HC Deb 29 March 1860 vol 157 cc1500-28

said, he rose to bring forward the Motion which stood in his name for certain Returns connected with the reorganization of the Indian army. As he had served with the three armies of India in the field, he was probably justified in forming his own opinion upon the subject; but as he might be considered to have taken a prejudiced view, he moved for these Returns, in order to enable the House to determine what value was to be attached to his opinion. Although his Motion, was headed "The Organization of the Indian Army," that, in truth, was a misnomer, for although the Bengal army had already disappeared, with the exception of thirteen or fifteen regiments; the armies of Bombay and Madras stood intact in their organization, and were now as loyal and effective as they ever were The question he wished to bring before the House was simply whether the army in India should be under the control exclusively of the Governor General of India and the Secretary of State for India, or whether it should be one under the control of the Secretary of State for War in England and the Horse Guards? The right hon. Secretary of State for India, seemed last year to have made up his mind upon the subject, because he had passed a Bill through that House for the maintenance of 30,000 European troops in India as a local army; and he would now ask him whether in a review of the services of that army he had found that the Indian service had ever been wanting in cases of emergency or been unequal to any crisis, or whether there had been a single instance of such a disaster as the loss of an army under an Indian officer, and whether the same could be said of Royal commanders? Most undoubtedly not. As regarded its commanders, had the Indian service not produced its Clive, its Goddard, who inarched 6,000 Bengal Sepoys, unaided by European troops, from Calpee, through a hostile country, and saved Guzerat from desolation? Had it not also produced its Ochterlony, its Pollock, its Nott, its Outram, its Havelock? The fact that the misfortunes which had occurred in India had never happened under an Indian officer, was attributable to the local experience of Indian officers, their knowledge of the country and the people, and of the organization and temper of their troops. It was by these means that the Indian officers had got through difficulties which had overwhelmed others. With regard to the seniority system in the Indian army, it had been asserted that it necessarily produced old men, worn out in the service, incompetent to command, and physically and mentally unsuited to the elevated position in which they were placed. The names which he had already given was a sufficient answer to that unjustifiable assertion. Moreover, in the Royal army had they not some of the most distinguished men as successful commanders in India at a very advanced stage of life, or, at all events, beyond those periods of life at which officers of the Indian army generally remained in India. They had a Napier and a Gough, and they had now a Clyde—all of them septuagenarians. Therefore the arguments that the seniority system necessarily incapacitated officers for command by reason of age were groundless and futile. The difference of cost between the line and local European troops was 20 per cent; but admitting it to be only 10 per cent, that difference upon ten millions of money spent annually upon European troops in India would be exactly one million per annum saved. Was not that another argument in favour of a local army? Another advantage in regard to the local troops in India, was in their being acclimatized. They were not subject to the same mortality to which troops lately arrived in India were subject. In illustration of this fact, the gallant Colonel mentioned an instance which occurred in the force under General Whitelock, which was composed of troops of the line, and local European troops, about equal in strength, and whilst the losses amongst the acclimatized-troops amounted to 3½ per cent only, the losses amongst troops of the line was 10½ per cent. Another instance occurred in the 71st Regiment of the line, which, with the 3rd Madras European Regiment, was under the command of Sir Hugh Rose, and upon one occasion the 71st Regiment, which had lately arrived from Europe, had twenty men struck down by sun-stroke in one morning, many of whom died. How many men did the House suppose were struck down on that day in the old Indian Madras European Regiment? Not one ! It had been said that if a local army in India were maintained, it must deteriorate in its physique, morale, and discipline; but he need only refer to the services rendered by the 1st Bengal Fusiliers and the Madras Fusiliers, and Bombay European Regiments, at the battles of Plassey, Buxar, Arcot, and Guzerat, fought a hundred years ago, and to many other battles whose names emblazon their colours, and to the glorious services recently rendered by those troops during the late outbreak in India, to prove how utterly without foundation was the assertion of deterioration. Again, in this country so jealous were the people of having a standing army that the army was only maintained by an annual Mutiny Act and annual money Votes. What would the people say, then, to an army of 100,000 men being maintained in India, and paid out of the revenues of India, and being under the Secretary for War and the Horse Guards, but independent of the House of Commons? It was proposed that 80,000 European troops should be maintained in India; that every regiment should be relieved decennially; consequently, there would be annually 8,000 men afloat or in transitu; and with the reserves and depôts, the actual number, independent of the House of Commons, would amount to 105,000 men. Now, he asked, would it be possible to recruit an army of 105,000 Englishmen, for Indian service, independently of the army required for the Imperial service at home or in case of a European war? It would be physically impossible; and nothing short of a conscription would ever do it. Besides, an army of 100,000 men must consist of 100 regiments, which would require each from forty to sixty officers, so that there would be 4,000 or 6,000 commissions to be given away. And would the House of Commons be willing to add this vast amount of patronage to that already possessed by the Horse Guards? Yet such would be the effect of the scheme proposed; and if the army in India, with its own organization, was not to be kept under the Governor General and the Secretary for India, there would be a constant clashing of authorities. The returns for which he had asked were absolutely necessary to enable the House to form a right judgment when the question came regularly before it; and he did not see that they could be objected to. They comprised the opinions of men whose opinions, whatever they were, would possess almost irresistible weight in this country, and they could not, he thought, be considered of a confidential character, as every official department was bound to give such information to Parliament when it was demanded, and nothing should be kept back. He agreed with a distinguished public servant now in India, that whenever anything in such cases was concealed the Government itself was damaged by that concealment, and he would warn the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for India that a great feeling of distrust was now growing up in the minds of thousands of our officers in India, and a suspicion was entertained that it was wished not to carry out in a bonâ fide spirit that clause of the late India Act which ensured to every civil or military servant of the East India Com- pany on their transfer to the Crown, that the same rights, privileges, promotions, pensions, and other prospects that they had before enjoyed, should be maintained and continued to them under the Crown. There was a growing fear amongst the officers in India that this clause would not have the efficacy it was intended to have. Under these circumstances, he begged to move for an—

"Address for Copies of the Report of the Military Committee of the Council of India," &c.

