THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
rose to present a Petition from Brevet Major Piers, Bombay army, and to call attention to the grievances of the officers of the late East India Company's army. The noble Earl said, he had hoped that this matter would have been taken up by some noble Lord more conversant with Indian affairs; for himself, he had never been in any way connected with the Indian service, and he knew nothing of this particular subject of the grievances of the Indian officers until, by accident, this petition was placed in his hands. When he read the petition, however, he must say he considered the case a hard one, and the in quiries he had been led to make rendered 262 it necessary that he should accompany its presentation with these remarks. He might admit that he looked upon the amalgamation of the services in India as a necessary consequence of the Act of Parliament of 1858 abolishing the rule of the Company and transferring it to the Crown. The management of India came by that Act into the hands of the Secretary of State in Council; but it was quite understood at the time that the guaranteed position of the officers of the Indian army should be religiously observed. In the Royal army were a great many young men who only served for a few years and then retired; but in the Indian service men remained for twenty or thirty years in a distant country upon the distinct and positive understanding that they should receive certain benefits and be promoted in a certain manner. These men were—he did not say it invidiously—almost universally poor men, and therefore it was a matter of the most vital importance to them that their pay should increase as they advanced in years. He could not approve the manner in which the Government proceeded to carry out their pledge. In July, 1860 a Committee, presided over by a noble Lord a Member of the other House (Lord Hotham), was appointed, to inquire into the mode in which the amalgamation which the Government had determined upon, should be carried out. In one month they reported, and in the following January the Indian Minister issued his well-known despatch. This created the greatest confusion and consternation in India; and, in 1863, Sir Charles Wood was compelled to appoint the Commission presided over by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cranworth). Lord Hotham's Committee took but a month to considered the Secretary of State five months. Now, looking to the vast importance of the subject, and the great number of details involved, he thought advantage would have arisen from taking a little more time for consideration. The despatch occasioned the greatest consternation in India, and volumes of queries were sent home by the local Government to the Secretary of State for India, and things had been going on in this state for the last four years. The grand feature of the despatch of 1861 was the establishment of the Staff Corps, which was in direct antagonism with the principle of promotion by regimental seniority. Many petitions were presented in that House complaining of the conduct of 263 the Secretary for India; and the result was that a Royal Commission, consisting of noblemen and Gentlemen, and presided over by the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cranworth), was appointed, and they reported that, as regarded five separate points, the guarantee given by the Act of 1858 had not been kept by the Government. As to two of these points relief had been granted, but as to three of them they had been entirely disregarded. His Lordship then proceeded to refer to the case of certain lieutenant-colonels whose names were retained on the list, although they had accepted retirement on pensions higher than the usual rate, a proceeding which had the effect of retarding the promotion of other officers. Another complaint was that the average service of lieutenant-colonels for promotion to the rank of colonel had been proved to be ten years; twelve years had been fixed as the period, thus retarding promotion for two years. They further complained that their case had not been properly entertained by the Royal Commissioners, and that while all the evidence adduced on behalf of the officers was known to the India Office, the converse of the proposition was not true, for that the case of the India Office had been altogether concealed from the officers. Another point on which the Commissioners had not reported in favour of the officers was the question of bonuses, which wore given to senior officers to induce them to retire. Those bonuses, although now declared to be illegal by the Secretary of State for India, had been recognized by a General Order of the Commander-in-Chief, which approved of the bonus system as most beneficial to officers and to the ser vice. It seemed hard, after officers had been making sacrifices by contributing a portion of their monthly pay for the purpose of securing promotion, to have it suddenly declared that the system was illegal. It had been stated in another place that a great number of Indian officers who had signed petitions had at the same time gone to the Secretary of State for India and assured him that they were perfectly contented with the present state of things; but when that statement was made, the right hon. Baronet was challenged, and he was unable to bring for ward a single case in which an officer who had signed a petition had stated he was not dissatisfied with the arrangements that had been made and the con- 264 sequences that flowed from them. He (the Earl of Donoughmore) trusted that Her Majesty's Government would take the entire matter into their consideration. It was a serious thing to have the officers of an entire army in a state of discontent. The question ought to be settled in a just and liberal spirit, and as they would have to do it at last the sooner it was done the better. When they considered the great services which these men rendered during the Indian mutiny, he thought their Lord ships would agree with him in saying that there was no class of men more worthy of the consideration of the Government and of Parliament than the officers of the Indian army.
My Lords, before I endeavour to reply to the strictures passed by the noble Earl upon the military arrangements of the Secretary of State for India, I am most anxious to bespeak your Lordships' indulgence and forbearance, not only because this is the first occasion of my addressing you in an official capacity, but more especially because the subject with which I have to deal is one of so difficult and complicated a character, that even, perhaps, the most practised speaker might find it impossible to render very clear or interesting. Nevertheless, I am very glad that the grievances of the officers of the Indian army should have been brought under your Lordships' notice it is always most desirable, whenever any class of Her Majesty's subjects consider them selves aggrieved, that the earliest opportunity should be afforded them of having their complaints examined, in order either that they may obtain redress, or, if they should prove to be unfounded, that they should have the consolation of knowing that the most ample justice has been done them by an Assembly so impartial as your Lordships' House; and, my Lords, I am especially glad that your Lordships should have an opportunity of intervening on the present occasion, inasmuch as the singular want of interest shown in the various questions which have been raised by the petitions of these Indian officers in another place (though resulting in a division favourable to the complainants) will probably be regarded with as little satisfaction by the officers themselves as I believe it has been by the public at large. I must, moreover, congratulate the Indian officers on securing so able an advocate as the noble Earl. The noble Earl is himself a soldier, and has served with distinction in the East, 265 and whatever he says in this House is always listened to with the greatest attention and respect. Although, therefore, I am unable to agree with the views taken by the noble Earl, I am ready to welcome him as a useful auxiliary in my endeavour to place your Lordships in possession of the true facts of this controversy. For, my Lords, I can assure the House that I have no desire by any special pleading to make out a case against the Indian officers. On the contrary, I shall best discharge my duty to your Lordships, and to the Department with which I am connected, by endeavouring simply to place the House in possession of the materials necessary to form a just opinion; but if I can only succeed in doing so, and can make the House understand the immense difficulties with which the Secretary of State has had to contend, the manner in which those difficulties have been met, and the way in which the officers who now complain have been affected by the arrangements of Sir Charles Wood, I am convinced that your Lordships will not only consider that these complaints have either never had cause for existence or, at ail events, have been redressed; but that as far as regards their advantages of pay, pensions, and allowances, the position of these officers is far better than it was before these changes took place.
