HL Deb 25 February 1853 vol 124 cc631-48

pursuant to notice, presented a petition from the Madras Native Association, and others native inhabitants of the Presidency of Madras, praying for redress of certain grievances in connexion with the expiration of the East India Company's Charter. The petitioners stated that they suffered more especially from excessive taxation, from the vexatious mode of levying that taxation, and from the delay and expense in the Company's courts of law. They alleged that their chief wants were the construction of roads, bridges, and works of irrigation, and a better provision for the education of the people. They also desired a reduction of the public expenditure, and a form of local government more generally conducive to the happiness of the people and the prosperity of the country. The petitioners, as far as he could judge from the tenor of their statements and arguments, were really the persons they represented themselves to be—that is to say, they were a body of about 3,000 or 4,000 native inhabitants of Madras and of its neighbourhood. The petition was very voluminous; and their Lordships would not therefore expect that he should notice all the points into which it entered. But he should be deficient in respect to the petitioners, and should not act in a manner satisfactory to himself, if he did not briefly lay before their Lordships some of the more material grievances to which those parties alleged that they were subjected. They complained, in the first instance, of what was called the ryotwar system, under which the ryots paid their contributions in the first instance to the Government; the other two systems being known as the zemindary and the village systems. The ryotwar system, of which the petitioners complained, had been principally established by Sir Thomas Monroe, who was no doubt the highest authority on all matters of administration that ever existed in India. He was, take him for all in all, the most remarkable man whom the Indian service had at any time produced. He was a man more nearly resembling in civil and military qualities, than any other man with whose history and character he (the Earl of Ellenborough) was acquainted, the illustrious man whom this country had lately lost. But, at the same time, he was not quite certain that the very circumstance of Sir T. Monroe having himself been a man of such extraordinary ability and knowledge, might not have led him into the error of supposing that ordinary men might be capable of administering a system which it required his own superior qualities to carry into effect. Under the ryotwar system it was necessary for the Government to fix the value of each property, however small; and it was manifest that it was more difficult to administer such a system than to impose a certain amount of taxation on a large district, and allow the zemindar—that was to say, the principal proprietor—to pay that sum to the Government, he reimbursing himself by the receipt of rents from the cultivators; or so fixing the total amount to be paid by a district as to allow the mass of the inhabitants to apportion their contributions among themselves. This question of the different revenue systems had been one on which those who dealt with the subject had been much divided, and they had written upon it with as much warmth as those who wrote upon religious questions; and he (the Earl of Ellemborough) was not prepared distinctly to express any opinion upon it. But this he would say, that where the zemindary system existed, it could not be changed without extinguishing the race of native gentlemen; and perhaps the best mode of proceeding would be not to destroy any of the existing systems, but to endeavour to improve them without effecting any very violent alteration. The next complaint in the petition was, he thought, a very just one; it was a complaint relating to the subject of roads and irrigation. The petitioners stated that there were scattered throughout their country many evidences of the great attention which had been paid by preceding Governments to the irrigation of the land; that there were many tanks erected in ancient times which were at present in the worst possible repair, and were of little or no value; and they added, that although they were obliged to pay for irrigation, that matter was greatly neglected, and that the resources of the country were left undeveloped. He should say that it was a scandal to our rule that we had not been able to maintain the irrigation established by the Governments which had preceded us in India. In this country everybody knew how greatly land was improved by drainage; in India the great want was irrigation, which was, in fact, indispensable for insuring the productiveness of the soil. The petitioners also complained of the state of their roads; and complained, he feared, very justly. Throughout India, generally, or at least, throughout that portion of it which had fallen under his observation, there were no roads except what were called the great trunk roads, which afforded a means of communication between the more important cities and districts. Of lateral roads of communication there were none. The trunk roads even were in many instances of a very bad description; they were traced rather than made, and were in some places altogether without bridges. He had himself had to order the construction of fifty bridges in one year on a road which he had been