§ Order for Second Reading read; Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. ARTHUR MILLS
said, that in venturing to offer any impediment to the further progress of this measure, he must ask the favourable construction of hon. Gentlemen who might differ from him in opinion as to the motives by which he was actuated in offering that impediment. The circumstances, however, of the discussion on the first reading of the measure were sufficient to negative the suspicion that opposition to its further progress proceeded from party motives. He was only speaking the sentiments of all the Members of that House when he declared that any one who would make the difficult and complicated problem of Indian politics the subject of party discussions would be altogether unworthy of confidence. The imputation which had been levelled against those who ventured to differ from the right hon. 1087 Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, that they were actuated by antiquated Indian prejudices, did not affect him, (Mr. Mills) for he had zealously supported both the propositions made in 1858 for the transfer of the Governme of India from the Company to the Crown, The opposition which he offered to this Bill rested simply upon public grounds. It might be urged that on a purely military question it was somewhat incongruous for a civilian to intrude an opinion on the House, but it should be remembered that it was not alone a military but an Imperial question of the highest magnitude, in the right solution of which the loss or retention of our Indian empire was inextricably involved. Civilians likewise, though uninformed on military details, had the advantage of being free from military prejudices and jealousies. The right lion, and gallant Member for Huntingdon, the late Secretary of State for War (General Peel), had stated that in the divisions of the Indian Army Commission on their Report, the officers of the Line were uniformly to be found on one side, and the officers of the local army on the other, and that it could always be inferred which way a man was going to give his evidence from the fact of his belonging to one or other of those military services.
It would be very advantageous if in discussing so complicated and serious a question they could get rid of the adventitious circumstances and professional rivalries which had thus been imported into it. If the charges against the Government, that in bringing forward this measure their only desire was to satisfy the voracious appetite of the Horse Guards for patronage and power had been exaggerated, equally unjustifiable and uncalled for had been the allegations with regard to those who took the opposite view of the question. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India, in apologizing for the circumstance of the Indian Council having unanimously opposed themselves to his project, gave as a reason that if it passed into law they would be deprived of the power and influence which they now possessed. He regretted very much to hear such an imputation cast upon them, because it amounted to nothing less than a statement that fifteen distinguished men had sacrificed their sense of public duty to the interests of private ambition. The observation, moreover, was singularly inaccurate, for it so happened 1088 that one of the most distinguished Members of the Council, Sir John Lawrence, long before this question was mooted, himself proposed a scheme for the re-organization of the Native army of India, based on the system of competitive examination, which would equally have deprived them of that military patronage which was the most substantial symbol of their power. It seemed to him disgraceful that a question of such magnitude as that of the re-organization of the Indian army should be mixed up with considerations of a personal character, and imputations based upon official jealousies. It was not a vulgar question of a scramble for patronage between two departments of the Executive Government, but a far more vital question—namely, by what means the military resources of Great Britain could be so economized and applied as to preserve the allegiance of 200,000,000 subjects of the British Empire. The issue it involved was no less vital than whether an ancient and well-tried machinery by which we had won our Indian Empire, and which during the vicissitudes of 100 years had not been found wanting in the hour of need, should summarily be dispensed with, and that, too, without any substitute, so far as the House of Commons was aware, being provided in its place.
In addressing himself to the proposition of the Government on the subject, he should deal with it from a financial, sanitary, and political point of view, premising that under the first of these heads it was contended that the amalgamation of the local European force in India with the Line would tend to the promotion of economy. Now, it was very difficult, in the absence of any definite scheme for replacing that local army, to argue with respect to the question at issue satisfactorily; but, be that as it might, it was in evidence that the consequence of the passing of this measure would be an increased charge to the amount of something like £200,000 a year on the revenues of India, arising from the system of maintaining and relieving the regiments of the Line which were to be substituted for the local army. And he should like to know what answer we could return to an appeal from India in 1862, in case the land, or opium, or salt revenue in that country should fall short; if in 1860 on grounds of Imperial convenience, we adopted a course the effect of which would be to saddle her revenues with £200,000 a year more than the sum with which 1089 they were charged under the present system. But the adoption of the Government scheme involved a still graver consequence. It was one of those many steps by which we had unconsciously been sliding into an Imperial guarantee for the expenditure of India. If Parliament were determined to adopt the principle of an Imperial guarantee, let them do so with their eyes open; but of all things he warned them against sliding unconsciously into the adoption of this principle.
Next, as to the sanitary question. It had been argued with considerable force on both sides, that much of the evidence which had been laid before the Commission served only to perplex the public mind. It was said that the regiments of the Line were decimated before they were acclimatized. He had no doubt that some portions of the evidence on this point had been put forth unguardedly; but, at all events, the fact remained that the mortality among those Europeans who went out to India for a period of fifteen years was much greater during the first than in the last five years of their stay, and if this was found to be the case with educated men who were more likely to take sanitary precautions, surely the presumption was in favour of the longevity of the private soldiers of a local force as compared with men who had not learned to suit their habits to the exigencies of the climate. The balance of the sanitary argument was at all events in favour of a local army.
The main argument, however, in support of the scheme of amalgamation was that which was based upon political grounds. It was urged by the advocates of that scheme that the armies of one and the same State ought to be homogeneous, for the purpose of securing the loyalty of the troops and avoiding the rivalries between distinct services, which it was said were otherwise liable to be created. Now, he confessed that was an argument which at first sight seemed to be almost unanswerable; but the reply which had uniformly been given by the men of greatest experience to questions on the point put by the Commission was, that it was impossible to reason with respect to it from analogy to what took place in other countries, inasmuch as relations similar to those between this country and India had never been known to exist in the case of any other States. While dealing with that particular topic, he would refer to an extract of a letter written by Colonel Durand to 1090 the Secretary of State for India, dated November 29, 1859. Colonel Durand said,—The nice distinctions of a constitutional government are contradictory puzzles in the East. There, ideas retain all the simplicity which ages of aristocratic power have impressed upon the character of Asiatic nations. The Governor General is now regarded by the chiefs and people of India as being really, not nominally, at the head of three great armies, reinforced according to circumstances by a contingent of Her Majesty's line, a fourth great and purely European army, a reserve of indefinite magnitude; they know, and the officers and men know, that the strength, organization, and discipline of the three Indian armies, and the welfare and advancement of every soul in them, depend upon the Governor General. It will be difficult to the Eastern mind, whatever it may be to the English mind, to comprehend how this relation between the Indian armies and the Governor General can cease, without his power and influence being diminished; and it will be hard satisfactorily to explain why it should happen that, as soon as a Governor General becomes Her Majesty's Viceroy and the immediate representative of the Crown, instead of the fact adding to the real power and dignity of his position, as India was taught to anticipate, it strips him of authority, and renders him unworthy of being treated with the same confidence, and of enjoying the same power, as when the delegate of the East India Company. From the Dardanelles to Japan the fixed idea is, that he who rules and manages the army, rules the State, and that to lose the sway of the army is to drop the reins of empire. Nowhere more than in India is it ingrained in the minds of the people that the sword and the sceptre are synonymous terms; it is the one article of faith upon which 200,000,000 of people agree, and it will be found as difficult to eradicate as any other dogma of the Hindoo, Buddhist, or Moslem hordes under the British rule.Now, the idea which seemed to him to pervade that expression of opinion on the part of a distinguished military officer was that it was hopeless for England to attempt to govern India anywhere else than in India, and that if we desired to succeed in the administration of her affairs we could only effect our object by showing some deference to Asiatic feelings—it might be to Asiatic prejudices. He should ask hon. Members, then, to weigh well the question whether the contemplated fusion of the two armies was not calculated to shake our rule in India by destroying that faith which the Natives had hitherto reposed on the Governor General as the centre of both civil and military authority. The argument, however, on which those who were in favour of amalgamation placed most reliance was that which was based on the so-called mutiny of the local army in respect of the claim for bounty on re-enlistment, it being contended that that army could not in consequence be trusted for the 1091 future, and ought, therefore, to be disbanded. Now, he held in his hand an extract from a minute of Sir James Outram.
The paragraphs of this Minute relative to this matter ran as follows:—Dated, Calcutta, January 7, 1860.The information lately received from England, though not of a strictly official nature, leads me to apprehend that the amalgamation of Her Majesty's Indian Forces with the British army is almost decided on.Believing, as I do, that that measure, if carried out, will prove most injurious to this country, and that it will inflict grievous injustice on the servants of the East India Company, I have deemed it my duty to record a solemn protest against its adoption.That my protest will influence the issue, I do not venture to hope; but, for the case of my conscience, I am desirous that it should be sent home while yet the question is under discussion.The information received by the last few mails leads me to infer that public opinion in England, which at one time preponderated in favour of the maintenance of a local European force in India, has begun to manifest an opposite tendency, and the explanation given of this change of sentiment is the so-called "mutiny" of a portion of the European troops who enlisted for the East India Company.To cite the recent partial breaking up of the late East India Company's European troops as an argument against the maintenance of a local European force in India, appears to me illogical, ungenerous—I had almost said disingenuous.Addressing those who are conversant with all the facts of the case, I require not to point out the absurd and cruel exaggerations that have been propagated in reference to the conduct of our European remonstrants. These, however, have doubtless had considerable influence in effecting the change said to have recently taken place in the public mind of England on the question of the maintenance of a local army, and it is to be hoped that they will be most fully exposed by Her Majesty's Secretary of State for India when the question comes to be discussed in Parliament, so that no Member of either House may give a vote to the prejudice of the existing institutions of India, under erroneous impressions regarding the language and the acts of those soldiers who have recently obtained their discharge.But, even had the behaviour of these men not been exaggerated, had all the fables related of them been true, common justice and common sense demand that the circumstances under which the men acted should be fairly represented to Parliament, and considerately reviewed by that august body.That our soldiers had any legal right to the alternative of discharge or re-enlistment, I do not admit. But it must be borne in mind that in the opinion of a very large proportion of the public, both in this country and in England, their moral claims to the alternative demanded by them were so strong as almost to be irresistible; that, long before their demand was mooted, while yet the transference of India to the direct management of the Crown was under discussion, the nobleman who is now at the head of Her Majesty's Government enunciated as an obvious truism ad- 1092 mitting of no doubt, the proposition that, as a matter of course, the men would be offered the alternative of discharge or re-enlistment.When the transfer was being carried out, Lord Palmerston had become Prime Minister. No hint was given that he had ceased to regard the late Company's European troops as entitled to that alternative of discharge or re-enlistment which a few short months before he had represented to be their absolute moral right. It was simply intimated to the soldiers that the alternative would not be offered them, and for justification of the refusal, they were referred to the opinions of the law officers of the Crown, according to whose dictum the men could not enforce their claims at law.Bear in mind how unspeakably great had been our recent obligations to the European troops of the East India Company as well as to their glorious comrades of the Royal army, who had cheerfully laid down their lives to save an empire that then appeared tottering to its fall. And, doing this, we must admit that some allowance should be made for their conduct.But, even were it otherwise, even had the conduct of a portion of the late East India Company's troops been as bad as their bitterest enemies and most unscrupulous detractors would dare to paint it, even were there no extenuating considerations to urge in their behalf, what then? It was not because they were a local force that they misconducted themselves, but because they conceived themselves to have been treated with deliberate injustice and contumely. And will any advocate of amalgamation venture to insinuate that, had Her Majesty's regiments in India conceived themselves treated in the same fashion, they would not have behaved in precisely the same manner? Will any amalgamationist have the hardihood to maintain that? Aye, even within a comparatively recent period—soldiers and sailors of Her Majesty's service have not in more than one instance evinced very manifest symptoms of insubordination under a sense of neglect and injury? If so, then I take the liberty to declare that his information is decidedly imperfect or his memory very treacherous.He had in his hand the opinions expressed by Lord Gough, Lord Hardinge, and Sir Charles Napier with regard to the uniform gallantry and discipline of the local European army; but he would not quote them. He would venture, however, to say that the record of their achievements was the history of our Indian Empire. Yesterday was the third anniversary of the Massacre of Cawnpore, which brought death and desolation to a thousand English homes. Had they forgotten that they were mainly indebted to the local European army, a distinguished portion of which fought their way side by side with the Royal troops, under Havelock, to Cawnpore, for the vindication of the honour of England and of outraged humanity? He must say it would appear rather ungenerous if they signalized their gratitude by giving a vote which would practically have 1093 the effect of disbanding that army, of declaring that their past services should be ignored, and that the traditionary glories with which they had covered themselves should be entirely forgotten, because they had, under circumstances of great provocation, under the stimulus of official encouragement, forgotten, he would rather say, misapprehended, for a moment, their duty to their country.
But, unfair as were the grounds on which this measure was justified, and strong as the arguments were against the abolition of the local European army, he complained far more of the mode in which the Government proposed to effect their object than of the object itself. So important was it that no delay should take place in the settlement of this question that if he believed the mode proposed by Government would settle it at once he would waive his objections. But would it have that effect? What was the course which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India had taken on this subject? On the 12th of June he introduced a measure to Parliament, the object of which was to discontinue enlistment in this country for the local Indian army, with the view of testing the opinion of the House on a question of infinitely greater magnitude in its consequences than the question of the transfer of India from the Company to the Crown. It was only on the 17th of May that for the first time the right hon. Gentleman had even affected to ask the opinion of the Indian Council on the subject. True, he might have privately consulted several individual members of the Council; but for what purpose was the Council constituted? Was it not intended that they should be bonâ fide councillors on matters of real importance to India? This question had been two years in suspense, and had challenged the most violent controversy—a conflict of opinion almost unprecedented in the annals of our Indian empire; yet all the right hon. Gentleman did was to give the Council an opportunity of expressing their dissent at the eleventh hour from a measure adopted by him in spite of their remonstrance, and to the main principle, of which they were unanimously opposed. On the 17th of May last, having considered the question, and having agreed with the Cabinet on the mode in which he proposed to bring the measure forward, he then invited the opinion of his Council. But why talk of consulting his Council when he had already 1094 decided on the measure to be brought forward? The conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter reminded him of the old story of the gentleman who had engaged to get married, had the settlements drawn up, and paid the attorney's bill, and when about to enter the church turned round to ask his intimate Friend whether he was taking a prudent step. He thought it better that the Council for India should be disbanded rather than that a body of men, selected specially for their knowledge of Indian affairs, should be thus ignored on a question which vitally affected the interests of India. But that was not all. The right hon. Gentleman propounded no scheme whatever as a substitute for what he meant to abolish. Was it not right that Parliament should know whether the rights and privileges guaranteed to the officers of the Indian army by the Act of 1858 were to be equitably respected? But, what was still more important, how was the military occupation of India to be provided for? There was actually no provision for this whatever. The right hon. Gentleman said something of a scheme for a local staff corps, which was rather hazily sketched out; he also spoke of the appointment of a Committee or Commission if this Bill were passed to select one of the four or five schemes propounded for carrying out the details. Was it to be tolerated that the right hon. Gentleman should not only ignore the Council, but withdraw from the House of Commons the consideration of the main principles on which such a measure was to rest? If it were to be an independent Committee or Commission, what security would there be that, after sitting for a year they would not be divided by conflicting opinions? Again, if it were not to be an independent Committee, but a mere team of clerks to obey the dictates of the right hon. Gentleman, then Parliament would be deprived of its prerogative as the ultimate Court of Appeal on a question of this kind. It could not he supposed that the matter was to be referred to the Indian Council, because that body had been already ignored; but if it were referred to an independent Commission, no progress would be made by reading this Bill a second time. The only effect of doing so would probably he to suspend the question for another two years. The right hon. Gentleman ought bonâ fide to have propounded to Parliament his views as to the mode in which the question should be settled; and then, when the opinion of the 1095 House had been fairly challenged, they might have considered how they could so economize our military resources as to retain our empire in India. He for one must enter his emphatic protest against a course which involved the alternative of indefinite delay, or the setting of a most dangerous and unconstitutional precedent. It was not his desire to offer any factious opposition; it was not his wish to impede the Government in the administration of India, but he felt that he should do more harm than good by acceding to the second reading of the Bill. On these grounds, then, and because the Government had propounded no scheme whatever as a substitute for the machinery which they proposed to abolish, and also because the mode in which it was proposed to carry out their object was likely to lead to a most unconstitutional and dangerous precedent, he begged leave to move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now,' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he rose to second the Amendment, although he should not have addressed the House if he had not felt strongly the possible danger of the course in which Her Majesty's Government were about to embark. They had proposed a plan referring to two important points in the military organization of the Indian Empire. The one was to deprive the Indian Government of the power they had hitherto enjoyed of raising British troops for service in India, and the other was the organization of a Native army on a plan which, in his mind, seemed fraught with such difficulties, that he was surprised it had not received more attention in that House. If the question had merely conceived the organization of the British troops in India—and his opinion strongly leaned to the maintenance of a local force—he would not have offered a decided opposition to the proposition of the Government in that stage of the Bill; but he held it to be impossible to separate the military question from the other parts of the scheme involving financial and political considerations. The right hon. Baronet truly said it was not a mere Indian question nor a mere military one. It involved questions of patronage of the highest magnitude and political considerations affecting 1096 the Government of India, and he might almost say affecting the Parliamentary Government at home. If he were merely invited to say whether he would prefer that the European troops in India should consist either of a local force only, or of troops of the Line only, he should have unhesitatingly voted in favour of the latter, because there must be grave objections to the prolonged maintenance in that part of our empire of a large European force without renewal by reliefs from home, and without the check afforded by the strictly national troops of the Line. Important instances had occurred in the history of India in which serious discontents had broken out among the officers of the local force, causing serious embarrassment to the Government; and they had given rise to proposals for wholly doing away with local troops, and endeavouring to unite the whole military administration of India under one system. But those proposals gave way, not as the right hon. Gentleman had stated, to the opposition of the East India Directors, but to the inherent difficulties of the subject, and the changes of opinion which occurred in the minds of eminent men in proportion as they more deeply investigated it. A stronger instance of this kind could not he cited than the change of opinion which Lord Cornwallis himself underwent, evidence of which could be traced throughout the correspondence of that distinguished statesman. They must have a local force as regarded the Native troops; and the only question on which the House was called upon to Vote at present was, whether that force should be of an inferior—he might almost say degraded—character, or whether it should be put in such a position as respected numbers and efficiency as would give support to the Government of India, and insure their fair treatment by the Government at home. There were grave preliminary objections to the manner in which this subject had been introduced. The measure really involved this question—namely, whether they should maintain the system of home Government for India that was established only two years ago. But a great blow would be given to that system if the Indian Minister could bring forward with all the authority of the Government a measure of that magnitude in opposition to the unanimous voice of the Indian Council in this country, as well as in opposition to the opinion of the Governor General of India and of his Council, with the single exception of 1097 the Commander-in-Chief. It would destroy at once the efficiency of the administration in India as a check upon the home Government, and make its total abolition a mere question of time with any Ministry who might deem such a step desirable. It was decided two years ago that the Indian Government should be responsible to Parliament; but the House should remember that Parliament would thereby incur reciprocal responsibilities. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Baronet state that the additional burden to be imposed upon the finances of India by the employment of the proposed increased number of troops of the Line in that country, would amount only to £100,000 or £200,000. Why, that sum would scarcely cover the extra expense of transport, and would make no provision for many other expenses to which the adoption of this system would give rise. At present the volunteering for local service of men from regiments which were returning from India was a great source of economy, which would not exist under the right hon. Gentleman's plan. Men might, indeed, be allowed to volunteer from one regiment of the Line to another; but if they were, what would become of the advantage which it was supposed would be derived from making the reliefs more frequent, so as not to have any large body of troops stationed in India for a long period of time? But the question of expenditure had an English as well as an Indian bearing. If we had so large a force as 80,000 troops of the Line in India, it would be necessary to increase our home garrison in order to provide the necessary reliefs for them. It might be that a home garrison on its present scale would be sufficient to provide those reliefs; but he trusted the House would seriously consider the responsibility they were incurring before they adopted the course proposed. When he first entered Parliament, the zeal for economy was as hot as it now was for expenditure; but those who advocated a reduction of the forces in this country were always met with the reply, that it was necessary to maintain troops here, upon an adequate scale, to provide for the garrisons established throughout the Colonies. He warned the House that if they adopted the present measure, they would always hereafter be met, whenever a proposal was made with regard to the expediency of reducing the forces, by the declaration that it would be impossible to submit to any reduction on account of the necessity of maintaining the 1098 permanent garrison established in India, These considerations alone ought to induce the House to pause before they assented to this measure; but if they were insufficient, the effect which it would have upon the patronage of the British army, and of the Native army in India, ought to prevail with them. The right hon. Baronet proposed that in future the officers of the Native army should be entirely appointed by selection from the Queen's forces. He would not enter into the question as to what security there was that the system of selection would be an efficient one; but he must not omit to point out that the adoption of such a plan would greatly increase the patronage at the disposal of the military administration in this country; because in proportion as officers were removed from the Queen's forces and appointed to commands in the Native army, would the Commissions at the disposal of the authorities increase. This question of patronage was considered by the House two years ago, and was settled in the India Bill then passed; but the right hon. Baronet had, with a stroke of his pen, set aside the provisions of that Act of Parliament. The right hon. Baronet assumed that it was necessary, for the security of India, that we should maintain there an European army of 80,000 men; he then said that that force must be either a local army or troops of the Line; and, lastly, he asserted that the recent mutiny furnished an unanswerable argument against the employment of a local force. He disputed all these positions. It was a mistake to suppose that we must place our reliance mainly upon British troops. For the security of India it was necessary that there should be a large Native army; and he was satisfied that no such force of British troops as that proposed by the right hon. Baronet would be permanently maintained in that country. It might be raised; but if danger arose at home, or war broke out with any foreign country, no consideration with regard to India would prevent the Government from withdrawing from that country a considerable portion of the European troops, and leaving the defence of that empire in a great measure to Native soldiers. But it was said we never could return to that confidence in the Native troops that we entertained before the mutiny. He fully shared in that opinion, and hoped we never should do so. He trusted that we should never again return to that false confidence which led us to leave our great 1099 arsenals entirely in the hands of Native troops, and territories of considerable extent unprotected by the presence of any British force. Still there was a wide margin between an European army of 40,000 men, which was the amount at which it stood previous to the mutiny, and the numbers proposed by the right hon. Baronet. There was reason to hope that we should be able in a few years to reduce the European garrisons in India considerably, as confidence was restored in Bengal, to the standard at which it existed in Bombay and Madras. But apart from that, it was obvious that as the railway system was completed—and in the course of a couple years there was reason to believe that it would extend to Agra and Upper India, as well as in the Madras and Bombay Presidencies—the improved means of communication would render a much reduced European force as efficient as was the large force now maintained in those countries. Consequently he held that they were by no means driven to the alternative which the right hon. Gentleman had placed before the House, of maintaining either a local army, or an army of the Line in India upon the large scale he proposed.