The noble Earl has presented a petition to your Lordships; but as the allegations contained in it are but the stereotyped complaints which have been promulgated in the various manifestoes issued by the very energetic Committee of officers sitting in London, I think it will be better that, instead of referring to individual cases, I should endeavour to meet the noble Earl upon the broader grounds he has himself selected.
In order to do this with advantage, it is necessary that I should recall to the recollection of the House the circumstances out of which these changes have arisen. In 1857, as your Lordships are aware, occur red the greatest military convulsion of our century—the Indian mutiny. As soon as the crisis was past, and we again found ourselves masters of the situation, the first question which occurred to every one was, how can the repetition of so terrible a calamity be prevented? With, I believe, the unanimous consent of every authority, whether in this country or in India, it was agreed that the very first pre caution to be taken was the reduction and 266 re-construction of the Sepoy army. A year later the annexation of the Empire of India to the Crown of Great Britain was deter mined upon, and then followed, as a necessary consequence of this event, the amalgamation of the European portion of the Company's army with that of Her Majesty. The Secretary of State for India, therefore, found himself charged with two of the most difficult operations which could well be imagined. I call them two operations because, although they were so closely connected and followed in such quick succession, the reduction and re-construction of the Native army and the amalgamation of the Indo-European army with the army of the Queen were entirely distinct events, and depending on different considerations—the one being a military necessity consequent upon the mutiny; the other a matter of political and administrative convenience. Now, all the grievances alleged by these officers have arisen out of the first of these operations—the reduction and re-construction of the Native army; the amalgamation having been effected by the simple process of voluntary enlistment of the officers and men of the local European army into the Queen's service. For the purposes of the pre sent discussion, therefore, it will be sufficient for us to confine our attention to the method by which the reduction and re-construction of the Native Sepoy army was brought about. Before the Indian mutiny commenced the troops of the Company consisted of about 165,000 Native soldiers; but before the year had elapsed, and the mutiny had been sup pressed, sixty-two out of seventy-four of the Bengal Native regiments had disappeared into space. The reduction of the rank and file of the Native army presented, therefore, no great difficulties. But the re-construction and the re-organization of the 135,000 men whom it was determined to retain was a more difficult and delicate task, inasmuch as all the officers of the disbanded regiments, though they were no longer available for regimental duty, still survived in their respective cadres, and in any scheme for the future it would be necessary to secure to them all the advantages of pay, pension, promotion, and allowances which they would have enjoyed if their regiments had remained intact. In fact, the task submitted to the ingenuity of Sir Charles Wood was not unlike the puzzle which requires you with only twelve beds at your disposal to accommodate thirteen 267 Nuns with a bed apiece. Though compelled by an imperious necessity to maintain only half of the army which formerly existed, the Secretary of State was expected to provide all the officers of that army, among whom no reduction had taken place, with the same advantages of pay and promotion as if no reduction had taken place. But the difficulties of the Secretary of State by no means ended here. Not only had he to take into ac count the prospects and interests of these officers, but he was also bound to consider, perhaps with even equal solicitude, the efficiency of his future army. Now, in the opinion of all military men in India, it had been always thought that the practice of detaching regimental officers for a lengthened period for Staff and civil employment had had a very bad effect. Under this sys tem it was perfectly possible for an officer to spend almost the entire of his military career in civil and political employment. By many persons the singular want of authority and influence over their men exhibited by a great number of regimental officers at the first outbreak of the Indian mutiny, was entirely attributed to this circumstance; and even long before the mutiny broke out, one of the earliest improvements suggested by military men in India was the total abolition of this practice and the substitution of some other method by which the Government of India might supply itself with Staff officers, whom it might detach upon this description of service. Again, it was urged with almost equal persistence, by persons of very great authority in India and at home, that the regimental re-organization of the regular army should be entirely abandoned, and that the new regiments about to be re constructed should he placed upon the same footing as those irregular regiments which had been doing us such excellent ser vice at the very moment when the regular system was breaking down. I am well aware, from some observations which fell from a noble Earl not now present (the Earl of Ellenborough), that a difference of opinion may exist as to the policy of introducing the irregular system into the Indian army; but as the present discussion merely concerns the grievances of the Indian officers, and it is not a question as to how an army for India may be best constituted, I shall not attempt to go into that point, but shall content myself with citing such great authorities as Lord Clyde, Lord Elphinstone, Lord Dalhousie, and Sir John 268 Lawrence, all of whom were in favour of the irregular system. I have mentioned these two circumstances in order to show how it came about that the establishment of a Staff Corps was an absolute necessity at this juncture, because it was only by dependence on such a Corps that it would be possible for the Indian Government to detach officers for civil and political employment, or to select officers who, owing to their peculiar attainments and ability, were proper persons to appoint to the irregular regiments about to be constructed. The institution of a Staff Corps, then, having become an absolute necessity, the next question which arose was as to how it should be recruited; for although at the time a sufficient supply of efficient officers might be obtained from the local corps, it was obvious that in the next generation the future strength of the Staff Corps must depend upon officers volunteering into its ranks from the Queen's army. But in order to induce officers of the Queen's army to volunteer into its ranks, and thus accept all the disadvantages of an Indian career, it became necessary to frame such regulations with regard to the pay, promotion, and the general status of officers in the Staff Corps as would render