§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ Sixth Resolution.
said, that the vote to which the House came on Monday last had imposed on the Government a task of some difficulty, because it had then been decided, not merely that permanent legislation should take place in the course of the present Session—not merely that the Indian Minister, under the new system to be created, should be assisted by a Council—but that the number of the Council, should be fixed, and that its members should not be exclusively nominated by the Crown. And although upon the point to which he was about to direct the attention of the House no formal vote had taken place, yet it was impossible for any one who had listened to the debates and had heard the opinions expressed by hon. Members sitting in all parts of the House, not to feel that there existed a great repugnance to the creation of anything like a popular constituency in this country to which should be entrusted the election of any part of the Council. That constituency not embodying any principle of representation, but being a mere device for the appointment by an elective process of a certain number of persons as a Council for India, it was felt that the creation of such a constituency was inexpedient, and ought, if resorted to in any case, to be so only after all other measures had failed. That being the case, it was the duty of the Government, to endeavour to combine and reconcile those two at first sight conflicting decisions, one of which had been formally arrived at, and the other implied by the general feeling of the House. With that view various plans had been proposed and considered with a view of giving effect to the principle of election, without necessitating the creation of an artificial constituency here. One proposition, which appeared on the paper in the shape of an Amendment, was that a certain number of the members of the Council should be appointed, either by the local authorities of each Presidency in. India, or by the Governor-General on their recommendation. 2222 No doubt that was a proposition the adoption of which would, to a certain extent, ensure the desired result. It was quite clear that members who were chosen in that manner, would be entirely independent of the Minister of the day; and it was also apparent that the Indian authorities would have, by reason of their local knowledge, the best means of choosing such as were most fitted by ability and experience to represent the government of India. On the part of that proposition, therefore, some arguments might be adduced of considerable weight; but, on the other hand, there was an objection to its adoption which it was impossible to overlook; neither the Governor General of India nor the governor of an Indian province could feel more than a very remote and indirect interest in the efficiency of the Indian Council in England, while on the other hand it was certain that they would feel the strongest interest in maintaining the efficiency of that which was immediately under their own eyes—namely, the civil and military service of India upon the spot. There was this danger, therefore, if they trusted to the Indian authorities to select any portion of the Council here, that those with whom the choice lay could hardly be expected to make so large a sacrifice as to deprive themselves of the services of the most eminent and efficient men in their employ; they would be much more likely to send home those for whom it was desired to provide an honourable retirement, and the Indian Council would get to be looked upon as a sort of shelf, as a convenient mode of getting rid of men whom the Governor General no longer desired to retain in India. But, even if they could reasonably expect that the authorities of India would be so self-denying as to send them their most efficient members, it was obvious that a result which might be equally inconvenient would follow, and that the maximum of efficiency in the Council here would only be obtained by the sacrifice of the maximum of efficiency in the civil and military service of India itself. Those objections were in his mind conclusive, against the adoption of the plan, plausible as at first sight it appeared, by which they could look to India for the appointment of a portion of the Council. The next proposition which he had had to consider was that which had been put forward the other night by the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham.) The Government had considered it with the 2223 deference which was due to the great ability and experience of the right hon. Gentleman, and, he might add, with that natural goodwill which arose from the undoubtedly friendly character of the suggestion which had been made. But having maturely and anxiously deliberated upon that proposition he had come to the conclusion that it would not meet all the difficulties of the case. The plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman for filling up vacancies was that the Council should themselves select three names, one of which should be chosen by the Minister. The objection to that mode of procedure was, that it would open the door to many and serious abuses. Those who had the power of selecting the three names out of which one was to be chosen might, if their selection of the three were to be final and conclusive, obtain almost with certainty the appointment of any person they might desire; because they would only have to couple the name of one person whom they considered fully qualified for the office with those of two others comparatively obscure and unknown, and thus there would be brought to bear upon the Minister a kind of moral compulsion to choose the one whom they wished to be selected. On the other hand, if the Minister were not to be limited to the three names which they sent up—if he might refuse to select any of them, and might send the list back for a further choice to be made, and if he had the power of repeating that process indefinitely, it was clear that the right of election as vested in the Council became a mere formality, and the ultimate choice must rest with the Minister alone. There was another objection. A great deal had been said with respect to the evils which arose from a divided responsibility, and he confessed he thought that of all divisions of responsibility the most dangerous and most inexpedient was that which would exist if an appointment were to be made, for which no one person, or body of persons, could be held responsible. A constituency, be it what it might, felt a natural pride in securing the services of able and illustrious men; and a Minister was naturally desirous to distinguish his tenure of office by making appointments which would reflect honour upon him, and would be for the advantage of the public service. But that feeling of natural pride and of legitimate self-satisfaction in a successful appointment could not be obtained by any one under a system by which neither the Minister nor the Council 2224 would be wholly and exclusively responsible for the choice. He thought that upon these various grounds the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, in the form in which it had been announced, was not one which could be satisfactorily entertained, either by the Government or the Committee. What, then, was the proposition which the Government intended to submit? They thought that, in deciding in favour of the principle of election, what the Committee really desired to express was, that the exclusive nomination should not rest in the hands of the Crown—that their object was, not so much to vest the choice of any portion of the Council in any particular body of men or in any particular constituency, as to take it out of the power of the Minister, and thus to lessen the amount of patronage. If he had rightly interpreted the feelings of the Committee in this respect, he hoped that they would not unfavourably receive the proposition which, on the part of the Government, he was about to submit. What they proposed, so far as the first appointments to the Council were concerned, was this:—They were prepared to accept the number of fifteen, which had been agreed to by the Committee the other night. Of that number they proposed that eight should be nominated by the Crown, and that the other seven, following to a certain extent the precedent set in 1853, should be elected from among their own number by the existing Court of Directors. This related only to the first appointments of the Council. With respect to the manner of filling up future vacancies, they proposed that every alternate one should be filled up by the nomination of the Crown, and that the others should be supplied by election, that election to be by the Members of the Council. He could anticipate at once the objection—and he hoped that it was the only one—which would be raised against this proposition by those who might prefer some other scheme. They would say, "Then you revert to the old system of self-election under which so many abuses prevailed." His answer was, that when they complained of the abuses that prevailed under the system of self-election, they were really contemplating a system under which self-election was the sole and exclusive method by which appointments were made. There was no doubt that any body of men, be it large or small, which had the exclusive power of filling up vacancies as they occurred in its own numbers, would sooner or later be apt to ex- 2225 clude all who did not agree in the opinion of the majority, and that this opinion would eventually become despotic, and would be able to perpetuate its own despotism. But because those abuses existed under a system of self-election exclusively, it by no means followed that they would also exist where the process of self-election was only part of the plan by which the whole body was to be chosen. In a word, they looked to the elective principle—self-election though it were—as tending to counteract the evils which might arise from simple nomination; and they looked to the power of nomination vested in the Minister as tending to neutralize the abuses which would spring up under the system of exclusive self-election. They did not consider either of those methods to be satisfactory by itself, but they looked to each to counteract the disadvantages of the other. In supporting this proposition, he must for a moment recall the recollection of the Committee to the position in which they were placed. It had been decided by a majority that the principle of nomination exclusively should not be adopted, and there was an equally strong feeling that any attempt to create a constituency charged with the election of the Council would be at best but a cumbrous and inconvenient expedient. If, then, there were to be an election, and no proper constituency could be found, it seemed that they were thrown back, as it were by a logical necessity, upon some such method as that which he had laid before the Committee. He had now detailed the plan that he proposed, and he confidently expected, looking at the spirit in which these discussions had been hitherto conducted, that it would be considered on its own merits. He hoped that those who took it into consideration would feel as the Government had felt, and would bear in mind, as he had been compelled to bear in mind at every step in the progress of this measure, the extreme difficulties which were involved in the settlement of this question, and at the same time the importance of its being speedily settled.