Motion made, and Question proposed,— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House Copies of the Report of the Military Committee of the Council of India to the Council upon the Re-organization of the Army of India; of the decision of the Secretary of State for India in Council thereon; and, of all Minutes of Members of the Council upon the subject. Of the Report of the Actuary to the Secretary of State for India in Council on the cost of a Military European Force in India of Troops of the British Line, as compared with the cost of an European Local Force. Of all Minutes in Council in Calcutta by Sir BARTLE FRERE, K.C.B., and Major General Sir JAMES OUTRAM, baronet, G.C.B., on the subject of the Re-organization of the Indian Army. And of all Correspondence between the Imperial Military Authorities in England and the Secretary of State for India in Council, from the 1st day of September, 1858, regarding disbursements involving additional claims for Military Expenditure for Imperial purposes, to be defrayed out of the Revenues of India, together with a tabulated Statement showing the amounts admitted by the Secretary of State for India in Council, and those not admitted, and the totals of each.


said, that before this matter was irrevocably decided by the Government, he was glad his hon. and gallant Friend had given him an opportunity for a little conversation upon a question which really was one of great importance. The question was, whether the European force in India, which at present was, in a great measure, a local one for India alone, and belonged, so to speak, to the Governor General of India, should in future consist wholly of regiments of the regular army, taking India in their rota, as they might take any other colony. At first sight it seemed very natural, now that they had done away with the East India Company that they should abolish its army as well, and defend India, as any other part of Her Majesty's dominions was defended, namely, with a portion of the regular army of the country. Doubtless, at first sight, that proposal commended itself by its simplicity; and no doubt some strong arguments in favour of this scheme were adduced by the witnesses who were examined before the Commissioners who inquired into this subject, some of which he would briefly and fairly lay before the House. One of their arguments was that if regiments were permanently stationed in India they were apt to deteriorate in discipline. That, however, was Stoutly denied by many officers of high authority, and he thought it was hardly borne out by Indian history, which, as the hon. and gallant Officer (Colonel Sykes) had said, teemed with the achievements—showing no less good conduct than valour and discipline—of the local European force. They further urged that it would be a good thing for the regular army to have its share in the credit and experience that might be derived from Indian wars. But now that there was no longer a single warlike neighbour to contend with, they might fairly look forward to a long period of peace, so that the soldiers would be more likely to be injured by the Indian climate than benefited by Indian campaigns. It was further said that a mutiny among the European troops would be more easily put down if they belonged to the regular army than if they belonged to a local force—an argument which he did not think worth discussing. These throe were the only arguments in favour of the scheme which seemed to him worth notice, except the grand argument—and he allowed it to be a powerful one—the argument that surely it mast be far best in a single country to have but a single army under a single head; that by blending the two into one they would render the whole force a more effective instrument, and would escape those jealousies that must arise between two services running in couples. It might be replied that what some call jealousy was regarded by others as a wholesome and stimulating emulation; and again, that actual experience had not shown any ill effects from the combination of the local with the Imperial forces. Waiving that, however, and allowing that the army of India should be one army under one head, still it was an open question whether the sound inference would not be to make the whole European army a local one, under the Governor General, instead of making it altogether a part of the regular army, under the Horse Guards. That alternative was exactly as open to them as the other, and they ought to remember that the Native army must perforce be a local one. If, therefore, they made the European force a local one as well, then they would indeed make the Indian army a single army under one head; whereas, in the other case, they would retain the evil, such as it was, of a divided army, under a divided command; and he saw that Indian officers of great experience looked forward with, alarm to the mortification and jealousy which the Native army would feel were the line drawn so sharply between itself and the European force. It appeared to him, then, that the arguments in favour of the proposed change were not of great weight, except the last, from which, however, the legitimate inference would not be to imperialize the whole European force, but to localize it all. But, when he turned to the other side of the question, he found the arguments against the scheme so numerous that the difficulty no longer was to find out what they were, but to choose among them, and so powerful that it was not surprising to find nearly every Indian statesman of experience and authority dead against the change. He might just mention the names of the Earl of Ellenborough, Earl Canning, the noble Lord the Member for Lynn; and above all, Sir John Lawrence. No one who had had any intercourse with Sir John Lawrence would dispute his profound knowledge and profound wisdom on questions of Indian policy; but he (Mr. Buxton) knew that Sir John Lawrence looked upon it, not as a matter of secondary consequence, but of first-rate consequence to the welfare of India, to prevent this scheme from being carried out. The House ought to observe this, that while on the one hand the scheme had proceeded from a Commission consisting mainly of a number of English generals and the British Commander-in-Chief, from whom they could not look for any intimacy with Indian affairs, and who might, perhaps, have some bias towards increasing the power of the Horse Guards, on the other hand the scheme was condemned by nearly every man whose judgment on Indian affairs was worth sixpence. And now, what were the arguments that weighed with the latter so strongly? It would detain the House too long were he to dwell upon them all; some, therefore, he would not touch upon. There were a few which he would barely refer to; but there were three or four to which he really was anxious to invite the attention of the House. The arguments that he would simply mention, without dwelling upon them, were these:—It was said that if regiments were permanently stationed in India, instead of merely paying it flying visits, they acquired a kind of traditional knowledge of the way to encounter the climate, and of the necessity for temperance and care; and, in the same way, they acquired an intimacy with the character of the Natives, which preserved them from violating their feelings, and further a smattering of the languages of the country which is found to be very convenient, especially in campaigning. Again, it was pointed out that if a regiment were a mere bird of passage, the men formed no lasting ties in the country, whereas, in local regiments, many of the men intermarried with the Natives, and many of the invalids and pensioners settled among the hills. As regarded health, the mortality in