HL Deb 30 April 1858 vol 149 cc2009-10

was understood to address some inquiries to the noble Earl the President of the Board of Control, relative to the public accounts in India. In 1856 a despatch was sent out to India favourable to the establishment of a Department of Audit, and he wished to know whether such a department had been created, and if so, whether there would be any objection to produce the papers relating to it? His second question had reference to the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the mode of keeping the public accounts in India. Such a Commission, he believed, was embraced in the India Bill of the present Government. A Commission of the same nature was contemplated some years ago, but afterwards abandoned upon the recommendation of the late Duke of Wellington, who thought that such a step might weaken the authority of the Governor General. He (Earl Granville) did not see how the measure would have a less injurious effect now. The establishment of a Board of Audit had, he thought, rendered the issue of a Commission unnecessary.


re-plied that a Department of Audit in India was established on the 14th of December, 1857. It originated in a letter from the Court of Directors in June, 1856. There were, in all, six papers connected with the subject, and if the noble Earl desired to have them they were at his service. With regard to the second question, the noble Earl appeared to be under some misapprehension as to the character of the Commission to be sent to India. It was not to be what was called "a Commission," or what was understood by that term; but one from the Treasury, one from the Board of Trade, and the third from the Board of Customs, each being accompanied by a secretary, who would most probably be a clerk of the Revenue Department, were to be sent to each of the three Presidencies. After making their inquiries they were to meet and confer together upon the result of their investigation, and then communicate their report to the Government at home. It was not intended to supersede the authority of the Governor General by the appointment of the Commissioners, the sole object being to collect facts and obtain information with respect to the whole system of public accounts in India, which could be got at by no other means. When their Report was made, the Government here would take such measures as they might see fit. He could not agree with the noble Earl that the establishment of the Board of Audit would render this Commission unnecessary, because the persons employed on that Board would, in the first instance, be very inexperienced. He certainly had no idea of weakening or superseding the authority of the Governor General; he only wished to obtain information that was very important, and that could be obtained in no other way. Their Lordships had no conception of the infantile state in which the Indian official mind was with respect to keeping the public accounts.

House adjourned at Half-past Five o'clock., to Monday next, at Half-past Ten o'clock.