§ MR. GRAVES
, in rising to call attention to the constitution of the Council of State for India, and to move—That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that the Council of State for India should embrace among its members persons practically conversant with the trade and commerce of India,said, that towards the close of last Session a Bill was introduced into that House by Her Majesty's Government for the purpose of transferring the selection of members of the Council for India to the Secretary of State, and also for limiting the term of years to 10. He took the opportunity then of bringing forward an Amendment, with a view of raising a question, which was regarded by the country with some considerable interest, whether it would not be possible to throw into the Council an infusion of the mercantile mind? Unfortunately, that Bill was brought forward—like all measures relating to Indian affairs—towards the very close of the Session, when the House was remarkable only for empty Benches; and he accordingly determined not to bring forward his Motion under such circumstances, but to postpone it to the present Session. He knew what difficulties lay in the path of private Members in bringing forward Motions of this kind, and was also conscious that the House greatly disliked proposals which had the appearance of being vague; but he hoped to make it clear that his Motion 826 had a definite object, and also to exhibit clearly the point at which he aimed. The question was one of that class which could best be dealt with when there was no pressure of absolute necessity, and when the discussion could be divested of anything like personal considerations. He would abstain from throwing the slightest discredit upon the Government of India. He would endeavour to prove his case rather on the merits of his proposal than by attacking the prestige of the Government. There were, however, some persons who thought the policy of that Government had been feeble, weak, and over cautious; but it must not be forgotten that it had produced great results, and, judged by those results, he for one was willing to admit the Government of the Empire of India to have been successful. Looking at the constitution of the Council itself, he had still less reason for any personal remarks, for no one could appreciate more highly than he did the zeal and ability with which the members of the Council had fulfilled their trust. They were, however, drawn from too limited and too professional a class, for he found that of their number nine had served, and with distinction, in the civil service, three upon the Bench, and three in the military service. No doubt, they were all rich in Indian departmental experience, though some possibly would say that it was of rather antiquated date; but they all were lacking in that which he considered essential to a good Council of India—a thorough practical knowledge of trade and its requirements, both as regarded India and England. Those who knew India best would agree with him in the assertion that trade was the genius of India; that on its development depended mainly her prosperity; and that there was no better way of winning the confidence of the people in that portion of our Empire than by introducing into the constitution of the Council those who, by their habits of life, training, and avocations would be considered as representatives of that trade which occupied their thoughts, and was the aim and object of their very existence. No one who knew India could fail to be struck with the remarkable aptitude shown by the intelligent portion of that Empire for trade; the highest aim of every Brahmin boy was to acquire that aptitude, and we all knew 827 what keen competitors the Parsees were in the highest walks of commerce with our mercantile houses. Was it, then, wise; was it even politic to ignore so completely as we had done the existence of this trade in the constitution of the Council? He could conceive no higher or better policy than that of showing to those persons, whose daily thoughts were filled, with trade, that we sympathized with them in their exertions, and felt desirous of promoting the commercial and industrial interests of India by every means in our power. He was far from entertaining the opinion that, in the administration of India, the interests of commerce or trade had been entirely neglected. He did not believe they had; but he felt he was justified in stating that they had not received that attention which their vast importance demanded. The inner life of the Council of India appeared to be divided into six departments—politics, military administration, the judicial system, finance, revenue, and public works—each worked under a separate and distinct Committee; but he could find no department for commerce, and which of those departments were charged with the direction of trade and commerce he was unable to ascertain. He was afraid that the old adage—"What's everybody's business is nobody's" came true in reference to the interest taken in trade and its requirements by the members of the Council, and that, though all felt an interest in it, there were none directly responsible to the Secretary of State for originating or controlling schemes for the development of trade. The policy which he was then advocating was not a new one. It was brought under the consideration of the House in 1857 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), when he introduced a Bill for giving a new constitution to the India Board. That right hon. Gentleman proposed that there should be five members representing the five great centres of industry in this country. That proposition was met by various objections, and it was ultimately abandoned, partly, he believed, in consequence of the difficulty of finding a suitable franchise. But it was more especially objected to because it was said to be inconsistent with our policy to sanction popular election for executive offices. More recently the noble Lord (the Marquess of Salisbury), 828 who was removed last year to the Upper House, and who had presided with, so much ability over the Council of India as to ensure for his opinions on the subject the greatest consideration, thus explained his views to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce—To fulfil the part which devolves on you to protect the interest of India, it seems to me that you ought to have something more than merely a representation in the House of Commons. …. I am not questioning—for the present at least—the wisdom of that arrangement which was deliberately adopted some ten years ago; still less am I venturing to throw the slightest doubt upon the earnestness and diligence and patriotism of the gentlemen who constitute the Indian Council. They are very eminent, they are very able, they are very hard-working men, and I am sure they do their duty as earnestly as any servants of Her Majesty; but I think that, considering the enormous powers that Council possesses, it is a pity that its constitution is not more largely tinged with the mercantile element than it is. Do not understand me to say that the Council, as at present constituted, wilfully or consciously neglects the interests of merchants, but you know perfectly well that nobody can look after interests of which he, by his own training, knows nothing. The eminent lawyer, the eminent engineer, the brave general, the distinguished statesmen who constitute that Council—for all those characters are fully represented—have not that minute and detailed knowledge of the wants of the commercial community which nothing but a mercantile training can afford.Here they had the experience of the highest authority—one who had himself felt the want of that special assistance at the Council which mercantile training alone could give; and it was not to be wondered at that those views had been adopted by nearly all the Chambers of Commerce throughout the country, and the Petitions which had been presented to the House abundantly proved how strong was the conviction in the public mind that a reform was necessary. The