obliged to pass. There were a few good roads in India; but those were short, and only served to connect some particularly favoured localities, and did not extend into the country for the benefit of the population generally. The consequence was, that all the heavier articles of produce—cotton, for instance, the most important—were greatly increased in price from the difficulty of transporting them; and the superabundant produce of grain of one part of the country could not be brought to repair the injury occasioned by scarcity in another. There were few countries which suffered more from drought than India, but the drought was seldom or never universal; and yet the badness of the roads rendered it extremely difficult to turn to the best account the partial spread of that visitation. He had never felt such sentiments of disgust and indignation as when he had been travelling from Gwalior through Bundelcund, at witnessing the scandalous state of the roads in a country which had for a period of forty years been under our dominion. He knew that there was a great disposition on the part of the Court of Directors to confine the Governor General to Calcutta, where he could hear nothing but through the ears of the secretaries and councillors by whom he was surrounded, and where he could see nothing but through their eyes. If he were to depend upon the information he might thus acquire, and upon it alone, he could know little about the real state of India. He (the Earl of Ellenborough) objected as much as any man to a Governor General going to live at Simla, and he objected still more to his going to live on the confines of Tartery; but if the Court of Directors should lead Parliament to imagine it to be necessary that the Governor General should be confined to Calcutta—that he should never see things with his own eyes—that he should have no opportunity of seeing how his instruments worked, and of testing the value of men's services—that he should not be able to hear the complaints of the people on the spot, redressing their injuries, and ordering the necessary improvements — in that case there would always exist in India those defects of administration which it would be impossible for a Governor General not to see when he traversed the country. The petitioners complained that the deficiency of the revenue in India was alleged as a ground why roads were not made, and irrigation was neglected. But he (the Earl of Ellenborough) believed that that was a very insufficient ground. He was satisfied that there was nothing which a Government in India could do with more advantage to its character and to the development of the resources of the country, than to borrow money at 5 per cent, if it were necessary, for the purpose of expending it specially in irrigation, but also in roads; for it was certain that the return in such a case would amount to 20 or 25 per cent on the outlay. He would never hesitate in opening a 5 per cent loan for the purpose of obtaining money for carrying out those great improvements. The petitioners expressed their opinion also with respect to the very imperfect state of education in their country, and the smallness of the sums which were devoted to that purpose. But their Lordships should not fall into an error with respect to the education of the natives of India. He recollected perfectly well having heard a great many years ago—in the year 1813 or 1814—the eloquent answer which Sir Thomas Monroe had given before the Committee of the House of Commons to a question which had been put to him with respect to the civilisation of the Hindoos. On that occasion Sir T. Monroe distinctly stated that there were native schools in every village, in which reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught; and he (the Earl of Ellenborough) believed that, as regarded these acquisitions, the people of India, or at least the people in the Presidency from which the present petition proceeded, were better educated than the great majority of the people of England. But what was meant by education in the present instance was English education; and English education, in the prayer of the petitioners, meant office, and the influence which must necessarily to a great extent follow the acquisition of the English language. This question of education was one of the most important, perhaps which Parliament could consider, with reference to the state of India and its government. If all were to be done, in the way of education in India, which some sanguine and liberal persons desired—if all the higher and all the middle classes in India wore instructed as the same classes were instructed in this country, it would of course be impossible for us to maintain our dominion there, just as it would be impossible for the people of England, in our present state of knowledge, to bear the constant immigration of Brahmin and Mussulman young gentlemen, if they should be sent over every year to occupy the great offices in this country. The extension of knowledge in India, as some people would extend it, would be utterly inconsistent with British domination; and however he might be disposed—and he believed no one was more disposed than he was—to do all that could be done for the people of India, he was not prepared to do anything which could impair the security with which we at present held possession of that country. But they had other material points to consider in connexion with that question of