HC Deb 25 June 1858 vol 151 cc447-71

Order for Committee read.


, who was indistinctly heard, was understood to say that he considered this one of the most important measures that had ever come before the House. It was of far too great importance to be made a matter of party feeling, and he, for one, should abstain from offering any factious opposition to its progress. They were about to deal with an immense territory, with an immense population, and the subject should, therefore, be dealt with with the greatest deliberation. India had for almost a thousand years been the victim of almost as many sufferings as could afflict a community. It had suffered under the Mahomedan rule. The East India Company, also, during the sixty years they had borne sway in India, had confined their attention to raising revenue, and had neglected their duty of elevating the people. The consequence was, that the latter were at the present time probably in the worst condition of any people on the face of the earth. It was our duty in now transferring the government of that empire from the East India Company to the Crown, to take measures for improving the condition of the people, and to carry out those material improvements which would not only raise the condition of the inhabitants of India, but increase the commerce between that country and this, and be the ultimate means of in- troducing a better and a sounder religion into Hindostan.

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 (Powers to be exercised by the Secretary of State).


said, that if he understood this clause aright, the Secretary of State would exercise the powers over the finances of India which were now exercised by the Directors of the East India Company, under the check of the Board of Control and the Court of Proprietors. It was right that the Committee should consider thus early whether they thought it desirable that the Secretary of State should exercise this great power. At the same time he hoped that the President of the Board of Control would give a clear explanation of the intentions of the Government as to the extent of the power which they thought should be committed to the Secretary of State, and also as to whether they had any objection to the addition of the words "in council," after the words "Secretary of State," thus sharing the powers of the former with the latter.


said, he was prepared to move the Amendment suggested by the hon. Baronet. His wish was to make the Council a substantial and essential part of the governing power. He thought the way in which the Act of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was drawn in this respect was much better than the present Bill. If they had a Council at all, it was far better that such Council should be a reality and not a mere form. For his own part, he felt quite convinced that the responsibility of the Indian Minister in that House would always be most imperfect. His idea of the proper functions of the Council was, that it should take a vital and constant part in the whole transaction of Indian business, and that it should in all matters offer its advice and submit its decisions to the Indian Minister, of course reserving to him the right of disregarding such advice and overruling such decision. The model, in fact, which he would propose for the constitution of the Minister and his Council was that of the relative positions and functions of the Governor General in India and his Council. In a communication that had been sent by the Court of Directors to the President of the Board of Control that day, and which he trusted had been read by hon. Gentlemen present, it was set forth that the only mode by which the direct action of the Minister and the existence of the Council, as a co-operative body, could be brought into complete harmony would be by transacting, as far as possible, all business by the Minister and the Council. From the principle of No. 2 Bill, and of the present measure, so far as regarded the constitution of the Council, he differed very widely, and he thought they were much better dealt with in the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. With the view, then, of carrying out the principles he had advocated, he would move the insertion in page 2, line 23, after the words "Secretaries of State," the words and "Council."


said, that before the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control rose to address the Committee, he should wish to make a few observations in reference to the clause under discussion. The noble Lord, in moving the second reading of the Bill upon the previous evening, had adverted to several important alterations which he proposed to introduce into it at a subsequent stage, and he (Sir J. Graham) for one could not help thinking that it would be more convenient if the Bill had been committed pro forma, and the promised alterations introduced before they were called upon to discuss them. The clause under discussion was one of the utmost importance. Its operation, as it was at present drawn, would be to transfer to the new Minister for India, and to him alone, all those powers which were now exercised by the President of the Board of Control and the Court of Directors,—not in India merely, but also in this country. Now, it was, in his opinion, extremely expedient to ascertain what limitations were imposed upon the scope of the clause by other portions of the Bill, because as it now stood the transfer of power for which it provided was of a character entirely unlimited. The Committee must bear in mind that under the present system the President of the Board of Control had no authority whatever to expend in England one shilling of the money drawn from Indian revenue. He could not, for instance, without the sanction of the Board of Directors, pay pensions from that source, while any order for expenditure in India itself which he might make must be issued through the medium of the Secret Committee. The clause, however, in its present shape would confer upon the new Minister unlimited power to order the outlay of money in India without the concurrence of a single member of his Conned, while his authority to grant pensions and order expenditure for general purposes in this country would be uncontrolled. Now, what limitations, he should like to know, did any other portion of the Bill impose upon the exercise of a power so extensive? He found no indication of any limitation whatsoever with respect to expenditure, except, perhaps, in Clause 58, which, however, was very equivocally worded, and which, in his opinion, would operate inefficiently as a restraint upon the Minister. With regard to the question of patronage, the power which the clause would confer would also be of a character almost totally unrestricted. The whole of the appointments in India, with the exception of some first appointments in the army, and the first appointments to clerkships in the civil service, would be in the hands of the Minister. The Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton placed those questions upon a different footing. In accordance with the 12th clause of that measure there could be no expenditure of Indian revenues in England without the concurrence of four members of the Council —or, in other words, half the entire body as proposed by the noble Lord. If he (Sir J. Graham) understood the remarks which had fallen from the President of the Board of Control on the previous evening rightly, he seemed disposed to look upon any such limitation as that as inexpedient, deeming that a sufficient check upon the expenditure of the Indian revenues would be afforded by bringing it under the supervision of that House by means of accounts to be laid before them long after the expenditure might have taken place. Now, he must say that the check which the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton proposed would, in his opinion, be far more likely to prove efficient than that which, by a general supervision, such as he had mentioned, upon the part of the House of Commons would be secured. The question was one of considerable importance, and he should, therefore, before he assented to the passing of the clause, wish to learn from the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control what checks he proposed to put upon the new Minister: first, in regard to expenditure in England, in place of the control now exercised by the Court of Directors; secondly, as to expenditure in India in lieu of the check now existing in the shape of the Secret Committee; and lastly, what limitations he proposed to put upon them in respect to the distribution of patronage.


