§ Order for Consideration of Lords' Reasons for insisting on certain of their Amendments read.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
intimated, that in consequence of the state of public business, he proposed to proceed with the Orders of the Day before moving that the House at its rising adjourn to Monday.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, that as the questions which he had given notice to put on the Motion for adjournment related to the public service in India, he should probably not be considered out of order in putting them now. Of course, it was not his intention at that period of the Session to raise a discussion on the affairs of India, though he certainly regretted that, notwithstanding the House had been occupied during a great part of the latter end of the Session with the discussion relating to the Government of India, there had, in fact, been no discussion on their present and future relations with that part of the empire. The first question be now wished to put was connected with the position of the army in India at the present moment. He wished to learn from the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control what was the amount of the force at present in India. When the late Government left office in the winter, it appeared from the best authorities, to which they had access, that it was necessary to have 80,000 European troops in India, and that was about the number calculated to be there at that time. It was then calculated that, owing to the insalubrity of the climate, accidents in warfare, disease, and deaths in action, reinforcements ought to be provided to the amount of 20,000 in the course of the year. The noble Lord had stated the other evening that since January last 17,000 men had been sent to India; but, as in the present state of the law no troops could be added to the establishment of India unless upon application of the East India Company, he wished to know whether the Directors of the Company had applied to the Government to add to the forces in India owing to advices they had received, and a desire on their part that the establishments should be increased, or whether those 17,000 only constituted the necessary amount to supply vacancies caused by disease and deaths in action. It was all important that they should be officially informed upon this point, seeing that at 2307 present they had no other information than was obtained from newspaper reports and private letters. He did not wish to be understood as making any complaint against the noble Lord on that account, for his experience during the past year convinced him of the difficulty of obtaining reliable information from India during the heat of action. Now, however, that the enemy had been in a great measure dispersed, we ought to have some information not only as to the amount of the European force, but something like an approximate calculation of the force of the rebels. They knew the number of regiments which had mutinied, and he believed that no additional levies had been added to the troops which had mutinied, and the Contingents of the Native States which had also mutinied. The last account from the seat of war, so far as he could judge, appeared to him very satisfactory, but he could not help observing, that although the British arms were everywhere victorious, though the mutinous soldiers were routed and dispersed, they were not destroyed. They heard of their rallying again and again, appearing suddenly before fortress after fortress in various parts of the country, and occupying them the moment our troops were withdrawn and engaged elsewhere. Everything indicated, indeed, not only present resistance, but a long, and, he feared, a protracted struggle. It was, therefore, of importance that Parliament should be informed what was the actual condition of our own army, and what was the extent of the reinforcements intended to be sent in order to bring this kind of warfare to an end, and restore the country to tranquillity. His next question related to a subject also of great importance—namely, the organization of the Military Commission which the noble Lord had issued. On a former occasion he stated that he found upon examination that the civil element which had been promised in the constitution of that Commission had been omitted. He considered that element of great importance, and much regretted its omission, though, no doubt, satisfactory reasons could be given for it. But what the public ought to know was, what would be the extent and power of that Commission. For his own part, he thought it would be better if the Commission were issued in India, because they would find there persons more competent to enter into such an inquiry than here. At the same time, he was quite alive to the difficulty of 2308 getting persons in India to serve on such a Commission under present circumstances. He was aware that the Governor General had issued circulars through Colonel Durrant to obtain information from persons perfectly competent to afford it, and that information, when obtained, would be extremely useful to those who were about to conduct the inquiry. Most of the gentlemen who were appointed on this Commission had been a long time absent from India, and though amongst them there were military officers of great distinction they were not precisely the fittest persons to examine into a subject so extensive and momentous as what should be the future organization of the Indian army. The Sepoy regiments had wholly broken down. Yet they heard of many persons sanguine enough to urge that in any new constitution of the Indian army the Sikh and the Goorkha elements should be largely introduced. With regard to the Goorkhas, the experience we had had of them did not warrant that recommendation; and with regard to the Sikhs, though no one could dispute their bravery, yet the bringing them into action side by side with our own troops, while it had taught them discipline and made them valuable allies, it had also made them dangerous as enemies. Under all circumstances he doubted much whether it would be advisable to trust the Sikhs, lest they should follow the example of the Sepoys. This was an important question. Hitherto the great glory of the Indian empire was, that we had been able to hold and defend the nation we had conquered by the troops we had overcome. That would be a difficult task in future, and therefore he said that the organization of the Indian army was one of the most important subjects that could be deliberated upon. If the Commission should be set to work at present merely to examine all the details and to gather information, it might be useful; but if it was a Commission issued for the Government to rely and fall back upon hereafter, then he said that such a course would be unworthy of a British Minister, and one which he hoped the noble Lord would not pursue. They had plenty of information and many and valuable papers on the subject from Sir J. Lawrence, Colonel Jacob, Sir C. Napier, and others, upon which the Government might establish some scheme of organization, without relying upon the Commission. He should be glad, therefore, to know what was to be the extent of the powers of this Com- 2309 mission. The third question related to another important subject. The House was aware that at the commencement of this Session an Act was passed enabling the East India Company to borrow £8,000,000 between the time at which the measure became law and the month of April, 1859, and it was provided by that Act that the Company should, early next Session, present to Parliament a statement of their affairs—showing how much they had borrowed of this money and how much remained to be borrowed. But as they were now about to separate for some time, he hoped the noble Lord would be able to give the House some information before they prorogued of the amount that had been raised, and whether it was sufficient to meet the expenses that were likely to accrue before they were again called together. In order to render this information complete, it would be necessary to know the amount of bills issued, and the position in which the Company stood with regard to its finances. The usual way of advancing money for the purposes of the Indian Government, until the mutiny broke out, was to receive the money from the merchants here, giving bills in exchange upon the Indian Treasury, and that was usually done to the amount of about £4,000,000 a year. That system was discontinued when the Act passed, as it was thought imprudent to draw upon the Indian finances at a time when money might be urgently required for the public service. Still, if the revenue of India was larger in amount, or the operation of borrowing in India now more successful than during the last year, it might be possible that bills might again be drawn upon India in the same way; but at all events the House should know what was the financial position of the Company, and what were its means of meeting the demands of the next twelve months. His last question was, whether any instructions had been sent, or would be sent, to issue a proclamation of Her Majesty's name and authority in India, and to announce that the Government did not intend to interfere with the religion of the Natives. The first portion of this question the noble Lord had answered on a previous occasion. He said that it was intended to issue a proclamation establishing the Queen's name in India, but whether it was to emanate from India or from this country, he did not explain. The latter part of the question was of importance in connection with the proclama- 2310 tion. The proclamation of the Queen's name would, no doubt, impress the Natives of India with the notion of a very considerable change, but different interpretations might be put upon it. Some persons might regard it as a means of introducing and forcing Christianity upon the Natives, and it was therefore most desirable that the proclamation should be accompanied by some explanation which would prevent such a misapprehension. On the other hand there existed in this country a belief—whether well founded or not—that in the late direction of affairs in India there had been a disinclination to maintain the truth of our own religious faith, and that too great a deference had been paid to the religion of the Natives. He, therefore, thought it advisable that the Government should adopt some means, by proclamation or otherwise, of declaring that, while they were fully prepared to maintain the Christian faith, they would be most jealous of any interference with the religion of the Natives, and would cautiously guard against any indiscretion in that respect on the part of persons employed in the public service. He thought the noble Lord might fairly take Parliament into his confidence upon these subjects, for upon him devolved a greater task than had perhaps fallen to the lot of any Minister—a task almost as great as that of founding a new empire in India. In his (Mr. Vernon Smith's) opinion the task of those who had been engaged for two centuries in establishing the Indian empire was less difficult than that which now devolved upon the British nation of re-establishing that empire, the glory of which had been destroyed by the late mutiny, although he hoped it would still continue one of the most important and valuable possessions of the British Crown. The questions he wished to ask 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 re-organization 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 had been sent, or would be sent, to proclaim Her Majesty's name and authority in India, and 2311 to announce the intentions of the Government as to non-interference with the religion of the Natives?
§ MR. STAPLETON
—who was indistinctly heard—said, he had a question of his own on the same subject. He wished to call the attention of the House to the intention expressed by the President of the Board of Control, in moving the second reading of the Government of India Bill, of referring the question of appointments to cadetships in the non-scientific branches of the Indian army to the Commission which was about to inquire into the reorganization Of that army; and to ask, whether the members of the Council for the affairs of India, to be appointed by Government, would be appointed subject to what Parliament might hereafter decide with respect to such cadetships. He had put this notice on the paper in consequence of the noble Lord's statement, that the present arrangements were only temporary, and that the whole subject of the Indian army would be referred to a Commission.