Hudders-field Chamber prayed that one-third of the Council should consist of gentlemen who were fully conversant with the requirements of British trade, and able to advise the Government upon all questions relating to the development of commerce with India and the East. The Wakefield Chamber asked that one-third of the Council might be men unconnected with the services of India, and having a practical knowledge of the manufacturing and commercial affairs of the United Kingdom. The Leeds Chamber desired that one-third of the Council should be men of mercantile knowledge and experience; and the 829 Bristol Chamber petitioned for the appointment of a Committee or Department of Commerce and Agriculture, with a view to improve the commercial relations between India and this country. The Glasgow Chamber submitted that there should be in the Council persons of experience in trade, who could aid the deliberation of questions affecting the commerce of England and India; and the Liverpool Chamber suggested that a portion of the Council should be men who were capable of advising on all matters connected with the industry of the United Kingdom and the Asiatic portion of the Empire. He might add Manchester to the list, for a Petition in favour of his views had that night been presented to the House; but he hoped that the hon. Members for that great city would tell the House themselves what the opinions of their constituents were upon the subject. In reply to these representations the hon. Gentleman who now so well represented in this House the Government of India (Mr. Grant Duff) would probably remind the House that the progress of that country had been great; and he would, perhaps, point to the fact that it amounted to £100,000,000, and suggest that that ought to satisfy the country. He (Mr. Graves) admitted the increase, but he was not satisfied. England had not been content many years ago with a trade of £200,000,000, and was not now with one of £500,000,000; in addition to which, he was persuaded that the trade of India was only in its infancy, and that if her energy and vigour were properly directed by judicious public works, increased railways and railway facilities, greater encouragement to the growth of cotton, the production of silk, and the improved cultivation of the land, we should see an amount of trade spring up in India which we had little idea of at that moment. The exports of India might be almost as unlimited as were the requirements not only of England, but also of Europe; for that communication with the East which had been recently given by the opening of the Suez Canal could not fail to send European traders and their capital to the East. Whatever might be the effect of that canal on the trade of England, however it might divert the stream of commerce from existing channels into new and competing ones through Southern Europe, he had 830 no doubt but that the effect upon the trade of India would be to stimulate and increase it to an enormous extent, provided that there were minds in the Council capable of directing this new stream of commerce into new and profitable channels. Look at the imports of India; they were in their infancy. The cotton goods used only amounted to 2s. 2d. per head of a cotton-wearing population; whereas in a neighbouring Colony, peopled by a very similar race, they amounted to a sum equal to an average of 10s. per head. There was no other Colony in which the amount was under £2, while France—a country which overflowed with all the necessaries of life—took from England an amount of goods equal to 15s. per head of her whole population. He therefore thought himself justified in stating that looking to the extent of India, to its cheap labour, its soil, its climate, and the aptitude of its people for trade, if fair encouragement were given to its promotion, a commerce would spring up which would be of the utmost value not only to India, but England. It would probably be urged that there was no statutory objection to the selection of a mercantile man, so long as he had resided in India, and that the Government had now the power he sought to compel them to exercise. That, he believed, was so, and it was because it was so completely ignored he desired to bring the opinion of this House to bear. He did not himself place much stress on the necessity for possessing Indian experience. He wished for general mercantile knowledge wherever gained, and it was a curious fact that the ablest rulers they had sent to India were men of no previous Indian experience. Look at Lord Canning, Lord Dalhousie, and he might add the present Governor General. Had they not distinguished their rule, and yet they never had been in India till entrusted with the reins of power? It was just possible they might go too far in one groove; and he thought that it was desirable to look on Indian affairs not in a military, or civil-servant, or judicial point of view, but from the more comprehensive view of every-day life, and experience of the present day rather than that of past years. He could not believe it was supposed by Her Majesty's Government there was anything in trade or the pursuit of trade which deadened 831 the intellect or prevented men from taking part in the administration of even the largest affairs of government, and if such arguments were used by any Member of the present Administration he felt certain they would not be shared in by the Prime Minister; because he had selected for the Cabinet, and in other Departments of the Government, gentlemen connected with the pursuits of trade, whose appointments would not be questioned on either side of the House. He therefore simply asked for the extension to India of that policy which had been found to work so beneficially for this country. The strongest objection which could be urged to the appointment of commercial men was, in his opinion, the difficulty there might be in obtaining men possessing the high qualifications necessary for the discharge of the duties. He did not think an income of £1,200 per annum sufficient to tempt men to leave their counting-houses or their ease to undertake the important and onerous duties of such an office; but if the office were made a more distinctive and honorary one, he believed men would be found who had resided in India and were perfectly conversant with trade, willing to undertake a work which, in his opinion, was superior in usefulness to any that could be offered to the ambition of man. The noble Duke who now so ably presided over the Department (the Duke of Argyll) was not likely to question the suitability of men engaged in trade for a seat in the Indian Council; he had given strong personal proofs of his appreciation of trade, and he believed it would be found that no future Secretary of State for India would hesitate to avail himself of the services of men who, by their energy of character, their trained business habits, and their sound practical knowledge—one of the highest qualifications for any office—had won a reputation in the world of commerce, and had shown themselves able to do justice to any interests, whether Indian or European. In conclusion, he hoped that his Motion would not be met by the Government in any spirit of hostility; but that it would be received in the spirit in which it was offered. He had carefully and studiously worded it, so that by its moderation it might disarm hostility. All he asked was for the House to affirm the principle that it was desirable that some members of the Indian 832 Council should be persons conversant with trade, and he trusted that such a Motion would not be regarded by the Government as in any way dictating to them, or fettering their discretion in the selection of the Council. The Resolution affirmed a principle which he hoped would be acceptable to Members on both sides of the House, especially those representing commercial constituencies. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that the Council of State for India should embrace amongst its members persons practically conversant with the trade and commerce of India."—(Mr. Graves.)
