HC Deb 07 May 1858 vol 150 cc292-320

[The proposed Resolutions, as circulated with the Votes, will be found in an Appendix to this volume.]

Question again proposed,— That the words, 'by one of Her Principal Secretaries of State, shall have and perform all the powers and duties relating to the Government and Revenues of India which are or may be now exercised and performed by the East India Company, or by the Court of Directors or Court of Proprietors of the said Company, either alone or with the approbation of the Commissioners for the Affairs of India,' stand part of the proposed Resolution.


said, he rose to move as an Amendment to leave out the words "one of her principal Secretaries of State," and insert instead thereof—the words "a President of Council for the Government of India." He could not but express his satisfaction at the course the Government had taken in abandoning their own Bill, and in wisely accepting the middle and preparatory course proposed by his noble Friend, of proceeding by Resolution. He did hot consider it of any importance whether the new Indian Minister was called the President of a Board of Indian Commissioners or responsible Ministers for India; but he thought there was a wide distinction between such an officer and a Secretary of State. There were hon. Gentlemen who argued that if there were a Secretary of State, there ought to be no council at all, or at all events a Council so much in subordination to the Secretary that it would either be a mere nonentity or a political screen. For his own part he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) that the office of Secretary of State was one of peculiar importance, and he held it to be very inexpedient to go on multiplying these high and important offices. Nor had our experiences of similar attempts been such as to tempt us to repeat them. During the last century there were practically only two Secretaryships. But in 1768, a Secretary was created for the Colonies, and it so happened that in a short time afterwards we lost the most important colonies committed to his charge, namely, those in America, and then this Secretaryship disappeared. In 1793 another was created. In that year a war broke out, and we made a Secretary for War. But with what result? Our navy, under the administration of a Board of Admiralty, covered itself with glory; but though the courage of our soldiers had never been disputed, nobody could look upon the military operations of those days with satisfaction. In 1802 the office of Secretary for War was merged in that of the Colonies, we haying acquired certain possessions in the West Indies and elsewhere. Now he (Mr. Rich) ventured to think that the history of the revived Colonial Secretaryship was not calculated to make the House much enamoured of the office. There was an inherent want of continuous experience, control and responsibility in it. The Secretary of State and the Governor acted in secret, and the despatches never came before Parliament till too late, till the mischief was done. Hence the Colonies were misgoverned; discontent and insurrection were caused; and at last they had a rebellion in Canada. The nation then awoke to the dangers of the system, and this led to Pie establishment of that control and publicity which has been found in the principle of colonial self-government; the legislative assemblies had thenceforth become efficient checks and counsellors of the Secretary for the Colonies. By their means everything that the Colonial Office did came before the public; but that obviously would not be the ease with India, if it was placed under a Secretary. He would adduce one more argument to show the unsatisfactory working of Secretaryships of State. The War Department, a few years ago, was not a double, but a sextuple government; for it was dispersed amongst the Colonial Office, the Home office, the Horse Guards, the War Office, the Treasury, and the Ordnance. He (Mr. Rich), supported the proposal to Consolidate these scattered elements, but it had unfortunately been done not by duly organizing, but by suppressing them under the dead weight of a new Secretary of State. He was bound to do his noble Friend (Lord Panmure) the justice to say that he had shown himself, able, zealous and vigorous in the discharge of his duties; and he had reason to hope that the right hon. Gentleman now in office would do the same; but he must say that both had been overweighted. There was more business than they could personally supervise, and they had to depend upon the ordinary civil servants, who, though admirable in their proper spheres were not meant to be councillors, and to direct great branches of the service. If the Minister of War had about him a Council composed of men each of whom was charged with the management of a particular department—one, for instance, having charge of the arming, another of the sanitary condition, and another of the discipline of the atimy—he would find their supervision and council of the greatest advantage. So likewise of an Indian Minister and Council. But if instead of these they were going to have a Secretary of State who should be almost totally uncontrolled, he thought the case of India would be full of peril. He bad supported the proposal to transfer the powers of the Company to the Crown; but if that meant that they must establish a nominally responsible, but practically irresponsible, and uncontrolled Secretary of State, he must say that he would rather that things remained as they were. He considered that the idea of a President would more naturally harmonize and dovetail with a Council than would a Secretary of State, and there would be the additional advantage that he would be assisted in the discharge of his duties not by an Under Secretary, but by a Vice President—that is to say, by an officer who by his higher rank would be of more weight, and be less of a bird of passage than an Under Secretary. At present the Under Secretaryships were not held by men or high official standing in that House. They were rather the stepping stones, the schools of instruction for younger Members who might afterwards become statesmen; for as soon as a gentleman had gained a hold upon that House, and had become well acquainted with the duties of his office, he was transferred to some high post. This was most especially the case with these Indian Under Secretaryships. Thus the late Chancellor of the Exchequer was first Secretary of the Board of Control, then Secretary of the Treasury, and afterwards Chancellor of the Exche- quer. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Wilson) was first, Secretary of the Board of Control, and then Secretary of the Treasury; and the right hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), first appointed Secretary of the Board of Control, soon resigned that office and reappeared as Vice President of the Board of Trade. This would not have occurred if there had been a Vice Presidency of the former Board, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Vernon Smith), then new to the office, would at the outbreak of the mutiny have had the valuable assistance of all the experience of the right hon. Member for Kidderminster. But that was already carried off to a higher grade of office, as it almost always had been, and would be where it was worth promotion. For these reasons, both as regarded the office of President and as regarded the President personally, he trusted the Government would abandon the notion of creating another Secretary of State, and would accept of the Amendment he now proposed.