§ MR. RICH
said, he thought the observations of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Vernon Smith) implied some distrust with regard to the proclamation which the noble Lord had intimated his intention of issuing; but he could only say, from the declarations which had been made by the noble Lord in the course of the discussions on the India Bill, that, in his opinion, Parliament might entertain full and entire confidence that the noble Lord in dealing with this great subject, would act with firmness and moderation, and would temper justice with mercy. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Vernon Smith), had in the course of his observations, but probably through inadvertence, totally ignored a large body of our fellow-subjects in India, who had, with very trifling exceptions, throughout most trying circumstances, maintained their loyalty—the armies of Madras and Bombay. The right hon. Gentleman had also ignored the loyalty of a number of the Native Princes, who had magnanimously upheld British dominion. He felt confident, however, that the noble Lord, while he asserted the proud dominion of England, would at the same time recognize the loyal spirit which had been manifested throughout India by large bodies of our Indian fellow-subjects.
Sir, the House is entitled to demand, and I think the public may fairly expect to receive, from those who are in possession of it, some informa- 2312 tion upon the important questions to which the right hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Vernon Smith) has referred; and I am glad he has afforded me an opportunity of briefly stating to the House what I believe to be the position of affairs with regard to the points to which he has called attention. In the first place, I have been asked as to the extent of the European force at present in India, and I think the right hon. Gentleman also inquired whether we could form any estimate of the probable aggregate strength of those various and scattered bodies of mutineers to whom our troops are opposed in the field. Now, upon the latter point I am afraid it is not possible for me, or indeed for any one even in India, to form an accurate judgment. It appears that, of late, the whole progress and tendency of affairs have been in this direction—that the organized insurrection has everywhere been defeated, but that parties of armed insurgents are scattered far and wide throughout the country, eluding pursuit, and generally avoiding conflict with our troops. Under these circumstances it is utterly impossible for any one to say what is the strength of the mutineers. It is probably unknown, not only to any British general, but to any leader of the insurgents themselves. This is the more likely to be the case, because I learn—not from any official reports, but from private letters—that at the time when the insurrection existed in a more organized form than I hope is the case at present, recruiting went on rapidly among the insurgents, and that some of the revolted Sepoy regiments regularly enlisted new recruits, forming in one instance a second battalion, and preserving in some degree the military order and discipline to which they had been accustomed in our service. As to the strength of the European force, I am able to give a more satisfactory answer. The right hon. Gentleman stated, a few nights ago, that he had seen some account which represented the effective European force in India as being reduced to 26,000 men. I am happy to say that that account is very far below the reality. I have obtained from the War Department the latest Return which they possess of the strength of the Queen's army in India, and perhaps the best course I can take will be to read, not the Return as I have it, but a summary of the totals. The total number of Europeans in the Queen's army supposed to be in India, or on their way out, was 78,416; but from that it is fair to say there must 2313 be deducted 7,456 men, who were reported sick at the time when these Returns were made, and 11,059 were draughts on their way out. These troops will probably have arrived at the present time, and will constitute part of the effective strength of the force, which will thus comprise nearly 71,000 men. The Returns are not all of the same date; some are dated the 1st of May, others the 1st of June; and of course further deduction—I am afraid a considerable deduction—must be made for casualties since that time. But the fact remains that the Queen's army, at the date of the latest Returns, numbered nearly 60,000 effective men, and about 11,000 draughts on their way out. With regard to the Company's forces, I have obtained a memorandum from the East India House, which is made up partly by actual statements of facts and partly by estimate to the 1st of July. It gives a total of 15,855 Company's troops (Europeans). That number is made up, I should say, by adding the troops embarked in June and July, and now on their way; but there is also a deduction of 1,192 for casualties, estimated upon the proportion of loss which has occurred up to the date of which we have information. I need not say that no estimate of this kind can be entirely reliable, and, therefore, the papers which I quote must be looked upon as forming an approximate calculation only. We have thus, however, an estimated strength of 15,800 Company's troops and 71,000 Queen's troops (all Europeans),—making a total of between 86,000 and 87,000 Europeans; and it is obvious that, after the largest deduction which it can be necessary to make (and I am afraid that deduction must be a heavy one) for losses sustained by service in the field and by sickness consequent on exposure, since the date to which these Returns refer—after, I say, making the largest and most liberal deduction on that account, we may still consider that we have between 70,000 and 80,000 effective men—certainly above 70,000—for service in India. I was asked by the right hon. Gentleman how many of the men sent out since January last were, at the request of the Directors of the Company, added to the establishment in India, distinguishing them, I suppose, from the number of draughts and recruits? On this point I have received a memorandum from the East India House, dated the 23rd of this month, giving the figures which I quoted in the House the other 2314 day. I then stated that nearly 17,000 had been sent out between January and July. The exact number I find is 16,730, and of those all are draughts or recruits except 634, being eight companies of Her Majesty's 57th Regiment. The 16,000 are, therefore, draughts and recruits. Other regiments, as is well known, have been despatched from various parts of the world. The House will remember that at an early period of the insurrection application was made—not, according to form, through the Court of Directors here, but directly—at the Cape and other places, and these requests were, from the urgency of the occasion, acceded to without waiting for orders from home. With regard to the second question addressed to me by the right hon. Gentleman, as to the objects of the Commission which is to inquire into the organization of the Indian army, I think I shall best reply by reading the heads of the inquiry upon which it is intended that that Commission shall enter. They are:—
2315 These are the heads of the inquiry proposed. As to the modification which has taken place in the constitution of the Commission, and on which some remarks have been made by the right hon. Gentleman, I have to say that it was originally considered desirable that, besides the civilians who are officially to sit upon it, there should be three other gentlemen of eminence in public life who should give it the benefit of their experience and of their services; but, from various circumstances, and more especially considering the time of year at which this Commission was to sit—the first meeting having taken place in the course of the present week, and the next being fixed for Tuesday—it was found so difficult to obtain the services of those who we desire should sit upon the Commission that that part of the scheme was abandoned. It is quite true that an inquiry—the nature of which I do not exactly know—upon the same subject is taking place in India; but though, of course, there are many advantages in instituting an investigation of that kind upon the spot, one great disadvantage attends it—namely, that the great majority of those officers whose services would be most valuable are actively engaged, and are unable, therefore, to give their attention to it. This objection does not apply in the same degree to those who have either retired from the service, or who, on the ground of health, have lately returned from India; and, I am happy to say, we have many of that description whose advice and assistance will be most valuable. Before I leave the subject of the Commission I will state that it is not intended, and cannot be intended, to lessen in any, the slightest degree, the responsibility which must devolve upon the Government for the settlement of this very large question. The ultimate decision, be it what it may, must depend upon the responsibility of the Government of the day, and the Report of the Commission of Inquiry will carry with it no other weight than that which is derived from the eminence of its members, the experience and knowledge they bring to bear upon the subject, and the soundness of the reasons they employ. I have been also told by an hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stapleton) that some arrangements which I proposed on the second reading have been departed from, because patronage which formerly rested with the Directors will henceforth be vested in the Crown. Now, in recom- 2316 mending that proposition to the approval of the House, my wish was to carry on as far as possible the analogy of the system which actually exists; and I confess I think the hon. Member who referred to the subject, when he describes the members of this Council as being taken entirely from one class of society, whereas members of the Court of Directors were taken from quite another, has, to use the mildest term, greatly overstated the case. Certainly a large and very valuable section of all former Courts of Directors always consisted of men of Indian service and experience; but I may remind the House that there is in the Bill as it stands an actual legal provision that a majority, and something more, of the Council should be taken from that same class. Then the same hon. Member asked me whether it was intended that the arrangement with regard to the non-scientific military appointments should be provisional only and subject to the Report of the Commission, or whether it was intended as a permanent arrangement. Now, it is obvious that what one Act of Parliament has sanctioned another at any future period can overthrow. As to the objection that compensation might be claimed where any appointments of this kind were taken away, we have shown, I think, what our feelings are upon that point by the 14th clause of the Bill, in which it is stated expressly that if the Council itself were abolished within ten years no claim for compensation could arise. Naturally, as discussion has gone on we have seen our way more clearly, but I do not think it is proper—though, of course, it is in the power of Parliament to deal with the subject as it will—that any measures taken for the reorganization of the Indian army should involve a change in the manner in which the first appointments will be made. I think the question of first appointments, and that of the discipline and reorganization of the army afterwards, are distinct questions, and that it is quite possible to deal with the one without touching the other. Now, with regard to the financial part of the question connected with India, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, I think I shall best satisfy the wishes of hon. Members by reading a memorandum which I have received from the East India House. That memorandum states that,—
- "1. The terms on which the army of the East India Company is to be transferred to the Crown.
- "2. The permanent force necessary to be maintained in the Indian provinces respectively after the restoration of tranquillity.
- "3. The proportion which European should bear to Native troops, in infantry, cavalry, and artillery respectively.
- "4. How far the European portion of the army should be composed of troops of the line, taking India as parts of the regular tour of service, and how far of troops raised for service in India only.
