HC Deb 15 August 1889 vol 339 cc1321-3
MR. BRADLAUOH (Northampton)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether, when the Queen was proclaimed Empress of India at the Delhi Assembly held on 1st January 1877, it was stated by Lord Lytton, then Viceroy of India, that Her Majesty— Being desirous of seeking from time to time the counsel and advice of the Princes and Chiefs of India, and of thus associating them with the paramount Power in a manner honourable to themselves and advantageous to the general interests of the Empire. as one mark of the notable occasion, on which the Princes and Chiefs of India were assembled together, constituted a Council of the Empire to which, among others, 20 feudatory Princes were nominated; whether the Council has ever met for the transaction of business; and, if so whether he lay upon the Table of the House a record of its proceedings; if not, whether the Secretary of State will explain why a solemn promise of the Queen Empress has been wholly ignored, and a reform which promised to be of the greatest possible benefit in securing the stability of British rule in India has not been carried out; and whether, in view of the loyal and patriotic spirit displayed by the Princes in making provision for the defence of the North-Western Frontier of India, the Secretary of State will take immediate steps to give effect to Her Majesty's gracious desire to associate the Princes and Chiefs of India— With the paramount Power, in a manner honourable to themselves and advantageous to the general interests of the Empire?


At the Delhi Assembly on the 1st January, 1877, the Viceroy appointed 20 Counsellors of the Empress. Of these eight only were natives. 12 being Europeans. The title of Counsellor of the Empress was honorary. The holders were not to form part of any organised body, and were not to be summoned for collective deliberation, though on occasions of emergency consultations between the Viceroy and one or more of the Counsellors might strengthen the hands of the Executive Government. The Council have, according to the original design, never met for the transaction of business; but the Secretary of State has no reason to suppose that successive Viceroys have failed to avail themselves of the advantage of consultation with the individual Counsellors when occasion has arisen for their advice. It is the settled policy of the Government of India to associate the Princes and Chiefs of India with the Government of Her Majesty, and no more conspicious instance of the success of this policy can be cited than the recent arrangements repecting the Native Armies and the defence of the North-West Frontier.


Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that there are now any native Princes and Chiefs who are Councillors?


No, Sir; I did not say so. I said there were eight appointed in 1877.


Are those eight alive now or not?


If the hon. Gentleman wants information upon that subject, perhaps he will give notice and put another question.


I beg to say that, in reference to the answer of the hon. Gentleman to my question, I will renew the subject on the Indian Budget.