education in India. The persons at present educated there were, with few exceptions, the sons of the lowest members of the community. The gentlemen of India would no more send their sons to the public schools in the districts, than their Lordships would send their sons to the ragged schools in this country; they would not allow their sons to mix with the persons who frequented these schools; and, besides, there existed in India a strong feeling in favour of domestic education. He believed that even if—as he had at one time contemplated—a college were established for the education, of the sons of persons of distinction, it would be difficult to induce those persons to abandon the national feeling in favour of domestic education. He once visited one of the schools, and asked every boy in succession who and what his father was; and he was shocked to see how the desire to educate the people was really prostituted by giving such an education as was afforded in those schools to the very lowest class of the community. The persons generally educated in such schools were the sons and relations of the natives—and those not the most respectable of the natives—who were employed about the collectors and magistrates; so that we were rearing a sort of hereditary class of the lowest description who were to have the ear of our magistrates and other functionaries. A more injurious system than that he did not know. He recollected having gone to a school once in India, and having seen there a boy, with very fine action, spouting from Shakspeare, and. enacting the part of Brutus —that boy being the son of a coolie, a man doomed during the whole of his life to work for his living, and not to earn more than four rupees a month. How much better it would be to teach the children in India useful arts than to give them a literary education, from which they could derive no benefit, and which could only tend to make them dissatisfied with their condition. The petitioners next touched upon a matter which was really of considerable importance, and which must be particularly interesting to his noble and learned Friends around him—he meant the administration of justice. He confessed that from the very earliest period at which he had obtained an acquaintance with any part of the administration of India, he had felt the necessity of a very great reform in the whole system of dispensing justice through English gentlemen in that country. He had felt that it was fitting that the judicial branch of the public service in India should be separated from the revenue branch, and that no person should be allowed to exercise the functions of a magistrate or a judge unless he should previously have proved that he had attained some knowledge of the law which he was to administer. That, however, was very rarely the case in India. The petitioners complained that the persons appointed to administer justice among them were in many instances, and especially in the lower departments, ignorant of the vernacular language of the districts in which they exercised their functions, and that few had applied themselves at all to the study of jurisprudence; and that those evils were further aggravated by the injudicious manner in which those functionaries were appointed and removed, so that the judicial courts were in a state of perpetual transition. They stated that a person unacquainted with the vernacular in one district, was frequently sent to administer justice in another district with the idiom of whose inhabitants he was unacquainted. They further complained that persons were occasionally raised to some of the very highest stations in the judicial branches of the service, who had very little or no acquaintance with the law; and as an instance, they cited the case of a gentleman who, although he had never done a day's duty as a judicial officer, had been made a civil judge, and appointed to an appellate office, with unlimited jurisdiction over an important district; and they cited another case in which where a judge of the Sudder Adawlut, which was the highest court of law in India, had been sent to Ceylon on some business, and a gentleman had been appointed to act in his place who, out of a civil service of twenty-two years, had passed less than two years in a judicial office. Now, how was it possible that any people could have confidence in the administration of justice when such appointments as those were made? And he (the Earl of Ellenborough) confessed that, although he had not known of any such extreme cases as those, cases of a similar character were not without his knowledge. The petitioners referred to what frequently took place when a young gentleman was sent out to India. He was made what was called an assistant-collector; he had placed under his immediate authority one or more divisions of a collectorate; and he represented his superiors both with regard to the collection of the revenue, and the performance of magisterial duty. Such a person was able to execute his functions solely by the assistance and instruction of a native moonshee; and if any error was committed, the party punished was not the collector but the moonshee. The petitioners then proceeded to offer certain suggestions. Their first suggestion was one which wore the appearance of considerable plausibility. They asked if their Lordships were prepared to grant to India any of those constitutional advantages which were enjoyed in this country, and