regiments that landed fresh in India was perfectly awful. Some returns given in the Appendix to the blue-book showed that in those regiments that went straight from England to India, 110 men out of every 1,000 die in the first year, and that fact might suggest another strong argument in favour of a local force. They were assured by the highest local authorities that, in Lord Ellenborough's words, it was cruel to see how young men, whose constitutions had not been formed, perished on their arrival in India. Well, then, if they had a distinct army for India, they might for that army put the age of admission, say, three years higher than for the regular army. By that means they would cease to compete with the home army for recruits, while they would lessen the mortality in India, with all the sorrow, suffering, and expense which it entailed. But, once more, they were warned, and that by men of great authority, and with great emphasis, of the risk there would be, that if the European force in India were merely part and parcel of the regular army, then in any stress at home, the remote interests of India, despite their infinite importance, would be forgotten, and our military force there dangerously weakened. To these secondary, and yet weighty arguments, he would add but one more. It was said that already the Horse Guards was overwhelmed with business, that the interests of the army suffered greatly from the impossibility of giving minute attention to such vast affairs, and that it would be a serious evil to the regular army if the Commander-in-Chief was further encumbered with the weight of the whole European force of India. But he came to the main objections to the scheme, and the first of these was as follows. It was proposed to keep up an army in India of 80,000 Europeans. Plainly then, if the regiments were to be shifted to and fro every ten years, each year 8,000 men would be brought from India and 8,000 would be sent there to take their place. That is to say, every year 16,000 men would perform that four months' voyage, and their services, meanwhile, would be utterly and absolutely lost. Nay, in time of war, instead of being a great strength, they would be a great weakness to the country, from their liability to be captured by the enemy. The next consideration was that the expense of these vast movements of whole regiments every ten years would be a most disastrous burthen to the Indian finances. Sir A. Tulloch, who was an ardent admirer of the proposed change, reckoned that if some economical plans of his were adopted, the transmission of regiments by the Cape would only cost £430,000 a year; but the House could guess whether such estimates would be found to be within or without the mark. It was said, however, that there would be no great difference in expense between a permanent and a local army, because men now only enlisted for ten years, and, therefore, in any case, they must needs be sent back, and substitutes sent out, when that term of service had expired. But they must remember, that the moving of regiments would be altogether exclusive and independent of those movements of individual soldiers. During the regiment's ten years' stay in India, the terms of service of at least nine-tenths of the men would have expired before its last year; a multitude more would have been invalided, or would have died, and their places taken by recruits from England; but the shifting of the entire regiment at the end of its term of Indian service would be quite distinct from this, and in addition to it. And even should the expense now exceed half-a-million, still he was sure that no one who had paid attention to Indian affairs would deny that this was a matter of very grave importance. For his part, he believed that the very essence of sound wisdom and policy with regard to India at the present time was to pare down the expenditure to a level with the income, and that nothing could be more fatal to the wellbeing of that country than recklessly to fling away millions and half millions. The third essential consideration was this—that if there were a separate army for India, every officer would go out there while still young. He would go not for a short sojourn, but to spend his days there. He would look forward to an Indian career, and to an Indian career alone. He would therefore have a powerful inducement to familiarize himself with the language of the people, and with whatever else would be likely to advance him in that Indian career, and being, so to speak, the servant of the Indian Government, his abilities, if he proved a man of ability, would be available for that Government either for any military or any civil post, and everyone who was at all acquainted with Indian history must be aware of the incalculable value to our dominion over that country of services so obtained. Some objections no doubt had been made to that system, but in the opinion of the wisest Indian statesman, and again he might quote Sir John Lawrence, its effect was to give a powerful stimulus to the officers of the Indian army, by setting before them careers of responsibility and glory, even in the time of peace, and to supply a large body of excellent officials; while, in case of war, it had been found that no officers had shown such robust and vigorous ability as those whose minds had been trained by dealing with large civil affairs. But, abolish the local European force, and that system would be at an end. In that case the thing would work thus:—A regiment stationed, say at Gibraltar, would be sent out in its turn to India; the superior officers would, as a matter of course, be middle-aged men, past the period for entering upon a new career; the young men would feel that in ten years they would leave India and be home again; that even then perhaps they would be little more than thirty years of age, and the minds of all would rather look to an English or European career than one in Oriental banishment—nor, indeed, would it be possible for the Governor General to borrow other people's officers for his own purposes. If he did so, it would lead to endless clashing between the plans and orders of the unlucky man's two masters. The final consideration, and one of grave moment, was, that if the local army were given up, the head of the European force in India would no longer be the Governor General, but the Commander-in-Chief at home. Could it be wise to wrest from the Governor of a country like India his authority over the army, and transfer it to an individual 12,000 or 13,000 miles away, and who could have no special knowledge of Indian affairs, nor any special interest in India? Why not leave all possible authority in the hands of him who was responsible for the tranquillity, and well-being, and defence of the empire entrusted to his charge. But if it were said that the change would be merely one of name, and that the Governor General would still exercise paramount sway over the European force in India, then he asked whether it was not an obvious principle, but especially obvious with regard to such a country as India, to leave the whole prestige of authority where the actual authority resided? Why should they needlessly lower the ruler of the country in the eyes of those under him, by placing or seeming to place the command of his military force in other hands? Upon the whole he (Mr. Buxton) was not aware that he had ever endeavoured to weigh the pros and the cons of any subject in which he found the arguments on the one side so utterly overborne by those on the other—perhaps the papers which the hon. Member had moved for might throw some light upon it—but he earnestly hoped the Government might be induced to pause before they gave their sanction to this scheme.


