§ MR. VANSITTART
rose, pursuant to notice, to move the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the following questions connected with the Finances of India:—
The hon. Member assured the House that he was fully impressed with the gravity of the step he was taking; but such was the importance which the state of our Indian finances had assumed, that he thought it very desirable that the House should come to some decided expression of opinion on the subject. He ought to mention that he placed the Resolutions to which he invited attention on the Notice Paper towards the end of last Session, and at a time when the greatest apprehension prevailed in the public mind, among the mercantile community, in the circles of private society, and in the press. At that period were heard such alarming expressions as these:—"We must give up India, or we must restore the greater portion of our possessions to the Native Princes, or we must give back the government of the country to its former rulers—the late East India Company." And deprecating then, as he did now, such timid counsels, he was anxious to press forward this discussion, but the lateness of the Session and the thinness of the House induced him to withdraw his Motion. He did not regret having done so, as it had enabled him to submit his Resolutions in a modified shape, and bad given time for much feverish excitement and unnecessary panic to subside. The House would observe that the Resolutions had reference entirely to the civil administration and the financial condition of India, and that he had studiously avoided all allusion to military and other questions. He believed that now that the mutiny had been effectually crushed, and that Her Majesty's benevolent sway was recognized from one end of India to the other, it was our bounden duty to face our financial difficulties boldly and manfully, and introduce such economical reforms and salutary regulations as were imperatively called for in reference to the altered circumstances of the case. The first Resolution referred to the Civil Service. He had already, in the course of the discussions which had taken place in that House, declared his opinion that it would be very unjust to meddle with the salaries of the present incumbents; but, at the same time, he thought that an inquiry as to the practicability of introducing a new Civil Service upon a cheaper footing might be attended with good results. It would throw impartial light upon the subject, disclose the real facts of the case, and give the civilian 739 a more settled position in future by setting at rest those sweeping accusations which had of late years been urged against that distinguished service. That any great reduction of expenditure under that head would be proposed by the Committee which he sought to have appointed was very problematical, for the impoliey of underpaying our officials in that trying climate was pretty generally acknowledged, and such a measure would produce great discontent, discontent would produce listlessness, and listlessness would produce indifference. Any considerable reduction of salaries would sweep away the entire surplus available for accumulating a small competency to enable the civilian to revisit his native country. That would, indeed, be a poor compensation for the sacrifices entailed by a man passing the best years of his life in a remote district, cut off from the charms of civilized society. So keenly was this already felt, that he ventured to say that if any great reduction of salaries were made there would not he found fifty men in the Civil Service who, if they could recommence life with their present experience, would not deliberately prefer a clerkship in any of our Government offices in London to the life of comparative ease in India. Already candidates for the medical service were not to be obtained, and the number of competitors for the Civil Service decreased every year, although it was far easier to procure a nomination to compete for that service than one to compete for a clerkship in the Government offices in London, or for a tide waiter ship in the provincial towns. The Committee, however, would have the advantage of referring to several important documents and ably written minutes, which had been compiled by a high authority in India, who was deputed to inquire into the subject by the late East India Company. With regard to the second Resolution, the abolition of the Legislative Council of Calcutta as at present constructed and of the Supreme Councils would be hailed with great satisfaction. These Councils had signally failed to produce any practical advantage, and since the creation of the Legislative Council of Calcutta in 1853, no one exactly knew what were the peculiar duties of the members of the Supreme Council beyond drawing very high salaries. The Committee would, therefore, inquire into the expediency of abolishing these Councils, and whether the Lieutenant-Governors of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay might not be 740 advautageously assisted with a separate Legislative Council, to be composed one-half of officials residing at the Presidency towns, and the other half of non-officials. He bad not included the Government of the North-West and the Punjab in this arrangement, because the European community was very small in those provinces. It could not be doubted that some such reorganization and infusion of fresh intelligence was greatly needed. The whole of the evidence taken before the Colonization Committee proved that fact, and, with the permission of the House, he would read some brief extracts from the evidence of two or three witnesses. He would begin by quoting Mr. Waller, because that gentleman was a solicitor of the Supreme Court, and afterwards an advocate at the bar of the Sudder Dewanny and Nizamut Adawlut at Calcutta. These Courts were supposed to be rather jealous of each other. The Judges of the Supreme Court were appointed by the Crown from eminent barristers in this country, and the Judges of the Sudder from the covenanted civilians; and, as Mr. Waller did not appear to have got much out of either of the courts, his evidence was probably the more reliable and candid. Mr. Waller said:—
- "1. Whether, having due regard to all vested rights, it is practicable to introduce a new Civil Service upon a cheaper footing.
- "2. Whether it is not desirable to abolish the Legislative Council at Calcutta, and the Supreme Councils of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, and substitute for them a Legislative Council for each Presidency.
- "3. Whether it is not advisable to amalgamate the Supreme and Sudder Courts.