which she generally extended to those nations under her dominion. The petitioners thought it most advisable, and indeed necessary, that the Executive should be separated from the Legislative body. They did not object to executive councillors being members of the Legislature, but they desired that other parties, representatives of constituencies to be created, should, together with the councillors, form a part of the legislative body. He did not say that natives should, in the first instance, be associated with the legislature of that country, or that any material alteration should be made in its composition. They further desired that the two Presidencies of Bombay and Madras should have certain limited powers of legislation, without the concurrence of the Council at Calcutta, and that the Council at Calcutta should be reformed in a manner somewhat similar to what they proposed as to the Council at Madras. It had always appeared to him that it would be of very great advantage to those who exercised legislative functions in India, if they had the opportunity, in all matters relating to the customs, religion, and laws of the Mussulmans and Hindoos, of obtaining the advice of respectable Mussulmans and Hindoos. The petition complained of a law which had recently been passed, and which, in their opinion, materially affected the property and religious rites of Hindoos and Mussulmans. He did not think that law would have been passed if the Government had previously consulted natives connected with the two religions which were affected by it, and he deeply regretted that the Government had not taken that course before laws on similar subjects had been adopted. The petitioners were desirous that there should be in India a committee or commission of inquiry, partly composed of persons sent from this country, and partly of persons appointed in India, who might consider all the grievances alleged to exist throughout India, and that the passing of any Act of Parliament for the purpose of continuing or altering the present government of India should he suspended until that commission had made their report. He (the Earl of Ellenborough) could not go so far as the petitioners on that point. The result of adopting their suggestion would he that there would he no alteration whatever, because the commissioners would never make a report. With regard, however, to the question whether they should institute an inquiry in India as well as by a Parliamentary Committee in this country, respecting the alleged grievances, he might mention what had occurred to him when he was first at the Board of Control. It then appeared to him that it was extremely advisable that a Commission should be sent to India for the purpose of making a financial investigation only, with a view to the decision of the question whether great and useful reductions might not be effected in the public expenditure. They were at that time in a condition of extreme financial difficulty. Reductions were made at the time to the amount of not less than 1,800,000l.; but the late Duke of Wellington, then at the head of Her Majesty's Government, deemed it advisable that no such Commission should be issued, and he said it would be better to leave the arrangement of matters to the local Government, under such instructions and directions as might be sent out from this country. That noble Duke feared that if a Commission were sent out to India, such a circumstance would act as a disparagement to the local Government to such an extent that it would become unable to perform its functions. He (the Earl of Ellenborough) bowed to that opinion expressed by the noble Duke; for he felt that upon all questions upon which the noble Duke had had means of acquiring accurate information—as was the case with respect to India—his judgment was almost infallibly correct. There remained, however, this question for the consideration of the House, namely, whether, if no Commission was sent to India, it would be expedient to pay the expense of native witnesses, sent for to undergo examination in this country. He had strongly advised the petitioners to send over witnesses of their own selection, at their own expense, to substantiate their case; but the petitioners thought that the expenses of the witnesses should be paid by this country. He, however, saw great practical difficulties attending such an arrangement, because, if the Government of this country were to pay the expenses of witnesses, other parties would be induced to send over witnesses to contradict the statements made on behalf of those petitioners, and thus conflicting evidence would be adduced. He was much afraid, therefore, that at the end of such an inquiry their Lordships would not be able to form a much better judgment than they could do at present. There were, he understood, to be other petitions similar to that which he was now presenting from Calcutta and Bombay. He confessed that he thought these gentlemen were rather late in the field. They knew two or three years ago when the question of the East India Company's Charter would come before Parliament, and he thought they should have presented their petititions at an earlier period. The matters which these petitions touched upon, however, were matters of the gravest moment, and such as he thought it would be highly advisable that Her Majesty's Government should take into their serious consideration. He had stated in evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons last year that it would be expedient to prolong the present state of things with reference to India for some time longer. He saw no reason to alter that opinion. Her Majesty's Government were new in office. It was a Government very differently composed from any to which the affairs of this country had been entrusted for a considerable period of time. The Gentleman at the head of the Board of Control could have but little acquaintance with the real state of affairs in India. That was notorious. He could not venture to say—not knowing to what extent the radical element which had to a certain degree been introduced into the composition of the Government for the first time went—how far it might affect their measures with regard to this country. He would not, therefore, undertake to say that he could profess any great extent of confidence in the measures which Her Majesty's Government might propose; but this he would say, with the most perfect frankness and sincerity, that he had much better hopes from Her Majesty's present Government, with respect to India, than he had from the late Government or from the Government that preceded it. He asked only for time. He could not but think that the people of this country were beginning now, for the first time, to look to the great question of the form of government in India. He considered that the longer that question was before the public mind and before Parliament, the better the chance that Parliament would come to a correct decision. Now, what he asked, and all he asked, was this: Their Lordships had heard the grievances stated by the petitioners; they knew the difficulties in which the Government of India was involved; they were aware of the composition of the present ludicrous constituency by which the Court of Directors was elected; they knew it was in evidence that that strange mode of electing persons who were to have a certain share of power over India led to the selection, not of the fittest, not of the ablest, but, almost without exception, of very ordinary men. Now, what he asked for India and for the Government of this country was, either that their Lordships would so reform the constituency as to afford the best chance that able men might be elected who would be practically acquainted with all the different departments and Presidencies; or that they would, by a different arrangement, and he thought a better one, provide for the selection of such persons by the nomination of the Crown, aided by the experience of the Governor General. All that he desired was, that there should be in this country a body in the character, practically, of a Cabinet Council for the Minister of India, for whom that Minister could entertain respect, and in whom the Government and people of India could place confidence. He was satisfied that the true remedy for the grievances of which the petitioners complained, and of all other grievances existing in India, was not in undertaking a Parliamentary investigation, by Committees, of the details of Government, and endeavouring to deal with details which it was impossible for such Committees to master; but in improving the form of government, and taking every security to obtain, with regard to the affairs of India, in this country, the advice of able, respectable, and competent men— men whose opinions would have weight and authority with the people of that country. He had now done his duty, and it remained for him only to ask whether Her Majesty's Government intended to propose any measure for the future government of India during the present Session?


I have to inform the noble Earl that the subject which he has brought under your Lordships' notice has been fully considered by Her Majesty's Government, and that, after much consideration, we have come to the conclusion that it is our duty to propose a measure for the future government of India during the present Session of Parliament. I therefore am unable to acquiesce in the desire which has been expressed by my noble Friend, that we should defer legislation on that subject. I will not at present say to what extent the duration of the Government we propose to establish may be extended; but I must, without the slightest reserve whatever, reject the proposal which has been made by my noble Friend to have a continuing Act for one or two years. Further than that I am not prepared at this time to say anything, except that the measure which we shall have to propose, although embracing modifications of the Indian Government both in this country and in India, will be founded on the system now existing. The Committees on the Affairs of India are still continuing their inquiries, and will, no doubt, take into their consideration the grievances which have been referred to in the petition which has been presented by my noble Friend—so far, at least, as these may involve matters for legislative interference here. It appears to me, however, that most of those would be more properly left for the action of the local Government; but, as I have said, such of those as may require legislation here will naturally come under consideration of the Committee, and will be dealt with in their report. At present the Committees of both Houses of Parliament have only finally concluded their inquiries on the branches connected with the administration of the Government of India, and on that point I think we are fully prepared to proceed.