said, when the question at issue came fairly before the House, he did not think that the sentiments of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, which from his having been long connected with the local army, to be both natural and honourable to him would carry much weight with them. The real question which they had to consider was, what would most tend to the efficiency of the army in India, due regard being had to the interests of officers then in the service. The hon. and gallant Gentleman laid great stress upon the economy of the local troops, in contradistinction to the Royal troops. He (Colonel Herbert), however, thought that he had placed the charge of the former at too low a figure. To the alleged impossibility of maintaining the required number of the Royal troops in India, on account of the difficulty of raising recruits, the best reply was, that the recruits had been got. Although it might be difficult suddenly to increase an army, yet, once increased, there could be no real difficulty in maintaining it at the requisite strength. He freely admitted that the local army had done excellent service; but he must say, so far as his small experience in India went, and from what he had learned in conversations there with officers of high rank, the discipline of a local European force was not equal to that of Her Majesty's army. To his mind, there was one great advantage which a Royal army had—namely, that in the case of disaffection arising in any of the regiments of a Royal army, the Indian Government would have the power of moving those regiments down to the coast and sending them to any of the colonies or to England, without assigning any reason, and thereby eradicating the evil; whereas in the case of a local force in India the Government had no such power. All that they could do was to move disaffected regiments from one station in India to another, which would only have the effect of disseminating, instead of eradicating the evil. The question was one to which he paid earnest attention when he was in India; he discussed it also with gentlemen in high stations, both military and civil, and the conclusion at which he arrived, even before the recent mutiny, was that if they were to have a force raised solely for local service they would run the risk of losing for the Government of India that freedom of action which was so necessary for a Government to possess. Occasions might arise on which a local army would combine together for a given purpose like one man; not so a Royal army; and in such an emergency they would run the risk of sacrificing the independence of the Government of India by the army becoming that greatest of all curses—the master, instead of the servant of the State.


was understood to express his astonishment that that discussion had been considered at all necessary, when he remembered that on the debate that took place last year on the question whether there should or there should not be a local European force, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India (Sir C. Wood) went even beyond the expectations of those who desired a local force by intimating his intention to introduce a measure with the object of increasing it considerably. On that occasion, too, the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) expressed himself most emphatically upon the subject, and said it was his bounden duty to place upon record his opinion that the local force was indispensable for the good government of India. Notwithstanding, however, those expressions of opinion on the part of the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for India, it was rumoured—he hoped without any foundation—that the right hon. Gentleman had found good reasons for changing his views upon the subject. He (Sir De L. Evans) had certainly not changed his own views. The sole object of the present Motion was, as he understood, to obtain the best information possible for the guidance of the House in coming to a decision upon this great and important question when it regularly came to an issue before them. Were they, then, now to be told by the right hon. Gentleman that he meant to withhold those documents moved for, that they were of a confidential character, and that he did not deem it necessary for the House to have them? If the right hon. Gentleman had had access to important information from persons of great weight and authority on the subject in question, it would surely not be treating the House fairly to withhold it. He (Sir De L. Evans) conceived such information to be public property; and the House would be placed at a great disadvantage if it was asked to decide the question without that information. If there were any expressions contained in those papers of a personal or confidential nature nothing could be more easy than to omit such statements. The hon. and gallant Member for Ludlow (Colonel Herbert) said that a local force was dangerous, inasmuch as they acted together as one man against the Government. The facts that had taken place were, however, a reply to that assertion. What was called a mutiny had taken place in India. He would not call it a mutiny. He would remind the House that the noble Viscount at the head of the Government had stated in that House that, upon the passing of the Bill for the better government of India the local force were entitled to their discharge. The Commander-in-Chief, he believed, was of the same opinion. The Government of India had, however, acted with singular want of tact in their treatment of the troops. It was generally thought that if the Government had in the first instance offered those men so entitled to their discharge the ordinary bounty for entering the Royal army their services would still have been secured. Instead of that, the Government published a legal document, drawn up by a gentleman who was more a lawyer than an officer, to the effect that they had no right to their discharge. What had been the result? The soldiers having naturally relied upon the opinion of the heads of the Government and army of this country, and having made up their minds that they were entitled to their discharge, contended obstinately for such right, and got out of temper at finding it denied to them. The Indian Government at length declared that they might have their discharge. But did they act—as it had been said they would in such a case—as one man? No: 10,000 decided to come home, but 11,000 remained. They were greatly provoked, and their demand to be discharged was fully justified. But judging from the treatment which near a thousand of them had received on board the Great Tasmania on the voyage home, it would almost seem as if the authorities in India entertained some feeling of resentment towards them. He was still of opinion that it was not safe for the Government of India to be without the services of a body of officers who had been trained there, and whose ambition was more exclusively directed to Indian than to European service. Then, in reference to the Royal Commission that had been appointed upon the subject, however honourable and independent were the members of that Commission, it should be recollected that very few of them had ever been in India. That Commission consisted of eleven members, the three principal of whom, including the Secretary of State for War, who was chairman, and the Commander-in-Chief, had never been in India, and therefore knew personally nothing whatever of the subject. There were, however, four Indian General officers, and they signed the Report. On the other hand he believed that no less than seventeen gentlemen of the greatest authority and experience in India had dissented from the opinions expressed in the Report of that Commission. Amongst those gentlemen were, he believed, the Governor General of India and the Governor of Madras, Sir John Lawrence, and Sir J. Outram. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the discipline of the European local troops was not equal to that of the regiments sent out from England. Although martinets and civilians, looking to smartness on parade, might fancy there was a superiority in favour of the latter, yet when they took the field the rough and easy manner of the local European regiments accustomed to India told very much in their favour. The local European troops in India had undoubtedly performed singular and continuous services of the highest importuance. Amongst the many regiments that had passed through Calcutta, the Madras Fusiliers were received with the greatest acclamation, and had conferred on them the most honourable distinctions. He believed that a great portion of them had obtained their discharge. Were they therefore to be stigmatized for want of loyalty who had so pre-eminently distinguished themselves throughout the whole service? If the right hon. Gentleman should refuse the papers asked for he for one would use every effort to obtain their production when the question came again before the House.