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he entirely concurred with the hon. Member for Liverpool in the importance which he had assigned to the commercial connection of this country with India, and that those who were interested in the government of India should on all occasions recognize that importance; but to adopt the Motion of the hon. Member would render it necessary to alter the construction of the Council in many particulars. At present, no one could be a Member of the Council without he had first resided in India, and possessed a practical knowledge of that country; and in fact the Motion, at first sight, would point to the introduction into the Council of men only who had acquired a mercantile experience in India. There were many reasons why that could not be carried out. Of those who went to India for commercial purposes, those who did not succeed would not probably be good representatives of commerce, and those who returned home with fortunes would prefer, if they desired to take part in public affairs, to enter this House. There was not, in the position of a member of the Indian Council, the attraction which would induce persons to dedicate themselves to the service of India there. His hon. Friend would, perhaps, seek to enlarge the field of selection, and no doubt the Indian Council would be better if it comprised men of commercial experience. There was no indifference in the Council to the representations made on commercial subjects. What was wanted were originating minds—men who would 833 enforce on the attention of others those subjects in connection with India to which the people of England attached so much importance. He had no wish to place the slightest difficulty in the way of the hon. Member's Motion; but, looking at it from the point of view that the Motion was inconsistent with the present state of the law, he hoped his hon. Friend would consider he had done good service in having ventilated the question, and not press the House to a Division upon the subject. If the law were so altered as to admit of the admission to the Council of gentlemen of commercial experience in this country, he was sure that there were men who might gain great distinction and confer great benefit upon India if they were members of the Council. But it was within his knowledge that these offices had been offered to and declined by more than one gentleman among his acquaintance. The duties of a member of the Indian Council were not light; and so jealous was Parliament of the manner in which they might be exercised, that it did not allow anyone who filled the office to sit in that House. He was one of those who thought that provision unwise, and he would wish to see it altered; for, if that were done, there might be opened a wider field of selection. He should be glad to see the object which the Resolution of his hon. Friend had in view carried into effect.
§ MR. EASTWICK
said, there were strong reasons for bringing before the House the Resolution which the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) had moved. Our Empire in India had been founded by a commercial community, and our interest in that country had been for two centuries purely commercial. But at the end of nearly two centuries there supervened a time when that interest was subordinated to our political necessities. But when that period terminated and the great Indian Mutiny was ended, there was a general recognition of opinion that our Indian Empire had reached its limits, and that the time had come when we should adjust the finances of India, and employ them in such a way as to develop its resources and commerce. Our political anxieties being at an end, our commercial interests came again to the front. At that period the principle was recognized that the commercial element should be introduced 834 into the Government of India, not only in India itself, but in this country. In India that principle had been carried out in practice, and there were men of commercial eminence now sitting in the Council at Calcutta. In this country the principle was recognized in the Bill which transferred the government of India from the Court of Directors to the Crown, but it was not carried out. Successive Secretaries of State had recognized the principle, and Lord Halifax looked about some time in the anxious hope that he would be able to replace Sir Charles Mills with a commercial man of eminence, and since then he had no doubt the present Government had been anxious to recognize the principle. The principle being conceded they were met, however, with serious difficulties, and the first was to find gentlemen with proper qualifications. When the East India Company was in existence the fact that some of the directors were connected with commercial firms had led to great scandals and sometimes to postponement of the public to private interests. But then they must look for men not only of great commercial experience, but also of statesmanlike views; and such men, when found, would probably be unwilling to accept the respectable, but not very distinguished, post of a member of the Council of India. No doubt many valuable men might be found in that House; but they were precluded from the office by the India Act. There were strong reasons alleged for the exclusion when the Act passed; but he was one of those who thought it was an unfortunate circumstance. It was said that party conflicts might arise in that House between the Councillors and the Secretary of State for India, which would perhaps more than counterbalance the advantages to be derived from the light they could throw on Indian matters. It was also a mistake to insert the provision that the members of the Council should be appointed for life, because by so doing the vacancies were considerably reduced, thereby shutting out the very important object Lord Palmerston had in view, when he endeavoured to restrict the period to eight years, in order that successive Administrations might have the means of renewing the Council from time to time with persons returned from India with fresh knowledge and Of the 15 members of the Coun- 835 cil there was only one who possessed recent Indian experience. On the other hand, there were gentlemen, no doubt very eminent in their time, but who retired from the service 20, 30, or 40 years ago. There was great difficulty in getting a vacancy, and when it did occur they could not fill it up with a commercial man. For instance, there was a financial department, but there was only one solitary financial member. If there should be a vacancy in that department, it must be filled by another financial man. Then, in the Department of Public Works they had only got one member, whereas two were manifestly required—one with a knowledge of canals, and the other with a knowledge of railways and other public works. The military department was now represented by a military man, but two were required—one with experience of the European, the other of the Native Army. If a vacancy occurred there it would have again to be filled up by the appointment of a military man. The judicial department required two representatives—one with a knowledge of English law; the other educated in the Civil Service of India, with some acquaintance with the practice of Indian Courts. In the revenue department there ought to be at least four members—one for Bengal, another for Bombay, another for Madras, and a fourth for the Panjáb. The financial knowledge of any one man ought not to be required to extend beyond one of these great provinces. In the political department two persons were wanted—one with a knowledge of Persia and Affghanistan, another acquainted with the Native States on the Eastern frontier; but they had only one. In the sanitary department there ought to be a medical man, who should be able to advise the Council on the location and health of the troops, on drainage, and all that related to that department. Even if vacancies were to occur, in 14 cases they could not fill them up with commercial men. There was but one place left, and in that no doubt they could put a commercial man, if they could get a gentleman of eminence to accept the post; but the chances were very much against it. Having got over the difficulties of finding proper men, and