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State had quoted the opinions of high military authorities in support of his view of the subject. Those opinions were doubtless entitled to great weight; but he did not think the Secretary of State was justified in the statement he made as to the great change of opinion which had taken place in India. It was true a change had occurred, but it was of a very minor kind, and was scarcely attributable to the recent mutiny in the Bengal army. Amongst others, the right hon. Gentleman had referred, in confirmation of his opinions, to the authority of a very gallant officer—Colonel Durand. He (Sir Edward Colebrooke) was quite willing to admit the high authority of Colonel Durand; but that officer did not represent the opinions of all the military officers who had dealt with the question. The right hon. Gentleman had scarcely made his statement when there appeared a Minute from the Governor General of India, who held a strong opinion in favour of a local force, and who stated that, even if it were not kept up to an equality with the Royal troops in India, which he thought it ought to be, still he would be very glad to have it on a smaller scale in any numbers the Government might decide. Again, it appeared from the papers 1100 before them that the opinion of Sir Patrick Grant, which had been relied on in favour of a local force, had reference to the then condition of the Indian Government, and that when the Government was changed, he thought there came a necessity for a great change in the Indian army. So with regard to Sir William Mansfield; he had always been opposed to the policy of maintaining a European local force, and only advocated it for a time as a matter of expediency during the period of transition. Any change, therefore, that had occurred in his opinion was merely to the extent that, what he formerly thought should be deferred, he now thought should be carried out at once. He (Sir Edward Colebrooke), however, would admit that some of the highest military authorities in India bore out the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman—Lord Clyde, for instance. Now, no one had a higher respect for the authority of Lord Clyde than he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) had; but it was scarcely necessary to remind the House that not merely in matters of opinion but in matters of fact, and especially in regard to the extent to which the disaffection in the Indian European army had spread, the highest military authorities were at issue. Sir James Out-ram, for example, who had been quoted, stated that the grossest exaggeration prevailed as to the facts, and he had expected the right hon. Gentleman would have taken an opportunity of refuting them in his place in Parliament. Under these circumstances he contended that the House ought to have some more satisfactory evidence as to the facts before they were called upon to pass such a measure as the present, otherwise they would be practically legislating in the dark. As he had said, he entertained the highest respect for Lord Clyde, but his opinion showed a bias, and moreover displayed a spirit of injustice towards the officers of the local army, which, painful as it was to him to have to say it, materially diminished the weight of Lord Clyde's opinion. He brought serious charges against the officers of the Bengal army—that they were incompetent to the work thrown on them of organizing the local corps. He perfectly concurred in the opinion of Lord Clyde that it was an error to send regiments of raw recruits out to India; but then he went on to say that when they came out the officers were found to be incapable of organizing them, and that even in the old regiments the men had no confidence in their officers. Now, it ought to 1101 be considered that these officers were placed in a position of great difficulty, for they had no old soldiers mixed with the recruits, nor had they any non-commissioned officers to assist them. Captain Eastwick said that these recruits were drawn from a class which, in civil life, were accustomed to strikes and combinations, and Colonel Carmichael Smith, who had command of one of these regiments, said that he had no non-commissioned officers and only one drill instructor. Therefore, it was unjust to draw conclusions unfavourable to a local corps in India from the exceptional position in which these troops were placed. It was said, indeed, that these charges extended to the old corps as well as to the new; but to this he thought the events of the last few years offered a signal refutation. The best test of military conduct was discipline in the presence of an enemy; and he would put it to any one who had followed the history of recent events whether, in the great mutiny, the conduct of the local corps was one jot behind those troops of the regular army upon whom we so greatly prided ourselves, and whom it was proposed in future to entrust with the safety of our Indian Empire. He admitted that in some respects the discipline of these troops was not equal to that of the Line, but the onus lay upon the Government to prove whether the evils that prevailed were not capable of remedy without resorting to the extreme measure this Bill proposed. The gallant officer who was about to succeed Lord Clyde as Commander-in-Chief of the Bengal army, had brought very sweeping charges against the army of India, not confining them to the local troops, but extending them to the officers of the Indian army generally, stating that there was a want of military spirit prevailing throughout. But he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) would observe that all the instances quoted by Sir Hugh Rose referred to evils that admitted of a remedy. Admitting that that gallant officer's statement was correct, that the manner in which officers had been withdrawn from the army to serve in civil employments had deteriorated their character as military men, still he would ask whether the measure which the right hon. Gentleman proposed of establishing a Staff corps would not meet that difficulty. And next he would ask, could they introduce this important change by which officers of the Line were to be withdrawn from their regiments without incurring the same evil? There was an- 1102 other reason why they should not attach too much weight to the authorities on which the Government relied. Sir Hugh Rose confessed that there was a great deal of private feeling and private influence involved in the question in regard to the dispensation of patronage, but he seemed to think that this was confined exclusively to the Indian army—as though the same charge could not be brought against himself and those other authorities who would have the patronage of the army under the altered state of things it was proposed to introduce. He (Sir E. Colebrooke) would ask, then, whether this was not after all a scramble between the two services for patronage? Sir Hugh Rose spoke of the inconvenience of divided authority consequent on keeping up separate armies in India, and that was not the first time when it had been proposed to amalgamate the Native army with the European troops, and to amalgamate the armies of the different Presidencies; but the events of the past few years refuted the grounds on which that proposal was made, and in no case more strongly than in those operations in which Sir Hugh Rose himself so ably commanded, when he penetrated with the Bombay army which remained faithful to its allegiance to the extreme north of India, and contributed in so important a manner to the final success of our arms against the insurgents.
For these reasons, then, he held that Her Majesty's Government had not laid sufficient grounds for these important changes, and therefore, he would support the proposition of his hon. Friend, He would not enter into those grounds of policy and expediency on which it was thought important to maintain a local army on some scale. But he held it was due to the authority of the Governor General that he should have the confidence and support of an army which naturally looked to him as its head. It might, indeed, be said that they ought not to assume that the home Government would ever he so far lost to a sense of duty as to endanger the safety of the Indian Empire by withdrawing a large portion of troops from her shores. On that subject he wished to draw attention to a paper drawn up by one of the ablest of Indian Governor Generals, which was laid before Parliament two or three years ago, and which pointed out very strongly the necessity for the Governor General having a large European force at his command, In that paper the Marquess of Dalhousie 1103 pointed out that there was no fixed establishment for the number of Royal troops in India, and though the Government of India had no reason for supposing that the army would be unduly weakened by the sudden withdrawal of the Royal contingent, yet it was a contingency which could only be guarded against by the maintenance of a local force. The next consideration was not of the same force, but it was not one to be entirely disregarded. He thought it was a serious question whether the whole military administration of India should be united under one head, and subject to a department of which he would only say that it was at present on its trial, and in which the country did not feel confidence. The right hon. Gentleman also said, he wished young men to qualify themselves for Indian service by a study of the Native languages; but the point really to be aimed at, in his opinion, was to endeavour to excite an interest in the people of the country, which could only be acquired by early devotion to the service. He earnestly deprecated any plan by which Native regiments would be officered altogether from the Queen's army. However valuable the Line might be as an adjunct to the local force, it was not the school which could be relied on for training the officers on whom, in their new position, so much would depend. It was only natural that those who were looking merely to a temporary stay in the country should not devote themselves to the study of its people with the care and attention which was requisite. The change contemplated by Her Majesty's Government, according to which the local force would be reduced to a small and inferior establishment, would necessarily deprive the Indian Government of a large portion of the power they had hitherto possessed with regard to appointments to local command. If the Royal army constituted the principal portion of the force in India, it followed that the military heads at home would exercise a large voice in these nominations. It was utterly impossible at the same time to destroy the local character of the force and to increase the power of the Governor-General. He strongly deprecated the proposed alteration, and he should cordially give his vote for the Amendment.
MR. T. G. BARING
said, the hon. Baronet who had spoken last virtually admitted that if no other point were involved in this discussion but the efficiency of the British army in India no hesitation could be felt in agreeing to the course proposed 1104 by Government. The charge against the Secretary of State that he had not consulted the Council of India so as to enable them to place their opinions before Parliament was a purely technical objection. If the papers presented to the House were referred to, there would be found, in the first place, a Report from the Military Committee of the Council of India, to whom the Report of the Commission upon the reorganization of the Indian army had been referred. They had subsequently put before them the views of Lord Clyde, Sir Hugh Rose, and others whose opinions were entitled to weight, and the observations of Members of the Council on all these confidential papers were laid on the table before the Bill was introduced. Nobody, therefore, could hesitate to say that the House was in possession of the opinion of the Council of India as fully and completely as it could possibly be by any formal resolution. He regretted to hear it said that the Council of India was a mockery, and that this was the greatest blow they had ever received. The functions of that Council were to give advice to the Government and to the country, and as long as their opinions were fully and frankly delivered the form which they assumed mattered comparatively little. This was not the first time a similar blow had been dealt to the Council. The noble Lord the late Secretary of State for India, who passed the Bill by which that body was constituted, arrived at a conclusion on the organization of the army without consulting the Council, and he believed even in opposition to their views. If two successive Governments had considered this formal consultation unnecessary, those Gentlemen in the House who were anxious to support the authority of the Council, and even the members of the Council themselves, must see that a formal expression of their views by Resolution was unnecessary, as long as they had been substantially consulted by the Minister, and as long as an opportunity had been afforded—as he contended there had been in the present instance—of placing their views before Parliament and the country. It was an act of puerility to raise an objection to the second reading of this Bill on a mere formal point of that nature. The hon. Member for Taunton complained that there was not sufficient detail in the Bill. He conceived that it was more convenient and respectful to the House to obtain a decision on the main point in the first instance, and afterwards 1105 to inquire into details; but that no particular objection could be raised to the Bill on that ground was proved by the speech of the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Colebrooke) who had discussed the details of the plan at some length. The question which the House must feel to be of most importance in this discussion was whether, as was stated, the scheme proposed by Her Majesty's Government would cut off the supply of officers for service in India in various political and civil stations—men who in positions of great responsibility and difficulty had always discharged their duty in an admirable manner. He was at a loss to know on what ground this position was taken up by the opponents of the Bill. Authorities had been quoted at considerable length on this subject. He might also refer to the authority of men really conversant with the feelings and habits of British officers—men like Sir Edward Lugard, who had been twenty-five years in India, and Sir Thomas Franks who had been fifteen years in that country, or Sir Patrick Grant, who had a more general knowledge of the army than most other general officers—to prove that there was no difficulty in getting a supply from British Line regiments to take staff and other employments in the East. He might also ask why so much jealousy had existed among officers of the Line at being precluded from taking these appointments, if they were not ready and anxious to be so employed; but he thought it sufficient to appeal to the ordinary motives of human conduct. What career, he would ask, could present greater inducements to our enthusiastic or ambitious youth than the Indian service? Hon. Members were aware of how Herat had been defended by Eldred Pottinger; how in the late mutiny an entire province had been kept loyal by the efforts of Captain W. Osborne; and how armies were commanded by young men like Sir Herbert Edwardes. Nor could the House be ignorant of all that had been done by Sir Proby Cautley, or by Colonel Cotton in constructing works of public utility in India. With the example of such achievements before them, he was at a loss to understand how it could be contended that young men in this country would not be desirous of taking the appointments in India to which he was referring. The inducements to do so had, he might add, not hitherto existed. Until lately few Staff appointments in India had been conferred upon officers in the Queen's army, but now 1106 that state of things was about to undergo an alteration it was only reasonable to suppose, as Lord Ellenborough, who was an advocate of a local army, had stated in his examination before the Commission, that young men would gladly avail themselves of the advantages held out to them. It was, however, argued that officers might be selected to those appointments, but that they would not be fit for their position. Now, what, he should like to know, was the training to which those officers were subjected with respect to whom such an opinion was pronounced? It was service in Her Majesty's infantry, cavalry, and artillery regiments, and it should be borne in mind that from Munro down to Sir Charles Napier, almost every distinguished military authority acquainted with India, with the exception of Sir James Outram, had laid it down as essential that a young officer should commence his training in an European regiment, and there be properly disciplined before being employed with Native troops. That being so, nobody, he thought, would contend that the training received in the Queen's European regiments was inferior to that which officers underwent in the Company's. When young men had received such training and wished to undertake Indian service, they would naturally study the language of the country to which they were going. In looking over the Army List the day before, he had met with the case of scarcely a single Line regiment serving in India in which three or four of the officers had not succeeded in obtaining a knowledge of the vernacular, and if that were so he could not understand why there should be any superiority in a Company's over a Queen's officer who had so qualified himself. It was somewhat remarkable that several of the officers who possessed the greatest influence over the Natives had been trained, not in Native, but in local European regiments. Sir Herbert Edwardes belonged to the 1st Bengal Fusileers, an European regiment; and why it should be supposed he would not have been equally serviceable to his country, if trained in the 10th Regiment of Foot, he was at a loss to understand. Major Hodson also had been an officer in the 1st Bengal Fusileers, Lieutenant Colonel Daly, who raised and formed a Punjab Cavalry regiment, was adjutant of a Bombay European regiment. The previous training of these officers was the same as that which they would have received in the Line, and what power the 1107 mere appointment by a Director could exercise, so as to transform the whole nature of those men, and make them different from their brothers who might happen to serve in the Line, it was not easy to conceive. He was, under those circumstances, prepared to maintain that there could be no difficulty in securing a supply of efficient officers in India should the proposal of the Government receive the assent of the House. The hon. Member for Taunton objected to that proposal, and asked whether it was desirable to dispense with a machinery against which the charge of failure could not with justice be advanced. The hon. Gentleman, in putting the question, however, appeared to have lost sight of the fact, that the whole Native army of Bengal had mutinied, that half the local army had quitted India, and that hardly an officer had been examined before the Commission who did not condemn the present system of Staff appointments in that country. Indeed, the actual attendance of officers with their regiments under the operation of that system was purely nominal. Men were taken away from them to do some other service, and then, when raised to the rank of majors or lieutenant-colonels, they in some instances came back—perhaps after an absence of many years—unaccustomed to the command of troops, and unacquainted with their regiments. Let hon. Members for a moment imagine a regiment of British Infantry quartered at Portsmouth, its major being governor of the Isle of Man, its senior captain master of Westminster School, another of its officers at the head of the Irish constabulary, a fourth negotiating the Commercial Treaty in Paris, a fifth a major of Militia, a sixth a County Court Judge and two or three others, employed in the construction of the Caledonian Canal, or engaged in superintending a harbour in Galway, and they would then have some idea of the way in which European officers in India were employed previous to the mutiny. All officers in command of Native troops would, under the plan which had been sketched out by the Secretary of State, henceforward be selected according to their qualifications. An objection had been made, which deserved attentive consideration both from its own importance and the persons who made it,—namely, that the plan would interfere with the powers of the Governor General of India. But that was not the case. In regard to all matters of expense, all matters affecting the disposition of troops and the appoint- 1108 ment of officers to high commands, the powers of the Governor General were clear and certain, and they would not be interfered with at all by the measure before the House. With regard to the appointments in India, these would remain precisely as at present. All the Staff appointments would be made in India, and the brigade commands in India. The divisional commands would be made as at present, seven being made from home, and the rest in India. For the future the same proportion would be maintained. At present there was a double Staff to each army. In future there would be but one. In future the Adjutant General would be appointed in this country, the Quartermaster General in India. The arrangements would be perfectly fair and satisfactory to all parties, with respect to the patronage of first appointments. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon had explained to the House that the question of appointments was under the consideration of the Committee; and they should wait till that question was decided. There would be no occasion to make any appointments for a period of two years, in consequence of the diminished number of officers required. He believed he had now touched upon most of the points alluded to in the course of this debate. He had not quoted authorities, because he thought the House would be prepared to accept the position that at any rate authority rested with one side as well as with the other. He might, however, mention one remarkable fact. Lord Cornwallis had been alluded to by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, and again that night by the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Colebrooke), as a supporter of the maintenance of a local European army; but—would the House believe it?—the letter of Lord Cornwallis which had been read was written in February, 1787, only a few months after he arrived in India. It was notorious that in 1794 Lord Cornwallis placed before the Cabinet a plan in the greatest detail for amalgamating the army. That, however, was opposed by the Court of Directors. It so happened that a very near relative of his own was a Director of the East India Company at the time, and had a share in its rejection. Lord Cornwallis not only proposed that plan in 1794, after the whole of his Indian experience, but in 1797 he was actually proposed to go as Governor General to India in order to carry out amalgamation; his appointment, however, did not take effect, in consequence 1109 of the Court of Proprietors having refused to approve of the instructions which it was proposed to give him. In regard to Lord Cornwallis, therefore, those who asserted that he was in favour of a local European force had not sufficiently considered his whole Indian career. Having alluded to Lord Cornwallis, he might add that the only Governors-General who were chosen from the Indian Civil Service—Sir John Shore, afterwards Lord Teignmouth, and Lord Metcalfe—had given their opinion in favour of amalgamation. He believed the principle of this measure was right, and all the military arguments were in favour of it, while the political arguments against it were either inapplicable or founded upon incorrect assumptions. With respect to the rights of the officers of the Indian army, they were not interfered with. Being secured by Act of Parliament, they would be maintained in their integrity. The feelings and interests of those officers would be consulted. The security of their rights rested in this, that the clauses of the Act conferring those rights were unrepealed. As to the question of expense, he thought, where there was a revenue of £38,000,000, the question of £100,000, more or less, ought not to affect the consideration of this subject. He thanked the House for the attention they had given to him, and he should ask them to reject the proposal of the hon. Member for Taunton, and give this Bill a second reading.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, he felt it impossible to exaggerate or overstate the importance of this question as regarded the future well-being and security of Her Majesty's Indian empire. The question had received a long and mature consideration on the part of the Government. Even before the present Ministry accepted office the Report of the Commission appointed to inquire into the re-organization of the Indian army had been already made; the subject was, therefore, ripe for decision. The Government had taken twelve months to arrive at the conclusion they had presented to the House in the form of the proposed plan, and he must say after so long a period they had arrived at a very imperfect result. He did not complain that they had changed their views and opinions; on the contrary, they were quite right, if they thought they had good reason to do so. What he complained of was, that the House should now be called upon to decide a question where it was admitted that the Go- 1110 vernment had not yet decided what should be the details of the measure they intended to carry out. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India told them that various plans had been submitted to him; but he also stated that he had not yet made up his mind which of those plans he should adopt. Now, he thought it would be neither fair nor just on the part of the House of Commons to leave the fate of the Indian officers wholly and entirely at the mercy of the Government. He did not mean to insinuate that his right hon. Friend was not just as anxious as any man in that House to do ample justice to those officers. But those officers would be much more willing to have their claims settled by the mature deliberation of Parliament than by the pleasure or caprice of a Minister. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last thought the difficulty in satisfying the claims of the Indian officers, if any, was of a minor character. A very different opinion was entertained by experienced Indian officers. As he considered that the House of Commons ought to be placed in possession of the real facts of the case, with a view to forming a correct judgment upon the matter, he would read an extract from a Minute of Sir James Outram, who expressed his opinion that the proposed amalgamation would inflict serious injury on the 6,000 officers in the Indian army; for those gentlemen had entered the service on the understanding that they would be promoted according to seniority; that they would never be superseded in their positions; and under the proposed amalgamation it would be impossible that faith could be kept with them in these respects. Sir James Outram therefore suggested that the whole question should be argued before a competent tribunal before any decision was come to. The question was now before a competent tribunal, and he (Mr. Baillie) trusted that the House would not decide this question by an abstract vote, but would call upon the Government to lay some plan distinctly before them.