that Corps sufficiently attractive. Thus not only the establishment of a Staff Corps, but its internal economy, its pay, promotion, and general arrangements, having been dictated to the Secretary of State for India, by what I may call Imperial considerations, it only remained for him to revert to the] position of those officers of the local army whom it was undesirable or impossible to transfer to the Staff Corps or the irregular regiments, and to consider what further arrangements would be necessary in order to reconcile their personal interests and future prospects with the exigencies of the public service for which he had thus provided. Your Lordships know what would have happened to such officers in England. They would have been placed on half-pay, as at the end of the war in 1815 were those officers who had fought in all the battles of Europe. But as it was desirable to retain the Indian officers in the enjoyment of all their former privileges, as regarded pay and promotion, it was determined to deal with them exactly as if they had been doing duty with their men. Having thus secured the two principal objects in view—namely, the reduction and re-construction of the Indian army, and the preservation of the status 269 and advantages of the local army, Sir Charles Wood then proceeded to cope with those subordinate difficulties which still interfered with the working of his plan. Those subordinate difficulties arose out of two circumstances. The first was the fact that, half the regiments of the Sepoy army having been abolished, it would consequently be necessary to extinguish half the commands and emoluments which be longed to it, for it was perfectly impossible to expect that the Government of India should be compelled, or in any way bound, to continue to all eternity twice as many colonelcies as the necessities of the service required. But the only way in which a reduction of this kind under ordinary circumstances could be effected would be by neglecting to fill up the vacancies which from time to time might occur by the deaths of existing officers. But, inasmuch as this mode of procedure would at once stop promotion throughout the entire local army, Sir Charles Wood determined to buy out such a number of the old Indian officers as would enable him to extinguish not only the supernumerary colonelcies, but to give such an accelerated rate of promotion to the whole army, as would put the remaining officers on a better footing than before. Accordingly—and I ask particular attention to this point—no less a sum than £64,560 annually was devoted to this purpose in addition to pensions of upwards of. £100,000 a year to which those officers would be, under any circumstances, entitled. About 300 officers availed themselves of this opportunity, of whom ninety-eight were lieutenant-colonels. By not promoting any in the room of the first half of this batch of lieutenant-colonels, but by giving pro motion to forty-nine in the room of the second batch, and to 449 other officers, Sir Charles Wood was enabled not only to make the necessary reductions, but also to communicate such an accelerated rate of promotion to the entire army that whereas formerly it took forty-five years for any officer to become a colonel it would now take in all probability only thirty-nine; and whereas it used to take six years formerly for an officer to pass through the grade of major, he might now do so in two years and a half, or at most in three years. Yet, my Lords, one of the chief complaints of the Indian officers is, that Sir Charles Wood did not grant promotion in the room of the first half of the batch of lieutenant-colonels he had brought out for the 270 express purpose of enabling him to effect a reduction! The next subordinate difficulty—for so it may be termed—in the application of the new regulations arose out of the circumstance that whereas in the Staff Corps promotion did not necessarily depend upon length of service, in the local army it still continued, as formerly, to be regulated by seniority and to depend upon casualties. Accordingly it sometimes happened that an officer transferred to the Staff Corps would obtain his promotion more rapidly than an officer who had been senior to him and who had remained in the regiment to which both belonged. That was, undoubtedly, very much to be deprecated and would amount to a practical grievance. But no sooner was this grievance brought to the notice of the Secretary of State than he at once issued a brevet, whereby he extended promotion to all the officers of the local army exactly upon the same terms as to the officers of the Staff Corps—namely, by the application of a similar scale to both. Well, as the noble Earl (the Earl of Donoughmore) has stated, that is one of the chief grievances which is alleged by the petitioners. Those officers complain that their rank being only brevet rank carries no pay with it, while the staff officers having substantive rank receive pay in consequence. The answer to that is that officers in the Staff Corps under the old system were always rewarded with special pay for special services; and al though I am not a military man, yet I believe it is admitted by the profession at large that it would form no just ground of complaint on the part of some officers, if other officers, discharging other duties, were somewhat better situated in respect of pay than themselves. It should also be remembered that whereas the officers of the Staff Corps receive no batta the officers of the local army receive full batta. By that means, therefore, the inequality complained of is to a considerable degree redressed. The noble Earl has spoken of the parable of the sower; perhaps a closer analogy is to be found in the parable of the labourers who complained that they received no more than the penny for which they had engaged to serve. Such, my Lords, are the principal features of the changes which have been introduced into the military organization of the Indian army by the Secretary of State.
But, perhaps, it would be well that I should communicate to the House the mode 271 in which these changes have operated on the officers with respect to whom they have been devised. The old Indian army consisted of about 4,000 officers, of whom 1,300 volunteered into Her Majesty's army, another 1,300 volunteered into the Staff Corps, and are enjoying all the advantages of that Corps. Some 300 are actually employed in Staff employment, and, there fore, have no reason to complain; and 300 have retired on a bonus greatly exceeding that to which they would otherwise have been entitled. Of the whole 4.000, there fore, 3,200 have been provided for in a manner which, so to speak, has been selected by themselves. Then there are 450 officers still in the Madras army—because I should mention that no change whatever has been introduced into that army, and therefore its officers can have no cause of complaint. Consequently there remain only 375 officers of the local army unemployed, who though unavailable for regimental duties, are still retained on the cadres of their respective regiments, and receive pay and promotion under the favourable circumstances which I have mentioned.
