THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, the vote of the 18th of February, by which a House of Commons recently elected declared by an overwhelming majority that, in their opinion, the government of India should be transferred from the East India Company to Her Majesty—however various and conflicting the opinions then expressed by those who joined in that vote as to the future form of government for India—appeared to those now responsible for the conduct of affairs to be conclusive in one point—namely, as to the termination of the authority of the East India Company. Sir, the very reason which induced many now sitting on this bench to oppose the Motion upon which that vote was taken—namely, that at this period of trouble and disaster in India it was unwise to diminish the influence of authority there—has persuaded us that, after that disparaging decision, it was impossible for the East India Company to grapple successfully with the still existing dangers, and, I fear, the long-enduring difficulties which must attend the settlement of India. It is in deference to this conviction, and for no other reason, that I, on the part of my colleagues, am now asking leave tonight to introduce a Bill for transferring the government of India from the East India Company to Her Majesty. But had we been influenced by other feelings—had we acted solely in deference to the opinion expressed by the House of Commons—I do not think we should have been justly liable to those imputations which have been somewhat lavishly bestowed upon our conduct. On the contrary, I believe there is 819 no want of precedents, and of the best precedents, in our Parliamentary history, when men who have been suddenly called to the responsibility of office have found it necessary to treat a public question of pressing interest and importance not strictly in accordance with the views which they had previously expressed respecting it, but rather from regard to the position in which they found it left by their predecessors. It is not necessary for me to prove the accuracy of that statement, because there is an instance fresh in the memory of this House and of the country which, I think, would have fully authorized our conduct, even had we acted only in deference to the vote of the House of Commons. Hon. Gentlemen recollect that only three years ago a distinguished Member of this House moved for a Committee of Inquiry into the state of the English army before Sebastopol. It will be remembered that the Government of that day—a very powerful Government—staked its existence upon its opposition to that Motion. The Motion was nevertheless carried by an overwhelming majority; a majority as great—I believe even greater—than that which decided on the fate of the India Bill. And what then happened? The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was one of the most eminent members of the Government which resisted that Motion. By unexpected and unforeseen circumstances the noble Lord was shortly afterwards called to undertake the responsibility of forming a Government. He had disapproved the Motion, and when he formed his Government his opinions remained unchanged; but the noble Lord felt that on the whole it was necessary to accede to that vote of the House of Commons, and himself to appoint the Committee which he disapproved. No one, however, who sat opposite the noble Lord taunted him with his conduct on that occasion. Every one felt that he took a course which it was his duty as a sagacious statesman to adopt —a course which was inevitable under the circumstances then existing, and which was, in my opinion and that of others, highly beneficial to the public welfare. I say this in answer to imputations that we act inconsistently in attempting to deal with the question which I have to-night to bring before the House.
Sir, I do assure the House it is with no pride or exultation that I fulfil the duty which now devolves upon me. I think— nay, I am sure—that the noble Lord (Vis- 820 count Palmerston) could not have been free from emotion when he rose in this House, and proposed to abolish that famous corporation which has so long commanded the respect and admiration of every Englishman. I could willingly have wished that it had not fallen to my lot to perform a duty to-night, which I believe to be clearly for the public advantage, but which I think no man not totally devoid of sensibility can perform without some emotion. This corporation has fallen, Sir, from no inefficiency on the part of its chief managers. It has certainly not fallen from any want of talent, spirit, and devotion in its admirable public servants. It has fallen before the inevitable consequences of time, of change, and of progress. The circumstances under which it was created and cherished have gradually changed and passed away; and though its fall at last has appeared to be sudden, those who have given attention to its position could hardly have doubted from the year 1853 that the time had almost arrived, and must arrive without any great delay, when Parliament would have to consider what should be the most fitting substitute for an institution which, in its day, has done great service to this country, and which will always be remembered with pride and with respect. The East India Company has fallen very much like that great Italian republic which I have always thought it rivalled and resembled. It has fallen in possession of a gallant army, a powerful fleet, and a considerable territory. It has fallen with all the semblance of authority, and it has met its end in the august fulfilment of its duties. But when Venice fell under similar circumstances, it was discovered that, whatever was its outward show, it rested on a foundation which had been sapped and was hollow for a long period of time. Like Venice, however, the East India Company has left a legacy of glory to mankind; and in treating to-night of a form of government which, in our opinion, ought to be substituted for that which has become extinct, I hope the House will allow me to express my own feelings, and to speak of the Company with that respect which I think every right-minded Englishman will always extend to its memory.
Now, Sir, the solution of the great difficulty before us is how, so far as the Government of India is concerned which is transacted in Great Britain, we shall combine the promptness, the decision, the energy which are the result of undivided 821 authority, with the knowledge, the experience, and the practice which only can be furnished by a body of men of distinguished talents, who have had considerable acquaintance with the vast and various forms of Indian life. How we are to make such a combination is the difficult solution which I shall have to-night to attempt to accomplish. To establish a British Minister with unrestricted authority, subject to the moral control of a body of men who by their special knowledge, their independence, their experience, distinction, and public merit, are nevertheless invested with an authority which can control even a despotic Minister, and which no mere Act of Parliament can confer upon them, is, I admit, no ordinary difficulty to encounter; and to devise the means by which this may be effected is a task which only with the indulgence of this House and the assistance of Parliament we can hope to accomplish. That leads me at once to describe to the House the form of government in England which we think ought to be substituted for that East Indian Direction which, if the Bill I now propose to introduce passes, will have ceased to exercise any authority. In the Bill which I am asking leave to introduce to-night that form of government will take the following shape:—We propose, in the first instance, that there shall be a high officer of State— a Minister of the Crown—who shall occupy the rank and fulfil the duties of a Secretary of State. I know, remembering the discussion of last night, that one ought perhaps to pause for a moment, and to apologize to the House for proposing the creation of another Secretary of State. But I may be permitted to say for myself that I never indulged in this objection to the creation of another Secretary of State; and listening to the discussion then, and on previous occasions, I have never yet heard any satisfactory reason given which should render the institution of an additional Secretary of State in any case objectionable. Indeed, I have been always taught that the model administration we should study and imitate was the old administration of France before the Revolution—a system of administration which was adopted by the Republic itself on account of its efficiency, and which has only ceased in France since the establishment of Imperial institutions; and in that old administration every Minister of the Crown was a Secretary of State, except the President of the Council and the Chancellor. But I do not wish to dwell upon this occasion 822 upon that which, after all, is rather a point of form than of principle. The new Secretary of State is to be, in accordance with our plan, President of the Council of India, and to have the power of appointing a Vice President. The point, however, upon which the House very naturally wishes to dwell is, what is to be the constitution of the new Council for India, over which this chief officer of State is to preside. I shall, therefore, if the House will permit, address myself at once and without circumlocution to that particular subject. We propose that the Council for India should consist of eighteen persons. We further propose that half of that Council should be nominated by the warrant of the Crown under the Royal sign manual, and that the other moiety — the remaining nine Members— should be elected.