creating vacancies, another difficulty presented itself, as to what functions the commercial men should discharge. They would be able 836 to give useful advice on matters of commerce and trade; but in order to solve the great question of Indian finance they must have a practised financier. The accounts must be divided into two great branches—the home and the Indian accounts, and the Indian accounts must be managed in India. There remained the home accounts, and here such a member might be of use; but the greatest part of these accounts were stereotyped, and there was not more than £250,000 in which a change could be effected. No doubt commercial members of Council would be able to make many valuable suggestions as regards trade; but in order to see what could be effected in this direction, it would be as well to see what had already been done. Since 1857 the commerce of India had risen from £54,000,000 to £103,813,000, which was an increase enough to satisfy the most inordinate craving. With regard to cotton, in 1857 the commerce of India amounted to only £1,500,000; in 1866, it had risen to £35,500,000. He recollected when he was in India the ryots in Bombay were in the greatest distress; but, owing to the flourishing state of the cotton cultivation, these people were now in the most comfortable position possible. Then as to opium. There was a revenue of between £7,000,000 and £8,000,000 derived from that source; and not only that, but the cultivation of opium placed about 1,000,000 of the inhabitants in India in a far more comfortable position than any other portion of the inhabitants of that great country. In the first place, it had been observed that those who were engaged in the manufacture of opium were less exposed to disease than other persons. In the next place, the cultivators could never experience the distress from which others of the working classes suffered. They could never want funds for their industry, because money was always advanced to them by the Government; and they could never be sold up, because in case of any loss arising from weather or other causes the advances were wiped off at once as bad debts. The trade in opium was created entirely by our Government, and so was that in indigo; but the cultivation of indigo, unlike that of opium, was not popular with the ryots. There was also the China grass, the fibre of which was sent to this country for manufacture, and the Indian Go- 837 vernment had offered £5,000 to any person who would invent a machine for removing the fibre, an operation which had as yet to be performed by the hand. When this invention was discovered, the commerce in China grass would doubtless considerably increase, and so benefit the finances of India. In reply to the objection that the extension of our trade with India might imply attention to English rather than Indian interests, he contended that, if India suffered in any one direction, she would be sure to gain a compensatory advantage in another. Thus if England had destroyed the muslins of Dacca, she had in return given India the Cinchona tree and the Tea tree, and had developed a commerce in jute the value of which already amounted to more than £1,000,000. A Minister of Commerce should be appointed in order to promote the full operation of these benefits, and to take a general survey over all the commercial interests of the country. Nothing could at present exceed the zeal shown by the Indian Government in encouraging all useful manufactures; and in proof of that he referred to the beautifully arranged museum at the India Office, and the 700 specimens of Indian fabrics prepared and distributed in this country under the superintendence of Mr. Forbes Watson. Whatever zeal could do had been done by the Government of India. At the same time, there was a lack in the constitution of the Council, which required a member who could bring his experience of the commerce of this country into useful operation for the benefit of the whole British Empire. He cordially supported the Motion, and hoped the Government would offer no opposition to it.
§ SIR THOMAS BAZLEY
concurred in the belief that a change was needed in the Indian Council, and largely agreed with the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves); but he took a different view of the question from that which the hon. Member had placed before the House. The hon. Member regarded the London Council as the governing power of India; but many eminent statesmen had placed upon record their opinion that India must be governed in India. It was not possible for any men, however able and eminent, to govern India in England. When Lord Stanley, the present Earl of Derby, carried his measure for the sup- 838 pression of the East India Company, and established an Imperial Government, he put forward a proclamation which did honour to his statesmanship, and since that time there had been a marvelous development of enlightened principles in the government of India. The Indian Council, as the hon. Member for Liverpool had shown, consisted of men of eminence and ability, who were faithfully performing their duties; and, for his part, he might add that, having occasion frequently to visit the India House in this city, he had always found every one connected with the Department quite ready to receive any suggestions which were calculated to promote the prosperity of commerce in India and in Great Britain; and the late Government sent out a Governor General, who proclaimed the most enlightened principles, and had laboured manfully to carry them out. In all these things he saw the promise of a great future for India. Although he approved of the object of the Motion, he thought it ought not to be brought forward at this moment, when Her Majesty's Government were engaged in considering matters urgently connected with the immediate prosperity of the Empire. Very great changes were needed in India. There had been a degree of supineness in past times which should be removed. He must express his regret that there were so many military officers employed in civil duties in India, and if commercial men could be substituted the change would give a great impulse to beneficial government. We further required a Minister of Commerce and Agriculture in India; and he was glad to believe that such a Minister would be immediately called into existence in India, for the resources of India must be developed in India. Looking back to what had taken place during the time the Imperial Government had ruled, he found that India had made great progress. The length of the railways had risen from 300 miles in 1858 to 4,000 miles in 1868; but if it were remembered that there were 40,000 miles of railway in the United States, it would be seen how much remained to be done in India. With improved agriculture, he believed there would be an immense increase in the yield of the soil of India; and to show its capacity in this respect, he referred to its export of cotton to England, which rose from 132,000,000 pounds weight in 1858 to 839 434,000,000 pounds in 1868; but again, to show that it did not maintain its hold upon this country against America, he cited our imports from the United States, which in 1858 were 833,000,000 pounds (against 132,000,000 pounds from India), which fell very low during the American War—the quantity being only about 61,000,000 pounds—and which, in 1868, had risen again to 574,000,000 pounds (against 434,000,000 pounds from India). He was anxious that the great industry of this country should not depend entirely upon one source of supply, and that the great British territory of India should have the lion's share. In 1858 the imported products of India amounted to £15,000,000, while in 1868 the value had increased to £30,000,000. Railways were still needed, and irrigation, and, above all, agricultural improvements. He begged to express a hope that at no distant day commercial men would be taken into the Indian Council in such a proportion as would make their commercial knowlege practically useful. He was sure they would be found as honourable as any men who could be chosen for the position from any other class. He trusted that the speech of the Under Secretary would make it unnecessary for his hon. Friend (Mr. Graves) to divide on this Motion.
