§ Order of the Day for the Second Beading, read.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
I rise, my Lords, for the purpose of moving the second reading of a Bill which I trust may raise some discussion, but which I believe and feel assured will raise nothing in the shape of political controversy in this House; yet it is a matter of high interest and importance, for it affects the machinery for legislation for many millions of the subjects of the Queen in India. It will, I think, be a satisfaction to those Members of the House who have as great a suspicion as myself of theoretical legislation on constitutional questions and on the amendments on the machinery of government to know that, although this Bill was prepared by the late and has been adopted by the present Government, it is in reality a measure mainly suggested and, to a great extent, framed by the Government of India, and has not been by them devised for the purpose of giving effect to theoretical opinions, but simply for the purpose of removing practical inconveniences which have been found to affect the working of the existing administrative system. I need not detain your Lordships for a moment in describing the object of the first two clauses. They are intended merely to remedy a blunder—a very strange blunder—committed in two former Acts of Parliament. Your Lordships are aware that the native States of India are so mixed with our own territory, and have in themselves so many degrees of dependence upon us, that it is absolutely necessary we should have full power and control over awe own subjects who are resident therein. Now in 1849 the local Legislature of India passed an Act, giving the courts and Government of India authority over those of our own subjects who should commit crimes or offences within the territories of native States. Unfortunately, however, an Act passed by the Imperial Parliament in 1861, and intended, I believe, to give effect to the local enactment, committed the mistake of limiting that power to the servants of the Government of India; for by giving the Indian Government and courts of law jurisdiction over persons holding 1056 office under that Government, if they committed crimes in native States, it by implication recognized no such jurisdiction over persons who were not its officers but were merely its subjects. In 1865, when this doubt was brought before the attention of Parliament, my noble Friend, who is not now present (Lord Halifax), introduced a Bill intended to remedy the mistake. But unfortunately a new mistake was committed;—for though, in its Preamble, distinct notice was taken of the distinction between European subjects of the Crown and native subjects, it unfortunately happened that in the enacting clauses that distinction was overlooked, and the words used were "all British subjects." Now, the term "British subjects" had in India a restricted meaning, having received a legal and fixed interpretation confining it to European subjects of the Crown. Thus, an Act designed to remedy one blunder committed another, leaving the Government of India precisely in the same position as before, with a serious doubt cast upon its authority over its native subjects if they committed crimes within the jurisdiction of native States. Now the 1st clause of this Bill will correct these blunders—it affirms the power of the Government of India to legislate for and have jurisdiction over all persons being native Indian subjects of Her Majesty committing crimes or offences within the dominions of native Princes. The 2nd clause is a consequential one, declaring valid all previous Acts of the Government with reference to this jurisdiction. The 3rd and 4th clauses involve questions of great interest and importance. The history of the legislative power in India is a very curious one. Down to the year 1833 the Executive Council of the Governor General had full power to make laws and regulations for its own territories—in fact the same body acted as Executive Council and as Legislative Council. From 1833 to 1853 the Governor General and his Council practically enjoyed the same power; for, though the Act of 1833 constituted, what is called the Legislative Council, that Council simply consisted of the Members of the Executive Council plus a lawyer, who was called the fourth or Legislative Member of the Council, whose right to be present in the Council was limited to those occasions when legislative work was transacted. Virtually, 1057 therefore, the Governor General and his Executive Council were supreme, and could pass for all parts of India any regulations having the force of law which they might think expedient. Since 1853, a different state of things has prevailed. In the first place, the Act of that year established a Legislative Council, which was an entirely new body, consisting, to a great extent, of extraneous Members. Then the Act of 1861 made an important amendment in the constitution of that body, all legislative power, however, being still withdrawn from the Governor General and his Executive Council, and being lodged in the Supreme Legislative Assembly. Now, the consequence was that the Governor General could not, by the action of his Executive Council, make regulations having the force of law even for those provinces which had hitherto been called the non-regulation provinces; but was obliged, in order to make such regulations for any part of India, however rude, uncivilized, or outlying, to put in motion the whole machinery of the Legislative Council at Calcutta. Thus, as regards the Presidencies of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, the Legislative Council at Calcutta, though not indeed the sole, is the Supreme Legislative Council, and as regards all the rest of India, including the non-regulation provinces, is not only the supreme, but the sole Legislative Council. Now there have been many complaints of late years of what is called "over-legislation" in India—of the passing of Acts or regulations being, in fact, Acts relating to comparatively small matters, frequently affecting only portions of the territory, and rendering the statute book of India exceedingly complicated. The Government of India has lately sent home an interesting Minute on this subject, explaining how this complication has become necessary; and the main argument used by Mr. Maine in defence of himself and of the Legislative Council at Calcutta is that, in consequence of the statutes to which I have referred, that Council is the only body empowered to make laws for any matter, however trivial, affecting the outlying territories. Now, I need hardly say that for the more outlying parts, and for many tribes within our jurisdiction; it is very desirable that the Government of India should have large discretionary regulating powers, and the sole object of the 3rd and 4th 1058 clauses of this Bill is to restore to the Governor General in his Executive Council the power of making regulations which I think should, in language as well as in fact, be kept separate from laws, properly so-called, enacted by the Supreme Legislative Council. Clause 3 provides that for all parts of India under the immediate administration of the Governor General in Council—the old non-regulation provinces—it shall be in his power, in his Executive Council, without putting in motion the Legislative Council, to make regulations having, in the meantime, the force of law. With regard to those