- "5. In connection with this question the best means of providing for the periodical relief of the former portion, and of securing the efficiency of the latter.
- "6. Whether it be possible to consolidate the European forces, so as to allow of exchange from one branch of the service to the other, and what regulations would be necessary and practicable to effect this object with perfect justice to the claims of all officers now in the service of the East India Company?
- "7. Whether there should be any admixture of European and Native forces, either regimentally or by brigade?
- "8. Whether the local European force should be kept up by draughts and volunteers from the line, or should be, as at present, separately recruited for in Great Britain?
- "9. Whether it would be possible to raise any regiments in the colonies, either for temporary or permanent service in India?
- "10. Whether the Native forces should be regular or irregular, or both, and if so, in what proportions?
- "11. Whether any Native artillery corps should be sanctioned?
- "12. Whether cadets sent out for service with Native troops should in the first instance be attached to European regiments, to secure uniformity of drill and discipline?"
"The India Loan Act conferred the power of borrowing £8,000,000 Which has been already used to the extent of 4,421,000
Leaving yet available the power of borrowing £3,579,000 Add India Bonds:—Unissued portion of £7,000,000 £1,135,600 May be issued to replace those notified for discharge 653,900 Ditto, to replace those now deposited with Bank of England, which will be available on loan being paid off in October, 1858 1,000,000 2,789,500 May be borrowed on debentures and bonds £6,368,500 The disbursements of the Home Treasury to the 31st of January, 1859, in excess of the present cash balance, are estimated at £5,172,200The means of the Home Treasury are therefore estimated to be more than adequate to meet the disbursements until next Session, without including the sums that may be realized for Court's bills on India, or from the sale of Exchequer bills and bonds now in hand (£1,598,900).In this estimate the receipts from railway companies are not included.From a consideration of those figures, which do not include the receipts from railway companies, I think it will be found that the statement which I have to make in answer to the right hon. Gentleman is satisfactory so far as the financial part of the question is concerned. I now come to the question which the right hon. Gentleman has put to me in reference to the proclamation which is of opinion it would be desirable to issue when the transfer of the government of India to the Crown has been completed. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman's observations upon that point, I can only say that, both on account of the importance of the occasion and also to guard against misconstruction, I think that that transfer ought to be in some manner formally notified to the people of India. So far as our interference with the religion of the Natives is concerned, I shall content myself with observing that there is in a recent despatch of the Earl of Ellenborough's, dated the 13th of April, a passage which I shall quote, simply because it expresses in language clearer and more forcible than any to which I could give utterance my own feelings and that of the Government of which I am a member upon the subject. [The noble Lord then read an extract from the despatch in question, stating that the Government would be guided by a policy of neutrality and good faith in re- 2318 ference to matters affecting the religion of the Natives of India, and most earnestly calling upon all the authorities in India not to afford the slightest cause for the suspicion that that policy had undergone or would undergo any change.] Those are the opinions of Her Majesty's present advisers. That passage expresses sentiments in which I fully concur, and I deem it highly desirable that, whether by proclamation or by some other means, the fullest assurance should be given to the Natives of India that the change which is about to take place in the government of that country is not intended to involve any change in the policy of the Government. With regard to the manner in which the announcement in question ought to be made, I may be permitted to say that I do not think it is usual to put, as it were, into the mouth of the Governor General of India the words in which it should be couched, without leaving to him any discretion as to the modification or withholding altogether of any particular form of expression. That is a point which yet remains under the consideration of the Government; but I may say that my own individual impression is, that the most advisable course to take with respect to it would be to state in general terms to Viscount Canning that which we wish to be done, leaving it to his own discretion to use such language as he may deem expedient. My answer to the question of the right hon. Gentleman on this point therefore is, that there will be an announcement of the transfer of the government of India from the Company to the Crown, and that due care will be taken to assure the people of that country that the change is not meant to interfere with their ideas or habits in regard to matters of religious belief.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, the question which had been put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton, and the answer which had been given to it by the noble Lord, were of very grave importance. The right hon. Gentleman had stated with justice that the answer of the noble Lord might be liable to misconstruction, and he (Mr. Spooner) admitted that he wished the question had not been put, or that the House had been favoured with a different explanation from the noble Lord. The noble Lord had stated that neutrality was still to guide and govern the Councils of India with regard to religion. Now, if by the word "neutrality," the noble Lord meant that there should 2319 neither be an attempt to compel or to bribe with the view of converting to Christianity, and that persons of all religions should be treated with perfect impartiality, then he readily granted that that would be a right line of conduct to pursue; but if that were the meaning of the noble Lord, "neutrality" was not the proper term by which to designate it. On the other hand if it were not his meaning, then he would ask whether the noble Lord intended to declare that it was a matter of indifference to a Christian country and Government whether or not idolatry still prevailed in the large empire committed to our care? For his part, he was entirely at a loss to see how they could justify, in an assembly of a Christian nation, the expression that we ought to be neutral upon the question whether an idolatrous system continued, or whether the Hindoos were sufficiently enlightened to know the value of the Christian religion. If a public proclamation assured the Natives of India that there should be no compulsory interference with their religion, that there should be no bribery, and no attempt to make converts by coercion; that they should be left entirely to the effect of the Word of God, and of His Holy Spirit upon their minds, he had confidence enough in that Holy Word and in that Holy Spirit to leave them to do their own work and produce their own effects; but whilst that was declared, the proclamation ought also to express the full conviction of the Government that Christianity was the only sound and true religion; the only method either to civilize or to diffuse happiness among the inhabitants of India, and at the same time the only sure ground on which we could look for the blessing of Almighty God upon our rule. In such a course he should fully concur; but he would maintain that we had not acted in accordance with such a course of "neutrality" when we paid for the maintenance and encouragement of idolatrous practices—a sin of which he had been informed we were not, even at the present moment, entirely clear. We had been guilty of great crimes in India—and he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton when he stated, in a manner that had made a great impression on his (Mr. Spooner's) mind, his conviction that India was not given to us merely to gratify our ambition as a nation, or to realize fortunes for our merchants, but for higher and nobler purposes. No; there were great responsibilities and 2320 elevated duties connected with its possession, and we had not acted up to those responsibilities and duties. But we had actually supported, encouraged, and paid for the maintenance of idolatrous practices. Then with respect to the subject of education in the schools of India, he had been told that we did not suffer any minister of the Christian religion to interfere in the teaching of those schools, whilst we permitted interference on the part of the Brahmins and other religious castes of Hindoos. He lamented, then, the answer which had been given by the noble Lord, because he feared that it might lead to misapprehension; and he could not sit quietly there and hear it stated that neutrality was to be strictly observed, without asking for an explanation of what that neutrality meant, and expressing his opinion that if the observance of neutrality were then to be announced, that announcement ought to be accompanied by a declaration of the opinion of the Government that the Christian religion was the only true religion, and that whilst they felt it was not their duty to endeavour to compel conversions, it was their duty to do all in their power, by means of religious instruction, and by placing the truth before the people of India, to accomplish that one great object for which we had been entrusted with the government of India; thus taking that course by which this country might become the honoured instrument of carrying out Christianity in conjunction with Christian civilization.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that nothing but a deep sense of public duty could induce him to rise to enter on such a thorny path as that of religious controversy. The example, however, had been set him by the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner). There was a very significant passage in a despatch of the Earl of Ellenborough, to which he wished to call attention as a guide in the government of India. That noble Lord said, that as a private man one ought not to do that, which as a public man, one condemned. As public men we should condemn any attempt in India to use our power for the purpose of proselytizing. If a man in power employed his powers of persuasion to lead men to the adoption of particular opinions, he must bring with him the power attached to his peculiar position, and if he was in power, that power ought not to be used for the purpose of proselytizing. He only rose to say, that he hoped that no man, in his de- 2321 sire to lead the people of India into the adoption of Christianity, and to induce them to think as he does—which was proselytizing in India—that no man would use that power to induce persons to become Christians. There would arise far better results to the people of India if they were governed on general principles of justice than to attempt to proselytize and to create Christians, so called, by missionaryizing the country, if he might use such a phrase.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he also was one of those who regretted that the passage from the despatch of the Earl of Ellen-borough should have been referred to, as it might be misunderstood by the country, and it certainly did not agree with what had been stated in "another place" by the noble Earl at the head of the Government. That noble Earl distinctly stated, in answer to a right rev. Prelate, that he wished to carry out in India the policy which, when at the head of the Colonial Office, he carried out in Ceylon, and entirely to disconnect the Government of this country with the maintenance of idolatrous worship in that country. That was quite contrary to what had fallen from the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control. He (Mr. Kinnaird) quite agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield that the authority of the Government ought not to be brought to bear on matters of religion; but the proper course was not neutrality but toleration of all religions. Christian converts were as much entitled to protection and employment as any other persons; but the complaint was, that in India the Christians had not that fair and equal justice which was extended to all other sects, and now they were told there was to be no change in that respect. That statement would not be very satisfactory to the country. He regretted that the question had been mooted, for during the whole of the discussions upon the Home Government of India he had carefully abstained from bringing it before the House, but as it had been raised, he could only express his regret that the noble Lord had not made a statement as plain and distinct as that which had been made by the noble Earl at the head of the Government.