MR. GRANT DUFF
agreed to a great extent with what had been said by the hon. Gentleman and others who had supported this Motion. He thought it most desirable that in the Council of specialists which assisted the Secretary of State for India in governing that vast country, full of diverse and even opposing interests, there should be one or more persons whose first duty it should be to keep his or their eyes always fixed on the bearing of every proposal upon the commercial development of India. And he thought it extremely important that this commercial member, or these commercial members of Council should be men quite as efficient for their own particular work as the best of their colleagues were for theirs. They should be, if possible, men who were thoroughly acquainted both with the capitalists and the wants of India, and if that was impossible they should at least be men having a good general acquaintance with the commercial movement of the world, as well as a grasp of economic science. They should, in fact, be not only mer- 840 chants but statesmen. No one could, he was sure, be more impressed than his noble Friend the present Secretary of State for India with the great advantage he would derive from the assistance of one or more such men. The development of Indian commerce was a matter of interest not only to India, not only to Great Britain, but to the world. It must not be forgotten, however, that the first condition of the development of Indian commerce was the continued maintenance there of British power, and the first condition of the maintenance of British power was good government. It followed from this that the primary duty of the Secretary of State in framing his Council was to look out for men who could assist him in so governing our Eastern Empire that we might keep it for the advantage of its people, of our people, and of mankind. Let the House forget for the moment that the Indian Council was an existing institution, dating from the year 1858, in which all the Members now sitting held their seats for life, and in which vacancies very rarely occurred; let them suppose that the Secretary of State were framing his Council de novo, had not to consider by whom the vacancy he had to fill up was made—what were the sort of men that he would have to choose? First, he supposed the Minister would remember that he ruled a great Empire in another quarter of the globe which had relations with many principalities and powers outside its own borders, the mismanagement of which might at any time cause vast expense not only to India but to England, and he would secure the assistance of statesmen who had a good general acquaintance with the affairs of Asia. Next, he would recollect that scattered through our own territories were an immense number of feudatory princes, many of whom had very little power, but of whom one ruled a territory larger than Great Britain, a second a territory larger than England, a third a territory as large as Scotland; and with all of whom we had treaties and more or less complicated relations. He would, then, certainly look out for one or more men versed in the diplomatic lore of India. Next, he supposed the Minister would reflect that even the wisest counsel could not always maintain peace, either without the frontier or within it, in a region of the Earth inhabited by so 841 many warlike races, and he would take good care to have well represented on his Council both the men who understood the Native troops and the men who understood those European troops, who, in hours of appeal, must ever be our ultima ratio. Next, he would reflect on the enormous diversity of race and circumstance in different parts of India, and take care that he had some one to advise him as to the special local circumstances of at least the more difficult provinces. Next, he would remember that the past of our own rule in India had created centrifugal as well as centripetal forces in that country, and that the Government of India and the great subordinate Governments of Madras and Bombay did not invariably work together quite as smoothly as might be desired. Without giving too much weight to this fact, he would not, if he were wise, entirely ignore it. Then he would remember that the Indian Budget was the fifth greatest in the world, and that the financial department in India required closer superintendence from home than any other. It would not escape his recollection that we were carrying on public works to an extent to which no Government ever carried them on before, and he would not allow himself to be entirely without good engineering advice. Then he would remember that our collectors managed the largest property in the universe, property which brought in a land revenue of £20,000,000 a year, and he would arrange to have by his side some persons to whom he might turn for assistance on questions of land tenure, agriculture, forests, fisheries, and the like. Next, he would reflect that we were trying and partially succeeding in our endeavour to make India as law-abiding as England, and he would certainly not omit to place on his Council some representatives of that vast judicial network which now covered the whole peninsula. He passed over a number of minor interests which should be more or less represented on the Indian Council, if there was to be an Indian Council at all. He cared only to put forward the great paramount interests which he had enumerated, and he asserted that the mere enumeration of these great paramount interests was quite sufficient to dispose of the exaggerated demands that were made by some persons out-of-doors 842 for commercial representatives among the 15 members of the Indian Council. Commerce had just claims to a representation on the Indian Council, but they might be easily overstated; for, after all, was not the best thing that the Indian Government, or any other Government, could do for commerce, first to set it free, and then to leave it alone; and did we want commercial men on the Council to keep that elementary truth before the mind of the Secretary of State? The fluctuations of opinion upon the subject of the commercial element in Indian government had been extremely curious. For many a long day the cry—partly just and partly unjust—was that India was governed on selfish mercantile principles by an association of London traders. That cry eventually prevailed—rightly prevailed—and the great company ceased to exist as a political institution. But now the wheel had come full circle, and if we were to follow the advice, he did not say of his hon. Friend opposite, but of the extreme advocates of the view winch he supported, India was once more to be governed in the interests not of its inhabitants, but of English trade. The only difference was to be that the interests of Lancashire wore to take the place of those of the City. But to return to the suggested mercantile Councillors. To be of the smallest use our mercantile Councillors must be men of real mark and ability; and in this country, where all commercial aptitude brought such golden returns, he did not quite see how it would pay a commercial man to leave his sweetness and his good fruit and go to be promoted over the trees at £1,200 per annum; more especially as he would find that being promoted over the trees meant one of two things—either throwing a disproportionate amount of work on his colleagues, or doing a great deal himself; and of this work nine-tenths would have nothing in the world to do with commerce. It could not be too often repeated that the Indian Council was not an initiating body—it was a revising body; and the mercantile Councillor would find exercise for his special gifts and graces only when the Secretary of State or the authorities in India put forward some mercantile