HC Deb 08 February 1864 vol 173 cc222-5

Sir John Lawrence's Salary considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


said, that very few words were necessary to explain the Resolution he had to propose. By an Act of Parliament passed in 1833 it was enacted, that if the Governor General of India, or the Governor of a Presidency, or a Member of Council was in receipt of a place, salary, or pension, his salary should be reduced by the amount of that salary or pension. Since the passing of the Act, however, exceptions had been always made in favour of individuals in receipt of pensions granted in recognition of special services. Lord Hardinge, when he was Governor General of India, had a pension conferred upon him by the East India Company for his services in the first Sikh war, and a special Act of Parliament was passed, with the unanimous concurrence of the House, enabling him to receive the full emoluments of Governor General of India, together with the pension. The case of Sir Henry Pottinger was similar. He was in the receipt of a pension for special services in the East, and when he was appointed Governor of Madras, he was, nevertheless, permitted to receive the full salary of Governor of Madras and his pension also. These were the only two instances in which any of the offices specified in the Act of 1833 had been held by persons in the receipt of pensions for special services, and he proposed to follow the precedents thus established. The House was aware that the career of the late Governor General of India had been prematurely terminated, and that India had been deprived of the services of Lord Elgin just when he was becoming well acquainted with the country, and when he was proceeding on most important duties to the upper part of India. The moment he found himself unable to discharge his duties, Lord Elgin's first thought was to apprise the Government at home of his state, and to request that a successor might be appointed. He (Sir Charles Wood) had no hesitation in recommending Sir John Lawrence to Her Ma- jesty for the Governor Generalship of India, and within two days from the receipt of the intelligence from India, he was authorized to offer the high post to Sir John Lawrence. He accepted it at once, and, knowing the importance of despatch, he showed the same zeal for the service of the country which had always distinguished him, by declaring himself ready to leave this country for India by the first mail to Calcutta. The services of Sir John Lawrence were well known, and so universally recognised, that it would only be necessary to read the Resolution under which the pension in question was conferred upon Sir John Lawrence. That Resolution, passed at a meeting of the Court of Directors, August 11, 1858, and approved by a General Court of Proprietors, August 25, was as follows:— Resolved unanimously, that in consideration of the eminent services of Sir John Laird Mair Lawrence, G.C.B., whose prompt, vigorous, and judicious measures crushed incipient mutiny in the Punjaub, and maintained the province in tranquillity during a year of almost universal convulsion, and who by his extraordinary exertions was enabled to equip troops and to prepare munitions of war for distant operations, thus mainly contributing to the recapture of Delhi and to the subsequent successes which attended our arms, and in testimony of the high sense entertained by the East India Company of his public character and conduct throughout a long and distinguished career, an annuity of £2,000 be granted to him. It would only be fair to add that Sir John Lawrence, in accepting the Governor Generalship of India, vacated his seat in the Council of India, and the salary of his office, and sacrificed the quiet and tranquil enjoyment of domestic life in order to perform the duty to which he was called. The least, therefore, that the House of Commons could do was to pass a special Act, according to the practice in such cases, enabling Sir John Lawrence to receive the full amount of the salary of Governor General together with the pension awarded him by the East India Company for special services. It was hardly necessary to refer to the fact that Sir John Lawrence was the younger son of an officer in the British army; that he had raised himself to his present high position unaided and unassisted by any extraneous influence, and entirely by the force of his own character and abilities. He would, therefore, conclude by moving a Resolution. That it is expedient to enable the Right Honourable Sir John Lawrence, baronet, G.C.B., to re- ceive the full amount of the Salary of the Office of Governor General of India, notwithstanding his being in receipt of an Annuity of £2,000 granted to him by the East India Company as an acknowledgment of his distinguished Services.


I apprehend that there will be no difference of opinion on any side of the House upon this Resolution. I rise merely to express my entire concurrence—having been connected with Indian affairs during part of the time when the services of Sir John Lawrence were performed—in the proposition of the right hon. Baronet. The pension granted to Sir John Lawrence by the East India Company was not a retiring pension, but was a recognition, and a very inadequate recognition, of services as distinguished as had ever been performed by a public servant in India. The Governor-General of India was well paid, hut it certainly would not be just that Sir John Lawrence should lose this reward simply because he has undertaken an office which is one of the most arduous that could ever devolve upon any man.


said, he could not permit that opportunity to pass without expressing his heartfelt gratification at the proposition of his right hon. Friend. It was, moreover, creditable to the Government that they had selected Sir John Lawrence, considering that the Viceroyalty of India was such an object of ambition to the great families of this country. The East India Company's service had produced some of the most distinguished men in the annals of British history, such as Clive, Malcolm, Elphinstone, Ochterlony, the two Lawrences, and many others; men who, entering the civil and military services as boys, by the force of their character and talents raised themselves to high stations unaided by interest. He heartily wished he could see, under the altered circumstances of the Indian Administration, the same prospect of obtaining high-minded, intelligent, and able men for the Government of India. Shortly the remainder of the East India Company's servants would be extinct; and he much feared that they might have governors-general of India very unlike Sir John Lawrence, who would have so little knowledge of the country as to suppose its inhabitants to be a homogeneous nation, instead of consisting, as they did, of twenty-one different nations and languages, and whose legislation would be influenced by European ideas, instead of being adapted to the habits and sympathies of the people.

Motion agreed to:— Resolution to be reported To-morrow.