I shall, in the first place, treat of those Members of the Council who, in our opinion, should be appointed by the Sovereign. Although our plan is that those nine Members should be thus appointed, we are still of opinion that each of those Members should have specified qualifications—that they should, in fact, each of them, represent some great interest in India. They will in fact be, though nominated by the Crown, to use a popular expression of the day, "representative men." These nine Members will be appointed in this manner. Each of the civil services of the three Presidencies will furnish a representative. One of those nine persons will be a member of the civil service who has served ten years at least in the Upper Provinces of India, or in those districts immediately under the authority of the Governor General. A second will be a Member of the civil service of the Lower Province of Bengal, who has likewise been in that service for ten years. There will also be a Member of the Council for the civil service of the Madras Presidency, and one for that of Bombay. A fifth Member of this division of the Council will be required to have specified but rather peculiar qualifications. We deem it to be of great importance that, in this Council of India, there should be some one person who possesses personal experience of the Native Courts, and well acquainted with the character and feelings of the Native Princes. It appears to us that one fault of our administration in India hitherto has been that there has been too great a disregard of the feelings of the Native Princes, and too limited an acquaintance 823 with the circumstances of their territory, and the character of its population. We have deemed it, therefore, of importance that, in this Council, there should be some man who should represent that eminent class of public servants with which, from our experience in Parliament, many of us are familiar. The area of selection is, of course, more limited in this case than that which is open to us in dealing with the civil services of the three Presidencies and the Upper Provinces, because we require ten years' civil service under the Government of India, five of which should have been passed as Resident or Political Agent at the Court of some Native Prince. The men whom we desire to bring by this means into the Council are such men as I recollect as distinguished Members of this House when I first entered Parliament — such men, for instance, as Sir Richard Jenkins, — men like Colonel Sutherland and General Lowe himself in his younger and happier hour. I have now detailed to the House the qualifications which we require, that five out of the nine Members who were to be nominated by the Crown should possess. The four remaining Members are to represent, first of all, the military services of the Queen in India, and the armies of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal respectively. We require that there should be a Member of the Council to represent the Queen's army, who should have served in India five years, and that there should also be representatives of the armies of the three Presidencies I have just mentioned, each of whom should have been employed in India in those services for a period of at least ten years. Our object, so far as those nine Members nominated by the Crown are concerned, is that the Secretary of State for India in Council should, with their aid, be in a position to command that special and particular knowledge with respect to the circumstances of that vast region which it is so desirable he should possess. If, for instance, a question connected with the affairs of the Upper Provinces should arise, he would have the advantage to be derived from the information of a man who has had a long experience of that particular district. If, again, a question relating to the south of India—the circumstances of which are so totally different from those of the North Western Provinces— should be brought under the notice of the Government, it would have in this Council a high authority to which to 824 refer. If our diplomatic relations with the Native Princes should become a subject of deliberation, then you would have the advantage of the assistance, in dealing with that subject, of a man who had been face to face with those Native Princes, and who can give you all the requisite information. In short, in the consideration of all those questions connected with our Indian administration which may arise, you would have a fund of the most authentic and various knowledge which a Minister could command or desire. But, although you will find in this Bill that those nine Members are to be nominated by Her Majesty by Royal Warrant, and that as often as vacancies in their number occur, those vacancies are to he filled up—and filled up only by persons possessing the same special and specified qualifications as their predecessors—yet it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, if the House should support them in bringing in the Bill, to introduce into the measure itself the names of the nominated Members, so that, in fact, their appointment will have in the first instance not only a Royal but a Parliamentary sanction. They will, therefore, enter upon the discharge of their duties supported not only by the favour of the Sovereign, but by the approbation of the representatives of the people. I hope, Sir, I need not state upon this occasion—indeed, it would be, I trust, under any circumstances unnecessary to do so — that in making the selection of the nominated Members of the proposed Council, the list of whose names I shall deem it my duty in the course of these observations to present to the consideration of the House, Her Majesty's Government have had no other view than, with the utmost pains and with a due sense of the great responsibility involved, to select for each particular post the best man whose services they could procure, without the slightest reference to his political opinions, or, indeed, to any of those considerations or influences which often perhaps exercise somewhat too great a control over public appointments. The names of the nominee Members of the Council will be submitted to the House upon our responsibility, and with the assurance that in the selection we have made we have taken every pains to secure to the country the services of men of the highest ability and of the most influential character. But their names will be laid before the House, and even though it 825 should be of opinion that we have not exercised a wise discretion in the selection we have made, it cannot at all events charge us with not having appealed to Parliament frankly upon the subject, or with not having endeavoured to invest those nine Members, though they may be called nominees, with all the authority which a popular election could supply.