portions of Indian territory erected into Lieutenant Governorships, it is proposed that the same power shall be enjoyed—subject to this restriction—that in any regulations relating, for example, to such an important province as the Punjaub the initiative shall be with the Lieutenant Governor of the province. He will send draft regulations to the Governor General at Calcutta, and, if approved by the latter, they will be put in force under the name of "Regulations," having for a limited time the force of law with regard to that particular territory. The second part of the 4th clause extends the same provision to the Governors of Madras and Bombay in their Councils, but only as regards those portions of territory which may from time to time be declared to be in the nature of non-regulation provinces. I may mention as an example the great province of Scinde. That is a case in which the Governor of Bombay would have power, if that province were designated for the purpose, of making regulations by his Executive Council alone. The latter part of the clause provides that this power may be temporarily withdrawn by the Government at home. The 5th clause provides that such regulations shall be sent home for the approval of the Secretary of State. The 6th enacts that whenever the Governor General in Council shall hold a Council for the purpose of making laws and regulations affecting the territory of a Lieutenant Governor or Chief Commissioner, such Lieutenant Governor or Chief Commissioner shall be an ex officio additional Member of the Council for that purpose and for that time. The 7th and 8th clauses are designed to render more convenient and more in harmony with existing usage the practice of the Legislative Council in 1059 the event of dissent between the Governor and his Council, or between different Members of that Council. The 3 & 4 Will. IV., which this clause repeals, requires that, in all such cases, Minutes must be drawn up recording the different opinions; but, in point of fact, this is felt to be a great inconvenience, and is not resorted to, nor is it always expedient that such dissent should be recorded with a view to the information of the public. There is often a desire to act together, as a Cabinet does here, the minority yielding to the majority. It is, accordingly, proposed, in harmony with the existing usage, that dissents shall not be recorded unless any two Members of the Council desire it.
I now come to a clause—the 9th—which is one of very great importance, involving some modification in our practice and in the principles of our legislation as regards the Civil Service in India. Its object is to set free the hands of the Governor General, under such restrictions and regulations as may be agreed to by the Government at home, to select for the Covenanted Service of India natives of that country, although they may not have gone through the competitive examination in this country. It may be asked how far this provision is consistent with the measures adopted by Parliament for securing efficiency in that service; but there is a previous, and, in my opinion, a much more important question which I trust will be considered—how far this provision is essential to enable us to perform our duties and fulfil our pledges and professions towards the people of India? There has, I think, been much exaggeration with respect to the nature of our Indian Empire. It is often declared to be the most wonderful Empire that ever existed in the world. Now, as far as magnitude is concerned, that is by no means the case. Many of the great monarchies of the ancient world were much larger, and so also were many of the military monarchies of the Middle Ages. At the present time, moreover, the territory and people ruled by Russia constitute a much more enormous Empire than that which we possess in India. The peculiarity of the latter is that it is not a part of our territory in the sense of forming any part of our political system, nor is it a colony, nor is it a dominion from which we derive, or have ever professed to derive, any tribute 1060 or pecuniary advantage. Beyond the dividend given to those who have held shares in the Indian debt, India does not now contribute, and has not, since the very earliest days of the Company, contributed a single farthing to the Imperial necessities of the State. The great peculiarity then of our Indian Empire is the relation in which we stand to the people. We hold it under the instinct of dominion. I believe that instinct has been a powerful instrument in the civilization of the world; and I believe, further, that never at any period of the history of the world has it been placed on a firmer basis or exercised from purer motives than those which have induced us to maintain our Empire in India. With regard, however, to the employment of natives in the government of their country in the Covenanted Service formerly of the Company and now of the Crown, I must say that we have not fulfilled our duty or the promises and engagements which we have made. In the Act of 1833 this declaration was solemnly put forth by the Parliament of England—And be it enacted, That no Native of the said Territories, nor any natural-born Subject of His Majesty resident therein, shall, by reason only of his Religion, Place of Birth, Descent, Colour, or any of them, be disabled from holding any Place, Office, or Employment under the said Company.Now, I well remember that in the debates in this House in 1853, when the renewal of the Charter was under the consideration of Lord Aberdeen's Government, my late noble Friend Lord Monteagle complained, and I think with great force, that while professing to open every office of profit and employment under the Company or the Crown to the natives of India, we practically excluded them by laying down regulations as to fitness which we knew natives could never fulfil. If the only door of admission to the Civil Service of India is a competitive examination carried on in London, what chance or what possibility is there of natives of India acquiring that fair share in the administration of their own country which their education and abilities would enable them to fulfil, and therefore entitle them to possess? I have always felt that the regulations laid down for the competitive examination rendered nugatory the declaration of the Act of 1833; and so strongly has this been felt of late years by the Government of India that various suggestions 1061 have been made to remedy the evil. One of the very last—which, however, has not yet been finally sanctioned at home, and respecting which I must say there arc serious doubts—has been suggested by Sir John Lawrence, who is now about to approach our shores, and who is certainly one of the most distinguished men who have ever wielded the destinies of our Indian Empire. The palliative which he proposes is that nine scholarships—nine scholarships for a Government of upwards of 180,000,000 of people!