HC Deb 16 March 1860 vol 157 cc733-6

said, he wished to ask the Secretary of State for India, Whether there is any objection on the part of the Government to lay upon the Table of the House the Minutes in Council in Calcutta of the 2nd and 7th of January last, by Lieut. General Sir James Outram and Sir Bartle Frere, on the question of the Amalgamation of Her Majesty's Indian Forces with the British Army. In the year 1859 the Indian Army Commission had presented a Report, but no step appeared to have as yet been taken. But he did not blame the Government for the delay which had taken place in the matter, because the principal question with which they had to deal was one of considerable difficulty, and one which had given rise to a remarkable conflict of opinion among the witnesses who had been examined by the Commissioners. He should add, however, that it was extremely desirable the Government should decide as speedily as possible one way or the other, in favour cither of a local army, or of an enlargement of the line in India.


said, he had to put a question to the Secretary of State for India relative to the trade with Central Asia. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the road which was begun by Lord Dalhousie, from India to Central Asia, through Simla, is yet completed.


said, that in answer to the Question of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Smollett), whether he had any objection to produce certain despatches relative to the claim to the dignity of Nawaub of the Carnatic, he had to state that he was prepared to lay before the House not only the despatches mentioned, but all the papers connected with the subject. He thought he had a right to complain of the extraordinary and, be hoped the hon. Gentleman would forgive him for adding, the unfair course which be had pursued upon that occasion. The hon. Gentleman had merely given notice that be would ask whether there would be any objection on the part of the Government to produce certain documents; and upon that notice he had founded an attack on the Government of Madras and on the Government of India, but more especially on the administration of Lord Dalhousie. The natural result was that he (Sir Charles Wood) was not prepared at that moment to answer the charges put forward by the hon. Gentleman. He could then only express his belief that Lord Dalhousie could not have been guilty of such conduct as the hon. Gentleman had imputed to him; and upon clue notice he would be ready to enter into a detailed consideration of that subject.

In reply to the Question of his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Sykes), he had to inform his hon. and gallant Friend and the House that he understood the Natural History portion of the British Museum was about to be removed; and as it was in contemplation to make it the best natural collection that could be formed, and thinking that the excellence of a museum of that kind depended on its being made as complete as possible, he conceived he was contributing to the accomplishment of a most desirable object when he offered to its managers such portions of the Indian Museum—which, after all, was but an imperfect one—as they might require.

In reply to the second Question of his hon. and gallant Friend, he had to slate that he believed the telegraphic communication was complete between Calcutta and Alexandria; but that there seemed to be a break in the line in some point in Europe, and probably either at this side of Alexandria or at Malta. He had not himself received a telegraphic communication from Calcutta within the space of six days; but a communication from Calcutta had that day been received in the City dated the 10th of March, and which had not therefore occupied more than that time in the transmission.

The next Question he had to answer was that which had been put by his hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart), with respect to our trade with Central Asia. That was a matter, no doubt, of great importance, and it had not escaped the attention of the authorities cither in India or in this country. He had that morning had a conversation with Sir John Lawrence, who had lately filled the position of one of our Indian administrators with such distinguished ability, not only in war but also in peace, and he had been informed by him that every possible effort had been made of late to open a communication between India and Central Asia, from which such large quantities of wool were to be obtained. He found that the value of the wool exported from the port of Kurrachee, which amounted in the year 1853–54 to £180,000, had risen to £393,000 in the year 1857–58. Some years ago a Chinese Commissioner was sent into Thibet, and an English Commissioner was sent from India, in order that they might meet and take joint measures for facilitating the trade of that region; but the proposed meeting of the two Com- missioners had never taken place; one of them had been murdered; and no further steps had been taken in the matter. He was happy, however, to be able to state that instructions had been given to Lord Elgin to enter into negotiations with the Chinese Government for the friendly settlement of that subject.

In answer to a Question which had been put to him in reference to the progress made in the construction of the road to Central Asia through Simla, he had to state that he was not then prepared to afford any precise information upon that point, and in reply to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. A. Mills) he wished to observe that before any question connected with the organization of the Indian army was brought before the House it would be his duty to produce not only the papers to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but also a variety of other documents bearing upon the subject.