Then, having regard to the question how the amalgamation would affect Her Majesty's Indian empire, he could not agree with the Secretary of State that, as regarded the expense, it was a question of trifling importance. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had underrated the costs and burdens that it would cast upon the State, and in this respect he agreed with the Committee of the Indian Council, who were of opinion that the question was not 1111 what was the best conceivable scheme for the military occupation of India, but what was the best that the resources of the country could afford. There could not be a doubt that if this Bill passed a large proportion of the revenues of India would be placed at the disposal of the English War Office, without any check from Parliamentary supervision. That was an important bearing of the measure in a constitutional point of view. The Government had appointed Mr. Hammack, the actuary, to estimate the difference between the cost of maintaining local European regiments and regiments of the Line. Mr. Hammack's calculation was that 1,000 men of the Line would cost the Indian Government £10,000 a year more than an equal number of local troops. That showed a difference of 10 per cent against Queen's regiments, an amount surely not so trifling as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State represented. But the Government had not taken into account the increased cost of transport. A calculation had been made with regard to the expense of transport by Mr. Hammack, from which it appeared that the expense incurred for the transport of Her Majesty's troops from 1852–53 to 1856–57, amounted to £616,032, and that the expense incurred during the same period for the transport of the East India Company's troops amounted to £156,239. The strength of the latter was one-half that of the former, and, supposing that the strength of both was equal, the cost of transport of Her Majesty's troops would exactly double that of the local army. And as the right hon. Gentleman's plan contemplated reliefs once every ten years, instead of once every twenty, or perhaps twenty-five years, as at present, the cost of transport would, of course, be proportionately augmented. Colonel Tulloch, in his evidence before the Commission, estimated, on the supposition that we maintained a Line army of 80,000 men in India, that no less than 29,000 men would be at sea annually, and that the cost would be £450,000, exclusive of officers, for whom the expense was enormous as compared with that for the men. This was an item which the Secretary of State for India had entirely omitted from his estimate of the cost under the new system. But, after all, the great blot in the plan was the facility it would give the Secretary of State for interfering with the resources of India. If they were to judge of the results of that interference for the future by their expe- 1112 rience of the past, the prospects of Indian finance were not very assuring. The War Office had been reckless of expenditure when the Indian Government—not the Home Treasury—had to bear the burden. A remarkable example of this was presented by the case of the twelve batteries of artillery of which they heard so much eighteen months previously. During the Indian rebellion the Governor General applied for some additional artillery. His despatch was forwarded to the Secretary of State for War, and the reply was made that twelve batteries should be prepared for service in India. As that was a time of war, no objection was made on the score of expense, but it was found impossible to send the troops overland. The force had to be sent out by the long sea route, and had therefore to wait till the monsoon, which did not occur for three or four months. The original intention of the War Office was that these troops should be paid by the Indian Government from the day on which the requisition for them was first made. This was refused by the Indian Council, and a long correspondence took place on the subject. Before the time fixed for the departure of these troops news arrived that the Indian rebellion was at an end. The Council met, and memorialized the Secretary of State for War not to send out the batteries. The answer was that the Indian Government had asked for the troops, and it must have them; and he believed that but for an accident the Indian Government would have had to pay something like £250,000 for sending these batteries to India, would have had to maintain them there, and to bring them home again. In the meantime, however, circumstances occurred which produced an impression that this country would be hurried into war. The hon. and gallant General the Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) gave notice of his intention to move an Address to the Crown, asking that at such a period those troops should not be sent out of the country, and they were not sent; but he believed that that notice did more to prevent their despatch than all the remonstrances of the Indian Government. That was one illustration of the system; another referred to the depôts. Every regiment in India had a depot in this country which was paid by the Indian Government, but the number of men in which depended wholly upon the Secretary of State for War. The number of men in each of these depots varied from 1113 100 to 700 men, and thus the Secretary of State for War had at his absolute disposal an army of 16,000 or 18,000 men, as to his management of which no one knew anything. Suppose we had a Chancellor of the Exchequer who was a disciple of the Manchester school, disapproved of large armies and navies, and believed that the country was to be defended by the principles of free trade. He would write to the Secretary for War for his estimate, and having received it he might entirely disapprove of the number of men and reduce the Estimate by 6,000 or 8,000 men. The Secretary would perhaps remonstrate and say that he had sent the number of men that he considered were requisite for the adequate defence of the country. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were inexorable, as he probably would be, then the Secretary for War could add 100 men to each of the depots, and thus get his 7,000 or 8,000 men, the expense of whom be defrayed by the Indian Government, and this was a matter in which the Indian Council could not interfere. For anything that the House knew, that might be going on now. At all events, he believed that there were at present more men in these depots than the Indian Council liked; but, if they remonstrated with the Secretary for War, he would tell them to mind their own business, that he alone was responsible, and he knew how to manage the affairs of his own office. This was a constitutional question, which was well worth the consideration of the House. A good deal had been said about the mismanagement of the War Office, and an opinion generally prevailed that that was one of the worst managed departments of the Government. Indeed, the Secretary of State seemed to share that opinion, because he had both last Session and this moved the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the subject. The impression was derived from reasons independent of the Crimean disasters, and it was believed by many that the mismanagement had arisen from the sudden amalgamation of the Ordnance and War Departments; and yet they were now asked by a Bill which simply repealed two or three clauses of an Act of Parliament to add the Ordnance and Military Departments of India to this already overburdened and inefficient office.
This appeared to be a very simple measure, but, like the Reform Bill, it would be found to be a very comprehensive one. The Government had this Session dealt 1114 much in large and comprehensive measures. First, there was a large and comprehensive measure of financial Reform, which was followed by a large and comprehensive measure of Parliamentary Reform; and now they had before them a large and comprehensive measure of Indian Reform. The first two had proved to be failures, and he predicted that this also would be admitted to be a failure, unless the House permitted its common sense to be carried away by the eloquence of the Indian Minister, as it was by that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This was called a Bill to repeal the Act which authorized the Government to raise local troops; but had the House well considered the engagements into which it would enter if it passed this Bill? It would engage to maintain an army of 80,000 men in India, no regiment of which should remain in that country longer than ten years. If such a system of relief was applied to the army in India, it must be extended also to the 35,000 men in our other Colonies. The army to be relieved would therefore amount to 115,000 men or more. He should be glad to know whether the Government had calculated the number of men that would be required as a standing army in this country to effect that relief properly and regularly. If they had not, it had been done for them. Sir William Mansfield, at page 175 of the blue-book said:—To carry out the system of relief, it will be incumbent upon Her Majesty's Government to raise twenty-five battalions of 1,000 rank and file, as was proposed for the local army of Bengal, in order to liberate Her Majesty's regiments of the Line.That did not include the reliefs for the troops in the Colonies, which would require 12,000 men more; so that to carry out this scheme the standing army in this country must be increased by 37,000 men. He was one of those who should be willing to vote that number of men, but what would the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer say, and what would be the result if the House passed this Bill but refused to supplement it by voting these reliefs? The result would be that Her Majesty's regiments would have to remain in India for twenty or twenty-five years, and would become local corps without the advantages of local service. Then health would be destroyed and the army would become unpopular, for the situation of a soldier in India would, in such circumstances, be worse than that of a negro on a plantation in the West Indies. What he 1115 wanted the House to do was to reject the present Bill, but not to pledge itself one way or other on the question of amalgamation. Let them have the whole plan of the Government embodied in a Bill, and then they might be able to form something like an accurate judgment upon so difficult a subject that all the highest authorities were ranged on different and opposite sides.
He had no doubt that the decision of the Government had been much influenced by the opinions expressed by some of the most distinguished officers in the Royal army—Lord Clyde, Sir Hugh Rose, and Sir William Mansfield. Let the House examine the reasons which those officers had given for their opinions, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the evils and faults which had been pointed out in the Bengal army were the natural and inevitable results of a local service, or whether they might exist in any service under similar circumstances. The principal evil complained of was the want of discipline in the Bengal army, arising, it was said, from two causes—first, from the absence of sufficient power on the part of commanding officers of regiments to punish their men, who had an appeal to head quarters; and, secondly, from the practice which had so long prevailed of allowing so large a number of officers to be absent upon Staff employments, whereby they were prevented, of course, from attending to the discipline of their regiments. Nothing, he admitted, could be worse than the want of sufficient power on the part of commanding officers to punish their men; but why and by whom was such a system maintained? It was maintained by those Commanders-in-Chief of the Indian army who for a series of years were appointed by the Horse Guards, and who were all Queen's officers. Take the case of the last two,—Sir William Gomm and General Anson. Sir William Gomm commanded in India for four or five years, but he never made any complaint, never instituted any inquiry; he was perfectly satisfied with the existing state of things, and when he left the Bengal army he published an address, in which he spoke in the highest and most flattering terms of the splendid discipline of the army he had so long commanded. General Anson was another officer appointed by the Horse Guards. Of that officer he would not express any opinion of his own, but would give that of the man who was, perhaps, more competent than any other in England 1116 to speak on such a subject. Sir John Lawrence said:—One of the great causes of the little influence of commanders of regiments was the manner in which all real power was centralized at head-quarters. This, again, was the fault of successive Commanders-in-Chief. Look, again, at the officers who were often sent out to command the armies of the different Presidencies; how few were really equal to the post. Can any impartial man cognizant of these facts, deny that such mistakes had not much to do with the late revolt? Look at the character and antecedents of the Commander-in-Chief in Bengal under whom the outbreak occurred; was he a fit officer for the control of the Indian armies, at a time, moreover, when many reforms were necessary? He was fully warned of the feeling of the soldiers on the cartridge question; but what did he do? He simply rebuked the officer who made the report. I k now myself that not long before the mutiny he issued an order whereby many Mahomedan soldiers had to leave the army for no other fault but because they would not cut off their beards!It was quite evident that General Anson was not acquainted with the customs and habits of his own soldiers. Sir John Lawrence proceeded to say:—Some, again, arise from the character of the service in India; and others from the system which has grown up in that country, for which, if any people are more especially to blame than others, it would be the Governors-General and Commanders-in-Chief, who had been all sent out from home, who themselves inaugurated and elaborated the existing system, and who could at any time have altered that system as they found it defective.The second reason given for the necessity of amalgamating the two armies was the number of officers withdrawn from their regiments for Staff employments. The House had been told by the hon. Under Secretary that a scheme was already prepared for the formation of a Staff corps, to which all Queen's officers who qualified themselves would be eligible, and that when appointed their places in their regiments would be filled up. But if an officer should be found unfit for the staff employment, what would they do with him? They could not send him back to his regiment, and they must employ him in some way. Again, supposing the plan to be a good one, what was to prevent a similar system from being adopted in connection with the local corps? Upon this point Sir James Outram said, in his Minute:—I believe that the practice of appointing the lieutenant-colonel of a local European regiment by seniority, without special regard to his fitness; of transferring him from regiment to regiment, so as to prevent his ever being identified with the corps he commands; and of abstracting all the best officers and men for Staff situations, would alone account for a much greater difference of in- 1117 ternal discipline than is alleged to exist—and the only wonder is that any discipline at all is maintained. I feel certain that any officer of experience in Her Majesty's Line regiments would pronounce it hopeless to preserve discipline where such causes were at work to impair it. But not one of them is in the most remote degree connected with the local character of the army—they might one and all be removed to-morrow without amalgamation, and their removal ought to be tried, not for a few months, but for a period sufficient to produce an effect on the discipline of every regiment, before we resort to the desperate remedy of annihilating the local army under pretence of improving its discipline.It had been stated on a former occasion that the Duke of Wellington was in favour of a local army. He had since referred to the Despatches, and, although there was no passage in which the Duke expressed in so many words his preference for a local army, there was undoubtedly a statement to the effect that the troops who had long resided in India were the best and most to be relied upon. The Duke said:—Bravery is the characteristic of the British army in all quarters of the world; but no other quarter has afforded such striking examples of the existence of this quality in the soldiers as the East Indies. An instance of their misbehaviour in the field has never been known, particularly those who have been for some time in that country; they cannot be ordered upon any service, however dangerous and arduous, that they will not effect, not only with bravery, but a degree of skill not often witnessed in persons of their description in other parts of the world. I attribute these qualities, which are peculiar to them in the East Indies, to the distinctness of their class in that country from all others existing in it. They feel that they are a distinct and superior class to the rest of the world which surrounds them; and their actions correspond with their high notions of their own superiority. Add to these qualities that their bodies are inured to climate, hardships, and fatigue, by long residence, habit, and exercise, to such a degree that I have seen them for years together in the field without suffering any material sickness; that I have made them march sixty miles in thirty hours and afterwards engage the enemy; and it will not be surprising that they should be respected as they are throughout India.The Duke of Wellington's opinion was clearly that frequent changes in the Indian troops were not so advisable as was now supposed. No doubt the House attached great importance to the opinion of Lord Clyde, one of the most distinguished officers in the service. Lord Clyde, however, like other men, was liable to be influenced by the prejudices of those who surrounded him, and if it were true that Lord Clyde had said he would not intrust a division to an Indian officer, it was to be lamented for the noble Lord's own sake that he had ever written such a letter. Lord Clyde could 1118 not have forgotten that Sir James Outram had commanded a division of an Indian army, and that he was not one of the least distinguished heroes of the late campaign. He could not have forgotten Sir Archdale Wilson, who performed one of the most extraordinary feats of modern warfare in the siege and capture of Delhi, an effort which saved our Indian army, and which was wholly and solely, from first to last, conducted by the engineers and artillery of the local army; the engineers and artillery of the Queen's army having taken no share in it. Then there were the names of Nicolson and Hodson, which, if Lord Clyde had forgotten, would long live in the recollection of their countrymen. Happily, however, this question was not about to be decided by men imbued with professional or technical prejudices, but by those who would come to a decision with an entire absence of all party feeling and an earnest desire to do justice to the Indian officer. The House of Commons would act upon so important a matter, not from professional prejudice, but with a due regard to the great interests of India and of England, involving, as they did, the future tranquillity and security of Her Majesty's Indian empire.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, that he was sorry to hear this question argued as one of patronage without proper and due regard to the great interests at stake. It was a scandal to the service so to argue it. He could not believe that the Government would persevere in laying it down as an axiom that the Commander-in-chief was to appoint the Adjutant General of the army in India, and the Governor General, the Quartermaster General, but would look at the matter solely with reference to the good of the army and the empire. An important question raised in the debate was whether English officers would accept office under the Government of India. He did not deny that they would accept office. What he doubted was whether they were altogether fit and capable to serve. Mr. Wilson, who could not be supposed to speak from any prejudice against the Queen's army, said:—Nothing has struck me more in India than the contrast between officers of the Indian service and officers of the Line in their treatment and manner of speaking of the Natives; what little I have seen fully bears out the distinction drawn by the Honourable the President in Council, and it is clear that such a force, without some new condition and check to enable them to act more in accordance with, and in consideration of, the feelings 1119 and rights of Native gentlemen, must be a most imperfect instrument for repressing the consequences of suspicion and uneasiness with our rule where or when they exist.It was most important to obtain fit and competent officers for India, because he felt convinced that the retention of India depended more than anything else upon the conduct of our officers, and their treatment of the Natives. At the commencement of the late mutiny he wrote to India to an officer serving under Sir W. Peel, and asked him his opinion as to what was the cause of the late mutiny. He replied that he saw enough to cause a mutiny every day, in the want of consideration shown, by young officers more especially, to the Natives. That opinion was backed by the experience of Mr. Wilson, who had said that he was much struck by the different manner in which Natives were treated by local officers and officers of Her Majesty's army. He did not deny that officers of the Queen's army who determined to make India their home would probably adopt habits of conciliation towards the Natives, but up to the present time the local officers had alone treated the Native inhabitants with a consideration likely to conciliate their affections. The opinion of the Duke of Wellington and Lord Metcalfe had been quoted, but he could not find in their writings any expression of opinion that the two armies ought to be amalgamated, and it was very doubtful whether their opinion was not on the other side. In dealing with the question of expense, it had not been considered that if there were only the Royal army in India a great number of soldiers who went out with their regiments would only have a very short time to serve, and must be sent home in perhaps two or three years at the expense of the State. No class of men could have conducted themselves better or been more useful in India than the local officers, and the reason was evident. They went out young to India, after having received an excellent education in England, and they devoted themselves to their duties as men who were to remain in India, studying the languages and customs of the country and acquiring the confidence and respect of the Native population. The local army of India had received an unanimous vote of thanks from that House after the suppression of the mutiny, and now they were to be treated as disloyal and disaffected soldiers. A great deal too much bad been made of what was called the mutinous con- 1120 duct of the local regiments. For his part, he objected to any arguments being raised on the supposition of disaffection or disloyalty, for he believed there was not the slightest want of loyalty in India, and the Governor General had every faith in the European army. On that ground he thought they were doing great injustice to the Indian army to make any change. No service in the world had produced more eminent men, whether they regarded the political or the civil service, and certainly no body of men had so preserved the affection of the Native Princes. He should by no means wish to see the power of the Governor General to select the best men for the service or to get rid of incompetent men, restricted. It had been said that great Indian authorities had given their opinion according to their interests. He did not believe that statement. The fact was, that all the opinions in favour of amalgamation had been given on this side of the water, and it was evident that officers of the Imperial army had far more interest in the amalgamation than any other class; therefore he thought that their opinions ought to be most carefully canvassed before any such change as that contemplated was effected. The House had it now in its power to arrest a course which he believed would prove extremely prejudicial to the welfare of England, and was directed against a body of men whom he had ever heard to be as loyal, as intelligent, and as upright a set of men as any which had ever been sent out to India. On those grounds he should support the
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said the real question was whether acclimatized or unacclimatized men should discharge the duties of the army in India. Hitherto those duties had been carried out by Indian troops, supplemented by the Queen's troops. Eminent men on both sides had given their opinion upon the proposed change. All the officers of the Indian army examined on the Commission had given their opinion one way, and the officers of Her Majesty's army the other. On one side they had the Earl of Ellenborough, Lord Harris, the Marquess of Dalhousie, Sir James Outram, General Jacob; and on the other, Lord Elphinstone, Sir George Clark, Sir Charles Trevelyan, Sir Willoughby Cotton, Colonel Tulloch, and others. As far as he could see the weight of evidence appeared to be in favour of those who advocated the continuance of the present system. The de- 1121 cision of the question should not rest on the opinion of military men; it was a matter of high political importance on which the opinion of civilians was of more value than that of military men. The Earl of Derby's Government inquired into the subject, and came to the conclusion that the present system should be maintained. He thought their opinion was of more weight than that of the Commission. The principal reason given for doing away with the local service was that disturbance which had been exaggerated into the name of a mutiny; but the Royal troops were equally implicated with the local troops in that transaction, for it was well known that they would not have pulled a trigger against the latter had they proceeded to extremities. The men were grievously outraged, and no wonder they committed acts of insubordination; but, as it was well known the Royal troops would not have acted against them had they been commanded to do so, they were equally involved. If they were going to do away with the local troops for the insubordination they fell into, they might on the same grounds have done away with the British navy because of the mutiny at the Nore. The reason why so many of the local troops came home was that there were many young recruits among them who, having seen nothing but rough service, were happy to leave the country; while, on the other hand, some of the older soldiers had saved money which they wished to spend in England. When the Government took the inconsiderate and absurd step of offering those men their discharges, was it at all surprising that the offer was accepted?
