HL Deb 29 April 1858 vol 149 cc1955-83

, in rising to move for the Report of the Court of Directors to the General Court of the East India Company upon the two Bills before Parliament relating to the Government of India, said that he was extremely unwilling at that critical hour of the evening to trespass at any length upon their Lordships' attention, but he felt it to be his duty to move for the production of this Report, because he thought that their Lordships and the country should be made fully aware of the difficulty in which they were placed with regard to legislating for the government of India. It was not his intention to make any observations in a spirit of political hostility to the Government, or to discuss the merits of the measure which they had introduced in any party spirit; but he "wished to point out to their Lordships the position in which they were placed. In one respect an advance, and a most important one, had been made, and he did not attach any blame to the present Go- vernment for having changed the course which at one time they intended to pursue. He thought that it was undoubtedly true that the vote of the House of Commons (carried he believed by so large a majority as 200), made so essential a change in the whole position of the question that the present Government were quite entitled to say that, whatever their previous opinion had been, they were by that vote bound to proceed to legislation for the government of India; and he most sincerely hoped that the Session would not come to a close without the question being settled one way or another. He quite agreed that so long as the Court of Directors was the de facto Government of India it ought to be respected; but no one could deny that after what had taken place the authority of the Court of Directors had been materially diminished, and that the more perhaps when the character of the noble Earl at the head of the Board of Control was borne in mind. It was notorious that the noble Earl had never been disposed at any time to pay any great deference to the Court of Directors, and he could not conceive that after what had occurred that deference on the part of the noble Earl would be increased, and he felt hound to say that the answer which had been given by the noble Earl to a question addressed to him earlier in the evening appeared to him to place the matter in a more serious light. He need hardly say that he most heartily concurred in the eulogy which had been passed by his noble Friend upon the despatch which had been sent out by the noble Earl in reference to the policy to be pursued in India towards our revolted subjects; but he thought it must remarkable that that despatch should have been sent through the Secret Committee. It appeared to him that if the course of sending despatches through the Secret Committee were recognized and adopted, then, in point of fact, the President of the Board of Control would possess absolute authority over the government of India, and might, by employing that machinery, act as he pleased, without in any way consulting the Court of Directors. Although he was willing to admit that under the circumstances the present Government were bound to proceed to legislation, he could not say that their subsequent proceedings had tended to render the solution of the question easier or more simple. Shortly before the late Government proposed their scheme, the noble Earl opposite expressed distrust beforehand for any scheme which would materially alter the present system of constitution, for he said that constitutions grew up and could not be made. He therefore expected that the noble Earl, when he came into power, would bring forward a scheme which would he a considerably less change in the present constitution than that of the late Government. But in reality, upon a comparison of the two Bills, he found that the Bill of the present Government involved an entirely now constitution for India; there were in it far more elements of change, it was much more complicated, and was more open to the objections that it created a new constituency, than the Bill of the late Government. He was not desirous upon that occasion of entering into any defence of the plan of the late Government, for no doubt a time would come when the principles upon which it was founded would be fully discussed, and he would therefore only say, that the principle upon which the late Government had proceeded was that of making as little essential change in the main branches of the constitution for the government of India as was consistent with the necessary condition of removing what was in reality a more fiction, and of assuming the Government in the name and under the authority of the Queen; whereas the Bill of the present Government proposed far greater changes. The Bill of the present Government had, however, been withdrawn, and the House of Commons had been invited to discuss the subject in the form of abstract Resolutions. Now, that was, it appeared to him, a most inconvenient course, and one that could not present a fair issue to Parliament. It had been laid down as an abstract principle that in order to secure efficiency and independence the system of election was necessary. He objected to that. What did Her Majesty's Government mean by independence? Did they mean to secure it as regarded the position or the authority of the members of the Council? A great deal too had been said with regard to the principle of election. What did they mean by the principle of election? There was no abstract principle involved in election—it depended on the practical definition of those who were to be the electors and the functions of those who were to be elected. So far as the abstract idea of election was concerned, it stood in immediate connection with a notion which was very prevalent in this country, but in which he was perfectly sure neither his noble Friend the President of the Board of Control nor any other member of Her Majesty's Government concurred. It had been stated day after day in the press— and the same notion was involved in many of the passages of the Report of the East India Company for which he intended to move,—that one of the main difficulties connected with the transfer of the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown was the undue authority and power which that transfer would confer upon the Crown. Such expressions as these had been heard during the recent debates on this subject—"The Council must he such as to exercise control over and check the Minister intrusted with the administration of Indian affairs," &c. Almost every page of every document that had recently proceeded from the East India Company insisted on the same notion—notindeed very consistently, for one part of the paper contradicted the other; though that was not to be attributed to any want of ability on the part of those who drew up those documents, hut to the false position in which the Court of Directors were placed. These sentiments originated in the memorable contest of 1783, the greatest in our Parliamentary history, the effect of which upon the policy not only of England, but of the world, was felt even now. The chief question in that contest was whether the government of India could be transferred to the Crown without dangerously increasing the power of the Crown. Persons who totally forgot that, the whole of the circumstances under which that contest was carried on having been essentially changed by intervening events and measures, that difficulty at least did not exist, still repeated that question. The danger dreaded in 1783 was not so much the transfer by Fox's India Bill of the Government of India as of the whole of the commerce of India to the Crown. But there was no commerce to be dealt with now. No one need now apprehend that a transfer of the Government of India from the East India Company to the Crown would make the Crown the monopolist of all our Indian commerce. But even a still greater chance had since that period taken place, which seemed to be very much forgotten by those who objected to an increase of the power of the Crown. He referred to the change that had taken place with respect to patronage in India. It was then argued that there would be nothing to prevent a Minister from ap- pointing to these great pro consular commands any person he pleased, whatever might have been his previous qualifications or services. One of the dangers that constantly flitted before the eyes of public men in England at the period he had alluded to was that of nabobs, as they were called, coming back from India to England, with their ill-gotten wealth, to influence by corrupt means the House of Commons and the Government. He need hardly say that that danger had been completely removed by the various statutes