no safety to a Government where the most important links of the social chain are wanting; let the usages, feelings, and prejudices even of the Natives be respected as far as may be reasonable and just; and then, with the introduction of the Queen's name and authority let there be a discriminating amnesty for the past; and, under Providence, the disposer of kingdoms and empires, we may hope that there will be a restoration of that mutual confidence and goodwill between the rulers and the ruled, which has charactized the prosperous government of the East India Company for the last hundred years, and without which confidence and goodwill there can be no peace in India, and no safety for our dominion there. Sir, I move that the Lords' Amendments to the Government of India Bill be taken into consideration this day three months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day month."

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said, he was satisfied that anything he could now say against the principle of the Bill would not have the smallest effect, but as it was probably the last opportunity he should have of addressing the House he was anxious to vindicate the character of that Government with which he had been so long connected, first as a servant, and afterwards as a master. He was especially anxious to vindicate the character of that noble service of which he had been a member—the Civil Service; for it had been spoken of in that House with a disrespect which men of high honour acutely felt—and he could not but regret that those hon. Members who had brought the charges were not present to hear his reply. The finances of India had been referred to as not being in a sound state, and the amount of the debt, approaching to £60,000,000, had been instanced as a proof; but it was hardly fair for Englishmen, with a debt of about £800,000,000, to taunt the East India Company on that point. Then it bad been said that there was a chronic deficiency in the Indian finances. The Company, however, had been urged for years to expend large sums in improvements, and having clone so, they ought not, in justice, to have this imputation of a chronic deficiency thrown out against them. During the last four years, eliding in 1856–7, if no public works had been undertaken in India, there would have been, instead of a deficiency, an aggregate surplus of more than £1,000,000, and in 1856–7, the deficiency, after paying £1,500,000 for public works, was only £240,000. Many of the works so undertaken would add greatly to the wealth and prosperity of the country. The landed revenue had been characterized as an oppressive system of taxation; but he maintained that, with partial exceptions, the landed revenue could be proved to be a moderate tax. Excessive landed assessment in India was the exception, and not the rule. The assessments in Bombay and Madras had been revised and lowered, while in the Presidency of Bengal and the North West Provinces there was no case in which the landowner did not derive from his land double the amount of the assessment which he paid to the Government, or, in other words, that the man who paid 500 rupees to the Government received 1,000 from the land. The late disturbances in India had been assumed as a proof of the unpopularity of the Company's rule, but the rising in India was a military mutiny, and not an insurrection of the people, though the worst portion of the population of some large towns might participate in it from love of plunder. Where there were no Sepoys there was no insurrection, and except in Oude the whole of the Hindoo population not connected with the military service was in favour of British rule. A very large portion of the more respectable Mahomedans also had, during the insurrection, shown themselves well disposed, and in more than one instance had rendered very important services to the Government. It had been said that the people had been driven by the exactions of the Company to general rebellion, but, had that been the case, we could not have held our position there for an hour. Turning to the civil service, he must express his regret that that service should have been spoken of so unjustly in that House. That service was most efficient, and all connected with it were most devoted to their duties. The existing system in that service was to begin from the bottom—that was, that the officer should begin at the lowest position and rise according to merit. That system had been the salvation of India, and he trusted it would be continued. It had been alleged that large salaries were thrown broadcast over India for the civil servants, and that they were paid on the same scale as Cabinet Ministers at home. Now there were only two high officers in India—the Governor General and the Commander in Chief excepted—who received salaries equal to those paid to the Cabinet Ministers in this country. These two were Sir J. Lawrence and the Resident of Hyderabad, and the latter was not a civil but a military officer. But when they spoke of the high salaries received by the civil service of India they must take into account the nature of the service and of the climate in which it was to be performed. They had to give higher pay to the troops while serving in India, the men engaged on the railways received double what they did here, and it was the same in all departments. They could not expect men to be content with the same salaries in India as in this country. The mutiny admittedly came upon us by surprise, and yet the right men were everywhere in the right places. There was Sir John Lawrence in the Punjab, Sir Henry Lawrence at Lucknow, Colonel Edwardes at Peshawur, Colonel Treen at Scinde. Were not all these men in the right places? It was marvellous what these, Major Chamberlayne, and others, had achieved, considering the nature of the difficulties with which they had been surrounded. The highest praise was due to our troops, who had with such valour and determination vanquished immense numbers of rebels in the field. But ought not equal credit to be given to these men, who, against fearful odds, had succeeded in conquering our enemies in remote stations before our army arrived? Indeed there was not a single instance of failure on the part of any one of the Company's servants, civil or military, throughout the whole of these trying events. Another question was whether the East India Company had done their duty in regard to the religious question. In his opinion it was not the duty of a Government to take a missionary part. Nothing could be more dangerous in a country like India for it to be supposed that the Government itself undertook the task of proselytising. Their duty was to hold the scales even, to protect the Christian against the Mussulman and the Hindoo, to place all religions on a footing of equality, and to support them in that position—leaving Christianity to make its way by the labours of the missionaries, aided by the support of charitable persons, and by its own inherent merits. In India the Natives had a great respect for the missionaries; and as a general rule, he thought there was no danger whatever of religious disturbances so long as it was believed that those who were engaged in disseminating the principles of Christianity were doing so independently of the Government. Stories had been raked up of what occurred when he was in the nursery to show that the Directors were hostile to Christianity; but at all events in recent times, the Government of India never mixed themselves up with, or supported Hindoo worship. All they had done was to maintain religious toleration. He might refer to the authority of Sir J. Elphinstone and Sir J. Lawrence in proof of that statement. Circumstances might occur which would render that the last time he should have the honour of addressing the House; and he thanked hon. Members for the attention with which they had heard him on the present occasion. He earnestly trusted that the new Government for India would prove even more beneficial for that country than the one now about to tease; but he thought that the step taken by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was an unwise concession to a popular outcry. The noble Lord fancied, no doubt, that he would long have the popularis aura swelling his sails, but he must by this time have found how mistaken he was. And he believed that if all that had passed could be sunk in the waters of Lethe, not a majority, not even a minority, would desire to interfere with the government as it had been for 150 years so successfully carried on. They had found how much easier it was to pull down than to build up. He expressed his conviction that there was a great future in store for India, but that could only be secured by the new Government of that country following as closely as possible in the footsteps of the old.