said, that with respect to the comparison which had been drawn by the right hon. Baronet between the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton and that under discussion, it must be borne in mind that the members of the Council which the noble Lord proposed to appoint were to hold office only for eight years, while the present Government proposed the appointment of a Council whose members should hold office for life. In the former case the Council, being nominated for only eight years, would, in point of fact, be responsible for its acts, inasmuch as its members would at the end of that period have to retire from office or to be re-chosen; while in the latter case the Council, being nominated for life, would be practically irresponsible. He should therefore wish to know what check would, under these circumstances, be exercised over their proceedings.


said, that as the Committee were now discussing the third clause, which transferred the power and authority of the East India Company to the Crown, it appeared to him inexpedient to consider at present the constitution of the proposed Council. He wished, however, the Government would state whether they intended to transfer to the Minister, without limitation, the patronage of the Company and the whole power with respect to the revenue both in England and in India.


said, that at present the President of the Board of Control had not the power to expend a single shilling in England, though he could expend any amount he liked through the Secret Committee, as was done in one case when £120,000 had been expended in the construction of certain war steamers in India. The Court of Directors could not expend any amount of money without the concurrence of the President of the Board of Control, and then only to the extent of £500 in single grants, or £200 per annum in pensions. If the expenditure exceeded that amount, the Directors were obliged to obtain the sanction of the Court of Proprietors. The clause as it stood did away with the check now imposed by the Court of Proprietors, and empowered the Minister to give any order he pleased for the payment of sums out of the revenues of India. He decidedly objected to such a provision, which he thought had never been contemplated, and should therefore vote for the Amendment.


said, the House bad already decided in favour of a responsible Minister, and he hoped that question would not again be raised. The clause undoubtedly gave the Secretary of State an unlimited power over the expenditure in India. In considering the propriety of that provision it was necessary to look at the existing practice. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke last, although a member of the Court of Directors, had not accurately stated what the powers of that body were. The Court of Directors had power to expend any money in London which might be requisite for carrying on the home Government, but neither they nor the President of the Board of Control had the power of making any donation to an individual exceeding £600, or of granting a pension exceeding £200 per annum, without the sanction of the Court of Proprietors. He thought the Committee would agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) that some such cheek should be introduced into the present Bill. It was his intention to propose at a future state that no gratuity to an individual exceeding £600, or no pension exceeding £200 per annum should be granted by the Secretary of State without the sanction of that House. That would be an effective check, would bring the affairs of India from time to time before the House in a legitimate manner, and would enable Parliament to ascertain whether the increased expenditure of the Indian revenue was justifiable or not.


said, he would beg to remind the Committee that the clause commenced with the words "save as herein otherwise provided," and as extensive alterations might be made in subsequent parts of the Bill, the discussion of many of the questions which had been raised might well be postponed till some future occasion. His own opinion was that there was only one constitutional mode of supervising the expenditure of India, and that was to have an annual Appropriation Act. That had been found to be a sound principle in the conduct of our home finances and expenditure, and it would be of similar advantage in dealing with the revenues and outlay of India, inasmuch as the Government would have to come to Parliament on the subject.