which had since passed. No person could now be appointed to any of the great offices in India who had not had experience of Indian service; and so far from fearing the return to England of men who had filled such offices we should only be too rejoiced to secure their services in the proposed Indian Council. He believed that every one who considered the subject would be convinced of the absurdity of talking about giving to that Council an independence which the Government did not intend to give to them, and which they themselves would not desire;—namely, one which would enable them to control the Minister intrusted with Indian affairs. This doctrine was laid down in one part of the document for which he was moving; but in another part of it they were told that the Council must be one not to control but to advise the Indian Minister. And here he must express the astonishment with which he had read a statement of a right hon. Friend of his, for whom he had the greatest respect, during a very recent discussion in another place, that the power exercised by the President of the Board of Control over the Government of India had been lately increasing, and that of that power this at least might be said, that it was one which had never received the formal sanction of the Legislature. Now the fact was that the machinery of the Secret Committee, through which the power of the Board of Control was exercised, had received the sanction of Parliament over and over again. There could be no greater mistake than to suppose that Parliament ever contemplated that in the case of Indian wars the Executive should be under any other control than that which was exercised at home with reference to European wars. No doubt, in the case of European wars there was an indirect check upon the Executive, because they had to come down to Parliament for money to enable them to carry them on; but as to the power of the Executive to declare war or make peace, it was the same in India as in England. He must, therefore, protest against such a misstatement of fact coining from so high an authority as his right hon. Friend. He fully concurred with an observation made some months ago by a noble Friend of his in that House, that there was a tendency in the public mind in this country to overrate the importance of questions connected with Central Asia, and should be very glad to see more fully recognized the truth that, after all, the great danger to our Indian empire arose from inefficiency in its internal government, and that so long as we devoted attention to its internal improvement, we might look with indifference upon any advances that might be made by Russia or any other power in the direction of Central Asia. But to return to the proposed Council. It was one of our greatest boasts that we had entirely got rid of the commercial principle with regard to those who were intrusted with the government of India, and he could conceive nothing more disastrous than a re-introduction of the very principle which, with immense advantage to India, we had succeeded in eliminating. He would refer to a speech made by his noble Friend opposite during a discussion on the government of India in 1853, when his noble Friend said that "experience had satisfied him that it might be inconsistent with the public interests that the commercial element should prevail to any very great extent in the Direction, as much public inconvenience might be occasioned by persons engaged in commerce having previous knowledge of fiscal changes in India." Their Lordships must admit that his noble Friend's observations on that occasion were singularly free from anything like party spirit; that they were not intended to embarrass the Government, but simply to point out the best machinery for the Government of India. His noble Friend expressed the strongest possible opinion against the principle that commercial interests should he represented in the government of India; and of all things, he said, it was most undesirable that there should exist any suspicion that the members of the Indian Government were personally interested in mercantile transactions. He did not deny that the mercantile interests of England were very much bound up with the peace, progress, and prosperity of our Indian empire. If those interests were represented, not individually, but by the action of a united Council for India, he believed that they would be materially advanced; while, if particular interests only were to be represented, the result would be disastrous to the real welfare of India. He thought, therefore, that the view which was expressed by the noble Earl in 1853 was sounder than that which he had embodied in his Bill of 1858. The noble Earl was generally supposed to be the chief authority for the introduction of the elective principle; but he had looked over his evidence in 1853, and he found that the noble Earl only advocated election as an alternative if nomination was not adopted; but it could be no matter of doubt that in 1853 the opinion of the noble Earl was that the only principle on which the system of election could be maintained was, that it would introduce into the Indian Council men of the greatest knowledge and experience. The great objection to the present system was, that owing to the nature of the canvassing and of the constituency to be canvassed, the best men would not expose themselves to the trouble and expense of a contest for a seat in the Direction. The same result must be expected when the constituency was extended beyond what it was at present; and be was satisfied, therefore, that the principle of election as contained in the Bill would fail. After the evidence which the noble Earl had given upon all these points before the Committee, he had been puzzled to understand the scheme which had been propounded under the authority of the noble Earl. A great deal had been said of late about the impropriety of mixing up party politics with Indian affairs; the events of the last few years had, he thought, clearly illustrated the importance of those great party organizations by which large measures of reform had been inaugurated and carried to a successful issue, and had shown that they afforded the best means of sifting great public questions and maturing great public measures; but there was an element usually in party politics which he should heartily wish to sec excluded from all considerations connected with the government of India. When he looked for an explanation of the departure from his formerly expressed opinions by the noble Earl, his belief was that the noble Earl found himself not sufficiently strong, in a Parliamentary sense, to carry that which, in the abstract, he considered to be best for the government of India. We could not continue, however, to deal thus with this serious and difficult question. He did not believe that the difficulty would be great if they maintained the essential feature of the existing system; but if they entered upon extensive and new plans of representation which did not exist at present, they would involve themselves in endless troubles. The problem with which they had to deal was not easy of solution; it was how to govern a, distant empire under an absolute government abroad, yet under the influence of a popular government at home; how to bring to bear upon the people of India the light of our purer faith, of our more extended knowledge, of our more perfect civilization; and how at the same time to defend them from the evils which were inseparable from the maintenance of our rule, from the waywardness of popular opinion, and the suspicion of selfish interest. Surely that was a task, the noblest ever given to a people to perform,—a problem the most difficult that a Government ever had to solve! He entreated the noble Earl, then, not to present to Parliament the naked idea of election enunciated in the Bill which he had introduced, but which was now abandoned, coupled with an imaginary independence which he did not give, and with a pretended authority and power which he did not confer. The noble Earl must have formed a higher estimate of the good sense of the English people than he had before entertained from the mere fact of their having rejected his plan for representing certain great cities in his Indian Council. He recommended the noble Earl to propose some such scheme as he had frequently propounded when in opposition; for if he did so he was satisfied that from no section of politicians would he experience the slightest tendency to thwart his endeavours at legislation. In conclusion he begged to move — That there be laid before this House, the Report to the General Court of the East India Company from the Court of Directors upon the Two Bills now before Parliament relating to the Government of India.