Motion made and Question proposed,
That the Members of the nominated portion of the Council shall be selected by Her Majesty, subject, as a general rule, to the qualification above expressed, and one-half at the least of the elected Members shall possess the like qualification.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that before the Committee were called upon to decide on the new proposition which the 2226 noble Lord had just submitted to them it would be desirable that it should be embodied in a Resolution and placed upon the Votes, so that hon. Members might have an opportunity of considering its precise terms. He wished, however, to call the attention of the Committee, and especially of the Government, to what he considered was a most important constitutional principle, which was involved in the whole of the points under consideration. He thought, with great deference, that hon. Members had conjured up a sort of imaginary bugbear in respect of the question of the constitution of the Council. It appeared as if they supposed that India was a separate planet inhabited by human beings not constituted like ourselves, not impelled by the same passions, governed by the same feelings, and amenable to the same general principles as regulated the conduct of all mankind; and as if the Government of India were smile peculiar mystery which men of good capacity, of honest intentions, and accustomed to deal with human affairs, would be incompetent to direct, and for the management of which some mysterious knowledge was absolutely required. With great deference to the opinions of other persons he was not of that opinion. It appeared to him that the people of India were very much like the rest of the human race with regard to the passions, feelings, and interests which guided them. There was this difference—that there were peculiar circumstances of caste, religion, and institutions in India, a knowledge of which might be necessary in order to apply to the people of that country those general principles by which the conduct of the human race was directed. There was no great difficulty in obtaining gentlemen who were perfectly acquainted with all those matters, and who would give that information to the Government which was necessary for the application of general principles to the good government of India. The general feeling of the House was not in accordance with the opinion of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), and other hon. Gentlemen of the Manchester school, and, therefore, he (Viscount Palmerston) was quite ready to abide by the Council. But he entreated the Committee to deal with the Council upon the established principles of the British constitution. Why should they have such peculiar jealousy of the Government of the day with respect to the selection of the Members of the Council? Was it the 2227 principle of the British constitution that the responsible advisers of the Crown should be divested of that peculiar responsibility which appertained to the selection of persons for executive and administrative functions? Jealousy of the Government was not felt with regard to any such appointments. He reposed no particular confidence in Her Majesty's present advisers, but he was perfectly ready to repose that confidence in their conjoint position which he, perhaps, should not repose in their individual judgment. So long as they held the responsible position of advisers of the Crown he was perfectly ready to give them all that discretion which belonged to the constitutional position which they held. Now, was there anything in the functions of a Member of a Council of fifteen, or of the whole of the fifteen, which was so peculiar, so important, or so mysterious as to render necessary the taking of such unconstitutional precautions with regard to his or their appointment? Was not the function of a Judge infinitely more important than that of one of these Councillors, and yet they did not require a Judge to be elected by some hocus-pocus contrivance— whether by the other Judges, or by any other machinery which would violate the responsibility of the Ministers of the Crown in the selection of the Judges? Was a Councillor more important than a Governor General or a Colonial Governor? And yet the latter were appointed by the Crown. If these appointments were bad, you could lay your finger upon the person who was responsible for them, and punish him if necessary. He therefore entreated the Committee not to introduce into the Indian Council, without the slightest necessity or advantage, a principle entirely foreign to the fundamental rules by which the British constitution was worked. He appealed to the Government themselves. He was sure that no one could have heard the speeches of the noble Lord on this subject without being satisfied that, in his own mind and judgment, the noble Lord was against the proposal which he had made. The noble Lord's mind was too candid to be able to conceal the independent judgment which he had formed upon the subject. He was sure that, the rest of Her Majesty's Majesty's Government only supported that proposal because they fancied that they were yielding to what was the fair sense of the Committee; but that sense was come to because hon. Members thought they, were voting according to the wishes of Her Ma- 2228 jesty's Government. He was quite sure that if Her Majesty's Government had declared boldly that they adhered to the constitutional principle of responsible nomination by the Ministers of the Crown, the decision of the Committee would have been very different from what it was the other evening. He need not say that there had been cases not very long ago in which the Government had a very strong opinion one way, and in which they did not think it necessary to follow exactly a Resolution in favour of which the House had pronounced a strong opinion. Some hon. Gentlemen thought that the Government then acted rather cavalierly; but the conduct of the Government at all events proved that, when they were of opinion that upon constitutional grounds a particular Resolution, come to by a single vote of the House, was not one to which it was their duty to conform, they had no difficulty in saying that they would follow the impulse of their own judgment. He, therefore, most earnestly entreated the Committee and Her Majesty's Government to give to this matter a more serious consideration than he thought had hitherto been given to it. If it were thought that the passage of the Bill would be smoothed—that feelings which were entitled to respect would be better consulted by adopting the proposition of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, and making the first Council to consist of persons who were now members of the Court of Directors, he should be perfectly ready to agree to that proposition. But let that be the act of the Government. Let not the responsibility of the Government in such a matter be shared by any person. Let the Government say at once that it was their intention so to propose the first Council. But he objected to the subsequent appointments being made by a hocuspocus plan of alternate nominations of the Council, because it embodied a principle which had been exploded by universal consent, even with regard to the local administration of municipal corporations. The principle of self-elected bodies was so objectionable that it was put an end to, and yet the Committee were now going, with their eyes open, and deliberately, to reintroduce into the general composition of the Executive Government that very principle. He thought the method now proposed would not afford any additional security for the efficient discharge of the functions of the Council. He was quite satisfied that the Government would be as 2229 capable as any other body of persons to select proper and efficient Councillors. If the noble Lord were called upon to form a Council what would he do in the first instance? He would consult his colleagues in the Cabinet of course. The Committee could not suppose that any Minister would be so blind and so headlong in his decisions as not to consult those whom he had around him, and in whose opinions he placed confidence. He would also consult other persons, who, from their knowledge of India, would be likely to assist him in considering his choice. He would then, upon the responsibility of himself and of the Government at large, make his appointment, and he (Viscount Palmerston) ventured to say that that appointment would generally be better than one made in either the manner suggested by the noble Lord or in that suggested by the right hon. Baronet. The noble Lord had not explained whether the alternate nominations to be made by Council were to be made by the whole Council, including that portion which was nominated by the Crown, or simply by those who had been otherwise nominated. That was an important matter and required explanation. [Lord STANLEY: By the whole Council.] Well, then, if it came to that, the Crown would always have the majority. That would substantially place the nomination in the hands of the Minister. Then let that be done openly which they were about to do substantially. Let them not violate a constitutional principle in order to come back in practice to that from which they were departing in theory. He gave the Government credit for having endeavoured, against he was sure their own honest and deliberate opinion, to conform to what they imagined to be the wish of the Committee; but he entreated them to follow their own judgment in this matter, and not to violate, for the purpose of catching a vote here or there from parties who might be personally interested, one of the fundamental principles of the constitution.