- "4. Whether, with reference to the fact of India forming a portion of the British Empire, it is not expedient to put a stop to the existing system of
738 raising loans at the present high rates of interest."The Supreme and other local Councils are wholly useless and enormously expensive, and the chief secretaries and the heads of departments may well supply their places. That the present Legislative Council of Calcutta possess neither the confidence of the Europeans nor of the natives. That there ought to be a certain number of ex officio members receiving no other salary than that of their respective substantive appointments, and there should be as many non-official as official members, composed equally of Englishmen and native Christians, and of Natives who are not Christians. That the Government of each Presidency should have the power of putting a veto to, or suspending the operation of, any law passed by the Council, pending a reference to the Home Government. That the official members ought merely to receive the pay of their substantive appointments, the non-official members to receive nothing, and that it should be left to the Governors of the Presidencies to determine the selection of these non-officials and Natives for appointments in the Legislative Council.He advocates strongly—The creation of a Legislative Council for each Presidency, and that each Presidency should enact its own laws. Such a measure would give the Legislature a larger amount of experience and information than it has at present, would eventuate a great benefit to the country, and would do away with that political antagonism between the governors and the governed which exists at present; but we can hardly do so so long as we have but one Legislative Council, for how are we to introduce people resident at Madras into the Legislative Council located at Calcutta?741 The Rev. Mr. Mullens, of the Calcutta Missionary Conference, gave some valuable evidence, and, speaking of the Legislative Council, he says:—We have no good tribunal before which we can really bring forward the various evils which we consider to exist in the country. The present Legislative Council is by no means so open as we should like; all the members are officials, appointed by the Government, and they are so far irresponsible, except to the Government itself; and it is very hard to get a case fully taken up in the Legislative Council, and discussed on every side. In Ceylon the planters have a Council in which they have the highest confidence, and in which some of their own merchants are engaged. The Ceylon Council is composed partly from officials and partly from different sections of the country,—one or two planters, one or two merchants, and one or two natives, so that all classes are represented. A Council like that in Calcutta would be a great help to having these questions thoroughly discussed.Mr. M'Nair, an indigo planter, complained in his evidence that—The European community in India have no mercantile or agricultural representative in the Legislative Council; that it is entirely composed of Government servants, and nearly every law brought forward by them is to strengthen the hands of Government, or to impose some new restriction upon the already over-restricted European settlers; "and he thinks" it would be advantageous if the Governor-General were instructed to select six non-official members from the mercantile and agricultural community, and that this plan is adopted in Ceylon and Hong Kong, and has worked well for the prosperity of those countries.Again, several important meetings had been held at Calcutta and Bombay, at which the lamentable ignorance displayed by the Legislative Council in regard to financial matters was denounced. How, indeed, could public confidence be placed in men who could frame a measure in which especial care was taken to exempt themselves from taxation which they wished to extend to all other classes but themselves? So clumsily contrived, too, were the provisions of the measure, that while it fell with peculiar seventy on petty traders struggling to gain a miserable pittance, and whose net profits amounted to only sixty-six rupees, or £6 12s. per annum, the opulent Muharjuns and Bunnyahs—the money-lenders, bill-brokers, and bill-discounters of India, whose usurious practices exceed all belief, even surpassing those of their brother craftsmen in this country—were allowed, comparatively speaking, to escape scot-free. If the second question, therefore, were to be carried in the affirma- 742 tive, a very considerable saving of expense would be effected. We should obtain that happy mixture in the Legislative Councils by which the over-zeal of one party would be judiciously checked by the other, and we should gradually pave the way for enabling the Natives to take a more active part in the government of the country, while, at the same time, they should be held responsible for the income and the expenditure, without coming to England for assistance; for, depend upon it, India could be made to pay her own expenses, and, were the French or Russians masters of the country, they would quickly devise the means of effecting that desirable object. The same argument applied in a great measure to the next Resolution, because the majority of the witnesses before the Colonization Committee advocated the expediency of amalgamating the Supreme and Sudder Courts. Now that India had become a part of Her Majesty's dominions, what could be the object of maintaining two separate appellate tribunals at the Presidency towns? All that the Europeans objected to was, to be tried in criminal cases by a Native. If therefore the Judges of the Supreme Court were to be associated with a corresponding number of Judges of the Sudder Court, this objection would be still respected, and we should again have a happy mixture of sound and able English lawyers, and practical and intelligent covenanted civilians, carefully selected from our Zillah or provincial courts. Another great saving of expense would be effected by this reform, which would only be carrying out the recommendation contained in the Report of the Colonization Committee, namely:—The judicial system of India will never be placed on a sound and practical basis till all the Courts are organized into one harmonious whole, and until, by an amalgamation of the Supreme and Sudder Courts, the highest and most learned tribunals of the land shall be Courts of Appeal to the whole country, administering law under the same procedure.It was unnecessary to dwell at any length on the fourth and concluding Resolution, as it opened up the question of an Imperial guarantee, which had been so frequently discussed in that House, and which, from its importance, would of itself be a fit subject to refer to a Select Committee. It appeared to him that the principle by which our Indian Ministers at home were guided in raising loans could not he sound. A few months ago the right hon. Baronet 743 the Secretary of State for India required £5,000,000. He invited tenders, limiting the price at 97, bearing interest at 5 per cent. Seven and a half millions were immediately subscribed for, and in a few weeks the stock jumped up from 97 to 105. Now, it could not be doubted that a 3¼ per cent stock, under an Imperial guarantee, would have been just as easily raised, and on so small a sum as £5,000,000 something like £87,500 a year have been saved to the revenues of India. He was aware that this course would be objected to in many quarters on the ground of the risk and liability. Well, then, why not subject all future loans raised for India to a reduction of say 1 per cent, to be put aside as a sinking fund towards the redemption of the loan? That arrangement would involve no risk, but, on the contrary, it would ensure every provident precaution for the future. That more loans would be asked for India was beyond a doubt. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India told the House so in August last, expressing a hope that he would not require more than £6,000,000. Meanwhile the Indian debt by the 1st of May of this year will have reached £96,000,000. To meet these difficulties a few extra taxes had been imposed, and from that questionable tax—the salt-tax—which had been increased 20 per cent, the greatest source of revenue was expected to be derived. All at present was in a state of uncertainty. The Legislative Council was waiting for the right Hon. Mr. Wilson; that right Hon. Gentleman was seeking an interview with Lord Canning, who had started on a long itinerant tour, in which he appeared to be disposing of Principalities with a lavish hand, and Mr. Wilson hoped to catch him at Lahore, distant upwards of 1,000 miles from Calcutta. Under these icumstances it was necessary that something should be done, for the present principle of raising loans was operating as unfavourably to India as it was favourably to the gentlemen of Capel Court. He had now brought the subject of his Resolutions under the notice of the House. He had endeavoured to do so briefly, and perhaps on that account he had executed his task imperfectly. It was probable he should be told that as a right hon. Gentleman of distinguished ability had been so recently deputed to India to inquire into its finances, it would be premature to grant a Committee which might embarrass his proceedings. All he could say 744 in reply was, that such a result was, very far from his wish and intention, and he begged to assure the House that in applying for this Committee he was actuated only by a sense of public duty. He was anxious, most anxious, that the House of Commons should give an assurance to the public, both at home and in India, of its earnest desire to co-operate with that right hon. Gentleman in promoting those measures of economy and simplification which were so essential to the prosperity of our Indian possessions; and he was sanguine enough to believe that by carrying into effect the measures which he had shadowed forth our financial difficulties would soon disappear, and that our Indian empire, with its dense population and vast resources of undeveloped wealth—founded as it had been by the indomitable spirit of a Clive, and matured and consolidated by the lofty genius of a Wellesley,—would endure as an imperishable memorial of England's greatness, wisdom and glory.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire, &c."