One of the objections that had been urged against the Indian army was that the patronage was vested in the Council of India, but in the first place he believed there would be no patronage for the next two years, and if there was any patronage he thought the Council was the best body to dispose of it, with a view to encouraging men to make India their homes, and Indian service the object of their lives. He had never seen men who looked more "abroad" than Queen's soldiers on their landing in India. They did not regard that country as their home, and they never became perfectly reconciled to their position. The officers in particular anxiously looked forward to their return to this country. Lord Canning himself testified that after the mutiny he was overwhelmed with applications from officers to return home. The 1122 great danger of the scheme now proposed was that the Governor General would have no local force whose peculiar duty it should be to protect India, and that in the event of any Imperial emergency India would be denuded of troops, as it was during the Crimean war. It might he said that our past experience would lead us to avoid that error in future, but the fact was that we never learnt anything from experience. If the warning's and the demands of the Marquess of Dalhousie had been complied with, and 5,000 men had been stationed between Calcutta and Allahabad, there would have been no massacre of Cawnpore, and the mutiny, if it occurred at all, would soon have been put down. Even now there was a movement in Behar resembling that which preceded the outbreak of the mutiny—a sort of fiery cross was sent through the country, fakirs were found preaching sedition to the troops in Delhi; and yet the Government had never mentioned it. He did not see how trained officers could be provided under the new scheme for filling up the various Staff appointments; and appointments of that character would naturally increase for the future in consequence of the multiplication of irrigation works and other improvements. Then the question arose, how were they to recruit the army? They proposed to have 80,000 European soldiers in India, and he believed, unless the Native army be reduced, that number would be found insufficient. But even if no more should be required, it would be necessary that they should have reliefs to the number of 10,000 men; and there should be large deductions made on account of the newly arrived troops who would be undergoing the process of acclimatization, and who would for a period, perhaps, of twelve months be unfit for service in the field. How were the men to be sent out? Their transport by the Cape would cost £15 per man, and he really believed that it would be found more economical to convey a considerable portion of the Mediterranean force by way of Egypt, and thus afford them the opportunity of becoming acclimatized to a tropical atmosphere. He had been alarmed by a suggestion which had been made by the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), that the salaries of Stuff appointments should be revised in order to assimilate them to colonial rates. If that were done those appointments would cease to be competed for by the best men, and the service would suffer.
1123 The main question, however, was the policy of abolishing the local army, and it appeared to him that, without adopting the extreme measure then under the consideration of the House, many improvements might be effected in the working of the present system. The system of landing men in India at all seasons, marching them at once to their stations, caused in itself a waste of money and a loss of life. Instead of quartering them at once in the hot cantonments, as the present practice was, they should be gradually acclimatized by being sent, where that could be done, to the cool tableland of the hills. Their moral condition might, at the same time, be improved by the suppression of canteens, and the establishment of club-houses with libraries, and the introduction of games, to keep them from the demoralizing effects of liquor, which was the bane of our troops in India. Then, again, it would be found that after having spent seven or eight years in India and being accustomed to the attendance of servants, and the luxuries of India, men would not come home to this country very useful or efficient soldiers. That was another item which the Government ought to take into account. They seemed to expect that regiments would be serviceable immediately on their arrival in India, whereas it would be twelve or eighteen months before they would be efficient; and they expected the same thing when those same regiments were taken home en masse. Why, if men who had served ten years in India were on their return home marched to Aldershot in this wet weather four-fifths of them would be in hospital in less than a week. With the European troops in India it had always seemed to him a great point that steady and well-conducted men should have some reward to look forward to; and with this view he would appoint Native Instructors to each regiment, so as to qualify such men for the discharge of other duties. In that case they might be draughted into the police, or employed as superintendents of irrigation works and roads, of which, with the railway system now growing up, a great many would be required in order to develop the local traffic. There were a hundred different ways in which Europeans might be advantageously employed in the place of Natives, who were essentially untrustworthy. Our empire in India had grown up under the present system; that system worked well, was suited to the habits of 1124 the Natives, and was based on the common-sense principle that you must have acclimatized soldiers to do duty in India. If this principle were departed from, the Government would certainly be driven back to it; and it was much better, now that the Queen was at the head both of the European and Native troops in India, that some plan should be devised for carrying out the views of the late Government, and leaving matters to remain pretty much as they were at present, instead of rushing into a course which was so reckless, and was adopted in a manner so derogatory to the Council of India. If the Bill passed, he looked upon it as a most severe blow to that body. In the Council of India were men of great experience and high character, and why were they not called upon to legislate upon Indian matters? It seemed as though they were eventually to be put aside, and the Government of India administered by the Cabinet, for the purpose of increasing their political influence and their patronage in this country. For these reasons he should oppose the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he was glad to find that the House was not prepared to pass that measure with the rapidity which might at one time have been expected. The question at issue was one of the gravest that could he submitted to them. The right hon. the Secretary of State for India had stated that it was an Imperial question, and he (Mr. Kinnaird) believed that that was the right hon. Gentleman's excuse for not taking the opinion of the Indian Council. It was, indeed, an Imperial question, but it was not therefore to be determined chiefly with reference to the interests of the Empire in Europe, but to its interests in Asia. We talked of India sometimes as if it were but a little colony; and indeed on this very question of the army some would reason upon it as if it affected a little island like Ceylon, instead of a country which it was an anomaly to call a country at all. If the whole of Europe were conquered by an island at our antipodes, such as New Zealand, and the people there were to talk of Europe as a "country," and say that it was anomalous to have anything but one army for New Zealand and Europe, it would be a parallel case. He thought, therefore, that those who dwelt so much upon the anomaly of our present system had forgotten the still greater anomaly of this little island ruling over nearly a quarter of the human race— 1125 holding in subjection 200 millions of people, speaking thirteen different languages. Of course, any system suited to such a state of affairs might be expected to be anomalous. But they were told that high authorities maintained that it was no longer safe for the Empire to have a separate local European army for India. Now, Lord Clyde might be a great authority, and so might others quoted; but for such a question to be settled on the testimony of four or five officers, whose prejudices would naturally incline to one Royal army, and whose letters were not even given in extenso, was not very satisfactory. Great reliance was placed on the occurrence of a so-called mutiny in the Bengal local corps. But was not that altogether an exceptional case? Was it not a fact well known in India that Lord Clyde and Sir William Mansfield considered the claim of the troops to a fresh bounty on being transferred from the Company to the Crown a just claim? Did not the noble Viscount the Prime Minister himself appear once to entertain a similar conviction? It was not alone in Bengal that Englishmen combined when they thought their just rights were being tampered with. What did the sailors on board the Princess Royal last December do? And who were most blamed by the public? True, the men were punished, but the officers were blamed. And he knew it to be the opinion of able men that if the Bengal local corps had been wisely handled that army would not have so far dissolved itself. Moreover, the Report of the Royal Commissioners in 1858 was calculated to create excitement in that army. The delay that had previously occurred in settling the whole question of the army bad already produced discontent among officers and men, which this Report aggravated. But before this, the local European troops of India had acquired a world-wide renown. Who repaired the disasters which occurred under a general of the Royal army in Affghanistan? Who but Nott, Pollock, and Sale—all Indian officers? When the mutiny broke out, who was summoned to Lucknow, the post of danger, but Sir Henry Lawrence? Who guarded the frontier, and kept in check dangerous tribes, but Sir Herbert Edwardes? Did hon. Members suppose that success at a post like Peshawur did not demand long Indian experience? Who turned the tide of battle at Delhi but Nicholson, another officer of this now disparaged army? It was very easy by a Bill of two clauses to abolish an army which 1126 would carry with it imperishable fame, but it would have been more satisfactory, he thought, before voting for its abolition, to know what was going to take its place, and not to turn over this question wholly to the Cabinet and the Horse Guards. Was the system of promotion in the army at home so admirable that there was little left to be desired? Did our system stand the wear and tear of war in the Crimea? What happened with regard to the commissariat? A distance of seven miles placed between the army and the ships sufficed to starve the horses and reduce the men to grievous want. Did the commissariat so break down in India? What security was the House taking that by the abuse of patronage, incompetency should not reign in some of the Indian war departments? Had the House at least the consolation of knowing that it was not taking a leap in the dark, and that the wisest counsels had been brought to bear on the decision taken in this matter? When the Government of India was placed under the direct control of the Crown, they had been told that India was so peculiar, that Her Majesty's Secretary of State for India must have the assistance of an Indian Council, composed in part of men whose lives had been spent in India, and the Government might well be proud of some of the men who adorned that Council. Yet, in a question in which was bound up the security of India, the Council had been, as such, altogether ignored. True, his right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Wood) had told the House that the Members of the Council had been consulted individually, but that was not the way in which Parliament or the Cabinet was consulted; but, as he understood his right hon. Friend, the Council collectively had not been consulted on the Bill till the Cabinet had decided that it should be proposed to Parliament. Might he be allowed, then, to ask what was the use of that Council? Surely it would be better to have the aid of its Members in Parliament than consign them to such an unworthy position. Many of the gentlemen composing the Council were men of high authority on Indian matters, and he believed they were unanimous against the Bill. He hoped they would be allowed to enter a protest in writing, and that the House would have the advantage of rending the protest before the Bill reached a further stage. This question deeply concerned all the Native troops and the intercourse with Native courts. At present the local European 1127 troops gave dignity to the Native troops, and formed an intermediate link between them and the troops of the Line. But when this link was broken up and gone, would they work well together? for it was impossible altogether to dispense with Native troops of some sort. In the case of a European war, was there any security that this country would not again have recourse to foreign mercenaries to supply the lack of English troops? Would those mercenaries be sent to India, or would the country be satisfied to rely on them for home service and denude itself of English troops for India? This was a very possible contingency. Was it wise to leave such a mass of provinces as composed India entirely dependent on the Imperial army; and, at a moment when this country had just recovered its sway, to rely upon an untried staff to supply successors to that noble list of men who had adorned the annals of English rule in India, beginning with Clive and ending with Henry Lawrence? For the reasons he had stated he should give his support to the Amendment which had been proposed.
§ MR. VANSITTART
said, he regretted he could not support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Taunton, as he was fully convinced of the necessity of an effort being made to bring the allowances, pay, and promotion of our two European forces serving in India into something like harmony. In order to allay the heartburnings that now existed, no prolonged delay in the settlement of this important question should be allowed to take place. Moreover, as the local European army had been partially dissolved by its own misconduct, though it might have received provocation in the first instance, the time appeared to be singularly favourable for considering whether it would not be desirable to amalgamate the two forces into one. With reference to the feelings of deep dismay with which so many hon. Members—who, no doubt, possessed great practical knowledge—viewed the abolition of a local European army, they should bear in mind that many great authorities, who at one time espoused that system most warmly, now with equal warmth advocated the necessity of a fusion of the two armies. Undoubtedly, the greatest argument in favour of a purely local force was that it served sa a preventive, a guarantee against India being denuded of European troops, at the caprice or ignorance of the Indian Home Minister, as was the case previous to the outbreak of the late mutiny. But that 1128 danger might easily be obviated. All that was necessary was to ascertain the precise number of European troops necessary to be maintained for the security of India. He still adhered to the opinion he had formerly expressed that the number should be 80,000–50,000 for Bengal, Behar, the North-Western and Central Provinces, Burmah, Oude, and the Punjaub; and 15,000 for each of the minor Presidencies of Bombay and Madras. Having fixed the number, let it be ratified by an Act of Parliament, which should also limit the periods of service—say, seven, ten, or fourteen years—after which period the battalions ought to be relieved in regular routine. That arrangement would not only insure the retention in India of the prescribed number of Europeans, but would also get rid of a local force, which had been heretofore bolstered up by peculiar privileges denied to the Royal army—a force which had always been more or less discontented, and had occasionally broken out into open mutiny and insubordination. The names and opinions of many very distinguished officers had been quoted in the course of the debates on this question, but there was one whose name and opinions had not been brought under the notice of the House—Colonel Vincent Eyre, of the Bengal Artillery, and well known for the bravery and skill he displayed in relieving the Arrah garrison, in the Behar province, and for his subsequent exploits in Oude and Rohilcund. Colonel Vincent Eyre published an admirable letter in The Times last winter on the question, in which he advocated an extension of the system of raising additional battalions to the twenty-four already added to the Royal army, so as to have a highly efficient army for both home defence and India. "By this reciprocity of interests," said the gallant Colonel:—Both countries will be gainers. India would gain a constant succession of young soldiers, ready-disciplined and prepared to do credit to their country and service in the East, while England would obtain for home defence, a constant supply of homesick, yet still efficient and valuable veterans, experienced in war, with medals on their breasts, and loyalty in their hearts to stimulate their younger brethren, and 'show how fields were won.'With regard to the Native Sepoy army, he still maintained the opinion he had given the previous year, that it should be reduced to the lowest ebb consistent with the exigencies of the service, and that on no account should the proportion exceed three natives as to two Europeans. Assuming 80,000 Europeans to be the figure, that 1129 would give us an army of 200,000men for all India, and which would probably be distributed something in the following manner:—50,000 Europeans and 70,000 Natives for Bengal; and 15,000 Europeans and 25,000 Natives for each of the minor Presidencies of Madras and Bombay. Next to making both ends meet it was indispensable that our attention should be directed to restore that sense of personal security and confidence which prevailed previous to the mutiny. There was no doubt that any civil station could be held in perfect security by a military police force, such as was being rapidly formed all over India, provided a controlling European force were within a moderate distance. It should be recollected that the Native Sepoy army in Bengal alone, regulars and irregulars, before the mutiny broke out, numbered 120,000 men, but with its various contingents it amounted to considerably more, so that, were the arrangement which he had ventured to point out to be made, great economy would be combined with perfect security and efficiency. Entertaining these opinions, and being fully convinced that legislation was urgently demanded upon this, as well as upon several other important questions connected with the well-being of India, which appeared to have escaped the attention of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India, he should certainly adopt the same course as the right hon. and gallant General the Member for Huntingdon, in giving his support to the second reading of the Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL
said, as he had recently had an opportunity of seeing the working of the present military system in India, he was anxious to offer a few observations. Reasons might have existed during the reign of the East India Company for the maintenance of a double army, but he was surprised that any person could longer advocate the retention of a local force; in fact, it might have been abolished with advantage at the time of the transference. He regretted to hear the noble Lord the late Secretary of State for India say that he was still opposed to the fusion of the two armies, because, knowing how that noble Lord devoted himself to every subject he undertook to consider, and how carefully he weighed the evidence on each side on every question that came before him, he had been fully prepared to hear him declare that under the circum-stances complete amalgamation was necessary. The Bill, however, had reference 1130 simply to the non-enlistment of men for the local European force. In dealing with the military part of the question, three arguments were urged in favour of a local force which required notice. The first was the necessity for the men becoming acclimatized; the second, that they would acquire a knowledge of the country and of the habits of the people; and the third, the expense of transport. With regard to the first, he believed the weight of medical testimony showed that the deaths of soldiers were greatly in excess during the first five years of their residence in India; but these took place mainly among the young recruits, and when a whole regiment of seasoned soldiers was sent out the mortality was comparatively small. It was therefore evident that less loss of life would be entailed by sending out a new and healthy regiment than by forwarding detachments of recruits. As to the second argument, he would simply say that it required a very short time indeed for the troops to acquire a knowledge of the habits of the people; and it must not be forgotten that when a regiment left India on the expiration of its term of service it was usual to permit those men who chose to do so to remain, and from 100 to 150 old soldiers often availed themselves of that privilege, who quickly initiated their younger comrades into a knowledge of the habits and prejudices of the people and the precautions necessary to be adopted. As to the third argument, that of the expense of transport, he had always looked on that as the only real and formidable objection; and until he saw the paper that had been laid before the House, showing that the entire expense would not amount to mors than £170,000, he was led to believe that it was insurmountable. But on going over the paper he saw at once how the expense would be small, and as now the term of service was fixed at ten years, it mattered very little whether men were taken out as required or whether they went out in regiments to remain for that period. The number of men invalided was much alike in both services. To the arguments in favour of a local force, therefore, he attached very little weight. On the other side it was argued in favour of amalgamation—first, that a local force of necessity acquired strong local feelings and prejudices, and that the sentiment of allegiance to the mother country was less strong as they felt they were separated from it for life, than in regular troops. The late mutiny afforded an instance, though he 1131 was not disposed to urge it so strongly as some hon. Gentlemen had done, because he thought the men at first had right on their side, and that they only put themselves in the wrong by their subsequent conduct. But the second and the chief objection to a local corps was, that it was almost impossible to maintain in a climate like that of India a high state of discipline. It was impossible to give either men or officers a sufficient amount of occupation. They were compelled by the climate to rise before daybreak for drill, after which they were shut up in barracks for something like ten hours, and habits of intemperance and insubordination were thus engendered, which were fatal to discipline—by which he did not mean pipeclay discipline, but that strict and implicit obedience which was absolutely necessary to the existence of an army. This observation applied not merely to the local forces, but equally to the regiments of the Royal Army, which, if kept long in India, much deteriorated in discipline. At the same time, he was bound to bear his testimony to the gallantry of the local corps. He had the honour of fighting beside them, and he knew them to be unsurpassed in gallantry. They had proved themselves on every occasion of the best material. The third reason in favour of amalgamation was that those little feelings of jealousy, which often arose in matters of quarters and other points, would all be dissipated when the two armies were united in one. With regard to the position of the officers, he believed it was often made on argument on behalf of a local army that superior advantages were afforded by the local or special training which they received for the Indian service, and it was urged that great difficulty would be found in inducing officers of the Royal army to qualify themselves for Staff appointments. But this supposition was disproved by the facts, for since Staff appointments had been thrown open to officers in the Royal army five or six were qualified in every regiment, and in his own corps three officers had passed their examination within twelve months, and he had heard by the last mail that one had been appointed to the command of a body of irregular cavalry. It was, therefore, clear that if they held out the prizes of the service to the officers of the army they would find plenty ready to compete for them. He did not see why Her Majesty should have more difficulty in finding such men than the East 1132 India Company had. They would come from the same class, and they would be trained in the same college for the service. It had also been supposed the system of promotion in the local corps being by seniority, and not by purchase, would create an obstacle, but it had already been shown by an hon. Gentleman that the system of purchase did actually exist in the Indian army, as the officers were in the habit of paying a certain sum to induce a senior to retire, so that there would be no difficulty on this account, in amalgamating the two services. Then the Secretary for India had effectually disposed of another objection, that the first appointments would be added to the patronage of the Horse Guards. He stated that he understood the views of the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for India, were that a college should be established for the Indian service, and that officers should obtain their appointments by competitive examination, as his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge had consented to give up all claim to the patronage. The fourth objection, if true, was a very serious one, that it would injure the power of the Governor General. But he could not believe that the power of the Governor General would be at all curtailed, as all the prizes of the profession would be left in his gift. The staff and the civil appointments—in fact all the appointments that were usually striven for by officers in India, would be left in his gift, how then could it be said that the power of the Governor General would be diminished? One thing was greatly in favour of an amalgamation of the Royal army. Under the existing system an officer might find himself, owing to his inability to continue in India in consequence of the state of his health, obliged to give up a profession to which he had devoted the greater portion of his life, whereas, if the proposal of the Government were carried into effect, he might serve in Europe and be enabled to recruit his constitution. Next came the question of what was to be done with the Native army, which he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India would keep at the smallest possible amount, for he believed no enemy which we were likely to be called upon to encounter in that country was of the slightest importance, except it were one which we happened to have trained in the use of arms ourselves. Until thus instructed the Natives of India were, in his opinion, most contemptible as a hostile body, and he felt satisfied that we 1133 should be contributing to the relief of our own troops by keeping the Native force at a low level in point of numbers, because under those circumstances we should not have so much trouble in looking after it as would otherwise be the case. For his own part, he thought no Native force, under the direction of Native chiefs, could withstand an army of 5,000 Europeans in the field. In corroboration of that view, he might state that he had the honour of serving under Lord Clyde when with a smaller force he had attacked upwards of 30,000 Natives, trained to the use of arms in accordance with the English system. 50,000 Europeans might, under those circumstances, he maintained, he regarded as a sufficient force to hold India in subjection. Passing from that point, he wished for a moment to refer to the statement which had on a previous evening been made by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), who expressed an apprehension that if the proposed amalgamation were carried into effect the officers of the Native army would be looked down upon as inferiors by those serving in the Line. Now, he could not imagine that such would be the feeling with which men who were called upon to pass an examination, and who must possess certain high qualifications for their position, would be regarded, and while entertaining no fears upon that score, he should ask the House to bear in mind that one of the great advantages which the contemplated amalgamation would confer was that in the event of a European war we should he enabled to command a supply of Staff officers who were accustomed to move large bodies of troops from India—the field in which the Duke of Wellington had learnt two of the most important lessons in the conduct of a campaign—the keeping up a commissariat and the transport of troops. As to the opinions of the officers of the Indian army with reference to amalgamation, he could only say that up to the rank of major, he believed, they were unanimous in its favour, while above that rank they were nearly equally divided on the subject. Those officers were, he might add, a highly educated body of men. Their gallantry was beyond all praise, and they would, under those circumstances, be received by the officers of the Queen's troops as comrades of whom they might well be proud.