§ MR. BOWYER
said, he could not understand what the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) wanted. He had got three Protestant bishoprics in India made out of the revenues of India. The hon. Gentleman said that the influence of the Government ought to be used 2322 in the propagation of Christianity. [Mr. SPOONER: No!] He (Mr. Bowyer) certainly understood the hon. Gentleman to say that we were not to use force or bribery, but to employ the moral influence of the Government in the promotion of Christianity. The hon. Gentleman, however, had not settled what Christianity was to be taught. The hon. Gentleman, no doubt, thought him (Mr. Bowyer) no better than a Hindoo, or any other idolater, and his hoe Friend behind him (Mr. Gilpin) no doubt did not come off much better in the opinion of the hon. Member, for though he might not think him an idolater, he probably did not come up to his idea of a Christian. Before the hon. Gentleman wished the Government to teach Christianity, he must decide what sort of Christianity they were to teach; and when he had solved that question, it would be time enough to undertake the task. He (Mr. Bowyer) wished to ask a question. One of the questions asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Vernon Smith) was, whether instructions were to be sent out to India to proclaim Her Majesty's name and authority. It would be recollected that he (Mr. Bowyer) had put on the Votes a notice of Motion, that after the transfer of India to the Crown the word "India" should be added to the style and title of the Crown. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had said that there could be no doubt of the effect which the name of the Queen would have on the Natives of India; but, in his (Mr. Bowyer's) opinion, the full advantage of the influence of the Queen's name over the Natives could not be obtained unless India were added to the style and title of the Crown. This would be in accordance with precedent, for history showed that whenever a regal or quasi regal territory was acquired by the Crown a corresponding addition was made to the Royal style and title. Thus in the case of Wales, which, having been added to the Royal dominions, was given in perpetuity to the eldest son of the Sovereign; so, also, in the case of France, in the time of Edward III., when a large part of that country was in the possession of the King of England; or that of Scotland, after the accession of James I., and in that of Ireland, all of which countries were contained in the style and title of the Crown; and since the union with Scotland and Ireland, the term "Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" included the 2323 style and title which had been heretofore adopted. He was told that if this was done it would lead to an expectation on the part of the Colonies that they should be dealt with in the same manner; but there was no reason why that should be done, as it would be a novelty, and it was never the custom for a Sovereign of this country to take the style and title of a colony. He, therefore, would repeat his wish that some means might be devised for including India among the titles of Royalty, borne by Her Majesty.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, the declaration of the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control would, he believed, do more to remove the dangerous distrust which now pervaded the minds of the people of India than the most brilliant and continuous successes of our arms. He would, therefore, congratulate the noble Lord upon his declaration, upon his liberal feelings, his enlarged views, and his generous sentiments. From personal experience he could deny the existence of any prejudice against Christian converts in India. He had on former occasions given instances of their employment in the public service and of other advantages being conferred upon them. The principle in India had been invariably to select men for the public service according to their capacity for the duties they were required to perform, quite irrespective of their religious views or sentiments. It had also been the object of the Indian Government for many years to separate itself entirely from idolatrous usages and practices. It had given up the Pilgrim tax at Allahabad, and had abandoned the lands it held from Juggernaut, valued at three lacs of rupees. It would eventually entirely disconnect itself from the maintenance of idolatrous worship, but it could not do so all at once. He would repeat that the declaration of the noble Lord would do more for us in India than anything that had been spoken during the whole progress of the discussion in that House.
said, he also rose to express his unqualified satisfaction with the manner in which the question had been treated by the noble Lord. Those who truly desired the spread of Christianity in India would wish to see Christianity kept free from those horrible atrocities which, whether committed by black men or by white men, were utterly repugnant to its genius and its nature, and only asked for a fair field for the operations and exertions 2324 of those who were disposed to teach Christianity for its own sake. He could not understand that system of neutrality which supported bishoprics out of the funds of the State, and sought to promote Christianity in India only by the questionable establishment of a State Church.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, when the Lords' Amendments to the India Bill were brought down for consideration to this House, we made five objections to those Amendments, but agreed to a considerable number. The Lords have considered the objections of the Commons, and have waved their opinions in a majority of the cases. On three heads they have waved their opinions, and those three heads contain by far the most important objections of the Commons. But they have invited us to reconsider our objections on two points, and I wish to direct the consideration of the House to those points, feeling sure the House will reconsider their opinions in the same calm and considerate manner in which the Lords have expressed theirs. The first objection is not the one which has been read by the Clerk at the Table, but I will advert to it at once, in order that I may at the same time tender the advice which I would humbly venture to offer them on the subject. The first objection is contained in Clause 54, and it appears to have originated in a misconception, into which it is not remarkable that we should have fallen, because the language of the Amendment of the Lords is so obscure as to justify the interpretation which we had put upon it. The clause in question deals with the circumstance of instructions being sent out to India commanding a foreign war, and it is there provided that, when an order to commence hostilities is sent to India, the fact of such order having been sent shall be communicated to Parliament within three months after the sending of such order if Parliament be sitting; and, if Parliament be not sitting, then within one month after the next meeting of Parliament. There appeared to be some inconsistency in that language, and we proposed that one month should be inserted in both cases. But what was intended by the Amendment of the Lords was, that notice should be given of the fact within three months if Parliament should be sitting, and if it should not be sitting then within one month after the resumption of its deliberations after the lapse of that term. The Amendment of the Lords, though obscurely expressed, 2325 was really wisely conceived, for, suppose the Government sent out orders to India to commence hostilities, a month would elapse before the Governor General could receive them. By that time, under the clause as amended by the Commons, the orders would have been communicated to Parliament; but on the arrival of the instructions in India the Governor General might possibly be unprepared at the moment to obey them, and in that case he would have no time to make the Home Government acquainted with his position. The communication of the order for the commencement of hostilities, however, would then have been made to Parliament, and so the very Power against which it was intended to wage war would become aware of the policy of this country before the Governor General was in a situation to give effect to it. Therefore the Lords suggested that in any event the term of three months should be allowed to elapse before the communication of the order to Parliament, so as to admit of time being given for communication with the Governor General. I hope the House will reconsider that Amendment, which is now sent down in language that cannot be misunderstood, and I venture humbly to recommend it as one calculated to promote the public advantage. I will now proceed to the consideration of the other Amendment of the Lords, which is one of great interest at this moment. The interest of this Amendment arises principally from this circumstance, that to a certain degree it has been supposed to affect the action of the competitive principle in public appointments. If I might presume to give an opinion on that subject, I would say that I am a firm, though not an extravagant or headstrong supporter of the competitive principle for public appointments. In the theory of that principle I entirely concur; but I know well that theory and practice do not always agree, and I have viewed the application of that principle with, I will not say great anxiety, but certainly with all that interest which attends the application of a novel principle to public affairs. As far as I am able to form an opinion, I think that principle, in its practical application, has been entirely successful. It has come out of the ordeal of proof a pure and perfect weapon; but still I cannot disguise from myself that it is a principle very novel in its character and likely to have important results, and I cannot suppose that on a question of that novelty and magnitude there can be throughout the com- 2326 munity a perfect identity of sympathy and opinion. I am not, therefore, at all surprised that, when the Amendment of the Lord came down, we found an objection on their part to tie up in an Act of Parliament the application of the competitive principle, which they fully recognize, to so important a branch of the public service as that of the civil service in India. So far, therefore, from thinking that the Amendment was not entitled to the utmost respect and consideration, I felt the natural force of that objection, and the natural suspicion and jealousy with which a House of Parliament is no doubt bound to calculate all the consequences of a novel course. This House, however, decided after deliberation not to adopt the Amendment of the Lords, but to adhere to the clause in the Bill which gave what may be called a Parliamentary title to employment in the civil service of India obtained by unrestricted competition, and the Lords, respecting the decision, had yielded, and not ungracefully, to the opinion of the House on the subject. There is, however, another clause of a different character, in which that principle was to a certain degree involved, but on which no discussion has, as yet, taken place. To that clause the Lords object upon constitutional grounds, and to it I would draw the attention of the House. It certainly does seem rather inconsistent that in the very Bill which provides that Her Majesty shall appoint to all military Commissions, we should, at the same time, insert a provision which makes the appointments to a portion of those Commissions entirely independent of the will of Her Majesty. In that light the Lords have viewed this provision, and they are apprehensive that inconvenience may arise from a departure from a constitutional principle which has always prevailed in the military service, with respect to such appointments. As the clause went up to the Lords it was arranged, as in the case of the civil service, that these Commissions should be attained by open competition; and