question. The Indian Council did not make work for itself; it did the work that was made for it. Further, he ought to 843 remind the House that our mercantile Councillors, if they were men who had had some experience of Indian trade, must have absolutely severed their connection with it; because, if not, though they might unite the virtues of Noah, Daniel, and Job, their motives would, most assuredly be misrepresented in India; and their presence would be a source not of strength, but of weakness to the controlling Government. He pointed out those things not in the least as opposing the admission of mercantile members. Who would be so absurd as to say that several men of the stamp of Mr. Cobden would not be a most valuable addition to the Indian Council? He only pointed them out for the purpose of showing that the difficulties of the question did not end, but only began, when it was agreed that the presence of one or more mercantile members in the Indian Council would be highly desirable. He came now to the question whether, since all parties were agreed as to the advantage that would accrue from the presence of one or two commercial statesmen among the advisers of the Secretary of State, if only they could be got, it was desirable that a Resolution to that effect should be put upon the Journals of the House. He very much doubted it. A Resolution of that House was a serious matter. It should not embody a mere truism. It should be the end of strife, the close of a long discussion—not a proposition to which every reasonable man might say—"Of course, and what then?" He objected—if there was not a very good reason for it, to do anything to relieve the Secretary of State for India of any responsibility which he now had. The whole course of our legislation since the beginning of the Session of 1858 had been to increase the responsibility of the Secretary of State. There were some who thought that he had still too little responsibility, and only last year the House decided to increase his responsibility by taking away from the Indian Council the right to elect a portion of its own body. Surely, then, it would be very inconsistent now to pass a solemn Resolution that the Secretary of State should exercise his power in a particular way. If that were done, might not a Secretary of State, instead of making the appointment which he in his conscience believed to be best for his coun- 844 try, turn round and say—"'I know that I ought to have appointed such an one, for it is precisely the kind of knowledge which he possesses that is most needed in my Council at this moment; but I am bound to respect the Resolution of the House of Commons, and I must appoint a commercial man." It seemed to him that it would be wise to be satisfied with the general expression of opinion which they had had; for, after all, it must not be forgotten that, even if there were as many commercial members in the Indian Council as anyone had ever proposed, it was to Parliament—and above all to that House—that the commercial interests of this country would look to see that they were properly kept in view by Her Majesty's Indian Government. On the Indian Council the commercial interests could exert no pressure whatever; but on the Secretary of State they could exert the greatest possible pressure. The representatives of those interests had only to come down to that House and put the India Office on its defence for any act of omission or commission, and they might depend upon it they would have incomparably more influence than by having any number of persons supposed specially to sympathize with them in the Indian Council. If anything was done that should not be done, or not done which should be done, the House of Commons was the place to point it out. If the India Office was right the House would agree with it, and if its assailants were right it would agree with them. In this commercial age, and in this commercial country, the Secretary of State should have the interest of commerce at heart—as much at heart as any commercial member of Council could possibly have. Had he not got those interests at heart? Enough had transpired in the debate to show that the well-informed commercial interests of this country knew perfectly well that there was no one reasonable thing which they had recently asked, or could ask, from the India Office, under either a Conservative or a Liberal Government, which had not, or would not be, immediately granted. There was no shadow of difference in that respect between the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote)—whose absence he much regretted—and the policy of his noble Friend the present Secretary of 845 State. He had only to add the expression of a hope that, after having heard the views of the Government on the subject, his hon. Friend opposite would not think it necessary to press his Motion to a Division.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he had been in hopes that after the lucid speech and the able arguments of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), Government would have thrown no obstacles in the way of the Resolution being passed. If, indeed, he had any doubt as to the expediency of going to a Division on the question, the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down would have convinced him that it was right to do so. He had stated that the Indian Council was composed of the ablest men, and that, no doubt, was the fact; but it nevertheless remained true that it was desirable there should be among its members a representative of the interests of commerce. The Government of India naturally divided itself into two aspects—the commercial and the political; and it was extremely difficult to separate them. It was, at all events, quite clear that we could not continue to hold our Indian Empire for another quarter of a century entirely by the sword. Had we attended to irrigation and to the great land question, or, in short, had we done anything to ameliorate the condition of the Indian people? On the contrary, we had increased the duty on the essential commodity of salt, and added 3 per cent to the income tax, which was regarded with the greatest horror, not only by the Natives, but also by the British population of India, and the result of it all was that the Army had to be reduced to 61,000, which was insufficient for the defence and good government of that dependency. All this surely tended to show that some new element was necessary in the Indian Council. Even if, as the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary had stated, the Council was merely a controlling power, an infusion of new blood into it would be of the utmost importance. India contained 195,000,000 of people who were apt, clever, highly gifted, and not specially lazy, and yet they were about the poorest people on the face of the earth, and that too in the face of the fact that their soil was one of the richest and most productive in the world. There must be some reason for this, and in his opinion it was to be 846 found in the fact of our bad commercial relations with that country. If the land were improved by irrigation and otherwise, we might double or treble our imports from India. Not long ago an American gentleman and a Parsee, wishing to reclaim a large district of uncultivated country, applied to the Indian Government for permission to repair a tank which was within 200 yards of the land, but no answer had been returned to the application. That was the paternal conduct of the Government in such matters. He was sorry to hear the Under Secretary sneer at Lancashire for having made this a local question. In reality, however, it was not a Lancashire, but a British question, as it interested everyone who was anxious for the welfare of Great Britain.