said, it was clear, as stated by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton), that the words "save a6 here in otherwise provided" included any check which the Committe might thereafter think proper to impose. It could not therefore be said that by passing the clause as it stood they would prevent themselves from imposing upon the Minister any check which they might deem either expedient or necessary. An hon. Gentleman had proposed to add, after "the Secretary of State," the words "and Council," which would have the effect of dividing all the powers to be given by the present Bill between the Minister and those by whom he was to be assisted. That was a fair proposition considered abstractedly, but it entirely did away with the whole professed object of legislation for India. If there was one impression more distinctly left than another upon the minds of those who heard the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton at the beginning of the Session, it was that the principle which he desired to assert and carry out in practice was the principle of undivided responsibility on the part of the Minister for India. Now, if they were to lay down that principle they must not shrink from conferring at the same time that which was necessary to undivided responsibility—namely, undivided authority. He had been told of provisions in the Bill of the late Government which made it necessary that in all matters of expenditure a certain number of the Council should concur. His reply was that the Council proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was one of an entirely different character and constitution from that proposed by the present Government. The Council of the late Government was composed of nominees appointed for a short time, whereas the one now proposed was to be appointed for life, a half of the members not being nominated by the Crown. It appeared to him that such an alteration as that now proposed would introduce a double responsibility, first to the Council and then to Parliament. No one could desire that the Minister should be otherwise than responsible; and he felt all the difficulty of providing such a machinery as would satisfactorily answer the purpose intended—namely, to make that responsibility real and effectual. But he was convinced that if they legislated on the principle uniformily laid down by the majority of the House that Session they must make the Minister for India responsible to Parliament. He had been asked whether this clause would not give the Minister the control over the patronage as well as over the expenditure of India. He thought it was a sufficient answer to that to point to the clauses from thirty-one to thirty-four, in which regulations were prescribed more especially as to patronage. The civil service appointments were there provided for by open competition, as were also those connected with the scientific branches of the army. As to the other admissions to the army, a scheme was laid down by which the patronage was so divided that the great bulk of it would belong to the Council, What, however, he wished to impress upon the Committee was, that if they inserted in the clause general words dividing the power between the Minister and the Council, it would probably be found that they had taken away from the Minister more authority than they had intended to take away, and that they had, in fact, introduced in the very first step of their new legislation that double and divided responsibility which it was the professed object of that legislation to prevent.


said, he fully agreed with the noble Lord that this clause must be considered in connection with others in the Bill; although the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) was quite right in saying, that if the clause stood alone it would give unlimited power to the Secretary for India. With regard to patronage, the objection had been answered; but as regarded expenditure, in India and in this country, the Bill provided no limitation to the power of the Minister. He considered that the present Council was more obstructive than that proposed by his noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston). He was sure that the Committee would think that there ought to be some check in this respect on the Minister for India, for if not, he would possess the most enormous power ever given to any Minister. It would enable him, as the clause then stood, to distribute the revenues of India at his pleasure among his political creatures, without any control from Parliament or any other body. Accounts were, indeed, to be submitted periodically to Parliament, but they all knew how illusory that formality was as a security against improper expenditure. Even the suggestion that all Indian pensions beyond a certain amount should be voted by Parliament would not much mend the matter. The reason why the Members of that House looked after the Estimates for the United Kingdom was, because they were answerable to their constituents if they sanctioned any unnecessary Votes. But in the case of Indian expenditure it was manifest that no such motive would operate. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets proposed that there should be an Appropriation Act for India, but he (Mr. Vernon Smith) thought such a Bill would share the fate of the Indian Budget; and it would not, in the month of August, excite much attention, or cause payments to be looked into which ought to have been made by the Minister. Either by means of the Council, or otherwise, sonic check must be placed on a Minister invested with such extraordinary powers.


begged to add his request that the noble Lord would consider the power which he was about to grant to the Minister with regard to the finances of India. He admitted that, in considering the question of the government of India, they must put aside their notions of freedom, and proceed as if they were enacting an arbitrary measure. But there must be some security for expenditure. There was no security that the Council would act as a check, for the whole power of the President of the Board of Control was handed over to the Minister for India without even the intervention of the Secret Committee, and he might order any expenditure he chose. Was that a power to give to any man? He would further ask if the Minister was to have the power of raising loans without even the knowledge of the Council? Might it not be enacted that no order for the payment of money should be given without its going through the Council and being known to them? That would act as a check in some degree. As to the check proposed, of laying the accounts before Parliament, that would not be of the least use. It was absurd to think the House would attend to periodical financial accounts, which were too often laid on the table of the House only to be forgotten.


said, that the right hon. Gentleman had evidently not read the whole Bill, as it was clear that, when he put his question with regard to the power of raising loans being vested in the Minister, he had not looked at Clause 45, by which the powers of borrowing now possessed by the East India Company were transferred to the Council, to be exercised under the direction of the Secretary of State; so that there could be no loan without their knowledge. The 39th clause also required, that the revenues remitted to Great Britain and moneys arising in Great Britain, should be placed to the credit of "the account of the Council of India," and that all such moneys should be paid out upon drafts signed by three members of the Council.


said, the Bill clearly provided that all the home expenditure should pass through the Council, and that no money should be paid out by order of the Secretary of State for any purpose whatever. That was a much better security than the production of accounts in Parliament or the introduction of an Appropriation Bill.


