HC Deb 13 June 1861 vol 163 cc1010-27

Order for Second Reading read.


said, that this was a most important Bill—so important that it might be regarded as the pivot upon which the future good government of India turned. In considering this question it appeared to him that the first step to be taken was to decide the principle on which it was proposed to govern India:—In other words, was it proposed to govern her from home, by adapting to Indian feelings and habits the system which prevailed in England; or was it proposed to leave the responsibility of taking the initiative in all matters which affected India to her local Governors and Legislative Councils? If the House decided for the former course he maintained that the sooner the present Calcutta Legislative Council was shut up the better, and all central legislative authority should be vested in the Governor General and his Supreme or Executive Council, subject to the control of the Secretary of State for India and his Home Council. If, on the other hand, they decided to adopt the latter course, an Act should be passed to enlarge the numbers and powers of the existing Calcutta Legislative Council, and to extend similar Councils to Madras and Bombay. In the latter case the Supreme or Executive Councils at the different Presidency towns, together with a large proportion of the Home Council, might be advantageously and economically abolished. Now that India had been fully incorporated with the rest of Her Majesty's dominions he could not understand the object of saddling her revenues with the expense caused by the maintenance of three separate and distinct Councils. As far as he could learn from the explanatory statement of the right hon. Baronet in introducing the Bill it appeared that it would have the effect of multiplying these Councils very considerably, of which there were already too many, and of re-establishing the old system of scattering local boards of administration or local councils over the country. Shortly after Lord Ellenborough arrived in India he turned his powerful mind to the consideration of this very question, and, knowing by experience how cumbersome and expensive they were, he substituted responsible Secretaries in their place, and abolished the boards of revenue, salt, opium, stamps, and several others. In 1849, on the annexation of the Punjab, a board of administration was formed for the Government of that province. It consisted of Sir John, then Mr., Lawrence, Sir Robert, then Mr., Montgomery, and Mr. Mansell. Lord Dalhousie, however, very soon found that it would not answer, and he accordingly abolished it, and appointed Sir John Lawrence as Chief Commissioner of that province. Independently of these defects there were several others in this Bill. The local Councils to be assembled at the pleasure of the Governor General in different parts of the country were to possess such limited powers that they would be merely itinerant vestries. It was proposed also to curtail the powers of the Central Legislative Council to such an extent that it would present a more pitiable appearance than it had done since it was first created in 1853 by the right hon. Baronet. He did not, however, quite understand what was to be the nature and constitution of these Councils. He feared, therefore, that this Bill had been hastily and crudely considered. He was the more disposed to think so because, on perusing the correspondence on the subject which the right hon. Baronet had placed on the table, the three separate despatches written by the Governor General, dated the 9th of December, 1859; the 15th of January, 1861; and the 23rd of January, 1861, differed very materially from each other as to the constitution of these Councils. It was, moreover, much to be regretted that the right hon. Baronet had allowed three-fourths of the Session to pass before he introduced this Bill, and Bills Nos. 2 and 3, which also stood for a second reading this evening, so as to render it impossible to send them up to the other branch of the Legislature in sufficient time to be properly discussed this Session. Looking to the breathless haste with which these Indian Bills were being pushed through the House—the great mass of business to be got through during the remaining six weeks of the Session, such as Appropriation of Seats Bill, the Election Law Amendment Bill, the Highways Bill, the Galway Contract, Church Rates, Artistic Copyright, County Surveyors, and several other Bills; and, considering lastly, that the Committee of Supply was almost untouched, he thought it would be more prudent to withdraw these three Indian Bills until next Session. If a Motion were made to that effect he should be prepared to give it his cordial support.