Whatever may be the difficulties, my Lords, with respect to the future government of India, Her Majesty's present Ministers are not responsible for them. I deprecated at the end of last year, and I deprecated this year, the consideration of the subject in the present circumstances of India. I said that if you were merely to introduce the Queen's name, and were to carry on the government in her name, it would, in my opinion, strengthen the government of India, and that few alterations would be required in order to effect that purpose; but that beyond that I was most unwilling to attempt to go in the present circumstances of the times. Her Majesty's late Ministers apparently had not made up their minds upon this subject before Christmas. At all events, they were asked what they intended to do, and, as they declined to give any answer, I concluded that they and not made up their minds. They did so, however, during the recess, and immediately after the meeting of Parliament, they intimated their intention of proceeding to legislate, and a Bill was prepared and introduced. I think that they took a step very injurious to the welfare of India in disturbing the question at this time; but I must say that I have heard with the greatest satisfaction what full from the noble Duke. I rejoice that he is of opinion —and I trust that those who were recently his colleagues agree with him—that, having begun to legislate, we must go on; because it would be pregnant with danger to India if, after having cast a stigma upon the government of the East India Company, you should practically confess your weakness and your inability to create a Government which should take the place of that which you had so stigmatized. The news of the overthrow of Lord Palmerston and of the overthrow of the East India Company will arrive in India at the same moment, and they will create confusion from one end of the country to the other. You must go to the rescue. Whatever Parliament may think best in its wisdom to do, let it proceed at once to the consideration of this great question, and let it not leave India for the next six or seven months without a Government. Depend upon it, my Lords, the state of that country is not such as to make it desirable or advisable to add to the difficulties in which the Government is already involved. While I express my gratification at the expression of opinion which has fallen from the noble Duke, I may in turn impart to him some slight gratification by informing him that, whatever may be my differences of opinion with the East India Company, it is impossible for any individuals to conduct public business in a manner more amicable than the East India Company and myself. That has always been the case. I am now for the fourth time at the Board of Control, and I never have had a dispute with the East India Company nor with any individual member of the Court of Directors. It is impossible for two bodies to co-operate more amicably, and, I hope, more efficiently than the East India Company and the Board of Control at the present moment. It has always been so. I did them justice in this respect last year. I said that I did not believe they could have thrown any obstruction in the way of the Government, that if they could do so at any time they would not be likely to have done it last year, and that that, consequently, could be no reason for proceeding to immediate legislation with respect to the government of India. I said so in distinct terms last year, and I believe I repeated it this year. The great evil of the present system is the necessary delay. It is impossible to overcome that difficulty. I was asked early in the evening for an explanation of the circumstances under which I had passed a certain despatch which has just been printed through the Secret Committee; but if I had attempted to pass it through the public department that letter would not have gone till now. It would have taken three or four weeks to do it; and, though in this particular instance I was perfectly justified by law in what I did, I can well believe that there may have been cases in which Presidents of the Board of Control have been induced to stretch the law in order to do that at once, which they felt it was essential for the public service should be done. I impute nothing to the Court of Directors. It is the system, and it is impossible to avoid it, even with the best intentions. They cannot extricate themselves; and I can assure your Lordships that the difficulty is sometimes extremely serious. I do not mean to follow the noble Duke into a discussion of the Bills or the Resolutions, nor will I go back to my speeches or my evidence, which I have never read since it was printed; but when the noble Duke says that I have proposed a plan which changes the present Government of India more essentially than the plan of the late Government proposed to do, let me tell him that he is entirely in error. The plan proposed by his colleagues established a Council of eight persons nominated by the Crown. They must of necessity have resided fifteen years in India, or they must have served in India for ten years. Now Her Majesty's army in India at the present time—and it is probable will so continue for some time to come—amounts to between 60,000 and 70,000 men; and it is extremely desirable that some of the officers of that army should find their way into the Council, but this I must say, that by the Bill of the late Government, the officers of Her Majesty's army are sedulously excluded from the Council. But more than that, the provisions of the first Bill practically excluded fresh English minds; and I know that is a most serious evil. No person could have sat in that Council but men grown grey in India and wedded to Indian opinions on all subjects. I felt in India the great inconvenience of not having a fresh English mind to support me in my Council. I had no fault to find with the gentlemen who funned my Council, but they were thoroughly Indian in habit and opinion—all their views were Indian; they knew nothing of English modes of thought. The light which breaks in upon this country does not break in upon India till long long afterwards. And so it would have been in this proposed Council. The only person in the Council who would have English opinions would be the Secretary of State himself, and he would practically be seriously embarrassed, because he would have in his Council no one able to support his views. Practically, under the present system, which is one of election, and always has been, there has been no occasion on which there were not in the Court of Directors some commercial gentlemen, some gentlemen who had not Indian minds, but who brought English opinions to act on opinions formed in India. I think it is of great advantage to preserve that element in the Council, and it is of much more importance to do it now than it was five years ago. There has been a great increase of late in the commercial intercourse with India. In the course of the last four or five years there have been, or, under existing arrangements there will be, invested in India in railways and permanent works not less than £30,000,000. Persons with capital are beginning to turn their attention to India; and I must say I think it most advisable that we should have in the Council, especially under present circumstances, some persons with whom the President may advise upon subjects connected with commerce between England and India. In the Bill which we proposed, means were taken which appeared most advisable for effecting this object, namely, by the admission of persons to the Indian Council by election. The noble Duke said much, but I shall say little, on the elective principle. But this at least I may recal to his mind— if the noble Duke will do me the favour to refer to my former declarations on this subject, and he seems to have read my speeches a great deal more carefully than I ever did—he will find that this year, last year, and on all occasions on which I have spoken of the future government of India, I have always