Amendment proposed,— To leave out the words "one of Her Principal Secretaries of State," in order to insert the words "President of Council for the Government of India," instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Resolution."


said, he attached to the Motion more importance than the hon. Gentleman himself seemed to do. He desired that his support of the Amendment should imply the strongest possible expression of his opinion, that though the East India Company in its integrity was destroyed, the great principle of initiatory and independent Government by which its power and prosperity had been so long sustained should not be lost sight of in making their new arrangements. As the Company was to be destroyed, all they, who believed it to have been a good Government, could do, was to assert in every way the principle of having real power vested in the Council, without offering any factious opposition to the Resolutions on which the Bill was to be founded. The office of Secretary of State carried with it certain definite ideas. With the consent of the Prime Minister and the Crown he was the absolute disposer of the affairs of his Department. If they were to have a Secretary of State for India, would he dispose of the des- tinies of 180,000,000 of men and the management of £30,000,000 of revenue? In some Governments the Prime Minister supervised each department, but it was more frequently the case that, except in great and general questions, he left each Department to manage its own business. He believed that when the troubles subsided, and India resumed its normal state, the House would hear very little of its government; and the gradations and steps which led to crises and convulsions would be suffered to go on, as they had been, unnoticed by that House, until the danger was too great, the evil was already done, and it was almost impossible for that House to apply a remedy. But it was said the Secretary of State would have associated with him a Council. Such a Council would have no real power; and no man of honour or susceptibility would consent to be placed in such a position. Everybody knew what was meant by asking advice, and the probability of its being acted on. It was a perfect delusion to talk of a Council which was only to give advice when it was asked by the Minister. The Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) was preferable in this respect, as it gave something like an initiative to the Council. But by constituting the new Minister President of a Council, the scheme would be very much improved, Very soon the question would arise who were to be the Council, what their numbers, and what their duties were to be, without any hon. Member of the House knowing what were to be the functions of the Council. If they were to be a mere shield for the ignorance of the Minister, he should prefer to have no Council at all, according to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck). It would be far less dangerous that the Secretary of State should act upon his own responsibility, simply because there would be less probability in that case of his acting, and more probability of his allowing the affairs of the Indian Government to be managed by the Governor General and his Council. Before proceeding further, therefore, the Government ought distinctly to state whether the Council was to transact the affairs of India in any way analogous to that of the present Court of Directors. Were they to be a consultative or a governing body? If the former, he should vote against such a Council; if the latter, how were they to act? Were they to be formed into Committees for departments? For his own part, he believed it to be absolutely necessary that the Council should be the governing body of the ordinary affairs of India, preserving to the Minister, the Cabinet, and Parliament, the consideration of that class of questions which were analogous to imperial questions in colonial matters. They were totally in the dark as to the machinery by which the Council were to act; but before they came to an ultimate decision, the whole question of the form and action of the Council ought to be clearly laid before the House.


said, the Committee were exercising only a wise caution when they refused to assent to any Resolution without knowing what the proposers of that Resolution really meant by it, and consequently to what their assent might pledge them. Before the discussion began he was told by one who had looked a good deal into the subject that, however large might be the programme laid before Parliament, the greater part of the debates would turn upon the constitution of the Council, and the respective powers of the Council and Minister. He thought that the prediction had so far been verified, and that they had in fact been discussing the constitution of the Council upon a Resolution which dealt only with the title which the Minister for India was to take. That, however, was a question which did not properly arise upon the Resolution then under consideration. The question as to the responsibility of the future Minister for India was the substance of the Resolution that stood next in order. The constitution and powers of the Council were dealt with by another Resolution. The two subjects, no doubt, bore so closely upon each other that it was a matter of some difficulty to separate them in these discussions, and to wait until the respective Resolutions came regularly before them. But the Committee would not pledge itself to anything as regarded the power of the Minister by passing the Resolution before it. There was nothing in the mere name of Secretary of State which necessarily limited suited or defined with much accuracy the position he was to hold. For example, the Minister for War was termed a Secretary of State, yet his relations with the horse Guards and the Commander in Chief were somewhat peculiar. He did not mean to hold up the arrangements of that particular office as a model for their imitation.

What he meant to say was this, that the mere title of Secretary of State did not of itself convey with strict and minute accuracy those peculiar functions that were to be performed by such an officer. He, however, dissented from the objections raised against this particular Resolution, and still more from the arguments of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment. That hon. Gentleman objected to the Resolution, because he said that the number of such high offices should not be increased. But the number of high offices would remain the same, whether the Minister for India were styled a Secretary or a President. The hon. Member then referred to the colonial administration, which he considered a parallel case, and contended that the Colonies were badly governed under a Secretary of State. He (Lord Stanley) was not there to defend the colonial administration of England in times past. He was aware that it had been marked with many and grave faults; but most of those faults had originated in an error which at the present time was not likely to be committed—that of attempting to govern too much in England, and leaving too little responsibility to the local authorities. But every objection raised by the hon. Gentleman to the title of Secretary of State, when founded upon the analogy of the Colonial Office, was an objection not so much to the title of the Minister for India as to the office itself. That objection, would, however, equally apply to the whole principle of the Bill of the noble Viscount opposite; it was in fact an objection to that course of policy which a large majority of that House had already sanctioned, rather than to anything contained in the present Resolution. He did not think that the Committee would attach great weight to the arguments of the hon. Gentleman as regarded the difference of position between an Under Secretary and a Vice President. Substantially their positions were the same. They were in some sense subordinate colleagues, but still they were colleagues of the Minister. And when two men came together within the walls of an office, their mutual relations depended much less upon the particular titles by which they were designated than upon the ability and energy of the men themselves. No doubt there was a difference between the position of a President of Council and a Secretary of State. No doubt the latter designation more clearly than the former implied that Executive power and responsibility were to rest in the hands of the Minister; yet be the names what they might it was obvious that such power and responsibility were implied by the terms of the Resolutions before the Committee. The principle contended for was already asserted in the Resolutions, indeed it formed one of the leading principles of that course of legislation upon which the House had entered. An inference had been drawn from this Resolution which he did not think was just. The hon. Member said that if Parliament decreed this additional Secretary of State, such a Minister would become at once absolute in authority, and that his Council would have nothing to do but to give him advice when he condescended to ask for such. Now, that was a question entirely for future consideration. They had not properly opened it yet, and he apprehended it would be more regular to raise it upon the fourth Resolution. He was of opinion that the position in which they proposed to place the head of the Indian Executive in relation to the Council was more clearly represented by the title of Secretary of State than by that of President of the Council; and holding that opinion, he asked the Committee to pass the Resolution before them as it stood.