desired that the Secretary of State for India should inform the House whether the proceedings of the principal Council at Calcutta were to be made public or not. It had been hitherto in the power of the Governor General to make regulations for the Legislative Council, and such regulations were made by Lord Dalhousie, and the deliberations of the Council were conducted much in the same manner as the deliberations of the House of Commons. By the 19th section of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman it was provided that the Governor General should have the same power as hitherto, and he would, therefore, be able to make regulations for the new Council. But he was exceedingly anxious to know—he did not want defined in actual terms—what sort of regulations would be made? It appeared from his introductory speech, that the right hon. Baronet seemed to expect the regulations would be very different, and to desire that that should be the case; and he found also, upon reference to the despatches, that Lord Canning disapproved of the manner in which the proceedings of the Council had been hitherto conducted. What he wanted to know was whether the Council were to sit in secret or public session, and whether the reports of their deliberations were to be made from day to day, or at the end of the discussion of any particular measure, or not until the end of the session? The only information they had obtained upon this point was conveyed by the despatch of Lord Canning, dated the 15th of January of this year, in which, after alluding to the disadvantages which were felt in the mode of publicity hitherto allowed, he went on to say— For these reasons I recommend that in the Legislative Councils of the North-Western Provinces of the Punjab, as well as in that of the Governor General, the business should be conducted as in a committee or commission, and not in the form of a set Parliamentary debate, and the proceedings should be reported under the control of the Governor General. This insured that the proceedings should be reported; but it did not insure that they should be reported from day to day. That was a matter of principle, involving the important question whether public opi- nion in India was to influence the discussion of laws while they were in process of being made. He was glad it was intended that there should be not only non-official European Members of the Council, but that Natives were also to some extent to be admitted, so as to feel the way to giving them a share in the government; but he felt that if there were no means of informing the public of the proceedings of the Council, so that public opinion might be brought to bear upon them, the advantage of admitting non-official and Native Members would be very much diminished. In addition to this we had a very large number of Europeans in India, and we desired to increase the number; but in this there was the difficulty of inducing free and independent Englishmen to live under a despotic rule, and that difficulty would only be increased if the action of public opinion upon the Council were taken away. There were one or two cases to which he wished to allude, in which the advantages of the publication of the proceedings of the Council, and even of the speeches of the Members from day to day, were felt throughout India. When Mr. Wilson proposed his income tax, the measure, when it was first mentioned, was felt as one of great hardship by the English residents; but upon his explanation of the necessity of the measure, and of the equality with which it was to be levied, the objections subsided, and it was received without any objection or any feeling of dissatisfaction thoughout India. The Times, indeed, remarked upon the wonderful phenomenon of a community which almost liked to be taxed. Mr. Wilson also proposed a tax upon tobacco, which it was thought would not affect the English residents; but, by reason of its being known that the measure was in contemplation, the public press took up the matter, it was carefully examined into, and it was found out what a disastrous effect it would have throughout the country; and Mr. Wilson, seeing how much more important a matter it was than he had at first supposed, and seeing how great its effect would be upon the Natives, reduced the tax from about 3s. a pound to 6d., and afterwards abandoned it altogether. The publication of the proceedings in this case probably prevented a passive resistance to the tax throughout India. Another reason why he could not help thinking that it would be absolutely necessary to take care that the proceedings should be published from day to day was that it was permitted to the Governors of the different Presidencies to make regulations for their own Councils, subject to the sanction of the Governor General, and he had no doubt the Governor General intended that the proceedings of the local Councils should be conducted as at present. He could not help thinking that if they had the local Councils confined by the arrangements of this Bill to a very subordinate position to the General Council, while they had the strength and prestige which would be given by having their deliberations placed before the public, there would be a clashing of power which would make the whole machine very difficult; to work. He was very sorry that the local Councils were to be debarred from entertaining questions with regard to the land tax. [Sir CHARLES WOOD: That is a misprint.] He was glad to hear that it was so. We were all looking to India for the supply of cotton, of which we were deprived by what was going on in America, and he believed that that which, as much as the want of railway communication, operated almost as a preventive to the growth and supply of cotton, was the exceedingly onerous and oppressive nature of the land tax.


was understood to explain the precise nature of the misprint to which the hon. Gentleman had referred; but his remarks were inaudible in the gallery.