MR. GRANT DUFF
explained that he did not sneer at Lancashire. What he said was that some foolish persons acted in a manner which would lead one to suppose they thought the Government of India ought to be carried on for the benefit of Lancashire.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he had misunderstood the hon. Gentleman, and proceeded to point out that by the development of industry in India, and particularly by encouraging the growth of cotton, we might create such a demand for our manufactures as would meet the requirements of the times. The vast population of India were able and willing to produce almost everything which the climate would allow if we would only assist them, and they would be thankful to take our manufactured goods in exchange. An infusion of the commercial element into the Indian Council would, in his judgment, be productive of very great advantages, and therefore he should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Liverpool, who, he hoped, would take the opinion of the House upon it.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
sympathized with his hon. Friend's Motion, and had anticipated that it would have been met in a more friendly spirit by the Under Secretary of State for India. Indeed, he had hoped that the hon. Gentleman would respond in such a manner as to render it unnecessary to press the Motion further. Speaking from an extensive experience of India, he declared his belief that nothing would so much strengthen the confidence of the Natives in the 847 Council as the introduction into it of the commercial element. Those with whom the Natives had most sympathy were the mercantile classes, and the more broad our commercial relationships were made, the more firmly would our Empire in that country be established. The increase in the cotton cultivation of India had been effected chiefly through the agency of commercial men, and not through the instrumentality of the Indian Government. These were reasons for accepting the Resolution. It had, however, been alleged that fit men could not be found among the retired merchants who were prepared to occupy seats at the Council; but surely our duty was to mate the office sufficiently important to attract men of the very highest stamp. Further, it was urged that the Council was already too full, owing to its containing a number of men who had a life interest in the appointment. For the sake of so important an object as they had in view, it ought not to be very difficult to provide a sufficient inducement to some of the older members of the Indian Council to retire. As to the objection that there would be nothing in particular for commercial members to do when admitted to the Council, there was not a single question of Indian commerce that was not of most vital importance in connection with all the other departments, whether of finance, of public works, or even the military branch itself, because as long as the commercial affairs of India were in a satisfactory state, their military power was not likely to be called into action. He should like to see a Secretary of State for Education in India; and at any rate men who had a knowledge of business would afford valuable assistance to the Council. He regretted that the proposal had not been more cordially met by the Government. In conclusion, if the hon. Member for Liverpool insisted on dividing, he would go into the Lobby with him; but he would suggest that the hon. Gentleman should for the present be content with the amount of sympathy which his Motion had elicited.
§ SIR CHARLES WINGFIELD
said, he was glad to find the attention of the commercial community was being directed to the affairs of India in the manner which had been illustrated by the debate, for that country could not but benefit by consideration of this kind. He 848 thought the introduction into the Indian Council of gentlemen unconnected with the public services would dispel the erroneous impression which had taken possession of many minds that either the Home or the Indian Government had always been opposed to or had neglected the development of, the resources of India, and had discouraged the efforts of European enterprize when directed to that end. There was not a single undertaking now flourishing in India of which the Government of that country had not been the pioneer. For instance—steam navigation, postal travelling, transport of goods, and tea cultivation, had all been promoted by the Government, which had retired when private enterprize appeared in the field; and even the railways were not to be excluded from the list, because the Government 5 per cent guarantee found the money for their construction. The presence of commercial men in the Indian Council, and the responsibility they would thus incur for the due management of the Indian revenues, would strengthen the hands of the Secretary of State and make it more easy for him to resist the pressure sometimes brought to bear upon him by bodies in this country to sanction chimerical projects, such as the railway to Rangoon and Western China, or inconsiderate and hasty outlays upon public works. If, however, the commercial element were to be largely infused into the Council, it would be necessary to increase the number of the members, for the duties connected with controlling the government of 150,000,000 of people, and the conduct of our relations with the Native rulers of 50,000,000 more, were enormous; and he doubted whether commercial gentlemen of the qualifications and standing which it was desirable to secure would be found ready to give up their own lucrative pursuits in order to accept an office the remuneration attached to which was so paltry. The proposal to attach some honorary rank or distinction to the office was open to various objections, one of the most obvious of which was that the value of the honours would be diminished by making them follow from the mere tenure of office instead of being treated as the rewards of distinguished service in office—the principle on which they had hitherto been bestowed. The results he anticipated from the adoption of the hon. Member for Liverpool's Motion were rather of a ne- 849 gative character. He did not believe it would alter the principles on which the Government of India was conducted, nor did he think any alteration of those principles was required; but it would satisfy the wish expressed by an important class and tend to a better appreciation of the value of the Council. He thought the suggestion of the hon. Member for Manchester (Sir Thomas Bazley) for the creation of a special department in the Government of India of Trade, Commerce, and Agriculture, presided over by a gentleman appointed in England, was far better than the proposal of the hon. Member for Liverpool; and the experience of the working of the special departments of legislation and finance in India had been satisfactory.