I should have been very glad to have here concluded my statement; but, in order that the noble Earl may not accuse me of any want of respect to the persons whom he represents, I will venture to say a few words on the subject of the petitions which the noble Earl has presented. I might certainly have declined to do so, for the simple reason that the principal grievances alleged in the petitions presented by the noble Earl have been submitted to the consideration of the Com mission, of which Lord Ellenborough was a member, and have been pronounced to be unfounded. The first of those grievances consisted in this, that Sir Charles Wood has retained on the cadres of their respective regiments, the names of those officers who have been transferred to the Staff Corps. Well, I have explained how it was in order to benefit the officers of the old local army that two armies have been permitted to co-exist in India, the one upon paper—the old Sepoy army, with 165 regiments and its corresponding number of officers and no men, and the other the actual army, consisting of the new irregular regiments and the Staff Corps. I have also endeavoured to explain that the only reason why that paper army is retained is in order that we may be able to extend to the officers enrolled in it all the 272 privileges to which they would be entitled had the whole rank and file of their regiments remained in existence. I venture to ask how these officers can complain of the system that has been adopted? If your Lordships examine the system which these officers wish to substitute, you will find that if it were adopted, it would give rise to a far greater amount of injustice and supersession than that of which they so bitterly complain. Take the case of two regiments. It would be quite possible (and, indeed, it has occurred) that in one of these regiments half-a-dozen senior officers should he transferred to the Staff Corps, while in the regiment next to it, not one should be transferred. If the Government had adopted the suggestion that has been made, and had promoted the junior officers to the vacancies thus created, when the time came for them to take their line step they would have al together superseded the greater portion of the officers of the other regiments, many of whom had, perhaps, entered the service of the Company before these last officers were born. Moreover, if you turn to the precedents of the East India Company, you will discover that in an analogous case, after the Cabul disaster, when certain regiments had lost the greater number of their officers, the Company, in order to retard the promotion of junior officers, actually interpolated officers from other regiments over their heads. Surely, if the East India Company were justified in taking so extreme a measure, no blame can attach to the Secretary of State for India if, for the purpose of fairly regulating promotion throughout the entire army, he should retain upon the regiments the names of officers who have been transferred to the Staff Corps. Another point is that under the old system there was no Staff Corps, yet from most of the regiments a great number of officers were invariably detached on Staff employment. Their names were borne on the strength of their regiments, and they as effectually stopped promotion in their regiments as if the present Staff Corps had then existed. Another grievance alleged by the noble Earl is in regard to the bonus fund. It was the habit in many of the Indian regiments, although not in all, for the junior officers of the regiment, when promotion appeared to languish, to stimulate the retirement of the senior officers by endeavouring to make up a purse for them, for the sake of the 273 promotion which would thereby ensue. But promotion in the Staff Corps now depends not upon casualties but on length of service, and it is no longer an object for officers of the Staff Corps to subscribe to these bonus funds. The consequence is that the value of the bonus funds have diminished, and by a kind of reflex argument the Secretary of State for India is blamed for this result, as having been the framer of the Staff Corps. It should, however, be remembered that these bonus transactions were entirely of a private nature, and they have been pronounced in the most specific terms to be totally illegal by our courts of law. The practice has never been recognized by the military authorities, although it has undoubtedly been winked at. Moreover, every time a young officer put his hand in his pocket and contributed to a bonus fund he obtained value for what he had given in the shape of promotion, and nothing could be more unfair than to call upon the taxpayer of India to make up the loss incurred on these irregular speculations. It is, I can assure your Lordships, a most difficult and ungracious task which I have had to perform, because nothing can be said in support of the debt of gratitude that we owe these Indian officers that I do not agree with, But as I am convinced that, on the whole, the balance of advantage in the late changes in the organization of the Indian army has resulted to a considerable extent in favour of the officers, no other course was open to me but that which I have adopted. I will conclude by reminding your Lordships that the advantages accruing to officers of the local army under Sir Charles Wood's regulations may be briefly stated in the following terms:—In the first place there has been granted to them, in addition to everything they previously possessed, an annual addition of a quarter of a million of money. Secondly, in consequence of a grant of £64,650 a year, forty-nine officers whose promotion would otherwise have depended on casualties have received immediate promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel; while 400 other officers—majors, captains, and lieutenants, have received corresponding advancement. Thirdly, a lieutenant-colonelcy will probably now be reached in thirty instead of thirty-four years, and a colonelcy in thirty-nine instead of forty-five years, while the grade of major will probably be passed through in half its former time. As it is the intention of the Govern- 274 ment to recommend the issuing of a Royal Commission to inquire how far the recommendations of the former Commission have been carried into effect, it would be only a waste of your Lordships' time to trespass further on your attention.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