Sir, I shall now proceed to advert to the other portion of this proposed Council for India—namely, that it is to be chosen — and that by popular election. There is embodied in this Bill a qualification for four of the Members of that division of the Council, and it is of this character:— They may be men who have served Her Majesty or the Government of India in any one branch of service whatever for a period of ten years; they may have been in the army, the navy, the legal, or civil services in India. These four places in the Council are open to any man who has served in any capacity Her Majesty or the Government of India. They are open also to any man who has resided in India for fifteen years, and who may have been engaged in agriculture, as a manufacturer or planter, or in commerce. Such are the qualifications which we propose for those four Members; and we further propose that they should be chosen by a constituency constructed in this manner: — We propose that every person who has borne the commission of Her Majesty or the Government of India for ten years, and residing in this country; or any man who has been in the civil service of Her Majesty in India, or in the civil service of the Government of India for ten years; that every person who is a registered proprietor to the amount of £2,000 of capital stuck in Indian railways or in any other public work in that country; that all those who are proprietors of at least £1,000 in the public stock of the East India Company — but exercising in this case only one vote— should have the power of electing the four Members of the Council to whom I have adverted. The constituency thus formed will amount, as we estimate, to about 5,000 persons. I have now to explain to the House how we propose that the five other Members should be elected, and what qualification would be required of those who aspire to fill those offices. The qualification necessary for the last five Members will be this:—The person chosen must either have been engaged in commerce in India or in the exportation of manufactured articles 826 to that country for the space of at least five years, or they must have resided ill India for the space of at least ten years. Such being the qualification which we propose to require for the last five Members of the Council, we propose that the election of these five Members of the Council shall be confided to the principal seats of trade and industry in this country; that one Member shall be elected by the city of London, another by the city of Manchester, a third by the town of Liverpool, a fourth by the city of Glasgow, and a fifth by the town of Belfast. In this manner the chief seats of trade in the three kingdoms will be represented in the council—and also that great industrial interest in this country which is more interested than any other in the development of Indian resources; for be it remembered India sends us no manufactured articles, but ought to send us all the raw produce we require.
Now, Sir, if I understand aright the feeling of the House upon this occasion, it is in favour of exposition rather than of controversy; and therefore I am limiting myself to narrating as clearly as possible what is the nature of the Bill we propose; of course, reserving to myself and my colleagues the right upon all proper occasions of enforcing the policy which we now venture to recommend. I beg the House, therefore, to believe that it is not from any other motive that I now confine myself as much as possible to a clear narrative of the scheme we propose. I shall now have to detail to the House the nature of the constituency which we think ought to elect these Members. Now, as to whether they should be chosen by chambers of commerce or corporations, or what other mode—no doubt, the commercial associations of our great towns are respectable from the character of their members and deserve the greatest consideration in dealing with a matter like that which we are now discussing. But chambers of commerce are not corporations, and it would be in the power of any body of men to call themselves a chamber of commerce without any intervention of law and without the sanction of time. Municipal corporations are also bodies which every one must respect; but they are very limited in the number of their members, and it is not, I think, doubtful that one consequence of conferring the right of electing the Council upon chambers of commerce or upon municipal corporations would he a considera- 827 ble crop of cadets in the Indian army connected with the members of those bodies. We have given to this point all the consideration which its importance deserves. All that can be said for or against has, I doubt not, been fully considered by Her Majesty's Government, and it is our opinion that the election of these Members of the Indian Council by the great seats of industry should be intrusted to the Parliamentary constituencies of those places. In arriving at that conclusion Her Majesty's Government believe that those constituencies will be animated in the discharge of their privilege by a sense of duty, and will feel proud of the confidence which the State will thus repose in them. I ought to state to the House that besides the nine Members who, according to the plan of this Bill, will be nominated by the Crown and whose names we propose to insert in the Bill, it is our idea also with regard to the first four elected Members who in future will be elected by what I may call a special Indian constituency, that in the first instance the names of those appointed to them should be inserted in the Act of Parliament. Our object in so doing is to secure for the new Council the greatest amount of experience and practical knowledge that can be commanded.
Most of those names we propose to have inserted in the Bill have been decided upon, and with the permission of the House I will read them. These are, as far as they have been fixed upon, the names of the first nine Members to whom I have referred. We propose, in the first place, Sir Frederick Currie, now the Deputy Chairman of the East India Company, and who was long in the judicial service of the Indian Government. He has been also Foreign Secretary to two Governors General, Lord Ellenborough and Lord Hardinge, a Commissioner at Lahore, and a Member of the Supreme Council. The next name that I have to introduce to the notice of the House is that of Mr. Dorin, the senior Member of Council at Calcutta, and formerly Financial Secretary. The first name represents the Civil Service of the Upper Provinces, and the other the Civil Service of Bengal. We propose that the Civil Service of Madras shall be represented by Sir Henry Montgomery, who was formerly in the revenue and judicial service of that Presidency, afterwards Secretary to the Government, and lastly, a Member of Coun- 828 cil. The Bombay Civil Service, we propose, shall be represented by Mr. Pringle, who succeeded Sir Charles Napier as Governor of Scinde, and who had before held high office under the Bombay Government. As what I may call the diplomatic representative we propose Sir Claude Wade. He has held high political appointments, and his name is well known in connection with Affghanistan. He held a political appointment at Peshawur in the Affghan war, he forced the Khyber Pass, he was political agent in Central India and was Resident at Lahore. I have now mentioned the names of the four gentlemen whom we propose to represent what may be called the Civil Services of the four Presidencies of India, and also the name of the proposed representative of the diplomatic service. Her Majesty's army in India we propose shall be represented in the Council by Lieutenant General Sir John Pennefather, now commanding at Malta, and who was in the Crimea. The army of Bengal by Colonel Burlton, Commissary General in the Bengal army, who was also in the Crimea. We propose that Sir Richard Vivian, formerly Adjutant General at Madras, who since then has served in the Crimea, and is now a Director of the East India Company, should represent that branch of the service in the Council. The name of the gentleman to represent the Bombay army is not before me. Having thus gone over the names of the first nine Members of the proposed Council as far as they are decided upon, I will now mention the names we propose to place in the Bill, but whose successors will be elected, should the measure become law, by what I have termed the Indian constituency. The first of these names is that of the present Chairman of the Board of Directors of the East India Company, the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), and I trust from what I hear that that hon. Gentleman will be induced to undertake the office. Considering his high position, his eminent talents, of which we are all witnesses, and the fact of his having occupied the chair of the Board of Directors during exigencies so severe as we have lately seen, I cannot but believe that that is a selection which Parliament will sanction, and which the country will approve. The next name which we propose is that of Captain Shepherd, who is well known as one of the most valuable Directors ever elected under the old form of government. 829 The next name which I hare to submit to the House is that of a gentleman of great ability, with whom we are all well acquainted, as he had long a seat among us —Sir James Hogg. I have no political connection with Sir James Hogg, and he has always been opposed to the party with which I act, but the ready talents and great knowledge with which he has on every occasion advocated the interests of the East India Company, I should have thought would have secured for him the respect of all. At all events, he has been selected, after the gravest deliberation, with no other object than that of securing a most valuable member for the new Council. The next name which I have to propose is that of a gentleman formerly Foreign Secretary in Bengal and Member of Council, who is quite unrivalled, I believe, for his general knowledge of Indian subjects—Mr. Prinsep.
