HL Deb 21 July 1856 vol 143 cc1065-7

wished to put a question to the Government with respect to the treatment of the Rajah of Coorg by the East India Company. The Rajah was a prisoner of State at Benares, and some time ago he applied to the Company for leave to come to England chiefly for the purpose of superintending the education of his daughter, whom he wished to be brought up as a Christian. He obtained leave of absence for one year; at the expiration of that period he applied for an extension of leave, but it was positively refused by the Company, and as he did not return they stopped that portion of his allowance which he received in this country, the rest being applied to the support of his relatives at Benares. A more tyrannical and unjust proceeding could not well be imagined. The Rajah's medical advisers had told him that this country was more healthy for him than India; but the East India Company had sent their physician to examine him, and he said there would be no danger in his returning to India by a sea voyage, at a certain time of the year. One very important fact was, that the Rajah was prosecuting a suit against the East India Company in the Court of Chancery, and that they were demanding his return to India at the very time when his presence in this country was of the utmost importance. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) could scarcely believe that the Government knew anything of these circumstances. He wished to ask the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) what were the reasons of the Company for insisting on this nobleman's return to India, and why they had withheld the allowance which they had contracted to give him while in this country?


said, the noble Marquess seemed better informed upon the details of the Rajah's case than he was, for he had not seen any of the papers, and was only acquainted with the general state of the facts. He believed that the Board of Control had no power whatever to compel the East India Company to pay the allowance which they had withheld from the Rajah. The noble Marquess had stated the facts correctly, and by his statement that the Rajah was a State prisoner, he implied that the Company had power to require the return to India of this prince, who was considered in that country to be a prisoner at war. The Company could either have given or withheld leave of absence, and therefore it was not an act of tyranny on their part to refuse to allow him to remain in England beyond the period which had been specified. He understood the local Government of India considered it was objectionable that native princes should remain permanently in England, expending here the revenues which were given to them by the East India Company. The noble Marquess had insinuated that the object of the Company in demanding the Rajah's return to India was to impede the suit which he was carrying on against them; but he could not conceive that they were actuated by any such reason. It was perfectly obvious that by the employment of lawyers he could prosecute that suit as well in India as in England.

THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH rose to confirm the accuracy of the noble Duke's statement, that the Board of Control had no power whatever to compel the Court of Directors to pay the Prince the sum they agreed to give him during the year he had leave of absence. The noble Marquess had stated the facts of the case correctly, and he (the Earl of Ellenborough) must say that, taking into consideration all the circumstances, the conduct of the Court of Directors, in refusing payment to the Prince, was very ungenerous and unwise; but, at the same time, he agreed with the noble Duke that it was neither for the advantage of native princes, nor, generally, for the advantage of the Government of India, that those princes should come and reside in this country in order to prosecute their claims. He had himself privately advised the Rajah of Coorg, four years ago, to return to his own country, being quite confident that it would be more to his own credit and comfort to rest in the midst of his family at Benares, where he was very much respected, than to reside as an individual unknown in this country; and he now publicly renewed that advice. As to the suit against the East India Company for the recovery of his property, he could not comprehend how a question of that kind between two Sovereigns—for such they were—could be made the subject of inquiry before the English Court, of Chancery; and he believed it would be found, in the course of the investigation, that the property neither belonged to the Court of Directors nor the Government of India, nor the Rajah, but to the Crown, and that it had been misappropriated by the Government of India. If this Prince were dispossessed of his property in consequence of military operations, it clearly, as the prize of war, belonged, not to the Government of India, but to the Crown; and if the Crown asserted its right, the Rajah would be deprived of all excuse for not returning, and the Company of any reason for conducting themselves towards him in a manner most ungenerous and un—courteous. He should, therefore, strongly recommend the noble Duke to suggest to the law officers of the Crown to inquire into the matter.