§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that the object of the measure which had come up from the Commons was to amend certain enactments in an Act of 1869 having reference to certain appointments to the Council of India. The Bill, therefore, had limited application. The Act constituting the Indian Council appointed a salary to be paid to the Members so long as they continued to serve, but it provided no pensions on retirement. It was familiar to those acquainted with the subject that no portion of the advantages secured by the Civil Servants of the Crown was so much valued as the prospect of a pension. To persons of Indian experience appointed Members of the Council pensions were already secured in consideration of their Indian services. But the Council of India was not composed exclusively of persons of Indian experience, though, no doubt, they were the majority; but also of men of legal, financial, and other special qualifications. But it was not always easy to obtain persons of these special qualifications, who would be willing to serve as Members for the almost nominal salary attached to the office. The Bill, therefore, enabled the Secretary of State for India to appoint any person having professional or other peculiar qualifications to be Members of the Council, to be entitled to the same salary, pension, 166 rights, and privileges as if he had been appointed before the passing of the Act of 1869. The special reasons for every such appointment was to be stated in a Minute by the Secretary of State and laid before Parliament; not more than three such persons were to be Members of the Council at the same time; they would hold office for 15 years, but after that were removable, and the provisions of the Act of 1858 in respect of the number of the Council, and the qualifications of the major part of them were not to be affected by this Bill.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ LORD LAWRENCE
thought that the Bill was liable to grave objections on the score that it would give great dissatisfaction to those Members of the Council who were excluded. By the Act of 1858 pensions were given to all Members—by the Act of 1869 that was changed, and no pensions were to be allowed to Councillors appointed subsequent to the passing of the Act. It was now proposed to allow three Members of the Council, specially appointed, pensions similar to those given by the Act of 1858. The Bill proposed to give pensions to only one set of Members of the Indian Council and not to others. The reason assigned for this was that they could get civilians of Indian experience to take the position of Councillors, whilst they could not get members of the learned professions and others with special qualifications to accept such appointments. He thought that if a sufficient salary was allowed by the Secretary of State for India, he would readily obtain such services under the present system. It must be borne in mind that although the India Civil Servants who were Members of the Council had pensions, they had already been very well earned, and they had in every case paid a large sum of money in order to secure these pensions. They had in fact paid 4 per cent upon their salaries and allowances during the whole course of their Indian service in order to create the fund out of which their pensions were paid. He thought that the pensions which they had thus received should be no bar to their receiving other pensions as Members of the Council of India; 167 and it seemed an unfair arrangement to give pensions to one part of the Council and to deny it to the other.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, he did not altogether concur in the observations of his noble Friend who had just spoken. The proposition of his noble Friend the Secretary of State might be open to objection; but, perhaps, no possible course in respect of the subject would be altogether free from it. The first consideration in the matter was, what would enable the Secretary of State to obtain the best men? It was the intention of Parliament that the Council should consist of persons the majority of whom had been in the Indian service; but it was intended also that a minority should be persons not of Indian experience, but lawyers and merchants, and men of statesmanlike character. It was no doubt true, as the noble Marquess had said, that there was a difficulty in getting men of the proper calibre who would be content to serve at £1,200 a-year for 10 or 12 years without a pension. But experience had shown that no difficulty existed in this respect as to those Members who had retired from service in India. For them the work was highly interesting; it was not excessive: and on retirement they could always fall back upon their Indian pension. While, therefore, admitting the objection to having one set of the Councillors pensioned, and the other set not pensioned for the same work, he gave his support to the proposition of the noble Marquess. The only question was whether two instead of three ought not to be enough as the number of the pensioned Members. But he entertained a grave objection to the power given to the Secretary of State for India of removing Members of the Council at his own pleasure after 15 years. In the Bill of 1858 Parliament showed its desire that the Members of the Council of India should be perfectly independent; but an experience of 11 years showed that when there was no term of service the Council became clogged with men too old for the duties of their office. Accordingly, in the Bill of 1869, which he brought in, it was provided that the Councillors should hold office for 10 years with an eligibility of re-appointment for five years on special grounds. There, again, the independence of Members was recognized by statute. The present Bill would, however, give the Secre- 168 tary of State power to remove a Councillor at any time after a service of 15 years. He was sure that no Secretary of State would exercise that power without cause; but he thought it objectionable, because the removal of the Councillor might be attributed to his having shown himself too independent in his attitute towards the Secretary of State.
§ LORD SANDHURST
expressed his concurrence in the observations of his noble Friend (Lord Lawrence), and held that the pension to which persons who had retired from the Indian service were entitled was part of the wages of their labour which had been deducted from their salaries while serving in India. It might be true that there was no difficulty in obtaining the services on the Council of men who had served in India, but he saw no reason why so invidious a distinction as that now proposed should be drawn. The deductions from salary, while serving to create a Pension Fund, resulted in the case of the most distinguished and oldest Civil Servants in this state of things, that the so-called pension merely represented a life insurance which had been amply reduced by previous payments. He did not think it ought to be laid down that gentlemen coming from India could be had for the asking, while lawyers and engineers must be induced with a pension.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
, in replying, said, there were two different points of view from which the question might be regarded—namely, that of the claims of the Indian Civil Servants themselves, and that of the exigencies of the State. From the first point of view he was disposed to concur with the two noble Lords who had spoken against the Bill. As regarded the claim of the gentlemen of Indian experience appointed to the Council, he saw no reason why they should not enjoy a pension for work done in this country as well as Councillors who were appointed for qualifications other than that of Indian experience. Why he had not made a proposal of that kind to their Lordships was that the House of Commons had shown so much repugnance to it, he thought it would not pass. He should be glad to see such a provision, and regretted that he could not introduce it; but he had felt compelled to bow to the Parliamentary exigencies in the matter, and had, in consequence, excluded them 169 from the Bill. When, however, he came from the claim of the Civil Servants to the requirements of the State, then he found a very different aspect of the question. Indian servants coming from India were in a great want of something to do. Their chief difficulty in this country, where all the walks and professions of life were fixed at an early age, was to find exercise for that energy of which often they had still a full measure; so that he believed that by the offer of even a more moderate salary than that paid to the Members of the Council of India qualified men of Indian experience, anxious to keep up their connection with India and to have their minds occupied with Indian affairs, would gladly accept seats in the Council. But when you came to want Members who had been following professional life in England the case was altogether different. He believed there was no class of men so much sought after as good lawyers without much practice. He might appeal to his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, and say that for judicial positions of the second order he would be glad to secure such men. This Bill was absolutely necessary in order to secure efficiency in the Council of India. He concurred with the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) that it should not be left to the Secretary of State to put an end to the official existence of a Member of the Council, and he was quite willing now that the noble Duke had drawn his attention to the matter, that the clause should be amended in Committee. He would be inclined to appoint the Members for life, leaving it to themselves to retire and draw their pensions when they felt no longer fit for the office.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
suggested that the evil before complained of, and to which he had referred in his previous remarks, would grow up again if the Members were appointed for life. He very much doubted whether any Member ought to retain the office for more than 15 years.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday next.