insisted on a Council, and I have invariably maintained that it should be appointed, in part at least, on the elective principle. Now I will distinctly explain why I think this is desirable. When I came to consider and settle the provisions of the measure, I naturally asked myself what I should desire to find in the Council, if by accident I should happen to be the first man charged with the government of India under the new system. I thought that I should like to obtain there not only advice from the ablest men of every service in India, which was secured by that part of the arrangement by which nine members were to he nominated by the Crown, but also from the ablest men who could be discovered, and whom, in fact, the Government could not discover, to advise in matters of Indian commerce; I knew that in point of fact that the Government had not the means of finding those persons. The Government could find without difficulty the most distinguished men of the civil service; it might ascertain easily the fittest men in the military service; but it has not the means of discovering who are the fittest commercial men to sit in such a Council. That can be done only by election, and I considered it absolutely necessary that to obtain the class of men I have mentioned we should have recourse to the elective principle. But I desired more than that. I see from day to day questions put about India and opinions expressed about India arising from strong and laudable feelings no doubt, but also—I may be pardoned for saying—from an ignorance of the real state of that country, which fills me with alarm. I did, and I do desire, to give the Minister who may have the charge of India a Council so independent, so respectable, so influential, and with so great a hold upon the country, as by their support to afford him great strength in resisting the pressure which might be made upon the Indian Government in the House of Commons. I know not whence the Council is to derive this strength, except from a system of election. The system of nomination, however perfectly, however discreetly, and however hon- estly applied, cannot create a body which would obtain to the same extent the confidence and respect of the people. No purely nominated Council can have the same weight with the country as a body, a portion of which is elected by influential constituencies. I may be wrong—the Government may possibly find the best men—I question whether they could find the best commercial men—but without the application of the elective principle they will not be able to find men who will enjoy the public support to the same degree as a body of men added upon the elective principle. Those were my reasons for desiring the introduction of the elective principle. It is no new opinion of mine. It is one which I have often expressed. In all the advice which I have given in respect to this great subject I have perhaps been led away by a jealousy — an almost morbid jealousy—which has at all times animated mo, of that system of jobbery and corruption which I knew must be fatal to the Government of India. I knew that I should never do wrong in this respect—I would never commit a job; but I could not trust those who might follow me. If I have gone too far on any point, my only object has been to render it impossible that any person who might follow me should be able to make that a bad government which I wished to make a good government. My only object has been to lay the foundation of a government which should enable us to make India happy, strong, and powerful, and which should connect her for ever with this country. I thought that by connecting the Council of India with some of the greatest cities and towns in England —with the greatest representative power that I could find—I should have found a principle of stable connection between India and this country, and a principle which would have effectually prevented any one of my successors from jobbery and improper conduct, but which would have enabled any one of them who did what was right to support his opinions against the mistakes which might be made in Parliament. I may have been wrong in all this; but that has been my object— a thoroughly public object—to give India a good government. I do trust that the friends of the noble Duke, acting in the spirit in which he has spoken to night, will feel that it is absolutely necessary to go on. If this work is to be accomplished let it be accomplished this year. Whoever they may be who are to administer the affairs of India, do not let India remain in a state of doubt and uncertainty a week longer than is necessary. Depend upon it, my Lords, you must not trifle with the security of India.


My Lords, although I concur in some of the observations of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough), yet I differ from both him and from the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) on one very important point—namely, the necessity of settling the question of the home government of India during the present year. I quite concur with the noble Earl in thinking that Her Majesty's late Government acted most unadvisedly in launching this question during the present Session; and I am also obliged to concur in the opinion that the vote of the House of Commons in favour of the introduction of their Bill has considerably increased the difficulties of leaving the homo government of India as it is. But, admitting these increased difficulties, I conceive that the dangers of delay are not to be compared with the danger of taking a false step upon so important a subject. If we now organize the home government of India upon a wrong principle — if we adopt a system which may not work according to our expectations—that false step will probably be irreparable. Everything that has taken place in this country since the question has been raised—the proceedings in the other House, and the proceedings out of doors—has tended to convince me more and more that the public mind is not yet prepared for dealing with this subject in the manner in which it ought to be treated. If I felt this conviction before, I must say it has been strengthened by the speech of the noble Duke. Able as that speech was, I cannot help thinking that, with regard to many points, it showed that the real difficulties of the case were not understood by my noble Friend, and that the principles which ought to govern our legislation for India have not yet been so thoroughly investigated that any one is qualified to deal with the subject with the wisdom which its treatment requires. Let me also say in passing that I think the danger of delay in settling the home government of India has been considerably exaggerated on all sides; for, after all, what is it that remains in doubt? The only question in doubt is the manner in which the authority of the Government at home is to be exercised over the government of India. There is no dispute at all that at this moment Her Majesty's Government is supreme. The President of the Board of Control enjoys powers so large and complete that his policy must be adopted by the Directors of the East India Company; and if—as I am persuaded is the fact, and as I never doubted would be the case— the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) acts most harmoniously with the Directors — if he has no difficulty with them—the only alteration you would introduce by any new Bill would be some modification of the manner in which the Cabinet of the day might act upon the Indian Government. That is the way in which the home government of India is managed, and you would not, by either of these measures, touch materially the constitution of the home government. On the other hand, the Native population of India have relations almost exclusively with the Governor General. They have nothing to do with the authorities in this country. They can know and understand but little of the machinery by which the conduct of the Governor General is controlled by distant authorities in England. They look only to the Governor General, and, whether