that according to the order of superiority, those who were successful should be appointed. Now, it does not appear that the Lords at all object to the principle of competition being applied to the scientific branches of the Indian army. That appears to be recognized as a course which it was desirable to promote and secure. Since the year 1853, the civil service of the East India Company has been open to unrestricted competition, and the civil patronage has been dis- 2327 tributed entirely according to the order of merit, although it was not provided in the Act of that year that such a proceeding should absolutely be followed. It was there only provided that there should be public examinations, according to the regulations drawn up by the Secretary of State, and which should be approved by Her Majesty in Council, and that a copy of those regulations thus approved should be laid before Parliament, in order that Parliament might be aware of the existing regulations, with any alterations that might take place in them. Now, what the Lords object to in the 34th clause is not the principle of competition, or its being secured with respect to the scientific branches of the army as amply as it has been secured with regard to the civil service since 1853, but to this being done in a manner which would seem to violate the constitutional principle which hitherto has prevailed in all appointments to the military service. I am sure I do not mistake the feelings of the House, when I say that there can be no desire on our part to trench upon the prerogatives of Her Majesty. Those prerogatives during her beneficent reign have been so discreetly and wisely exercised, that there is a very general opinion throughout all classes of the community, that their existence has been beneficial to our liberties and to the good government of the country. But, in having to consider so large a question as the transfer of the government of India from the Company to the Crown, we have been placed in a difficult and delicate position, which required on the part of both branches of the Legislature very judicious discrimination. In this great work we have added greatly to the regality of Her Majesty. We have invested her with new prerogatives, new privileges, and new powers; but in doing that we have felt it our duty to insert conditions and regulations with respect to those new privileges, and prerogatives which we should not have thought of introducing, if we had had to deal with the ancient power belonging to the Crown. What has been the great difficulty which has prevented long before this the termination of that anomalous government of India which was carried on by the Company? It has been felt for nearly a century that it was a great anomaly that India should belong to the English, and yet should not be directly governed by the Sovereign of England. But the difficulty of solving this problem was, that no one could devise any means by which we could deal 2328 with the vast patronage of India. I was always said, that it was more natural and would be more beneficial that the government of India should be carried on directly by the Sovereign of England; but there has been, in the first place, a great Apprehension that the power, of the Crown would be dangerously increased by the possession of all the patronage which would result from such a government, and there has been, secondly, a great suspicion in this country, remembering that India was gained by the energies of the middle classes, and that these classes have long possessed the patronage of that great empire, which they had fairly won, that the proposed change to a more direet and satisfactory polity could not be effected without injury to the legitimate interests of the bulk of the community, and a dangerous increase of the power of the Crown. It appears to me that that difficulty, which has baffled some of our wisest statesmen and the wisdom of many Parliaments, we have in a great degree solved by the creation and development of that very competitive principle of which I have been speaking. Those who before had to consider this question had not the means or the machinery by which they could meet the difficulty. We have met them in the present instance most efficiently and completely. Let us see how the patronage of India, as regards the middle classes, after this great revolution has taken place, of the transfer from the Company to the Crown, is affected by the Bill as it comes down from the Lords. Let us see whether, in accomplishing this great work, we have been mindful of the interests of those of our fellow-subjects who have such strong claims upon our consideration. The whole of the civil service, as the Bill comes from the Lords, is secured entirely to those who deserve to obtain, and who are qualified to possess these important offices; in other words, the whole of the civil administration of India is secured by a Parliamentary title to the great bulk of the community. If we look to the military portion of the patronage, we shall find that it will be distributed by a body of men who, in position, character, attainments, and connections, resemble in a great measure the late Court of Directors—of a body which must consist in part of members of the late Court, and which, as far as the nominated members are concerned, will be composed of gentlemen of Indian experience and connections; so that the larger portion of the military 2329 patronage also will be distributed among the middle classes, through almost the same conduits as heretofore, except with this advantage, that the new distributors will not be checked in their action by the importunities of that contracted constituency which exercised a baneful influence upon the Court of Directors. So far, then, as those two sources of patronage are concerned, they will be naturally distributed or attained in a manner which will ensure the diffusion of the great mass of that patronage through the community. But we have thought it right, in deference to the enlightened spirit of the age, to withdraw from the distribution of the Council those military commissions which relate to the scientific branches of the army. We have thought that they ought to be obtained by the same intellectual merit and qualification which we would secure for the civil administration, and it is now proposed by the Amendments of the Lords that, in addition to giving the whole of the civil service, and the greater portion of the military appointments with a Parliamentary title to the middle classes, so also commissions of a scientific character in the army should be obtained by the same section of the community upon precisely similar conditions. Between the Amendment of the Lords, and the clause as it was first drawn, there is this difference that the constitutional forms which we ought to respect are more completely observed, but the same advantages are secured. Under these circumstances, I trust the House will consider without prejudice this particular Amendment of the other branch of the Legislature—will upon reflection, be of opinion that it is an Amendment made in no spirit of hostility to that application of the competitive principle to the scientific branches of the army which we seek to maintain, or dictated by any other feeling than a respect to constitutional usages, and will be prepared, in the same spirit of conciliation and reciprocal respect which has attended these discussions, to accept the alterations inserted by the Lords. Let me impress upon the House one consideration which ought not to be absent from our minds in concluding our labours upon this important question. There has rarely been a subject of legislation more important than the one with which we have dealt in this Session respecting the Home Government of India. Let the House recollect, that for upwards of seventy years this question has been, at intervals, the subject of Parlia- 2330 mentary discussion; that it has given rise to the greatest acerbities of feeling and prolonged acrimony of political sentiments; that it has convulsed Cabinets, has dissolved Parliaments, and that finally it has been recognized by the country as one of those knots that no ingenuity and no impartiality could ever untie. I claim no merit for the Government in having brought this matter to some satisfactory conclusion. I claim some merit for Parliament and some for the House of Commons; but I claim the chief merit for the more enlightened spirit of the times in which we live, for the diffused education of the country where we have the happiness to be fellow-citizens, and the rising sense of the value which we all of us attribute to intellectual acquirements, and our recognition of them as a proper qualification for admission to civil office. This spirit has assisted us in bringing this Bill to its present state. It is, I think, only surprising that there have not been greater differences of opinion between the two Houses and among ourselves in this House; but what I would impress on the House of Commons is this—the great desirability there is that this legislation should be brought to a conclusion without leaving on any side and in any quarter, in any state or condition of this country, any feeling of irritation or jealousy. It is impossible that the middle classes, whose claims have been urged so freely, fairly, and constantly in this House and in other places—it is impossible that the great body of the community can for a moment feel that their claims have not been regarded. We have effected this change, if the House to-night consents to this final step; and so far as the patronage of the great empire of India—won, I freely admit, by the energies of the middle classes—is concerned, the great bulk will be obtained and enjoyed by those middle classes, not only with the certainty which they enjoyed in old days, but with far more honour and by a process infinitely more beneficial. Let not, therefore, the other House think that, in coming to what I may call a happy conclusion, we obtained that result by any disregard in this House of the fair prerogatives of the Crown. I am sure that those prerogatives are duly estimated, and will be, if necessary, properly protected in this House; and let us, by acceding to this suggestion of the Lords, conclude our labours with this conviction, that we have, after all our pains, established, on the whole, a home Govern- 2331 ment for India adapted to the circumstances with which it will have to deal, and have at the same time effected this object without creating jealousy, suspicion, or dissatisfaction in any portion of the community over which Her Majesty reigns. I trust the House will, therefore, consent to the Amendment which the Lords have proposed to the 34th clause; and I can only say, on the part of the Government, that in making that recommendation we do it with the full and frank intention of establishing, with respect to the scientific branches, that wise and beneficial competition which will prevail in the civil service of India. It will be one of the first duties of my noble Friend, if the House accedes to this proposition, to draw up regulations which will rule the examinations in question, and which, when approved by Her Majesty in Council, will be laid on the table of this House. They will then be open to the criticism and vigilance of the House, and whenever any alterations are made, they will likewise be announced to the House. We shall then have the satisfaction of having established the competitive principle by Act of Parliament throughout the whole civil service of India; of having secured to the great body of the community the free enjoyment of military patronage, by its distribution through a Council sympathizing with them; and of having, at the same time, secured the competitive principle even in the scientific branches of the army, and that in a manner which no one can say has attacked or weakened any prerogative or right of any person in this country, from the Sovereign on her throne to the humblest of her subjects.