said, he agreed that it would be well to reserve the discussion on the Council until they came to the fourth Resolution; though perhaps the proposal that there should be a President of the Council raised the question whether there should be a Council at all. Further, the proposal to appoint a Secretary of State for India did carry with it the impression that he would have the sole power. He was also disposed to think that there was considerable force, in a constitutional point of view, in the argument which had been adduced against designating the Minister for India a Secretary of State. A Secretary of State would have to take the commands of Her Majesty, and it was certainly inconsistent with constitutional practice, that a high official, having taken the pleasure of Her Majesty, should afterwards have to consult a Council. Then there was an objection to multiplying Secretaries of State, as that would have the effect of increasing the facilities for the interchange of offices, and it was above all things desirable that the Indian Minister should be changed as seldom as possible. He thought it would be best to adopt the Resolution in the form first proposed, containing the words "by a responsible Minister of the Crown." That would probably meet all the difficulties that had been raised.


said, the Government would have no objection to accede to the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion, but still, as far as his own opinion went, he thought that the functions of the proposed Minister for India would be better described as those of a Secretary of State, and he should be very sorry to see him designated simply as a President of the Council. If he were a Secretary of State he might very easily consult his Council first, and take the pleasure of the Crown afterwards, and so the objection raised by the right hon. Gentleman would be disposed of. But there was no reason why the question should not be left open for the present, until the functions of the Council had been decided.


said, he was glad to hear that the Government had acceded to the suggestion of his right hon. Friend. In their efforts to abolish one double Government they ought to take care they were not establishing another double Government. He did not think that that was a proper time to determine the new powers that ought to be given to the Council. They should wait until the Resolution bearing upon that point came regularly before them. He admitted, however, that it was difficult to discuss this question at all until they knew precisely what those powers were that it was proposed should be given to the Council. With regard to the constitutional position of Secretaries of State, it was their duty to take the pleasure of the Crown, and also to signify that pleasure, in connection with the business of their departments. There was no instance in which a Secretary of State was fettered by anything in the nature of a Council. The relations of the Secretary of State for War with the Commander in Chief and the Horse Guards bore no resemblance to the relations between a Secretary of State and a Council. When the Commander in Chief received the orders of the Queen through the Secretary of State for War, he had no discretion as to obeying the orders so signified. Under the Bill introduced by the late Government the assent of a majority of the Council was necessary before certain appointments could be made, and before any new charge could be placed upon the revenues of India. These restrictions were omitted from the Bill of the present Government, and so far they were consistent in proposing a Secretary of State instead of a President. But there would be a constitutional anomaly in requiring that a Secretary of State, before performing certain acts, should obtain the assent of the majority of a Council. No doubt the Secretary of State would wait until he had obtained that assent before taking the pleasure of the Crown; but it might happen that the Crown signified its pleasure on a point on which the President would be unable to obtain the assent of a majority. Though the present Government omitted from their measure all restraints upon the Secretary of State, he doubted whether the Bill would pass the House without their conferring on the Council some such powers as the late Government had proposed. It was not likely, for example, that they would accede to the principle that the Minister for India should be able, without the sanction of his Council, to place a new and indefinite charge on the revenues of that country, it would be competent for him to do under the present Bill. He gathered from the wording of the 12th Resolution that certain appointments were not to be made by the proposed Secretary of State without the consent of a majority of his Council. Of course Parliament, if it thought fit, might alter the existing rule as to the power of a Secretary of State; but he trusted that the Government, adopting a neutral term for the office of the new Minister, would take this matter into their consideration, and not unnecessarily depart from the established constitutional usage.

MR. ELLICE (Coventry)

said, that he thought as the words proposed by the hon. Member for Richmond differed in no essential respect from those of which he had himself given notice, it would save the House trouble if the discussion were taken altogether upon that hon. Gentleman's Amendment. It was, however, quite impossible, in the present state of their information, to confine themselves, as suggested by the hon. Baronet who spoke last, to the bare and isolated point covered by the Resolution before them. All that they had yet decided upon was the extinction of the East India Company, the whole question of the substitute to be provided for that Government was still open for discussion. If the House omitted now to consider that question, they would be precluded from doing so until the Bill, to be hereafter founded on the Resolution, was before them. He begged at the outset distinctly to disclaim any desire to revive or protract the existence of the East India Company, whose power he thought ought to have been transferred to the Crown when the trading functions of that body were swept away twenty-five years ago. Why the Company had been allowed to remain after that event, it would puzzle any man to divine, unless, indeed, from the difficulty—a difficulty in which they were now placed—of finding a substitute for it. A more convenient time might have been chosen for terminating the existence of that great corporation; but the decision of the House on that point was conclusive, and the present Government had no alternative but to bring in their Bill. Still the question was involved in a degree of confusion, such as he had never seen before in regard to an equally important subject; a confusion, the necessary consequence of the seeming want of knowledge of all parties of the details of the administration) for which they had to provide. Although he did not agree with many of its provisions, he thought the Bill of the late Government was by far the most feasible scheme. Yet it proposed a Council much too limited in number, and without any security for its independence. The further provisions of that Bill afforded at least a scheme which by the introduction of Amendments might have been made a practicable substitute for the present Government. Then came the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, which was very little adapted to obtain the concurrence of the House. In that Bill, however, there was one principle in which he cordially concurred as the best means of securing the independence of the Council—namely, the principle of election, although the mode of election proposed by the right hon. Gentleman was open to objection. Afterwards came the proposal of the noble Lord to proceed by Resolution. If that course had been adopted at the outset it might have facilitated their proceedings; but the result of all that had taken place was that the whole question was thrown into such a state of confusion, that he had been induced to concur in the opinion of the noble Member for Durham (Lord H. Vane) that it would be better to take time for consideration before plunging into legislation which they might afterwards have cause to regret. He had been the more induced to take such a course from the opinion twice expressed by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, that it would be better to continue the present state of things than to pass an ill-considered measure. The House was so ignorant of the business to be performed by the home Government of India that a reference of the subject to a Committee up stairs would have been a most advisable step. In such a Committee they might have been able to ascertain the nature of the system best calculated to supersede the present cumbersome machinery.