It now becomes my duty to detail to the House the form of procedure and the general duties which we propose this Council should follow and fulfil. We propose that the Minister for India should have the power to divide the Council into committees; that he should arrange those committees, and exercise over them a general supervision. We propose that it should be in the power of the Secretary of State for India to call a meeting of Council whenever he thinks it requisite, but that it shall also be in the power of any six Members of the Council to call a meeting of the Council if they signify their wish and intention in writing to one of the Secretaries for India. We propose that when the Council differs in opinion, if it is presided over by the Secretary of State, his opinion shall, of course, be conclusive; but that in that case he should express his opinion in writing, and the reasons which have induced him to come to that opinion; and that privilege will also belong to every Member of the Council. If the Council be presided over by the Vice President, in the absence of the Secretary of State, the majority of votes will decide the question, the Vice President having a casting vote; but in that case the decision of the Council must receive the sanction of the Secretary of State for India.
I do not know that it will be necessary for me on this occasion to enter into any details on this head of the subject; all that the House requires is to have the leading features laid before it. Having, therefore, entered fully into the composi- 830 tion of the Council, having shown that a Minister with such a Council would be surrounded by men who can on all subjects which have come before them for deliberation bring to his assistsnce the greatest amount of information and intelligence, having shown that we have taken precautions that the Council shall be independent, that it shall be animated by public spirit, and that it shall bring English opinion to act upon Indian experience, the House will now very naturally wish that I should touch upon the other point which, next to the construction of the Council, excited much interest in the recent debates, and respecting which the country is most anxious—I mean the distribution of patronage.
THE CHANCELLOR or THE EXCHEQUER
In the beginning the period of retirement will be at the end of the first two, four, and six years, but the permanent term of tenure will be six years.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
They will be re-eligible. They will not be competent to sit in Parliament, and the salary will be £1,000 per annum, paid out of the Indian revenue.
Upon the subject of patronage I shall not have to trouble the House at any length, because the result of the arrangement which we propose will really, generally speaking, not at all alter the present system of distribution. Her Majesty will do directly that which she does now indirectly. She will appoint directly the Governor General, the fourth Member of Council, the Governors of Presidencies, the Judge Advocate General, and so on. The civil service will be elected in the first instance under those regulations which at present prevail, and which have been found to work so satisfactorily. The military patronage, the naval and military cadetships, will be distributed among the Council, as they have been hitherto among the Court of Directors. The only change will be a formal change which the transfer of all authority to the Queen renders necessary; but virtually the patronage which is now exercised by the Directors of the East India Company will be exercised in the same way by the Council of India.
There only remain two points of great importance on which it is necessary that I should touch—one is the army, and the other is the finance of India.
831 With regard to the army, we propose to make no change at present, except that which necessarily results from the general scope of the Bill. There will be two armies in India; besides the Queen's forces from this country there will be Her Majesty's military and naval forces in India. But we have included in the Bill clauses which authorize and will facilitate any changes in regard to the military forces of India which circumstances may ultimately show to be necessary.