said, he was aware of the clause in question, but it was so inconsistent with the argument of the noble Lord with regard to the responsibility of the Minister, that he thought it provided for a mere formal signature, just as three Lords of the Treasury signed certain warrants. If he was to understand that the members of Council did not merely sign, but had placed on them the responsibility of their signature, he had got a great deal of that he was anxious to obtain.


said, he understood that the effect of the 39th clause was, that when the Secretary of State by his authority ordered money to be paid out of the home Treasury, and it was paid by draft, it was signed by three members of the Council; but the Secretary of State had the power to order money to be paid.


said, that if it was intended under the 39th clause that the Secretary of State should have no power to order the payment of money at home without the consent of a majority, or at least a certain number of the Council, all he had to say was that some words must be added to make the meaning clear. The clause, however, was confined to home expenditure and did not touch the much larger item of Indian expenditure, on which there appeared to be absolutely no check whatever. At present the President of the Board of Control could certainly order an extraordinary expenditure for war purposes through the Secret Committee, which in itself was some sort of control, but with regard to ordinary expenditure he had not the power to increase a single salary except through the Court of Directors. But in this Bill there was no check whatever upon the Indian expenditure.


said, that if money was to be voted by the Council, what was the meaning of the 23rd clause, which provided, that in case of any difference of opinion in the Council, the determination of the Secretary of State should be final. If the Secretary of State had not the power to order the payment of money, that exception ought to be included in the claim.


said, he must really deprecate verbal criticism on clauses which were not before the Committee. It was plain from the clause now before them that a check, more or less effective, was intended to be provided in subsequent clauses. When those clauses came up, then would be the time to consider whether the check they offered was sufficient. If he were to give an opinion, which he would rather not, he would say that it was intended that the expenditure should be determined by the President and Council, but how they were to determine it was to be left to themselves. He would, however, much prefer that the checks should not be discussed till the clauses containing them came on for consideration.


said, that Clause 39 referred to monies remitted from India, but Clause 3 put the whole of the revenues of India at the disposal of the Minister.


said, he would be contented to take the discussion on this point on the subsequent clauses, but he begged to remind the House that the noble Lord himself had set the example of referring to them by stating that those clauses were sufficient for the purpose, whereas he (Sir C. Wood) thought he could see that they were not. He was satisfied to let this clause pass after what had been said.


said, if there was any blame to be attached for the discursiveness of the debate, the blame rested with him, for it appeared to him that this clause transferred to the Secretary of State unbounded power over the whole resources of India. In saying this he begged to observe that the words of the clause that professed to limit the power had not escaped him; and therefore he asked the noble Lord what were the provisions which limited those general powers. With regard to the home expenditure, he must say he did not find the words of the 39th clause, to which the noble Lord had referred him, sufficiently explicit, and with regard to the Indian expenditure, he did not find in the Bill any restraint whatever. The Secret Committee, as it stood now, was an effi cient moral restraint upon the President of the Board of Control; but even that restraint was taken away in the present Bill, and the Secretary of State would have it in his power to increase salaries or to raise the expenditure to an unlimited extent, without the Council knowing anything of the matter, or Parliament either, till at some distant period the accounts were laid upon the table of that House. So much with regard to the expenditure. With regard to the patronage, he found that there was no check upon the home patronage, except that the first appointment of clerks was to rest with the Council; but all the other appointments and all promotions were to be in the hands of the Minister alone.


said, he hoped that the clause would be modified in such a way as to afford some check on the power of the Secretary of State. He would suggest, however, to the hon. Member (Mr. C. Fortescue) that he should alter the terms of his Amendment from "and Council" to "in Council."


said, was a mistake to suppose that the President of the Board of Control could not increase the ordinary expenditure in India. It was true he could not do so directly, but he could order the Court of Directors to do it; and if they refused, he could compel them by mandamus.


said, that the Secretary of State, in this Bill, was in the same position with regard to his power over revenue as the President of the Board of Control. The clause which the Committee ought to look to was not only the 39th but the 24th, which provided that no communication of any kind should be sent to India by the Secretary of State without the knowledge of the Council. This would give the Council that supervision and control which it was thought they ought to exercise.


said, that according to the interpretation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the power of the President could not be exercised without the knowledge of the Council, but still they would possess no control over him. On the other hand, if a veto was given to them, it would take out of the Secretary's hands the power vested in him by the Bill, as if the Council could prevent the Secretary from ordering any expenditure, they could prevent him from making any alteration of policy which would involve an increase of expenditure. For this reason he was opposed to inserting the words "Secretary of State and Council," as they would give the Council a veto; whereas the words "Secretary of State in Council" would require the business to be transacted with the advice and in presence of the Council, and this latter he thought more in keeping with the rest of the Bill.


said the 24th clause only provided that the orders of the Secretary of State should be submitted to the Council, not that the Council should have any power to impede their execution. The President of the Board of Control could only now enforce his orders by application for a mandamus, which was a very different proceeding from that which would take place under the 24th clause. The Secretary of State would, by this Bill, have greater powers than the President of the Board of Control, and he was of opinion that some greater restraint was necessary.