said, that unwilling as he was to interfere at a moment when the House was evidently bent upon discussing the details of the Bill before it, yet as this was the last opportunity he should have for waking any general observations on it, he wished to do so. He thought he had earned a right to be heard, for a few moments, by having been present at and listened attentively to every discussion on this and the other Bill, and voted in every division. He was equally responsible therefore with every other Member of the House for the proper character and future well-working of the Bill. It was one of unspeakable importance, involving as it did the construction of a system of Government for so vast a section of the human family. The welfare of India, ever since this country had undertaken to be responsible for it, ought to have been cared for in moments of the calmest and profoundest consideration it could bring to bear on such a subject. Yet, how stood the fact? A sort of fatality had seemed to attach to our Indian legislation, as far as related to the times when it took place. Let the House glance back at five periods of it, beginning with the year 1784 and ending with the present year. In the first-mentioned year the existing system was established amidst, so to speak, the red-hot heat of faction, the remarkable contests between Pitt and Fox and their respective partisans. Let any one refer to the debates of that day, and he would be greatly struck by the character of them. The next period, was the year 1813, when after a thirty years' interval, the system was again under the consideration of Parliament, which gave it a twenty years' longer lease of existence; and we were then in the convulsive excitement and agonies of the war then raging in Europe. The third period of interference was in the year 1833, when this country was still agitated with the great revolution effected in the Parliamentary constitution of the mother country the year before. The fourth period was in 1853, happily a fitting one of peace and quiet; but the fifth and last was in 1857–8—in the very midst of that fearful outbreak and hurricane of rebellion and insurrection still raging around us; for the vast intended change in our system of Indian Government, on which we were at that moment engaged was absolutely announced to the country in a leading article of The Times of the 27th of November last, and he (Mr. Warren) well recollected the astonishment with which the announcement was received. Having anxiously watched the course of discussion in that House, from the period when the noble Viscount oppoposite, then at the head of the Government, introduced his Bill, he (Mr. Warren) begged to say that he had heard speeches delivered by some distinguished Members of that House which he should not be afraid to place by the side of some of the greatest efforts of modern Parliamentary times; there was, however, one Member to whom the House and the country were under incalculable obligations for having interposed at a critical moment to withdraw the discussion of this momentous question from the disturbing forces and blinding mists of party and faction, and bringing to bear upon it the whole combined intellect, sagacity, and experience of Parliament—he meant the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. From the moment that most important and timely suggestion was adopted by this House, the course of Indian legislation appeared to him (Mr. Warren) to run comparatively smoothly and satisfactorily. And there was another hon. Member of that House entitled also to the lasting gratitude of the House and the country—he meant the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control (Lord Stanley). Between the noble Lord and him (Mr. Warren) there at present existed grave differences of opinion on certain political and social questions of the highest importance, but that should not for one moment prevent him from bearing willing testimony to the unvarying firmness of purpose, the unruffled temper, the clear-sightedness, tact, and courtesy, and the fertility of resources, with which he had conducted thus far the Bill before the House. He (Mr. Warren) most ardently hoped for a prosperous issue of their present legislation; that the system they were constructing would work long and well, and might be administered by wise and experienced men, so as to promote the welfare not of this country only, but of the vast multitude of those whom it would soon bring under the direct government of the Queen. The responsibilities attending the assumption of that government were already felt and seen to be growing greater and greater the more closely the future was scanned; and the noble Lord and the Government might depend on every movement of theirs being watched by the country at large with unsleeping vigour—he might say a stern solicitude—in which he (Mr. Warren) himself so largely shared, that he could not resist rising to utter what he had now taken the liberty of submitting to the House, and he begged pardon for having occupied even so much of the time and attention of the House at that stage of the Bill.