The only other point upon which I have to trouble the House is that of finance. We have taken care in this Bill to introduce all those provisions which, so far as provisions in an Act of Parliament can effect the object, will fix upon the revenue of India alone the expenses of the Government of India. We have also, of course, included in the Bill a clause which will insure that the accounts of the Indian Government shall be laid annually before Parliament; and we have endeavoured to establish a sufficient and satisfactory audit of Indian accounts in this country. But, having done all this, I am bound to say that the relations between English and Indian finance remain to me a source of great apprehension and anxiety. I feel that the time has arrived when this House must give to the subject its most serious and attentive consideration. I admit and I accept all those principles and opinions which have been laid down and expressed in this House as to the clear distinction which exists between Indian and English revenue; but I cannot conceal from myself that the parallel instances of Canada and Australia which are so often adduced for our guidance do not apply with that completeness which I could desire to the state of India. There are circumstances in India, with a vast territory, and people of different races numbering 180,000,000, which in my opinion make a marked difference between the condition of that great peninsula and our native Colonies. I accept the formal defence of the finances of this country which many hon. Gentlemen have set up, and which technically, and truly to a certain extent, may be relied upon. But to my mind that defence is not all-sufficient, and a great responsibility will devolve upon the Ministers and upon the Parliament of England if they allow the state of Indian finance to remain in the obscurity in which it has too long been involved. Able as has ever been the administration of India, considerable 832 and distinguished as have been the men whom that administration has produced, and numerous as have been the great captains, the clever diplomatists, and the able administrators of large districts with whom the Indian Government has abounded, the state of the finances has always been involved in perplexity, and India, that has produced so many great men, seems never to have produced a Chancellor of the Exchequer. But, Sir, it is impossible for us to shut our eyes to what must be, or rather may be, the ultimate consequences to the finances of England of such changes as we are now proposing, and as were proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, in the Government of India. Therefore, if the House shall pass this Bill into a law, it will be our duty to recommend Her Majesty to authorize a Royal Commission to visit India to ascertain what is the real financial condition of that country; to examine into its finance in all its forms, into the mode of keeping the public accounts, into the collection, receipt, and application of the public revenue, and into the system of contracting debt; and to report generally upon the subject, so that we may at last clearly understand the condition of its finances and the relation in which we stand to them, and may not only prepare for the injurious consequences which, if we arc negligent, may accrue to our own financial condition, but may, by timely and vigorous interposition, avert them. We are of opinion that this is a matter of such paramount importance that we have inserted in this Bill a clause providing that immediately after the Act is passed a Royal Commission shall repair to India, to investigate and report upon the financial condition of that country; so that, if our policy is approved, it shall receive the sanction of Parliament as well as that of the Crown, and that the Commissioners may go out with such authority as may enable them to produce the beneficial result which we anticipate from an interference which, in our opinion, can no longer be delayed.
I have now, Sir, given the House, I hope, a clear account of the principal features of the Bill which we are now asking leave to introduce. There are, of course, many details upon which I have not touched, and upon which it would be wearisome to dwell at this stage; but I have endeavoured to put the House in possession of the chief provisions which this Bill con- 833 tains. It contains a plan—the first which Las ever been submitted to Parliament— for establishing a Council for India, which shall be distinguished for its knowledge, for its special information, for its high character, and for its complete independence. We have endeavoured to form a plan which should not, in the changes which are inevitable, take the patronage away from the East India Company only to place it in the hands of the Crown. We have directed our minds to these two objects of pressing and immediate interest, but we have not forgotten an object not less important—an object without which no form of government can flourish, no patronage can long be valuable—we have not forgotten that it was our duty to provide for future financial security, and to lay the foundation in India of that which is the only basis of public welfare—a sound state of public wealth. I hope, therefore, that the House will allow Her Majesty's Ministers to introduce this Bill. I have asked leave to bring it in to-night —probably on the eve of our separation— because I wish that the House and the country should have a full opportunity of examining and studying its provisions. Believing that these provisions are calculated to promote the welfare of the empire — that they will lead to the renovation of India—that if they are adopted we shall establish in this country a Government for India, so far as that country can be governed hero, which will be distinguished for its aptitude, and adapted to every contingency which may occur—I with confidence place in the hands of the Speaker the Motion of which I have given notice, and ask the permission of the House to introduce this Bill for transferring the government of India from the East India Company to Her Majesty.
§ Question put, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to transfer the Government of India from the East India Company to the Queen."
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
We do not propose to interfere with any powers which are at present possessed by the Governor General, or are exercised in India, and therefore there will be no change in the mode of appointing these Members of Council.
§ MR. PARRY NISBET
should like to be informed what the right hon. Gentleman 834 proposed to do with regard to Gentlemen who were at that moment Directors, and who, though they had greatly distinguished themselves, were not included in the list of names which had been read. Were they to have any compensation?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I merely rise to say that I entirely concur with those who think that the Government should have leave to introduce the Bill, the contents of which have been so clearly stated by the right hon. Gentleman. But, while I give my cordial assent to the Motion, I trust both the right hon. Gentleman and the House will understand that I reserve the expression of my opinion with regard to the Bill, until I have had time to consider the proposed arrangements in detail. For the present, I merely concur in the Motion that the Bill shall be brought in. I conclude that the right hon. Gentleman will bring it in this evening, so that it may be in the hands of Members during the recess. All I now wish is that it may be understood that by concurring in the Motion, I do not imply any opinion as to the various details of the Bill.
said, he was sure he expressed the opinion of many hon. Members around him as well as his own, when he said there could not be the least objection on their part to the introduction of the Bill, which had been so well and ably explained. The only point on which he wished to ask the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman and of the House at that moment was this, that while the Government had provided, and to a certain extent, ably provided, for the Government of India, while the Native Princes were to have, in one sense, a representative at the new Council Board, it was to be regretted that there was to be no representative of the people of India, whose happiness was deeply involved in this measure. He trusted that in all the stages of that Bill, it would be borne in mind on both sides of the House, that if they had any business in India, it was to govern for the benefit of India, rather than for the benefit of England.
expressed to the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), his cordial acknowledgments on behalf of the great body with which he (Mr. Mangles) was connected, for the terms in which he had spoken of the past services to their country of the East India Company. That great corporation deserved well of their country, and he was confident that, bye and bye, when the heat of exist- 835 ing conflicts had passed away, the expressions of the right hon. Gentleman would be concurred in by the great bulk of the nation, and that they would admit, whenever the great corporation ceased to exist, that it would leave to the country a noble legacy. As the representative of the East India Company, and as one of those who were conscientiously persuaded that the Government of India by the East India Company had been a good and beneficent one on the whole, and an admirable one considering the great difficulties they had to cope with, he found it to be his duty to oppose any Bill intended to take from that body the power which they had so well exercised. But he felt equally bound to say—and he spoke the sentiments of every one of his colleagues—that if it should be the determination of Parliament to take that power from their hands, they should be prepared to give their most cordial assistance towards perfecting any plan that might be brought before the House for the future Government of India. When they knew that it was the determination of the Legislature to take upon themselves the Government of India, it would then be the bounden duty of the East India Company to the people of this country, as well as to the people of India, to do all that lay in their power to make the new Government as good and efficient as possible. As regarded all the provisions of this Bill, he should say for himself and the East India Company, as the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton said, that they should reserve to themselves the fullest power of debating and canvassing the provisions of the Bill, especially in Committee, which would be the stage in which, section by section, it would be their duty to render the Bill as productive of benefit as possible. In that state alone, and on that condition only, he could accept the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman.