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he was surprised at the observations addressed to the Committee by the noble Viscount which were intended to induce a belief that the course proposed by the Government in reference to the future administration of the affairs of India was a departure from what he called the true principles of the British constitution. The experience of the last seventy or eighty years, however, ought rather to convince the House and the country that the principles of the British 2230 constitution, as applied to the Government of India, were especially adhered to in the proposition of his noble Friend, who recommended, instead of leaving all the appointments of the Council entirely in the hands of the Crown, with all the corrupting influences which might possibly be exercised by the Minister of the day, there should be interposed a sufficient guard and control as to those appointments. He would remind the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) that when the great struggle first began between Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox, upon the question of India, the issue raised was distinctly whether the Crown, through the Minister of the day, should possess the power of influencing, to an uncontrolled extent, the government of India, or whether that government should not be to a certain extent left independent of the Crown in the hands of those who were better acquainted with the circumstances and wants of India than any mere Minister could be. The contest was decided in favour of the latter principle, and after having been recognized in Mr. Pitt's Bill, the same principle was confirmed without a dissentient voice in 1793, when the Charter was renewed. Again, in 1813, the same principle was continued, when the Charter of exclusive trade was nullified, and when, in 1833, the East India Company ceased to be a trading company, so impressed was Parliament with the truth of that principle that the governmental authority over our Indian possessions was retained in the hands of the East India Company, for the sole reason that it was nut expedient to give to the home Government of the day all the influence which they would have if the administration of Indian affairs was left absolutely in their hands. In 1833, when the noble Lord was a Member of the Government, that principle was adhered to, as it was also in 1853, when he was again a member of the Government, the last time when the Government of India was settled upon a new basis, and when the right hon. Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood), the noble Lord's colleague, proposed really what was the substance of the present Resolutions—that there should be a Council partly nominated by the Crown and partly elected by those acquainted with India, her interests, and her necessities. The noble Lord said he thought his noble Friend the President of the Board of Control, with his candid mind, was hardly satisfied with the proposition which he now made. The noble Lord 2231 the President of the Board of Control was one of those able and independent spirits who always speak in this House the sentiments they entertain, and he would scorn to utter sentiments or to propose any measure which he did not believe to be best fitted for the object he had in view. The noble Lord, however, was not insensible, and no one could be insensible, to the enormous difficulties by which the question was surrounded: he had pointed them out with fairness and frankness, and he had explained the reasons which led him to believe that it would be best to adhere in regard to the future government of India to the principles that had been found the best for that as well as for this country. The noble Lord opposite (Viscount Palmerston) then said what was somewhat astonishing from such a quarter, that the influence of the Government was so great, the confidence of the House in the Government was so unbounded, that they would accept any proposition which the Government might think proper to make. If that were so, it was very gratifying to the Government, but it must be owing to the circumstance that the House and the country were convinced that the present Government had applied their minds to this Indian question with all the honesty and ability they could bring to bear, in order to enable them to submit such a plan as would command the confidence and the approval of the House and the country, and form a basis for the future good government of India. He (Mr. Walpole) cordially supported the proposition of his noble Friend, because he thought that in dealing with the great interests of a great country it was not wise, as a general rule, to depart more than could be avoided from principles which had been found to be beneficial, such departure being likely to lead to inconveniences of a most serious character. Another reason for supporting the proposition of his noble Friend was, that by a Council partly nominated and partly chosen, as was proposed, they would provide for more independence of action on the part of the Council than, by a Council appointed in any other manner. A third and equally strong reason for supporting the proposition was, while in all our other propositions it was possible to bring to bear by means of representative institutions something like the public opinion of the country upon the administration of its affairs in India, that could only be done by means of the knowledge and experience possessed by others, and if those 2232 who possessed that knowledge and experience were admitted to the Council of India, independently of any nomination on the part of the Crown, there would be a provision to some extent for the application of public opinion in regard to the administration of Indian affairs by the Minister of the day. For those reasons he supported the proposition of his noble Friend as one most likely to conduce to the welfare and good government of India.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he wished in the first place to know whether they were proceeding in a regular manner, for he believed the President of the Board of Control had not concluded his speech by making any Motion.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, in that case they were proceeding regularly, but the plan of the noble Lord was a new plan, and had not been so fully developed at present as to justify the Committee in coming to a decision upon it at once. The noble Lord had not told them, supposing his mixed plan of nomination and election should be adopted, what tenure of office he proposed, what the salaries were to be, nor had he touched in the slightest degree upon the question of patronage. Those matters were all most important questions that must be embraced in the scheme before the Committee could decide upon the new plan. It might be supposed that he was somewhat piqued at the rejection of the suggestion which he made on a former evening, but it was not so. That suggestion was rather harshly repudiated by the great body of hon. Members opposite without deliberation, and it had now, after some deliberation, been rejected by the Government. He, therefore, considered the proposition entirely got rid of, but he did not at all regret having mooted it, for he had been desirous, as far as he was able, and, without reference to party feeling, to afford an opportunity for escaping from the great difficulties with which the question was surrounded. He bowed cheerfully to the decision