HC Deb 13 March 1862 vol 165 cc1417-8

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, If he is aware that the Electric Telegraph Service in that country is not in an efficient state either as regards engineering or management; whether the Government be of opinion that the recent appointment in India of three Military Officers to superior positions in that Service over the heads of duly qualified persons is not contrary to the previous orders of the Home Government; whether such appointments are not calculated to impair the confidence of the community in the efficiency of that Department; whether he is aware of any peculiar qualifications possessed by these officers to justify such exceptional appointments; and whether the Indian Government contemplate an immediate reorganization of the Indian Electric Telegraph Department?


said, he believed there had been some recent complaints from India of deficiencies in the working of the electric telegraph, mainly owing to the employment of native signallers who were not quite competent for the work. Representations having been made to the Indian Government, a Committee was appointed, and the result had been that the Department had been reorganized. With regard to any particular appointments, he must remind the hon. Gentleman that they were all made in India. The Home Government did not interfere with the appointments made in India unless some special ground was shown for its interposition. He had not the least reason to suppose that any improper appointments had been made over the heads of qualified servants. With regard to two of the Officers in question, Major Douglas and Major Stewart, he did not believe that two persons better qualified could be found either in the Indian or any other service. Two other Officers who had been promoted had been for some time in the Departments. Looking to the anxiety of the Indian Government to put this service on a proper footing, he had no reason to suppose that any improper appointments had been made.