must say, that as this Bill had been shadowed forth by the right hon. Gentleman, he could not but observe that it bore a very favourable contrast to the Bill introduced by the late Government, the first reading of which was carried with such a largo majority. There were ingredients in it which he recognised with much satisfaction, which, he was sure, would be shared by the class to which he had the honour to belong. At the same time he was doubtful whether the Council for Indian Affairs, as proposed to be constituted, Would work as satisfactorily as the Chan- 836 cellor of the Exchequer appeared to anticipate. In the English constitution a combination of aristocratic and democratic elements was productive of good results, because of the existence of separate chambers; but it yet remained to be proved whether the same advantages would result from an amalgamation in one body of the two kinds of influence. He could not help testifying his hearty approval of the concluding remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, who there pointed out the great difference that existed between debts contracted by the colonies and debts incurred in India. That was a question which was "looming in the distance;" but he should have been much better satisfied if the right hon. Gentleman had said something with regard to the creditors of the East India Company. He could not believe that the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman now asked leave to introduce would be the same crude and undigested performance as that of the noble Lord. In the 3rd clause of the noble Lord's Bill there was a transference of the whole of the property of the East India Company to the Crown, and not one word was said with reference to the creditors of the Company. Now, it must not be forgotten that the property of the Company might be roundly estimated at £30,000,000, consisting of ships, dockyards, landed property, &c, most of which had been called into existence by the aid of money borrowed in this country; and yet by the noble Lord's Bill—he trusted that would not be the case with the Bill now sought to be introduced — this £30,000,000 was assumed by the Crown, and the Crown gave nothing in return for it; neither did the Crown assume the responsibility of the Indian debt, yet it pretended to the whole property of the Company. He agreed with the hon. Member (Mr. Gilpin) that some consideration should be given to the claims of the Natives of India. The time had not yet arrived for the introduction of representative institutions into India; but he thought that one or two members of the Supreme Council in Calcutta might be chosen by the Governor General from the Hindoo and Mahomedan classes.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, there appeared to be two main points of difference between the present Bill and that of the late Government — namely, the enlargement of the Council from eight to eighteen, and the introduction of the elective principle as regarded one-half of the Members. Now, as during the recess, they would have 837 to consider the comparative merits of the two propositions, whether the Council should consist of eight or eighteen members, it was desirable the House should know what the functions of the Council were to be. Was the Council to take an active part in the conduct of Indian business, or was it to be merely a reviewing body, called together on certain days to express an opinion upon the proceedings of other parties? If it were intended that the members should be mere nonentities, with no real share in the government of India, probably eighteen would be a very good number; but if the Council was to be an active body, it ought to consist of fewer members. He wished to know, therefore, what functions it was expected to perform? He might also be permitted to inquire whether the members were to devote their whole time and attention to the business committed to them? Also, whether it was intended to appoint persons to the Council who were connected with trade? It appeared to him, that in the construction of the Bill too much attention had been paid to class interests. While he was addressing the House—though he had no intention to go into the details of the Bill—he would point out that the restrictions placed upon the appointments to the Council would have the effect of excluding some of the ablest men in India. For instance the wording of the provisions? would exclude the Punjab, which would have the effect of shutting out the services of Sir John Lawrence. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: The Punjab would be included, being one of the provinces directly under the Government of the Governor General.] He had misunderstood the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman on that head. The principle ought to be to represent the different interests in India connected with the revenue, the judicial, civil, and military departments. He felt bound to pay his tribute of admiration to the right hon. Gentleman for the speech he had just made, and particularly for the concluding observations. It seemed that grave attention was about to be paid to the finances of India. He had on former occasions called attention to the dilapidated state of those finances, and now that Government was to take up the matter he felt that nothing but good could result. One beneficial effect of the recent change of Government was, that now both the parties in that House were occupied in framing a better Government for India than that country had hitherto had.
§ MR. BLACK
said, that as the Members of Council for the great towns were to be elected by the Parliamentary electors, the consequence would be that in respect to such a town as Glasgow, for instance, the 18,000 registered electors there would probably have little or nothing to do either with commerce or manufactures connected with India. Moreover, he thought that the capital of Scotland ought not to have been omitted in the list of those towns; for, though Edinburgh did not export cotton or broadcloth to India, it exported men. No town in the kingdom sent so great a number of men to India as Edinburgh.
§ COLONEL SYKES
begged to be understood as reserving to himself on the second reading of the measure full liberty to repeat the objections he had on a former occasion urged to the introduction of any Bill whatever. The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman comprehended so many complex arrangements that he thought they must be reduced to greater simplicity to be carried out at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had observed that it was of the greatest importance to send out a Commission to India to inquire into the state of the finances. Why, if the right hon. Gentleman sent to the India House be might have any account with respect to the finances of India he pleased, to the lowest figure; but the effect of this roving commission would paralyze the Government of India, for people there would regard it as being sent out to spy into their actions and destroy their power. He would ask whether it was intended that the patronage of the whole Indian army of 300,000 men was to be lodged in the hands of the Horse Guards?