said, he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer had overlooked the 27th clause, which provided that orders now sent through the Secret Committee might be sent by the Secretary of State without communicating with the Council. Suppose a Minister chose to expend half a million of money on steamers in a war with China, the Council would not be able to interfere in the matter. It was clear that the power of the Minister would be most arbitrary and despotic. He wished to know from the Government, therefore, whether it was intended that the Minister should be allowed to expend any sum he might please without the knowledge of the Council or the knowledge of Parliament.


said, he must protest against this inconvenient mode of discussing clauses which were not before them. The clause was a plain transfer of power to the Secretary of State, subject to certain checks in subsequent clauses; and, as a plain man, he would recommend hon. Gentlemen to reserve their objections till these clauses came up, and in the meantime to give notice of the Amendments they intended to propose.


said, he would alter his Amendment by moving, after the words, "one of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State," to insert the words "in Council." The effect of this Amendment would be that in ordinary matters the Council would be cognizant of what was contemplated by the Secretary of State, though they would not have power to overrule his decisions.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 23, after the words "Secretaries of State" to insert the words "in Council."


said, he thought the effect of the Amendment would not be that which was intended. if the Government would adopt the course followed on this point in the Bill of the late Ministry he believed they would solve the difficulty. That Bill contained a clause that no grant whatever by way of increase of actual charge on the revenues of India should be made without the concurrence of the President and at least four members of the Council. If it was the intention of the Government that no new grant—he was not now speaking of an order relating to war or to public works—should be made out of the revenues of India by the Secretary of State without the consent of the members of Council, a distinct clause to that effect had better be brought up subsequently.


said, the present clause was a mere sequitur of the provision that the Government of India should be handed over to the Crown. If the Amendment should be adopted the Minister would be completely controlled by the Council. He trusted, therefore, that it would be withdrawn. After they had decided on this clause, he did not see anything to delay the Committee until they arrived at the 7th clause, on which he had given notice of his intention to move an Amendment.


said, he could not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Fortescue), as he thought it would change the whole character of the measure, and hoped the Government would pay some attention to the suggestion of his right hon. Friend (Sir George Lewis).


said, that nothing more was required with respect to the new Council than existed with regard to the Council and the Governor General of India. All the official business must be done by the Governor General in Council, and he thought the new Minister ought to hear his Council and take their advice. That system had acted admirably in the Indian branch of the Government, and he did not see why it should not adequately well in the English branch.


said, he should sup- port the Amendment of the hon. Member for Louth, because he believed it would be the best check against the misuse of money and the misuse of patronage.

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

The Committee divided:—Ayes 77; Noes 221: Majority 144.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4.


said, that by the present law three Secretaries of State and one President of the Board of Control might sit in the House of Commons. There was, therefore, no objection to the new Secretary of State being empowered to sit.

Clause agreed to, as were also Clauses 5 and 6.

Clause 7 (Nnmber of Members of Council).


said, he did not feel any constitutional jealousy at giving the Government the appointment to fifteen new places. He was not all apprehensive that it would affect the liberties of the country, but he thought that fifteen would be a cumbrous and inconvenient number for the Council. There was a great deal of force in what was urged by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), that a large transmission of matter from India to London would no longer take place. They all knew that an infinite number of details and records of transactions and orders need not be transmitted. A system prevailed somewhat like that which was complained of in Lombardy with regard to the Austrian management, that even horse-shoes were sent from Vienna. Everything which was wanted in India was sent from England. Records of the most minute transactions, accompanied by an infinite number of pages of writing, were sent home, and, having been settled ten months before in India, there was nothing to be done but to put the papers up and think no more about them. If there were Committees, he had no doubt they would refer such documents to the chief clerk of the department to make a short abstract, in order that the matter might be brought into a narrow compass, and the Committee saved the trouble of reading all the papers. He, therefore, begged to suggest that at all events they should come back to the number which the noble Lord the President of the Board of Control seemed disposed to adopt, and, instead of fifteen, make twelve the maximum number, leaving the Govern- ment, if they thought proper, hereafter to reduce that number. It seemed to him that in framing the Bill the Government had been unable to divest themselves of the impression that the new arrangement must in some degree resemble the old one, and that because the Court of Directors consisted of eighteen they must have for the Council as nearly as possible the same number.