From statements made to him of the extent and importance of that business, any scheme for uniting the administration of the India House and the Court of Directors under the sole management of a Secretary of State, without a Council, must end in inextricable confusion. In the military and financial departments alone a Council would have to deal with questions of very large dimensions. Despatches were received by the Court of Directors from the different Governments in India, enclosing collections of reports from the various departments—the financial department, the railway department, the electric telegraph department, the marine department, the statistical department, the military department, the ecclesiastical department, the public works, and the judicial department—on which subjects there were not less than 2,500 despatches with 30,000 paragraphs, each paragraph relating to a separate subject: in addition to which there were 16,950 collections of reports on which the despatches were founded. These despatches and reports were read and reviewed, and answers sent out, with observations on each subject. There were despatches from Madras and Bombay, with 17,000 paragraphs, and, in addition to these despatches, 1,741 letters had been received in the same year, from the Secretaries of the several Governments, relating to accounts and other subjects which required orders to be made thereupon. Then came the management of the Indian army, which amounted to 280,000 men in round numbers. Every act of the Government in India connected with the army, not sanctioned by official regulations, was reported to the Court of Directors—which was much the same principle as was adopted in the Queen's service. In the other departments of the army—the pay, ordnance, commissariat, and staff—all questions relating to promotions, honours, the Advocate's department, including reports of courts-martial, public works, surveys of India, and other miscellaneous matters, had to be considered. Were all these questions to be left solely, and without check, to the Government of India? The Government of India must transact it, in the first instance, it was true, but there would be no check of a court of review. Would the House agree to place the promotions of 280,000 men in the hands of the Secretary of State? The Secretary of War told him that nothing was so perfect as the commissariat, hospital, and transport arrangements in India. When called upon to supply means to meet an emergency like the present, they did not fail because the departments were kept under strict review by a set of merchants of whose capacities for the management of such affairs the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had no very high opinion. Having some experience of similar departments at home, he felt bound to say that this state of things bore a striking contrast to our arrangements in the same departments on the breaking out of the Russian war. Let them take care how they substituted the defective management of our Secretary at War for that which had worked so much better. He wished to call the attention of the House, and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, to the fact, that there were pensions amounting to nearly a million sterling paid out of the Indian revenue to the civil servants and soldiers of India, and it showed how lightly they were dealing with this subject when they proposed to legislate upon it without making any provision with regard to these pensions. The retired pay was £384,000; the pensions and annuities on the home establishment were £155,000; Lord Clive's fund, £87,000; these and other claims amounting to £945,000. Yet a Bill was brought in to settle the question of Indian government without any provision for securing these pensions and annuities. It appeared to him that if a Committee had sat upon this question in the first instance full information might have been obtained from witnesses competent to throw light on all these subjects, and they would be in a much better situation for providing adequate machinery on the abolition of the East India Company. His noble Friend the Member for Tiverton said he knew so little of the details of the home Government, that he was not prepared to give a decided opinion as to the members of a council—if a council was at all necessary for the management of the business hitherto conducted by the Directors and Board of Control. As almost every one had propounded his nostrum on this question, he might be pardoned for stating his. There would have been less difficulty in making the change proposed by his noble Friend had he proceeded cautiously and by steps to accomplish his object. If his noble Friend wished merely to have one body, his simplest plan would have been to unite the Board in Leadenhall Street, and Cannon Row. He might have taken the present Directors for his temporary Council, providing that three or five should retire annually, filling up their vacancies partly, as at present, by direct nomination, partly on the recommendation of the remaining members. He admitted that the great difficulty was that of election, and securing the independence of the Council. He believed that if a Bill was passed for four or five years, thus giving Parliament an opportunity to act after that period as experience might paint out—for nobody could suppose, do what they would now, that future legislation would not be wanted—they would be acting in a safe and wise manner. By the plan he proposed the Company would have been abolished, the Crown would have been put in possession, and the whole business of the Company might have been carried on without interruption. He hoped the Committee would pardon him if, amongst the other doctors who were called in, he ventured to give his opinion. But a more serious matter remained behind. Not one word had been said about the question of the patronage of India. His hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) said that India would be better managed by a responsible Secretary without being clogged by a Council. He agreed with his hon. Friend in that opinion, if the Council was not to be an independent one. Let them have no sham, at all events. If they were to have a Council, let it be a Council which would give the public assurance that the patronage and business of India should be conducted as well and as honestly as heretofore. The noble Lord who with so much advantage to the country and such public approbation had undertaken the administration of colonial affairs had just told the Committee that the Government of the Colonies was much less difficult now than in former times, and expressed a hope that the government of India also would be found to have changed for the better. But it should be recollected that Canada and Australia had now their own Parliaments, and were therefore to a great extent self-governed. Previous to the granting of those Powers, the state of the administration was the subject of constant grievance and complaint. Did any one propose that India should have a Parliament? This was only suggested in the petitions from English residents in Calcutta, who wished India to be granted for their sole advantage. He would assume that no member of the Committee desired a Parliament elected by this constituency for India. His noble Friend the Member for the City of London, one of the ablest and best Secretaries of State for the Colonies he never knew, could tell the Committee that one of the most difficult parts of his business consisted in listening to complaints of the colonists against those placed in temporary authority over them. It was the most difficult, because on the decision depended the fate and fortunes of individuals. Was it the intention of the noble Lord that the 900 civil servants of India, when aggrieved by the local authorities, should come to Parliament to state their complaints, and thus occupy its time, without, after all, being able to get justice? Parliament was a bad court of appeal, for such cases. It appeared to him that no individual, if