§ MR. COX
said, that in consequence of the recent change of Ministry, they were likely now to have a much more liberal scheme of government for India. He was pleased to hear that four Members of the Council were to be elected by four great towns, and that the electors were to be Parliamentary voters. Now, seeing that the Directors of the East India Company were elected by ballot, he wanted to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would 839 object to the use of the ballot in the election of these Members of Council. The right hon. Gentleman had adverted to the civil patronage of India, and had stated how it was to be distributed; but he had not mentioned whether or not the whole patronage of the army in India was to be handed over to the Horse Guards.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had been asked what were to be the duties of the Council, and he had to observe in reply that the duties of the Council were to be the transaction of all business connected with the government of India that could be transacted in England. They will have the entire transaction of that business, and from the details laid before him he thought that it would require that which would be exacted from the Members of Council—the total devotion of their time. No gentleman would be a Member of the Council who was an active member of a profession, or engaged in trade or commerce. Of course with respect to those Members who were elected, that rule could not apply; and it was desirable that the Council should contain some persons who were familiarly acquainted with the commerce and trade of the country. With respect to the qualifications for Members of the Council in consequence of residence in India, that applied to all the dominions under the authority of the Governor General; and therefore the Punjab and Scinde were included. He had been asked whether the Council was to sit and transact business in Cannon Row. The hon. Member who made that inquiry was not so familiar as himself with the quantity of business that must be transacted, and the space required for its transaction. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that the building in Cannon Row would not be able to hold the Council. Where, ultimately, the Members of Council might be collected together it was not for him to say. No doubt, they would be able to place themselves in some convenient locality; but for the present the Council must transact its business in Leadenhall Street. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that under the Bill the whole military patronage of India would be handed over to the Horse Guards. Certainly, he must have conveyed his meaning in very ambiguous phraseology if he were misunderstood on that point; but he thought he had clearly stated that the patronage of the military establishment, was to be distributed among the Council, and 840 by them distributed among the people in the same way as was now done by the Board of Directors. An hon. Member had suggested that the Members of the Council should be elected by ballot. As the noble Lord opposite said with regard to the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland, that when the whole of Ireland concurred to put an end to it the House of Commons might agree to its abolition, so he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said, that when the whole of this country should be unanimous for the adoption of the vote by ballot the Government would then give the hon. Member's suggestion the gravest consideration.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had not explained very clearly what would be the position of the new President of the Council, or Secretary of State for India, as he was to be called. He stated that the President might summon the Council together whenever he pleased; but he wanted to know whether it was to be compulsory for that functionary to call a meeting of the Council? He also wished to ask whether the Vice President of the Council was to be a political officer and a Member of Parliament, who would retire from office along with the Cabinet Minister, who was President of the Council for India? What was to be the quorum to form a Court under the superintendence of the President or Vice President? He wished further to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the functions of the Select Committee. Under the existing system the President of the Board of Control might send orders relating to peace or war, and to negotiations or treaties with foreign states, through the Secret Committee; but that Committee was a mere name. It was, in fact, the President of the Board of Control. The members of the Secret Committee were bound by oath not to divulge anything communicated to them by the President as to proceedings to be adopted in India, but they could not object to, or remonstrate against, any decision of the President. He (Mr. V. Smith) wished to know whether it was intended that the Secretary of State for India should act by himself upon such questions as he had mentioned, or whether it would be necessary for him to consult the whole Council of eighteen members?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that it would not be compulsory upon the Secretary of State to consult the Council. It had not been considered desirable to fix any time for the 841 meetings of the Council; and he thought that, under the provisions of this Bill, the action of the Indian Council would be very similar to that of the Government of this country. The Council might be divided into Committees for the transaction of various descriptions of business. The meetings of the Council would be dictated by the exigencies or business of the time, in the same manner as the meetings of the Cabinet Councils, Councils might be held three or four times a week if it were thought necessary, but it might not be requisite that they should meet so frequently. It had not been deemed advisable to provide for any compulsory meetings of the Council, and the Secretary of State would be entirely free to exercise his discretion on the subject. The Bill would, however, provide that a meeting might be called at any time upon the requisition of six Members of the Council. He might state, also, that six Members would constitute a quorum. The Vice President of the Council was not to be a political officer, and could not sit in Parliament. There would be no difference between the Vice President and the other Members of the Council beyond his appointment as Vice President, which would entitle him to preside in the absence of the Secretary of State; but he would not receive a higher salary than his colleagues. The Bill provided for the appointment of a Secret Committee, in deference to the precedent set in every Act for the government of India since the time of Mr. Pitt; and from the conviction of Her Majesty's Government that it was better to adopt that plan than to leave the Secretary of State free to act without conferring with his Council, Hon. Gentlemen would, however, have an opportunity of considering all the details of the Bill during the recess.
§ MR. HORSMAN
supposed that the prohibition against being engaged in trade did not apply to the elected Members of the Council?
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBR00KE
inquired whether the President of the new Council would have the entire control of Indian finance both in India and in this country? Could he originate any grant of money or create any post? Would he be empowered on his sole authority to overrule any opinion that might be given 842 by the Council? The Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton provided a check on the issue of money by requiring the concurrence of a certain member of the Council. The provisions of the measure appeared to be so complicated that he would not venture to express any opinion upon it until he had an opportunity of considering its details. He understood from the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) that it was intended to maintain the army in India in its present state, but to give certain powers to the President and Council with regard to its future regulation. He (Sir E. Colebrooke) strongly objected to commit such powers to a single branch of the Administration without the concurrence of Parliament. The power of the President and Council, too, in respect of the army required much explanation. Our present army in India comprised a considerable European force which had been enlisted for local service in that country, and, as he understood the right hon. Gentleman, the powers conferred by this Bill would enable the President and Council to increase the national army without the consent of Parliament. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the provisions of the measure, relating to this subject.