of the Committee upon the points which he had raised. Before any assent could be given to the proposed plan he thought it but reasonable that ample opportunity for considering it should be afforded. The Seventh Resolution being now withdrawn he thought it was not expedient that any decision what ever should be come to until the Resolu- 2233 tion to be substituted for the Seventh Resolution had been proposed in a tangible shape. He had no desire again to argue a point which he thought had been decided by a majority in the House, but the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had again raised the question of nomination by the Crown, and invited the Committee to adopt that course as the only one that would be consistent with constitutional law. The Secretary for the Home Department had already touched upon that point. The noble Lord, in 1833, when he (Sir J. Graham) had the honour of being his colleague, and again in 1853, when he was also his colleague, had no constitutional objections to a similar cause. According to the provisions then made, the Governor General of India was appointed by the East India Company. That high functionary was nominated and appointed by the East India Company without any violation of constitutional principles, and the Crown had only a veto upon the appointment. All the difficulties which were attached to the plan that he ventured to sketch out already existed in the power of veto possessed by the Crown at present. A veto was the only power which the Crown had hitherto exercised in respect to the Governor General of India and the Presidents of the various Councils. With respect to the Commander in Chief the Crown had power to appoint to the command of Her Majesty's forces in India, but it rested with the East India Company to confer upon him the command of their forces in that country. A mixed power had therefore existed, without any violation of the British constitution, in respect to these great appointments. The noble Lord said that the people of India were our fellow-creatures, with passions and feelings like our own, and that there could be no difficulty in governing them. It should, however, be borne in mind that the people of India, who were 200,000,000 in number, had peculiar prejudices, strong but strange religious feelings, and that extraordinary doctrine of caste to which the noble Lord had himself adverted, all of which rendered the task of governing them no easy or light one. When he heard such opinions from the noble Lord he could not help thinking that the attraction of Birmingham was becoming very strong upon him, and that the more the noble Lord discussed this question the more and more he gravitated towards the hon. Member for that constituency. Indeed if they went on debating 2234 this matter much longer he feared that the views of the hon. Members for Birmingham and Sheffield would gain the ascendant, and that if the task of governing 200,000,000 of men was to be treated as an easy one, the ordinary rules in respect to other Government departments must be applied to it. But his own opinion was widely different. He did not think that an English Minister appointed to the supreme rule in reference to Indian affairs, and who held his office in accordance with the vicissitudes of domestic politics, would be competent, without the very best advice, to govern India. And if that experiment was tried, his conviction was that it would end in the most fatal disasters. It only then remained to consider the constitution of the Council. The Committee having deliberately determined that it should be a Council partly nominated and partly elected, he could not shut his eyes to the difficulties of election, and he had stated his strong opinion that the existing constituency ought not to be continued, and that its enlargement would only aggravate the evil. He was glad therefore, that the Government had decided to withdraw the Seventh Resolution, while at the same time it would be premature to make any remarks upon the new suggestions of the Government. Every scheme they had put forward approached nearer and nearer to the principle of direct nomination, and in the one just submitted the principle of election was feebly recognized. The noble Lord proposed at once to nominate eight Members by the Crown, which would be a majority of the Council, and the Court of Directors eighteen in number, were to nominate the remaining seven out of their own body; and that Court, it should be remembered, already contained five Crown nominees. As to the filling up of vacancies, and the probability that the Minister would consult his Council on that point, his decision would, of course, much depend on the confidence which he might think fit to repose in the body whose advice he was to take. The Minister for India, being a party man, could hardly altogether divest himself of prejudices, whether just or unjust, against the nominees of the party to which he was bitterly opposed in politics. He feared, therefore, that the practical working of this large preponderance of nominees would not be so smooth and easy as the noble Lord seemed to suppose. He would not, however, be led further into a premature dis- 2235 cussion of the measure, but he earnestly appealed to Her Majesty's Government not to press a decision upon this question today. He thought that the Committee were entitled to time for consideration, and if would be most expedient that the scheme now advanced by Her Majesty's Government should be put into a tangible shape, and should include the mode of appointment, patronage, salary, and all the other matters to which he had adverted. No great delay would necessarily result; the Resolution might be drawn up and printed by to-morrow morning, when it could be brought on for discussion on Monday next, without interrupting the true course of our proceedings.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that he would confine himself to the state of the business before them and the mode in which the Government proposed to deal with the question. The House, at its last meeting, resolved by the Fifth Resolution that the Council should not be composed by pure nomination. As far as the Government were concerned they might have rested on that Resolution, and confined to the Bill the mode in which they proposed to carry it into effect, but they thought it due to the House, after the course which the discussion took on Monday, that they should not proceed with the subsequent Resolutions without in candour communicating to the House the outlines of the new plan they intended to propose to give effect to the determination already arrived at. The Government then proposed, if it were agreeable to the Committee, to omit the Sixth and Seventh Resolution, and not to submit any Resolution to carry into effect the propositions just made by his noble Friend, but to defer the discussion upon them until they appeared in the Bill. If this plan were adopted he did not despair of getting through all the Resolutions to-day, in which case the Bill might be introduced at once, and the second reading fixed for Monday next. With regard to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, (Sir James Graham) who complained that the important subjects of tenure, salary, and patronage, had been omitted, the right hon. Gentleman would find that the subject of patronage was referred to in a subsequent Resolution. It had been already decided and announced that the Government would recommend the appointment of the Council quamdiu sc bene gesserint, but he thought that it would be ob- 2236 viously premature to come to any Resolution at present with respect to the amount of salary. He hoped that the House would be satisfied with the statement made by the noble Lord, and proceed with the remaining. Resolutions, which would give them a fair chance of obtaining Legislation at the earliest possible period. Under these circumstances he should not attempt to reply to the observations of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, which seemed to him to be based upon that fallacy which might be termed the "constitutional fallacy." They had been answered by his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, and still more satisfactorily by the policy which the noble Lord himself as a Minister had recommended and sanctioned. There was only one more point to which it was necessary to allude. The noble Lord had triumphantly concluded his observations by the assumption that the nominee Members of the Council were more or less likely to become tools of the Minister. The noble Lord told them that if they filled up the vacancies by nomination, it was clear that the Minister would always have a majority, but the noble Lord must have been thinking of the nominees that he had himself proposed. The objection to the noble Lord's plan was that his Councillors must necessarily be the tools of the Minister, seeing that they would owe their appointments entirely to the favour of the Crown. He believed that the Councillors chosen under the plan of his noble Friend the President of the Board of Control would be independent Members of the Council. Though they would owe their position in the first instance to the favour of the Crown, yet the moment they obtained their seats under the conditions provided by the Bill they would be just as independent as if they had been appointed by the most popular system of election. There was, therefore, a wide distinction between the class of nominees suggested by the noble Lord and those to whom the Committee were now asked to give their sanction. In conclusion he would suggest that the Motion before the Committee be withdrawn, and that the Resolutions should be omitted.