HC Deb 08 July 1868 vol 193 cc858-63

Order for Committee read.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Salaries of future Members of Council).

LORD WILLIAM HAY moved to insert at the beginning the words "From the passing of this Act," to leave out "such," and insert "each." The effect of the Amendment would be that the old Councillors, as well as those newly appointed, should not serve for a longer period than ten years.


objected, on the ground that the old Councillors were appointed under the Act of 1858, for ten years, at a salary of £1,200 a year, with the prospect of holding their offices for life or receiving a pension on retiring at the end of the ten years. To propose now that they should cease to serve at the end of their ten years and receive no pension was unjust, especially as the new Councillors would be appointed at £1,500, and would accept the increase of salary in place of the prospect of a pension. He admitted the Act of 1858 would permit them to deprive the old Councillors of their pensions, but he contended that to do so would be straining it.


said, he thought it so necessary that some limit should be put to the term for which the old Councillors should serve that he was quite willing to allow them the pension.


said, the time had expired for dealing with this matter.


said, the time had not expired. The Act under which the present Councillors were appointed expressly stipulated that Parliament should have the power of re-considering the terms on which they accepted office. This being so, he thought it monstrous that anyone should say, "The ten years is nearly up; these men have served with the prospect of a pension during these ten years; and therefore it would be unjust to step in and say, Parliament, on re-consideration, could not grant the pensions." He hoped the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India would consider the question in a reasonable and intelligent manner. It would be better even to let them serve ten years more at £1,500 than that no limit should be agreed on. He might observe that they were for the most part in the receipt of pensions paid out of the revenues of India, and incidentally he must protest against the double system of pensions now growing up; pensions were obtained for special services in India from the Indian Government in India, and then they were obtained again, on the general ground of length of service, from the Indian Revenue, through the Office in England.


said, that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) had forgotten one matter—namely, that the pensions from India were bought, being derived from stoppages from pay. He (Mr. Stuart Mill) quite agreed that an ample salary rendered a retiring pension unnecessary. But there would be a hardship if, when the expectation of pensions had been held out to the existing Councillors, they were deprived of pensions in the end. If an increase of salary were to be given instead, that increase should range over a fresh series of ten years. But the reason which induced the House to limit the service of future Councillors should prevent it from con- tinuing the old for another ten years. He, therefore, recommended the Committee to agree to give the old members an opportunity of serving for another five years at the increased salary, or else to grant them a pension at the end of the ten years.


said, he thought faith ought to be kept with the old Councillors, and that common honesty required it should be optional with them whether they accepted any new terms in place of those under which they took office. He did not see why the salary should be raised to £1,500, because many of the Councillors would soon have a right to a Civil Service pension on account of thirty years' service.


said, he thought it morally out of the power of Parliament to withhold the pension, because virtually the full term had expired, and it was in consequence of that expiration the Bill was brought in. If the old Councillors had served only five years, the propriety of granting the pensions might be questioned; but it only wanted some forty days of the ten years.


said, the Act would never have passed if it had been supposed that the appointments would have the permanent character now claimed for them. He would, however, support the suggestion of the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), which seemed to be a fair compromise between the proposition of the noble Lord and that of the Government.


said, he thought the suggestion of the hon. Member for Westminster could best be dealt with in a new clause. At present he was neither prepared to accept nor to reject the proposition, but desiring fully to consider it, he recommended the withdrawal of the Amendment and the introduction of a new clause, to which he promised to give careful consideration.


said, he would be happy to bring up a new clause.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


said, he rose to move that the salary of the new Councillors should be £1,200, and not £1,500. Some officers of State received no more, and members of the Board of Admiralty received only £1,000. Feeling that there might be an injustice in turning members of the Council adrift without recognition of their services, he thought that a graduated scale of pensions might not be indefensible. But there was a great danger of rushing into extremes in such a matter. He thought it very undesirable that, under pretence of introducing "fresh blood," officials should be elected to the Council immediately upon their return from India, as any misgovernment which might have attended their administration would thereby be condoned. We were bound to consider the revenues of India even more than our own, because the people of India were not represented in that House. He thought it little creditable to the Government that, in a Bill brought forward with such a flourish of trumpets, the principal clause should be to improve the position of the members of the Council, an institution which he regarded as of very questionable utility, as he considered that they had only proved themselves obstructives. No reason had been shown for fixing these salaries at £1,500 each, and he therefore moved that they be reduced to £1,200.