said, bethought his hon. and gallant Friend, who moved for certain papers which he thought the House ought to have in their possession to enable them to discuss with advantage the question whether there should be any change made in the Indian army, had not acted consistently with his declaration that these papers were necessary to form a correct opinion in entering at considerable length into the general discussion. He certainly would not follow either his hon. and gallant Friend or the other hon. Gentleman who spoke after him. He had stated, in reply to a question put to him a short time ago, that the Government had not finally made up their minds on this important question. It was not a question for the decision of the Secretary of State for India alone; it was not a question which could be decided only on Indian grounds; it must be decided not on Indian, but on Imperial grounds. When that question was decided it might be necessary for him to bring the subject formally before the House, and that would be the proper occasion for discussing the merits of the question. It was quite true that early in the summer he had stated that the Government were prepared to maintain a local European army in India; but very important circumstances had taken place since that time. He would not say there had been a mutiny in the local European army in India; but the fact of upwards of 10,000 men taking their discharge as they did was a circumstance that could not be passed over by the Government in forming a final decision on this subject, as, in truth, it had changed the opinion of many of the most eminent persons in India. This alone, he thought, was sufficient to show that, however anxious they might be to come to a decision on this most important subject, the Government had not acted without good grounds in having paused before they took a final determination. Among the papers moved for by his hon. and gallant Friend were some which had only recently arrived in this country. It was impossible he could enter into a discussion of the main question without indicating an opinion on the one side or the other, and he repeated it was not yet ripe for discussion, and would not be until the question was decided by the Government, when he should bring it before the House and the country. With regard to the papers themselves, he did not think it right to produce them at that stage of the question. When the question could be brought fairly before the House, however, it would be his duty to lay on the table not only the greater part of these papers, but others having an important bearing on the whole subject. With regard to "the decision of the Secretary of State for India in Council," no decision had yet been come to on the subject. The next paper was "the Report of the Actuary to the Secretary of State for India in Council on the cost of a military European force in India of troops of the British line, as compared with the cost of an European local force." He certainly was in possession of that Report; but it was only within the last three days that he had received a very important letter questioning the accuracy of the views contained in it, and he had a decided objection to lay it on the table at present. If his hon. and gallant Friend really wished to have the last portion of the papers—namely, the correspondence between the military authorities—he had not the slightest objection, for these papers contained no opinion on the subject; but he thought the House would agree with him that not only these, but papers on both sides would be necessary to enable them to come to an opinion on this question. In fact, there must be a large blue-book. He had not the slightest wish to keep anything back. He only wished, by producing all the papers together, to enable hon. Members to consult them not partially, but at one view, so as to make up their minds on the whole matter. The papers would be produced whenever the Government had decided the question, and that they must do shortly. He trusted after that assurance his hon. and gallant Friend would be satisfied; he only begged the House to believe that he was not anxious to withhold papers; he was only anxious to lay on the table full and fair information.


said, that he had never heard a syllable breathed against the loyalty of the local European troops; and as for the discontent (for it had never amounted to mutiny) that had prevailed amongst them, it arose from an amount of indiscretion on the part of the Government which could not be censured in too strong terms; for it had broken up a force of the very finest description, and had resulted in scenes of cruelty and misery that would for ever attach a stigma upon the present Indian executive. In 1832 he was in command of 500 European artillery and infantry who had been placed on board his ship; and he found that the men anticipated a bounty whenever the power of the Company (the charter of which was on the point of expiring) should be transferred to the Crown. He believed that idea had existed almost traditionally in the minds of the European troops. Certainly nothing could be more unfair than the course which had been pursued. They gave a bounty of 30 rupees to the soldiers of any regiment that was coming home, if they would volunteer into another regiment that was remaining in the country; and yet it was proposed that the whole of the Company's army should transfer their allegiance without receiving a farthing. It was the most scandalous thing a Government ever did, and had left a stigma that would remain upon the Government of India as long as it was a Government. He had attempted, with his hon. Friend (Mr. Willoughby), to draw up a clause upon this subject for insertion in the Bill lately introduced for the government of India, but neither of them had been long enough in the House to understand the proper form in such matters, and they had consequently let slip the proper moment to bring it before the House. But he had always been certain that there would be a difficulty experienced in dealing with the local European troops, knowing as he did what their opinion was with regard to the change of allegiance.