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had hardly done justice to the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. The great objection to nominee Members of the Council, because they would not be inde- 2237 pendent, came, with few exceptions, from the Ministerial side of the House, and not from the Opposition. The noble Lord in proposing the appointment of eight Members to be nominated by the Crown, had just the same idea of those eight Members as the right hon. Gentleman said he had of the eight whom he proposed to nominate. But hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House, and especially when the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Bill, strongly urged the necessity of having more independent Councillors than nominees could be expected to be. Therefore, the argument which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had employed against the noble Lord ought to have been turned against the great body of those by whom the right hon. Gentleman was himself surrounded. The difficulties in which they were involved with respect to this question were more curious than considerable, and for a great many of them the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle was responsible. He brought forward a Motion the other night which he now seemed quite glad that the House had decided to be altogether impracticable. He then persisted in voting for a Resolution which did not mean in the least what he meant. And by the force of an argument, which was very subtle and very convincing to those who had not much studied the question, he involved them in voting a Resolution which they now all saw to be a positive absurdity, and with respect to which the Government and those who supported them entertained very different views, for there was no doubt that the Resolution of the Government meant a kind of election entirely different from that proposed by the right hon. Baronet. Some portions of the House voted for one sort of election, and some for the other, and now the Government had come to the conclusion, which the House would, no doubt, sanction, that both kinds were inadmissible, and that it would be much better to get out of the difficulty by adopting some simpler plan. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer bad suggested a mode of escape which was as judicious as it was ingenious—namely, that they should say nothing more about it, but should drop the Resolutions. They all knew that they first agreed to proceed by Resolutions, in order that they might have a great many days' discussion of the Indian question, without exciting hopes in the minds of hon. Gentlemen who sat on those (the Opposition) benches that they 2238 might damage the Government by rejecting its propositions. They had now got rid of that difficulty, because it was by that time pretty well agreed that they were not to change the Government on account of anything which might arise out of this discussion. They had discussed the Resolutions until they knew as much about them as they were ever likely to know, and, considering the time of the year, the state of the weather, and that of the Thames— which, instead of answering the purpose of a river to cleanse and refresh the shores which it washed, only conveyed unsavoury smells into the House—he thought it better that the Bill should be introduced at once, and that what remained to be settled should be decided upon the discussion of its clauses. When the measure came before them on its second reading, he wished to give notice that he should offer some suggestions to the Government, which he had hitherto not had opportunity of doing. At the same time, he must say that he thought all their discussions had tended to the one point, that in this case ingenious contrivances were of no use whatever. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was perfectly right when he said that the Home Government, being intended not for the purposes of Indian legislation, but for the check, control, and supervision of the government in India, ought to be as simple as possible; and he (Mr. Bright) was of opinion, that unless you could get rid of nine-tenths of the matters which were referred to this country, you could never have a Government of India worth calling a Government. It must be a Government of circumlocution, of delay, and of neglect. He had recently seen some evidence taken before a Committee upstairs, with which he would not detain the Committee, but which went to confirm the opinions which he had always entertained on this subject. The real Government must be in the residencies, and he should be quite willing to trust its control to any Gentleman who was a Member of that or the other House of Parliament—certainly to the noble Lord (Lord Stanley)—whether as President of this Council or of the Board of Control, or Secretary of State for India, with such helps as were necessary in an office of that nature. His own opinion was, that in five years' time they would abolish this Council, either because it was obstructive, or because it had fallen into contempt.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he rose to make an explanation. He had been told 2239 by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) that he had adopted an exploded constitutional fallacy in regard to the assertion of the principle that the Sovereign ought to nominate the persons who were invested with the executive government of India, and it was said also that he had for a long time pursued a contrary system of policy. He begged leave to say that the fallacy was upon the opposite side. The Company were really the Sovereign of India for the time being in trust for the Crown, and all the appointments of the Directors were made by that Sovereign in the only manner in which it could make such appointments, being an aggregate body—namely, by the aggregate votes of its members. Therefore, there was no fallacy whatever in his argument, which was strictly in accordance with the principle for which he contended.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that the explanation of his noble Friend was extremely tempting, and it was difficult to resist following him on the important question he had raised. He had not succeeded in showing that no peculiar circumstances existed with respect to India which rendered a departure from the ordinary rule justifiable, but, on the contrary, he had shown that the peculiarities of the position of India were so great as to have required the introduction of an anomaly tenfold greater than that which now shocked him so much—namely, the construction of an artificial sovereignty in India in order to bar what the noble Lord called the exercise of the principles of the British constitution. He would not enter upon that question now, nor would he say more upon the general question than that, as the hon. Member for Birmingham had founded his plan for the home government of India upon the expectation that we could get rid of nine-tenths of the business, it was not likely that those who did not share his anticipations would approve his scheme. With regard to the present position of the question it seemed to him, that as there was to be no decision with respect to the new plan submitted by the Government, it would be worth considering whether they had not better defer the other Resolutions, which had reference chiefly to matters of detail, until they knew whether the plan of the Government would be accepted