said, that whatever other complaints the officers of the Indian army might have they could make none in regard to the tone and temper in which his noble Friend (Lord Dufferin) had treated this question. He believed, however, that the object of this Motion was rather to elicit opinion than to bring about a determination; and, therefore, having been some what versed in Indian affairs, and paid considerable attention to this subject, he would venture to say a few words. He thought his noble Friend had made an excellent official technical speech, and if he were called upon to decide judicially his noble Friend's speech might influence his judgment. But this was not a question to be disposed of in that spirit. His (Lord Lyveden's) opinion was that the Indian officers, if they had not been illegally dealt with, had certainly been treated ungenerously and shabbily. No one had a right to complain if an act of public policy interfered with his private interests; but the greatest politicians had laid it down that no private injury should be inflicted, if possible, by any alteration in administrative or Executive policy. The spirit in which these officers ought to have been dealt with was one of the utmost liberality, and in this respect he thought that his right lion. Friend (Sir Charles Wood) had failed. From the beginning of the change their position had been one of irritation, doubt, and annoyance. The whole question seemed to him to have been materially mismanaged. In the transfer of the Company's army to the Crown another mutiny had nearly occurred, but luckily it had been stopped in time, although by concession. Then came the transfer of the officers, and the greatest care should have been taken that they were in no degree dissatisfied. In that respect, also, his right lion. Friend had failed. His noble Friend (Lord Dufferin) had alluded to the old puzzle, how an innkeeper was to pro vide for thirteen guests in twelve beds. But he should have finished the story. When the person to whom the question was put said, "I give it up!" the answer was, "So did he!" And so did Sir Charles Wood. His right hon. Friend granted a Commission to inquire into the grievances 275 of the Indian officers. That Commission having reported, it was understood, that to the recommendations of that Report Sir Charles Wood would agree. The right hon. Gentleman, however, did not agree with more than two out of the five recommendations of the Commission. At the head of the Commission his right hon. Friend placed an eminent lawyer (Lord Cranworth), which certainly looked as if he meant to act legally and to confine himself within the four corners of the Act of Parliament. But the Commission, going in their Report beyond what his right hon. Friend anticipated, he did not comply with their recommendations; which he ventured to think was a grievous error. Let their Lordships for a moment consider the position of these gentlemen. They had no right to object to amalgamation, although they might have been vastly-degraded by it. But what was their position before? It might be said that the position of the Company's officers was inferior always to that of the officers in Her Majesty's army. They had, however, a position of their own, and the East India Company had been at hand to protect them and see that they obtained justice. Although a separate service, accordingly, they served with an honour and prestige of emolulents of their own fully compensating for any relative inferiority. Now that the East India Company was gone they entertained no fear whatever of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, who, when speaking of them in that House, paid the highest tribute to their good qualities, though, be added, that it was more than human to expect that they would not be jealous of the officers of the Line. They were not afraid of the illustrious Duke, but they did feel very uneasy with regard to that mysterious monster the Horse Guards, which, though it could never be embodied in human shape, was an influence so real that he himself had great difficulty in overcoming it in 1856. For instance, in reference to a particular appointment, Lord Hardinge, when Commander-in-Chief, who had been Governor General in India, and discharged the duties of that position in an admirable manner, showed himself determined not to appoint to it any officer belonging to the East India Company's service; and he was; obliged to bring the whole force of the Cabinet to bear before he could get Sir Patrick Grant appointed to military command in the Presidency, merely because he hap- 276 pened to be in the Indian service; and I yet Sir Patrick Grant had since that time officiated for a while as Commander-in-Chief of all the troops in India. Again, with regard to the bonus fund, no doubt it was true that there had been a decision adverse to it in a Court of Law; hut there had been repeated decisions of the East India Company not only rceognizing but favouring it, which had of course: also been sanctioned by the Board of Control. The older Indian officers had looked forward to it as a means of relief for their age; the younger officers as a means of promotion. It was, therefore, natural that I they should feel injured by its withdrawal, and that high-minded men, dealing with a: public Office on the faith of what they regarded as established usage, should be anything but satisfied at learning that on the authority of Chief Justice Somebody, of whom they had never heard, this fund was suddenly abolished. Their grievance might not be one which a Court of Law could recognize, but it was peculiarly one for the High Court of Parliament to entertain. In the course which he had adopted on this point his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, he thought, had acted amiss, and a liberal course, he was persuaded, would have been the most judicious. Every officer of course knew that I he was liable to be reduced; but what officer of the Indian army, he would ask, ever expected to be transferred to the Queen's army? He entreated his right hon. Friend to re-consider his determination. The question of a Staff Corps, no doubt, was one of policy, but it had materially injured many officers in their prospects, and he never could understand upon what principle the names of men who had been transferred to the Staff Corps wore retained on the rolls of their own regiments to stop promotion. The question might he argued as a question of finance, but there was something in the subject beyond a mere question of money. The Government and the House should remember the consequences that might follow from dissatisfaction in India. Men who had acted with the spirit and devotion which these troops had shown in time of trial were not likely to break out in revolt; but dissatisfaction, nevertheless, was a dangerous frame of mind for men to be in if need arose for their services they could never fight with the same spirit. They had no right to treat men who had gone through the Indian mutiny like common petitioners, 277 There was nothing on earth to be alleged against them. Their doubts, and the doubts of reasonable men in this country, ought therefore to have been satisfied, and they should have been dealt with in a just, and even a generous spirit. To appoint Commission after Commission was an irritating course, for it led to nothing and suspended the claims meanwhile. He strongly recommended his right hon. Friend to carry out the recommendations made by the last Commission, even if he did not go beyond them, and deal with these officers in that spirit of generosity with which the people of England desire to see them treated.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