—should be annually at the disposal for certain natives, selected partly by competition and partly with reference to their social rank and position, and that these nine scholars should be sent home with a salary of £200 a year each to compete with the whole force of the British population seeking admission through the competitive examinations. Now, in the first place, I would point out the utter inadequacy of the scheme to the ends of the case. To speak of nine scholarships distributed over the whole of India as any fulfilment of our pledges or obligations to the natives would be a farce. I will not go into the details of the scheme, as they are still under consideration; but I think it is by no means expedient to lay down as a principle that it is wholly useless to require natives seeking employment in our Civil Service to see something of English society and manners. It is true that in the new schools and Colleges they pass most distinguished examinations, and, as far as books can teach them, are familiar with the history and constitution of this country; but there are some offices with regard to which it would be a most important, if not an essential, qualification that the young men appointed to them should have seen something of the actual working of the English constitution, and should have been impressed by its working, as anyone must be who resides for any time in this great political society. Under any new regulations which may be made under this clause it will, therefore, be expedient to provide that natives appointed to certain places shall have some personal knowledge of the working of English institutions. I would, however, by no means make this a general condition, for there are many places in the Covenanted Service of India for which natives are perfectly competent without the necessity of visiting this country; 1062 and I believe that by competitive examinations conducted at Calcutta, or even by pure selection, it will be quite possible for the Indian Government to secure able, excellent, and efficient administrators. As to the effect of this change on the policy which led to the throwing open the Civil Service of India for public competition in this country, I would desire to call attention to the real history and origin of that system. Those of your Lordships who are acquainted with Indian affairs are aware that, in fact, the government, though long nominally in the hands of the Company, has been practically, ever since the great Parliamentary contest of 1783–4, the government of the Crown. Mr. Pitt was violently abused by the Old Whig party of that day for having opposed Mr. Fox's Bill, and for having after all adopted its principle—namely, the subjection of the government of India to the control of the Home Government. The truth is, however, that Mr Pitt objected, not to that subjection, but to the subjection also of the commerce and patronage of India to the government of the Crown, and in his own Bill he subjected the government in all its political relations to the absolute authority of the Crown, The Crown has been responsible for every act done, or not done, ever since the great statute of 1803; and I venture to say that, in name as well as in fact, the government of India would long before have been declared to be the government of the Crown but for the difficulty arising out of the commerce and patronage of the Company the Company, as your Lordships are aware, was deprived of its commerce by the Acts of 1813 and 1833; and when the succeeding twenty years had expired, and the Government of Lord Aberdeen, had to consider what was called the renewal of the Charter, it was also considered, whether it would not be expedient to assume at once, in name as well as in reality, the government of India as the government of the Crown. I well remember the discussions at that time; and I venture to say the main difficulty in our way was this,—we did not know how to get rid of the patronage of the Company after it should have been removed from the Directors. It was found that to open it to free competition was the only expedient. There was, indeed, no alternative, for Parliament—with, 1063 perhaps, almost too much jealousy, through the ancient echoes still ringing in the ears of men on that subject—would not have tolerated the exercise of that patronage directly by the Crown, and if not by the Crown, by whom could it be exercised? It was, therefor, thrown open to competition. What may be the feelings of individual Members of your Lordships' House I do not know, but I confess I have never been such a fanatic in support of competitive examination as to believe that that is the sole or, in all cases, the best method of getting the best men for the public service. But it is an escape from many difficulties; and when you have only a choice of difficulties, competitive examination gives on the whole a much better chance of success than the pure nepotism of the ancient Court of Directors; but the exercise of patronage, where it is wholly removed from the danger of political jobbery or family nepotism, is, perhaps, the very best mode of selecting men for the public service. Now I venture to submit that, as regards the selection of natives for the administration of their country, there is no risk whatever of the Government of India being influenced by political jobbery or family nepotism; and I think, therefore, it is safe and expedient to open the Civil Service of our Indian Empire to selections by the Governor General, under such restrictions as may be laid down in concert with the Government at home. On these grounds, I trust this important change will receive the sanction of Parliament.
Let me now notice one not unimportant fact with regard to this Bill. I have described it as the same Bill as that introduced last Session by my predecessor, and supported by the late Government; but there is an important exception with respect to a particular portion of the Empire of India. The Bill, as introduced by Sir Stafford Northcote, contained a clause enabling the Home Government to erect Bengal, from being a Lieutenant Governorship, into what is called a full Government—that is, having a Governor and Council. I have omitted that clause for reasons which seem to me good and sufficient—for I could scarcely ask Parliament for a power which, in my opinion, ought not to be exercised. The question arose in this way—Your Lordships will remember the painful circumstances attending the Orissa famine; 1064 many thousands of people perished, and the natural conclusion drawn from such a calamity was, that such a thing could not have happened unless there had been something wrong in the machinery of government. That is a conclusion at which men are very apt to jump, but which frequently is quite unfounded. Many thousands of persons perished in the Irish famine, many of them before we knew that famine was prevailing; but no one attributed this to any fault in the machinery of the British Government, and no remedy, therefore, of that nature was proposed Now, inquiry was instituted into the cause of the Orissa famine, and the result was that many suggestions were made for improving the Government of Bengal. A certain number of persons recommended that the Lieutenant Governorship should be erected into a full Government, and that suggestion was submitted by my predecessor to his own Council at home and to the Government in India, the result being a very interesting volume, which was presented to Parliament last Session, and which presents a very chaos of opinion on that subject. Hardly any two men agree as to the precise modification of the Government, and the proposition to erect Bengal into a full Government is on the one hand strongly opposed by Sir John Lawrence, Sir William Mansfield, Sir Henry Durand, Mr. Strachey, Sir Richard Temple, and Sir William Muir; while, on the other hand, it is supported by some very eminent men, including