said, that being desirous that they should proceed to the consideration of the Amendments as soon as possible, he would postpone the questions of which he had given notice till Friday next, on which day he understood from the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control he would be prepared to make a statement. These questions were:—"Whether the 17,000 men sent to India since January last included any troops requested to be added to the establishment in India by the Directors of the East India Company? Whether he will state the terms and objects of the Commission to inquire into the reorganization of the Indian army? What is the amount borrowed under the Indian Loan Act of this Session, and whether the amount allowed to be borrowed under the act will cover the expenses of the current year, or if Bills are now drawn upon India in the usual method? And whether any instructions have been sent, or will be sent, to proclaim Her Majesty's name and authority in India, and to announce the intentions of the Government as to non-interference with the religion of the Natives?" If this was to be the last time they were to hear the voice of the hon. Member for Guildford in that House, though he was sure there could not be a more efficient member for the new Council, yet he should be sorry to lose him from the House. But with regard to his statement that blame had been cast upon the civil servants of India, and that the late Government had brought forward the Bill with the sole motive of obtaining popularity, he was bound to say that great praise had been given to the civil servants of the East India Company, and that the late Government had not not been influenced in any way by a desire to court popularity when they brought forward the first India Bill.


suggested that it was not desirable to prolong a debate on the general government of India, and that it would be desirable to proceed with the Lords' Amendments. He had the speech of the hon. gentleman the Member for Guildford with much pleasure, and he regretted that his acceptance of a seat at the Indian Council would deprive him of his seat in the House. They bad often received from him valuable information on Indian questions, and it was in that respect he (Lord J. Russell) continued to think the Bill was defective.


considered the choice of the present moment for this change to be well described by a popular writer as "a crowning madness," to be paralleled only by that of the ship-captain who should choose the moment of a gale of wind at sea for shifting his lower masts; and he hoped the mover would go to a division, that he and those who held the same opinion might have an opportunity to record it. He believed that if there was any chance of preserving India, what would have more effect than 20,000 men, would be to bring a Mohammedan Indian to the table of the House, as was done yesterday with a Hebrew. This would be something like a guarantee to the 180,000,000 of British subjects an hon. Member (Mr. Fox) had named on a late occasion. He had himself talked theology with a sovereign Prince, and at Jidda with the Legate of the Sherif, and knew of personal knowledge that the well-informed Mohammedans were more tolerant than most Christians. In the Crimean war, when there was an interest in conciliating the Mohammedans, a Bishop had declared that Mohammedanism was an offset of Christianity, or words to that effect; and it was indeed true, if stripped of the prejudices of ignorance, that the difference was not greater than between the Established Church and the Unitarians, or perhaps the Catholics. Among other offers of service himself bad made at that time, one, as known to officers present, was to go to the Sherif of Mecca, the Mohammedan Pontiff, and negotiate for what might be called a Concordat to authorize the enlistment of Mohammedans under British officers in Turkey; and he was persuaded it might have been done. The cry of Mohammedan intolerance was an invention of the enemy; the vulgar were everywhere intolerant. For his part he would with great pleasure accompany a Mohammedan friend to that table if he would take the oath "on the true faith of a Christian;" which he knew no reason why he should not.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Several Amendments agreed to.