said, their Lord ships might, perhaps, wonder that one whose career in life had been so different from those of the gentlemen whose ease was now under consideration should venture to address them; but his right hon. Friend having pressed him in 1863 to join the Commission which was to inquire whether the Parliamentary guarantee had or had not been complied with, he consented, and became Chairman of that Commission. In opposition to what had been suggested he must aver that he never met a set of men more anxious to look fairly at the case before them, with a view to remedy any grievance which might be shown to exist, than the Members of that Commission. His noble Friend thought they took a wrong course in not obtaining the com plaints directly from the officers.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
In not permitting the officers to see the documents after they had been in the hands of the Secretary of State.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
said, the proceeding adopted was to submit the statements of the Indian officers to the Secretary of State, who made his observations upon them. It was the unanimous opinion of all the military men of that Commission—an opinion in which Lord Ellenborough concurred—that the communication from the Secretary of State ought not to be submitted to the officers, without the sanction of the Secretary of State previously obtained. The Secretary of State did not feel himself warranted in giving that sanction; and he (Lord Cranworth) was bound to add that all the military members of that Commission thought he was perfectly right. But, in order to prevent the possibility of prejudice being done to the Indian officers' case by such a refusal, the substance of everything contained in the 278 observations of the Secretary of State was forwarded in the shape of questions to these officers; and if the noble Earl would look to the Appendix to the Report he would have the opportunity of seeing how full and ample was the information thus given to those officers, and how completely it exhausted all the topics contained in the paper of the Secretary of State. They had, of course, first of all to determine what to investigate. The Act of Parliament contained what he could not but regard as a most unfortunate clause to insert in any Act of Parliament. After stating that the military and naval officers of the East India Company were to transfer their services to Her Majesty, the clause provided that theyShould be entitled to the like pay, pension, allowances and privileges, and the like advantages as regards promotion and otherwise, as if they had continued in the service of the Company.Now, he could understand an Act of Parliament when it stated that a man was entitled to the same rights as he previously enjoyed if he really possessed any; but when that man possessed none whatever previously he must confess that he found it more difficult to comprehend. The Com missioners felt that they ought to interpret the clause liberally, and to suppose that the Legislature intended to say that the Crown should deal with those officers in the same way they believed the East India Company would have done if these changes had been made in their time. Her Majesty's Government had undertaken a most difficult problem, in dependent of the difficulty which attended the interpretation of this Act of Parliament, because they proposed uniting into one army, to be governed upon the same principle, two armies hitherto regulated on principles entirely different. The question, then, was, whether the Government, in the changes which they had made, had acted in the same manner as it might reasonably be supposed the East India Company would have acted if these changes had been undertaken by them. The first great change was the establishment of the Staff Corps. The rule of the Indian service was that promotion should be made by seniority, and any officer going from one regiment to another would give a step of promotion to the officers of the regiment which he had quitted. Was that principle, then, to be retained when the new Staff Corps was constituted? Up to that time the officers form ing—not the Staff Corps, for there existed none—but discharging those duties which 279 were subsequently performed by the officers appointed to the Staff Corps, remained officers of their regiment. He could not, therefore, see for what reason they should now be removed from the list of their regiments ill order to give promotion to their brother officers. All the members of the Commission—English officers, Indian officers, and Lord Ellenborough who, as their Lordships knew, took a deep interest in everything connected with the Indian army—regarded such a proposition as extravagant, because in some cases half the officers of a regiment would be taken away, and in some instances a lieutenant would at once be promoted to be a colonel. The principle of the Staff Corps was not in reality any novelty. It was true no such Corps had previously existed, but a number of officers had, previous to the formation of the Corps, been detached from their regiments and had performed the duties which were afterwards attached to the Staff Corps, and this fact had been stated to be a great grievance, and, in the opinion of many, had been one of the main causes which had led to the disastrous mutiny. The Commissioners, therefore, decided that of the conduct of the Government in this respect there could be nothing to complain. There was no inclination on the part of any member of that Commission to favour either the Government or the officers. The only thing of which the officers could at all complain was that when the Staff Corps was brigaded with the old regiments the Staff officers might have an unfair army rank. But that disadvantage had been compensated by the creation of the brevet. The opinion of all the members of the Commission was, that that grievance would be fairly met in this manner. Then with regard to the system of bonuses. Upon this subject the Act of Parliament said nothing at all. The Act simply stated that the army was to retain in its new or ganization the same privileges which it did under the old. All, therefore, that the officers could possibly expect was that the Government should be as passive upon the subject as the Company had been; but they certainly could not expect that sanction should be given to what had already been decided by the Court of Common Pleas to be an illegal transaction. Then, with regard to the retirement, he believed that about £60,000 was spent for the purpose of increasing the retiring allow ances beyond the amount to which the officers retiring were entitled, and this was 280 done in order that room might be made for others. It was then complained that the places of all those who retired were not immediately occupied by promotion. But it was preposterous to expect such a thing. It ought to he enough that by this plan promotion had been accelerated to an enormous degree. It had been a great benefit to the officers generally, and he believed that no officer in his petition had stated that, upon the whole, the service had not been enormously benefited by the changes which had been made. It no doubt was a misfortune that many officers were left with little or no employment. He could not understand how, now that the brevet had been created, any real grievance could be said to exist. He believed that the great difficulty had arisen from the insertion of so unfortunate a clause in the Act of Parliament.