Motion made and Question proposed,—
That this House doth not insist on its disagreement to the Amendment made by the Lords in page 11, line 6.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, that in his opinion the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last had put the matter before the House on an unfair footing. There were three services in India to be considered—the civil service, the engineers and artillery, and, lastly, the army. If it were thought right that the competitive system should be introduced into the first two, why should it not be introduced into the third also? But it was now proposed that, whereas candidates were to be elected to the civil and the scientific branches by competition, they should be elected to the army by a certain other mode. This, he confessed, he could 2332 not understand. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that if the House did not agree to the Lords' Amendments, the prerogative of the Crown would be assailed, and that that prerogative had always been exercised in so mild and harmless a manner that no possible harm could arise from conceding in this matter. But if that ground were taken, he would ask whether the prerogative of the Crown had not been trenched upon already with reference to the first two branches of the service? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had also argued that the great difficulty heretofore felt in changing the Home Government of India arose from the apprehension which existed lest, by throwing so large an amount of patronage into the hands of the Crown, the equilibrium of society, which it was now so desirable to retain, might be endangered. In reply to that, he would ask in what other possible way could such a catastrophe as that apprehended be averted than by throwing the whole service open to unrestricted competition. That House had better apply itself, not to arranging the distribution of patronage between the aristocracy and the middle classes, but to obtain the best possible instruments for the public service, and this could only be effected by encouraging the principle of competitive examination. In the choice of clerks he considered that the name of every candidate should be put upon the list without the exercise of any patronage whatever, that a register of such names should be kept, and that if there were ten places and a thousand candidates, the thousand candidates should be examined. This would do away with the danger of upsetting that equilibrium the reversal of which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer so much apprehended. A great mistake, however, existed on that subject. For instance, it was said that competition determined the appointment of clerks in the public offices. But what was the fact? He had that day, through the influence of a member of the Government, obtained the privilege of getting the name of a young man placed upon the list for competition, but this was an act of patronage. He was obliged for it, because the probability was, that if the name had not been so put down, the young man would never have had the opportunity of competing; but he considered the whole system of patronage in such matters much to be deprecated. He trusted the House would 2333 not accede to the Lords' Amendment, but that they would insist on a perfect, open, and complete competition, in every case.
§ SIR HENRY RAWLINSON
observed, that the only question before the House was with reference to competition for the scientific services. He did not oppose the Motion that the House should agree with the Lords' Amendment, but he thought the nature of the clause had been entirely misunderstood when it was supposed to affect the Queen's prerogative. It must be remembered that the system of appointments in the Indian army differed entirely from that in the royal army. Her Majesty never did nominate directly—and it was not proposed by this Bill that she should nominate directly—to any branch of the Indian army. Her Majesty merely appointed on the recommendation of the Secretary of State, and could it make any difference whether that recommendation was the result of competition or of private patronage? If officers of the artillery and engineers were not to obtain appointments by competition, they would obtain them in the first instance by the nomination of members of the Council, some of whom would not owe their position to the Secretary of State or to the Crown, but to the votes of the Court of Directors. So far as the prerogative was concerned, it seemed to him that there could be no difference between recommendations which were the result of competition and recommendations which were the result of private patronage. Still he was not prepared to oppose the Lords' Amendment, and he would state why. The 34th clause did not provide for an exclusive competition, for the word "only" in the civil service clause was designedly omitted from the clause relating to the scientific branches, in order that the establishment at Addiscombe might—if it were thought advisable by the Secretary of State—be maintained. The object was to secure a double competition, the open competition proposed by the clause, and the limited competition of Addiscombe. The system of competition had already been successfully adopted in the civil service. It was now proposed that the same experiment should be tried in the case of the artillery and engineers, and he entertained a confident belief that it would be equally successful in those branches of the service. He thought it desirable, however, that the establishment at Addiscombe should be kept up, and it was scarcely worth while to insist on disagreeing with 2334 the Lords' Amendment, for whether the competition was thrown entirely open, or the limited competition of Addiscombe was retained, the candidates for the scientific branches of the service would be drawn from the same class as at present.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, the question under discussion seemed to become more and more complicated, for it now appeared that there had been some private understanding that there was not to be an open competition, but that Addiscombe was to have its chance, and that those candidates who proved their competency would not necessarily receive appointments. No intimation of such an arrangement had, as far as he was aware, been given by any Member of Her Majesty's Government during any of the discussions that had taken place; and, notwithstanding the very able and comprehensive speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he felt bound—more so, indeed, than he had felt himself previously—to vote for disagreeing with the Lords' Amendment. He entirely concurred in the opinion of the hon. and gallant Member (Sir H. Rawlinson) as to the beneficial results which might be anticipated from competitive examinations; and the right hon. Gentleman had also made some observations for which he thanked him. He had borne testimony to the success with which the principle had been applied to the civil service in India. The question had very justly, during the present discussion, been connected with the subject of patronage, about which not a word had been said in the other House, where the question had been treated only as affecting the prerogative; but one of his main objects, in common with many other hon. Members, was to withdraw from the hands of the Minister a great portion of the patronage which this Bill would place at the disposal of the Government. He thought, also, that the effect of the competitive system upon the military information of the country ought not to be lost sight of in considering this question. The noble Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) had said on a former occasion that we were a warlike nation without being a military nation, and it was to be regretted that the people did not possess such an amount of military information as would be most useful in the defence of this country and its possessions against foreign Powers. It had been stated by two eminent Members of that House, one of them the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland, 2335 who had strongly advocated the adoption of the competitive system, that its effect was to give a stimulus to scholastic education throughout the country. The noble Lord at the head of the Government (the Earl of Derby) had spoken on this subject in "another place" in a most conciliatory tone, but all the noble Lords who had expressed their opinions had not followed his example. One of those noble Lords (Lord Campbell)—one of the highest dignitaries of the law—had accused, that House of having lost its senses on this subject. That noble Lord had said that the House of Commons had gone wild, and he added that the House of Commons ought to be resisted in this course. [The hon. and gallant Member was stopped by a call of "Order" from Mr. SPEAKER.] He must say he thought the noble and learned Lord had done himself injustice, for he believed the profession in which that noble and learned Lord had gained such distinguished and deserved honour was more exposed to the principle of competition than perhaps any other in this country. Not a day passes in which the learned Members of our bar were not competitors, in fact, in these examinations, for the highest prizes of the law. The noble Lord said he was in favour of discriminative examinations, though what he meant by that term the noble and learned Lord did not very clearly explain. A noble Earl, in "another place," contended that the introduction of a system of competitive examinations would produce a social revolution, that the sons of gentlemen and of officers in the army would be excluded from the service, and that in future the appointments would be confined to the sons of rich grocers and persons of that class. Those statements were, however, wholly at variance with the facts which had been brought forward by the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland when he was a Member of that House. He showed that the system of competitive examination in Ireland had worked in a totally contrary direction—that ninety-five out of one hundred of the young men examined belonged to the most respectable classes of society, being the sons of gentlemen and men of education. He therefore regarded the argument on the other side on this subject as altogether unworthy of notice. He had the fullest confidence in the noble Lord now at the head of the Board of Control; but the noble Lord had no permanent tenure of office, and then he could not forget that while the Members of the Government in that House were in 2336 favour of competitive examination, and only opposed a technical difficulty to its being enforced by Act of Parliament, the head of the Government in the other House spoke of the principle of competition as being "on its trial," and thought it would be "highly injudicious to tie up the hands of the Executive Government," and oblige them to take the persons who had sustained the best examinations. It did not, therefore, appear to be in the contemplation of the noble Earl to give appointments as a matter of course to those who sustained the best examinations. But, without detaining the House further, he would only add that, in his opinion, the competitive principle was the best security that could be adopted for securing the efficiency of the services in the Indian army, and, therefore, he hoped they would disagree with the Lords' Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I will in one or two words explain the grounds on which I mean to give my vote. I am one of those who are entirely in favour of the principle of appointments by competitive examination. I think it is a great improvement of recent times; but at the same time it is not universally applicable. With regard to the Civil Service I think it is an excellent system, provided always that the standard of examination is not too high, and that persons are not expected to be full of more knowledge than is necessary as a test of their capacity for the service. My opinion is that it is also a good system for the officers of the scientific branches of the army, because in regard to them high attainments are of the first importance. At the same time, it is right to admit that the application of the system to the scientific branches of the army is but of recent standing; and, therefore, those who entertain a different opinion from me may fairly be entitled to require a somewhat longer experience of the practical result of the system than has yet been obtained. My hon. and gallant Friend who has just sat down is right in saying that the application of the system of competitive examinations to the scientific branches of the British army has been perfectly satisfactory, and especially in that country of which he is so distinguished an ornament, and which has contributed a very large number of young men who are a credit to the profession with which they are connected, I disagree, however, with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), when he speaks of the ap- 2337 plicability of competitive examinations for officers of the line. The test of learning which you would apply to a young man who is a candidate for a commission would be no necessary test of his capacity for the service in which he is to be engaged. It would be just as if you wished to find out whether or not a man was an excellent pugilist, and the test you applied was whether he could run fast. The test is not at all of the kind which would prove whether the man was capable of discharging the duties which he had to perform. My opinion, then, is that the House is right in maintaining for the Civil Service of India the system of competitive examinations which has now been established for several years. I am also of opinion that it would be expedient to establish the same system for the scientific branches of the Indian army which you have established for the scientific branches of the general army, and as it appears to me that principle is conceded by every one. So far as I understand the question we are now called on to determine, it is simply one as to the manner in which the competitive examinations is to be adopted. I think there is great force in the argument that it would be a departure from the ordinary principles of the constitution if we were to pass an act of Parliament which should render it imperative on the Sovereign to give commissions to particular individuals. I think the regulations which shall establish a competitive examination for the scientific branches of the Indian army ought to be based on Orders in Council coming from the royal authority, and not be a system imposed by a standing law. If, therefore, I am to understand from the Government that they are prepared to pledge themselves that they will issue an Order in Council establishing competitive examinations for the scientific branches of the Indian army, I should prefer that mode of accomplishing the object to having it done by Act of Parliament. The question is simply as to the mode of doing the thing, and it is not a question whether the thing is to be done. We have now arrived at the moment when this Bill must pass into a law. We have all of us in the course of the discussions that have taken place been compelled to surrender opinions which we have entertained, and the result will be a general compromise on the part of all those who have taken any part in carrying forward the measure. As the Lords have adopted almost all the recommendations 2338 we made, I am inclined to think that it would be graceful on our part to yield to them upon this question. I think, also, that the method of proceeding by Order in Council would be more in accordance with the general principles of the constitution than if we were to enforce the principle we are in favour of by an Act of Parliament.
