MR. VERNON SMITH
said, he wished to ask the Secretary of State for India 1548 whether he will appoint in the place of Mr. Peacock—who has accepted the office of Chief Justice of Bengal—a Financial Legislative Councillor? By the Act of 1853, the Government had power to appoint a fourth ordinary member of Council, but he was not allowed to be present at the discussion of ordinary public business, his duties being legal. Under that Act several appointments were made, the last being that of Mr. Peacock, who had just accepted the office of Chief Justice of Bengal; but by the Act of 1853 the prohibition as to ordinary public business was repealed, and it was now open to the Government to appoint in room of Mr. Peacock a person who might not be a lawyer. What, therefore, he wanted to know was whether, in the present acknowledged deficiency of financial ability in India, the Government were prepared to appoint to the office vacated by Mr. Peacock, a gentleman well acquainted with finance, and capable of giving sound advice upon that subject, or, if not, whether with a view to economy they were willing to abolish the office altogether? he would also take that opportunity of asking whether the noble Lord was prepared to lay upon the table of the House that evening the form of the Vote of Thanks to Lord Canning and the Indian army?
said, he thought there could be no doubt that the Act of 1853 permitted the appointment of a gentleman versed in financial matters, as well as of a lawyer, to the post of fourth ordinary member of Council, and he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that in the pre- sent state of things in India it was far more important to have there a, person competent to act in the former capacity than one whose assistance would be confined to the latter. It was, therefore, intended by the Government that a gentleman conversant with financial affairs should be sent out, provided they could satisfy themselves as to the competency of the individual, and provided also they could find any person properly qualified who was willing to go. That, he would say, was a matter of some difficulty, for probably any one who was fit at the present time to fill the office of Financial Councillor in India would be equally competent to hold the highest financial post in England. With regard to the second question of the right hon. Gentleman he proposed to move the Vote of Thanks to Lord Canning and the army in India, of which he had already 1549 given notice, on Thursday instead of Monday, the reason being that more time was required to consider the claims of the many distinguished men who had rendered good service in India. He should be prepared to announce the terms of the Vote on Tuesday.