said, he did not think any assembly had ever been called upon to discuss three measures of such enormous importance as the three relating to India which they were now to discuss at so late a period of the Session. They were measures not only of great importance in themselves, but they involved principles which might hereafter affect our rule in India to an extent which few there present would imagine. He did not rise with any desire of opposing the Bills; on the contrary, he willingly admitted that the Secretary of State for India had shown a desire to deal in a large and fair way with this exceedingly difficult question of the Government of India, and had made changes which deserved the approbation, of all who took any interest in Indian affairs. He (Mr. Layard) viewed the Bill before the House with much favour, although he was not perhaps prepared to go the whole length of supporting all its provisions. In two respects it would improve the state of things in India. In the first place, it would make the Government by Councils more effective than it had been; and secondly, it would give an opening for the employment of Natives in a position in which he much wished to see them employed. He thought no one could doubt that the Legislative Council established some years ago had been a failure. That Council was neither a consultative Council, nor a representative Council nor a Legislative Council. The Governor General did not consult that assembly, or if he did consult it, and received advice, he did not consider himself bound to act upon it. Very recently there had been an instance of that. When a Motion for papers was made in the Legislative Council, and carried by a majority, the decision of that majority was treated, he might say, with contempt. No notice whatever was taken of it. The Council was not simply a Legislative Council because it had debates somewhat after the fashion of that House, and had orders and regulations not unlike those of the House of Commons. It was not a representative assembly because it represented nobody except a few officials—it did not represent the Natives, nor that portion of independent Englishmen established in India who were engaged in various matters connected with commerce and agriculture. With regard to knowledge of the wants of the country the Council was also deficient. It was true the two Presidencies of Madras and Bombay had representatives there; but there was only one for each of the Presidencies, and there was an overwhelming majority against them; and not only that, but those Members could not represent the views of the Presidency which sent them. Recently, in the case of the income tax, the representative of Madras was prevented from making those representations in Council which Sir Charles Trevelyan charged him with, and the reason why Sir Charles Trevelyan took the course he did was because it was impossible that the objections which he took in the most forcible manner to the scheme could be urged in the Legislative Council. Now, he was of opinion that the introduction of such Councils as were proposed by the Bill would have a very great effect in India. First of all, it would enable local Councils to deal with matters with which they were locally acquainted. Every Gentleman knew that the population of India was made up of many different races with the greatest variety of creeds, and with different manners and customs; so that the Bengal civil servant, who might know Bengal, might be perfectly ignorant of every other part, and what was good legislation for Bengal might be very bad for the other Presidencies. Could any one doubt that if the income tax had been discussed in the local Councils of the several Presidencies it would have passed? Certainly not. In Madras everything that Sir Charles Trevelyan prophecied had come to pass. There was no one acquainted with India but thought the imposition of the income tax was a great mistake, and that sooner or later it would have to be abrogated. There was another thing in which he thought the Bill would prove advantageous, and that was that it would give the two Presidencies, and ultimately the North-West Provinces and the Punjab, an interest in self-government. And, thirdly, he considered the institution of Legislative Councils as a great step to the division of that great country into distinct governments. He did not agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester in thinking that the time for that had come—but it might yet come. Besides, those Councils would relieve the Governor General from much of those business details which he had now to go through, and which rendered it almost impossible for him to get through the public business entrusted to his charge. As for the representation of the Natives, he did not think that the Bill went far enough, and he should, therefore, be prepared to take the sense of the House when in Committee on an Amendment that one half of the "additional Members" should be Natives. He thought it of the utmost importance that Natives should be admitted to these Councils. Hitherto the Natives had no representation whatever, either in India or even in this country—there was scarcely a Member of that House who raised his voice in their name, while the independent Englishmen established in India, of whom the House had heard a great deal, and who were said not to be represented, made noise enough, had the whole press in their favour, and were enabled by their money and influence to command attention to their claims. What he wanted to see was the Natives represented in fair proportion to the independent English settlers in India. It was said that the Natives would not speak in the Councils at all, but would always defer to the opi- nions of European members. He was inclined to doubt this; but at least, if they were admitted now, in the next generation they might be expected to say a few words, and in the third they would, perhaps, speak as much as Europeans. They could not be expected at once to take part in business which had been the heirloom of the Anglo-Saxon race; but they might be educated to take part, and he thought they would feel proud to take part, in the proceedings of these Councils. He agreed with Lord Canning that most important and valuable advice might be obtained from the Natives of India, and he ventured to say that during the short journey he had made in India the most important and most interesting information he obtained was from Natives. He found that they took the broadest views of Indian affairs—not the European view, but the Native view—which it was of the greatest importance that the Government of India should understand. He was sorry to see the tendency in England to treat India as a colony, like Australia, and not as a dependency. There was the greatest difference between the two. India was a dependency, but Australia and Canada were colonies. In the latter the Government might dispose of the lands, and plant settlers; bat they could not do so in India. In India they had a country thickly populated, every inch of soil belonged to some one, and an ancient civilization, not perhaps of a very high kind, but still a civilization, and the remains of a people who had done great things. Nobody who had been in India but must have been struck by the magnitude of the works which had been executed there, and which showed that the resources of India were at one time developed to an extent to which they were not devolped at the present day. It was all very well for gentlemen of Manchester to say that the Natives were lazy, and that Englishmen must be sent there to make them work. They could not make a lazy people work. But he denied that the Natives were lazy. Let them look at the troops, and he would venture to say that no troops ever exceeded them in what they had gone through. He had heard that they would march even thirty-five or fourty miles a day without a halt, and they had done so during the late mutiny. But the question was not the idleness of the Natives, but simply a question of return for their labour. In the indigo dis- tricts the planters had endeavoured to make it appear that the ryots had resisted the cultivation of indigo, and were opposed to the introduction of English capital; but he believed there never was a statement more opposed to the truth. Let them be paid and a return for their labour given them, and they would cultivate indigo, cotton, or anything else. But in the petitions from Manchester the Natives were altogether ignored, as if those creatures did not exist at all. He was not opposed to the introduction of English capital; on the contrary, he thought it would be the best means of binding the two countries together. All that might be effected by wise and judicious legislation, and if the Legislative Councils performed their duty, and if the Native element were properly represented in them, there would be a much safer and sounder state of affairs in India. As to publicity there was nothing about it in the Bill. He thought it right that there should be publicity, but he agreed with the Governor General that in that case it would be necessary that the people should not be misled as to what was passing in the Councils. The people of India had prejudices of their own, and those prejudices ought to be respected. A mere mistake, a mere misunderstanding led, perhaps, to that dreadful mutiny which ended in the destruction of so many of our fellow creatures. Lord Canning stated that authorized reports might go forth, and he (Mr. Layard) thought that if there was to be publicity there should be a competent person to see that proper reports were published. The press was now almost as influential an organ in India as it was in England; many papers were circulated throughout India of which they knew nothing; but all those papers would report what passed in the Legislative Councils, and it would not be easy to say the enormous amount of mischief that might be done by any misstatement of the proceedings. He thought the powers of the Legislative Councils too much restricted, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider in Committee whether more latitude might not be given to them. Questions regarding the finance of India, its revenue, its debt, might with advantage be discussed by those Councils. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for what he proposed to do. He believed he was pursuing the proper policy for the Government of India; and he believed that that policy, if consistently carried out, would tend to reconcile India to this country.