said, he should be sorry to impute to the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government ignorance of constitutional forms, or to say that he attached not the slightest value to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to the prerogative of the Crown; but he must aver that the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman had wholly ignored the essential difference between the army of England and the army of India. He did not dispute the authority of the Crown with regard to the English army, but then there was a check upon it. Had they not a Mutiny Bill every year, and did they not grant supplies? There was no such check with regard to the army of India. He, as belonging to the middle classes, should stand by his order. He was not disposed to hand over to the Crown such power and such authority without those constitutional checks which they had a right to impose. They had a right to insist upon their original Bill; and as he considered that any one who was right could not be ridiculous, he, if he stood alone. should divide the House.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that if, as he understood was the case, the Government intended to adhere in the Indian army to the practice adopted in the Queen's army—if cadets intended for the scientific branches were to compete for entry into a military college—he should vote with the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) on this question.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Before the President of the Board of Control addresses the House, it will perhaps be convenient for him to hear the opinion of different Members, who, like myself, have taken some little interest in the subject now under discussion. I entirely agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this question of Indian patronage has really been the obstacle, certainly for half a century, to the transfer of the government of India from the Company to the Crown. It has really been at the root of the anomaly which has continued to the present time the government of that mighty empire in the hands of a commercial body. I have always felt the right solution of that ques- 2339 tion to be one of immense constitutional difficulty; and among other reasons which swayed me throughout this Session, in an earnest desire for the postponement of the decision upon this transfer of the government, was the difficulty which I felt respecting the future distribution of this Indian patronage. Now, I am bound to say, that in my humble judgment the Bill before us, as it went up from the Commons to the Lords, did in a very fair manner solve the difficulty by the distribution of patronage which it provided. To Her Majesty directly was given, by the 29th clause of this Bill, a great accession of patronage. The Governor General of India, the Governors of the Presidencies, the fourth member of the Council of India, and the Advocate General—all these officers are henceforth to be appointed by Her Majesty under warrant and by her sign manual. It placed these offices at the sole disposal of Her Majesty, acting by her constitutional advisers, whereas heretofore none of these appointments were made by the Crown; and with respect, I think, only to one of them, that of the Governor General (I am not quite sure as to the Governors of the Presidencies), the power of veto only was heretofore vested in Her Majesty. Then with respect to the civil patronage, as has been already stated, the arrangement which has prevailed for three years under an Order in Council—namely, that the civil service shall be open to the free competition of all classes—has now been confirmed by a clause assented to by both Houses, and is thus rendered irrevocable, except by a repeal of this Act duly sanctioned by the Legislature. Such a concession appears to me a most important one. It recognizes, for the first time in an Act of Parliament, the principle of open competition with reference to a great branch of the public service. Much, therefore, as it appears to me, is gained by the measure as it stands. But then comes the constitutional question:—By tying up that, or other portions of the patronage, do we infringe the prerogative? The House of Lords, in their Reasons, seem to assert that such an infringement is involved in the clause, as we sent it up to them, respecting a portion of the Indian patronage. Now, I cannot draw that fine distinction between the military patronage and other large portions of the civil patronage. In the very clause which gives to Her Majesty the great appointments I have mentioned, those of the Governor General and 2340 the Governors of the Presidencies, there is a special reservation of another very important branch of patronage relating to the Councils of the Governors of the different Presidencies; and there is a statutable assignment of that patronage for ever, not to Her Majesty, but to the Secretary of State in Council, with the concurrence of a majority of his Council. The clause does not say that Her Majesty's pleasure shall be taken. It does not even provide that these appointments shall take place under the sign manual. As I read the clause, these appointments are absolutely vested in the Secretary of State and a majority of his Council. Here, then, is a very important branch of patronage not to be exercised by the Crown; and with respect to the junior members of the civil service, I have already stated that these appointments are, by the consent of the House of Lords, henceforth to be given to those who upon an examination shall stand first in point of merit. The constitutional objection, therefore, whatever may be its force, appears to me to apply equally to both these provisions. Now, it is very remarkable that in the Bill of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) it was provided that there should be an attestation in respect to the European troops, to be furnished by Her Majesty in Council. The Bill sent up to the Lords provides no such attestation, and does not deal in the slightest degree with the transfer to the Crown of the attesting power with respect to the European portion of the Indian army. Clause 40, in the noble Lord's Bill, declared that all Indian officers henceforth should be the officers of Her Majesty. There is no such declaration in the Bill which we sent up to the other House. We have hitherto studiously reserved the entire question of the Indian army. It was so stated by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), who, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Vernon Smith), said that the whole question of the Indian army was referred to a Commission here, and partly also to a Commission in India, and that the subjects connected with the reorganization of that army were not to be mixed up with the question at present under discussion. Now, Clause 33 of this Bill, as we sent it up to the Lords, has drawn quite rightly the distinction between the military and the civil services. It has most guardedly recognized, to a certain extent, the authority of the Crown, yet without making a complete concession of the whole appointments 2341 to the Indian army. With regard to the civil service, it is distinctly provided that those persons only, without exception, who shall succeed in open competition shall be appointed; and as to the military service, Clause 33 enacts that the names of all persons nominated in the manner which the Bill provides shall be submitted and recommended to Her Majesty. But there is a reservation as to the scientific branches—the artillery and engineers; and in the clause immediately following that to which I have adverted, even with respect to them, as we sent it up to the Lords, persons who receive the certificate of superior merit are to be recommended for these appointments; clearly, therefore, recognizing the general controlling power of the Crown—not going the length as regards the military which we went as regards the civil service—but adhering to the principle that open competition in the Indian army, as in Her Majesty's army in the scientific branches, ought to be the rule of appointment. Now, it only remains to consider the question as between an Order in Council and an enactment by statute. If I could bring myself to believe that the application of the statute to the Indian army, in which Her Majesty's authority is not now supreme, was a dangerous infringement of the prerogative, nothing would induce me to vote in favour of that principle. It appears to me, however, there is no such infraction of this prerogative. But we are told that we in this House are enamoured of this principle of open competition, and that it may with advantage be applied to ourselves. Now, I do not wish to bandy any jeers and gibes of that kind with the other House of Parliament. To do so would conduce neither to the dignity of either branch of the Legislature, nor be quite consistent with the public interests. I am, however, entitled, in reply to such an allusion, to ask where is hereditary wisdom to be found? In what consists the justice of the taunt that India must henceforward be governed by gentlemen to the exclusion of the middle classes—a gentleman being defined to be something between a Peer of Parliament and those who buy and sell? Is this, I would ask, the only argument that can be advanced against the system of competitive examinations? Who, let me ask, founded—who won our Indian empire? Those who bought and sold. Who extended it? Those who bought and sold. Who now transfer that empire to the Crown? Those who bought and sold—a 2342 company of merchants—merchants, forsooth! whose sons are now not thought worthy to have even inferior offices in India committed to their hands. But are the sons of those who buy and sell necessarily not entitled to the appellation of gentlemen? Definitions are dangerous, but I should, nevertheless, like to know what it is that constitutes a gentleman. Why, Sir, it appears to me that if a man be imbued with sound Christian principles, if he have received an enlightened and liberal education, if he be honest, and virtuous, and honourable—it appears to me, I say, that such a man is entitled to the appellation. And who will tell me that among the sons of those who buy and sell may not be found men possessing literary attainments and a refinement of mind which places them in a position to bear comparison with the highest born nobleman in the land? Who, let me ask, were the conquerors of India? From what class have they sprung? Who was Clive? The son of a yeoman. Who was Munro? The son of a Glasgow merchant. Who was Malcolm? The son of a sheep farmer upon the Scotch borders:—Curibus parvis et paupere terraMissus in imperium magnum.These, Sir are the men who have won for us our Indian empire, and I entertain no fear that the sons of those who buy and sell, and who enter the Indian service by means of this principle of open competition, will fail to maintain a high position in our army, or that they will do anything to dishonour the English name. I have none of those fears, therefore, with respect to the adoption of this principle which are in some quarters entertained. I believe it gives a greater security to the appointment of efficient men than a mere system of patronage would afford. Patronage is liable to be constantly abused for personal or political purposes. It operates in many instances in cases in which the person who makes the appointment has little or no knowledge of the person upon whom the appointment is