we pass a new Act or the present system be continued, the Governor General will continue to be in their eyes, as he is now, the representative of British power. The result will merely be, if we adopt a new measure, that some vague rumours will be current among them of alterations, which they will be totally unable to comprehend, in the manner in which the Governor General receives his instructions from home. I cannot, therefore, apprehend any serious difficulty in India from a little delay. I do not deny that there may be some difficulty. I do not deny that the introduction of a Bill has given rise to more difficulty than would have existed if the measure of the late Government had not been laid before the House; but I say that the difficulty is greatly exaggerated, and that it is not to be compared with the danger of committing an error in establishing a permanent constitution for the government of India. I venture to say that, in my opinion, the principle upon which the authority of the home government of India should be established has hitherto not been considered as it ought to be, either by Parliament or by the public. There ought to be full discussion and deliberation upon that subject before we can safely pronounce an opinion as to the best mode of legislation. Let me remind your Lordships of what has taken place. A few months ago there ran through the country a sort of general cry for the substitution of the power of the Crown for that of the Company with regard to the government of India. I think any one who looks at the manner in which that cry arose and was expressed must agree with me in the opinion that it originated rather from passion and panic than from sober consideration. I believe that what people meant at that time was, that they wished the government of India to be controlled by the Cabinet of the day, in the same manner in which it managed the administration of other parts of the empire. In a petition which was presented, I think, from the Chamber of Commerce of Manchester, a desire was expressed that a Secretary of State for India should be appointed, who should be assisted by four under-secretaries. When the subject was looked into, however, it was found that the proposition that a Secretary of State, with very little control and advice, should manage the affairs of our enormous Indian empire, was utterly opposed to common sense and reason. According to the constitution of this country, it would be absolutely necessary that the head of the Indian Department, like every other Cabinet Minister, should hold his place by the uncertain tenure of a Parliamentary vote; and it is therefore scarcely possible that a person placed in so high a position could be qualified for it by long Indian experience, or trained for it by the studies of a life. To expect, then, that a person without control or assistance should efficiently administer the affairs of such an empire as India seems to me a simple absurdity. For five years and a half I discharged the duties of Secretary of State for the Colonies, a large proportion of which possess representative institutions, and are inhabited by a population of British origin, so that the functions of the Secretary of State with reference to them are limited and comparatively easy. There are, it is true, some of our Colonies which have not representative institutions in a population capable of receiving them with advantage, and the Government of these colonies, therefore, requires to be more closely superintended by the Secretary of State, but it is scarcely necessary to say that they are not to be compared in point of population or complexity of interests with our vast Indian empire. Our empire in India, I believe, now involves the interests of about 180,000,000 of people. But it is notorious that, with regard to the administration of colonial affairs, complaints have heen made against every successive Secretary of State, and that it is impossible for any Minister to conduct the department in a manner satisfactory to all those whose interests may be affected by his policy. In old times a wish was frequently expressed that some control should be exercised over the Secretary for the Colonies, but how much more necessary would be such a power with regard to a Secretary of State for India. In the case of India, it is not only necessary that the Secretary of State, and the Government which be represents, should be assisted by competent advisers, but, notwithstanding what has been said by the noble Duke, I think it is requisite that he should be controlled. The noble Duke has said, "All you want is a council of advice and assistance, and not of control; and there is, therefore, no utility in the principle of election." I admit that the Government of this country must, in the end, be supreme; they must have the final decision of every question; hut still a very powerful moral control may be exercised— which, although simply moral, will not be less effective, and which can only be exercised by a powerful and independent body. Hitherto the Court of Directors has been that body. When I presented a petition to your Lordships from the East India Company, I called attention to the fact that in many cases the Directors of the East India Company, when they felt that right and justice wore on their side, had resisted the wishes of the Ministers of the Crown, and that, when they were supported by right and justice, their resistance had been effectual. It is absolutely necessary that the body which is associated with the Minister in regulating the affairs of India should have this independence. The noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) said he wanted a Council which would strengthen the position of the Minister in the House of Commons, and prevent the measures which were brought in there from being the mere sport of factious debaters. But it is essential to the very idea of a Council, able to give such support, that it should exercise some degree of control. You cannot have responsibility without power. As to the control which Parliament wants to exercise, let me remind your Lordships that the interests of India and of England may sometimes clash. There is a well-known case, that of the Chinese war of 1840, which the East India Company denied was a war undertaken for Indian purposes, and the expenses of which they contended ought to be paid for by this country, and that no part ought to be paid for out of Indian revenue. Now, is it not very possible that the House of Commons and your Lordships' House might feel tempted to put an undue burden on the people of India for Oriental wars; and is it not, in order that India may he justly and wisely governed, indispensable that there should be some body—call it by what name you please—which shall be able to exercise an impartial authority (or perhaps I should call it influence rather than authority), and which shall be able to state the case of India in a manner to command attention and insure justice to that country? This, I think, is absolutely necessary; and how is it to be accomplished? By the Bill of the late Government the Crown was to nominate a Council of eight, whose tenure of office was to be for eight years, two going out annually; and in all cases where the Council was equally divided, the casting vote was to be with the Minister. How would this have operated? There would always have been two Members of the Council on the point of going out, and anxious to be reappointed, and there would always have been two more just appointed. The Bill, therefore, was so drawn that there would have been at all times a majority at the service of the Minister of the day, and the Council would be no check upon him at all; it would have made him perfectly supreme, and would have reduced the Council to a mere shadow and a name, exercising no moral power whatever. I do not suppose such a result was intended; but if this had been the very purpose for which the machinery of the Bill was intended, it could not have been more admirably contrived. While agreeing, however, with