SIR MINTO FARQUHAR
said, he believed this Bill was not brought forward as a party question, but, though introduced upon the responsibility of the Govern- 1134 ment, they left the question to the impartial feeling of the House. He would, therefore, disclaim all intention to treat it in a party spirit. At the same time he felt bound to express his surprise that on a subject of so important a nature, the right hon. Gentleman had not taken the advice of his Council. He had heard many reflections and remarks on the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman on that point out of doors. It was true that by the Act of Parliament constituting the Council it was not made a matter of compulsion that the right hon. Gentleman should take the advice of his Council; but still he was bound to say that when Parliament did constitute a Council, it was naturally expected that the right hon. Gentleman would take its advice; and he believed the public at large would have considered it much more satisfactory if he had done so. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman himself whether—having such men sitting in Council with him—men who, though they had passed the greater portion of their lives in India, he would venture to say were of European renown—men who had devoted their lives to the interests and welfare of India—he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not puerile to contend that they had been consulted, because the House had the means of knowing their opinion on the subject. It appeared, however, that the opinions of all were opposed to the present scheme, and that probably was the reason why the right hon. Gentleman had not consulted them on so important a subject as the amalgamation of the local army in India with the Line. But, passing from that point, he should wish briefly to refer to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Charles Wood) when introducing his scheme to the notice of the House. That speech, he must confess, he had heard with great surprise, for he had heard the right hon. Gentleman make a statement on the 10th of August last to which it was diametrically opposed. On the 10th of August the question of insubordination, which was now made the ground of the present charge, was perfectly well known to the right hon. Gentleman, and if there was any ground for the charge, he was surprised that the right hon. Baronet had not made it then, instead of putting it forward ten months afterwards It should also be borne in mind that the right hon. Gentleman was himself the Minister who, in 1853, in- 1135 creased the limit of the local force from 12,000 to 24,000, and who, still later, proposed to extend that limit to 30,000. But that was not all. Last year he called attention to the Report of the Commission for the reorganization of the army, and stated that though the majority were in favour of amalgamation, he thought the weight of authority was with the minority, especially as that minority included Sir John Lawrence. As to the subject of economy, the right hon. Gentleman talked very lightly of the sum of £100,000 or £150,000 being spent additional in consequence of the amalgamation; but the right hon. Gentleman ought to remember that he was dealing with the revenues not of England but of India, where this burden would be severely felt. Another reason the right hon. Gentleman formerly gave for a local corps was the inducement it held out to well educated young men to devote themselves to India as a career in life—that it led them to give themselves up to the study of the languages and habits of the Natives, and thus fitted them not merely for military service, but for other duties, which were indispensable to the Government of India. He had then gone on to speak of that insubordination among the local troops which he now made the groundwork of the contemplated amalgamation, observing, that although it was a serious occurrence, yet it was not sufficiently grave to alter the determination at which the Government had at the time arrived. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion especially mentioned that many of the troops were young, and had but recently been enlisted in the manufacturing districts, and that the mutiny should rather be described as a strike; and, even after that, the right hon. Gentleman was decidedly of opinion that the local force should be retained. He (Sir Minto Farquhar) recollected that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) followed, and with the utmost frankness declared himself unfavourable to the local army. The right hon. Gentleman the present Minister for War afterwards spoke, and in reference to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon, said that the gallant General appeared in a double character—as a member of the majority of the Commission on which he sat, and as Minister of Her Majesty's Government. It appeared to him (Sir Minto Farquhar) that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had also assumed a double character 1136 —that of opponent of a principle which he had a short time before advocated. The Report of the Commission itself showed that the local force was much less expensive than the Line; that for every addition of 1,000 of the latter, there would be an additional expense of from £6,000 to £9,000 a year. It had been said that India ought to be governed upon the same principle as all our other Colonies. But how was it possible to compare an empire of 200,000,000 of Native inhabitants with our other Colonies, which were actually colonized by Englishmen, and the legislative assemblies of which were elected by Englishmen? It had been shown in reference to the comparative mortality of the different troops that India was much more favourable to the health of the local troops than to the regular army. In Whitelock's army, during the mutiny and whilst on its march, the rate of mortality in the local troops was only 3 per cent, whilst it amounted to 11 per cent in the regular troops. It might be said the local troops were not so smart, or well set up as the Royal troops, but was there any proved deficiency in their fighting qualities? Had they ever been wanting in action? Every one who had read the history of India, every one who had watched the late mutiny, must agree that no force could distinguish themselves more than the local troops in India had done. As to the charge of insubordination, a certain amount of excuse must be made for them. They were placed in a most peculiar position, being under an impression that they were entitled to bounty or discharge on being transferred from the East India Company to the Crown. A discharge was given to them subsequently, and he was not surprized that so many of them should, under the circumstances, have taken advantage of it; but their conduct was hardly a sufficient reason for imputing to them so grave a charge as insubordination. It was quite true this Bill was a very simple one, but under the cloak of simplicity it often happened that there was a shadowing forth of different and far wider schemes. If the House determined to carry this Bill, he trusted, whatever its ulterior objects might be, at any rate they would have the advantage of seeing and giving their opinion upon them. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India in his speech the other night had quoted great authorities against maintaining a local European force, but those authorities were all 1137 before him when he proposed a scheme of an opposite character. Even Mr. Wilson was not in favour of this plan, and Earl Canning, in a despatch which had recently arrived, after having the opportunity of consulting Lord Clyde, Sir Hugh Rose, and the other authorities referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, condemned the course which had now been adopted. He was ready to give the right hon. Gentleman credit for the sincerity of his motives upon this question, and for the manliness with which he confessed his change of opinion. Having, however, given full consideration to the subject—having carefully read the papers laid before the House in relation to it, and consulted many of those most competent to form a judgment upon the matter, he must say that it was not in his power to follow the right hon. Gentleman in the change of opinion which he had candidly avowed in relation to this measure.
§ COLONEL PERCY HERBERT
said, he should endeavour to deal with some of the objections urged by the supporters of the Amendment against the scheme of the Government. The first and foremost of those objections was the expense. The House was in possession of papers in which that question was discussed at some length by Mr. Hammack and Sir Alexander Tulloch. He would not weary them by recapitulating the figures, but would draw attention to one point which was important. Mr. Hammack struck out the expense of the original transit of the troops to India. Sir Alexander Tulloch very fairly objected to that omission. Mr. Hammack replied that, as he was acting according to his brief, he did not think it necessary to make any alterations on that score. But it was obvious that the House must consider it. It was not a question of finding a local army which they sought to reconstitute, but of establishing a new army in place of the Royal army which already existed and was serving in India. That army must be raised in this country. It must be trained for many months, if not for one or two years, before it could go out in a state of efficiency, and the whole expense of training must be borne by the Indian revenue. In the meanwhile another army must be brought home, also at the expense of the Indian revenue, and this was the plan proposed in the financial interest of the Government of India. In the morning's paper he saw a plan by Major General Hancock, late Adjutant General of the 1138 Bombay Army, who proposed to break up, by a system of volunteering, a number of regiments in India, and to draw largely upon the resources of the Royal army at home for the purpose of sending out drafts of trained soldiers. The proposal was to take three-fifths of the men from the regiments now serving in India, and to fill up those regiments from regiments at home, and also to put the Royal officers by wholesale upon half-pay at the expense of this country. If the scheme had been propounded by a clerk in one of the departments, who thought that soldiers, like bricks, could be built into any shape, he should not have been surprised, but he was astonished that any officer should have proposed such a preposterous scheme. Umbrage was taken at the depôts being on a different system to that formerly adopted. Now all they wanted was to have troops in the best state of efficiency in India, and, if it could be shown that the depôt system of the Company was the best, by all means let it be adopted. But he was inclined to believe that to take out raw and undisciplined soldiers, and thereby injure the efficiency of regiments already in India, would not be cheapest, but most expensive in the long run. The efficiency of an army was not to be tested by statistical returns, but by the fact whether the Government could rely on their obedience and discipline in the hour of trial. Let them then consider whether a local army or the Queen's troops would best support that test.
He next came to the question of the supply of officers. Nearly all the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken had treated the matter as if it was a question of the total destruction of the army of the East India Company. But the plan of the Government affected only that portion of the army which was composed of European troops; and the Bombay army, including twenty-five Native infantry regiments, and the Madras army, including fifty-two Native infantry regiments, were not interfered with. The officers required might be drawn from either of those establishments, and they had also the whole of the Royal army from which to choose. What was the system? A young man went out, ignorant of the country, of the effect which the climate would have on his constitution, and of the advantages and disadvantages of the service, except as far as they were represented to him by his friends. But how would the matter now stand? It was proposed that an officer serving in India, 1139 having made himself acquainted with the Native language, and knowing whether he could stand the climate or not, should be enabled, with his eyes open, to elect whether he would remain in the Royal army, or whether he would take permanent service in India. An hon. Member asked, how would they get rid of people who were inefficient, supposing they were on the Staff? It was proposed to take them on probation, and if, after one or two years' trial they did not find out whether they were fit for the service, they would not be worse off than they were now, when they took them for better for worse, with no probation and with no power of getting rid of them. The hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) said that the European regiments which arrived from this country were not efficient. He could not help remembering that regiments which had very lately arrived from this country in considerable numbers formed part of Lord Clyde's and Sir Hugh Rose's forces, and that the operations undertaken with them were thoroughly successful. He had not heard any fault found; but, on the contrary, he had heard some regiments mentioned in the highest terms which only left this country at the commencement of the mutiny. The hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Kinnaird) drew a comparison which rather amused him. The hon. Member went as far as New Zealand, and he said that it would be a great anomaly if New Zealand, having possessions in Europe, held those possessions by a New Zealand army. It might be an anomaly; but if he were living, when the New Zealander stood upon the ruins of London Bridge, as a military man he should recommend it, If New Zealand ever did hold possessions in Europe, they might depend upon it she would do it by a New Zealand army.
There was another point which was rather invidious, but which had been urged more than once in the course of this debate. A string of names of gallant and distinguished officers, servants of the East India Company, had been read out, and it was said, "Would you destroy an army which furnished such men as these? Are you going to brand this as an army not to be trusted?" He was the last person to dispute the honour, the credit, and the glory of these men, but there were other names of equally distinguished officers, not belonging to the Company, constantly cropping out in the page of history. The hon. Member for Perthshire stumbled on the 1140 names of some Royal officers in reading out a list of those of the Company. The case of General Elphinstone had been alluded to, and it had not been fairly put before the House on another occasion. It was true that the Government of the day and the Horse Guards were responsible for sending General Elphinstone to India. He believed it was a bad selection, not from any fault of the General, but from his physical inability. Still it must he recollected that it was very difficult then to find officers of the rank of Major General who were not too old for service, and it was also frequently the case in the Indian army. There had been cases of officers removed from command during the mutiny of 1857, and for no other reason than physical inability, and they were not appointed by the Horse Guards or the Home Government. A point which was quite lost sight of was, who appointed General Elphinstone to command in the field? The Government of India, and the Government of India alone. The Government at home might send out a man to serve in India, but with the exception of the Commander-in-Chief they had not the power to nominate him to command a field force. That must be done by the Governor General.
He was very glad to hear that the proposal of balancing one army against the other had been abandoned. It had been said that the Queen's troops would not have acted against the local European force if the mutiny had continued. As a soldier, he ought to hope that, if that last and most fearful trial were put upon the Royal army, its sense of honour and its loyalty to its Sovereign would make it perform even that painful duty in the strictest manner. But God forbid it ever should undergo so severe a test as to be called upon to act against men wearing the same uniform, and having the same blood in their veins. He must almost apologize for terming what had happened in the local army a "mutiny," but when soldiers "struck" with arms in their hands and ammunition in their pouches he thought "mutiny" a more appropriate name for such a proceeding than "strike," and it was moreover the name by which military men described it. What would have been the position of the Indian Government if on that occasion the whole, or even the greater portion of the army, had been composed of local troops? The Government in that case must have either coerced, disbanded, or given in to the men. If the Government 1141 had yielded, was it to be supposed that no fresh question as to pay and allowances would ever arise between the soldiers and them? And if the men found in one instance they were so strong that the Government was bound to yield, would they not combine again to carry their point? If the Government yielded to another combination, the victory of the men would the next time be still more certain; the Government would absolutely lose its independence, and the army would necessarily become its master instead of its servant. In the Royal army, on the other hand, if insubordination did occur, they could remove the mutinous regiment from India altogether. That idea was scoffed at as absurd the other night, and it was said they could equally remove troops from one quarter to another whether they belonged to a local or a Line force. But, surely, to remove men from one part of India to another, thereby diffusing instead of stopping the disease, Was very different from removing them from India altogether, and sending them to a place where, a new system being in force, the amount of pay and allowances could not be disputed, and where, consequently, the whole question would entirely drop by the withdrawal of the one or two corps who might have been disaffected.
Another objection which had been urged was that England could not afford to maintain so large an European army in India. That argument either meant that the population could not stand the drain upon it caused by such a force, or that the country could not bear the expense it would entail. Now England never yet had paid a shilling for the army employed in India, and he trusted the House of Commons would take care it never should. Straws had often been thrown up to see how the wind blew there, but he hoped they would never consent even to guarantee any loan for India. India derived great advantages from British rule in the tranquillity and the security for life and property it enjoyed; and, if well governed, it was perfectly competent to pay to the last sixpence the cost of its own administration and the interest on its own debt. Then, with regard to the alleged drain upon our population, how on earth it could make any difference whether the European troops sent to India belonged to the Line or to a local force was to him utterly incomprehensible. The real question was one not of the amount of force, but of its organization. The House had to say whe- 1142 ther it would have the army which, by the evidence before them and the admission oven of the advocates of a local force, was the best disciplined of the two; and which being therefore the most efficient, was the cheapest the State could employ. On another subject a great misconception seemed to prevail. It was thought by some that the whole patronage of the army was to be transferred from the Indian Government to the much-dreaded Horse Guards. No doubt the ensigns of the regiments would be nominated, in the ordinary course of things, by the Commander-in-Chief. But the appointments to the Staff—which did not mean merely the Quartermaster-General and the Adjutant-General—but the civil appointments, the commands in the irregular corps, and all the plums held out to encourage officers to serve in India would remain precisely as at present in the hands of the local authorities. It was not now intended to give any portion of that patronage, military or civil, to the Home Government. Then, to conclude, nothing, he believed, restrained the turbulent races of India from oppressing their loss warlike neighbours except a knowledge of the power of the British Government to repress and punish such attempts. And because its ability to do this depended on the efficiency and fidelity of its Native army; because they had no such security for maintaining the fidelity of that Native army as the presence of a disciplined European force, ready to obey the behests of the Government and enforce its orders and regulations; because, by the proposed organization, the discipline of that European force would he upheld at a higher point than either had been or reasonably could be attained by a local European force; because by this measure they would render combination against the Government far less likely to arise, and much more easily to be dealt with if it did occur; because if they guarded the Government of India from that greatest danger no combination among the Natives, no rising or rebellions, would ever shake our power; because if they were to secure to the people of India the benefits of British rule, the authority of the Government must not only be supreme, but undisputed; because he believed the Bill of Her Majesty's Government would conduce to these ends he should give it his cordial support, and vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Taunton.
§ MR. BUXTON
We now feel the disadvantage, Sir, of having excluded the Members of the Council of India from Parliament. The consequence is that, instead of their opinions on a matter of such importance being stated by themselves, with all the authority of their great Indian experience, they have to be expressed for them by those who, not having been in India, cannot have much weight with the House, whatever study they may have given to this question. But although they are silenced, I trust the House will hear in mind that this scheme for doing away with the local European army is condemned by every one of the fifteen Members of the Council of India at home, men of different professions, drawn from all parts of India, only alike in this, that they have been all selected for their great ability and experience. The scheme is condemned by the Council at Calcutta, and by no one more than Mr. Wilson, in whom the Government place such unbounded confidence. It is condemned by the Earl of Ellenborough, by the Marquess of Dalhousie, by Earl Canning. It is condemned by Sir John Lawrence; it is condemned, and that, as we saw the other night, after profound research and reflection, by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord Stanley), than whom no statesman shows higher judgment or sagacity. More than this, the right hon. and gallant General opposite (General Peel) told us the other day that not only the noble Lord but the whole of the late Government were called upon to form an opinion on this question, and were decidedly in favour of a local European army. More than that, we know that only last Session—only a few months ago—the Secretary of State himself and Her Majesty's Government were clearly in favour of a local army, and actually prepared a Bill for largely increasing its amount. To those, who, like myself, feel it unpleasant to oppose the present Government, it is a great satisfaction to remember that the opinion that we still entertain was held within a few months both by the late Government and by the one which displaced them. The question then is whether anything has occurred to Warrant a change of opinion. It appeared from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State the other evening that this strange and sudden change of opinion was mainly due to the mutiny of the local European troops. On that point Earl Canning remarks:— 1144I hold that there is much to be said against the bringing together, in this remote dependency, of one vast English army, pervaded by an identity of feeling and interest, and likely to be swayed in the same direction by any accident or influence.To precisely the same effect the Military Committee of the Council of India observe:—It (the mutiny) supplies a powerful argument for the maintenance of a mixed European force, because it is most desirable that the soldiery, in discussing a supposed grievance, should not be able to count upon the sympathy and support of their whole body; and, again, because the Government would have the opportunity of using one part of its European army as a check upon the other;" in short, because this division "would offer the best security against combination.The Secretary of State did not attempt to meet that remark by argument; but he tried to thrust it aside by stating that it had filled him with astonishment and sorrow. I confess I see no reason for the mournful lamentations of the right hon. Gentleman. It seems to me that the remark of the Committee is full of plain good sense. It is quite true that some day similar discontents may arise in the Imperial portion of the European force. In such a case the gallant Officer opposite has told us just now that, should discontent arise, all that would have to be done would be to remove the disaffected regiments. But suppose the discontent spread through the whole 80,000 men, how would it be possible to send all of them away from India? Surely, if such a calamity were to happen, it would be of essential advantage that the army should be divided into two portions—not in order that one might mow the other down with grape shot, but in order tha the sympathies and feelings of the two being different, one of the two might in all likelihood remain loyal, as has happened in this very case. It might be of incalculable value—the very salvation, perhaps, of our dominion in India—in such a crisis to have at any rate, one European army available against any attempt of the Natives to take advantage of our difficulties. That seems to me a most valid argument. I do not wonder to find it emanating from such men as Mr. Willoughby, Sir John Lawrence, Colonel Durand, Captain Eastwicke, and General Vivian. I do wonder, however, that the right hon. Gentleman should have thought fit to speak with contempt of such an opinion expressed by such men.