Amendment proposed in page 3, line 20, to leave out "fifteen" and insert "twelve."


said, that in his opinion the noble Lord was entirely mistaken in supposing that the Indian business transacted in this country had at present a tendency to decrease. The fact was that a considerable addition had been made to it of late years in consequence of the construction of railways and other public works, and that addition must continue in active operation for a long time to come. He should also say that, as far as he could judge, India must, under the present conditions of her existence, continue to receive all her manufactured articles from this country. It was true that she possessed raw material in abundance, but she was utterly deficient in manufacturing power, and many years must elapse before that deficiency would disappear. The noble Lord had followed in the steps of the right hon. Member for Northampton (Mr.Vernon Smith), who thought the Committees did nothing at all, but that the Chairman transacted the whole business; and he even went a step further, and said the clerks did the principal portion of the business. The right hon. Member for Northampton said, if a record were kept of the attendances it would show how little the Directors attended; but there had been a record kept for the last fifty years, and it would show the right hon. Member how regularly they had attended on Committees. He hoped the Committee would not diminish the number of fifteen.


said, he was prepared to support the proposal of Her Majesty's Government that the number of the Councillors should be fifteen. He would state why he preferred that number to twelve. There were two ideas of an Indian Council. One was, that it should be a body to be consulted by the Minister only occasionally and as his convenience might dictate, and on which the ordinary transaction of business was not to be dependent. Now, if he contemplated the creation of such a Council as that, he should prefer to have the number stand at twelve, or even at that smaller number which the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had proposed in his Bill. But that was not his idea of the Council. He thought it essential that that body should be a party to the India business from its inception to its close; and he understood that the number fifteen was chosen with a view to have a Council sufficiently large to admit of its division into Committees. In reference to that latter point, however, there was a defect in the Bill. He had understood his noble Friend the President of the Board of Control to say, that the Government intended that the Council should be divided into Committees, and that the ordinary business of India should be initiated in those Committees, passing from them to the Council and from the Council to the Minister as was the case with the Committees of the Court of Directors. That seemed to him to be a very proper proposal, and not only proper, but very important, and even essential to a wise settlement of the question. But he did not find in the Bill any provision for giving effect to such an arrangement, and he would suggest that a provision to that effect should be introduced into the measure before it passed through Committee.


said, it appeared from the evidence given by Sir James Melvill before the Committee of 1853, that ninety-five portions out of one hundred of all the real business of the Company were transacted by the clerks who drew up the draughts of reports, and that the remaining five portions in every hundred were all that were initiated or transacted by the Committees. Nor need they fear that any great addition would be made to the business of the Indian Government in this country in consequence of the construction of railways. The Committee which was at present inquiring into that subject found that the railway business which devolved on the Government was less than it was generally supposed to be, and he believed the Members of that Committee were disposed to think that it ought to be greatly diminished by leaving the railway arrangements in the hands of the railway companies. ["Order!"] Then, with regard to public works, the communications relative to every culvert and bridge from the Board of Works in India involved an unnecessary amount of correspondence. He did not believe that the members of the committees of the Court of Directors read through all this business. He would vote for the number of twelve, because it was a nearer approximation to the number of four, which was ample for the Council of India. In India, where all the real business was transacted, there were only four members of the Supreme Council, and twelve members would be quite enough to review the business done in India.


said, that they had already travelled over the ground so frequently that he should pass over it rapidly upon that occasion. He entirely agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford that the number of the Council must depend very much on that other question, of the nature of the duties which they would have to discharge. He had stated on the preceding day, that the Government proposed that the Council should be divided into committees for the transaction of business. His right hon. Friend wished that division should be made obligatory in the Bill. If he looked to the 20th clause he would there find, not, indeed, an absolute obligation, but a provision to the effect that "it shall be lawful for the Secretary of State to divide the Council into committees for the more convenient transaction of business." He mentioned that merely for the purpose of showing that the plan of dividing the Council into committees had been contemplated from the first by the Government. But they had been told that the business of the Indian department would henceforward be less than that which had hitherto devolved on the Court of Directors and on the Board of Control. He would not undertake to say how that might be in future years; but it was clear that no such reduction of business could be effected at once, or, indeed, for a considerable period of time. He believed they could not draw any parallel in that case between what had taken place in the colonies and what was likely to take place in India. The colonial business had been diminished, because the Colonies had been allowed to have a large share in the administration of their own affairs; but it would be premature to contemplate the adoption of any similar arrangement for India; and if any control was to be exercised over the local government of that country, that control must be left in the hands of the Indian Government at home. He should be prepared to yield to any decision at which the Committee might arrive upon the point then under their consideration; but he should say that the more he saw of the business to be transacted by the new Indian administration, and of the duties that would probably devolve on the Council, the less was he disposed to reduce below fifteen the number of the Councillors.