said, he should not have spoken, but be felt that he must express his surprise at the intimation which they bad received from the Government that it was their intention to propose a new Commission upon this subject. The speech, too, of the noble and learned Lord who had just sat down (Lord Cranworth) had also surprised him, because he should have imagined that the remarks of his noble and learned Friend would have assumed the form of an indignant protest against the neglect with which the Government had already treated the recommendations of three former Commissions; but those recommendations appeared to be abandoned by his noble and learned Friend with as much unconcern as they were treated by the Government. After the example which they had already witnessed, he could not see what reason induced his noble and learned Friend to believe that the recommendation of another Commission would receive any better treatment. He could not see what right they had to supersede the Commission on which his noble and learned Friend had expatiated. It had been his fortune to go through a great deal of discussion on this matter in another place. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India had been pressed with every argument, the subject had been urged on him strongly and ably; but in defiance of the opinion of Lord Canning—in defiance of the opinion of Sir John Lawrence, of Lord Clyde, and almost every member of his Council, he insisted on amalgamation, accompanied with that enormous conditional promise. It seemed not 281 an act of a wise statesman to make so great a change, at the same time fettering so largely his own terms. He ought rather to have said, I see the difficulty of the case, and we cannot accomplish your wishes; I must subordinate private rights to a great public policy. What was the language of Sir James Outram on this subject? He said—I have stated that the proposed amalgamation would inflict grievous and unmerited injuries on the 6,000 gentlemen who now officer the local army, and a little consideration will prove that I am right. These men entered the service on the implied understanding that they would succeed in order of seniority to regimental 'off reckonings,' in periods ranging, according to individual good or ill luck, from thirty to forty-five years of ser vice. Will faith be kept with them in this respect? Can faith be kept with them in this respect under they proposed amalgamation plan? The entered the service on an implied guarantee that they should never be superseded in regimental or line promotion, either by the introduction of the purchase system, or by irregular promotion, based on the principle of selection. Can faith possibly be kept with them in this respect under the proposed amalgamation plan? All in the service have been allowed authoritatively to make arrangements for purchasing out their seniors, and these arrangements, and the retiring funds which have been established in consequence, cannot justly be interfered with. Relying on this understanding, they have regularly subscribed to funds the object of which is to accelerate promotion by providing bonuses out of the common purse to officers willing to retire; and they have done so in the confident hope that when ill health or other considerations should lead to their own retirement, they would, as a matter of course, receive bonuses equal in amount to those paid to their predecessors. Will the regulations and whole machinery of the line be altered to meet the equitable claims of these men? or will their funds be broken up, and all the prospective advantage for which they have monthly made pecuniary sacrifices be absolutely denied them?They had committed the great injustice which Sir James Outram said would be committed, and they had done this in the teeth of their Parliamentary guarantee that there should be no change in the position of these officers. He feared that what had been done had been done at the expense of the honour of the State, and that the difficulties arising out of amalgamation would accumulate rather than diminish. The question of doing justice to these officers was not one of legal rights but of the honour of the country. It was not because the pecuniary sacrifices would be great that justice should be denied these officers, who had been solemnly told when amalgamation was in contemplation, that their position should in no way be invalidated. Promises had been made to these 282 officers at the end of a great Indian war, and the honour of the country was pledged to their fulfilment.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, he did not rise to argue with his noble Friend the I question of the policy of amalgamation. That question had been settled by Parliament, and he believed not only necessarily but wisely settled. But he rose to explain one point which, at the outset of his observations, his noble Friend (Lord Houghton) had viewed with some astonishment and marked with some censure—he meant the appointment of a new Commission. The last Commission had been appointed to consider the whole scope of these complaints, and the Report contained five principal recommendations. It was the opinion of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India, and of the Government, that three of those recommendations were fully and completely met; and with regard to the two others, although not complied with, liberal and ample compensation had been given, and that, on the whole, the grievances had been fairly met. The new Commission had not been appointed to in quire into the whole scope of the complaints, which re-opened the whole ground, but into the narrow question whether Government had or had not complied with the specific recommendations of the former Com mission. That was a very different thing. He could not help thinking that his noble Friend behind had never read the Report of the Commission, for he had laid great stress on grievances which had been condemned by the Commission, and he particularly referred to the great grievance of the Staff Corps and its effect on promotion; while the Commission had completely dismissed that as a grievance which it was impossible to maintain. The noble Earl (the Earl of Donoughmore) who introduced this subject had done so very candidly—indeed, he seemed to justify what had often been said of the complaints of Indian officers, but was always denied by them until the admission of the noble Earl, that their construction of the Parliamentary guarantee was that they were to remain absolutely in statu quo, and that there could be no reform of the Indian army because it might affect them. He distinctly said that the creation of a Staff Corps was incompatible with the fulfilment of the Parliamentary guarantee. Now, that amounted to a declaration that the reform of the Indian army, pointed at by officer after officer, by Governor General after Governor General, 283 by men of all possible opinions on the question of amalgamation, was incompatible with the Parliamentary guarantee. Surely that was a reductio ad absurdum.Such a measure had been recommended by those I who had no idea of amalgamation. In 1855–6 some essays were published in the Calcutta Review, at first anonymously, but afterwards admitted to be by Sir Henry Lawrence, in which the writer, referring to the condition of the Indian army, said that promotion by seniority was a source of most grievous complaint and discontent, and that the efficiency of the service was most seriously impaired by it. He did not mean to dispute the immense services rendered by that army he spoke of it in no terms of disparagement; but when dealing with complaints which implied that the former condition of that army was satisfactory he was bound to state what were the real facts of the case. He had here an extract of one of the essays of Sir Henry Lawrence on Military Reform which had been collected and re-published, and which would be read with the greatest I interest; and let their Lordships hear to what condition the Indian army had been reduced by the seniority system, and then say whether, had there been no amalgamation and no transfer from the Company to the Crown, it would not have been competent for the Indian Government to put an end to that system and insist on a reform of the army. Sir Henry