HL Deb 14 August 1860 vol 160 cc1248-51

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.


said, he had been glad to hear the assurances given by Her Majesty's Government, and by the illustrious Duke the Commander-in-Chief, that there was nothing in this Bill to alter the relative position of the Governor General of India and the military authorities at home, and much had he been gratified to learn from the noble Lord (Lord Clyde) who had lately returned with so much glory from India, that there was a willingness on the part of officers of the Line, not only to serve, but to settle in India, if opportunities were afforded to them for so doing. But a subject which appeared to have been overlooked in both Houses of Parliament was the additional expense which would be entailed on the resources of India by the substitution of the Royal army for the local European force. Considerable diversity of opinion existed as to the amount of this expenditure; he should, therefore, be glad to hear a statement of the view taken by the Government, and of the mode, if any, by which it was proposed that this outlay should in future be kept under control. Under the Charter of 1813 the number of Queen's troops in India could not be increased beyond 20,000, unless on a requisition from the East India Company; and so strictly was the rule adhered to that during the mutiny, when the pressure for assistance was urgent, formal requisitions were sent on each occasion from the Directors to the Queen's Government for additional troops. In the Act of 1858 he could not perceive any equivalent, either by an Order in Council or any other means, for this check, which had now been abolished. Although he had never anticipated much usefulness from the Indian Council, he had not been prepared for the state of utter insignificance to which they had been reduced by recent occurrences. It was evident that there was nothing to prevent the Secretary of State for India, the Secretary of State for War, and the Commander-in-Chief from jointly determining to increase the forces stationed in India to an extent which it 'would be impossible for the revenues of the country to bear—a consequence which could never have been contemplated by the Act of 1858. It was no imputation on a Minister to say that he would naturally be anxious that the forces under his control should be forwarded to India in the best possible manner, and that, where ho had no responsibility for the finances of the country, he would be comparatively reckless of expense. Pending the discussion of this measure, a Commission had been appointed to inquire into the best means of carrying out the amalgamation or extinction of the local force, and it would be satisfactory to the public if the names of those gentlemen were stated. He, likewise, hoped the Government would have no objection to state whether any questions save those connected with amalgamation had been referred to them, such, for instance, as the enormous future expenditure entailed by the increased European force. It was important to know whether it would be practicable to maintain the higher rate of pay which had been granted originally in order that the Queen's troops might be placed on the same footing as those in the Company's service, and, indeed, whether soldiers sent to equally warm climates would be contented without equal allowances. His remarks were not dictated by any spirit of hostility to the measure, but proceeded from a desire to ascertain the steps which the Government contemplated to prevent the undue increase of the military establishments in India. With regard to the Council of India it seemed to him to be inflicting a severe punishment on honorable gentlemen to compel them to register edicts with the issuing of which they had nothing to do, and with regard to which their only liberty lay in entering their dissent after the question had been decided.


apprehended that his noble Friend had mistaken the lesson to be drawn from the despatches. The doctrine had been held by the late and by the present Governments that the Cabinet might fairly decide on questions of Indian policy, without consulting the Indian Council. No change from the previous system was thereby involved, as it had formerly been perfectly competent for the Cabinet to consult in secret from the Court of Directors. The Act passed in 1858 continued to the Council of India the same powers which had been possessed by the Court of Directors in regard to the imposition of any charge on the revenues of India. Under the former Acts the Crown could not send out to India of its own motion a larger force than somewhere about 20,000 men; but if a larger force were sent out on the requisition of the Court of Directors, it was not in their power to insist upon the Government withdrawing them again from India. Of late years the statutory limit had been considerably overstepped. With regard to the increased expenses, as that was a subject on which the officers of the local army and of the Queen's army differed materially, the Secretary of State had referred it to a competent actuary, the result of whose examination was that the increase caused by the plan of the Government would be about £180,000. Mr. Ham mil, however, had not taken into consideration the expense which would be incurred, if the Government plan were not adopted, by raising men in this country to fill up the ranks of the local army. Again, there would be an expense of somewhere about £318,000, a considerable portion of which would be an annual charge, such as half-pay and the like, incurred in reducing the Indian army. The question of expense, however, was a very small one compared with the grounds of imperial policy on which the question must be judged.


pointed out that the noble Duke had not answered the question of the noble Baron as to whether any scheme had been laid down for the guidance of the Council on this matter. He complained of the tone in which the noble Duke had spoken of the services of the local army. It contrasted very unfavourably with the well-merited eulogy which had been passed on them by the illustrious Duke at the head of the army.


denied that the noble Duke near him (the Duke of Argyll) had depreciated the services of the local army, but certainly the illustrious Duke (the Duke of Cambridge) could not be charged with doing it scant justice. With regard to the question of the noble Baron, it was not a Council nor a Commission which Her Majesty's Government proposed to appoint, but a Committee. Lord Hotham had. consented to act as the chairman; and the other members were—Colonel Sir P. Melvill, representing the Bombay army; Lieutenant-Colonel Norman, representing the Bengal army; Major-General Clarke, representing the Ma- dras army; Sir C. Yorke, Colonel Wetherall, and General Russell.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 3a accordingly, and passed.