Amendment page 9, at the end of Clause 27, read a second time.


said, he wished to propose an alteration in the words introduced by the Lords into Clause 27. The clause provided that orders, which were now sent to India through the Secret Committee, might in future be sent by the Secretary of State, without communication with his Council; and the words inserted by the Lords were,— But no such order shall be sent without being previously communicated to the Vice President and one other member, to be from time to time selected by the Secretary of State' Now, he doubted whether this Amendment would provide the security wished for, and he would therefore propose to strike out the words "the Vice President and one other member," and substitute "a committee consisting of the Vice President and four other members," adding the following words to the end of the sentence," and the opinion of the committee in respect of such order shall be recorded in writing."

Amendment proposed, to insert after the words "communicated to," the words "a Committee consisting of Four."


said, he must oppose the alteration proposed by the noble Lord, which would have the effect of dividing the responsibility of the Minister, besides imposing upon him a very invidious duty of selection. He could not defend the Amendment of the Lords, for his own opinion was either that absolute secrecy should be secured to the Secretary of State, or that he should be allowed to communicate with the whole of his Council.


said, he objected to the Lords' Amendment, and would support his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) if he moved that the House do not agree to that Amendment. He had supported the principle that all secrecy should be at an end, and that all despatches should be communicated to the Council; but, failing in that, he could not support an Amendment which would confer secret powers upon five members of the Council, as he saw no alternative between an open Council and complete secrecy in the Secretary of State.


said, that the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet could not be carried out, unless the noble Lord the Member for the City consented to withdraw his Motion. He thought, for his own part, that the original b arrangement of the House of Commons was the best; and if the noble Lord withdrew his Amendment, he should not be prepared to press the adoption of the Lords' Amendment.


thought the Amendment of the noble Lord was an improvement on the Amendment of the Lords. It was better to have two, and still more to have five, members of the Council who should be responsible, than to leave the matter entirely in the hands of the Minister. There never was, however, a more preposterous humbug than this Secret Committee, and why it was to be continued he could not conceive.


said, the Secret Committee, if there was to be one, should be selected by the Council itself, and not by the Minister.


remarked, that the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord was an improvement upon that adopted by the other House, though the number of the committee was perhaps too large.


said, he must object to the Lords' Amendment. The Lords said that they would not trust the Secretary of State, and what did they do? They compelled the Secretary of State to consult two gentlemen nominated by himself. At the same time, he could not conceive any arrangement more embarrassing to the Secretary of State than the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for London. He was glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not support the Lords' Amendment, if that of the noble Member for London was withdrawn, for both Amendments would have the effect of re-establishing the Secret Committee—and a very bad Secret Committee—to record their protests against every act of the President of the Board of Control.


said, he would rather have the Secretary of State restrained by the words in the Bill than not restrained at all; but lie should desire that the members selected by the Indian Minister should have the power of recording their opinions.


said, he also thought that, if those persons were to have the power of recording their opinions, it would he a great improvement; but it would be a greater improvement to make the whole Council a Secret Council when necessary.


said, he could unde rstan the argument that there should be a responsible Minister, and that all should be left to him; but when they gave to that Minister a Council specially selected for their knowledge and information, he could not understand why they should not be consulted, the more particularly upon questions of peace or war, or questions involving important points of policy. On the other hand, there was a reason why they should adopt some such limitation as that proposed by the House of Lords. Up to a certain stage of the Bill in that House, it was understood that bankers and other persons in trade should not be appointed to the Council. However, since then, all that had been changed. Bankers and traders were now eligible to seats on the Council, and therefore he could not think it advisable that the whole Council should be included in the Secret Committee. If they had had a Secretary of State for India this spring, who was bound to communicate with a Council or a Committee of a Council, did anybody believe that the Ellenborough despatch would have gone out? If they were to have a Council, surely that Council ought to be consulted on those questions which, in their character and results, were of the greatest importance. Under these circumstances, he would support the Amendment of the noble Lord, which limited the number of the Secret Committee, though not to so great an extent as that of the House of Lords; but, in case his noble Friend's Amendment was not adopted, he would support that of the House of Lords, as better than no limitation or than undivided responsibility on the part of the Minister.