a Secretary of State was to be appointed to undertake it, could bear the weight of so much business. He next came to the great question of patronage. The Bill of the Government and the Resolution of his noble Friend made their own dispositions of it. If India was to be governed by a Minister of State, and he was not to be controlled by a Council, what was to become of the patronage? His noble Friend the Member for London had an ingenious contrivance for disposing of the first appointments in the army, but he (Mr. Ellice) warned them against running too fast with this system of competitive examination. Officers for the cavalry and infantry could not be selected by competitive examination, which would afford no test of their moral or physical qualities. The best crammed boys do not turn out either the ablest men or most efficient soldiers. On the contrary, as mental faculties develope themselves, sometimes earlier, sometimes later in life, so early cramming had often the effect of weakening the intellect, and leading to relaxed and supine habits afterwards. He did not see why the appointment of the cadets should not be Left to the members of the Council. It was an inducement to accept the labour and responsibility of office. But beyond the first appointments, the patronage was to be left with the Secretary of State. At present the directors appointed to the Councils in India—did they propose to transfer that patronage to the Secretary of State? All the plans pointed to nomination by the Crown. Under the Court of Directors this patronage had been secured to the middle classes of England—and well might they be proud of the men they had produced—the Malcolms, Metcalfes, and others. Were they so certain that equally eminent men would be selected by the Minister under the pressure of Parliamentary Government. Experience in the Colonies did not justify that expectation. The pressure of the House of Commons was in this respect as much to be guarded against as any tendency to abuse his patronage by the Minister. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton (Mr. M. Gibson) had congratulated himself on the Increased power of the House from the breaking up of parties. Perhaps they might arrive at the American system, when every man would insist on naming his own cadet? It was proposed in the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, that in the first instance the Secretary of State should be appointed by the Crown, to be controlled by no Council. He was to name the Governor General, and the Governor General was to nominate the Indian Councils. The Secretary of State would thus directly or indirectly exercise the whole patronage of the Indian empire—the advancement of every man in the revenue department, in the diplomatic service, in the Residencies and in other branches. When they had dispensed with an independent Board to review and control this patronage, would not Members press the pretensions of their friends, connections, and constituents on the Minister, responsible to them for their share of patronage as well as for the due performance of his duties? But the mischief did not end there. In the great extension of our territories the necessity had been imposed upon us of appointing officers in the army to fill many civil appointments in India. Well, if they took the Company's officers for those duties, why should they not take the Queen's officers for the same service? The necessary con- sequence would be, that young gentlemen of rank and influence would be sent out as aides-de-camp, or other situations on the staff, to succeed to these offices. Of course it will be said this would not happen. Let them consult every day's experience at home for an answer. When the Government sent out the proposed Commissioners to inquire into the finances of India it would be discovered that they were very good men—that they had discharged their ditties efficiently, and their ultimate destination, of course, would be the Indian Council. In fact, the country ought to know, and the Committee must know, that if either Bill were consented to, without securing an independent Council to control and administer Indian government and patronage with as much purity and honour as they had hitherto been administered, the confidence and attachment of our officers in India, on which our tenure of the country depended, would be undermined, and the security of the empire endangered. He had heard it said that all officers in India were eager for the change; but his information led him to conclude directly the reverse. He had no doubt they would rather hold their appointments directly from the Crown than from the Company, but always on the condition, that they should have equal security, with that they enjoyed at present, for just and impartial promotion, according to service and merit. But one hon. Member said that all danger respecting the distribution of the patronage would soon be obviated by a reform in Parliament. Why, Sir, that would only reproduce the evil in an aggravated form, from the more direct pressure of popular impulse and jobbing. The hon. Gentleman who had served with him on the Committee up stairs would recollect the great anxiety of all the Members to extend the admission of Natives to office. No sooner had the mutiny broken out, than Lord Canning was denounced, for appointing one faithful Mahomedan to office. Would you govern India, according to the varying and conflicting prejudices and feelings out of doors, brought directly to bear on a popular assembly? Look also at the public meetings held with a view, as it was called, of christianising India. Did any man mean to tell him that if the opinions there expressed were to become the rule of our Indian Administration the stability of our empire would not be endangered? The danger would be great if popular feeling in England were permitted to act directly on the 180,000,000 of people in India. The right hon. Member for Radnor (Sir G. C. Lewis) said that the last twenty years had been the best period of the Directors' government, but had at the Same time deprecated the slowness of their movements. Now he (Mr. Ellice) believed the best part of the present system was its slowness and caution. He did not mean to say in case of war, when energy and promptitude were required, but in all matters where the sensitive feelings of 180,000,000 of Hindoos were concerned too much deliberation and consideration could not precede the introduction of change and even of reform. It appeared to him, in short, that we were legislating in the dark with regard to India, and that presumption, instead of caution, prompted our course. He should, however, throw no obstacles in the which of the very anomalous proceedings in which they had embarked, in which three great parties were supporting three diametrically opposite principles. The most important point at issue was the difference between a Council nominated by the Crown and an elective council. He was sure that neither the noble Lord at the head of the Government nor the right hon. Gentleman opposite would consent to be the lacquey of opinions of other men in which they did not concur. If they could not carry what they thought right they would not be parties to the passing of what they thought wrong. There was no difference between his two noble Friends, the Members for London and Tiverton, on the subject of the nomination of the Council, while the right hon. Gentleman advocated the principle of election. His plan would be to Make the new machinery differ as little as possible from the old, taking possession in the name of the Crown, but making as little change as might be necessary consistent with the amount. If they could net frame an independent Council, let them take the one they had. In conclusion he would say, "Pass your Bill temporarily, and review it when experience enables you to do it with confidence and safety; but do not, for God's sake, in exchanging new lights for old ones, make a false step, Which may shake our Indian empire to its foundation."