the noble Earl opposite, that we want an independent Council—a Council which will exercise great influence, and which, from its numbers and its composition, will have such a hold on public opinion that no Government can quite set aside its views—while admitting that this is what we want, I still cannot concur in the noble Earl's argument that election will give us such a body. I am afraid that election never has been, and probably it is never likely to be, a very good way of selecting men for the discharge of particular functions — func- tions which they arc paid for assuming It is an admirable way of selecting persons to express the opinions and the wishes of the electors cm matters in which they are themselves concerned; hut I am quite at a loss to understand how it can he expected that — taking the electors of the City of London for example—they would be likely to exercise a very wise discrimination in choosing a Member for the Council of India. The appointment of paid officials is a subject of all others on which electors arc apt to go wrong. Take a. vestry, a board of guardians, or any other body you please, I am afraid that selections made by them, whether of an overseer, a policeman, or a beadle, are determined by interest and by canvassing rather than by any special fitness. It has always been held that the most discreet choice in such instances is not made by means of election, and I cannot help thinking that if you were to have a numerous constituency of this sort, elections would only be won by management out of doors. You would have little cliques or parties, like the "caucuses" in America, and a few irresponsible individuals would virtually nominate the Members of your Council in the name of the numerous constituencies which you professed to establish. I am bound to say that I think the great fault of the present government of India arises from the manner in which the elections by the Court of Proprietors have degenerated. Formerly, I believe, the existing Court of Directors virtually influenced the choice of those who were to come in, and the election was therefore a merely nominal one; practically, the persons elected were, to a great extent, those who the Directors thought would make desirable colleagues. That was the way in which elections worked formerly; and within my own times the system produced a very able body of Directors, who performed their functions with very great ability. Now, I would suggest whether our best course would not be to adopt avowedly—and with some further guards and precautions—that which was substantially the arrangement existing in former times. It might easily be provided for by these simple means:—Allow the Council or Court themselves to choose the new Members who are to be appointed, subject to the check that such nominations shall not take effect without the approbation of the Crown, and that that approbation shall not be signified until the names of the persons intended to be appointed have been laid before both Houses of Parliament, either House to be able to signify its dissent. Experience shows that self-election, though it is apt to degenerate into jobbing and corruption, often answers the object, and provides very able and efficient bodies of men. We have seen in old times how the corporations under such a system continued in many instances very efficient bodies. What was wanted was some check upon abuse. While, therefore, on the one hand, I see objections to a system of election, and while, on the other hand, objections may justly be raised to the principle of direct nomination by the Crown, I venture to suggest whether it might not be as well for us to meet half way, and allow Members of the Council to be appointed subject to the restrictions I have mentioned, thus establishing, not a system of nomination by the Crown, but one in which the Crown would nevertheless exercise great influence. I throw this out merely as a suggestion; but I say again, that the very variety of opinions existing on this subject, and the number of considerations that must be taken into account, all show to my mind that this subject is not yet ripe for legislation. The question requires to be further discussed in Parliament as well as out of doors; and, if this is done, I believe it may be dealt with hereafter much more satisfactorily than it can be at present. I therefore, for one, cannot but rejoice in the prospect which I think I see, of a great change of opinion on this subject. A little while ago, as I have said, the public seemed to be in favour of a sudden and a sweeping change in the government of India. That feeling has passed away; and it is a remarkable circumstance that both the late and the present Government, in proposing to abolish the East India Company, have tried which could go furthest in praises of the very body they were about to extinguish. The noble Viscount lately at the head of the Government (Viscount Palmerston) praised the East India Company very warmly; and, in the same manner, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing the Government measure, spoke in the highest terms of the working of the existing form of government. Now, I cannot help believing that such opinions, expressed by those who agreed in nothing else, will lead to a great change of feeling on this subject, and will reconcile the public with the prospect which exists that this question will remain over for another year. What chance s there, I may ask, of any legislation with respect to India in the course of the present Session? Hero we arc at the end of April, and the Resolutions upon which a Bill is to be founded have still to be discussed in the House of Commons. Moreover, we are in this position — that we have the present Government bringing forward one plan, the late Government proposing another plan, while a distinguished friend of mine, who was formerly at the head of affairs (Lord J. Russell), proposes a third measure based on principles which differ essentially from either of the others. Then you have the Manchester Chamber of Commerce recommending one thing, the Liverpool Chamber suggesting something quite different; and, in short, such a chaos of opinions prevails, that we do not seem to have decided yet on the first principles upon which we ought to proceed. Such being the state of things, can you suppose that a Bill will come before your Lordships' House at a season of the year which will enable us to pass upon it a deliberate judgment? It seems to me that such a hope is impossible of realization. Sooner or later the attempt to legislate on India in the present year will be abandoned; and, if it is to be abandoned, the sooner this is done the better.


I cannot, I confess, my Lords, understand, after listening to the speech of the noble Earl who has just spoken, why he should have been so loudly called for, or why he should have been so loudly cheered by the opposite side of the House, inasmuch as, with the exception of the objections he raised to the introduction by the late Government of any measure at all, and to the appointment of the Council proposed by them, his speech is diametrically opposed to the scheme for the future government of that country which has been laid before Parliament by the present Government. The noble Earl has, in fact, utterly destroyed the scheme of the Government, and he advocates, in the strongest manner, that delay which the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough) says will be a fatal step at the present moment. I shall not, upon this occasion, trespass upon your Lordships' time at any length; and I must, at the outset of the few observations which I have to make, be permitted to express my entire dissent from the statement of the noble Earl opposite, to the effect that Her Majesty's late advisers are responsible for the difficulties in which the Indian question is now in- volved. The noble Earl has chosen to say that the steps which were taken by the late Government, in reference to this important subject, were of a very hasty nature, and that we did not know