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
I hope before I sit down to satisfy even my hon. Friend who has moved these Resolutions that no advantage will be derived from the appointment of a Select Committee. I am grateful, however, to him for bringing these questions before the House, because, varied as they certainly are in their nature, I fully admit that they are most important in relation to the Administration of India, and well worthy the consideration of every hon. Member of this House. I am also glad that they should have been brought forward by a former Member of the Indian Civil Service, as it cannot be supposed that he is inimical to the claims of those members of that service who have to perform most responsible duties in a distant clime. With regard to the first question, it is not one which has at any time escaped the attention of the Indian Government. In the Committee of 1853 it was shown that already the number of civil servants had considerably increased, while the amount of salaries had diminished, and when we look at the higher class who receive large salaries, we find that those receiving upwards of £3,000 a year have diminished one half in the last twenty years. It is therefore, unjust to preceding Governments to suppose that they have been unmindful of obtaining efficient servants at as cheap a rate as is consistent with the 745 due performance of the duties required of them. But there may be some classes of officers whose salaries are too high, and probably others whose number may be reduced. In 1854, when I was President of the Board of Control, I desired the Board of Directors to send a despatch calling upon the local Government in India to revise the salaries of all the civil servants. The consequence was that Mr. Ricketts, now a Member of Council, was appointed specially to consider the subject, and he reported very fully to the Indian Government. That Report was revised by the Indian Government, and their report sent home and printed at the close of last Session. That Report proposed considerable reductions throughout in the salaries of the civil servants. I have received the strongest remonstrances, not only on the part of many of the civil servants, but also on the part of the Government of Madras, against carrying out those recommendations. As soon as the Indian Council met after the recess I appointed a Committee of the most experienced Members, some civil and some not civil servants, to go through with the greatest care the various recommendations both of Mr. Ricketts and the Indian Government, to consider the objections urged against them, and to report fully upon the subject. They have for two months been prosecuting that inquiry, and when it is concluded, the whole subject will be taken into consideration by myself and the Council of India, and it may perhaps be necssary to introduce a Bill upon the subject. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that, considering the responsibility and the amount of labour imposed upon them, in a climate not particularly favourable to European constitutions, the civil servants, as a body, are not overpaid; and, knowing that there is an apprehension abroad among the civil servants that they may be subjected to a sweeping reduction, I am glad to avail myself of this opportunity of stating publicly that the Home Government is not of opinion that a reduction of such a character ought to be made. No doubt, some saving may be made by abolishing certain offices and reducing others here and there, but I do not think that anything like a sweeping reduction is called for or would be right. I am afraid, however, that any saving which could possibly be effected from this source cannot afford great relief to the finances of India, since there are many places now in which for the proper 746 administration of the country a larger staff of civil servants both European and native is necessary, and all the savings which you might effect in the way I have pointed out ought to be applied to this purpose. It is perfectly true, as the hon. Gentleman has observed, that there is not the temptation to go out to India now as in former times. The medical service and the civil service have lately been thrown open to competition, and yet in the medical service we have had more vacancies than applications; and it was only the other day that I saw a letter from a young man who had got a civil appointment by competition telling his friends that he was so much disappointed that he should be glad to exchange India for the most moderate clerkship at home. That being the case, I do not think it would be right to hold out any anticipation of a large reduction being effected in this way. If you look at the salaries paid by railway companies out there to their employés, you will find that they are quite as large and sometimes larger than those paid by the Government to their servants, notwithstanding the far greater responsibility and labours thrown on the latter. As much inquiry has been made and is going on as can be made into this subject, and I do not see, therefore, what benefit can be derived from the appointment of a Committee. With regard to the second point the hon. Member has brought under our notice, the abolition of the Supreme Councils of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, I am not prepared to say that they may not come under the class in which reduction might properly be made. The hon. Gentleman seems to think that the Executive Council at Calcutta has nothing to do, but still they have all to do which they had before the creation of the Legislative Council by the Bill of 1854. I do not wish to give a positive opinion on the subject, but I entertain serious doubts whether it is advantageous for the interests of India to keep up the Executive Council in its present form. The theory of the Government of India is that it is the Government of the Governor-General in Council. All the papers connected with the administration go to every member of the Council, and, vast as the business is, they endeavour to discharge their duties fully and completely—the consequence of which is inordinate delay; and to such an extent has this gone that they have been obliged, of their own authority, to divide the less important business among 747 the different members, so that it may he disposed of without the necessity of coming before the whole Council. Besides this, a great deal of business is necessarily despatched by the Secretaries of the different departments, so that it is no uncommon remark, in the junior Presidencies, "It is of no use to send such a thing before the Supreme Council, because Mr. Secretary So and so is known to be opposed to it." A good deal of dissatisfaction had arisen from this cause, for persons in authority naturally objected to being overruled by an official of inferior rank to themselves. It seems to me very desirable that the Council in its present state should be put an end to, and that officers of higher rank than the present Secretaries should be put at the head of each department, and should he made responsible to the Governor General for the transaction of the business in that department. Upon important occasions the Governor General might summon all of them together in a sort of cabinet council. I have been in communication with Earl Canning on the subject all the autumn, and he very much concurs in these views. The papers have been submitted to a Special Committee of the Council, and they are considering whether the alteration ought to he made, and, if so, in what manner. When Mr. Wilson went out it was with the understanding that if this alteration were carried out he would be prepared to take charge of the Finance Department; and when Sir Henry Frere was appointed I impressed upon him also that if the change Were made he must be prepared to take charge of such department as the Governor General might think fit. In this way a saving will be effected, and you will have the further advantage of being able to obtain men from all parts of India, instead of from the province of Bengal merely, as is generally the case with the Supreme Council now. If, however, this plan is adopted, it will only be right to raise the salaries of the Secretaries, not indeed to those of members of Council, but so as to make the situation objects of ambition to men of the greatest talents and most experience. It will be necessary to come to Parliament for powers to carry out the Measure, if on consideration it be thought advisable. The same observations applies to the Councils in the minor Presidencies. I believe that if secretaries were appointed there in the same way to transact the business a great saving might be effected, and the business would be done in less time. The next 748 question is the Legislative Council. What has taken place with regard to this Council is a warning against precipitate action, even where all the authorities are unanimous in its favour. Any hon. Gentleman who sat on the Committee of 1853 will remember that all the witnesses examined before it were in favour of the creation of Legislative Council; and it was in deference to that unanimous opinion that I introduced a clause into the Bill creating it. But I must admit that it has not answered my expectations or the expectations of those who originally suggested it. At the same time it is not exactly what I intended. It was obvious that the Execu-tive Council of Bengal was not the best body to legislate for the whole of India, as it did not possess the requisite knowledge of the other portions of the country to enable it to do so; but it was hoped that with the assistance of those who were conversant with the requirements of Madras and the North-Western Provinces, and with the addition of two Judges of the Supreme Court, who would add to the general stock their knowledge of English law, a working Committee would be constituted which might elaborate the laws and improve the legislation of India. I am afraid that in their desire too closely to imitate the