said, that so far as he had an opportunity of considering the provisions of this Bill, he was disposed to regard it as a step in the right direction. He thought the right hon. Gentleman, in emancipating the Councils of Madras and Bombay from that state of thraldom in which they were placed by the Legislative Act of 1833, had done good service to India. But he considered that if the Government of that country was to be carried on with vigour the power must be concentrated in a Governor General, and to retain that power he must necessarily maintain a large control, especially in finance matters, over the other Presidencies. He thought the introduction of a non-official element into the Legislative Council of Calcutta was a desirable one. And if they admitted Englishmen who were unconnected with the Government into that Council, they ought on principles of justice to allow the Natives to have seats there also for the protection of their interests. But he could not concur with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Layard) in his desire to see so large a portion of the Government consist of Natives, because he (Sir Edward Colebooke) thought it would be absurd to give them an equal share; the best security they could have for the Government of that country was to give a large and preponderating share in the Council to those who were connected with the Executive Government of the country. He entertained very great misgivings with regard to those parts of the Bill which concerned other provinces under the Government of Calcutta. He Could not see why the legislative Council of Calcutta should not make laws for the province of Bengal, or What possible advantage could arise from having one Legislative Council sitting in Calcutta to legislate generally for India, and another Legislative Council sitting in the same Presidency, of which Calcutta was the chief town, to legislate for Bengal. With regard to the North-West Provinces of India, he did not think the time had arrived when they ought to venture upon introducing a Legislative Council into that part of the country. If, however, that experiment were to be tried at all, it was one that ought to be carried out by an Act of the Imperial Legislature.


