HL Deb 02 July 1863 vol 172 cc45-8

presented a Petition from the Officers of the Army and Navy of the late East India Company, complaining of certain grievances, and asking for an inquiry. The Petitioners complained, that in consequence of the regulations which had been made on the abolition of the East India Company's service, and the transfer of their powers to the Crown, they had been placed in a much worse position than they would have been had not that transfer taken place, or if they had been transferred directly to the Queen's service. As, however, a Commission had been appointed to examine the claims of the officers of the military service, that part of the Petition to which he wished more especially to direct their Lordships' attention, was that relating to the naval service of the late East India Company. The officers of the late Indian navy alleged that assurances (of which, however, he had himself no recollection) had been given, that the Indian Navy should be maintained; and complained that the scale of pensions established on its abolition was unjust and inadequate. He himself did not see any evidence of any intention on the part of the Government to make the compensation unjust or inadequate; but in looking in detail at a portion of the scale, he saw reason to think that the compensation given was exceedingly unequal, and that the scale had not been framed with any degree of judgment. There were 68 lieutenants, who were divided into three classes. The first class, consisting of 24, were to receive £300 a year; the second class of 24, £250; and the third class, numbering 20, £200. This division into classes was quite arbitrary. The officer standing last in the first class was appointed in 1843, his commission was dated 1851, and he was to get £300 a year, and would be made a commander. The first officer in the second class was also appointed in 1843, and his commission was dated only twelve days later than the other; but he would receive only £250, and would not receive the rank of commander. The last officer on the commanders' list got £400 a year; the first of the lieutenants, who was appointed and had served since the same year, would get £100 less; so that the amount of the pension had evidently no reference to the length of service, which was the only true principle on which pensions should be given. The inconsiderateness of the scale was strikingly shown in the case of midshipmen, who were granted pensions in this case, though in the Royal Navy they would not be considered entitled to any pensions at all. There were sixty-eight midshipmen, of whom the oldest had been in the service eight years, and the youngest was appointed on the 4th of January 1862, and pensioned in this country on the 28th of November of the same year; he therefore strongly suspected that he never went to India; yet he would receive a pension of £60 a year, or, under the arrangement for capitalizing, a sum of £960 down, for having done the Company the honour of being on their list of midshipmen for ten months. The proper plan would have been to proportion the pensions to the periods of service. Had that rule been adopted, no officer would have considered himself aggrieved. The Court of Directors spoke in high terms—to the justice of which he could himself bear witness—of the good service which had been rendered by the Indian Navy, which had distinguished itself on every occasion on which it had been employed. The officers were extremely good navigators and seamen, and they were the first to introduce both steam and iron steam vessels into the war navy. So efficient, indeed, was this force, that when he was in India in 1842, of thirteen or fourteen steamers which were then employed in those waters, only one belonged to the Crown. He did not share the apprehensions of the Court of Drectors that these officers would not be able to obtain other employment. On the contrary, he believed that their acquirements were such that they would be the most eligible persons to command the mercantile marine trading with India and the steam vessels employed on the coasts of that country; but he must express his regret that arrangements had not been made to enable Her Majesty to avail herself of the services of such officers as might be disposed to enter the Royal Navy.


said, he had also a Petition to present from the East India Company of a similar character. That Company had no more locus standi than any other body of private individuals, but he was sure their Lordships would always be ready to receive with consideration any representation which it might be pleased to make. The question was not whether the scale of pensions had inequalities, but really whether it was inadequate or unjust; and to show their Lordships that it was neither, he would simply compare it with that to which the officers would have been entitled if no change had taken place in the government of India, and with the scale of pensions given to officers in the Royal Navy. In the first place, captains, who were not entitled to any pension formerly till after they had served twenty-two years, and who received under the old system £360, would, under the new scale, receive pensions from £400 to £550. In the Royal Navy the highest pension given to the same rank was £456 a year; but in no case was that sum given to any officer until he had reached the age of sixty years. Commanders of the East India Company, under the old scale, would receive £290 a year, but not until they had served twenty-two years; under the new system they would have from £400 to £450. In the Royal Navy the highest pension given to that rank was £300, and he believed that there was the same regulation with respect to age as in the case of captains. Lieutenants, under the old scale, received £190; under the new, the pensions would be between £200 and £300. In the Royal Navy they did not receive any pension, however long their services might have been. The mates, who, under the old system, had no pension, would receive from £100 to £150; while midshipmen would receive £60. On the whole, he thought their Lordships would see that there was no ground for asserting that the new scale of pensions was unjust, inadequate, or illiberal.


reminded the noble Duke that the remuneration for all services in India was higher than in the Royal Navy; and moreover, that these officers had lost their chance of obtaining certain great pensions formerly open to them.