our own minds with respect to it, even immediately previous to the Christmas recess. Now, I have not had that experience of office which many of your Lordships possess, but I must say I never knew a measure to be more carefully considered than that which was laid before Parliament by the late Ministry. The deliberations upon it were begun very early in the autumn— indeed, if the noble Earl will refer to the Chairman of the Court of Directors, he will find that it was furnished with a short sketch of our plan before Parliament broke up for the Christmas holidays, and that it entirely agrees with the scheme subsequently embodied in our Bill. I say, therefore, that the charge of having framed an impromptu constitution, which is brought against us, is one which there is no evidence to support. With respect to the manner in which the noble Earl and the Court of Directors work together, I can only say that that is a point upon which, after the statement which he himself has made, I do not entertain the slightest doubt. Everybody who knows the noble Earl must be aware how agreeable a person he is to do business with. But I am not, at the same time, sure that the fact to which I have just alluded proves all that the noble Earl would wish to establish. It is not a fault of the noble Earl if we on this side of the House consider and reflect on what he says—all that falls from him carries with it immense weight, and deserves the greatest consideration. I am, therefore, quite justified in referring to opinions formerly expressed by the noble Earl; and, in doing so, I find that, in the evidence which he gave before the Committee, he stated very fairly that, when President of the Board of Control, it was he who governed India. In his speeches in this House he has invariably maintained, that by the President of the Board of Control India ought to be ruled. I will toll you," said the noble Earl, "the mode in which I effected that object. I made it a point to know every subject better than the Court of Directors, and, if the President of the Board of Control does know every subject that comes under their joint consideration better than the Court of Directors, and makes it well understood that he will adhere to his determination upon any particular point, you may depend upon it that body will very soon discontinue its attempts to check him. Now, I would ask whether the noble Earl's own words do not entirely justify the argument of the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) as to the uselessness of establishing an independent Council as a check? I shall not now enter into a discussion of the comparative merits of the two measures which have been introduced to the notice of Parliament upon this subject. I may, however, be allowed to advert to the observations which the noble Earl has made in reference to the constitution of a Council for India. He says my noble Friend, the noble Duke near me, has made a mistake in supposing that he had ever spoken in favour of a nominated Council in this Mouse. The noble Earl will, however, I think, find that in one of his speeches he distinctly declared his preference for a Council selected by the Crown, as opposed to one chosen by election; while in another he expressed it as his opinion, not only that the system of nomination was superior to that of election, but that the mixed system was particularly open to objection. He contended that, if we were to establish a system of that description, the result would be that, when a man of great knowledge and experience offered himself to the notice of the constituent body, the electors would say to him— "You are sure to be appointed by the Government. We will elect somebody else." The noble Earl, therefore, has not boon quite so consistent in his views upon this subject as he would lead us to believe. The Council proposed by the Bill of the late Government was intended to assist and advise the Minister for India. Here, again, I must refer to an opinion of the noble Earl, expressed this very year, in which, if I am not mistaken, the noble Earl, referring to the constitution of the Court of Directors, said that he did not approve of one or two of the nominees of the Crown, yet he was bound to say that the five nominees, in reputation, strength, and weight, were worth the whole of the others.


I said it was a bad constituency that elected them, and that I made a good one.


Then I do not know why the Government, if they made a good system, should have immediately abandoned it.


We have not abandoned the elective principle.


Although the noble Earl says that he now thought it necessary to have this element of election. I think there is a great difference between the scheme which the Government has abandoned and that shadowed forth in the Resolutions. According to the noble Earl's original scheme, there were to be three constituencies in operation, while now, I understand, he proposes that there should be only two. That surely is a great departure from a plan which he seems disposed to look upon as having been perfect. I quite agree with the noble Earl that the Crown generally appoints superior men; and we hoped to secure, by means of the nomination of the Crown, subject to the general supervision of Parliament, men of the greatest experience in Indian affairs —men who would feel that their reputation was at stake, and who would be likely to render great service to the country, not only by the advice which they might give, and by the influence which their characters and special knowledge would give, but also by entering their protest against any measure which they might deem to be prejudicial to the interests of our Indian empire. The scheme of the noble Earl would, upon the contrary, I think, prevent the best men from being available for the public service; and I am not quite sure, however respectable may be the names which have been submitted to Parliament upon the part of the Government, as constituting the nominated portion of the Council, that they are, in the opinion of high Indian authorities, the very best that could be selected. With respect to the proposition of the noble Earl, that the Council should be entitled to give their advice to the new Minister for India only when called upon by him, I shall merely any that it appears to me to be one which is very much open to objection. The noble Earl says that he feels very strongly the importance of securing a commercial element in the Council; but, if I mistake not, he has more than once denied the utility of having an English mind in a Council for India, asserting that the mind of England was sufficiently represented by the Minister, who exercised the supreme power, and declaring that, while a man of sense would resort to a Council for India for advice, nobody would think of going for advice to his bankers. On one point I quite agree with the noble Earl. I fully admit that he is not a jobber; on the contrary, I believe him to be a public spirited man, and no one would be more unwilling than he to perpetrate a job Still, I think that if a clever and ingenious man had set himself to devise one scheme which would be more certain than another to lead to jobbery, he could not have devised one more fitted for his purpose than that of creating constituencies in five great towns, for the purpose of electing a certain portion of the Council for India. With regard to immediate legislation, I agree with the noble Earl, and not with my noble Friend behind me (Earl Grey); for it is of the greatest importance that, after it has been announced in India that the Queen wishes to assume the government of India in her own name, it should not go forth that her intention had been frustrated by her own subjects. That would be a most fatal— a most damaging step. The Queen's name was never of greater weight in India than at the present moment; and although, undoubtedly, many difficulties will arise in the re-organization of the empire, nothing can be more fatal than delay in legislation, or the permanent continuance of the pre-sent Indian Government.