I think, Sir, that in proposing this change the Government have not really con- 1145 sulted the interests even of the Imperial army. Undoubtedly, to nineteen officers out of twenty it would be the greatest possible relief to have India excluded from their tour of service. Otherwise, their time of absence from England will be greatly increased; and that increase will be spent under a tropical sun, and in a country that is always distasteful to those who have not gone out to it young with the view of making a career there. At the same time, the Governor General tells us that it will be a most serious loss to the Indian Government if in future their officers shall merely go to India for a brief sojourn, instead of, as hitherto, going out to spend their lives and strength there, with their hearts given to an Indian career, and bent on winning all the prizes it offers. Moreover, we are told on the highest authority, and no one has ventured to deny it, that the Native army will feel bitter mortification at so broad a line being drawn between them and the European force. No principle of Indian statesmanship can be more sound or more generally acknowledged than the principle of making no glaring difference between the white and the coloured population; and yet we are now going out of our way to make such a separation between them as never was made before. The gallant General opposite, in his speech the other evening, reiterated the fallacy which has been entirely exploded by the Registrar-General's Accountant, as well as by others—the fallacy that, because soldiers are now enlisted even for Indian service, only for ten years, therefore there will be no great difference in the transmission of regiments whether we have a local or an Imperial force. But in fact, as Mr. Hammack points out, the terms of service of the individual men will expire year after year. Multitudes will be invalided or will perish. All those vacancies, except just at the end of the regiments' term of service, will be filled up from home. In short, there would be almost as great an amount of annual transmission of single men under the one system as the other. But there will be this difference, that under the new system, in addition to those movements of individual soldiers, there will be the transfer of the whole regiment at the end of ten years' service in India. And mark the important consequence. It is this, that besides the passage to and fro of single men, you will every year have to transmit regiments between India and England to the 1146 extent (making every allowance) of no less than 12,000 or 13,000 men, whose services during that long voyage will be absolutely lost to the country, although, of course, they will meanwhile be drawing nearly their full-pay. And it is inevitable that the extra expense of those regimental movements must, and will, be a heavy burden to Indian finance. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, indeed, told us the other evening that he was inclined to think that the extra cost of an Imperial force would not be more than £114,000 per annum, although he allowed it might reach £200,000, but he reckoned that cost on the supposition that the local force would remain only at its present amount. That I believe is not desired by any one. While this question has been pending, the Government have reduced the local force to the lowest possible limit, so that now it does not reach 14,000 men. But Lord Canning's proposition, the one entertained by those who desire the maintenance of a local force, is, that two-thirds of the whole European army, in other words, 53,000 men, should belong to the local force. That is the real alternative. If that alternative should be carried out, the saving by having a local force would be four times that calculated upon by the Secretary of State. In other words, it would amount to between 500,000 and 800,000 per annum. I put it to any one who has studied Indian questions, whether the annual saving of that enormous sum is not of vital importance, especially at such a time as the present. To me it seems in itself a decisive argument against the proposed change.
Again, Sir, great varieties of opinion have been expressed as to the difference in health between a local and an Imperial force. But I find that the accountant employed by the Registrar General, looking at the matter merely in a pecuniary point of view, states that from the large mass of statistics that he has examined, "The results were uniformly in favour of the local troops." In fact, the whole statistics show the deaths to be 17 per 1,000 less in the local than in the Imperial force—a difference, in a body of 53,000 men, of 900 deaths per annum, and, of course, disease in proportion. Weighing these arguments—the security a division of the army would give in case of discontent; the disadvantage of an Indian turn of service to the regular army; the loss of power to the Indian Government; the mortification to 1147 the Native army; the waste of force in the transmission of whole regiments between England and India; the immense additional cost, the increased disease and mortality; finally, the great weight of authority against this proposal—I have felt bound to do my utmost to oppose this measure. Look at the strangeness of the logic upon which it rests. In the last few years we have had two great wars. The system of administration in the one—despite all the zeal and ability of those who had to work it—was such as to ruin our army, to cause infinite anguish at home, and to lower our military prestige in the eyes of Europe. The administration in the other, though it came on them like a whirlwind, was found guilty of no delay, of no blunder, of no miscarriage. Whereupon Her Majesty's Government propose to the House of Commons to transfer the army of India from those whose administration had so magnificently succeeded to those whose administration had so magnificently failed. Again, in the same war, the local European force at Lucknow, at Delhi, and elsewhere, performed prodigies of valour. No shadow of a slur was cast on its prowess. It most materially aided in restoring our dominion. In a hundred fights it rolled back the tide of war. It bore the brunt of overwhelming myriads at Agra; it marched with Havelock on Lucknow; it mounted the breach at Delhi; whereupon the Government tell us it is a worthless, undisciplined army, and ought to be done away with. Again, in one point the Indian Government has stood first among the Governments of the world. Somehow that Government has always had the merit—and I know not what greater merit a Government can' have—the merit of always putting the right man into the right place: and undoubtedly, to that wise and patriotic exercise of power, our dominion over India has been mainly due. On the other hand the Home Government have also had patronage to exercise in India; and the pregnant fact is that our worst reverses in that country have been distinctly owing to officers appointed by that Home Government. Without going through the painful history of those failures, I will only remind the House of the last and greatest. Who can doubt that if there had been at Meerut, in May, 1857, a man of vigour and decision, the mutiny might probably have been crushed in the bud? Yet the Government, with that terrible experience still 1148 flashing in our memories, propose to us to transfer the patronage of the Indian army from those whose exercise of it has ever been so wise, so noble, so successful, to those whose misuse of it has brought shame and ruin. Sir, in sitting down I earnestly ask Her Majesty's Government to state what they propose to do under that head. The gallant General opposite acknowledged the other evening that it would be essential, if this change were made, that all the appointments to commands in India should be in the hands, not of the Commander-in-Chief at home, but of the Indian Government. But we have not had a word to that effect from the Secretary of State for India. I am most thoroughly persuaded that, however advantageous this measure might be in other respects, it will be most disastrous if it is passed without our exacting a distinct pledge from Her Majesty's Government that the appointments to commands in India should not be in the hands of an individual thousands of miles away, overwhelmed with work, and who can have no especial knowledge or interest about Indian affairs, but in the hands of those who are responsible for the tranquillity and defence of our Indian Empire.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I will not follow my hon. Friend through the arguments by which he has met the statements of his opponents as to the comparative health, efficiency, and cost of a local army and regiments of the Line, nor will I imitate the example set by some hon. Gentlemen who have treated this as an entirely military question. There is no doubt that the question, whether or not we shall have a local army in India is a very important and interesting one, and one upon which authorities have been much divided; but I do not think that that is the first or main question which we have to consider to-night. There are two preliminary questions, in regard to which I have no doubt the House feels as I do—that we have some cause to complain of the course which has been pursued by the promoters of this Bill. In the first instance, we have to inquire whether the House has been fairly treated, whether it has had laid before it all the papers and information that are absolutely essential to forming a fair judgment upon this question; and then we have to ask whether the House is prepared to adopt a course so novel and so unprecedented as that of carrying out a great change, involving so many questions both of principle and of detail, not by a legislative measure well considered and 1149 well matured, but by an abstract Resolution, which is to be the beginning and the end of all our proceedings in regard to it. I do not believe that in the whole history of Parliament there is any instance of Ministers of the Crown making such a proposal. Because the question is one of great difficulty, because it is one of vast importance, because it is one with which the Secretary of State for India has not been able to grapple, because it is one by which he has been entirely beaten, because he cannot devise a measure for safely carrying out these changes which he has the slightest chance of passing through the House of Commons, therefore he says, "I will shirk the House of Commons, I will dodge the House of Commons, I will degrade the House of Commons into abdicating its highest functions. I will get it to pass an abstract Resolution, and all the delicate complications of these mixed political and military arrangements on which depend the good government and safety of our Indian Empire shall be left to the legislation of the Horse Guards"—that is, to the legislation of the department which, of all others, is incompetent to deal with a question involving mixed military and political considerations, which has a direct and special interest in every one of the changes which are about to be made, and which is therefore the most unfit to be intrusted with the task of enlarging and defining the new power which you are about to give it in India.
Two years ago Parliament passed an Act which transferred the Government of India from the Company to the Crown. It was a measure very suddenly determined upon; a hasty, ill-matured, and most incomplete proceeding. At that time we found it impossible to get any explanation upon the most important point which was involved in that change, that which we are to-night considering. The transfer of the nominal Sovereignty from the Company to the Crown was a very simple affair, but the real transference of the Government of India was the transfer of authority over the army. It is the army which, by a combination of military and political functions, governs India. Your Governor General is a great political and military chief; he holds authority, and he is the object of great awe and reverence in India, because he is a great military chief at the head of large armies, and if you divest him of his military attributes, you divest him of that which is his great claim to respect in the 1150 eyes of a barbarous people. The whole administration of India is one of mixed political and military character and functions. That runs through all the departments of the Government. It is the growth of a century; it is the subject of various legislative enactments, and it has been cemented by successive Acts of Parliament, every one of which, though they are not before us, we are asked to repeal by this one sweeping clause. The most difficult of all the questions connected with the administration of India, and the one upon which there has been the greatest amount of controversy, is this one of the army. It is the one upon which every military authority has told you that the safety of your Indian Empire depends. It is the one, therefore, which requires the greatest amount of thought, circumspection, and consideration on the part of Parliament, which casts upon Parliament the greatest responsibility, and with regard to which, especially, Parliament cannot delegate its functions to any other department. But, because it is a subject with which the Secretary of State has been unable to cope, which has been too much for the experience of the Indian Council, and of which the united wisdom of the whole Cabinet has not been able to solve the difficulties, we are to commit it to the Horse Guards, and leave that Department to carry out all the arrangements which are to establish what are to be the relations between the Horse Guards and the army and all the various Departments in India, which are to make the Commander-in-Chief independent of the Governor General, to transfer to the military authorities at home the command of a much larger army than that over which they now exercise control, to give the Horse Guards all the patronage and all the influence which the command of that army will involve, and to make its expenditure independent of the control of Parliament; in fact, and in reality, to transfer the supreme Government of India from the Governor General in India to the Horse Guards in London. All this may be very right, very expedient, and very wise; but at this moment we have not before us information which enables us to judge whether it is so or not, and if it be ever so wise or expedient we are not justified in passing this Resolution and leaving the details of the measure to be filled up by any department. Let me show the House how the right hon. Baronet proposes to proceed. In asking leave to introduce this Bill he said— 1151The Bill I propose to introduce contains only one simple clause for this purpose; and I have adopted this mode of bringing the question before the House, in order to test its opinion on the principle of the measure without encumbering it with any details that might distract attention from the main question. In the execution of the measure a great number of details will have to be carefully considered; indeed, if the House refers to papers now on the table, it will find among them a letter addressed to me from one of the ablest officers now serving in the Indian army, suggesting the necessity of appointing a Commission or Committee of experienced officers, to go into the numerous and minute details that will arise when the measure is brought into practical operation."—[3 Hansard, vol. clix., p. 369.Now, the House cannot fail to perceive in what a state of helpless and almost ridiculous state of ignorance the right hon. Gentleman is as to what is to follow the passing of the Resolution which is now before us. He says that an officer has suggested a Committee or Commission, but he does not say that the Government approves, or has even considered, that suggestion. If hon. Gentlemen will take the trouble to ransack the blue-book, he tells them they will find in one of its pages that suggestion made by a colonel in the army, holding no official position, and whose name I dare say not half-a-dozen Gentlemen in this House ever heard before; and upon this vague suggestion the right hon. Gentleman proposes that we should make a change which will unsettle and dislocate every administrative department in India, and which will revolutionize the existing system of Government, without our having the slightest idea what is to take its place. He asks us not to encumber him with details. I will show the House immediately what he meant by these details, but does it not at once suggest itself to hon. Members what a novel mode this is, not only of considering the convenience of the Government, but also of saving the time and trouble of the House? Is it not a pity the discovery was not made somewhat earlier in the Session? Suppose the suggestion had occurred to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary when about to introduce his Reform Bill. What a great deal of trouble it would have saved the House! He might have asked us, like the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India, to adopt a Resolution which would merely have affirmed a simple principle—"Whereas it is necessary that Parliament should be reformed, therefore be it enacted that Parliament shall be reformed." That simple Resolution having been passed, it might have been remitted to a Committee, or a Commission—which, 1152 I suppose, would have meant in such a case a few elderly Gentlemen of the Whig persuasion—to decide what boroughs should be disfranchised and what should be the amount of the suffrage, and then a Reform Bill might have been carried through both Houses of Parliament and have received the Royal Assent. But although, as regarded the Reform Bill, that might have appeared a very ridiculous proposal, I venture to say that the change which that measure would have made in the Government of England is as nothing compared with the change which this one clause will make in the Government of India.
The Government of India has been one of comparatively slow growth. It has been established by the enterprise and the achievements of heroes in the field, and the wisdom of statesmen in the Cabinet. It is now going to be subverted—and why? Because the right hon. Gentleman has chosen upon this question to show himself in as distinct a contrast as he possibly could to his predecessor in the office he now holds; for the noble Lord who was lately Secretary of State for India brought to the consideration of this question the capacity of a statesman and the courage and conscience of a Minister, and having, after full inquiry, formed his own conclusions upon the subject, he honourably adhered to them; he made the public interest his first care, and he would have resigned office rather than have abandoned the path of duty. I must say that neither in the measure now before us nor in the speech by which the right hon. Gentleman introduced it, is there any evidence of his having grappled with the subject, or of his having had the courage to resist the pressure brought upon him to make this change. He has changed his policy, but, as I shall show, he has placed that change upon the most disingenuous grounds, He sacrifices the position of the Governor General, he snubs the Indian Council, he suppresses the most important information that ought to be laid before us, and he attempts to entrap the House of Commons, under the pretext of affirming a principle, into revolutionizing the whole Government of India.
The proposal which he makes is to repeal the Act which he himself passed last year. The history of that Act is somewhat curious, and I beg the particular attention of the House to it, because I am sorry to say upon one point I have to make a rather serious charge against the right hon. Gentleman. He himself passed this 1153 Act in the month of August last for continuing and perpetuating the local Government of India. When he came into office he found a great preponderance of authority in favour of a local army in India. He found the Governor General strongly in favour of it; he found his council unanimous; he found Lord Clyde and Sir William Mansfield, if he will produce their earlier letters, of the same opinion. He found, moreover, that his predecessor in office had determined upon continuing the local army, and, not venturing to fly in the face of all these authorities, he also declared himself in favour of that army, and introduced and passed a Bill to perpetuate it. But the matter did not rest there. Speaking in the absence of documents, which have not yet been laid on our table, I speak, of course, under correction; but as I have been informed, as soon as the Act was passed transferring the Government of India from the Company to the Crown, a correspondence arose between the Horse Guards in London, the Secretary of State for India, and the Secretary of State for War. The question was, whether or not the Commander-in-chief in London was to have the same authority over all the armies in India that he had over the army in England. That claim seems to have been put forward, if it was put forward, in complete oblivion of the fact that the Governor General represents his Sovereign, that he is at the head of the armies in India, and that if you were to place another authority at their head, with a Commander-in-chief in India independent of the Governor General, and communicating directly with the authorities in England, you would establish not only a divided authority, but a double Government worse than the one you have abolished, and introduce a new military element into the Government of India which in a very short time must become supreme. At last the matter was submitted to the law officers of the Crown, who gave it as their opinion that the Secretary of State for India had by law no power to transfer the armies in India to the authority of the Horse Guards in London. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord Stanley) acting upon that opinion, retained the control of the armies in India in the bands of the Governor General, and as long as he remained in office he did his duty. But the present Secretary of State for India has this year changed his policy, and, having done so, of course it was necessary for him to give a reason. The right hon. Gentleman 1154 has not been slow to give a reason, although he has been very slow in producing the papers that would enable us to test its accuracy. The grounds for his change of policy, as he says, are these,—circumstances have changed since his predecessor and himself determined to continue the local army in India; there has been a mutiny among the local regiments; that has led him to reconsider his decision, and he is now resolved to abolish that local army which before the mutiny he thought should be maintained. I appeal to any one who heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not the mutiny of the local regiments in India that formed the sole justification for the change which he now proposes. But, let me ask, had that mutiny not taken place when he passed his Act last year? Was it not known to the Government, nay, had it not been taken by them into consideration as an element in the passing of the Act which became law under their auspices last Session? Let the right hon. Gentleman speak for himself. In introducing that measure on the 10th of August last year, he said:—Recent occurrences in India might produce some effect upon men's minds in relation to the question of maintaining a local force. It seemed to him that those occurrences were of an exceptional nature, and, serious as they were, they hardly ought to alter the decision which had been arrived at upon other grounds. He did not think the circumstances such as to justify departing from the decision of the late and the present Government, to maintain a local force in India." [3 Hansard, clv., 1304–5.]Is it not obvious that when the right hon. Gentleman tells us now that the circumstances of the mutiny have led to his change of policy, those circumstances are merely a weak, and, I think I may say, an unsuccessful pretence? But knowing, when he introduced the present Bill the other day, that his speech of last year was upon record, and that it would probably be appealed to, he felt it was necessary to attribute his change of policy to other circumstances.
It is here that I would ask the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, because I now wish to bring under the notice of the House a fact which I think requires, for the vindication of his own character, a very clear and immediate explanation. The right hon. Gentleman, having last year used the language which I have read to the House, now says that, although he knew of the occurrence of the mutiny when he passed his Act last Session, yet he was only im- 1155 perfectly acquainted with the facts, which he did not think were so grave as they afterwards turned out to be. He then believed it was a mutiny only among the younger soldiers of the regiments, and, when he found the older soldiers were implicated, the matter assumed a more serious aspect, and upon that ground he has resolved to change his policy. I need not stop to comment upon the absurdity of making the most important change that could be proposed in the government of an empire depend upon the fact whether the disaffected in a few regiments are above or under twenty-five years of age. But I must give you the language of the right hon. Gentleman himself. He says:—While the question was pending a succession of letters, extracts from which were laid on the table of the House, arrived from India, pointing out how much more grave and serious the conduct of the European troops who had mutinied was than had been supposed in the first instance. The mutiny began to assume the appearance, not of being the work of young men who had just gone out to India, but of an organized combination among their older comrades, and this new aspect of affairs furnished ground for serious consideration.The knowledge of that fact was the justification of the change which the right hon. Gentleman has now adopted. But is it credible that when the right hon. Gentleman made that statement he was in possession of a communication from Lord Clyde to the Governor General of India, dated, not in the autumn of 1859, but the 9th of November, 1858? The right hon. Gentleman told us that the mutiny in the autumn of 1859 began to assume the appearance of being among the old soldiers, and yet the right hon. Gentleman was in possession of a despatch from Lord Clyde dated the 9th of November, 1858, which I will read to the House. [Sir CHARLES WOOD: From what page are you quoting?] From one of the papers that the right hon. Gentleman has suppressed; and that is part of my case, and if the House will agree to a Committee I will prove that there are a great many other documents equally important which the right hon. Gentleman has suppressed. Lord Clyde on the 9th of November, 1858, despatched a telegram to the Governor General as follows:—That which has declared itself in the cavalry regiment of Lueknow has also shown itself among the old soldiers of the Madras Fusileers. I must impress the gravity of this upon your Lordship, and I would urge the necessity of dealing in the matter with the greatest circumspection,1156 How does the right hon. Gentleman explain this? He tells us that he adopted a change of policy as soon as he found in August 1859, that the old soldiers were implicated in the mutiny, he knowing very well that he had information to a contrary effect, which he takes very good care not to lay upon the table of the House. Sir, a very large conventional latitude is allowed to Ministers of the Crown in the preparation and production of papers. I have often complained of it. I think that latitude is carried too far. But it is permitted, because the House places implicit confidence in the honour and high character of Ministers of the Crown. I think that upon this occasion the right hon. Gentleman has abused that confidence, and that he has not acted fairly by the House, and the transaction is the more grave because, if this Bill is pressed we shall have occasion to show that this is not a solitary proceeding on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. Why are not the despatches of Lord Clyde and Sir William Mansfield before us now? They were laid on the table three months ago. On the 23rd of March they were ordered to be printed, and who can keep them back but the head of the department? Why, then, does the right hon. Gentleman keep them back? Is it because if they were here he could not have delivered the statement he made the other night; is it because keeping back these despatches enabled him to mislead the House; and the probability was that this Bill would have been passed before these papers were produced and read. I state now, in the face of the House and in the face of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, that if these early despatches of Lord Clyde and Sir William Mansfield are printed they will give a new character to that proceeding on which the right hon. Gentleman professes to found this measure. If these papers are produced they will refute the statements of the right hon. Gentleman on many important points. I can also state from my own knowledge that there are other documents which have been laid upon the table of this House and produced as complete which are only extracts—that important passages have been taken out of them. I pledge myself to prove this, and I ask how we can be in a position to pass this measure, when a great deal of the evidence has been garbled, and while the main statements upon which the right hon. Gentleman founds his Bill are proved to have been founded entirely upon an in- 1157 accuracy? I say that under these circumstances we are not in a condition to consider this amalgamation. I decline, without these papers, to consider it at all. I am prepared, when we have the necessary papers before us, to answer the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel). I can show that Lord Clyde and Sir William Mansfield said that the men who mutinied had a grievance, and the non-commissioned officers made common cause with the men when they had a common grievance. A regiment of the Line was quartered in the same cantonments, and, if the discontent was so widely spread, why did not these non-commissioned officers of the Line tell their officers what was going on? It is notorious that there is not a regiment of the Guards that would not under the same circumstances have acted in the same manner. The officers of the Line then in India say that, if their own soldiers had at that moment been offered their discharge, so odious was the service in India become, they could not have kept a single private in their regiments.