Mr. Taylor, Mr. Maine, and Mr. Grey, now himself Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. As regards the Council at home, with the exception of three, all of the members are adverse to the proposal. Under such circumstances, it was not, I hope, presumptuous in me to desire to form an opinion of my own from the arguments of those very distinguished men; and I am bound to say that, under existing conditions—I limit myself to that—it seems to me inexpedient to erect Bengal into a full Government. What is the complaint against the existing Government? It is that it is weak. That is an ambiguous word—is it weak in point of physical strength, so that it cannot overtake its work, or is it weak in regard to its authority? Now the evidence is very strong that it is weak as regards mere physical strength, and this kind of weakness we have it in 1065 our power to remedy without coming to Parliament for any new power. Measures are now under consideration for that purpose; but the assembling of the heads of departments into a Council to debate the matters which would come before it would not strengthen the physical power of the Government. If it be asked whether it is weak in point of authority, a decided negative must, I think, be given. We must recollect that the very theory of a Lieutenant Governorship is that it represents the authority of the Governor General. The Governor General of India is the Governor of Bombay, the Lieutenant Governor being his deputy; and therefore, as far as authority is concerned, when the latter speaks, he speaks with the authority of the Supreme Government of India. To assemble his heads of departments in a Council would do nothing to strengthen his authority. The real object of the proposal is not to increase the physical strength or authority of the Government, but to give it greater strength to resist the Governor General in his own capital and province. That is not, indeed, the way in which it is put by its supporters, but it is the real gist of their argument; for they say they are over-shadowed by the Governor General, and that when complaints arise they are carried to him, and not to the Lieutenant Governor. But that is a necessary result of the Supreme Government being located in Bengal; and until Parliament come to the conclusion that it should be removed from its ancient capital, and relegated to some other part of India, you cannot by any trick or device prevent people from going at once to the higher authority rather than to the lower—to the Governor General rather than to the Lieutenant Governor. What would be the effect of the change? Merely to increase the friction and tendency to jealousy which may already exist, and so run serious risk of a misunderstanding between the Supreme Government and the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. I confess I attach great weight to the opinion of those who have been in the position of Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, and have felt the inconveniences which attached to it. We have recently introduced into the Home Council Sir Frederick Halliday, who was Lieutenant Governor during the disastrous period of the mutiny of 1857. He is a man of very great experience and 1066 ability, and his decided opinion is that no assistance whatever would be given to the Lieutenant Governor by simply erecting the administrative heads of departments into an Executive Council, allowing them to debate the measures which might come before them. On the other hand, serious inconveniences might arise from two Governments, quasi supreme in their own territories, sitting in the same city, like the two kings of Brentford. Another suggestion has been made which approves itself much more to my judgment; and, if I had trusted entirely to my own judgment, I should have introduced it into the present Bill; but, considering the difference of opinion which prevails on the subject, I desire to wait another year before advising Parliament as to the course it should adopt. But I may mention what I consider might be an expedient course. As matters now stand, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal has a Legislative Council of his own, and he is also a member of the Supreme Legislative Council of India; but he is not a member of the Supreme Executive Council of India. Business, consequently, which goes to the Supreme Government of India in reference to questions affecting Bengal cannot be made a matter of vivâ voce explanation between the Lieutenant Governor and the Supreme Government. A whole set of despatches must go from one to the other, though both sit in the same city, and are very much concerned in the same matters. No arrangement, can be more inconvenient, and the remedy which Sir Frederick Halliday suggests is to place the Lieutenant Governor in more immediate connection with the Executive Council at Calcutta. Speaking of the tendency to pass over the Lieutenant Governor and go to the Supreme Government, he says—This would happen under any constitution of the superior Government, whenever it might be put down permanently over against the subordinate Government, as now in Bengal. Nothing of this would be obviated by any change in the constitution of the Bengal Government. Indeed, a Governor appointed and chosen in England might be more exposed to it than a Governor chosen for his familiarity with the details of Indian administration; and if he had a Council, that would not; help him, seeing that Councils do not hinder much occasional soreness, even in the distant Governments of Madras and Bombay. A Council in Bengal pitted against the Council of India, present in the same place, might indeed heighten the turmoil.1067 Then, at the close of his Minute he suggests that the Lieutenant Governor should be placed in more immediate connection with, the Executive Council, as far, at least, as concerns matters connected with the Bengal Presidency. That arrangement is, no doubt, open to the same objection as the presence of the Minister for the Home Department in meetings of the Cabinet. It may be said that if any complaint were made against the Lieutenant Governor, he would be sitting in the Executive Council as a judge in his own case. In like manner, it may be said that if complaints were made against the Home Secretary, he would be sitting in the Cabinet upon those complaints; but, in point of fact, I have never heard any practical objection to the Minister being there to defend and explain his own conduct. The present arrangement simply leads to the multiplication of that which is the great bane of Governments in India—the unnecessary writing of voluminous despatches when five minutes of conversation between the persons immediately concerned would settle the whole matter. I do not wish to depreciate the habit of recording in Minutes the arguments used on both sides, for I do not know any mode by which persons not conversant with a question are better able to judge of its merits than by reading the Minutes of two able men taking different sides; but there should be a limit to this system, and when important interests—those of the planters, for example—are concerned it is desirable that the authority of the Lieutenant Governor should express not only in name, but in reality, the authority of the Supreme Government of India; and I think you will never effect this unless you bring about a closer union between these two authorities, both sitting in Calcutta.