Amendment proposed, in page I, line 18, to leave out the word "five," and insert the word "two."—(Mr. Otway.)


said, that if it were not proposed to give retiring pensions to men of the class whose service it was sought to enlist, they ought at least to pay them proper salaries. The hon. Gentleman, he thought, would have shown better taste and more discretion had he consulted those having official knowledge of the subject about the labours which members of the Council were actually called on to undertake before submitting his present Amendment. The Councillors were a very hard-working body of men, and were quite entitled to £1.500 a year each.


said, that if it was not for the Council the Government of India would be left wholly to the Secretary of State—who before his appointment was generally ignorant of Indian affairs—and to such irresponsible persons as he might choose to consult, who if he had a pre-conceived opinion would be likely to share it. The Secretary of State would be left with no regular assistance but that of the subordinates in his office. Of the latter, having himself been included in the number, he entertained, generally speaking, a very high opinion; but he did not think Parliament and the country would approve of handing over the government of India entirely to them. It was absolutely necessary that there should be associated with them some men of standing, of professional knowledge, and practical acquaintance with India, whose names and character were known to the public. It was also necessary that such salaries should be given them as would induce them to continue in their offices. Although yielding to no one in his desire for economy, he did not think that retrenchment was judicious when it took the form of stinting the remuneration for the best and most difficult work. It was possible they might get very much the same class of men for £1,200 as for £1,500; but, in the absence of a pension, he did not think the latter amount excessive.


said, that the salary of £1,200 hitherto had been accompanied with some expectation of a pension. In proposing, therefore, to fix it at £1,200, without any pension, the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Otway) was practically lowering their position. He entirely agreed with the view taken by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) and thought the sum proposed by the Bill by no means too great.


said, that the proposal in the Bill was not to improve the position of existing members of the Council. The increase of salary applied only to future appointments. The House had decided that in justice Members of the Council should be appointed for a term of years only; and then came the question what was to happen on the expiration of that term. Clearly, it would not be right to lay on the revenues of India an indefinite number of pensions; but if not, they must be prepared to pay the fair market value of those services which they desired to obtain. The persons required were those whose names would carry' weight, not only here, but in India; for if we rested merely upon clerks brought up and trained in this country, however valuable their assistance might be, it would fail entirely to command that sort of respect which attached to the recommendation of persons whose names were familiarly known. On the other hand, by introducing into the Council men of different careers, who had served in different parts of India, and who looked upon questions in a totally different light from that in which purely official minds regarded them, very obvious advantages were gained. A discussion arose upon a recent occasion in the Council with regard to the mode in which a certain canal was to be made, and the territories through which it was to pass. As far as the correspondence went, or the information otherwise in possession of the Department, no special question appeared to arise. But when the matter was mentioned at the Council there were circumstances known to one or two of the members which raised a very important political question, that otherwise never would have attracted attention, and threw a flood of light upon the whole matter. It must be remembered, also, that the Secretary of State for India was in a different position from that of any other Secretary of State coming fresh to the business of his Department. The Secretary of State for the Home Department, or the First Lord of the Admiralty, for instance, lived in an official atmosphere in which they must be certain to gain valuable information; they were constantly meeting people also who set them right if they were going wrong. But the Indian Minister had no such chances thrown in his way. The Indian newspapers formed but a very imperfect source of information, while the chance visits to England of distinguished personages could hardly be relied upon as means of obtaining accurate information, seeing that these were not in any way bound to give information, or responsible for such intelligence as they might think proper to give. Hence, there was a real and pressing necessity for the existence of a Council, composed of the best men that could be procured. And, bearing in mind that there was a great demand in mercantile life for the special kind of knowledge which they possessed, the salaries offered by the Government ought not to be of a niggardly character. The proposal embodied in the clause as it stood was a fair one, and he hoped it would be adopted by the Committee.


thought it would be false economy to reduce the pension of members of Council, as proposed by the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Otway).

Question put, "That the word 'five' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 73; Noes 26: Majority 47.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to Bit again To-morrow.