House of Commons they have lost sight of more important objects, and they certainly have not succeeded in gaining the general confidence of the public, though in some of the objections that have been urged there may be a little exaggeration, and possibly they have been to some extent over-stated. The question of framing a legislative body of any kind for India is a very difficult one; for, though it is of course desirable to introduce into it persons who are unconnected with the Civil Service, it is not easy to see how they can become acquainted with and advocate before the Council the interests and wishes of the great mass of the Natives of India. If we introduce an English merchant or indigo planter, a native-born merchant or learned Brahmin, into the Legislative Council of Calcutta, how is is it to be supposed that he will adequately represent the interests of the landowners of the North-Western Provinces, being as ignorant of the requirements of nine-tenths of the population as the members of this assembly must necessarily be? If it were possible to suppose that we could be called on to frame a similar council here in Loudon, does any one suppose that a city merchant would 749 fairly represent the agricultural population of Devonshire or Yorkshire, of Perthshire or the county of Cork? If any person will fairly consider the diversities of race and language, of occupation and interests, which exist throughout the different parts of India, I think he will agree with me that it is nearly impossible to construct upon any conceivable plan a Legislative Council in Calcutta which shall afford a fair representation of the whole of India. I myself believe that the civil servants of the Crown who live in the Provinces, and are necessarily brought into daily contact with the Natives in various capacities, whether as collectors, judges, or magistrates, are in general persons much fitter to be intrusted with the administration of the general interests of India than individuals who happen merely to be residents in or near Calcutta. Of course the difficulty diminishes in proportion as the area is lessened; the facility of procuring in each province persons who may be supposed to be practically acquainted with its interests is greater; and therefore I will not say that parties, who may not be in the service of the Government, are to be excluded from the Legislative Council; but if such a change is to be admitted, I am inclined to think that a Separate Council for each Presidency will be the preferable course. But I do maintain—although it may appear rather an unconstitutional principle—that the difficulties in the way of the formation of a good Legislative Council for India render it almost an impossibility, and that practically the legislation for the whole of our Indian territories must be left almost entirely and uncontrolledly in the hands of the Governor. The difficulty may be illustrated by a reference to the important subject of the manner in which a new tax should be imposed; and here I must say that the hon. Gentleman was a little unjust to the members of the Civil Service, when speaking of what has recently occurred; because it was never their intention to exempt themselves from taxation; but their view was to introduce a Licensing Bill on trades and professions, and to tax themselves in some other way. This tax, opposed as it may seem to our notions, is not only a feasible but a popular way of raising money in India. Sir R. Montgomery has actually raised a very considerable sum in the North-West provinces in this way; but in Calcutta and in Bengal, where there are numbers of English residents, an income-tax is much 750 more suited to their notions, and indeed is much more applicable to fundholders, officeholders, and large proprietors of land; but if this tax were applied to the ryots of Madras, not a soul from one end of the Presidency to the other would come under its operation. I think that a moderate license duty, imposed according to the feelings and habits of the Natives, is one of the least unpopular taxes that can be levied on an Oriental people. A series of mistakes appear to have been made about this Licensing Bill, which render it very doubtful whether it will be passed at all; and we have not yet heard what proceedings have been taken since the Legislative Council reassembled. But, in one shape or mother, additional taxation is required; and I hope that, having regard to the circumstances of the different provinces—for I do not think it necessary that one uniform tax should prevail throughout India—a sufficient revenue may be raised, so that, by bringing our expenditure within reasonable limits, we may be able to look forward to a period of prosperity. A great difficulty with which it has been necessary to contend, has arisen from the centralising policy which was heretofore adopted: formerly everything was taken away from the subordinate Governments and concentrated at Calcutta, and the consequence was, that great discouragement was thus cast on the minor Governments, while from the enormous pressure thrown upon the Supreme Legislative Council, and partly, also, from the defects in its constitution, results of a most unsatisfactory kind ensued. We have, to a certain extent, endeavoured to relieve the Central Government, by putting greater power into the hands of the subordinate Government. We have removed the superintendence of Baroda to Bombay, and that of Mysore to Madras. We have also taken measures to bring Singapore under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Office, and we have also intrusted the subordinate Government with greater authority in respect to the execution of public works. But the House must remember that the point on which all these provincial Governments claim greater liberty of action is precisely that point in which the supervision and control of the central legislative authority is most necessary and beneficial—I allude to the expenditure of the public funds. If the different Provinces all contributed rateably to the necessities of India, it would be only fair that they should deal with the surplus revenue as they pleased; but such, unfortunately, is far from being the 751 case; and if some check were not exercised by the Supreme Government, the finances of the country would soon fall into irretrievable disorder. I quite agree with my hon. Friend as to the direction in which we ought to proceed, still preserving to the Central Government a general and central control. The next question is, whether it is not advisable to amalgamate the Supreme and Sudder Courts. On that point I entirely go along with my hon. Friend. I came to that conclusion as long ago as 1853, and I introduced a measure for the purpose of amalgamating those courts in 1854. But the government of Calcutta found it impossible to carry it into effect; and in 1860 what I proposed in 1854 is still undone. There is, however, a prospect of the question being settled. The plan for the amalgamation has received the support of the Judges of both Courts in Madras; they state that the scheme is not only possible, but desirable. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Calcutta is favourable to it. We have again directed the attention of the Supreme Government to the subject; and I hope before the end of the Session it will be my duty to introduce a Bill to carry the amalgamation into effect. I believe it will be a most valuable measure; I have no doubt that the combination of the legal knowledge of the English Judges; and the local knowledge of the Sudder Judges will form a better court of appeal, and furnish a better example to all the other Courts throughout India than any one now existing. Probably, also, it will be a measure of economy, as it may enable the Government to reduce the number of Judges. I hardly know whether I need follow my hon. Friend through the question of Imperial guarantees for Indian loans; the subject has been thoroughly discussed. The loan that has been made has been very successful, and the credit of India in England stands high; that has reacted on India itself, where Indian credit is now higher than it was six months ago; and I sincerely trust that before the end of this year I shall be able to make a statement of the financial condition of India, that will be more favourable than the statement of last year. The three subjects which were referred to by the hon. Member—the Civil Service, the Supreme and Sudder Courts, and the question of the Legislative Council—are now under consideration by three different Committees of the Indian Council; and I hope before long to lay before the House such measures as may become necessary for car- 752 rying out the decisions which may ultimately be adopted. Under these circumstances I do not see what advantage would be gained by referring them for investigation to a Committee.