I have thus stated the plan which seems to me the best, but I do not ask the House to come to any decision this Session on so difficult and important a question. I have therefore struck out the only clause involving serious difference of opinion, and I venture to think that the Bill, having for its two main objects the increase of the power of the Executive Government as regards legislation for the non-regulation provinces and the abolition of the monopoly of Europeans through the door of the competitive examination for the Civil Service of India, will receive the assent of your 1068 Lordships' House and of the House of Commons.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Duke of Argyll)
§ LORD LYVEDEN
said, he anticipated very little opposition to the first part of the Bill, for it gave greater power to the Governor General than he had hitherto been able to exercise—a course recommended by Lord Ellenborough and other high authorities. With the Governor General rested the main responsibility, and with him ought to rest the main power. He also approved the change with regard to the non-regulation provinces; and the rectification of the blunders of previous Acts could excite no difference of opinion. The novelty of the Bill was that relating to the appointment of natives to employment in the Civil Service of India without competitive examination. He had never been a strong advocate for that system in this country; but in India he thought it less calculated to draw out the qualifications for Indian Service than any other that could be devised. The questions sometimes asked by the Examiners were almost ludicrous. Moral qualities were required far more than intellectual ones, and the former no competitive examination could ascertain. His noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll), however, would, he believed, find himself mistaken if he went back to the declarations of 1833, and imagined that the natives would be satisfied with the proposal he had now made. There might not be political jobbery or nepotism, but there were other influences which might guide the Government of India in making appointments, and natives would not feel themselves in the same position as Europeans who came out after a competitive examination. On the other hand, a European, having passed an examination, and deeming that he had an inchoate right to an appointment, might find, on his arrival, that the post had been already filled, by the appointment of a native. He could not understand why competitive examinations should not be carried on in India, and why the successful competitors should not be sent, if necessary, here to learn English customs and institutions. The only reason he had heard urged against a mixed competition was that the natives were extremely precocious in the early stages of their life, 1069 and by their quickness and knowledge, would beat Europeans, and that it would be unfair to the latter to subject them to such competition. As to the nine scholarships proposed by Sir John Lawrence, that would have been a very inadequate arrangement. He thought the noble Duke had been well advised in omitting from this Bill the clause relating to the Lieutenant Governorship of Bengal, which had formed part of the measure proposed by his predecessor last year. But the other Bill proposed by Sir Stafford Northcote—which was a measure of far greater importance than the present, inasmuch as it would completely alter the whole constitution of the Government of India—had failed to get through the other House. It did not, indeed, go so far as the Bill he (Lord Lyveden) prepared by desire of Lord Palmerston and as a Member of his Government; but he hoped the noble Duke would introduce it in their Lordships' House, and carry it on pari passû with the present Bill. The Bill altered the constitution of the Council in a most proper manner. It had been too much the practice to select as Members of the Council men who had left India many years and who had forgotten all about it; and it would be expedient to provide that no one should hereafter be appointed who had left India more than five years. In the discussion upon Sir Stafford Northcote's Bill it was suggested that the Under Secretary of State for India should sit in the Council and have a voice in it; and that would be an important alteration, because any Minister in either House of Parliament who had had an opportunity of taking part in the discussions of the Council would be all the more competent to grapple with Indian subjects in debate. He was justified in drawing attention to the omission of the Bill for altering the constitution of the Council, because the noble Duke had himself invited the discussion, and the question agitated people in India, and they were looking forward to a change, not only in the direction of economy, but also in the rapidity and efficiency of general administration. He could not help thinking it would be better if the number of the Council were limited to eight or ten, instead of fifteen, because with fewer Members there would be less discussion and equal efficiency in business. He 1070 wished there had been something in the Bill in relation to the rendering of accounts in a more perfect form. The accounts were getting more intricate and involved every year, and the Estimates sent home were getting more and more fallacious. Whether this was to be remedied by Act of Parliament, or by an instruction from the noble Duke, though such instruction had hitherto failed, was perhaps a matter for consideration. The Estimates sent home last year appeared to have been a complete delusion on the wrong side; for, instead of there being a surplus, there was a deficiency. Another matter which ought to be discussed was our relation with the tribes of Afghanistan; and, as we had acknowledged a Sovereign, it was important it should be known how far we were committed to maintaining him on the throne, lest we should, to use words rendered classical by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, "drift into war." He was not an alarmist respecting the apprehended invasion of India by Russia, but the general question was a large one; and the production of the Papers recording what had passed between the Indian Government and the tribes of Afghanistan would communicate much valuable information.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I should be sorry not to avail myself of this opportunity of acknowledging the ability and interest of the speech made by the noble Duke, and the value of the Bill which he has laid upon the table. The only difficulty I find in criticizing that Bill and speech is, that I almost entirely agree with them. I believe the step taken by the noble Duke, in extending the power of the Governor General in matters of legislation, is eminently a step in the right direction, and that the experience of English statesmen will lead them to extend that power still further. I believe no greater mistake has been made of recent years, in regard to Indian matters, than that of thinking we could produce a copy of the English Constitution in India. If you wish, to govern Asiatics in a manner conformable to their opinions and interests, you must govern them Asiatically; and the cumbrous system which we, in obedience to our instincts, have adopted for guarding the interests of all in the progress of legislation, is utterly unsuited to their 1071 feelings, and only tends to hinder the progress of government. In the discussions that have arisen in regard to the popularity of the English rule in India, no reproach has been addressed to us more often than that we have attempted to govern India by refined but cumbrous and tardy methods, which the natives would gladly exchange for more rapid, though, perhaps, ruder justice. Therefore, I am glad to see that the noble Duke is tending towards a more despotic ideal of management; and I trust that, when we get free from some superstitions of public opinion which have hampered us during the last generation or two, we shall extend the despotic idea a little further, and shall confine our attempts to imitate European institutions to those places where the European population is in the majority. Another most important matter is the admission of natives to employments under the Government of India. I think that the plan of the noble Duke contained in this Bill is, I believe, the most satisfactory solution of a very difficult question, and is infinitely better than the system of appointment by competition. The