HC Deb 27 June 1861 vol 163 cc1648-52

Order for Consideration read.

Clause 3 (Composition of the Council of the Governor General of India),


moved to leave out the words "there shall be" and insert "it shall be lawful to appoint." The effect of his Amendment would be to make permissive instead of compulsory the appointment of the full number of the Council.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 27, to leave out the words "there shall be," and insert the words "it shall be lawful to appoint"—instead thereof—


said, that the question had been already discussed and decided in Committee. Experience had shown that five Members were little enough to carry on the business of the Council.


said, that although the present Secretary for India might think five Members necessary his successor might be of a different opinion. Yet as the clause stood he would not hare the power of suspending the appointment.

Question put, "That the words 'there shall be' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided:—Ayes 155; Noes 60: Majority 95.


proposed to insert words providing that one Member of the Council should be a barrister of not less than fire years' standing.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 37, after the word "two," to insert the words "one of whom shall be a Barrister or a Member of the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland of not less than five years' standing."


considered that five years' standing was too short a period to entitle a man to be sent to India as a Member of the Council, and moved an Amendment that "ten years" should be inserted instead of "five years."

Amendment proposed to said proposed Amendment, to leave out the word "five," and insert the word "ten," instead thereof—


supported the Amendment. The Judges of County Courts were required to be of seven years standing, and he thought that, compared with their duties, the functions which the legal Member of the Council would be called upon to discharge were very important, and that, therefore, a standing of five years was too brief a qualification.


observed that the proposition he made was in accordance with the practice in respect to legal appointments in India.


said, that the legal Member of the Governor's Council would have to superintend all the cases brought up from the different Legislatures of the respective Presidencies, and a standing of five years would hardly afford a sufficient security that the person appointed as legal Member was properly conversant with the duties required.


remarked that a barrister of five years' standing might never have held a brief in his life, and yet it was proposed to make him qualified to hold one of the highest offices in the State with a salary of £8,000 a year.


supported the Amendment.


stated that a barrister of five years' standing, though without practice in the Courts, might have had a great deal of practice in special pleading; and it would be better to leave it to the responsibility of the Secretary of State for India to select a proper person to fill the office.


thought it better not to insert either five or ten years' standing, but to leave it to the discretion of the Government to appoint the fittest person.


concurred in that suggestion. The legal Member of the Council would have peculiar duties to perform, and a practising barrister would not be better qualified than a person whose studies had been in a direction to fit him for the office.


was of opinion that, after all, the best security for the appointment of a person duly qualified for the performance of his duties, under the circumstances of the case, was to be found in the confidence which was to be reposed in the Government for the time being. It was easy to conceive that a man might be found young in years and standing, but very wise in experience, whom it might be desirable to send to India under the operation of the clause under discussion; and the Government, he contended, would be sufficiently controlled in the exercise of their power in making those appointments by the force of public opinion, as expressed in that House. For his own part, he should strongly advise the Government to avoid any definition of time in the clause, and simply confine its wording to the profession to which the proposed Member of the Council should belong.


said, that the principle of limitation was followed in the case of the Civil Service, and he did not see why an exception to that rule should be made in the present instance. Either the Government ought to be left unfettered altogether, or the provisions of the Bill should be consistent with one another. In restricting the choice of the Government, the only object was to secure that the appointments should be given to the man best legally qualified to fill it, instead of to some mere follower of the Government whom it was desired to provide for. He would support the Amendment.


said, if no test of the kind was necessary with regard to legal acquirements, why the restriction of ten years in the case of the civil element of the Council?


said, the insertion of a fire years' standing was intended to secure that the appointee should be possessed of something like legal qualifications. Experience, in such cases as that under consideration, was of as much value as ability; and he thought an experience of ten years was not too much to call for; and, therefore, he should vote for the Amendment, or even for some intermediate period, rather than for the five years, as inserted in the clause.


thought that a certain amount of fallacy lurked in the word "experience." Suppose, for instance, a barrister happened to have had an experience of five years at Nisi Prius or the Old Bailey, could that fact, he should like to know, be fairly held to qualify him for the position of a Member of the Legislative Council? It Was quite clear that for such a position experience was not the quality required—what was required was the qualifications of a jurist. In the case of the Civil Service the experience required was appropriate to the duties to be performed, and what it was desirable to have under the operation of the present clause was a gentleman of high legal attainments, which he contended might be found in a barrister of five years' standing. Indeed, according to the existing law, the Chief Justices of the three Presidencies were only required to be of five years' standing; He might further observe that if the Government were disposed to make an improper appointment, they would have means of doing so by the selection of a barrister who had been ten as well as of one who had been only five years at the Bar. Indeed, it was probable that a larger number of incompetent persons would be found in the former class, which would in all probability comprise a greater number of men who had failed in their profession.


maintained that the person appointed under the clause should be not only a barrister but a barrister of ten years' standing. If the Government were left unfettered in the matter, it was, he thought, quite possible that the Minister for India might discover more intelligence in a nephew or other relative than in all the rest of Her Majesty's subjects.


said, it appeared to him that the choice of the Government was sufficiently fettered by requiring a qualification of five years' standing. All that was wanted was to prove that a man was bonâ fide a barrister, and a qualification of five years would establish that as readily as one of tea years.

Amendment agreed to.

Question put, "That the word 'five' stand part of the said proposed Amendment.

The House divided:—Ayes 132; Noes 73: Majority 59.

Question, "That the words 'one of whom shall be a Barrister or a Member of the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland of not leas than five years' standing' be inserted after the word 'two,' in page 2, line 37," put, and agreed to.

Clause 19 (Governor General to make Rules for Conduct of Business at such Meetings),


proposed after the word "meetings" to leave out "and from time to time to alter such rules" and insert "but such rules maybe subsequently amended at meetings for the purpose of making laws and regulations, subject to the assent of the Governor General." The object of the alteration was, he said, to place the Council of the Governor General in exactly the same position as the Councils of the Presidencies, in regard to the framing of regulations.


thought that the Council should have the power of making their own laws and regulations in the first instance, subject to the approval of the Governor General.


wished to know whether, under the Amendment, the Council would be able to discuss a Motion to ask the Governor General to amend the rules?




understood that the Governor General was to have the right of veto in regard to the regulations framed by the Council.

Amendment agreed to; other Amendments made.

Bill to be read 3° To-morrow.