said, he saw no reason for supposing that the Natives would be mere ciphers if admitted to the Council. They held public meetings and made very intelligent speeches, and took much interest in public affairs, and it was plain from their petitions to the House that they did not overlook their own rights. He was surprised to find that there was no mention of Natives in the Bill, and if the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Layard) had not given notice of an Amendment for their introduction into the Councils, he (Colonel Sykes) would himself have done so. He thought that too many restrictions were placed on the operation of the Council; but on the whole he believed that the tendency of the Bill would be to do good. It was the restoration of the traditional system of the down-trodden East India Company, whose local Councils at the different presidencies before the Legislative Council of India passed rules and regulations for local purposes, but which for the future would be called acts instead of rules and regulations.


hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India would inform the House whether it was intended that the proceedings of the Councils would be published from day to day or not? Experience had shown the immense value to India of having the mind of the people of that country brought to bear upon legislation while the process was going on, instead of at a subsequent time when it had become the law of the land. He thought a little too much had been made of certain remarks made elsewhere upon the restrictions to which Members of the Council would be subjected in regard to finance matters; but it must be remembered that in this country they were under still greater restrictions. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India on having at last proposed the introduction of the Native element into the Legislative Councils. Those who had their attention turned to what was passing in India could not have failed to perceive how very intelligent the Native population was becoming, the interest taken by them in the affairs of their country, and he had heard Sir John Lawrence himself say that he and his brother had derived most important assistance from many of the Natives. He thought the policy of the right hon. Gentleman inaugurated a new era in the Government of India. That policy went on the basis of not treating the Natives as a conquered race, but as co- operators in the Government of that great Empire.


congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the favourable manner with which the proposed changes had been received by the House, though the time allowed for their consideration had been very short. He felt convinced, however, that the right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to force the measure on unduly, but that he had seized the first opportunity of proposing it. He trusted that the Bill would not be hurried through Committee. The provision that the seat in the Council should be held for one year only was; he thought, inexpedient, also that the initiative power given to the Councils was a power they ought not to have. He would, however, reserve his objections to certain details of the measure for the Committee; and would merely say now that he thought the measure was one for which the right hon. Gentleman deserved the thanks of the country.