evil of that is two-fold—if it fails, as it hitherto has done, and the natives do not take advantage of your competitive system, then they blame you for having excited their hopes, and, as they think, acted with duplicity; if it succeed you give them vested rights in the offices which they come to hold, and that, in time of trouble, may expose you to dangers on which I should hardly venture here to enlarge, but which must spontaneously suggest themselves. Therefore it is far better that natives should be appointed on the exclusive responsibility of the Governor General; and I do hope the noble Duke will not consider it necessary to fetter the discretion of the Governor General too much in that respect, or to do anything that shall cause him to hesitate in the trial of the new system. Whatever is done must, of course, be done slowly and tentatively. There are two dangers to avoid—if you are too careless you may appoint men educated and competent, but in their hearts not loyal to your rule; and, on the other hand, while you may obtain natives loyal to your rule, the differences of race, which we can hardly appreciate here, but which exercise so strong an 1072 influence in India, may arouse jealousies between civil servants which may render it impossible for natives and Europeans to work harmoniously in the same office. One of the most serious dangers you have to guard against is the possibility of jealousy arising from the introduction of natives into the service. There is one point in the speech of the noble Duke against which I wish to enter my protest. He seemed to think that the only way in which we could fulfil our pledge was by admitting natives to the direct service of the Crown. My belief is that the true way to admit the natives of India to a just share in the Indian Government is to maintain the native Sovereignties which we protect, because in the management of these Sovereignties the natives participate according to their own ideas of government, in the way they best understand, and which is, therefore, best calculated to promote the equality and efficiency which we have in view. One of the main arguments against annexation, and in favour of the policy of maintaining those native States which still remain, is that by so doing you are able to gratify the ambition of those natives of India who feel themselves fit for political offices, and that you are thus able to repudiate the reproach that you are barring out the fields of patronage by the barriers of caste or race. I believe that such a policy would be suicidal, and by abstaining from interference with the native Princes who still remain you will be saved from the reproach. The only other point connected with the policy of this Bill was a point, if I may use the Hibernicism, relating to matters not in the Bill. There is no doubt that the question of the Governorship of Bengal is a very knotty one, and I think that the noble Duke has adopted the right course. The truth is that you cannot leave the Lieutenant Governor where he is. He is either too big or not big enough. The original idea with which it was suggested that the Governorship of Bengal should be erected was to avoid the necessity of putting an English statesman in that position, and thus to avoid the occurrence of an evil which was strongly experienced at the time of the Orissa famine. But the objection was well-founded that you could not have a Lieutenant Governor independent of the Governor General without introducing an amount of disagreement 1073 which had in former times been so fatal to Bengal. If ever the question of a Governor of Bengal is to be taken up, it must be when you have solved the difficulty about what is to be the capital of India, and when you have determined not to throw away the lives of the ablest of your servants in India by placing them in the most unhealthy station to be found in that country. When you have attained to that stage of administrative wisdom, then will be the time for attempting a settlement of this question. In the meantime, I think the course adopted by the Government is the right one. One subject still remains, which was referred to by the noble Lord the former President of the Board of Control (Lord Lyveden)—the composition of the Council in England. I earnestly wish that the noble Duke would address himself to that question. It is very disagreeable to discuss the qualifications of gentlemen in their absence, especially as those gentlemen are well known for the earnestness of their conduct in the service of the Crown. But there is no doubt that you do require a certain number of men—when India is changing from day to day—who know what India is rather than what India was, and to do this you must introduce a new system of election into the Council. Whether this is to be done by introducing retirement after a certain time, or by fixing an age beyond which a Member should be ineligible to sit in the Council, or by compelling resignation at the will of the Secretary of State,—in one wav or another you must promote a more rapid circulation of Members, for there is not enough of now blood in the Council of India. I cannot, however, agree in thinking that the Council ought to be entirely composed of gentlemen who have recently been in employment under the Government of India. I believe the noble Duke will hear more about that to-morrow; but I believe the noble Duke agrees on the necessity of representing the commercial element in the Indian Council. It is perfectly impossible that the proper importance can attach to the measures adopted in relation to the commercial and mercantile interests unless those interests are represented in the Council, and able to discuss those measures. There is another point to which I will refer. I confess I should like to have seen more power given to the Governor 1074 General, and I should like to see a clause inserted in the Bill providing that, whenever the Secretary of State should be of opinion that any measure proposed before him was necessary for securing the welfare, safety, and tranquillity of India, he might on his own authority adopt and carry it into execution—only in such case that he should also notify the fact to the two Houses of Parliament. I believe that the tutelage in which the Secretary of State is held by his Council is injurious to the good government of India. It is perfectly true, in reference to such matters as railway guarantees and other commercial affairs of that kind, the veto of the Council is occasionally a protection; but with that solitary exception I believe that the principle upon which Lord Palmerston acted in 1858 was a sound one—that the responsibility should lie in the Minister of the Crown, and in the Minister of the Crown alone. And it must be remembered that this curious machinery of the Council, so strangely selected and endowed with such anomalous powers, was not adopted because it was believed to be the best plan that could be devised, but as a compromise to get rid of the opposition of the old East India Company. They have had ten years of their compromise, and the time has at length come to reconsider it. I think we may fairly ask whether the ordinary rules of our Constitution ought not to be put in practice, and whether we ought not to place in the Secretary of State alone that responsibility which is borne by every other Minister of the Crown? I hope, at all events, that the noble Duke will not allow the Session to pass away without clearing up the mystery which enables the Council, under cover of vetoing money questions, to interfere with every other measure on the plea that it involved money considerations, and which, in fact, makes them an incubus upon the Minister. It is not enough to say that they will not exercise the veto except upon extraordinary occasions. The very fact that they can exercise it imposes a check upon the action of the Secretary of State to which he ought not to be subjected, and the power of veto ought to be confined to money measures alone. I think that the time has now arrived when legislation on this subject may safely be attempted, and I feel convinced that Parliament will support the 1075 noble Duke in any endeavour which he may make. I entirely assent to the changes which the noble Duke proposes, and I think they indicate the policy in which the statesmen who succeed him will have to go further than he has gone, and that the removal of so many of the old prejudices on this question is full of happy omen for the future good government of India.