said, the Committee lied no doubt listened with attention and with instruction to the speech of his right hon. Friend. He was not going to answer it, but it must have struck every Member of the Committee that half of that, speech was too late and the other half too soon. A great part would have been an excellent speech on the Motion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring) and the remainder on the Amendment of the noble Member for South Durham (Lord H. Vane); but on both of those Motions the House had pronounced an opinion; and to ask the Committee now suddenly to reverse all that they had just decided, and to call on them upon the very threshold of their task to throw up their hands in despair, would be a course so mean-spirited and dastardly that he did not believe the Committee would ever think of adopting it. His right hon. Friend had gone through the various points embraced in these Resolutions and the Amendments proposed; but it was surely premature to discuss these at present. The whole benefit of proceeding in Committee was that they might consider each Resolution separately on its merits—with a view, no doubt, to what was to come after—but discussing each proposition by itself. He could not therefore consent to go into a re-argument with his right hon. Friend of questions respecting which the Committee had pronounced a final decision, It had been decided, for example, that the power of the Company was to be transferred to the Government of the Crown, and the settlement of that point had disposed of many of the meets of his right hon. Friend. Then his right hon. Friend had endeavoured to show that it would be quite impossible for any Secretary of State, with any Council you could frame, to carry on the government of India. Now, if arguments of this kind were listened to, he (Lord J. Russell) could easily demonstrate that it would be impossible for the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) with all his talents and application to carry on the business of Colonial Secretary. Even now, though a great many colonies governed themselves, there were some fifteen or twenty Crown colonies all with different constitutions and different laws. Some of those colonies were founded on the Dutch, some on the Spanish, some on the French law, and some on the ancient British colonial constitution; and if were to show that the Colonial Secretary had to examine all those laws, to decide upon fifty questions of administration which occurred daily in the Colonies, and to keep in view the position of the people from North America to Ceylon—if he were to draw a picture of all these diffi- culties the House would probably say,—"It is impossible for twenty men, let alone one man, to carry on such an administration." Now, he believed that the administration of India, although difficult, was not of so extremely varied a character as the business of the Colonial Secretary. There was more similarity in the questions which came before any Board of Control or Court of Directors than in those which were submitted to a Colonial Secretary. As to the much calumniated system of colonial administration in former days, it should be remembered that there then existed peculiar difficulties in the way of administration, which time and the change of manners and customs had now removed. This had been the case with the West Indies and with Australia. Slavery formerly existed in the West Indies, and it would have been impossible to give a constitution to a country where the persons who were to govern were masters, and those to be governed, slaves. Neither could we have at once given self-government to Australia, because we had sent there none but convicts. We could not form a House of Lords of housebreakers and a House of Commons of pickpockets. We were obliged to wait until emigration had produced in those colonies a population who were really fitted to govern themselves. When, therefore, it was said "How well the colonies are governed now, compared with their position formerly," he thought such a change was attributable more to circumstances than to any increased wisdom. The principles of self-government, it should be remembered, were the ancient principles on which in the beginning of the 17th century our colonization was founded; they were not now newly invented; and he held, therefore, that the extreme vituperation which had been bestowed upon the colonial administration of former times was not quite merited. He could say this with the more disinterestedness as his right hon. Friend had been pleased to exempt him from his censure. With regard to this particular Resolution, which was all the Committee had to decide upon, the question was whether a Minister of the Crown should exercise the power taken away from the Company by the first Resolution—the power of governing India—either with or without a Council. As to the distinction between the Secretary of State and the President of the Council, he was not very anxious on that point. He rather inclined, however, to the proposition of the Government, thinking that the Secretary of State for India might just as well, after procuring the opinion of the Council for India, take the pleasure of the Crown, as the Foreign or Colonial Secretaries, who, after laying the whole subject before the Cabinet, and collecting their opinion, took the pleasure of the Crown on the ultimate decision arrived at. He thought, therefore, that none of the technical difficulties which had been made to a Secretary of State were very material. But there was a question which was not only material, but which went to the root of the whole matter—a question which his right hon. Friend (Mr. Ellice) had raised to a certain degree, but had hardly attempted to solve. His right hon. Friend had exposed all the difficulties which might arise from transferring this government to the Crown; he had shown all the evils of corruption which might attend a change. But upon this proposition, affecting so greatly the future of India, both the late and the present Governments had proposed a Resolution which he thought presented the only right solution as to the relations between the Minister of the Crown and the Council. His right hon. Friend said, that if there were an independent Council, we might intrust to them as safely as to the Court of Directors the power of governing India. Now, he should wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman, in speaking of an independent Council, meant a Council which should have the entire power of governing India or not? The Bill of his noble Friend the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) gave to the proposed President of the Council of India the power of acting alone in those cases in which the Secret Committee might formerly have acted; and, although it might be said that the Secretary of State for India or the President of the Council should not have the power alone to decide that £20 a year should be given to an old Indian soldier who had served his country for fifty years, yet if he were to have the pourer of sending out on his own responsibility instructions to India by which a war might be incurred which would cost £4,000,000 or £5,000,000., in his hands the real government of India would be vested. Was a power so great as that, he would ask, to be centred in a Minister of the Crown or in a Council? If it were to be centred in a Minister of the Crown, then would there be a person who, although he might advise with his Council, would be responsible to that House and to the country for his acts, and who might justly be called to account if he should adopt any measures wanting in prudence, vigour, or capacity. But if to a Council, let it be appointed for only six or eight years, or as he (Lord J. Russell) proposed, during good behaviour, the decision of great points relative to the welfare of India was to be committed, the double system of government would in reality still be maintained; that which was termed a sham would still continue to exist, in as much as, while the Minister of the Crown would have the name of governing India, his Council, whose members could not be removed except for some act nearly amounting to a crime, would constitute an irresponsible Government, and the country would thus labour under the evils arising from their misconduct without the advantage of that remedy which Parliament always possessed in the case of a responsible Minister. Under those circumstances, he felt that in agreeing to the Resolution under discussion, he was recording his opinion in favour of a proposition which had the Concurrent support of the late and the present Government—namely, the essential provision that there should be a Secretary of State or President of the Council, as it might be, who should be supreme, and consequently responsible. If his hon. Friend the Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice) should raise the question that the decisions of the Minister should be valid only in case, they were made in Council, and that the voice of the majority was to be conclusive, then he must contend that in the event of such a proposition being carried into effect, the future government of India would be rendered less efficient than that which the House was asked to supersede; for although the principle which bad been laid down in the Bill of 1784 was that the power of governing India was to be left with the Company, yet subsequent legislation in 1793 completely vested all essential power in that respect in the hands of the Minister. One of the inconveniences of that system was that the Government appeared to be that of the Directors, while in reality it was centred in the President of the Board of Control. Now that Parliament was about to change the form of government for India, he thought it was bound to place the question upon a distinct footing, and he should therefore vote for the Resolution.

