§ MR. BLAKE
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, with reference to the statement made by his predecessor on the 23rd of July last, that the claims against the late State of Oude, which have been investigated and reported upon by a Commission in India, "were claims of a moral character;" and to the fact that a notarial Copy of the Bond granted to Captain Thomas Edwards by the Vizier of Oude, as admitted in the Report of the Commission, was produced before it from the archives of the Supreme Court at Calcutta; What arrangement he proposes to make with a view of coming to a settlement of the amount due under the Bond, in order to carry out the pledge which was given to this House by the President of the Board of Control, on the 12th May 1857, "that all the public and bonâ fide claims against the State of Oude would be paid out of the revenues of the country."
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
, in reply, said, the Question which had been put by the hon. Gentleman was a peculiar one, and he thought unusually argumentative. The only answer he could give to it was, that this question was considered by his predecessor and his Council on the Report of the Commission to which the Question referred, and that the Report of the Commission had decided that it was not a case in which, from the evidence, there was any claim on the part of the representatives of Captain Edwards against the late State of Oude. His predecessor in Council had approved the Report of that Commission. He need not inform the hon. Member that in matters of finance the Secretary of State had no power to act without the assent of the Council. The matter had not been brought before him officially; but he had looked into the evidence, and he was perfectly disposed to believe that in the form in which it was presented to the Commissioners, and afterwards brought under the notice of his predecessor and Council, the conclusion arrived at was right. But he had been told privately that there was certain evidence not brought before the Commissioners which might have affected their opinions. If 1173 that was the case, and if his attention were called to the fact of any evidence not brought before them, he should be perfectly willing to refer that evidence to them and ask them if it would have made any difference in the conclusion at which they had arrived. But he might just say that, as this was described to be a "claim of a moral character," he understood that moral claims against the British Government arose in this way—when we took possession of Oude, and prevented the Sovereign from paying any debts that might be due from him, the Government considered itself liable for any debts that would otherwise have been paid; but this was a claim in respect of a very old debt, incurred seventy years before the annexation of Oude, which had been repudiated by the Sovereigns of Oude, and which, if the annexation had not taken place, in all probability would not have been paid. In that case he could not think there was any moral claim for payment out of the revenues of this country.