did not know whether many of their Lordships had had an opportunity of examining the details of the petition which had just been laid on the table by the noble Earl who had introduced the subject to their consideration; but, as it was possible they had not, he was anxious to direct the attention of the House to a few points in the petition which he thought were well deserving their attention; because the noble Earl who had presented the petition had given an account of it sufficient for his purpose, perhaps, but not, so far as he (the Duke of Argyll) was able to judge, sufficient for all purposes. The noble Lord, in putting the question of which he had given notice, had suggested that the present state of things with respect to the Government of India should be continued for a certain period, with a view to further inquiry into that subject. Now, he confessed that he thought that the petition which had been laid upon the table was intimately connected with that great and most important question—whether they were to act now, or to postpone any measure in respect to India for an indefinite period, pending farther inquiry. He did not think the noble Lord had put forward those portions of the petition which most bore upon the subject. The petition, the noble Lord had told them, complained of various grievances connected with the internal administration of the Presidency from which it had emanated (Madras), and it appeared it was to he accompanied by similar petitions from the other Presidencies; but it also referred to certain great constitutional questions to which they were anxious to direct the attention of the House—the petitioners stating that they were encouraged to bring forward their petition in order to avail themselves of the Parliamentary investigation into the condition and government of British India, Now it was quite clear that with reference to the internal administration of the Presidencies it was competent to the petitioners to have brought forward their grievances at any time; but it would appear they were under the conviction that the attention of Parliament would at this time be more directed to Indian affairs, in connexion with the renewal of the charter, than at former periods. But it struck him that the influence which they attributed to the fact of the whole question being at present under the consideration of Parliament had had some effect on the tone and manner in which they had stated their grievances with reference to the internal administration of the country, which he confessed he did think open to some objection. For instance, with reference to the alleged "unwillingness of the Company and the local Government to expend money on the construction of roads," the petitioners said— Your petitioners submit that it is the bounden duty of the State which reduces them to their miserable condition, and keeps them in it from charter to charter, to spend a far larger portion of the revenues upon the improvement of the country whence they are derived, than it does at present. It can find money to carry on wars for self-aggrandisement, to allow immoderate salaries to its civil service, to pension off the whole of its members on 500l. a year each, and to pay interest at 10 per cent to the proprietors of East India Stock—all from the labour of the ryot; and, when he requires roads by which he might find the means of bettering his condition and that of the revenue, he is told that he must make them for himself. There were some other statements in the petition to which he could have wished his noble Friend had directed the attention of the House, in order to show the manner in which the petitioners occasionally expressed themselves. It had been the desire of the Christian population resident in India, connected with the Army and otherwise, that there should be some addition made to the number of clergymen employed there in connexion with the Anglican and Scotch Churches. What were the terms which the petitioners used in Speaking on that subject?— They admit the propriety of military chaplains for the European troops, but repudiate the injustice of the people of this country being compelled to support a couple of State establishments for a mere handful of foreigners, professors of a foreign creed. Now, these were hardly terms which ought to be applied by the natives to the Christian religion when addressing their Lordships. Then, again, among other demands to which the noble Earl had not made even a passing allusion, was the demand that Haileybury should be totally and entirely abolished, "as a useless expense and an unjust incubus on the finances of India." And this request was based upon the strange ground that all the money derived from the revenues of India should be entirely spent within the limits of India. Their words were— That, whatever institutions shall be deemed requisite to educate persons for accession to Government employ, may be established and maintained in India, so that the money derived from the revenues of the country by which they are supported may be spent within it. Now, he must say that a request more monstrous was never addressed to the British Parliament. The petitioners ended by requesting that a mixed commission (and this the noble Earl had referred to)—that a mixed commission, composed partly of Europeans and partly of Natives, should be appointed to inquire into their grievances, and that, for the accomplishment of this object, the present charter of the East India Company should be renewed from year to year until a new agitation had been got up in the country, and until that mixed commission had given in their report. Now, he confessed that, so far as his humble voice had any weight in the decisions of Government, he was of opinion that it was their duty to proceed with the new Act for the renewal of the East India Company's Charter, and not to renew it from year to year. The noble Earl had said that on a former occasion he had submitted an opinion to the Government of the day that they ought to appoint a Commission of Inquiry; but that he had yielded to the opinion of the Duke of Wellington that the appointment of a commission would injuriously affect the authorities on the spot. The same objection applied to the proposal of a Commission now. He objected to it because it would have the effect of setting up a sort of provisional Government for India while the inquiry lasted; and the people, under the impression that the existing system might be totally changed in consequence of the inquiry, might be induced to get up a new system of agitation, and thus affect the authority of the existing Government. The noble Earl had said, that considering the composition of the present Government—considering that it included certain Radical elements—he was unable to collect what course they were disposed to take with reference to the affairs of India; but he confessed, at the same time, that he had more confidence in the present than he had had in the late Government; and no wonder, for the noble Earl, in regard to the affairs of India, was himself the greatest Radical in existence, and it was only natural, therefore, that what he called the Radical element of the present Government should inspire him with something like confidence. He hoped the noble Earl would not suppose, that in consequence of his (the Duke of Argyll's) having had the advantage of sitting for one Session of Parliament as a Member of the Committee on the Affairs of India, he conceived himself competent to debate with him on the manifold questions of great importance respecting those affairs which the noble Earl had made his study during a considerable portion of his life, and which had occupied the intellect and ingenuity of some of the greatest men this country had produced; but he felt bound to say, that in his opinion, if one thing had been proved more than another by the terms of this petition, as well as by the general aspect of affairs, and of expectations, it was this: that it would be infinitely better on all grounds to make any change, however violent, in the Government of India, than not to decide at once upon the subject; as the effect of acting otherwise would necessarily be to place that great empire under a provisional Government, and give a direct encouragement to new agitation, and to demands which no Government could possibly accede to.