or rejected. After having laid down the general principle respecting the construction of the Council, they were now about to drop the consideration of how that Re- 2240 solution should be applied; and it was, therefore, obvious that they could not give their votes with respect to other matters on the mere assumption that the change indicated by the Government would take place. If they were to omit the sixth and seventh Resolutions, if they were not to decide upon the plan of nomination and election, upon the tenure of offices by the members of the Council, whether they were to have seats in Parliament, whether there was to be a Secret Committee, what were to be the salaries of the Councillors—a most important point as affecting the rank, dignity, and consideration of the Councillors, and the class of men who would hold that office—it would not be advantageous to proceed with the eighth, ninth, and tenth Resolutions regulating the mode of transacting business. Nor did he think that, without knowing, how the Council was to be composed, they could satisfactorily dispose of the eleventh and twelfth Resolutions, which dealt with the question of patronage; and he could see no object in proceeding with the thirteenth, which referred to the transfer of the real and personal property of the Company. Therefore, he thought they had better at once drop the discussion of the Resolutions and allow all these matters to be settled when the Bill was brought in.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he quite concurred in what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, that if the Resolutions as to the mode in which the Council was to be nominated and elected were to be withdrawn it was not necessary to go on with the remaining Resolutions until the Government had placed before the House the whole of the details of their plan embodied in a Bill. There were, however, some points upon which he thought the Government might be personally asked for explanations at the present moment. He was not in the House when the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control made his statement with regard to the constitution of the future Government of India, and therefore he was not prepared to give any decisive opinion upon it, but if that which was stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member far Carlisle was true, that according to that plan the principle of election entered very slightly into the constitution of the Council, he regarded it as a very great recommendation indeed. It would come, as it appeared to him to this—that nomination by the 2241 Crown would be so far checked and guarded that it should be effectual. It had always appeared to him that the patronage of India was very different from the general patronage of the Crown, and when, therefore, Parliament declared that the greater portion of the Council should consist of men who had either served in India or resided there for a certain number of years, they did put a check upon the exercise of the patronage of the Crown by admitting only certain classes of person with respect to whom such patronage should be exercised. There would be many men coming from India with such recommendations and such high claims upon the Government that practically it would be precluded from passing them over, and whatever Government might be in office at the time they would feel equally bound to recognise their general services. Nor would there be found any inconvenience in a Government giving a post to a competent person, though he might be a political opponent, because such persons would find themselves in a similar position to Judges, who were chosen from a certain class of persons in high position at the bar; and whether such men had been appointed by one Lord Chancellor or another, it was always found that men of eminence, admirably fitted to the performance of their duty, had been chosen. He thought that the House and the country must be highly gratified by the mode in which the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control had discharged his important duties. There was a fairness and candour about him, coupled with an evident determination to apply his high abilities to the consideration of this most important question, which eminently entitled him to the best confidence of the House and the country. Although, possibly, some errors might be made both with respect to the Resolutions and the subsequent Bill, he felt convinced that if the noble Lord continued to apply himself as he had done to this question, he was likely to arrive in the end at a decision which would be most advantageous both to India and England. As be (Lord J. Russell) understood, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had admitted the principle that the Members of the Council should be appointed during good behaviour, and so far his (Lord J. Russells) proposal had been accepted. On the other hand, he understood the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control to say, the other night, 2242 that he did not object to the introduction of the principle of competition as regarded the cadets in one portion of the Indian army. There were very considerable authorities in favour of this experiment, and he had in his pocket a letter written by Sir John Lawrence to a friend, which contained a decided opinion that competition was the best mode of obtaining cadets for the Indian army. If the noble Lord would be willing to admit the principle, he must allow, in return, that the experiment was somewhat new, and he was quite ready to leave the question of the extension of the principle to the future observation and judgment of the noble Lord. But he wished to know whether he was right in considering that the noble Lord was of opinion that it would be expedient that the secret despatches should be submitted to the future Council, as well as those despatches which related to foreign affairs, war with independent States, and those which had reference to the administration of justice. He was a Member of the Cabinet at the time of the Affghan war, and concurred in that war, but he was convinced that if at that time the Cabinet had been assisted by an Indian Council, composed of twelve or fifteen members, thoroughly informed on Indian affairs, and having cognizance of all the secret despatches which had been sent out, it would have been a very great advantage. No one, indeed, could overrate the benefit which would be derived in the Government of India if the Secretary of State were assisted by eminent men intimately acquainted with Indian matters, as well foreign as domestic. Such questions went to the foundation of the prosperity of British rule in India. They could not have wars with Native States without armies, they could not have armies without pay, and they could not have pay without taxation, and often they could not have taxation without considerable discontent. He knew very well that the question as to the manner in which we should repel aggression was a matter which must frequently be settled in India, but at the same time anything upon which depended time ultimate prosperity and good government of India ought to be submitted to the Council. The House might say that no war in India should be undertaken until Parliament had been called together, but it was very doubtful whether this power of undertaking a new war could be limited and restrained by such provisions. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox were both agreed in the pro- 2243 priety of restraining wars in India, yet there had been nothing but conquest ever since. But, while he doubted the efficacy of any provision in an Act of Parliament in checking wars in India, he relied much upon the influence of a Council at home, which would not be swayed by those passions, excitements, and warlike instincts of different interests that sometimes impelled the Governors General of India to undertake war. If the noble Lord were not now prepared to accede to his views, he would on a future occasion raise a discussion whether the whole of the Council should not be admitted to a knowledge of all the despatches now referred to the Secret Committee. He trusted that the remaining Resolutions would be set aside, that the five Resolutions agreed to by the House would be reported, that the Government would introduce their Bill as soon as possible, and that the noble Lord would move the second reading on an early day, in order that the new principles introduced should be fully discussed, and that they should be enabled to legislate on the matter during the present Session.
