HL Deb 03 July 1876 vol 230 cc848-50

House in Committee (according to Order).


moved an Amendment on Clause 1, the object of which was to make the subjects of Native States residing under British protection at Zanzibar and Muscat and violating the laws relating to the Slave Trade, punishable by British Courts of Law in India only upon the consent of the Native State whose subjects the offenders might be, and without which there could be no right of jurisdiction. The protection given by the British Government out of India to the subjects of the Native States, was a consequence of having precluded them by Treaties from entering into diplomatic relations with other Powers; but this protection did not confer a right of jurisdiction, and punishment was not a correlative of protection. As the Rao of Cutch had expressed his willingness to allow the proposed jurisdiction, and as there were very few other Rulers whose subjects were concerned, there could be no difficulty in obtaining these consents, and to refuse to do so would be to be arbitrary for arbitrariness' sake.

Amendment moved, to leave out third paragraph of Preamble, and in Clause 1, line 29, after ("Majesty") insert ("and if the consent of such Prince or State to grant jurisdiction under this Act shall have been obtained and laid before each House of Parliament.")—(The Lord Stanley of Alderley.)


said, the Amendment of his noble Friend was based upon an entire misconception of Indian affairs. He cordially concurred with the objects of the Bill, but thought that both this Bill and some others now before Parliament would be more satisfactorily dealt with if they had been previously referred to the Government of India. While he had no doubt the Princes of India would willingly join the Government of India in putting down the slave trade, it would be objectionable to allow such matters to depend upon their consent, as proposed by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley of Alderley).


said, that with reference to the question raised by the noble Earl (the Earl of Northbrook) of submitting questions of policy to the Indian Government, he did not consider that was essential in all cases. Of course, there were cases in which such references were made; but there was no consultation with the Government of India before the great Act which re-constituted the Government of India was passed. In fact, each case must depend upon its own merits. In this particular case, if a reference was to be made, he should prefer the Government of Bombay, which was more likely to possess accurate information on it than the Government of India. He did not, however, wish noble Lords opposite to have the impression that this Bill had been brought in without the opinion of Indian authorities being taken. All he said the other night was that he had no official Correspondence on the subject to lay on the Table. Indian information was not necessarily confined to India, for there were Peers in that House who knew as much of the circumstances, and particularly of the law involved in the case, as any one could know. With respect to the main portion of the Bill—that which related to the slave trade generally—he saw a noble Lord opposite who could tell them more than any one in India. The Government had had recourse to the best authorities as to what would be the most suitable provisions.


asked what Act the noble Marquess referred to? When he passed the India Council Act, there was the fullest previous consultation with the authorities in India.


said, he referred to the Act of 1858.


said, that was not in his time. He was sorry to see every obstacle thrown in the way of such mutual consultation. Surely those on the spot might be expected to know more about the subject than the Home Government, or the Law Officers of the Crown.


said, the Bill took the law of India as it stood, and was, in fact, intended to remedy an oversight in a former Act.


said, if it were a mere explanatory Act no more need be said; but the explanation now placed upon it by the noble and learned Lord was very different from that given by the noble Marquess in introducing it; but his noble Friend (the Earl of Northbrook) had pointed out the desirability that not only this Bill, but some others should, as there was no necessity for immediate legislation, be deferred until the House had further information.

After a few words from Lord Lawrence in favour of delay,


replied that, of course, if Parliament wished for further information, the Bill could be postponed, but delay would be exceedingly inconvenient, and put off a measure which was much wanted. At the present moment there might arise cases which the Courts, for want of such a Bill, would have to decide the wrong way.

Amendment (by leave of the Committee) withdrawn.

Bill reported, without Amendment; and to be read 3a To-morrow.