said, he confessed that he was surprised that his noble Friend the Member for the City of London, who had been so long connected with official life, and who knew so well what were the duties and responsibilities of those in high office, should have proposed such an Amendment. He apprehended that the foundation of the measure assented to by Parliament was, that the government of India should be transferred from the double organization of the East India Company and the Board of Control to the single responsibility of the Minister of the Crown. A great deal of the mistakes and confusion which had occurred on this part of the subject arose from the circumstance of hon. Gentlemen using the word Secretary of State instead of Ministry of the day; for although the power would be given nominally to the Secretary of State for India, the fullest responsibility would be shared by the whole Cabinet of which that Minister was a member. If he wanted an illustration of the correctness of this view, he might refer to a case which had lately taken place, in which a Minister of State, having acted without his colleagues, had resigned his seat in the Cabinet, and the Government to which he belonged had accepted that resignation in atonement for their colleague having violated what might be termed the strict line of official duty. The real object of the Lords' Amendment, and of that proposed by the noble Lord the Member for London, was that, instead of leaving the entire responsibility with the Secretary of State and with the Cabinet—and who alone were responsible for declaring peace or war—that responsibility should be shared with other persons who were not in the same position, who were not appointed by the Crown, and who were not responsible to, or dependent upon the support of Parliament, but held their offices for life, and were not even bound by an oath of secrecy like the Secret Committee. If this principle were once adopted, the same obligation might be imposed upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, or the First Lord of the Admiralty, upon whose acts might depend the question of peace or war. He (Viscount Palmerston) utterly denied the logical conclusion of the argument that if this Amendment were not carried the Secretary of State would be precluded from communicating with his colleagues at the Council in all the more important matters which would occupy his attention. There was nothing in the Bill to preclude the Cabinet from consulting any person in the Council or out of it from whom they might be able to derive information or advice. But what he objected to was, that it should be defined in the Bill that the Secretary of State for India should consult any particular individuals. Then it was said that those persons were to record their opinions; but suppose they did, and that the Cabinet declared war and the Secret Committee agreed with them, was it to be said that the Cabinet was to shelter itself under that sanction. Or, on the other hand, if the Secret Committee did not approve, was it to be said that a Government was to be impeached because the secret Committee had recorded an opinion against them? In his opinion, the House was bound, having decided upon abolishing the double Government, to do so unconditionally. Holding these views, he should vote against the Amendment.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

Motion made and Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 106: Majority 68.

Amendment to Clause 29, read a second time.


said, he could well understand the whole of the patronage of the Indian Government, after that Government was transferred to Her Majesty, being vested in Her Majesty. But the terms of the clause, as amended by the Lords, vested that patronage entirely in the hands of the Secretary of State for India in Council. Clause 23 would show what the power of the Secretary of State in Council was. The Secretary of State moved any matter before the Council; but the Council could not contradict him whatever might be their opinion; the decision in all cases remained with him. As the clause went up, the patronage was in the hands of the Secretary of State it was true, but with the concurrence of the majority of the Council. The words struck out were material. He was in favour of leaving the patronage in the hands of the Secretary of State, under the control of the majority of the Council, or in the Crown, upon the responsibility of the whole Cabinet. He considered that this patronage was far too large to entrust in the hands of any Minister, that Minister not being the chief of the Government, and as he thought the Lords' Amendment objectionable in a constitutional point of view, he should move that the House do reject the Amendment in this clause.


said, he concurred with the right hon. Baronet in thinking there was a constitutional anomaly in the clause as it then stood, and he should not consequently feel justified in asking the House to agree with the Amendment of the Lords.

Motion made, and Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and negatived.

Several other Amendments disagreed to.

Further consideration of Lords' Amendments adjourned till this day at six o'clock.