said, that Government did not, of course, propose to ask the Committee to come to a final decision, or, indeed, to any decision, upon the plans he had then for the first time laid before them. It was the intention of Government that full time should be given for its consideration, but after the vote come to the other night they thought it right to take the earliest opportunity of stating the manner in which they proposed to give effect to the principle then adopted. He would not, therefore, enter into objections which had been made to it further than to make one remark as to its operation. He had been told by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) that although the Government might call this an elective body, yet that the members of the Council would be really nominated by the Crown. He supposed that the noble Lord, in stating that objection, was thinking rather of a Council nominated for such a term of years as he himself proposed than of a Council appointed for the more permanent tenure recommended by the present Government. A Council of fifteen gentlemen, holding office virtually for life, would be an independent body, and would exercise its functions with little reference to the wishes of any particular Minister. It was extremely improbable, after the first creation of the Council, that the Minister who actually pre- 2244 sided over it would be the same person by whom any large number of its members had been selected; on the contrary, the Council at any given period would consist of gentlemen nominated by successive Ministers, and would therefore contain a fair representation of all political parties. The noble Lord the Member for the City (Lord J. Russell) had asked how Government intended to deal with the important question of patronage. In reply he might state that the principle of open competition was in his eyes so valuable, and likely to lead to such beneficial results, that even in the distribution of military patronage it ought to have a fair trial. But it was only an experiment, and, although Sir John Lawrence and other eminent authorities had expressed themselves in its favour, there were many distinguished persons who doubted its value. Government, therefore, would not be justified in undertaking to do more than to give it a fair trial on a scale sufficiently large to allow its worth to be properly tested. What they proposed with respect to other kinds of patronage was in the main a continuance of the existing arrangement. The Minister, as at present, would have a share, but the great mass would be placed in the hands of the Council. The noble Lord had also asked a question relative to the appointment of a Secret Committee and the powers which it was to possess. He could not give a definitive answer to that question at the present moment. He fully appreciated the advantages which the noble Lord expected to accrue from giving to every member of the Council a knowledge of all that was passing; but, at the same time, the Committee were bound to consider that there were, from time to time, pressing matters which required to be decided upon in the utmost haste, and delay would arise if it were necessary upon every question, however urgent, to consult a numerous body of advisers. The noble Lord had likewise referred to the expediency of not making war in India without the consent of Parliament. He agreed in theory with the noble Lord, but the Committee had to bear in mind that in India wars might often spring up on the spot arising out of local quarrels, and not undertaken in consequence of instructions from home, or capable of being controlled by despatches from England. If, from unforeseen circumstances occurring in India, a war should actually be commenced, it would be too much to say beforehand that the Government ought 2245 not to be at liberty to prosecute it without obtaining the sanction of Parliament, which at a certain period of the year it might be impossible to get. In conclusion, he thought it was the general feeling of the Committee—and, if so, the Government were ready to acquiesce in it—that the Resolutions had answered the purpose for which they were originally introduced. In dealing with a subject on which it would be impossible for the Government to know beforehand what the decision of the House might be upon a variety of important questions, it had been thought expedient to take the sense of the House upon each singly, and then to frame a measure upon the basis so obtained. He thought, however, they had gone far enough in the way of proceeding by Resolution. The House had decided that there should be a Council; it had also determined that that Council should be to some extent elected; and it had expressed its intention in the most decided manner to legislate in a definitive sense for India during the present Session. Upon other questions—such as the questions of tenure of office and of patronage—although the House had not formally expressed its opinion, the Government had heard enough in debate to know what was the general feeling; and therefore they were prepared to acquiesce in the proposal not to proceed further with the Resolutions, but to introduce, without unnecessary delay, a Bill founded upon them.
said, that when men were defeated they generally indulged in a spirit of prophecy, and therefore he was not surprised that the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) after his proposal to govern India by a Secretary of State alone had been rejected, had expressed the opinion that in the course of a few years the proposed Council would be discarded, to the satisfaction of the country. He must congratulate him, however, on having made one eminent convert (Viscount Palmerston). The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle had gone too far in stating that his proposition had been rejected, inasmuch as a large portion of it had been adopted by the Government. For his own part he was not without hopes that better Councillors would be selected under the plan sanctioned by the Committee than if the principle either of nomination or election alone had been adopted. He anticipated that there would be an honourable emulation between the Government and the Council as to who 2246 should appoint the most competent men. He hoped that in the plan proposed with regard to appointments to the military service the Government would take care that the interests of the officers of the Indian army were not neglected. As they spent the best part of their lives in India few of them had any English interest, and, though he was as opposed as any one could be to the Motion of an hereditary army, he trusted that the claims of their children would not be rejected under the operation of a competitive system. Many of the most eminent men now in India—Sir John Lawrence included—if subjected when young to a competitive examination, would never have been in their present position. Personally, he should be rather indisposed to complain of being relieved from the distribution of patronage, for it had always been to bins a source of great anxiety. It seemed to be thought that the members of the Secret Committee had something to do with the despatches which they signed, but there could not be a greater mistake. They merely signed their names to the despatches sent down to them from the Board of Control. They had no power to alter them, nor as a matter of right to remonstrate against them, and, though they had taken upon themselves to do so on occasions, there was no obligation for the President to pay the slightest attention to them. As far as the despatches themselves went, during the two years that he had been a member of the Secret Committee they were of the simplest and most trivial nature, and the greater part of them might have been made public without the smallest inconvenience. The great difficulty which he had found was to keep separate in his mind what he had read in the secret despatches and what in the columns of The Times or elsewhere, and he was in perpetual fear of committing perjury by letting out some little nothing or other which had come to his knowledge in his capacity of a member of the Secret Committee.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he had heard with great satisfaction the announcement of the course proposed to be taken by the Government, as he had, for some time, been of opinion that it would be utterly impossible to proceed to legislate for India this Session, if further time were taken up by their discussing the remaining Resolutions and the Amendments on them. This mode of proceeding by Resolution had had the advantage of disclosing the real views of the 2247 Government, the real views of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton and his friends, and the ultimate views also of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. He was glad to find that the noble Lord the Member for the City had, of late, very much shifted his ground, and was gradually coming round to the opinions of the Government. For himself, he had beard with increasing satisfaction the enunciation of the opinions held by the Government on this matter, and with increasing dissatisfaction the views entertained by those who preceded them in office. The House had now before it two antagonistic sets of opinions—one presented by the Government, which embodied the feelings and sentiments of those who were connected with India; the other presented by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton and his friends. He had no sympathy with the East India Company, and eared nothing for it; bat he was bound to say that Her Majesty's Government appeared clearly to appreciate the general views of those who had had experience of India, and who felt a deep interest in its future welfare. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, however, appeared to have become a disciple of the Manchester school in regard to India; and if the doctrines of that school were carried out, they would be entirely subversive of the future happiness of the people, and probably at no distant day of the British rule. But it was clear, from the division which had taken place, that the great majority of the House was against those views, and would not allow them to be put into practice. The good Government of India could not be entrusted to local authorities, but must be secured by a constant and careful supervision of an official council in this country. A great deal had been said about the Secret Committee. It must be remembered that that body was originated by an Act of Parliament which was passed when statutes were being framed for regulating the conduct of the Government on the breaking out of the war with France; and the real intention of the clause respecting the Secret Committee was to give to Her Majesty's Ministers absolute and uncontrolled authority to regulate all matters of peace and war, even though they might affect the government of the East India Company in India. He believed that the power conferred by that clause had been much abused, and that under its authority many things had been referred to the Secret Committee which related solely and 2248 exclusively to the Government of India. It was never intended by the statute that the Minister should have the power of overruling the constitutional Government of India, and he hoped that the noble Lord, in framing his Bill, would bear in mind what was the origin of the Secret Committee, and what ought now to be its functions. He suggested that the Chairman ought at once to report progress.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
expressed a hope that the Government, in their Bill, would abandon that last remnant of the elective principle which was embodied in the scheme they had submitted that morning. Whatever might be its worth as a principle, the small shred that was left could be of no value. He hoped, therefore, that before the Bill was laid on the table the Government would adopt the advice of Lord Palmerston, and come to the conclusion of making all the Members nominative. If the independence of the Government nominees was good for half of the Council, why not for the whole? In his opinion, the whole should be nominated for a period of ten years.