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, he was not surprised that the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. W. Vansittart), taking as he did a deep interest in the prosperity of India, should have brought this subject under the consideration of the House, and proposed a Committee of Inquiry into it. He was happy to hear that the right hon. Secretary of State for India was able to take so cheerful a view of the future prospects of Indian finance; but he did not believe that an unprejudiced person who had paid attention to the subject could come to any other conclusion than that the present state of the Indian Administration was very little creditable to the Government of this country. What were the facts? Possessed of one of the finest regions of the world, renowned from the most remote antiquity for its wealth and civilization, and containing a numerous and industrious population—possessed of all these advantages, its Government, nevertheless was practically in a state of insolvency. It had for many years past lived from hand to mouth, upon the proceeds of its ancient reputation; and the very credit on which it then subsisted would ere this have failed were it not for a general belief prevailing in the public mind, and fostered, he regretted to say, by statesmen in that House, that sooner or later the Imperial Government must take on itself the responsibility of Indian debts. He did not wish to take an exaggerated view of the difficulties of the Indian Government, he only echoed the opinions of higher and greater authorities. Sir H. Frere, late Commissioner in Scinde, and now a Member of the Legislative Council, in his Report on the re-organization of the Indian army, described the Government as being in the condition of an insolvent Irish landlord before the Incumbered Estates Bill was passed. It was impossible to be in a much worse condition than that. Such had been the result of the administration of Indian affairs from the financial point of view; but what had it been with regard to the condition of the people? A vast portion of the finest land in India—estimated by some as much as one-sixth, which previously to the establishment of the English Government was in the highest state of cultivation, had 753 since become a desert waste. That was an answer to what they so often heard of the great advantages the Natives of India had derived from their just and civilizing administration. He did not assert that all this fertile land was thrown out of cultivation in consequence of English misgovernment alone. Many large tracts were thrown out of cultivation in consequence of the anarchy and confusion that followed the dissolution of the Empire of Delhi; hut England had done nothing to reclaim then), nothing to remedy the evil the Indian Government had much contributed to produce. It might be said this was the result of past administration; that they had now established a new form of Government for India, and that now our Government was firmly established, the administration would be better. We had, indeed, a new form of Government. But it was a new Government only in name; the same men still sat in the same places, discharging the same routine duties, and carrying out the same principles. He would not say of them what had been said of some potentates, that "they had learned nothing and forgot nothing;" if they had done nothing else they had been very successful in raising loans for the Governor General in this country, for which duty their long practice under the Court of Directors rendered them eminently qualified. While speaking of the Indian Council, he might he permitted to notice the changes which had been effected of late in the management of their business by the Secretary of State for India. Those changes had, he believed, been most judicious, for previously the system had been to send all the despatches to the Committees of the Council before they were submitted to the Secretary of State. The result of that system had been, that the Secretary of State for India had been left in ignorance of the views and opinions of the able men who presided over the several departments of his office, and could only see through the eyes of the Council, which, if the former state of things continued to exist, would practically possess the functions of an executive, instead of being that consultative body which the Legislature intended. So far, therefore, he regarded the change to which he referred as one which was calculated to operate beneficially. He should next proceed to advert to the finances of India, and the means which had been resorted to with the object of removing the difficulties by which 754 that question was beset. A gentleman had been appointed to proceed from this country to India upon that important mission, but he must take the liberty of stating that he thought a mistake had been committed at the very outset in connection with that appointment, in constituting Mr. Wilson a Member of Council. He entertained that opinion because Mr. Wilson, in that capacity, would have to wade through the enormous mass of business which came before the Council—a duty the discharge of which was quite sufficient to take up all the time at his disposal to the exclusion of financial subjects. Now, if Mr. Wilson had been appointed a Special Commissioner, with full powers to deal with questions of finance, then indeed he might have devoted himself altogether to their solution; but one of the reasons which were given for not having done so was that it would have been found impossible to give him a salary of £8,000 a year unless he had been nominated a Member of Council. But be that as it might, he should like to know with what powers beyond those of an ordinary Member of Council, Mr. Wilson was to be entrusted. Was he authorized to deal with the great military establishments of India, or was his attention to be exclusively directed to questions of finance? If the latter were the case, then might the Government as well have appointed an extraordinary Chancellor of the Exchequer in this country to draw up a scheme for the payment of the national debt. In expressing that opinion, he however by no means meant to depreciate the abilities of the Gentleman in question, but simply acted upon the belief that the great Indian difficulty was not strictly one of a purely financial character, or one which could be solved by any fiscal measures, however well devised. That difficulty, he should maintain, arose from the system of administration which had of late years been pursued in India—a system which was hateful as well to the great body of its people as to the native chiefs and nobility, and which rendered it necessary that the Government of the country should be carried on by means of large military establishments which were out of all proportion to the revenue and finances of the country. Now, the statesmen who had founded our Indian empire, and those by whom it had up to the time of the Marquess of Wellesley been governed, had invariably laid down the principle, that its administration ought to be conducted by means of the native chiefs 755 and nobles, and, entertaining that view, they had done everything in their power to conciliate those native chiefs, and to associate them as far as possible in the Government. That system, however, had of late years undergone a change. The native chiefs and nobles had been treated with the utmost contempt, and their existence, so far as the administration of affairs was concerned, had been completely ignored. A centralized system of Government, emanating from Calcutta, had been adopted, a system which had proved so odious to the inhabitants of India that he believed it had been one of the chief causes of the rebellion which had broken out in the North-Western Provinces. The question of administration, indeed, was one of so much importance that he should advert to a single example as illustrative of the view which he was endeavouring to impress upon the attention of the House. The example which he should take was that, he believed, which was most favourable to the present system of Government in India—he alluded to the case of the Punjab, which he had heard it so frequently said had been admirably governed by Sir J. Lawrence, who seemed to be regarded by some as the beau ideal of administrators, and whose system, it was said, ought to be adopted in every part of our Indian Empire. Now, he for one was perfectly ready to bear testimony to the great abilities which Sir J. Lawrence possessed, as well as to the energy and vigour with which he had stemmed the tide of rebellion. The exhibition of those qualities, however, was altogether a different thing from the system of administration which he had established in the Punjab, the wisdom of which he (Mr. Baillie) was very much disposed to doubt, for the reasons which he was about to state to the House. Hon. Members were probably aware that when Sir J. Lawrence had first been sent to the Punjab, it was a newly conquered country, and the Government required to be reorganized. He had gone there in the capacity of assistant to his brother Sir H. Lawrence, who at the time filled the office of Chief Commissioner. It had, however, soon after been discovered that the views and opinions of the two brothers, as to the mode in which the government of the Province should be conducted, essentially differed. Indeed, so great had been the difference between them on the subject, that he had reason to believe both had addressed letters to the Marquess of Dalhousie, requesting that 756 either one or the other of them might be removed. The views which Sir H. Lawrence entertained as to the mode in which the Punjab should be governed were those to which he (Mr. Baillie) had already alluded as characterizing the administration of our earlier Indian statesmen. He desired that all the native nobility should be confirmed in the possession of their estates, and that they should be associated with the Government in the administration of affairs. The views of Sir J. Lawrence, on the contrary, were that we should carry out in the Punjab that system which had been adopted in the North-Western Provinces—that was to say, that the talookdars, or native nobility, should be called upon to produce written titles to their estates, and in those cases in which they should fail to produce them that the estates should be confiscated, with the view of replenishing an exhausted exchequer, leaving to the proprietors of those estates only a life interest or some sort of right of curtailed occupation. Those respective views had been submitted to the Marquess of Dalhousie, and the result had been that he had decided in favour of the policy of Sir J. Lawrence, which might be described generally as of that centralizing character which prevailed in the North-Western Provinces. Sir H. Lawrence had, in consequence, been sent to Lucknow, while his brother had been installed in the Punjab, with full power to carry into execution the views and opinions which he entertained. Now, it appeared from the evidence of Mr. Mangles, who had been examined before the Committee on the Colonization of India, that the confiscation of property in the