I very deeply regret, my Lords, the embarrassments that seem to have attended the new Government of India ever since its construction. It would be impossible for any man who considers the question as it came before Parliament some years ago, in the different relations both as regarded the Government of England and the Government of India, and the Government of India and the natives of that country, not to feel that we were entering upon so difficult and dangerous a problem that we required to be guided by almost superhuman wisdom and superhuman knowledge. We are here in this position—that it is impossible for any man—even for my noble Friend opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury)—to speak upon this question without falling into a series of contradictions. My noble Friend evidently desires that there should be no limitation placed upon the power of the English Secretary of State for India, because he says it is advisable that he should act with the same independence that other Ministers do. From that we are to understand that the Secretary of State residing in this country—a Gentleman who probably knows no more about India than any one of us can learn by our own political study and our own political thought—should be invested with what may be called the supreme power of the Government of India. At the same time my noble Friend says he desires to see India governed in India, and not from England. Every measure which tends to separate the Government of India from the Government of England, and to enable the Government of India to be carried on by those who alone can understand the subject, will meet with my cordial assent; and, therefore, I cannot but think that Parliament has done wisely in giving the Secretary of State for India a Council composed, of men who have that peculiar knowledge of the country that those alone can have who have been in direct communication 1076 with the natives of India. But the question now before your Lordships is complicated to such a degree that I do not feel competent to solve it. When the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) intimates that he intends to introduce into the Government of India the natives of India to an extent that has not hitherto been adopted, I would remark that, if he means to do so, he must set about it in some other way than that which would destroy whatever good has come from the present system of competition in England. I confess, at the same time, that I never could see the advantage to the public service of giving appointments in India to young men merely because they had undergone a severe intellectual test, while they might not have any moral capabilities at all. I do not believe that the present Governors of India possess any great superiority over those who filled the same positions in former times. No doubt, in former times, young men were put forward and selected for appointments in India because it was believed that they had qualifications which would fit them for the public service in that country; and, therefore, I very much doubt that your modern competitive examination gives you anything like so good a knowledge of the staple qualifications of the men you send to India as you had in old times. But the question is, can we exclude natives altogether? I believe it is not possible to do so. We might wish to govern India entirely by Englishmen; but education is spreading there, and we cannot in India act in contradiction to that policy of extending self-government on which we are acting in all our other possessions. I only hope the noble Duke feels the magnitude of the change which he calls on us to bring about. He is now about to have carried out for the first time the principle stated in that magnificent, but hitherto futile, declaration in which it was stated that the government of India would be conducted without reference to differences of race. I hope my noble Friend will be able to adapt that principle to the exigencies of the Government in India, and that he may be able to bring about a large admission of natives; but how to do this under present circumstances is to me an enigma. That something must be done is certain; but I would ask your Lordships to remember the difficulties of the case. They cannot be exaggerated. It 1077 is difficult to see how natives and Englishmen can work together in one service, differing as they do in religion, customs, and modes of thought. It is only a few years ago that this happened—so simple a post as that of surgeon to one of our regiments having been put up to competion it was assigned to a native; but my noble Friend (Lord Halifax) who was then Minister for India, felt himself unable to make the appointment. It was apprehended that the appointment of a native would provoke such a spirit of mutiny in the regiment that my noble Friend thought it would be better even to do an injustice to the individual than to run the risk of the consequences which might follow from his appointment. There is another point which I would ask the noble Duke to explain a little more fully. How will you combine this arbitrary power in the hands of the Governor General with the competitive system in this country? Are there certain appointments to be given without competition, but on the arbitrary judgment of the Governor General, and are there other appointments which will be competed for in England? Some of the difficulties in this matter the noble Duke will, doubtless, be able to explain away; but I fear there are others which, with all his power, he will be forced to leave behind.
