HC Deb 29 July 1867 vol 189 cc338-42

said, that he rose to put Questions—certain Questions of which he had given notice — to the Secretary for India with respect to the authority possessed by him to draw on the revenues of India for purposes of expenditure in this country. The subject was one which involved grave constitutional considerations. The right hon. Gentleman had some time ago informed the House that he was about to give an entertainment to the Sultan, the expenses of which were to be derived from the Indian revenue. That entertainment was, he understood from those who were present, a very magnificent affair, and he should say nothing more with respect to it beyond correcting an error into which the right hon. Gentleman had fallen. He had spoken of the entertainment as one, which, as a matter of policy, it was desirable to give the Sultan, in consequence of his being the head of the Mahomedan religion, imagining that it would produce a good effect among the Mussulman population in India. He was, however, afraid that the right hon. Gentleman would find himself very much deceived in that regard, for the newspapers in India which would contain an account of the entertainment were almost, without exception, in the hands of the Hindoos. There was not, he believed, a single instance in which one belonged to a Mussulman, and the Hindoo press could not be well disposed towards the Chief of the Mussulmans. He did not wish to say a single word as to the guests who had been invited to the entertainment, beyond stating it to be his opinion that it was desirable, inasmuch as the expense was to be defrayed entirely out of the taxes of India, that the names should be found in the list of those who were more particularly identified with the interests of that country. He quite understood, however, that the right hon. Gentleman had a great pressure put on him, and he had no doubt that if he could have followed his own inclination he would have wished to issue invitations to all those who might have desired to be present on the occasion. He was perfectly satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman would never seek to spend money belonging to the Indian Treasury for the purposes of his party; but, there was nothing to prevent him from doing so, provided he were so disposed. If he possessed the power to give an entertainment, the cost of which might be £20,000 or £50,000, without the sanction of Parliament, it was a power not possessed, by any other Secretary of State or Minister of the Crown; and he might, perhaps be able to draw out the whole £50,000,000 constituting the Indian revenue. The right hon. Gentleman had great power over the revenues of India, and the mode of transacting business was not satisfactory. He (Mr. Otway) had called for a Return respecting the expenditure, and the granting of it did the right hon. Gentleman infinite credit. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to court inquiry, and thereby relieved himself from the censure that might otherwise be cast upon him. The expenditure was not confined to entertainments such as that to which he had just been referring. It appealed that the right hon. Gentleman had the power, if the Commander-in-Chief in India or any of the military authorities got into bad odour, of making matters square by offering considerable sums byway of "hush money." A flagrant instance of that sort occurred in the case of Captain Jervis, which the right hon. Gentleman decided by a short note, stating that he would give him £1,800 if he would call at the India Office. Now, that was not, in his opinion, a satisfactory way of conducting the business of the Department, nor did he think the right hon. Gentleman possessed any such power until he saw the Return which he held in his hands. The Return was a most singular document, and was accompanied by another relating to the bounty of the Crown. The bounty of the Crown, he found, was conferred on Mr. H. J. Toogood, to the extent of £40 a year, for his connection with literary pursuits and Parliamentary reporting, and in consequence of his now being blind and paralyzed. Corresponding with that, in the case of India, he perceived that a pension of £60 was awarded to a lieutenant who had been drunk on duty, and who had been cashiered by court-martial. Then, again, the bounty of the Crown was given to Mr. G. T. Thompson in consideration of his services in connection with periodical literature, he being now afflicted with blindness, to the extent of £40 a year, while £242 was allotted to a major in the Indian service who had been charged with having indulged in abusive conduct towards the authorities. It would appear from the contrast thus furnished that those who committed offences were those who were awarded the largest sums of money. He was informed by a gallant officer (Lieutenant Percy), then within the walls of the House, that the Return having reference to India was entirely inaccurate. Lieutenant Percy was the son of a distinguished brigadier-general. He said that he was charged with "inefficiency," but that he had claimed a court-martial and had indignantly refused, under the circumstances, to accept the sum of £50 a year which was offered him. It appeared his offence was that, having married into an Indian family, he had introduced to the mess of his brother officers his brother-in-law, who was a person of dark colour, and that he was ordered to send in his resignation, but that he refused to do so. Nevertheless, the £50 a-year was offered to him, but he declined by accepting it to be mixed up with fraudulent and drunken men. He had subsequently been induced, under protest, to accept it. He should not enter further into the subject on that occasion, as the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had signified it to be his intention to bring the whole subject before the House before long, and should conclude by asking the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India, whether there was any, and, if any, what limit to the sums of money which the Secretary of State for India in Council might expend in this country without obtaining the sanction of Parliament; and, should the balance in the Home Treasury be insufficient to meet any exceptional expenditure incurred by the Secretary of State for India in Council, whether there was any, and, if any, what limit to the sum for which he might draw on the revenues of India; and if the Secretary of State for India could fix the day for the discussion of the Indian Budget?


said, that he altogether approved of the ball. We had in India 15,000,000 of Mahomedan subjects, many of whom were of the same sect as the Sultan himself—the descendants, in fact, of the Caliph of Bagdad, who regarded the Sultan as their Pope. A compliment to the Sultan would touch the feelings of these Mahomedans. As a matter of policy, therefore, he highly approved of the compliment paid to the Sultan. The Secretary of State, autocrat as he might be in most matters, was under the most complete control with regard to money, for, of his own motion, he could not spend a shilling of the Indian revenues. All was in the hands of the council, which consisted of fifteen members.


said, he would suggest that it would be more convenient to discuss the subject when the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrlon) brought forward the Motion of which he had given notice. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down had stated, with perfect accuracy, that the expenditure was in the hands of the Indian Council—that being the intention of Parliament when the Act of 1858 was passed. Unless they could place the entire expenditure for India under the control of the House, it would be difficult to deal specially with any particular portion of it. They could not control Indian finance effectively "piecemeal." There was a large home expenditure for stores ordered for India. He did not suppose the hon. Gentleman contemplated that when he asked if there was any limit to the power of the Secretary of State over the expenditure of money for home purposes. There was no such limit, because they could not know what the demand for stores might be in any year, and there was no other fund on which they could draw. He did not know of any distinction between the Indian Home Treasury and the revenues of India. There might be a sum of money that came into the hands of the Government of India by payments from railways and others, and by the sale of bills on India, but he could not distinguish any difference between the one and the other. The whole of the revenues of India were at the disposal of the Secretary of State and Council, and they drew upon them for all the expenditure which the service in this country or out of this country required. There was a limit to the salaries of the Secretary, Under Secretary, and the members of the Council, which could not be altered by them. There was also a provision that the Secretary of State and Council should not increase the debt of India without the sanction of the House, and that the return of the expenditure should be laid before the House within fourteen days after the 1st of May. He agreed that they should, as far as possible, let the House know what was going on, and how the power of the Secretary of State was exercised. The allowances referred to were awarded to prevent the scandal that would arise from dismissed officers being left in a state of absolute destitution. The payments assumed the character of compassionate subsistence allowances. He rather approved of the power of making compassionate grants, for they enabled the authorities to get rid of officers where the good of the service required such a step to be taken, without leaving the discharged men to starve. At the same time there was no doubt a great deal to be said against it; but it would be more convenient to take a discussion upon the matter when the hon. Member (Mr. Ayrton) brought forward the Motion of which he had given notice.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.