Why have we not had these papers before us? I complain that in the whole of these proceedings there has been an attempt to surprise the House, to smuggle this Bill through, and to entrap the House into passing an Act without an opportunity of duly considering so important a legislative measure. The intention of the Government to propose this amalgamation was concealed until the latest moment. Within a week after notifying the matter to the Council of India the right hon. Gentleman gave notice of this Bill. He gave that notice the day before Whitsuntide, and brought in the Bill the first week after the Whitsuntide holidays. The Bill was brought in by the right hon. Gentleman on a Notice Day. He introduced it at half-past ten o'clock at night, and spoke until half-past twelve, and then proposed that it should be brought in and readafirst time without further discussion. We however protested, and asked for an Adjournment. The right hon. Gentleman pressed for immediate action on the part of the House; but the noble Lord at the head of the Government, with more judgment and consideration, agreed to the postponement, observing, however, at the same time that he was conceding it to a minority. But the section of this House which reads blue-books and examines such questions carefully will always be numerically an insignificant minority. They do not on that 1158 account deserve less consideration from the Government; it is this small section which, on occasions of this kind, is the guardian of the public interests.
The right hon. Gentleman ask us to pass the Bill as a question of principle, and leave the details to a Commission floating in the distance. Well, but what are the details of this measure? They are so important that every one deserves to be dealt with as a separate measure, and involves some important principle. What are to be, for example, the relations between the Commander-in-Chief and the Governor General? Is India to be governed under one supreme head or is a double Government to be re-established? If the Governor General is to communicate with the Secretary of State on civil matters, and with the Horse Guards upon the army, shall we not have a divided authority, and how is the Government to be carried on? This is one of the matters of detail. A second question is—are we to have a Native army, and if so, under whose command? Is it to be under the Horse Guards? Then we shall have the whole army under a department that will give its orders 10,000 miles away. If it is to be under the Governor General, you defeat your object, which is to have one army in India. You will have a black army under the Governor General, and a white army under the Secretary of State. There is another most important question. It has been proposed that purchase shall be introduced into the army of India, and the right hon. Gentleman said that he saw no great objection to purchase in the army. But the House of Commons and the public opinion of the country have condemned the system of purchase, and surely those who have objections to the system of purchase ought to have an opportunity of expressing their opinion before it is introduced into the Indian army. Why, the Government only escaped defeat upon a Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) condemning purchase, by promising to appoint a Commission, and afterwards proposing to abolish purchase in the higher grades. The principle of purchase may therefore be said to be condemned by Parliament, and it ought not to be introduced into the Indian army without the fullest consideration. Then we come to the question of patronage. We are about to place in the hands of the Commander-in-Chief a much larger army than he now commands, with 1159 all the accession of patronage connected with it. Constitutionally this is a most important question. The proposal may be right and proper. I give no opinion for or against it, but at least it ought to pass under the cognizance of Parliament. Another important constitutional question that may be raised is that of the expense. Hitherto all the expenses incurred by the Horse Guards and the whole cost of the army have been paid by Votes of the House of Commons, and we are responsible for everything that is done; but now you are going to establish a system under which the expenditure of the army will be regulated at home, while the cost of a large portion of it will be raised by taxes in India. This appears to me to be impolitic, unjust, and, more than all, highly unconstitutional. Look at the effect that would have on the finances of India. In this country we have a Parliament, a press, and the influence of a strong public opinion, and yet, with regard to the expense of the army, we know how difficult it is to keep the Horse Guards in order. But in India, a country 10,000 miles off, with no Parliament, a press less powerful than our own, and no public opinion such as exists among us, what will the state of matters be when the whole expenditure of the army is regulated by the Horse Guards without the check and control of Parliamentary responsibility? The Commander-in-Chief in India communicating with the Horse Guards, may say he wants half a million for barracks in India. Hitherto such a wish would have been communicated to the Governor General, and he would have decided upon it on the spot; but now it will be sent to the Horse Guards, and from there the Commander-in-Chief will have it submitted to the Secretary for India. If he refers the matter to the Governor General, then the Governor General and the Commander-in-Chief may come into collision. If there is at the Horse Guards a person of good head and strong will he will in all probability prevail, and the Governor General of India will have to succumb. But there is another point that may be raised. I have a right to estimate that under the new arrangement you will never have less than at the smallest computation 20,000 men at sea going backwards and forwards to India. These 20,000 men will be paid by India, at a time when recruits are far from being plentiful, and they will have to be paid all the time they are doing nothing but being 1160 tossed upon the sea. These are called questions of detail, but they nevertheless involve the important questions whether you are to have a single or a double Government for India; who is to command the Native army; who is to have the enormous patronage that will be created; whether the system of purchase is to be introduced into the Indian army; and whether there is to be an adequate control over the military expenditure. These important changes you have introduced without supplying Parliament with the necessary information, in the face of the opinion of the Governor General, against the unanimous protest of the Indian Council, and against the opinion originally expressed by Lord Clyde and Sir William Mansfield—and all this you do by an abstract Resolution, substituted for a well-considered legislative measure. I will not go into the question of the amalgamation of the local with the Royal army, and I give no opinion upon it, because I say we have not the necessary information. Even if we had the necessary information, this is not the right mode of doing it. If we do it in the reckless offhand manner now proposed, we may be carrying out the accomplishment of the warning that was uttered by one of the greatest and wisest men ever connected with the administration of Indian affairs—I mean Lord Metcalfe—who, considering the uncertainty of our tenure of India, and looking to the change looming in the future, pronounced this opinion:—Our hold is so precarious that a very little mismanagement might accomplish our expulsion, and the course of events might be of itself sufficient, without any mismangement. We are, to appearance, more powerful in India now than we ever were. Nevertheless, our downfall may be short work. When it commences it will probably be rapid, and the world will wonder more at the suddenness with which our immense Indian empire may vanish than it has done at the surprising conquest that we have achieved.And then followed these very remarkable words, "Government by a Parliamentary majority would make India not worth ten years' purchase." If to-night we rashly and recklessly sanction the exceptional proceeding now brought before us, I believe it will be the first fatal step towards accomplishing that remarkable and wise prediction.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
My right hon. Friend who has just sat down stated near the end of his speech that he was not prepared to give any opinion on the policy or impolicy of the proposition for amalga- 1161 mating the local with the Royal army in India, and therefore he confined himself to complaints of the extreme misconduct which the Government have displayed in the introduction of this measure. Now, whatever may have been the malversation of which we have been guilty, I do not think that my right hon. Friend, though he has taken great pains with the subject, has succeeded in being very accurate as to the nature of our transgressions. In the first place, he says the Government have not given information on this question—he used, indeed, a still stronger term, and said they had suppressed information. Now, the Government placed the papers connected with this subject, which were moved for on the 17th of February, on the table on the 22nd of March, and on the 23rd of March they were ordered to be printed. That did not look like a desire to withhold information. [Several Voices: "Where are the papers!"] Ask the officers of the House, who are charged with the duty of getting them printed. Government is not responsible for printing the papers called for by this House. Papers are laid on the table, and those who move for them ought to ascertain that they are printed at the earliest possible period after the order for printing is given. The right hon. Gentleman says we have moved an abstract Resolution. That is a figure of speech which certainly does not accurately represent the state of the case. A Bill was introduced after due notice and discussion. It was read a first time. We are possibly going to read it a second time to-night. After that we shall go into Committee, and I trust we shall read it, in due course, a third time. But by no latitude of construction can that be called passing an abstract Resolution. It is a Bill brought in in the ordinary way, and after a pledge given last year that the subject should be brought under the consideration of the House. It is very questionable whether there is a single change necessary for amalgamating the Royal and local corps which could not have been effected by a change of regulations, without coming to this House at all. But the Government thought it would not be decent or respectful to the House of Commons to make so momentous a change without coming to the House and testing their opinion upon it. Again—and this seems to be the crowning offence—my right hon. Friend says the Secretary for India has committed an outrageous offence because he brought in a Bill last year for 1162 the augmentation of the local army to 30,000, and now proposes to amalgamate it with the Royal army. The answer is, that there were good reasons then why that step should be taken, and the fact that it was taken could in no way affect the proposal now made. "But," asks my right hon. Friend, "how was it that when you first knew all the circumstances connected with the mutiny the change now contemplated was not proposed? The answer is, that it would not have been wise or expedient on the first arrival of the news of the mutiny, and when there were many speculations abroad on the subject, to proceed to legislate on this question. He says we knew of the gravity of the circumstances connected with the mutiny as far back as the autumn of 1858. That is a most singular statement, and I will only say that any" body who then knew the gravity of the circumstances must have been gifted with extraordinary foresight, for the mutiny did not take place till the spring of the following year. In the autumn of 1858 it is true there were discontent and disturbance and alarm, but no mutiny. The mutiny followed the issue of the General Order of the Governor General on the 8th of April, 1859. My right hon. Friend is, therefore, taken to task, because he did not decide upon the character of the mutiny before the mutiny took place! Then, with regard to the mode of proceeding adopted by the Goverment, if the Government had produced a plan for working out the details to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, including everything connected with promotion, patronage, expense, and so on, would it not have been said that we bad acted disrespectfully towards the House of Commons, and that we had it in view to withdraw from the consideration of Parliament many questions involving important principles? My right hon. Friend says we are going to regulate the expense of the Indian army at the Horse Guards. I find all his alarms are based upon imaginary intentions on the part of the Government, which I think, if he had listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend the other night, he would have discovered had no foundation. He says we are going to regulate the expenditure of the army in India, which is to be defrayed out of taxes raised in India. How is that process to be accomplished? We cannot send a man to India except upon the requisition of the Indian Government. They can refuse any extra pay or allowances—they can refuse to receive any rank of 1163 officers they please. The Government here often presses matters which they consider to be necessary for the comfort or efficiency of the soldier, and sometimes those demands are yielded to and sometimes they are not. The Horse Guards has no more power over the expenditure of a single sixpence for the Queen's army in India than it has over the expenditure of the standing army of any European Power. Then, my right hon. Friend says the Commander-in-Chief in India will write home to the Commander-in-Chief here for half a million for barracks. The Commander-in-Chief seems to live in an atmosphere redolent of suspicion; but my right hon. Friend only describes the dark surmises of his own imagination. He says the Commander-in-Chief may be a man of strong will, who will get hold of some inferior creature and make him Secretary of State for India, who, under the influence of his superior intellect, will require half a million for barracks for the Queen's troops. Now, I cannot conceive how any man, however determined to pick holes, could light upon anything so absurd. I will ask my right hon. Friend this question. Can the Commander-in-Chief now write home for an additional expenditure? He cannot. Then what additional power will the Commander-in-Chief have under this Bill? Not a jot. Then, my right hon. Friend says that the Commander-in-Chief in India will be independent of the Governor General. There is nothing in this measure to alter in any way the relations between the Commander-in-Chief in India and the Governor General. The Governor General is a despot in India, and as long as we intend to maintain our rule in that country, he must have a supreme control. It would be an act of madness to deprive him of the power of using that great army in India, which, unfortunately, from the tenure by which we hold that country, is not only a military, but a political weapon.
I pass now from the speech of my right hon. Friend, and will say a few words upon the general subject. Of all subjects which have ever been brought under consideration, I never met with one upon which it was more difficult, after great labour and application, to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. I frankly own I have arrived at a conclusion slowly and reluctantly. My bias was in favour of retaining a local army. I believed that a local army would have ties in India which a Queen's army could not have; I believed that a local army would 1164 supply for the public service and civil professions men better instructed than the Queen's army could furnish. I believed it important that we should preserve to the Indian Government a class of men who had long filled Indian offices. I have heard it said that the patronage of the Council was diffused among the middle classes; but none of those who have stated that have defined their meaning of the term "middle classes." I thought it was necessary to keep the officials of that peculiar service, derived, I believe, originally from Scotland, but who had become Indian from their long acquaintance with Indian subjects, who brought up their children in the same way to regard India as their home. I confess I have arrived at the conclusion that upon most of these points the measure of my right hon. Friend does afford a satisfactory solution. My right hon. and gallant Friend opposite (General Peel) said that, having been upon the Committee to inquire into the amalgamation of the two armies, he was struck with the fact that the opinions expressed were so strong and uniform, that whether it was a Queen's officer or a Company's officer he knew exactly what his evidence would be. What is the value of evidence so biassed by preconceived ideas? The evidence made this impression on my mind—the witnesses appeared to be so full of prejudice and bias that, whenever I read the evidence of a witness on one side, I felt inclined to adhere to the opposite view. I have endeavoured to find independent authority. My right hon. Friend read the other night a passage from a letter from Lord Wellington to Lord Melville, in which he said, in his opinion, there should be but a King's army in India. He said the European army in the East Indies should be the King's army, and that the three Presidencies should be separate and distinct, and that the Native troops should form the Company's army. It was objected that that proved nothing of the Duke of Wellington's opinion; that the Duke said both armies should be the King's, but he did not say that one of them should not be local. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) said the authority of the Duke of Wellington was admitted by all, but that the passage which had been read did not imply an opinion in the exact sense for which it had been used. But did the Duke of Wellington never express an opinion as to a local force? I find in his evidence, given in 1828, when he was Prime Minister, many years after he had been in India, 1165 he referred to tins subject. It is singular that the Duke of Wellington then spoke sentiments which now are rife in every one's mouth, but which were not then generally entertained. He was asked, "Would not the cost of our army be reduced if our Colonies, instead of having King's troops sent out to them, were to have local corps consisting of Europeans?" He said:—I must say that I would earnestly recommend that such a system"—namely, the retention of troops in the Colonies for the purposes of police colonial troops, and their being recruited with men in the same manner as the East India Company's regiments so as to avoid the expense and inconvenience of reliefs—"should never be adopted in this country. The difference in the state of the King's troops in the East Indies from that in which the East India Company's European Infantry is known to be, is conclusive against it, in my opinion, but I would refer also to the Colonial African Corps. The British army cannot be made a colonial corps without destroying its character and strength; would it not be a most disgraceful and terrible mode of losing the possession of any part of His Majesty's dominions by means of a mutiny of the officers of a local or a colonial army employed to garrison it? Yet that is what we must look to if the army is to be employed as mere colonial troops and never to quit the Colonies from the day they enter the service. I should, therefore, intreat the Committee to lay that plan aside altogether.He goes on to say,—I should say that the state of every description of troops depends in a great measure upon its officers. It does not signify what the immediate private character of the men is, they are made to behave well as soldiers, even though possibly they may not be the best moral characters that can be found. It is very extraordinary, and I can only attribute it to their being confined there for their lives that it is so; but it is very extraordinary that the same description of officers who form the Sepoys into remarkably good troops, cannot form the European Infantry to be at all equal to the other troops.The Duke goes on,—I should say that I am quite sure that the putting the British army on the footing of a colonial corps would be very injurious.That is testimony clear and explicit, and even the ingenuity of my noble Friend will not prove that it does not apply to this question. The right hon. Member for Stroud says that Lord Clyde is an advocate for the retention of a local army. That is not so. Sir William Mansfield was opposed to a change, but his opinion has been altered by the experience of the trying times of 1859. Many persons have spoken with great lightness of the mutiny among the European troops. I admit there is a great difference to be made between 1166 the men who originated the mutiny and those who accepted their discharge when it was offered to them. But the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord Stanley) said the mutiny was quite exceptional No doubt it was, for whoever heard of a mutiny that was not exceptional; or of an army in which mutiny was chronic? Hon. Gentlemen have treated this mutiny too lightly. The country was fresh from a mutiny of another kind, and then you had a well drilled, well armed European force threatening to rise too, there being evidence, through intercepted letters, that they had made communications inviting the Sikhs to join them in driving the Queen's army out of India. Luckily the mutinous force was not a large one; but imagine what would have been the case if the local army had been two-thirds and the Queen's one-third of the whole body of troops in India—if, instead of 10,000 of these misguided men coming home and receiving their discharge, you had had double the number of troops abandoning your service in this way. No, Sir! You cannot over-rate the gravity and importance of mutinies by armed men. We have heard much as to the indiscipline of the local force. Now, I am not going to enter into the disputes or the jealousies which exist between the Queen's and the local armies. So strong are they that even we civilians, though not mixed up in these transactions, insensibly fall, when discussing them, into a tone of no very good feeling one towards another. I have beard insinuations made by those who advocate amalgamation against the local, and by those who oppose amalgamation against the Queen's troops. If we choose to listen to insinuations against either, we may, perhaps, blacken both, but we shall not advance the question at issue. Both armies have covered themselves with glory, and it is not necessary now to look to the weaknesses of either. But I have in my hand a statement which seems to go far to account for the indiscipline of the local force. It says:—The cause of the inferiority of discipline in the local European corps is patent. It originates in the system of the service, and will exist so long as the system is maintained.An officer in command of Natives has to do with a class of men who are apparently the most docile soldiers. He does not himself enter into minute details in the management of his corps, because if so he would offend the prejudices of his men. He therefore leaves all these to the Native 1167 non-commissioned officers. But that is not a school in which an officer can learn afterwards to manage the material which is found among the Anglo-Saxon race. English soldiers are not so docile; they are not so easy to lead; they are far more difficult to drive, and of course such officers are unable to conquer the good-will of the men placed under them. Now, in the Queen's army the case is quite different. I believe the public generally have very little idea of the relations which exist between officers and men in the service. The officer is seen with his men on parade, and when the parade is over he walks away, and it is suppased that his connection with them begins and ends there. But that is no measure of the relations between them. The noncommissioned officers of the army are admirable, but the officer does not trust to these alone. You find the most intimate connection existing between officers and men, and constant kindnesses proceeding from the one to the others. When a soldier is ill, or his wife is ill, the officer is sure to attend to their wants and to alleviate their sufferings, or if married his wife attends to the soldier's wife. There thus grows up a family feeling in regiments which must be unknown in Native corps, though these are the schools in which officers are formed who afterwards are to deal with English soldiers. If that be the case, I say we need not cast blame upon Indian officers because they are unable to discipline English troops. It is the natural result of a system which is not their creation, but is the creation of the Government under which they serve. Sir Hugh Rose writes to me a letter which is too long to read, but in which he speaks of a report of the Adjutant General showing that ninety-six officers from Bombay regiments above the numbers allowed are serving away from their regiments on the Staff and on civil appointments. How is it possible that efficient discipline can be maintained in the face of such a system? The same thing happens with regard to the medical department. Men get other appointments; the Postmaster General, for instance, is a medical officer; and their regiments are left without their proper share of officers. The regiments are stripped of their best men, and are left with what is here called "the refuse."