Lawrence says—There must be a bar against the command of regiments being the reward of thirty or forty years of incompetence. We wait till the sense and strength that officers have been endowed with has evaporated before they are employed in command. Some officers now in command, to the injury of the service, were good men and true twenty years ago; others were never fit for a corporal's command, and only in a seniority service could have escaped from the subaltern ranks. The irregular system has been brought into fashion because it is found 'that three selected and comparatively young officers are preferable to a dozen or sixteen haphazard ones, commanded by such men as are generally found at the head of regiments of the line."'Sir Henry Lawrence further said—In no army are higher qualifications required. Is it good that one single officer should be a laughing-stock to his men? They are nearly fifty to one of us.That is the language of one of the most distinguished and illustrious of the Company's servants. He goes on to say—There are men now commanding regiments known to have greatly injured, if not ruined, more than one corps, and working hard to destroy the credit of their present corps. We have heard the 284 new commander-in-chief of the Madras army regret the necessity of putting such men in command. It has been. A custom rather than an obligation, and the sooner it is abrogated the better for the Indian army.What does Sir Henry Lawrence say in regard to the remedy he would propose for those evils? His remedy is that very measure which the noble Earl opposite states is absolutely incompatible with the Parliamentary guarantee. Sir Henry Lawrence says—Some system must be devised by having the whole army in one general list. There must be a Staff Corps; whatever may be its inconveniences, they will be less than those that now obtain.He (the Duke of Argyll) was astonished to hear his noble Friend behind him (Lord Lyveden) quote Lord Clyde as an opponent of the amalgamation, because Lord Clyde had been a warm advocate both of that measure and (he formation of the Staff Corps. True, Sir James Outram and Lord Canning were against the amalgamation; but it was a reform naturally connected with the transfer of the government from the Company to the Crown, and it was pointed out by almost all the great authorities upon Indian affairs. Sir Henry Lawrence, however, went on to observe—Let these vital questions be settled. Respect as far as possible present incumbents, by giving them time to meet examinations, &c. But at any cost rid the service of notorious incompetence and prevent incapables from obtaining command. To the cry of 'vested interests,' &c, we answer that able and energetic men are most likely to enter a service that encourages ability and energy.As regarded the contentment of the Indian army, noble Lords talked as if all the discontent which had arisen was due to the measures of Sir Charles Wood and the amalgamation. But it was nothing of the kind. Discontent largely prevailed in the Indian army before the mutiny, and it was not too much to say that that army had been a hotbed of discontent. It had precisely the same grievances in an aggravated form of which complaint was now made in these petitions. There was the same complaint of the disparity between the case of the officer who remained on the active service of his regiment and that I of the officer who was employed on the I Staff. Let their Lordships hear what Sir Henry Lawrence said—When commands are open to them after fifteen or twenty years, instead of after thirty or thirty-five, there would be more contentment in the regimental ranks. In proof of the pre-| sent prevailing spirit we annex verbatim an ex- 285 tract from a recently received letter from an officer of ability who has done good service to the State, and who obtained command of his regiment after about twenty-five years' service:—'As to the service, I have long since ceased to take any interest in it; for, however hard I may work, or however much I may know or do, I find myself not one bit better off than the fool who knows and does nothing. Therefore, beyond doing exactly as I am told, I do nothing.' The above is the honest opinion of an able officer who has been more than usually fortunate.These extracts showed that the previous state of the Indian army was one that absolutely demanded reform; and he maintained that the remedy pointed out by all the competent authorities in India was the formation of a Staff Corps, to which officers of the Queen's army should be eligible as well as the officers of the Company's army. Such a measure must be contemplated as having been as much within the competence of the Government of the Crown as of the Government of the Company, although the arguments urged on behalf of the petitioners seemed to imply that they had a Parliamentary guarantee against all reform, and a vested interest in the continuance of every abuse.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
, in reply, said, that notwithstanding the explanation of the noble Lord (Lord Dufferin) and the noble Duke, he must adhere to the opinion he had expressed as to the incompatibility of the Staff Corps with the guarantee. The grievance of these officers was not met by the extension of brevet rank, because they did not receive the in creased pay to which they held themselves entitled. The speech of the noble Duke was devoted to a defence of the conduct of the Government; and he must say he did not think it was quite fair to bring forward, as the noble Duke had done, passages from an article originally published anonymously, but now said to have been written by the late Sir Henry Lawrence. They were probably written by Sir Henry, but they could not be said to have the same authority as they would have been entitled to had they been written avowedly in his own name. He had not been able to gather what the intentions of the Government were in this matter. They had not acted upon the Report of the previous Commission, and they gave no pledge that they would act upon the opinions of the second Commission which they proposed to appoint.
EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
said, the statement had been repeatedly made in the course of the debate that the Secretary of State for India had taken no steps 286 to remedy the grievances of these officers; and the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Donoughmore) held that there were five points in respect to which the Commissioners laid it down that the guarantee had not been fulfilled. Now, on two of those points the Commissioners did not pronounce a positive opinion. On the contrary, they said that the operation of the measures taken might in certain cases produce con sequences which might be inconsistent with the guarantee, but they did not state that those consequences had actually occurred; and all that his right hon. Friend had done was to wait and see what might be the effect of the measures in regard to those points. The noble Earl admitted that his right hon. Friend had remedied the grievance which the Commissioners found to exist with respect to two other points, and with regard to the supersession of officers, he said that though the question of supersession had been got rid of, no redress had been given as to pay. The grievance, however, was a grievance as to supersession. The point in respect to which the Commission held that the guarantee had not been fulfilled was the point of supersession and of rank; but that had been met by the rank which his right bon. Friend had proposed to give. And as to I pay, he (Earl De Grey) denied that there was any real grievance. The officers who remained were in an equally good position, and those who were on the Staff were better off. Therefore, he maintained that with regard to the three points on which the Commission spoke positively, his right hon. Friend had provided a remedy; and with respect to the two points on which the Commission spoke doubtfully, his right hon. Friend only withheld his opinion for the present; but in deference to the views entertained in another place on a late occasion, it was the intention of the Government to appoint a Commission to in vestigate whether the grievances pointed out by the Commission had or had not been removed.