said, he thought the answer of the right hon. Secretary of State for India to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Officer (Colonel Sykes) far from satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman professed the greatest anxiety to give the House all the information in his power, and even more than the gallant Member for Aberdeen had asked for; and yet he coolly refused it the information to be obtained through these Resolutions. The House had seriously to consider what sort of a question that was—not exactly the question involved in this Motion, but the question to which that Motion referred. For his own part he looked upon it as one of the most important subjects that could come before them in connection with the whole future government of India. In time of peace the army expenditure of that Empire was about £12,000,000 sterling, and in the last few years the amount had advanced to some £20,000,000. They might well hope the expenditure would come down again to its old standard, and, for his own part, he would say the sooner the better. But the present question was whether that House should have before it now, or at any early period, such information as the Government could afford to enable it to form a sound judgment on the future management of the whole military establishment of India. Much confidence could not be placed in the right hon. Gentleman's desire that they should know all about it, or in his assurance that when the Government arrived at their decision and came before Parliament for the means of carrying out that decision, then every information would be laid before the House. They were all aware that when the Government had decided, even although they had decided wrongly, a great power was thrown into the balance on one side as against the other; and any conclusion to which a large portion of that House might afterwards come might be seriously prejudiced by the previous conclusion of the Government. Therefore, while the question was still under consideration, not only by the Cabinet and the Horse Guards, but by the part of the public conversant with the matter, it was most important that information should be produced that the House might have an opportunity of studying, conversing, and thinking on the subject; all which would, no doubt, have an influence even on the decision of the Government itself. He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that opinions regarding the military establishments of India had greatly changed since the occurrence of recent events. Probably the events thus referred to con- sisted of the refusal of the Company's European troops to transfer their allegiance to the Queen, and their consequent return home. These circumstances had, however, arisen at the time when the right hon. Gentleman discussed this matter before. But, be that as it might, it would be the paltriest of quibbles for any Government to say that a great question of so much importance ought to be decided upon a ground such as that, springing out of no disloyalty on the part of the troops, but out of one of perhaps the most extraordinary blunders ever committed by any Government. Whether Englishmen were in India as servants of the late Company or of the Crown, he undertook to say that, if the same measure of justice were meted out to them, there would be the same measure of discipline and loyalty. To assert, then, that because 10,000 men had returned to England believing they had been unfairly dealt with—as, indeed, they must have been, or they would not have been allowed to come home ! that fact changed the bearing of this whole question, was an excuse which ought not for one moment to be listened to. The Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen asked for copies of the Report of the Military Committee of the Council of India to the Council upon the reorganization of the Indian army, and of the decision of the Secretary of State for India in Council thereon. Of course, if the Secretary of State had not decided, that portion of the return could not be produced. But the Report of the Military Committee to the Council would be of great value to the House in considering this subject. The hon. and gallant Gentleman further asked for the Minutes of members of the Indian Council. Now, though he understood that the members of the Council had not the smallest objection to the publication of that part of the return, yet the Secretary of State might think it not desirable to place these Minutes before the House, because they might disclose discrepancies of view the existence of which it would not be for the advantage of the service to make known. The gallant Member might, therefore, consent to waive that portion of his Resolution. The Motion likewise asked for the report of the Actuary to the Secretary of State on the cost of a military European force in India of troops of the British line as compared with the cost of an European local force. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that within the last few days he had received a revised estimate differing from the original estimate, and he could not yet tell which of the two were correct. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman would undertake to lay the Report on the table as soon as he had ascertained which estimate was correct, the object of the Motion would be answered, and the Resolution might be so altered as to include papers that could be easily granted. That was not the proper time to discuss the great question whether the Indian army should be under the control of the Horse Guards, or under the Secretary of State in Council here, and the Government in India ! He had paid no inconsiderable attention to the affairs of India, though not so much to this branch of the subject, perhaps, as to some others; but he thought they would commit a very great error if they permitted the Government, without the most serious deliberation on the part of that House, to come to such a conclusion as should hand over 50,000, 60,000, 70,000, or 80,000 European troops in India to the management of the Horse Guards in this country. Judging from all past experience, the expenditure for the Indian army out of the revenues of India would rise rapidly if the control were transferred to the Horse Guards. And whatever evils had hitherto arisen in the management of the patronage connected with the Indian army would be greatly aggravated if that patronage were added to the present patronage of the Horse Guards. Such being his opinion—though he could not say that no documents which might be produced would change that opinion—he was entitled, and the House was entitled, to call upon the right hon. Gentleman to be frank with them in this matter. An hon. and gallant Member who sat below him (Sir De L. Evans) had referred to a point not often alluded to in that House, and had spoken of the influence of the Court as to that question. It was to be hoped that the House would not feel itself unable to discuss freely a subject on which it was supposed that the influence of the Court was largely engaged. The great interests of India and of England, and the question whether the Indian military expenditure should be £12,000,000 or £20,000,000 sterling were infinitely more important than the sentiments of anybody connected with the Court of England in such a case. The House should, therefore, have the matter fairly before it, that it might not find itself to have been kept entirely in the dark till it was too late to reverse a perhaps unfortunate and fatal decision of the Government. He trusted, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would sec that he had not quite treated the House with the consideration to which it was entitled, and would take steps to lay before it all the information which it ought to possess on a question of such magnitude.


said, that without attempting to prejudice the question at all as to whether the Government ought to decide in favour of the regiments of the line or a local European force in India, he could not help observing that it was of the utmost importance that they should arrive at some definite determination upon the subject speedily, for it was important to the maintenance of our power in India, and of the good faith and loyalty of the troops, that no unnecessary delay should be permitted. The Minutes of the Members of the Council he thought a most important document and one that should be placed before the House if Parliament were to express any opinion at all upon the matter. It had struck him on a perusal of the documents already published that the balance of opinion among the Council was in favour of the local army, and he was himself rather inclined to that view; but whichever way it might be decided, he earnestly hoped that the Government would not refuse to Parliament the documents bearing upon both sides of the question, so that the House might know exactly what the most learned and experienced men had said and written upon the subject before it was called upon to pronounce a final decision.


said, that this question pressed for an early decision, because the state in which it had been left during the last two years had acted most prejudicially upon the public service in India. For his own part, he entertained a strong opinion in favour of a local European force; and that opinion had not been shaken by any of the suggestions which had been made either in that House or out of it. He agreed with the Earl of Ellenborough that the presence of a large European force, consisting exclusively of troops of the Line, would operate injuriously upon the Native service. He entertained, further, the greatest distrust of the extent to which the claims of the Horse Guards might be carried in respect to the Indian service. This was a question which affected, not merely the commands of regiments, but all the staff appointments; and he would remind the House that, if so large a force were transferred to the Line, the Governor General would lose a portion of that proper control which he ought to possess over the whole army in India. The greatest care should be taken that the control of the Governor General should not be impaired. With regard to the Motion, he submitted that there were many reasons why the House should press strongly for the production of the papers now moved for, more especially for that of the opinions of the Members of the Indian Council. Those councillors had been excluded from the House of Commons and placed very much under the control of the Government, and it was therefore very desirable that their Minutes should be laid before the House, in order that they might assist it in coming to a decision upon this question.


said, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) found fault with the gallant Member for discussing the subject before the papers had been laid on the table; but then he stated that he should not think proper to produce them; and it tbus resulted that the question was not to be discussed at all. The intelligence which had just been received from India, however, showed the importance of the question as to the reorganization of the Indian army. They read that Mr. Wilson contemplated, if he had not executed, the disbandment of the whole Native force of India. Now, having served some time in that country, he entertained a very strong opinion that it would be impossible to maintain British dominion in India with an European force alone. He did not think that a European force of 80,000 men could be permanently kept up; and, besides, there were camp duties which would be much better performed by Natives. The Motion ought to have received more consideration than the right hon. Secretary of State for India seemed disposed to show to it; and, at all events, the right hon. Gentleman ought to lay upon the table such papers as he thought might be produced without inconvenience to the public service, in order that hon. Members might have some data upon which to form an opinion as to one of the most important questions which could affect our Indian Empire.


said, he concurred with those who urged that the House before it discussed the question, ought to be placed in full possession of the materials for arriving at a conclusion. He would remind hon. Members, however, that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India had promised that prior to that discussion, and as soon as Her Majesty's Government had decided what course they ought to pursue, such of these papers as existed should be laid upon the table. He had also added—and he hoped that would be satisfactory to the House—that he would at the same time produce other papers bearing upon the subject. There was not the slightest intention to conceal from the House the opinions of the members of the Indian Council; on the contrary, those opinions would be laid before Parliament at the proper time, and therefore he hoped the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen would not press his Motion to a division. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) would perhaps feel relieved when he told him that the question was not one of the magnitude that he supposed with regard to the number of troops it concerned. It did not affect the number that he had stated.


said, he had stated no specific number. What he said was— 50,000, 60,000, or 80,000, or whatever the number might be.


said, that when he informed the House that the whole of the Local European troops concerned amounted to between 11,000 and 12,000 men, it would be seen that the hon. Member had rather exaggerated the numbers. The hon. Member talked also as if the whole power and patronage of the army in India were to be transferred to the Horse Guards. Now, if the hon. Member had read the papers already upon the table with the care and attention that he usually gave to other subjects, he would have found that more than one feasible plan had been proposed by which, if that change were made, no addition at all would be made to the power of the Horse Guards. He (Mr. T. G. Baring) would carefully abstain from expressing any opinion upon that subject, but he wished to disabuse the minds of hon. Members of the idea that the Indian army, under any new arrangement, must necessarily be handed over to the Horse Guards, or that there would be any addition to the patronage of the Horse Guards in respect to staff appointments in India. The hon. Gentleman had further suggested, not in the most civil language, that it was a quibble when his right hon. Friend said that recent occurrences in the European army had obliged Her Majesty's Government to take this matter again into their consideration. He (Mr. T. G. Baring) appealed to hon. Members, and especially to hon. and gallant Officers present, whether those occurrences were not of the most grave character, and whether the Government were not perfectly justified in allowing some delay in order the more carefully to consider the whole question, so that they might not, by a hasty decision, pledge the country to a course which in the end might not be the most advantageous to the public service.


said, the question was narrowed to this—whether the documents should be produced or not. He thought they ought; and he would remind the House that as the report of Sir Patrick Grant, expressing a strong opinion on one side had been laid on the table, justice required that the opinions of Sir James Outram and Sir Bartle Frere should also be produced. He entreated the House to take care that they had all the documents before the discussion took place. It was said that when the Government had decided the course they would take, then the question should be discussed; now he thought the discussion ought to precede the decision. Besides, a grave constitutional question was at issue ! whether the Government was to have under its command 80,000 or 100,000 men who were not subject to the Mutiny Act or in any way under the control of Parliament. The Indian army was entitled to know what course the Government intended to pursue. He believed that a portion of the Indian Army should consist of local troops, while the other should consist of regiments of the line; but nothing could be so dangerous as to hang up a question of such vital importance, and he hoped the Secretary of State would feel it to be his duty to produce the documents asked for as soon as possible.


said, he hoped that in the consideration of this question only one object would be kept in view,— the welfare of India; because, upon a wise and prudent decision of it depended the safety and welfare of that country. He could not pretend to say that he had made up his mind in the present state of his information, but strong opinions hav- ing been expressed upon one side, it was but fair that the members of the Military Commission who had been appointed for the purpose of making the inquiry, and who had made their Report last June, should have their views made known. Why the House should not be in possession of them he was at a loss to know. All the House wanted was to learn the opinion of all who were competent to assist it, in order that it might itself he rendered competent to exercise its judgment. He hoped, therefore, the Government would assent to the Motion.


