§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Edward Stanhope.)792
§ MR. WHITWELL
said, that no explanation had been given the House with regard to this Bill. So far as he could see, the Bill proposed to give the Governor General powers similar to those in the Mutiny Act, and for a certain branch of the Service, called the Indian Marine Service, including a great many persons, some of whom might be considered ordinary labourers. Power was given to inflict exemplary and speedy punishments, and some of the punishments were very heavy, and some were of a very light character. The Bill gave the Governor General power to authorize these laws to be put in force before receiving instructions from England; but they were to be repealed, if disallowed. With the exception of death, nearly all the punishments might be inflicted upon a British subject born in England. The Bill also gave power, under these laws, to punish by death Natives of India. Powers to inflict penal servitude upon British subjects, with the sanction of the Government at home, were also given. Therefore, he thought that this Bill was one of the most serious character, and that it should not be read a second time at that hour. He should move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." (Mr. Whitwell.)
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, that the Bill was of a very simple character indeed. It contained powers exactly similar to those which had been in force a great many years, by which the Government of India was empowered to make regulations with regard to persons serving in the Marine Service. The Indian Navy was abolished; but it had been subsequently found, after very careful inquiry, that it would be necessary for India to have under its own control a few vessels for local purposes. For that reason, the Government of India had authorized a small Marine Service; but they had no power, as the matter stood, to enforce any discipline in the Service. For that reason, they proposed to give to the Governor General, by this Bill, power to regulate the Service. There was nothing peculiar in the Bill, and any regulations made under it were not to be enforced if the Secretary of State disallowed them. That was all it was necessary to say 793 upon the subject; the hon. Gentleman, therefore, would see that the Bill was of a simple character.
§ MR. BARING
inquired whether the powers were given to the Governor General, or to the Governor General in Council, to make regulations under the Act?
§ MR. E STANHOPE
observed, that the phrase used of the Governor General in Council was the one always made use of in Acts of Parliament.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
was surprised that this Bill should be taken so late at night. It was not the annual Mutiny Bill for India—that had been repealed. This was a new Bill, and he did not think that it should be taken at that time.
§ MR. ONSLOW
thought that some further information should be furnished by the Under Secretary of State for India with regard to the state of this Marine. The Indian Marine was abolished some years ago, on the understanding that Her Majesty's Navy should undertake all its then duties, and the Indian Government agreed to pay about £70,000 a-year towards the expenses of the Navy. Now, it seemed that the Indian Marine was to be established on its old footing; and it appeared that many of the duties which ought, in his opinion, to be performed by Her Majesty's Navy were to be thrown upon the Indian Marine. He thought that they should be told the reason for this expenditure, and the necessity for an Indian Marine co-existent with Her Majesty's Navy in Indian waters. If this Bill were to be extended to a great extent, he thought it would be in the interests of the Indian Exchequer that it should be opposed.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow, at Two of the clock.