HC Deb 15 March 1875 vol 222 cc1852-5

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Lord George Hamilton.)


, in moving, as an Amendment— That it is inexpedient for Parliament to impose any new charges on the revenues of India until the Select Committee which has been appointed to investigate the Indian home charges has completed its inquiry, said, he had to complain of the hurried manner in which that measure, which imposed a charge on the revenues of India, was pressed forward. It was to be regretted that the Committee which last Session began an inquiry with regard to the Home Charges connected with the Government of India had not been reappointed, for it had not gone further than the threshold of the investigation, the only part of the subject it had taken up being the military charges. The present Bill proposed pensions to certain officers, but before any measure of the kind was considered, it was most desirable that the whole question of Indian pensions should be investigated. If such an inquiry was held, and he had any share in it, he pledged himself that disclosures would be made which would astonish the House of Commons. Some remarkable differences existed between the system of pensions prevailing at the India Office and that which existed in the other Government Offices. A gentleman employed in the India Office might enjoy two distinct pensions, and in addition occupy a highly-salaried office. If he had occupied two or more offices under the Indian Government he might get as many pensions. The telegrams which had been received from India that day foreshadowed a financial catastrophe in that country, and therefore it behoved the British Parliament to enforce the strictest economy in every Department of the Government of that country. He asked the House to hear in mind that if there was to be profuse liberality and recklessness in the giving of pensions, it should be with the revenues of England, and not with those of India. What was the state of the Revenue of India? The Debt of India was increasing alarmingly, and the Revenue was rapidly diminishing; yet in the face of such a state of things, the burdens of India were increased. Contrast such a course of proceeding with that which was pursued with regard to England with its diminishing debt, rapidly-increasing revenue, and slowly-increasing expenditure. It was said if the Bill was not allowed to pass, the Government would find it difficult to pension the Members of the Council of India; but before those pensions were granted, the House should have the opportunity to consider what the character of the Indian Council was. By all accounts, it was a most extravagant, costly body. There was not a single Member of the Indian Council entitled to a pension. They took the office, to which immense salaries were attached, and they had no ground to come to this House to ask for pensions. In moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice, he was only following the line pointed out by the present Secretary of State for India, when, in his evidence, Lord Salisbury said that the best and only security they could have for economy as regarded the finances of India was the constant watchfulness of the House of Commons. He cordially agreed in that maxim, and for one, he would watch their affairs, and try, by raising his voice, to protect their finances just as much as if the money were to be taken out of the pockets of his own constituents. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is inexpedient for Parliament to impose any new charges on the revenues of India until the Select Committee which has been appointed to investigate the Indian home charges has completed its inquiry,"—(Mr. Fawcett,)

—instead thereof.


said, that if, as was alleged by his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), extravagant pensions had been paid to employés in the India Office in times past—a point on which he (Lord George Hamilton) would not express an opinion—that would not have occurred if the whole of the recipients had been placed under the provisions of the Superannuation Act of 1859, as was proposed to be done with the gentlemen to whom the present Bill applied. Those gentlemen were the auditor, who, through an oversight, was the only member of the Indian establishment not receiving a pension, and certain Members of the Council, a body to whose Members pensions had to be given in order to secure the services of gentlemen best fitted to assist the Secretary of State. If the Secretary of State gave any pension under this Bill the warrant for that pension would have to be laid upon the Table of the House, and the subject could then be amply discussed, if that should be thought necessary. The hon. Gentleman had introduced a great deal of extraneous matter, having nothing whatever to do with the operation of the Bill, which, in his opinion, would not in any way add to the charges upon the Indian Revenue. A telegram had been received from the Indian Government, from which it appeared that the state of the Indian finances was more satisfactory now than when he laid the Indian Financial Statement before the House last year. With respect to the Resolution proposed by the hon. Member, it should be remembered that the Home Charges amounted to a very considerable sum, and that it would be impossible to take any step, however small, with respect to them until the Report of the Committee was presented, if the Resolution was adopted by the House. Under those circumstances, he could not agree to the Resolution.


regretted that more notice was not taken of the affairs of India, and expressed his surprise that Indian affairs were not discussed until nearly the close of the sitting when not more than 10 to 20 Members were present.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question,"

The House divided:—Ayes 138; Noes 72: Majority 66.

Main Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."


inquired, whether Members of the Council of India would be entitled to superannuation?


said, that as he read the Bill, those Members of Council would be entitled to pensions who had served 10 years, and those who were already in receipt of pensions or superannuations because of services in India, would not be entitled to pensions under the measure.


asked for the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown on the point.


, said, in order to settle the point, he would move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Sullivan.)


said' he did not object to the Motion, as it would give him time to consult the Law Officers of the Crown; and if they thought it necessary he would introduce words to make his interpretation of the Bill perfectly clear. He hoped if he did so, there would be no further opposition to the third reading of the Bill.


said, he must decline to accept the noble Lord's condition.

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Thursday.