It has been said by some hon. Gentlemen in the course of this debate, "But you will never get Queen's officers to take the place of the local officers." Now, Earl 1168 Canning has written a Minute on which great stress has been laid; but if I wanted to argue for the non-continuance of the local army I do not know that I could desire to have a better brief. The largest admissions are made in this Minute, and are reasoned out in the most conclusive manner. What does Earl Canning say in the very first paragraph as to the necessity of a local force, every man in such a force having his interests bound up in India, and being supposed to be willing to reside there for the rest of his life?—In my memorandum of 1858, I stated it 'to be most important that in the event of an amalgamation of the local army with the Line being found to be too difficult for adjustment, too expensive, or for other reasons not advisable, some arrangement should still be provided by which the local European army should be made to feel that it is composed of the same Staff, and is in all respects in an equally honourable position with the Line;' that it was 'very desirable that officers should be enabled to pass from the one into the other, though here also the difficulties are not slight; that there should be a clear understanding that the senior officers, whose service and ability may render them fit for such marks of Her Majesty's confidence, shall be permitted to serve Her Majesty out of India as well as in this country; and that divisional and brigade commands should be distributed between the two armies in a fair proportion."'There is an admission which goes to the root of the whole question. He does not want the Queen's to occupy the position of the local army, but that the local army should be allowed to take the position of the Queen's. He expresses his fear that men who come accidentally to India—and I will presently show how far the word "accidentally" applies to the question before the House—that such will never have the same interests in India as officers of the local force; and then he proceeds:—I know of no mode of effectually or speedily training the local European troops to the required degree of efficiency, which is more likely to be successful than that of obtaining for a time from the Line regiments, whether serving in India or elsewhere, the assistance of officers of experience. No doubt this measure will be, to a certain extent, distasteful to the officers of Her Majesty's Indian forces, and not without some unpleasantness to the officers of the Line selected for the purpose, and much tact and mutual consideration will be requisite on both sides. But if the army of the Line will lend to the Indian army officers of sufficient standing and experience, and if such Indian officers as are about to be attached to the new local European regiments are admitted to learn their duty with Line regiments until their services are required with their own corps, I believe that the measure may be carried out with good prospect of success.I was struck to-day by reading in The 1169 Times a letter from General Hancock. He had been shocked by the notion advanced by my right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Wood) that to build up a very large local army to take the place of the Queen's army, and then to destroy the Queen's army to make room for the local force, would be a very difficult and expensive operation. General Hancock says, "Not at all;" and he proceeds to do this very thing. He says all the Queen's regiments must allow their men to volunteer into the local regiments; that cannot be done in sufficient numbers from India; the regiments at home must supply the requisite number for this new local army, and if you have any officers undisposed of by that arrangement they must be placed on half-pay. The arrangement is the most satisfactory one in that sense that I ever saw; but I must say, if it is to be done only at the trouble and expense and with the jealousies and the heartburnings to which such a plan would give rise, he would be a very bold man who should seriously bring forward such a proposition. Sir Charles Trevelyan states his belief that the Queen's officers would very soon apply themselves to languages in order to fit themselves for Indian life and obtain places hitherto held as a monopoly by the local force. He says that even now the European Line regiments could furnish many able officers for the Staff, notwithstanding the absence of all facilities and encouragement; but if such appointments were open to Line officers on their attaining a certain proficiency in Native languages, his opinion is that young men would crowd into the Line regiments serving in India, in order to push their fortunes in that country. But the answer generally given to this was—and it showed a magnificent disregard for facts—"The Queen's officers will never cultivate the study of languages." Won't they? The other day I asked a gentleman who has recently returned from India, and who has great powers of perception, what was his opinion on this subject, and he said "I was more engaged in military operations, but the opinion I formed was that so long as there exists in India a local army propped up and buttressed by it having all the prizes of the profession and a monopoly of place, it will be held in high esteem; but, if once you break down this monopoly, and throw the field open by allowing Queen's officers to compete for these places, then a small local army will necessarily fall into disrepute." I believe that is perfectly true.
1170 At this late hour I will not go into all the points which have been raised, but the hon. Baronet behind me said there is a great advantage in having a local army, because they became acclimatized to the country. Now, what is this theory of acclimatization? It is this; that a man who arrives in India and suffers from illness in the first year, recovers by continuing to dwell there, and becomes habituated to the climate and turns out a healthy and strong man. Now, the greatest authority on Indian and tropical diseases (Mr. Martin) scouts such an idea, and he takes the case of a certain number of ensigns—and everything that applies to the officers applies tenfold to the men, whose habits are more intemperate, and who take less care of themselves. With regard to ensigns he says, that they come out about eighteen years old; and that the mortality as respects them is 23 per 1,000. With regard to lieutenants, who on an average are of three years' more residence the mortality is 27 per 1,000; with regard to captains of from 12 to 13 more years' residence, 34 per per 1,000. And so it goes on. Diseases originating in carelessness and youthful intemperance can be cured by care, but the physical degradation produced by long and constant exposure to the climate cannot. The following table exhibits the rate of mortality per 1,000 of troops in tropical climates, from the 1st of January, 1830, to the 31st of March, 1837, and how far acclimatization acts:—
What, then, is the meaning of this theory of acclimatization? It means that if a thing is unwholesome to the constitution, then go on with it. Now, if that theory is good as regards climate, it is good as regards food; and so, with like reason, you might be told that if you eat food that is bad for the human stomach you should go on eating it. Indeed, there is no knowing to what extent the application of such an absurd theory might be carried. With regard to the comparative healthfulness of the Queen's troops and the local troops, I went into the question some years ago, but I found the statistical records relating 1171 to it so confused that it was impossible to arrive at the exact truth, owing to the circumstances that some of the troops were in the field and others in cantonments. It generally happens too that the local forces are gradually reinforced by recruits, who fall easily into the settled habits of that branch of the army, whereas Queen's troops arriving all together are less accustomed to the climate and to the necessary habits of life. My impression therefore is that if there is a difference, it is on the whole in favour of the local troops, and not of the Queen's troops.
Station. 18 to 25. 25 to 33. 33 to 40 40 to 50. Jamaica 70. 107. 131. 128. Mauritius 20.8 37.5 52.7 86.6 Ceylon 24. 55. 86.4 126.6 Bombay 18.2 34.6 46.8 71.1 Bengal 23.8 50.3 50.6 83.3
There is one important feature with regard to the Staff corps which should be clearly understood. If you have one Staff corps for the whole army, every man who fails to pass through his probation will return to the army, while the officer who goes through his probation satisfactorily is struck off the strength of his regiment, his place is filled up, and he becomes a local Indian officer. India is then his home, and the place to which he looks for promotion and reputation; and under the old system no officer was more thoroughly localized than would be the officer I have just referred to. He will be an Indian servant to all intents and purposes, receiving promotion in the Staff corps alone, and not sharing promotion in the regiment he has left.
Then it is said that this great evil will arise, that India at any moment might be denuded of troops by their withdrawal for home service. I do not myself see in what respect there will be a difference from the present system under which the number of European troops in the service of the Indian Government is fixed at 15,000 men. The argument is founded on the statement that India was deprived of troops for the Crimean War to an extent that endangered the security of the country at the breaking out of the mutiny in 1857. The fallacy of this is shown by the following figures:—the number of European troops in India in 1854 was 47,146; in 1855 the number was 46,093; in 1856 the number was 45,104; and in 1857 the number was 45,522; so that the difference between 1854 and 1857 was 624 men. The mutiny broke out in May, 1857, before the draughts for the year had arrived, but if the draughts were counted there would have been in India on their arrival about 1,000 men more than in 1854; and besides that, some of the troops had been sent to Persia. The troops on their way to China 1172 were also diverted from that expedition, and went to reinforce the garrison in India, so that it could not be said that India, at that period of her utmost need, was deserted or neglected by England.
In answer to the statement that Queen's officers would not take pains to learn the Native languages, in order to obtain local employment, I will read the following statement in reference to Queen's officers: On the Staff, 92; irregular cavalry, infantry, levies, and police, 41; public works, 4; civil employ, 8; total, 145. Besides these, there are a number of regimental officers who have qualified themselves in Native languages. This shows that there is no indisposition on the part of the Queen's officers to make themselves fit to hold important offices in the country. Under the old system you gave a monopoly to a small local array. You took away from the regiments of that army all the ablest men you could find, until you came down to what Colonel Jacobs called the refuse; the most intelligent officers of the Queen's service could not be taken for these political offices, and they had no encouragement, therefore, to qualify for offices which they had no chance of getting. My right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud says the Horse Guards are going to take all the patronage—but what is the patronage? There is no change going to be made in the distribution of commands in India. What exists there now will exist then. There is no change going to be made in the purchase system. My right hon. Friend says that while this House and the country are dead against the purchase system, Her Majesty's Government are going to introduce it into the Indian army. I cannot say that I have ever seen this House very warm against the purchase system; but I can assure my right hon. Friend that he is entirely mistaken. [Mr. HORSMAN: I quoted the Secretary of State's speech.] Yes, no doubt, but not accurately. The Secretary of State for India stated that there was to be no purchase system introduced into the amalgamated regiments; but, strictly speaking, he was not quite accurate, because a purchase system does exist in the Indian army, and to the extent to which it exists it will continue. Of course, the officers will carry with them their own habits and regulations and rights. The existing rights of the Indian officers are guaranteed by Act of Parliament, and until they die out you cannot introduce the 1173 purchase on the Queen's system into any of those regiments. In the Indian army, as it stands, every man, poor or rich, is compelled to purchase, or to join the others in purchasing; for if he would not do it promotion was stopped in his regiment, and although the required sum might be made up by the rest without him, he would be placed in such a position that he would prefer to yield to the system. It could not, however, be intended, if faith were to be kept with Indian officers, to introduce anything like the system of purchase which prevailed in the Queen's army. Indeed, I do not wish to see the Queen's sysstem of purchase introduced into those regiments at all. Under the Act of 1858 one tenth of the nominations at the disposal of the Indian Council are appropriated to the orphans of officers of the Indian military and civil services, and of Queen's officers serving in India, and under the new system of course similar advantages will be secured to them in the same proportion. It will be for the Government to ascertain the number of these, and to give to an equivalent number the same advantages which they now enjoy. For that purpose it will be necessary to retain a certain number of regiments without purchase, because to put a young man who has received assistance from the State in the way of education a first commission without purchase and so on into a regular Queen's regiment, would place him at a much greater disadvantage than if he were put in an Indian regiment where there was no purchase right through.
I should be the last person in the world to attribute to the Indian Council or to the Commander-in-Chief that in viewing this great question they had been biassed by the wretched consideration of having the disposal of a few first commissions. The Duke of Cambridge, in his evidence on the subject, said, "For God's sake, whatever happens, don't give this patronage to me. I know what complaints will be made, and I would rather be without them." There is no great favour in getting a first commission—any person with decent references can go to the Horse Guards and get his name put down. As far as the patronage question goes, therefore, I think we may dismiss it altogether from our minds, but I do not wish to dismiss it, because I wish to explain exactly what it is that we wish to do. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) alluded the other night to the evidence given by the Duke of Cambridge. His 1174 Royal Highness expressed his opinion that the whole system of nomination was a bad one; that it was very disagreeable to himself; that all the officers ought to enter he army through one college, and that instead of going to Sandhurst, as they do under the present system, they should receive their general education elsewhere, and then go to Sandhurst later for a professional course before entering the army. That plan would dispose of the whole question of nomination; but at present, as long as a young man can get a direct commission by purchase he gets it cheaper than by going to Sandhurst, and the consequence is that there are many vacancies at Sandhurst and not applicants enough to fill them. But a young man who comes fresh from some cramming tutor and answers a few unintelligible questions, is not in the same position as a young man who has gone through a regular professional course and who becomes immediately available for regimental duties. I think the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief is a sound one. I made a similar proposition some years ago when out of office, and I should be very glad if I could be the means of carrying it out. But Sandhurst would not be large enough for the purpose. You would have to take Addiscombe as well, and with a mixture of the two establishments you would be able to get all your young men into the army with a professional training. Until you have got these establishments ready—and it will take some time—what will you do? I should say, why make any change at all in the interim? If vacancies arise in the Indian regiments, I think the Secretary of State and his Council are fairly entitled to recommend to the Commander-in-Chief the names of those whom they may think fitted to fill them up. I hope this will satisfy my right hon. Friend that the Horse Guards are not grasping at patronage. An objection may be raised that the Council are independent persons, that they are not responsible to Parliament, and that we are placing in their hands patronage which ought to be exercised by the Crown; but if you turn to the 36th clause in the Act, you will see that the Secretary of State has a veto on all nominations, so that in fact you have a Minister responsible for all that is done.
As for the statement that the officers of the Indian army and of the Queen's army are taken from different classes, I do not believe a word of it. If you except to the term "middle classes" I should say that 1175 both services were officered mainly from the professional classes. The great mass of the Queen's officers are certainly taken from those classes—though you may have a few noblemen's sons among them, especially in the cavalry regiments. My noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) said the other night that it would be impossible to get these men to go to India, and he argued that it was a matter of policy to attract men of birth into the army, even if it involved a slight lowering of the intellectual standard. For myself I do not think you have any right to attract any class of men into the army except those who will make good officers. My noble Friend is a very good specimen of his order, but he certainly did not speak up handsomely for it when he argued that a lowering of the standard of examination might be necessary to attract them into the service. But the fact is that examinations are no more favourable to poor men than to the nobility. They are favourable only to wealthy persons who can afford to give their sons an expensive and a special education. I will say this for the upper classes, that there is nothing you can ask Englishmen to do which they will not do as readily and as well as any other class. The gallant Officer (Colonel P. Herbert), who spoke from the opposite benches tonight, and who has seen service at the Cape of Good Hope, in the Crimea, and again during the Indian mutiny, is a specimen of the class to which he refers, who did not enter the army as a mere holiday pursuit.
In spite of that contempt which was poured by two hon. Gentlemen behind me on the argument that it would be enormously expensive to create a local army as large as has been asked for by Lord Canning and others, I will ask the House to consider what are the facts. The members of the Indian Council and the authorities in India who are for maintaining a local army, have declared that it would be useless to do so if that local army lost its predominance. Formerly the Queen's army was the larger force, and the local soldiery a mere adjunct. If you are to maintain a local army, they say, these proportions must be reversed. I think they are wise in their generation to make the demand; but, if you accede to it, in what manner is it to be carried out? You have made the experiment of creating a small local army, and it has signally failed, I say that has signally failed, because on the first 1176 occasion on which a disagreement arose as to terms it mutinied and placed you in a most disastrous position. You say the Queen's army would act in the same way under similar circumstances. But what happened the other day? Some regiments were detached from India to go to China, under the command of Sir Hope Grant, and for some inexplicable reason they proceeded to pay the officers on a scale calculated according to Indian allowances, because they were drawn from the army in India, but did not pay the soldiers in the same manner. The men remonstrated, but they had confidence in their officers; the officers said that the thing could not be right, and that they would see how the mistake had arisen. There was not a sign of mutiny. They consented cheerfully to receive the reduced rates, though they knew they were entitled to more; a board of officers communicated with us on the subject, and we at once said that the thing was a complete error, and that the men should receive the money to which they were entitled. But in the interim there was not a murmur—very possibly dissatisfaction existed, but there was nothing like a threat, nothing like disturbance; the men had confidence in their officers, and they remained true to their colours. You have tried the experiment of a local force on a small scale, and because it has failed you now want to introduce it on a scale still larger; you created a magnificent army to put down the Indian mutiny, and you say—"It has been successful—let us destroy it." Is it acting sensibly to shut our eyes to the experience of the last few years?
It is said, again, that the difference between the forces is entirely fanciful; that one class of army will cost just as much as the other; and that the advantages are in favour of a local force. Yes; but the maintenance and creation of an army are two different things. Let us see what would be the cost of reducing the Queen's-army from two-thirds to one-third of the whole. I am not speaking now of what the cost would be ultimately, if you were to capitalize it, but of what you would have to pay in the first year. You would have to give in half-pay to officers £221,000; gratuities to non-commissioned officers and men £295,000; and pensions to men £75,000; making a total of £591,000 for the first year. And that outlay would be, not for creation, nor for greater efficiency, but for the purpose of destruction and di- 1177 minished efficiency. Again, in forming this local army, what do you do? You assemble a force consisting of young men, without cohesion of any kind; and how are you to officer them? Will you bring home officers from India to drill them, when, as you already know, they are unable to do so; and will you, for that purpose, insist that, to their great injury and dissatisfaction, they shall give up the posts of honour and emolument which they hold in India? What would be the character of this new army that you wish to raise? The tradition of a successful mutiny would be perpetuated among the men; and would become their charter. Every man, on every occasion that he had a grievance, however small, to complain of, would remind his comrades of what had happened in 1859. If they were two-thirds, instead of one-third, India would be at their mercy. I did not come to this conclusion speedily or willingly. Even if it were possible to create a local force, and to maintain it perfect in efficiency, and with traditions marked by loyalty to the Sovereign, the financial difficulty stands in the way, and cannot be got over. You are asked to spend £295,000 a year for the purpose of destroying an army, and I know not how much of Indian finances to reconstruct a force which, in a moment of the utmost danger, proved faithless to its colours, and threatened the security of India.
§ MR. RICH moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I hope the House will come to a division, as the subject has been fully discussed. I shall certainly oppose the Motion for adjournment.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he hoped the House would consent to the adjournment of the debate. The question was one of the most important which could be submitted to the consideration of the House of Commons, and the Government had not placed on the table those papers which the House was entitled to see. He had reason to believe that the Indian Council unanimously adopted a different view from that taken by Her Majssty's Government, and on the India question the opinion of that Council, which had been appointed to look after the concerns of India, and the members of which were specially excluded from that House, was at least entitled to be heard. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sidney Herbert), however able, he believed was capable of receiving an answer to several of its 1178 most important details. The House was bound to see that good faith was kept with the 6,000 officers and 15,000 or 16,000 men who still remained of the local force; and he believed that much of the trouble—for he declined to call it a mutiny—connected with these troops had originated in the want of attention of a former House of Commons. If any man more than another was individually responsible for the consequences it was the noble Viscount, who had declared that the Europeans in the Company's service were entitled to be considered in the change. The noble Viscount certainly intended nothing unfair or unjust, and he remembered that at the time he perfectly concurred with him. But it certainly was surprising that for the mere consideration of £2,000 or £3,000 matters should have been suffered to proceed to such extremities.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 83; Noes 262: Majority 179.
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question,"
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
said, he hoped that, as important papers relating to the subject under discussion which had been moved for had not been laid upon the table, the Government would not at once press the second reading of the Bill to a division. He begged to move the adjournment of the House.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
The Gentlemen who still wish to state their opinions should recollect that there are other stages of the Bill upon which they can have a full opportunity of stating all they can have to say upon it. I should hope that hon. Gentlemen would consent to the second reading.
§ MR. HORSMAN
They were laid on the table on the 23rd of March, and it is now three months since, and we have not had those papers which it is absolutely essential that we should have; and I think with those facts it is utterly impossible for the Government to press the decision. I am satisfied that Gentlemen ought to persist, and I know they will persist; I, for one, will not agree to the Motion being put.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he was 1179 one of those who voted in the minority, hoping that Her Majesty's Government would, in a matter of this importance, give every hon. Member an opportunity of stating his opinion,—but he wished to explain that he had so voted solely on that ground, because, on the merits of the question itself, he was quite prepared to support Her Majesty's Government. At the same time he thought that the Government ought, for the sake of satisfying hon. Members' minds, to accede to the request for the production of the papers before pressing the second reading.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he had asked for papers in reference to Indian financial matters some time ago, but they had not yet been produced. In their absence he confessed he was unable to discuss the present Bill in a satisfactory manner.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he presumed hon. Members would not agree to the adjournment of the House, as that would throw back all the other business on the paper. The objection of his right hon. Friend would be equally good next night as then, unless he meant that they should not read the Bill a second time till the printer had produced the whole voluminous mass of papers on this subject. Did his right hon. Friend mean to postpone the second reading until such time as it would not be received by the House of Lords? As far as his right hon. Friend was concerned, the papers would not enable him to add at all to the lights of the House, as he had already spoken on the second reading; and therefore his argument did not apply to the second reading. He might wish to postpone the future stages of the Bill till he had an opportunity of reading these voluminous papers, but the papers could afford him no additional arguments on the second reading.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided: Ayes 51; Noes 229: Majority 178.
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. HENNESSY moved that the debate be now adjourned.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he knew very well that a small minority at that hour of the night could prevent progress. [Cries of "Go on!"] He was not surprised at the feeling expressed by the majority as to the conduct of the 1180 minority, who, feeling they could not impede the measure, only wished to delay it. Still he would recommend the House to adjourn the debate until the next day.
said, he could not see that any object would be attained by the adjournment of the debate until the next day, the object being to obtain the papers. He would recommend the withdrawal of the Motion, on the understanding that the papers should be produced before the next stage.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, the Bill consisted of only one clause, and they would not have the opportunity of a full discussion in Committee. He did not wish to delay the Bill, but he thought it a hard case that the papers were not in their hands.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
repeated that all that depended upon him and his department had been done. These voluminous papers had been laid on the table three months ago. He was not responsible for their not being printed.
§ MR. A. MILLS
repudiated the charge that the minority sought only to delay the Bill. He would use every effort to prevent further progress until the papers were produced.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned,
§ The House divided: Ayes 43; Noes 190: Majority 147.
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. A. MILLS moved that the House do now adjourn.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, if it was a mere question of how long the debate should be kept up, he would be willing to sit up as long as any one; but it would be most unjust to the Speaker, and to hon. Members who wished to attend the morning sitting, to go further to-night. He should, therefore, on that ground, and that ground alone, advise the House to accede to the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the House would be quite justified in calling the printer to the bar, on account of the extraordinary delay in the printing of the papers relating to this question.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that any complaint on that score should be addressed to the Members of the Printing Committee, who had the control over the printing of 1181 the House. It was not the business of the Government to superintend the printing arrangements.
§ SIR BROOKE BRIDGES
said, he hoped the Government, for their own credit's sake, would use their influence with the Printing Committee to expedite the production of these papers.
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
asked whether the Secretary of State would lay upon the table the Minutes of the Indian Council on this matter.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he could not see how the discussion on the Bill could be resumed until the papers were before the House.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and negatived.
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.
§ Debate adjourned till to-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter after Two o'clock.