Punjab had been carried on to a greater extent than in any other portion of that country. The results of the system had, he might add, soon manifested themselves, inasmuch as the Government had received from Sir J. Lawrence constant requisitions to be supplied with fresh troops, and regiment after regiment had to be marched up to his assistance. So far, indeed, had that state of things proceeded, that the Indian Government had found it expedient to consider whether it was possible to carry out the system the adoption of which Sir J. Lawrence had recommended in consequence of the extraordinary expense which its maintenance entailed. The question, however, had been argued in the Indian Council upon the principle that the Punjab formed part of the Bengal Presidency; that they were compelled to main- 757 tain in that Presidency a certain number of troops, and that it was immaterial in what particular districts those troops happened to be quartered. For it was supposed by those who seemed to have been very ignorant of the state of native feeling that there was no necessity for the presence of British troops either in Lower Bengal or in Central India, or in the North-West Provinces, and the scheme founded upon that notable argument had accordingly been carried into effect. Regiments had been marched from every part of Bengal to the Punjab, and their places supplied by Native troops. The consequence had been that when the mutiny broke out it had been discovered that while Sir John Lawrence had a force of 13,000 soldiers in the Punjab there were only 1,300 European troops to he found between Delhi and Calcutta—a distance of more than 1,000 miles. Could any one doubt that this policy in the Punjab was the cause of the success that attended the first outbreak of the rebellion, and of its earliest and most disastrous consequences? He did not say that the rebellion would not have occurred under any circumstances; but he said that if the troops had been left in their accustomed stations,—if there had been a single regiment at Cawnpore, the horrible massacre would never have taken place there, and if a single regiment had been at Delhi that arsenal would never have fallen into the hands of the rebels; and it was only the fortunate arrival of the British troops on the sudden termination of the war in Persia that restored the prestige of our arms. Such was the immediate result of the system of government he had described in the Punjab; and what was the result as regards our present position in India? That was the important point to which he wished to called the attention of the House. He would offer no opinion of his own, but adduced that of far more competent witnesses—Sir John Lawrence himself, Brigadier General Chamberlain, and Colonel Herbert Edwardes. These three distinguished officers were appointed a commission to report on the organization of the Indian army, and one of the first questions put to them by the Governor General was this:—What should be the number of European troops for the permanent occupation of the Punjab, and what should be their ordinary distribution? Their answer was that 22,600 European troops were necessary. Then, as to the number of Native troops to be maintained there, they reported that 758 there should be a force of 52,364 men. Why, the whole of Her Majesty's forces in India previous to the rebellion amounted to only 22,000, and now we had the astounding fact from these officers that 22,600 European troops were necessary for the government of the Punjab alone—the very last of our Indian conquests and a very insignificent portion of our empire. He would offer no comment on this statement, but leave it to be pondered by the House and the country. It was evident, however, that we were governing India just as the Austrians governed Lombardy, contrary to the wishes of the people, by the force of our battalions and bayonets. That was a system which would never last, and the people of England would soon find that even the honour and glory of governing India would be too costly a luxury if it was only to be obtained upon such terms. He thought he had shown that our great Indian difficulty was not to be solved by sending out an economist to deal with the financial part of the question. With regard to the Indian debt, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not expressed himself very clearly. There seemed to be a feeling abroad, which he believed prevailed to some extent on the Stock Exchange, that sooner or later the Government would take on itself the responsibility of the Indian debt. If such an intention existed, he thought it should be done at once. But if, as he hoped, that House would never consent to put the burden, at least of the past debt of India, whatever might be done as to the future debt, on the shoulders of the people, he did think it very desirable that the Government should make an explicit declaration, so that the question might be settled, and those who embarked their money in Indian securities might know that while they got a larger percentage they must put up with an inferior security. There was another subject far more serious to which he wished to call attention—the necessity under which we were now becoming liable to maintain little short of 100,000 European troops locked up in India. Was it possible—he did not say in time of war, but in time of peace—to provide such a force, and also to provide for the wants of our other colonies, keeping also an army in this country sufficient to give security to the people that their hearths should not be invaded, and that in time of war we might be able to maintain, as of old, the honour of England? There could not be a doubt 759 that the uneasiness which had prevailed in this country for some time past at the great military preparations in France arose in a considerable degree from a knowledge of this fact, that we had 100,000 trained soldiers to keep in India, while we had nothing but second battalions and embodied militia for the defence of our own shores. If these 100,000 men had been in the south of England, we might have laughed at all the preparations of France. Was it possible to provide and maintain such a number of men for India? Only last year the Minister for War came down to the House and told them that it was of no use to vote more men for the army, as the Government could not raise the number voted last year. That was a degrading and humiliating statement—that they had not been able to raise the number of men that Parliament deemed necessary for the country; and he trusted they would not have a similar statement on any other occasion. What he wanted to see was action on the part of the Government. He looked for action, but found it nowhere. In India there was the same old routine system going on, just as if there had been no great rebellion. In England, too, routine was still prevalent. Take the case of the militia—every one knew for the last five years that our militia system had broken down. If they wanted to call out the militia for defence, instead of 150,000 men Government could not bring 50,000 under arms. Last Session the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) made a very able and important speech with reference to India, in which he stated that the Government of India was too unwieldy—that such was the enormous mass of business which came before the Governor-General that it was impossible any man could get through it, and the result was that despatches remained unanswered, not for weeks, but for months and years. They had a remarkable example of this in regard to the Principality of Dhar. A despatch was received from India while a noble Friend of his was at the Board of Control, stating that the Governor General had dethroned the Rajah and confiscated his territory. It was deemed necessary to reverse the decision of the Governor-General, and order him to restore those territories, and despatches were forwarded to that effect. During the twelve months his noble Friend remained in office no answer of any kind was returned to those despatches; but he was informed that lately—in fact, just 760 within two years—the answer was received, that answer being that the Governor-General did not think it wise to execute the orders which had been given to him. That circumstance would give a notion of the autocratic powers assumed by the Governor-General of India. The hon. Member for Birmingham also suggested that each Presidency should have its own administration. He thought that the great difficulty which stood in the way—namely, the financial part of the question, might be got over. The question had been discussed by many able civilians, and among them by Mr. G. Campbell, who had written a pamphlet on the financial state of India. Mr. Campbell said that the Government would never succeed in remodelling the finances of India until they established that localization of finance which was so much wanted there. Local finance at present was a thing unknown, whereas every district ought to be bound to regulate its expenditure in some degree by its receipts. Sir Henry Frere said that the late alterations in the Government of India might confer upon the Governor-General the autocratic power he required, but that India must be centralized by persons, and not by departments, if the Government wished to avoid general bankruptcy and ruin. He believed that if a different system of Government were adopted in India they might dispense with one-half the European troops whom it was now necessary to maintain there. Sir J. Lawrence recommended that not less than 22,600 European troops should be maintained in the Punjab, and the Government could not do better than follow Sir John's advice, for if they allowed the European troops in the Punjab to be too much weakened they might have another rebellion. Let the Government bear in mind that upon the solution of this important question, not only the honour and character but also the safety of the country were involved. He would recommend his hon. Friend not to press his Motion.