said, the reason why he had not gone through all the statements in the petition was, that it occupied forty-one closely-printed pages, and would have taken him three hours to read it. Besides, it was not his business to answer the petitions he himself presented. His business was merely to bring before the House the most important statements they contained. But he begged their Lordships to bear in mind, in connexion with what was said about education by the noble Duke, who had called their attention to certain expressions in the petitions which he thought should hardly have proceeded from loyal subjects of the British Crown, that the petitioners were Natives of India, and educated Natives.


remarked that, if anything had been required to prove that they ought to proceed with great deliberation on this subject, and not be in a hurry to settle the question definitively this year, the speech of the noble Duke was the best that could have been made. The noble Duke had called the attention of the House to various strong expressions which had been used by the Mahomedan subjects of the British Crown, in reference to the grievances which exist-ed in India. Now, if that was the state of things in India, did it not prove that the House ought to pause before they continued a system which had led to such opinions? Another petition had been presented that night, namely, a petition from the proprietors of East India Stock, in which as much fault was found with the Government of India as the petition which the noble Earl had presented; but the part of the Government with which it found fault was not the local Government, but the Government in Cannon Row. He protested against the noble Duke's speech being considered as conclusive upon the great question which they had to consider.


said, there was only one point on which he felt himself competent to give an opinion with reference to the subject then under consideration, and that was the administration of justice in India. He had sat for many Sessions in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, to which appeals from the Supreme Court of India were referred, and he was satisfied, from what he had seen there, that justice was admirably administered in the higher Courts of India. The appeals which had come before the Committee from the Sudder Adawlut, which was the highest Court in India, had impressed him with the highest idea of the legal attainments and great experience of the Judges of that court. They were men who would have attained the highest eminence in this country had they remained here. He alluded especially to the Judges on the bench of Calcutta, of whom he need only mention the name of Sir Laurence Peel as an example. But whenever the proceedings of the inferior courts had come before the Committee, he had been compelled to feel that the gentlemen who occupied the bench in those courts were wholly uninformed of the principles on which justice should be administered. In this country, a long course of experience—twenty years at least—was considered necessary to qualify a man for the position of a Judge; but in India a young man despatched from the College of Haileybury, with at best a very imperfect acquaintance with the languages of India, was at once made a Judge. He had not even the advantage of only acting in that capacity—for one day he was a judge of civil cases, the next day a collector of revenue, and the next a police magistrate. He (Lord Campbell) had no doubt those young men went out with the best intentions—he believed, indeed, they were ingenuous youths, but that they possessed none of the qualifications of judges, and the consequence was that their decisions were often entirely opposed to every principle of justice. The noble Duke who had spoken in the course of the debate (the Duke of Argyll) had, he thought, been somewhat prudish in his criticism on the phrases which had been used by the natives of India in describing their grievances; it was not reasonable to expect them to be very mealy-mouthed; and for himself, as far as regarded the administration of justice in the inferior courts, he thought no language could be too extravagant in describing its enormities.

Petition referred to the Select Committee on the Government of the Indian Territories.

House adjourned to Monday next.