MR. ELLICE (Coventry)

said he had never intended to suggest that the Minister for India, by whatever name he might be called, should have less power than the President of the Board of Control. The House might rest assured that the new Minister for India, whether a Secretary of State or President of a Council, would have sufficiently important duties to perform in directing the general policy of India, without interfering more than was absolutely necessary in those details of administration for the due discharge of which an independent Council would be required.


remarked, that the more the question was ventilated and discussed, the more must the opinion gain ground that it would be impossible to give the power to the Minister, and at the same time preserve the independent character of the Council. Due credit had not been given to the East India Company for what they had done, and he would therefore warn the Committee of the danger they would incur by altering the present system.


The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry has told us to-night that we are in a state of great confusion, and this is not the first time in the course of these debates that the right hon. Gentleman has apprised us of that fact. I know there are several hon. Gentlemen who agree with him on the subject. There is no doubt of the fact, that upon the Indian question there is in this house a party of confusion. But I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman in his elaborate and interesting address has at all substantiated his point. It is not by referring to the Bill of the noble Lord opposite, or to the Bill which Her Majesty's Ministers introduced, or to the Resolutions to which we now propose to apply ourselves, that the right hon. Gentleman will prove that the position we now occupy is one of a confused and perplexing character. It is not at all extraordinary that on this vast question of the government of India we should have gone through a train of doubt, perplexity, and dissatisfaction in the course of these debates. The thing constantly occurs when the House first attempts to grapple with a great question. How often has it happened that even powerful Ministers have been obliged to withdraw the Bills they had brought forward, and at a subsequent period, perhaps, the same Minister has introduced a large and satisfactory measure? And when it is remembered that the subject we are now discussing is not inferior in importance or difficulty to any which has ever engaged the attention of the House, I do not think that by dwelling upon difficulties which have been got over and obstacles that have been removed, hon. Members will be able to prove that this is especially a perplexing subject to deal with. That it is a most important subject no one can for a moment doubt. As to the question now before us, the Second Resolution asks the House to agree that, the government of India having been transferred from the Company to the Crown, all the functions hitherto fulfilled by the various bodies concerned in the administration of India shall be hereafter concentrated in one Minister of State. There is a controversy whether the Minister of State shall be be called a Secretary or a President. I confess the bias of my mind is rather in favour of a Secretary of State, and I think all the constitutional arguments which have been addressed to the House favour that arrangement; but I do not think that is a question of material importance at the present moment. The Resolution is only intended to express a sufficiently perspicuous manner what are the general intentions of the House upon the particular point before it, and it is needless to embarrass ourselves with questions of detail. I think, therefore, this question may well be postponed, and that the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Vernon Smith) is well worthy of consideration. I think the best way will to be the clause read thus, "That for this purpose it is expedient to provide that Her Majesty, by one of the responsible Ministers of the Crown." If those words are adopted, I think they would obviate any serious objection, and I think, if the Clause thus Changed be agreed to, the next clause may be omitted. The object of the third clause is, that there shall be a specific declaration of opinion by the Committee that the responsibility of the Minister shall be complete and the same as that of other Secretaries of State. I shall, therefore, propose the words which I have mentioned, and if they are agreed to, I will withdraw the third clause.


said, the change would have an effect on which they might congratulate themselves, that it, would reduce the number of the Resolutions they had to encounter by one. He thought, however, the question as to whether the Minister was to be a Secretary of State or a President was not of the slight importance, that it had been considered by some who had spoken to-night. Two views prevailed in the House and in the country as to the government of India. Assuming that there was to be a Council, one or other of these views was implied by the adoption of the Resolution or of the Amendment. According to one view the Crown was to select for the advantage of the Minister a certain number of gentlemen supposed to be fitted to assist him; but it would depend upon the Minister how far he would act on their advice or not. According to the other view, which seemed to him the truer one, the Council for the affairs of India, would not be the occasional advisers of the Minister, but an essential part of the system of government. He was inclined to stick more closely to the Bill of the late Government than they were themselves.


said, he thought that there was no inconsistency in those who supported the Bill, which he had had the honour to introduce, voting for the Resolution as it now stood. But he must remind his hon. Friend that these Resolutions were not a Bill, and that they only laid down principles. He would only say that he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman proposed to omit the next Resolution, because he thought that objection might be taken to it, not only for the reason which the right hon. Gentleman had stated, but also from a defect inherent in the Resolution itself. It proposed that the business should be transacted by the Minister in the same manner as the business was transacted by the other Secretaries of State. But as it was proposed that there should be a Council to assist him, he would not administer the business of the department in the same manner as the other Secretaries of State. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman had not proposed that it should be omitted, he Viscount Palmerston) would have suggested that that Resolution should be altered.


replied, that had it been necessary, he believed he could have shown that the objection of the noble Lord to the third clause was quite inapplicable.


said, he wished that the opponents of the clause might perfectly understand their position. If they did not oppose time Resolution, he wished it to be understood that they should not be precluded hereafter from proposing. the establishment of an independent Council. If it was understood that they should hereafter be permitted to discuss that point, he thought it would be unnecessary to put the Committee to the trouble of dividing. The Committee having adopted the first Resolution, it was evident that it would be necessary to provide for the government of India by a President of the Council or a Secretary of State, and he trusted that, whatever might be the title of the Minister who directed the government of India, they would limit his powers, control his action, and check his patronage.


said, that after the discussion which had taken place, and the admissions which had been made by the Government, he was quite willing to withdraw his Amendment, for when the time arrived for deciding whether a Secretary of State or a President of the Council should direct the government of India, he thought it was not improbable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be induced to accede to his suggestion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed,— That the words, 'by one of Her Principal Secretaries of State, shall have and perform all the powers and duties relating to the Government and Revenues of India which are or may be now exercised and performed by the East India Company, or by the Court of Directors or Court of Proprietors of the said Company, either alone or with the approbation of the Commissioners for the Affairs of India,' stand part of the proposed Resolution.