§ MR. SLANEY
thought this Bill had been framed in a most liberal spirit; and he congratulated Her Majesty's Government upon their proposal to give a voice in the Government of India to the constituencies of large towns in this kingdom, which were especially interested in the Indian trade.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, the question before the House was one of immense importance, and he would not at this moment venture to express any opinion as to the scheme propounded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was evident that much labour and thought had been bestowed upon the subject by Her Majesty's Government; but he deemed it essential that ample time should be afforded for considering this Bill, and he presumed that it would not be brought forward immediately on the reassembling of the House after the recess. He trusted the further discussion of the Bill would take place without any party spirit, but at the same time he must observe that there was a determination to consider whether in reality this plan would provide for the good government of India.
§ MR. ROEBUCK, admitting that party feeling ought not to influence Members of 843 that House in dealing with a question of this nature, must say that he did not think this Bill would attain the object which the right hon. Gentleman who introduced it professed to have in view. He (Mr. Roebuck) understood the main objection to the present Government of India to be, that it was a double Government, but that the President of the Board of Control was the real Governor of India; while by the system which existed he was enabled to act under the shadow of the Court of Directors and did things under their name which were in reality his own acts. But under this Bill the same objection prevailed. The right hon. Gentleman proposed that the real Governor of India should be a Secretary of State for India, but that he should be assisted by a Council of eighteen members, chosen partly by the Crown and partly by election — the electoral principle being introduced in order to give a popular colour to the really despotic principle of the Government which it was intended to maintain. He (Mr. Roebuck) held that, from beginning to end, the proposal was a great sham. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh, but the result would show whether he was right or not; and he was quite prepared to insist on a much better measure than that which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to establish.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that he would not, for an obvious reason, long detain the House. The Bill had been submitted to them that evening in order that they might have a fortnight's time during the recess to consider—he hoped even for a longer period. He rose for the purpose of recommending the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to employ the fortnight in the same manner in which, he supposed, most of those whom he addressed would employ it. The Members of the House were expected to consider the Bill; he warned the Members of the Government to reconsider it. He had been a great opponent of the East India Company for the last ten or twelve years, out of Parliament as well as in it, and he never regretted, and did not now regret, any single thing he had ever said that was had of their government; but it would be a subject of deep regret to him if he had ever said a word in its favour—though in saying this he knew that many members of the Court of Directors, as, for instance, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Guildford— were disposed to do what was right to- 844 wards India;—but objected to their government, because there was a total want of responsibility, and they could never lay hold of the great criminals who committed the great crimes which all England now admitted had been committed against the people of India. It was now proposed to change the government of India, and there were two propositions before the House for that purpose. As regarded the question of responsibility in these Bills, he would not pledge himself to any ultimate opinion; but, looking to the number of the Council, and the mode in which they were to be elected, he had great doubt—indeed he was rather inclined to the opinion that the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was, on the whole, to be preferred to that of the right hon. Gentleman. He was now speaking in respect of the single question of responsibility. He was quite sure that a Council of eight would invest the President with more responsibility than a Council of eighteen. He did not attach much importance to the notion of a popular election of some of the members of the Council. The Judges of the land were not elected by the constituencies of the United Kingdom, but yet they were usually and properly looked upon as being independent of the Crown and of Parliament; and he thought that members of the Council not chosen by election would perform their duties just as well as those who might be elected by old Indians, or by Manchester manufacturers, or merchants who some time in their lives had exported goods to India. He was afraid that the proposition that four or five large constituencies should elect those Councillors savoured of what was generally called "clap-trap," He was not speaking with any feeling of hostility to the present occupants of the Treasury bench; on the contrary, if a change of the present Government involved the return to office of their predecessors no man in that House could be more desirous of keeping them in the position which they now occupied. The subject, however, was one far beyond the consideration as to which side of the House the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton should sit upon. It was the business of the House, irrespective of all such considerations, to provide the best possible government for India that it could. He had in private conversations warned some of the occupants of the Treasury bench against some of the errors into which it was possible they might fall, and 845 he could not be supposed to be making the present observations in any feeling of hostility to them. His only object was to endeavour to impress upon the Government the propriety during the recess of reconsidering some of the provisions of the Bill with all that care and attention which he hoped would be bestowed upon the subject by every Member of that House. It might be very presumptuous in him, yet he must be permitted to express very great doubts as to the wisdom of the course which the Government had pursued. He would have preferred a much smaller Council, and that they had confined their Bill to provisions absolutely simple. There was no folly so great, and no scheme so unworkable, as an unwieldy, intricate, and complex one, one that was intended to catch somebody here and somebody there, and indecisively to grapple with one thing on one side and another thing on another side. What he wished for was a Bill with distinct provisions, clear and broad in its features, simple, comprehensive, and easily understood. It was such a measure as he had described which deserved the sanction of the House of Commons. He thought that he might be permitted to say so much with a view to Her Majesty's Government reconsidering the question, with a desire of finding out what was best for the people of India, so that when they met again they might, without any party spirit, consider the Bill, with a desire to govern well that country which had been so long misgoverned.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
denied that India had been misgoverned. The government of the Company in India had produced a great amelioration in the condition of the Hindoo. Both the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton and the right hon. Gentleman opposite had paid a high tribute to the efficiency and ability of the public servants of India, and he was convinced that no Government which had ever existed had produced more able or more illustrious men.
§ After some remarks from Mr. THORNELY, which were imperfectly heard,
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that many of the questions which had been addressed to him would he more appropriately answered at a future stage of the Bill. There was one, however, which perhaps he ought to notice, which was whether those Members of the Council elected by the great towns would be expected to attend regularly 846 To that he could reply that certainly they would, and to devote their time and energy to the duties of the office. With regard to the question of the noble Lord the Member for London, he proposed to take the second reading of the Bill on Friday, the 16th of April.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
suggested that it would be better to postpone it until Monday, the 19th of April.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
agreed to the suggestion, and the second reading of the Bill was fixed for that day.
§ Leave given.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Lord STANLEY, and Mr. Secretary WALPOLE.
§ Bill presented, and read 1°.
§ On the Motion, "That the House at rising adjourn till Monday 12th of April."