said, this Bill reminded him of a man who made a machine with so many complicated wheels and cranks in it, that when he wanted to put it in motion it Would not move at all. He (Mr. Ayrton) was one of those who held that, as long as we intended to keep India, the power of governing must remain, as it had hitherto been, solely and exclusively in the hands of British subjects going out from this country. He believed it not to be possible to keep India if we shared the powers of Government with the Natives. At the same time, however, that we retained all the power in our own hands, we were bound to exercise it with wisdom, with moderation, and with forbearance. Through all time all the nations of Asia had been subject to despotic power; but that power had been exercised with an intelligence and forbearance to which the English Governors of India had been strangers. However despotic the Native Princes of India might have been, they made no laws without consulting in their durbars such of their subjects as could give expression to the general feeling of the community. No such precautions had been adopted by the Governors-General of India in the presumptuous ignorance and arrogance with which, they had exercised their authority. It was this disregard of the feelings of the people which led to the mutiny. Nothing could have been more scandalous than the annexation of Oude and the seizure of Nagpore, and nothing could have been more calamitous than the passing of laws by the Legislative Council which were contrary to the religious feeling of the people. The question now wag whether the power of governing India should be shared with the Natives? He believed that that was an impracticably project. We must maintain our rule All that was required was that we should give guarantees that our power should be exercised with due regard to the feelings of the people. The only guarantee required was that the British authority should not make laws without consulting the people of the country. That could not be done by taking two Natives from a commercial town and making them members of the Legislative Council. The constitution provided by this Bill was better adapted to the government of a joint stock company than of a great empire like India, which could not be governed by Councils "consisting of not less than six or more than twelve Members." He could understand a proposition that the Governor of a province should send for a certain number of influential Native chiefs who might be supposed to represent their people, and that, upon commercial questions, he should invite the principal Native merchants to give their opinions; but, having ascertained their views, the responsibility of carrying them out clearly rested on the British authorities in India; and to set up an irresponsible Council of six, elected by nobody and speaking merely their own opinions, who had undertaken no duties except to play at legislation, was merely shifting one of the most important duties belonging to the office of Governor, which ought to be discharged by him under the controlling authority of the Home Government. Passing from the local to the general Councils, he believed the right hon. Gentleman had embarrassed himself by this double system of legislation. Instead of having one legislative body at Bombay and another at Calcutta, the boundaries of whose authority it would be impossible accurately to define, a much wiser course would have been to give complete power of legislation to the local Councils, under the sanction and ratification of the Governor General, by which means complete uniformity would have been attained. He farther thought it unnecessary that the Governor General should have a legislative Council, but the local Councils he regarded as of the highest political importance. We were about to create in the most gra- tuitous manner a signal danger to our rule by familiarizing the whole of the Native population with the idea that there was but a single Government in the country. We had obtained our dominion in India owing to the fact that it was composed, not of a single race capable of harmonious action, but of the different races having no feelings or sympathies in common. We had conquered India and built up our empire in detail; we had succeeded whether at Bombay, at Calcutta, or at Madras, because we were always acting with an intelligent mind against a divided people, or some subordinate Government which had separated itself from the original empire of India. Why should we not continue to avail ourselves of the same circumstances to maintain our rule in India? Why were we to teach the Natives what they had failed in discovering for themselves—that they would one day be a great nation? How could we hope that in time to come 40,000 or 50,000 Englishmen would maintain their rule over an united population of 200,000,000? Discontent, if it should break out in one province under a separate system of Government, would be speedily quelled by the assistance which could be rendered from other parts of India. But in the eyes of those intrusted with the conduct of Indian affairs the importance of maintaining separate Governments seemed altogether secondary to the details of the machinery by which that Government was to be carried out. They had given themselves up to the political pedantry of administration, forgetting those great principles of policy by which empires were raised and dynasties built up, and the neglect of which led with equal certainty to ruin and destruction. The time had come to use the language of warning, and he implored the right hon. Gentleman to strike out of his Bill many of its more complicated parts, so as to render it more consonant with the simplicity of Asiatic ideas. The object of the Bill ought to be simply to put an end to the Council which had done so much mischief, and to leave to the Executive Government authority to take such measures as it might deem necessary. Attempts at precise legislation upon minute details could, only produce confusion, and would surely be injurious in its results.


trusted that what had fallen from the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) on this Bill would not be accepted as the feeling of the House. At this period of the Session they found four Bills brought forward in one night, each of which ought to be the subject of considerable debate and deliberation. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India might not have had time to proceed with them in the early part of the Session, but they ought to have been in the possession of the House, and the feelings of the Council for India in respect to these Bills ought, likewise, to have been made known. He believed it would have been sound policy on the part of the Government to regulate the finances of India so as to make the income balance the expenditure, before establishing a body which, if it should prove anything more than a debating society, would lead to a great deal of additional expense. A few years ago the expenditure for Ceylon was £70,000 or £80,000 a year; but the effect of a Legislative Council had been to raise that expenditure to £350,000 a year, though the island was not larger than some of the collectorates of India. He feared that a similar result would follow from this measure. He should have recommended Her Majesty's Government, instead of bringing in four Bills this year, to bring in a measure which would have reduced our army in India in a gradual and systematic manner, which would have provided a substitute for our Indian navy—which he believed was to be entirely done away with—and which would have made our Indian income something like balance our expenditure in that country. How the duties hitherto performed by the Indian navy were in future to be discharged was a matter which the House knew nothing about; but what appeared to be probable was that this country would be called on for men and ships to do duty along a seaboard of 2,500 or 3,000 miles.