§ COLONEL SYKES
contended that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was mistaken in supposing that by the constitution the Crown was entitled to nominate the Members of the Council. Taxation without representation was not one of the principles of the constitution. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, who did not profess to be Liberals, had proposed that the Council should be partly elected and partly nominated. This was carried by a majority of sixty-five; but he was sorry to see that the Government was then wavering and inclined to give way. The selection by the Court of Directors of some of their own body was no election—nothing but breeding in and in. It was said to be difficult to get an elective body; there was one already existing—the proprietors of India stock, and to them might be added the returned officers of the civil and military services—forming a constituency of nearly 4,000 independent men. There would be no necessity to canvass, in proof of which he would refer to the mode in which candidates were elected to the Royal Society. Under the proposed constitution of the new Council, the majority would be Government nominees, the numbers being eight to seven; but in the present Court of Directors there were only five Government nominees. He deprecated this change, for all the evils of India were 2249 traceable to the interference of the Government, which led to the Burmese war and the annexation of various provinces, He concurred with the noble Lord the Member for London in thinking that there should be no Secret Committee in the new Council. The only person who was responsible for the proceedings of that mischievous body, the Secret Committee, was the President of the Board of Control. If necessary the Council could sit in secret, as the Court of Directors did frequently. He thought those hon. Members who had placed Resolutions on the paper had a right to have them discussed. He had himself placed six Resolutions on the paper, involving most important points, which must be considered at one time or the other. He would not, however, press these Resolutions against the sense of the Committee, but would bring them on on the second reading of the Bill. He entreated the Government to maintain in all its vigour and entirety the constitutional principle of election as applied to the Council.
§ MR. DUNLOP
said, he wished merely to express a hope that the Government would also consider the subject upon which he had given notice, and require the concurrence of a majority of the Council in all matters relating to the revenues of India, the charges thereon, and contemplated loans.
§ MR. RICH
said, that having been connected many years with India, and taking great interest in it, he wished to call attention to the extreme extravagance with which the Government of India had hitherto been carried on, which extravagance, it appeared to him, was to be perpetuated. It would be all very well if the £32,000 a year, which the salaries of the Members of the Council would amount to, came out of the Consolidated Fund, for then it would be open to discussion in the House, but they were taxing the people of India to pay for the salaries of persons in this country. He was opposed to the principle of superannuating the Council, and he was also of opinion that the Council should only be chosen for a limited period of years, upon which question he should move an Amendment in Committee.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, the great object was to secure the independence of the Council, and if that were attained by the present proposal of the noble Lord, or by any other proposal, he should be perfectly satisfied, It had been said 2250 that the men who governed India could govern any country in the world; and if the Company was abolished it should never be forgotten that they had conferred the greatest advantage on India and honour on their own country. He had doubts of the principle of competition being made to answer.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had shown sound judgment in not attempting to engraft on the Bill any constituency for the election of the Council, while he limited the application of the elective principle very considerably. He would further suggest that the seven Members proposed to be taken from the present Coart of Directors should be chosen by the Government themselves, instead of being selected by the Court from its own body. Thus the Government would be able to satisfy their own consciences, because they would be appointing as Councillors men who had at least originally been chosen by the elective principle.
§ LORD ADOLPHUS VANE-TEMPEST
said, he thought that sufficient time would not be given for the consideration of the Bill if the second reading were fixed for so early a day as Monday next. He could not help thinking that the Government were wrong in giving up to so great an extent as they had done the principle of election with reference to the future constitution of the Council. He saw no difficulty in providing a competent constituency interested in India, and he should move an Amendment for the purpose of providing en independent constituency for some portion at least of the Council. Many important questions yet remained unsettled, and therefore he would appeal to the Government to allow a longer time before the second reading was brought on. He wished, also, to know whether the second reading would be taken at a morning sitting?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the appeal of the noble Lord was a very fair one. Indeed it had already occurred to him that Monday might be too early a date for the second reading of this measure, and that if the Bill were, as he hoped it would be, introduced that evening, he would propose that the second reading should to taken on Thursday evening next.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
observed, that while admitting that the competitive system of education might well be applied in the scientific branches of the Indian army, he thought that another test should 2251 be taken for commissions in the cavalry and infantry, and that some standard, not too high a one, should be agreed upon. He hoped the noble Lord would consider this point, as in many cases, competitive examination would give the commission to the person least qualified for it.
said, he agreed in the main with the noble Lord. While generally in favour of the system of competitive examination for commissions for the Indian army he could not shut his eyes to the fact that some men of great practical experience were not in favour of it. It was a subject on which they ought not to dogmatise, but look to experience as the test by which to judge of its working. He was willing to go the length of giving it a fair trial, but no further.
§ MR. ELLICE (Coventry)
said, that he was glad to hear a word of common sense from the noble Viscount. Of late there had been many complaints of the want of education on the part of many of the officers of the army. [Cries of "No!"] Certainly the discussions during the last five years on the subject would justify him in that statement. He hoped they would not run to the other extreme, and fancy that a good scholar must always be a good officer. The Marquess of Wellesley, with all his scholarship, would not in all probability have proved so good a general as his brother the Duke of Wellington.
§ LORD ADOLPHUS VANE-TEMPEST
said, he must deny that the education of the officers of the army had been neglected during the last five years, and challenged the hon. Member for Coventry to prove his assertion. Now, as to competitive examination, he knew of an instance of rejection because the applicant had spelled jeopardise without the o—"jepardise"
§ MR. ELLICE
remarked, that he had only stated what the general complaint had been as to the education of our officers during the last few years.
§ COLONEL SYKES
remarked, that no officer could at present enter the Indian army without undergoing an examination sufficient to show that he had received the education of a gentleman.
§ LORD ALFRED CHURCHILL
suggested that commissions should be given to our public schools to be competed for.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
That the Chairman be directed to move the House, that leave be given to bring in a Bill pursuant to the said Resolutions.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he thought that by the withdrawal of the Resolutions the Bill of the Government would be placed in very great peril. What he had risen for was, to ask whether the Government meant to recognise the right of the public creditors of the East India Company?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that what was expressed in the Resolutions on this subject would be introduced into the Bill. The position of the Indian creditor would not, in the least degree, be changed.