It seems to me, Sir, that this matter has been either misunderstood or not properly treated. It has been assumed by many who have spoken that there is a disinclination on the part of the Government to lay before the House the information necessary to give a full knowledge of the arguments on both sides of this important question with regard to our local army in India. Now, my right hon. Friend distinctly stated, in objecting to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, not that we were disinclined to produce the papers, but that the particular information asked by the Motion could not be given, because in some cases the papers did not exist, and in other cases they were papers not in a state to be presented, and moreover that those which could be presented would be imperfect, and would not give a clear view of the whole question, containing the arguments on both sides. My right hon. Friend stated, moreover, that whenever full information was in the hands of the Government, and the Government had made up their minds, and arrived at a decision on the subject, that information would be afforded. The hon. Member for Birmingham, according to the theory which he has always put forth—and which I have no doubt he sincerely entertains—the opinion that the House of Commons is the executive Government, and the responsible ministers of the Crown are to do nothing but follow the behests and orders of the House of Commons, says that it is necessary that the House should consider and decide the question, and then that the Government should act according to the decision the House may pronounce. I venture humbly to submit that that is an unconstitutional doctrine. By the constitution of this country the responsible executive officers of the Crown are bound in duty to consider and determine on this matter, which belongs to their functions, and then to submit it on their responsibility to Parliament. Parliament is, afterwards, to pass judgment on their conduct, approve or disapprove of their acts, and punish them, if you please, by a vote of censure; but it is not the proper function of a legislative assembly to take out of the hands of the executive administration the affairs of the country. Then, I say, it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to take into consideration this question and to decide upon it on their own responsibility. It is very possible that as on many other questions, so upon this, the action of Parliament may be necessary in order to give effect to the decision of the Government. In that way, no doubt, Parliament will be called upon to co-operate with the Government in carrying into effect anything the Government may think proper to recommend; and without such action the decision of the Government may be totally vain and fruitless. In that respect the argument of the hon. Member for Birmingham is correct aid constitutional. But before Parliament can come to that point it is necessary that they should be in possession of the full information on which the Government may have acted, and the manner in which the Government may intend to carry its intention into effect. Now, Sir, this question is one which no doubt affects the interests of a great number of gallant and meritorious officers, and that may be one element, no doubt, in the consideration; but I contend that it is a question not merely regarding those officers, and not merely regarding the interests of India, but it is a great and Imperial question. It is a question involving the interests of the British Empire, and it is a question to be decided not on narrow and local grounds, but an grounds of military and political expediency, as bearing upon the general interests of the empire at large. It is stated—and I am almost ashamed to advert to these clap-trap arguments or insinuations which we have heard in the course of this discussion—that the Government would be swayed in their decision by considerations of Court influence, of Horse Guards patronage, and God knows what. I feel almost ashamed to defend the Government against those insinuations. I should hope that any Government that aspires to the confidence of this House and the country would act on higher grounds than those ! on a sense of public duty—of what they believe to be the proper interest of the coun- try, and would not allow themselves to be swayed by prejudice's either on one side or the other. Therefore I say, while, on the one hand, none of those influences which I have alluded to ought for one moment to be considered; so, on the other—although it so happens that all those who have been employed in India may follow the groove in which they are accustomed to run, and speak according to the views and habits of former life—we should not be swayed solely by the turns of thought engendered by those habits and that particular kind of employment. Now, Sir, it is said that if you have the whole of the force a European force in India for general service, the population of the country will not sustain the strain. I should like to know if a certain number of European soldiers are required for service in India what great difference it can make as regards the strain, whether they serve in the general service or in the local force. They must serve in India clearly. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Willoughby) considers it in a constitutional point of view, and says you will have an army that will not be under the control of Parliament. Why, if that argument has any force, it does not apply any more to the local army than it does to the general service. The local army not coming in any way whatever under the cognizance of Parliament, is exactly that unconstitutional force which the hon. Baronet inveighs against as inconsistent with the institutions of the country. Parliament certainly must have more effectual control over the force in India, if it be-longs to the general army than it can have over a local force which is totally withdrawn from all cognizance and control of Parliamentary action. Well, but then, he says, an army in India supplied from the general service would not be sufficiently under the control of the Governor General, [Sir HENRT WILLOUGHBY: I never said a word about it.] Well, then the argument was used by some other hon. Member. I beg to say to that hon. Member that the Governor General would have every control over the arrangements for the general service troops—in fact, the same as he has over the local service. The only difference is, that the general service troops are under the general regulations of the army established by the Commander-in-Chief; but all the local arrangements are as much under the orders of the Governor General, with respect to the general service troops, as with respect to the local service troops. But, however, I will not enter into that now. My right hon. Friend has stated that when all the papers which are essential to a full and proper consideration of the subject shall be ready for presentation, to this House they will be given. He objects, and I object, to partial information, which would only tend to mislead, or insufficient arguments on one side with corresponding arguments on the other. We object to a partial production, but we shall be perfectly prepared to give full information to the House when it is in our hands. I hope, therefore, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not put the House to the trouble of dividing. His object will have been obtained by that which we shall voluntarily give. With regard to the letter of Sir Patrick Grant, that was addressed to the right hon. and. gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), and forms part of the documents already presented.


said, that the hon. Member for Birmingham was in the habit of making statements which were wholly and wilfully erroneous.


said, he rose to order. The hon. and gallant Member would feel on reflection that the expressions which had just been used by him were not consistent with the usage or courtesy of the House.


expressed his regret at having transgressed the bounds of order by using an expression which was considered, discourteous, but he could not help expressing his wonder that the hon. Member for Birmingham, who had constant opportunities for considering the Army Estimates, should not know that the Horse Guards had nothing whatever to do with the Army Estimates. They were entirely under the control of the Minister for War, and the constant complaint of the Commander-in-Chief was, that he could not command a single farthing even for the purposes of the most necessary sanitary Reforms. With respect to the Indo-European Army, his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Sykes) had paid a justly-merited compliment to its bravery, but what he (Colonel North) complained of was the want of discipline which could have allowed disaffection to go on so long without the knowledge of the officers. During the whole proceedings not a single non-commissioned officer had made his officers acquainted with what was going on, and it was only in consequence of two Queen's soldiers joining the service and telling their officers what they heard, that the matter was at last brought to light. With respect to the Returns moved for, he thought that nothing could be more objectionable than to have information given to the House piecemeal.


said, he did not think that the reasons assigned by the noble Lord for refusing his assent to the Motion were satisfactory. The despatch moved for by the hon. and gallant General opposite, expressing as it did a strong opinion on one side of this question, had been granted, and it was only just, therefore, that publicity should be given to opinions of a contrary nature.


observed that he had been told that in Mr. Wilson's financial statement that gentleman said he was not prepared to recommend the resuscitation of the local European Army. It was most desirable to do away with the absurd anomaly of separate Armies in India, with separate interests and separate rules of promotion. He should feel it his duty to support the Government upon that occasion. As it appeared to him that it would, at the present moment, be premature to call upon the Government to produce the papers connected with that important question.


, in reply, said, he held in his hand a copy of Mr. Wilson's speech, and it contained not a word on the subject. If, however, his right hon. Friend the Secretary for India would give him an assurance that he would produce the papers within any definite period, as for instance a week or a fortnight after Easter, he would not press the Motion.


stated that he could not accede to his hon. and gallant Friend's request, but as soon as he was in a condition to produce papers which would reflect opinions on both sides of this Question, he should be prepared to lay them on the table.

Question put and negatived.