§ COLONEL SYKES
observed that great misapprehension existed as to the state of the finances of India. A table which he had before him, and which was compiled from official papers on the table of the House, showed that in 1800 the debt of India was £14,125,000, the interest being at £12, £10, £9, and £8 per cent. The revenue of India at that period was only £10,485,000, and the interest of the debt was £1,429,000, the pressure of the debt was therefore upwards of 13½ per cent upon 761 the revenue. The amount of the debt increased year by year in consequence of successive wars, but by numerous financial operations the pressure of the interest had been reduced, until in 1857, though the debt was £60,000,000, the interest had a pressure of only 7.13 per cent instead of 13.65 in the year 1800, and this was owing to the rates of interest having fallen from a range between £12 and £8 per cent to 4 per cent, and in 1857 a loan of £500,000 was even raised at 3½ per cent. The revenue of the country, in fact, had gone on increasing in a greater ratio than the pressure of the debt, having risen from £10,485,000 in 1800, to £33,303,000 in April 1857. There were, in 1857, 50,000 European troops in India—the charges of the civil and military establishments were no doubt very high—but in spite of that the revenues were sufficient to cover every possible charge in India and in England, to lay out £2,000,000 on extraordinary public works, and to leave a balance of £82,432. And yet an opinion was abroad at the time and was even expressed in the House of Commons that India was bankrupt! Fifty thousand European troops were sufficient to take Delhi, to take Lucknow, and to break the neck of the mutiny—50,000 troops were sufficient to hold their own against the rebellion of the whole Bengal army,—universal insurrection in Oude, and partial revolts of Native chiefs, until reinforcements arrived from Europe. If 50,000 troops were sufficient to hold India when all the Native Princes were capable of resisting us—and many were doing so—surely, now, when there was not a Native Prince capable of standing before a brigade, and not a fortress to besiege, we did not require 100,000 European soldiers in India. We need not fear the people. They had been pretty generally disarmed—that was an act which he regretted; as it was undignified, and he would almost venture to designate it, cowardly, but such was the case; and we could not, therefore, require more than 50,000 men now. The mutiny had occasioned a very large outlay, and the debt had risen from £60,000,000 in 1857 to £98,000,000 in 1859–60, but still the pressure of the interest did not amount to what it was in 1807, when India was less wealthy. It then amounted to 15.67 per cent on the revenue; it was even now only 13.54 per cent. What reason was there, then, to despair? What reason was there for seeking to increase the re- 762 venue of India by the mischievous and impolitic means lately proposed? The people of India could only consume a certain amount of our manufactures—chiefly cottons and cotton twist—woollens and hardware, beer, spirits, stationery, &c, were of no use to them. But we required every year an increasing quantity of their produce—indigo, sugar, oil seeds, dyes, &c.—and the result is that we have to pay yearly several millions in silver to them as a balance of trade. He could not conceive then a greater financial blunder than placing a duty of 20 per cent on English manufactures, the consumption of which ought to be encouraged in India. As regarded the licensing tax, his right hon. Friend (Sir C. Wood) was mistaken in supposing that an impost of that nature had been common in India in past times; men were born to their trades and fixed in them by caste and were not licensed. There had been the moturpha, a small tax on shopkeepers and trades, but it did not resemble the licensing tax, and this was proved by the great dissatisfaction which that tax had created among the Natives. Moreover, there was no absolute necessity for imposing such a burden on the people of India. All that was required to be done was to tide over the deficiency occasioned by the mutiny by loans, and that object had been already partially accomplished by the people of England having invested their money in Indian securities, without an Imperial guarantee. The Indian loans were now at a premium in the English market. The guarantee question had been practically settled, and his right hon. Friend could now obtain any amount of money that he required on favourable terms. He would recommend him to do so, and reserve any increase of taxation in India to the time when it was absolutely necessary. Let the European force be reduced to 50,000 or 60,000 men, and there would be an abundance of money for public works. He approved the plan of giving a Council to each of the Presidencies in which the chiefs and great landowners of the interior should be represented; but a Calcutta Baboo, or Native merchant at Madias or Bombay, would be out of place in such a Council. If his hon. Friend divided the House for a Committee, he should certainly divide with him. There was an extraordinary amount of ignorance in this country with regard to the people of India, and he should rejoice in anything which tended to present the Natives in their true light.
remarked, that he was glad to hear that it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to make any large and sweeping reductions in the salaries of the civil servants of India. Generally speaking, those salaries were not, in his opinion, too high to maintain the responsibility and the honourable position of the service. He was also rejoiced to hear it was the intention to give more extensive powers to the governors of the minor Presidencies. It was a great detriment to the interests of the service to have those constant references from the minor Presidencies to the supreme Government of Calcutta. He had heard with surprise the remark of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), that India had for ages been celebrated for its civilization. India bad been celebrated for barbaric splendour; but he did not believe that in this country, at all events, gorgeous palaces and splendid trappings were regarded as marks of civilization. All the principal monuments of India were raised to gratify the taste or vanity of despotic monarchs. The chief roads were roads from one palace to another; the chief towns were towns built by successive rulers to perpetuate a name. There were palaces built by Mogul Emperors, the cost of which was so fabulously great that the hon. Member for Lambeth would be appalled if it were proposed to spend one tithe of the amount on a palace in this country. He (Colonel Herbert) was not prepared to admit that such things were proofs of civilization. It had been customary to abuse those who had governed India during the last hundred years, and to compare their acts and monuments with those of the Native rulers. It would be found on examination that the Government of the East India Company had made great progress in recent years in useful and beneficial works. It was previously engaged in great wars, which were in most instances thrust upon it—wars for the very existence of British rule in India; and because its exchequer was emptied by wars, which, though they had been called aggressive, were in nine cases out of ten purely defensive, and because, in consequence of that state of things, it could not carry on the works that it desired, it had been held up to scorn and obloquy. The hon. Member for Inverness-shire said that if they did not take care India would become a millstone round their neck. He should like to know when England ever paid one farthing on account of India. As much as six or seven 764 millions came from India to this country for the purchase of stores and the payment to salaries and pensions. The balances were thus far entirely on the side of England, and there was no other of our colonies which could show similar results. Therefore there was no ground for speaking of India as if she were likely to be a millstone round the neck of this country. The general conclusion which he had drawn from what he had seen and learned in India was most favourable to the administration of their countrymen in that country during the last hundred years. When he said this he could not be charged with being too partial to the East India Company, for although he belonged to a family that owed much to India, it could not be said of it that it owed much to the East India Company.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Windsor would withdraw his Motion, although they were much indebted to him for the interest of this debate and for much valuable information extracted from the Government and other speakers. He rose, however, principally to express his deep regret at what had fallen from the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), who, when the Government of the Punjab was not necessarily in question, had thought fit to introduce the differences that had existed between Sir John and Sir Henry Lawrence, and unjustly to attack Sir John Lawrence, for whom they must all entertain the highest admiration. There was this consolation, that the country would know that the attack was as undeserved as it was ungenerous. If the hon. Gentleman would bring the matter in due form before the House, he was sure that the answers of those in authority and of private Members would disprove the statements which the hon. Gentleman bad hazarded. The hon. Gentleman would lead them to suppose that India was saved simply by the bravery of the English troops, when he ought to have known that the capture of Delhi was as much owing to the influence of Sir John Lawrence with the Native chiefs as to the courage of our troops.