observed, that the course adopted by those who had preceded him was more than usually irregular. To raise a discussion with respect to a Bill which had been withdrawn in the House of Commons, and on Resolutions which had not yet been laid before their Lordships, was a mode of discussion which it was extremely inconvenient to pursue. But there were other considerations which ought not to be overlooked. They were approaching the consideration of this great question perfectly unprepared for their high functions, without inquiry, and without authority, save what they could collect from the literature of the day, or from casual conversation among themselves. No official correspondence, no papers were laid before them, and if they determined to deal with the subject thus hastily and crudely brought before them, the result would not be beneficial to the nation or creditable to Parliament. If the House undertook the consideration of this question, still more its solution, in this state of imperfect knowledge, they would find themselves in the position of being consenting parties, more or less willing, to the very course which had been so eloquently deprecated that evening. Upon former occasions — in 1813, 1833, and 1853 — Parliament did not venture to approach this great subject without a deliberate examination of facts, without taking the evidence of witnesses, and collecting the opinions of those who were best qualified by experience to guide the Legislature to a just decision. The noble Earl at the head of the Board of Control (the Earl of Ellenborough) had told them of the impression that would be produced in India by the announcement of the intended change in the form of government of that country. Without any disparagement of the high authority of the noble Earl, he (Lord Monteagle) wished to hear the opinions of others also who were competent to speak upon this important subject. The House did not know what was the opinion of the Governor General, nor had they the aid of the judgments of many eminent men who were conversant with the subject in all its details. It was also much to be lamented that Lord Dalhousie was prevented by ill-health from attending their debates and giving them the assistance of his judgment and experience upon a matter of this vital importance. It should be noted, that not only were they at present in a worse position from want of information than they were upon any former occasion, but that the step which Parliament was now asked to take was infinitely more important and more difficult than any they had ever previously adopted in reference to India; and he must say they were called upon to take it without having had time or opportunity of giving it the consideration to which it was pre-eminently entitled. To what would this lead Parliament? In all probability the question would drag on in the other House to the close of the Session. It would reach their Lordships, when it could not be effectually discussed; and then it would be hastily concluded, without dignity, honour, or credit to the Parliament of England. We had formerly acted with more prudence and discretion. Yet, what was the opening of the trade of India in 1813, or the abolition of the China monopoly in 1833, or even the constitutional change effected in 1853, compared with the mighty revolution which they were now called upon to sanction? Nor were these our sole dangers. He would just remind the House of one or two important facts. The advocates of the East India Company had, with great truth, called our attention to the important fact, that whatever might be the defects of the double Government, as it was called, the interposition of the Company had at least prevented the introduction of party spirit into Indian debates. From that danger we had been free since the time of Mr. Fox's India Bill. But could we hope for such a spirit of calm impartiality at the present time? He would put it to their Lordships whether there was any chance of India being regarded at present as neutral ground? Was any one sanguine enough to believe that, under the particular circumstances of the present time, and at a moment of party struggle, it would be the India Bill that would really be discussed in Parliament? We might be formally summoned to a second reading of that Bill, but the real subject of the Vote would be who should govern England. They all knew the legislative question would sink into a mere shadow in comparison with the political interest of conflicting parties. This rendered the present the most difficult solution of the Indian question ever yet presented to Parliament. Looking at the question from every point of view, the present moment was the most inopportune for legislating upon so difficult and important a subject. Let not the House be led astray by exaggerated representations of the dangers of postponement. There are greater risks on the other side of the question. The dangers of passing a bad law would be permanent, but the dangers of postponement, if any, would be merely temporary. The noble Earl the President of the Board of Control himself stated, before any Indian Bill was introduced, that he felt the inconvenience of legislating at the present time and under existing circumstances, and that, if undertaken at all, it should embrace but one single enactment. He (Lord Monteagle) entreated the House not to commit itself to a Resolution in favour of immediate legislation. He had little doubt that to postponement they must come at last. Nothing whatever had been said by any Member of the Government which could induce him to think they entertained the opinion that it was expedient or wise to rush into legislation in the present Session. In what state was the question. Had it as yet made any progress? No, because the Government and the Opposition were equally in doubt as to the expediency of legislating at the present. The subject was beset with difficulty, even in its first and simplest principles. Even on the point which seemed to promise the nearest approach to unanimity, the governing India in the name of the Queen, great differences would be found to exist. When Lord Hardinge was examined before a Committee on his return from India, with all his experience fresh upon him, and with the authority he justly possessed both individually and officially, he told the House of Commons that he anticipated very considerable risk and inconvenience from bringing the Government of India and the Crown into closer relationship. But every day proves how much we stand in need of further and more accurate information respecting India. If their Lordships had been discussing the Indian mutiny not now but at the assembling of Parliament, in what a different spirit would they have approached its consideration. How many reports wore circulated and believed which influenced their minds and opinions in reference to the question of the Arms Act, and to other measures in which Lord Canning had been concerned! How many there were disposed to censure what we now admire and command! How often were men biased by what they had heard of the crimes and atrocities of the Bengal army! Were their Lordships' now disposed to believe in the truth of many of those statements as credulously as they were six months ago? They knew well that the conclusion to which their better-informed reason would bring them at the present time would be very different from that to which they were formerly led. Upon all the grounds he had stated then, he submitted to their Lordships that the perils we should incur by inadvertent and inconsiderate legislation must be infinitely greater than any that could spring from postponement, and to that conclusion be trusted their Lordships and the other House would also come. Bills and Resolutions developed themselves in countless varieties of clauses and Amendments, and he earnestly hoped that by the ingenuity, knowledge, and talents of those who proposed them, Parliament might be compelled, from a sense of duty, to give them their deliberate attention; and then, with still greater fervour, he hoped that the result of their deliberations might add to a consciousness of the perils of hasty legislation, a conviction of the impossibility of legislating at all at a moment of political strife and excitement like the present.


thought that no course could be more unwise or unjust, or more injurious to the country, than the postponement of legislation on the subject. His noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) said that they needed further inquiry; but it should be borne in mind that the regulation of the Home Government was merely a preliminary step, and they could not proceed to consider the reorganization of India until that was removed which stood in the way of all improvement—the Board of Directors. He denied that it was a senseless cry that had been raised to alter the government of India; for it was a cry founded on the fact, that India had hitherto been shamefully neglected, that her resources had been left undeveloped, and that the British public would he unable to realize the advantages they ought to derive from that magnificent possession so long as its government was confided to the East India Company. The matter must be settled without delay, for the commercial public of England would no longer allow the introduction into India of British capital, British manufactures, and British settlers, to be longer impeded by the policy of the East India Company. They were now arriving at what they might fairly hope to be the beginning of the end. The Indian Government would be obliged to consider a new system of laws and a new military organization, and unless some measure was passed settling the Home Government the desired improvements would never be introduced, for they were not to be expected from those who had brought about the present state of things in India. He maintained that the India Bill of the late Government was a rational Bill, for it provided as a Council a body of men able to advise and aid the Minister for India. He had proposed about twelve months ago to alter the present system, and if his suggestion had been then adopted it would not have been a moment too soon, and he trusted that now no further delay would take place in effecting that object.

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at half-past Ten o'clock, till To-morrow, half- past Ten o'clock.