I would presume to say, with reference to some remarks which have been made upon the speech of my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India, that I think these comments were made upon an insufficient recollection of one of the most important sentences in that speech. My hon. Friend began by expressing his concurrence, to a very great extent, with the general tenour of the opinions advanced by previous speakers, and then went on to state the qualifications which he attached to that concurrence. It seems to me the effect of that has been that the qualifications were remembered while the very considerable amount of concurrence, expressed by my hon. Friend in the first instance, was forgotten by some of those who had heard him. I do not think that such a discouraging view should be taken of the manner in which my hon. Friend took up the question, and I cannot but think that the real object of the Motion has been attained. I do not care to judge of a Motion of this kind by an exact criticism of its terms, or by endeavouring to hold the Mover bound to everything it expresses. But I think the circumstance that a Motion of this kind must be interpreted rather with reference to its general object than to all its precise expressions, constitutes a strong reason for that which I will urge upon the House—namely, that it is not very desirable to adopt it as a vote binding upon the House, but that it should be regarded as affording an opportunity for the expression of opinions which, proceeding from Gentlemen of great experience and capacity, must have an influ- 850 ence upon the conduct of the Government. There is no doubt with regard to the Motion itself; but it does not dispose of the whole subject with which it deals. It is evident that several hon. Gentlemen are not disposed to consider that the entire subject would be satisfactorily treated by the mere assertion that certain members conversant with trade and commerce ought to be introduced in the Council of India. My hon. Friend behind me has just said that the members of the Council ought rather to be enlarged; others had said that the restriction which prevents their sitting in Parliament ought to be removed. Each of these opinions relates to a very important subject which is not included in the Resolution; and each of them is directly connected with the purpose of the Resolution, which I take to be somewhat wider than is indicated by its exact terms. The hon. Member asks the House to vote that it is desirable that the Council of India should embrace amongst its members persons practically conversant with the trade and commerce of India; and my lion. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) has pointed out several shortcomings or positive errors of administration, which he thinks prove manifest deficiencies in the present Government. But these errors or defects may be removed by other means than the introduction of persons practically conversant with the trade and commerce of India. If we adopt the Resolution, we bind ourselves to choose from a very narrow field. I conceive that those who are connected with the trade of India are not a very numerous class, and of that class a very large proportion are entirely beyond our reach, and it would be out of our power to bring them into the Indian Council. Many are actively engaged in their own pursuits; some having been unsuccessful with their own affairs do not give promise of administrative capacity. There are others, again, who having been most successful, have passed the time at which they can any longer exercise their faculties in a manner requiring continuous strain; and others again, because of their ripe experience and ripe age, would not submit to the amount of labour, involving something like drudgery, which the Council of India requires. Do not let the hon. Member think I am urging these things as against the spirit of his 851 Motion; it is quite otherwise. If I understand his view, it is that there ought to be in the Council of India a less unvarying predominance of the element of the old official service of India, and a greater variety of type, a freer atmosphere, and more of that contact of various elements of mental power, ability, and experience, out of which all true excellence proceeds. But I do not gather that there is any desire to tie down the Government to one particular kind of remedy. I quite admit that, for the purpose of remedying in the Council the defect which has been described, if such a defect exists, the selection of persons conversant with the trade and commerce of India would be a subject well deserving of consideration. At the same time, the choice of the Secretary of State would be unduly fettered if, instead of looking for that capacity which a general experience in trade and commerce gave, he were restricted exclusively to those whose experience had been acquired in India. If you wanted a capable administration, you should look not so much to the positive knowledge of a man as his general training and mental aptitude; a man who was gifted with elasticity of thought and robustness of mind would be more useful than one who merely possessed a greater stock of positive knowledge. The general effect of this debate has been to signify the sense of the House of Commons, as represented by a number of Gentlemen very well qualified to express its sentiments, that it is desirable to modify, and, if possible, to enlarge the circle of those elements of which the Indian Council is composed. If that be so, I earnestly hope that the hon. Gentleman, and those who sympathize with him, will be satisfied to allow that expression of opinion to have due weight where it ought to be carefully considered. I hope he will not be disposed to ask us to bind ourselves to the adoption of the particular terms of a Resolution which, on the one hand, is embarrassing, because it conveys that sort of vague direction which it is very difficult to obey, and because it would diminish the responsibility of the Government rather than enhance it; and, on the other, is open to exception, inasmuch as the nature of the remedy it proposes is somewhat less broad and extended in its scope than the defect, if it existed, would require. I cannot 852 think of resorting to that method of moving the Previous Question, which is sometimes useful; but I am sure I may rely upon the hon. Member, and those who support him, to take the course which circumstances suggest, and allow the Government, and my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India (the Duke of Argyll), an opportunity of considering the general tenor and purport of the sentiments expressed in this debate. I am quite sure that, on his part, I may say, as has been intimated already, that no one would approach the consideration of a question of this kind less encumbered with prejudices than the noble Duke, or with a greater inclination to give effect to every reasonable expectation.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, his reference to distinctions had been misunderstood by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Charles Wingfield). What he had suggested was, that if in administering the affairs of India as a member of the Council, any commercial man displayed energy, zeal, and power, he was just as much entitled to receive the favour of his Sovereign as anyone who had served in a military or civil capacity; and such an honour might induce commercial men to accept office in the Council, though the mere remuneration would prove unavailing. The hon. Member for Manchester (Sir Thomas Bazley) was mistaken in supposing that he had no case because he had put forward no grievances—he had studiously avoided making complaints. He had no wish to weaken the power and prestige of our Indian Government—his wish was to strengthen and raise it; he sought rather to show that the desire to deal with its administration sprang from a sense of our responsibility, and a wish to make more perfect the Government on which depended the welfare of some 200,000,000 of the people of India. It was objected by the hon. Member for Manchester that the time was inopportune for the consideration of this question; but surely it was better to discuss a question of this kind when no pressing necessity had arisen, when there was no vacancy to fill up; when, therefore, the subject might be discussed without suspicion of motives, and without any question as to interference with the province of the Government. Until he heard the objections raised by the 853 hon. Member he was under the impression that, in the course he had taken, he had the entire approval of the commercial interest of Manchester. One of the Members for that great centre of industry had seconded his Motion, and he was not a little surprised at the objections raised to his proposal by the senior Member. The Under Secretary of State for India had favoured the House with his views, and if the case had rested on his statement, he could not have avoided dividing the House; for although the hon. Gentleman might have been sincere in desiring that there should be an infusion of the commercial element in the Council of India, yet he threw so many difficulties in the way of the scheme that the House must have concluded that he would not assist to carry out the object of the Resolution. The statement of the Prime Minister, however, made his course easy. The right hon. Gentleman said that the adoption of the Resolution might place difficulties in the way of the Government, and retard the object which those who agreed in the principle of the Motion wished to see achieved. That was enough for him; he had no wish to place difficulties in the way of the Government—he wanted rather to remove them. Besides, in the present state of the House, a mere assertion of the wish of the majority would scarcely be satisfactory. He accepted the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman in good faith. He was sure it was uttered in good faith; and he was perfectly satisfied with the unanimous expression of opinion which the Motion had drawn forth from both sides of the House. He believed that the subject would not have to be again brought before the House, because the Government would carry out what evidently appeared to be the wishes of the House in this matter; but if it should, he would not shrink from asking the House to record its conviction that the time had come when an infusion of the great mercantile mind of England was both desirable and necessary in the Council of State for India.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.