said, he could not imagine what this Council of fifteen gentlemen would have to do. The eighteen Directors of the East India Company not only found time to read through the business of the Company, but to do a great many things beside. The late Chairman (Mr. Mangles) was a Director of several other public companies. Several other Directors were bankers. One of the ablest Directors, who seemed made by nature to be the prop of decaying corporations, had been the Chairman of the East India Company, the life and soul of the Hudson's Bay Company, and everything at the Trinity House. He referred to Captain Shepherd. He wondered, therefore, how the Council would employ their time, and when he saw how useful every thousand pounds would be in India he owned he grudged the money that was to go in salaries to the Council. The Board of Control was divided into six departments—the financial, the revenue, the political, the military, naval and civil, the judicial and ecclesiastical, and the public and miscellaneous. At the head of each was a clerk who managed the business of his department, and the Secretary of the Board afterwards read alone all the matters concerning these six departments which were to occupy the time of the Council. He had done it himself, and his health did not suffer from the labour. If the Minister of India had six departments, and six heads of departments, he might consult them and derive great advantage from their labours. But these fifteen gentlemen, whose time would not be over occupied, would make it out in debating matters in general. Was the Secretary of State to be present at their deliberations or not? If not, and the Council were to deliberate under a Vice President, they were now reconstructing a double Government with all its delay. If he were to be present it would be impossible for him to get through the papers and at the same time to attend to Ids duties in that House and as a Cabinet Minister. He knew that the Minister for India would not attempt to be present, but would leave them to deliberate by themselves. What would happen would be this:—When the President wished to send a despatch he would give the Secretary of that department instructions to prepare it. He would then send the despatch to the Council. If they altered it he would alter it back, and all that would he got would be so much delay. The House had determined to appoint this Council, but he would say liberavi animam meam. In two or three years the Council would fall into contempt, and then the House would wonder that it had ever been appointed.


said, that he could state, from his own experience, that as the case stood at present twelve persons were competent to transact the business. At present the Court of Directors were divided into three Committees, consisting respectively of five, five, and six, two being abstracted for the offices of Chairman and Vice Chairman. Of these Committees three were a quorum, so that nine were sufficient to perform the business. The only result of the increase in the number of the Councillors and Directors was that a greater margin was allowed. But there was a more important consideration than the mere question of pounds, shillings, and pence. They had to form a large independent body, whose opinions should be respected by, and should command the attention of, the Secretary of State. Although, therefore, he thought that twelve world be sufficient in a utilitarian view of the question, still he should prefer fifteen on broad grounds of general policy. As to the constitution of committees, the noble Lord had proposed to divivide the Council into six committees. But if they had a committee of two it would be practically useless, as they would be certain to have one on one side of the question and the other on the other. Three were, therefore, required for the casting vote. The only other point he would allude to was as to the initiative. The two statements which had been made were quite reconcilable. The Chairman of the Court was ex officio chairman of every committee; and when a letter was drafted by a committee, he took the initiative in the name of the committee.

Question put "That 'fifteen' stand part of the clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 227; Noes 165: Majority 62.


said, as the Committee had now decided that the Council was to consist of fifteen members, he would propose to insert in the clause that they should be appointed under warrant of the Crown by sign manual. The Committee would remember that the original proposal of the Government was that a large proportion of the Council should be elected by the votes of an extraordinary description of constituency. That proposal, however, had been abandoned by Government on further consideration, and step by step they approached nearer to the principle of nomination. He entertained a strong opinion that the rule and analogy of the constitution, in accordance with which every person connected with the administration of the Executive Government was elected by the Crown, ought to apply to the appointment of this Council. It was not only at variance with the principles of the constitution that such officers should be otherwise appointed, but it was also to be deprecated that the Committee should be led into an attempt to perpetuate the system of self-election. They ought not to be led away by a vain image of election imprinted upon the retina of the mind that, because the Court of Directors were in some measure an elected body, they were carrying out the elective principle in leaving to them the nomination of a portion of the Council. It was a perfect fallacy to say that the Court of Directors had been elected in the sense of the Resolution to which the Committee upon the Resolutions had approved of. They were now called upon to transfer to the Crown the same governing power as was at present possessed by the East India Company, and with that power it ought to have the same latitude in the appointment of governing officers. If the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford were the correct one, the Council should be appointed by the Sovereign power, whether that power was the Crown or the East India Company. It was thus that the Directors had been appointed, for they had not been elected to office by any one extraneous to the Sovereign power. They had, in fact, been appointed in the only way in which it was possible for an aggregate body to appoint them. As no part of the Court of Directors had been appointed by any other authority than by the Sovereign power, then, by a constitutional analogy, the Crown should have the appointment of the Executive Council of India. Without detaining the Committee longer in regard to a question which had been already argued, he would content himself by moving the insertion of a proviso that the Council should be appointed by Her Majesty's warrant under the sign manual.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 20, after "Members," to insert "to be appointed by Her Majesty by Warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual."