conferred. Open competition, on the contrary, brings the man before you. And what are his claims when he does present himself? In the first place, he brings with him the assurance that he is a man of industrious habits. He also affords some guarantee that he is a man of great self-control; that his life has been spent in virtuous pursuits, inasmuch as his attainments point out a preference for mental as contrasted with sensual enjoyments. Then, what is 2343 the ennobling spirit of his life? Ambition. A desire for honourable fame. What are the domestic virtues which he exhibits? A desire to win the favour and approbation of his friends, and eventually, in many cases, to contribute to the support of aged parents and other relatives. Such are the moral qualities which the principle of open competition will evince and secure, and upon these grounds I for one prefer that principle deliberately to patronage with all its corrupting influences. I cannot believe that I am violating any public duty or infringing any prerogative of the Crown in advocating the extension to a small portion of the appointments in the military service in India of a principle which Parliament has consented to apply to the whole of the Civil Service in that country. I cannot see the fine-drawn distinction which appears to be made between the two services; and if I am driven to a division, I shall feel compelled to record my vote against the Amendment which has been introduced into this clause in the other House of Parliament. At the same time I will put it to the House whether, under all the circumstances, it be really right to go to a division. I wish to pay no fine compliment to the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control. He has told us in emphatic terms that he would rather resign his office tomorrow than take any step which, in his conscience and judgment, he believed to be subversive of the principle for which he, in common with myself, has contended. In the honour of the noble Lord I place the most implicit reliance. I am perfectly willing to place trust in him, but I must be permitted to say that I do not think he now knows all the difficulties with which this Amendment is surrounded. I feel confident, however, that he would not give to it his support if he were not of opinion that, consistently with his duty, he could uphold the principle which I advocate. I am also prepared to admit that there is this difference between the application of the principle of open competition to the civil and its extension to the military service. In the case of the former you have experience to guide you; while in the case of the latter you do not as yet possess that salutary advantage. If, moreover, we leave this important question for the present, subject to be dealt with by an order in Council, experience will soon come to our assistance and tell us whether it be or be not desirable to fix by means of a legislative enactment the footing upon which 2344 it is for the future to stand. Having made these observations, I beg again to repeat my adherence to the principle of unrestricted competition, and if, therefore, the House should go to a division—a course of which I doubt the policy—it will be my duty to vote against the Amendment to which the noble Lord asks us to assent.
I concur with the right hon. Gentleman in every word which he has said with respect to the advantages of the system of open competition as opposed to the system of patronage. I agree with him, moreover, in the comments which by implication he has made upon the remarks to which expression has been given elsewhere upon this subject, and I am quite willing to repeat this evening to the House the pledge which a few days ago I ventured to give—namely, that I would support no proposition, come from what quarter it might, which in my judgment was hostile to the principle of open and unrestricted competition. What we have now to consider, however, is, whether, owing to the Amendment which has been introduced into this clause, that principle is or is not really in danger. We are not at present dealing with appointments in the Civil Service, or in the non-scientific branches of the army. It has been agreed on all hands that the Civil Service should remain open. It has been agreed, also, that for the present, at all events, the competitive principle should not be applied to the non-scientific branches of the military service. We are dealing exclusively with the Artillery and Engineers. The question which we have to consider, however, is not whether the system of open competition should be applied in the case of admissions to these two branches of the service. To its adoption in those instances the Government has given its assent. The real point at issue is, whether the application of that system should be regulated by an Act of Parliament or an Order in Council. The framing of such an Order in Council will necessarily rest with myself, and neither I, nor the Government of which I am a Member, could come to this House and say that we had fulfilled our pledges if that Order in Council were not to sanction the adoption of this principle of open competition in its fullest extent. Well, then comes the question, in what consists the difference, practically speaking, between the clause, as amended by the other House of Parliament, and as it stood when we 2345 sent it up to that House? Merely in the circumstance that in the latter case the guarantee—for the maintenance of the principle of free competition was supposed to be contained—I say advisedly was supposed—in the Act itself, whereas, if the Amendment of the House of Lords be adopted, it will rest upon the security of an Order in Council, backed, as I believe, by the universal feeling of the public, and by the power of this House, to intervene at any future time in case the agreement that has been come to should not be observed. Now, I say, that this supposed guarantee appeared to be, rather than was, actually embodied in the clause as it left the House of Commons. The clause then provided, "that candidates who might be found entitled, &c., might be recommended for appointments according to the order of their proficiency." "Recommended;" yes, but not appointed. There was nothing in the clause as it originally stood to render it compulsory on the Crown to make those appointments. All that it made imperative was, that the Minister for India should "recommend" to the Crown those who had passed one of these competitive examinations in the order of their success. The clause, therefore, afforded no legal guarantee that they would receive the appointments to which they had become entitled. It, no doubt, gave you a moral guarantee upon the subject, and that guarantee, I contend, the clause, as amended, still contains. For my own part, I have great faith in the system of competition by means of examinations. It is of comparatively recent origin, but it has steadily made its way. Every year brings over to it some new converts from the ranks of those by whom it was at first opposed. It will, I believe, prove itself eventually to be stronger than all Governments and all Parliaments—superior to every influence which can be brought to bear against it. Holding that belief, I am the less solicitous about the precise degree of cogency which may be supposed to belong to the machinery by which this system is proposed to be carried into effect. I would now ask the House to consider what has been done by the supporters of the competitive principle during the progress of the measure under our notice. The scientific branches of the army were not open to competition of even a modified character, except in the case of that very limited competition which took place amongst those who had already been nominated to 2346 Addiscombe. Whatever may be done under the Order in Council in that direction is so much clear gain to the principle which we advocate. And this is not all: for though practically the civil service was open to competition after the pledge given by the Government of 1853, yet it was not until the present year that the pledge was embodied in an Act of Parliament, and thus placed on an irrevocable footing. I mention these facts, because I think hon. Gentlemen who object to this Amendment do not quite understand the advance that has been made in this respect. We have for the first time declared that a Parliamentary title shall be given to Executive appointments. That is a new principle, which has not hitherto prevailed in this country. That principle you have extended to the civil service. Let me say, in passing, that when you have once admitted the principle, and laid down a rule to give a Parliamentary title to one class of offices, it is very difficult to draw a distinction that will limit its application to the civil service only. I think, therefore, that the advocates of the competitive system have gained largely already. With respect to the military service, it is simply placed upon the same footing as was the civil service five years ago, when competition was established by Order in Council. Looking at that circumstance, and, seeing that the principle of a Parliamentary title to Executive appointments has already been recognized by both Houses, it seems to me that the difference between that which we proposed and that which the other House has adopted is so small that, considering upon how many points they have given way, we should be justified in accepting the Amendment of the House of Lords.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
said, he must declare his preference for a statutory regulation over a mere Order in Council. He was in favour of open and fair competition as opposed to a system of patronage; and when they looked back to the way in which the patronage of the Horse Guards, which was in reality the patronage of the Court, had been administered for the last few years, he saw no reason to add to that patronage which the Court already possessed. Therefore he declared himself most strongly and emphatically in favour of open competition; and if the House of Commons yielded on this question, they would give way on a point which he considered to be of the utmost importance.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 98; Noes 53: Majority 45.
§ On the Lords' Amendment, in page 17, line 18,
§ MR. GRIFFITH
said, it appeared to him that the whole clause would be perfectly useless if that Amendment were retained, inasmuch as the announcement which it was proposed should be made to Parliament would merely state a fact which must previously have become known to the public.
said, what the Lords really meant was that in no case should publicity be required within less than three months after the order for commencing hostilities was sent out. The reason for inserting three months he took to be this—namely, to enable the Governor General to communicate with the Government at home, after he had received the order, and before it was made known to Parliament. It might so happen that the Governor General might reply that he had no means, without receiving reinforcements, of commencing hostilities. In that case the order would have to be suspended, and it would be very inconvenient if, in the interval, the order had been communicated to Parliament and the public, and the enemy had become acquainted with the intentions of the Government.
§ Resolved, that this House doth not insist on its disagreements to the Lords' Amendments in page 17, line 18.
§ Lords' further Amendment to Clause 54 agreed to.