Another Amendment proposed,— To leave out the words 'one of Her Principal Secretaries of State," in order to insert the words "one of the responsible Ministers of the Crown," instead thereof.

MR. ELLICE (Coventry)

observed, that he was also willing to withdraw his Amendment, on the understanding that the adoption of the Resolution did not pledge the Committee to the principle that India should be governed by a Secretary of State alone, but that conditions might hereafter be proposed with respect to the duties of the Council.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Resolution," put, and negatived.

Question, "That the words 'one of the responsible Ministers of the Crown' be inserted instead thereof," put, and agreed to.

Resolution, as amended, agreed to. 2. Resolved, That for this purpose it is expedient to provide that Her Majesty, by one of the responsible Ministers of the Crown, shall have and perform all the powers and duties relating to the Government and Revenues of India which are or may be now exercised and performed by the East India Company, or by the Court of Directors or Court of Proprietors of the said Company, either alone or with the approbation of the Commissioners for the Affairs of India.


said, it became his duty, in the absence of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to move the fourth Resolution in the following terms:— That in order to assist such Minister of the Crown in the discharge of his duties it is expedient that a Council be appointed of not less than twelve nor more than eighteen Members. This Resolution would raise two questions of great importance—first, whether the Minister should have the assistance of a Council and, secondly, what should be the number of Members of such Council. This Resolution was proposed by Her Majesty's Government, in the belief that it was unquestionably desirable that the Minister of the Crown who directed the Government of India should be insisted by the advice of a Council. Her Majesty's Government also believed, judging from the experience of the government of India by the East India Company, and from all the information they could obtain, that unless there were a sufficient number of members of Council it would be impossible for them efficiently to transact the business which would devolve upon them. It would be necessary to divide the Council into three or four Committees, land it would be impossible, if the Council consisted of only eight members, as was originally proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, that such Committees could be formed. Supposing there were only twelve members of Council, if four Committees were requisite, they could only consist of three members each; but, by placing the, members of Council on more than one Committee, it might be possible for twelve members to discharge the duties. Her Majesty's Government believed, however, that a larger number of members was necessary, and accordingly their proposal was that the Council should consist of not less than twelve nor more than eighteen members.

Motion made and Question proposed,— That in order to assist such Minister of the Crown in the discharge of his duties, it is expedient that a Council be appointed of not less than twelve nor more than eighteen Members.

SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE moved that the Chairman report progress. It was impossible to make satisfactory progress at that late hour of the evening—twenty minute past eleven o'clock.


said, that the discussion had commenced so late that evening that he really thought if they were to make that progress they all desired they should continue the debate somewhat longer.

MR. ELLICE (Coventry)

said, the fact was, that this Resolution constituted the whole question in dispute; and, therefore, to commence discussing it at that hour was absurd.


hoped, that if the right hon. Gentleman opposite assented to the Motion for reporting progress, he would make arrangements for the debate to come on at an early hour in the evening on the next occasion. It was remarkable that those who were opposed to the measure should be most forward in offering obstruction to it.


denied that he and those who acted with him were guilty of pursuing an obstructive policy. They had not yet had an opportunity of discussing the most vital parts of the measure.


said, he was certainly not opposed to legislation during the present Session. At the same time, if they desired to have a consecutive and well-directed discussion on the clause he thought they ought to adjourn the debate to another day; and the more especially as before any of the numerous Amendments on the paper, regarding the composition of the Council came on to be discussed, he should like to raise the preliminary, whether there ought to be a Council at all.


said, he entirely agreed that, although it was desirable to avoid all unnecessary delay, yet that, as questions were coming on in connection with this Resolution that would require a long debate, it would be better to report progress, on the understanding that the debate should be resumed on Monday evening after the dispassion of the Lords' Amendments to the Oaths Bill, and should be proceeded with, without interruption, until they had gone through the Resolutions.


said, he would join in the proposal for reporting progress, but he thought they ought first to settle the order in which they should proceed. It seemed to him to be the most convenient course to discuss the composition and numbers of the Council seriatim, and, after disposing of them, to enter upon the discussion of the hon. Member for Sheffield's Amendment—namely, whether there should be a Council at all.


said, he would consent to the suggestion of the noble Lord, although he thought the more logical course would be to discuss his Amendment first.


said, he felt somewhat disappointed that the Committee had not made more progress with the Resolutions that evening, especially as he did not see that there was any chance of proceeding with the Amendments on Monday, when it had been arranged the House was to take into consideration the Amendments on the Oaths Bill as the first Order of the Day. So far as the Government were concerned, they would be prepared, on Friday, to go on with the Indian Resolutions. He would, however, suggest that some arrangement might be come to by which the intervening days between Monday and Friday might be devoted to this important subject. Of course that depended upon the inclination of hon. Members to waive precedence for their Motions. He would, therefore, fix the Resolutions for Tuesday, trusting that sonic arrangement might be made in the interval by hon. Members who had Motions for that day.


Then on Tuesday I will take the opinion of the Committee upon the Resolution asserting the expediency of appointing a Council for India.


said, he concurred in the mode of proceeding indicated by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck).


said, he must protest against the omnivorous rapacity of the Government. Already Thursday was taken away from independent Members, and now it was proposed to take away Tuesday also. A Motion stood on the list for Tuesday, having in view the protection of certain inhabitants of the Potteries, who were being undermined, and were gradually sinking to the centre of the earth, and while that House was discussing a law for India which would probably not pass in the present Session, that Motion would be put of till next year, and he did not know what might happen in the meantime.

House resumed.

Committee report progress; to sit again on Tuesday next.