Sir, I do not intend to enter into any lengthened discussion on this point, which has been urged so frequently upon the House. Having determined that part of the Council should be elected, we have also expressed the reasons which induced us to come to that conclusion—namely, that in our opinion it is desirable that the Council of India should be of a mixed character. The House, in resolving that a portion of the Council should be elected, came also to the conclusion that the best contrivance which could be adopted for the introduction of the elective principle should be the one which should give the greatest independence to the Council, and that is the one which has been presented to it. The fallacy, as I think, into which the noble Lord has fallen is that of supposing that the Council of India is to be an Executive Council. But it is not to be an Executive Council, and by assuming that it is, the noble Lord has been induced to arrive at a conclusion which is utterly invalid. The plan which has been recommended by the Government is that which seems to them the most practicable one. The Committee is not now asked to object to this particular application of the elective principle, but to object to that principle altogether, on the ground that the Council now proposed is an Executive Council. That is an entire fallacy, and I trust that the Committee will adhere to the Resolution which they have already sanctioned and the policy they have approved, that it is of the greatest importance that the Council shall be an independent one. To maintain that principle the mixed element is necessary, and to maintain that mixed element it is requisite that the elective principle should be called into action. There can be no doubt that the application of the elective principle is on the whole the wisest thing that could be done. That is the simple question before the Committee, and I trust that it will not sanction the Amendment of the noble Lord.


was understood to say, that he objected to the principle advo- cated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and should support the Amendment. The question before the Committee was whether any part of the Council should be elected, or whether it should be nominated. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in his Bill, the constituency was large, but had since melted away till the principle of selection alone remained. A few minutes ago they decided that the whole of the Indian business, which had been ably transacted by five gentlemen, was too much to be done by fifteen; having decided that, it now behoved them to decide how the fifteen were to be chosen. Eight were to be nominated by the Crown, and seven chosen by persons holding Indian stock or railway shares in India. Even supposing the seven to be elected, the Crown would have the majority. It was the principle of nomination and irresponsibility. That was not a principle that ought to be adopted. If the nomination of this Council was to be by the responsible Minister, the best men would be chosen.


said, it was impossible to deny that all the members of the Executive Administration were technically and strictly nominated by the Crown, but it could not be contended that they were nominated by the Crown, simply without any mixture of election. The members of the Cabinet must be in Parliament, and therefore, they were in a degree elected by the people. It was recorded by the late Sir R. Peel in those memoirs the publication of which he had intrusted to the able hands of his right hon. Friend the Member for the City of Oxford and Earl Stanhope, that the Crown was deprived of the services of Sir G. Murray as Paymaster of the Ordinance in consequence of his having lost the Perthshire election, and that the Crown was compelled to appoint another person. Again, in much more recent times, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir G. B. Lytton) could not join the Earl of Derby's Administration on the Accession of that noble Lord to office, because there was a doubt (which proved afterwards to have been groundless) whether, if he were appointed Colonial Minister, he would be able to get returned for Hertfordshire. Would Fox ever have been Minister, of the Crown if the Crown alone had the power of nominating? Was it not notorious that it was the influence which Fox had in the House of Commons that forced the Crown to point him?

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

The Committee divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 240: Majority 93.


said, he had a proposal to make to the Committee, the subject of which, although it had been Mentioned, had not, so far as they had gone, been discussed. It was to the effect that the first members of the Council should be named in the Act. He was entirely in the hands of the Committee as to commencing the subject. [Cries ofProgress!"] In deference to the wishes of the Committee he would move that the Chairman report progress—and his proposal would assume the form of a notice that he would move as an Amendment to insert at the end of line twenty the words, "and it shall consist of the following persons," leaving to the Government the selection of the names.


Sir, as the right hon. Gentleman has moved that you report progress, I think it candid to state, without entering at present upon the discussion of the principle his proposal involves, that I think there are very grave objections to insert names in the Bill. We did upon one occasion propose names. (Ironical cheers.) I think I am obliged to refer to that fact in order to show that personally I have no objection to such an arrangement; but I think it right to add, that after the proposition was made we had reason to believe that its adoption would be very inconvenient and injurious to the public service, and that it would be much better not to establish such a precedent, and when the occasion offers I shall respectfully submit to the Committee the reasons we had for so thinking. I will not resist the Motion to report progress, and perhaps the Committee will allow me to avail myself of this opportunity to state the course which I think it desirable we should pursue. There are very urgent reasons why we should take Supply on Monday, and I therefore propose that we should not proceed with the Committee on the India Bill until Thursday; but I make that proposition in the hope and with the belief that on Thursday and Friday we may be able to complete our labours on this stage of the Bill. On Monday we shall take the Funded Debt Bill, and then go into Committee of Supply; and I should be very glad if it would be for the convenience of the House to have a morning sitting on Monday, in order to finish the Scotch Universi- ties Bill; it is a matter of great importance to Scotch Members, and the wish is, I believe, unanimous that the public business should be transacted, not in haste, but with all reasonable despatch. At all events, we propose to take the Funded Debt Bill on Monday, and on Thursday and Friday the Committee on the India Bill.

The House resumed.

Committee report progress; to sit again on Thursday next.