said, it was probably not from any want of will that the right hon. Gentleman had abstained from offering a measure for equalizing the revenue and expenditure, but simply from the impossibility of devising a measure that would have any such effect. Countries whose finances were prosperous were countries well governed, and, therefore, he thought that the best course which the Government could take with a view of equalizing the revenue and the expenditure in India was to bring in Bills such as these. All the measures introduced by the right hon. Gentleman were conducive to the good Government of India, and if they were successful would bring about that fiscal improvement all were desirous to see. By giving the people a voice in their own affairs, by improving the administration of justice, and by admitting the Natives to a share in the Government of their country, we should lay the foundation for a more prosperous state of finance than had yet been seen in India. The hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets thought that the Bill did not give the local Councils power enough. He would have legislation carried on by them subject only to the veto of the Governor General. But no single man could undertake to consider and give a veto on all the Bills passed by those Councils. The Governor General must have some one to assist him in that duty; and if so, was it not better that he should have the assistance which the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman proposed to give him, and surely it was better that this Council should be composed, not of irresponsible persons, but of persons whose conduct was open to public observation r There were certain measures which must be undertaken by the local Councils, and others which it would be very inconvenient to have treated in a different manner in different places. The hon. and learned Member would not wish to see conflicting Customs' regulations or different coinage in different parts of India. At the same time there were local matters which could be treated with advantage by local Councils. If we could have but one country, so much the better; and in Europe we were endeavouring to get rid of geographical differences. He desired to rule India, not by keeping the Natives in ignorance, which in these days of the free press and of public inquiry was impossible—but by elevating them and making them feel that it was their interest that our rule should continue. Our security in India was not that the Natives could not turn us out, but that they would not—no people on the face of the earth would drive out a good Government. He believed that the people cared very little for the Government that was over them if it only governed them well. He would encourage in the Natives the wish for our civilization, and he had long advocated their admission to posts higher than those which they had hitherto held; but he would not give them too great a voice at first. He would be for a more gradual proceeding. He approved the small re- presentation, inadequate though it was, which was to be conferred upon the people of India. He rejoiced to see that non-official Europeans were also to form part of the Council. He should be glad to see the independent European population of India greatly increase, and it was no small benefit which the railways conferred upon the country that they really did lead to the extension of the class in question. He should give the main features of the Bill his cordial support.


expressed his gratification at the manner in which these Bills had been received from all sides of the House; and the only duty he had then to discharge was to answer the few questions which had been put to him. His hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. Forster) had asked him to what extent publicity of the debates of the Legislative Council was to be allowed. Now, that was one of those details which he (Sir Charles Wood) thought had better be left to the discretion of the Governor General. He agreed in the opinion of Lord Canning that publicity ought to be the general rule; but that mischief might arise from precipitate and inaccurate publicity. His hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Layard) had said that he had himself derived the greatest advantage from his communications with the Natives. Upon that point Lord Canning was entirely of the same opinion as his hon. Friend; and it was on that very account that powers were taken in the Bill for the purpose of enabling the Governor General to avail himself of the services of Natives in reference to the various questions which he might have to consider. The limitation of the time for which a seat was to be held was to enable the Governor General to obtain the assistance of Native chiefs, who could hardly be expected to attend for two, much less for three years. It had been said in the course of that discussion that their great object ought to be to obliterate the distinctions between the conquerors and the conquered in India. Now, that was precisely the policy which he (Sir Charles Wood) wished to carry into effect. Those Bills distinctly provided that the Natives should be employed in the Legislative Councils as well as in the highest judicial courts, and in the most important executive offices. The same spirit ran through the whole of them—the spirit which animated that policy which Lord Canning had been most successfully carrying out, and which, he believed, with his hon. Friend, would afford the best security for the permanence of our rule, for it would make the highest class of Natives, as well as those of low degree, feel that their own good was bound up in the continuance of our sway. He believed that was the best mode of consolidating and perpetuating our dominion in that country. He might observe, however, that he had not thought it at all desirable to name the Natives expressly in the measure. He held the perfect equality before the law of all Her Majesty's subjects, without distinction of race, birth, or religion, and he would not do anything which could lead to the supposition that he doubted for a moment the existence of that principle. He had never admitted that there was any distinction between any of the subjects of the Queen, whatever might be their differences of birth, or race, or religion. That was the spirit of the Proclamation of Her Majesty on the occasion of Her assuming the direct government of India; and that was the principle which would continue to actuate him in all his administrative measures.

Bill read 2° and committed for Thursday next.