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
quite concurred in the provisions of the Bill. Any legislation which tended to strengthen the hands of the Governor General of India was, in his opinion, legislation in the right direction. As regarded the last clause, admitting natives to the Covenanted Service, the men recently appointed had been introduced on that system; but he could not but remark that in his experience the competitive system, which had been some time on its trial, had not produced such able servants for India as the old patronage system did. He therefore thought it better to have the appointments made in the way provided by this Bill than to have them made by competition to take place at Calcutta or in London. He did not know whether the noble Duke was aware how comparatively few natives there were in the Uncovenanted Service. In that service, out of 2,000 officials, only fifteen natives held appointments of a salary of £1,000 a year; and in the other appointments there were six Euro- 1078 peans to one native. This seemed to him a very large disproportion, and either the Government of India had no disposition to encourage the employment of natives, or there was the greatest difficulty in finding natives capable of tilling appointments. When he was in India he knew natives who filled the office of deputy-magistrate. If the system of competition were introduced in India they would have clever Bengalees from the College at Calcutta who would distance all competitors. Now, it was quite notorious that a Bengalee might do very well for a deputy-magistrate, but his habits disqualified him for the higher offices of the Civil Service. If the seniority principle were adopted, natives would rise pari passû with Europeans, and the Governor-General knowing that a European would be the better man, for—say such an office as that of Zillah Judge—a difficulty would arise, unless the Governor General had the power of appointing an European over his head. Everyone must see that in the present state of public opinion, it would be impossible to keep natives out of the Civil Service. We must admit them, and he thought the plan of admitting them embodied in this Bill was better than that which had been proposed elsewhere—namely, to admit them by competitive examination.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
rose to make one suggestion. This was the first time the Secretary for India had a seat in their Lordships' House. He therefore asked his noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll) whether he would, in the course of the Session, favour the House with a statement regarding the finances of India? It was said that the Indian Budgets brought forward in the other House were works of imagination rather than financial accounts. Perhaps it might seem to trench on the privileges of the other House; but as no money was voted when the Indian Budget was brought forward, there would perhaps be no difficulty if the noble Duke were to favour their Lordships' House with a general survey of the state of affairs in India.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, his noble Friend (Lord Lyveden) had asked how far we had committed ourselves by our acknowledgment of the present Ruler of Affghanistan, and to what extent we had engaged ourselves to maintain him on 1079 the throne. In answer to his noble Friend he (the Duke of Argyll) had to say that the money and arms given to the Ameer of Cabul was simply a present. No conditions whatever had been made with the Ameer. The Ameer asked the Government for assistance, in consequence of his having lost much of his revenue in the war, and the money was given to him as a present. The Government in India and the Government at Home were free to take in the future whatever course might be best for our own interests and those of Cabul. He wished to direct the attention of the noble Lord to the wording of the provisions of the Act of 1833. He was not defending that clause, because he thought that the abstract declarations of principles in Acts of Parliament were extremely inconvenient and, for the most part, impolitic, as leading to expectations which never could be wholly fufilled, and which were always liable to be quoted against this country with amplifications which were never intended by Parliament. It was on this account that he was opposed to the promises being made which were contained in the Queen's Proclamation issued under Lord Derby's Government at the time that the Crown assumed the nominal government of India. He thought that Proclamation contained abstract declarations of principle which had been found exceedingly inconvenient, and which had been frequently quoted against us in regard to cases to which they were never intended to apply. Nevertheless, he was of opinion that the declaration contained in the Act of 1833 ought to be adhered to as far as possible. As the law stood, no office or place under the Company—and of course the Crown now stood in the place of the Company—could be shut to natives of India merely because they were natives. Of course, there were many offices of which it might be said that they could not be filled by natives, such as great administrative offices. He entirely assented to the general principle laid down by his noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury)—namely, that it was not only our duty to ourselves, but to India also, to maintain our dominion in that country, and to take no steps that endangered the dominion except such as must lead, in the long run, to the complete education of the people. In the meantime, however, we were not bound to employ natives who were not loyal to 1080 ourselves. As regards the powers of the Council, he could assure his noble Friend that the attention he had been able to pay to that subject showed him that his noble Friend laboured under an erroneous impression concerning it. The Secretary of State was absolutely supreme on financial matters. He had the whole control of the Secret Committee and, besides that, in all matters of policy, including even taxation, it was perfectly competent for him to over-rule the opinions of his Council. That he believed to be the interpretation of the law, and he was not aware of any case in which the Council had set up its authority in opposition to the will of the Secretary of State. Even in the great Mysore case, which involved the sacrifice of a large amount of revenue, no suggestion had ever been made that the Secretary of State was incompetent to deal with it upon his sole authority. With regard to the question of the noble Lord, who had just sat down, as to whether the clause he had referred to was to be a dead letter, he must express his opinion that such would not be the case, although, at the same time, they ought to proceed very carefully with regard to it. The safer plan would be to lay down some system of selection with regard to the natives. He could conceive no motives which could possibly bias to an injurious degree the authority of the Government of India in the selection of natives. It was most improper that the Government of India should he restrained by law from selecting natives to fill offices the duties of which they were thoroughly competent to discharge. With regard to what was very erroneously called "the Indian Budget," which, in fact, was no budget at all, but simply a statement of the position of the finances of India, hitherto it had been made in the House of Commons, and he had no doubt that the House of Commons would require his hon. Friend who represented the Indian Department there to make that statement in that House; but their Lordship's were perfectly entitled to have another statement upon the subject made to them. He intended, with their Lordships' permission, at the proper time to lay before them a statement respecting the Indian finances.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday the 5th of April.