§ MR. W. EWART
said, he also must express his regret at the allusions made to Sir John Lawrence. He concurred, however, in one statement only of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, that the time was near when the oxcessive number of the army might be diminished, and India pacified by the good administration of just laws and the courteous deportment of 765 British subjects. He rejoiced that the Secretary of State for India was favourable to the decentralization of authority, and he hoped by that course, and by the infusion of non-official members in the Legislative Councils, great improvements would be effected. He wished to know whether the licensing system was to be modified or abandoned.
MR. T. G. BARING
said, that the Bill which was first introduced by the Government in India was a Bill for licensing trades and professions. It was afterwards changed into an Income-tax Bill. The Legislative Council then adjourned, and they had not yet re-considered it. Her Majesty's Government could not, therefore, be aware of the precise position in which the matter stood. It was the income tax, and not the licence tax which had created most opposition in India, as a reference to meetings in Bombay and elsewhere would show. In the Punjab, for example, the licensing system had been introduced with success and without any opposition on the part of the people. He thought that after the discussion which had taken place the hon. Gentleman would probably not divide, and that the House would be satisfied of the intention of Her Majesty's Government to relieve the Supreme Government of that minute control over the local Governments of India which had hitherto been exercised. The effect would be to give the local Governments more power and more responsibility; and, so far from expecting extravagance to follow the exercise of power and responsibility he was convinced more inquiry would be made into every branch of expenditure. He cordially concurred with the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) in regretting that the hon, Member for lnvernessshire (Mr. Baillie) should have introduced a reference to the administration in the Punjab, and more especially an attack on a most distinguished man—Sir John Lawrence. The statement of the hon. Member was that the policy in the Punjab caused the insurrection, and he inferred that Sir John Lawrence was responsible for the disposition of the troops at the time of the mutiny. Sir John Lawrence was no more responsible for the disposition of the troops at Delhi and Cawnpore than the hon. Member himself. Delhi and Cawnpore were not in his jurisdiction, and if any one were to blame for there being no more troops at those places at the time of the insurrection it was certainly not Sir John Lawrence. 766 However humbly connected he might be with Indian affairs, he felt it incumbent on him to say that if there was one man more than another who deserved—not thanks, for the thanks of Parliament had been given, hut honour, it was Sir John Lawrence. Instead of the policy in the Punjab being the cause of the insurrection it was the policy of Sir John Lawrence which more perhaps than any other cause was the means, under God, of saving India in those critical times. It was owing to the loyalty of the people of the Punjab and the affection and cordial assistance of the neighbouring Native Princes that Sir John Lawrence was able so to strengthen the force before Delhi as to give success to the British arms. He was sure there was no Gentleman in the House except the hon. Member who would have coupled the name of Sir John Lawrence with the insurrection not only without one word of praise but with a censure which was not in the slightest degree deserved. The hon. Gentleman referred to the India Act of last year in a manner which, considering the vote he gave, and the position which he filled when that Act passed was extraordinary; and he also attacked, in very wide terms, the conduct of our countrymen in India. The hon. Gentleman had been completely answered by the hon. and gallant Member for Ludlow (Colonel P. Herbert), and he would only add that, in his opinion, the hon. Gentleman would have done well to have listened with more attention to a speech delivered last year by the noble Lord the late Secretary of State, under whom he served, as he would then have probably avoided statements which there was no evidence to support.
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
said, it certainly was an extraordinary proceeding for the Legislative Council even to entertain a finance Bill containing such exceptions as those referred to by the hon. Member who moved the Resolution. The Secretary of State for India indeed had stated that it was not true that in the first Licensing Bill the Indian Council had exempted themselves and the officials of Calcutta. The fact was, however, asserted in the Petition recently presented to that House from the merchants and other Europeans in Calcutta. The right hon. Gentleman had also said that the licensing tax was only the continuation of an old impost to which the people of India were accustomed, and which they extremely liked. Certainly the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen 767 (Colonel Sykes) and other Indian authorities had never heard of such a Native impost. The right hon. Baronet must have confounded this tax with the moturpha, which was wholly distinct from a licensing system, and affected a different class of the population. The petitioners to whom he had referred said they wanted an equitable income tax—not a licensing system, and they stated that at the time their Petition was despatched from Calcutta that obnoxious system was still being adhered to. Their Petition was presented within the last fortnight or three weeks. The Secretary of State, in answer to questions put to him in that House as to whether or not the Licensing Bill had been abandoned, had said that he knew nothing about the matter. No doubt the details of measures for India should be settled by the authorities in India; but when the welfare of a great Empire was concerned, the principles of such measures ought to undergo the statesmanlike supervision of the Home Government. The Legislative Council of India, composed as it was of a few officials who thought it their duty to follow the dictation of the Governor General and the Governors of the Presidencies, was of no earthly use. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would soon be in a position to give them more details regarding the licensing question which was creating such a ferment in India; but if the next Indian mail did not bring intelligence of something satisfactory having been done upon the subject, he should feel it necessary to bring it before the House.
§ MR. TORRENS
said, he could state, not only from the Petition referred to but also from his own experience in India, that the people of that country bitterly complained of the measures taken in respect of the licensing system. The landholders and the agricultural interest in India contributed largely to the public revenue, while the merchants and traders had hitherto been allowed to escape scotfree. Any feasible plan for bringing the latter class under its fair burden of taxation should have his hearty concurrence.
§ MR. VANSITTART
replied: His acknowledgments were due to the hon. Member for Poole for correcting the Secretary of State for India's statement in regard to Mr. Harrington's having exempted himself and the other officials from the Licensing Bill. There could be no doubt that in the first Bill, brought in on the 12th August, the Government officials were ex- 768 empted, though it was quite true they were included in the second. He would not now, however, pursue that matter any further. His object had been completely gained by the manner in which his Resolution had been ventilated in that House—more especially as the right hon. Baronet had given an assurance that the subjects to which the Motion referred were under the consideration of separate Committees in India, and had also held out the prospect of early legislation as the result of the labours of those Committees. It would be extremely ungracious therefore on his part to press the House to a division, and he would ask leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
explained: What he had said was, not that the first Licensing Bill included the holders of Government offices, but that Mr. Harrington, in the speech which he subsequently made in the Council, stated that although that measure did not include official salaries, it was intended in another way to bring them under taxation.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.